Iconoclastic edict of Leo III in the Russian Byzantine studies

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S.Y. Milyutin


The article comprehensively analyses the approaches that have emerged in Russia in the XIX–XXI century Byzantine studies, in the studies of the first period of iconoclasm and the problems of determining causes of carrying out the iconoclastic edict of Leo III the Isaurian. In the study of motives of emperors-iconoclasts, the author describes the atmosphere in the area of theological and ritual practices prevailing in the Byzantine before interference of Leo III into problems of religious life of the state. Based on material and elaborated deep historiographical analysis the author concludes that Leo III could not persecute personal or dynastic interests during the intervention into Christian doctrine issues, guided by the motives to purify religion from those events and ceremonies, which concerned him of being truly canonical. The author considers it important to provide analysis of pre-revolutionary and Soviet publications and carefully examines the evidence of their conclusions. For a long time, interpretation of the phenomenon of iconoclasm depended on the positions of researchers about Christianity. According to the author, Vasiliev was the first to give comprehensive description of the phenomenon of iconoclasm In the Russian Byzantine studies. After the revolutionary events in Russia, the Soviet Byzantine studies to study the phenomenon of iconoclasm came to schematics and economic determinism, and Russian historians and theologians, who lived and worked abroad, played the main role in the study of iconoclasm.

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