Roman Emperor Leo III, First Anti-Icon Period of Constantinople (Istanbul) (AD 726-787)

Leo III ruled as emperor for twenty-four years, from 717 to 741. In 726, he launched the first government-led destruction of Christian icons when he ordered the removal of an icon of Jesus Christ from over the ceremonial entrance gate to Constantinople’s imperial palace and its replacement with a cross. Leo III called the honoring of Christian icons “a craft of idolatry” and outlawed it in a imperial edict in 730. This first historical anti-icon period lasted sixty-one years, from 726 to 787.