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Importance & mythology of famous battles

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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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    Posted: 14 Jan 2010 at 00:29
Originally posted by Reginmund Reginmund wrote:

Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

I always like to compare thermopylae with the battle of Kosovo (1389) in terms of the overhype and propaganda it gets (Tours and Vienna also come to mind too) and the incessent need to give it an macrohistorical importance beyond what it was actually is. A desperate skirmish that ended with catastrophic casualties and consequenses (half of Greece was burned to the ground before the main army left back keeping a token force that was defeated the next year). I mean respectable western historians go haywire when it comes to this battle and whole heartedly adopt the Herodotus version (which talks about 5 million wanting to invade poor greece) as the word of God.
 
I don't understand, these battles are all among the most significant in European history. The heavy casualties suffered by the Serbians at Kosovo made the vassalage of Serbia possible for the Ottomans, the sieges of Vienna marked the end of Ottoman expansion and the loss of the city would have been of major importance to the Austrians and all Christendom, and the battle of Tours was the successful conclusion to a long campaign by Charles Martel to stop Moorish armies from raiding southern France.
 
Thermopylae's significance was more purely inspirational, as stated above it's hard to see how a three day delay would have undermined the Persian strategy and it was probably impossible to defend Boeotia from being raided. The casualties suffered by the Persians were considerable though, and the Greeks really did everything right in focusing their defence in narrow terrain further south, as is shown by subsequent battles.
 
Hello Regi
 
I think we had the discussion several times before but again I think a repeat won't be bad.
 
All those battles are of trivial importance. The balance of power before was the same as after and all weren't important then (except Vienna) and only became so much much later.
 
In Tours, it was a raid againts a rich monastary. On the way back the force was ambushed and the governor died. He was the third governor to die in battle. The theater itself was a side show of a side show and already the orders to withdraw south of the Pyrennes were issued and forced began to withdraw before the battle even began. Gibbon turned this battle into what it is today.
 
Most of Serbia was already under control of the Ottomans before Kosovo, indeed most Serbs fought with the Ottomans that day and Serbia continued to be a very loyal vassal state (the only vassal state that didn't betrey the Ottomans after Ankara). Even if the Ottomans lost they lost battles before and after and it didn't stop their expansion.
 
Finally about Vienna, Paris was the capital of "christendom". Vienna was a small town back then and it was 1000 Km from the Ottoman bases in Bulgaria. Enough said.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote es_bih Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan 2010 at 03:56
Regi the Medieval Balkans aren't your strong point especially the battle of Kosovo. The previous battles were moreso important. There wasn't a Serbia to speak of at Kosovo. There was a "King" of Serbia, residing in Jajce, Kingdom of Bosnia, several miles away, and holding only some Serbian land. There were numerous princes and warlords. Not to mention that this army wasn't composed of Serbs, or more properly people from the Serbian lordships, but from Bosnia, Hungary and other domains as well. The two domains mentioned earlier went on for decades. Bosnia - the closest - fell in 1463, that is quite some time after Kosovo. The battle became a part of mythology, but mythology isn't always history. At least not in its entirety.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan 2010 at 19:18
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

 All those battles are of trivial importance. The balance of power before was the same as after and all weren't important then (except Vienna) and only became so much much later.
 
 
If you look at how contemporary and later Frankish sources speak of Tours, you'll see it was considered quite the major event. Stopping enemy armies from raiding your lands is no triviality. First off raiding undermines the economic basis of the kingdom and second raids were commonly used to probe the enemy's defensive capabilities. Had the Moorish armies been able to raid freely I don't believe for one second this wouldn't inspire further raids and in the end conquest.
 
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

 Most of Serbia was already under control of the Ottomans before Kosovo, indeed most Serbs fought with the Ottomans that day and Serbia continued to be a very loyal vassal state (the only vassal state that didn't betrey the Ottomans after Ankara). Even if the Ottomans lost they lost battles before and after and it didn't stop their expansion.
 
Well indeed, my point was just that; the victory furthered Ottoman expansion by weakening the Serbs.
 
