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736

LEO.

to make himself master of the empire. Artabazes, the commander of the Armenian legions, supported Leo, who had besides many friends in the army. Leo was then holding the field against the Arabs, who had laid siege to Armorium in Galatia. After outwitting Muslima, the general of the Arabs, he set out for Cappadocia, where he found the inha­bitants willing to submit to him, but was closely fol­lowed by Muslima. Leo would ere long have been pressed by two enemies, had he not anticipated the attack of the weaker of them, the emperor Theodosius. He accordingly left Cappadocia, and his rapid marches afforded him at once the double advantage of leaving the Arabs far behind him, while he daily came nearer to the imperial troops, who were far from being strong enough to resist him in the field. At Nicomedeia he was stopped by a son of Theo­dosius, who was defeated and taken prisoner. Leo now marched upon Constantinople; and Theodo­sius, despairing of success, resigned his crown (March 718), and retired to a convent at Ephesus, where he lived peacefully during more than thirty years. Scarcely had Leo received the homage of the people, when the khalif Soliman appeared before Constantinople with a powerful army and a numerous fleet. He considered the trick played by Leo upon Muslima at Armorium as a personal insult, and now came to take revenge. This siege of Constantinople, the third by the Arabs, and one of the most memorable of all, lasted just-two years, from the 15th of August, 718, to the 15th of the same month in 7*20. Soliman died soon after its commencement, and was succeeded by the khalif Omar, who swore by his beard that he would take revenge upon Leo. But Leo sallied out from the Golden Horn with his galleys, the Greek fire con­sumed the Arabian ships, and the emperor returned laden with booty and captives. In two other naval engagements, the Arabs were beaten with still greater losses ; and in the beginning of August, 720, their land forces were routed .in a pitched battle, with a loss of 28,000 men. Unable to con­tinue the siege any longer, the khalif raised it on the 15th of August, but only a small portion of his fleet—the third he had built for the conquest of Constantinople—reached the harbours of Syria, the greater portion having been destroyed by a storm. So close was the siege, so enormous the prepara­tions of the Arabs, that even the splendid victories of Leo could not prevent the inhabitants of the provinces from thinking Constantinople was lost, since the very news of those victories could not reach them on account of the watchfulness of the besiegers. The whole empire was in consterna­tion, and in the western kingdoms rumours were afloat that the khalif had ascended the throne of the Byzantine emperors. Among those who believed these rumours was Sergius, governor of Sicily, who took measures to make himself inde­pendent, and to that effect proclaimed his lieute­nant, Basil, king of Sicily and Calabria. Basil accepted the dignity, and adopted the name of Tiberius ; while Sergius took proper steps to secure the crown for himself in case of complete success. Meanwhile, however, Leo had bettered his con­dition so much .that he could despatch his general, Paulus, with a few loyal veterans, to Sicily ; and through the exertions of this energetic man, the rebellion was soon quelled. Basil was taken prisoner and lost his head ; but Sergius escaped to the Lombards in Italy He was subsequently

LEO.

pardoned, and finally succeeded in obtaining again the same government in Italy, which he intended to wrest from the emperor. Another conspiracy that took place in consequence of the critical posi­tion of Leo, was that of the deposed emperor, Anastasius II. The plot was not discovered till 721, after the termination of the siege of Constanti­nople, and Anastasius paid for his temerity with his head.

In spite of his defeats before Constantinople, the khalif Omar continued the war, and in 726 took Caesareia in Cappadocia, and Neo-Caesareia in Pontus. Leo, however, had not only sufficient forces to make the Arabs feel that he was still more powerful than they, but his authority was so well established, that he undertook to carry out his favourite design, the abolition of the worship of images in the Catholic church. To this effect he issued a general edict, which is one of the most important acts of legislation in the Eastern empire, and perhaps in the whole Christian world. The question of the images was not only a matter of religion, but concerned as much the political state of the empire. The abuse of the images on one side, and the horror in which they were held by the numerous Mohammedans and Jews in the East on the other, gave origin at last to the iconoclasts, or image-breakers. In declaring for them, Leo certainly intended to purify the Catholic creed; but there seems to be no doubt that by removing the images from the churches, he hoped to make the Jews and Mohammedans more favourably in­clined to the Christians and a Christian govern­ment ; and although the adherents of images were very numerous, it cannot be doubted that they would have lost all power if Leo had succeeded in rallying the Iconoclasts, the Jews, the Moham­medans, and the numerous worshippers of fire in Asia, round the throne of an energetic and en­lightened emperor. Indeed it seems that the pro­tectors of the Iconoclasts in those earlier times entertained some hope of making them the medium through which the unbelievers would be led to Christ, and the Eastern empire restored to its ancient splendour; and this explains at once the religious and, the political importance of the ques­tion. In the West the question of. the images produced scarcely any effect upon the people, though more upon the Frankish clerg3r, and still, more upon the conduct of the bishops of Rome, who,-by declaring in favour of the Iconoclasts, would have been abandoned by the last of their followers. In short, the question of the images, like so many others connected with the domestic history of the Byzantine empire, was at once religious and poli­tical ; and while, among the modern writers, Le Beau is but too often influenced by religious opi­nions, and Gibbon treats the history of that empire too much as a philosopher and an orator, we are entitled to hope that time will bring us another historian who, starting from a mere historical and political point of view, will satisfactorily explain the overwhelming influence of religious contro­versies upon the social development of the Eastern empire.

The edict of Leo through which the images were condemned caused a general revolution throughout the whole empire, and was the immediate cause of the loss of Ravenna, Rome, and several other pos­sessions of the Greeks in Italy, which were taken by the Lombards, and of the final separation of the

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