Emperors of the unterschied zwischen bekanntschaft freundschaft Roman and the so-called
Byzantine Empires; Princes, Kings, and
Tsars of Numidia, Judaea, Bulgaria,
Serbia, Wallachia, & Moldavia;
and the Sultâns of Rûm
Die Römer waren ja die Starken und Vornehmen,
wie sie stärker und vornehmer bisher auf Erden nie dagewesen,
selbst niemals geträumt worden sind.
The Romans were indeed the strong and noble,
just as those stronger and nobler hitherto on earth never existed,
never even would have been dreamt.
, "The Genealogy of Morals," Zur Genealogie der Moral
[1887, Philipp Reclam Verlag, Stuttgart, 1988, p.42]
The criers, "Many, many, many,"
The people: "Many years upon many."
The criers, "Many years to you... Emperors of the Romans!"
The people: "Many years to you!"
(913-959 AD), "Acclamation by the People at the Coronation of an Emperor," De Ceremoniis, Book I, Chapter 38 [Constantine Porphyrogennetos, The Book of Ceremonies, translated by Ann Moffatt and Maxeme Tall, with the Greek edition of the Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae (Bonn, 1829), Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, Byzantina Australiensia 18, Canberra, 2012, Volume I, p.195, translation modified], cf. "."
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.
William Butler Yeats (1865–1939), "Sailing to Byzantium"
Rome casts a unterschied zwischen bekanntschaft freundschaft long shadow. I am writing in the Latin alphabet. I am using the Roman calendar, with its names of the months. I use Roman names for the planets in the sky, which also get applied to the. Sentences I write contain borrowed Latin words with some frequency [e.g. sententia, continêre, Latinus, frequentia, for example -- exempli gratia], even though the English language and its antecedents never existed within the Roman Empire (unlike the many modern languages directly descended from Latin, or even or ). The Nietzsche quote above was translated by Francis Golffing as, "The Romans were the strongest and most noble people who ever lived." This took some liberties with the translation but more succinctly conveys the essential idea.
, the despotism of Caesar was a grave retrogression in comparison to the. While a thoughtful Emperor, like Marcus Aurelius, expressed ideals adopted from cosmopolitanism, the unity and universality of Rome soon expressed itself as the unity and universality of a state religion, Christianity, whose intrinsic exclusivism and intolerance became characteristic of the Middle Ages (keeping in mind that there was already a state religion, with whose polytheistic requirements Christians and Jews had clashed). This is also to be regarded as admirable. Nevertheless, the very success of Rome makes us, like it or not, her heirs, in countless matters great and small -- like monogamy, which has no Biblical basis; or shaving, which only seems to have been previously popular among the Egyptians .
Indeed, the Romans were rather more successful than is usually thought. The corpus of Roman law, let alone Greek literature, was not preserved at Rome, but at Constantinople, the "City of Constantine," , "New Rome," Nova Roma, (Konstantinopel in German; , Qustantîniyah, in Arabic or Turkish; , Istânbûl in Arabic or Turkish).
Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (d.959) had previously referred to old Rome as , "Great Rome" [De Administrando Imperio, Greek text edited by Gy. Moravcsik, Dumbarton Oaks Texts, 1967, 2008, p.86]. The tenth century Patria begins the description of Constantinople thus:
When 362 years had passed since the sole reign of the Caesar Augustus in the elder Rome , and her fortunes were already coming to an end, Constantine the son of Constantius took over the scepters  and established the new Rome , ordering that it should be equal in rank to the first. [Accounts of Medieval Constantinople, the Patria, translated by Albrecht Berger, Dumbarton Oaks, Harvard, 2013, pp.2-3]
Since , néa, in Greek means "young" as much as "new," the contrast with the "elder," , presbytéra, Rome is appropriate [see ].
What most people would probably regard as an obscure and possibly unpleasant footnote to Mediaeval history, the Byzantine Empire, was in fact still the Roman Empire, known to Western Europeans, "Latins" or "Franks" at the time, as Romania, already the name of the Empire in Late Antiquity. In the Middle Ages, the usually used the Classical word for "Greeks," Hellênes, , to mean the ancient pagan Greeks, as the word is used in the New Testament -- sometimes the Latin word for Greeks would be borrowed, as Graikoi, , if this was needed for contemporary reference, as for the language -- a practice already found in the chronicler Theophanes Confessor (c.750-818 AD) [The Chronicle of Theophanes, edited by Harry Turtledove, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982, p.141] and noteworthy in De Administrando Imperio [p.228]. In 1354 Demetrius Cydones even translated the Summa Contra Gentiles of St. Thomas Aquinas into Greek as the Book against the Hellenes. Mediaeval Greek speakers, and the other citizens of the Empire, whom we would now regard as different nationalities, Armenians, Albanians, Vlachs, etc., were themselves always Romans, , Rhômaîoi, and the Empire was always , hê Rhômaíôn Arkhê, , hê Rhômaíôn Basileía, "the Empire of the Romans," or even , Rhômania, as in Latin. Mediaeval Franks or Latins consistently called the Rhômaîoi "Greeks," Graeci, or even Graeculi, "Little Greeks." The former was not always intended to be insulting -- certainly not when the called the Empire Grikland -- but the latter was. (See the "".)
It is then natural that Classicists, to whom the Romans were the last people who proudly weren't Christians, would prefer the hostile modern neologism "Byzantine" for the continuing Empire, rather than pollute the memory of Augustus and Trajan with that of Justinian, Heraclius, or Basil II. Yet even Justinian wore no beard and was still speaking Latin -- and what Classicist will dare, and I dare them, to fault the others for speaking Greek? The very people, as it happens, thanks to whom we possess Classical Greek and its literature.
Indeed, even Edward Gibbon, who actually called Mediaeval Romans (and he does frequently call them that) "a degenerate people" [The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III, Modern Library, p.299], nevertheless, when speaking of the replacement of Latin by Greek in the Law, Court, and Army, referred to "the Greek, whose intrinsic merit deserved indeed the preference" [p.295, boldface added]. So we find that Gibbon was a Hellenophile -- he just wanted pagan, not Christian, Greeks.
Historians sometimes note the humiliation of the Greeks in being conquered by Rome, and sometimes the irony of the Romans admiring and adopting Greek thought, architecture, literature, etc. -- Horace said, Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit, "Captive Greece captured the wild victor." But I have never seen the stark truth put this way: The Greeks then inherited the Roman Empire, without, however, ceasing to identify with it; and, what's more, under Roman law, in the unbroken jurisdiction of Roman Courts, they were Roman Citizens (unlike, say, Charlemagne). Why does no one say that? They must be thinking that those Christian Greeks are seriöse partnervermittlung für frauen kostenlos no longer really Greeks, who by definition were pagans. Of course, Basil II and Alexius Comnenus would agree. They are no longer Hellênes; they are Rhômaîoi. But if, to historians, they are neither Greeks nor Romans, what can they be? Oh, let's make up a word. They are "Byzantines" -- and we all know how nasty that is. But the Romans, who were the last Classical people who were not Christians, were also, as it happens, the first who were. Classicists, whose discipline exists because of the scholars of Constantinople, as with Gibbon's "triumph of barbarism and religion" [ibid. p.865], seem to choke on this simple truth.
A Western outpost of Constantinople like long provided a pipeline of influence from Romania, even in little things, like the fork (the one for eating -- forgotten after the "" and unknown among the Franks), which arrived there in 1004 or 1005. The Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204 (at the connivance, sadly, of Venice), and then refugees from the fall of the City to the in 1453, rather crudely, but effectively, brought much of the heritage of the Roman East back into the hitherto poorer Mediaeval civilization of the West. Much remaining from the Classical world was lost, nevertheless, not with the Germanic invasions, the "Fall," and the Dark Ages, but in these later disasters. Sometimes only pitiful fragments were salvaged from them -- even as we see the surviving intact until 1687, when it was blown apart by Turkish gunpowder. Thus, half of the literature described by the Patriarch in his 9th century Bibliotheca is now lost.
Rome began as a City, grew into an Empire, Romania, in which the City lost its identity, and which then shrank down, in the end, to another City,
|, Rhômanós||Romanus, Roman||Roma, Rome, Rom, ,|
the City, Urbs
|, Rhômaîos||Romanus, Romaeus, Roman, Romanian?||Romania, , Romanie, Romagna|
the Empire, Orbis
that meanwhile had preserved and protected the heritage of the Empire. When we realize how much was preserved, in literature, art, and institutions, at Constantinople from the soi disant "Fall of Rome," it helps us realize how much Mediaeval Romania was, indeed, still the Roman Empire, just as they tell us. In an age when the politically correct absurdly fall all over themselves to say "Beijing" rather than "Peking" or "Mumbai" rather than "Bombay," probably without being able to "Beijing" or say what "Mumbai" is from, it is extraordinary to find historians who not only do not call the Mediaeval Roman Empire what it was, but who seem to have even forgotten that "Romania" was actually its name in both Latin and Greek.
This is getting to be a large text file (713.2K, the largest text file at ), and with older internet connections it may take a long time to load, especially because of all the maps and genealogical charts, which are large graphic files. There is also an file (827.1K), if anyone wants music: This is the "Dance of the Knights" from the ballet Romeo and Juliet by Sergei Prokofiev -- I think it evokes the ponderous, ominous, and majestic character of the Empire -- although it is unlikely Prokofiev knew that "Romeo" was Romaeus, a .
Despite the overall size, Romania.htm has not been broken up, so as to preserve and emphasize the continuity of the history of from Augustus all the way to Constantine XI. It is a long story -- Gibbon's version is now published in three large volumes [The Modern Library], and he only began with the Antonines.
We begin here with Augustus. But I have in fact never seen a book or treatment of the Roman Empire that addresses it as an institution with a continuous history from Augustus to Constantine XI. Classicist "Roman" historians lose interest in the 4th century and throw in the towel in the 5th, while "Byzantinists" generally begin with Constantine. This is a distortion due to modern prejudices, written by historians whom the Romans would have dismissed as , "."
The themselves possessed a strong sense of their identity and the continuity of their history, which is reflected in the popularity of continuous histories and chronicles written by Mediaeval historians in Constantinople. For instance, John Zonaras, writing in the 12th century, produced an Epitome, or abbreviated history, starting with the Creation, that was so popular that 79 partial or complete manuscripts survive today. Zonaras, drawing on sources that are now often lost, such as much of the history of Cassius Dio, divided his treatment in half, with Book II running from 106 BC down to his own day [cf. Warren Treadgold, "John Zonaras," The Middle Byzantine Historians, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp.388-399].
Some modern historians, e.g. Peter Brown or A.H.M. Jones, tie together "Roman" and "Byzantine" time, as something like a new discipline emerges around "Late Antiquity"; but a general sense of the continuity of the history has not caught on, and neither Brown nor Jones produced a continuous narrative of Rome and Romania. The treatment that is appropriate would be the four imaginary volumes shown above right, where Roman history continues down through the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. Classicists need only buy the first volume and need not pretend to care about what follows. 
- I. First Empire, "Rome," 27 BC-284 AD
- II. Second Empire, Early "Romania," 284 AD-610 AD
- III. Third Empire, Middle "Romania," Early "Byzantium," 610 AD-1059 AD
- IV. Fourth Empire, Late "Romania/Byzantium," 1059 AD-1453 AD
- V. Fifth Empire, Ottomans, Islamic Byzantium, 1453 AD-1922 AD, 469 years
Discussion of the period covered by this page, with sources on Roman and "Byzantine" history, upon which the actual tables and genealogies are based, may be found in "." One Roman source not mentioned there is the handy Who Was Who In The Roman World, edited by Diana Bowder [1980, Washington Square Press, Pocket Books, 1984]. That was the first book I ever saw that organized Roman Emperors into logical dynastic or event centered groups. Another source I have recently enjoyed is Justinian's Flea by William Rosen [Viking, 2007], not the least because it cites this very webpage [note 2:36, p.331]. Otherwise, it is a fine book with a good appeciation of Late Antiquity, and with some details that I have already added here. Other sources are given here at the points where they are used. This page is continued and supplemented by the material in,,,,,, and. Related earlier history may be found at and, and the.
On this page, Greek names of persons, peoples, and places, where there are not actual English equivalents, generally are not phonetically transliterated but are actually Latinized in both spelling and morphology. Thus, the name, , that could be transliterated from Greek as "Doukas," is written "Ducas." The epithet of Basil II, "Bulgaroktonos," , "Bulgar Slayer," is rendered "Bulgaroctonus." And, of course, Basil is called "Basil" rather than "Basileios," from the original -- just as Trajan is "Trajan" rather than Latin "Trajanus" or "Traianus." This practice is contrary to increasing usage among Byzantinists and Classicists and has become a matter of some minor controversy .
My determination is that, since this page, and the English language, uses the Latin alphabet, and since the Roman Empire originally used Latin as its universal language, never forgotten in Greek Romania (however annoying or hostile contemporary "Latins" might become in the Middle Ages), Latinate forms -- or familiar Anglicized ones -- are the practice here. Some say that this is a "detour" through Latin, but that is the historic and customary route by which Greek words came into English, which is a historic of Latin using Francia. Indeed, my suspicion is that the practice of cutting Latin out of the loop was begun by German scholars, who have a long history of trying to eliminate Latinate forms from their language. Since this was for nationalistic reasons -- to trace modern to the ancient enemies of Rome -- whose development produced some of the ugliest episodes of tyranny and war crimes in world history, some suspicion is warranted.
Because of the problems with transcribing Greek, and because of the need for a reference with actual Greek words, Greek names and words have now been added extensively to this page, including every Emperor with a Greek name, beginning with and. Since standard Greek lexicons, like Liddell and Scott, do not have proper names, and probably would not have them for the Mediaeval period anyway, there is a serious lacuna in reference sources for the history of Romania. And those who insist on transcribing rather than Latinizing Greek words and names must face the problem than transcription systems, including more than those discussed by Warren Treadgold, are ambiguous, especially in the absence of accents and other diacritics, and usually do not enable the reader to reconstruct the Greek writing.
Exceptions to Latinization would be, (1) for Greek words that simply have Latin translations. Thus, Greek Rhômaîoi, , "Romans," corresponds to Latin Romani -- not "Rhomaeoe" (although Romaei and Romei appearently occur). Latinization will occur, however, when the Greek word is part of a compound. For instance Tsar Kalojan of was called the "Roman Killer," , Rhômaioktónos. This would Latinize as Rhomaeoctonus. And (2) when Greek words are transcribed, not primarily for logical "use" in English (or even Latin) sentences, i.e. to indicate their referents, but to phonetically render Greek words from examples of Greek itself, as I have in fact just used Rhômaîoi, and Rhômaioktónos. The reference with the latter is thus first of all to the words themselves, where we want to represent the Greek language (some of whose characteristics may be lost in Latin), rather to what the word (in Greek, Latin, or English) is used for.
Transcription involves compromises. As I have remarked, the practice elsewhere usually doesn't include accents, even through they are a proper part of Greek orthography -- and indeed were originated in order to write Greek. With accents, the use of the circûmflex to distinguish êta from epsilon and ômega from omicron (where the macron is not available in basic HTML) introduces an ambiguity; and where êta or ômega may otherwise take an ácute or gràve accent (which here have priority), another ambiguity is introduced. Issues of actual Greek pronunciation, Ancient and Modern, and spelling are examined.
The maps are originally those of Tony Belmonte, edited to eliminate references to "Byzantium" and with corrections and additions. Tony's historical atlas (with Tony) disappeared from the Web. It was painstakingly reassembled by Jack Lupic, but then his site has disappeared also. Corrections and additions are based on The Penguin Atlas of Ancient History (Colin McEvedy, 1967), The Penguin Atlas of Medieval History (Colin McEvedy, 1961), The New Penguin Atlas of Medieval History (Colin McEvedy, 1992), The Anchor Atlas of World History, Volume I (Hermann Kinder, Werner Hilgemann, Ernest A. Menze, and Harald and Ruth Bukor, 1974), and various prose histories. My graphics programs do not seem to be quite as sophisticated as Tony's, so maps I have modified may not look as professionally done as his originals. Other maps are not based on Tony's at all and may consequently look even less professional.
Trajan was most conspicuous for his justice, for his bravery, and for the simplicity of his habits. He was strong in body, being in his forty-second year when he began to rule, so that in every enterprise he toiled almost as much as the others; and his mental powers were at their highest, so that he had neither the recklessness of youth nor the sluggishness of old age. He did not envy nor slay any one, but honored and exalted all good men without exception, and hence he neither feared nor hated any one of them. To slanders he paid very little heed and he was no slave of anger. He refrained equally from the money of others and from unjust murders. He expended vast sums on wars and vast sums on works of peace; and while making very many urgently needed repairs to roads and harbors and public buildings he drained no one's blood for any of these undertakings... For these deeds, now, he took more pleasure in being loved than in being honoured. His association with the people was marked by affability and his intercourse with the senate by dignity, so that he was loved by all and dreaded by none save the enemy.
Dio Cassius (c.150-235 AD), Roman History, Book LXVIII, Translated by Earnest Cary, Loeb Classical Library, Dio Cassius, VIII, Harvard U. Press, 1925, 2005, p.369-371.
In the second century of the Christian era, the Empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilised portion of mankind. The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valour. The gentle but powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the union of the provinces. Their peaceful inhabitants enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth and luxury.... During a happy period (A.D. 98-180) of more than fourscore years, the public administration was conducted by the virtue and abilities of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antonines.
Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume I, Modern Library, p.1
Now what shall I say of this, that whereas so many have borne the name of Caesar, there have appeared among them so few good [paucos bonos] emperors? For the list of those who have worn the purple [purpuratorum] from Augustus to the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian is contained in the public records. Among them, however, the best were Augustus himself, Flavius Vespasian, Titus Flavius, Cocceius Nerva, the Deified Trajan, the Deified Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Antoninus, Severus the African, Alexander the son of Mamaea, the Deified Claudius, and the Deified Aurelian.
The Scriptores Historiae Augustae (c.150-235 AD), Historia Augusta, Volume III, Translated by David Magie, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard U. Press, 1932, 1998, p.277-279.
The "First Empire" is what often would be considered the entire history of the "Roman Empire." It is definitely the end of the Ancient World. If "Rome" means paganism, bizarre Imperial sex crimes, and the Pax Romana, then this would indeed be it. A later Empire that is Christian, more somberly moralistic, and more beset with war, sounds like a different civilization, which it is, and isn't. That the earlier civilization didn't "fall" but merely became transformed is a truth that both academic and popular opinion still hasn't quite come to terms with. If the decadence of pagan religion and despotic emperors was going to be the cause of the "fall" of Rome, then it certainly should have fallen in the. That it didn't would seem almost like a disappointment to many. But the greatest of the 3rd century Emperors, like Aurelian, don't get popular books, movies, and BBC television epics made about them. They begin to pass into a kind of historical blind spot. The Pax Romana seems real enough in certain places, but there were not many reigns without some major military action. As long as these were remote from Rome, people would have thought of it as peace. Once Aurelian rebuilt the walls around Rome, things had obviously changed. Indeed, perhaps Rome did "fall" in the Third Century, if by the "Roman Empire" we mean a state ruled, controlled, and centered in the City of Rome. Somewhere between Decius and Diocletian, that was lost. The Emperors ceased to live at Rome, there was not much happening there that influenced events, and even the Army was mostly recruited elsewhere. The Empire decentered and turned inside out, something that popular discourse and even many historians have failed to either recognize or acknowledge.
A. "PRINCIPATE," 27 BC-235, 261 years
| Augustus |
C. (Octavius) Julius Caesar Octavianus Augustus
| "XXXIV" DYNASTY |
| Augustus, |
27 BC-14 AD
|defeat of Varus by Arminius, destruction of three legions, abandonment of Germany, 9 AD;, 23 BC|
| Tiberius I |
Ti. Claudius Nero
| Caligula |
C. (Julius) Caesar (Germanicus)
| Claudius I |
Ti. Claudius Drusus
| Invasion of Britain, 43; |
revolt of Boudicca, 61
| Nero |
(L. Domitius Ahenobarbus) Nero Claudius Drusus
| Galba |
Ser. Sulpicius Galba
| Otho |
M. Salvius Otho
| Vitellius |
The Roman Empire "officially" begins by tradition in 27 BC when Octavian receives the title "Augustus" -- which then becomes the name by which we know him. We might think that the Empire, Imperium, begins with Augustus becoming Emperor, Imperator, but that is not the case. Imperator simply means "commander," and this had long been in use with a specific meaning. An imperator was someone with a military command and imperium, which meant both military and civil authority in the area of his command. This made Julius Caesar essentially the dictator of, once he had conquered it. That was dangerous, indeed fatal, for the Republic; but in those terms Julius Caesar began the creation of the Roman Empire already as an "emperor." So, while we think of "Augustus" as the name of the first Emperor, it was simply a title, whose import was well remembered by subsequent Emperors. It accompanies the institutional changes that were effected or completed by Augustus. The institution thus created now gets called the "Principate," from Princeps, "Prince" (literally, "comes first"). The idea of the Principate is that the forms of the are retained, and the Emperor superficially is simply still an official of the Republic. Augustus was not a king. He did not even hold the Republican office of Dictator, as Julius Caesar had. But Augustus otherwise assembled offices and authority sufficient to explain the power that he had actually obtained by force. In principle, Rome is still SPQR, Senatus Populusque Romanus, "the Senate and the People of Rome." This institution continues for some centuries, and there never was a subsequent question that the Emperor might become a King, as had been widely feared, expected, or desired with Julius Caesar. In time, the Emperor came to be regarded as to any mere king, as the reach and authority of many Emperors was indeed great beyond precedent or (local) comparison.
While it seems natural and obvious to take Augustus as the successor to Julius Caesar and his new Imperial government as the successor to the Roman Republic, there was another way of looking at this. The astronomer Claudius Ptolemy (c.100-c.170 AD), who was concerned about the dating of astronomical observations, laid the foundation for all ancient chronology with the, a list of rulers beginning with the Babylonian King Nabonassar in 747 BC. The Canon thus starts off with (and some thrown in), jumps to in 538 BC, to in 332 BC, to the in Egypt in 305 BC, and finally to Augustus, at the death of Cleopatra, in 30 BC. It continues to the reign of Antoninus Pius. These particular connections occur because (1) the Babylonians had the most advanced of their age, (2) Babylonian records continued seamlessly into the Persian and Hellenistic periods, (3) elements of this, including considerable data, had been translated into Greek, and (4) Ptolemy himself operated in Alexandria, where these translated Babylonian records were freely available, where Greek astronomy itself reached maturity, and where Ptolemy had at hand the simplest calendar of the Ancient World, the, which continued to be used in astronomy until the introduction of. Thus, we have the curious mixture of an astronomer whose name is in Latin and Greek, who lives in Egypt, and who uses the Era of a Babylonian King (Nabonassar) in conjunction with the Egyptian calendar. This all is striking for Ptolemy's willingness to use the best of all that was available to him -- though it may still surprise some, as we now know independently from Egyptian records, that the astronomy of the Egyptians themselves, except for (or perhaps because of) their year, had less to offer than the Babylonian. Thus, Augustus may be seen as more than a Roman ruler, as, indeed, the successor to the universal equivalents of the (the Athenian officials used for purposes of dating) for all of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and European civilization. From Antoninus Pius, the Canon could easily be continued with Roman Emperors all the way to 1453, using a clue of the numbering given by the, who has as the 54th Emperor. Even the presence of the present no anomaly, since Assyrian Kings were interpolated with Babylonian Kings. The last ephemeral, so important for the mythology of the "Fall" of Rome, were, of course, simply ignored by Bede. The Canon can then obviously be continued from 1453 with the, who make for a succession in Constantinople in an even more seamless fashion than Augustus takes over from Cleopatra. The Canon of Kings, then, as a succession of Kings, will end in 1922, when no monarch conquers or replaces Mehmed VI. It is a moment, indeed, in the aftermath of World War I, when the idea of monarchy alone as a legitimate form of government, without popular and parliamentary qualifications, pretty much ends.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City contains the Temple of Dendur, which was relocated from Egypt and opened on display in 1978. This was built in the reign of Augustus, around 15 BC. The cartouches on the temple mostly just contain the hieroglyphs , "Pharaoh," which seems like a very perfunctory way of representing the Roman Emperor as King of Egypt. High up on the gate, however, and around on the side, I have noticed more complete names, only parts of which I have been able to read, including , glyphs that clearly spell out "Caesar." The problem of reading these names is perhaps clarified by Kevin L. Johnson & Bill Petty, whose The Names of the Kings of Egypt, The Serekhs and Cartouches of Egypt's Pharaohs, along with Selected Queens [Museum Tours Press, Littleton, Colorado, 2011, 2012] contains the names in Egyptian of a number of Roman Emperors, including those of Augustus comparable to the ones on the Temple of Dendur. Augustus is thus [p.83]. These do not exactly match the versions on the temple, and it is not clear to me exactly what the first name in transcribing; but we get the idea. For the titles with each name, see. The last carthouche that Johnson & Petty gives is of Diocletian, by which time the Egyptians were converting to Christianity and hieroglyphics would be forgotten.
So there was an effort here, as with the Ptolemies, to Egyptianize foreign rule, and a final era of overlap between Ancient Egypt and the later civilizations that, through Christianity and then Islam, erase the ancient religion, culture, and then of Egypt. What remains of all of those, with the Christian Copts, is under physical assault by Islamists in modern even as I write.
This map, for the year of the death of Augustus, is the last in the series prepared for the, the period that Augustus himself had terminated in 30 BC. Noteworthy are the surviving vassal kingdoms under Roman control: , the,,,,,,,, Thrace, and Palmyra., at this point a vassal, will soon pass under Roman control. Palmyra will briefly play a signifiant role in Roman history in the. Armenia will often find itself pulled between Rome and Parthia, then Rome and, and subsequently several other larger political conflicts right down to our own day.
The Principate is the period that fits everybody's main idea of the "Roman Empire." Caligula and Nero, and Robert Graves's version of Claudius, are objects of endless fascination, moralizing, guilty pleasure, and not-so-guilty pleasure. Whatever these emperors were actually like, this approach began with the Romans themselves, with Suetonius's list of Tiberius's sexual perversions, lovingly reproduced in Bob Guccione's silly movie Caligula (1979, 1991). Whether Tiberius was really guilty of anything of the sort is anyone's guess, but we don't hear much in the way of such accusations about subsequent Emperors, except for a select few, like Caracalla and Elagabalus. Meanwhile, Augustus had secured the Rhine-Danube frontier, and Claudius conquered most of Britain. Augustus originally wanted an Elbe-Danube frontier, but one of his armies (of three legions) was caught in a catastrophic ambush and destroyed. The Romans gave up on the Elbe permanently. Only, by the conquest of Saxony, would secure what Augustus had wanted. The shadow of the Republic persisted during this period, and someone like Claudius could still dream of restoring full Republican government. The year 69 pretty much ended these dreams, since the first free-for-all scramble for the throne revealed that the army, and only the army, would determine who would be Emperor. Strangely enough, despite the occasional anarchy, this would be a source of strength for the Empire, since the state always did the best with successful soldiers at its head. Unsuccessful soldiers faced the most merciless reality check (whether killed by the enemy or by their own troops); but purely civilian Emperors, like, could endure one disaster after another without their rule necessarily being endangered.
The Roman Army under Augustus contained 28 Legions (Legio, Legiones), not counting the Praetorian Guard. At some 5500 men each, this gives a full strength Army of 154,000 men. However, this does not count the Auxilia, units like cavalry and others that consisted of those who are not Roman citizens (though they gained citizenship from service). The entire Army, therefore, was more like 300,000 men, less than half of what it would number in the. In his attempt to extend Roman power to the Elbe, Augustus lost three Legions at the battle of the Teutoburger Wald in 9 AD. The numbers of the lost Legions were never used again (likewise with the Legions later disbanded for rebellion). All the Legions were originally simply numbered. Once they begin acquiring epithets (cognomen, cognomina), like Legio X Fretensis, we start getting more than one Legion with the same number, but with different epithets, e.g. Legio III Gallica, Legio III Cyrenaica, Legio III Augusta pia fidelis, Legio III Italica concors, and Legio III Parthica. This is a little confusing. The logic of the matter is that eventually the legions begin to be numbered in relation to their cognomen, not in the absolute count of the Army. Thus, Septimius Severus raised legions for his attack on the Parthians (195 AD), which quite logically are numbered Legio I Parthica, Legio II Parthica, & Legio III Parthica. Eventually there would also be Legio IV Parthica, Legio V Parthica, & Legio VI Parthica, but these were not raised by Severans. We find all the numbers used up to XXII (Legio XXII Primigenia pia fidelis), but then Trajan raised Legio XXX Ulpia Victrix. I suspect that he used "XXX" because 29 Legions already existed, despite the numbers used.
The office of the Roman Consuls, and dating by them, continues under the Empire until. They can be examined on a.
The abbreviations used in the full names of the Emperors can be found elsewhere with the discussion of the. Emperors are commonly known by particular parts of their names, or by nicknames, e.g. Caligula, "little boot," or Caracalla, "little hood" -- both names given them as children in the army camps of their fathers (Germanicus and Septimius Severus, respectively).
The family of the Julio-Claudians seems like one of the most complicated in history. This chart eliminates many people in the family to focus on the descent and relation of the Emperors. Caligula and Nero are descendants of Augustus, through his daughter Julia (from his first marriage); but Claudius and Nero are also descendants of Mark Antony, who of course committed suicide, shortly before Cleopatra, rather than be captured after his defeat by Augustus.
The use of crowns to indicate the emperors is at this point anachronistic, but it is convenient. The crown for Christian Roman Emperors, which of course will not occur until Constantine, is shown with a nimbus, like deified earlier Emperors, because they are always portrayed with halos, like Saints, and are said to be the "Equal to the Apostles," , isapóstolos. Indeed, not just Christians Emperors, but Empresses and their children are shown with halos. This is not something that ones sees in Western Europe.
|4. KINGS OF NUMIDIA|
|Gulussa & Mastanabal||149-c.145|
|Adherbal & Hiempsal I||118-116|
|War with Romans, 112-106|
|Juba II||c.30 BC-c.22 AD|
No less that four foreign cultures have been planted into North Africa over the centuries. The Kingdom of Numidia was originally promoted by Rome as an ally against the Carthaginians. In the Second Punic War (218-201), Masinissa went from fighting effectively for Carthage to an alliance with Rome. His cavalry is largely what enabled Scipio Africanus to defeat Hannibal at Zama in 202. He was then supported by the Romans in eliminating his Numidian rivals. However, when he wanted to marry the wife of the great Numidian king Syphax, the Carthaginian princess Sophonisba, the Romans demanded that she be handed over to them. Masinissa enabled her to poison herself instead. Rome supported Masinissa the rest of his life. He died shortly before Carthage itself was exterminated in 146. Numidian allies thus enabled Rome to overthrow the first foreign culture in North Africa, the Phoenician (or "Punic" to the Romans). The Numidians then, of course, discovered what being an "ally" of Rome really meant, and war resulted as later Kings tried to preserve their independence -- especially the War of Jugurtha (112-105). Like the native kingdoms of Anatolia, Numidia was soon converted into a Roman province, opening the way for the introduction of a Latinate culture. If no other events had intervened, North Africa today would probably boast its own Romance language, like Spanish or French. This, however, was not to be. The interrupted Roman rule, but not long enough to make any lasting difference, if had not soon arrived. When it did, this became the most durably planted foreign culture, with a large colonial element, as the Caliphs of Egypt later directed an invasion of ethnic Arab tribes -- in revenge for North African defection from the Fatimids, and from the cause. The last culture planted was that of France, beginning with the occupation of Algeria in 1830. Eventually, something like 30% of the population of Algeria was French colonials, who began to fight as the era of de-colonization threatened their position. This brought about the fall of the French in 1958. Interestingly, the two greatest French writers and philosophers were on opposite sides of the issue. Jean Paul Sartre had become a dogmatic Marxist who demanded Algerian independence at any cost, while Albert Camus, whose most famous book, The Stranger, is set in Algeria, could not so easily dismiss the poor French farmers who had lived in Algeria for nearly a century -- Camus also suspected that Sartre's doctrinaire leftism concealed a bit of collaboration with the Germans in World War II. The return of Charles de Gaulle to power in 1958 ushered in harsh medicine about Algeria. De Gaulle decided that France should cut her losses, and the colony was abruptly granted independence in 1962. This began a bitter exodus of the French colonials and the nauseating torture and massacre of all those Algerians who were associated with the colonial regime. The cycle of terrorism continues even today, as leftist ideology has collapsed into an unhappy civil conflict between military rule and Islamic fundamentalism, and frightened Algerians have increasingly fled....to France. Unfortunately, the French economy, with stupefying labor law, has created national double digit unemployment, far higher in the heavily Moslem immigrant community, which is then supported by the French welfare state in public housing projects that have become virtual No Man's Lands outside many French cities. The idle and resentful unemployed then turn to....Islamic fundamentalism.
|5. LEADERS & KINGS OF JUDAEA|
|Jerusalem Occupied, 164|
| King , |
|John Hyrcanus I||135-105|
|Pompey captures Jerusalem, 63|
|Herod I the Great||King, 37-4 BC|
|Archelaus||Ethnarch, 4 BC-6 AD|
|Herod II Antipas||Tetrarch, 4 BC-39 AD|
|Philip||Tetrarch, 4 BC-37 AD|
|Herod Agrippa I||King, 37-44|
|Agrippa II||King, 50/53-100?|
|Jewish Revolt & War, 66-73: Destruction of Jerusalem, 70 AD; Fall of Masada, 73; Revolt of Bar Kokhba, 132-135|
The success of the great struggle of the Maccabees to free the Jews from the is still commemorated in the holiday of Hanukkah, , based on an incident when the Temple was reconsecrated after the liberation of Jerusalem. Little oil was available for the Temple lamps, but what there was burned miraculously for eight days. The burning of candles for Hanukkah coincides, however, with similar fire rituals of many people at the darkest time of the year, in December, and Hanukkah has also taken on the gift-giving attributes of Christmas -- exemplifying the adaptation of religious rituals to several purposes. Explanations of Hanukkah often awkwardly refer to the "Syrians" instead of to the Seleucid Greeks () -- but it would certainly seem more politic today to risk offending the Greeks than to have the modern Syrians, who had nothing to do with the Seleucids, feel accused of ancient tyranny. Modern and Syria have enough recent issues to deal with.
The hard won independence of Judaea fell within a century to Rome, which for a time, as elsewhere, tolerated a fiction of local rule -- the Herodian dynasty owed its power entirely to Roman favor. This did not mollify the Messianic hotheads, who inevitably sparked a rebellion that led to the final destruction of the Temple, the end, in a sense, of ancient Judaism, massacres and mass suicides, as at Masada, and the increasing Diaspora of Jews into the Roman world. Out of this also came the story of a peaceful Messiah, who had been executed and resurrected, whose cult eventually overwhelmed Rome itself, transforming Hellenistic Romanism into a culture of both Athens and Jerusalem. Jews themselves derived little enough benefit from this transformation, since Pauline Christianity had repudiated the ritual requirements of the Law and the new religion became increasingly estranged from the old. Once the new religion became the State Religion of Rome, the rigor with which Judaism had rejected the old gods now became public policy, to their own disability. Christianity never had the provision found in Islam, however grudging, for the toleration, within limits, of kindred religionists.
The fate of Jews in Christendom, as of the basic attitude of Christianity to Judaism, thus became a matter of dispute. Where Christianity began as sect of Judaism, perhaps just a continuation of the Essenes described in detail by Josephus, some post-Pauline Christians wanted Judaism repudiated completely and the Hebrew Bible simply rejected. The most elaborate version of this turned up in, where the God of the Old Testament was reduced to a minor and malevolent deity. The "Jealous" God of Judaism was not regarded as having the right attitude to be the true Father of Jesus. The Orthodox decision in the matter was that the God of the Old Testament was indeed the God of the New Testament, the Jews were indeed the Chosen People, and that the Covenants with Abraham, etc. were not only valid in their own right but essential links to the New Covenant established by Jesus. No less an authority than St. Augustine said that Jews must be tolerated so that the Biblical prophecies of the Coming of Christ would be preserved by a disinterested, or even hostile, source. Augustine, interestingly, did not doubt that Jews could be trusted to faithfully preserve the Hebrew text of the Bible -- as they did. Now, Christianity granting a role for Judaism in Christianity is very patronizing to Judaism, but it did provide a ground for the toleration of Judaism, which no other principle at the time did (no one having heard of society). There were shameful exceptions to this toleration, but through the Middle Ages the overwhelming majority of Church authorities staunchly condemned attacks on the Jews. The themselves even refuted, twice, the "blood libel" that Jews used Christian blood for Passover matzos (which would have been a grotesque violation of Jewish dietary laws anyway).
The genealogy of the Hasmonaeans is from The Complete World of The Dead Sea Scrolls (Philip R. Davies, George J. Brooke, & Phillip R. Callaway, Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2002, p.42). The incestuous marriages of the children and grandchildren of Herod the Great, perhaps typical of a Hellenistic dynasty, like the, were very hard to understand. The chart in my edition of Josephus (The Jewish War, Penguin Classics, 1960, p.410) did not make things very clear, but then my colleague Don Smith helped straighten things out for me. There seems to be some question about the parentage of Herodias and Agrippa I -- with Davies, Brooke, & Callaway going for Aristobulus. Aristobulus and his brother Alexander, descendants of the Hasmonaeans through their mother, were both executed by Herod.
Since Mediaeval Jews shared in the continuing trade and commercial culture of the Middle East, and were often its only representatives in impoverished and ruralized Latin Europe, they became fatefully associated in European eyes with the commercial and financial practices that Europeans at once needed, wanted, misunderstood, and resented. A similar problem later occurred all over again in Eastern Europe, where the Kings of Poland were eager to bring in a more sophisticated population, unwelcome in Western Europe, to develop the country and strengthen the throne. Such resentments in time found theoretical expression in Marx's view that the Jews embodied the archetype of grasping and exploitive capitalism. This made them class enemies, but that was soon enough converted into race enemies when Marxism mutated into Fascism and Naziism. Jews who thought they had escaped the class and race animus in the Soviet Union soon came to be suspected, purged, and, increasingly, murdered by Stalin, while Hitler, of course, decided to kill them all. This helped promote the idea, not surprisingly, that all Jews should return to Palestine and found a Jewish State, which is what happened. After 2000 years, however, the Zionists found that they didn't have a lot in common with the modern Arabic speaking population of the place they returned to -- rather than learn Arabic, they even decided to revive Hebrew, which was already dying out as a spoken language in the days of the Hasmoneans, and which some Jews refused to speak as being a sacred language (they still speak Yiddish). After sixty years, this conflict between and Arab Palestinians has still not been resolved.
By some estimates, e.g. Paul Johnson in his A History of the Jews [HarperPerennial, 1988], Jews constituted as much as 10% of the population of the Roman Empire. I am not familiar with the basis of this estimate, but I am familiar with the difficulty of estimating Roman population at all. I find so high a figure inherently improbable. Judaea, although the "land of milk and honey" in the Bible, is a pretty barren place. This is not going to support a large population, especially on the basis of ancient agriculture. That there should be as many Jews there as, for instance, Egyptians is impossible. Of course, a large part of the estimate is based on the Diaspora population. Even in the time of the, Alexandria already had a very large Jewish population. But that is a key point: the Diaspora population is mostly going to be urban; but the urban population of the Roman Empire is unlikely to have been more than 20% of the whole. Even today, 85% of the population of Tanzania, whose growth was ruined by the socialism of its post-independence government, is still in agriculture. If the population of the Empire was as much as 20% urban, and Jews were 10% of the population, then Jews would have to constitute nearly half of the population of every city, especially including Rome itself (with a population of a million or more people). That is nothing like the impression we get from the records, where so large a group in Rome would be felt on a constant basis. So this "10%" seems like a gravely inflated figure, though we may never have a really accurate one.
I now see Lea Cline, of the American Academy in Rome (and evidently a graduate student in Classics from the University of Texas at Austin), saying that the Jewish population of Rome in the 1st century AD was probably about 30,000 people (I say literally saw her, on the "Naked Archaeologist"). The basis for this are records for the number of "synagogal communites" present in the city. Since, from records about numbers of bakeries, tenements, etc., the population of Rome can be estimated as at least a million people, this puts the Jewish population at no more than 3%. This sounds more like it, especially when the Jewish population of Rome is liable to reflect both an urban concentration of Roman Jews and the special concentration effected by the importance of the Roman capital itself -- Jews had been there since well into the Hellenistic Period. If it is impossible that the percentage of Jews in Rome could be lower than in the Empire as a whole, that gives us a good ground for evaluating the percentage given by Paul Johnson.
The maps here begin with Rome at its height under Trajan. Trajan's occupation of lower Mesopotamia was impressive but brief. After taking Ctesiphon, the capital, "he conceived a desire to sail down to the Erythraean Sea" [i.e. the Persian Gulf -- Dio Cassius, Book LXVIII, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard U. Press, 1925, 2005, p.415]. Sailing down the Tigris to "the Ocean," he wished he were, like Alexander, on his way to India, "if I were still young" [p.417]. Indeed, he would die within the year (117 AD). Visiting Babylon in order to sacrifice to Alexander at the place of his death, "he mostly saw nothing but mounds and stones and ruins" [p.417]. It had been long since Babylon had been an important city. Putting down revolts in Mesopotamia, it is not clear how much Trajan really intended to retain, since he installed his own candidiate for Parthian King (Parthamaspates) in Ctesiphon. In any case, Trajan had added upper Mesopotamia, Armenia, and Dacia to the Empire. This, as it happened, involved all the most organized states on the borders of Rome, excepting only. The Pax Romana thus was often a matter of war on the frontiers in order to preserve the peace within. But when Hadrian withdrew from some of Trajan's conquests, he was then troubled by the revolt of Bar Kochba in Judaea.
|7. FLAVIANS & ANTONINES|
| Vespasian |
T. Flavius Vespasianus
|Jewish Revolt & War, 66-73; revolt of Civilis, four legions disbanded, 69-70; Destruction of Jerusalem, 70; Fall of Masada, 73|
| Titus |
T. Flavius Vespasianus
|Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, 79; Colosseum dedicated, 80|
| Domitian |
T. Flavius Domitianus
|Victory of Agricola at Mons Graupius in Caledonia, 83; Dacian Wars, 86-89|
| Nerva |
M. Cocceius Nerva
| Trajan |
M. Ulpius Traianus
|Dacia conquered, 101-102, 105-106; Nabataean Petra annexed, 106; Armenia & Mesopotamia annexed, 114; Jewish Revolt, 115-117|
| Hadrian |
P. Aelius Hadrianus
|Pantheon rebuilt, c.126; Bar Kochba's Revolt in Judaea, 132-135|
| Antoninus Pius |
T. Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus
| Lucius Verus |
L. Aurelius Verus
|Parthian War, 162-168|
| Marcus Aurelius |
M. Aurelius Antoninus
|Embassy in?, 166; German War, 168-175|
| Commodus |
M. Aurelius Commodus Antoninus
| Pertinax |
P. Helvius Pertinax
| Didius Julianus |
M. Didius Severus Julianus
|buys throne from Praetorian Guard for 25,000 per man|
| Niger |
C. Pescennius Niger Justus
|in Syria, 193-194|
| Clodius Albinus |
Decimus Clodius Albinus
|in Britain & Gaul, 193-197|
The Flavians Vespasian and Titus were both great soldiers and, to the Roman historians, virtuous and admirable men. Unfortunately, Titus's brother Domitian was not quite of the same stamp, and then went on to reign longer than his father and brother. He was succeeded by a fraternity of soldiers who adopted each other to secure competent and peaceful succession. The "Five Good Emperors" (in boldface) became the ideal of generations, all the way to Gibbon, for peaceful and benevolent government. Trajan was the first Emperor born in the provinces (Spain) and briefly, with his Mesopotamian campaign, expanded the Empire to its greatest extent. In the Middle Ages, Trajan had such a powerful reputation for goodness that the story began to circulate that God had brought him back to life just so he could convert to Christianity. Dante even includes that in the Divine Comedy. Antoninus Pius became the only Roman Emperor in 1500 years to be called "the Pious," but we really know precious little about his reign. This may simply illustrate the principle that goodness and peace, the height of the "Pax Romana," is boring.
and which will begin to overshadow secular literature in Latin. Culturally, Rome is becoming increasingly Greek, a trend that will culminate in the Graecophone Romania of the Middle Ages, where "To Rome" will be much admired and studied both for its language and style and for its patriotic sentiments. Neither of these is particularly appealing either to Classicists or to most Byzantinists, for the virtues of its language and its loyalties tend to leave both cold: Classicists are disdainful of Attic Greek unless it was written in the 5th century BC, while Byzantinists are sometimes uncomfortable being reminded that "Byantines" to themselves were still , Rhômaîoi, Romans. Aelius thus represents the sort of cultural and historical reality about Rome that does not quite fit in with the accustomed narratives and consequently is generally ignored.
The Pax Romana ended under Marcus Aurelius, the closest thing to a "philosopher king" until, but also a very competent general, who smashed a major German invasion across the Danube, while consoling himself with for the miseries of war, plague, and personal loss. Marcus's only real failure was to leave the Empire to his worthless son, Commodus -- dying in a place of modern note, (Vindobona). Hereditary succession, although eventually stabilized in Constantinople, would prove a dangerous principle at many moments in Roman history. The incompetence and viciousness of Commodus then set off his assassination and the second great free-for-all fight for the throne, in 193. This was not without its comic aspect, when the Praetorian Guard killed the disciplinarian Pertinax and literally put the throne up for sale. The wealthy Didius Julianus made the best bid but had no other ability to secure his rule. He was murdered as Septimius Severus, a notably humorless man, approached Rome -- and then also abolished (temporarily) the Guard.
sacked the city and removed their loot to Carthage. When Belisarius overthrew the Vandals for in 533 and found the items from the Temple in Carthage, they were sent back to. Since it has been noted that the Ark of the Covenant, despite Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), was not carried off to Tanis, one might wonder what subsequently happened to it. Although Josephus speaks of Titus taking away "the Law," he describes nothing like the Ark. Later, Mediaeval sources (e.g. Mirabilia Urbis Romae, c.1143, The Marvels of Rome, Italica Press, New York, 1986, p.29) speak of the Ark having been in Rome, but this was long, long after the fact. It must not be forgotten, however, that the Temple had once before been destroyed, by, in 587 BC. It is not clear that anything of the Temple survived, and so the Ark could well have been destroyed then -- or concealed on the Temple Mount, where the Templars supposedly found it.
The map shows the disposition of the Legions shortly after the end of the Jewish War. One Legion from the campaign, Legio X Fretensis, remains in Judaea, while the other two that were given to Vespasian at the beginning of the campaign, Legio V Macedonica and Legio XV Apollinaris, have returned to the stations on the Danube. Some sources say that there were four legions involved in the Jewish War, but I have found no indentification of what the fourth would have been. Britain, of course, has now been added to the Empire. My sources disagree on the station and numbering of some of the Legions. The revolt of Civilis in 69-70 led to the disbanding in 70 AD of four legions that participated in the revolt: Legio I Germana (or Germanica), Legio IV Macedonica, Legio XV Primigenia, and Legio XVI Gallica. These are indicated on the first map of the Army given.
Of particular interest in the disposition of the Legions in the reign of Antoninus Pius is Legio VI Victrix. On the first map above, it is to be found in Spain. Next it is on the Rhine. Now it is in the North of Britain. In the reign of Marcus Aurelius the Prefect of Legio VI Victrix will be one Lucius Artorius Castus. As discussed, this man and his name -- Artorius -- may figure in the legends of King Arthur. Otherwise, we see that Dacia has been added to the Empire.
The concentration of Legions around Judaea again is in the aftermath of Bar Kochba's Revolt (132-135). This figures in the mystery about Legio IX Hispana. Previously attested in Britain, Legio IX Hispana has disappeared from the list of legions by 165 AD. Much of what we hear about it is speculation. Since the legion had been posted in Britain, one notion is that it was wiped out by the Picts. We even see this in a recent movie, The Eagle . There is no evidence from the period, however, that any legion was wiped out in Britain. Equally speculative is the suggestion that Legio IX Hispana was among the units sent to suppress the Bar Kochba revolt and that it was wiped out there. Again, there is no evidence for either event. Instead, since the legion does disappear from the records and is never revived, which means that something bad must have happened to it, we might ask if there is any evidence that any legion was wiped out or disbanded during the period before 165 AD. Well, yes. In 161, the occupied and defeated the governor of Cappadocia, Aelius (or Marcus Sedatius) Severianus, at Elegeia on the Euphrates, wiping out his legion. Severianus, who had been assured of victory by a shady "prophet," Alexander of Abonutichus, committed suicide. The Parthians then defeated the governor of Syria, Attidius Cornelianus. This set off a Parthian War (161-166), for which the Emperor Lucius Verus was present in the East, even though the campaign was prosecuted by other generals, resulting in the sack and burning of Ctesiphon in 166. The identity of the legion of Aelius Severianus is not specified in the sources; but if we know that a legion was destroyed, and we know that Legio IX Hispana disappears from the record, when that only happens if a legion is wiped out in battle or disbanded because of rebellion, the inference seems reasonable that this was the legion. What other legion would have been wiped out at Elegeia? So speculation about the Picts or Bar Kochba seems superfluous.
, the . It is recorded that in the year 166 an embassy arrived in Lo-Yang from a ruler of , "Great Ch'in," named Andun. This had come up from after, apparently, travelling by sea from the West. Andun looks like it might be "Antoninus," which could mean either Antoninus Pius or Marcus Aurelius, both of whom used the name. Thus, "Great Ch'in" is usually taken to mean Rome, and the embassy was sent to explore ways to redirect the silk trade around the route, the through Central Asia, dominated by the. If so, nothing came of it. The possibility of any communication between the great contemporary Empires of Rome and the Han is tantalizing. My impression has been that Chinese attempts, like the embassy of 97 AD sent by, to establish some communication overland were frustrated by the Parthians. Since we know that the Romans had knowledge of and trade with India and, and that Chinese pilgrims like Fa-Hsien went by sea from India to China (399-414), it is not at all impossible or unlikely that some Romans, in the days of the in India, could have done what the Hou Hanshu says. The History was actually written in the 5th century, and the Chinese were aware that Iranians, which by then meant the, were still frustrating attempts at direct trade with "Great Ch'in."
Although Hollywood, and Italian cinema, used to turn out one Roman themed movie after another, frequently with religious overtones (called "sword-and-sandals" epics), the genre all but died with a 1964 movie about Commodus, The Fall of the Roman Empire (a tad premature there on the "Fall"). Except for Fellini's strange Satyricon (1970), the pornographic Caligula (1979), and the comic Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979), the next Roman movie would not be released until 2000, with Ridley Scott's big budget and successful Gladiator. This is also, as it happens, about Commodus. The closing implication of Gladiator is diametrically the opposite of the 1964 movie, with the good guys apparently having won and a hopeful future in the offing. Neither movie, of course, gets it quite right. The competition for the throne in 193 was not very edifying, and absolutely none of the players appear in Gladiator, not even Pertinax, the prefect of the city of Rome. On the other hand, the story does not pretend to historical accuracy about the events. Commodus did like to fight gladiators, but he was not killed that way, and certainly not by a wronged general. There is no evidence that Commodus killed his father, or any hint that Marcus considered a non-hereditary succession. Even in the movie it is clear that his provision for such a thing came far too late to be effective. Gladiator is a good movie and a good story, but it is not a serious attempt to present real Roman history. Because of its success, however, one can hope that other events in Roman history, however fictionalized, will have a chance to make it onto the screen.
| Septimius Severus |
L. Septimius Severus
|defeat of Niger in Syria, 194, of Albinus in Gaul, 197; Parthian War, 198-199; prohibition of conversions to Judaism or Christianity, 202; British Campaign, 207-211|
| Caracalla |
M. Aurelius (Septimius Bassianus) Antoninus
|198-217|| Geta |
P. Lucius Septimius Geta
| Constitutio Antoniniana, Roman |
Citizenship to all free persons, 212
| Macrinus |
M. Opellius Macrinus
|217-218|| Diadumenian |
M. Oppellius Diadumenianus
| Defeat by Parthians at Nisibis, |
buys peace, 217
| Elagabalus |
M. Aurelius Antoninus
| Alexander Severus |
M. Aurelius Alexander
|War, Roman defeats but mutual losses, 230-232|
It took a little time for Septimius to put down all the would-be Emperors in the provinces, but he did so with determination and ferocity. The virtues of nobility reputed to Trajan, of culture to Hadrian, of piety to Antoninus, and of philosophy to Marcus Aurelius were all missing in Septimius Severus. Born in North Africa, Punic () seems to have been the first language of Severus, and he never lost the accent. This makes it look like Severus was the first Roman Emperor who was not of ethnic Latin derivation. His marriage to the Syrian Julian Domna, of (Homs), also blew away previous Roman scruples about Roman rulers being associated with Eastern Princesses -- the memory of Cleopatra long put such unions in bad favor. Soon, few Emperors would be of demonstrable Latin derivation.
Severus also doesn't seem to have considered anything other than hereditary succession, despite having a particularly nasty son, Caracalla, as the candidate. His attempt to balance Carcalla with his brother Geta simply got Geta murdered. Another factor, however, was the loyalty inspired in the troops to the family. Septimius had bluntly advised his sons, in the Greek we have from Dio Cassius: , , , Homonoeîte, toùs stratiôtas ploutízete, tôn allôn pántôn kataphroneîte, "Stick together [be of one mind]; enrich the soldiers; be contemptuous of [put out of mind] all the others" [Dio Cassius IX, Roman History, Books LXXI-LXXX, translated by Earnest Cary, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 1927, 2001, pp.270-273]. Caracalla, although not sticking with his brother, maintained his popularity reasonably well, until he terrified enough soldiers to precipitate his inevitable murder. This led to the brief and unsuccessful reign of Macrinus (also a North African) and his son, until loyalty to the Severan family prevailed. Macrinus was the first Roman Emperor who never visited Rome during his reign. Meanwhile, the relatively successful campaign of Severus against Parthia, despite the subsequent Parthian defeat of Macrinus, may have weakened the regime enough to allow for the coup of the Sassanid Persians, who would be much more trouble for the Romans than the Parthians had ever been. Septimius Severus himself was one of the two Roman Emperors ( was the other) to die (a natural death) at York (Eboracum) in Britain.
The Severan "family" turned out to be the entirely matrilineal creation of Severus' sister-in-law, Julia Maesa, who brought her two grandsons, entirely unrelated to Severus, to the throne. The bizarre Elagabalus (sometimes "Heliogabalus"), styling himself the god of his grandmother's Emesan solar cult (and engaging gladiators in combats more amorous and carnal than Commodus had contemplated), and then the amiable and reasonably effective Alexander thus wrapped up the dynasty. Alexander was killed after the overdue reality check of battle, against the newly aggressive (224-651). He was not that bad, but evidently not good enough for his own troops, who killed him and his mother -- that his mother was along with him on a military campaign probably seemed no better to the soldiers then than it does now. Elagabalus and his mother were also killed together. Elagabalus, indeed, seems to have been the last truly "fun" Roman Emperor in terms of the pagan sexual antics otherwise fondly remembered from Caligula. The transvestism and bi-sexuality of Elagabalus, however, may have gone beyond even Caligula.
The Second Sophistic
An intellectual revival took place in the time of the Severans. This is called the "Second Sophistic," and in its most general form it represents a revival of Greek literature, and a concern for the Greek literary heritage, after a temporary eclipse by Latin authors. The Second Sophistic was actually named by Philostratus, in his The Lives of the Sophists. The presence and influence of Philostratus at Court was a function of the interests of Julia Domna, his patron. He says that Julia attracted a circle of mathematicians and philosophers. However, this actually meant something more like "astrologers and sophists," and the revival, as philosophy, was more of a retrospective on ancient philosophy than a movement that contributed much that was original or of interest to it. Nevertheless, such an inspiration and preoccupation has been compared to similar concerns in the.
More importantly, in retrospect, the Second Sophistic on its literary side is dated to the previous century, where we see a surge of Greek literature and a decline in Latin authors. It is not an accident that Cassell's New Latin Dictionary, of which I have the 1959 edition [Funk & Wagnalls, New York], only gives the vocabulary of classical authors from "about 200 B.C. to A.D. 100." Frederic M. Wheelock's Latin [Barnes & Noble, 1956, 1966; revised as Wheelock's Latin by Richard A. LaFleur, HarperResource, 2000] lists Tactitus (d.117) and Juvenal (d.127) as the last secular Latin authors. Their "Silver Age" is followed by "The Patristic Period," which lists Latin Fathers of the Church but refers to no secular literature and no secular authors in Latin until Dante! This implies that authors like Ammianus Marcellinus (d.395), Orosius (c.418), Boethius (d.524), and Cassiodorus (d.585), and Jordanes (c.551), were insignificant -- likewise for Isidore of Seville (d.636), who nevertheless is quoted by Wheelock (pp.211-212). Similarly, we must not forget the codification of Roman Law in Latin by in the 6th century. This is a supremely secular product of Roman civilization.
