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    Leo III the Isaurian and Constantine V (AD 717-741). AV solidus (4.43 gm). Constantinople, AD 720-741. ΔNO LEON P A MuL, crowned facing bust of Leo, wearing chlamys, holding globus cruciger and akakia / ΔN CONSTANTINuS M, facing crowned bust of Constantine, wearing chlamys, holding globus cruciger. Sear 1504. DO 5.1. Lustrous extremely fine.

    Together reigning nearly 60 years, Leo III and his son Constantine V reshaped Byzantine society and preserved the empire's core against the onslaught of Arab armies and Slavic invaders alike. 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 a new secret weapon called 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. His efforts to enforce his beliefs on an unwilling clergy and populace became a true persecution late in his reign, and were even more zealously carried out by his son and successor, Constantine V, whose long reign was marked by further military success abroad and heavy-handed repression within. Constantine's enemies nicknamed him Copronymos, i.e. "named in dung," because he had allegedly fouled his baptismal fountain. But his generalship proved outstanding against both the Arabs and the Bulgarians, whom he crushed at the battle of Anchialus in AD 763. Byzantine fortunes in Italy received a blow in 751, however, when the city of Ravenna fell to the Lombards. The iconoclast controversy created discord throughout the Byzantine world for more than a century and counteracted many of the reforms and military victories achieved by father and son. Still, their efforts ensured the empire's survival and paved the way for the great Macedonian Renaissance in the following century.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2011
    7th-12th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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