Iconoclast Wars

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Iconoclast Wars
Surikov Pokoreniye Sibiri Yermakom.jpg
Famous painting depicting the Battle of XXXXX in modern-day Ravnia. Iconodulic forces on the left holding the Banner of Sotiras face off against Iconoclast forces on the right, who often fielded nation banners or no banner at all.
Result De facto stalemate; de jure Iconoclastic victory
Empire of Tengaria
Duchy of Pavatria
Principality of Radushia
Unio Trium Nationum (1440–41)
Kingdom of Ravnia
Realm of Thorns
Apolitan Kingdom
Bistravian Rebels
Zalyk Qaganate
Commanders and leaders
Vasil II
István Dömötör
Ivan III (1409–31)
Tomislav II (1431–41)
Aliaksandr II   (1409–19)
Aliaksandr III (1419–30)
Uladzimir I (1430–41)
Manuel the Good (1440–41)
George II  
Premysl IV  
Neritsomir III
Gheorghe II  (1409–21)
Mihai I  (1428–35)
Ioan IV  (1435–44)
Büden Qagan   (1409–12)
Tseren Qagan   (1412–27)
Ayn-amd Qagan   (1427–36)
Ijl Qagan   (1436–40)
Kirsan Yisu Qagan (1440–41)
Casualties and losses
27,615 killed, wounded or missing
19,992 killed, wounded or missing
10,294 killed, wounded or missing
3245 killed, wounded or missing
43,800 killed, wounded, or missing
4,011 killed, wounded or missing

The Iconoclast Wars (see names) were an extensive, widespread conflict in Western Euclea over the beliefs and stances of its Episemialist patriarchates on the use of iconography. It is one of the most well-documented and studied conflicts in Western Euclean history and was one of the largest conflicts ever until the Ten Years' War in the 18th century. At its height, the war involved over half a million military personnel and affected millions of people across Western Euclea during its near forty-year-long period.

The main precursor of the war was the theological controversy in the Episemialist Church over the issue of icons and holy images, with iconodules promoting the use and veneration of icons, and the iconophiles believing these were against the divine will of God. This culminated in the iconoclast rebellion in the dying Empire of Arciluco, which by 1385 had resulted in the Empire's final destruction and the beginning of the Realm of Thorns. Ravnia adopting iconoclasm granted increased legitimacy to the iconoclastic movement, which in turn led to its adoption in other states. After a failed attempt to resolve the controversy in the Council of Lenovo and a seperation from the Solarian Catholic Church, both sides declared the other to be anathema, causing a schism with the Episemialst church. In primary opposition to the Iconoclasts were the Empire of Tengaria, proclaimed as the to successor to the Empire of Arciluco by exiled Ecumenical Patriarch Alexander III and defenders of true Sotrianity, and the powerful northern Duchy of Pavatria, to where Alexander later remained in exile. Following almost 20 years of extremely tense relations and minor religious conflict, at Alexander III's request, the Duchy of Pavatria and the Empire of Tengaria declared war on the Kingdom of Ravnia and the Realm of Thorns in 1409, aiming to restore the original Episemialist Church to absolute authority in Western Euclea. They were supported by other minor states.

Battles involving tens of thousands of soldiers were commonplace throughout the wars, and was one of the bloodiest wars in history at the time. Conflict was centred around two theatres, with the northern theatre around the Ravnian-Pavatrian border as well as Lake Min, and the southern theatre, which occured all around Tengaria's borders, with both seeing immense amounts of bloodshed throughout the war. Throughout the early periods of the wars, the iconoclast faction saw notable victories in the northern theatre, notably at the Battle of Gritsky in 1417, where a combined Pavatrian-Radushian force of around 65,000 was decisively defeated and pushed back by a Ravnian force of 50,000, who later began to advance towards many of Pavatria's urban centres. In the southern theatre, the iconodulic forces gained the upper-hand, the Tengarian forces decisively beat the forces of the Realm of Thorns on the field of battle and crushed a iconoclastic Bistravian rebellion, but failed to capture its the city of Arciluco. By the end of the war, with tens of thousands of casualties on both sides, the conflict had devolved into a bloody stalemate, by which both sides agreed to a ceasefire. In 1441, an unofficial policy of cuius egio, eius religio was implemented in Western Euclea, achieving de facto recognition of the existence of both churches by their respective sides.

