Lukhovitskiy Lev

Byzantine Oecumene in the Iconoclast Controversy

Lukhovitskiy Lev (2017) "Byzantine Oecumene in the Iconoclast Controversy ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II : Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, 2017, vol. 77, pp. 23-40 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturII201777.23-40


In 754 emperor Constantine V sought to defame the iconophile opposition by labeling John Damascene an agent of Arab influence. The fathers of Nicaenum II in 787 made a case for justifying external interference in the religious life of the Byzantine Empire. This stance was nuanced in polemical writings of the early 9th century. The author of the Life of St. Stephen the Younger presented external political pressure as internal by making the saint deliver a sermon on the geography of the iconoclast world in which political borders and ecclesiastical jurisdictions were deliberately tempered with. In late 810ies Theodore Studite and Patriarch Nicephorus launched a diplomatic enterprise aiming to increase the political pressure exercised from abroad over the recently reestablished iconoclast regime of Leo V. A close reading of Theodore’s letters and Nicephorus’ writings from exile sheds light on the underlying ideological basis of this trend. Michael II in his turn appropriated his opponents’ stratagem and tried to win over to his side an expanding external power -- the Carolingian empire -- and use it to suppress the iconophile opposition. In spite of the fact that the iconophile diplomatic efforts had negative rebound effects during the reign of Michael II, they were allotted a proper place in Byzantine cultural memory.


Byzantium, iconoclasm, Carolingian empire, hagiography, Theodore Studite, Stephen the Younger, Council of Hiereia, Nicaenum II, Constantine V, Patriarchate of Constantinople, John of Damascus


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Information about the author

Lukhovitskiy Lev

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Philology;
Place of work: Institute of Slavic Studies of Russian Academy of Sciences; 32a Leninskiy prospect, Moscow 119991, Russian Federation; Research Fellow;
Email: lukhovitskiy@gmail.com.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.


The article is written in 2017 within the framework of the project "The power of the Romans from Constantine the Great to Constantine Porphyrogenitus: the idea of the unity of the Empire" supported by PSTGU Development Foundation