But secular Latin authors did become rare after 100 AD, and both Orosius and (St.) Isidore had concerns that were as much religious as secular. Ammianus, a Greek himself, wrote his history in Latin out of worry that the genre might die out -- as it would, indeed, in its most sophisticated form, with him. Meanwhile, Greek literature, in turn, flowers, as we get Plutarch (d.120), (c.87-c.145 AD, Consul 129), Pausanius (c.150), Lucian (d.180), Aelius Aristides (117-181), Dio Cassius (d.229), and others (not to mention the long tradition of Neoplatonic ) -- who are never confused with or obscured by the Greek Fathers -- through the rest of the history of Rome and Romania. Thus, the larger meaning of the Second Sophistic is that Greek becomes the principal literary language of the Roman Empire, an aspect of the matter rarely noted. Wheelock's "Patristic Age" conceals this under the implication that religion becomes the principal content of Roman literature, ignoring what is in Greek. From its new status, of course, in the 7th century Greek replaces Latin and becomes the language of the Roman Court, Army, and Law -- in Constantinople -- from which Classicists tend to flee as no longer "Roman" at all, although it's not what the Romans -- Roman citizens under Roman law -- thought themselves.
A characteristic of the Second Sophistic, such as we see in Arrian, the 2nd century historian, philosopher, and official (he repelled the Alans from Cappadocia -- and he transcribed the teachings of Epictetus the ), and the others, is the movement to write in, rather than in the Koiné of the Hellenistic Period. This is usually dismissed as an affectation and a frivolity. Perhaps it was, but it is also directly comparable to the concern of Renaissance writers to restore the "purity" of Ciceronian Latin over the received Mediaeval Latin that had survived to their time. Renaissance writers are rarely belabored for affectation because of this. And indeed, where Greek and Latin are taught today, the student, as it happens, begins with Attic Greek and Ciceronian Latin. The focus on Attic Greek in education, which began with the Second Sophistic, thus continued straight through the Middle Ages and has been in full flood through all of modern education in Classical Greek. When Greek speaking refugees fled the Ottoman Conquest, they did not teach Italians the spoken Greek of their time but the Attic Greek whose example and literature they respected. Indeed, Renaissance scholars could not have read Thucydides or Plato otherwise. The "purity" of the Greek language remains a political issue in.
More than an affectation, this Atticizing tradition accompanies the circumstance that the earliest and most interesting and some of the most important literature in these languages, especially for new scholars, is in the Attic and Ciceronian dialects -- from Thucydides and Plato to Caesar and Cicero himself. Preserving the archaic language meant that the authors could still be read in their own words. Perhaps Classicists are somehow annoyed that the Ancient and Mediaeval authors in Greek actually agree with them that the surpreme models of the Greek language are in Attic.
Some of Wheelock's statements in this respect are of further interest. Thus, under his treatment of the "Patristic Period," he says:
The name of the Patristic Period comes from the fact that most of the vital literature was the work of the Christian leaders, or fathers (patrês), among whom were Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactantius, Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine. These men had been well educated; they were familiar with, and frequently fond of, the best classical authors; many of them had even been teachers or lawyers before going into the service of the Church. At times the classical style was deliberately employed to impress the pagans, but more and more the concern was to reach the common people (vulgus) with the Christian message. Consequently, it is not surprising to see vulgar [i.e. spoken] Latin re-emerging as an important influence in the literature of the period. St. Jerome in his letters is essentially Ciceronian, but in his Latin edition of the Bible, the Vulgate (383-405 A.D.), he uses the language of the people. Similarly, St. Augustine, though formerly a teacher and a great lover of the Roman classics, was willing to use any idiom that would reach the people (ad ûsum vulgî) and said that it did not matter if the barbarians conquered Rome provided they were Christians. [pp.xxviii-xxix]
This may puzzle the modern student, whose study will need to be far progressed before he notices that the language of Augustine, the most prolific Latin author, or Jerome is substantially different from that of Cicero. And when Wheelock features a quote from St. Isidore, writing in 7th century, without any caution that this may be a corrupted "Vulgar Latin," this tends to subvert the sense that earlier authors were writing anything suggestive of Mediaeval Latin or the proto-Romance languages that soon become attested. And when the modern student engaged with religion, or with philosophy, turns to the Vulgate or Augustine, why should Wheelock act as though these are estranged, by corruption or decadence, from the language he is teaching? Perhaps his final comment here gives it away. Wheelock may have a secular distaste for the "Patristics." Augustine is more interested in the survival of his religion than of his nation or his civilization., however, going far beyond Wheelock, have gotten to the point where neither religion, nor nation, or nor civilization draws their loyalty.
These languages, Greek and Latin, are the languages, our of Western civilization, and their literature, that we do not want forgotten, if the root values and experience of our civilization are not to be forgotten. But their existence is in greater danger in our time than ever before: a Shakespeare with "little Latin and less Greek" is a scholar of Classics compared to most graduates of modern universities. Latin used to be taught in my high school, but now it is not even offered in the where I taught for 22 years.
One reason today for disparagement of the Second Sophistic, although this will not be an issue for Classicists, may in part be the antipathy in academic linguistics for written language and unconcern for the preservation of the literary heritage embodied in Classical Languages. This may accompany a self-hating, anti-Western, and generally bias that is often evident in both linguistics and other academic literature when the animus curiously tends to be focused on Greek and Latin rather than on Classical Arabic,, or, whose preservation and use are generally exempted from criticism. The politically correct are happy to destroy their own tradition but sensitive (and cowardly) about doing this where accusations could be made against them of ethnocentrism, Eurocentrism, "," or racism. Yet they usually have no real interest either in the civilizations of, India, China, or anywhere else, and may be shockingly ignorant about all of them, repeating clichés that usually owe more to Marxism than to real knowledge of other cultures or civilizations.
The disposition of the Legions in the Severan Army now is looking pretty familiar. Warren Treadgold [Byzantium and its Army, 284-1081, Sanford, 1995, p.45] says that the Army of 235 AD contains 34 legions plus the Praetorian Guard. On the map above, I only show 33, as gleaned from maps in the sources cited. Treadgold estimates the total Army, legions plus auxiliaries, at around 385,000 men. In the sources given, the legions are only named by A.H.M. Jones [The Later Roman Empire, 284-602, Volume II, Johns Hopkins, 1986, pp.1438-1444]. Jones tentatively places Legio IV Italica in Mesopotamia, which would raise the total legions to 34, as in Treadgold. These are the last days of the Classic Army of the Principate. After the Crisis of the Third Century, the structure, constituents, and even command ranks of the Roman Army are going to be very different. The traditional legions persist by name, but they are absorbed into command structures where they eventually lose their old identity.
It is noteworthy that in my sources on the Severan Army, the Legions are named by Jones and by Adrian Goldsworthy in The Complete Roman Army [Thames & Hudson, 2003], but neither Goldworthy nor the other sources cited on the map give the locations of the Severan Legions. Jones places them in the text, in the context of the Army of the Dominate. Recently, The Roman Army, the Greatest War Machine of the Ancient World, edited by Chris McNab [Osprey Publishing, 2010], does not have a list of any Legions, so the neglect of the Severan Army is less conspicuous. But the McNab book is curious in that the "Later Empire" is dated to begin in 200 AD, right in the middle of the reign of Septemius Severus, even though in the text the discussion of the Later Army begins with Alexander Severus or Constantine [p.206]. Thus the period the Severans is, after a fashion, cut out of the history altogether. No source, except Jones again, bothers with the Legions of the Army of the Dominate, which mulitply in number and are smaller than the Legions of the Principate but whose identity often continues, even in the place of their previous posting, as with the Legio II Augusta and Legio VI Victrix in Britain.
So why the lacuna or the short shrift for the Severan Army? Well, it may be that Classicists are beginning to lose heart. Interest in the Empire declines, step by step, as we move away from the Julio-Claudians. The Antonines still draw a good bit of enthusiasm, with Marcus Aurelius and Commodus turning up in some Hollywood movies. But treatments like that are swamped by the popular representations of Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. And then, after Commodus, silence. Even the two hour special, "Roman Vice," ended with Nero, passing up the chance to treasure one of the most vicious Roman Emperors of all, Caracalla, and one of the bizarre, Elagabalus. Earlier popularizing authors may have shied away from the extremes of the behavior of Elababalus, who did things that used to be taboo in polite conversation; but that is no excuse now, when that should be one of the most appealing things about him. It is as though there is a sense of unease. The closer we get to Constantine, about whom feelings are so mixed, confused, and generally hostile, it is as though a force field begins to be felt that inhibits movement. The great drama of the Tetrarchy, with the extraordinary personalities and events involved, leaves modern historical fiction, and Hollywood, cold. The most that the public gets for the period are the tendentious, preposterous, and ahistorical speculations and misrepresentations of The Da Vinci Code. Even the straight historical treatments on the cable networks, which do remind us that people like Aurelian, Diocletian, Majorian, and Justinian at least exist, are usually no less tendentious, as I have occasion to note here.
B. CRISIS OF THE THIRD CENTURY, 235-284, 49 Years
This map looks like it should be from the. The Goths, not yet divided, are here, but they come in part by boat, which we will not see with them later. The Franks here duplicate the later course of the, through Gaul, Spain, and North Africa, but without the same effects. Later, the will not be a principal invader but will be the ultimate beneficiary of the invasions. The also will be less active later, remaining in Germany and leaving their name as the word for "German" in Romance languages. Rome is weakened by revolt in the West and a Palyrmene takeover in the East. But in this era Roman institutions prove resilient enough to restore the status quo ante (with troubling strategic withdrawals). But the Germans remain across the Rhine and Danube, growing in numbers and sophistication. One might even say that all this was a dress rehearsal for the later invasions. In the theater, if the dress rehearsal goes poorly, the opening will go well. This is what happened.
The Gallic Empire of Postumus began under Gallienus. Postumus, of course, probably would rather have overthrown the Emperor, but he was not able to defeat him and was otherwise involved with fighting Germans. In best Third Century tradition, he was killed by his troops. This form of succession continued until Tetricus and his son surrendered to Aurelian, on condition of their peaceful retirement. This episode echoes the attempt of the usurper in the Fifth Century, though that failed to suppress the Germans in that era and merely served to absorb the attention of Roman forces that could have been better used, in conjunction with those of Constantine himself, against the common enemy.
The Palmyrene Empire had a very different origin and course from that in Gaul. Odaenath, the King of Palmyra (c.260-266), was a Roman ally. After the capture of Valerian, he actually defeated and expelled the victorious Persians. This earned him Roman gratitude and titles, like Dux Romanorum. It also left him as the de facto ruler of the East. Odaenath was murdered and succeeded by his wife Zenobia, who then joins Cleopatra and Boudicca (Boadicea), if not Dido, in the ranks of the conspicuous and romantic female enemies of Rome. This grew gradually, as Roman weakness tempted Zenobia's ambition. When she moved into Egypt and Asia Minor in 269-270, trouble was definitely brewing, but it was her proclamation of her son Vaballathus as Emperor that brought Aurelian out against her. She was exhibited in Aurelian's Triumph but then allowed to live out her life on a pension in Rome. Palmyra became a Roman outpost. Today, its ruins are extensive, beautiful, and evocative, out in the emptiness of the Syrian desert, next to the Oasis and the small modern city. The Oasis gave the city its importance as an essential link in the caravan short-cut across the desert from Mesopotamia to Syria. Even greater enemies of Rome have far less to show for themselves today.
Palmyra has entered modern history in the ugliest way. In 2015, the savage forces of the "Islamic State" (ISIS or ISIL) captured the town from the Syrian government. They executed the lead archaeologist of the site along with dozens of other people, apparently including women and children. And, like their previous action in Iraq, following the precedent of the Tâlibân in, they began to destroy ancient buildings, particularly temples. The impressive ruin of the Temple of Bêl, which stands by the road into both the ancient and the modern town, is shown in the photograph above. Its walls are all but intact. Above the recessed altar was a beautiful roseate ceiling. A stair within the walls led up to the top, affording an impressive view of the area. But the (literally) bloody fanatics of ISIS blew up the building and reduced it to rubble, so that nothing, apart from the entrance pylon, remains. This was a United Nations World Heritage Site, and one of the most evocative jewels of ancient history. It tells us whose these people, invoking, really are. To be sure, their eagerness to cut the heads off civilian hostages, on camera, stamps them as evil in a way whose like may not have been seen since, but their contempt for the past, for history, for art, and for beauty staggers the mind in a unique way. They are openly proud of it, as even the Nazis never were for their crimes.
Having visited Palmyra twice in 1970, my photographs are now perhaps significant historical records -- in a tradition going back to the Ruins of Palmyra, a survey by Robert Wood published in 1753. And since my photographs are all slides, they will need to be converted to digital format. It is extraordinary to now have vandalism of the city by people who seem to actually hate the past, even while they vainly hope that a revived Islam will give them the power that the Islamic world has otherwise been unable to achieve through conventional political and economic means. Or they may actually want nothing more than death and destruction, if this serves to bring on the Apocalypse. In those terms, they may have no positive goals at all.
| Maximinus I Thrax |
C. Julius Verus Maximinus
|235-238||SONS, BROTHERS, etc.|
| Gordian I Africanus |
M. Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus
|238|| Gordian II |
M. Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus
| Balbinus & Pupiens |
D. Caelius Calvinus Balbinus & M. Clodius Pupienus Maximus
| Gordian III |
M. Antonius Gordianus
Philip I the Arab
M. Julius Philippus
|244-249|| Philip II |
M. Julius Severus Philippus
| Decius |
C. Messius Quintus Decius
| 249-251 || Herennius |
Q. Herennius Etruscus Messius Decius
| 251 |
| River Thames frozen for 9 weeks, 250; |
Decius & Herennius killed by Goths at Abritta, 251
| Trebonianus Gallus |
C. Vibius Trebonianus Gallus
|251-253|| Hostilianus |
C. Valens Hostilianus Gallus
| Volusian |
C. Vibius Afinius Gallus Veldumnianus Volusianus
| Aemilian |
M. Aemilius Aemilianus
| Valerian I |
P. Licinius Valerianus
| 253-260, |
| Gallienus |
P. Licinius Egnatius Gallienus
|German invasions, 257; defeated and captured by the Sassanid Shâh, 260|
| Postumus |
M. Cassianius Latinius Postumus
|in Gaul, 259-268|| Valerian II |
P. Licinius Cornelius Valerianus
| Saloninus |
P. Licinius Cornelius Saloninus Valerianus
|Caesar, 258-260; Emperor, 260|
| Saloninus killed by Postumus, 260; |
invasion by the Goths, 267
| Claudius II Gothicus |
M. Aurelius Claudius
|268-270|| Quintillus |
M. Aurelius Quintillus
|Defeat of Goths, 269|
| Victorianus |
M. Piavonius Victorinus
|in Gaul, 268-270|
| Tetricus I |
C. Pius Esuvius Tetricus
|in Gaul, 270-273|| Tetricus II |
C. Pius Esuvius Tetricus
| Zenobia |
|Palmyra, 267-272|| Vaballathus |
L. Julius Aurelius Septimius Vaballathus Athenodorus
| Aurelian |
L. Domitius Aurelianus
|Withdrawal from Dacia, 271|
| Tacitus |
M. Claudius Tacitus
|275-276|| Florian |
M. Annius Florianus
| Probus |
M. Aurelius Probus
| Carus |
M. Aurelius Carus
|282-283|| Numerian |
M. Aurelius Numerianus
| Carinus |
M. Aurelius Carinus
The chaos that had threatened in some earlier successions (in 69 and 193) now arrived in 238, when we can say that there were five Emperors in one year. Maximinus Thrax may have been the second Emperor who never visited Rome. He was on his way there, because the Senate had recognized the usurpation of the Gordians in Africa, when the Praetorian Guard murdered him at Aquileia. Meanwhile, of course, Gordian II had been killed in battle by a Maximinus loyalist, the governor of Numidia. Gordian I committed suicide. So neither Gordian made it to Rome either. The confused Senate elected the Senators Balbinus & Pupiens Co-Emperors. When the Guard murdered them in turn, only their nomination of Gordian III as Caesar provided for a reasonable succession. If only that were the end of problem.
The complexity of the following period can only be appreciated, or even understood, by reviewing the "" chart. Few Emperors reigned long or died natural deaths. Gordian III's six years would count as lengthy for the period, but his murder would prove all too typical. The musical chairs of murders did not help prepare the Empire for increased activity by the Germans and Persians.
Decius and Herennius were killed in battle by the Goths in 251 -- the only Roman Emperors to die in battle (against external enemies) besides (against the Persians, 363), (against the Goths again, 378), (against the Bulgars, 811), and (with the fall of Constantinople to the Turks, 1453). These Emperors are now marked with a "killed in battle" icon -- . Valerian's relatively long and promising reign ended with the unparalleled ignominy of being captured by -- the only Roman Emperor captured alive by a foreign enemy until in 1071. These Emperors are now marked with a "captured by foreign enemy" icon -- -- which is the Egyptian of a bound prisoner, used in words for "rebel" and "enemy." Some other rulers were also captured by foreign enemies -- the Latin Emperor (by the Bulgarians), the Emperor of Thessalonica, (by the Bulgarians), and the Prince of Achaea, (although he was captured, not by a foreign enemy, but by the forces of ). Valerian was kept prisoner and subject to various humiliations until executed. His skin was then flayed (unless he had been flayed alive), stuffed, and kept for later display to Roman emissaries. In any case, this is what we are told by later Romans, such as Lactantius, and questions have been raised about the reliability of these accounts, for which there is no contemporary or Persian evidence. Valerian, however, certainly never returned home.
Valerian's son Gallienus then endured one invasion and disaster after another, with the Empire actually beginning to break up. Nevertheless, Gallienus rebuilt the army and, excluding Senators from legionary commands, put in place the generals who, although his own murderers, conducted the reconstruction of the Empire. He thus now tends to get some credit, even with the apparent collapse around him. Despite a short reign (and a natural death), Claudius II began to turn things around by defeating the Goths, commemorated with a column that still stands (but is rarely seen in history books) in Istanbul. His colleague Aurelian then substantially restores the Empire, only to suffer assassination, initiating a new round of revolving Emperors. This finally ended with Diocletian, who picked up reforming the Empire, militarily, politically, and religiously, where Aurelian had left off.
Amid all the other upheavals of this period, one that that escapes the notice of popular culture, and often that of historians also, is how the Empire ceases to be a possession of the City of Rome. The political structure of the Roman State turns inside out, with the City becoming a backwater and the provinces and the frontiers becoming the centers of political life. We begin to get the phenomenon of Emperors who rarely, or never, even visit the City. They certainly do not live there. For the time being, the equivalent of an administrative Capital of the Empire simply moves with the military camps of the Emperors. Once things settle down a bit in the following years, we begin to see new seats for the Court(s) and new administrative centers, from Nicomedia and Milan, to Antioch and Trier, Sirmium and York -- all culminating in the founding of Constantinople. Yet it is rare to vanishing to see this profound truth of Roman history ever asserted in a public voice; and we usually find even the historically literate laboring under the impression that the fate of the Empire hangs on events in the City, right down to the day when the barbarians burst in on the Last Emperor in 476. Of course, as we shall see, nothing of the sort happened in 476, and in fact nothing of significance happened at all in the City of Rome during that year.
Not much in the way of dynasties in this period. Many Emperors, of course, wanted to associate their sons with them to arrange for their succession; but in the violent ends of most Emperors, the sons usually died with them. Gordian III, Gallienus, and Carinus are the principal exceptions, ruling in their own right after the death of fathers or, with Gordian, uncle and grandfather.
The invasions and political troubles of the Third Century shook the religious and philosophical certainties upon which Rome had previously thrived. Exotic religious cults, like Mithraism and Christianity, now began to exert wide appeal; and a profound shift occurred in philosophy. We no longer hear much of Stoics or Epicureans, but whole new perspectives and concerns are ushered in by the mystical Egyptian (d.270), who even enjoyed some Imperial patronage under Gordian III, Philip the Arab, and Gallienus. He makes the Second Sophistic look superficial indeed.
With his return to the epistemology and metaphysics of Plato and Aristotle, Plotinus, as such the founder of Neoplatonism, picks up the mainstream of development of the Western philosophical tradition, which had somewhat detoured in the through revivals of Presocratic doctrine (Heraclitus for the Stoics, Atomism for the Epicureans). Plotinus's student, disciple, Boswell, and editor Porphyry (d.>300), who first enjoyed patronage from Aurelian, promoted Neoplatonic principles, wrote an introduction to Aristotle's logical works, the Isagoge, which became an indispensable text in the Middle Ages, and even began organizing the defense of traditional religion in his Against the Christians, whose arguments he gave in a presentation to the Emperor Diocletian, urging him to suppress the religion. But the Neoplatonic version of traditional religion now looks much more of a piece with Christian sensibilities than with things like the peculiar and archaic practices examined by Frazer in The Golden Bough. Constantine would later order Against the Christians burned. The cultural and intellectual sea change of the period, soon followed by Diocletian's reforms and then Constantine, usher in the distinctive world of Late Antiquity. Classicists start to become nervous and irritable.
II. THE SECOND EMPIRE,
Thus Constantine, an emperor and son of an emperor, a religious man and son of a most religious man, most prudent in every way, as stated above -- and Licinius the next in rank, both of them honoured for their wise and religious outlook, two men dear to God -- were roused by the King of kings, God of the universe, and Saviour against the two most irreligious tyrants and declared war on them. God came to their aid in a most marvellous way, so that at Rome Maxentius fell at the hands of Constantine, and the ruler of the East [i.e. Maximinus Daia] survived him only a short time and himself came to a most shameful end at the hands of Licinius, who at that time was still sane.
Eusebius of Caesarea (c.260-c.339), The History of the Church [translated by G.A. Williamson, Penguin Books, 1965, p.368]
L'altro che segue, con le leggi e meco,
sotto buona intenzion che fé mal frutto,
per cedre al pastor si fece greco:
The next who follows, with the laws and me,
with a good intention which bore bad fruit,
made himself Greek, to cede [the West] to the Pastor.
ora conosce come il mal dedutto
dal suo bene operar non li è nocivo,
avvegna che sia 'l mondo indi distrutto.
Now he knows how the evil derived
from his good action does not harm him,
though the world should be destroyed thereby.
Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), The Divine Comedy, Paradiso, XX:55-60 [Charles S. Singleton, Princeton, Bollingen, 1975, pp.224-225, translation modified], speaking of Constantine in the Heaven of and of the "Donation of Constantine" (Constitutum Donatio Constantini) to the -- a document later exposed (1440) by Lorenzo Valla (c.1407-1457) as a forgery.
Rome, queen of the world, thy fame shall never perish,
for Victory, being wingless, cannot fly from thee.
Anonymous, "On [New] Rome," [The Greek Anthology, Volume III, Book 9, "The Declamatory Epigrams," Number 647, The Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 1917, p.358-359]
The "Second Empire" is a period of transformation whose beginning and end seem worlds apart. Even at the beginning, however, Classicists find themselves becoming uncomfortable, in large part because they are now rubbing shoulders with Byzantinists, Mediaevalists, and, worse, historians of religion and, gasp, even of the Church. In the Middle Ages, this was regarded as a triumphant period, when the Roman Empire was redeemed and ennobled with its conversion to and transformation by Christianity -- becoming a "Romania" whose name is now not even familiar as the name of the Roman Empire. In Modern thought, this construction tends to be reversed, with the superstition and dogmatism of Christianity dragging the Classical World down into the Dark Ages. At the same time, however, there is still a strong attraction to the idea of blaming the collapse of the Empire on the characteristics of pagan Roman society -- slavery, the Games, sexual license, corruption, etc. Since this is more or less the Christian critique of pagan society, we have the curious case of critics maintaining the perspective of Christian even while rejecting Christianity as the appropriate response. This not entirely coherent approach also results in the doublethink of moral satisfaction with the "fall" of the (Western) Empire in 476 while carefully ignoring the survival and resurgence of the Empire in the East. The truth, as it happens, is one of continuity. The very same institutions, both Roman and Christian in sum and detail, that failed in the West in the face of the threat, did just fine in the East, long outlasting, and in two dramatic cases defeating, the German successor kingdoms. Nevertheless, these were hard times, and worse lay ahead. What neither Trajan nor Constantine nor Justinian could have anticipated were the blows that would fall next.
A. "DOMINATE," 284-379, 95 years
| Diocletian |
C. Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus
|Augustus 284-305, 286-305 East||retired 305, died 311 or 313|
|Vincenalia, 20 year Jubilee, in Rome, only visit to City, seats at Circus collapse, 13,000 killed, populace hostile, 303|
| Maximian |
M. Aurelius Valerius Maximianus
|Augustus 286-305 West||Usurper 306-308, 310 West|
| Constantius I Chlorus |
Fl. Valerius Constantius
|Caesar 293-305 West||Augustus 305-306 West|
| Galerius |
C. Galerius Valerius Maximianus
|Caesar 293-305 East||Augustus 305-311 East|
| Maximinus II Daia |
Galerius Valerius Maximinus
|Caesar 305-309 East||Augustus 309-313 East|
| Severus |
Fl. Valerius Severus
|Caesar 305-306 West||Augustus 306-307 West|
| St. Constantine I the Great |
Fl. Valerius Constantinus
|Caesar 306-307 West, 308-309 West||Augustus 307-308 West, 309-337 West, 324-337 East|
| [Maxentius |
M. Aurelius Valerius Maxentius]
|Usurper 306-312, Italy|
|Conference at Carnuntum, Diocletian offered Throne, declines, appointment of Licinius, 308|
| Licinius |
Valerius Licinianus Licinius
|Augustus 308-324 East|
|[Domitius Alexander]||Usurper 308-311, Africa|
Intrinsically one of the most interesting and important periods in Roman history, the Tetrarchy unfortunately suffers from the relative poverty of the sources we have for it. Despite the rich literature of the 4th century, Diocletian never got a Tacitus or Suetonius, and what Ammianus Marcellinus may have said about him is now lost. Part of this may be because history moved so quickly after Diocletian. He could still have been alive when Constantine legalized Christianity, and it was, of course, Constantine whom subsequent Christian writers wanted to glorify. But Diocletian created a system that was the closest to a constitutional order than Rome ever had. Its enemy was hereditary succession, which had triumphed in Constantine, if imperfectly, by the end of the period. So here, not just in religion, we have a turning point. The succession by appointment, adoption, or marriage of the Antonines is now seen for very nearly the last time. The complexity of this, and of events, can be seen, not just in the following genealogy, but in the. As the first Emperor with a very clearly Greek name -- , Dioclês, before being Latinized to Diocletianus (although we shouldn't forget the Greek name of Philip the Arab and his son) -- Diocletian foreshadows the later Greek character of the Empire. It is also from this point that the status of the Emperor is elevated far beyond that of a mere official to a being with semi-divine status, altering the form of government from the "Principate" to "Dominate," from Dominus, "Lord." The Roman Court now begins to adopt the structures and ritual of the, where the Great King has always been semi-divine. The symbolic accouterments of the Emperor, like the Purple (Porphyrius) robe and red shoes, become fixed until the Fall of Constantinople. The fiction that the Emperor is actually a kind of Republican official is now gone -- although the ultimate executive offices of the Republic, the Consulates, survive until Justinian. He is a Monarch in form and substance. This elevation was simply transformed, not rolled back or abolished, by the Christianization of the office. Indeed, Christian Emperors, beginning with Constantine, would always be portrayed with halos, like saints, and were called the "Equal to the Apostles." European monarchs never went that far.
At right is an extraordinary group in porphyry of the Tetrarchs. This was looted from Constantinople in 1204 and placed at a corner of St. Mark's Cathedral in. Its origin was subsequently forgotten, and Peter Brown says it "was long mistaken for Christian crusaders, and even worshipped as statues of St. George!" [The World of Late Antiquity 150-750, HBJ, 1971, p.22]. Where it came from was recently proven when the foot that is obviously missing from the figure on the right was discovered in situ in Istanbul, before the Bodrum Camii (Jami-i, "its mosque"), previously the Myrelaion Church, in the original Philadelphion square [cf. Constantine, Roman Emperor, Christian Victor, by Paul Stephenson, The Overlook Press, New York, 2010, p.199].
In 305 Diocletian actually retired from office, going to live at his retirement villa (more like city) at Spalatum (Split) near Salonae (Solin) in Dalmatia (now ) -- see J.J. Wilkes, Diocletian's Palace, Split: Residence of a Retired Roman Emperor [Oxbow Books, Oxford, 1986, 1993]. This may have been at the urging of Galerius, who was eager for full power, and was taken with ill grace by Maximian, who tried to return to power twice and was finally killed (by Constantine). Diocletian's joy at his retirement, and the famous celebration of his cabbage, I discuss elsewhere as a paradigm of Epicureanism. Although Constantius Chlorus became the senior Augustus, both of the new Caesares are apponted by Galerius from among his own supporters. This was improper and involved passing over the competent sons of Constantius and Maximian (Constantine and Maxentius), apparently because Galerius didn't like either of them. It is hard to know why Constantius consented to these proceedings, and they proved to be the source of fatal conflict in the Tetrarchy.
As it happened, Constantius died, and Constantine was presented by his troops as an Emperor fait accompli. Maxentius then revolted, dragged his father into it, and then at least co-opted Constantine to this development. By 308, Severus had been captured and killed moving against Maxentius, and Galerius had also failed to unseat him. Galerius then called a conference at Carnuntum on the Danube in Upper (Superior) Pannonia (just down the river from modern Vienna, Roman Vindobona). Diocletian was invited to the meeting was even offered the throne, but he declined it -- saying he would rather grow vegetables -- specifically his cabbages. This extraordinary forbearance on the part of Diocletian, especially his obvious determination to "cultivate his garden," ought to have made him a saint to, especially later, Modern ones. Curiously, it did not. Thus, Diocletian seems to have the approval of neither Christians nor non-Christians. Possibly, secularists dislike him for the forms of the Dominate that prepared the way for the later Christian Monarchy.
The result of the conference was the demotion of Constantine to Caesar (again), the appointment of Licinius as Augustus, the second retirement of Maximian, and the condemnation of Maxentius as an outlaw. The appointment of Licinius, who had never been a Caesar, was again an improper proceeding and reflected the custom of Galerius to use his own supporters, despite the implicit rules governing succession in the Tetrarchy. Constantine and Maximinus Daia were soon calling themselves Augusti anyway, and so the Tetarchy became a system of four equals, with Galerius preserving some precedence until his death.
A noteworthy act at the conference at Carnuntum was the dedication of an altar to the god Mithras, as the fautor imperii, "protector of the Empire." Mithraism considered Mithras to be a sun god, associated and assimilated with Sol Invictus, the "Unconquered Sun," whose cult existed independently of Mithras and had been promoted since Aurelian. Mithraism, although popular in the Army (only men were initiated), was not an Imperial or prestige cult, until this dedication, Deo Soli Invicto Mithrae, "to the god Mithras the Unconquered Sun." We might see this as one of the last acts in the development of state paganism, before Constantine becomes a patron of Christianity and gods like Mithras disappear.
of many basic commodities. Since Diocletian himself explains the law as needed to prevent some from profiteering off of the basic needs of others, this is turns out to be relevant to many modern debates. The "" of those who make a profit while prices rise is still a point of useful political appeal for many and leftist activists. It looks, however, like prices, especially agricultural prices, were rising under Diocletian because the tax burden had become so large that many people simply abandoned their farms -- Diocletian also tried forbidding this. Since Dioceltian himself was not a sympathetic person to Christian writers, the charge of "greed" tends to get turned around, as the contemporary writer Lactantius, appointed by Diocletian himself as a professor of Latin literature in Nicomedia, the capital, says, "...Diocletian with his insatiable greed..." Lactantius' account of bureaucratic excess and behavior could apply in many modern situations:
The number of recipients began to exceed the number of contributors by so much that, with farmers' resources exhausted by the enormous size of the requisitions, fields became deserted and cultivated land was turned into forest. To ensure that terror was universal, provinces too were cut into fragments; many governors and even more officials were imposed on individual regions, almost on individual cities, and to these were added numerous accountants, controllers and prefects' deputies. The activities of all these people were very rarely civil... [J.J. Wilkes, Diocletian's Palace, Split: Residence of a Retired Roman Emperor, op. cit., p.5]
Not only now are there whole countries where the dependent classes exceed the numbers of the productive classes (e.g. Italy or France), but in the United States the fate of the Social Security system will probably be sealed when the number of beneficiaries exceeds the number of contributors. These modern systems, although voted in by popular majorities who like "free lunch" welfare politics, are run by whose behavior, of course, is "very rarely civil" either to contributors or beneficiaries. And modern bureaucrats are protected from accountability by "Civil Service" status and their own politically active and powerful public employee labor unions. Yet politicians rarely characterize or criticize such people for their own self-interest or greed, although this phenomenon is now well understood and described in economics. While the behavior of the bureaucrats is understandable, the harshest truth is that, with sovereignty no longer invested in a autocrat like Diocletian, the ultimate "greed" today is derived from the voters.
The map reflects some recent developments in scholarship. Previously, the Goths were regarded as already divided into the and, with the Ostrogoths developing an "empire" that was thought to have stretched all the way back to the Baltic Sea. This culminated under King Ermanaric (i.e. "King [riks] Herman," where "Herman" itself is from [h]er[i], "army," and man, "man"), who committed suicide when defeated and subjugated by the Huns around 370. Now it looks like, for all their divisions, the Goths were not divided, or identified, in the terms that later became familiar for the Kingdoms in Spain and Italy. Ermanaric was King of the Greuthungi, and it is unlikely that he ruled a domain that stretched to the Baltic. Indeed, it doesn't even look like it even reached the Don in the east. The Goths who were granted asylum on Roman territory in 376 were the Tervingi, led by Alavivus and Fritigern. After their revolt, however, the Greuthungi joined the Tervingi. With some other Gothic groups, these all became the Visigoths. The Ostrogoths developed later, around a core led by the Amal dynasty. These changes in view are now recently explained by Peter Heather in The Fall of the Roman Empire [Oxford, 2006]. Although the Huns subjugated all the Goths but the Visigoths, the Goths nevertheless exercised considerable cultural influence on them. Thus, we find Attila with a Gothic name, "Little Father." But while atta was the Gothic word for "father," it is curious that ata is still the Turkish word for "father." Indeed, adda was for "father." Winfred P. Lehmann (A Gothic Etymological Dictionary, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1986, p.46) explains these correspondences as a coincidence of "nursery words" -- "No need to assume borrowing in spite of earlier attestations, such as Hitt[ite] attas, which Puhvel [Hittite etymological dictionary, 1984] derives 'from infantile language'" [p.46]. This strikes me as a bit unsatisfactory, though perhaps no more than the alternative: that this is another fragment of evidence for a connection between and languages, and Sumerian.
| Constantius I Chlorus |
Fl. Valerius Constantius
| St. Constantine I the Great |
Fl. Valerius Constantinus
|Christianity legalized, Edict of Milan, 313; Council of Arles, Donatists condemned, 314; Ecumenical Council I, Nicaea I, Nicene Creed, 325; Vicennalia, 20 year Jubilee, at Rome, Crispus & Flavia executed, 326; Constantinople, Roma Nova, founded, construction begun, 4 November 328; Constantinople dedicated, 11 May 330; Ulfilas consecrated Bishop to the, 336|
| Constantine II |
Fl. Claudius Contantinus
| Constans I |
Fl. Julius Constans
| [Magnentius |
Fl. Magnus Magnentius]
| Constantius II |
Fl. Julius Constantius
|Altar of Victory removed from Roman Senate, 357; Amida on the Tigris falls to, 359|
| Gallus |
Fl. Claudius Constantius Gallus
|351-354 E, Caesar|
| Julian the Apostate |
Fl. Claudius Julianus
|355-360 W, Caesar; 360-363, Augustus|
|Last Pagan Emperor; Restores Altar of Victory to Roman Senate; killed while invading Persia, 363|
| Jovian |
If the Tetrarchy was a major turning point in Roman history, with Constantine we are right around the corner and looking down a very different avenue of time. Here is where the die-hard paganophile Romanists check out, and where the Byzantinists check in. But the changes that take place are mostly, as they had been for some time, gradual. Even Constantine's Christianity was a gradual affair. He did not actually convert until on his deathbed; and although he outlawed pagan sacrifice, he did not close the temples or otherwise show disrespect or hostility to the old gods, and in fact seems to have long still invoked Sol Invictus, the "Unconquered Sun" of Aurelian and Diocletian. He may have imagined a sort of syncretism such as had been common in the old religions but that was not going to be tolerated in Christianity -- indeed, an element of syncretism remains in the name of the Holy Day of the for Christianity, "Sunday," which Constantine himself called "the day celebrated by veneration of the sun itself" (diem solis veneratione sui celebrem). Even if Constantine banned blood sacrifice (it is not clear that he did, but is often said to have), this reformed a practice of worship whose critique went back at least to Heraclitus, who marveled how spilled blood, otherwise polluting, could be thought.
When Constantinople was built, the old acropolis was left alone. Indeed, it may have been left alone for much of the Middle Ages -- I am only aware of a couple of Mediaeval institutions in the area. One was the Church and Monastery of St. George of Mangana, which had a hospital attached. Another was a complex built by with an orphanage and a home for old soldiers, the blind, and other disabled persons. It sounds like there was room for Alexius to build these institutions. In the Eighth century there is a reference to the Kynegion, an arena that survived from earlier Roman animal fighting shows. The comment in the Brief Historical Notes is that the ancient pagan statues in the arena still contain dangerous powers. A statue is supposed to have deliberately fallen on and killed a man named Himerios in the reign of [cf. Judith Herrin, Byzantium, The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire, Princeton & Oxford, 2007, p.123]. The astonishing thing is that any such statues should still have been there almost four hundred years after Constantine. In the same way, a statue of Athena is supposed to have still been standing on the acropolis when the Fourth Crusade arrived in 1203. Remarkably, this may have been the bronze statute of Athena Promachus which had stood in the open on the Acropolis at Athens, reportedly visible from out to sea, and was moved to the new city by Constantine (Anthony Kaldellis denies this, but without explanation; cf. The Christian Parthenon, Cambridge, 2009, p.106). The statue was finally only then thrown down because some thought that by her outstretched hand she was beckoning to the Crusaders. It is now hard to tell what may have been on the acropolis all that time because the site was finally put to a new use by the, who built the great Topkapï Palace there. It is certainly the right place for such a building, and so one is a little surprised to learn that no secular building, as far as we know, was put there all the years of Romania.
pulled it down to melt it for the bronze. The source of our information, the contemporary historian Niketas Choniates, consequently called the "these barbarians, haters of the beautiful." But they were just desperate for money, and they treated much other art the same way, even looting the metal roofs from many buildings. Unfortunately, when the Emperor had visited Rome in 663, also needing money, he stripped the bronze roof and ornaments from the Pantheon and other buildings, unintentionally creating the precedent for the Crusaders! But it turns out that Constans didn't take all the bronze from the Pantheon. Later, looking for bronze to make the altar canopy, the baldacchino, for St. Peter's Basilica, the great sculptor Gian Lorzenzo Bernini was given permission by Pope to "strip the ancient bronze cladding from the portico" of the Pantheon [Robert Hughes, Rome, A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History, Vintage, 2012, p.285]. So Constans had left some.
Earlier, we get a similar revealing reference. Arethas of Patras, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia in the late 9th century (d.c.932), noted in the margin of his copy of the orations of Aristides (which we possess) that an ivory statue of Athena, mentioned by Aristides, must be the one still standing in the Forum of Constantine (like the statue of Hera) by the entrance to the Senate [cf. the Patria, p.51]. He adds that across the Forum from this statue is one of Thetis, with crabs decorating her hair [N.G. Wilson, Scholars of Byzantium, Duckworth, 1983, 1996, p.124 -- there is no reference to Thetis in the Patria]. We have no clue about the subsequent fate of these statues.
Even the beginning of Constantine's attachment to Christianity is obscure. The story that he saw a vision of the Cross in the sky with the inscription Hôc Vince ("By this [sign, signô] Conquer") before (or during) the battle of the Milvian Bridge, when he defeated Maxentius in 312, comes very much later in hagiography (in the biography by Eusebius). The earliest mention of anything of the sort, by Lactantius again, is that Constantine had a dream where he was shown the "cypher of Christ," the Greek letters Chi and Rho, which he caused to be put on the shields of his soldiers. Later versions thus increase the dramatic and miraculous elements of the event, using what later would become the most symbolic of Christianity, the Cross. Using a Christian symbol in any form, however, and for any reason, would have been dramatic enough.
What Constantine was like as a person and what his motives were in favoring Christianity is now a matter influenced more by modern debates than by the historical record. In this, the evaluation of Constantine is much like that of the Egyptian "heretic" King, about whose real personality there is little historical information. Was Akhenaton a mystical dreamer? A fanatic? An earnest reformer? A cynical manipulator? Similar questions can be asked about Constantine. Especially noteworthy are projections of Protestant anticlericalism back onto Akhenaton (good -- attacking the power of the priests of Amon) or Constantine (bad -- creating the power of Catholic priesthood). Less strictly Protestant, but its ideological successor, is the New Age naturalism and rationalism that favors the as true and proper Christians and views Constantine as an oppressor who built his oppressive patriarchal, supernaturalistic, and clericalist ideology into the structure of the Catholic Church. This leads off into farcical conspiracy theories such as we see in The Da Vinci Code , where little effort is expended on historical accuracy.
In general, Mediaeval and Modern evaluations of Constantine are going to be broadly different. In the Middle Ages, Constantine, the initial great protector and patron of Christianity, was seen as one of the best of rulers, noble, good, wise, and pious. That he was made a Saint in the Eastern Church but not in the Western may have been due to a few too many murders in his resumé (his son Crispus, his wife Fausta, and his brother-in-law and co-ruler Licinius, who had been granted protection after his surrender) -- or to Papal disinclination to honor the founder of Constantinople, the seat of the Pope's. Nevertheless, we find Dante placing Constantine in favored glory in Heaven (The Divine Comedy, Paradiso, XX:55-60). His main complaint was that Constantine had made the Pope ruler of the Western Empire -- according to the fraudulent "Donation of Constantine " (Constitutum Donatio Constantini), a text used by the Papacy to bolster its claims to secular authority until exposed (1440) by Lorenzo Valla (c.1407-1457) as a forgery. Modern evaluations, in turn, may reflect the noted Protestant hostility towards the Catholic Church or the rationalistic critique of religion, and especially of its supernatural aspects, dating from the Enlightenment.
) formulated there, his men are off, in the best tradition of the Corleones, murdering Licinius (as they later would Licinius' young son, Constantine's own nephew). This seems to involve the judgment that Constantine was essentially a gangster, to whom religion was really no more than a cynical device in power politics. But before we get all weepy about Licinius, we should remember that in a bit of housecleaning he had murdered not only the wife, eight-year-old son, and seven-year-old daughter of Maximinus Daia, but also the widow, Prisca, of Diocletian, Valeria, the daughter of Diocletian and widow of Galerius (who, on his deathbed, had entrusted his old friend Licinius with her protection), her adopted son, and, just to be sure, the son of the hapless and probably otherwise forgotten Caesar and Augustus Severus. If Constantine executed this man, we might not exactly want to congratulate him, but we certainly cannot see Constantine's behavior as any worse. If Constantine was at all like the Corleones, this is no more than the way the Tetarchy worked, as least in its final stages. Right from the beginning, however, when Constantine, inspired by Christianity, finds success in battle, the principle has more to do with the ideology of Sol Invictus, who presides over military victory, than with the particular non-violent teachings of the "Prince of Peace." This might not strike many as very good Christianity, but it also true that Christianity never made pacifists or quietists of Christian rulers. Whether or, Christian rulers would always hope, like Joshua, for God's help in war.
Unlike Akhenaton we do have extensive contemporary comment about Constantine, as well as letters and decrees from his own hand. According to Diana Bowder [Who Was Who in the Roman World, Washington Square Press, 1980]:
Hot-tempered and generous, a man of action impatient with theological niceties or outraged by some flagrant example of oppression, superstitious like all his contemporaries but endowed with a grandiose sense of being God's vice-regent on earth, the founder of the Christian Empire is for us a vivid personality... A strong and effective ruler and reformer, he shares with Diocletian the main credit for the very existence of the later Roman Empire, and the long years of stable government in his reign made possible a genuine renaissance of civilian life and the fine arts. [pp.141-142]
Of course, his foundation of Constantinople made possible, not only the very existence of the later Roman Empire, but the survival of Romania there right through the Middle Ages, until 1453. Various details are noteworthy, such as the introduction of the gold (called in the West the bezant), a coin that became the "dollar of the Middle Ages" and survived undebased from the year 310 until at least 1034 -- 724 years. This compares favorably with the durability of other historical coinage. The British was fixed at 113 grains of pure gold from 1717 to 1931 -- 214 years. So Constantine's coin beats it in duration by 510 years. Not bad. This is a tribute, of course, not so much to Constantine, but to the conscientiousness of his successors -- and to Constantine himself to the extent that he substantially founded their regime. With Constantine's personality, it seems of a piece with that of his fellow Tetrarchs, and the biggest mistake one could make is to construe it in terms of later theological controversies or with retrospecive ideals, whether Christian or rationalistic.
There is an interesting variation in the pronunciation in English of Constantine's name. British usage tends to render the "i" as the customary long "i" -- the equivalent of the word "eye" or the first person pronoun "I." We could represent this as the "Constanteyen" Constantine. American usage tends to use the "Continental" version of the vowel "i," i.e. as in French, Spanish, or Italian. We could represent this as the "Constanteen" Constantine. Since in Latin "Constantine" is Constantinus (with all Continental vowels),
|Systems of Imperial Names|
|constô = "stand firm"||valeô = "be strong"|| Maximus = |
| Constantinus, |
| Valentinus, |
| Maximinus, |
| *Constantinianus, |
| Valentinianus, |
| Maximianus, |
*forms that do not occur
we already have the French device of replacing the Latin case ending with a simple "e" which then becomes silent. While there is obviously no "correct" pronunciation in this respect, it does strike me as affected when Americans use the British pronunciation.
There is something else curious about Constantine's name. It is, as it happens, purely Latin in origin. The verb constô, "to stand firm... remain the same, unaltered," which gives us the English nouns "constant" and "constancy," underlies all the names of the dynasty: Constantius, Constantinus, Constans. The latter is simply the active participle of the verb. However, in Latin Europe,, these names are only very rarely found -- except as variants, like "Constance," for women. In Romania,, and, "Constantine" is quite common. We tend to think of it as a Greek name. To be sure, there were three Kings of named "Constantine," but this may have been based on the Gaelic element Conn, "chief," as in "Connor."
So why was "Constantine" in such disfavor in the West? Perhaps for the same reason that the Latin Church does not recognize Constantine as a Saint -- it represented a kind of challenge to the. Until the end of Romania, there were many Emperors still named Constantine in Constantinople (eventually eleven of them, and six -- as well as two Patriarchs named "Constantius"), none of them happy to agree to claims of Papal supremacy and authority. A Latin priest thus might not have favored the name of a child that might remind him of this conflict. There was only one Pope (708-715, and one anti-Pope, 767-768) named "Constantine," well before the age of exaggerated Papal claims.
Constantine's Empire went to his three sons, who might have shared it with their cousins, but killed most of them instead. The sons, however, ended up with no heirs themselves, and the last family member on the throne, Julian, was one of the cousins who had escaped the massacre. Julian, whose own writings have been preserved, is one of the better known but stranger figures of the century. Quixotically trying to restore paganism, he only seemed to demonstrate that the old gods were spent and nobody's heart was really in it anymore. Although apparently a fine enough military commander against the Franks, Julian's short reign ended with another Quixotic effort, against Persia. It was not so much the war itself as the ill conceived scale of the invasion, which left Julian all but stranded with his army, deep in Mesopotamia, with the Persians avoiding battle but constantly harassing him. Somehow this had not happened to,,, or the forces of the Caliph. It cost Julian his life, and his religious cause, since the Christian Jovian was then chosen by the Army.
|364-375 W|| Valens |
| Gratian |
|367-383 W|| Commanders |
|great earthquakes in Galilee, 363, in Crete, 365; defeated and killed by the, Battle of Adrianople, 378|
|Removes Altar of Victory from Roman Senate, 382|| Merobaudes |
|375- 384 [384- 388]|
| Valentinian II |
|375-392 W|| Theodosius I, the Great |
|[Magnus Maximus, Macsen Wledig in ]||383-388, Britain, Gaul|
|Revolt of Magnus Maximus, with Merobaudes, defeated by Theodosius I at Aquileia, 388|
|Valentinian II||continued, 375-392 W|| Bauto |
| Arbogast |
| [Eugenius |
|Revolt by Arbogast with figurehead Eugenius; restores Altar of Victory to Roman Senate; defeated at Frigidus River, 394|
|Outlaws taking of auspices from entrails, 384; Closes pagan temples, including the Serapeum, the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and the Temple of Vesta in Rome, 388-392; removes Altar of Victory from Roman Senate; divides Empire between Honorius & Arcadius|
Jovian did not last long (apparently killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from a charcoal heater -- still a danger in the modern world), and the Army chose another Christian. With Valentinian, and his brother Valens with whom he divided the Empire, the Christian nature of Romania was sealed. But the future seemed secure enough. Valentinian was vigorous and competent, even if his brother wasn't so much. Unfortunately, Valentinian died, apparently of a heart attack (or perhaps a cerebral hemorrhage) in a fit of anger over the insolence of some representatives from the Huns. With Valens as the senior Emperor, he didn't wait for assistance before moving to put down a revolt by the Visigoths, who had recently been admitted as refugees from the Huns but were now rising up against mistreatment by their hosts. The resulting battle was close and hard fought but turned into a catastrophic rout, with Valens himself falling. Gratian appointed Theodosius as the new Eastern Emperor to restore the situation (marrying him to his sister), which seems to have about the most useful thing he accomplished, before his murder.
Meanwhile there was a fateful development in the governance of the West. When Valentinian died, Gratian had already been raised to the status of Augustus and clearly was the legitimate Emperor of the West. However, the Frankish Magister Militum Merobaudes raised Gratian's young brother Valentinian (II) to the Purple. There was no particular reason to repudiate this action, except that it was obviously a ploy by Merobaudes to create a puppet Emperor. The success of this coup was a chilling precursor to the eventual Fall of the Western Empire, whose Emperors became the futile play things of Germanic commanders. Merobaudes confirmed his disloyal intentions at the death of Gratian, when he threw his support to the usurper Magnus Maximus. Theodosius defeated and killed both of them at Aquileia in 388. Valentinian II's own death drew Theodosius west (again) to put down the usurper Eugenius -- who, apparently for the first time now, was merely the hand-picked figurehead of the German Master of Soliders, Arbogast -- another death knell for the Western Empire. At the Frigidus River in 394 Theodosius put his Visigothic allies, faithfully honoring their treaty with the Empire, in the forefront of the battle. The slaughter of the battle, on a scale with Gettysburg, soured the Visigoths on the value of their cooperation. They would soon become a loose cannon within the Empire, shattering essential supports of Roman power as the tribe rolled around.
Thus, things in the West went steadily down hill after Valentinian I, with a troubling weakness of the (Western) Throne in comparison to powerful Germanic soldiers. Although the Battle of Adrianople need not have fundamentally affected the strength of the Empire, it acquires great symbolic meaning in retrospect because of the more permanent damage subsequently done by the Visigoths and the profound weakening of the Empire that attended it. For the genealogy of the Valentinians, see that of the Theodosians.
for many centuries. This is often favorably compared to the Chinese strategist, but Vegetius provides us with a much more thorough and discursive treatment. Unlike Sun Tzu, however, Vegetius did not have the chance to direct armies himself, much less produce victories commensurate with the wisdom of his advice. Nor does he give us a military historian's analysis of the battles of his era, which would have included the Battle of Adrianople. This is a grave loss to history and military science, especially as it allows false lessons to be drawn from Adrianople (as discussed ).
A great earthquake on Crete in 365, which thrust up the coast some 20 feet, has recently become a matter of interest for modern geologists. An account of it by Ammianus Marcellinus includes what may be the first detailed description in history of the phenomenon of a tsunami, :
...the solid frame of the earth shuddered and trembled, and the sea was moved from its bed and went rolling back. The abyss of the deep was laid open; various types of marine creatures could be seen stuck in the slime, and huge mountains and valleys which had been hidden since the creation in the depths of the waves then, one must suppose, saw the light of the sun for the first time. [Ammianus Marcellinus, The Later Roman Empire, (A.D.354-378), Penguin Classics, 1986, p.333]
Not realizing that the sea would come back, people wandered down to the revealed places. As the water "burst in fury" and surged up onto the land on its return, thousands were killed, towns were leveled, and "the whole face of the earth was changed" [ibid.]. As far away as Alexandria, the tidal wave tossed ships onto the tops of buildings; and Ammianus himself later inspected a decaying ship that had been carried inland ad secundum lapidem, "to the second milestone," near Mothone (or Methone) in the Peloponnesus. Edward Gibbon, contemptuous of the Late Empire and its historian, and apparently never having heard of such phenomena, didn't believe Ammianus:
Such is the bad taste of Ammianus (xxvi.10), that it is not easy to distinguish his facts from his metaphors. Yet he positively affirms that he saw the rotten carcass of a ship, ad secundum lapidem, at Methone, or Modon, in Peloponnesus. [The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume I, Modern Library, p.899].
Tsunamis are not so rare, however, that it is not in the living memory of many to have seen the seafloor bared or ships thrown about in just the manner described. In the massive 1883 volcanic eruption of Karakatoa (Krakatoa, Krakatau) in Indonesia, the Dutch steamship Berouw was lifted by a tsunami from its harbor in Sumatra and swept inland 3.3 km, i.e. two miles (ad secundum lapidem), up the Koeripan River, where it was permanently deposited in the jungle, at an elevation of 30 feet. Tsunamis of spectacular and deadly effect have recently occurred in Indonesia in 2004 and now in in 2011 -- where, with live video from news helicopters, large ships were tossed some distance inland, and the draw down of the ocean was visible and photographed in Hawai'i and California. The response of some people in 2004 was to go out to collect the fish that were flopping around where the sea had left them stranded. The earthquake of 365 also came hard on the heels of a massive earthquake in Galilee in 363, whose effects can still be seen in walls that were thrown down in, which may have been abandoned about this time. Damage from the earthquakes of 363 and 365 would have overlapped in Anatolia and around the eastern Mediterranean. The modern historian might do well to consider how the death and destruction of these great earthquakes may have weakened the resources of the area on the crucial eve of the struggle with the Visigoths.
B. CRISIS OF THE FIFTH CENTURY, 379-476, 97 Years
The map shows the key incursions that would fatally undermine the Western Empire. After the death of Theodosius I, and the division of the Empire (for the last time) between Honorius in Milan (and then Ravenna, 402) and Arcadius in Constantinople, the Visigoths begin to roll around in the Balkans. The movement of the Visigoths began to resemble the literal effects of a "lose cannon" to destroy the structure of the Roman Empire, revealing the fatal failure of Theodosius to destroy, rather than temporary coöpt, the tribe. In the course of dealing with this, Stilicho evidently stripped the Rhine frontier of troops. When the Suevi, Alans, and Vandals crossed the frozen Rhine on New Year's Eve of 407, nothing stood in their way when they looted their way across Gaul and Spain. As they settled down in Spain, the Visigoths arrived in Italy. Later in 407, the usurper Constantine took his troops out of Britain, simultaneously to secure Gaul and to establish himself as Emperor. When Stilicho is murdered, his forces, largely German, disintegrate. Honorius, secure in Ravenna -- as Rome, after a fashion, burned -- was able to do nothing about the Visigoths or the other invaders, and he had to tell the British (410) they were on their own. Britain substantially drops out of history for a while.
|1. THEODOSIANS, WEST||WESTERN COMMANDERS Magistri Militum||1. THEODOSIANS, EAST|
|394-395, West|| |
Theodosius I, the Great
| Council II, Constantinople I, Arianism condemned, 381; |
Public penance for massacre at Thessalonica, ordered by St. Ambrose,, 390; Destruction of the Serapeum, 392; Abolition of the Olympic Games, 394 (?)
| Honorius |
|395-423 W||Stilicho (half Vandal)||395-408|| Arcadius |
|,, & Alans cross Rhine, 1 January 407|
| Constantius III |
|410-421|| Theodosius II |
| 408-450 E |
Longest reign in Roman History to date
|Honorius moves capital to Ravenna, 402; Gladiatorial combat ended in Colosseum, 404; Rome sacked by, 410; Gaul recovered from Constantine "III," 411; Visigoths destroy Alans and Siling Vandals in Spain, 416|
|[Constantine "III"]||407-411 in Britain, Gaul & Spain||Castinus||422-425|
| John |
|423-425 W||defeated by Vandals in Spain, 422; backs usurper John, 423-425|
| Valentinian III |
Fl. Placius Valentinianus
| Aëtius |
|430-432, 433-454||Council III, Ephesus, Nestorianism condemned, 431; earthquake in Constantinople, 447|
|Boniface||432|| Marcian ||450-457 E|
|[Petronius Maximus]||455 W|
|invade Africa, 428, take Hippo, 430, repulsed from Carthage, 435; defeat Andevotus, Count of Spain, at the Jenil River, 438, take Mйrida, 439, Seville, 441; Vandals take Carthage, 439; Visigoths provide troops for expedition against Vandals, and fleet of 1100 cargo & troop ships arrives from Constantinople in Sicily, but expedition cancelled, 441; Council IV, Chalcedon, Monophysitism condemned, 451; Attila the Hun halted at Châlons, 451; Aëtius stabbed to death by Valentinian, 454; Valentinian assassinated, Petronius elevated and killed, Rome sacked by Vandals, 455|
Theodosius may have been called "Great" mainly for establishing Orthodoxy and for actions against paganism like closing and sometimes destroying temples and ending the Olympic Games (which, however, seem to have continued in some form for another century). Otherwise, he did get the Goths under some kind of control and left the Empire, to all appearances, sound and prepared for the future.
