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Western Civilisation

Until the advent of materialism and 19th c. dogma, Western Civilisation was  superior to anything Islam had developed.  Islam has not aided in the development of the modern world; in fact civilisation has only been created in spite of Islam.  Proof of this resides in the 'modern' world and the unending political-economic and spiritual poverty of Muslim states and regions.  Squatting on richer civilisations is not 'progress'.  Islam is pagan, totalitarian, and irrational.   

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Saturday, May 13, 2023

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History of the Byzantine Empire, Sir Charles Oman, 272 pages, 2018

If Byzantium did not exist there would be no Europe.

by Ferdinand III

History of the Byzantine Empire by [Charles Oman] 

Sir Charles Oman was a Victorian writer of prodigious output and talent.  His books are quite ‘Victorian’ and thus a pleasure to read, devoid as they are, of the current ‘modern world’s’ madness of relativity, diversity, inclusivity and ‘hurt feelings’.  He has written extensively on the middle ages, the peninsula war of the early 19th century against Napoleon and the ‘art’ of war in general.  His works are always well researched and reveal a broad knowledge, detail and clearly stated viewpoints, which even if the reader may not agree with, are at least baldly presented and do not suffer from ‘nuances’, or ‘complications’. 


Westerners would do well to read this and other works on Byzantium each of which will offer a slightly different viewpoint but most agreeing that it was essential to the survival of European Christendom, without which, there is no modern world.  You don’t necessarily have to believe Norwich that the West was responsible for the collapse of the Eastern Byzantine empire (it played a role, but was not the cause of its demise), or others who believe that it was ‘oriental’ and doomed to failure (it was Christian and not oriental).  Most surveyors of Byzantium, even those who loathe Christianity though they enjoy the fruits of its civilisation, come away with a deep regard for the accomplishments of an empire which last from 330 AD to 1453 AD, the longest lasting empire in history.  Even slavery as Oman documents was greatly modified and affected:


Slavery was also profoundly affected by the teaching of the Church. The ancient world, save a few philosophers, had regarded the slave with such contempt that he was hardly reckoned a moral being or conceived to have rights or virtues. Christianity taught that he was a man with an immortal soul, no less than his own master, and bade slaves and freemen meet on terms of perfect equality around the baptismal font and before the sacred table. It was from the first taught that the man who manumitted his slaves earned the approval of heaven, and all occasions of rejoicing, public and private, were fitly commemorated by the liberation of deserving individuals. Though slavery was not extinguished for centuries, its evils were immensely modified; Justinian’s (6th c.) legislation shows that by his time public opinion had condemned the characteristic evils of ancient slavery: he permitted the intermarriage of slaves and free persons, stipulating only for the consent of the owner of the servile partner in the wedlock. He declared the children of such mixed marriages free, and he made the prostitution of a slave by a master a criminal offence. Hereditary slavery became almost unknown….


How many today know the above?  Few.  The entire moral, legal and professional outlook including that of science and math, was vastly improved and deepened by Christianity.


Beyond the above benefits, as a commentary we can say rather obviously that the fast imploding, modern, quite demoralised and demented Western Civilisation owes its very existence in many ways, to the Orthodox Christian empire of Byzantium.  The import of the Eastern Roman-Greek-Christian empire can be summarised quite simply:  if Byzantium did not exist than the Arab Muslims, or even more likely, the Muslim Turks (Seljuks or Ottomans), would have conquered most of Europe


It really is quite as straightforward as that.  Add in the cultural ‘enrichment’ offered by Byzantine to the West including: early universities (8th century onwards), libraries of classical writing and philosophy, maginificent and glorious art, a legal codex which forms the basis of modern legal systems, the extravagance and ceremony of King-or-Emperor-Empress-ship, military technology, sundry inventions for ordinary life, the early form of feudal organisation to protect its borders (often used as a pejorative against the middle ages, but it was the only construction that was sensible at the time), the nexus of trade and capital networks, massive and innovative engineering and building works including the Hagia Sophia and of course its pious and comprehensive Christianity which converted the Balkans, Bulgaria, and most importantly Russia to the true faith.


Oman covers most of these facts and the vital nature of this Christian empire, as it sought to survive the onslaughts of pagan nomads from the Huns, Avars, Magyars, Pechenegs, Goths, Slavs, Russians or Vikings and others, to Persians, Arabs, Turks and the catastrophe rendered to world civilisation by the endless Muslim Jihad, now in the dark ignorance of our modern dark ages, ascribed to, and blamed on the Christians who are somehow cited as the impetus and mainspring of unrelenting evil.  Blame the victim it is called and is routinely done by the mendacious, evil and stupid.


The history of Byzantium is complex and quite byzantine.  You need to have a materials at hand and a transcriber to understand the various Emperors, reigns, families, children, alliances, coups and counter-coups, historical events and sundry details of every age.  It is hard work to plough through.  Oman captures most of this quite well, and highlights some important facts given below.


