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Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

The Iconoclastic epoch (717-867)

The restoration of Orthodoxy. The separation of churches in the ninth century 

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The first emperors of the period 802-67 were not iconoclastic in their policies, and it seemed almost that image-worship, restored by Irene, might gradually grow stronger and not become subject to new trials. The policy of Nicephorus was one of religious tolerance combined with the idea of temporal domination over the church. Although he recognized the decisions of the Council of Nicaea and the victory of the image-worshipers, he was not an ardent follower of the latter movement. To the true zealots of image-worship the tolerant policy of Nicephorus seemed as bad as heresy. It is very probable that religious questions interested the Emperor very little. They mattered only in so far as they concerned the state. Yet monasticism experienced some anxious moments in the time of Nicephorus, especially when the highly respected Patriarch Tarasius, beloved by all his people, was replaced by the new Patriarch Nicephorus, who was raised to his high rank by the will of the Emperor directly from among laymen. This election was strongly opposed by the famous Theodore of Studion and his followers, the Studites, who were later sent into exile.

Michael I Rangabe ruled only for a short period (811-13) and was under the constant influence of the patriarch and the monks. He was an obedient son of the church and defender of its interests. During his reign Theodore and the Studites were recalled from exile.

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