Unfortunately, there were two very serious problems. One was that the Goths remained a unified and aggressive tribe within the Empire, ready to begin rampaging again at any time. Another was that Honorius and Arcadius, the two sons between whom Theodosius divided the Empire, were young and inexperienced. Leaving the Army in the hands of the German Magister Militum Stilicho set the stage for all the evils of divided authority and palace intrigue. The result of this would be disaster. When the times called for a strong soldier Emperor, there wasn't one -- and there would not be one for some time, perhaps not until.
, and for the history of the "Byzantine" in Italy, until its fall to the in 751. Ravenna was thus the capital of Italy for 349 years. This is usually overlooked in the tendentious narrative of the "Fall of Rome," as is the glorious art and architecture placed there, anomalously during what is represented as the "Dark Ages." The form of the Exarchate, with a corridor from Rome to Ravenna, subsequently became the, from 754 until 1870 -- 1116 years.
Ravenna thus possesses a important place in general history and art history that is rarely addressed in popular or general academic culture. Despite the role of Ravenna, several of the last Western Emperors, with their political horizon reduced to Italy, did spend significant time at Rome. Valentinian III seems to have been there for eight years, about a quarter of his reign, including its last five years. Petronius Maximus (455) spent his whole, brief reign in Rome; and Anthemius (467-472) was killed there. Some scholars think this means that too much emphasis has been placed on Ravenna; but considering how little awareness there is of the city, its monuments, and its history, certainly in popular culture and in scholarship outside the specialty of Late Antiquity, it is hardly possible to say that anything sensible is served by deliberately placing less emphasis on it.
Unfortunately, the military strength of Ravenna's position allowed Honorius to view the course of the Goths in Italy, and their siege of Rome, with some complacency. On the other hand, the time spent by Valentinian III at Rome, especially in his last years, may reflect growing concern at the threat from the. Since the government had originally been drawn to the North of Italy because of the threat to the frontiers, it is not surprising that attention would be pulled back to Rome because of a threat from Carthage. If this was Valentianian's thinking, it was a good idea but ended up collapsing in chaos. Valentianian killed Aëtius, was himself assassinated, and then his ephemeral successor, Petronius Maximus, was killed while fleeing the City, leaving the Vandals unopposed. Having botched the defense of Rome, the government of, drawing on the power of the Visigoths, returned to Ravenna and the North.
Some uncertainty remains about exactly when Honorius moved to Ravenna. Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis says:
At the time of the Visigothic invasion of Italy of 402, Honorius and his advisors seem to have felt that Milan was too hard to defend, and so the emperor moved to Ravenna; the first imperial decree to have been issued at Ravenna is dated December 6, 402. The year 402 appears in almost every modern account as a pivotal date in Ravenna's history, even though no contemporary authors mention such a transfer in that year. [Ravenna in Late Antiquity, Cambridge, 2010, p.46]
In a footnote, Deliyannis cites Zosimus (d.circa 501), who "mentions Honorius's change of residence to Ravenna as happening in 408" [note 12, p.320]. However, although she leaves the impression that the date of 402 is based on the imperial edict (from the Theodosian Code), the Chronicle of Theophanes positively asserts that Honorious "moved to Ravenna, a coastal city in Italy" in the year 5895, i.e. 402/403 AD [The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor, Byzantine and Near Eastern History AD 284-813, Translated with Introduction and Commentary by Cyril Mango and Roger Scott with the assistance of Geoffrey Greatrex, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1997, 2006, p.117]. We do not know, of course, the basis of the assertion of Theophanes, writing in the 9th century. It may have been in the very same imperial edict, or in historical sources now lost. Nevertheless, the date of the edict is not consistent with the (perhaps corrupt) date from Zosimus.
With the Goths running wild, and an alliance of German tribes crossing the frozen Rhine on New Year's Eve of 407, the institutions were not prepared to bounce back the way Rome had in the 3rd Century. The center of Roman resistance was the commander Stilicho, who had been entrusted with his office by Theodosius. But neither the Eastern Court nor Honorius liked the authority possessed by Stilicho. The result was, after being the only leader to resist the Germans, Stilicho was tried and executed. As earlier with the rebellion of the Visigoths, the Romans turned on the Germans in the Army; but the purge did not strengthen the Army, as later it would in the East under Leo. Instead, the surviving Germans decamped to the Visigoths; and, unlike with the Isaurians under Leo, there was no one to replace them. Honorius never contested any action of the Goths, who only left Italy when they ran out of steam.
As with Stilicho, a similar characteristic moment came when the commander Aëtius, sometimes called "the Last Roman," who had defeated the Huns at Châlons-sur-Marne (Campus Mauriacus or the Catalaunian Plains, with substantial help from the, whose King Theodoric I was killed), was murdered by the incompetent and jealous Emperor Valentinian III, with his own hand. Very personal. Valentinian's own murder, as the Vandals symbolically arrived to plunder Rome, then left the throne completely at the mercy of the next person to get control of the Army -- who would be the German Ricimer. Ricimer could not himself, as a German, become Emperor, so he could only retain power by keeping the Emperors as figureheads, or killing them. This was not a formula for retrieving the situation. The Theodosian dynasty thus ends in the West with a combination of triumph, betrayal, and chaos.
One of the most interesting people in the diagram is the Empress Galla Placidia, the daughter of Theodosius I, wife of Athaulf, King of the Visigoths, wife of Constantius III, and mother of Valentinian III. According to J.B. Bury, she was buried at her own mausoleum in Ravenna, where "her embalmed body in Imperial robes seated on a chair of cypress wood could be seen through a hole in the back [of her sarcophagus] till A.D. 1577, when all the contents of the tomb were accidentally burned thourgh the carelessness of children" [History of the Later Roman Empire Vol. 1, Dover, 1958, pp. 263-264]. It seems that said children, holding a candle within the observation hole to look in, dropped it. It is remarkable that something of the sort had not happened earlier (as Howard Carter was lucky in 1922 that he did not drop the candle he held up, in the last days before electric flashlights, to first look into ). The idea of an observation port into a tomb may seem strange, but there is even such a feature in the tomb of and his wife.
Although the mausoleum and its decorations remain in excellent condition, some now question whether the Empress or any other Theodosians had ever been buried there. Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis says, "When Galla Placidia died in Rome, she was probably [?!] buried in the imperial mausoleum at St. Peter's"; but she only cites a secondary source for this -- and I am otherwise unaware that there was an imperial mausoleum at St. Peter's. She does conclude that the sarcophagi in the "Mausoleum of Galla Placida" (always given in quotes) were indeed fifth century products contemporary with the building, and were intended for Theodosian burials by Placida herself. Exactly who was buried there, however, was a matter of later tradition and legend [op.cit. p.82]. Deliyannis, however, does not even discuss Bury's assertions:
Into this charming chapel Placidia removed the remains of her brother Honorius and her husband Constantius, and it was her own resting place. The marble sarcophagus of Honorius is on the right, that of Constantius, in which the body of Valentinian III. was afterwards laid, on the left. [Bury, op.cit. p.263]
Bury, unfortunately, also only cites secondary sources, while Deliyannis denies that there is any contemporary information about the burials, providing various versions of traditional assignments [cf. note 247, p.334]. We are thus left with more questions than answers in this matter. There is a certain logic, however, that Placida would be buried in the mausoleum that she arguably built herself.
Mosaics in the mausoleum already show the books of the Bible bound in codices (sing. codex), i.e. familiar bound books rather than scrolls. Scrolls continued to be current for some time -- mosaics at Ravenna include figures standing side by side where one holds a scroll, the other a codex -- and it is probably difficult for people to think of "Romans" using books rather than scrolls; but this is not the only case where general perceptions fail to keep up with the changing times of Late Antiquity.
Equally influential in the East was Empress St. Pulcheria Augusta, , sister of Theodosius II and (apparently celibate) wife of Marcian. She is supposed to have requested the transfer of the from Jerusalem, although it is otherwise said to have actually been fetched by her sister-in-law, St. Aelia (Athenais) Eudocia Augusta, with whom here was some rivalry and inversely varying fortunes of political influence. Pulcheria was instrumental in the calling and conduct of both the Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus (431), which condemned Nestorianism, and the Fourth at Chalcedon (451), which condemned Monophysitism. Her influence on subsequent Christian theology, and the problem of Schisms in the Church, was therefore immense. In conflict with the Patriarch, soon to be exiled, she claimed the right to enter of the Holy of Holies of (the old) Sancta Sophia Church.
This era of miserable collapse nevertheless contained instances of formidable intellectual development and important figures in the. St. Augustine of Hippo (395-430), whose name still evokes strong even in our own day, and who died as the Vandals were besieging Hippo, still stands as the most prolific author in the Latin language, with 93 surviving works to his credit, not counting numerous sermons and letters. This is a positive embarrassment for Classicists, who are usually not very interested in Latin literature after 100 AD and who would rather think that the writing from Augustine's era was all by half-literate, ignorant, and bigoted Patristic Fathers writing in Vulgar Latin. Unfortunately for this conceit, Augustine himself, inspired by Cicero, was a student of Classical Latin rhetoric and taught it at Carthage, Rome, and Milan (the Capital, remember) before he ever thought of converting to Christianity. The study of Latin without the study of Augustine involves a certain self-imposed blindness.
As with Constantine, there are curious alternatives in the pronunciation of Augustine's name. By analogy with Constantine, we might expect the alternatives "Augusteyen" and "Augusteen." I have never hear the former ever used. The later is the vulgar pronunciation, especially as used for the city of St. Augustine, Florida. Scholars, on the other hand, in both history and philosophy, seem to prefer "Augústin," with a short "i" and the accent on the second syllable, contrasting with the first syllable for "Aúgusteen." I find this perplexing, since the short "i" violates the ordinary rules of spelling in both British and American English, where a final "e" almost always indicates that the preceding vowel is long. If this is an affectation, I do not know how or when it got started.
Meanwhile, another North African author, far less accomplished as a writer, nevertheless made an epochal contribution to the character of education in the Middle Ages. This was the obscure Martianus Capella. Capella, a pagan and apparently a practicing lawyer at Carthage, seems to have died before the Vandal invasion. His seminal contribution to learning, The Marriage of Philology and Mercury, created the system of the Seven Liberal Arts: the trivium (hence "trival"), of grammar, rhetoric, and logic, and the quadrivium, of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. Capella even included a system of astronomy in which Mercury and Venus orbited the sun. This later caught the attention of. Capella was popularized by and hence made his way into subsequent education, such as with -- who, like Capella, is often called an "Enyclopedist." Capella, however, may not have been entirely original. In the East, where versions of the Liberal Arts were also taught in Greek education, the tradition was that a similar list went back to the Sophist Hippias of Elis. The idea of the Liberal Arts has now rather shrunk, and instead of including things like logic, mathematics, and astronomy, one might often think, given current academic practice, that only remains (with grammar itself rejected as "elitist"). So one is left with the question, "Which attitudes sound more like the ignorance of the Dark Ages?"
Diocletian had begun creating a very different kind of Army in the Late Empire. The old Legions actually still exist, but they largely have been settled on the land as fixed frontier forces, the Limitanei, and the old legionary establishment has been reduced to 1000 men, with the number of accordingly multiplied -- for instance, only one legion had previously been stationed in Egypt, the Legio II Traiana, but there are eight by the time of the Notitia Dignitatum (II Traiana, III Diocletiana, V Macedonica, XIII Gemina, II Flavia Constantia, I Maximiana, I Valentiniana, & II Valentiniana, though this is not always the full legion). The frontier units are not shown on the map above, but their regional commanders are, the "Dukes" -- dux, "leader" (pl. duces). This is a that will have a long history in the Middle Ages. The units that are shown on the map above are parts of the new Mobile Army, the Comitatenses, which were originally commanded by the Augusti and Caesares of the Tetrarchy -- hence, they "attend" or "accompany," comitor, the Emperors, as their "train, retinue," or "following," comitatus. An individual "companion" of an Emperor is a comes (pl. comites), or "Count," another title with a long history in the Middle Ages. In origin, however, a Count has a higher station than a Duke, the opposite of what we see much later. The sixth-century historian Agathias says that at one time the Army had a full strength of 645,000 men. This accords well with the data of the Notitia Dignitatum, which gives the whole establishment of the Army, apparently for the East in 395 AD and for the West circa 408 AD. Diocletian and Constantine, both accused of massively expanding the Army, thus produced a total force roughly twice as large as the Army of the Principate. There is no doubt that this was needed for the challenges of the Age -- indeed, it would prove inadequate to concentrate what would in fact be needed against the Visigoths and the other migrating German tribes.
In the map at right we see the Limitanei and the Comitatenses for the Western Army. It is noteworthy that some differences have developed between the organization of the Western and the Eastern Armies. In the West, the regional commanders of the Mobile Army are Counts. Britain features both a Duke of Britain, on the frontier, and a Count of Britain, with a unit of the Mobile Army. The Count of Illyricum is in the Western Mobile Army, but the Master of Soliders of Illyricum is in the Eastern. In the Western Army, above the Counts are the units commanded by the "Master of Soldiers," Magister Militum (or "Master of Foot," Magister Peditum), and the "Master of Horse," Magister Equitum, of Gaul. These are the commanders-in-chief of the Western Army (distiguished by purple color), with the Master of Soldiers becoming the effective "Generalissimo" of the Western Empire.
In the map at right for the East, we see the Limitanei and the Comitatenses for the Eastern Army. The units of the Eastern Mobile Army all are commanded by their own Master of Soldiers, with two units as "Soldiers of the Emperor's Presence." Since there are two of those, one might think there is one each for East and West. However, they apparently operated together and were part of the Eastern Army. Thus, the unity of the Eastern Army was focused more directly on the Emperor himself, which may have helped the Eastern Empire avoid the situation in the West where the Emperors became mere figureheads. It is noteworthy that the Counts in the East, of Isauria and Egypt, are both in areas behind the actual frontiers. The Count of Egypt commands an army that from its size could easily have belonged to the Comitatenses. The Count of Isauria commands in an area known for rebellion. He has such a small force, however (Legio II Isaura & Legio III Isaura -- Legio I Isaura Sagittaria was with the Mobile Army of the East), the rebellions cannot have been too serious. Perhaps the problem was more like banditry. Nevertheless, this is where would draw recruits, including his future son-in-law and Emperor Zeno, to replace the Germans in the Eastern Army.
In the Notitia Dignitatum the Western Comitatenses have a slight numerical superiority over the Eastern, yet it was the Western Army that seems to evaporate after 407, especially in Gaul, which on paper was the greatest strength of any formation in the whole Army. Unfortunately, the Mobile Army as often was used for civil wars as for backing up the frontiers, and it was natural for Emperors to neglect the Limitanei and reinforce their own personal forces. This did not work out well, especially when the Western Army became the personal force, not of the Emperors, but of a Magister Militum who soon was usually a German, like Stilicho or Ricimer. Gradually, the Limitanei fade from historical view and hardly seem to exist at all by the time German tribes cross the borders en masse in the Fifth Century.
On the map, the Visigoths have actually become allies of the Romans. In return for cleaning (most of) the Germans out of Spain, they are legally settled in Aquitaine. Two German tribes, however, are left unmolested. The establish themselves, for centuries, in Galicia, and the Asding Vandals cross over into Africa. Of all the blows the Roman power, the latter would prove to be one of the worst. Rome could no longer draw grain from North Africa. King Gaiseric ("King Caesar") built a fleet after securing Carthage in 439. He then did what the so many centuries earlier had not been able to do: secure control of the seas. In 455 they did what Hannibal could only have dreamed of, arriving at Rome by sea, breaking into and looting the city, and carrying the booty back to Carthage. Meanwhile, around the same year, Hengest the Jute, followed by Angles and, founded the Kingdom of.
(Venerabilis Baeda, 673-735) numbered Theodosius II as the 45th and Marcian as the 46th Emperors since Augustus. This is considerably less than the count we might make now and it interestingly implies that Bede is using a tradition of a numbered list from which many ephemeral Emperors were excluded .
After Roman Britain disappeared from history, when the usurper Constantine "III" took his troops to Gaul, History of the English Church and People is just about the first that we then hear of it, three hundred years later, with one exception: St. Gildas "the Wise," whose De Excitio et Conquestu Britanniae, "The Ruin and Conquest of Britain," is the only contemporary account of the Gemanic invasion of Britain. Since Gildas was one of the Britons who fled to, he may be more an illustration, rather than an exception, to the loss of literacy in Britain.
Gildas provides some key information, which we find repeated, sometimes word for word. in Bede. He says that Ambrosius Aurelius rallied the Britons against the Saxons. And the Saxons were stopped for a while, gaining a period of peace, after a defeat at Badon Hill, Badonicus Mons. Gildas says this was the year he was born, 44 years after the landing of the Saxons. Now, the first Germans to settle in Britain were the Jutes led by Hengest, in about 455. The Saxons came a little later, with Aelle & Cissa in 491. So if Gildas means Hengest, this puts Badon Hill in 499; but if he really means the Saxons, it would be more like 535. With various dates proposed for Badon Hill between 493 and 518, the 499 date looks more likely. With Gildas living until 570, it was just a century before the birth of Bede in 673.
What events filled that time, and the vague years between 410, when Honorius told the Britons they were on their own, and Gildas, became strongly mythologized, especially around the figure of King Arthur. The first Life of Gildas was written in the 9th century, even later than Bede. Neither source mentions a King Arthur. We still just have Ambrosius Aurelius, whom Bede says won the battle of Badon Hill, altough Gildas actually does not say so. The Life does says, interestingly, that Gildas was born in the Kingdom of to the royal family, a son of King Caunus. This does not clearly match any name I have for Strathclyde, although "Cinuit" is close, in the right time frame. But the brother of Gildas, "Cuillum," the next King, doesn't match at all. Gildas is even supposed to have sojourned in, working for the High King Ainmere macSátnai O'Néill (566-569), before going to Rome, Ravenna, and back to Brittany.
The next Life of Gildas is in the 12th century; and now Ambrosius Aurelius is replaced by King Arthur, with elements filled in from the rest of Arthurian legend. Where this all comes from is what piques our interest. I suspect that the vividness of the Arthur stories, like that of the Greek epics and of the in India, is an artifact of a literate society that for a time lost its literacy but remembered, after a fashion, what it was like. The literature on the problem of Arthur and Britain in this period is vast. Two of the more interesting recent books might be The Discovery of King Arthur by Geoffrey Ashe [Guild Publishing, London, 1985] and From Scythia to Camelot, A Radical Reassessment of the Legends of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and the Holy Grail by C. Scott Littleton and Linda A. Malcor [Garland Publshing, Inc, New York, 1994, 2000].
Littleton and Malcor made the significant discovery that the scene of Arthur's death in Mallory's Morte d'Arthur, where the sword Excalibur was thrown into a lake, occurs in almost identical terms in the legends of the Ossetians in the -- the epic literature of the Ossetians had come in for particular study by the great historian of, Georges Dumézil (1898-1986). There is a possible connection, since the Ossetians are descendants of the, and Marcus Aurelius had settled a tribe of Sarmatians, the Iazyges, cousins of the Alans, whom he had defeated in 175 and taken into Roman service, in the north of Britain, where many of them ended up at the evocatively named Bremetenacum Veteranorum, south of Lancaster.
, lists known officers for some of them, and mentions one officer of Legio VI Victrix --the military tribune Marcus Pontius Laelianus -- nevertheless does not mention Castus in the same connection. Yet Pollard and Berry's reference for their knowledge of Laelianus is a funeral stela at Rome listed in the very same Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum [p.94]! So either they have overlooked the inscriptions about Castus or, for some reason that they do not discuss, they have discounted their validity. Littleton and Malcon mention no disputes of that nature.
So the vivid theory of Litteton and Malcor is that the legends of the Alans, brought by the Iazyges, are perpetuated by their descendants in the North of Roman Britain, folding in with their memory and reverence for their original Legionary commander, Lucius Artorius Castus, and eventually confused with the historical recollection of Ambrosius Aurelius and the Battle of Bandon Hill. For all we know, descendants of the Iazyges may have fought at Badon Hill. This all makes a nice picture; but there is nothing certain about the speculations and disputes over the Arthurian stories except that they will be endless .
|2. LAST WESTERN EMPERORS [names in brackets not recognized by East]||WESTERN COMMANDERS Magistri Militum|
| Avitus |
| 455-456 W, |
|Remistus (a Visigoth)||456|
|Proclaimed by, 455; Comes Ricimer defeats at Agrigentum & destroys their fleet off Corsica, Visigoths invade Spain, 456; deposed by Majorian & Ricimer, Bishop of Piacenza, 456||Ricimer (half Visigoth & half Suevic)||456-472|
| Majorian |
Julius Valerius Maiorianus
|Vandals surprise & burn fleet organizing against them in Spanish ports, Majorian discredited, murdered, 461; in Gaul never acknowledges subsequent Emperors|
|[Libius Severus]||461-465 W|
|Joint E/W expedition against Vandals fails, 468; Anthemius captured in Rome & executed by Gundobad, 472|
| [Olybrius |
|interregnum||472-473 W||Gundobad, King of||472-474|
|Julius Nepos||474-480 W||Ecdicius||474-475|
|son of Avitus|
|deposed in Ravenna, retreats to Dalmatia, 475||Orestes||475-476|
Odo(w)acer (a Scirus)
|deposes Orestes & Augustulus, 476; Nepos killed, 480; defeated, besieged, & killed by, 489-493|
The last twenty years of the Western Empire are mainly the story of the commander Ricimer. The last Western Emperor really worthy of the name was probably Majorian, who was a military man in his own right and operated with success in Gaul and Spain. The naval expedition he organized against the Vandals in 461 (one of some four attempts to put down the Vandals in this era) failed when Gaiseric, apparently with good intelligence, destroyed the Roman fleet in its ports in Spain. Majorian was murdered by Ricimer on returning to Italy.
Henceforth, the Emperors were mainly puppets and operations were confined to Italy or the area of Arles in southern Gaul. More than the coup of Odoacer in 476, this signaled a real institutional change in the Western Empire. The German Ricimer would now hold the real power, with little better than figurehead Emperors. With Ricimer either unconcerned or distracted, the rest of the Western Empire fell by default to the Vandals, Visigoths, and Burgundians. A detached Roman pocket, intially under a commander, Aegidius, appointed by Majorian, remained in the north of until the Frankish King subjugated it in 486. Britain had been abandoned to illiterate mythology. Ricimer was once perusaded to accept an Emperor from the East, Anthemius, and to participate in another assault on the Vandals; but this was a disaster, and he ended his "reign" with another figurehead on the throne.
Gundobad, a nephew of Ricimer, the killer of Anthemius, and shortly to be King of (where he would outlive most of his contemporaries), succeeded Ricimer and briefly had his own figurehead on the throne. This was the Count Glycerius. Gundobad acquiesced in the installation of a new nominee of the Eastern Emperor -- Julius Nepos -- and decamped to Burgundy.
As with the previous Eastern nominee, it is obvious that such Emperors only would have been effective if they had brought their own army. The first commander of Nepos, Ecdicius, was a son of the former Emperor Avitus. Ecdicius, however, was soon followed by a new commander, Orestes. There was now some difficulty, however, with the German troops of the Empire accepting a non-German commander. This problem reached a head when, rather than working together to get things organized again, Nepos was chased out to Dalmatia by Orestes, who assumed command and then put his own son, a child -- Romulus the "little Augustus" -- on the throne. The German troops wanted to be settled on the land in Italy, which Orestes resisted. So in 476, Orestes was killed and his son then deposed by the German Odoacer (who originally had been in the guard of Anthemius), who decided to do without a figurehead Emperor.
This was the rather anticlimactic "Fall of Rome." Odoacer even returned the Western Regalia to Constantinople. Nepos, meanwhile, was still in Dalmatia. Odoacer was rid of him by 480, reportedly (in the historian Malchus) with the help of no less than Glycerius, who on his deposition had been appointed Bishop of Salonae -- hard by Nepos in Spalatum. Since Odoacer, de jure, was a faithful officer of the Emperor in Constantinople, one could say that the last institutional existence of the Western Empire surived until Odoacer was overthrown by the in 493. The real difference, however, had come in 456, when Ricimer gained control of the army. His long tenure structurally prepared the way for the demise of the Western Empire.
The pathetic and ephemeral "Little Augustus" Romulus, who wasn't even remembered as a Roman Emperor by later Mediaeval historians, such as the, is now often dignified, with great portent and drama, as the "Last Emperor" (this would be in Chinese, where it could be used postumously for the last Emperor of a Dynasty, most notably the Dynasty). This is what we may get from writers who scrupulously, albeit fallaciously, remind us that the later Empire, when they are not calling it the "Byzantine Empire," was merely the "Eastern Roman Empire." They often forget the "Western" when talking about Augustulus as Emperor. The narrative is clearly that the Eastern Empire wasn't really Roman because to be "Roman" you need Rome, and Rome was in the West. That Augustulus never "ruled" from Rome, but from Ravenna, may then be forgotten as well. It would confuse the picture. The Last Roman Emperor must have been clinging to the Eternal City like a shipwrecked sailor to a raft. The best that can be said for this approach is that it is ahistorical, since for judgments about the Empire and Roman-ness at the time, the City was irrelevant. And, as we see from the cases of Anthemius and Nepos, the Eastern Emperor always retained some authority over who would be his Western colleague. The lapse of the Western Throne simply meant that authority over the Western Empire, however reduced or tenuous its existence, reverted entirely to Constantinople. The division of the Empire, which had never been more than a device and a convenience, despite the very different circumstances and institutional histories and fates of the two halves, lapsed and was completely forgotten -- until revived by Modern historians, who now don't understand what these f***ing Greeks were doing calling themselves "Romans." I fear that that is often about the level of their treatment.
In 2007, we have a movie, The Last Legion, that is about Romulus Augustulus, Odoacer, et al. This is an extensively fictionalized and even silly version of events, where Romulus Augustulus flees to Britain and becomes, well, King Arthur -- with Ben Kingsley as some sort of Merlin. Since the project is clearly a fantasy, it does not merit much notice, except for the points that would give people the wrong idea about the era. The worst part of the story may be that it has it that Odoacer was a (filthy, wild) Goth attacking Rome (a former ally rather like Alaric). Odoacer was not a Goth, but from a lesser German tribe, the Sciri, and he was not attacking Rome, but simply a member of the (barbarized) Roman army. Odoacer in fact was eventually deposed (from Ravenna, of course) by Goths, the Ostrogoths under Theodoric. The distortion is certainly made to preserve the image of Rome (the City) being conquered by barbarian hordes. At the same time, we get the notion that Romulus Augustulus is somehow the descendant or heir of Julius Caesar. There is no evidence of this, Caesar himself had no descendants, and the other heirs were pretty much wiped out by 69 AD (though the movie actually says that the unrelated Tiberius was the last of the ruling Caesars!). The Eastern Empire does come in for mention in the movie, but only so that it can absurdly contribute a female warrior, played by an actress from India, to the defense of Rome. Hollywood (or, in this case, the Euro Italian-French-British co-producers) should save this stuff for the coming remake of Conan the Barbarian.
Little is known about the Roman pocket in the north of. We hear about Aegidius, the magister militum per Gallias, apparently appointed by Majorian. In the Notitia Dignitatum, the commander of Roman forces in Gaul was the magister equitum, Master of Horses instead of Soldiers. Ordinarily, the Master of Horses would be a title inferior to Master of Soldiers. The title of the Master of Horse of Gaul, however, may mean that he was second in command for entire Western Army, a serious position indeed. Since the strength of the forces in Gaul was some 32,500 men, this reinforces that interpretation -- although we then wonder why such a force seems to have been so ineffective when the Alans, Vandals, and Suevi invaded on New Year's Day of 407. Bury speculates that Aegidius held both titles [J.B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, Volume I, Dover Publications, 1958, p.333]. Aegidius did not accept the fall of Majorian or recognize Libius Severus, but he was preoccupied fighting the Visigoths until his death in 464. He was followed by someone we only know as the Count (comes) Paul. "Count" ("companion" of the Emperor) is actually a high title, but Bury supposes he must have also held the "Master" titles also. Ricimer appointed his own magister militum for Gaul, Gundioc, the King of (434-473). Both Aegidius and Paul had the help of the, who remained loyal Roman allies, against the Visigoths and Burgundians. That changed when a new Frankish King, Clovis (Chlodwig), succeeded his father in 481. Meanwhile, Paul had been followed by the son of Aegidius, Syagrius. The Franks actually called him rex Romanorum, a good indication that his realm and authority were seen as quite independent -- indeed, there was no longer a Western Emperor at that point. It is not known what Syagrius called himself. Clovis defeated him at Soissons in 486. Syagrius fled to the Visigoths, who returned him for execution by Clovis. This was the end of Roman Gaul, 546 years after had completed its conquest in 56 BC -- or perhaps 531 years since the defeat and capture of the rebel Vercingetorix in 52 BC (to be kept and later executed as part of Caesar's own Triumph). We see Vercingetorix surrendering in the 1899 painting by Lionel-Noël Royer above. Now the dominance of the Franks would begin, and in time Gaul would take their.
C. THE EAST ALONE, 476-518, 42 Years
Leo I the Thracian
|First Emperor Crowned by Patriarch of Constantinople; Joint E/W expedition against fails, 468|
|Leo II||473-474 E|
Zeno the Isaurian (Tarasikodissa, Tarasis Kodisa, of Rusumblada)
|Acacian Schism, 484-519|
| [ |
|Fire in Constantinople, destroys Basilica or Imperial Stoa Library, founded by, of 120,000 volumes, and statuary, including the, 475|
Leo I purged the Eastern Army of Germans and so turned the East away from the process of barbarization that had rendered the Western Army useless. A last chance to recoup things for the whole Empire came in 468, after Leo had gotten Ricimer to accept the Theodosian relative Anthemius as Western Emperor. A joint amphibious campaign was put together to recover Africa from the Vandals. This should have succeeded, but it failed through a combination of incompetence, treachery, and bad luck. Ricimer may not have really wanted it to succeed, and it wasn't long before he got rid of Anthemius. After Odoacer decided not to bother with a Western Emperor, Leo's Isaurian son-in-law, Zeno, found himself as the first Emperor of a "united" Empire since Theodosius I, but little was left of the West. Only Odoacer in Italy vaguely acknowledged the Emperor's suzerainty -- we don't know what allegiance to Constantinople, if any, remained in the Roman pocket in northern Gaul. Nothing was done about this at the time, and Anastasius, by temperament or by wisdom, concentrated on allowing the East to rest and build up its strength. Part of that involved reforming the, which is one of the benchmarks for the beginning of "Byzantine" history. The economies of Anastasius left the treasury full (to the delight of Justinian); but taxes, of course, are not always popular. In 512 rioters called for , állon basiléa têi Rhômaníai, "another emperor for Romania!" Anatasius rode this out; and its principal interest for us may be the use of word , which is thus attested in popular language at the time. This is only important because of the practice of Byzantinists to.
On the map we see the classic form of the successor Kingdoms of the Western Empire. By 493 Theodoric the Ostrogoth, invited by the Emperor Anastasius, had taken out Odoacer in Italy. This was just in time to save the Visigoths, who were defeated by the Franks in 507 and pushed out of Gaul. The result has the look of a nice balance of power, but there is no telling how long that might have lasted. What upset things was not any internal development, but a most unexpected revival and return of Roman power. In the beloved story of the "Fall" of Rome, this sequel is usually what gets overlooked.
, the three names of praenômen, nômen, and cognômen, which have been given with previous Emperors. The last Emperor with three full names may have been Majorian, Julius Valerius Majorianus. In general, the Valentian and Theodosian Emperors only had two names, e.g. Valens, Fl. Valens, and Theodosius I & II, both Fl. Theodosius. From Marcian onward there is no evidence of any traditional Roman nomenclature, apart from the perfunctory addition of "Flavius" to many names -- and occasonally, we get a blast, as with, of multiple names. Amazing how well the Flavian gens survives over the centuries! Why is this happening? Well, even though it had been some time since the nômen had lost its connection to the actual ancestral gens (the clan), and all the names were becoming like titles, the system of the tria nomina still bore an essential connection to the Roman family cult of ancestor worship. No venerated ancestors in a household shrine more devoutly than the pious Roman. But this could not survive with the adoption of Christianity. A Christian receives a single Christian name. Indeed, it is a while before we get names, like Michael or John, that look more Christian than Roman and Greek, like Jovian, Leo, or Heraclius (still commemorating Heracles -- and so Hera); but the trend is obvious. Indeed, the names beginning with the Valentians aleady look like the pro forma addition of "Flavius" to the single basic name of the Emperors -- even of Aëtius, "Flavius Aëtius." Eventually we get the return of surnames, at first for nobility. The first Dynasty with a will be the in the 11th century. It took a few more centuries before surnames became common among European Christians of all classes.
? No. The aesthetic was certainly changing, but the most important difference was just the difference in purpose between a temple and a church. A temple was the house of a god, with little space inside but for the god and a few priests. It was not supposed to contain a body of worshipers. The public side of the temple was the exterior, the visible sign of the god's presence. With a church, however, the purpose was not to house God, whose presence was ineffable, but to house the congregation, the ekklêsía, the "assembly" that gave its name in many modern languages for "church" (which itself seems to be from kyriakos, "of the Lord"). The public side of a church is thus the interior, not the exterior, and the outwardly ugliest early churches often contain marvelous inner spaces, with rich decoration. These quickly become awesome spaces, as in Sancta Sophia, for centuries the greatest church of Christendom. Roman domes could do what most Roman temples did not try to do. As it happens there was a precedent for this. Hadrian's Pantheon in Rome is undistinguished and unremarkable from the outside yet contains a wonderful interior under the largest dome of pre-modern engineering. The dome of Sancta Sophia is smaller but used more dramatically. The Pantheon is essentially one large, really nice room. Sancta Sophia holds a vast space -- the 184 foot rise of the dome on its piers can easily contain the 151 foot Statue of Liberty.
Eventually, a form of church evolved that transformed the basilica into a building with a monumental external face and a monumental internal space. These would be the Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals, but it would be centuries before the technology could handle the spidery supports, of walls pierced with windows and held by buttresses, that both size and relatively lightness required. Then the basilica and the dome would be combined, to produce in the Renaissance the new largest church in Christendom, St. Peter's in Rome. But this would happen as culturally surpassed Romania. The instructive comparison is with the practice in Islâm, where the purpose of a mosque was similar to that of a church. This can be seen in the in Damascus, based on Syrian churches, which is all but invisible from the outside, hidden in the midst of the city, but contains two marvelous spaces, a courtyard and the lovely interior of the prayer hall, with mosaics as in churches of the time. On the other hand, a monument of the same era, the Dome of the Rock in, stands conspicuously like a pagan temple, high on the Temple Mount itself. But the purpose of the Dome is more like a temple. It was built less for a congregation than for the Rock itself, commemorating the Temple of Solomon and the site of the Prophet Muh.ammad's "dream journey" to heaven. Finally, the mosques of Sinan (c.1500-1588), based on the model of Sancta Sophia, produce the monumental Islâmic equivalent of the cathedral.
D. RETURNING TO THE WEST, 518-610, 92 years
Justinian, who had helped his stolid uncle Justin and then inherited the Empire from him, took the rested strength of the East and threw it, commanded by his great general Belisarius, against the and. The Vandals, caught off guard, collapsed quickly, although with some close battles. In 540 the Ostrogoths surrendered to Belisarius, who had to rush East to meet a invasion. He was too late. Khusro I had already sacked Antioch (540). Then in 541 the resistance of the Ostrogoths revived, and the plague hit the Empire. The campaign in Italy then took another 11 years, with men and money very short. Successful, if exhausted, the Romans were then able to secure part of southern Spain.
Meanwhile Justinian had built the greatest church in Christendom, Sancta Sophia , codified Roman Law, and driven the last pagans, at Plato's, out of business. This all wore out the Empire, but it could easily have recovered to new strength if further blows had not fallen. The invaded Italy in 568; and although they were unable to secure the whole peninsula, or the major cities (except in the Po valley), they became a source of constant conflict for most of the next two hundred years. Meanwhile, the Danube frontier had become very insecure. As early as 540 (again) Bulgars and Slavs were raiding into the Balkans. Maurice not only restored the frontier but crossed it to apply the "forward defense" of the Early Empire. Unfortunately, this hard campaigning became unpopular with the troops; and in 602 they murdered Maurice and his whole family. Under Phocas, things began to unravel. The Persians began the campaign that would net them the Asiatic part of the Empire, recreating the Persia of the Achaeminids, and the Danube frontier collapsed so completely that it would not be restored for almost four hundred years.
of the 6th Century. There are several points of comparison. First, for the military genius of both of them, although Marlbourgh may have been more consistently successful, as Belisarius suffered some defeats and inconclusive campaigns. Second, just as Sarah Churchill was for long the close friend of Queen Anne, Belisarius's wife Antonina was similarly close to the Empress Theodora. Unlike Sarah, however, Antoninia was rumored to be unfaithful to Belisarius, and her relationship with Theodora does not seem to have soured as did Sarah's with Anne. Third, as Anne eventually turned on Sarah and then the Duke, Justinian was sometimes suspicious of Belisarius and withdrew his support. In 562 Belisarius was tried and imprisoned for "corruption," in what was certainly a political prosecution. Justinian then pardoned him, but the legend arose later that Justinian had blinded Belisarius and reduced him to begging. This would have been more extreme than what happened to Malborough; but since it does not seem to have been true, Malborough's prosecution and exile looks like the worse betrayal. The story of Justinian, Belisarius, and their wives is confused by the spleen of Procopius, whose Secret History vents his inexplicable animus against them all. Perhaps more historians, writing about their patrons -- and Procopius followed Belisarius for many years as his personal secretary -- feel this way but never express it. All of this, however, provides considerable grist for historical fiction, in which Belisarius and the others have often figured. Nevertheless, Belisarius is still not as well known as other generals in history, and the intrigues of Justinian's court, especially with strong and vivid women like Theodora, do not seem to have drawn the dramatic attention that one might expect -- perhaps because of a general neglect and estrangement from the Mediaeval history of. Even so, television viewers of the popular series NCIS see the name of Belisarius every week, in the "Belisarius Productions" title of creator Donald Bellisario, whose name, of course (in Italian), itself recalls that of the great general.
, when the treasures taken by Titus from Herod's Temple in Jerusalem were recovered from the Vandals in 533, they were sent back to Constantinople. According to Procopius, the treasures were being carried in the Triumph of Belisarius when a Jew recognized them and passed word to the Emperor that keeping them in Constantinople would be inauspicious. Their removal from Jerusalem had brought misfortune on Rome and then on the Vandals. So Justinian "became afraid and quickly sent everything to the sanctuaries of the Christians in Jerusalem" [Procopius, History of the Wars, II, Book IV, ix 5-10, translated by H.B. Dewing, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard U. Press, 1916, 2006, p.281]. There, if they indeed arrived, they disappear from history. There is no reason not to think that they would have been safely kept, but the city was then captured, looted, and destroyed by the in 614. At that point many treasures, like the True Cross, were carried off to Ctesiphon (though returned after the victory of in 628). There is no mention, however, of the fate of anything, generally or specifically, from the Temple in Jerusalem. Since the Jews of Jerusalem were said to have helped the Persians (some question this, since the Persians were their own Jews), it is possible they took charge of their own treasures, but there is no report of that, and no further historical report at all about the fate of the objects -- except perhaps for the fabulous stories about the, who supposedly found many things in Jerusalem, though these reports are from much later and of an incredible character. The great Menôrâh of the Temple, described in detail by Josephus and shown on the Arch of Titus, is certainly not something to be easily overlooked. Procopius, unfortunately, does not detail which items were among the treasures recovered by Belisarius. If the Menôrâh was there, any Jew of Constantinople certainly would have recognized it quickly and easily. We are thus left with a considerable mystery, and it is a little surprising that there are not, at least, legends about the fate of the Temple items. One possibility concerns Procopius' reference to "the sanctuaries of the Christians." This could mean all sorts of things and generally has been interpreted at referring to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. However, Justinian himself was building a large new church in Jerusalem, which actually came to the called the "New," Nea, Church. This was later demolished by the Arabs, but its substructure survives under the Jewish Quarter of. That substructure includes a vast cistern, such as Justinian also built in Constantinople. This has suggested to some that crypts of the church may also survive, possibly with items like Temple treasures, which might have been hidden from both Persian and Arab invasions. By the time the Templars arrived in Jerusalem, they might not even have been aware that the Nea Church had existed -- the cistern was only discovered by Israeli archaeologists after 1967. It seems like a thin hope, but since the Arabs don't report finding any Temple treasures, and no Jewish source mentions taking possession of them, the Nea Church is the sole remaining lead.
While we are mostly still looking at Latin names here -- Justinus, Justinianus, Tiberius -- and Justinian's first language was still Latin, or at least the Proto-Romance spoken in the Balkans at the time, these are Emperors whose names will primarily be remembered in Greek. So I give the Greek versions. Also, while Justinian is remembered as a Saint in the Orthodox Church, the Latin Church had less use for him, despite its dependance on the Latin Law that Justinian codified. So there is little warmth in Francia for Justinian, and no rulers there ever used his name.
Plague in Egypt in October 541 was the beginning of an epidemic that cost the City of Constantinople alone perhaps 200,000 citizens. The percentages of people who died in the Empire may compare with those of the Black Death in the 14th century, though by then the population of Europe had grown much larger. Justinian himself contracted the disease, but recovered. There is no doubt that this was the Bubonic plague. The historian Procopius describes it with clinical accuracy, especially the characteristic black swellings, the buboes -- a Greek word, , that Procopius uses, perhaps for the first time for this disease. But the Plague was not the only problem. The climate was changing -- this may indeed have precipitated the plague, providing more aggreeable conditions for rats and fleas. After what is now called the "Roman Warming," we get into the "." The tree ring record of 540 in Ireland is that "the trees stopped growing." Procopius said that, "For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during this whole year , and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear nor such as it is accustomed to shed" [translated by H.B. Dewing, Procopius, History of the Wars, II, Book IV, xiv 5-6, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard U. Press, 1916, 2006, p.329]. Other records give similar accounts.
The dimness of the sun may be from increased, thin cloud cover, from changes in solar output, volcanic debris, or other causes. Indeed, ice cores from Antarctica and Greenland show a sharp spike in volcanic gasses in 535. It is of such magnitude as to indicate a major eruption. Since the eruption of in 1815 resulted in a "year without summer," it is not hard to imagine the eruption of one of the major Indonesian volcanoes (or elsewhere) producing similar results for 535-536. The source of the volcanic signature was for long not identified, but it has now credibly been attributed to Mt. (or Lake) Ilopango in El Salvador, which seems to have experienced a cataclysmic eruption around 535 or 536. Thinking a lot about Indonesia, or the, for such eruptions, Ilopango is a bit startling. It also throws some light on history, since all life would have been exterminated in at least the area of modern El Salvador, and more, which was part of Mayan civilization. The eruption was at least as powerful as Krakatoa in 1883 or Pinatubo in 1991, but not as big as Tambora.
It is not clear that the eruption alone would produce the effects seen over many years, for the weather would be colder and the growing season shorter for some time (as noted for 540). The worst effects of weather on Mayan civilization also seem to occur later. The eruption may have reinforced (or initiated) what was already a cooling trend. Whatever the cause, the climate would adversely impact the population at a time, on top of the deaths from the Plague (whose movement of rats may have been caused by the cooling), when the lack would gravely affect the fate of the Empire. Without the manpower to put down the Ostrogoths more swiftly and effectively, Justinian devastated Italy in a way that would not have otherwise been necessary and that had not been effected by the original "barbarian invasions" as such. Rome was briefly depopulated, not by the Visigoths in 410 or by the Vandals in 455, and certainly not by the Ostrogoths in 493, but by the more than decade of fighting that it took for the Roman reconquest, when the city changed hands at least three times and the aqueducts were cut in sieges.
Before Justinian launched Belisarius into the West, there was the noteworthy disturbance of the Nika Revolt in 532. This began in the Hippodrome and was named after the call for victory -- , Nika! Nika! -- of the chariot racing factions, the Blues and the Greens. "Victory" is actually , níkê, in Attic Greek, and the epithet of the goddess , Athena Nike, whose small temple graces the Acropolis in Athens; but , níkâ, is the same word in the that Byzantium inherited as a colony of the Doric city of Megara -- although the population by the 6th century must be far removed from the customs of the original colonists. The Doric word may have been retained as a local tradition.
There was considerable unhappiness about the efficiency with which Justinian's officials had been collecting taxes. The revolt and riots, through looting and fire, destroyed a good part of the city, including the old church of Sancta Sophia. Justinian was ready to flee, until , Theodora, put some spine into him. Excusing herself, a woman, for reminding the men of courage, she is supposed to have said, "the Purple makes the noblest shroud."
Unfortunately, like many other famous quotes in history, this is not quite right. According to Procopius, Theodora said, "Royalty [, basileía] is a beautiful shroud" [Procopius, History of the Wars, I, Book I, xxiv 37-38, translated by H.B. Dewing, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard U. Press, 1914, 2001, p.232-233]. In the same speech however, she did say, "I will not be separated from this Purple" -- , halourgís, specifically a purple robe [p.230-231 -- see the of this statement].
The traditional misquotation thus deftly combines two actual quotations. This is one of the most famous statements ever about the "Purple" -- i.e., , porphýra, of Roman Imperial Robes -- although we also have the kind of stone, Porphyry, that was used in association with the Throne, both for statues of the Emperors and for structures like the lying-in pavillion for pregnant Empresses. Justinian, thus encouraged, or shamed, put down the revolt. Belisarius surrounded the Hippodrome and massacred everyone in it (perhaps 30,000 people!). Justinian was remembered for these deaths, despite being recognized as a Saint by the Orthodox Church. Because of the damage done to the City, Justinian launched ambitious building projects, including that for the magnificient new Sancta Sophia -- which helped secure his sanctity -- as did the discovery of the looting that his body was incorruptible.
Around the year 550 we hear that a couple of monks arrive from China with an interesting cargo. For all the earlier centuries of the Roman Empire, Romans had sent gold East through Central Asia and received back silk, the nature of which they were entirely ignorant. The route of this trade became known as the "." From Roman authors we hear nothing about the destination of the gold or the source of the silk. From the Chinese history of the, however, as noted, we hear that a Roman embassy arrived in China in 166 AD, specifically to try and arrange an alternate route for the silk trade. This was never worked out. Eventually, Christian missionaries arrived in China. These were at first Nestorians, who had an advanced base as residents of, which monopolized the Western end of the trade. The first notice we have from the Chinese is the appearance of the Nestorians in the Court in 635 AD. This is in the century after the events of Justinian's reign, but it is possible, if not likely, that the missionaries were already in China, during the troubled period (266-589), before the T'ang Dynasty was consolidated and took note of them. In any case, the secrets of sericulture and the possession of the eggs of silkworms were closely guarded by the Chinese government. But the story we get is that the missionaries were able to smuggle out eggs inside bamboo canes. Traversing the Silk Road, they took them to Justinian. Cultivating the eggs and harvesting the silk proved successful; and so, at long last, Romania, despite the cultural decline of the Dark Ages, acquired its own domestic source of silk, . The planting of mulberry trees (), upon which the silk worms feed, is supposed to have given the Peloponnesus its later Mediaeval name: , the.
migration. This would permanently inundate the areas that would become,,,, and. At the time, however, Slavic incursions and settlements extended far down into Greece, over much of the Peloponnesus, and even, by 623, to Crete. Most of Greece was no longer Greek, something noted by travelers and historians for the next couple of centuries (589-807). In the course of this, many Greeks were massacred or deported by the Avars, but others fled. The inhabitants of Patras (Patrai) on the north coast of the Peloponnesus relocated to Rhegium in Calabria. Many Laconians, from the ancient area around, actually moved to Sicily. In 583, other Laconians, led by their Bishop, fatefully sought refuge on a small formidable island on the south-eastern peninsula of Laconia (which ends at Cape Maleas).
|Exarchs of Ravenna|
|John I Lemigius||611-615|
|Theodore I Calliopas||643-c.645, 653-c.666|
|in Rebellion, 649|
|John II Platinus||687-702|
|John III Rizocopo||710-711|
|Tax Revolt in Italy, Exarch Paulicius assassinated, first Doge of, 727|
|Ravenna falls to, 751|
Connected by a small spit of land at low tide to the mainland, subsequently built into a causeway, this became , Monembasia (or Monemvasia), "One Way In," the "Gibraltar of the East." The town and fortress would become a permanent Roman stronghold and naval base. Monembasia would change hands several times in the troubled times after the arrival of the Fourth Crusade and would finally survive as the last possession of the Despot, , of the, the last piece of Romania and the Roman Empire, after the, until ceded to the in 1461, the rest of Romania having fallen to the Turks.
Above we see Monembasia at a later period, when it was under the control of the (1684). It remained a strategically important location until retaken by the Turks in 1715.
With the return of Roman power to the West, new arrangements of government emerge. Justinian abolished the dioceses. The effective Imperial governers of Italy and Africa are the Masters of Soldiers of the Armies of Italy and Africa. By the time of Maurice, the Master comes to be called the Exarch ("out-ruler"), and Italy and Africa themselves are each an Exarchate.
|Exarchs of Carthage|
|Gennadius I||Magister Militum of Africa, c.578|
|Exarch, 585/592–598, d.600|
|Heraclius the Elder, Crispus||598/602–611|
|Gregory the Patrician||627-633, 641-648|
|in Rebellion, 646/647|
|Invasion, 647; Gregory killed at Sufetula, 647/648|
|Omayyad Invasion, 663/5-689; Qayrawân founded, 663/4, 670?; Arab army reaches the Atlantic, annihilated by Berber Kusayla, 683|
|Carthage falls, Berber al-Kâhina defeats Arabs, Carthage recovered, 698|
|Count Julian||Ceuta, c.711|
|Kâhina defeated, 702; Carthage desroyed, 705; Arab Conquest of North Africa, 711|
Still the capital of Italy under the Ostrogoths, Ravenna becomes a Roman capital again, not of a Western Empire, but just for the Exarchate. Justinian lavished classic artwork on the city which survives until today. Indeed, the most familiar portraits of Justinian and Theodora are from mosaics in the Church of San Vitale. The Exarchate continued until the fall of the city to the in 751. The list of Exarchs, from the time of Maurice to the Lombard conquest, covers 167 years -- the time from George Washington to.
In Africa, the Exarchate was centered at Carthage, which enters its last phase as a player in Roman history. With less to show for its life in this period, the city fell to the in 698 and 705. Afterwards, itself, although not deliberately destroyed as the Romans once did (but suffering greatly in the Arab attacks), simply fades from history. Nearby Tunis becomes the local metropolis -- perhaps in line with the Arab policy seen elsewhere of withdrawing capitals away from the immediate coast, although Tunis is nowhere near as removed as, for instance, (Fust.ât.). Note that Tunisia was the Roman province of Africa, which subsequently became Arabic , Ifrîqiyâ. The application of the term to the whole continent came later.
I have not found anything like a complete list of the Exarchs of Carthage, although we know that the father of the Emperor, called Heracltius the Elder, was Exarch when Heraclius sailed East to overthrow the Emperor Phocas in 610. He died soon after news arrived of his son's success. After Heraclius, the record gets very spotty. There are gaps and uncertainties in the list of Exarchs, and the dating is confused.
It takes three invasions by forces of the Caliphs to subdue North Africa. The Exarch was not always well supported by Constantinople, and also was not always loyal. The Exarch Gennadius II even went to Damascus to enter the service of the Caliph Mu'âwiya. It is not clear whether he became a Muslim, but he died on the way back to North Africa. A permanent Arab base was founded at , al-Qayrawân, in Tunisia. This appears to have been held through the period of conquest, regardless of setbacks. The setbacks began to come from the Berbers, who, not always happy with the Romans, began to resist the Arabs. With the loss of Roman Carthage in 698, a Berber Queen, al-Kâhina (Dahiyah), temporary dominates the land. But the Arabs keep coming, al-Kâhina is defeated, and the Berbers convert to Islam. Count Julian in Ceuta is the last Roman commander to fall.
The office of the Roman Consuls, the chief executive officers of the, and dating by them, continued under the Empire until Justinian, who now replaces them with dating by Regal years. They can be examined on a. As the end of an institution that began at the very beginning of the Republic, it is hard to exaggerate the symbolic importance of this event. The Roman state is now a monarchy in every detail -- although the Monarchs are overthrown with some.
|Jafnah I ibn Amr||220-265|
|'Amr I ibn Jafnah||265-270|
|Tha'labah ibn Amr||270-287|
|al-Harith I ibn Th'alabah||287-307|
|Jabalah I ibn al-Harith I||307-317|
|al-Harith II ibn Jabalah "ibn Maria"||317-327|
|al-Mundhir I Senior ibn al-Harith II||327-330||al-Aiham ibn al-Harith II||327-330|
|al-Mundhir II Junior ibn al-Harith II||327-340||al-Nu'man I ibn al-Harith II||327-342|
|Jabalah II ibn al-Harith II||327-361||'Amr II ibn al-Harith II||330-356|
|Jafnah II ibn al-Mundhir I||361-391|
|al-Nu'man II ibn al-Mundhir I||361-362|
|al-Nu'man III ibn 'Amr ibn al-Mundhir I||391-418|
|Jabalah III ibn al-Nu'man||418-434|
|al-Nu'man IV ibn al-Aiham||434-455||al-Harith III ibn al-Aiham||434-456|
|al-Nu'man V ibn al-Harith||434-453|
|al-Mundhir II ibn al-Nu'man||453-472|
|'Amr III ibn al-Nu'man||453-486||Hijr ibn al-Nu'man||453-465|
|al-Harith IV ibn Hijr||486-512|
|Jabalah IV ibn al-Harith||512-529|
|al-Harith V ibn Jabalah||529-569|
|Roman subsidy, 529; nominates as Bishop of Edessa, 542; defeats Lakhmids, 554; end of Roman subsidies, 563|
|al-Mundhir III ibn al-Harith||569-581||Abu Kirab al-Nu'man ibn al-Harith||570-582|
|al-Nu'man VI ibn al-Mundhir||582-583|
|al-Harith VI ibn al-Harith||583||al-Nu'man VII ibn al-Harith Abu Kirab||583-?|
|direct Roman rule, 584-before 614; invasion and occupation, 614-628|
|al-Aiham ibn Jabalah||?-614|
|al-Mundhir IV ibn Jabalah||614-?|
|Sharahil ibn Jabalah||?-618|
|Amr IV ibn Jabalah||618-628|
|Jabalah V ibn al-Harith||628-632|
|Jabalah VI ibn al-Aiham||632-638|
The Ghassanids were an Arab tribe occupying the hinterland behind Syria and Jordan. This was the area that had previously seen rule by the and then by. Evidently it was difficult for the Romans to maintain direct rule over an area whose inhabitants might largely be pastoral and nomadic. Indirect rule ended up accomplished by an alliance with the Ghassanids.
