|Years of service||760s–792|
|Battles/wars||Arab–Byzantine frontier wars, Battle of Marcellae|
Michael Lachanodrakon (Greek : Μιχαήλ Λαχανοδράκων; died 20 July 792) was a distinguished Byzantine general and fanatical supporter of Byzantine Iconoclasm under Emperor Constantine V (r. 741–775). As a result of his iconoclast zeal, in 766 he rose to high office as governor of the Thracesian Theme, and instigated a series of repressive measures against iconophile practices, particularly targeting the monasteries. A talented general, he also led a series of campaigns against the Arabs of the Abbasid Caliphate before being dismissed from office in about 782. Restored to imperial favour in 790, he fell at the Battle of Marcellae against the Bulgars in 792.
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".
Byzantine Iconoclasm refers to two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire when the use of religious images or icons was opposed by religious and imperial authorities within the Eastern Church and the temporal imperial hierarchy. The "First Iconoclasm", as it is sometimes called, existed between about 726 and 787. The "Second Iconoclasm" was between 814 and 842. According to the traditional view, Byzantine Iconoclasm was started by a ban on religious images by Emperor Leo III and continued under his successors. It was accompanied by widespread destruction of images and persecution of supporters of the veneration of images. The Western church remained firmly in support of the use of images throughout the period, and the whole episode widened the growing divergence between the Eastern and Western traditions in what was still a unified church, as well as facilitating the reduction or removal of Byzantine political control over parts of Italy.
Nothing is known of Lachanodrakon's origins and early life. He receives a very negative treatment in the historical sources, which were written after the final defeat of Byzantine Iconoclasm; some refer to him solely as ho Drakon (ὁ Δράκων, "the Dragon", alluding to his surname and the Biblical Beast). Their profoundly iconophile perspective means that reports of his actions, especially those relating to the suppression of icon worship, are potentially untrustworthy.
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, in the cultures of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Roman Catholic, and certain Eastern Catholic churches. The most common subjects include Christ, Mary, saints and angels. Although especially associated with "portrait" style images concentrating on one or two main figures, the term also covers most religious images in a variety of artistic media produced by Eastern Christianity, including narrative scenes. Icons can represent various scenes in the Bible.
At the Council of Hieria in 754, Constantine V had declared the adoration of icons to be a heresy, and had thereby elevated iconoclasm to official imperial policy. No persecution of iconophiles was launched at first, but iconophile resistance grew, until from 765 on, Constantine began persecuting iconophiles, and especially monks. The discovery of a wide-ranging iconophile plot against him involving some of the highest civil and military officials of the state in 766 provoked an extreme reaction. Patriarch Constantine II and other officials were deposed, jailed, publicly humiliated, and finally executed, replaced by new, uncompromisingly iconoclast officials. In addition, the veneration of sacred relics and prayers to the saints and the Virgin Mary were condemned.
The iconoclast Council of Hieria was a Christian council of 754 which viewed itself as ecumenical, but was later rejected by the medieval Catholic Church. It was summoned by the Byzantine, Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine V in 754 in the palace of Hieria opposite Constantinople. The council supported the emperor's iconoclast position in the Byzantine iconoclasm controversy, condemning the spiritual and liturgical use of iconography as heretical.
Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. A heretic is a proponent of such claims or beliefs. Heresy is distinct from both apostasy, which is the explicit renunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is an impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.
Iconoclasm is the social belief in the importance of the destruction of icons and other images or monuments, most frequently for religious or political reasons. People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called iconoclasts, a term that has come to be applied figuratively to any individual who challenges "cherished beliefs or venerated institutions on the grounds that they are erroneous or pernicious".
