Today in European history: the Siege of Constantinople begins (maybe, 717) and ends (718)

Before it fell for good to the Ottomans in 1453, the city of Constantinople successfully withstood something multiple sieges over its long history. Even the one successful siege, by the soldiers of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, wound up being rolled back when a restored Byzantine Empire supplanted the short-lived Latin Empire in 1261. At least one, and possibly … Continue reading Today in European history: the Siege of Constantinople begins (maybe, 717) and ends (718)

Today in European history: the Fourth Crusade sacks Constantinople (1204)

The Fourth Crusade is for me, in many ways, the Crusadiest of all the Crusades. Sure, the First Crusade actually achieved its goal, which you can’t really say about any of the others in any serious sense, and other Crusades produced quintessential Crusading heroes like Richard the Lionheart and Saint Louis. But overall the Crusades … Continue reading Today in European history: the Fourth Crusade sacks Constantinople (1204)

Today in Middle Eastern history: Antioch surrenders to the Arabs (637)

This will be short, since there's very little to say about the Arab conquest of Syria after the Battle of Yarmouk in 636 shattered Byzantine resistance there. But Antioch was one of the great cities of the eastern Roman Empire, and its conquest was significant, if anticlimactic. The city itself put up almost no resistance … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: Antioch surrenders to the Arabs (637)

Today in Middle Eastern history: Heraclius becomes Byzantine emperor (610)

Islamic historians didn't get into the habit of discussing Roman or Byzantine emperors at any length, with the exception of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius (d. 641). And that makes sense, because Heraclius is actually a pretty important figure in early Islamic history. Without Heraclius, the world in which Muhammad began preaching might have looked considerably different … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: Heraclius becomes Byzantine emperor (610)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Siege of Damascus ends (634)

Nearly two years before the Battle of Yarmouk broke Byzantine military power south of Anatolia pretty much for good, Arab forces captured the jewel of Roman Syria, Damascus. Looking at how they did so offers some important clues as to how they were able to take the rest of the Levant from the Byzantines so easily. … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Siege of Damascus ends (634)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Manzikert (1071)

For some reason the end of August/beginning of September is a busy season for major battles in Middle Eastern history, like Yarmouk, Chaldiran, and Marj Dabiq. There’s another one coming in a couple of days and another a few days after that, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. You could argue that of all of these major battles, … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Manzikert (1071)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Yarmouk (636)

If one were inclined to rank the most important battles in world history, the Battle of Yarmouk probably should be pretty high on the list. It eliminated, over the course of one 6-day battle, almost the entirety of the Byzantine military south of the Taurus Mountains, leaving Syria and the rest of the Levant (with … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Yarmouk (636)

Today in European history: the Fall of Constantinople (1453)

The Ottomans were not the first Islamic power to threaten the Byzantine Empire, and in fact the empire was by 1453 a hollowed out husk of its former glory. Successive waves of Turkish and Mongolian invasions had taken almost all of Anatolia out of Byzantine control, and the Ottomans had by this point conquered much … Continue reading Today in European history: the Fall of Constantinople (1453)

Islamic History, Part 2: The pre-Islamic world

Islamic History Series There are two contextual parts to understanding the rise and rapid spread of Islam in the 7th century: the Arabian context and the wider world with which Arabia interacted. Students learning the history of Islam are usually taught the wider context first, probably because the Arabian context really flows directly into the … Continue reading Islamic History, Part 2: The pre-Islamic world