In the time of Justinian the Ghassanids became organized enough to be called a "kingdom" by historians, and they become an important part of Roman frontier defense in 529 when Justinian replaces the earlier Roman clients, the Salihids, with the Ghassanid al-Harith V, now the official Roman phylarch or ruler of the tribe (phylum). Such client kingdoms might be said to represent the first entry of the Arabs into Mediterranian history. If they constitute a pre-Islamic move north of Arab people, then both the Romans and the Persians converted the threat of nomadic encroachment into elements of the pre-existing balance of power between Romania and Persia. For the, indeed, had their own client Arab tribe, the Lakhmids, who occupied the hinterland west of the Euphrates. The rivalry between Ghassanids and Lakhmids was not just as proxies for the Powers, but, as can be imagined, the two tribes had become rivals anyway, and there was also a religious dimension. The Ghassanids were Christians, and the Lakhmids had remained pagan.
While the religion of the Ghassanids in general would be expected to be a unifying factor with respect to Rome, there developed a difficulty. The Ghassanids became Monophysites. Indeed, when al-Harith V nominated Jacob Baradaeus Bishop of Edessa, it led to the takeover of the, henceforth the "Jacobite" Church, by Monophysites. This was not something that Justinian would let stand in the way of sensible policy, but he nevertheless made one crucial mistake. When al-Harith defeated the Lakhmids in 554, Justinian, chronically short of money, discontinued his subsidy to the Ghassanid ruler. This may also have happened because Justinian had just obtained the means of growing Silk -- silkworm eggs smuggled out of the Central Asia. This rendered the Arabian border and Arabia less important for Rome as a means of circumventing Persian control of the silk trade. The discontent of the Ghassanids with this dismissal of their importance would be magnified when later Emperors began a harassment like that inflicted on the Monophysite and the Syrian Orthodox Churches. Since the Ghassanids were rather like the keystone in the defensive arch based on Egypt and Syria, the disaffection of these populations seriously weakened the Roman frontier. This was already evident during the Persian invasion of 614-628, and nothing had been done to heal it by the time of the Arab invasion of 636. Soon the Ghassanids converted to Islam and disappeared from history.
The list here is entirely from. An extensive discussion of the Ghassanids can be found in Justinian's Flea by William Rosen [Viking, 2007, pp. 242, 303, 306, & 318]. Despite the treatment of the Ghassanids in many Byzantine histories, which often give rulers of related states, I have not seen a list in any history. Since the names of the Ghassanids include the familiar Arabic patronynmic element, ibn, the genealogy of the dynasty could actually be constructed without too much difficulty. It will also be noted that brothers often rule simultaneously, as with the several sons of al-Harith II who begin ruling in 327. Al-Harith II himself, with the epithet "ibn Maria" and living in the time of Constantine, is likely to be the tribal chief who converted to Christianity.
III. THE THIRD EMPIRE,
O, great-ruling [New] Rome, thou lookest from Europe
on a prospect in Asia the beauty of which is worthy of thee.
Marianus Scholasticus, "On the Palace called Sophianae," [The Greek Anthology, Volume III, Book 9, "The Declamatory Epigrams," Number 657, The Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 1917, p.364-365]
Jacob asked: What do you think of the state of Romania?
Does it stand as from the beginning, or has it been diminished?
Justus replied dubiously: Even if it has been diminished a little,
we hope that it will rise again, because the Christ must come first,
while the fourth beast, that is Romania, stands.
Doctrina Jacobi nuper baptizati, , 634 AD, A.H.M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 284-602 [The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986, p. 316, translation modified], Greek text, "Doctrina Jacobi Nuper Baptizati," Édition et traduction par Vincent Déroche, Travaux et Mémoires, 11 [Collège de France Centre de Recherche d'Histoire et Civlisation de Byzance, De Boccard, Paris, 1991, p.167]; the "fourth beast" is a reference to the prophecies of Daniel..
Ghulibati-r-Rûm, fî 'adnâ-l-'ard.i,
wahum min ba'di ghalabihim, sayaghlibûna.
The Romans have been defeated, in a nearby land;
but they, after their defeat, will be victorious.
The Constantinopolitan city, which formerly was called Byzantium and now New Rome, is located amidst very savage nations. Indeed it has to its north the, the Pizaceni, the, the, whom we call by another name, and the, all very close by; to the east lies ; between the east and the south the inhabitants of and Babylonia; to the south there is Africa and that island called Crete, very close to and dangerous for Constantinople. Other nations that are in the same region, that is, the, Persians,, and Avasgi, serve Constantinople. The inhabitants of this city surpass all these people in wealth as they do also in wisdom.
Constantinopolitana urbs, quae prius Bizantium, Nova nunc dicitur Roma, inter ferocissimas gentes est constituta. Habet quippe ab aquilone Hungarios, Pizenacos, Charzaros, Rusios, quos alio nos nomine Nordmannos appelamus, atque Bulgarios nimium sibi vicinos; ab oriente Bagdas; inter orientem et meridiem Aegipti Babiloniaeque incolas; a meridie vero Africam habet et nominatam illam nimium vicinam sibique contrariam insulam Crete. Ceterae vero, quae sunt sub eodem climate nationes, Armeni scilicent, Perses, Chaldei, Avasgi, huic deserviunt. Incolae denique civitatis huius, sicut memoratas gentes divitiis, ita etiam sapientia superexcellunt.
(c.920-972), 949 AD, "Retribution," XI, The Complete Works of Liudprand of Cremona, translated by Paolo Squatriti [The Catholic Press of America, 2007, p.50]; Latin text, "Liudprandi Antapodosis," Die Werke Liudprands von Cremona, herausgeben von Joseph Becker [Scriptores Rerum Germanicarum, Hahnsche Buchhandlung, Hannover und Leipzig, 1915, pp.9-10; Reprint, University of Michigan Libraries, 2012].
The City and the whole of Romania is delighted, the world rejoices.
(d.959 AD), acclamation for Imperial banquet, De Ceremoniis, Book I, Chapter 65, "What it is necessary to observe at the dance, that is, at the banquet" [Constantine Porphyrogennetos, The Book of Ceremonies, translated by Ann Moffatt and Maxeme Tall, with the Greek edition of the Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae (Bonn, 1829), Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, Byzantina Australiensia 18, Canberra, 2012, Volume I, p.295]
All terrible evils has Romania suffered from the Arabs even until now.
Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (913-959 AD) quoting the Chronicle of Theophanes (c.815) [De Administrando Imperio, Greek text edited by Gy. Moravcsik, Dumbarton Oaks Texts, 1967, 2008, p.94]
So then King Pipin, at a loss, said to the Venetians:
«You are beneath my hand and my providence,
since you are of my country and domain.»
But the Venetians answered him:
«We want to be servants of the Emperor of Romans, and not of you.»
Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, "Story of the settlement of what is now called Venice" [ibid., pp.120-121], regarding the attempt of, King of the (751-768), to include Venice in his Kingdom; for the use of for "king," see.
Vos non Romani, sed Longobardi estis!
You are not Romans, but Lombards!
Nicephorus II Phocas to (c.920-972), who represents the "Roman" Emperor, 968 AD; "Embassy," XII, The Complete Works of Liudprand of Cremona, translated by Paolo Squatriti [The Catholic Press of America, 2007, p.246]; Latin text, "Liudprandi Legatio," Die Werke Liudprands von Cremona, herausgeben von Joseph Becker [Scriptores Rerum Germanicarum, Hahnsche Buchhandlung, Hannover und Leipzig, 1915, p.182; Reprint, University of Michigan Libraries, 2012]; Liutprand, of course, was himself the Lombard, not the Saxon Otto; the Greek version here is a speculative back-translation from the Latin of Liutprand.
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), "Sailing to Byzantium," alluding to the mechanical birds reported by at the court.
To most people thinking of the "Roman Empire," we are well into terra incognita here. Yet in 610 the character and problems of the Roman Empire would not have been unfamiliar to Theodosius the Great. A invasion was nothing new. How far it got, all the way to Egypt and the Bosporus, was. Meanwhile, the collapse of the Danube frontier was not now the doing of Germans but of Slavs and people -- the latter beginning with the Avars, whose kin would dominate Central Asia in the Middle Ages. The Persians were miraculously defeated; but before the Danube could be regained or the Lombards overcome in Italy, a Bolt from the Blue changed everything. The Arabs, bringing a new religion,, created an entirely new world, which both broke the momentum of Roman recovery and divided the Mediterranean world in a way whose outlines persist until today. Nevertheless, the Empire, restricted to Greece and Anatolia, rode out the flood. It must have been a hard nut, since the Arab Empire otherwise flowed easily all the way to China and the Atlantic. It was hard enough, indeed, that by the end of the "Third Empire" it had been in better health than any Islamic state. The promise of new ascendency, however, was brief, both for internal and external reasons. Meanwhile, there has been a cost paid, as we might expect, in prosperity and material culture. This is conspicuous in the, where the previous style of low relief profile portraits is still typical in Justinian's day. However, we also start to get face on portraits, whose quality is less good. By the time of Heraclius, face on portraits are dominant, and soon exclusive, while their character ceases to be low relief and becomes cartoonish. This will improve again later, but the coinage will never have the photo-real quality that we expect in modern coinage and that was often present in the best work of the. That the gold coinage of the solidus still exists at all, however, is testimony to the fact that the prosperity and material culture of Romania never fell as far as it did in.
A. THE ADVENT OF ISLAM, 610-802, 192 years
|conquest of Mesopotamia, 607-610, Syria, 611-613, Palestine & Jerusalem, 614, Egypt, 616, & invasion of Anatolia, 626, by Shâh ; his defeat, 622-628; Salona destroyed by Avars, residents move to Spalatum, 620; Cartagena falls to Visigoths, 624; Avar Siege of Constantinople, Aqueduct of Valens broken, 626; Battle of Nineveh, Persians defeated, 627; True Cross returned to Jerusalem, 630; forced baptism of Jews, 632; occupation of Armenia, 633; invasion, 634; Army of the East destroyed, Battle of Yarmûk, Syria evacuated, 636; fall of Gaza, Antioch, 637; surrendered to the, 638; proclamation of 638; Egypt invaded, 639; fall of Caesarea in Palestine, 640|
|Constantine III||3 months, 641|
|1 month, 641|
|deposed & mutilated|
Constans II Pogonatus
|641-668, last Emperor to visit Rome as a possession|
|Egypt lost, 641; Genoa (Liguria) lost to Lombards, 644; Alexandria briefly reoccupied, 645; Roman army destroyed in North Africa, but Arabs withdraw, 647; Arab attack against Cyprus, 649; rejects Orthodoxy of Constantinople, 649; Arab attack, Cyprus abandoned, 650; Arab invasion of Sicily defeated, 652, 667; Armenians go over to Arabs, Roman defeat, 653; attacks Constanintople, 653; Navy, commanded by Constans, defeated by Arab fleet at Phoinikous, but Arab forces thrown back from Constantinople & defeated in Cappadocia, 655; attack on Slavs in Balkans, prisoners settled in Anatolia or pressed into Army, 658; campaign against the Lombards, visit to Rome &, strips bronze roof from the, 663; Mu'âwiya attacks Constanintople, 667/668-669; assassinated at Syracuse, 668|
|Siege of Constantinople by the Caliph, 674-677; occupy lower Danube, 680; Council VI, Constantinople III, Monotheletism condemned, 680-681|
Justinian II Rhinotmetus
|Loss of, 693; Berber al-Kâhina defeats Arabs in North Africa, Carthage recovered, 698; al-Kâhina defeated, 702; Carthage destroyed, 705; Roman governor in Ceuta (Morocco), last possession in North Africa, eliminated by Arabs, 711|
| Carthage falls to Arabs, 697, |
recovered, 698, finally lost, 698; Roman defeat by Arabs at Sebastopolis, Slav conscripts desert, 692/693
| Tiberius III |
Philippicus Bardanes (Vardan)
|destroyed by Arab fleet, city abandoned, 715|
With Heraclius, seldom has fortune and ability so blessed a ruler only to turn so completely against him in the end. Arriving from Africa, where his father (also Heraclius) was Exarch, Heraclius easily deposed the usurper Phocas but then almost helplessly watched the Persians conquer Syria and Egypt and raid through Anatolia as far as the Borporus (in 615). With Avars and Slavs pouring into the Balkans, the Roman Empire seemed doomed to complete collapse. But then in one of the most brilliant, but far more desperate, campaigns since Alexander, in 624-625 Heraclius audaciously invaded Persia itself. He even wintered with the army in the field. In 626 the Persians arrived at the Bosporus and their Avar allies at the walls of Constantinople, trying to draw Heraclius out of the field and with a chance of destroying his power at the source. Confident that Constantinople was impregnable, which it was, Heraclius was not distracted and in 627-628 devastated Persia and defeated a Persian army at Nineveh late in 627, which precipitated the overthrow of Shâh by his own son (628), who sued for peace.
Heraclius had received significant material aid from the Gök Turks, who were the parent of the, of long future Roman alliance. Heraclius betrothed his daughter Eudocia to the Khagan, who died (630) before the marriage could be effected. This seems to be the first of Roman relations with any Turks, and the first of at least three marriages that would be arranged with the Khazars.
The peace restored the status quo ante bellum. In 629 Heraclius began to use the title of the defeated monarch, the traditional Persian "Great King." Thus Basileus, , the Greek word for "King," became the mediaeval Greek word for "Emperor" (although, actually, Procopius was already using it that way in the days of ) -- as Greek now (or hereabouts) replaces Latin as the Court language as well as the language of command in the Army. Similarly, , Basíleia, "Queen," becomes "Empress." The adjective , Basíleios, "Kingly," is also found as a proper name, especially of two Emperors.
With Basileus for "Emperor," the Latin word rex is borrowed, as , to use for mere kings as such. Latin military terms are transcribed, for instance, for dux, "duke," and for comes, "count"; and they continued in use through the history of Romania -- they went their own semantic way, of course, in the of Francia. There was already a sense that Autokrátor, , translated imperator, "commander," and it was typically coupled with Basileus, although not exclusively.
The use of Autokrátor in this way, continued down to Imperial, where the Emperor until 1917 was formally "Tsar and Autocrat." The Latin title Augustus could have been adopted into Greek as , as it was frequently used in the feminine as ; but Augustus had already been introduced in translation as , sebastós. Nevertheless, seems to have dropped out of usage for the Emperor and later became part of titles for other officials, such as , sebastokrátôr, which created to introduce a rank between Caesar () and Emperor.
But then, barely six years after this exhausting victory, the Arabs, united by, appeared out of the desert and quickly conquered Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia. Jerusalem would never be recovered, except temporarily by the. Old and ill, and after all his years campaigning in rugged mountains, Heraclius commanded none of the armies against the Arabs and had to watch his life's work largely melt away to an enemy whose advent no one could have predicted or even imagined, while people said it was the Judgment of God because he had married his niece. But a core for the Empire had been saved.
There are reports of local Jews helping the Persians during the taking of Jerusalem and the Persian occupation of other locations. Since Persia had recently expelled their own Jews, this casts some doubt on the idea that Jews would help them. However, in the course of the Persian withdrawl, there certainly were riots and clashes involving Christians and Jews in several places. These may have been unmotivated attacks on the Jews, but it does mean that something else may have been going on. It is not inconveivable that local Jews helped the Persians, regardless of what policy had been to the Jews in Persia. Then we have an order of 632 from Heraclius calling for the forced baptism of Jews in North Africa. But North Africa wasn't even occupied by the Persians, and we don't know if this order was even extended to the rest of the Empire. That it was may be indicated by Heraclius' efforts to get Dagobert I of to apply it in his own lands, which evidently he did. Subsequently, we hear of Jews fleeing to the Muslims as they advanced. Even though Muh.ammad, like the Persians, had expelled the Jews from his own jurisdiction in Medina, we know that Jews certainly could expect a more benign attitude from the Muslims than they had been receiving from the Christians. At that point, they would have owed no more loyalty to Heraclius and Romania than would the Monophysites. Under Islâm, their situation would be no worse, and perhaps better, than that of local Christians. We are left to wonder, then, what actually was going on with the Jewish population.
Constans II was the last Emperor to campaign in Italy and visit Rome as an Imperial possession (later the Palaeologi went to beg for help). While driving the up to their capital, Pavia, his attempts to eliminate the Lombard, whose possessions were disruptively lodged between Roman territory in the South, were nevertheless futile -- the Allies would have similar trouble in the same area in World War II. He was also the last Emperor to exert real control over the, arresting Martin I (649-653, d.655) and exiling him to the Crimea -- which earned him martyrdom and sainthood in the Latin Church. Once in Italy, Constans stayed, apparently wishing to move the capital of the Empire to Syracuse in Sicily. After he was assassinated there (668), nothing further came of this.
from the 5th Century, fell back from the collapsing frontiers, they were settled on the land in Anatolia, to be paid directly from local revenues instead of from the Treasury, whose tax base from Syria and Egypt had disappeared. The areas set aside for particular units became the themes (, thema, "placement," plural, , themata, from the Greek verb , tithêmi, "to put" -- related to thesis). The Themes remained the military bedrock of Romania until the end of the 11th century and soon replaced the old Roman provinces as the administrative divisions of the Empire, with the commanding stratêgos, "general," becoming the military governor of his theme. The commander of the Opsician Theme, however, was a Comes, "," in deference to the origin of the Theme from the Armies in the Emperor's Presence. Thus, the Army of the East, driven out of Syria, was settled in the Anatolic Theme, where it would guard the obvious route for invasion or raids from Syria: the Cilician Gates through the Taurus Mountains. Although invasions and raids there would be, the Arabs never did secure any conquests beyond the Gates. Where the Army of the East in the Late Empire numbered about 20,000 men, the forces of the Anatolic Theme varied from about 18,000 in 773 to 15,000 in 899 [Warren Treadgold, Byzantium and Its Army, 284-1081, Stanford, 1995, p.67].
As the remnants of the Late Roman Army were settled on the land (like the earlier Limitanei), there were also standing forces that accompanied the Emperor, like the old Comitatenses. There were already two such units in the Late Empire, the Scholae and the Excubitors -- the latter had been created by in 466 as a force of Isaurians to use, under its commander Zeno, against the Germans in the Eastern Army. These would be organized by into the core of a new Standing or Mobile Army, the Tagmata (singular, tagma, "regiment"), and would eventually grow into a large army in its own right. In 899, the Tagmata together numbered about 28,000 men, while the entire Army, Themes and Tagmata combined, added up to about 128,000 men [Treadgold, op.cit.]. This was less than half of the Augustan Army and not even a quarter of Constantine's; but considering that the Empire is reduced to the lower Balkans and Anatolia, it is proportionally still robust, especially in an Age when a paid military establishment was impossible in most of Europe. As with the decline of the Limitanei, the late Emperors began to neglect the Thematic forces and rely on the Tagmata, which soon filled with mercenaries. Some mercenaries could be quite faithful, like the Saxon refugees from who served in the for more than three centuries (the Egklinovaraggoi). This worked reasonably well while there was money. But when the finances collapsed, loses could not be made good, or the more mercenary warriors retained. This led to fiascoes like the hire of the Catalan Company (1303), who mutinied (1305) and seized the (1311). Even under the, landed frontier forces (now the akritai, ) remained the best investment but were imprudently neglected, with disastrous consequences.
After Constantine IV withstood the first Arab siege of Constantinople, burning the Arab fleet with the famous and mysterious "Greek Fire" (which sounds like nothing so much as napalm, since it could burn under water), it looked like the Empire would survive. With the last member of the dynasty, Justinian II, we have a curious experiment in humanity and an extraordinary story as the sequel. When Justinian was deposed in 695, instead of being killed, his nose was cut off -- as had that of Heraclonas in 641. Hence his epithet, , Rhinotmetus, "Cut Nose." It was expected that this would disqualify him from attempts at restoration. It didn't. Justinian fled to the Khazars, where he arranged a marriage with the Khagan's sister, giving her the Christian name "Theodora." The Emperor Tiberius III, however, pressured the Khazars to expel Justinian, which before long they did. Justinian now fled to the Bulgars, who decided to support him and in 705 showed up with him and their army before Constantinople. Unable to enter the City, there was then not much the Bulgars could do. Justinian, however, was able to sneak inside; and he apparently had sufficient support to depose Tiberius and regain the Throne, a most unlikely Odyssey. His Khazar wife then joined him and gave birth to a son, curiously named Tiberius. After another unpopular reign, Justinian was then deposed again and, with his son, killed.
The curious experiment in humanity, of course, was that when first deposed Justinian was not killed but just mutilated. When it developed that this was not enough to bar him from being restored, henceforth deposed Emperors, or other politically threatening persons, would be blinded. This was more effective (although the blind was restored by the Fourth Crusade), though now it may not seem particularly more humane than execution. Otherwise, the end of the dynasty demonstrates one drawback of the new themes: They represented such military force that the strategus, their commander, was continually tempted to revolt. This problem was soon addressed simply by dividing the themes into smaller ones.
Another noteworthy aspect of the initial overthrow of Justinian II were the slogans that were voiced by popular protests. A very curious cry, repeated (with suitable substitutions) over the centuries was, Anastaphêi tà ostéa Ioustinianoû, , "Let the bones of Justinian be dug up!" Since Justinian was not dead or buried, it is curious how people should be calling for his exhumation. The expression may have originated in earlier circumstances, now lost. As it happens, one Pope, (891-896), was actually exhumed and put on trial, in what was then aptly called the "Cadaver Synod." This does not seem to have happened with any Roman Emperors, but this "dig up his bones" expression caught on as a way to call for the overthrown of Emperors. Another call also became traditional, which was simply to shout , anaxíos, "Unworthy!" We can all that.
The maps of Romania now become much smaller. Egypt, Palestine, Spain, and North Africa are gone forever. Footholds in Italy and the Balkans remain. Greece and the Balkans would be recovered in time, but everything in Italy would eventually be lost also. For the time being, the heartland of the Empire will be Asia Minor. Although this would provide the resources for revival, even for colonization back into Greece, it was still open to Arab raids. They could not be precluded for a couple of centuries.
| 2. KHAZARS, |
Khagans & Beks
|Ziebel, Yabghu Xak'an(?)||618-630|
|allied with Heraclius, overruns, 627-628, takes Tiflis, 628|
|Busir (Ibuzir Glavan)||c.690-715|
|Arabs defeated, 730; Barjik defeated & killed, 731|
The Khazars are an extremely important part of Roman history, entering it with a bang, as allies of against Persia and operating in conjunction with him in or near the Caucasus. Ziebel is supposed to have occupied, besieging Tiflis (Tbilisi) with Heraclius himself in 627 and then taking the city, with great massacre, in 628. The Khazars subsequently endured as Roman allies down to the height of Middle Romanian power in the days of, but fading quickly thereafter.
The Khazars were of Turkic derivation, speaking a poorly attested language, apparently closely related to Hunnic, (Bolghar), and the surviving modern Chuvash. Titles familiar from Bulgar,, Persian, or Turkish as , Khagan, Qaghan, or , Khân, and , Beg or Bey, occur here as "Khagan" or "Xak'an" and "Bek." Byzantine histories do not give any lists of Khazar rulers, but comes through with most of the information I am able to use here.
The Khazar realm began as the westernmost reach of the Gök (or Kök) Turkiut Great Turkish Khanate, which extended across Central Asia. This vast but poorly documented realm broke up into Eastern and Western halves in 553/554.
|To Omayyads, 737-c.740|
|sovereignty broken by of Kiev, 965-969|
|David||in Taman, c.986-988|
|Georgius Tzul|| in Kerch, |
The Khazars were a further fragment of this, at the Westernmost end, around the Lower Volga, ruled by a branch of the ruling Ashina Dynasty. Exactly when the Khazars become independent of the Western Khanate is obscure, and the Khagan Ziebel who helped Heraclius, may or may not be identical to Tun[g] Yabgu (or Yabghu) Khagan (or Xak'an) of the Western Khanate.
This Khagan is reported by Moses Dasxuranci as delivering an ultimatum to the Shâh circa 627:
If you will not retreat from the king of the Romans and surrender to him all the lands and cities which you have taken by force and return all of the prisoners of his country now in your hands, together with the wood of the Cross which all Chrisian nations worship and honor; if you will not recall your troops from his territory, the king of the north, the lord of the whole world, your king and the king of kings, says to you: "I shall turn against you, governor of Asorestan, and shall replay you twofold for each deed committed against him. I shall swoop upon your lands with my sword as you descended upon his with yours. I shall not spare you, nor shall I delay to do to you what I said I shall do." [Walter E. Kaegi, Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium, Cambridge, 2003, p.158]
Substantial help was provided for Heraclius, but not to this degree, and without even Heraclius acknowledging pretentions that sound more like those of.
In 695, was deposed, mutilated, and exiled to the Crimea. Before long, however, he escaped to the Khazars, where he contracted to marry the sister, then baptised "Theodora," of the Khagan Busir. Although Theodora was soon pregnant, Busir had second thoughts about harboring Justinian and estranging the new Emperor, Tiberias III. Justinian was forced to flee again, this time to the Qaghan Tervel. In 705 Tervel marched on Constantinople to restore Justinian. The Emperor was able to enter the City with a small number of men through the previously broken Aqueduct of Valens, and resistance collapsed. Tervel was given the rank of Caesar, and the Khazar Khagan obligingly sent his sister and her new son to Constantinople.
The Khagan Barjik defeated and destroyed an Arab army of the Caliph Hishâm outside Ardebil in Iran in 730, but he was then defeated and killed at Mosul a year later. With the Arabs then raiding into the Khazar homeland, in 733 the Emperor cemented the Roman-Khazar alliance by marrying his son, the future Emperor Constantine V, to the daughter, Tzitazk, of the Khazar Khagan, named as "Bihar." Baptized "Irene," her son would be the Emperor Leo IV, "the Khazar." Justinian's Khazar son had not become Emperor, but now two Emperors of the Syrian dynasty would have Khazar blood.
The line of Ashina Khagans now becomes shrouded in an obscurity even greater than what we previously had to contend with -- the "Tarkhan" of the 840's may even be a confusion, since the name actually can be a military rank. Instead, we begin to get indications of leadership falling on generals, the "Beks," who gradually overshadow or even replace the Khagans. Thus, it is the Bek Hazer Tarkhan whose army was destroyed by the Omayyads at Itil in 737. This led to a short occupation and forced Islamization of the Khazar homeland -- forced Islamization because the Khazars were still pagan and thus had no rights as "People of the Book." Under Islamic Law, their choice was conversion or death.
The means and spirit of resistance not lacking among the Khazars, Arab control was thrown off around 740. This experience, however, led to one of the most significant events in all of Khazar history: the Conversion of the nation to Judaism. This may have happened as early as 740, or at late as 861. The earlier date corresponds to the rule of the Bek Bulan Sabriel, while the later date involves association with. The story is that the Khazars entertained appeals and arguments from representatives of all the major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, before making their decision. Choosing Judaism may have involved a desire to remain independent of both Christian and Islamic powers. St. Cyril's visit was probably a bit late.
The existence of the Jewish Khazars immediately suggests that the subsequent Jews of Russia may be their descendants, However, modern Russian Jews have spoken Yiddish and look to be immigrants from Germany into areas of Poland that were subsequently annexed to Russia. In the same way, genetic studies tend to link Russian Jews with Jews elsewhere. On the other hand, Russians Jews often have red hair, which does not look like something of Middle Eastern origin but has historically occurred in Central Asia. Genghis Khan himself is often said to have had red hair. Also, we know that in 529 the Sassanid Shâh (or Crown Prince; he wasn't Shâh until 531) expelled Jews from Persia and that they fled north of the Caucasus. It is therefore possible that the Khazars converted to Judaism in part because there were Jews among them, with whom they had been or were then actually intermarrying. Bruce Gordon says that Khazar Jews were known to be present in Kiev and to have emigrated to places as diverse as Spain, Egypt, Iraq, Hungary, Poland, and the Crimea, where they intermarried with other Jews. This would imply a Khazar element in much of World Jewry. With all these possibilities, the questions about the Khazars and their Judaism are certain to continue.
Gordon mentions that the list of Bulanid Beks, who may have become the Khazar Khagans, is derived from a list sent by the Bek Joseph to Hisdai ibn Shaprut, a Jewish Vizir to the Omayyad Caliph (912-961) in Spain. Joseph refers to himself as the "King of the Khazars."
Joseph's state, however, was in its last days. of Kiev attacks the Khazars in 965 and by 969 took the capital, Itil, on the Volga. Sviatoslav's attack was no more than a raid -- he was unable to establish any control of the area. Meanwhile, however, new nomads had arrived, the Cumans, who push the Khazars off the Steppe, until they disappear in the obscure realms of the Caucasus. Gordon gives two rulers from Khazar successor states that survived in the area, which brings Khazar history down to 1016, in the reign of the Emperor -- although there are apparent references to them even later. The rise of Russia and new movements of nomads in Central Asia would soon give Romania new allies and new formidable and deadly enemies.
| 4. ISAURIANS (SYRIANS) |
Leo III the Isaurian
|Siege of Constantinople by the, 717-718; Christian rowers escape, Arab fleet destroyed, 718; volcanic eruption of Thera (Santorini), 726; Tax Revolt in Italy, end of Imperial authority in Exarchate, Exarch Paulicius assassinated, 727; Edict establishing Iconoclasm, 730|
|revolt of Artavasdus, 741-743; plague, 745-748; Arab fleet destroyed off Cyprus, 747; Falls to, 751; Iconoclast Council, 754; defeat of, 763; Aqueduct of Valens restored, 767; defeat of Bulgars, 774|
| Leo IV |
Irene the Athenian
|Council VII, Nicaea II, Iconoclasm condemned, 787; Black Sea freezes, winter of 800-801|
While Leo III held off another Arab siege of Constantinople, the position of Romania in the West deteriorated. With Africa gone, it became harder to project authority into Italy and harder to resist the Lombards. John Julius Norwich (A History of Venice, Vintage, 1989) links the election of the first Doge of with Leo's prohibition of images; but the election was in 727, during a tax revolt, not in 730, when Leo did prohibit images, alienating the Western Church.
The prohibition of religious images began the Iconoclasm controversy. One way to understand it is to realize that the conflict between Islâm and Christendom was not just a contest of arms but, mutatis mutandis, an ideological struggle. Christians were not being accused, to be sure, of oppressing the workers, but they were being accused of being polytheists (because of the Trinity) and idolaters (for making and venerating images). Indeed, some Islâmic attitudes are familiar from later religious ideological conflict, since disgust and condemnation of a priesthood and celibacy, not to mention the use of images, could later draw sympathy from Protestantism. The Thousand and One Nights derives great humor from the notion that the incense burned by Christians (but not, of course, by later Protestants) was made from the dung of bishops.
Since Leo III is considered to have come from either Syria or the nearby Isauria, his concern about this issue is supposed to have resulted from his sensitivity to the effect of Islâmic charges on the previously Christian populations of the areas, like Syria, conquered by Islâm. Conversions did not have to be effected by force, which was prohibited by the Qur'ân anyway, but by powerful persuasion (and, easily understood in modern terms, tax incentives). So Leo, a sort of proto-Protestant, decided to clean up Christianity's act. This did not find any traction in the West, however. The Latin Church felt no sting from Islâmic ideology. Leo's successes against the Arabs, obvious evidence of the favor of God, became associated with Iconoclasm. After images were restored by Irene, and military reverses seemed to follow, the favor of God was apparently withdrawn. The final Iconoclast (815-843) was of such mixed military fortunes, with a serious defeat in 838, that worries about the favor of God faded, as Papal support for images had never faltered.
Irene of Athens, , constitutes an interesting case for. We have seen how Irene has been included among the "10 most despicable Romans" in a popular but irresponsible treatment. The problem with her was that she deposed and blinded her own son, Constantine VI. He died from this treatment, which might not surprise us, but then blinding was done at this point without unusual danger of death., blinded during the riot that deposed him, a situation where we would not expect much care to be taken, nevertheless did not die. So we might wonder if there was something unusual about the blinding of Constantine VI.
Irene's actions went well beyond what in China was done by the Empress, who deposed not one but two sons; but the Empress Wu did not harm her sons and was succeeded by them (the Chung Tsung and Jui Tsung Emperors). Irene also violated multiple "gender norms," not just by, in effect, killing her son but by assuming the full power of a Roman Emperor. Other Empresses left on the Throne by the death of a husband remarried to provide a man to run the government and army. The women were not expected to rule in their own right. Irene did, and even seized power on her own initiative.
So Irene must have been generally hated, yes? Actually, no. Calling the Seventh Ecumenical Council and having it Restore the Icons (787) earned Irene, not just the forgiveness of all her sins, but Canonization in the Orthodox Church. She was revered as far away as St. Catharine's monastery on Mt. Sinai, which had been under the rule of Islam for a couple of centuries at that point. Although the Icons had to be Restored all over again later (in 843), the Church Doctrine, decided by Council VII, is the still the doctrinal law in the matter, for the Catholic Church as well as the Orthodox.
This contrasts in interesting ways with the ancient and modern treatment of, who, we will see, seemed to earn a great deal of misogynistic dismissal and dislike just for being learned and writing a history. Since no crimes or misconduct could be attributed to her, a couple were invented. So why the hostility to Anna and the pass for Irene? Well, there may be a dynamic here where intellectuals, who condemn tyranny and oppression in the abstract, nevertheless become strangely attracted and enamored of ruthless people. In other words, to get intellectuals to love you, you need to exhibit a frightening potential for violence.
As would say, the powerless, the eunuchs, like intellectuals, who denounce power, actually love power and will debase themselves before it -- something Julian Benda noted in La Trahison des Clercs [1927, The Treason of the Intellectuals, 1928], when he could see the reaction to living, contemporary Fascism and Communism. We have also seen the phenomenon of intellectuals, who become apologists for dictators, by denying that murders or massacres were taking place under them, tend to be attracted to such regimes while the murders and massacres actually are taking place, losing interest when their conduct moderates. Thus, the very thing they deny, in bad faith, is what they actually admire. American "celebrities" and politicians making the pilgrimage to and kissing the ring of Fidel Castro tells the whole story.
Thus, it may well be that the obvious power and ruthlessness of Irene attracts rather than repells them. Feminists have a better excuse for this, since they are supposed to admire powerful women -- although their dislike of a powerful woman like betrays their true ideological commitment (i.e. to ). When it comes to Irene, the Restoration of the Icons means nothing either to feminists or to modern intellectuals in general. So they are going to admire her just for her power. On the other hand, the dislike for Anna may be for the extent she retained womanly qualities. Today, it is nothing unusual for women to write history, but it is more unusual for them to wail and lament and weap as Anna allows herself to do in her history. So the feminists and others, who really seem to despise "womanly" ways, are turned off.
A geologically significant event occurred with the eruption of the volcanic island of Thera (Santorini) in 726. The volcano century sarah singleton quotes had been active since 718, but the eruption of 726 blew ash as far away as Macedonia. This may have been the largest eruption in Europe since Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Such an event may have contributed to Leo's sense that the Wrath of God had been provoked and that something like Icoclasm was the proper response. In the longer view of history, the most striking thing about the event is its echo of the great eruption of Thera that is now dated to have been between 1627 and 1600 BC (right at the end of the Egyptian ). This wiped out what seems to have been a very large city of the Minoan Civilization on Thera. With ash, earthquakes, and tsunamis affecting Crete, the eruption may have delivered a devastating blow to that Civilization, which then limped on in part through its Greek, Mycenaean adaptation. Memory of the event may account for the stories of Atlantis related by. Today Thera is a popular tourist destination, though the bay of the caldera is too deep for ships to anchor. Recently (April 6, 2007), the cruise ship Sea Diamond sank in the bay, with the loss of two passengers.
The final fall of to the in 751 led to the intervention of the in Italy, at the urging of the Pope. Romania would never return to Central or Northern Italy. Nevertheless, the form of the Exarchate of Ravenna across central Italy, a corridor held between the Lombards in the north and those in the south, survived as the "Donation" of the King Pepin to the Pope -- the, whose history ran from 754 to 1870, 1116 years. Thus, although politically insignificant after 751, Ravenna nevertheless casts a kind of shadow deep into modern history -- including the name that, as a Roman capital, the city gives to the surrounding region, Romagna -- a word that looks like "Romania" where the "i" has patalalized the "n," the equivalent of Romaña, as we might write it in Spanish. Even as late as 1500 AD, as we see on the map below (Historical Atlas of the World, Barnes & Noble, 1970, 1972, p.49), the Archbishop of Ravenna has jurisdiction over an area of Northern Italy still coextensive with the historic Romagna. But it was in Bologna, the largest city of the region, where the Pope last crowned a Holy Roman Emperor,, in 1530. Note that and are separate states in the Renaissance.
The Fall of Ravenna was on the watch of Constantine V, who came to be called , "Copronymus," "Name of Dung" -- certainly one the harshest, crudest epithets in the history of royalty. Nevertheless, Constantine's reign may be regarded as generally successful, and the epithet is simply due to his persecution, including torture and execution, of those opposed to Iconclasm. In another proto-Protestant move, Constantine began forcing monks and nuns, strong supporters of icons, to marry. Otherwise, there were military successes against the Bulgars and even Arabs, where the disrupted the attention of the Caliphate.
Constantine also began developing mobile military units, the tagmata (singular, tagma, from tassein, "to arrange, put in order" or "to draw up in order of battle" -- "regiment" would thus be an appropriate translation), in addition to the landed thematic forces that had become fundamental to Roman military power. The units were commanded by a Domestic (Domesticus), except the Watch, whose commander was a Drungarius. This represented the first steps back to a paid professional army and so is a sign of a reviving economy. The Empire, however, would never be able to remain strong without the themes, and their collapse at the end of the 11th century would be the end of Romania as a hegemonic power. Eventually the Tagmata consisted of the Scholae ("Schools"), the Numera ("Number," feminine of Latin Numerus, used for a military unit), the Walls (Teichistai, or tôn Teicheôn, "of the Walls"), the Excubitors ("Sentinels"), the Optimates (Latin "the Best"), the Watch (Vigla, familar from "Vigil" in English, or Arithmos, equivalent to Numerus in meaning), the Hicanati ("Able Ones"), the Immortals (Athanatoi, named for the elite unit of, who members were replaced as soon as they fell), and, finally, the Varangian Guard. The Scholae were Guard units founded by Constantine. The Numera and Walls were garrison troops for Constantinople, doubtlessly dating from the foundation of the City. The Excubitors had been created by Leo I with Isaurian recruits as part of his plan to purge the Army of Germans. All these units had rather withered until Constantine V, who recreated them as his own personal force after the revolt of Count Artabasdos (741–743) of the Opsician Theme. The status of the Optimates, which began as a fighting force with the other Tagmata, soon became a support unit, providing and supervising transport and logistics. Its commander remained a Domesticus, but it was settled on land, like a Thematic army, in the Optimakôn ("of the Optimates") Theme on the Asian side of the Bosporus, where other Tagmata units might be quartered. The Optimates thus are best regarded as a Thematic force that nevertheless is dedicated to the support of the Tagmata.
The next Tagma added to the Army was the Watch, created by the Empress Irene from drafts of Thematic soldiers because the Scholae and others were strongly Iconoclast in sentiment and were interfering with her plans to Retore the Icons. There is some confusion about the names here. The Watch (Vigla) was also called the Arithmos, "Number," which was equivalent to Latin Numerus, and sometimes seems to be confused with the Numera Tagma. Thus, Warren Treadgold says that under Constantine V the "senior tagmata, the Scholae, Excubitors, and Watch" were cavalry units, while the "junior tagmata, the Numera, Walls, and Optimates," were infantry [Byzantium and its Army, 284-1081, Sanford, 1995, p.28]. He also adds that the Hicanati, created by Nicephorus I, were "a fourth cavalry tagma" [p.29]. If we need merely switch the Watch and Numera in Treadgold's account, we also have the problem that the third force of infantry would then still not exist until the Empress Irene. The Watch (or Treadgold's Numera), however, may have existed in some form before Irene. From its name, it does sound like part of the garrison force of Constantinople, since it has always been the job of a Watch, before the existence of police forces, to patrol cities at night to enforce the law and the peace. Irene may have transformed the Watch into a proper tagma, as Constantine V did with the original units he took in hand. The final tagmata, the Immortals and the, would added by the.
As Frankish power waxed, the Pope took the step of crowning the Frankish King Charles as Emperor in 800. This was during the reign of Irene, who had taken the throne exclusively for herself, the only Empress ever to do so, by having her son Constantine VI blinded (he died, too). Although Irene restored the images and reconciled the Eastern and Western Churches, the Pope decided to arrogate the authority of crowning a proper, male Emperor to himself (later justified with the fraudulent "Donation of Constantine" document, by which Constantine I had supposedly given the entire Western Empire to the Pope). While Charlemagne even offered to marry Irene, who could have regarded him as only the rudest of barbarians, this all signaled a fundamental parting of the ways between the Latin Europe of Pope and Franks () and the Greek Europe of Romania. Note the parallels between the reign of Irene and that of the slightly earlier Empress Wu (685-705) of China. Because she did restore the Icons, Irene was later venerated as far away as the St. Catherine's Monastery at Mount Sinai -- although by then Sinai had been lost to Romania for almost two hundred years. She does not seem to have gotten as much credit closer to home, perhaps because Iconoclasm returned for a while.
Venice was the "Most Serene Republic" (Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia), or the "Queen of the Adriatic." The title of Doge derives from that of a late Roman commander of a military frontier, Dux ("leader," in Greek, duce in Modern Italian). This is cognate to English "." The Doges were always elected, from a variety of families, as their names indicate. Over time their powers were increasingly limited, as Venice evolved into an oligarchic Republic. The Duke of Venetia at first would have been like many other Romanian officials in Italy, such as the Dukes of, but Constantinople rarely had occasion or ability to exert direct rule over Venice, so over time the city drifted into independence, competition, and eventually belligerence.
The name "Venice" is derived from the name of the Roman province that embraced the whole area, Venetia. The principal city of Venetia was Aquileia. Although sacked by the Goths, the Huns, and the Lombards, Aquileia remained the most important city of the region for most of the Middle Ages. However, in the troubled times, people would flee the mainland to barrier islands along the coast or to islands in the lagoons behind them. Aquileia itself thus acquired a counterpart, Grado, on the nearby barrier island. To the west, a community formed on Rialto Island in the much larger lagoon seaward from Padua. Farming or building on such islands was a challenge. Earth needed to be brought in or dredged up to fill plots created from woven grasses. Substantial buildings required foundations of logs driven down into the muddy soil. Eventually this allowed a large city to rise on the Rialto. As its strength grew, the Rialto became powerful and preeminent and took on the name of the whole province -- Venetia, Venezia, Venice. The power of Aquileia was reduced by Austria, and finally the city itself was annexed by Venice in 1420. The Patriarchate that had been seated at Aquileia, and then had been divided with Grado, ultimately moved to Venice alone. Since 1451, Venice has been the seat of the Patriarchs of Venice, whose story can be examined in a separate. Although it is commonly thought that the mainland was abandoned in the 5th century and the whole population moved permanently to places like the Rialto, this does not seem to have been the case. It was a more gradual process, and the success of Venice may have been due to the realization that it provided defense, not against barbarian invasions, but in the face of the Frankish Emperors and other mainland powers. Venice, indeed, would be immune to conquest until Napoleon.
Venice was briefly in the power of. According to, the Venetians told King Pepin, "We want to be servants of the emperor of the Romans, and not of you" [De Administrando Imperio, Greek text edited by Gy. Moravcsik and translated by R.J.H. Jenkins, Dumbarton Oaks, Center for Byzantine Studies, 1967, p.121]. Eventually the Venetians agreed to pay tribute, but it steadily declined to a merely nominal sum.
The list of Doges is taken from Byzantium and Venice, A Study in Diplomatic and Cultural Relations, by Donald M. Nicol [Cambridge University Press, 1988, 1999], and Storia di Venezia Volume II, by Eugenio Musatti [4th edition, Fratelli Treves Editori, Milano, 1937]. A complete list can also be found in A History of Venice, by John Julius Norwich [Vintage Books, 1989].
After the Schism of the Eastern and Western Churches (1054), there came to be growing religious hostility between Venice and her metropolis. However, Venice never quite fit in to the political system of. For a while, as noted, the Republic paid tribute to the but quickly enough shook off any obligation. Playing Constantinople and the West against each other, Venice never really acknowledged the authority of the Frankish or German Emperors and in time was relatively safe in its lagoon from attempts to impose imperial authority, whether from East or West. With the decline of Romania, Venice largely pursued its affairs at the expense of Constantinople and only came to be pushed out of the area altogether by the.
When signed a pact with Venice in 1082, the Republic became a partner with the now beleaguered Constantinople. During the honeymoon period we get the completion of St. Mark's Cathedral -- a mature Romania seeding its culture into the maturing Venice.
The honeymoon didn't last. The pact gave Venice a choke hold on the trade of Romania and on naval power in Romanian waters -- on at least one occasion Venetians burned Roman warships on the stocks before they could be completed. Although Alexius didn't have much choice at the time, this led to retaliation later. Manuel I arrested all Venetians in 1171 and little but hostile relations followed -- even peaceful exchanges revealed tragic inequality, as when the Imperial Crown Jewels were pawned with Venice in 1343.
The fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade in 1204 was largely engineered by the Doge Enrico Dandolo, who was actually buried in Sancta Sophia. By the settlement with the Crusaders, Venice was ceded 3/8 of the Empire, and the Doge henceforth styled himself quartae partis et dimidiae totius imperii Romaniae Dominator ("Lord of a quarter and a half [of a quarter] of the whole Empire of Romania"). Norwich interestingly translates this as "Lord of... the Roman Empire" (p.147), but the phrase was imperium Romaniae, "Empire of Romania," not imperium Romanum, "Roman Empire." Venice was obviously not claiming 3/8 of the Empire of Trajan, but of the much reduced mediaeval (this looks like part of the of ignore the word "Romania" in Roman and "Byzantine" studies). This fragmentation of Romania helped Venice maintain her advantages, but it weakened the whole in the face of the eventual Ottoman threat. Venice could neither hold off the Turks nor support a local state strong enough to do so.
When the Emperor took Constantinople back from the Crusaders, he conferred commercial advantages, not on Venice, but on her hated rival,, which, of course, had been Roman until lost to the in 642. This confirmed that Italy rather than Romania would be the center of trade and naval power in the Christian Mediterranean. Genoa was even granted the city of Galata, just across the Golden Horn from Constantinople itself, in 1267. As the Turks fatally invested Constantinople in 1453, it was Genoa rather than Venice that contributed to its defense -- though Galata itself remained neutral.
might have gone unrecorded, like the stories of many other such travelers, if he had not been taken prisoner by the Genoese in 1298. Languishing in prison in Genoa, Polo began telling his story to a fellow prisoner. This happened to be the Pisan writer Rustichello (or Rusticiano), who thought that Polo's tales might make a good book and wrote it up, in French. This Divisament dou Monde, "Description of the World," soon to be called Il milione, "The Millions," was more a catalogue of places than a narrative of travels. Nevertheless, it was a sensation -- though people had trouble believing the numbers and scale of the places and domains described. One story about Polo himself is that he was questioned about just this on his deathbed. He replied, "I haven't told the half of it." Now that we know independently about the, even this anecdote has the ring of truth. China alone was vast beyond the reckoning of 13th century Europe. Although serious questions have been raised about some of Polo's claims, details of his story, like the custom of the Chinese of making offerings to the dead by burning or paper copies of other things, are still familiar and unique features of Chinese culture. The legend that Marco introduced noodles from China is now commonly discounted, but there is little doubt that someone did that in this era. The Romans were not eating pasta, but at some point we realize that the Italians are. If we then ask where such a preparation existed previously, the answer is China -- something probably as old as Chinese history and still the traditional alternative to rice in any Chinese (or Japanese, etc.) restaurant. As it happens, there are indications that noodles had already come down the Silk Road and been passed on through Islâm; but nothing was to stop Polo from bringing his own noodles, to unknown local effect.
What seems extraordinary about Venice now is how a mere city had become a Great Power, contending on terms of equality, if not superiority, with all of Romania. The tail wagging the dog indeed. And while Venice was never the equal of Turkey, it was for long one of the major belligerents contesting Ottoman advances. What this reveals is the stark difference in wealth between the cash economy of a commercial republic (Venice began minting gold Ducats in 1284) and, on the one hand, the poverty of subsistent kingdoms, like other Western European states and, on the other hand, the fractured economy of Romania, which had previously perpetuated commercial traditions. Venice was soon joined by other Italian cities, like Pisa and then, in exercising the power made possible by their wealth.
As commercial life began to grow in the North, the Italians began to lose their advantage. After and the Netherlands became centers of trade and manufacture, the first benefited from this wealth, then the, and finally the as an independent power. The latter eventuality is especially revealing. The Netherlands was a commercial republic again as Burgundy and the Hapsburg domains had not been. What's more, Amsterdam became the center of European banking, with that preeminence passing from, as it happened, the cities of Northern Italy (remembered in "Lombard Street" in the City of London). The next financial centers, of Europe and the World, would be London and then New York. In the course of all that history, the apparent power of the Italian cities was punctured like a balloon in 1494, when King of France invaded Italy. This is one of the events regarded as marking the end of the Middle Ages. It certainly revealed the comparative disadvantage into which the Italian powers had fallen. A nice recent movie about this period was Dangerous Beauty (1998), about a popular courtesan who ends up in a tug-of-war between Venetian nobility and the (rather unwelcome in Venice) Holy Inquisition. We happen to notice in the course of the movie that Venice has been expelled from Cyprus by the Turks (1571).
Just as bad or worse for Venice's position was the Age of Discovery. The Italian cities had grown strong on the trade of the Levant, and the new Atlantic powers wanted very much to have a way to avoid their mediation, let alone that of and, in the transfer of goods from India and further East to Europe. Columbus, therefore, was out to make an end run. Since he ran into the instead of Asia, this diverted Spanish energies, but for Portugal Vasco da Gama did the job of getting to India around Africa in 1498. This eliminated Italy or the Turks from any central position in world trade. They could only fade, in the most literal sense, into back-waters. The Ottomans briefly tried to project their power into the Indian Ocean, occupying, pressing upon, and even sending to aid to the distant Sultân of in Sumatra; but the effort, like other Ottoman initiatives, soon petered out.
. No one had a greater role in this than Aldus Manutius (Teobaldo Mannucci, d.1515), who founded the Aldine Press and, with help of a large staff of Greek expatriates, created printed editions of a large part of Greek literature, often in the convenient octavo pocket editions that he popularized. He was personally motivated to see to it that Greek literature should not only be preserved in printed editions but be made available to all. In 1502, he founded a "New Academy," devoted entirely to Greek, with its business, rules, titles, etc. all conducted or rendered into Greek -- which was also the case in Manutius' own household. Indeed, the members of the Academy, who would include, even adopted Hellenized names. The results of his publishing business, besides the pocket editions, included the Italic style of typeface and the formulation of modern punctuation, including the semicolon. Thus, Venice, which had done so much to destroy the power and civilization of Romania, nevertheless played a significant role in preserving its heritage. We must reflect on the irony of this.
The decline of the Turks in the 17th century allowed a brief Venetian resurgence, whose most striking event, however, was probably the destruction of the in 1687, when a Venetian cannonball detonated an Ottoman powder magazine -- the ruin of the Acropolis was not produced by the, the Huns, or any event of the Middle Ages, but by modern warfare. By that time a city state was going to be no match for the colonial and maritime powers that were rapidly becoming modern nation states. Venice lapsed into a kind of 18th century version of Las Vegas, a curiosity and a diversion -- and Las Vegas has now reciprocated with the. It was such a Venice that produced the memorable career of Giovanni Casanova (1725-1798), who saw the best and the worse of the City, from its marvelous entertainments and his own famous seductions to its terrible prisons and secret tribunals.
After invading Italy and defeating the Austrians, had to exert little enough power to eliminate what had become an anchronism. The French were a little puzzled by the hostility of the Venetians to their occupation, since the rousing Republican rhetoric of the French didn't have the effect they expected -- but it was in a place that was, well, already a Republic. Napoleon, indeed, might have taken some lessons from the venerable and terrifying Venetian system of secret police and hidden inquisitorial courts. One of the sights of Venice, the "Bridge of Sighs," is a covered way that secretly transported prisoners back and forth from their star chamber trials to their hopeless cells. However hostile to the French, the spirit of Venetian independence was soon forgotten, and it was the Sardinian Kingdom of that detached Venice from Austria in 1866. The Venice of the subsequent period appears in Thomas Mann's Death in Venice (Der Tod in Venedig, 1912), which has been described as, "a symbol-laden story of and..." Venice was just the place for that.
On the other hand, the art of Venice, in music -- as with Antonio Vivaldi (1680-1743) -- painting -- as with Titian, Tiziano Vecilli (1477-1576) -- and architecture, is an enduring and vivid monument. Part of this is a hint of the lost beauty of Constantinople, since St. Mark's Cathedral, crowned with four great horses from the Hippodrome and countless other treasures looted from Constantinople in 1204, is a copy of the vanished Church of the Holy Apostles, the burial place of Constantine and his successors (whose site is now occupied by the Fatih Jamii, the mosque, institute, and burial place of, the Conqueror [Fâtih.] of Constantinople). Although decorated with loot, the present church was completed earlier, in 1094 (or 1071), with the help of artisans from the still friendly Emperors. The Rialto Bridge across the Grand Canal, the Campanile bell tower (campana, "bell"), the Lido barrier island, and other structures and sites have now contributed their names, if not their images or functions, in countless modern landscapes. Oxford University has its own Bridge of Sighs, at (right), though it apparently was never used for the same purpose as the Venetian (mercifully). In fact, although it is labelled the "Bridge of Sighs" on all maps of Oxford, it is not called that in the College, simply "the Bridge"; and it looks more like Venice's Rialto Bridge than the Bridge of Sighs. Cambridge University also has a Bridge of Sighs, across the Cam River, at St. John's College (left). The Campanile on the Berkeley campus of the University of (the Sather Tower, below right), on the other hand, almost identical in appearance to the one in Venice, houses a fine carillon, a sort of organ with bells instead of pipes.
The Venetian Hotel in reproduces several of the landmarks of Venice, although not St. Mark's. P.J. O'Rourke, in a humorous comparison of the hotel and the city, points out that the Rialto Bridge at the hotel has safety features to prevent children from falling through the bridge railings. In Venice itself, perhaps deprived of the American Tort Bar, it seems to be the responsibility of parents to keep their children from falling off the bridge into the Grand Canal.
Poised between Francia and Romania, Venice thus preserves much of the beauty and atmosphere that was lost and forgotten after successive catastrophies to Constantinople. The City ended up itself as something out of its time, a Mediaeval Republic in an age of nation states, even as now it is rather like a living museum, slowly sinking into the lagoon that originally gave it refuge.
Indeed, the low muddy islands in the lagoon, once a redoubt, now are Venice's greatest peril. With zero elevation, the City is vulnerable to high seas, high tides, and any significant changes in sea level. Pumping out ground water under the City, long the simplest source of fresh water, threatened to leave it permanently awash. That danger was soon recognized and attempts have even been made to restore the water, though that is more difficult. However, the weight of buildings on the mud itself means they slowly sink; and, even worse, the whole geological province on the East side of Italy is being suppressed by tectonic forces. The continually threatened rises in sea level from then sound like the final straw. Barriers may soon seal off the lagoon from the Adriatic during storms or high water, but this raises the problem of discharging the waste water brought down from inland cities. Any durable solution promises to be difficult, expensive, and perilous to the traditional character of the City.
B. REVIVAL AND ASCENDENCY, 802-1059, 257 years
400 years after the opportunity might have originally presented itself, a German finally claimed the title of Roman Emperor. This was the Charlemagne, in a move legitimized by the Pope and by the reign of a woman, Irene, in Constantinople. For a while, Francia looked larger and much more powerful than Romania, but institutionally it was nowhere as sound or durable. The Empire of Charlemagne fragmented among his heirs and lapsed into, a system for government without cash or literacy. Meanwhile, Romania, with institutional continuity, commercial culture, and education, began to recover its strength, despite some severe blows continuing to fall.
| 802-811 |
|killed in battle of Pliska by Bulgar Khan, 811|
|paralyzed from wound, battle of Pliska, deposed, to monastery, 811|
Michael I Rhangabé
| 811-813, |
| abdicated after |
defeat by Krum,
Battle of Versinikia, 813
| Leo V |
|Iconoclasm restored, 815; first (Viking) raids in Anatolia, 818|
The reigns of Irene and Nicephorus I begin what Warren Treadgold calls The Byzantine Revival, 780-842 [Stanford U. Press, 1988]. Despite the loss of most of Europe and continuing Arab raids into Anatolia, the population and the economy of the empire were actually growing, and Nicephorus was able to start transplanting colonies of people from the east back into Greece. This soon led to the recovery of most of the Greek peninsula. It is hard to know how much this means Modern Greeks are descendants, not just of Greeks, but of,, Isaurians, and other ancient (and extinct) inhabitants of Anatolia, as well as Slavs who had migrated into Greece and become assimilated. There is also the complication that colonists from Greece and the Balkans had previously been moved to Anatolia, to compensate for losses from Arab raiding. So people, of various sorts, who had begun in Europe, and then moved to Asia, grew into populations that then were transplanted back into Europe. Very confusing; and not something that leaves clear ethnic footprints. Perhaps DNA testing can sort it out.
