- Emperor (q.v.) from 741-775; ruthless proponent of Iconoclasm (q.v.) and military campaigner. His reign had scarcely begun when Artabasdos (q.v.), strategos of the Armeniakon (qq.v.), revolted, seizing Constantinople (q.v.) and restoring the veneration of icons (q.v.). After regaining power in November 743, he was preoccupied with campaigning against the Arabs (q.v.). From 746-752 he won a string of victories, aided by a civil war in the Umayyad Caliphate (q.v.) that ended in 750 when the new Abbasid Caliphate (qq.v.) came to power. In 754 at Hiera (q.v.) Constantine V officiated over a church council comprised of supporters of Iconoclasm, which condemned Iconophiles (q.v.) and the idolatrous worship of icons. A severe persecution began, aided by imperial officials like Michael Lachanodrakon (q.v.). Iconophiles were everywhere persecuted, but monasteries were especially singled out, and their properties confiscated and sold. Public religious images were destroyed, including those at the popular church dedicated to the Virgin at Blachernai (q.v.). Relics (q.v.) were also destroyed. Veneration was only allowed for the True Cross (q.v.). Much popular hatred was aroused, and a rumor circulated by his enemies that Constantine V had defecated in his baptismal font, resulting in his popular nickname kopronymos ("named in dung"). In 756 hostilies resumed with the Bulgars (q.v.), which continued until the end of his reign when he died on campaign against khan Telerig (qq.v.). However, despite his victories against the Arabs and Bulgars, Constantine V neglected Italy (q.v.) to his peril, for the Lombards seized Ravenna (qq.v.) in 751, extinguishing the Exarchate (q.v.) of Ravenna. It is no wonder that the papacy (q.v.), alienated by Iconoclasm and by the previous removal by Leo III (q.v.) of several of its western dioceses (q.v.) to the patriarchate of Constantinople (q.v.), looked to the Franks (q.v.) for protection. In 754, with a Lombard army threatening Rome (q.v.), Pope (q.v.) Stephen II journeyed north across the Alps to confirm Pippin III as king of the Franks and to award him with the rank of Exarch of Ravenna, a title which only the emperor had previously conferred. This set the stage for the subsequent papal coronation of Charlemagne (q.v.).
Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . John H. Rosser .
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