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

 Finally about Vienna, Paris was the capital of "christendom". Vienna was a small town back then and it was 1000 Km from the Ottoman bases in Bulgaria. Enough said.
 
This is some of the strangest logic I've come across. So it doesn't matter who is conquered as long as it isn't France? First off any Ottoman conquest of a Catholic country would have been seen as a disaster in Europe, not least for the Austrians whose entire history would have shifted direction from being the frontier bastion of Christendom to being another Ottoman dependency. If Vienna had been taken the front would have moved further north, what made Vienna significant was that it wasn't taken and marked the end, and Austria would come to play a central part in European history, not least as opponents of the Ottomans.
 
This is way off track of course and for my part I'll end this part of the debate here.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan 2010 at 23:51
Originally posted by Reginmund Reginmund wrote:

Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

 All those battles are of trivial importance. The balance of power before was the same as after and all weren't important then (except Vienna) and only became so much much later.
 
If you look at how contemporary and later Frankish sources speak of Tours, you'll see it was considered quite the major event. Stopping enemy armies from raiding your lands is no triviality. First off raiding undermines the economic basis of the kingdom and second raids were commonly used to probe the enemy's defensive capabilities. Had the Moorish armies been able to raid freely I don't believe for one second this wouldn't inspire further raids and in the end conquest.
 
First of all, there was no Frankish state back then. The franks were still organised in disunited tribes and petty states and each one fought the other and allied themselves with the invader.
 
Second, to find out if the battle is important on the macroscale we need to look at it from that perspective and if we use it we will find that Tours was just a battle, nothing more nothing less. It was important because it was a route, previously defeats were on the small scale but in this battle the entire army was routed and don't forget, victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat. This is why it was celebrated early on, because of the leadership and bravery of Martel nothing else.
 
Later on during the crusades the battle took on a new meaning and that continued to this day.
 
 
Originally posted by Reginmund Reginmund wrote:

Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

 Most of Serbia was already under control of the Ottomans before Kosovo, indeed most Serbs fought with the Ottomans that day and Serbia continued to be a very loyal vassal state (the only vassal state that didn't betrey the Ottomans after Ankara). Even if the Ottomans lost they lost battles before and after and it didn't stop their expansion.
 
Well indeed, my point was just that; the victory furthered Ottoman expansion by weakening the Serbs.
Yes but what if the Ottomans lost, would they have gone as far as Vienna? Plus don't forget, what actually happened after the victory? Which new lands were conquered? Which states were distroyed? The answer is none. After the battle crusaders invaded the Ottoman territories in Bulgaria and were defeated, later on the Ottomans lost most of their european positions because of Ankara.
 
Now if any battle had any importance in the macrohistorical perspective it would be Ankara not Kosovo since it was Ankara that stopped the Ottomans not Kosovo. The Ottomans were defeated before Kosovo and still won the war but Ankara stopped them in their tracks.
 
Originally posted by Reginmund Reginmund wrote:

Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

 Finally about Vienna, Paris was the capital of "christendom". Vienna was a small town back then and it was 1000 Km from the Ottoman bases in Bulgaria. Enough said.
 
This is some of the strangest logic I've come across. So it doesn't matter who is conquered as long as it isn't France? First off any Ottoman conquest of a Catholic country would have been seen as a disaster in Europe, not least for the Austrians whose entire history would have shifted direction from being the frontier bastion of Christendom to being another Ottoman dependency. If Vienna had been taken the front would have moved further north, what made Vienna significant was that it wasn't taken and marked the end, and Austria would come to play a central part in European history, not least as opponents of the Ottomans.
 
This is way off track of course and for my part I'll end this part of the debate here.
 
No it is not. The Ottomans invaded the Ukraine numerous times but didn't stay. They conquered Romania and Moldova and didn't stay and this is the case when both coutries were close to their bases. Vienna was some 1000km from their bases. Conquering it would have done nothing to them and they themselves knew they couldn't hold the land (Remember Tabriz the Persian capital, it was on the borders and they took three times and voluntarily withdrew). They just wanted to distroy the city hoping that the kingdom falls (just as they did in Romania) and then their vulnerable and valuable Hungarian provinces would be safe.
 
