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Book Review: The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the Process of Islamization from the 11th through the 15th Century by S. Vryonis, University of California Press

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The loss of Asia Minor is often seen as the most decisive factor in the fall of the Byzantine Empire. Asia Minor was the territorial core of the empire during the Middle Byzantine Era. It was a wealthy and populous country of many millions of inhabitants, the main source of resources, raw materials, human resources, employees and soldiers for the Byzantine Empire. Its loss was, indeed, a major cause for the collapse of the Empire. However, this collapse was due to higher and wider political, social, economic, military, religious, ethnological and other negative parameters which in the first place led to the fall of Byzantine Asia Minor and then to the fall of the other imperial territories and eventually of the capital itself. More

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Κωνσταντινούπολη, Βασιλίς πόλεων

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Η παρούσα ανάρτηση αφορά τις εντυπωσιακές αναπαραστάσεις της Κωνσταντινούπολης, της ‘Βασιλίδος πόλεων’, από τον σημαντικό Γάλλο καλλιτέχνη  Antoine Helbert. Εντυπωσιάσθηκα ιδιαίτερα από τις διατομές του και τις απόψεις από αέρος. Οι ακόλουθες αναπαραστάσεις περιλαμβάνουν πέντε απόψεις της Πόλης από αέρος (οι οποίες απεικονίζουν μεταξύ πολλών άλλων κτισμάτων, τον Ιππόδρομο, την Αγία Σοφία κ.α.), δύο διατομές της Αγίας Σοφίας (από τις οποίες η μία είναι λεπτομέρεια της άλλης), διατομές του Βουκολέοντος ήτοι του παράκτιου αυτοκρατορικού παλατίου, και του Περιστυλίου του Μεγάλου Παλατίου, τα τείχη της Πόλης το 1204 όταν οι Σταυροφόροι είχαν στρατοπεδεύσει μπροστά τους, και τέλος τη σκληρή μάχη εναντίον των Οθωμανών στην πύλη του Αγίου Ρωμανού το 1453.

© Τα πνευματικά δικαιώματα των ακολούθων αναπαραστάσεων ανήκουν στον Antoine Helbert.

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Constantinople, Queen of cities: Architecture (part IΙ)

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© Credit/copyright of the following representations belongs to Antoine Helbert.

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Constantinople, Queen of cities: Architecture (part I)

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Today I’ m posting the impressive representations of Constantinople, the Byzantine ‘Queen of cities’, by Antoine Helbert, a French artist. I was impressed mostly by his cross-sections and aerial views. The following representations include five aerial views of Constantinople (depicting among many other features the Hippodrome, the cathedral of Aghia Sophia and many others), two cross-sections of Aghia Sophia (the one being a detail of the other), cross-sections of Boukoleon being the royal palace by the sea, and the Peristylion of the central grand palace and its hall, the walls of the city in 1204 when the Crusaders camped in front of them, and finally the battle at the gate of St. Romanos in 1453 when the city was besieged and captured by the Ottomans.

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© Credit/copyright of the following representations belongs to Antoine Helbert.

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BREAKING THE ETERNITY OF ROME: THE GOTHS AGAINST THE ROMAN EMPIRE

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

 Goths

Earlier  related  article:  BIRTH  OF  THE  STORMERS  OF  ROME:  ON  THE  GOTHIC  ETHNOGENESIS  AND  MIGRATIONS

After  the  carnage  of  the  Roman  army  in  the  Battle  of  Adrianople  (AD  378),  the  new  emperor  Theodosius  checked  as  possible  the  Visigoths  until  AD  382  when  he  came  to  an  agreement  with  them,  formally  accepting  their  settlement  in  the  Roman  territory  as  foederati  (dependent  allies).  The  Goths  joined  en  masse  the  Eastern  Roman  army  which  was  decimated  after  the  defeat  at  Adrianople.  They  soon  acquired  considerable  political  influence  in  the  court  of  Constantinople.  It  is  characteristic  that  a  Goth,  the  famous  Gainas  (Gaenas),  came  up  to  all  the  offices  –  one  by  one  –  of  the  military  hierarchy  and  ultimately  tried  to  seize  the  imperial  throne,  but  without  success.  The  Eastern  Romans  (Early  Byzantines)  realized  the  mortal  danger  of  the  Goths  that  was  threatening  the  Empire  and  reacted  violently.  An  intense  anti-Germanic  feeling  prevailed  in  Constantinople  and  in  a  few  years  most  Goths  had  been  expelled  from  the  administration  and  the  military.  Later,  the  Byzantines  settled  many  Goths  in  Asia  Minor  (in  the  territory  of  the  later  thema  of  Opsikion)  who  were  gradually  Hellenized  and  were  called  Gotthograeci  (Gotho-Greeks).
Until  recently  the  modern  historians  used  to  believe  that  the  historical  Visigoths  were  the  descendants  of  the  Western  Goths  of  Gutthiunta  and  that  the  Ostrogoths  originated  from  the  Eastern  Goths  of  Hermanaric.  During  the  last  decades  it  was  ascertained  that  these  correlations  were  not  correct.  The  Visigoth  tribal  union  was  formed  around  the  time  of  the  battle  of  Adrianople,  possibly  in  the  eve  of  the  battle,  when  the  Thervingi  combined  forces  with  a  portion  of  the  Greuthungi  who  had  escaped  from  the  Hunnish  yoke  and  with  other  barbarian  groups.  The  Ostrogoth  tribal  union  was  formed  a  few  decades  later  (around  AD  400)  when  the  rest  scattered  Greuthungi  and  other  Gothic-German  and  Sarmatian  groups  (namely  the  Goths  of  the  Amali  Dynasty  and  later  the  Goths  of  Theuderic-Strabo,  of  Radagaesus,  some  Alan  groups  and  others)  joined  forces.  However,  most  modern  books,  studies  and  disquisitions  continue  to  use  anachronistically  the  ethnic  terms  Visigoths  and  Ostrogoths  for  the  historical  events  before  378.

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THE BYZANTINE (EASTERN ROMAN) RHOMPHAIA

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 By  Periklis  Deligiannis

Byzantine Kosovo

Modern researchers of medieval military history often wonder what was the nature of the Byzantine weapon called ‘rhomphaia’? The rhomphaia (or rhomphaea) of Antiquity was a weapon of the Thracians, which consisted of a long straight or slightly curved sickle-shaped blade mounted on a long wooden shaft. If the rhomphaia was sickle-shaped, the cutting edge was located on the inner (concave) side of the blade. Specifically the curved rhomphaia belonged to the group of spears and swords with scythe blade which included the kopis, the machaira, the falcata, the falx and others which were used by various peoples of the ancient Mediterranean that is to say the Iberians, Celtiberians, Greeks, Thracians, Etruscans, Lycians, Carians, Lydians, Phrygians, Dacians and others. Their original source is unknown and sometimes the researchers try to locate it. Our opinion is that they are products of polygenesis.
The ancient Greeks and then the Romans were using units of Thracian rhomphaioforoi (rhomphaia-bearers) allies and mercenaries, but they themselves never adopted this weapon. But until the Byzantine period, the Thracians were ethnologically absorbed to the Roman and then to the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) ethnic environment by becoming Latin-speaking north of the Balkan Ridge and Greek-speaking south of it, loosing their own ethnic identity. Thus the rhomphaioforoi combatants were ethnically incorporated to the Romans and the Greeks through Latinization and Hellenization respectively. During the Byzantine Period, the word rhomphaia appears in the Byzantine military terminology posing the aforementioned question.

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