Unfortunately for Nicephorus, and his evocative "Bearer of Victory" name, the "revival" was not without its setbacks. Nicephorus ended up killed in battle against the, becoming one of the small number of Roman Emperors dying in battle against a foreign enemy. His skull was made into a drinking cup up by the Bulgar Khan Krum. His son Stauracius, proclaimed Emperor after the battle, turned out to be paralyzed from a spinal wound. His attempt to vest the throne in his wife Theophano (reportedly an Athenian relative of Irene), was foiled by his sister Procopia and her husband Michael Rhangabé. Michael then was inactive and indecisive, was defeated by Krum in turn, and abdicated to Leo the Armenian, an in-law of the subsequent dynasty. Leo castrated Michael's three sons, one of whom, born Nicetas, would become the Patriarch of Constantinople, as, perhaps the only eunuch Patriarich, fated to clash with the great Patriarch Photius. It would be some time before the Bulgars could be seriously defeated, much less subdued. Until then, it would be impossible to restore the Danube border.
Noteworthy here is the first occurrence of a Biblical name, , Michael. After a couple centuries of Christian rulers, at this point there still seems to be a dearth of Christian names. Most of what we see are based on pagan Roman and Greece antecedents, with one important still named after the goddess Hera. And the very Christian name of Anastasius, , comes, not from a name, but from the word for the Resurrection, , anástasis. Although we continue to get names in Greek, like Anastasius, that are indirectly or ambiguously Christian (, Theophilus, "Beloved of God," is coming up), we begin getting those that are more overtly Biblical, like Michael, which now will also be the name of the first Emperor of the next Dynasty and will eventually account for eight Imperial names.
| 2. AMORIANS (PHRYGIANS) |
the Stammerer the Amorian
|Crete lost, 823; Sicily invaded by, 827|
|Palermo lost, 831; Caliph invades Anatolia, defeats Romans at Dazimon, sacks Ancyra & Amoricum, 838; arrive at Constantinople, 839|
|Final repudiation of Iconoclasm, body of Constantine V exhumed & burned, 843; Varangians attack Constantinople, 860; Arab army annihilated, Amir of Melitine killed, at Poson, 863|
In this period, aptly called the "Second Dark Age," the Arabs took to the sea -- which they had done before, but not previously in a sustained and systematic way. With the simultaneous advent of the Vikings, this made both Franks and Romans vulnerable in North and South. Crete was lost for over a century, and fighting began on Sicily that would last for more than 50 years and result in the permanent loss of the island.
Now we also find the last of Iconoclasm laid to rest, though one will note even today that the Orthodox Churches prefer Icons rather than sculpture in the round for sacred images. The resolution of this conflict removed a point of friction between the Western and the Eastern Churches. It did reveal, however, how easily such conflict could arise. The later (1054) Schism of the Churches would be over apparently much more trivial issues -- the real issue, of course, was simply authority. The military successes of Iconoclast Emperors came to a dramatic end in 838, when the Caliph Mu'tas.im invaded Anatolia, defeated and very nearly captured Theophilus, and then destroyed the Emperor's own home town, Amoricum, enslaving the population. When Theophilus died young, leaving only a young son, the Empress Theodora, as Regent, moved to end Iconoclasm. At a Council in 843, on the first Sunday in Lent, the Iconoclast Patriarch John the Grammarian was deposed and the Iconophile Methodius installed as. The Icons were restored. Orthodox Churches still commemorate the restoration of the icons on the first Sunday of Lent, which is called the "Sunday of Orthodoxy." Since Orthodox Churches use the Julian Calendar, this day can be more than a month after the first Sunday of on the Gregorian calendar.
This period sees a turn of the tide against the Arabs. In 838 the Caliph (833-842) raided Anatolia, as the Arabs had been doing about annually for a long time, but this time in such force as to defeat the Romans in battle at Dazimon and then to sack the cities of Ancyra (Angora, now Ankara) and Amoricum (now Konya). Since Amoricum was the home of the present Empeor Theophilus, this was particularly humilating. A few years later, the subsequent Caliph, al-Wâthiq (842-847), began to execute prisoners from these cities who refused to convert to Islâm. Since the Romans had their own Arab prisoners, an exchange was suggested, and accepted. In 845 embassies between the Caliph and the new Emperor Michael III, or his Regent mother, Theodora, were exchanged to negotiate the prisoner exchange.
The Arab historian at.-T.abarî, in his Annales (edition in Leiden, 1883-1884), relates details of the embassies, and we see him use an Arabic title for the Roman Emperor. The Roman ambassadors are themselves called , rusulu S.âh.ibi-r-Rûm, the "messengers of the Emperor of the Romans," one of whom seems to have been the future Patriarch. See the of the expression for "Romans." So here the word for "Emperor" is (irregular or "broken" plural , s.ah.âbah), which is familiar, as "Sahib," in countless movies about India and Africa. It is an important word in Arabic. S.âh.ib can mean "owner, possessor, master, lord," etc., as it does here, or it can mean "companion, comrade, friend, follower" (comes in Latin). Thus, , as.-S.ah.âbah, are the "Companions" of the Prophet Muh,ammad. These are the most important personages in the history of Islâm apart from the Prophet himself. Also noteworthy is the term , "messengers," where the singular, , rasûl, is found in the expression , rasûlu-llâh, i.e. Muh.ammad as the "Messenger of God," which is used in the Confession of Faith.
Not long after these events, in 863, another raiding Arab army, led by the Amir of Melitine, was annihilated, and the Amir killed, in battle at Poson. This was not the end of Arab raiding, but it did mean that the Romans were now getting the upper hand, and the period of Arab raiding and domination was coming to an end. One reason for this is the improvement and maturity of the new Army.
By the time of the Amorians, the Army has settled into its classic form and is much improved in numbers, organization, and effectiveness. The loss of Sicily and Crete is not encouraging, but the heartland of Anatolia is being defended with increasing success, and the lost territories in the Balkans are now being recovered and resettled. Bulgaria stands in the way in that direction and will eventually be dealt with. By 878 Sicily will be lost forever (although Rometta holds out until 965). It is possible that it could have been recovered, but now the remoteness of the command, and eventual disloyalty of the mercenaries, will snuff out such a hope. This is the army with which the Macedonians will eventually defeat and conquer Bulgaria, pass through the Cilician Gates, recover Antioch, and invade Syria. Later, when the Thematic forces are neglected, the mobile army, the Tagmata, will prove insufficient, as the Moble Army alone had earlier in the.
, added a new element to Roman history. Constantinople became to them Miklagarð, or Mikligarð (Mikligarðr with the ending), but often rendered Miklagard, Miklagarth, or Miklegarth -- the "Great City." Here the element mik- is cognate to mag- in Latin magnus and meg- in Greek megas, both "great." Curiously, there is an archaic adjective in English, "mickle," meaning "great" or "large," which is this very same word. A cognate survives in recent English, the humble word "much." The other element, gard (Old Norse garðr), "enclosed," is cognate to English "garden" and "yard" (and the name "Garth") as well as to gorod and grad, "city," in Russian -- as in Tsargrad, , for Constantinople (the final "soft" sign, , was in Old Church Slavonic but is lost in modern Russian). We see this element in Midgard, or Miðgarðr, "Middle Earth," the realm of men in Old Norse and in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. The "Great City" (we could say "Mickleyard" with English words) could not have been more appropriate, since Constantinople was the largest city in Europe until at least the 13th century, as it was the center of the only real cash economy in Europe perhaps until the 11th century.
Relations with the Varangians rocked back and forth between war and trade, mainly depending on what the Norsemen thought they could get away with -- they would be prepared for both. The contact in 839 was an embassy, which had encountered sufficient difficulties coming down the rivers of Russia that it requested the good offices of the Emperor in negotiating passage back by way of the Frankish realm of. Louis already knew about Viking raids and was suspicious that these travelers, although vouched for by Constantinople, were nevertheless of their kind. Assured (falsely) that they were not, the embassy was allowed to pass. Soon, Varangians would have little fear of traversing Russia and would begin raiding Roman territory and even attacking Constantinople. As it happened, the Norsemen were rather less successful against the Romans than they were against the Franks, and bouts of attacks were usually followed by treaties -- where such reconciliation was rarely necessary in the West. To the Varangians, the Roman Emperor becomes in Old Norse the Stólkonungr, the "Great King," with "great" in this case borrowed from Old Russian (as in Stolnyi Knyaz, the "great " of -- stolnyi does not have this meaning in Modern Russian), and "king" (konung) familiar from other languages (e.g. German könig). This echoes Megas Basileus in Greek, the translation of the title of the Great Kings of and the origin of the use of Basileus for "Emperor" in Mediaeval Greek.
We are approaching the point in European history where the remaining pagan peoples of Europe will be assimilated to Christian civilization. Bulgaria will lead the way, but it will soon be following by Hungary, Poland, Russia, and Scandinavia. The Pechenegs (or Patzinaks), a steppe people, will remain pagans until they are swept from history by the Cumans and Mongols. On the east edge of the map is the Khanate of the, also Turkic, who actually converted to Judaism. They would be Roman allies until disappearing in the 11th century. Shown on the map are the tracks of several raids by the into Francia. It is striking how far afield they go. A more intimate picture is provided elsewhere for.
|3. BULGARIA BEFORE ROMAN CONQUEST|
|helps restore, 705|
|after defeat by Romans, Teletz killed, Vinekh deposed, flees to Romans, 763|
|defeated by Romans, 774|
|Kills Emperor in battle, 811; uses his skull as a drinking cup|
|Boris I/ Emperor Michael I||Qaghan, 852-870|
|Emperor/Tsar, 870-889, d.907|
|Council VIII, Constantinople IV, 869-870; conversion of Bulgaria announced|
|Simeon I the Great||893-927|
|Boris II||969-972, d.986|
|Bulgaria conquered by, 971|
|Macedonian Bulgaria; state organized in western Bulgaria by the Cometopuli, "Sons of the Count"|
|Tsar Romanus||figurehead, 986-997; captured, 991|
|Army annihilated by, 1014|
|Presian II|| 1018, |
|Bulgaria annexed by, 1018|
Although today the Bulgarians are thought of as simply a Slavic people, like the Russians or Serbs, they were originally a nomadic steppe people, more like the Huns or Mongols. The first title of their leaders here, qaghan, is recognizably more Mongolian than the form more familiar from Turkish, khân. The Slavs, who had breached the Danube with the Avars, but who had little in the way of indigenous political organization, then came under the control of the Bulgars, the next nomadic group to pop off the end of the steppe. A related people, the, who remained on the Lower Volga, became long term Roman allies against the Bulgars. Other related peoples, the Patzinaks and Cumans, followed the Bulgars off the steppe and into the Balkans, though not permanently south of the Danube. After the Cumans, the Mongols were the last steppe people to come into Europe. Through the Middle East, of course, the Turks (and the Mongols) came off the steppe and ultimately, permanently, into Azerbaijan, Anatolia, and Thrace.
Fans of Robert E. Howard's (1906-1936) classic pulp fiction character Conan the Barbarian, will find the name of the Bulgar Qaghan Krum somewhat familiar -- it is rather like Conan's own personal god, "Crom." Krum, indeed, seems very Conan-like. Not only was the Emperor Nicephorus killed in battle, but Krum took his skull and turned it into a drinking cup. This sounds like "barbarism" indeed -- though Lord Kitchener (1850-1916) may have had something similar in mind when he removed the body of the Sudanese Mahdi from his tomb, after taking Khartoum in 1898.
More recently, readers of and the Goblet of Fire [J.K. Rowling, Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic, Inc., 2000] will remember that the champion Bulgarian Quidditch player was none other than Viktor Krum.
What happened to the Bulgars was assimilation. The Patzinaks pushed them off the steppe, they began to speak the language of their Slavic subjects, and they began to aspire to the civilization, if not the throne, of Constantinople. The conversion of the Bulgars, indeed, was a complicated political act, with sophisticated negotiations that played the Popes off the Emperors. Greek influence ended up predominating, but the Bulgars continued jealous of their autonomy -- the precedent of an autocephalous Church set the pattern for other Orthodox Churches, as in, created under Roman auspices. The Qaghan Boris took the Christian name Michael (though both names would be used in the future), but retained a status comparable to the Roman Emperor.
The newly developed Cyrillic alphabet, based on the "glagolitic" alphabet invented for by Sts. Cyril (Constantine, 827-869) and Methodius (826-885), was used for the Slavic language of the new Bulgarian national Church. This language, Old Church Slavonic or Old Bulgarian, is the oldest attested Slavic language and retains features apparently ancestral of most modern -- although different texts also display influence (or emergent features) from the local languages, Czech, Bulgarian, and Serbian, in the areas where it was used. At right is the Cyrillic alphabet of Old Church Slavonic. I have used some letters in the modern form rather than with the more traditional appearance, which is more obviously Greek. Various modern Cyrillic alphabets, which can be examined under the treatment of the Slavic languages, often employ different selections of letters from the full original alphabet -- although there is the possibility that some letters were later contributed, again, by local languages, like Serbian (cf. S.C. Gardiner, Old Church Slavonic, Cambridge, 1984, 2008, pp. 13-14). It will be noted that this alphabet contains more dedicated palatalizing vowels than the modern languages that continue to use this device.
An interesting case is the way "u" is written. Old Church Slavonic writes the digraph . We also see the ligature for "iu," which affixes an "i" an drops the "y." This is the only such ligature still used in modern Cyrillic alphabets, despite the presence of no less than five of them in Old Church Cyrillic -- the available ligature is replaced by in Russian, Bulgarian, etc., although I imagine that the latter may be a modification of the former. Since the Greek digraph is redundant, modern Cyrillic alphabets simply write "u" with . Thus, Rus, "," originally written (with the "soft" sign, although perhaps a reduced vowel in Old Slavonic, as follows), is now . This latter is commonly written Rus' by various historians, with an apostrophe for the soft sign, despite the fact that no one unfamiliar with Russian, or Slavic languages, will have a clue what it means -- while useful diacritics are left out for other languages, including.
The signs and , which apparently were vowels in Old Church Slavonic, of uncertain quality (as the vocalization of Old Church Slavonic is disputed), have now either become markers of "solf" and "hard" consonsants, as in Russian, or have been dropped, as in Serbian. These are divergent strategies that both go back to Old Church Slavonic. We also get nasalized vowels in Old Church Slavonic, and , marked with tildes here (the IPA diacritic), but elsewhere with a subscript hook, as in Polish, where such nasals survive.
Although remaining a formidable foe, the Bulgars were probably softened by their assimilation and civilization. As the Empire itself grew in strength, the day came when Bulgaria was defeated and subjugated. The first step merely left it leaderless, as John Tzimisces took Emperor Boris II off to Constantinople. A new state was organized in the west, however, by the sons of the Bulgar governor Count Nicholas. These "Sons of the Count," Cometopuli, eventually got an Emperor back after Boris and his brother Romanus escaped captivity. Boris was accidentally killed, so Romanus became the (largely figurehead) ruler. After Romanus died, the Cometopulus Samuel succeeded him.
The Emperor Basil II, after humiliating defeat by the Bulgars in his youth, then smashed and annexed this state, with a ferocity that that might have made Krum (or Conan) proud. Samuel is supposed to have dropped dead when he saw that Basil had blinded all the survivors of the Bulgarian army (leaving every tenth man with one eye to lead the rest) -- but the later references to this are now often doubted -- although it earned Basil his famous epithet. Bulgaria would not reemerge until the (Vlach) brothers led it to independence in 1186. Meanwhile, we see descendants of the Cometopuli, which were numerous (more than we see here), intermarrying with the Romans. After the Turkish conquest, did not emerge until 1878.
Lists of Bulgarian rulers can be found in various Byzantine histories, but the genealogy here only comes from the Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume II, Part 2, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser II Nord-, Ost- und Südeuropa [Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Part 2, Second Edition, 1997, pp.156-159].
| 4. MACEDONIANS |
Basil I the Macedonian
|sack Ostia & (suburbs of?) Rome, including the Vatican, 843, 846; attack Constantinople, 865; Ecumenical Council VIII, Constantinople IV, 869-870 -- reconciles Eastern and Western Churches but is later repudiated by East; conversion of announced; Syracuse falls to Aghlabids, 878; fleet sent to to patrol against Arabs, 879; effectively independent, 886|
Leo VI the Wise
|Campaign of Nicephorus Phocas in Italy, 883-886; invasion of Calabria by Amîr 'Abdullâh II, 902-903; Thessalonica sacked by renegade Leo of Tripoli, population enslaved, 904; in retaliation, Tarsus sacked by the Logothete Himerius, 905; Varangians/Russians attack Constantinople, 907; treaty with Oleg of, provision of mercenaries, 911|
Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus
|Fleet, allied with the Papacy,, and, destroys Arab base on Garigliano River, 915; Greek Anthology edition of Constantine Cephalas, c.930-950; embassy of from of Italy, 949|
Romanus I Lecapenus
|Defeat at Basintello by, 929; Fleet of Arab pirates destroyed off, 941; Varangians/Russians attack Constantinople, 941, 944; Treaty, 944|
| 944-945, |
|Crete recovered, 961; foundation of Great Laura Monastery on Mt. Athos, 963|
Nicephorus II Phocas
; pallida Saracenorum mors;
"The Pale Death of the Saracens" 
|Failed invasion of Sicily, Cyprus recovered, 964; Rometta in Sicily falls to, Cilicia & Tarsus recovered, 965; embassy with Liutprand of Cremona from Emperor , 968; Antioch recovered from, 969|
John I Tzimisces
|Russian Prince defeated, Bulgaria conquered, 971; Charter for Mt. Áthôs, 972|
| Basil II Bulgaroctonus ||963- 1025|
|defeated by of Sicily at Stilo, 982; rebellion of Bardas Phocas, 987-988; Varangian Guard, 988; Conversion of, 989; Bulgarian Army annihilated, 1014; annexed, 1018|
|Constantine VIII||976- 1028|
| Romanus III |
| Michael IV |
|beginning of debasement of the ; serves in Varangian Guard, 1034-1044; Arab pirates sack, 1034/35, visited by John, brother of Michael IV, who rebuilds walls and patronizes St. Nicholas; intervention of Constantine Ops in Sicily, 1037; campaign of George Maniaces in Sicily, Messina & Syracuse reconquered, 1038-1040; defection of mercenaries, Maniaces arrested, rebellion in Italy, 1040; Sicily abandoned, 1042|
| Michael V |
|Normans win Battles of Venosa/Olviento & Montepeloso, in Apulia, 1041; Maniaces reinstated, Michael attempts coup against Zoë, fails, blinded, 1042|
| Constantine IX |
|Pays for rebuilding the, 1040's; revolt & death of George Maniaces, Russians attack Constantinople, 1043; occupation of, 1045; Charter for Mt. Áthôs, Schism between Eastern and Western Churches, 1054; solidus debased to 3/4 gold|
Michael VI Bringas
Isaac I Comnenus
The greatest dynasty of Middle Romania begins with the Empire still losing ground. Raids by the Arabs, Vikings, and now Magyars are giving all of Europe a very bad time. Only the 10th Century would see a gradual recovery, as Slavs, Norsemen, and Magyars all became settled and Christianized, though the remained vigorous and aggressive in both North and South, i.e. conquering and expelling Muslims and Romania from.
Although traditionally called the "Macedonian" dynasty, Basil I was probably Armenian, like several of the other Emperors-by-marriage. But, ironically, the dynasty may actually descend from Michael III rather than from Basil. Basil had been induced to marry Michael's mistress; and although the marriage continued even after Basil had overthrown Michael, the first children may still have been Michael's.
Much of the good work of the Dynasty was accomplished by in-laws during the minority of the legitimate heirs, though the culmination came when one heir, Basil II, came of age and completed the conquests himself. Just once, it looked like Romanus I Lecapenus would try and replace the legitimate dynasty, but his sons followed him only briefly before being deposed.
One of the most successful Emperor-Regent-in-laws, Nicephorus II Phocas, unintentionally played an important part in the history of Armenia. After reconquering Cilicia and Tarsus, in the Taurus and Anti-Taurus Mountains, and expelling the local Muslims in 965, Nicephorus encouraged Christians from Syria and Armenia to settle the area. Subsequently, when the Turks poured into Anatolia after the epic defeat at Manzikert in 1071, the Christians of the Taurus were relatively safe in the mountains, and the Turkish flood washed around them. This led to the creation of the durable Kingdom of (1080-1375). The Armenians of Lesser Armenia were then probably the Christians of the Middle East with the best relations with the, including intermarriage.
It is now not often noted, but Lesser Armenia became such a center of Armenian life at the time that the Armenian relocated there from Armenia. From 1058 to 1441, this was the only Armenian Patriarchate. Even the reestablishment of Patriarchs in Armenia did not interrupt the line of succession in Cilicia, which henceforth became know as the. This succession continues to the present and even remained in the Taurus, long after the extinction of the Armenian Kingdom, until 1930, when the Patriarchs joined Armenian refugees in, where they remain. In the years of the isolation of Soviet Armenia, the center of international Armenian life was this Patriarchate in Lebanon. This is now obscured by the independence of in 1991 and the emigration of many Armenians from the former Soviet Union into the West. Their culture, influenced by the corruption of Soviet life, and even their language (Eastern rather than Western Armenian), is distinct from that of the Lebanese Armenians who used to dominate, for instance, Armenian immigration to the United States.
Phocas was assassinated in a plot that included his own nephew, John Tzimisces. When the assassins stole into the Emperor's bed chamber, they found, to their alarm, that his bed was empty. Looking around, they discovered that Phocas, a soldier to the last, was sleeping on the floor. What an extraordinary picture. What "Roman Emperor" sleeps on the floor? Can we imagine this with Caligula or Nero? Certainly not. Others, however, like Marcus Aurelius or Diocletian, we do see in their military camps. With those Emperors, we do not imagine their quarters to have been very luxurious. Although Phocas had become unpopular, it was remembered for centuries, before the abandonment of the Great Palace, which room was the scene of the assassination -- it was a sad fate for someone who had done Romania so much good. At least Tzimisces proved to be a worthy successor.
In the early days of the dynasty we get a benchmark on the survival of Classical and later Greek literature. The Bibliotheca of the Patriarch of Constantinople, (858-867, 877-886), contains 280 reviews. Even Edward Gibbon refers to this as "a living monument of erudition and criticism" [The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III, Modern Library, p.297].
It is not a catalogue of existing literature, or of a particular library, not even that of Photius, but a treatment of works familiar to Photius, apart from the mainstream of general education, that Photius is recommending to his brother Tarasius. Thus, popular authors like Homer, Plato, Aristotle, or the Greek playwrights (except for some lost plays of Aeschylus!) are missing from the list. Photius' treatment ranges from brief descriptions and evaluations to long summaries and discussions. Of the 386 works mentioned by Photius, 239 are theological. Nevertheless, only 43% of the text actually focuses on them. The majority of the text (in a book whose modern edition in Greek is 1600 pages long) is thus secular.
For example, in addressing A History of Events After Alexander (in ten books) by the Roman historian Arrian of Nicomedia (an early member of the ), we get a long summary of, which are often obscure enough that every description helps. Although much of Arrian survives, and his Anabasis Alexandri is the best account of the campaigns of Alexander, all we have of A History of Events After Alexander is Photius' summary. We also have Arrian to thank for transcribing in the Encheiridion or "Handbook," the teachings of the Roman philosopher Epictetus, whose student he was.
Our benchmark is that about half of the works mentioned by Photius, like the Events, are now lost. It is distressing to think of what survived, despite the Dark Ages, and then what later disasters may have cost us -- when the City was sacked by the and then the (where we hear of bonfires of books, although this may be a slander). It is hard to imagine an undisturbed Constantinople being subsequently so careless with its literary heritage. At no other Court of the age could visitors have found the nobility quoting Homer, as we see below. [cf. Photius, The Bibliotheca, A selection translated with notes by N.G. Wilson, Duckworth, London, 1994.]
Photius, whose Bibliotheca was only part of his literary output, was a major political figure and himself was responsible for the mission of (Constantine, 827-869) and Methodius (826-885) to convert the Slavs.
The climax of Mediaeval Romania came with the Emperor Basil II Bulgaroctonus, , "Bulgar Slayer" (Bulgarentöter in German). He also happened to be ruling at the turn of the first Millennium, which is of some interest as we have now seen the year 2000. Christendom had been having a bad time for several centuries, but things were looking up in 1000. After a long minority with in-laws ruling as co-regents, Basil defeated and captured an entire Bulgarian army in 1014. He blinded every prisoner, except for one eye left to every tenth man, so they could lead their fellows home. The Tsar Samuel is supposed to have dropped dead when he beheld the mutilated men returning. There is no contemporary record of this mass blinding, and its historicity is now often questioned. Whether anything quite like this happened or not, however, Bulgaria only lasted four more years before being annexed.
Meanwhile, the Varangians had created a powerful state at ; and, as the "Rus," , their name came to be attached to it -- giving us in Greek, Russia in Latin.
The alternation of war and trade that had characterized Roman relations with the Varangians, and which led to sharp defeats of Russia by John Tzimisces, took a greater turn toward friendship in Basil's day with the conversion of St. Vladimir to Christianity (989). Part of this process involved the marriage of Basil's sister Anna to Vladimir, and the provision by Russia of mercenaries for what now became the Emperor's "Varangian Guard." The Guard became the loyal shock troops and Life Guard of the Emperor, and are usually identifiable in historical accounts, even if not named as such, by their description as , pelekophóroi (pelekyphóroi in Greek), "axe bearers," from the single bladed axe (, pélekys), with a handle up to six feet long, that they carried as their primary weapon -- seen in the image at right from the history of John Scylitzes, c.1057. There also seems to have been some identification of this weapon with the fasces carried by the Lictors of the. Indeed, the appearance of the great axes on the battlefield came to signal the personal presence of the Emperor (although Varangians at first were often detailed to fight with other forces, as in Italy).
After the formation of the Varangian Guard, it quickly no longer became a matter of mercenaries provided by Russia. Indeed, it is not clear how long Vladimir's mercenaries had even been in Russia, and it has now been suggested that they were troublesome, recently arrived Swedes whom Vladimir was actually glad to send on. Be that as it may, the fame of the Varangian Guard spread quickly, and soon individual recruits were, not just from Russia (and now of Slavic and not just Varangian origin), and not just from the immediate source of Russian Varangians, Sweden, but from as far away as Norway, Denmark, and even Iceland -- all the lands, which by this point had converted to Christianity.
Since all these places were outside the limits of Classical geography, we find Anna Comnena characterizing all the Varangians, including the English ones, as from "Thule," . This was conformable to ideas in geographers like Strabo, who refers to "Thule, the most northerly of the Britannic Islands," "six days sail north of Britain," although he expressed some skepticism about its existence. Thus, Gibbon speaks of "the British island of Thule," which now sounds very odd [The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III, Modern Library, p.368]. "Six days sail north of Britain," however, which was the formula of the Greek explorer Pytheas, might very well get us from Britain to Norway.
The Norse recruits included the very interesting (or Haraldr Sigurðarson, Haraldr Harðráði), the subsequent King of Norway who would die in 1066 at, while invading England. The deeds of Harald and others would be recounted in the Icelandic Sagas, often written much later with fabulous or fanciful additions, but with sufficient detail to pin down their historical origins. Also, numerous rune stones have been found in Sweden, often at churches for the now Christian Swedes, that stand as cenotaphs or commemorative monuments to men who left for Romania (Grikland, Kirkium, etc., "Greece") and never came back. Some were installed before leaving by the men themselves. Some, of course, may have been for traders rather than members of the Varangian Guard, but a few mention deaths fighting in Serkland, i.e. Islamic lands (where the "Saracens" are), or in Lakbarþland, i.e. Langobardia, "."
In time, the Norse recruits apparently obtained their own church in Constantinople, at least in part dedicated to (or Olof, Olav) of Norway, Harald's brother, perhaps enshrining a sword that was supposed to have been his. Indeed, the 15-year-old Harald was present at the battle of Stiklestad in 1030, where Olaf was killed -- with reports of miracles immediately following. Harald fled with 500 retainers all the way to Constantinople, perhaps carrying such a relic of Olaf that could have been enshrined in the church. In King Harald's Saga, we have Olaf appearing in visions to help Harald; and the Norse church is said to have been constructed on the spot of such a vision [cf. The Varangians of Byzantium by Sigfús Blöndal and Benedikt S. Benedikz, Cambridge University Press, 1978, 1981, 2007; Snorri Sturluson, King Harald's Saga, Penguin, 1966, 2005, p.61].
While a companion of Hardråde eventually settled in Iceland, we also have the account of a native Icelander, Bolli Bollason (or Bollasson), as recounted in the Laxdaela Saga. Bollason's sojourn in Romania was quite early, in the 1020's, and he is said to be the first West Norseman in the Varangian Guard. When he returned home, fitted out with a red cape and gold trim on his weapons, reportedly, "Wherever he went, women paid heed to nothing but gazing at Bolli and his grandeur" [Peter Frankopan, The First Crusde, The Call from the East, Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, 2012, p.28], by which he became known as "Bolli the Elegant." This sounds like a version of the Hobbits returning to the Shire in Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, and indeed was familiar with much of this Norse literature.
It is noteworthy that while the legend and the romance of the Vikings is still a part of popular culture (I was entranced by The Vikings , which I saw at in 1962), and most people retain an image of Viking barbarians fighting, looting, slaughtering, drinking, and raping (this is romance?), such awareness promply shuts down when the Norsemen convert to Christianity. Presumably, they stop the looting and raping, and the reaction, as from Hollywood, is "You're no fun anymore!" (except for a movie like Virgin Spring ). But even as Christians, many Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, and Icelanders were still looking for a good fight; and to find it they traveled to the greatest and most famous Christian monarch: The Emperor of the Romans. Since they kept doing that for centuries, the word of mouth about their experiences must have been positive. It was a good fight, if not always a successful one.
The map shows Romania in 1000 AD, at the Millennium, with the height of Middle Romanian power rapidly approaching. The extent of is open to question. Some sources say it stretched to the Black Sea. Whatever, it will soon be erased.
Having experienced the Millennium of the year 2000 in our day, we have the movie, End of Days (Universal, 1999), with personally battling Satan, who is said to be released every thousand years (a somewhat loose reading of the Book of Revelation). This would mean that a similar difficulty occurred in 999, as well as 1999. Arnold wasn't around then, but Basil II was -- not only a great warrior but an Emperor who maintained a monk-like celibacy, and who was seen by most Christians as the principal defender of Christendom, as the Emperors had been since Constantine. Somebody missed a bet for a good movie, or at least a flashback, about that -- End of Days itself could have had a flashback explaining how Satan was easily thwarted in 999 by the undiminished wisdom, strength, and preparedness of Basil, Pope Sylvester II (this was before the Schism), and the Patriarch Sergius II of Constantinople.
The monks of the "Holy Mountain," Hágion Óros, Mt. Áthôs, could be brought into any story of the Millennium. The Great Laura Monastery, the first of many in this most sacred place, the Mt. Hiei, , of Orthodox Christianity, had recently been built (961-963) by St. Athanasius. Tradition holds with some earlier foundations, and several small hermitages, as well as individual hermits in caves and elsewhere, certainly had been there for some time; but the Great Laura is the first for which there is contemporary historical documentation.
Áthôs is the most north-eastern of three peninsulas that extend out into the Aegean Sea from the larger peninsula of the Chalcidice. There are still 20 active monasteries on the Mountain, with a number of smaller settlements and institutions. The road from the mainland ends at Uranopolis (or Ouranoupoli, one now usually sees spellings that reflect modern Greek pronunciation -- I have Latinized many of the names, but the spelling of the monasteries especially reflects this trend). From there one (men only) must take a boat down to Daphne. From Daphne a road, recently built, goes up to Caryes (Karyes, Karyai), the town that is the administrative center of the Mountain, on the land of the Koutloumousiou Monastery. Although most Greek churches operate under the authority of the autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church, Mt. Áthôs is still under the direct jurisdiction of the, i.e. the "Ecumenical" Patriarch in Istanbul. Over the years, monasteries were founded, not just by Greeks, but by, Serbs, Bulgarians, Russians, and even Italians. The Italians are now gone (there being the Schism and all), but there are also (modern) Romanians present, though they do not have their own monastery. Mt. Áthôs thus unites all the Orthodox Churches who share the theology of Constantinople. The mysticism of the theology of Mt. Áthôs contrasts with the humanism of -- this is discussed elsewhere in relation to the.
Sadly, the great triumph of Romania was short-lived, although the picture of how this happened has been changing. Previously, the consensus was that the last Emperors of the Dynasty, all by marriage, squandered the strength of the State, debased the coinage, and neglected the thematic forces that had been the military foundation of Romania for four hundred years -- in part by now ignoring, as Basil II had not, the alienation of the land of thematic soldiers to large landowners who did not have the same military obligations. This was thought to be a kind of creeping feudalism, which Romania had previously avoided. Full feudalism has quashed, ironically, because of the Turkish conquest. What was left of the Army, the Imperial guards of professionals and mercenaries, could not be relied upon in all circumstances, as would have warned, especially after the finances of the state were messed up. Before things had gone that far, however, we see that the attempt of Michael V, at the death of his uncle(?) Michael IV, to depose the Empress Zoë provoked a popular revolt. This included the Varangian Guard, which may have actually been commanded at the time by Harald Hardråde (1042). According to King Harald's Saga, Harald led the Guard to seize and blind Michael (whom it confuses with his successor, Constantine IX). This personal loyalty to Zoë, and her sister Theodora, was the best tribute to the faltering Macedonian dynasty.
While the corruption or decadence of the last Macedonians has long been a popular view, it has now come in for serious criticism and revision. In Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood, The Rise and Fall of Byzantium, 955 A.D. to the First Crusade [Oxford University Press, 2017], Anthony Kaldellis disputes nearly all of its features. This especially involves a reevaluation of Constantine IX Monomachus, whose military measures, including some sort of transformation of the Armenian Themes, can be seen as either successful or, if obscure in import, not anything that manifestly weakened the Army or the State. Kaldellis is especially hard on the "creeping feudalism" thesis. The land owners of Anatolia embodied nothing like the power that has been imputed to them. Most importantly, while real feudalism involves the growth of military forces in opposite to the those of the State, there is no evidence of anything of the sort in Romania. The Anatolian "feudal magnates" had no military forces of their own, and if they revolted while in command of Imperial forces, this is something that had been going on throughout the history of the Roman Empire. Instead, Kaldellis sees Romania in good shape at the end of the Dynasty, including under the final, non-dynastic Emperor, Isaac I Comenus. Kaldellis, however, does see problems developing under the next Dynasty, the.
Symbolically, the breach between the Eastern and Western Churches in 1054, after something that had happened many times before, was the one that became permanent and henceforth separated the One Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church into the, usually called "Roman Catholic," and the, traditionally called "Greek Orthodox" -- along with the other autocephalous "Orthodox" Churches (Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Romanian, etc.). The similar estrangements earlier had always been patched up without much in the way of hard feelings. This was the expectation at the time; and the handling of the matter was so casual that later, when it became apparent that the breach was becoming permanent, the original documents could not even be found. The estrangement in religion came at a very bad time. When the invaded Anatolia and the Crusading forces arrived from, the Schism was a source of constant irritation and mistrust. It provided some rationalization for the seizure of Constantinople by the ; and later, when the Churches were apparently reconciled by the, it left most Greeks so disaffected that their support for their own government was compromised. Thus, for centuries, Christian forces were divided and weakened in the continuing confrontation with Islâm.
In the genealogical diagram here we see the confusion over the paternity of Leo VI. The greatest controversy of Leo's reign, however, was over his own marriages. He disliked his first wife, from an arranged marriage. She and their daughter died in the early years of his reign. He was then able to marry his long time mistress, Zoë. After delivering their daughter Anna, however, who would later marry, Zoë soon died. This created a problem. Unlike, whose problem was that he wanted divorces, Leo's problem was that in the Greek Orthodox Church second marriages, even after the death of a spouse, were discouraged and third marriages strongely condemned. While theoretically there was no provision for raison d'état, we can imagine the overriding need to provide an Heir for the Dynasty. The Patriarch, successor to Leo's own brother, granted a dispensation. His new wife, Eudocia, then died in childbirth, followed shortly by the infant son.
Now Leo really had a problem. St. Basil had said that fourth marriages were the equivalent of polygamy, "a practice bestial and wholly alien to humankind." Leo therefore took a mistress, Zoë Carbonopsina (, Zoë of the " Black Eyes"), who then in 905 gave birth to a son, destined to be Constantine VII -- ironically the Porphyrogenitus, , Porphyrogénnêtos, "Born in the Purple" (I love this in German -- der Purpurgeborene), who nevertheless had been born a bastard.
The Patriarch, now Nicholas I Mysticus, refused to baptize the boy unless Zoë was expelled from the Palace. She was. But Constantine was still a bastard, so Leo brought Zoë back and got a priest to marry them and legitimize the Heir. The result was considerable furor. But a marriage by an ordained priest is a marriage, despite what the Patriarch thought about it. Leo cleverly played the Photian and Ignatian factions of the Greek Church off each other and meanwhile appealed to Pope.
The Latin Church had no problem with serial marriages, just with divorce. So, in 907, with Sergius' belessing, Leo deposed Patriarch Nicholas (who would subsequently be restored), and installed Euthymius I, who was persuaded to agree with the Papal ruling (more or less). Thus, where Henry VIII broke with the Pope (), and abolished the whole Church of Rome in England, in pursuit of a male heir, Leo's own pursuit was consummated by the timely help of the Pope, when the Greek and Latin halves were still (Una Romana Catholica Ecclesia), against the Patriarch. Leo did not long outlive the controversy.
Subsequently, in the minorities of Constantine VII, Basil II, and Constantine VIII, we see multiple reigns from Imperial in-laws. Romanus I almost derailed the dynasty; but John I and Nicephorus II were extremely vigorous and successful in retrieving Romanian fortunes and territory, progress finally to be sealed by the adult Basil. This great Basil, however, had remained celibate and irresponsibly failed to provide for the future of the family -- so unlike of England, who not only arranged key marriages for his nieces, Mary and Ann, but had ironically, as a Catholic sympathizer himself, required that they be raised and married Protestant, thereby securing a Protestant succession in Britain after the inevitable disaster of his foolish Catholic brother James II. This may have been Basil's greatest failing as a ruler.
After the death of Constantine VIII, only Theodora and Zoë, whom Basil had allowed to become nuns, remained of the Dynasty. Zoë endured three marriages to provide male sovereigns. The traditional view of Byzantinists was these in-laws were as bad for the Empire as the earlier ones had been good. As we have seen, this may require rethinking. We see a few misadventures and troubles, but the soundness of the Empire apparently continues. After the death of Constantine Monomachus, whom Zoë predeceased, Theodora briefly reigned alone at the end of the line.
Note the marriage of Maria Argyropoulaina to a son of the Doge of Venice. This was arranged by Basil II well before the marriage of Romanus III Argyrus to Zoë. Maria is supposed to have introduced the fork to Venice when arriving there with Giovanni in 1004 or 1005 [cf. Judith Herrin, "Venice and the Fork," Byzantium, The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire, Princeton & Oxford, 2007, pp.203-205].
The genealogy of the Macedonians is supplemented here with an abbreviated tree showing the major foreign marriages of the Dynasty. The marriage of Romanus II to the daughter of is shown above, but there are four other marriages noted here. Two of them are not attested by all sources.
Leo VI did have a daughter Anna (by his second wife), and marrying her to Hugh's predecessor in Burgundy, while his grandson married Hugh's daughter, produces a reasonable reciprocity; but marrying a true Porphyrogenita (still , Porphyrogénnêtos -- in Greek a compound, although feminine, retains the second declension ending, -os, otherwise used for masculines -- a scruple not observed in Latin -- see further discussion in relation to Anna Comnena ), a "Born in the Purple" Princess, to a barbarian king (which is what Louis III would have seemed to most), is something that some sources say was inconceivable, which is why all that the Emperor got was merely the niece of an Imperial in-law, John Tzimisces. Theophano was no Porphyrogenita (though some sources can be found referring to her as John's own daughter, or even as a daughter of Romanus II). Constantine VII himself asserted that a Porphyrogenita could not be married to a foreign prince -- although he then made an exception for the Franks. The most significant exception, however, would be, who certainty did marry the Porphyrogenita sister, Anna, of Basil II and Constantine VIII. Since this attended the conversion of Russia to Christianity (989), with the material contribution of Russian (Varangian) troops to the Roman Army, it could well have been thought worth the price.
I have mentioned John I Tzimisces more than once. He was a great general (perhaps coming close enough to Jerusalem to lay eyes on it), an in-law of the Macedonians and Scleri, and through his mother a member of the Phocas family -- although the assassin of his own uncle, Nicephorus Phocas. But his own paternal lineage was the Curcuas, , family -- evidently from Armenian , Gurgen. "Tzimisces," , is not a surname but a sobriquet, of uncertainty meaning and derivation. The "tz" cluster does not look like Greek phonology (although becoming more common as Greek mixes in the Balkan Sprachbund), and most opinion seems to be that it is from Armenian, like Tzimisces' own family. The possible word cited from is , chmshkik, "red boot," which sounds like an epithet that John might have picked up, perhaps as a child (like "little boot"). This is also transcribed as chmushkik, although there is no "u" (, the digraph, like Greek , that we see in Gurgen) written there in Armenian, which otherwise may be using a vocalic "m." In any case, there is no good evidence or certainty about this identification or its meaning. It remains one of the more curious names found among the Emperors of Romania. But John's given name is also noteworthy.
As I have commented, actual Christian Biblical names have been relatively rare among Christian Roman Emperors, with the Macedonians as no exception.. This is especially striking with the name "John," (Iôánnês, Latin Johannes), which is a supremely Chistian Biblical name but previously here has only occurred with a usurper in the. Until recently in the United States and Britain, "John" and "Mary" were the most common given names. But here, beginning with Tzimisces and some Michaels (), Biblical names start becoming more common -- even though not wants to admit their identity in the common culture of Christianity. There will eventually be eight Johns and Michaels each, with the occasional Thomas, , Isaac, , and David, , with some names less familiar in English, like Manuel, (from Emmanuel, in Greek and Spanish, a name for the Messiah, i.e. Jesus). We may think of George, , as a Christian name, but it only became so because of St. George, , whom I discuss, and it was never the name of in Emperor in Constantinople -- although, like Peter, , not unusual elsewhere, as we shall see.
The final marriage here is the potentially the most interesting but also somewhat problematic. Brian Tompsett's Royal and Noble Genealogy gave a sister "Irene" for the Empresses Zoë and Theodora, who is said to have married, grandson (by an earlier marriage) of St. Vladimir [still listed this way as of June 2011]. I have not seen a single Macedonian genealogy that lists such an "Irene." This is of great interest because their son, , Vladimir II Monomakh, was the grandfather of Ingeborg of Novgorod, who married (1118) Knut Lavard Eriksson, the father of King of Denmark (1157-1182). Through the intermarriages of the subsequent royalty of Denmark, we get connections to many of the rulers of Europe. Thus, it is sometimes said that Queen Elizabeth II of England is a descendant of the Emperor Basil I. But that would only be true if Irene really was a Macedonian.
Other sources have a slightly different claim. The Royal Families of Medieval Scandinavia, Flanders, and Kiev, by Rupert Alen and Anna Marie Dahlquist [Kings River Publications, Kingsburg, CA, 1997], says that Irene (or Irina) was "a daughter of Constantine IX Monomach" [p.160]. That is a lot different. Constantine was the Empress Zoë's third husband. She was already 64 when they married, so there is not much chance that Irene was her child, but Constantine was a widower (twice), and it is not surprising that he would have previous children, although Byzantine histories don't seem to bother addressing the issue. Vladimir II is called , "Monomakh," which thus sounds like a tribute to his Roman grandfather.
Constantine IX's parentage for Irene is also featured in the Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume II, Part 2, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser II Nord-, Ost- und Südeuropa [Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Part 2, Second Edition, 1997, p.81] and Volume III, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser, Ergänzungsband [Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Second Edition, 2001, p.218]. This gives us a much more reasonable picture. It does mean that Queen Elizabeth is not a descendant of Basil I (or Michael III, whatever); but she is a descendant of Constantine IX Monomachus, as can be seen on this. The genealogy also shows the descent of Elizabeth from of England, who was killed by the Normans at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Harold's daughter Gytha, has it happens, married Vladimir Monomakh.
Pages at Wikipedia give the wife of Vsevolod and the mother of Vladimir Monomakh as an "Anastasia () of Byzantium," with the gloss that her parentage with Constantine IX "is not attested in any reliable primary source." I do not see the name "Anastasia" in any of my print references, as discussed above. Also, while I am not familiar with the primary sources for these issues (and the matter does not seem to be addressed in the Greek histories), I am curious what the difference would be between a "reliable primary source" and whatever other primary sources would have addressed the marriages of Vsevolod. However, if Irene/Anastasia was not the daughter of Constantine IX, my fundamental questions would then be (1) who such a person would have been to have come from Byzantium to marry the son of a Prince of Kiev, and (2) how her son would then (coincidentally?) end up with the name or epithet "Monomakh" (, )? This would all be exceedingly curious, to say the least. What makes the most sense at this point is that Constantine IX was Vladimir II's grandfather, with the marriage of Vsevolod arranged in 1046, after the attack on Constantinople in 1043, by Yaroslav I the Wise of Kiev (1019-1054).
This attack in 1043 is a matter of some interest. It may have been coincidence, opportunism, or coordination that it coincides with the revolt of George Maniaces in the same year. It was pressed forward, with some 400 ships and 20,000 men, despite the death of Maniaces from a wound and the end of his revolt. We also hear that there was a complaint over some Russian merchants being killed in a fight in the marketplace in Constantinople. Rejecting an offer to buy off the attack (at 1000 per ship), Monomachus set the Roman fleet to engage the Russians. With the help of Greek Fire, the Russians were routed. Some 6,000 of them went into the water and were taken prisoner when they swam to shore. Many were said to have been blinded, perhaps in emulation of Basil II's treatment of the Bulgars. The remaining, retreating Russian fleet was pursued but turned to stop the Romans, and retrieve some credit, in a successful rearguard action.
The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium [Alexander P. Kazhdan, Alice-Mary, Talbot, Anthony Cutler, Timothy E. Gregory, Nancy P. evenko, Oxford University Press, 1991] says that the Russian fleet was "defeated in the Bosporos by the Byz. general THEOPHANES" ["JAROSLAV," Volume 2, p.1032]. The all capitals for the name of Theophanes signifies a reference to a separate article in the Dictionary about him. However, there is no such article in the work. Instead, this business seems to involve a confusion with the Russian attack on Constantinople in 941, where the fleet was indeed commanded by the protovestiarius () Theophanes, for whom there actually is no article in the Oxford Dictionary. A was originally a eunuch in charge of the Egmperor's clothing. This may be why Theophanes is said to have been a eunuch; but from now on it is not unusual for someone with this title to be commanding armies and assuming other public duties. And many of the protovestiarii certainly are no longer eunuchs.
This battle in 941 is of great interest in its own right, since the Romans were not ready for such an attack, and all Theophanes commanded was a scratch force of only 15 ships, against a perhaps thousand or more of the Russians. But the Russians were not used to Roman fleets either, and the use of Greek fire caught them by surprise. They fled to, where they landed and began to loot the countryside. Thrown back by Bardas Phocas (d.969), they returned to their fleet, which was then annihilated by Theophanes and his augmented forces, with few surviving the burning ships and the "fire" burning on the water [cf. Byzantium, the Apogee, John Julius Norwich, Alfred A. Knopf, 1992, pp.151-152]. The similarity of the attacks of 941 and 1043 is perhaps the source of the confusion in the Dictionary.
This 1043 battle may be the last example of a decisive victory by the Roman Navy before, later in the century, the fleets of the Italian cities begin to dominate the Mediterranean and replace the Romans. The sequel of the battle is obscure, but we can speculate that the marriage of Constantine's daughter was part of the restoration of the previous good relations with the Russians, in a treaty of 1046. In turn, the Roman success here contributes to a revised evaluation of Monomachus as an Emperor. In both battle and diplomacy, the Empire seems quite at the top of its game. There is nothing of the hesitation or confused that we see later.
Harald Hardråde was still in the Varangian Guard in 1043, and we might even imagine him participating in the battle. King Harald's Saga, with some confusion of reigns and dates, has Harald escaping from Constatinople after kidnapping an otherwise unattested niece, Maria, of the Empress Zoë. A Viking kidnapping and carrying off a princess would not be so remarkable, but we are then told that before crossing the Black Sea, Harald dropped her off with a guard to escort her back to Constantinople. What the hell kind of Viking does that?
This makes me wonder. Could such a strange story, which seems impossible in more than one way, reflect the circumstance that Harald himself escorted Irene/Anastasia to Kiev between 1044-1046? He arrived back in Norway to claim the throne in 1047. An escort job would thus nicely coincide with the period of his transit home; and it would involve an actual Roman princess, whose part in the matter could easily be garbled in the Saga. All this would dramatically tie together the events of a striking naval battle in the Bosporus (1043), the marriage of Vsevelod to a Roman princess (1046), and the fateful reign of Harald in Norway (1047-1066), culminating in the events (1066) that precipitate the entry of into the Varangian Guard.
I recommend this story to, which has often featured Istanbul in its movies but never Constantinople. Nothing like Roman ships, "dromonds," , galleys with lateen sails, throwing flames on Viking longboats has ever been seen on film -- as I expect that Hollywood film-makers are entirely ignorant of the historical circumstances where that would have happened .
The potential for ongoing confusion over the position of Monomachus is evident in The Varangians of Byzantium by Blöndal and Benedikz . Thus, they say:
In June , when a large fleet under the command of Vladimir (Monomakh), son of Jaroslav, assailed the City, the Byzantines met it in the Bosphorus and defeated the combined force of Russians and Scandinavians, largely thanks to the use of Greek fire. [p.104]
This seems to confuse the eldest son of Yaroslav the Wise, Vladimir (sometimes even "II"), who predeceased Yaroslav, dying in 1052, with Vladimir II Monomakh, the grandson of Yaroslav and Constantine IX. The statement in its own terms is peculiar in the use of an epithet, "Monomakh," that echoes that of the Roman Emperor, in the name of a Russian leading an attack on that very Emperor. This is unlikely on its face -- or that someone named after the Emperor would already be old enough to have such a command (Vladimir Monomakh was born in 1053). Instead, it is more reasonable that the marriage that produces Vladimir Monomakh was the result of the peace that followed the defeat of the Russian attack. Blöndal and Benedikz do not try to explain the anomalies that their identification generates.
The marital arrangements of Constantine Monomachus have another curious feature. After two wives died, Constantine wished to marry Maria Scleraena (presumably not the same Maria Scleraena who had been married to John Tzimisces in the previous century). Third marriages, however, as we have seen, were generally forbidden by the Greek Church. So Constantine, in exile, simply lived with Maria. Recalled from exile and married to the Empress Zoë (with the third marriage rule waived), in a marriage that may have been in name only, Constantine eventually brought Maria, with Zoë's consent, right into the palace and lived with her rather openly the rest of her life (she predeceased Zoë). Zoë even granted Maria the title , "Augusta."
When Maria first appeared in public at the theater, Michael Psellus relates that one of the courtiers quietly said, , Ou némesis, "No blame" [or "It were no shame," Twelve Byzantine Emperors, Penguin, 1966, p.185]. This was a quotation from a line in the Iliad (3:156), where the Trojan elders see Helen come out on the wall and say to themselves:
"Small blame [sic] that Trojans and well-greaved Achaeans should for such a woman long time suffer woes; wondrously like is she to the immortal goddesses to look upon." [Homer, The Iliad, 3:156-158, Loeb Classical Library, A.T. Murray translation, Harvard, 1924, 1988, p.129]
Maria was sharp enough to note the whispered comment, but she had to ask about its meaning. For us, it reveals the education of the Constantinopolitan Court, in perhaps the only city in Europe in the 11th century where Homer was going to be read and taught . It also tells us about the existence of the theater in Constantinople and the active social life revolving around attendance there. The elegance of this life was the target of some contempt in Western Europe. The Mediaeval banquet we see in , in the days of of England (memorably played by Peter O'Toole in the movie), may not be far from the reality, nor the sport made over the use of the fork, which had been introduced at Venice, of course, by Maria Argyropulaena.
A very brief non-dynastic interlude concludes the period. Isaac I was the first of the Comneni and can be found on the genealogy of the Comneni.
IV. THE FOURTH EMPIRE,
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), "Sailing to Byzantium"
Romania, furthermore, is a very wide land with rugged, stony mountains. It extends south to Antioch and is bounded by Turkey on the east. All of it was formerly under Greek rule, but the Turks now possess a great part of it and, after expelling the Greeks, have destroyed another part of it. In the places where the Greeks still hold fortresses, they do not pay taxes. Such are the servile conditions in which the Greeks hold the land which French strength liberated when the Franks conquered Jerusalem.
Odo de Deuil, La Croisade de Louis VII, roi de France, Volume IV, edited by Henri Waquet, Documents relatifs à l'histoire des croisades, Volume 3, Paul Guethner, Paris, 1949, pp.54-55, translated by James Brundage, The Crusades: A Documentary History, Marquette University Press, 1962, pp.111-112
Then followed a scene of massacre and pillage: on every hand the Greeks were cut down, their horses, palfreys, mules, and other possessions snatched as booty. So great was the number of killed and wounded that no man could count them. A great part of the Greek nobles had fled towards the gate of Blachernae; but by this time it was past six o'clock, and our men had grown weary of fighting and slaughtering. The troops began to assemble in a great square inside Constantinople. Then, convinced that it would take them at least a month to subdue the whole city, with its great churches and palaces, and the people inside it, they decided to settle down near the walls and towers they had already captured....
Our troops, all utterly worn out and weary, rested quietly that night. But the Emperor  Murzuphlus did not rest; instead, he assembled his forces and said he was going to attack the. However, he did not do as he had announced, but rode along certain streets as far away as possible from those occupied by our army, till he came to a gate called the Golden Gate through which he escaped, and so left the city.
Geoffroy de Villehardouin (d.1218), "The Conquest of Constantinople," Chronicles of the Crusades, Penguin, 1963, p.91
Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods"
Thomas Babington Macaulay, Lays of Ancient Rome, "Horatius [at the Bridge]," 1891, XXVII
Let's go, men, against these barbarians!
The Emperor, his last words, the Fifth Military Gate of Constantinople, May 29, 1453; Greek Text, Laonikos Chalkokondyles, The Histories, Volume II, Translated by Anthony Kaldellis, Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, Harvard University Press, 2014, p.192
"Then we must go higher. We must go to him whose office is to put down tyrants and give life to dying kingdoms. We must call on the Emperor."
"There is no Emperor."
"No Emperor..." began, and then his voice died away. He sat still for some minutes wrestling with a world which he had never envisaged."
C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, 1945, Scribner, 2003, p.290
The "Fourth Empire" begins with a blow, from an Islâm reinvigorated by the Turks, which represents not only a further diminution of the Empire, but a portent of the actual collapse and end of the Empire altogether. The catastrophic defeat at Manzikert alienated much of what had for long been the heartland of the Empire, Anatolia. It was a mortal wound, never to be made good; but the Empire nevertheless twice managed to struggle back up into at least local ascendancy, first under the Comneni and then under the Palaeologi. The Comneni had help, of a very dangerous sort, in the form of the. Defeat by the Turks was not the cruelest cut of the period. That was when the Crusaders, manipulated by, took Constantinople in 1204. With the Latins, the Empire fragmented into multiple Greek and non-Greek contenders: Nicaea, Epirus, Trebizond, Bulgaria, and Serbia, not to mention the. While the Palaeologi, building on the success of Nicaea, reestablished Greek rule, only Epirus of the other successor states came back under Imperial control. The Empire of Michael VIII did seem to have a chance, but a new Turkish state, of the, soon surged into dominance. It took more than a century for the Ottomans to scoop up all the spoils, but, like a slow motion car crash, the outcome has a horrible inevitability.
A. THE ADVENT OF THE TURKS, 1059-1185, 126 years
1060 AD -- Romanian territory is intact, but the military and financial foundations of Roman power have been undermined. The coinage is debased for the first time since Constantine. Resources have been wasted absorbing Armenia, and the forces of the Armenian themes have been disbanded. Local Islamic states are no threat, but the Seljuks are on the way.
The Ducases had the misfortune of suffering the most catastrophic defeat of Roman arms since the Arabs won Palestine and Syria at Yarmuk in 636: The defeat by the Seljuk Turks at Manzikert in 1071, a battle lost more to miscalculation, confusion, or perhaps treachery than to military superiority. And Romanus IV Diogenes became the only Roman Emperor besides to be captured in battle by an external enemy. Romanus was luckier than Valerian, in that he was treated with dignity and even kindness by the Sultân, and even released after no more than eight days; but he was unlucky, as the Sultân himself ruefully appreciated, that he would return to a situation where he had already been deposed as Emperor.
