But Leo's most striking legislative reforms dealt with religious matters, especially iconoclasm. After an apparently successful attempt to enforce the baptism of all Jews and Montanists in the empire (722), he issued a series of edicts against the worship of images (726-729). This prohibition of a custom which had undoubtedly given rise to grave abuses seems to have been inspired by a genuine desire to improve public morality, and received the support of the official aristocracy and a section of the clergy. But a majority of the theologians and all the monks opposed these measures with uncompromising hostility, and in the western parts of the empire the people refused to obey the edict. A revolt which broke out in Greece, mainly on religious grounds, was crushed by the imperial fleet (727), and two years later, by deposing the patriarch of Constantinople, Leo suppressed the overt opposition of the capital. In Italy the defiant attitude of Popes Gregory II and III on behalf of image-worship led to a fierce quarrel with the emperor. The former summoned councils in Rome to anathematize and excommunicate the iconoclasts (730, 732); Leo retaliated by transferring southern Italy and Greece from the papal diocese to that of the patriarch. The struggle was accompanied by an armed outbreak in the exarchate of Ravenna (727), which Leo finally endeavoured to subdue by means of a large fleet. But the destruction of the armament by a storm decided the issue against him; his south Italian subjects successfully defied his religious edicts, and the province of Ravenna became detached from the empire.
see also Pope Leo III, 795-816.\n