Friday, May 30, 2008

Celebrating the Conquest of Byzantium

Today in History ...

Turkish Daily News: "Conquest celebrations depict Istanbul as a Muslim city"

As Istanbul's municipality and governorship celebrate the 555th anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul, academics believe the significance attached to the celebrations has been increasing over the last decades due to a rise in Islamist sentiments in Turkey. (...) Nilüfer Narlı (an academic at Bahçeşehir University) (...) argued that, though the conquest has significance in Turkish history in general, the idea of Istanbul becoming a Muslim city is particularly important to Islamist segments of the population. The municipality and government have also been criticized for choosing to highlight the importance of the day, and its Islamic elements in particular. It is celebrated with the same fervor as the conquest and the Youth Day for the first time this year." (...) >>>

- Caption: Golden Horn building showing its Greek heritage, now housing a private college -

Here are some YouTube images of the large scale celebrations last year.

Jihad Watch has the story of Constantinople's fall, narrated in part by historian Steven Runciman:

"Today marks the anniversary of the real Nakba, or perhaps more precisely the καταστροφή -- the Catastrophe: on this day in 1453, the armies of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II entered Constantinople, marking the end of the Eastern Roman Empire, more commonly known as the Byzantine Empire.

If anything deserves to be called an occupation, and a nakba, it is this, although it has, like so many other bloody conquests in human history, been legitimized by time. Still, if the descendants of the Christian inhabitants of Constantinople and Anatolia were to demand, and receive, a right of return, rapidly-Islamizing Turkey would look vastly different from how it looks now.

On this day in 1453, the conquerers were extraordinarily brutal. Historian Steven Runciman notes that the Muslim soldiers "slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women, and children without discrimination. The blood ran in rivers down the steep streets from the heights of Petra toward the Golden Horn. But soon the lust for slaughter was assuaged. The soldiers realized that captives and precious objects would bring them greater profit." (The Fall of Constantinople 1453, Cambridge University Press, 1965, p. 145.)

Some jihadists "made for the small but splendid churches by the walls, Saint George by the Charisian Gate, Saint John in Petra, and the lovely church of the monastery of the Holy Saviour in Chora, to strip them of their stores of plate and their vestments and everything else that could be torn from them. In the Chora they left the mosaics and frescoes, but they destroyed the icon of the Mother of God, the Hodigitria, the holiest picture in all Byzantium, painted, so men said, by Saint Luke himself. It had been taken there from its own church beside the Palace at the beginning of the siege, that its beneficient presence might be at hand to inspire the defenders on the walls. It was taken from its setting and hacked into four pieces." (P. 146.) The jihadists also entered the Hagia Sophia, which for nearly a thousand years had been the grandest church in Christendom. The faithful had gathered within its hallowed walls (...) >>>

- Caption: clay farm figurines from the Athens Byzantine and Christian Museum -

A tutorial on the Eastern Roman Empire is available on the site of Paul Stephenson.

And here are the poems by W.B. Yeats: Byzantium and Sailing to Byzantium

- Filed on Articles in "History Compiled (another catastrophe)" -


Red Square said...

The People's Cube covered the issue some time ago...

Thanks for linking to the Cube from Politeia! The Party has noticed your zeal and loyalty.

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