After the fall of several cities to Turkish raiders and to Alp Arslan himself, Diogenes had begun campaigning in the region, with some success. In 1071 the Emperor make the mistake of dividing his army without realizing that the Sultân himself was nearby with a large army. Pursing the Turks after their traditional tactic of attack and retreat (a speciality of nomads, as previously of the Arabs), Diogenes suddenly realized what he was up against and that he was in an exposed position. Signaling a withdrawl, he was misunderstood, resulting in the flight of many troops, leaving the Emperor even more exposed and vulnerable to being surrounded in a counter-attack, which he was -- and captured. So the "battle" did not result in many Roman losses -- it was not actually a disaster like Andrianople -- but the army was left dispersed and disorganized. Also, in subsequent recriminations, the accusation was made that the precipitate retreat was not a mistake, but a treacherous abandonment. It is not clear whether this is credible or not.
Trying to retrieve his position, Diogenes was defeated by the forces of the Caesar John Ducas, uncle of the new Emperor, Michael VII. Romanus, a mere in-law of couse, eventually surrendered on terms of civil treatment -- but nevertheless died soon after the Caesar had him blinded, perhaps on order of Michael or other relative. The picture of the respectful consideration of the Turk and the ferocious brutality of the Romans leaves an impression, like the earlier treatment of the, both sorrowful and bitter. Meanwhile, this brief period of civil war substantially magnified the significance and effect of the original battle.
While there is no reason to doubt the sincerity of Alp Arlsan's Islâm, his Court and that of his successor, Malik Shâh, under the influence of their great Vizir, Nizâm al-Mulk, displays an intellectual power and cosmopolitan expansiveness that is well represented by the mathematician, astronomer, and poet 'Umar Khayyâm (d.1122). Is the Rubaiyat cynical or merely worldly? It is hard to say. Whatever it is, one wonders to what extent some attitude of the sort can be discerned in the behavior of the Sultân. Nevertheless, it is something that passes quickly. The greatest philosopher of the era, and one of the greatest philosophers of the Middle Ages, (1058-1111), nevertheless fiercely attacked and effectively snuffed out the tradition of Greek philosophy in the Central Islâmic lands. Thus, the damage was done to Romania, but intellectually Islâm itself was now headed into decline.
The civil war between the Ducases and Romanus Diogenes wasted time and resources while Turkish forces and raiders were still busy, and unmolested, in Anatolia. But worse was to come. Anthony Kaldellis points out that Roman energies and resources were decisively impacted, not by the Turks, but by the rebellion of one of the Empire's own Frankish mercenaries, Roussel de Bailleul [Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood, The Rise and Fall of Byzantium, 955 A.D. to the First Crusade, Oxford University Press, 2017, pp.256-261]. In 1073, an army led by Isaac Comnenus, accompanied by his younger brother, the future Emperor Alexius, advanced into Anatolia. Before any engagements, Bailleul deserted with his Frankish contingent. Continuing on, Comnenus was defeated by the Turks at Caesarea (, Turkish Kayseri). Kaldellis says, "his was the last Roman army that would march across Asia Minor to Kaisareia" [p.258, emphasis by Kaldellis].
Roussel then set out to create his own state in Asia Minor. A Roman army under Isaac Comenus, his son John, and Nicephorus Bontaniates, the future Emperor, was sent against Roussel. Bontaniates withdrew before Roussel when his own Frankish contingent deserted to him. Comnenus was captured and had to be ransomed. Again, Kaldellis says, "Theirs was to be the last Roman army in Asia Minor making any progress inland before the First Crusade" [ibid.]. With a small number of men, Alexius Comnenus set out after Roussel, who was betrayed to him by a local Turkish leader. When Alexius took Roussel back to Constantinople, he could only leave Anatolia undefended behind him.
What had hitherto been the heartland of Romania in Anatolia, now became a bleeding wound to Turkish conquest, never to be recovered. Simultaneously, the won, for all time, the last Roman city in Italy -- Bari. In 31 years (1040-1071), Romania had been finally expelled from Italy, 535 years after Belisarius had landed against the Ostrogoths.
The Ducas, , family gave us the first Mediaeval Roman dynasty with a surname, which shows some of the social changes that took place during the long period of the Macedonians. We have already seen some surnames among the Macedonian in-laws, such as Lecapenus, , Phocas, , Curcuas, , Monomach, , Bringas, , and the first Comnenus, . The Macedonians themselves do not seem to have had a surname, and it is not even certain they were actually Macedonians. Also, we see Michael IV, the Paphlagonian, who is still identified by place of origin, as is familiar from Greek names in the Classical period. In turn, Michael's nephew and successor, Michael VI Calaphates, is called after the trade of his father, , a "Caulker."
But from now on, we find that dynasties are identified by surname -- Ducas, , Comnenus, , Angelus, , Lascaris, , and Palaeologus, . Even and are ruled by Ducases and Comneni, respectively. Within the dynasties, we find as in-laws the names Vatatzes, , among the Lascarids, and Cantacuzenus, , among the Palaeologi. The origin of the names is various, with Ducas itself from the Latin rank of dux (), used in Greek as . Some of these names we see today, not the least of which being the feminine surname become a given name, , "Angelina." Cantacuzenus turns up among the Phanariot Princes of. Monomach, , which means "fighting in single combat," has the look of a sobriquet; but, born by Constantine IX, it is unlikely to have been earned by him personally. So it appears to be his surname, earned by an ancestor, as it will be born by his.
The Ducas genealogy is given both here and below with the. The marriages of Constantine, the son of Michael VII, and his second wife, Anna Comnena, are of particular interest. The intermarriage of the Ducases with the of Italy might have made for some political differences -- had the young bride, Helen, lived.
, within days of the Norwegian defeat, would succeed at Hastings. The Norman Conquest spelled the dispossession of the native Saxon nobility, who then began to seek their fortunes. Many of them consequently were drawn to the Varangian Guard. Having lost England to Normans/Vikings, served the Empire that had withstood them. They would continue to do so for more than three centuries -- the first reference to Englishmen in the service of Romania was in 1080, the last in 1404 -- 324 years. Indeed, now we see references that 4350 English emigrants in 235 ships arrived at Constantinople in 1075 [Chronicon universale anonymi Laudunensis], or that the English arrived in 350 ships and were in part settled in a Nova Anglia, a "New England" far from Plymouth Rock [according to the Icelandic Jarvardar Saga].
According to Geoffroy de Villehardouin, there were still "Englishmen and Danes" defending Constantinople when the arrived in 1203. After the Greek recovery of the City by the in 1261, we have some indication that the surviving Varangian Guard may have been entirely English. In 1272 Michael VIII Palaeologus wrote a letter mentioning the Englishmen in his service, now called the , Egklinováraggoi (sing. , Egklinováraggos -- Enklinobarangi in Latin, sing. Enklinobarangus) [cf. Sigfús Blöndal and Benedikt S. Benedikz, op.cit., p.172]. Like the Norsemen, the English Varangians seem to have had their own church in Constantinople, dedicated to Saints and of Canterbury (the Apostle to the English). Under subsequent Palaeologi, however, they fade from history.
One might wonder, however, why go all the way to Constantinople? Was the Varangian Guard really that big a deal? Well, part of the problem for a sort of European (masterless warrior in a feudal system) is that, in the absence of cash economies, nobody was hiring mercenaries. If Englishmen wanted to be hired to fight after 1066, they needed to go to where there was a paid, professional military. In Christian Europe, that was still only in Constantinople -- still only the Tagmata. A noteworthy exception to this was in the, where a cash economy existed, mainly because of its inclusion in the economic sphere of Romania. Cities like had conducted trade with Constantinople both during their time as Roman possessions, after being recovered from the Ostrogoths, and then as they slowly drifted out of the control of Constantinople. They also conducted trade with Islâmic states, especially after the had conquered Sicily. This often scandalized other Christians. But it was even worse when they began to hire Muslim mercenaries. An Englishman, of course, might belong to the Varangian Guard but be fighting in Southern Italy nevertheless. There they would have met other mercenaries with whom they were not likely to have friendly relations: Normans who had come from Normandy looking for their own fortunes. The Norman mercenaries in Roman service had gone over to local rebels in 1040. When the English arrived, they found themselves actively fighting kinsmen of their old enemies, in Italy, Epirus, and Greece. These Normans were able to expel the Romans from Italy, recover Sicily from Islam, and then create a united Kingdom of. This resulted in the economic decline of the South Italian commercial cities. As the trade they had pioneered moved North, other cities became wealthy enough to hire their own mercenaries. These become the famous mercenary Condottiere of the Renaissance.
According to a recently released book, The Varangian Guard, 988-1453, by Raffaele D'Amato [Men-at-Arms, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, UK, & Long Island City, NY, 2010]:
...in Dobroudja [on the Black Sea], a short-lived Anglo-Saxon settlement called by the Varangians 'Nova Anglia' was created at the end of the 11th century... The chronicler Ordericus Vitalis recorded that 'the English were much distressed by their loss of liberty... A number of them, with the fresh bloom of youth upon them, went to distant lands.' [p.13]
D'Amato says that one of the English exiles in Romania was "the pretender Edward Atheling" [p.13]. I do not know who this would be. There does not seem to be such a person as listed in the of either the Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume II, Part 1, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser I Westeuropa [Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Third Edition, 2001, p.264] or the The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens [Mike Ashley, Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., New York, 1998, 1999, p.468, 491-498]. We find "Edward the Exile" and "Edgar the Atheling," but no "Edward Atheling." Edward the Exile was sent into exile, hopefully to his death, by Canute. He didn't die and did spend time at the Hungarian Court (where he married the daughter, Agathe, of King ). Recalled by Edward the Confessor, he was murdered, perhaps by partisans of Harold Godwinsson, and then his young son Edgar was made Heir Apparent. That was in 1057, so Edward could not have gone into exile after 1066. Too young to rule, Edgar was pushed aside by Harold in 1066. After Harold's death, Edgar was proclaimed King but then in short order surrendered to William. Edgar is the best candidate for exile in Romania, but that does not seem to be what happened. He was the obvious Pretender to the English Throne and spent many years at the Scottish Court (where King Malcolm married Edgar's sister Margaret) and elsewhere, stirring up trouble for the Normans. Eventually, he was pardoned by King Henry I and spent his remaining years, in increasing obscurity, on an English estate. However, according to the Mammoth Book [p.498], Edgar did go on Crusade in 1099. This may have involved some contact with Romania and so may be the source for D'Amato's (confused) reference.
The long history of the English Varangians, as with the original and continuing Norse Varangians, accompanies the long decline of Romania. As declines go, 400 years is not what anyone would think of as abrupt or precipitous, but it was continuing and unreversed. The Varangian role has its melancholy aspect, as the Scandinavians and English are unable to prevent that decline, and as local Roman sources of wealth and manpower obviously undergo progressive decay in effectiveness. But there also is an aspect to it of great romance and nobility. In the last centuries of the Roman Empire, essential help came through the interest and devotion of individual foreign warriors, dating atlas canning jars both from the most distant of old Roman possessions, Britain, and from peoples and lands, in the North, that had really been off the map and beyond the knowledge of Augustus, Trajan, or even Justinian. It is the sort of thing for which there really should be some small monuments in London, Oslo, Stockholm, or Copenhagen, in tribute to their countrymen who took the long trip to fight in the defense of Constantinople, over so many years. Yet, with the history of participation in the Varangian Guard largely forgotten, and the whole existence and history of "Byzantium" so generally ignored or despised, it is not clear who would have the interest to build such monuments and to commemorate such measures of devotion to the last Emperors in successon to Augustus and Constantine, and to what for long was still the greatest City of Christendom. It is a pity.
As noted above, before the time of the English Varangians, relations of their Norman conquerors had themselves briefly served the Emperor Michael IV. Two of the original de Hauteville brothers from were in a group of 300 Normans under George Maniaces in Italy in 1037-1038. The eldest de Hauteville brother, William, earns his sobriquet "Iron Arm" by defeating the Amir of Syracuse in single combat in 1037. The disaffection and defection of the Normans, and their transformation of one of the revolts (1040), such as Romania had previously been able to defeat, would then drive Romania out of Italy by 1071, spelling the final alienation of Italy, retrieved by Belisarius in 536, from Constantinople (after 535 years) -- but then it also led to the recovery of Sicily from Islam (1061-1091), specifically from the of Tunisia, and the reunion of all Southern Italy into one Kingdom (1130). This brought the South of Italy into the history of for the first time -- in the 13th century, under the German Emperor, it could even be said to briefly be the center of that history, as Frederick made Palermo his capital.
Catastrophe. The heartland of the Empire in Anatolia is completely overrun. Italy is lost to the Normans, forever. Only the Balkan European possessions, secured not long before, enable Romania to endure and recover, somewhat -- with the dangerous help of the Crusaders. Armenians, recently settled in Cilicia, are surrounded, although this will be the origin of the Kingdom of that will endure until 1375. The triumphant Normans meanwhile have invaded Sicily, which they will permanently recover from Islam.
|2. SELJUK SULT.ÂNS OF RÛM|
|Süleyman I ibn Qutalmïsh||1078-1086|
|Kilij (Qïlïch) Arslan I||1092-1107|
|Mas'ûd I Rukn ad-Dîn||1116-1156|
|Kilij Arlsan II||1156-1192|
|Myriocephalon, 1176; Konya sacked by on the Third Crusade, 1190|
|Kay Khusraw (Khosru) I|| 1192-1196, |
|killed in battle by, 1211|
|Kilij Arlsan III 'Izz ad-Dîn||1204-1205|
|Kay Kâwûs I||1211-1220|
|Kay Qubâdh I 'Alâ' ad-Dîn||1220-1237|
|Kay Khusraw II Ghiyâth ad-Dîn|| 1237-1246, |
|Defeated by, Battle of Köse Dagh, becomes vassal, 1243|
|Kay Kâwûs II||1246-1257|
|Kilij Arslan IV||1248-1265|
|Kay Qûbâdh II||1249-1257|
|Kay Khosru III Ghiyâth ad-Dîn||1265-1282|
| Control by |
|Mas'ûd II|| 1282-1284, |
|Kay Qûbâdh III|| 1284, 1293-1294, |
|Deposed by, 1307|
The first Turkish and Moslem state in Anatolia ironically began against the wishes, virtually in rebellion against, the Great Sult.ân Malik Shâh (1073-1092), who was even negotiating with Alexius Comnenus for the withdrawal of the Turks from the region and whose troops actually killed Süleyman I. However, even the Great Sult.ân was finally in no position to force such a withdrawal, Roman resistance was so weak that Süleyman had no difficulty establishing his capital at Nicaea, and all help from the Sejuks ended with the death of Malik Shâh. The best that Alexius could do was to recover Nicomedia and hold on to it. Meanwhile, even western cities like Ephesus were falling. The Sult.âns then styled themselves the rulers of, i.e. "Romania."
This list is from Clifford Edmund Bosworth's The New Islamic Dynasties [Edinburgh University Press, 1996].
While this is the traditional understanding of the role of Süleyman, a very different interpretation is now offered by Peter Frankopan [The First Crusde, The Call from the East, Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, 2012]. In these terms, Süleyman was the ally of Alexius Comnenus who maintained the Roman position in Asia Minor and was the duly appointed governor, not the conqueror, of Nicaea. This explains some other puzzling aspects of the reign of Alexius, which is where the Turkish mercenaries came from that he used against the Normans in the Balkans, and why the Roman position in Anatolia seemed to suddenly collapse in the early 1090's (after the death of Malik Shâh), when everyone assumed that it had already collapsed after Manzikert, before Alexius even came to the throne. Süleyman was killed, not by forces loyal to Malik Shâh, but by the very rebels that he, Alexius, and Malik Shâh were all attempting to suppress. Süleyman was even upbraided by his enemies for disloyalty to Islâm.
While this thesis explains a lot, it leaves a number of things on the table. The role of Süleyman and the presence of the rebels, who were troubling to all, does mean that there is a substantial Turkish presence in Anatolia after Manzikert, so the traditional picture of many Turks overrunning the area cannot be entirely abandoned. That Alexius was able to form alliances with Turkish forces, including the Seljuk Sult.ân himself and now perhaps Süleyman also, bespeaks a clever strategic and diplomatic accommodation to the situation, which maintained the Roman position for some years; but it also means that with the removal of Alexius's allies, that position could collapse quickly. Süleyman's own son, Kilij Arslan, had been kept hostage by Malik Shâh (either against the good behavior of Süleyman or, perhaps more likely, because of the non-cooperative attitude of Kilij Arslan himself). With the death of the Sult.ân, he escaped and made his way to Nicaea, to assume the authority of his father, but this time independently of both Emperor and Sult.ân -- his later treaty with Alexius did not mean any compromise to the independence of Rûm that had now been established. The rapid collapse of Anatolian Romania thus testifies to the leverage that the Turkish presence in Anatolia had already created. Without help, Alexius could hold little beyond Nicomedia in the whole area -- although some Christian towns were still holding out when the Crusaders arrived, most dramatically and durably with the, where the domain outlasted the Sultanate of Rûm itself. Frankopan explains that the traditional picture of Roman collapse in Anatolia was due to Anna Comnena, who wanted to make it look like the losses in the regions were due to the predecessors of Alexius and were not events of his own reign.
The Turkish position was secure until defeat by the First Crusade in 1097. Then Alexius was able to recover the western cities. The Turks fell back on Iconium (Konya), which became their capital for the rest of the history of the Sultanate of Rûm. Although sacked by Frederick Barbarosa on the Third Crusade (1190), Konya was lost forever to Romania. The Sultanate already, however, seemed to have lost its edge. The devastating defeat of Manuel Comnenus at Myriocephalum (1176) was not followed up, and the subsequent decline of Romania was mainly from internal weakening and fragmentation (readying it for the Fourth Crusade). The Sultanate was then defeated by the Mongols in 1243 and spent the rest of its history in vassalage. The final fall, in 1307, coincided with a very fragmented, but vigorous, period of new Turkish states -- the, , or "sons" of Rûm.
Part of his vigor may have resulted from an influx of refugees from the Mongols. The captured Ephesus in 1304, but the most serious portent for the future was the capture of Prusa (Bursa) in 1326 by the. This quickly spelled the end of Romania in Asia, and by 1354 the Ottomans had a foothold in Europe. Only delayed the ultimate Ottoman conquest.
A curious feature of the relationship of Constantinople to the Sult.âns of Rûm was its often cordial and almost friendly tone. Alexius Comnenus employed Turkish mercenaries and once, when he happened to capture the harîm of the Sult.ân, he promptly returned the women with his apologies. As I have noted, this sort of relationship to the Turks may have begun with in the early days with Süleyman I. To the Crusaders, these dealings with the Infidel were surest proof of Greek duplicity and treachery. What was going on, however, is illuminated by a comment of Kenneth W. Harl [in his video lectures, The World of Byzantium, for The Teaching Company, 2001] and by the description of Byzantine strategy and diplomacy in The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire, by Edward N. Luttwak [Belknap, Harvard University Press, 2009]. Harl's comment was that Alexius saw the Turks as a new Bulgaria, which could be Christianized, domesticated, and then absorbed into the Empire, just as Bulgaria had been. This is consistent with the strategy described by Luttwak, one of whose key points was that the Empire did not aim at the extermination of its enemies, as the Rome of Trajan might have done. This was (1) too difficult and exhausting given the reduced power of Romania, (2) dangeorus when a battle could be lost as well as won, with hell to pay, and (3) futile when the elimination of one enemy would simply open the door for the next enemy in the queue, who is liable to be more aggressive and more alien than the previous one.
Thus, while Anatolia had not been overrun in quite the same way before, the Balkans had. Over centuries, the inundation of the Slavs, Avars, and Bulgars had gradually been overcome and absorbed, with decisive military action only at the end. Premature attempts in that form, as in the days of, had been disasters. And there was nothing new about the Turks. Romania had found good allies in the Turkish for three centuries, and we have seen Emperors marry Khazar women. Alexius knew that the Empire was in a bad way, but that had happened before. All it would take was patience.
And Alexius would have some reason for hope. There had been Turkish converts to Christianity, even groups of them, who had come over to the Empire. After the First Crusade had driven the Seljuks back from their high water mark, the borders began to settle and they did not seem to pose the same kind of threat. Diplomacy and familiarity could begin to work their magic. Unfortunately, there were some features of the situation that told against the traditional strategy. The Turks were, indeed, recent converts to Islâm, but nevertheless this already gave them the sort of sophisticated religious system that the Slavs and Bulgars had not possessed. Christianity did not represent sophistication and civilization in comparison to Islâm as it had to the others. Also, religious influence continued to arrive from the central Islâmic lands, while Christian proslytizing was not tolerated.
Roman and Christian culture thus had less of a chance of domesticating the Turkish threat. Indeed, the Bulgars themselves had not been entirely assimilated and were not regarded as "Romans" either by the Romans or by themselves. The potential for Bulgarian revival was great and would eventually. Most importantly, there were subsequent waves of Turkish immigration, reinvigorating the Turkish presence. The Mongols were bumping more Turks off the steppe just as the Huns had originally bumped inconvenient numbers of Germans into the Empire centuries earlier. But the Turks were both too strong and too weak. The Seljuks of Rûm were complacent enough that they took no real advantage of Manuel's defeat at Myriocelphum (a premature Roman push), but then they were staggered and subjugated by the Mongol defeat in 1243. This meant that the new waves of arriving Turks ended up creating new, vigorous states, the Oghullar, with whom domestication would need to start all over again, instead of being absorbed into a durable and familiar state of Rûm. Figures like did try to start over again, even intermarrying with the, but by then the situation of the Empire was so diminished (with the Bulgars, Vlachs, and Serbs going their own way), and that of the Turks so enhanced (still driven by undiminished Islâmic Jihâd), that there was little chance left for things to go over time as they had with the Bulgars. Instead, it was the Turks who tamed and absorbed Romania.
| 3. COMNENI |
Alexius I Comnenus
|called Kirjalax in Icelandic; trade concession to, defeat by at Dyrrhachium, 1082; Normans defeated at Larissa, 1083; appeal to of Flanders & Pope, 1095; First Crusade, 1096-1099; entertains of Denmark, who addresses Danish Varangians, 1103; Statue of falls from Porphyry Column, now the "Burnt" Column, in the Forum of Constantine during a storm, 5 April 1106|
|of Armenia, 1137|
|, 1147-1149; unsuccessful campaign in Italy by Michael Palaeologus, 1155-1156; homage of of Armenia, of Antioch, & of Jerusalem, 1158-1159; enters Antioch, 1159; visits Constantinople, 1161; secures Dalmatia, Croatia, & Bosnia, 1167; all Venetians arrested in Romania, 1171; defeat by Kilij Arlsan II, Myriocephalum, 1176|
|Serbia independent, 1180; takes Dalmatia, Bosnia, & Sirmium|
|Emperor on, 1185-1191|
With the at Nicaea (whether friendly or hostile, as discussed ), the ready to land in the west, the currency debased, the army dispersed, and the treasury empty, Alexius Comnenus had his job cut out for him. The results were satisfactory enough, but a couple of the desperate measures that the desperate times called for would have unfortunate long term consequences. The trade privileges given to Venice in 1082 eventually made Roman trade, and even the Navy, the plaything of Italian city states. Calling on the West for military aid against the Turks had the very unexpected result of Pope Urban II calling in 1095 for a "Crusade" to liberate the Holy Land and Jerusalem from Islâm.
It is usually said that Alexius wrote a letter to the Pope asking for aid and that this inspired Urban to call for the Crusade. We also have a letter that Alexius is supposed to have written to Count Robert II of, whose father, Robert I, had recently (1089) been on pilgrmage to Jerusalem and evidently developed a relationship with Alexius on the way. Historians have been suspicious of the received text of the letter to Robert, but the problem may be the good Latin of the letter and its reference to losses to the Turks in Anatolia. Since the letter apparently dates from around 1093, the losses, which were thought to have occurred earlier, sound anachronistic. However, Peter Frankopan has recently argued that the situation in Anatolia actually did not deteriorate badly until that point, so that there is no anachronism in the letter [The First Crusade, The Call from the East, Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, 2012, p.60] -- its Latin would just be a function of competent translators in Constantinople. As it happened, Alexius developed a better relationship with Robert II than with most of the Crusaders on the First Crusade. Robert I had already sent Alexius 500 Flemish knights, who fought in Anatolia and in the Balkans for the Emperor. When the Robert II passed through Constantinople on the way home from Jerusalem, Alexius bestowed on him a relic that was supposed to be an arm of St. George. This special relationship between Constantinople and Flanders foreshadows, sadly, the later election of Count Baldwin IX of Flanders as after the Fourth Crusade takes the City in 1204 -- "sadly" because the friendship with Alexius was replaced by the hostile conquest of his descendants, the Angeli, while the tenure and the fate of the Flemish in Constantinople was not edifying.
Most of the Crusaders passing through Constantinople gave Alexius a very bad feeling. The possibility of what actually happened a century later, when the Fourth Crusade took Constantinople, was already very real. So Alexius bundled them as quickly as possible into Asia, where they defeated the Turks, making it possible to drive them out of western Anatolia together. This was of great material help to Romania, but the Turks remained based at Iconium (Konya). The Roman Army (with the thematic apparatus long gone) was never up to the task of dislodging them entirely. That this could have been done was revealed when, passing through on the Third Crusade, broke into Konya and sacked it (1190). That he died shortly thereafter steals the thunder from this act, but it is noteworthy. Meanwhile, the greatest military successes of the Comneni, by Manuel I, when his suzerainty was acknowledged by Lesser Armenia, Antioch, and even Jerusalem, were undone by a devastating defeat in 1176 at Myriocephalum ("Ten Thousands Heads"). Shortly thereafter breaks away, beginning a process of disintegration that would never be entirely reversed.
The Englishmen in the Varangian Guard of Alexius I were not entirely able to escape their Norman nemesis. At the battle of Dyrrhachium in 1082, where Normans from Sicily under Robert Guisgard were trying to establish a beachhead in what is now Albania, a promising start turned into a rout of the Roman army, with many of the English Varangians, who had advanced impetuously beyond the rest of the army, slaughtered by the Normans. Nevertheless, despite this painful setback, and some others, Alexius finally was able to win the war and, with the help of the Venetians and even Seljuks, eject the Normans. The death of Guisgard in 1085 ended the threat, as the Normans otherwise concentrated on recovering Sicily from Islam -- though there was no love lost when Guisgard's son Bohemond passed through Constantinople on the First Crusade (he then became the first Prince of, violating an agreement to return the city to Romania).
According to Raffaele D'Amato [op.cit., p.10], after the defeat of Manuel I at Myriocephalum in 1176 and considerable losses there to the Varangians,
some English Varangians went home with a letter from the Emperor to King of England, saying, "We have also felt it a pleasure that it so happened that some of the chief men of your nobility were with us, who will, at your desire, inform you on all the circumstances [of the battle]." One thing this record demonstrates is that English recruits to the Guard were no longer merely dispossessed Saxons. Some "chief men" of Henry's own Norman nobility were drawn to the Guard. Indeed, there is direct evidence of this in a letter that (d.1109), of all people, wrote to a young Norman knight named William who was thinking of joining the Guard. His brother had already done so, and Anslem wanted William to become a monk. There is even a report that a "recuitment bureau" existed in London for the Guard [cf. Peter Frankopan, op.cit., p.87, reference to "Les Sceaux byzantins de Londres" by J.C. Cheynet, 2003]. We may reflect that even if William did join the Guard, he could not have lived long enough to have been at Myriocephalum, but he might have known Alexius I.
This is why the tradition went on for centuries, long after 1066. says that the letter to Henry II is "a source has has been underutilized by modern historians" [Ethnography After Antiquity, Foreign Lands and Peoples in Byzantine Literature, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013, p.29]. Indeed, multiple do not even mention it. Even better, we hear about the letter from a contemporary, Gerald of Wales, who recounts how King Henry responded to Manuel's inquiries "about the geographical conditions, way of life, and things worth seeing in the island of Britain" [ibid.]. Gerald apparently contributed information about to the response. Asking about "things worth seeing" seems like a much more Modern, rather than Mediaeval, sort of curiosity.
Norse recruits to the Varangian Guard continued as Alexius entertained Scandinavian monarchs on Crusade or pilgrimage, particularly the Kings Eric I the Evergood of and Sigurð I the Crusader of. Alexius at first distrusted Eric, as he did all the Crusaders, and had him camp outside Constantinople. We are told, however, that his spies reported Eric urging the Danish Varangians to serve the Emperor faithfully. Eric was then invited into the City and honored -- at least according to the Norse sources. Unfortunately, the pious King never made it to Jerusalem but died and was buried on Cyprus. Alexius is remembered in the Icelandic Sagas as Kirjalax, evidently from Kyrios Alexios, "Lord Alexius." The name was also used, confusingly, for subsequent Comneni. The positive reputation of Alexius in Scandinavia thus stands in noteworthy contrast to what it became in Latin Western Europe, where the conflicts of the First Crusade resulted in a smear campaign against Alexius on behalf of some of the Crusaders, particularly Bohemond of Antioch, who wanted to put his own machinations in the best light. Bohemond was successful in that and became widely regarded as the principle hero of the First Crusade, even though he had dropped out and failed to accompany the Crusaders to the capture of Jerusalem. A remarkable, if ironic, public relations triumph.
On April 5, 1106, an event of serious ill omen occurred. The statue of Constantine I that had stood on a porphyry column in his Forum since the founding of the City, fell off in a storm. We have an account of this from The Patria description of Constantinople, associated with the appearance of a comet, which was also considered a thing of ill omen:
This statue fell from the column and caused the death of the men and women who happened to be there, about ten in number, on the fifth of April of the fourteenth indiction, in the year  6614 (1106), the twentieth year of the reign of the lord Alexios Komnenos... About the third hour, it became dark and a violent southern wind blew fiercely, for a comet, which is called the Spear, had caused this turbulence of the air. It appeared in the evening of the Friday of the first week, on the ninth of February of the fourteenth indiction, in the year 6614, and then stayed. [Accounts of Medieval Constantinople, The Patria, translated by Albercht Berger, Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, Harvard University Press, 2013, p.27]
Apparently, no attempt was ever made to restore or replace the statue, and the fate of its remains is unknown. The column stands until today, now with iron brands around it, and with the appearance of having been once burned, which is now the name by which it is known -- the "Burnt Column." The loss of his central monument of the City even now has a ring of downfall to it, although the city will endure, in reduced circumstances, for another three and a half centuries.
A striking name in the genealogy is George Palaeologus, who married the sister, Anna Ducaena, of the Empress Irene Ducaena. This is the first occurrence of a Palaeologus I know of. See his relationship to the rest of the Palaeologi in the diagram.
In Manuel I's day, in 1153, we get recruits to the Varangian Guard from the Crusading force of the. Raffaele D'Amato says [op.cit. p.14] that the Earl, coming by sea, had six of his 15 ships split off at Gibraltar and go to Constantinople. D'Amato does not say which Earl of Orkney this was. That is a problem, since there were two Earls, cousins Ragnald III (1137-1158) and Harald II the Old (1139-1206), ruling simultaneously. I suspect that the Earl in question was Ragnald III, since we find Ragnald's more closely related cousin, Erlend III, becoming Earl in 1154 (1154-1156). This looks like something that would happen while Ragnald was away on Crusade.
This speculation is confirmed by The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queen [op.cit., pp.453-455], where Erlend III took advantage of Ragnald III's absence on Crusade to usurp his domain, with the permission of King Eystein III of (the suzerain of Orkney at the time). Harald II withstood this move, but when Eystein III bestowed the entire County on Erlend, because Harald had been appointed by Ragnald without Royal permission, Erlend was able to eject Harald. Ragnald then returned from Crusade in 1155; and he and Harald combined forces to defeat and kill Erlend. The Mammoth Book does not mention any of Ragnald's men joining the Varangian Guard; but it does say that, returning from Palestine, Ragnald wintered in Constantinople, visiting the Emperor Manuel. If D'Amato is right, that six of Ragnald's ships left at Gibraltar to join the Guard, it does not sound like there would have been much hard feeling, for the Earl to be a guest of Manuel later on.
Anna Comnena, (1083–1153), daughter of Alexius I, wrote a history of her father's reign, the Alexiad. I was long under the impression that the Alexiad made Anna the first woman historian. She certainly has that honor in the West. However, I now discover that there was an earlier woman historian in China. Pan Chao ( Ban Zhao) completed the great History of the Former Han Dynasty, , after her brother, Pan Ku (Ban Gu), was arrested and died in prison, leaving the work incomplete. This was during the, a thousand years before Anna. Since Pan Chao's other brother, Pan Ch'ao (Ban Chao), commissioned an embassy to Rome in 97 AD, unfortunately unsuccessful, we do have a tenuous historial link between the two women.
One traditional view is that most of the Alexiad was written after Anna was banished to a convent by her brother, John II, whom she had tried to have assassinated in a conspiracy with her husband, Nicephorus Bryennius. This particularly intense form of sibling rivalry was supposedly the result of Anna's expectation that she would be closer to the seat of power, i.e. that the Emperor would be her husband, who was himself the son or grandson of an elder Nicephorus Bryennius, who had been defeated and blinded in a rebellion against Michael VII by no less than Alexius Comnenus, the father of Anna. The birth of John spoiled this, and Anna, perhaps a feminist before her time, never accepted the wisdom of his succession.
Nevertheless, Anna seems to have blamed John for subsequent disasters to the Empire; but, since the Alexiad doesn't cover his reign, she never quite says what these disasters were. The real disaster, the battle of Myriocephalum, happened after her death to her nephew, Manuel I. But we can tell what Anna didn't like about the policies of John and Manuel, which had become increasingly involved with the Crusaders. One reference to the Alexiad that I remember from childhood reading, that Anna says her father didn't trust the Crusaders because they didn't have beards and smelled of horses, I have been unable to find in the text. But there is no doubt that Anna did not trust the Crusaders herself, and that she rather hoped for better relations with the Seljuks. This overlooked the durable circumstance that it was the Seljuks who had overrun most of Anatolia, and that it was the Crusaders whose campaign allowed for the recovery of as much Seljuk territory as would be recovered. Even the sack of Constantinople by the, which we could say vindicated Anna's fears, nevertheless looks more a matter of the folly of Alexius IV, with unrealistic promises, drawing in an opportunistic and unprincipled. The Crusaders were no more than the pawns of Venice in its own game. It is not clear that Anna Comnena ever perceived Venice to pose the kind of threat that it did.
From the few and often questionable foreign marriages of the, with the Comneni we find a large number of well attested ones, many with but one making connections as distant as Spain. I was aware of few of these until a correspondent, Ann Ferland, began to point them out. The marriage of Maria of Montpellier, whose mother was Eudocia Comnena, to King Peter II of Aragon led to all subsequent Kings of Aragon and of. A great deal of European Royalty, right down to the present, thus would be descendants of Alexius I Comnenus.
(1154-1166) of Naples and Sicily. This apparently was conveyed on a diplomatic mission by Henricus Aristippus (d.c.1162), who saw to the translation of the work, while he himself tried his hand at translating the Meno and Phaedo. The manuscript of the Almagest was inherited by, who then donated his library to the Papacy in 1266. The modern Vatican Library was not founded until 1475, and previous collections were often dispersed. Thus, the manuscript of the Almagest subsequently ended up in the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice. While interest in Greek and in doing translations may not be too surprising in the South of Italy, we see the first signs of it further north. Thus, James of Venice (c.1130/70) and Burgundio of Pisa (c.1110-1193) acquired manuscripts, traveled to Constantinople, and began turning out translations. This is still 300 years before the proper, when such activities went into high gear, with much greater interest, Greek refugees, and the aid of the printing press. People like Burgundio and their pioneering efforts thus tend to be forgotten, but the later work probably owes them a debt that is now hard to estimate.
|4. LESSER ARMENIA|
| Prince, 1099; |
|First Crusade, 1096-1099|
| captured by, 1137; |
dies in Constantinople
|Thoros II|| escaped, 1145; |
|homage to, 1158|
| Leon/Levon II |
| Prince, |
| King, |
|Council of Tarsus, accepts Union with, 1198|
|Constantine|| regent, |
|Philip of Antioch||1205-?|
|son of Behemond IV of|
| Hethoum I |
| Hethoum II |
|Leon IV of Cyprus||1305-1307|
|Council of Sis, accepts Union with Rome, 1307|
| Sempad & |
|Council of Adana, accepts Union with Rome, 1316|
| Constantine III, |
Lord of Neghir
| son of Amalric of Tyre, |
|Leon VI|| 1373-1375, |
| Kingdom falls to |
The Kingdom of Armenia in the Taurus Mountains of Cilicia is called "Lesser" Armenia in contrast to the "Greater Armenia" of the Armenian homeland to the northeast. After Nicephorus II Phocas recovered the area from the Arabs in 965 and ordered all Moslems to leave, Christians from Syria and Armenia were encouraged to settle and garrison the land. Nicephorus himself even welcomed "schismatic," Armenian Orthodox Monophysites from Armenia, but this tolerance would not always continue and some friction was inevitable between many Armenians and the Imperial (the, strictly speaking, "Roman Catholic") Church. After the breakthrough, more Armenians fled from the east, bringing the Patriarch with them, as the Turks overran Anatolia. The Armenians in the Taurus found themselves on their own and began organizing their own domains. When the Crusaders passed through, they were welcomed and aided. A daughter of Constantine I was married to, Count of Edessa, ushering in a long history of association and intermarriage between the Armenians and the Crusader states. Indeed, Armenian nobility were the only group in the Levant that the Crusaders seemed to regard as equals and whom they married on equal terms. The Armenians began to adopt Frankish customs, including feudal law, dress, and knighthood. This made Lesser Armenia rather like a Crusader State itself, and so it is shown on the map. The urge to adopt the Latin Rite in the Armenian Church, and to seek union with Rome, was promoted by the Armenian Monarchy but fiercely resisted by the Church and the populace.
The history of Lesser Armenia puts to shame the antipathy in "liberal" opinion against the Crusades. The Armenians, surrounded and repeatedly attacked (until today) by militant Islâm, expose the hypocrisy of the anachronistic and tendentious characterization, by naive fools or vicious, of the Crusades as "imperialism," while Islamic Conquest, whether in the 7th century, the 11th, the 15th, or any other time, is itself ignored, rationalized, or excused. This is a living and crucial issue in our own day of, when the Left has in effect joined forces with Mediaeval savagery in, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, or Gaza -- and now Egypt and Libya -- in the cause of attacking capitalism and liberal democracy. Christians are under renewed attack in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Egypt; but the "liberal" press, which never worries much about the murder of Christians or Jews by Muslims, continues to ignore such developments.
This list of kings is mainly based on M. Chahin, The Kingdom of Armenia [Dorset Press, New York, 1987, 1991]. However, Steven Runciman, in his A History of the Crusades, Volume III, The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades [Cambridge, 1951, 1987], gives a more complete family tree, abstracted below. Runciman, maddeningly (but characteristically), gives not a single date; but he does give a number of figures who account for the numbering of the Constantines and Thoroses in the dynasty. According to Chahin's list, these were not reigning kings, but, even if not, they were numbered as members of the dynasty. Or they may have been co-regents unrecognized by Chahin. On the other hand, Constantine IV and V are not listed by Runciman in the dynastic tree because they were both usurpers. "Peter of Cyprus" listed by Chahin is of Cyprus. Constantine V offered him the throne but then decided to keep it for himself when Peter was assassinated. This information is supplemented by Warren Threadgold's A History of the Byzantine State and Society [Stanford, 1997]. Chahin fails to mention, for instance, the capture of Leon I and his sons (including Thoros II) by the Emperor John II Comnenus. On the other hand, while Runciman and Chahin agree that the early Rupenids were "princes," without a royal title until 1198, Threadgold says that they began calling themselves "kings" in 1099. Since none of them give the actual terms they were using, perhaps just in Armenian, it is hard to know why there is this disagreement.
Of greatest interest in the genealogy is when the house of Lesser Armenia makes reciprocal marriages with the Lusignan dynasty of Cyprus. This begins with the children of Leon III and Hugh III of Cyprus. Two sons and three daughters of Leon III married children of Hugh III. The result is that the succession of Lesser Armenia actually passes to to Lusignan. Such a close connection might have protected the Armenians, if Cyprus had been enough of a power to resist the Mamlûks, which, at least on land, it was not.
The Kingdom of Lesser Armenia was the last independent Armenian state until the former Soviet became independent in 1991.
As Armenians had relocated to Cilicia, so did the (in 1062). This line continued even after the fall of the Kingdom in 1375. In 1441, however, a new Patriarch was elected in Armenia. Sometimes it is said that the Patriarchate moved back to Armenia; but this is not true, since Patriarch Gregory IX (1439-1446) remained where he was, as Giragos (1441-1443) was installed in Armenia. The Cilician line continued, as it does down to the present, as the. It relocated to in 1930 because of continued attacks on Armenians in Turkey. As noted above, the Kings of Lesser Armenia promoted union with Rome, which was otherwise very unpopular. Six pro-Latin Patriarchs were assassinated; but there was still an Armenian delegation that accepted the union of the Churches at the Council of Florence in 1439. Eventually a Schism resulted, and in 1737 a line of began. By 1749, these Patriarchs were already seated in Lebanon, where the was already in communion with Rome.
The Empire has recovered as much as it is ever going to, and actually seems in relatively good shape, with deference all the way from Jerusalem to Hungary. But the heartland of the Themes is long gone. The Sultânate of Rûm is a nut that cannot be cracked -- the true seed of doom for Romania. And Roman trade and shipping is now dominated by Venice, just one of the states of Francia that now rivals or surpasses Romania in economic development. What had always been the key to Roman success, control of the, which had previously been lost at times to the Vandals and the Arabs, now is lost forever to Italian states.
B. THE LATIN EMPIRE, 1185-1261, 76 years
| 1. ANGELI |
| Isaac II |
|Bulgaria independent, 1186 Third Crusade, 1189-1192; Cyprus seized from by, given to, 1191|
|Alexius III|| 1195-1203, |
|Kingdom of independent, 1198-1375; massive earthquake in Syria, 20 May 1202; Fourth Crusade, 1202-1204|
|Isaac II (restored)||1203-1204|
| Alexius V |
| 1204, |
|Constantinope falls to Fourth Crusade, 1204|
The worst and most disastrous dynasty in Roman history. Alexius IV brings in the Fourth Crusade, with impossible promises, to restore his incompetent father, and only succeeds in losing Constantinople to a foreign enemy for the first time ever. This may qualify as the true "Fall of Rome." The damage was bad enough, with many treasures and archives destroyed or carted off to Venice. Unlike the Goths at Rome in 410, the stuck around for 60 years, with steadily decreasing success.
As on the eve of the advent of the Goths in the, a massive earthquake affected the region in 1202 on the eve of the Fourth Crusade. This was centered in Galilee and the damage was principally inflicted through Syria and Palestine, which would only indirectly have affected Romania. However, the earthquake was so large (perhaps a 7.6 or greater) that Anatolia was also affected, while the effects of a tsunami could have extended into the Aegean. It is thus difficult to say how this might have damaged the strength of Romania when faced with the arrival of the Crusaders. Of course, one might think that damage to the resources of the Islamic states in the Levant would have made this an idea moment for the Crusaders to arrive there, but the Venetian plan against Constantinople had already seized the agency of the Crusade.
to seek recruits for the Varangian Guard -- this is revealing when previously Danish and Norwegian monarchs had themselves come to Constantinople.
We are told that Hreiðarr sendimaðr (i.e. "the Messenger") went to Norway (to King Sverre), Pétr illska went to Denmark (to King Canute VI the Pious), and Sigurðr grikker ("the Greek") Oddsson went to Sweden (to Knut I or Sverker II). Hreiðarr had the toughest time that we know of, since Sverre, anticipating war, had no warriors to spare. Allowed to recruit among farmers and merchants, it is not clear that Hreiðarr, who became embroiled in local events, ever returned to Constantinople. On the other hand, Pétr may have returned with the actual Danes who were subsequently observed by Geoffroy de Villehardouin in 1203. There are many stories about Sigurðr Oddsson, but it is not clear whether his mission was successful. Since there are references to Englishmen but not to Scandinavians in the Varangian Guard of the, this may be last the time when Norse warriors actively traveled to Constantinople [cf. Blöndal and Benedikz,, pp.218-222].
Alexius III, having fled the Crusaders who installed Alexius IV and restored Isaac II, takes up residence at Mosynopolis in Thrace. Alexius V Mourtzouphlos, part of the popular reaction again the Crusaders and their friends, Alexius IV and Isaac II, conducted the last defense of the City but then fled. He sought refuge with Alexius III, who was, after all, his father-in-law, but who, however, had him blinded and expelled. Captured by some French Knights and returned to Constantinople, Mourtzouphlos was thrown to his death from the Column of Theodosius. Alexius III ultimately tries to get the to defeat the Lascarids and install him at Nicaea. Unfortunately, personally killed the Sultân of Rûm in single combat. Alexius is captured, blinded, and sent to a monastery. He dies, forgotten, some time after 1211.
, who contended with Otto of Brunswick for the German Empire. They had no sons; but the marriages of their four daughters are among the most interesting in European history. In a reconciliation of Philip's feud, the oldest daughter, Beatrice, married Otto himself. But they had no children. The younger daughters, Kunigunde, Marie, and Elizabeth, married King Wenceslas I of, Duke Henry III of Lower Lorraine and, and King & St. Ferdinand III of, respectively. All of these marriages produced children with living modern descendants, especially among the Hapsburgs and the royal family of Spain, as can be traced at the linked genealogies. Since Isaac himself was a great-grandson of Alexius I Comnenus, this means that a large part of modern European royalty, through this connection alone, have been descendants of the Angeli and Comneni. My impression is that Roman Imperial descent for recent royalty has often been claimed through the Macedonians, but the only certain line, as we, may be from Macedonian in-laws.
On the other hand, descent from the Comneni and Angeli appears to be well attested and with multiple lines. Another fruitful line will be from Maria Lascarina, , who married Bela IV of. Since the themselves derive from Anna Angelina, , daughter of Alexius III, and Maria's mother, that connects up to the whole Comneni-Angeli house. Maria's son, Stephen V of Hungary, had a daughter, Katalin, who married the King Stephen Dragutin, who had a daughter the married a, with many descendants. This line all the way to the Hapsburgs can be examined on a.
|2. BULGARIA, ASENS|
|John I Asen||1186-1196|
|Peter II Asen||1196-1197|
| Kalojan Asen, |
the Roman Killer,
|independence recognized by Constantinople, 1202; captures, 1205; kills Boniface of Montferrat, 1207|
|John II Asen||1218-1241|
|Defeated & Captured Theodore Ducas of, 1230; invasion, 1242|
|Michael II Asen||1246-1257|
|John III Asen||1279-1284?, d.<1302|
|Asens replaced by|
In 1204, the Pope recognized Kalojan as "King of the Bulgarians and the Vlachs" (Geoffroy de Villehardouin, calling him "Johanitza," even says "King of Wallachia and Bulgaria"). Indeed, the Asen brothers, founders of the dynasty, were themselves Vlachs, i.e. modern. This is therefore not a purely ethnic Bulgarian state. It also came close to succeeding to the throne in Constantinople, though later overpowered by the, and, of course, the.
The principal setback to the Bulgarian state was the Mongol invasion of 1242, which itself was almost an afterthought as the Mongols abandoned the conquests of Poland and Hungary in 1241 and were returning to Russia. The Chingnizids needed to go to Mongolia to elect a new. What followed for Bulgaria was a period of internal conflict, between members of the Asen dynasty and outsiders. Two unrelated usurpers, Constantine Tich and Ivaljo, figure in the table above. Another unrelated figure, however, Ivan Mytzes, becomes an Asen in-law and the father of the last Asen Emperor, John III. This is a confused period, with pretenders contending and dates uncertain. John III fled to the Mongols and then to Constantinople. He was succeeded in Bulgaria by his erstwhile minister, George Terter.
The list of Bulgarian rulers is from various Byzantine sources, including the only source of the genealogy here, which is the Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume II, Part 2, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser II Nord-, Ost- und Südeuropa [Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Part 2, Second Edition, 1997, pp.160-162].
Although John III lost Bulgaria, his descendants figured in affairs in Constantinople for some time. Since his granddaughter married the Emperor John VI Cantacuzenus, whose daughter Helena married the Emperor John V, all the subsequent are his descendants.
|3. LATIN EMPERORS AT CONSTANTINOPLE|
|Baldwin I of|| 1204- |
| Captured by |
|Peter de Courtenay||1217|
|Robert I de Courtenay||1221-1228|
|titular Emperor 1261-1273|
|Philip II||titular Emperor 1273-1285|
|Catherine de Courtenay||titular Empress 1285-1307|
|Charles of Valois||titular Emperor 1301-1313|
|Catherine of Valois||titular Empress 1313-1346|
|Philip II of Tarento||titular Emperor 1313-1331|
|Robert II||titular Emperor 1346-1364|
|Philip III||titular Emperor 1364-1373|
While the conquest and sack of Constantinople have rightly been regarded as one of the worst cases of vandalism and betrayal in world history, a stab in the back against the state and the civilization that had been the repository and guardian of Classical, Western, and Christian culture during most of the Middle Ages, and an insult by Latin and Frankish Western Europe against the Greek and Orthodox East, one thing must be admitted: This was not what the Crusaders had in mind. It wasn't their idea or their intention. The whole project had been initiated by the future Alexius IV Angelus, looking to restore his father, cooked up in detail by, and then conducted from beginning to end by the Doge Enrico Dandolo. The betrayal it represents, then, was of a more intimate character, since Venice was in origin, culture, and tradition one of Romania's own. In the most attenuated sense, it was still a de jure possession of Constantinople. The Crusaders, who thought that getting to by sea would be easier than marching overland, did not reckon on the scale of demands for payment by Venice, or on the cynical manipulations that would follow. Pope wasn't too happy about it either, and the Crusaders earned excommunication for fighting Christians, for Venice, rather than Moslems, for Christendom. However they got to Constantinople, of course, they still didn't need to sack the City. We can blame them for that. In the end, of course, the blame doesn't matter -- and some of it should be shared by Alexius IV anyway. The damage was done. There would be hell to pay, and several modern conflicts in the Balkans and between and her neighbors are arguably still the result.
Nevertheless, the demonology of blame has some modern significance. If Venice is ignored and significant directed at the Crusaders, there may be a particular reason for this, derived from a sort of anachronistic hostility that is directed at the Crusades in general: Where we see them condemned as imperialism, euro-centrism, racism,, or the oppression of the Third World -- terms that would have been incomprehensible to anyone in the 13th century -- something is going on that owes little to history and much to modern ideology. To, its enemies are always "Crusaders," whether or not they are even Christians. To the sympathizers of Islamic Fascism, the Crusaders are simply viewed through the prism of their own Marxism and "anti-imperialist". The effect also exemplifies, with the Islamic Conquest of the Middle East itself ignored, complacently accepted, or approved, while any counter-attacks to that Conquest, which is what the Crusades were, are viewed with furious moral indignation. The double standard is blatant and shameless -- its very incoherence is not even an embarrassment to the post-modern who think that logical consistency is itself Euro-centric oppression. Thus, reactions to the Fourth Crusade, as to all the Crusades, may be more of a mirror to the present than an understanding of the past.
The destruction and theft effected by the Crusaders was probably a greater loss to civilization than almost anything that had happened to Romania during the Dark Ages. Yet there are two sides to the story, which we see in the account of Michael Choniates (c.1140-1220), the last Orthodox Archbishop of Athens before the city was taken by the Crusaders in 1205. He was forced to abandon his library, which then seems to have mostly been destroyed. We know that he had copies of Aitia and Hekale by Callimachus, which otherwise now only survive in fragments. Thus, Michael said, "Sooner will asses understand the harmony of the lyre and dung-beetles enjoy perfume than the Latins appreciate the harmony and grace of prose" [N.G. Wilson, Scholars of Byzantium, Duckworth, 1983, 1996, p.205]. This sounds rather like the chracterization of the Regents of the University of Texas by J. Frank Dobie (1888-1964), that they knew as much about academic freedom as an Arkanas razorback hog did of Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn." But some of the library seems to have been dispersed rather than destroyed, as a friend of Choniates wrote him about some books he had recovered. But the most interesting comment is a complaint from Choniates that the price of books has been rising because "booksellers were doing a great trade with Italians" [ibid.]. The Latins buying the books were probably not the same ones who had been destroying them, and we have already seen that Italians were beginning to acquire and translate Greek literature in the 12th century.
Indeed, we know something of the Latins who were buying books. The Dominican friar William of Moerbeke (c.1215-c.1286) traveled around Romania, acquiring manuscripts and translating them himself. In 1280 he became the Latin Archbishop of Corinth, which placed him in the middle of things. His buying and translating activities may have even been at the personal request of his fellow Dominican, who of course was himself from the South of Italy. This was after the time of Choniates, but it does mean that the buying about which he was complaining continued through the century. At the same time, we know that King (1250-1266) of Naples and Sicily was actually commissioning translations of Aristotle from Bartholomew of Messinia. The translations are supposed to have been sent to the University of Paris, where Aquinas (1224-1274) might have inspected them himself [ibid. pp.226-227]. Otherwise, we think of Aquinas using translations of Aristotle that were made from Arabic editions.
Amid all the damage done by the Crusaders, there thus was also already a salvage operation in effect. The disorders of the Fourth Crusade or the Turkish Conquest were probably not the safest or most efficient ways to supply Francia with Greek literature, but what we now thankfully have is the result. But the Latins who were out buying books were not the same ones trying to run a government from Constantinople. Without the sources of taxation, and before long reduced to the environs of the City, the Latin Emperors were desperate for money. This is why we hear of them melting down bronze statues and stripping the metal roofs off of buildings, activities I have previously.
The conquest of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade did not result in the establishment of the authority of the Latin Emperors over the whole of the previous Empire. Greek authority was maintained in three major locations, at, at, and in, and a couple of minor locations, at Rhodes, later to fall to Venice, and at the fortress of Monembasia in the Peloponnesus (Morea), which fell in 1248. All three major Greek rulers eventually proclaimed themselves emperors, which means that at one point four rulers were claiming the Imperial dignity within the old Empire -- not to mention the and Tsars who also wanted to inherit it. The Emperor at Nicaea was the one to to Constantinople, but the Emperor at Trebizond was the last to fall to the Turks.
, including Adrianople and Gallipoli, the Latin Empire ended up included three significant feudal dependencies, all subjugated and organized by the leader of the Fourth Crusade, Boniface the Margrave of : the Kingdom of Thessalonica (1204-1224), with Boniface himself as king, the (1205-1456), and the (1205-1432).
|Kings of Thessalonica|
|Boniface of|| |
|Thessalonica taken by, 1224|
Boniface was denied the Imperial throne by the Venetian votes, apparently because it was thought that he might make too strong an Emperor. Instead, Baldwin IX, Count of, was elected Emperor. Baldwin's reign would be short and pathetic, but one does have to say: this is a long way from Bruges. Flanders itself, inherited by Baldwin's daughters, would continue to play a role in European history far out of proportion to its size, as its wealth contributes to the power of the and then the. The Latin Emperors could have used some of that wealth. Their fragment of Romania had a similarly reduced tax base, and the Venetians dominated trade with an immunity to taxation. The result was that classical bronzes were melted down for the metal, and even the copper and lead roofs of churches were stripped and sold. None of the damage of the conquest was made good, while regular maintenance of walls and structures was neglected. The Greeks recovered a depreciated and degraded city in 1261.
Boniface himself was killed in 1207 and the Kingdom of Thessalonica turned out to be the most short-lived of the Crusader states in Romania, falling to Epirus. In 1311 the Duchy of Athens was seized by the Catalan Company, which had mutinied against the Palaeologi. The Principality of Achaea eventually got mixed up with the and finally was inherited, much too late, by the in 1432; but the Duchy of Athens never returned to the control of Greek Romania. It fell to in 1456.
After the restoration of Greek rule in Constantinople, a claim to the Roman throne passed down through the descendants of Baldwin II. , who had his own designs on Romania, married a daughter to Baldwin's son Philip. Later, Charles' grandson Philip married the heiress, Catherine of Valois, of the claim. None of these claimants, however, ever had much of a chance of returning to Constantinople. Many of them, however, were also Princes of, where their succession and genealogy are given in detail.
