The 8th Century in Europe: Upcoming Powers in the South, West and North and the Controversy about Iconoclasm

This article is Part 4 of our Centuries series. In it, we will begin with an overview of the dynamic events of the 8th century, before moving on to the internal and external crises facing the Byzantines, namely Iconoclasm and the seemingly invincible armies of Islam.

We will then examine the high-water mark of the Muslim conquests, and how this contributed to the rise of the Carolingian dynasty and lead to the coronation of the Emperor Charlemagne.

Finally, the Vikings emerge from the North and strike terror into hearts across Europe. 

Demonstration of a Sample Page

Book of Kells

Madonna and Child with Angels

Appropriately found across from the words of Matthew concerning Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, this image is likely based on an Eastern or Coptic model. Nonetheless, it is distinctly Insular in character from the intricate interlace of the frame to the incredible color palette created from red and yellow ochre, green copper, indigo, and lapis lazuli. 

The “Madonna and Child” is certainly one of the most iconic and popular themes in the history of Christian art and was particularly popular among Italian artists during the late-medieval/Renaissance period. This 1,200-year-old miniature is the first image of the Virgin Mary to be found in a Western manuscript and is similar to an image found carved on the lid of St. Cuthbert's coffin from 698.