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CONSTANTINE V

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Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 991 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CONSTANTINE V. Copronymus (Gr. Koapos), son of Leo III. the iconoclast, was emperor 740—775. Immediately after his accession, while he was engaged in a campaign against the Arabs, his brother-in-law, an Armenian named Artavasdus, a supporter of the image-worshippers, had been proclaimed emperor, andit was not till the end of 743 that Constantine re-entered Constantinople. When he felt his position secure, he determined to settle the religious controversy once for all. In 754 he assembled at the palace of Hiereion 338 bishops, by whom the worship of images was forbidden as opposed to all Christian doctrine and a curse pronounced upon all those who upheld it. But in spite of the severity with which the resolution was en-forced, the resistance to iconoclasm continued, chiefly owing to the attitude of the monks, who exercised great influence over the common people. A vigorous campaign against monasticism took place; the monasteries were closed, and many of them pulled down or converted into barracks; monks and nuns were compelled to marry, and exiled in large numbers to Cyprus; the literary and artistic treasures were sold for the benefit of the imperial treasury. One of the most important results of the struggle was the defection of the pope, who sought and obtained protection from Pippin, king of the Franks. All attempts to induce Pippin to throw over his new protege failed, and from this time onward the nominal dependence of Rome and the papacy on emperors at Constantinople ceased. Constantine has been described by the orthodox historians of his time as a monster of iniquity; but, in spite of the harshness and occasional cruelty with which he treated his religious opponents, for which an excuse may be found in the obstinate fanaticism of the monks, 'it is now generally admitted that he was one of the most capable rulers who ever occupied the Byzantine throne. He restored the aqueduct built by Valens and destroyed by the barbarians in the reign of Heraclius, re-peopled Constantinople (after it had been devastated by a great plague) and some of the cities of Thrace, revived commercial prosperity, and carried on a number of wars, in which, on the whole, he was successful, against the Arabs, Slays and Bulgarians. In the year of his death he set out on an expedition against the last-named, but a violent attack of fever obliged him to discontinue his journey. He died on board his fleet on his way home.
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