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Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


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Old January 5th, 2011, 12:22 PM   #11
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I don't believe that the reason the great schism of 1054 took place was because of iconoclasm; it was because the popes in Rome wanted to have the upper hand regarding anything concerning Christianity, while the Byzantines considered him as equal with the patriarch in Constantinople.

I also don't think that the siege of Constantinople in 1204 happened because of iconoclasm; it was the envy and the greed of the westerners towards the Byzantine empire that made them show their barbarism as it was revealed later on by their actions.

The fall of Constantinople in 1453 was bound to happen regardless....., since the decay had been advanced to such a degree that it was beyong any repair.

With regards to Leo III and his son Constantine V, these were among the seven (7) best emperors that the Byzantine empire produced during its long history; also Leo V was considered one of the better emperors in its long list.

The iconodules were responsible for weakness and decline during the time they had the upper hand, especially with those two empresses mentioned, Irene and Theodora.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 12:50 PM   #12

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I am sure that the precious metals and jewels flowing into the hands of Leo III, was just a pleasant happenstance.
While I have no doubt that he benefited financially, I really do not see any evidence that this was an attempt to pillage the church. Herakleios had done it a century before without any of the trouble that Leo III went to, and Alexios Komnenos would do it centuries later, again, with little trouble. If this does not indicate that the emperors could take from the church when they wanted, I'm not sure what does.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 01:01 PM   #13

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I don't believe that the reason the great schism of 1054 took place was because of iconoclasm; it was because the popes in Rome wanted to have the upper hand regarding anything concerning Christianity, while the Byzantines considered him as equal with the patriarch in Constantinople.
While I certainly wouldn't blame iconoclasm for the schism in 1054, we need to remember that 1054 was largely a non-event. The churches had been drifting apart for centuries. Cardinal Humbert and Patriarch Keroularios were the sort of characters that could never have agreed on much in the first place, but Humbert's invocation of the Donatio Constantini is what really set things off. Rather than attempting to counter or question it, Keroularios realized the general irrelevance of Rome in most matters in the Eastern Empire, and so tried to adopt it for his own political power. We see this play out in the accession of Isaak I Komnenos, where Keroularios tries to set himself up as a kingmaker. It is not surprising then that we see Michael Psellos hop on board with the Komnenoi, as he and Keroularios had been longtime enemies. (It is unknown whether he only got these ideas a few years after the schism or whether his plans up until 1057 were unsuccessful. He does not seem to have had much to do with the reigns of Theodora or Michael VI.)
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Old January 5th, 2011, 01:04 PM   #14

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Originally Posted by falcon View Post
I don't believe that the reason the great schism of 1054 took place was because of iconoclasm; it was because the popes in Rome wanted to have the upper hand regarding anything concerning Christianity, while the Byzantines considered him as equal with the patriarch in Constantinople.

I also don't think that the siege of Constantinople in 1204 happened because of iconoclasm; it was the envy and the greed of the westerners towards the Byzantine empire that made them show their barbarism as it was revealed later on by their actions.

The fall of Constantinople in 1453 was bound to happen regardless....., since the decay had been advanced to such a degree that it was beyong any repair.

With regards to Leo III and his son Constantine V, these were among the seven (7) best emperors that the Byzantine empire produced during its long history; also Leo V was considered one of the better emperors in its long list.

The iconodules were responsible for weakness and decline during the time they had the upper hand, especially with those two empresses mentioned, Irene and Theodora.
I agree with you Falcon that iconoclasm isn't the reason for the Great Schism, since the end of iconoclasm was put in 843, nearly 200 years before the Great Schism. The problems between the two churches were not just political but of course dogmatic. We are speaking about a very religious societies after all, and both thought that there dogma is the correct one.
Before the Great Schism the two churches were trying to influence pagan countries to accept there christianity. Byzantine empire succeeded in influencing Bulgaria, the Roman Church succeeded in influencing the croats or hungarians. You know that christianization was often done by missioneries. Cyril and Methodius were such missioneries, they wanted to christianize the Khazars, Moravians, and they tried to influence them.

The siege of Constatinople 1204 isn't due to the iconoclasm at all. In fact crusader's managed to conqure Constantinople only because of the internal problems of the Byzantine empire. At that time, the empire was almost without a fleet, there was finnacial crisis, Constantinople wasn't protected with enough soldiers, and least but not last the problems between the Angelos dynasty.

