The Underrated Byzantine Empire

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Constantinople preserved the glory of ancient Rome for a thousand years, all the while protecting the fallen West until it recovered from its Dark Ages.

– 17 July 2015 –

Barzillai “19th Century” Bozarth:

19th-century-barzillaiIn many ways the beauty and mysticism of the Eastern Catholic Church surpasses that of the Western Catholics’.  In the case of the Eastern church, the state and the church were essentially one, and the glory of Christ joined with the glory of the new Rome on the Bosphorus Strait to create a marvelous new civilization—although its members still considered themselves to be Romans—a civilization that lasted for over a thousand years.  The following article by Todd Lewis excerpted from traditionalRIGHT beautifully explains the richness and scientific achievement of the Medieval Roman Empire:

Before I discuss the great minds of the Eastern Church I feel compelled to explain a little of the importance of the Medieval Roman Empire and why it is so little regarded. The Medieval Roman Empire served two vital roles among many in service to the west: (1) it protected the nascent West from barbarian invasion and (2) preserved the light of learning in the sea of night brought on by the Germanic and later Saracen invaders. The number of invasions and invaders that assaulted the Medieval Roman Empire are too numerous to tell here, but suffice it to say there were three major enemies of the West that were either thwarted in their endeavor or as in the case of the later, succeed in a time when the West was strong enough to offer its own defense. The study of Byzantine history was quite popular in Bourbon France and 18th century Europe. It was the work of mean minds such as Voltaire and Gibbon, who in casting away the heritage of Christianity, spent their vitriol on defaming the Medieval Roman Empire. What was inaugurated by Deists was finished by Atheists, to such an extent that popular knowledge of the Medieval Romans is all but nonexistent.

In the 7th century a titanic class [sic] between Romans and Persians occurred in the near east, a war of such a scale had not been seen since the Punic Wars of republican Rome. The Persian armies at their apogee had overrun all of Roman Asia and Egypt. Though ultimately defeated by the military genius Heraclius and the stout defense of Constantinople, a formidable foe was prevented from threatening the weak and young West. The next foe would arise out of the ashes of the old, the Saracen threat would plague both the Roman Empire and the West for centuries to come, but the heaviest blows occurred on the stout walls of Constantinople where in 674-78 and 717-18 the Saracen armies were scattered in no small part due to the new weapon of Greek fire, which I will refer to later. Lastly the Turks who came in the 11th century and would ultimately overcome the Roman Empire, were delayed for centuries, which in turn bought time for the Hapsburgs to develop enough strength to rout the Turks at the gates of Vienna.

The second debt owed to the Eastern Christians is their preservation of ancient texts. We must not forget that there never was any dark age in the eastern Christendom. The Roman Empire continued on as it always had. It might not have had the luster and glory of Old Rome, but their love of the classics never abated and was safely persevered until its transmission to the West in 1453…

…When the last Roman Emperor of the West was displaced by his master of arms, Odoacer, the last vestige of Roman political rule was gone and the long night of barbarism began. I have previously recounted the heroic efforts of isolated scholars in the West to stem the tide, but in the East there was no loss of learning. In fact classical learning, flourished in the Roman Empire of the 5th and 6th centuries…

…Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles should be as famous as Michelangelo and Da Vinci, but falling down the Orwellian memory hole first constructed by small minded deists like the rest of the Middle Ages they are not. These two engineers constructed the greatest architectural wonder of their age, Hagia Sophia (the Church of Holy Wisdom). Isidore was taught geometry and physics in Alexandria and later Constantinople, he was the first to organize Archimedes’ work into one complete volume. Anthemius was a geometrician and architect. Not only were these men gifted geometricians, but they were also master logisticians who were able to manage the tremendous logistical feat of bringing the materials necessary for constructing the church from around the Roman Empire and organizing the labor force to construct it. The finished church was the largest domed building in the world at that time.

Kallinikos of Heliopolis was a Syrian refuge who fled to the court of the Roman Emperor and offered his secret of what would later be known as Greek Fire, but was known to the Romans as Sea Fire. There are numerous explanations as to the chemical nature of Sea Fire, but we do know that naphtha was a key ingredient. This medieval “Napalm” would serve a vital role in repelling the Saracen siege of Constantinople in 674-8 and 717-18. This closely guarded state secret rendered Constantinople unconquerable by sea and by implication land (since it could never be starved into submission), until the Crusader siege of 1204 where the Venetian’s fleet of wooden galleys were coated with canvas and leather soaked in vinegar (one of the few means to retard Sea Fire, the other two being sand and urine) captured the city.

Many historians, in their study of the oft-dismissed Byzantine Empire, found themselves, much to their surprise, completely smitten with the beauty and complexity of this island of civilization caught at the center of a rising, and ultimately overwhelming, barbarian tide.  The deeper one digs into its richness, the more enchanted he becomes.  The West owes its existence to these defenders of Christendom, these bearers of Roman civilization.

I encourage you to read the entire article here

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  1. Reblogged this on Brittius.

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