Iconoclasm, the debate about the legitimacy of religious art that began in Byzantium around 720 and continued for nearly one hundred and twenty years, has long held a firm grip on the historical imagination. This is the first book in English for over fifty years to survey this most elusive and fascinating period in medieval history. It is also the first book in any language to combine the expertise of two authors who are specialists in the written, archaeological and visual evidence from this period, a combination of particular importance to the iconoclasm debate. The authors have worked together to provide a comprehensive overview of the visual, written and other materials that together help clarify the complex issues of iconoclasm in Byzantium. In doing so they challenge many traditional assumptions about iconoclasm and set the period firmly in its broader political, cultural and social-economic context.
Leslie Brubaker is Professor of Byzantine Art and Director of the Graduate School (College of Arts and Law) at the University of Birmingham. Her previous publications include Vision and Meaning in Ninth-Century Byzantium: Image as Exegesis in the Homilies of Gregory of Nazianzus (1999) and, with John Haldon, Byzantium in the Era of Iconoclasm: The Sources (2001). She has edited Byzantium in the Ninth Century: Dead or Alive? (1998) and co-edited, with Robert Osterhout, The Sacred Image East and West (1995) and, with Julia M. H. Smith, Gender in the Early Medieval World: East and West, 300-900 (2004). John Haldon is Professor of History and Hellenic Studies at Princeton University and is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies. His previous publications include Byzantium in the Seventh Century: The Transformation of a Culture (1990; revised edition 1997) and Byzantium: A History (2000). He has edited The Social History of Byzantium: Problems and Perspectives (2008) and co-edited, with Elizabeth Jeffreys and Robin Cormack, The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies (2008).
Introduction; 1. Belief, ideology and practice in a changing world; 2. Leo III: iconoclast or opportunist?; 3. Constantine V and the institutionalisation of iconoclasm; 4. The triumph of tradition? The iconophile intermission, 775-813; 5. The second iconoclasm; 6. Economy, society and state; 7. Patterns of settlement: urban and rural life; 8. Social elites and the court; 9. Society, politics and power; 10. Fiscal management and administration; 11. Strategic administration and the origins of the themata; 12. Iconoclasm, representation, and rewriting the past.