One of Euclea's most pivotal and largest conflicts, the Iconoclast Wars achieved mass acceleration in military technology between the sides, employing weapons such as early hand cannons during the war. It is an extremely significant conflict in Episemialism, with some historians going as far as arguing that the wars led the basis of early religious freedom in Euclea. The iconoclast realms benefitted with some recognition immediately after the war, but the decline of the Realm of Thorns and rise of the subsequent iconodulic Unio Trium Nationum would see the fall of Iconoclasm in Amathia, which was further developed when Ravnia came back into communinion years later. Because of the failure to enforce iconodulism and to recapture the Imperial capital of Arciluco, the war would result in the decreased recognition of spiritual authority of the Emperors of Tengaria, who claimed the Solarian title, thus leading to the of the idea of universal monarchy which had been part of the Empire of Arciluco falling out of favor. The wars also oversaw the formation and centralisation of Soravia in the north, which would play an important role of establishing it as the predominant political power of Western Euclea.


Iconoclastic schism

Iconoclast Controversy and the Fall of Arciluco

The origins of the controversy began in the early 1370s in the decaying Empire of Arciluco between several prominent Church theologians. Faced with a crumbling Empire, and longstanding concern over the nature of the veneration of icons led to XXXX to challenge the Church's position on icons in 1372. His position soon became popular, speading through the city and other parts of the Empire. Many accepted the usage of such images as the cause of the fallen state of the Empire. Eventually Ecumenical Patriarch Alexander III declared XXXX to be a heretic, but the controversy had already begun to spread throughout Euclea. The anathema on XXXX did little to settle the debate in Amathia itself, and soon the popular iconoclastic Order of the Thorns gained prominence.

The Iconoclast ideas fared differently to the different places they spread. In the Grand Principality of Tengaria, a vassal of Arciluco, the iconodule and pious Grand Prince Vasil V worked to stamp out iconoclasm from his lands, with the Holy Synod of Tengaria declaring it to be heretical in 1374. In the following years, the synods of various nations declared one way or the other, with the Duchy of Pavatria and Radushia going iconodule, while the Kingdom of Ravnia and the Apolitan Kingdom went iconoclast.

In late 1384, the Order of Thorns launched an uprising in Amathia, defeating Imperial forces and driving them back towards Arciluco, eventually laying siege to the city itself. Grand Prince Vasil raised his forces to combat the rebels, but failed to reach the city in time before it fell in January of 1385. The Emperor was killed, and the Order declared the end of the Empire and the establishment of the new Realm of Thorns. Alexander III escaped the fall of the city and fled to the Tengarian army, which was unable to retake the city, although it was able to prevent the Order from taking the western marches of Amathia. Vasil invited all the other iconodule Amathian bishops and clergy protection from the iconoclast persecution which was ongoing in the lands controlled by the Realm. In gratitude, the joint iconophile bishops of Amathia and Tengaria elected Vasil as the next Emperor of the Solarians, with Alexander III crowning him.

Council of Lenovo and Schism with the Papacy

After making a temporary truce with the Realm of Thorns, one of Vasil's first acts as Emperor was to call the Council of Lenovo, an Ecumenical council for all of the bishops of the Churches in the Western part of Euclea to address the controversy and to come with a definative solution, in the city of Lenovo. All Bishops were granted safe-passage, and soon Lenovo was filled with Bishops from all over the Western portions of Euclea, although many arrived with armed escorts. From the beginning, the Council was frought with strife and discord between the few factions, even resulting in several physical scuffles on the Council floor.

A week into the Council's proceedings, two Papal legates arrived, demanding that the Council be dismissed at once. When asked why, they say that Vasil had no authority to call a council in the first place, as a so-called "Emperor" had no right to call councils, as that perogative only properly belonged to the Pope. Furthermore, the Holy Father was concerned that none of the Bishops of the East had been called to the Council. Problems also occured from the fact that although Papal legates had been customarily invited, the Council had begun without them. The Council, already hostile to each other, rejected the demands of the legates out of hand and dismissed them from the Cathedral. Vasil and some of the bishops attempted to work out a compromise, explaining that only the areas involved in the controversy had been invited to come, as had happened in several Western Ecumenical Councils in the past, but Eastern Bishops could come if they wished. However, the legates refused to back down from their position, citing Vasil's lack of authority and the lack of authority of the synods and councils without Papal approval.

The Papal legates returned to the Council, this time excommunicating all the Bishops who participated, and the Council likewise put forward an anathema against the legates and any who would try and usurp the authority of a Council, the first formal act of the council. These acts were the breaking point solidified the schism between the Solarian Catholic Church and the Episemialist Church, which had already had several political and theological crises beforehand. These crises, such as disputes about married clergy, liturgical language and theological methods were brought up again and used as further justification for each side to split. The Papal legates departed back for Solaria, and the Council continued.