If Vienna fell the balance of power would have changed that much. France, then Britain then Spain then Poland would still be the most powerful focres in Christendom. The Ottomans would have returned back because they simply couldn't go any further (the mountains, rivers, hostile population and logistics). Saying Europe was saved by Vienna is simply utter nonsense.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Seko- Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan 2010 at 23:58
Vienna should be looked upon as a high water mark of western Ottoman expansion. In and of itself it was a failed attempt the first time (not necessarily a loss since the army withdrew intact). The Hapsburg monarchy would have continued as would the Holy Roman Empire regardless of the outcome.


Edited by Seko - 14 Jan 2010 at 23:59
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan 2010 at 01:00
There was a Frankish state; the kingdom of the Merovingians, which at the time of the invasion was under the control of the mayors of the palace, the later Carolingians. The kingdom at times experienced civil war, as was the case in 732, and the Duke of Provence tried to use the Moors as allies against the expanding influence of the Carolingians.
 
And what more than a battle would it be? Most battles are just battles and not followed by great upeavals. Tours was important for many reasons; it stopped the raiding army, it had a religious dimension, it helped stabizile the Frankish realm and greatly strengthened the position of Charles Martel. I'm not sure what your expectations were, but for my part a battle doesn't have to be followed by a global shift in power structures in order to be seen as important.
 
I agree that Ankara was a more important battle for the Ottomans, but Kosovo was significant in its region and I repeat myself helped the Ottomans subjugate the Serbs. You say the Serbs were already more or elss conquered, but if that was the case there would not have been an army at Kosovo. Clearly someone needed to be defeated, and they were, at a heavy cost.
 
Like you say, if Vienna fell Austria would be in a similar position to Romania and Moldova, which would have been a major disaster for Christendom. I have never said Vienna "saved Europe", that's ridiculous as conquering a city is not the same as conquering a continent, but it would have brough Ottoman influence further into Europe, something most European Christians dreaded. How far away their bases were is irrelevant, the Ottomans were able to build new bases and Vienna itself would have made a fine one. I'm in agreeance with Seko here; Vienna is important because it's where the Ottoman Empire was stopped in Europe, which is more than enough to qualify it in my book.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan 2010 at 02:23
Hello Regi
 
Well we are off topic so I will try to make this simple.
 
My position on Tours is that it was given a macrohistorical importance. Yes it was important since it was the high mark of expansion for the Ummayyads in europe but to say europe would have been muslim if the battle was lost as almost all historians claim is stupid. It did shape Frankish France but that is it. Muslim already withdrew from Lyon and the Rhone valley and the raiding party was going back from the raid. Al-Ghafiqi was going to go back to Cordoba after the battle not establish a base for future conquest. The shaping of medieval France was not a direct consequence from this battle nor was it the most important reason for it.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan 2010 at 04:43
I agree with Regimund about his assesment of Kosovo and Vienna.
 
Kosovo, regardless of the composition of armies fought was a crucial point both for Serbs and for Turks, after all the Sultan was slain that has created a serious though not crisis in internal Ottoman policies.
 
Vienna, an importan city or not, but it marked the end of the Ottoman expansion in Europe. And it's also obvious that the Ottomans and their oponents had spent a tremendous amount of resources for this campaign.
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Originally posted by Sarmat Sarmat wrote:


Kosovo, regardless of the composition of armies fought was a crucial point both for Serbs and for Turks, after all the Sultan was slain that has created a serious though not crisis in internal Ottoman policies.


Which Serbs, or what Serbs? There were numerous duchies, some were in Ottoman hands already, some were in Serbian lords' hands, and some in the Bosnian King's hands.

