These are the ruins of the Land walls of Constantinople located in modern Istanbul (Turkey). They are over 1500 years old and for more than 1000 years they protected the capital of the Eastern Roman empire and one of the greatest cities of both the Antique and Medieval worlds. It is impossible to fully describe their history in a single paragraph. Throughout the ages they have withstood numerous sieges by armies of the Sassanid Persia from the territory of modern Iran as well as by Avars from the Balkans and Slavs from Bulgaria and Rus. The Arab armies of the first Jihad which swept across Europe, Africa and Asia were stopped and defeated beneath these walls. Their might impressed visitors from all corners of the world including Vikings from Norway such as Harald Hardrada, French and Norman leaders of the first crusade as well as countless pilgrims and ambassadors from regions as diverse as Spain, Ethiopia, Armenia, Scotland, Poland, Khazaria (where Judaism was adopted as the official state’s religion), Syria, Persia, India and even China. Today their abandoned ruins are covered with flags of Turkey and numerous commemorative plaques recall how they were conquered by the Ottomans nearly 1100 years after they were built. In essence they are made to serve as a monument for the Ottoman military glory and feature in numerous films about the siege of Constantinople in 1453. To be honest I could never understand such glorification of conquest, rape and plunder, Ottoman Empire was a fascinating state with intriguing culture and history but the fact that conquest, invasion and domination were so important in its identity never appealed to me. I would very much prefer to associate these walls with the heroism of the defenders and the security which they granted to the inhabitants of Constantinople for so many centuries. Lastly, they are in a way a burial monument of the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI who died defending them and his body was never found. There are no other burial monuments of Byzantine Emperors because the 900 year old church of the Holy Apostles when they were buried since the time of emperor Justinian was deliberately erased to the ground by the Ottomans so these walls just have to do.
PS. I did not mention the fourth crusade here because the crusaders who sacked the city in 1204 and plundered its wealth massacring most of the inhabitants made a breach in the sea walls and not the land walls of the city.
Never existed an "Byzantine Empire" neither a "Byzantine People".
Constantinople was, first, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire and later, after the destruction of the Western Roman Empire, the only capital of the Roman Empire for the next 1000 years.
The inhabitants of the empire and of the Golden Apple (nickname of Constantinople) were greek-speaking romans, not greeks or byzantines.
The use of the term "Byzantine" by the academy today, is only a lazy tradition, with foundations in the discriminatory treatment of the the eastern roman history by german and french academics in the XVI and XVII centuries.
To conclude: is ridiculous and a sign of profound discrimination and an inflated academic pride, giving to an entire culture and people a name that had no meaning for them.
Roman Empire, not "Byzantine Empire".
Romans, not "Byzantines".
And, regarding to your advice, it would be great if you followed your own advice...
If you feel so strongly about this topic, please, write an academic paper about it, if you want I can give you contacts to academic Journals and editors dealing with Byzantine/Eastern Roman Culture. Perhaps there you will be able to phrase your argument more elegantly, with references in which you will outline why using this term is harmful and why everyone before you was wrong. If it passes peer-review I will be very interested to read it - honestly!
Lastly, a few words about terminology. Of course, you are right that Byzantine is not a medieval term. However, in the academia people use many such terms and the reason for this is utility. Think about Celts or Kelts for example, or Vikings - the meaning of these terms now is different than the original one - of course these groups of peoples did not think about themselves as Celts or Vikings in the same way as people of La tene culture did not think that their culture is called La tene - we do not even now how they defined the term 'culture'. Similarly, scholars use the terms crusader castles or Crusader States even though no one in the medieval period thought of the kingdom of Jerusalem as a 'crusader state'. These new terms are used to describe new phenomena, for example distinct cultures or types of artistic styles and frescoes. Do you honestly think that because no one in the medieval period used the term Romanesque Art or Gothic, the whole term is wrong and should not be used?
It's easy to imagine how impressive it must've been to those living in the times of old (meaning before it was
conquered), and as always the description gives it so much "life" and credibility.
What I really like about that picture is the angle - it gives us a perfect view both into the past (the ruined wall)
and what is now (the buildings on the left). I find this very symbolic (at least as symbolic as the trash scattered all around).
replies as hardly any one responds in the way you do
Yes, I think that shock and depression is unavoidable
when you go to that kind of places and then again some
cultures take on an entire different view at historical objects.
(I get those feelings about every ruined castle by the way - doesen't
really matter that it's 600 years old and no one lived there
for a really long time, somehow whenever you hear the word
"castle" you imagine all that splendour you read about, although
you know it's long gone, you still unconsciously expect to see it
there). And anyway - some places really ancient in Poland were also kept
in a poor conditions until recently and no one really bothered - I guess
that there's time and place for everything so who knows? Maybe we'll
live to see those ancient cities restored to it's former glory (maybe not wholly,
but one shouldn't be that demanding )
They are a masterpiece of Military defence architecture .. to bad the builders didn't see the Cannons coming
"one of the greatest cities of both the Antique and Medieval worlds" dont Forget the modern World.^^
it may sounds crazy, but somehow we have to celebrate the fall of These Walls as well as it is a part of the beginning of the Rennaisance which mainly occured due to lots of academics leaving the City and moving to north Italy. When finally the conserved ancient knowledge broke free from this .. beautiful but a litle bit to religious City, and went west to the much more seculare Republics of North Italy
But great Abstract,.. was a joy to read it , and the snapshot is great
Wow, thats a really friendly and Longe Response.. merci .. didnt expect that one coming
My source is actually the german Wikipedia. (i know, not the best Kind of source)^^ ..
But sure, the Reconquista had also it's effect like many other things else, like you said. Actally i have to agree to all of that. Maybe i overrated the fall of the Walls a litle bit. But in the End it has the same effect. Maybe not the fall itself, but the Long period of decline before the fall .. but ive got to less Information left.
btw. merci, and great Hollydays back.