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  • The Byzantines

    In 1453 Mehmed II, Sultan of the Ottoman Turks, age 21, decided to turn his attention to the decrepit Byzantine Empire (former Eastern Roman Empire) to sieze the valuable city of Constantinople (founded by Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome).

    More history here.

    Anyway, the question I have is thus:

    If the Ottoman Turks had failed to sieze Constantinople, would the Byzantine Empire had any chance of existing as a nation, or would the Turks have just taken the City at a later date?

    What if Mehmed turned his attention west, and instead of attacking Constantinople conquered the rest of the Slavic areas, leaving the Byzantines alone (for know). Would the danger from the Ottoman's have forced the other European powers to 'come to the aid of our fellow Christians' to check the Ottoman's advance, perhaps eventually driving them back into Turkey and leaving areas of SE Europe in Byzantine hands?

    Imagine: The Turks have conquered much of SE Europe, and are threatening the Hungarians and Austrians. Families like the Hapsburgs would definetly feel threatened and use thier incredible influence to help draw European powers together, perhaps even getting the Pope to declare a new Crusade to drive the 'heathen' back and reclaim the SE European provinces.

    This call brings the Holy Roman Empire (HRE) to amass and army, along with Hungary, and Spain (who were militant Catholics and had relations with the Hapsburgs), who defeat the Ottomans in a massive battle, killing the Sultan and driving the Ottomans from Europe.

    Now, perhaps the Byzantines would be given some of this territory to control (in exchange for becoming a vassal of the Hungarian, perhaps, or for the Byzantine Emperor to marry into the Hapsburg line), while the Hungarians and HRE would take the rest (while Spain would recieve compensation from the tribute the Turks would give in exchange for peace).

    The Byzantines would keep thier independence, but would never retain thier former glory. But for how long?


    Istanbul was Constantinople
    Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
    Been a long time gone, Constantinople
    Why did Constantinople get the works
    That's nobody's business but the Turks
    ***http://istanbul.ytmnd.com/***

  • #2
    Actually, the Ottoman Turks did capture most of the Balkans and their armies made it all the way the gates of Vienna and into Hungary before the tide receeded.

    I doubt bypassing Constantinople would have been wise,...would have been like leaving a large enemy force astride your line of communications. Bad practice as strategy goes.
    The Purist

    Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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    • #3
      Even if the Ottomans would have done something as stupid as bypass Constantinople, when the europeans ran them back home screaming they would have simply turned their attentions to the shell of the Byzantines, and overrun them and split their lands up. Or do you remember the last crusade, where they sacked Constantinople for kicks and giggles, and never bothered entering the holy land?
      Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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      • #4
        Originally posted by TacCovert4
        Even if the Ottomans would have done something as stupid as bypass Constantinople, when the europeans ran them back home screaming they would have simply turned their attentions to the shell of the Byzantines, and overrun them and split their lands up. Or do you remember the last crusade, where they sacked Constantinople for kicks and giggles, and never bothered entering the holy land?
        Hmmm,...I don't think it was the last Crusade, IIRC it was part of the disasterous 2nd, and your right, they never even made it out of Anatolia before being slaughtered.

        BTW,....the Europeans never sent the Ottoman Turks running home screaming. It took centuries to slowly erode away the Turks power in the Balkans with the last vestiges not collapsing until 1918.
        The Purist

        Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by The Purist

          BTW,....the Europeans never sent the Ottoman Turks running home screaming. It took centuries to slowly erode away the Turks power in the Balkans with the last vestiges not collapsing until 1918.
          I can only think TC4 is referring to the breaking of the Siege of Vienna.
          Signing out.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Full Monty
            I can only think TC4 is referring to the breaking of the Siege of Vienna.
            Ah, yes, I see. Chalk one up for the Europeans.
            The Purist

            Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

            Comment


            • #7
              Ah yes, I would seriously doubt the Ottomans would have left the Byzantines around also.

              However, what if they were unable to take the city for some reason. Perhaps Mehemd was struck down by a disease only weeks after taking the throne, and was unable to impliment his ideas for capturing the city?

              What if this was coupled with an against all odds Byzantine victory against the Turks? Could there be a resurgent Eastern Roman Empire if the Ottoman's had a) thier army destroyed in a freak disasterous loss and b) the line of heritage for the Ottoman throne was throne into dissaray (I remember the Byzantines once had thier hands on a successor to the Ottoman throne, I just forgot what happened to him)?

