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Leo III the Isaurian, 25 March 717 - 18 June 741 A.D.
Joint rule with Constantine V (his son), 25 August 720 - 18 June 741 A.D. Leo III and the dynasty he founded are probably misnamed because he was likely born not in Isauria, but in Syria. Of peasant origin, he worked his way up in the army until, as a general, he seized the throne from the weak emperor Theodosius III. Leo so successfully defeated the Arabs that they ceased to be a serious threat for a couple of centuries. Unfortunately his iconoclast policies (opposition to devotion to religious images) began a division of Christianity which resulted in the destruction of thousands of masterpieces of Roman art, split the Roman and Byzantine churches (fortunately the Pope refused his order to destroy the artworks of Rome), and resulted in violent struggles between iconoclasts and their opposition which would not end until 842 A.D.