Byzantine, Constantine V with Leo IV

Byzantine, Constantine V with Leo IV
Mint condition with full lustre – very attractive even though on an undersized flan as usual. Constantine V ruled as co-emperor with his son Leo IV and at the same time was associated on the throne with his father Leo III – hence three portraits on this issue of coins. Constantine became perhaps an even more fervent iconoclast than his father. Constantine's avowed enemies over this extremely emotional issue, the iconodules, applied to him the derogatory epithet Kopronymos ("dung-named", from kopros, meaning "feces" or "animal dung", and onoma, "name"). Using this obscene name, they spread the rumour that as an infant he had defecated in his baptismal font, or on the imperial purple cloth with which he was swaddled. Constantine, in his iconoclastic zeal, specifically targeted the monks, pairing them off and forcing them to marry nuns in the Hippodrome and expropriating monastic property for the benefit of the state or the army. The repressions against the monks (culminating in 766) were largely led by the Emperor's general Michael Lachanodrakon, who threatened resistant monks with blinding and exile. An iconodule abbot, Stephen Neos, was brutally lynched by a mob at the behest of the authorities. As a result, many monks fled to southern Italy and Sicily. By the end of Constantine's reign, Iconoclasm had gone as far as to brand relics and prayers to the saints as heretical. Ultimately, iconophiles considered his death a divine punishment. In the 9th century he was disinterred, and his remains were thrown into the sea.

Crowned busts of Constantinus V and Leo IV facing, wearing chlamys; between heads, cross, CONTAN LEO.

Crowned bust of Leo III facing, wearing loros and holding cross potent, [LE]ON PAM[Y]

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