              If the Ottomans were too distracted to finish off the ailing Byzantines, could they have made a moderate comeback and survived a few more centuries, or were the Byzantines doomed to destruction one way or another?

              Every gal in Constantinople
              Lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople
              So if you've a date in Constantinople
              She'll be waiting in Istanbul

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              • #8
                Eastern "Roman Empire"

                In examining the eventual demise of the Byzantine Empire and the fall of Constantinople to the Turks we need to recognise that the Eastern "Roman" Empire ceased being Roman at the end of the reign of Justinian in the 6th Century CE. Justinian was the last Roman who viewed the entire Empire both East and West as a sigle political entity. He was the last to make a conscience efforts to regain the lost territories. Within a few short generations very few Byzantines knew or understood Latin...the language of the Romans. The Eastern Empire was Greek..the language of commerce and government was Greek. Yes, it continued to carry some of the vestiges of the earlier Roman Empire, and it citizens called themselves Romani...when in fact there were no Romans among them.

                This is not to put down their rather remarable achievement. Byzantium served as a viable political and religious entitiy for nearly one thousand years...nearly as long as Rome itself. The West must always be indebted to her constancy and bravery in serving as a bulwalk against Muslim expansion. Her Emperors, while not in the cut of Augustus or Hadrian, or even Diocletion, repeatedly used masterful tactics, strategy, and diplomacy to overcome vastly superior enemies. At a time when most of Europe lay in the dark ages, Constantinople shined like a beacon of hope for the Christian world.

                That such a city should suffer its own destruction in the hands of fellow Christians nearly two centuries before the Turkish victory is but a sad example of the twist and turns of fate. The Crusaders of the 2nd Crusade were on their way to Egypt to try to take back the Holy Land from the Sacracens. They placed themselves deeply in dept to Venice to transport them to their goal...a debt they could not meet. Enter a desposed Byzantine Emperor seeking to be rejoined to his throne and a blind Venetian Doge intent on gaining additional power at their expense, and we have these stalwart Western heros standing below the triple walls of the Golden Horn, The fact is Alexis was restored to his throne whereupon he disavowed his promises to pay their debt and the Byzantines proceeded to make life rather unpleasant for these would be liberators. That they grew angry and made war with each other is but the result of centuries of mounting ignorance and distrust of one Christian people for another. The story goes that forty thousand crusaders stood before a Byzantine Army of over two hundred thousand under the very eyes of that great city's Emperor and populace. Facing sure death...the Crusader's did what every fighting man in the western tradition would do...charge. Thats what they did....and the Byzantine Army ran for its life. Constantinople fell and pillege and butchery became the order of the day. Its sad, and the whole Orthodox Church continues to this day to hold it dear in deep memory and to never to forgive the hated West for such an evil act. Yet the culpability rests firmly on both sides. A sad day for Christiandom. Ultimatley this continued hated of one European people for another laid the groundwork for the Turks victory. Put up against the wall by Mohomets daring, many a Greek "Romani" perfered a Turkish slipper on his throat then a Latin "mitre" in his Church. Such is the folly of man.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by The Purist
                  Hmmm,...I don't think it was the last Crusade, IIRC it was part of the disasterous 2nd, and your right, they never even made it out of Anatolia before being slaughtered.

                  BTW,....the Europeans never sent the Ottoman Turks running home screaming. It took centuries to slowly erode away the Turks power in the Balkans with the last vestiges not collapsing until 1918.
                  Actually the last vestiges collapsed before the Great War. During the 1st Balkan war, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Montenegro created an alliance and striked at the Ottomans. Due to their incorrect strategy, the Turks collapsed quickly. In the end, the only remaining European lands under the Ottoman empire were Istanbul and its outskirts. Its still the same today.
                  "Beneath its gilded beauty, though, there lies a poorly designed game which rewards the greedy and violent, and punishes the hardworking and honest; and if you think about it, that's a good representation of capitalism" - Nightfreeze about Eve Online

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Churchill
                    <snip> That such a city should suffer its own destruction in the hands of fellow Christians nearly two centuries before the Turkish victory is but a sad example of the twist and turns of fate. ...<snip>... Constantinople fell and pillege and butchery became the order of the day. Its sad, and the whole Orthodox Church continues to this day to hold it dear in deep memory and to never to forgive the hated West for such an evil act. Yet the culpability rests firmly on both sides. A sad day for Christiandom. Ultimatley this continued hated of one European people for another laid the groundwork for the Turks victory. Put up against the wall by Mohomets daring, many a Greek "Romani" perfered a Turkish slipper on his throat then a Latin "mitre" in his Church. Such is the folly of man.
                    First off, that was an Incredible post Churchill. Very nicely put.