The nimbus is not used for the Latin Emperors in the genealogy because, as Roman Catholics, they would have acknowledged Papal supremacy to a degree that the Orthodox Emperors in Constantinople never would. Latin Emperors could not be "Equal to the Apostles."
| 4. DESPOTS OF EPIRUS |
AND EMPERORS AT THESSALONICA
Michael I Ducas
| 1227-1230 |
Emperor in Thessalonica, d.c.1254
|takes, 1224; Defeated & Captured by, 1230|
|1230-1237, Regent in Thessalonica, d.1241|
|1237-1242, Emperor in Thessalonica|
|Defeated by, reduced to Despot, 1242|
|Thessalonica falls to John III Ducas Vatatzes, 1246|
|Granted title of Despot, , of Epirus by John III Ducas Vatatzes, 1249; defeated with by, Battle of Pelagonia, 1259|
|Nicephorus II||1335-1337, 1340, & 1355-1359|
|Epirus absorbed by, 1337, 1340|
In the scramble for a Greek successor to the Angeli, Epirus was in a good position, from which considerable progress was made. Thessalonica was the second city of the Empire, and its capture reasonably prompted Theodore Ducas to proclaim himself Emperor. From there, however, things only went down hill. Theodore was himself defeated and captured by the Bulgarians, which would add him to the number of Valerian and Romanus IV if we considered him a proper Emperor of Romania. But the chance of that dimmed further when Theodore's successors were defeated by Nicaea, reduced to despots, and then Thessalonica itself fell to Nicaea.
Noteworthy in the genealogy is the marriage of Anna Angelina Ducaena, , to Prince William II "Great Tooth" of. Their daughter became the Heiress of Achaea. However, the marriage of , Helene, to Manfred of had no issue. These marriages represented the alliance of Epirus with Sicily and Achaea, which came to a bad end at Pelagonia in 1259. William himself was captured.
Epirus itself proved difficult for either Nicaea or the Palaeologi to subdue and rule, so the despots continued there for a while, subsequently under some rulers unrelated to the Ducases, including a couple of Orsini, from a noble family of the City of Rome that contributed a number of and was usually involved in the domestic disputes, rising to the level of civil wars, among the Roman nobility. How they came to be involved in Eprius, I cannot say. By the time Andronicus III was able to annex the territory, the Empire as a whole was too far gone for it to have helped very much.
| 5. EMPERORS AT TREBIZOND |
| Alexius I |
|Andronicus I Gidus||1222-1235|
|John I Axuch||1235-1238|
| Irene |
|Anna Comnena||1341, 1341-1342|
|Trebizond falls to, 1461|
A very poor excuse for an "empire," Trebizond spent much of its existence in vassalage to the Mongols and Turks who ruled the plateau behind it. It started, however, with an heir to the Comneni and a reasonable ambition of moving on to Constantinople. After realistic chances of that past, Trebizond ended up with the dubious honor of being the last of the Greek states to fall to the Ottomans, in 1461.
Lists of the Emperors of Trebizond can be found in various Byzantine histories, but the genealogy here only comes from the Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume III, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser, Ergänzungsband [Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Second Edition, 2001, pp.235-236].
In the genealogy of the Comneni of Trebizond, there are noteworthy marriages to Kings of. There is also the interesting episode of Irene, daughter of Andronicus III, briefly succeeding her husband Basil as ruling Empress. She was then succeeded by her sister-in-law Anna. Most extraordinary is a marriage at the end of line. A daughter, Theodora, of Emperor John IV married Uzun H.asan, a Khan of the (1457-1478), the very Khan who conquered the Black Sheep Turks in 1469 and created a regional state that stretched from Eastern Anatolia, where the White Sheep Turks originated, into Eastern Irân. This continued until the came to power in 1508.
| 6. LASCARIDS |
EMPERORS AT NICAEA
| Constantine |
| Theodore I |
|kills in battle, 1211|
|John III Ducas Vatatzes||1222-1254|
|Cumans cross Danube, defeat Bulgars, enlisted & settled in Maeander Valley, 1237; Emperor of defeated, reduced to Despot, 1242; Thessalonica falls, 1246|
|& defeated, William II of captured, Battle of Pelagonia, 1259; William ransomed with the, 1261|
The Lascarids at Nicaea were perhaps the best placed to move on Constantinople, except that they were at first on the wrong side of the Bosporus. Meanwhile, the legitimacy of the regime as the successor to the Angeli was reinforced when the Patriarch of Constantinople relocated to Nicaea, as well as by the dramatic moment when Theodore I killed the Sultân of Rûm in battle.
The Asiatic base of the Lascarids was remedied, mainly by John Ducas Vatatzes, who defeated the Greek rivals at Thessalonica and creating a state that straddled Europe and Asia. This created the kind of stranglehold on Constantinople that the Turks would duplicate later.
See the for the genealogy of Anna Angelina, , daughter of Alexius III. Maria Lascarina, , daughter of her and Theodore I, married Bela IV of, from which derives multiple lines of descendants. The marriages of the daughters of Theodore II, Maria, , to Constantine Tich of, and Irene, , to Nicephorus I of, do not seem to have been fruitful.
Constantinople was regained on a chance betrayal to the Nicaean general and Regent, Michael Palaeologus. Once in power in Constantinople, Michael disposed of the actual Nicaean heir, John IV. The Lascarids, who were actually mostly the family of John Ducas Vatatzes, thus only served to obtain the restoration of Greek Romania for the Palaeologi.
C. THE LAST DAYS, 1261-1453, 192 years
|Tichomir||Great Prince, 1168-1169|
|Stephan I Nemanja||1169-1196, d.1200|
|Serbia independent, 1180|
|Stephan II the First-Crowned||1196-1217|
| King of Serbia, |
|Stephan III Radoslav||1228-1234|
|Stephan IV Vladislav||1234-1243|
|Stephan Urosh I||1243-1276|
|Stephan Urosh II Milutin||1282-1321|
|Stephan Urosh III Dechanski||1321-1331|
|Stephen Urosh IV Dushan||1331-1345|
|Tsar of the Serbs and the Romans, 1345-1355|
|Stephen Urosh V the Weak||1355-1371|
|defeat by at Crnomen, 1371; collapse of dynasty & authority|
|Stephan Lazar I||Prince, 1371-1389|
|battle of Kosovo, "Field of the Blackbirds," defeat by, 1389|
|Stephan Lazar II Lazarevich||Despot, 1389-1427|
|Turkish vassal, 1396|
|Lazar III Brankovich||1456-1458|
| Helene |
|Regent, 1458-1459, d.1473|
|annexed by Turkey, 1459|
The Golden Age of Serbia. Independence from Romania and then the passing of the most vigorous days of Bulgaria meant an opportunity for a Serbian bid for the Imperium.
This opportunity was seized by Stephan Dushan, who ended up with most of the western Balkans and was crowned Tsar of the Serbs and Romans by the autocephalous Serbian Patriarch whom he had just installed (1346) at Pec. His long reign, however, was not quite long enough, and his death set off the kind of internal dissentions that had ruined many another state in Romania. The power of Serbia was broken, and the only Tsar succeeding to the first received the epithet "the Weak," and unrelated Princes soon inherited the Kingdom.
Then, all too soon, the Ottomans arrived. Defeats in 1371 and 1389 crushed Serbia. The agony of the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, the "Field of the Blackbirds," still echoes in the fierceness of the attachment of modern for the area, now largely populated by Albanians. As it happened, the Sult.ân Murâd I died at Kosovo, but his son, Bâyezîd the "Thunderbolt," was, if anything, even more vigorous than his father. In 1396 Bâyezîd destroyed a Crusade, led by the King of and future Sigismund, at Nicopolis (Nikopol). Not even Bâyezîd's defeat and capture by (1402) revived Serbian prospects.
The dynasty of Stephan Dushan is followed by two families of princes. Stephen Lazar and his son endured the Turkish defeat and conquest and were reduced to despots. They were followed by the Bronkoviches, father and son. The wife of Lazar III Brankovich, Helene, was a daughter of Thomas Palaeologus (d.1465), Despot of the Morea and brother of the last Roman Emperor,. After the death of Lazar, Helene was Regent of Serbia until the Turkish annexation.
Lists of Serbian rulers can be found in various Byzantine histories, but the genealogy here only comes from the Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume II, Part 2, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser II Nord-, Ost- und Südeuropa [Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Part 2, Second Edition, 1997, pp.143-149].
|3. BULGARIA, TERTERS|
|George I Terter||1280-1292, d.c.1304|
|Michael III Shishman||1323-1330|
|John IV Stephan||1330-1331|
|John V Alexander||1331-1371|
|John Sratsimir, Sracimir||1356-1396, d.1396/97|
|John VI Shishman||1371-1395|
|disintegration of state, 1385; vassalage, 1387, 1388, Conquest, 1396|
The second Bulgarian dynasty of the period was always at a disadvantage, ground between the Mongols, Serbs, Hungary, and the Ottomans. Ottoman conquest and annexation came in the same year (1396) as the Sult.ân Bâyezîd's defeat of a Crusade, led by the King of and future Sigismund, at Nicopolis (Nikopol), where John Sracimir was killed.
Over time, the Turks clearly regarded Bulgaria as strategically more important than Serbia or the Romanian principalities, and no local autonomy was allowed at all until the Russo- Turkish War of 1876-1878 and the Congress of Berlin (1878) forced it. Even then was divided and full independence did not come until 1908. Meanwhile, a fair number of Bulgarians had converted to Islâm. Since they were regarded as traitors by Christian Bulgarians, many of them migrated to Turkey, where they still live.
The list of Bulgarian rulers is from various Byzantine sources, including the only source of the genealogy here, which is the Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume II, Part 2, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser II Nord-, Ost- und Südeuropa [Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Part 2, Second Edition, 1997, pp.162-163].
Michael Palaeologus restores the Greeks to Constantinople, and for a time Romania acted as a Great Power again, fending off, with now replacing Venice as commercial agents and Italians-of-choice in Constantinople. But it was a precarious position. Michael himself sowed the seeds of disaster by confiscating land from the tax exempt akritai, (sing. akritês, ), the landed frontier (ákron, ) fighters of Bithynia. This weakened defenses that Andronicus II weakened further with military economies, failing to follow the maxim of that the first duty of a prince is war. Once the broke the Roman army in Bithynia (1302), they, and Turks, quickly reduced Roman possessions in Asia to fragments, never to be recovered. Bithynia (Prusa, Nicaea, and Nicomedia) became the base of Ottoman power, with Prusa, as Bursa, the Ottoman capital.
In this period flags in the modern sense were just beginning to come into use; and there were 14th century banners that would have evolved into a proper flag for Romania, given the chance. We find a field with a Cross, like many Crusader banners and flags, with the addition of curious devices, which look like images and mirror-images of something between the letter B, the letter E, and broken links of a chain. These are sometimes said to have already been used by and have been variously interpreted. One interpretation that is seen is to take them as B's which abbreviate Basileus Basileôn Basileuôn Basileusin, "King of Kings ruling over Kings." However, Basileus in Mediaeval Greek meant the Emperor, not "king," while the Latin word rêx was used for actual kings. So this formula would have to be employing anachronistic usages of basileus. That's possible, but the Rhômaioi could also find something of the sort offensive. So this looks like a retrospective and speculative interpretation.
Another possibility is that they are stylized forms of Crescent Moons, originally symbolic of the divine patroness of Byzantium, the Artemis. The stylized forms have been inherited in the arms of Serbia, and crescents are used as a Serb national symbol, seen at left -- something that has probably become a sign of terror to non-Serbs in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. If it was the Crescent that was originally used in Constantinople, this may have been directly inherited by. A Crescent is now commonly taken as symbolic of Islâm, but this may not antedate the Turkish flag. The star on the Turkish flag is sometimes said to be Romanian also, symbolizing the Virgin Mary, but it does not occur on the earliest Turkish flags. However, Whitney Smith [Flags Through the Ages and Across the World, McGraw-Hill, 1975] shows a flag identified only as "medieval Russian" that shows a cross with four crescents and four stars also [p.174]. The crescents are oriented differently, but this design seems too elaborate not to have Roman antecedents.
The banner that Whitney Smith shows for Romania itself [p.45] has the flag with the distinctive devices quartered with a simple red cross on white. One does not find this banner, or other Roman symbols, shown or discussed in the standard. This seems peculiar, and Smith gives no reference for his banner. does cite a Spanish atlas circa 1350, the Conoscimento de todos los Reinos. If we do not know of it from Greek sources, that is probably why it does not figure in the Byzantine histories.
-- something that is coming into increasing use today, when England often has sports teams separate from Scotland (which uses the Cross of St. Andrew). But St. George has been widely popular and is the patron of many places, including Barcelona, Portugal, Beirut, in the Caucasus, and various other states and cities. While the red on white Cross was used by Genoa and some other Italian cities, there is the complication that St. George is not the Patron Saint of Genoa (although this is sometimes said to be the case, as I have been doing previously) -- that is John the Baptist. The Genoese cross is thus perhaps not originally the Cross of St. George at all -- although there is a story about the red cross and St. George being brought back from the First Crusade (1099), which is possible.
Wikipedia says that ships from London began using the red Cross on white in the Mediterranian in 1190 precisely to benefit from the protection of Genoa -- the Doge was paid an annual tribute for the privilege of this use. Since Genoa became the ally of Constantinople under the Palaeologi, I wonder if the banner actually reflects that alliance. In modern custom, the upper corner by the staff, the canton, is the key quarter, so the quartering we see could be something used in the first place by the Genoese.
There is the issue of just how and when the red cross on white becomes associated with St. George. The Saint, as a native of Lydda in Palestine, was popular in the Orthodox Churches (a cave near is still pointed out as the site of his slaying the dragon, although other places also claim that distinction), and the earliest known depiction of him slaying the dragon is from 11th century Cappadocia, but I am not otherwise aware of him being particularly iconic for the identity of Romania or Constantinople -- as I have noted, Byzantine histories have little discussion of such symbols. And "George," , is not originally a Christian name but derives from the name of Zeus Georgus, ("earth worker"), i.e. Zeus the patron of farmers.
The crosses in general are artifacts of the, and the particular popularity of St. George in the West was itself the result of Crusaders bringing his cult and legend back with them. In a 1188 meeting between and the King of France, red on white was chosen for the Crusaders of France and white on red for those of England, but this was apparently a random assignment and did not involve any preexisting attachment of France, or of these colors, for St. George (see more about this elsewhere). And these assignments persisted for some time. In the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, the body of St. Louis, who died in 1270, is still shown draped in the red on white. Since St. George was not the patron of Genoa, the association of the red cross with the Saint is more likely to originate at the source with the Crusaders. It is noteworthy that the church of the in Constantinople was dedicated to St. Nicholas and St. Augustine of Canterbury. One would have expected a church of English warriors to involve St. George, if St. George was already associated with England. He wasn't.
Nevertheless, I do find positive statements at Wikipedia that in England St. George had along been revered and the red cross on white had long been associated with him even before the Third Crusade, and that the white cross on red was assigned by the Pope to England but then switched with France at the 1188 meeting between Richard and Philip II. This is inconsistent with my other sources (e.g. Whitney Smith, Znamierowski, or elsewhere at Wikipedia), does not seem to be attested by the evidence, as noted below, and in general is not consistent with the understanding that the use of crosses originated with the Crusades (at a time when national flags or settled national colors did not exist), involved variable colors for many years, and that the veneration of St. George was brought back by the Crusaders. I worry that claims for the antiquity of the specifically English "Cross of St. George" are ahistorical, nationalistic, and fantastical in motivation.
Since the red on white cross, as a symbol of St. George, has become distinctive of England, I begin to wonder to what extent it actually reflects the history of English involvement with Romania. Indeed, if the Cross of St. George here originated with Crusaders in the East, its interpretation as an English symbol could well have been due to the English Varangians themselves, who would have fought under it for many years and picked up the cult of St. George just as the Crusaders did. It is attested that by 1277, the English cross had settled on the red on white coloring, and this was at the time of perhaps the heyday of English Varangians under Michael VIII -- who wrote the letter mentioning them in 1272. Whitney Smith says that the red cross was not really prominent for another century [p.182], while The Penguin Dictionary of Saints [1965, 1983] says that George "may have been named the national patron when King founded the Order of the Garter under his patronage, c.1348" [p.146]. I might therefore entertain the speculation that what became the traditional coloring of the English Cross of St. George, and its identity as the Cross of St. George, might actually have been derived from a Romanian even more than from a Genoese source. This would be a monument unlike any other to the history of the English involvement in Constantinople. Since most histories of England ignore the very existence of English Varangians, the connection of the Cross of St. George to them falls into a kind of secret history.
Raffaele D'Amato [op.cit. p.12] says that one of the last references to the English Varangians was a letter written by John VII (who was Regent, 1399-1403, for his uncle Manuel II) to King of England in 1402, speaking of them helping in the Turkish siege of Constantinople, 1394-1402. D'Amato adds that "'Axe-bearing soldiers of the British race' are referred to by Byzantine envoys in Rome as late as 1404..." This is apparently the last reference to English Varangians. If Michael VIII was also writing to a King of England about English Varangians in 1272, which is possible but is not stated by Blöndal and Benedikz or by D'Amato, this would have been Henry III -- which means that Emperors wrote to Kings Henry II, Henry III, and Henry IV about English subjects in the Varangian Guard. That would be a nice touch. Even without Michael VIII, we do see a history of the Emperors expressing concern to Kings of England about the presence and activities of Englishmen in Romania. And there certainly may have been other communications whose record has not survived.
The double headed (dicephalic) Eagle is also a Romanian device, said to have been introduced by Michael VIII, with the two heads looking towards the European and Anatolian halves of the Empire, as the Emperor did from Constantinople. This duality can be nicely expressed as Europa and Asia, which, on the one hand, are the Continents on the two sides of the Bosporus, but, on the other, are also nearby old Roman povinces. The duality is carried over to the Ottomans, where the European side is Rumelia (Turkish Rumeli, , Greek or , or Bulgarian ) and the Asiatic side originally Rûm () but later Anadolu (), i.e. Anatolia. The Ottomans, however, do not seem to have used the dicephalic Eagle.
Alternatively, Donald M. Nicol [Byzantium and Venice, a Study in Diplomatic and Cultural Relations, Cambridge University Press, 1999, p. 249] says, the dicephalic Eagle was adopted by Andronicus II to symbolize the division of authority with his grandson, Andronicus III -- though it far outlasted that particular division. However, it looks like dicephalic eagles long antedate this and are found in,, and even iconography, with the latter perhaps suggested by remaining Hittite images in Anatolia. The earliest use in Romania seems to have been with. Eagles have been used by many (including the and modern ) to imply Roman antecedents; but the double headed eagle, despite the low level of power to which the Palaeologi had fallen, was adopted in particular by the (followed by ) and by, and subsequently by Serbia (as we see at left, with the devices discussed above),,,, and others. In direct continuity with Romania, it is also used by the Patriarchate of. Although the eagle had disappeared from much Communist iconography, it has returned since the Fall of Communism. One Communist regime that continued to use it even on its flag, was Albania, to commemorate George Castriota (Gjergj Kastrioti), or Skanderbeg, who drove the Turks out of Albania between 1443 and 1463 (note in the genealogy below that Skanderbeg's son John marries a Palaeologina, ).
After the Fourth Crusade, the last of the Morea, the fortress of, , had fallen to the Latins in 1248. But then Monembasia and Laconia were returned in 1261 as ransom for William II de Villehardouin (1246-1278), Prince of, who had been captured in battle in 1259.
On Mt. Taygetos, to the west above the ancient city of, the castle (castrum, ) of Mistra, , Mystrás (or , Mistrás, or , Myzêthrâs) had been founded by Prince William in 1248. Under the Palaeologi, this grew into a complex of buildings and became a surprising center of art and learning as well as the capital of the Despotate. Indeed, one could even say that the began there, since many of its scholars, with their books, fled the Turkish Conquest to Italy, which was ready for them.
The Morea became a kind of Viceroyalty under the Cantacuzeni Despots (). Under the Palaeologi, starting in 1383, the Despot, (sometimes more than one), was usually a son or brother of the Emperor. The last Emperor, Constantine XI, began as a Despot of Morea. He very nearly acquired in 1435. Unfortunately, in 1446 he had to endure a raid by Ottoman Emir, which broke through the Hexamilion Wall across the Isthmus of Corinth with cannon fire, an omninous portent of what the Ottomans could do at Constantinople in 1453. Murâd enslaved 60,000, apparently in retaliation for the Crusade of Varna in 1444.
Constantine's brother, the last Despot, Thomas, married the Heiress of and came into possession of the Principality and all the Peloponnesus in 1432. By then there was little time left for further successes. The last thing left to Thomas by the Ottomans was, again, the fortress of Monembasia. Thomas never took the obvious step of declaring himself the new Emperor in succession to his brother, and he turned over Monembasia to the Pope in 1461 (or 1460). The Pope thus became, as Popes had long desired, the ruler of all the Roman Empire. The Pope sold the fortress to in 1463 (or 1464). It remained with Venice, 1463-1538, fell to the Ottomans, and then was recovered by Venice, 1684-1715. The long slumber of Ottoman possession was then followed by that of modern in 1821.
The Fall of Constantinople, on May 29, 1453, is one of the most formative, epochal, colorful, and dramatic episodes in world history. As the final end of the Roman Empire, it was a much more revolutionary and catastrophic change than the "fall" of the Western Empire in 476, in which power remained in the same hands of the current magister militum. That the greatest Christian city of the Middle Ages should pass to Islâm held a symbolism that was lost on none. But the defenders had little active help from a Europe that four hundred years earlier had launched armies all the way to Jerusalem. The most active help was from an unofficial Italian contingent from (which officially did not want to break relations with the Ottomans), led by the accomplished soldier Giovanni Giustiniani Longo. Giustiniani was perhaps militarily the most effective leader of the defense. When he was wounded and left the walls, one is then not surprised to learn that the city fell on that day. As the last Emperor's name, Constantine XI, recalls the founder of the city, Giustiniani's name echoes the Emperor, Justinian, who recovered Genoa itself from the Ostrogoths. But it was only the introduction of cannon that made the breach in the Long Walls possible at all.
The siege of Constantiople began on April 6, 1453. It was not the first effort by the Turks to take the City, but it would be much better prepared to do so, with the enthusiasm and determination of the young Sultan. The City could not be entirely sealed off from outside help, and ships occasionally were able to come and go. Short of defenders, a major setback for the Romans was when the Turks avoided the chain across the Golden Horn by dragging their ships overland behind Galata into the previously safe harbor. At that point, the City was under assault from three sides instead of just two. The siege would then last 53 days, with a fatal breach finally opened by Mehmet's cannons in the previously impregnable Triple Land Wall. For a while, the breach was miraculously repaired by frantic activity every night, to the astonishment of the Turks. But this ended up being more cosmetic than structural, and in the end the equivalent of string and duct tape were not enough. The elite Janissaries (Turkish Yeniçeri, "new soldiers") poured through. May 29th, a Tuesday ( 225 1915), would then be remembered in Islâm as 20 Jumâdâ l-ûlâ, (i.e. the "first" Jumâdâ), 857 AH, on the.
Because of the high drama and significance of all this, it is a little puzzling that there has never been, to my knowledge, a Hollywood movie about the event. The closest may have been the brief prologue to Bram Stoker's Dracula , by Francis Ford Coppola, where we see the Cross thrown down from the dome of Sancta Sophia and a Crescent appear in its place. One problem with doing the story may be in great measure because of the scale of the location. The Theodosian Land Walls of Constantinople are 6.5 kilometers long, almost 4 miles. Since the ruins of the walls could not be used, and the whole length could not be built (as the whole Alamo was build by John Wayne for The Alamo), other devices would be necessary. With computer graphic effects, a portion of the Wall could be built with the rest filled in digitally, the way the top half of the Colosseum was filled in for Gladiator. And models could be used. With the older technology, this would have looked very cheesy. However, models now can look much, much better -- the models for Lord of the Rings (2001) even came to be called "big-atures" instead of "miniatures" they were so large. CG and models would also work for another problem, which would be showing the general situation of the city between the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus, and the Golden Horn. A live shot of the modern buildings would not help. But the whole thing could be done digitally, or live shots could be digitalized and edited, to remove modern buildings and render mediaeval ones. This would also help with scenes in Sancta Sophia. The movie would have to show church services there, but my understanding is that these are not allowed in the modern building, even though it is now a secularized museum rather than the mosque it became at the Conquest (there is a small Islamic chapel, but not a Christian one). No problem. All we need is a photograph, and Industrial Light and Magic can put Constantine XI and the whole gang right into it with all the paraphernalia of the Greek Orthodox Church (although the Latin Church was formally in charge at the time). Even so, it is questionable how interested Hollywood will ever be, even after Gladiator, and even when the legendary material, like the Virgin Mary retrieving her Icon, or the various versions of the death of Constantine, simply cry out for cinematic representation. With the present conflicts involving, some might consider the whole topic inflammatory; and it is very possible that Turkey would not allow location filming for such a movie.
While there may or may not be surviving Imperial Palaeologi (see below), Constantine XI lives on in legend. When the Turks had manifestly broken through, at the Fifth Military Gate -- subsequently called the Hücum Kapïsï, "Assault Gate" in Turkish -- and the Fall of the City was imminent, the Emperor is said to have thrown off the Imperial Regalia and disappeared into the thick of the fight. He is reported to have shouted, , , , "Let's go, men, against these barbarians!" [Greek Text, Laonikos Chalkokondyles, The Histories, Volume II, translated by Anthony Kaldellis, translation modified, Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, Harvard University Press, 2014, p.192] -- the last words of the Roman "Last Emperor." In Chinese, this could be , "Last Emperor, Last Injunction" (or "last will") -- , "last words," is an expression that we do not seem to see in Chinese. There is no doubt that Constantine died. A body was later identified and a head displayed, but some doubt remains about the identification. A story arose that Constantine sleeps under the (like under the Kyffhäuser), or that an angel turned him into marble, with a similar placement below that Gate, or that he would reenter the City through the Gate; and we get legendary details such as the awakening of the Emperor would be "heralded by the bellowing of an ox" [Donald M. Nicol, The Immortal Emperor, Cambridge University Press, 1992, p.104].
Generations of Turkish governments took these stories with sufficient seriousness that the central entrance of the Golden Gate remains bricked up to this very day -- like the Golden Gate in, through which the Messiah is supposed to enter the City. In 1717, Mary Wortley Montagu, the wife of the British Ambassador, reported that the Turkish government had seized an Egyptian mummy that had been bought by the. Since the mummy was then placed in the "Seven Towers," the fortress built around the Golden Gate, this seems to indicate a belief, or fear, by the government that this had been the body of Constantine XI, to be used as a talisman for the defeat of the Turks or the reconquest of Constantinople. This same story was later related to the French consul F.C.H.L. Pouqueville, who was held prisoner in the fortress from 1799 to 1801, and who claimed to have actually found the mummy there and carried off its head [ibid. p.103]. I don't know what Pouqueville is supposed to have done with the head.
A similar legend concerns Sancta Sophia. We find a version of it in, of all places, one of Anne Rice's vampire fictions:
"...as the Turks stormed the church, some of the priests left the altar of Santa Sofia [sic]," he said. "They took with them the chalice and the Blessed Sacrament, our Lord's Body and Blood. They are hidden this very day in the secret chambers of Santa Sofia, and on the very moment that we take back the city, on the very moment when we take back the great church of Santa Sofia, when we drive the Turks out of our capital, those priests, those very priests will return. They'll come out of their hiding place and go up the steps of the altar, and they will resume the Mass at the very point where they were forced to stop." [The Vampire Armand, 1983, Ballantine Books, 1999, p.110]
It is not at all difficult to imagine that Sancta Sophia was built with secret passages or chambers. Justinian might even seem negligent if he had not done that. A similar legend is that three priests or monks sleep in the crypt of the Gül Camii mosque, which had been the church of St. Theodosia or the Virgin of the Roses (Gül Camii actually means the "Rose, its mosque"), and that Christian vistors could hear them say that "the time and the hour had not yet come" [Nicol, op.cit., p.105]. Since the Latin Rite was being observed at the time, and the locals consequently had been boycotting services at Sancta Sophia, it is not clear what priests, Latin or Greek, were present when the Turks arrived at the Church. Perhaps we will see when they emerge.
Whether deathless priests wait for the liberation of the churches and the City is a more demanding idea than that of secret passages, although perhaps not much more demanding than the changes in politics and demography that would be necessary for Constantinople to be restored to Christendom -- a Christendom, or at least a European Christendom, that these days seems to have lost faith, confidence, and will far more than contemporary. Indeed, one wonders if can be identified as "Christendom" at all anymore. The hostility of to the religion, often with their craven to militant Islâm, and their anti-Semitism, is one of the more remarkable and disturbing characteristics of the modern European moral climate., creating an aggressive dictatorship in Russia, seems intent on recreating the Russian Empire, perhaps with Tsarist ambitions against Turkey -- although, busy conquering the, Putin has given no hint of that yet. As confident as the Europeans are demoralized, Putin is treated with similar complacency and appeasement -- at least until American Democrats decided that they could blame him for the election of.
. At the time of the Siege in 1453, it had been moved to the Church of St. Savior in Chora (subsequently the Kariye Mosque), to be closer to the Walls. What we hear is that after the breakthrough, the Turks stormed the Church and chopped up the Icon for souvenirs. The Hodegetria motif, however, was be much reproduced, even in later Italian art.
The , Blachernitissa (or Blacherniotissa) Icon, in bas relief, and the , Maphórion, the Robe or Veil of the Virgin, were kept at the Church of the Virgin Mary at Blachernae (), near the Walls. Blachernae, (Regio XIV of Constantinople), was originally a suburb of Constantinople settled by, . Eventually it was enclosed by the Walls of the City. By the time of the Palaeologi, the Blachnerae Palace had become the principal residence of the Emperors. The icon and relic had been brought out to protect the City during sieges -- the Maphórion is supposed to have repulsed the Avars in 626. Both disappeared with the Fall of the City -- although there is no mention of them after the Church burned in 1434, which means they may already have been destroyed. Nevertheless, one story is that Constantine XI was praying to the Icon the night before the City fell, and as he watched, it was taken up to Heaven. He therefore knew what was going to happen the next day. It is a shame that this marvelous scene has not been reproduced in a movie or documentary. Later, an icon turned up at that was believed, one way or another, to be the Blachernitissa. However, this icon was of a Hodegetria form, with the Virgin pointing to Christ, and the original Blachernitissa is thought to have shown the Virgin orans, i.e. with hands lifted in prayer, as we see on the seal at left.
I see the surname Palaeologus first turn up in Roman history with the marriage of George Palaeologus to Anna, a great-niece of the Emperor Constantine X Ducas. I had some trouble putting together the descent of the Palaeologi, but a diagram gives the full story in The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Volume III [Alexander P. Kazhdan, Editor in Chief, Oxford University Press, 1991, p.1558]. The diagram does not give dates, and I have not been able to otherwise find them for many of the early figures. There are some obscure references in Andreas Thiele and at Wikipedia that I have not been able to figure out. For instance, a younger brother of Alexius I Comenus, Adrianus, married Zoe Ducaena, a daughter of Constantine X Ducas. Their descandants are not shown in The Oxford Dictionary, but references to them, without details, turn up in other venues. It does not help that there are several Alexii and Irenae here.
The surname Palaeologus survives today, but it is not clear that any modern Palaeologi are descendants of the Imperial family. In the genealogy, we see considerable intermarriage outside the Empire, even to Tsars of Bulgaria. The marriage of Zoë-Sophia to Ivan III of Moscow is the one most filled with portent, but the last to be their descendant was Theodore I (1584-1598).
John Julius Norwich (Byzantium, The Decline and Fall, Knopf, 1996, pp.447-448) notes that there is buried in St. Leonard's church in Landulph, Cornwall, England a "Theodore Paleologus" (d.1636) from Italy, who is said to have been a direct descendant of John, son of Thomas, Despot of the Morea. However, Thomas is not known to have had a son John, and so the claim of descent, regardless of any other merits, is questionable. Theodore had a son Ferdinand, who died in Barbados in 1678. Ferdinand had a son "Theodorious," who returned to England and died in 1693, leaving a daughter, "Godscall," whose fate is unknown.
What John Norwich seems to have missed is that there were undoubted lines of Palaeologi (Paleologhi) in Italy, descended from the Emperor Andronicus II, whose second wife was Yolanda, the Heiress of the Margraves of Montferrat. While Andronicus's eldest son succeeded in Constantinople, his son by Yolanda, Theodore, succeeded to Montferrat. The main line of the Palaeologi of continued until the death of the Marchioness Margaret in 1556. But branch lines continued much longer, perhaps even to the 20th century. This is covered in the Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume II, Part 2, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser II Nord-, Ost- und Südeuropa [Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Part 2, Second Edition, 1997, pp.260-261], which, however, only indicates that the lines continue after the 16th century. The Theodore buried in Cornwall could very well have simply gotten confused about his genealogy. He might have been a genuine Paleologo from Italy.
Maurice Paléologue (1859-1944) was a French diplomat. His name derived from his birthplace, in Romania, where, illegitimate, he was given the surname of his maternal grandmother, Zoë Paleologu. There is no evidence that the Romanian Paleologus were descendants of Greek Palaeologi. Because Paléologue was the French Ambassador to Russia, 1914-1917, we see his name in : . I cannot say if this version of the name in Russian simply transcribes the French name or if it is actually the Russian form of Greek Palaiologos.
Note that the name "Romania," the proper name of the Roman Empire since the 4th century AD, was not used for modern România until 1859, when the Kingdom of (at first, or Rumania) was unified, autonomous, and then independent (in 1881). This name was at first written in the Cyrillic alphabet, which we still see in the Russian version of "Romania," as . This written Romanian is attested no earlier than 1521. The orthography, such as it would have been, may have been closer to than to Russian, which means "Romania" might have been written more like , if it was attested at all -- and was not an Old Church Slavonic or Bulgarian vowel, which means it may have been .
At the same time, we have testimony from 1534, by Tranquillo Andronico, Valachi nunc se Romanos vocant, "the Vlachs now call themselves Romans." Of course, this is the answer that would be given by any subject, or even former subject, of the Roman Empire, which had existed as late as 1453, stated as in Greek. And the difference even now between the Romanian word (in the Latin alphabet since 1860) for "Roman," roman, and for "Romanian," român, differs only in vowel quality. And it is an interesting difference. The Russian vowel , which we see in , happens to correspond to Romanian â. We may be forgiven the suspicion that român (Russian ) is the native word and that roman is a neologism introduced precisely to distinguish the things of România from the things of Romania, when originally there was no reason to make such a distinction; and in 1534 there was no Romanian orthography to scruple over vowel diacritics in the Latin alphabet. The issue of România and its language and people is discussed further in "."
The names of the older Principalities that were combined in 1859 were Wallachia (or Walachia) and Moldavia. The background of the name of Wallachia is of the greatest interest. Wallach is a cognate of the English words "Welsh" and "Wales." We get the same word in German, as Welsch or Walsch, from Old High German Walah or Walh, and apparently from a *Walchaz. In Old English it was Wealh or Walh. In Mediaeval German, we see Walen used to mean Italy in the description of the titles of the by the Sachsenspiegel -- Saxon Mirror, a legal text of 1230 -- the Emperor is the Here der Walen, the "Lord of Italy." We see that word today in the names of the Walensee (or Wallensee) and Walenstadt in Switzerland, where it means, what? the "lake of the Italians" or the "city of the Italians"? Well, probably not. The intriguing Imperial general of the, Albrecht von Wallenstein, looks like he has a name related to this root -- although it may only be a derivative of Waldstein, with "wood," Wald, instead of Walen. I do not know what motivates this suspicion.
While we are accustomed to apply the words "" and "Welsh" to the land and inhabitants of what had been Roman Cambria (Welsh Cymru), the use in Old English applied to all the Celtic Britons that found where they invaded and settled. Thus, the laws of the Saxon King Ine (688-726, d.728) of refered to all Britons as "Welshmen," Wealhcynn, i.e. "Welsh-kin." So this would encompass those we now identify as the Britons of, the Welsh, the Cornish, and the. Wealh was also used to indicate pockets of British settlement after the conquest of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, as in the place-names Walcot, Walden, Walford, and Wallington. We also have English and Scots surnames, often distinguished by a wal[h] element, as in Wallace, Walsh, and Waugh (cf. A Dictionary of Surnames, Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, Oxford University Press, 1988, pp.563-564, 568). As a Scots name, "Wallace" goes back to the Britons of Strathclyde, whose identity would be swallowed up in the Kingdom of Scotland. Even the humble walnut is the Old English wealhhnutu, the "Welsh/foreign nut." Were there really no walnuts in Germany?
Welschen originally was a German word for -- perhaps from the name of the Celtic tribe, the Volcae, in Latin -- and then the Romano-Celts and then just for Romans.
|Ioan Basarab I||, Voivode, Prince 1317-1352|
|Nicholas Alexander||1352-1364||Dragosh||, Voivode, Prince 1352-1353|
|Bogdan I the Founder||Prince 1359-1365|
|Vladislav I Vlaicu||1364-1377||Latcu||1365-1373|
|Radu I||1377-1383||Petru I al Mushatei||1375-1391|
|Mircea I the Old, the Great||1386-1418||Roman I||1391-1394|
|Vlad I the Usurper||part, 1394-1397||Ologul (Iuga)||1399-1400|
|Initial Control, 1395|
|Michael I||1418-1420||Alexander the Good||1400-1432|
|Dan II||1420-1421, 1421-1423, 1423-1424, 1426-1427, & 1427-1431||Ilias, Elias||1432-1433, 1435-1442|
|Radu II the Poor, Chelul, Prasnaglava||1420-1422, 1423, 1424, 1427|
|Vlad II Dracul||1436-1442, 1443-1447||Stephen II||1433-1447|
|Mircea II||1442, d.1447||Petru II||1444-1445, 1447, 1448-1449|
|Iancu de Hunedoara (János Hunyadi)||Prince of, 1441-1456||Roman II||1447-1448|
|Regent of, 1446-1456||Ciubar||1448-1449|
|Crusade of Varna, victory at Nish, Skanderbeg & Albanians defect from Turks, 1443; defeated at Varna by, of Hungary & Poland killed, 1444; defeats Turks at Belgrade, Meh.med II wounded, 1456||Alexandrel||1449, 1452-1454, 1455|
|Vladslav II||1447-1448, 1448-1456|
| Vlad III |
epe, the Impaler
|1448, 1456-1462, 1476||Petru Aron||1451-1452, 1454-1455, 1455-1457, d.1469|
|Initial Control, 1455|
|Radu III cel Frumos||1462-1475||St. Stephen III the Great||1457-1504|
|Converts to Islam; deposes Vlad III, his brother, with Ottoman help & on their behalf, 1462|
|Basarab Laiota||1473, 1474-1475, 1476-1477|
|Basarab Tepelush||1477-1481, 1481-1482|
|Vlad Calugarul||1481, 1482-1495|
|Radu IV cel Mare, the Great||1495-1508||Wins 46 of 48 battles against the Turks, repels repeated invasions|
|Mihnea cel Rau||1508-1509, d.1510||Bodgan III the Blind||1504-1517|
|Vlad cel Tinar||1510-1512|
|Neagoe Basarab||1512-1521||Shtefanita, Stephan IV cel Tanar||1517-1527|
|Vlad (Dragomir Calugarul)||1521, d.1522|
|Radu III de la Afumati||1522-1523, 1524, 1524-1525, 1525-1529|
|Valdislav III||1523, 1524, 1525|
|Radu IV Badica||1523-1524||Petru IV Raresh||1527-1538, 1541-1546|
|Moise||1529-1530||Stefan V Lacusta||1538-1540|
|Alexander III Cornea||1540-1541|
|Vlad Înecatul||1530-1532||Ilias, Elias II||1546-1551, 1562|
|Vlad Vintila||1532-1535||Stefan VI||1551-1552|
|Radu (V) Paisie||1535-1545||Ioan/John I Joldea||1552|
|Mircea Ciobanul||1545-1552, 1553-1554, 1558-1559||Alexandru Lapushneanu||1552-1561, 1564-1568, 1568|
|Radu (VI) Ilie||1552-1553||Despot Voda (Iacob Basilikos Heraklides/Eraclid)||1561-1563|
|Patrascu cel Bun (the Kind)||1554-1557||Sephen Tomsha||1563-1564|
|Petru cel Tinar||1559-1568, d.1569||Bogdan Laprushneanu||1568-1572|
|Alexander II||1568-1574, 1574-1577||Ion Voda (John the Terrible)||1572-1574|
|Vintila||1574||Petru Schiopul (the Lame)||1574-1577, 1578-1579, 1582-1591, 1594|
|Mihnea Turcitul||1577-1583, 1585-1591, d.1601||Ioan Potcoava||1577|
|Petru Cercel||1583-1585, d.1590||Iancu Sasul||1579-1582|
|Stephen Surdul||1591-1592||Aron the Terrible||1592-1595, d.1597|
|Alexander cel Rau||1592-1593||Stefan Razvan||1595|
|1593-1600, d.1601||Michael (Mihail) II the Brave||, 1599-1600|
|Nicholas I Patrascu|| co-regent, |
|son of Michael II|
| Continues under Control; |
Lines of Princes
In, the Walen place names commemorate the presence of Romance speakers at the boundary or within the area taken over by German speakers -- though the area around the Walensee is now overwhelmingly German speaking. In Switzerland we do have Italian speakers, but there is also a separate Romance language, Romansh, part of the Rhaeto-Romance group (Rätoromanische Sprache -- named after the Roman province of Raetia).
Welsch can mean different things in different places. In Swiss German, it tends to mean the French language in Switzerland (which, in French, is Romand spoken in Romandie -- a dialect of or Arpitan). In increasingly archaic Standard German (it is not listed in my Cassell's German Dictionary), it can mean, indeed, Italian. And, as we have seen, the very similar English "Welsh" will mean the Celtic speaking Britons of Wales, although this has been reduced from its previous applications. We get Valland used in Icelandic for France (). Even now, Walloon -- Waalsch in Dutch or Flemish -- is used for French speakers in Belgium.
This Germanic word for Romans seems to have been left, perhaps by the Goths, in the Balkans. It turns up as Vlach in Czech, one of many words for the Romance language, and its speakers, in languages. The Latin form "Blachus" and the Greek , Vlakhos, also occur. We see surnames in Polish, Wloch, Russian, Volokhov, (the language) Hungarian, Olasz, etc.
In modern parlance, the convention for some time was that Romance speakers south of the Danube spoke "Vlach" and those north of the Danube spoke "Romanian." "Romanian" is now also coming to be used for the languages (Arumanian, etc.) south of the Danube also, with "Daco-Romanian" used to specific the north of the Danube language. There is a bit of aggressive Romanian nationalism in this, as well as the nationalistic motives of other states in the region to erase the memory of widespread Vlach speakers, who, as we have seen, participated in the 12th century revival of the state.
The Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia are the first Vlach/Romanian states that we see north of the Danube. They appear in the period after incursions from nomadic Steppe empires ceased. They were never subject to the Roman Emperors in Constantinople, and they occupied territories that had been abandoned by the Roman Empire in the, or never occupied by it in the first place. The arrival of the Turks subjected them to Ottoman suzerainty, but this was of varying rigor. The lines of Princes continued, but by 1711 the Sult.ân began to sell the seats to Greek tax farmers, a destructive practice that continued until 1821.
The most famous person in these lines is certainly Prince Vlad the Impaler of Wallachia. In legend and horror, one might almost say romance, this cruel man has grown into the paradigmatic vampire, Count Dracula, though his home has been slightly relocated, from Wallachia to and the Carpathian Mountains (between Transylvania and Moldavia). For a while, I was under the impression that Prince Vlad Dracul (1436-1442, 1443, 1447) was Vlad the Impaler. However, a Romanian correspondent straightened me out, that Prince Vlad the Impaler was not Vlad Dracul but instead the subsequent Prince Vlad T,epesh (1448, 1456-1462, 1476, also Vlad "Draculea, Dracula"), his son. The correspondent also pointed out the interesting career of Iancu de Hunedoara (János Hunyadi) as Prince of Transylvania and Regent of Hungary, for which links have been installed.
My confusion about Vlad may have been due to Andreas Thiele's Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume II, Part 2, Europäiche Kaiser-, Kцnigs- und Fьrstenhäuser II Nord-, Ost- und S¨deuropa [R. G. Fischer Verlag, Second Edition, 1997, p.139]. Thiele lists a unnamed sister of Hungarian King (Latin corvinus, crow or raven-like), and so a daughter of Iancu de Hunedoara, who married Vlad II Dracul, whose death is given as 1476, i.e. the year of the death of Vlad III (when he was assassinated and his head taken to Constantinople). I do not see this sister attested in other sources, and the children of Vlad II were the result of more than one marriage and several mistresses. The sister of Corvinus, if she existed, may have been lost in the shuffle and in any case is unlikely to have been the mother of the significant sons of Vlad II.
Vlad the Impaler's career had many ups and downs. In exile in Hungary, he was imprisoned by Corvinus, for as much as ten years (1462-1472), although the Hungarians then helped him return to Wallachia in 1476. The association of Vlad with vampires has now drawn Corvinus into that legend, as we see in the Underworld [2004, 2006, 2009] movies -- although without the slightest reference to the real history of Matthias or de Hunedoara. Vlad's practice of impaling enemies and prisoners was not his own bright idea. The Turks, with whom Vlad was a hostage, 1442-1447, practiced impalement; and we even hear about impalement in Islamic courts in India under the. But Vlad is supposed to have employed the practice to excess, to the point where once even Meh.med II reportedly turned back from Wallachia in horror at the thousands or tens of thousands of bodies that Vlad had impaled along the Danube. Vlad's ferocity was thus "inspired," if that is the word, by the Ottoman invasions and conquest.
As with Iancu de Hunedoara, Vlad III was often successful against the Turks. After Meh.med II was driven from Wallachia, he supplied Vlad's younger brother, Radu cel Frumos, with troops and money to exploit local rivalries, undermine Vlad, and replace him, which he did. Meanwhile Stephen III of Moldavia (1457-1504) and (1443-1463) continued to defeat the Ottomans and slow their advance in the Balkans. Recently, G.J. Meyer says of Vlad:
The West owed him as it owed Stephen, an immense debt. The two kept whole Ottoman armies tied up for decades. [The Borgias, The Hidden History, Bantam, 2013, p.48]
Nor does Meyer neglect de Hunedoara or Skanderbeg. Unfortunately, the genius of these leaders did not outlive their generation. The death of Stephen in 1504 meant that barely another twenty years would pass before the Ottomans would be in Hungary, preparing to stay there for a century and a half.
The title of these rulers was Voivode, , a word that we even find in Bram Stoker (Dracula, Penguin Books, 1897, 1993, p.309). This term no longer appears in convenient Romanian or Hungarian dictionaries, for any of its meanings (c.f. NTC's Romanian and English Dictonary, Andreí Bantas, NTC Publishing Group, 1995; Hippocrene Concise Dictionary, Hungarian, Hungarian-English, English-Hungarian, Géza Takács, Hippocrene Books, 1996; or Hippocrene Standard Dictionary, English-Hungarian Dictionary, T. Magay & L. Kiss, Hippocrene Books, 1995). Those meanings began with "duke" or "prince" and ultimately declined to merely "governor," which would have been appropriate to Wallachia or Moldavia under the Turks. This word is actually Slavic, and is thus discussed under, but its ultimate origin was the Roman title (dux, "leader") in Greek, , stratêlatês ("army," stratos, "leader," elaunein, "to lead"), which was also the source of German. Thus, it is a Byzantine title, and an old one.
In contrast to the original Romania, i.e. the Roman Empire (Imperium Romanum), the north-of-the-Danube state might usefully be characterized as "Lesser Romania" (Romania Minor) on analogy to "" in the Taurus; but this would probably be considered insulting by modern Românians. Perhaps "Later Romania" (Romania Posterior, Recentior) would be better, like the -- making the Empire into the "Former Romania" (Romania Prior), like the. However, since Armenia is rarely called "Greater Armenia" in contrast to Lesser Armenia, we might simply leave România as România and make the contrast with "Greater Romania" (Romania Maior) as the Roman Empire, where clarity is needed. This is all to remind us, however, that this daughter nation of the Latin language alone retains the proper name of the Roman Empire, otherwise quite forgotten even by most scholars -- or sometimes actively suppressed.
The map shows all the territories that ultimately were assembled into modern România. Transylvania, although predominately Romanian speaking, was part of all through the Middle Ages right down to the end of World War I. Bessarabia also became part of România at that time, was subsequently annexed to the Soviet Union, and now is the independent, and painfully impoverished, nation of Moldova, increasingly under the thumb of Vladimir Putin's.
The list of Princes here is taken from the Regentenlisten und Stammtafeln zur Geschichte Europas, by Michael F. Feldkamp [Philipp Reclam, Stuttgart, 2002, pp.142-144 & 259-261].
Copyright (c) 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 All Reserved
Rome and Romania, 27 BC-1453 AD, Note 1
In some Greek cities (including Byzantium), it was illegal for men not to wear beards. The Hellenophile Marcus Aurelius wore a beard, a style that kept coming back every so often -- neither nor wore a beard -- until it became permanent with the Greek speaking Emperors of the Middle Ages.
Rome and Romania, 27 BC-1453 AD, Note 2
There is a series of books that works something like this. The Osprey Publishing [Oxford, New York] "Men-at-Arms" series divides all this history up between five small books (about 40 pages each). The first two are explicitly titled "The Roman Army," and the last two "Byzantine Armies." Michael Simkins authors the first two [1984, 1979], and Ian Heath the last two [1979, 1995]. The titles seem to reflect some differences in thinking. The "Roman" books are, first, "from Caesar to Trajan," and then "from Hadrian to Constantine." The "Byzantine" books use dates, first "886-1118" (the death of Basil I to that of Alexius I), and then "AD 1118 to 1461" (i.e. to the fall of Trebizond). There is a rather large gap between the "Roman" and the "Byzantine" books, which is then filled with "Romano-Byzantine Armies 4th-9th Centuries," by a third author, David Nicolle . This book covers a vast amount of time and very different conditions, from Late Antiquity, including the Army of the Notitia Dignitatum, through the Arab Conquests to the beginning of the Macedonian Dynasty. The two "Roman" books have common illustrator, Ron Embleton, while all the others are illustrated by Angus McBride.
The impression we get from this is of two different centers of history, the "Roman" and the "Byzantine," which have a bit awkwardly and even tenuously been bridged with a treatment that reminds us, at last, that we are dealing with a continuous story. Yet this middle book covers events that call out for detailed treatment, from the German invasions and the Battle of Adrianople, to the Arab Conquest, to the development of the Themes and Tagmata, through the Arab Sieges of Constantinople and the use of Greek Fire. It is odd to see all that shoved together in the same small brief format as with all these books. It makes this part of the publishing project look more like an afterthought, which perhaps it is.
Rome and Romania, 27 BC-1453 AD, Note 3;
Note on Transliteration
Warren Treadgold says:
To avoid making an arbitrary distinction between Byzantium and Rome, the forms I use here for Greek names and terms are Latinized (or sometimes Anglicized) ones, not the forms based on Classical Greek that many Byzantinists now favor. [Byzantium and its Army, 284-1081, Stanford, 1995, p.viii]
And why would Byzantinists favor "forms based on Classical Greek" instead of the Latinized ones? Treadgold explains in a footnote to the cited passage:
None of the established systems of transliterating Greek is perfect, and each has its advantages. But some scholars can be disturbingly passionate about the matter of transliteration, as if they were trying to use Classical Greek forms to force acceptance of a sharp break between Rome and Byzantium on those who disagree with them. [ibid., note. p.viii, boldface added]
Elsewhere, Treadgold discusses different transcription methods:
One way, the most logical but the least familiar, is to give the closest equivalent to the Byzantine pronunciation, which was roughly the same as in Modern Greek. The first emperor of the Byzantine period thus becomes Dhioklitianos, and last Konstandinos XI. A second method, which many historians now favor, is to give the closest equivalent to the ancient Greek pronunciation, which no one used in Byzantine times. This makes the Emperors Dioklêtianos and Kônstantinos XI. A third method, the one most often used by the Byzantines themselves when they wrote in Latin, is to turn the Greek name into a Latin one, changing the Greek letters into their Latin equivalents and the Greek endings into equivalent Latin endings. Thus we have Diocletianus and Constantinus XI. A fourth method, long standard in English, is a modification of the third, using English equivalents when they exist and Latinizing the rest. This gives us Diocletian and Constantine XI. [A History of the Byzantine State and Society, Stanford University Press, 1997, p. xxi, boldface added]
Treadgold follows the fourth method, which he notes has in fact been the traditional academic practice, as we see examples of almost all such Latinized or Anglicized names in older scholarly and popular work. In the 19th century, a scholar disinclined to use Latin forms would simply give the words in Greek. It could be assumed that educated readers at least knew the Greek alphabet. No such assumptions could be made now -- and the practice of college fraternities and sororities of having their members memorize the Greek alphabet suffers from the decline of these institutions both in student preference and against the of the modern totalitarian university.
But the ideal would indeed be to give Greek names in their Greek forms in the Greek alphabet. This would bewilder most readers, even academic ones. Nevertheless, this should be done at least in indices, for reference; but it usually isn't, and modern publishers, who ought to find the use of the Greek alphabet easier in the digital age, curiously resist allowing its use. In the absence of the Greek alphabet, the ideal of transcription ought to be to allow us to restore the Greek form of the name. This almost universally cannot be done, because accents are almost never used, and the difference between (êta) and (epsilon), or between (ômega) and (omicron), which would require the use of macrons or circumflexes (which could be confused with the circumflex accent), is only rarely indicated.
The first method identified by Treadgold, reproducing Modern Greek, leaves massive ambiguities in how words are written in the Greek alphabet. The second method is senseless as a means of indicating pronunciation, since Classical pronunciation was no longer used, or perhaps even remembered, in the Middle Ages. But it makes the best sense if our goal is to indicate the Greek spelling, although it can only do this imperfectly. If we want to look up the Greek name or word, after dealing with works that don't bother to give them, this gives us the best starting point.
The virtue of the third method is, as Treadgold says, that it is "the one most often used by the Byzantines themselves when they wrote in Latin." There is really an unanswerable force to this. Writing in English is, after a fashion, writing in Latin, since English uses the Latin alphabet and has always used Latin as its primary, which itself has a long tradition of borrowing words from Greek. Also, English secondarily relies on French, which was long used by the English Court and in English law because of the. Thus, we get "Constantine" in English, rather than "Constantinus," because that is the form of the name from French.
Treadgold notes that the transcription systems may come with certain "ideological baggage," and we have seen him observe that those who "use Classical Greek forms," the second method of transcription, may do so "to force acceptance of a sharp break between Rome and Byzantium on those who disagree with them." The ideological baggage here may simply be nationalism, a hostility to the Latin West that can be found in the Orthodox world, or other trendy and popular considerations. We get a shot of some of that in a recent book by Anthony Kaldellis:
As a rule, I transliterate Byzantine names from the Greek (e.g., Ioannes and Theodoros) rather than Latinize or Anglicize them, which is a mildly offensive practice that persists almost uniquely in the case of Byzantium. Public discourse in recent decades increasingly strives to recognize cultural distinctiveness and use foreign names out of respect. Renaming everyone for convenience projects cultural dominance (or, worse, assumes it). Thus filling Byzantium with people falsely named "John," however innocuous it may have once been, is a convention whose time is up. (Note that transliteration captures spelling, not phonology). ["A Note on Transliteration," Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood, The Rise and Fall of Byzantium, 955 A.D. to the First Crusade, Oxford University Press, 2017, p.xxxv, boldface added]
Although Kaldellis fights God's righteous battle against disparagements of Mediaeval Romania, I find it mildly offensive that he should find reasonable traditional practices, like those of Warren Treadgold, "mildly offensive." There is also the irony that Kaldellis uses a word here, "Byzantium," that he not only gives in its Latin form -- instead of "Byzantion" or "Vyzantion," from -- but that ideologically has been used to obscure and deny the Roman heritage and character of Mediaeval Romania. So Kaldellis violates his own scruple and perpetuates the very evil he undertakes to avoid and retire. Also, he does something that the never did, while condemning what they did do, namely Treadgold's third method. It sounds like this could have been offensive to the "Byzantines" themselves. Physician, heal thyself. But we also must sadly observe that the Oxford University Press has prevented Kaldellis from using any actual Greek in his new book (except in the Bibliography), despite a great deal of it, including long quotations, in his previous.
In, Kaldellis quotes the Emperor Claudius as referring to "our two languages," meaning Latin and Greek [p.66] -- actually, Claudius addresses a barbarian with Cum utroque sermone nostro sis paratus, "Since you are prepared with both our languages" [Suetonius, Volume II, translated by J.C. Rolfe, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 1914, 1997, pp.74-75, translation modified, boldface added]. But here Kaldellis is implictly asserting that Greek names are "foreign names" in relation to Latin, which would seem to indicate a desire to assert the very kind of "sharp break between Rome and Byzantium" that Treadgold identifies. By banishing the Latinate forms, Kaldellis denies the Roman character of the "Byzantine" Empire and thus undercuts and sabotages his own program of affirming Roman continuity.