About 1453, many mistakes were done. For example Balkan countries were unable to just for once put aside there disputes and differencess and join up in a coalition against the Ottomans.
The Byzantine empire was in stagnation, it was behind the western countries, a former shadow of itself.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 01:57 PM   #15
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I agree with everything you are saying sturm, especially with the following that I didn't mentioned:

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........About 1453, many mistakes were done. For example Balkan countries were unable to just for once put aside there disputes and differencess and join up in a coalition against the Ottomans......
but this thing should have started much earlier than 1453. That way neither Bulgaria, neither Serbia or Greece (Byzantines) would have fallen to the Ottomans.
A good example of that cooperation would be with the 2nd seige of Constantinople by the Arabs who were decimated by the Bulgarians and the Byzantines in 717-718 AD; taking also into consideration that the Arab empire was a lot stronger than what the Ottomans were when they started to expand.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 02:29 PM   #16

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I agree with everything you are saying sturm, especially with the following that I didn't mentioned:



but this thing should have started much earlier than 1453. That way neither Bulgaria, neither Serbia or Greece (Byzantines) would have fallen to the Ottomans.
A good example of that cooperation would be with the 2nd seige of Constantinople by the Arabs who were decimated by the Bulgarians and the Byzantines in 717-718 AD; taking also into consideration that the Arab empire was a lot stronger than what the Ottomans were when they started to expand.
Yes at the Second siege of Constantinople Bulgaria and the Byzantine empire worked together and its a good example, such a thing was done in other battles too, for example in 823 bulgarians defeated the army led by the byzantine army officer gone rogue Thomas the slav, who besieged Constantinople and wanted to usurp the throne. An army composed not only by slavs but also by veriety of nationalities.
Another example is in 1235 when Bulgaria and Nicaean empire besieged Constantinople (at that time ruled by the Latin empire).

Problem was that the Byzantine empire have aways viewed Bulgarians as barbarians, even though Bulgarians have developed cyrilic language, and adopted christianity, building a lot of monasteries, and translating many christian books from greek to slavic, books that helped the Russians for example, when they adopted christianity.
Besides Bulgarians have been living in lands that previously were owned by the Byzantine empire. Bulgarians on the other hand were aware that the empire uses a lot of cunningness in diplomacy, and many bulgarians viwed the Byzantine empire with a lot of distrust.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 02:34 PM   #17

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I think you misunderstood or I did not explain myself well. I don't think that Iconoclasm caused the Great Schism, 1204 or 1453.

What I think is that the differences between east and west began to emerge and collide with iconoclasm, and that this antagonism or competition between the eastern and western churches provoked these events, not iconoclasm(at least not directly).

The crusade of 1204 was clearly not caused by religion, but I think that this would not have been remotely close to being possible if the church had still been unified.

IMO, the Byzantine Empire grew weaker because of iconoclasm, but I don't think that these events took place directly because of this phenomenon.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 03:15 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by sturm View Post
Yes at the Second siege of Constantinople Bulgaria and the Byzantine empire worked together and its a good example, such a thing was done in other battles too, for example in 823 bulgarians defeated the army led by the byzantine army officer gone rogue Thomas the slav, who besieged Constantinople and wanted to usurp the throne. An army composed not only by slavs but also by veriety of nationalities.
Another example is in 1235 when Bulgaria and Nicaean empire besieged Constantinople (at that time ruled by the Latin empire)..
Yes, your two examples you brought up are also very good for the cooperation shown in 823 and 1235.

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Problem was that the Byzantine empire have aways viewed Bulgarians as barbarians, even though Bulgarians have developed cyrilic language, and adopted christianity, building a lot of monasteries, and translating many christian books from greek to slavic, books that helped the Russians for example, when they adopted christianity..
I'm glad we don't think that way anymore.

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Besides Bulgarians have been living in lands that previously were owned by the Byzantine empire. .
That was the main reason why.

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Bulgarians on the other hand were aware that the empire uses a lot of cunningness in diplomacy, and many bulgarians viwed the Byzantine empire with a lot of distrust.
That was also true, because the Byzantines had found out very early that it was better to use diplomacy rather than resort to war every time.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 03:58 PM   #19
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I think you misunderstood or I did not explain myself well. I don't think that Iconoclasm caused the Great Schism, 1204 or 1453.

What I think is that the differences between east and west began to emerge and collide with iconoclasm, and that this antagonism or competition between the eastern and western churches provoked these events, not iconoclasm(at least not directly). .
I think the main reason for 1054, was the insistence of the Popes to be considered as the first ones among the then Christendom, and that his word should not be challenged or doubted by any others which was unacceptable to the Orthodox; it had to do with the infallibility of the popes which was not accepted in Constantinople.

Keep in mind also that icons were not really any of the main ingredients of the Catholic church, statues were, which for some may be considered as a form of paganism.
Therefore, I don't see why they were so offended by it; it was most likely another ploy in church politics to present themselves as an arbiter on the issue, which of course was not recognized in the East..

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The crusade of 1204 was clearly not caused by religion, but I think that this would not have been remotely close to being possible if the church had still been unified. .
I think the churches had grown apart in their practices, rituals and outlook long before that.
The funny thing about it was that the differences were not really theological but merely political. The unification seemed very difficult because it would have meant that one of the two would had to capitulate to the other, and since noone was willing to do that, it was an impossibility.

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IMO, the Byzantine Empire grew weaker because of iconoclasm, but I don't think that these events took place directly because of this phenomenon.
It grew weaker for only certain periods, but it recovered remarkably later on with the Macedonian and the Comnenian dynasties, and certainly as you are saying these events did not happen because of the iconoclasm controversy.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 05:24 PM   #20

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Well the last paragraph of my first post was just a personal opinion about the lasting impact of Byzantine iconoclasm. Perhaps I should have mentioned that it was an opinion.
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