Stormy VII-XI centuries of Byzantium. Iconoclasm

Byzantium re-entered its “golden age”. From free peasants, she created a well-trained and armed army, built a strong fleet. However, she was constantly feverish: the struggle for the throne did not stop, quarrels among themselves, people’s riots and uprisings broke out, heretical movements arose.

At the beginning of the VIII century. oil in the fire of religious turmoil poured the government itself, giving rise to the heresy of the iconoclasts. How could this happen? The power, supported by the military elite, did it on purpose to take away from the church its wealth.

In 726, the emperor ordered that icons be hung in churches so high that believers could not kiss them, and eventually forbade worshiping the icons and relics of saints, they were replaced by images of a cross, flowers and trees. The laymen were explained that it is necessary to worship God, and not his image! But the Byzantines, especially the monks, are accustomed to believe that worshiping

the icon meant worshiping the one who depicted it. The society split into iconoclasts and icon-worshipers. The latter were supported by the pope and patriarch. Between the two groups began a fierce struggle, which lasted more than a hundred years and was conducted by the most brutal methods. The iconoclastic emperors tortured and executed icon-worshipers, destroyed monasteries, while at the same time not forgetting to assign their lands. In the end, in the middle of the 9th c. the icon-worshipers won, in honor of which a solemn procession with icons was organized in the capital. The iconoclasts were called heretics and excommunicated, the church walls were decorated again with icons. The monasteries were returned to their lands, though not all. The society calmed down for a short while.

But even after religious reconciliation, the Byzantines did not know peace and quiet, since Byzantium almost continuously fought with someone. For the most part she had to repel enemy attacks. Who only did not encroach on Byzantium in the IX-XI centuries.! And the most formidable of its enemies in those days were the Arabs, the

Slavs, the Normans and the Turks.

In the north of the Balkan Peninsula, the Volga tribe of Bulgarians in 680 formed their state – the First Bulgarian Kingdom. They mingled with the local Slavs. The Bulgarian princes strove to seize the Byzantine throne and did not give Byzantium rest over their attacks. Byzantium tried, as the Chinese say, “expel the devil with the help of Satan” – to defeat Bulgaria by the forces of the Prince of Russes Svyatoslav. But he himself captured Bulgaria and was going to do the same with Constantinople. Therefore, only at the beginning of the eleventh century. Byzantium conquered Bulgaria. This was done by the Emperor Basil II, who was named Bolgaroboytsem.

Byzantine emperors in the fight against the barbarians did not abhor any means. Especially they tried to quarrel them among themselves, guided by the Roman rule “divide and conquer.”

VI century. From the letter of Emperor Justinian to one of the barbarian chiefs

I sent my gifts to the most powerful of your leaders. I intended them to you, revering the most powerful. But with another force he intercepted my gifts, stating that he was the first between you. Show him that you are above all, take from him what he appropriated, revenge him. Otherwise it will be clear that the supreme leader is him, and we will render him our favor, and you will lose the advantages that we have given you.

However, Byzantium did not have enough strength to ward off the greedy neighbors, who were corrupted by the eyes of her wealth. In 1071, the Seljuk Turks inflicted a crushing defeat on the Byzantine army and captured the emperor. At the same time the Normans finally captured the possessions of Byzantium on the Apennine peninsula. But the most difficult tests for the empire were yet to come.

Iconoclasts are participants in the movement against the veneration of icons.

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Stormy VII-XI centuries of Byzantium. Iconoclasm