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    Leo III: Birth of Iconoclasm

    Leo III the Isaurian (AD 717-741). AV solidus (21mm, 4.46 gm, 6h). Constantinople, 1st officina, AD 717-720. ? N D LЄO-N PA MЧL, crowned facing bust of Leo, wearing chlamys pinned at right shoulder, holding globus cruciger in right hand and akakia in left / VICTORIA AVΣЧ, cross potent set on three steps; A//CONOB. Sear 1502. DOC 1a. MIB 1. Scarce. Struck on a broad flan. NGC (photo-certificate) MS 4/5 - 3/5, scratches.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection.

    Born to a peasant family in northern Syria, Leo III rose to become commander of the Anatolikon Theme in Asia Minor. With the Arabs preparing a massive siege of Constantinople, Leo's soldiers proclaimed him emperor in place of the feeble Theodosius III in March of AD 717. Six months later, the long anticipated siege commenced. Leo proved equal to the task of defending the capital, and with the help of Greek Fire and a timely counterattack, the Arabs were utterly routed. In 740, Leo cemented his reputation as a peerless soldier by crushing the Arab army at the battle of Akroinon in Phrygia. He also instituted numerous reforms that strengthened the central government and improved fairness in the administration of law. But he is chiefly known for his policy of iconoclasm, or the destruction of sacred images, which he regarded as akin to the graven images condemned in the 10 Commandments. In this, his beliefs were perhaps inspired by the Muslim practice of banning figural depictions of any kind. Iconoclasm caused a huge rift in Byzantine society, pitting the largely anti-icon army against the clergy and most of the general populous. Despite this, reigning 24 years after a succession of disastrous ephemeral rulers, Leo III's left the Empire much stronger than he had found it and ensured its survival.

    This coin from the Dimitriadis Collection has been issued a photo-certificate by NGC. It may be sent in for encapsulation after the auction at the request of the buyer, free of charge. E-mail SamS@HA.com if you would like to utilize this option.


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    Auction Dates
    September, 2014
    3rd-10th Wednesday-Wednesday
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