The Ottoman Sultan died, yes, but that didn't do much to slow the Ottoman drive, and it didn't do much for the "Serbs" over-all because there was no Serbia to speak of before or after. It is a bloated mythical tale - not much there. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote es_bih Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan 2010 at 10:12
As promised I've compiled our posts that were off-topic in the thermopylae thread, and moved them here to a new one so we may discuss both in their entirety, and of course so that neither is off-topic. 
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Gee, isn't it fun when national myth clashes with historical facts and by that I mean what does the historical record faithfully transcribe for the succeeding generation after the event. I am afraid that with regard to Tours--most certainly Kosovo--as well as Vienna (and here I must ask which siege of Vienna we are discussing) Al Jassas is essentially correct. The touted numbers proclaimed by the chroniclers, most not even contemporary to the event, for Tours are logistically impossible. In fact, they are as believable as the Chanson de Roland, that is to put it mildly sheer fiction. In this regard I would respect more the chronicle of 754 known as the Continuatio Hispana. In addition, there were subsequent trans-pyrennean ventures by the Umayyads after Tours besides the troubling fact that Arab forces remained in control of the old Visigothic Septimania for another generation during which interim civil war sundered the caliphate. How one can speak of "unified" Franks is a bit strange since in the context of the Septimania there were no Franks to be found. If Tours was a decisive event, it was solely in terms of the Merovingians...they disappeared from the political scene. Now back to my original question: Which siege of Vienna are we discussing, 1529 or 1683?

Edited by drgonzaga - 16 Jan 2010 at 03:48
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In the Australian mindset, Gallipoli occupies the central place of importance in Australian military philosophy. It is another example of how, like Kosovo, a nation of people will take a military defeat and identify within the destruction of their own people the traits and qualities they like to imagine their people embody.

Of course, to many foreigners the idea of celebrating a defeat seems unfathomable.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote es_bih Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan 2010 at 15:24
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

In the Australian mindset, Gallipoli occupies the central place of importance in Australian military philosophy. It is another example of how, like Kosovo, a nation of people will take a military defeat and identify within the destruction of their own people the traits and qualities they like to imagine their people embody.Of course, to many foreigners the idea of celebrating a defeat seems unfathomable.


Yes. I'm glad someone addressed that the mythology is important, which is a cultural or religio-cultural phenomena.

The battle itself did nothing for the campaign at large, etc.
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Mythology and identity has always been shaped by battles. Since the earliest moment in history, bards and poets have sung tales of heroic deeds performed, and taught generation after generation if their people the moral lessons that elders wish their young to know.

In the case of Gallipoli, especial attention was drawn to one Private Simpson, who saved many wounded men on his own by carrying them on the back of his donkey to safety despite the extreme hazards of crossing open terrain under Turkish sniper fire. Simpson lost his life and was venerated forever after for what he did.

But one must ask why Simpson was chosen, out of the many heroic men who served, to be a sort of 'poster boy' (no disrespect to him intended) for the Australian war effort. Part of the appeal in him especially was that he was brave without being vicious, his fame came from the fact he put himself in continuous danger to help his 'mates', not in how many enemies he could insert his bayonette into. This, in my mind, made him a preferable hero. Australians are neither a militant nor bloodthirsty people, but do revere a sort of masculine comradery and disdain for danger - so Private Simpson made for a natural choice in constructing the nation's military mythology.

Don't know why I went into that, just felt like it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan 2010 at 17:48

Hello to you all

Thanks es_bih, I wanted to put a thread but you did it for me and under my name.
 
As for the siege, its the 1683 one. Scarcely anyone knows about the earlier on (In fact I never remember reading about the old siege in a massive book marking the 300th anniversary of saving "christendom" as the revered author constantly repeats in the book).
 
As for mythification of battles, I think there is no prime example than Alexander Nevsky. I mean that guy is literally worshipped in Russia and I keep wondering why? The first I heard of the guys name was while reading about a massive church in Bulgaria and then I found that almost every orthodox slavic country has a massive church dedicated to him. When I read about this mysterious guy I read that he was the hero of a battle with the Teutonic knights and thats it. He was a golden horde vassal like almost everyone in Russia at that time and the battle itself in the macrohistorical level in just another battle. Western historians mention little about it but it is the Russian Marathon.
 
In world war II the Soviet authorities didn't promote Suvorov as much as him, scacely mentioned Russia's real hero Peter the great but promoted Nevsky in two huge films (understandably since he fought the terrible Hun too).
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote es_bih Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan 2010 at 18:07
No problem buddy, this way we can discuss both of course, and have 2 good topics. Cool
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote es_bih Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan 2010 at 18:09
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Hello to you all

Thanks es_bih, I wanted to put a thread but you did it for me and under my name.
 