By 763 or 764, according to the iconophile Life of St Stephen the Younger hagiography, Lachanodrakon had already distinguished himself by his iconoclast fervour. On the emperor's orders, he led a group of soldiers on an invasion of the Pelekete monastery on the Propontis, where he arrested 38 monks and subjected the remainder to various tortures and mutilations. After burning down the monastery, he took the 38 captives to Ephesus, where they were executed.In 766/767, as part of the emperor's reshuffle of the senior echelons of the Byzantine Empire, Lachanodrakon was rewarded with the important post of strategos (military governor) of the Thracesian Theme, and given the rank of patrikios and imperial protospatharios according to his seal. He soon began a harsh repression of the monasteries and iconophiles. According to Theophanes the Confessor, in 769/770 he summoned the monks and nuns of his theme to Ephesus, gathered them in the city's tzykanisterion and forced them to marry, threatening them with blinding and exile to Cyprus if they refused. Although many resisted and "became martyrs" in Theophanes's words, many complied. Later reports of exiled monks in Cyprus becoming Arab captives seem to partly corroborate this story. Theophanes reports further that in 771/772, Lachanodrakon dissolved all monasteries in the theme, confiscated and expropriated their property, and sent the proceeds to the emperor, who replied with a letter thanking him for his zeal. Lachanodrakon allegedly had relics, holy scriptures, and monks' beards set on fire, killed or tortured those who venerated relics, and finally prohibited the tonsure. Although highly embellished, these reports probably reflect actual events. At any rate, by 772, according to historian Warren Treadgold, Lachanodrakon seems to have succeeded in "eradicating monasticism within his theme".
A hagiography is a biography of a saint or an ecclesiastical leader. The term hagiography may be used to refer to the biography of a saint or highly developed spiritual being in any of the world's spiritual traditions.
The Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, commonly known as the Pelekete monastery, is a ruined Byzantine-era monastery near modern Tirilye in Turkey.
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, three kilometres southwest of present-day Selçuk in İzmir Province, Turkey. It was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC.
Lachanodrakon was also a capable general, winning fame for his campaigns against the Abbasids on the Byzantine Empire's eastern frontier. During the reign of Constantine V's son Leo IV (r. 775–780) he seems to have been the most prominent military commander, repeatedly leading expeditions comprising troops from several themes against the Arabs.
Leo IVthe Khazar was Byzantine Emperor from 775 to 780 AD. He was born to Emperor Constantine V and Empress Tzitzak in 750. He was elevated to caesar the next year, in 751. When Constantine V died in September 775, while campaigning against the Bulgarians, Leo IV became senior emperor on 14 September 775. In 778 Leo raided Abbasid Syria, decisively defeating the Abbasid army outside of Germanicia. Leo died on 8 September 780, of tuberculosis. He was succeeded by his son Constantine VI, who was eventually overthrown by Leo's wife Irene, who installed herself as empress.
The first such expedition occurred in 778 when, preempting an anticipated Arab raid, Lachanodrakon led a large army against Germanikeia. Although the city did not fall (Theophanes claims that the Arab commander bribed Lachanodrakon), the Byzantine army defeated a relief force, plundered the region, and took many captives, mostly Jacobites, who were then resettled in Thrace. r. 786–809), losing some 15,000 men according to Theophanes. In the aftermath of this defeat, and likely because of his iconoclast past, he was apparently removed from his command by the iconophile empress-regent Irene of Athens.In 780, Lachanodrakon ambushed and defeated an Arab invasion in the Armeniac Theme, killing the brother of the Arab commander Thumama ibn al-Walid. The Arab historian al-Tabari records that in 781 Lachanodrakon forced another Arab invasion, under 'Abd al-Kabir, to withdraw without battle, although Theophanes ascribes the success to the sakellarios John. In 782, however, he was defeated by the Arab general al-Barmaqi during a large-scale invasion led by the future caliph Harun al-Rashid (
The Jacobite Syrian Christian Church also known as the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, or the Syriac Orthodox Church of India, is an autonomous Oriental Orthodox Church based in the Indian state of Kerala, and is an integral branch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch. It recognizes the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Of Antioch and all the East, currently Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II seated in the Cathedral of Saint George, Bab Tuma, Damascus, Syria, as its Supreme Head. It functions as a largely autonomous unit within the church, under the authority of the Catholicos of India, currently Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I. Currently, this is the only church in Malankara which has a direct relationship with the Syriac Christians of Antioch, which has continued from after the schism and they continue to use West Syriac Rite.
Thrace is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to the north, the Aegean Sea to the south and the Black Sea to the east. It comprises southeastern Bulgaria, northeastern Greece and the European part of Turkey.
The Armeniac Theme, more properly the Theme of the Armeniacs was a Byzantine theme located in northeastern Asia Minor.
