During the 8th and 9th centuries AD, the Byzantine world underwent one of the most prolonged and heated ethical arguments history was ever to know - it was later called the "Iconoclast Controversy".
For many decades Byzantine artists had created a myriad of images depicting Christ and the saints and the Theotokos and child, most of very rich and costly make.
In the early 8th century, however, a movement of ethical adamants dubbed the iconoclasts (image-destroyers) rose in protest against these artworks, claiming that they drew away the attention of the flock from God to earthly things, and that making images of saintly purpose was akin to blasphemy, for they considered praying before an image equivalent to praying to it. The Emperors Leo III and the later Constantine V were avid iconoclasts - particularly the latter, who found solace from this "profanity" in persecuting iconophiles (image lovers).
Although in 787AD Emperess Irene, at the seventh ecumenical council, restored image acceptance, The iconoclast controversy continued to swing from one extreme to the other for the next one hundred years.