The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Leo Iv – Leo V


Latin'from the Greek church. Gerraanus, patriarch of Constantinople, Joannes Damascenus, and the violent Joannes Chrysorrhoas, in the East, and pope Gregory II. in the West, were the principal leaders of those who opposed that edict, either by words, writings, or deeds. The pope became so trou­blesome, that Paulus, exarch of Ravenna, was or­dered to make an expedition against Rome. But the ardour of the Romans, who were assisted by the Lombards of Spoleto and Tuscia, and the failure of a plot to assassinate the pope, compelled Paulus to return to Ravenna, where he had trouble enough to maintain his authority over the inhabitants who worshipped images. In the East a rebellion broke out in the Peloponnesus and the Cyclades, and the inhabitants besieged Constantinople by sea, but Leo compelled them to sail back and to submit to his government. A revolt in Constantinople was not so easily quelled, till, after much blood­shed, Leo felt himself strong enough to depose and banish the patriarch Germanus, and to appoint the iconoclast Anastasius in his place (730). The ma­jority of the professors in the numerous schools and academies of Constantinople declared for the images, which enraged Leo so much, that it is said he gave orders to burn the library of St. Sophia, hoping thereby to prevent the doctors from strengthening their opinions by historical arguments. But this is decidedly an idle story, invented by some ig­norant monk, and repeated by fanatics: the library, which contained 36,000 volumes, became probably the prey of some conflagration. Upon this Gregory ]If., the successor of Gregory II., assembled in 731 a council at Rome, by which the Iconoclasts were condemned ; and now the opposition against the emperor became so great as to induce him to send a powerful expedition against Italy, with a special command to reduce Ravenna (734). The expedition failed, and Ravenna and the exarchate fell into the hands of the Lombards, who, after having lost it and gained it again, kept it till 756, when king Aistulph was compelled by Pipin of France to cede it to pope Stephen II., and ever since that province has continued to belong to the papal states. This check in Italy induced Leo to detach Greece, Illyria, and Macedonia from the spiritual authority of the popes, and to submit them to that of the patriarchs of Constantinople ; and this is the real, effective cause of the fatal division of the Latin and Greek churches (734).

During the seven following years the history of Leo offers little more than the horrible details of a protracted war with the Arabs. The khalif He-sham endeavoured to produce an effect upon the minds of the Syrians by supporting an adventurer, who pretended to be Tiberius, the son of Jiis-tinianus II., and who was sent by the khalif to Jerusalem, where he made his entrance, in the dress of a Roman emperor. But this was a mere farce. Things were more serious when, in 739, the Arab general Soliman invaded the Roman terri­tories with an army of 90,000 men, who were divided into three separate bodies. The first en­tered Cappadocia, and ravaged it with fire and sword ; the second, commanded by Malek and Batak, penetrated into Phrygia; and the third, under Soliman, covered the rear. Leo, though surprised, had assembled sufficient forces, and his general Acroninus defeated the second body in Phrygia in a pitched battle, in which Malek and Batak were both killed. Soliman withdrew in




haste into Syria. In October, 740, an awful earth­quake caused great calamities throughout the em­pire. In Constantinople many of the principal buildings were levelled to the ground; the statues of Constantine the Great, Theodosius the Greatj and Arcadius, were thrown from their pedestals ; and the wall along the Propontis, together with all its towers, fell at once into the sea. Thrace was covered with ruins. In Bithynia, Nicomedeia and Prenetus were thrown down, and of the entire town of Nicaea, only one building, a church, remained standing. In Egypt several towns disappeared, as it were, with all their inhabitants. On the 18th of June, 741, the emperor Leo died, after long sufferings, and was interred in the church of the Apostles: he was succeeded by his son Constan­tine V., surnamed Copronymus.

Leo III., the founder of the I saurian dynasty, may be charged with cruelty and obstinacy, and he had only received a soldier's education ; but he was prudent, active, energetic, just, and decidedly the kind of king whom the corrupted Greeks re­quired. Moreover, he acted upon principles, and never abandoned one of them during the whole course of his life. The orthodox writers have out­raged his name because he protected the Icono­clasts, but we know too well the degree of impar­tiality which they can claim. (Theophan. p. 327, &c.; Cedren. p. 450, &c. ; Niceph. p. 34, &c. ; Glyc., p. ] 80, &c.; Zonar. vol. ii. p. 101, &c.; Paul. Diacon., De Gest. Long. vi. 47, &c.) [ W. P.]

LEO IV. FLA'VIUS, surnamed CHAZA'RUS, emperor of Constantinople (a. d. 775—780), be­longed to the Isaurian dynasty, and was the eldest son of the emperor Constantine V. Copronymus, whom he succeeded on the 14th of September, 775. He was born on the 25th of January, 750, and received his surname Chazarus on account of his mother Irene, who was'a Chazarian princess. Leo, being in weak' health, had his infant son Constan­tine (VI.) crowned in the year after his accession, and his five brothers, Nicephorus Caesar, Christo-phorus Caesar, Nicetas, Anthemeus, and Eudoxas, took a sacred oath to acknowledge the young Au­gustus as their future master. This oath, however, they broke repeatedly, formed conspiracies, and were punished with mutilation and exile. After some fruitless attempts at recovering freedom and power, they finally disappeared from the world at Athens, which was their Lvst place of exile. In 777 Teleric, king of the Bulgarians, fled to Con­stantinople, in consequence of some domestic com­motions, and was well received by Leo, although he had behaved very treacherously against Leo's father. In 778 the Arabs invaded the empire. Leo sent against them an army of 100,000 men, com­manded by Lachano Draco, who routed them, after they had gained various' successes in Syria, in 780: in this battle Othman, the son of the khalif Mahadi or Modi, lost his life. When the news of this victory arrived at Constantinople the emperor was no more among the living : his death took place on the 8th of September, 780. He was succeeded by his infant son Constantine VI., who reigned under the guardianship of his mother Irene. Leo IV. was an honest man, much better than his profligate father, but weak in body and mind. (Theophan. p. 378, &c.; Cedren. p. 46 8j &c.j Const. Manass. p. 89; Zonar. vol. ii. p. 113, &c.; Glycas, 285, in the Paris editions.) [W. P.]

LEO V. FLA'VIUS ARM E'N US, emperor of

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of