Lachanodrakon reappears in 790, when the young emperor Constantine VI (r. 780–797) conspired to overturn the tutelage of Irene. The general was sent by Constantine to the Armeniac Theme to secure the allegiance of its soldiers. Constantine succeeded in toppling his mother in December 790; it was probably then that Lachanodrakon was rewarded with the supreme non-imperial title, that of magistros . According to the account of Theophanes, he participated in the imperial campaign against the Bulgars in 792 that led to the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Marcellae on 20 July, where he was killed. The history of John Skylitzes records his death in the Battle of Versinikia, again against the Bulgars, in 813, but this is clearly an error.
Leo III the Isaurian, also known as the Syrian, was Byzantine Emperor from 717 until his death in 741 who founded the Isaurian dynasty. He put an end to the Twenty Years' Anarchy, a period of great instability in the Byzantine Empire between 695 and 717, marked by the rapid succession of several emperors to the throne. He also successfully defended the Empire against the invading Umayyads and forbade the veneration of icons.
Leo V the Armenian was Emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 813 to 820. A senior general, he forced his predecessor, Michael I Rangabe, to abdicate and assumed the throne. He ended the decade-long war with the Bulgars, and initiated the second period of Byzantine Iconoclasm. He was assassinated by supporters of Michael the Amorian, one of his most trusted generals, who succeeded him on the throne.
Irene of Athens, also known as Irene Sarantapechaina, was Byzantine empress consort by marriage to Leo IV from 775 to 780, Byzantine regent during the minority of her son Constantine VI from 780 until 790, and finally sole empress regnant of the Byzantine Empire from 797 to 802. A member of the politically prominent Sarantapechos family, she was selected as Leo IV's bride for unknown reasons in 768. Even though her husband was an iconoclast, she harbored iconophile sympathies. During her rule as regent, she called the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, which condemned iconoclasm as heretical and brought an end to the first iconoclast period (730–787).
Artavasdos or Artabasdos, Latinized as Artabasdus, was a Byzantine general of Armenian descent who seized the throne from June 741 or 742 until November 743. His reign constitutes a usurpation against Constantine V, who had retained control of several themes in Asia Minor.
Constantine V, denigrated by his enemies as Kopronymos or Copronymus, meaning the dung-named, was Byzantine emperor from 741 to 775. His reign saw a consolidation of Byzantine security from external threats. As an able military leader, Constantine took advantage of Muslim disunity to make limited offensives on the Arab frontier. With his eastern frontier secure, he undertook repeated campaigns against the Bulgars in the Balkans. His military activity, and policy of settling Christian populations from the Arab frontier in Thrace, made Byzantium's hold on its Balkan territories more secure. His fervent support of Iconoclasm led to his vilification by later Byzantine historians and writers.
Theoktistos was a leading Byzantine official during the second quarter of the 9th century and the de facto head of the regency for the underage Michael III from 842 until his dismissal and murder in 855. A eunuch, he assisted in the ascent of Michael II to the throne in 822, and was rewarded with the titles of patrikios and later magistros. He held the high posts of chartoularios tou kanikleiou and logothetēs tou dromou under Michael and his son Theophilos. After Theophilos' death in 842, Theoktistos became member of the regency council, but soon managed to sideline the other members and establish himself as the virtual ruler of the Empire. Noted for his administrative and political competence, Theoktistos played a major role in ending the Byzantine Iconoclasm, and fostered the ongoing renaissance in education within the Empire. He also continued the persecution of the Paulicians, but had mixed success in the wars against the Arabs. When Michael III came of age in 855, his uncle Bardas persuaded him to throw off the tutelage of Theoktistos and his mother, the Empress Theodora, and on 20 November 855, Theoktistos was assassinated by Bardas and his followers.
Thomas the Slav was a 9th-century Byzantine military commander, most notable for leading a wide-scale revolt in 821–23 against Emperor Michael II the Amorian.
The Byzantine Empire was ruled by the Isaurian or Syrian dynasty from 717 to 802. The Isaurian emperors were successful in defending and consolidating the Empire against the Caliphate after the onslaught of the early Muslim conquests, but were less successful in Europe, where they suffered setbacks against the Bulgars, had to give up the Exarchate of Ravenna, and lost influence over Italy and the Papacy to the growing power of the Franks.
