First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Nicephorus, a patrician, reigned 9 years after the Empress Irene (Hyrenem), whom he craftily made a prisoner and exiled to the island of Lesbos. When he entered upon his reign he made peace with Charles (Carolo). And we read that in these same treaties it was provided that the city of Venice, which honored both emperors, might also make use of their laws; but whether in peace or war, it should not belong to either of them. Now when the emissaries submitted the form and text of the treaty to King Charles, who was then at Salzburg, in Germany, he sent them to Rome to submit these matters to the pope. In the same year, which was the first year of the reign of Nicephorus, Aron Admirhas[Aron Admirhas is the Medieval Latin spelling of the name of caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd (‘Aaron the Just’; 763-809).] introduced three hundred thousand Saracens into the Asiatic provinces that were subject to the Constantinopolitan empire. Their arrival so frightened the emperor that he sued for a shameful peace, which he secured upon condition that he pay one thousand pieces of gold to save the empire, and three thousand pieces annually to keep his own head. Not long afterwards, without taking advice, Nicephorus declared his son Stauracius (Scaurationem) a fellow-ruler in the kingdom; and being a younger man, he proceeded to turn away from the base course of his father, but was harassed by the Saracens who committed much damage and mischief in many regions. Nicephorus had much success in his war against the Bulgarians; but before he was able to return to Constantinople to enter into a treaty with the emissaries of Charles, he was defeated and killed in Upper Moesia in a battle with the Bulgarian king. His son Stauracius was wounded in the same battle, and upon his return to Constantinople he received the sovereignty. Stauracius, in the third month of his reign, was deposed by his brother-in-law, Michael, who succeeded him.[Nicephorus (Nikephoros in Greek) I, Roman emperor in the East (802-811), was a native of Seleucia in Pisidia. He was raised by the empress Irene to the office of logothetes (‘finance minister’). With the help of the patricians and eunuchs he contrived to dethrone Irene, and to be elected emperor. His sovereignty was endangered by the revolt of his general Bardanes. But Nicephorus achieved the submission of Bardanes, who was relegated to a monastery. A conspiracy headed by the patrician Arsaber had a similar issue. Nicephorus set himself to increase the empire’s revenue, and by rigorous imposts alienated the favor of his subjects, and especially the clergy. In 803 and 810 he made a treaty with Charlemagne by which the limits of the two empires were amicably fixed. By withholding the tribute which Irene had agreed to pay, Nicephorus committed himself to a war with the Saracens. Compelled by Bardanes’s disloyalty to take the field himself, he sustained defeat at Crasus in Phrygia (805), and only obtained peace on condition of paying a yearly tribute of 30,000 gold pieces. He was slain in 811 in a war with the Bulgarians.]

Michael, the Constantinopolitan emperor, reigned for two years after Stauracius (Scauracium), his brother-in-law. He was a good man and a follower of the holy law. Above all things he was eager to confirm the treaty with Charles (Caroli), which Nicephorus had begun with the emissaries of Charles, who had tarried for many months at Constantinople; by which treaty the East, with Constantinople, was given to Michael, and the West, with Rome, to Charles. And he was so eager to work with Charles that he sent his emissaries to the city of Aachen to meet the emissaries of Charles and propose the treaty. When they arrived there they secured from Charles all they asked. And although said Michael for ever so long warred against the Bulgarians and defeated them, yet he was finally himself defeated to such an extent that he not only lost his army, but also his mind and heart. He abdicated and went into a monastery, and lived there to his end in the service of God. At this time the empire had hardly a name; for the barbarians ruled in the West, and the Romans, worn out by war, looked to Gaul. For this reason little mention is made afterwards of the Constantinopolitan or Greek emperors, but only of Charles the Great and his successors.[Michael I (Rhangabes), an obscure nobleman who had married Procopia, daughter of Nicephorus I, was made emperor in a revolution against his brother-in-law Stauracius, in 811. Elected as the tool of the orthodox party, Michael diligently persecuted the iconoclasts on the northern and eastern frontiers of the empire, but allowed the Bulgarians to ravage a great part of Macedonia and Thrace; having at last taken the field in the spring of 813, he was defeated near Versinikia, and relegated to a monastery in the island of Prote where he died in 845.]

Irene (Hyrene), the mother of Constantine, held the Second Council at Nicaea with 330 bishops. There it was ordained that those who contended that the holy pictures were to be destroyed, were to be punished with an eternal curse. It was also ordained that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son.

Irene (752-803), the wife of Leo IV, Eastern Roman emperor, was originally a poor but beautiful Athenian orphan. She speedily gained the love and confidence of her weak husband, and at his death in 780 was left by him sole guardian of the empire and of their son Constantine VI, then ten years old. Seizing the supreme power in the name of the latter, she ruled the empire at her own discretion for ten years, displaying great firmness and sagacity. Her most notable act was the restoration of the orthodox image-worship, a policy that she always had secretly favored, though compelled to abjure it in her husband’s lifetime. Having elected Tarasius, one of her partisans, to the patriarchate, she summoned two church councils. The first, held in 786 at Constantinople, was frustrated by the opposition of the soldiers. The second, to which the chronicler refers, was convened at Nicaea in 787. It revived the adoration of images and reunited the Eastern church with that of Rome.

As Constantine approached maturity he began to grow restive under his mother’s autocratic sway, with the result that he was finally proclaimed sole ruler in 790. Then Irene organized a powerful conspiracy on her own behalf; the emperor was seized, and by the orders of his mother, his eyes were blinded. For five years she reigned in prosperity and splendor; but in 802 the patricians, upon whom she had lavished every honor and favor, conspired against her, and placed on the throne Nicephorus, the minister of finance. Irene was exiled to Lesbos, and forced to support herself by spinning. She died the following year. Her zeal in restoring images and monasteries has given her a place among the saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The last sentence in this paragraph (“It was also ordained that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son.”) was not part of this Council. In fact, it later became a point of serious contention, as the phrase filioque (Latin for ‘and from the Son’) was inserted later by the Western Church into the Nicene Creed and never accepted by the Eastern Church. Indeed, The insertion of the clause filioque became an issue between the Eastern and Western Churches first in 864 when Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople declared it heretical. It was an element that led to the East-West Schism of 1054. Schedel (or his source) has inserted this false statement here either unintentionally because of faulty historical evidence or intentionally to reflect his belief in the superiority of the Western Church over that of the Eastern Church.

Also, Pope Adrian (Hadrianus), after peace was secured with the Lombards, held the Seventh Council, attended by 350 bishops. In that Council the matter of the Felician heresy was disposed of; laymen were commanded not to interfere with the election of a Roman pope; also that persons without honor were not to be called into the priesthood; and so also that the clergy in foreign lands were not to allow themselves to be drawn into the civil courts.[During the pontificate of Adrian was held the Second Council of Nicaea (787), being the Seventh Ecumenical (i.e., General) Council, by which the worship of images was formally sanctioned, and the decrees of a council held at Constantinople, in 754, by which that worship was denounced, were condemned. The business of this council was conducted by Tarasius, of Constantinople, two legates from Rome being present; but the empress Irene declared Adrian president as being the chief bishop of the world. The decrees of this council, however, were not received in the West.]