Instead, the traditional practice in English bespeaks, not "cultural dominance," but cultural unity, and the ideology that Greek and Latin belong to a single cultural Oecumene, , with its own traditions and conventions of translating or transcribing from one language to the other. Kaldellis seems to reject this, substituting a novel and "foreign" mechanism of transcription, unheard of by Romani or , despite featuring in Streams of Gold itself a 10th century nomisma (i.e. a solidus) of Nicephorus Phocas with a title of Christ in Latin, Rex Regnantium, "King of Kings" (actually King of "those ruling," the genitive plural participle of regnô, "to reign, be a king") [p.54]. If Latin is not a "foreign language" on this coin, then Greek will not be either, in a Latin context.
Perhaps his attitude is part of Kaldellis's reaction against the ideology of Mediaeval that wished to claim the whole of Roman heritage, including a succession of German speaking "Roman" Emperors, and deny it to Greek speaking Romania. But he thereby engages in the same fallacy and distortion as those Germans (and the Popes). There is nothing edifying about reciprocating the hostility of the Franks and directing it against the Latin heritage of Romania itself. His project should properly be to reclaim the Oecumene, not to create a new chapter in its destruction. He has forgotten his own quotation of Claudius, let alone overlooked the Latin on the coin he himself displays. Latin and Greek are utrique sermones nostri, "both our languages."
We should also reflect what the whole practice of transcription is about. It is to represent the phonology and/or orthography of a language in its own terms while basically using the Latin alphabet. This can only properly be accomplished with diacritics and with the defined idiosyncratic use of particular letters. On duty once with a Hungarian woman, I asked her how to pronounce "Mohacs," the battle where the Turks killed King Louis II of. "Cs" is like the "ch" in English. Similarly, what is written "c" in is pronounced like English "j," and what is written "x" in the Chinese system is pronounced, more or less, like English "sh." Yet neither Turkish or Chinese can be properly represented without the diacritics that are typically ignored in the English usage of even "enlightened" or "culturally sensitive" scholars. The result is therefore senseless.
Also, in the Middle Ages a particular alphabet tends to go with a particular language, or at least religion. Thus, alphabets were invented for,,, and. Words from those languages, or any languages, used in the Latin alphabet were written in default comformity with Latin phonology, orthography, and grammar. The idea that "Beijing" is better than "Peking" because we are then going to pronounce it the way it is in Mandarin Chinese is absurd. Most adult speakers of English will never be able to pronounce "Beijing" correctly, even if they try taking Chinese. I sat through some interesting minutes in my class while older students tried learning to pronounce ("q"). They weren't all ever successful. So there is really no issue either of cultural dominance or even unity, but only of writing words in a language in a way that they can be used in that language -- phonetically, morphologically, and grammatically. The idea that Latin, or English, is obliged to use names that are actually unpronounceable in Latin or English would have struck anyone, before recent times, as ridiculous.
With Kalkellis's reference to "people falsely named 'John'" -- or perhaps the Johannes we see in the Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume III, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser, Ergänzungsband [Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Second Edition, 2001, p.217 for ""] -- we get something slightly different. The cultural unity there is not of the Roman Empire, but of Christendom, , Christianosýnê. "John" is a Christian name, derived from Hebrew , Iehônâthân (i.e. "Jonathan"), by way of Greek , and Latin Johannes. Thus, is not "a foreign name." It is the same name as all the names that are listed under "John" in the Oxford Dictionary of First Names [Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, Oxford, 1990, pp.179-180]. So, it turns out that "John" is "Jean" in French, "Seán" in Irish, "Ian" in Scottish, "Yann" in, "Giovanni" in Italian, "Juan" in Spanish, "João" in Portuguese, "Johann" in German, "Jon" in Romanian, "Jan" in Dutch and Polish, "Jöns" in Swedish, "János" in Hungarian, "Juhanni" in Finnish, , Hovhannes, in Armenian, , Ioane, in, , Ivan, in Russian, , Yahyâ, in Arabic, and many alternative forms in most of these languages and in many others. For Kaldellis to maintain his complaint, he must deny that these are all the same name and claim that using the form in one's own language offensively (if only mildly) "projects cultural dominance." So, by this reasoning, we can't actually have the "Gospel of John" for . It must be the "Evangelion of Ioannes," using the form, for a "foreign name," given by Kaldellis, which is actually used in no language and doesn't even supply us enough information to restore the Greek spelling. "Gospel" also, obviously, cannot be tolerated.
If "John" is usually a "false" name for any language but English, it is not always easy to tell what the "true" name would be. In the Iberian penninsula, there are multiple languages, including Castilian (now "Spanish"), Galician, Portuguese, Catalan, and Basque, languages that at one point or another have all been associated with separate. To be historically accurate, it is not always obvious what language we are dealing with, although Latin Johannes would have been used by all in formal documents. In speech, "John" could have been "Juan" in Castilian, "Xoán" in Galician, "João" in Portuguese, "Joan" in Catalan, and "Ion," "Yon," or "Jon" in Basque (the significant non-Indo-European language of ). So which of these is the "foreign name"? And who was objecting to the "cultural dominance" of Latin? Pitty the poor historian who denies himself the convenience of using the equivalent name in his own language, and who then uses "Alfonso" instead of "Afonso" for a King of Portugal. This will obviously be a "microaggression."
Another puzzling case in Spain involves "Henry." This is originally German, surviving as "Heinrich," the name of several. Used by the, it became "Henri" in French. This became the name of many English Kings, beginning with the who conquered England. At first, of course, they spoke French, not English. So Henry II was actually an "Henri." "Henry" in English at the time wasn't even "Henry," it was "Harry," which has lost the French nazalized "n." "Henry" seems to be a later, Gallicized rendering (something we see in a lot of English names, like "Charles" and "Charles," "Guy" and "Guy," despite the differences in pronunciation). So we know from what direction the "cultural dominance" is blowing. The daughter Eleanor (or Eleónore) of Henry II married of Castile. She, of course, spoke French, and she named her eldest and youngest sons "Henri." This comes out as "Enrique" in Castilian, "Enric" in Catalan, and "Henrique" ("Henriques") in Portuguese. From the form of these names, we might suspect a more direct derivation from German, as we recollect that many German names in Spain are due to the. So who are we going to insult? The French speaking mother who used a name from her French speaking family? Or the spoken language of Castile, which wasn't even used in formal documents? Politicizing this creates a foolish and thankless tangle.
But that is what is happening with Kaldellis, the bee in whose bonnet is likely to be some form of fashionable political correctness -- the kind that insists on using "Beijing" (written without the necessary accents) instead of "Peking," even though most people have no idea how to Beijing, and treat it like French (a mispronunciation that in some circles would count as a "microaggression" -- while most English speakers, as noted, will be unable to pronounce it correctly), or that uses "Mumbai" instead of "Bombay," even though most people have no idea from what language "Mumbai" derives (hint: It's not Hindi -- see ) -- with this lingering and reciprocal hostility, as discussed, against the Latin West (but without worries that the "foreign" word "Roma" is not used instead of "Rome" in English and French, "Rom" in German, and, for that matter, in Greek) -- and with perhaps some overtones of the equally fashionable, seen with some hints and asides from Kaldellis, as noted (increasingly) in his previous books. Remarkably, Greece seems to be the most anti-American Christian nation in the world, perhaps in part from a suicidal love of (in the face of America as the Great Satan of capitalism) but also from hatred over bombing of Orthdox on behalf of Muslim -- although this is contrary to the sympathy of the Left for and against any Christians anywhere. The ambivalence and dilemma of the Greek Left, which is both eager to bite the hand of the EU that feeds it bailout money and yet cannot do so, and cannot rejoice too much in the Jihadist enemy of the West when this would mean condemning the Serbs, seems reflected in similar ambivalences and dilemmas in the sentiments of Anthony Kaldellis.
As noted, when the Romans wrote in the Latin alphabet, this meant that the words produced conformed to Latin phonology and grammar. Issues about transcription only arise because the Latin alphabet would be used later, with modifications, to write another languages, representing their phonology and their grammar also. The Greek language did not need this treatment, since it already had its own alphabet; and the idea that Greek should be rendered into the Latin alphabet is only an artifact of the expectation that readers will not be educated enough, as they generally are not, to know the Greek alphabet -- an accommodation that was often not thought necessary in the 18th or 19th centuries. And since Greek and its alphabet are therefore going to be unfamiliar to them, no special care need be taken to represent the Greek alphabet and its system of writing in every particular for the general, or even non-specialist academic, reader. The result thus seems confused in both purpose and execution.
Like Greek, many languages have their own writing system, and transcribing words from Greek will conform to the principles and structure of that system, regardless of the nature of the Greek original. Thus, is written with Chinese characters but also with two syllabaries, hiragana and katakana, that represent the phonetic elements of Japanese and can be used to write native or foreign words. Katakana itself is the equivalent of italics in the Latin alphabet and is used for foreign words. However, it represents Japanese phonology and makes no concessions to that of any other language.
We can gauge the result by looking at what would happen to the name . In katakana this will look like , or Konsutanchinosu, as Japanese itself can be conventionally transcribed into the Latin alphabet. As it happens, the "u's" there don't need to be pronounced, so we end up with Konstanchinos. A monolingual speaker of Japanese will not be able to pronounce any other way. There is no syllable "ti" in Japanese. So we are stuck with "chi."
Does this, as Kaldellis says, "falsely" render the name "Constantine"? No, it simply follows the proper rules of Japanese transcription, where the kana syllabaries are traditionally not structured to represent any phonology other than Japanese. And this also reflects the non-trival circumstance that monolingual Japanese speakers will naturally use this pronunciation, and they would have difficulty saying it any other way. The foreigner asking directions, even in sophisticated Tokyo, to a MacDonald's restaurant ( -- the "u's" are pronounced there because they are adjacent to voiced consonsants), which are common, may discover that neither his pronunication nor that of the local he questions will be intelligible to each other. His question may remain misunderstood.
This is not, as Kaldellis says, a matter of "cultural dominance." Condemning Japanese for using the forms of its own language would instead sound more like a case of the Western Classicist or Byzantinist critic who "projects cultural dominance" onto the Japanese, demanding they pronounce something in a way that they actually cannot. It would be a meaningless and perhaps demeaning dispute to the monolingual Japanese speaker.
Rome and Romania, 27 BC-1453 AD, Note 4
I've tried various ways to represent the events of the Tetrarchy. The provides timelines for all the legitimate Emperors and the significant usurpers also. The animation at right runs through nine different phases of the history, showing the legitimate Emperors (i.e. with mutual recogniation), until Constantine alone is left. But it begins when there are four Emperors, in 393, and the amount of time for each phase bears some relation to its actual duration, which makes it a little difficult to study each combination (without stopping the animation with the ESC key).
The most striking thing about the history, however, is that the Tetrarchy begins with Diocletian alone and ends with Constantine alone. The diagram below illustrates this circumstance the most vividly. It also illustrates two key features of the history of the Tetrarchy: (1) After the retirement of Diocletian and Maximinian, the appointment of new Emperors seems to have been usurped by Galerius, so that Severus, Maximinus II Daia, and Licinius were all protégés or even relatives of Galerius. This anomaly introduced an inequality between the Augusti and also a geographical anomaly, in that Severus and Lincinius were appointed to be Western Emperors, but neither ever established himself in the West. Severus was killed trying to do so, and it is not clear that Licinius ever tried. (2) The untimely death of Constantius Chlorus led to the proclamation of his son, Constantine, by their troops in Britain. Constantine was thus a usurper; but, perhaps considering the difficulty of removing him, Galerius recognized him as a Caesar.
But this provoked a reaction from Maxentius, son of Maximian, who had been passed over in 305 and rather resented it. Now, he is not going to stand by while the son of Constantius is elevated, but not him. So he rebels, and brings his father out of retirement with him. He even forms an alliance with Constantine, who marries his sister. Thus, the bottom of the diagram is red, as it were, with rebellion. At the death of Galerius in 311, there are no new appointments; so as Constantine gets rid of Maximian and Maxentius, Lincinus gets rid of Maximinus Daia, and then Constantine does the same for Lincius, the Tetrarchy is whittled down to its Last Man Standing. Meanwhile, there has been a revolution in religion, and Constantine has established both Christianity and a new Capital, Constantinople. It is a real roller coaster, which is a bit what the diagram looks like -- a wild ride of just forty years from the beginning of Diocletian's reign in 284 to Constantine achieving sole rule in 324. The Roman Empire is profoundly transformed.
Rome and Romania, 27 BC-1453 AD, Note 5
Bede identifies several Emperors by number. This includes Claudius, #4, Marcus Aurelius, #14, Diocletian, #33, Gratian, #40, Arcadius, #43, Honorius, #44, Theodosius II, #45, Marcian, #46, and Maurice, #54. This numbering works if we eliminate three of the four Emperors of 69 AD, the ephemeral Emperors of 193 and 218, a couple of them from the, most of the and coregents, and, most importantly, all of the Western Emperors after Honorius. The latter is especially striking because Bede mentions Valentinian III: "In the year of our Lord 449, Marcian became Emperor with Valentinian and fourty-sixth successor to Augustus" [Bede, A History of the English Church and People, Penguin Classics, translated by Leo Sherley-Price, 1955, 1964, p.55]. Since Theodosius II was already identified as the 45th Emperor, there is no number left for Valentinian (Emperor since 425), let alone Constantius III or John, who had been legitimate Emperors of the West. From Marcian to Maurice, the numbers only work if we then ignore all the rest of the, out of nine of which four were even recognized by the East. So Bede doesn't recognize any.
As it happens, it looks like Bede has gotten his numbered list from Orosius, who wrote the Historiarum Adversum Paganos Libri VII, "Seven Books of Histories Against the Pagans" (or the Hormesta). This was written around 418 AD and thus ends in the reigns of Honorius and Theodosius II. It was a popular book in the Middle Ages, with almost two hundred surviving manuscripts, which is extraordinary, with translations into several languages, including English and Arabic -- where the latter made it accessible to. It does not have much favor, however, with modern historians, and is not issued in popular editions (such as Penguin Classics). Unlike Bede, Orosius sometimes discusses the nature of his numbering, for instance that Constantius II was the 35th Emperor "along with his brothers, Constantine and Constans," but they receive no number in their own right. One curious detail is that Claudius is "the third Emperor after Augustus," where Bede has him as the 4th Emperor, but both Orosius and Bede number Diocletian as #33. It looks like Orosius may have shifted from the number of the Emperor "after Augustus" to a numbering beginning with Augustus as the first, while Bede has the whole sequence regularized in the latter form. But there are also some actual disagreements. To Orosius, Gratian was the 39th Emperor (40th for Bede), Arcadius and Honorius, the 41st (43th and 44th for Bede). So Bede is not mechanically reproducing the assignments of Orosius [cf. Seven Books of History against the Pagans, Liverpool University Press, 2010]. This is a matter of some interest that I have never seen discussed.
Although writing in the 7th and 8th centuries (673-735), in the days of multiple Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in, Bede nevertheless had a strong sense of the continued existence of the Roman Empire. He knows that the Empire is now centered in Christian Constantinople, and his awareness of this is strong enough that it actually erases the existence of the last Western Emperors. The idea common now that the Roman Empire fell in 476, wouldn't have made sense to Bede. He didn't even recognize the Emperor who "fell," Romulus Augustulus, as a successor of Augustus (neither did the East, for that matter). Ephemeral and puppet Emperors (whether in the 2nd or 5th centuries) don't make the cut in his reckoning. This is of a piece with most of the rest of Mediaeval opinion and perception, East and West. Since the Schism of 1054 between the Latin and the Greek Churches had not occurred yet, Bede would have seen the contemporary Emperor (a late, mostly) invested with all the aura and authority of Constantine the Great.
Rome and Romania, 27 BC-1453 AD, Note 6
The 2004 movie King Arthur uses some of Littleton and Malcor's information to rework the Arthur legend into something like real history. However, its use of it, and of other history, although meriting an A for effort, involves some confusions and anachronisms. In the movie, the Iazyges are called "Sarmatians," which they were, but the more general name obscures the unique experience of the Iazyges in being settled and assimilated as Roman soldiers. Indeed, that circumstance is ignored, as the movie shows the Sarmatians apparently still living out on the steppe (in yurts) and somehow still obliged in the 5th century to furnish draftees to the Roman army. The Romans, however, were never in any position to send press gangs out onto the steppe, and such a foray in the 5th century, through Germans and Huns, is unbelievable. Nor is there any reason why Sarmatians well beyond Roman borders should pay any attention to obligations assumed three centuries previously. But the plot of the movie requires that the Saramatians feel exiled during their service in Britain. Instead, the Iazyges, men, women, and children, would have all been settled in Britain; the veterans all would have been given Roman Citizenship as the reward of their service; and by the fourth century they would have felt as Roman and/or British as anyone. The yearning of Arthur's men to go home is thus a purely fictional device. That Arthur himself still bears the name of Artorius Castus, his ancestor, is a fictional device also, but actually a rather clever and not impossible one.
The background offered in the movie about Sarmatian service in the Roman army leaves out that this involved the war fought by Marcus Aurelius featured in the movie Gladiator. A tribute to Gladiator might have been made but isn't. Instead, we get a gross anachronism, as the shields of what would have been Marcus's army in 175 AD already bear the Chi-Rho symbol of Constantine's Christianity. This may have just been a matter of economy in the prop department, where all the shields were prepared for the 5th century army. However, even this was a mistake, since we know from the Notitia Dignitatum that there were a great many designs used on Roman shields in the Christian Empire, including, remarkably, the first attested instance of the Chinese swirling symbol. Shields were unique and distinctive to the units.
Beyond this, almost all the history in the movie is confused. The Western Emperor is not even mentioned, and the Pope is portrayed as directing political and military events. This is what Mediaeval Popes wanted to do, but it has nothing to do with the 5th or 6th centuries, when the Popes had no such power and would not have imagined that they did. Actual Italian Romans are portrayed unpleasantly, which creates a distinction (and a conflict) that wouldn't have existed in Late Antiquity. In general, Romans were Romans -- the movie perpetuates the idea that "Rome" meant the City, when this limitation was long gone. More importantly, the Romans never deliberately withdrew from Britain, and certainly not as late or as callously as shown in the movie. The usurper Constantine (407-411) stripped Britain of legions in order to invade Gaul and seize the Throne. When he was defeated, Honorius had to inform the British that, with the Suevi, Vandals, and Alans raging across Gaul and Spain, the forces simply did not exist to re-garrison Britain. Since the battle of Badon Hill is supposed to have happened eighty to a hundred years later, there is a fair bit of history that the movie reduces, in effect, to a couple of days. Finally, we have Saxons so confused or foolish as to land in Britain north of Hadrian's Wall. This would not have done them much good (as is obvious in the movie) and was way, way out of their way. The Saxons, Angles, and Jutes all crossed the North Sea and landed well south of the Wall. Only Vikings from Norway would later show any interest in the future. Finally, an early sequence in the movie has Arthur venturing north of the Wall to retrieve a Roman settler. What is this guy doing there? And how could his estate survive, surrounded by hostile Picts, especially when he treats the locals with appalling cruelty? This doesn't pass minimal standards of credibility.
The latter device may have some historical connection. We are told that St. Patrick wrote a letter to Ceretic (or Coroticus), a Briton or Roman governing the local tribe of the British Damnonii, complaining about his practice of selling Irish captives as slaves to the Picts. Ceretic was the beginning of the British Kings of. This is the right era, since Ceretic is supposed to have reigned c.450's-470's, while died in 461, and the right place, north of Hadrian's Wall. If this is what the movie is referring to, it fails to distinguish between Britons, Picts, and Irish; and Ceretic is certainly in no need of being rescued by Romans for cruelty to those he ruled. The cruelty would have been to one set of pagans (i.e. the Irish in Scotland, the Scots, who were still pagan until converted by St. Columba [d.597], although St. Patrick was meanwhile converting the Irish in Ireland) being sold to another set of pagans (the Picts). Although St. Patrick's solicitude for the Irish anywhere is understandable, Christians in general did not worry about enslaving pagans -- which is why the word "slave" is derived from "Slav," who were enslaved long before they converted to Christianity.
The peculiar or anachronistic devices in the movie all serve to create dramatic tension and conflict, which is well within understandable poetic license. In this it is perhaps moderately successful, but some distortions seem gratuitous, especially the negative impression left of Christianity. Pagans were generally tolerated at the time (not tortured or starved to death), but the Army and probably the Britons were overwhelming Christian. That Arthur found himself on the wrong side of one of the obscure contemporary theological disputes is a cute touch (based on the British monk Pelagius, whose teaching was condemned in 418) but is obviously introduced merely as a device to alienate him from the Church and from Rome. This fits the plot of the movie but cannot have had much to do with the substantive problems facing 5th century Britons. The matter in dispute, free will versus predestination, was never wholly settled to the complete denial of one or the other. Indeed, Catholic orthodoxy was more favorable to free will than Protestants like John Calvin would be later.
Rome and Romania, 27 BC-1453 AD, Note 7
Sancta Sophia is Latin for "Saint Sophia" or, since sophía is Greek for "," "Sacred Wisdom." This is not the form of the name usually seen. Justinian spoke Latin, but in time Greek became the Court language at Constantinople. In Greek the Church was Hágia Sophía, , which locally would have been the name used from the beginning.
As Mediaeval Greek developed, however, the "h" ceased to be and the "g" softened into a "y." This later pronunciation is even preserved in the Turkish name of the Church, Aya Sofya. For many years, the version I seem to remember seeing was Santa Sophia, which would have to be Italian. Because of the later Italian influence in Romania, this version of the name certainly would have been used. Or, I may have just been seeing "St. Sophia" and thought of it as Santa because of living amid all the Spanish place names in, where sancta has also become santa (e.g. Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Santa Cruz, etc.).
As it happens, it must be the case that I was seeing "Santa Sophia," because I see it now, in the Fourteen Byzantine Rulers by Michael Psellus [translated by E.R.A. Sewter, Penguin, 1966]. In the translator's introduction we've got "Santa Sophia" on page 10.
Rome and Romania, 27 BC-1453 AD, Note 8
The declension of seems anomalous. Procopius uses as the accusative plural [History of the Wars, Book III, xi, 16, Loeb Classical Library, Procopius, Volume II, Harvard U. Press, 1916, 2006, p.104], which would correspond to the nominative plural that I use above.
However, I would expect the accusative plural to be (and so the nominative plural ), based on the Third Declension paradigm of [A New Introduction to Greek, Chase and Phillips, Harvard U. Press, 1965, p.18].
The retension of the omega in the stem would make sense if were a participle based on the contract verb (which contracts to ); but the accent and the endings are inconsistent with it being a participle -- the accusative plural would be .
The only explanation I can think of is that the alpha from that verb was in some sense retained in the noun, and the omega is still the result of a contraction. This theory may be supported by a term for "galley" that is used by Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, which is [De Administrando Imperio, Greek text edited by Gy. Moravcsik, Dumbarton Oaks Texts, 1967, 2008, p.246]. So we have a fixed root in .
As it happens, this retention of the omega in the stem can be seen in all the names of the months in the, e.g. , . This is still curious, but it shows that the declension of is consistent with ancient examples.
Rome and Romania, 27 BC-1453 AD, Note 9;
Mary Lefkowitz on Homer
A comment by Mary Lefkowitz gives us some insight into the bias or ignorance among Classicist scholars concerning Mediaeval Romania. I have previously addressed Lefkowitz's excellent book,, but also her of the false charges against Socrates, and her perpetuation of grammatical errors, from Burnyeat's. In her book Greek Gods, Human Lives, What We Can Learn from Myths [Yale University Press, 2003], Lefkowitz says:
The Iliad was read wherever Greeks found themselves as long as ancient Greek continued to be spoken. [p.53]
Of course, as we see from the incident with Maria Scleraena, the Iliad was read long after "ancient Greek" had become Mediaeval Greek, but the Classical language "continued" to be written and read. Lefkowitz implies, perhaps unintentionally, that the Iliad ceased to be read when ancient Greek ceased to be spoken. But the ancient language never ceased to be read, from the time of Homer right down to the present. It is just a question who was reading it and where, to which the answer for much of the Middle Ages was Constantinople and Romania.
As happens so often, Mediaeval Romania falls into a kind of blind spot, in which things that Lefkowitz certainly knows get unconsciously occluded. This problem continues in a footnote to the previous quote:
More than a thousand papyri of Homeric texts survive, more than those of all other authors put together, ten times as many as those of Euripides, the next most popular author. [note 1 of Chapter 3, p.242]
Reading this, one might think that the surviving texts of Homer consist entirely of papyri, documents that pretty much only survive from Egypt of the Hellenistic or Roman periods. We see in the manuscript section of the Loeb edition of The Iliad that there are "Numerous Papyrus fragments ranging in date from the third century B.C. to the fifth century A.D." [p.xvi]. Secondary sources are also cited for this, with revealing titles like The Ptolemaic Papyri of Homer [Stephanie West, Köln, 1967] and Greek and Latin Literary Texts from Greco-Roman Egypt [R.A. Pack, Ann Arbor, 1965]. However, we must reflect that Renaissance scholars, for instance, had no access to Greco-Roman papyri from Egypt, which are the fruit of the later colonial and archaeological exploration of, which dates only from the 19th century.
Thus, Lefkowitz has concealed from us the principle manuscript tradition of Homer, which consists of documents looted or otherwise transmitted from Constantinople and Romania. Thus, the Loeb edition references two manuscripts at Venice, from "the tenth century" and "the eleventh century," two manuscripts at Florence, both from "the eleventh century," one manuscript in Milan, "of the fifth or sixth century," and a manuscript in the British Museum, "A Syrian Palimpsest of the sixth or seventh century," which, however, may have been the fruit of modern archaeology or trafficking, depending on whether "Syrian" refers to proximate or remote origin, or both. The complete texts of the Mediaeval manuscripts of Venice and Florence would have been written in Constantinople on parchment, where papyrus has otherwise been replaced after the 8th century by, which itself was still more perishable than parchment. All of the Loeb manuscripts are certainly on parchment, although the editor's account of them does not say so.
Thus, the or Renaissance Italians reading Mediaeval manuscripts of Homer on parchment do not appear on Lefkowitz's radar and are precluded by the terms of her remarks. And so in practical terms she perpetuates the Western, Latin bias in which Mediaeval Romania and its culture has somehow just disappeared from history, as Civilization presumably jumps from Marcus Aurelius directly to, who must have been reading Homer on unavailable Egyptian papyri. Indeed, he was reading or, if he didn't have much Greek, looking at the Codices Laurentiani in Florence that are actually named after him and that he likely therefore must have personally acquired for the Medicean Library, where they are kept. Note that "Lorenzo" = "Lawrence" = "Laurentius," where on this page we know about in Christendom.
Rome and Romania, 27 BC-1453 AD, Note 10;
Anna Komnene, by Leonore Neville
Leonora Neville, the author of Anna Komnene, the Life & Work of a Medieval Historian [Oxford, 2016], does an excellent job vindicating Anna Comnena as a historian and explaining some of the peculiarities of her writing. However, as an example of historiography, Neville's writing itself displays some of the peculiarities of that genre.
First of all, Neville explains the way in which Anna shifts from strict historical narrative, in the haute histoire tradition of Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius, and Procopius to lamentations about her fate, suffering, widowhood, etc. Neville convincing argues that Anna wanted to be accepted as a serious historian, but she also did not want to be seen as unwomanly or, even worse, neglectful of a woman's duties. Thus, her devotion to her parents, husband, and children is on display, along with the proper emotional responses that would be expected of a woman; but this is interwoven with such claims and evidences as to vindicate her status as a historian. All of it, of course, is against a background in which women had never been historians and in which the proper role of women was to be quiet and supportive, behind the men. In juggling these conflicting requirements, Anna's skill in rhetoric and argument is fully engaged and effective, as was even the use of her monastic apartments to reinforce the impression of her piety. Later historians, however, down to the present, have still had difficulty crediting Anna for her accomplishment. One theory, as noted above, is that she didn't write the Alexiad at all. Her husband did. However, although Nicephorus Bryennius did himself write history, which survives, he did not write as well as Anna and, most importantly, his work was an apologetic for his own family, with judgments quite at odds with the evaluation of Alexius Comnenus in the Alexiad. Anna never would have written the history of Nicephorus; and he never would have written hers.
Neville also convincingly argues, with a detailed examination of the evidence, that the story of Anna planning or participating in a plot against her brother John is fictional. Again, the motive for such a construction may have been the hostility for the Comneni of Nicetas Choniates, compounded by a misogynistic hostility for Anna herself, with her "unnatural" occupation with history, philosophy, and literature transformed into a desire to actually replace her brother as the heir and "man" of the family. This is the kind of distortion that Anna may have feared herself, and its vehemence in the 18th and 19th centuries seems to have been no weaker than in the 13th.
In the course of her good work, Leonora Neville can display some distortions of her own. Thus, Neville doesn't mention the presence, or absence, of women historians anywhere else in history, apart from Anna's own Greco-Roman tradition, before recent times. On the one hand, such a concern, or unconcern, for other women historians might seem simply irrelevant; but, on the other hand, such an absence of notice allows and is consistent with a rhetorical strategy in feminism that frequently leaves the reader with the impression that Western Civilization has been uniquely sexist, patriarchal, and misogynistic in world history -- accompanied by a sense that there is a unique level of sin and guilt for this, from which other cultures, traditions, and civilizations are free. In this way, the oversights and their distortions feed into the bizarre self-hatred and political hostilities of liberal guilt. I have considered examples of this. Thus, while Chinese history features one woman historian, as I have noted, Pan Chao turns out to be as unique in her tradition as Anna was in hers. Meanwhile, despite the extensive writing of history in, there do not seem to have been any women historians. This is especially noteworthy when feminists often overlook, downplay, or even ignore the status of women in Islam, for fear of being charged with politically incorrect "," and out of reluctance to alienate allies in.
At the same time, the ideological and methodological presuppositions of feminism that "gender norms" are "socially constructed" as part of a "gender ideology" are frequently on display in Neville. This is no less than what we would expect from the modern academic. Where this practice diverges from conscientious historiography is that Neville never acknowledges or discusses that such a notion of "ideology," and its origins, was entirely foreign to the consciousness and beliefs of Anna Comnena and her age. So its uncritical use by Neville effects an anachronism in her treatment. We see this explicitly at one point, where she says that "[George] Tornikes presents these [gender] limitations on Anna's successes as lamentable, but never turns the lament toward any sort of call for cultural change" [op.cit., pp.127-128]. Of course, the idea that George Tornikes, or even Anna Comnena, would advocate "cultural change" in "gender ideology" verges on the preposterous. And that is because of what they actually happened to believe, whose absence from Neville's treatment allows the anachronism into it. Indeed, this statement makes it look like Neville is unaware of the beliefs that would preclude "any sort of call for cultural change." Intentionally or unintentionally, this means that we are not told about the historical context whose description and explanation is incumbent on the historian.
What Tornikes and Anna Comnena certainly believed, of course, is that men and women differ by nature and that the respective behavior expected of each is mandated by divine revelation. The former view, from the perspective of the Romans, goes back to the Greeks, while the latter, in the Middle Ages, was derived from the scriptures and traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. There will be no "cultural change" in either human nature or the Word of God. In a quote from Tornikes we even get a reference to the former, when he says, "Here is a woman belonging by nature to the fragile and delicate sex..." [p.128].
Although both of these beliefs are still widespread, not the least among modern Jews, Christians, and Muslims, with experimental evidence actually identifying between male and female physiology and neurology, Leonora Neville is certainly aware that even mentioning them would put her on perilous ground -- for the mere acknowledgement that such beliefs exist, or are even conceivable, let alone possibly true, is the sort of that can result in academics, or many others (e.g. at Google), being excoriated, penalized, or even fired from their employment. Neville labors in the shadow of modern totalitariansim, which has spread from the university to every "progressive" venue, whether or not she is aware of it, evades it, or perhaps even endorses it. In those terms, conscientious history is a low priority.
The treatment of Anna Comnena by historians, feminists, and others contrasts in interesting ways with the traditional treatment of the Empress, who in terms of actual history, rather than just writing about it, made a much bigger splash than did Anna. Irene, who deposed and effectively killed her own son, seems to have drawn nowhere near the vitriol than has Anna Comnena. This is puzzling. See discussion above.
Finally, we might note a peculiarity on the very first page of Neville's book, where she says that, "Birth in this purple room, the porphyra , gave Anna the exclusive title prophyrogennete -- born in purple" [ibid, p.1]. Prophyrogennete would be in Greek. However, if we look at the title page of the Greek text of the Alexiad, we see Anna Comnena identified, not as , but as , porphyrogénnêtos [Annae Comnenae, Alexiadis, Libri XV, Addidit Ludovicus Schopenus, Bonnae, Impensis F.D. Weberi, 1839, reprint, Forgotten Books, London, 2015, p.3].
Neville uses the word in the grammatical form of the first declension (of ), which is usually in the feminine gender; but the text of the Alexiad has the word in the grammatical form of the second declension, which is generally masculine or neuter. However, Anna herself knew, writing good Attic Greek, that compounds, like "purple born," take the forms of the second declension, even if they are used in the feminine gender. See other examples of this discussed. By Anna's time, spoken Greek could take the first declension endings -- just as the word in Latin for her would be porphyrogenita, never porphyrogenitus. Neville quotes Theodore Prodomus using "Porphyrogennete," which presumably has been accurately transcribed from the Greek [op.cit., p.115]. But that is not Anna's own speech.
So what has Neville done here? Does she object to because it is sexist for being in the second declension, something she is not going to tolerate? Does it just bug her that such compounds did not take the proper, first declension endings? Or has she sinned by denying Anna Comnena her own "voice," by substituting language that does not rise to the refined, Attic level of Anna's own discourse? This may be a tough call for anyone trying to navigate the confusing waters of modern academic thought crimes. But her failure even to mention the issue would seem to indicate some kind of defensiveness, personal discomfort, fear, or bad faith.
Unfortunately, Neville's instincts and habits in such a matter reveal questionable judgment when we look through her book. Thus, we find her quoting from the 1680 Byzantine history of Charles du Fresne du Cange, including the phrase, "Anna Komnene, Porphyrogennete" [p.154]. However, consulting the bibliography, the history of du Cange is in Latin; and, whether in Latin or French, du Cange would not have been using forms like "Komnene" and "Porphyrogennete." Instead, we would expect "Comnena" and "Porphyrogenita." So what has Neville done? She has taken words that transcribe the Greek alphabet and substituted them for expressions in Latin whose use in English was customary until quite recently. This falsifies the text of du Cange, treating it as a Greek text that must be transcribed, not as a text in the Latin alphabet whose words can be, and always have been, directly imported into English.
But worse is to come. Neville quotes Edward Gibbon saying, "Anna Komnene was stimulated by ambition and revenge to conspire against the life of her brother" [p.157]. However, Gibbon actually says, "Anna Comnena was stimulated by ambition and revenge to conspire against the life of her brother... [The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, The Modern Library, New York, Volume II, 395 A.D. - 1185 A.D., no date, p.911, boldface added]. So Neville misquotes Gibbon, and again alters and falsifies a text, this time one that is originally in modern English and does not need in the least to be translated or transcribed. Perhaps feeling some unease about this, Neville says in the footnote, "I have standardized the spellings of Byzantine names" [Chapter 10, Note 23, p.215]. So that's what it is! "Standardization."
However, if you are going to alter historical texts to taste, this calls for a more and better explanation than to "standardize the spellings." History means that you are aware of the past and faithfully represent it. Imposing a novel and ideological paradigm of transciption conceals and distorts both. This therefore would make us suspicious of the Greek texts Neville quotes. Thus, the will of the Empress Irene (Neville, of course, says "Eirene"), Anna's mother, stipulates that Anna inherit the apartments in the monastery complex previously mentioned. The quoted passage from the will refers to Anna twice as "prophryogennete," i.e. [p.135]. But now, is this reliable? Might the will actually use the good Attic , of whose existence we would be entirely unaware after reading Neville's book, where Neville never mentions or explains the word?
Neville's reliability, honesty, and conscientiousness as a historian is called into question, regardless of the otherwise sound scholarship of her book, by her failure to inform the reader about the issues involved in her feminist methodology and with both the Greek language and her transliterations. She has banished Latinate forms from her book, without discussion, regardless of how they occur. This is a "commissar vanishes" level of ideological rigor, and it warrants suspicion.
However, Neville does at least recoil from altering spellings in the actual titles of cited works. Thus, the bibliography is full of the Latin/English "Comnena" and even French "Comnène." Indeed, allowing titles to escape "standarization" means that the French "Alexis Comnène" (i.e. Alexius Comnenus) creeps into the main text, in the title of a painting by Alexandre Hesse (1806-1879), "Godefroy de Bouillon faisant acte d'allégeance à l'empereur byzantin Alexis Comnène" [p.160].
Looking at the bibliography, one might gather that it was the German scholars who pioneered the use of transcriptions like "Komnene," Germans who have long been content to cut Latin out of the loop of their own heritage, for nationalistic (and worse) reasons. Also, we might reflect that "Komnene" not only makes no concessions to English orthography but leaves us with what ordinarily would be a silent vowel at the end of the word, as in French. This means that the use of "Komnene" gives the naive reader no clue how to pronounce the name. Such a practice calls for, at least, a pronunciation guide, which Neville does not provide. German would have no problem voicing the final vowel of "Komnene," although in a way that would differ from either Classical or Modern Greek.
Despite all her political correctness, the Revolution, as we often see, devours its own. Neville commits the political crime of consistently calling Anna's brother "John." Anthony Kaldellis says that this is a practice of "filling Byzantium with people falsely named 'John'," and he has judged it -- although Kaldellis has, of course, filled Romania with something falsely named "Byzantium." If Neville says "Eirene" and "Alexios," she needs to say "Ioannes." One fears for the righteous punishment and retribution Neville may receive for his crime, since to be "offensive" (whether "mildly" or not) is one of the gravest transgressions that a progressive academic can commit. It is "," right up there with racism. Next thing, Neville may find a radical rent-a-mob demonstrating outside her home. She may need to bring in Clint Eastwood to say, "Get off my lawn."
Frock Flicks note: Today we feature a detailed review of the costumes in Outlander by Brenna Barks, an expert on Scottish dress and 18th-century fashion (and a Frock Flicks reader!). As soon as Kendra met Brenna and heard the words “studied Scottish dress as part of my master’s degree,” she said “REVIEW OUTLANDER FOR US!” For more on Brenna, you’ll find a bio at the end of this post. We’re excited to bring you such a detailed review written by someone who really knows her stuff.
As the only student in my class of the (Art) History, Theory and Display taught programme at the University of Edinburgh looking at dress and textile history – material culture more generally – it’s really not a surprise that the majority of papers I wrote that year were on tartan and Scottish dress. What started as a curiosity and an “easy” topic to research and use as the basis for a truly terrible virtual exhibition project has grown into a driving passion.
Wanting to do something different, I wrote my thesis on colonialism and the exotic other – specifically the influence of India on British dress, textiles, and society – research that has influenced my subsequent, though unpublished, research on Scottish dress and material culture. I’ve long thought I wanted to do a PhD examining Scottish dress as the romantic and exotic other, a perception that is pervasive and still very popular — as expounding false myths about tartan’s origins and uses proves. Unfortunately, the current economy has meant that funding for such a project is sparse if non-existent. I’d recently decided that I would instead write a book, when the magnificent Kendra and I began talking about costuming in “Outlander” at the Costume Society of America, Western Region, Symposium back in October.
I as yet hadn’t watched the show, and she mentioned my taking the costuming apart from the Scottish angle for Frock Flicks. Having loved the blog for quite some time, I was quite keen. As it also meant spending an entire weekend binge-watching Jamie and kilts followed by immediately getting my inner snark on, how could I possibly say no?
We’ll start with a disclaimer: I do, technically, have Scottish heritage. However, this is a recent discovery made by my father within the last few months of his genealogical research, not something passed down to me by parents or grandparents. I feel this is an asset, actually, because I do not have a vested interest in preserving or destroying any attitudes or ideas. My lack of “Scottish-ness” meant I could take things as I found them: Fascinating insights into the history of a topic I truly love.
Second, a word on terminology. In the United States, plaid and tartan are interchangeable. Not so in Scotland – one of many problems I found in the above-mentioned Jezebel article (we’ll get to the others in time). In Scotland, a “plaid” is simply a long length of fabric or a blanket. This means that when someone is referring to the wearing of a plaid, it could be a woman’s arisaig, or it could be the long end of the kilt that is often looped up in a brooch, or it could, quite frankly, be a plain blanket with no patterning whatsoever. Tartan is the pattern. Tartan is always a twill weave. And the change in patterns comes from the different “setts” or groupings of lines of color. You can see two different setts below in the tartans for the (Royal) Stewart and Macdonald of the Isles tartans – two families that had a huge rivalry which resulted in subsequent attitudes toward the Highlanders as traitors and savages and not to be trusted – for more information, I highly recommend BBC Scotland’s “A History of Scotland” episode 4, and not just because host Neil Oliver is easy on the eyes.
Now on to the important bit. The first problem was that from the sheer perspective of male Scottish dress of the 18th century, I had very little to snark about. Especially not after the mid-season premiere opened with Jamie giving a very, very accurate portrayal of how a Highlander wore his kilt. I’m sure your hearts bleed for me and my having to watch and rewind, and watch and rewind in order to capture the screencaps below. This may have happened more than strictly necessary; I neither confirm nor deny anything.
What this opening sequence does in a better way than I could describe is demonstrate how the 18th-century (and 17th and 16th and possibly 15th – but probably no sooner) Highlander got dressed in a kilt. A plaid is laid out, pleated by hand, then the man lies down on it, wraps the ends round himself, buckles his belt, and the remainder of the plaid is draped around the coat and pinned to the chest of the jacket.
See, how am I supposed to snark about something they get SO RIGHT? Le Sigh.
This was not the first instance where I was shocked at the accuracy – or at costume designer Terry Dresbach’s subtle defiance of the mythological expectations? – in the show.
I was piqued after the “ghost of Jamie” scene, which seemed to show exactly the right silhouette and attire for an 18th-century Highlander (does anyone else hear an echo of “there can only be one” whenever they read that word?). As you can see in the screencap below, there is the long kilt – again for reference about what a short kilt is, see “A History of Scotland,” specifically episode 9 – with the plaid looped over a frock coat and pinned in place, and he is clearly wearing a tam, which does appear to be blue. It’s straight out of Dr. Johnson’s history of his travels in the Highlands.
This was further brought home in the scene in the hut immediately after Murtagh’s rescue of Claire. We see an array of tartans, many of which seem travel- and sun-bleached. This is appropriate because the Highlands were not wealthy. They were downright poor. At the first conference I attended and spoke at, a fellow Scottish dress historian shared her research into the post-Culloden Highland dress. She had done this through combing through funerary records and often a single kilt/plaid was all the clothing a Highlander wore. Thus, Angus and Rupert’s kilts looking more than a little weather-beaten is absolutely accurate. More so is Dougal’s wearing of “trews” or trousers.
There is rather a lot of debate within Scottish dress studies about which was more popular, the kilt or the trews. There is even a full Jacobite suit on display at the National Museum of Scotland (below) which is often used to underscore this question. The suit was commissioned and worn by an English Jacobite, Sir John Hynde Cotton, Baronet, and altered a lot throughout his life because of his love of food. Sir John specifically requested trews as the “more accurate” Scottish dress. However, you must admit – and the travel journals confirm – that the kilt was more unusual and thus more remarked upon. The kilt had a distinctive advantage in the Highland countryside where the bracken, heather, and heath are rather unfriendly and like to cling to woven fibers. Trust me on this – I made the mistake of going on a trek up Arthur’s Seat before the jet lag had worn off, there was a falling and not getting prickly bits out of my sweater or jeans for a week incident. A kilt stops above the level of the shrubbery, enabling the wearer to move freely – as opposed, perhaps, to the English, trouser-wearing soldiers they might be up against.
My personal belief is that this was more sport and hunting clothing than standard garb – see my favourite portrait of Sir Mungo Murray by John Michael Wright (1683) below – or that worn by foot soldiers. I just can’t imagine someone wanting to ride a horse for miles and miles in a skirt without underpants. That sounds … uncomfortable to me.
However, the above screenshot of Dougal and “the boys” is a wonderful compromise. It shows kilts of various tartans and degrees of wear, but Dougal is also wearing trews, and a waistcoat that would have been quite fashionable, thus showing that there was a variety of choice.
This was confirmed later, during “The Rents” episode (#5) when young Willie is being harassed by the other men. Willie clearly wears trews – and more specifically, Willie’s trews are of a completely different tartan than anyone else’s.
This is why I find it hard to attack Ms. Dresbach’s portrayal of Scottish dress. Is it 100% accurate? No. But she has producers, stylists, and audience expectations to contend with. I will get to the things that go wrong and which sort-of irk me shortly, but for the most part, she and her team have done their research. I would kill to work with them.
Most of all, what blew me away were the tams (hats). This is the ONE aspect of Highlander dress that is irrefutable. People may argue about kilts versus trews. They may argue about tartan. But the tams are everywhere. And Dresbach has them everywhere. Look at the comparison between the screencap from “Sassenach” below with a photograph of evicted Highlanders during the Clearances. Taking into account the change in styles over 120+years, she gets it darn correct – as you will see in the portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie later.
At the risk of infuriating more than a few people, to counter the BIGGEST problem with the Jezebel piece – and to reiterate what I put in my of a few years ago – allow me to tell you that there is NO SUCH THING AS CLAN TARTAN.
Okay, that is not strictly true. There is definitely clan tartan. There is even an official register for it. However, the idea of clan tartan predates the American Thanksgiving celebration by a decade to 25 years. And American Thanksgiving, as the revealed a few months ago, is basically Civil War propaganda designed to try and give the Union and Confederates common ground.
But this idea that there were people going out after the end of the Acts of Proscription to “collect” the “ancient” clan tartans for the register is completely bogus. The Acts of Proscription were enacted by Parliament in 1746, post-Culloden, to try and prevent a further uprising. In fact, it was cultural genocide designed to successfully wipe out Highland culture. And it did. Remember that.
This was largely because Bonnie Prince Charlie got really, really close to taking London and that frightened the Hanovers. He will remain for time and all eternity a “might have been.” As well as banning the Gaelic language (because you can totally police what people on the islands and in the Highlands speak when they know you’re not around), the Acts included the Dress Act, which banned the wearing of tartan and Highland dress. There was a misperception that tartan and Highland dress were the marks of Jacobite sympathy. They weren’t – it was the white cockade you wore in your hat (blue tam) as seen in the portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie below.
In a way it backfired and tartan became a symbol of resistance. So much so that a young advocate (lawyer) named Walter Scott would use it in his novel, Waverley, which would not only reinvent Scottish Highland culture, but give it to the world, and get young Walter a baronetcy.
In his novel – a novel so seminal that the main train station in Edinburgh is called “Waverley,” not “Edinburgh” – Scott made tartan and clan tartan a staple of Highland life. It had an “ancient” and long tradition.
Except it didn’t. There is no evidence of tartan as we know it until the late 15th to 16th centuries at the latest. Archaeological evidence supports the blander fabrics such as the shepherd’s plaid/tartan below as far back as the third century of the Common Era – but simple check patterns are not what we think of as tartan.
Nevertheless, the now Sir Walter Scott’s imaginings – designed to counteract the demand for a voter-reform act that would come in 1832 through a bizarre nostalgia, wishing for a feudalistic world of loyalty and acceptance of “one’s place” that probably never existed – were popularized first through his novels (publishing began anonymously in 1814, but the secret did not remain so for long), and were cemented when he acted as stage manager and master of ceremonies for George IV’s visit to Edinburgh in 1822. As the Keeper of Scottish History for the National Museum of Scotland told my class once, George IV was desperate to be loved by someone and he certainly wasn’t going to be loved by his wife … so he came to Edinburgh. This very public royal approval of Scottish life made Sir Walter Scott’s attitudes permanent. And quite frankly, who can blame the Scots? Highland life had been intentionally and all but completely obliterated. If a Scottish lawyer wanted to give them back their culture and their dignity, they would accept it with relish.
The current clan tartans are, quite frankly, brilliant marketing. No doubt Sir Walter Scott got his idea from the Black Watch regiments, all of whom wear the same tartan. But then again, as a military unit, they would. In fact, the Black Watch regiments were commissioned by George II in 1725 or so following the 1715 rising (led by Bonnie Prince Charlie’s father, unsuccessfully) to patrol the Highlands of Scotland. The Hanoverian “clans” signed up in droves. The government commissioned Wilsons and Son of Bannockburn to design a tartan for the regiment and thus the first permanent sett was created.
Until Black Watch, tartan setts were vague and varied, as you see in the below screencap of “The Gathering.” You picked the design you wanted, and you paid for the colours you could afford.
This is where it gets tricky, and where I start to make a puckered-lip-disapproving face at “Outlander.” All – and I do mean ALL – of the accounts basically describe the Highlanders as peacocks. They liked bright colors, reds and particularly blues. And the 18th-century portraits portraying tartan bear this out. You wore your wealth to advertise your status – thus if you could afford red either from China or South America, or blue in the form of lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, you bought it and had it woven. You didn’t bother to prove clan loyalty through fabric, you did so through the very brooch that Jamie threw away before his “oath” at the gathering. Why? Because it was not HIS clan insignia and motto. Or if you could not afford the silver – and many could not – you did it through a “clan” herb or plant, such as a white rose or white fabric cockade in your bonnet, to prove your loyalty to the Jacobite cause.
But, Scottish people of the 19th century had read their Sir Walter Scott novels and wanted to know what their clan tartans were. There was no “collecting” of them – as the Jezebel article and multiple others suggest. Instead, quite frankly, you walked in, asked for your tartan and Wilsons of Bannockburn plucked a sett at random off the wall and put your name on it. From there, it has become more formalized. And 200 years in, there are absolutely clan tartans. You wouldn’t claim that there is no United States because it wasn’t here 5,000 years ago. But this idea that something must be millennia old to simply exist, that if it’s not depicted in “Outlander,” then somehow the show is wrong, or that your clan tartan doesn’t exist — this is a denial of the present Scottish culture. A culture that has endured cultural genocide and remade itself and did so with eyes wide open but redefining itself without outside influence, expanding what was given it into the present day tartan industry and register. A living, breathing, modern culture that thrives and moves with the times, and which is not denigrated simply because the inventions of Sir Walter Scott did not really exist in 1743 Scotland.
But I digress.
This desire – expectation, really – for “clan tartan” is evident in the show during “The Wedding” (#7), but here it is not the fault of the costume design team but of the story. The story calls for Jamie to demand to be married in Fraser attire. That this would have meant his insignia, not a specific tartan is immaterial. Costume design exists to further the story, so Ms. Dresbach and her team complied with the story rather than the history. That is their job, after all.
The problem is that this resembles a dulled version of the Fraser hunting tartan.
Though again, this is catering to probably a combination of producer and artistic director ideas about the show’s general aesthetic and a public misperception about which colors were available. And it underlines what I find distracting about the fabrics in the show with my personal background. The tartans are all too modern. They are subtle and in keeping with modern ideas about taste and sophistication, and about what life was like in the 18th century. Though it is hard to fault a costuming team for complying with what the audience wants to see. The movie/television industry is out to make money, and people pay more for what meets their expectations and demands.
All of the historical accounts of tartan mention it as a fabric that is bright in color, as you can see below in an account of Highland dress from 1600:
… the habite of the Highland men … is stockings (which they call short hose) made of a warm stuff of divers colours, which they call tartane … A jerkin of the same stuff that their hose is made of; their garters being bands of hay or straw, with a plaid about their shoulders, which is a mantle of divers colours, much finer and lighter stuff than their hose, with blue flat caps on their heads.
Other accounts specify a penchant for red and blue – those being the most expensive dyes after purple.
Yet as you can see, the tartans in the show are subtle, not bright. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there were no subtle tartans, I must admit. Only those who could afford them would have tartans in reds and blues and bright colors. Everyone else had to make do with the local vegetable dyes. And visitors would only notice what was really, really obvious. Like the kilts and the bright colors, giving us perhaps a skewed historical perception of what was worn.
See what I mean about it being very difficult to get snarky about the costumes? Ruined my whole plan.
The actual setts might be too modern as well. Most people painting tartan in the 18th century didn’t really know what they were doing. But as you can see in the two portraits below, they tended to be far blockier and less subtle than seen in “Outlander.”
A portrait of Flora Macdonald from the Scottish portrait painter, Allan Ramsay, shows the fabric in more detail. Even here, though, the sett is far bolder than anything seen in the show. But again, I do understand the costuming team’s need to balance historical accuracy with audience expectation. People don’t seem to realize that there were trade connections between Britain and Afghanistan at the time Stonehenge was built, let alone in 1743.
There’s also the fact that tartan, essentially an expensive fabric, is used to line Claire’s cloak. You don’t hide fabrics that expensive – at least not in Highland culture, which was rather flamboyant.
So basically, the mixture of trews and kilts, the mixture of tartans is all absolutely right. Even if I, personally, find much of what Claire wears “too modern.” After all, just because we DON’T have the records for subtle tartans at this point doesn’t mean they weren’t there. There is a constriction to provable use within the re-enactment/academic fields that film, television, and stage costuming don’t have.
And quite frankly, I love the subtle rebellion against the popular misconceptions that Ms. Dresbach and her team snuck in in the form of different, if subtle tartans; the mixture of trews with kilts, etc. It shows that they know their research, know what the audience wants, but are still quietly going to get as much historical accuracy as Hollywood will allow in where they can.
And then there is the 1970s to early noughts knitwear. Oh em gee. Distraction, distraction, distraction. There was indeed knitting happening. There is even an entire department at the University of Glasgow’s textile history department dedicated to the history of Scottish knitting. But it was not done on chunky needles using chunky yarn. Knitting needles were tiny – literally needles – at this point.
But again, they are catering to a general aesthetic for the show, and trying to use some history to further that aesthetic and the story, and probably ensure that Caitriona Balfe doesn’t freeze to death on set. Or Graham McTavish for that matter.
As you can see in the image above, McTavish as Dougal is wearing cuffs knit in stockinette in the round with a garter-stitch border under his frock coat and shirt. I’m a knitter, so I know what I’m seeing here. The stitches are too big, etc., for the time period as far as I know. But it does make me wonder… mid-18th-century frock coats DID have those large, open cuffs. That’s a lot of room for cold drafts to sneak in.
I lived in Scotland for a year. I did my internship in an 18th-century, north-facing seat of an earl. It gets really, really cold. So staring at those cuffs in the above scene from “The Garrison Commander,” I found myself wondering what they did do to keep their wrists and necks warm.
Even if it’s not completely accurate, it inspired a research question – and that’s not really a bad thing, is it?
So, where next?
We meet the Earl of Sandringham on Saturday. Who may or may not have shared Sir John Hynde Cotton’s Jacobite sympathies – but is definitely too subtle to wear a flamboyantly tartan suit, even if he is flamboyant in, ahem, other ways. What will he be wearing? There are also, from the teaser images, suggestions of Jamie wearing trews. Why the shift? Also, why do men’s legs look skinnier in trews than they do in a kilt? Seriously.
All I know, is that as someone who has dedicated my research life to Scottish dress, I can’t wait to see what Terry Dresbach and her team have in store for the rest of the season.
Bank, Jeffrey and de la Chapelle, Doria (eds). 2007. Tartan: Romancing the Plaid. Rizzoli: New York.
Cheape, Hugh. 2006. Tartan: The Highland Habit. National Museum of Scotland: Edinburgh.
Finlay, Victoria. 2004. Color: A Natural History of the Paintbox. Random House: New York. (for dye histories)
Grange, R.M.D. 1966. A Short History of the Scottish Dress. Macmillan: New York.
Reid, Stuart. 2013. Scottish National Dress and Tartan. Shire Library: Oxford. (for sterotypes)
Thompson, J. Charles. 1981. So You’re Going to Wear the Kilt: A Handy Guide to Wearing Scottish National Dress. Paul Harris Publishing: Edinburgh. (for larks)
About Brenna Barks
Brenna Barks is a dress historian and material culturist who completed her MSc in History, Theory, and Display at the University of Edinburgh in 2010. She is the Managing Editor at, has contributed to a forthcoming encyclopaedia of American fashion history, and was recently published in Jane Austen Knits 2014. Her current research interests focus on clothing and material culture and their social implications from circa 1740 onwards, particularly that of Scotland, India, and the British empire. She has also been known to moonlight on the topics of social and cultural history between 1910 and 1940, and on the clothing and culture of Japan — the latter having been the focus of her undergraduate studies.
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