The Thracesian Theme, more properly known as the Theme of the Thracesians, was a Byzantine theme in western Asia Minor. Created either in the mid-7th or the early 8th century as the cantonment of the former Army of Thrace, whence it was named, it was one of the larger and more important themes of the Empire throughout its existence. The Thracesian Theme was one of the longest-lived themes, surviving until the region was conquered by the Turks in the early 14th century.
Alexios Mosele or Mousoulem/Mousele (Μουσουλέμ/Μουσελέ) was a late 8th-century Byzantine general of Armenian origin.
Bardanes, nicknamed Tourkos, "the Turk", was a Byzantine general of Armenian origin who launched an unsuccessful rebellion against Emperor Nikephoros I in 803. Although a major supporter of Byzantine empress Irene of Athens, soon after her overthrow he was appointed by Nikephoros as commander-in-chief of the Anatolian armies. From this position, he launched a revolt in July 803, probably in opposition to Nikephoros's economic and religious policies. His troops marched towards Constantinople, but failed to win popular support. At this point, some of his major supporters deserted him and, reluctant to engage the loyalist forces in battle, Bardanes gave up and chose to surrender himself. He retired as a monk to a monastery he had founded. There he was blinded, possibly on Nikephoros's orders.
Staurakios was a Byzantine eunuch official, who rose to be one of the most important and influential associates of Byzantine empress Irene of Athens. He effectively acted as chief minister during her regency for her young son, Emperor Constantine VI in 780–790, until overthrown and exiled by a military revolt in favour of the young emperor in 790. Restored to power by Constantine along with Irene in 792, Staurakios aided her in the eventual removal, blinding, and possible murder of her son in 797. His own position thereafter was threatened by the rise of another powerful eunuch, Aetios. Their increasing rivalry, and Staurakios's own imperial ambitions, were only resolved by Staurakios's death.
Tatzates or Tatzatios was a prominent Byzantine general of Armenian descent, who in 782 defected to the Abbasids and was appointed governor of Arminiya.
Nikephoros, also Latinized as Nicephorus or Nicephoros, was the second son of Byzantine emperor Constantine V and Caesar of the Byzantine Empire. He was engaged in a plot against his half-brother, Leo IV, which cost Nikephoros his title, and was the focal point of numerous usurpation plots during the subsequent reigns of his nephew, Constantine VI, and of Constantine's mother, Irene of Athens. He was therefore blinded and exiled to a monastery for most of his life, probably dying in the island of Aphousia sometime after 812.
Michael Melissenos was a notable Byzantine aristocrat and general during the reign of Emperor Constantine V.
Saint Stephen the Younger was a Byzantine monk from Constantinople who became one of the leading opponents of the iconoclastic policies of Emperor Constantine V. He was executed in 764, and became the most prominent iconodule martyr. His feast day is celebrated annually on 28 November. His hagiography, the Life of St. Stephen the Younger, is an important historical source.
Manuel the Armenian was a prominent Byzantine general of Armenian origin, active from circa 810 until his death. After reaching the highest military ranks, a palace conspiracy forced him to seek refuge in the Abbasid court in 829. He returned to Byzantine service the next year, receiving the position of Domestic of the Schools from Emperor Theophilos, who had married his niece Theodora. Manuel remained in the post throughout Theophilos's reign, and reportedly saved the emperor's life in the Battle of Anzen in 838. According to one report, he died on 27 July 838 of wounds received during the battle, but other sources record his survival past this date, ascribing him a major role in the regency that governed the empire after Theophilos's death, and report that he died some time around 860.
Symbatios, variously also Sabbatios (Σαββάτιος) or Sambates (Σαμβάτης) in some sources, was the eldest son of the Byzantine emperor Leo V the Armenian. Soon after the coronation of his father, he was crowned co-emperor and renamed Constantine (Κωνσταντῖνος). He reigned nominally along with his father until the latter's deposition in 820, after which he was exiled to Prote, one of the Princes Islands, as a monk.
The Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor in 782 was one of the largest operations launched by the Abbasid Caliphate against the Byzantine Empire. The invasion was launched as a display of Abbasid military might in the aftermath of a series of Byzantine successes. Commanded by the Abbasid heir-apparent, the future Harun al-Rashid, the Abbasid army reached as far as Chrysopolis, across the Bosporus from the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, while secondary forces raided western Asia Minor and defeated the Byzantine forces there. As Harun did not intend to assault Constantinople and lacked ships to do so, he turned back.