Iconoclast Schism and Build Up to the War

The central issue of the Council itself was the usage of Icons, and for several weeks Bishops and Theologians from both sides argued vehemently that the other side was in fact heretical. The iconoclasts argued that the usage of icons was unscriptural, harmful to a careful understanding of Sotirias in His two natures, and that the practice of most iconodules essentially amounted to the worship of idols. The iconophiles, on the other hand, argued that Holy Images and relics were part of the Holy Tradition of the Church from the very beginning, and that the Incarnation of Sotirias meant that images of Him was acceptable. However, despite the excessive disputations, most Bishops refused to leave the positions they were in prior to the convoking of the Council. Eventually, Alexander III, who was presiding over the council, asked the Bishops to confirm or to deny a statement which declared that Iconoclasm is heretical. The resulting vote fell mostly upon national lines, with the number of Bishops in favor of the statement outnumbering those against it.

In outrage, the iconoclast Bishops, calling the Council a farce, departed from the Council, and travelled together away from the city to Arciluco, where they set up a rival Council. Several of the iconophile bishops demanded that Vasil take the heretical bishops into custody; however, Vasil granted them safe passage, as he had sworn to do, an act which later was praised by several of the iconoclast bishops, despite their opposition to his firmly iconophile stance. In the rival Council, they repudiated it as being illegitimate and heretical, affirming that it was in fact heretical to use icons, while affirming the canons against the ideas of the papal legates.

In the continuing Council of Lenovo, however, they reaffirmed the heretical nature of iconoclasm, drawing canons to proclaim the movement as anathema. They also denounced the new Council as illegitimate. In addition, they affirmed that Vasil indeed have the authority as Emperor as given to him by the Holy Synods of the Imperial territories, as well as making provision for the excommunication and nominal deposition of Amathian clergy who now had taken the place of exiled bishops. The Council had failed to provide closure to the issue, but firmly entrenched both sides in their theological camps; eventually, both councils ended, and the Bishops returned to their sees.

For the next two decades, there remained an uneasy peace between the countries which believed in each. Emperor Vasil did not press war immediately, but instead inisited upon building up the new Imperial infrastructure and education in Tengaria, claiming the need to lay the groundwork for a reconquest of the rebel lands in Arciluco. This, however, allowed for the Order of Thorns to cement its rule over most of Amathia. Ecumenical Patriarch Alexander III eventually headed north to Soravia, where he pressed the powerful Duke of Pavatria to go to war against the iconoclast Ravnians. Only on the death of Vasil I did his grandson Vasil II say that it was time to defeat Iconoclasm through the force of arms.

Events of the war

Northern Theatre

 • 1409: Pavatrian forces march into Ravnian territory.
 • 1417: Battle of Gritsky, in 1417, Ravnian force of 50,000 decisively defeats a Pavatrian-Radushian force of around 65,000.

Southern Theatre

First phase:

