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Imperial Ideology after Iconoclasm: Negotiating the Limits of Imperial Power in Byzantium, 843–913

Ivan Marić, University of Edinburgh, Junior Fellow 2017–2018

My dissertation examines the negotiation of a new balance of power between church and state from 843 to 913, and the lasting effects of iconoclasm in this process. At Dumbarton Oaks, I worked on the issues of memory. Specifically, I focused on the vicious anti-iconoclast polemic that began in the early ninth century, which was clearly competing with a more positive memory of the iconoclast emperors (especially Constantine V); and on the post-843 iconophile propaganda as an excellent example of modes of inscribing an official version of history into the social memory. The political and social discourse was characterized by the celebration of martyrs and champions among the iconophiles and the condemnation of supporters and leaders of iconoclasm, with the subtly expressed perception of iconoclasm as an “imperial heresy.” The result was that orthodoxy, closely defined in contrast to iconoclasm, was imposed as the legitimizing quality of a good emperor—partly through the portrayal of celebrated imperial models like Constantine the Great. It is also notable that the integrity of several patriarchs increased enough to publicly discipline imperial figures for transgressing canon and moral laws, even if this kind of challenge inevitably provoked patriarchal depositions.