                    So do you think that the Byzantines could have defeated the Ottomans (if helped by some ahistorical events, like Mehmed dying early, etc.) and secured thier existence for a few more centuries, or were they doomed to failure eventually?

                    I would like to keep the romantic notion that the Byzantines could have survived if the Turks were defeated soundly, but I just can't decide for myself if there was a realistic chance of it happening.


                    Sunday sunday sunday... the Byzantine Empire versus... the Cruuusaaaaderssss!!! Kids seats are still just $5!

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                    • #11
                      [QUOTE=daemonofdecay]Ottoman's had a) thier army destroyed in a freak disasterous loss


                      Ah yes I remember something like this. Lord of the Rings III I do believe it was. That would be about what it would take for the Ottomans to have had a freak disastrous loss against the Byzantines. Otherwise, the Byzantines would have needed the help of a crapload of crusaders, something that wasn't going to be requested, or given if the Byzantines had felt desperate enough to request it.
                      Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by daemonofdecay

                        So do you think that the Byzantines could have defeated the Ottomans (if helped by some ahistorical events, like Mehmed dying early, etc.) and secured thier existence for a few more centuries, or were they doomed to failure eventually?

                        I would like to keep the romantic notion that the Byzantines could have survived if the Turks were defeated soundly, but I just can't decide for myself if there was a realistic chance of it happening.
                        It's the timing of the conquest that makes any chance of it not happening highly unrealistic. The Byzantine Empire had waxed and waned (mainly waned) over the previous five or six centuries. On the other hand, the Ottomans were the rising power who, by 1453, were still nowhere near their zenith. Byzantium was doomed.
                        Signing out.

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                        • #13
                          Back home I have an excellent three volume set published by Penquin (and a one volume abridged version) about the complete history of Byzantium. I can't recall the authors name at the moment but I'm sure Amazon has them.
                          The Purist

                          Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TacCovert4
                            Ah yes I remember something like this. Lord of the Rings III I do believe it was. That would be about what it would take for the Ottomans to have had a freak disastrous loss against the Byzantines. Otherwise, the Byzantines would have needed the help of a crapload of crusaders, something that wasn't going to be requested, or given if the Byzantines had felt desperate enough to request it.
                            Hehehe. I can imagine the scene now. As Mehmed's forces begin breaching the walls around Constantinople, the Patriarch of the city returns with his two companions, an angry midget and a fey man with abnormally pointy ears, at the head of the undead host army of Alexander's Macedonians!

                            They swoop down onto the ammassed Turks, cutting them down without mercy and leaving only shredded bodies in thier wake.

                            Byzantium is saved, and the beacon of civilization in Middle Earth will continue for many more years!


                            This requires Danny DeVitto, Leonard Nimoy, and Brad Pitt to play the Patriarchs companions (angry midget, fey man with abnormally pointy ears, and Alexander...)

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                            • #15
                              Alternatives!

                              Let us keep it in focus. Could the Byzantines, notwithstanding their waxing and waning over the course of thousand years, succeeded in turning back Mahomet. Well, if your considering alternatives with viable precedents then the answer must be an unqualified yes. In the course the Constantinople's existance she suffered many attacks and many sieges. Her walls and her genius in diplomacy and craft helped her turn away many an army of even greater numbers. The Ottoman's success came at a time when a number of somewhat unrelated conditions coalesced to drain the Empire of the resources necessary to fend off Mahomet lastest thrust. In my opinion, the primary cause was the growing distrust and bitterness of the Orthodox east and the Latin west. Religious strife separated the two branches of the Church at a time when Byzantium sorely needed the arms and resources only the west could have provided for her rescue. The loss of Anatolia during the previous decade was another major factor in her inability to mount a successful defence. The penny wise and pound foolishness of certain Christian kings who failed to met the price of an ironmonger of unusual talents...the bombards that shattered the triple walls of the Golden Horn were the work of Christian genius, not Islamic skill. The growth of Islamic naval resources had allowed the gradual expansion of Ottoman power into the islands and coastal regions of the Aegean until even Greek Fire could not alter the naval imbalance which, more than any other factor, drew the shade of darkness over the Byzantine Empire. But the marvel in not that Byzantium fell....but that she succeeded so many times in turning away threats to her existance. Mahomet was not a great strategist...like most of his contemporaries, he bludgoned his way into the Holy City! The shame of her fall must be borne by all Christians...

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