Justinian I as Louis XIV

Justinian I of the 6th century tried to reconstitute the entire Roman empire by embarking on ill-fated, and quite pointless wars in Italy and North Africa.  He is the creator of great works including the Hagia Sophia.  But he also bankrupted the empire.


In the extent of his conquests and the magnificence of his public works, he was incomparably the greatest of the emperors who reigned at Constantinople. But the greatness was purely personal: he left the empire weaker in resources, if broader in provinces, than he found it. Of all the great sovereigns of history he may be most fairly compared with Louis XIV. of France; but it may be remembered to his credit in the comparison that Louis has nothing to set against Justinian’s great legal work—the compilation of the Pandects and Institutes, and that Justinian’s private life, unlike that of the Frenchman, was strict even to austerity. All night long, we read, he sat alone over his State papers in his cabinet, or paced the dark halls in deep thought. His sleepless vigilance so struck his subjects that the strangest legends became current even in his life-time: his enemies whispered that he was no mere man, but an evil spirit that required no rest. One grotesque tale even said that the Emperor had been seen long after midnight traversing the corridors of his palace—without his head…..


The grinding taxation of Justinian’s reign bore fruit in the permanent impoverishment of the provinces: his successors were never able to raise such a revenue again. Here again Justinian may well be compared to Louis XIV.



Justinian’s reign, of overreach, massive taxes and burdens carried an awful price which lasted for some 3 generations and this impoverishment would prove decisive.  In the early 7th century, the Muslim Jihad issued forth in all its pestilential madness in 634 AD to conquer the world.  For some 20 years before this onslaught, it was the Persians who attempted to destroy the Eastern Christian empire.  They enacted huge slaughter and terror, long since forgotten of course in the ‘West’.  This long war plus religious schisms and civil conflict within the Byzantine empire set the stage for the rapid Arab-Muslim conquests of the 630s and 40s. 


The great town of Damascus fell into his (Chosroes the Persian King) hands; but worse was to come. In 614 the Persian army appeared before the holy city of Jerusalem, took it after a short resistance, and occupied it with a garrison. But the populace rose and slaughtered the Persian troops when Shahrbarz had departed with his main army. This brought him back in wrath: he stormed the city and put 90,000 Christians to the sword, only sparing the Jewish inhabitants. Zacharias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, was carried into captivity, and with him went what all Christians then regarded as the most precious thing in the world—the wood of the “True Cross.” Helena, the mother of Constantine, had dug the relic up, according to the well-known legend, on Mount Moriah, and built for it a splendid shrine. Now Shahrbarz desecrated the church and took off the “True Cross” to Persia.


The horror and rage roused by the loss of the “True Cross” and the blasphemies of King Chosroës brought about the first real outburst of national feeling that we meet in the history of the Eastern Empire.


It was felt that the fate of Christendom hung in the balance, and that all, from highest to lowest, were bound to make one great effort to beat back the fire-worshipping Persians from Palestine, and recover the Holy Places. The Emperor vowed that he would take the field at the head of the army—a thing most unprecedented, for since the death of Theodosius I., in 395, no Caesar had ever gone out in person to war. The Church came forward in the most noble way—at the instance of the Patriarch Sergius all the churches of Constantinople sent their treasures and ornaments to the mint to be coined down, and serve as a great loan to the state, which was to be repaid when the Persians should have been conquered.


Heraclius and the Crusade against the Persians.


This expedition of Heraclius was in spirit the first of the Crusades. It was the first war that the Roman Empire had ever undertaken in a spirit of religious enthusiasm, for it was to no mere political end that the Emperor and his people looked forward. … Heraclius made no less than six campaigns (a.d. 622-27) in his gallant and successful attempt to save the half-ruined empire. He won great and well-deserved fame, and his name would be reckoned among the foremost of the world’s warrior-kings if it had not been for the misfortunes which afterwards fell on him in his old age.


….(after annihilating the Persians) … on the condition that every inch of Roman territory should be evacuated, all Roman captives freed, a war indemnity paid, and the spoils of Jerusalem, including the “True Cross,” faithfully restored. Chosroes consented with alacrity, and in March, 628, a glorious peace ended the twenty-six years of the Persian war.


This was, perhaps, the greatest triumph that any emperor ever won. Heraclius had surpassed the eastern achievements of Trajan and Severus, and led his troops further east than any Roman general had ever penetrated. His task, too, had been the hardest ever imposed on an emperor; none of his predecessors had ever started to war with his very capital beleaguered and with three-fourths of his provinces in the hands of the enemy.



After this glorious victory against the pagan Persians it seemed that the Byzantine empire was safe.  But just a few short years later, the Arab Muslims swarmed into the Levant and Syria, feasting on a reduced and tired army, a fatigued and in some cases depopulated region, and an empire beset with internal convulsions.


