Iconoclasm in the Middle Ages

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The West and the East’s fundamental disagreement over icons caused irreparable short-term damage, leading to a strain in relations between the two. Secondly, to add to the now strained relations, the Germanic tribes had been converting to Christianity, but this point in history witnessed a critical mass of sorts. With so many Germanic tribes converting, the minority Christians had usurped the Pagans as the dominant religion in the Western region of Europe. The Anglo-Saxon and Frankish peoples began to identify with the Christian church in the West, controlled by the Papacy. After converting or massacring the resident Pagans left in Western Europe, Charles’ ascension to the throne precipitated his conquering of the Lombards occupying Italy. Naturally, since Charles’ was a powerful Christian figure in Western Europe, the Papacy spawned an easy alliance by crowning him the Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day in 800. With this coronation, the separation between East and West was all but assured. Pope Gregory III was an ardent supporter of icons, a philosophy that clashed with Eastern traditions, even insofar as Judaism and Islam.

The power that passed to Theodora, wife of Theophilus, after his death is often cited as the catalyst for the return of the icons. Theodora, acting as regent for the king in waiting for Michael III, saw the opportunity to use her temporary power by molding religious beliefs in such a way that ended the iconoclast movement in the West. She summoned the Synod of Constantinople on the 19th of February, 842 which was responsible for venerating the icons with a celebratory feast after council met in the Church of Blachernae, once again realigning the western European Christians with the Papacy.