 • Vasil II's aim was to conquer the Realm of Thorns and reclaim the Imperial capital of Arciluco.
 • 1409: Massed Tengarian forces under Vasil's command advance into the western marches of Amathia towards Arciluco. Several skirmishes end in favor of the Tengarian forces.
 • Early 1410: Forces of the Realm of Thorns finally meet the Tengarians outside of the XXXXX. The resulting Battle of XXXXX results in a decisive Tengarian victory, with the Realm of Thorns armies retreating to Arciluco.
 • 1410-1417: First siege of Arciluco- Vasil's forces besiege Arciluco. Despite several attempts to storm the city, each attack is repulsed with heavy losses. After these initial attempts failed, Vasil began to move the bulk of his armies around, while keeping a not insignifcant force keeping a lighter siege on the city itself. However, several Amathian attempts to break the siege end in failure as well.
 • 1410-1412: Vasil at first attempts to attack other Amathian cities to the south of Arciluco to surround the city, but is beaten back from advancing deeply into Amathia over the course of several battles, and his armies are never able to completely cut off supplies to Arciluco. Several other battles against the forces of the Realm of Thorns end inconclusively.
 • 1412-1414: Hearing about a rebellion in the Bistravian territories, Vasil brings the bulk of his forces to the north to confront the rebels head on. The iconoclast rebels are decisvely beaten on the field in the battle of XXXX in late 1412. Over the course of the next two years, Vasil would use the army to implement a Tengarian nobility and a new order to the Bistravian territories to bring them firmly under control of the crown.
 • 1414-1416: Having defeated the rebellion, Vasil heads east again towards Arciluco, and one again attempts to take the city, but fails again. His second attempt to cut off the city's supplies through incursions into enemy territory also result in battles where he was unable to secure strategic victory.
 • 1416-1417: While Tengarian forces have largely been committed to the north and the east, Ravnians overran the western holdings of the Empire in 1415. With designs on Arciluco failing, Vasil leads his forces east to fight against the Ravnians. Over the course of several battles, Vasil was able to drive the Ravnians from Tengaria, but at great cost of man and will power. The war begins to take a toll on many of the forces, as the war has been very inconclusive.
 • 1417-1418: After the disaster for the iconodules at the Battle of Gtisky in 1417, the forces of the Realm of Thorns use raise a new army and hand the Tengarian army outside the walls of Arciluco a decisive being, in morale to break the siege and send the Tengarian forces in chaotic retreat. Vasil directs his army away from the Ravnian front to stop the collapse of the Eastern border, and manages to stop the advance of the Amathian forces at the Battle of XXXX. However, the Ravnians were quick to capitalize on the lack of major Tengarian presence, beating the border garrisons and pushing into Tengarian territory.
 • 1418-1421: Now fighting a defensive rather than offensive war and a large amount of his troops dispersed, Vasil was forced to split his principal army yet again, giving most of his cavalry and command of the Ravnian front to his chief lieutenant István Dömötör, a Savader, while keeping for himself the bulk of the infantry to oversee the Amathian war as well as the raising of more troops. Several Amathian attacks are repulsed by Vasil, but with the decreased numbers he is unable to make any gains in the war. On the Ravnian front, Dömötör resorted to hit and run tactics to harry the Ravnians when he could, but was simply outnumbered and unable to do more than to slow down and stop advances. However, Ravnian overextension led to Dömötör cutting off Ravnian supply lines in later 1420, combined with the arrival of reinforcements, saw the battle of Elena, where the Ravnians were defeated and driven back. However, the Ravnians are able to sieze and hold on to the Western marches of the Empire. In 1421, Vasil had worked out a truce with both the Realm of Thorns and Ravnia, giving time for him to attend to internal affairs, to rebuild his forces, lasting until 1425.

Second Phase:

 • 1425-1427: Skirmishes along the Amathian border lead to the resumption of war in 1425. Vasil musters his forces and attacks the Amathians, defeating them in the battle of XXXX. His forces again push towards Arciluco, and lay siege to the city for the second time during the war. Despite having superior numbers and new siege equipment, the assualt on the city fails due to determined resistance by the forces of the Realm of Thorns. After a month and a failed siege, Vasil withdraws his troops to more defensive positions and lifts the siege on the city.
 • 1427-1431: Vasil travels to the Ravnian border to engage Ravnian invasions across the Tengarian border. A lengthy and contracted compaign drives the Ravnian forces out of Tengaria, but fails to recapture the territory lost in the first part of the war.
 • 1431: Another smaller Bistravian rebellion arises. Dömötör is able to defeat the rebellion, and Vasil instigates more policies to ensure the loyalty of the region.
 • 1431-1434: A period of stalemate, with both sides initiating campaigns which are stopped intentionally with smaller gains or which are beaten back.
 • 1434-1437: Vasil tries one last Amathian campaign, and is once again successful on the field. However, the final siege of Arciluco ends in disaster when the army is defeated before the walls of Arciluco by Amathian forces a week into the siege. Vasil was able to hold his army together but was forced to retreat, and does not take offensive action on the Amathian front again.
 • 1437-1439: The Amathians attempt to capitalize on the victory and push the Tengarians fully out of Amathia, but Vasil holds his position and holds on to the southwestern marches of Amathia. Further Ravnian incursions into Tengaria are beaten back by Dömötör and his forces. One Ravnian advance which manages to get passed is decisively beaten at the Battle of Gradon when Vasil reenforces his men in 1439.
 • 1439-1444: The war devolves into a stalemate, with Vasil without the money or manpower to make a major offensive campaign again. The Realm of Thorns soon falls into chaos as the Unio Trium Nationum arises in 1440 under Manuel the Good. Several minor campaigns occur on the Tengarian-Ravnian border, but the truce line of 1421 ultimately holds, giving control of the Empire's western lands to Ravnia. Vasil maintains control over the southwestern portion of Amathia, but has failed three times to capture the Imperial Capital of Arciluco.

Stalemate period