The moment of the Saracen invasion was chosen most unhappily for Heraclius. He had just paid off the enormous debt that he had contracted to the Church, and to do so had not only drained the treasury but imposed some new and unwise taxes on the harassed provincials, and disbanded many of his veterans for the sake of economySyria and Egypt, after spending twelve and ten years respectively under the Persian yoke, had not yet got back into their old organization. Both countries were much distracted with religious troubles; the heretical sects of the Monophysites and Jacobites who swarmed within their boundaries had lifted up their heads under the Persian rule, being relieved from the governmental repression that had hitherto been their lot. They seem to have constituted an actual majority of the population, and bitterly resented the endeavours of Heraclius to enforce orthodoxy in the reconquered provinces. 


Their discontent was so bitter that during the Saracen invasion they stood aside and refused to help the imperial armies, or even on occasion aided the alien enemy.


After the defeat at Yarmuk in 636 AD, the Byzantines promptly lost Syria, the Levant and by 642 most of Egypt and Libya.  The granary of the empire, Egypt was gone, the great port of Alexandria, its massive library burnt to the ground by the Muslim fanatics, now in the hands of a raging enemy, manpower, taxation, trade all reduced, neutered or lost.  In 673 AD the Byzantines fought off a massive Arab Muslim attack on Constantinople itself, which largely saved Europe.  This feat would be repeated in 717 AD. 


673 the Caliph made ready an expedition, the like of which had never yet been undertaken by the Saracens. A great fleet and land army started from Syria to undertake the siege of Constantinople itself, an enterprise which the Moslems had not yet attempted. It was headed by the general Abderrahman, and accompanied by Yezid, the Caliph’s son and heir. The fleet beat the imperial navy off the sea, forced the passage of the Dardanelles, and took Cyzicus. Using that city as its base, it proceeded to blockade the Bosphorus.


The great glory of Constantine IV. is that he withstood, defeated, and drove away the mighty armament of Moawiah. For four years the investment of Constantinople lingered on, and the stubborn resistance of the garrison seemed unable to do more than stave off the evil day. But the happy invention of fire-tubes for squirting inflammable liquids (probably the famous “Greek-fire” of which we first hear at this time), gave the Emperor’s fleet the superiority in a decisive naval battle. At the same time a great victory was won on land and thirty thousand Arabs slain. Abderrahman had fallen during the siege, and his successors had to lead back the mere wrecks of a fleet and army to the disheartened Caliph.


The Arab Muslims tried again in 717 and 18.


In August, 717, only five months after his coronation, the Isaurian saw the vessels of the Saracens sailing up the Propontis, while their army had crossed into Thrace and was approaching the city from the western side. Moslemah caused his troops to build a line of circumvallation from the sea to the Golden Horn, cutting Constantinople off from all communication with Thrace, while Suleiman blocked the southern exit of the Bosphorus, and tried to close it on the northern side also, so as to prevent any supplies coming by water from the Euxine.


The lightly clad Orientals could not stand the weather, and died off like flies of dysentery and cold. The vizier Suleiman was among those who perished. Meanwhile the Byzantines suffered little, being covered by roofs all the winter. When next spring came round Moslemah would have had to raise the siege if he had not been heavily reinforced both by sea and land. A fleet of reserve arrived from Egypt, and a large army came up from Tarsus and occupied the Asiatic shores of the Bosphorus.


Moslemah got back to Tarsus with only thirty thousand men at his back, out of more than a hundred thousand who had started with him or come to him as reinforcements. The fleet fared even worse: it was caught by a tempest in the Aegean, and so fearfully shattered that it is said that only five vessels out of the whole Armada got back to Syria unharmed. Thus ended the last great endeavour of the Saracen to destroy Constantinople.


Leo III the Emperor of Byzantium saved not just the Eastern Christian empire, but Europe.


To Leo, far more than to his contemporary the Frank Charles Martel, is the delivery of Christendom from the Moslem danger to be attributed. Charles turned back a plundering horde sent out from an outlying province of the Caliphate. Leo repulsed the grand-army of the Saracens, raised from the whole of their eastern realms, and commanded by the brother of their monarch.


Today of course most of the media-educated saturated Western populace denounce Christianity, embrace the ‘wonders’ of the Musulman cult and profess themselves ‘rationalists’.  It should be noted that none of these devoted acolytes of the relativity cult would live or thrive in a Moslem state.  The sex slavery, the plundering, the pillage, the pulling down of churches, monasteries, libraries, engineering works and the utter destruction of industry and agriculture is feted as a golden age, the age of light in the dark age of Christian superstition.  The idiocy of such beliefs simply astounds.  No Christianity, no modern world. No Byzantine empire, no Europe. 

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