As for the siege, its the 1683 one. Scarcely anyone knows about the earlier on (In fact I never remember reading about the old siege in a massive book marking the 300th anniversary of saving "christendom" as the revered author constantly repeats in the book).
 
As for mythification of battles, I think there is no prime example than Alexander Nevsky. I mean that guy is literally worshipped in Russia and I keep wondering why? The first I heard of the guys name was while reading about a massive church in Bulgaria and then I found that almost every orthodox slavic country has a massive church dedicated to him. When I read about this mysterious guy I read that he was the hero of a battle with the Teutonic knights and thats it. He was a golden horde vassal like almost everyone in Russia at that time and the battle itself in the macrohistorical level in just another battle. Western historians mention little about it but it is the Russian Marathon.
 
In world war II the Soviet authorities didn't promote Suvorov as much as him, scacely mentioned Russia's real hero Peter the great but promoted Nevsky in two huge films (understandably since he fought the terrible Hun too).
 
 
AL-Jassas

Good post Al Jassas. I'm glad I opened this topic, we have already had several good posts to continue and expand the topic. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Majkes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan 2010 at 19:14
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Hello to you all

Thanks es_bih, I wanted to put a thread but you did it for me and under my name.
 
As for the siege, its the 1683 one. Scarcely anyone knows about the earlier on (In fact I never remember reading about the old siege in a massive book marking the 300th anniversary of saving "christendom" as the revered author constantly repeats in the book).
 
 
AL-Jassas
 
There were actually 3 sieges of Vienna: in 1529 and 1683 by Ottomans and in 1619 by their Hungarian vassal of Ottomans Gabor Bethlen.
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Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Hello to you all

Thanks es_bih, I wanted to put a thread but you did it for me and under my name.
 
As for the siege, its the 1683 one. Scarcely anyone knows about the earlier on (In fact I never remember reading about the old siege in a massive book marking the 300th anniversary of saving "christendom" as the revered author constantly repeats in the book).
 
As for mythification of battles, I think there is no prime example than Alexander Nevsky. I mean that guy is literally worshipped in Russia and I keep wondering why? The first I heard of the guys name was while reading about a massive church in Bulgaria and then I found that almost every orthodox slavic country has a massive church dedicated to him. When I read about this mysterious guy I read that he was the hero of a battle with the Teutonic knights and thats it. He was a golden horde vassal like almost everyone in Russia at that time and the battle itself in the macrohistorical level in just another battle. Western historians mention little about it but it is the Russian Marathon.
 
In world war II the Soviet authorities didn't promote Suvorov as much as him, scacely mentioned Russia's real hero Peter the great but promoted Nevsky in two huge films (understandably since he fought the terrible Hun too).
 
 
AL-Jassas
 
I think Nevski was promoted during WWII because he was fighting Germans exactly the same enemy as in WWII while Peter the Great mainly Swedish and Suworow Turkish, Polish and French. That's why he was being used by Soviet propaganda, the same was for example going on in Poland with Battle of Tannenberg.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan 2010 at 20:04
Yes but here is the thing. Most of the Nevsky literature and glorification is older, much older. Churches were dedicated to him on a mass scale since the 1700s. The Balkan churches were all built in the 19th century.
 
In WWII he was promoted for his struggle against the Germans but before that I simply can't find a reason why he of all Russian historical figures (Cathrine, Peter, Ruric, Ivan III and IV etc) got all the publicity.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan 2010 at 20:18
I don't think there has ever been a single battle that saved a continent or ideology, it's something a journalist might write for sensationalism.
 
Tours was initially of great significance to Frankish internal politics, but with the religious climate that evolved in subsequent centuries it was remembered for being a battle between Christians and Muslims and not because it helped the Carolingians rise to prominence or stabilized the Frankish realm. Septimania remained on Moorish hands because the Goths who held it were still loyal to the Moorish autorities. After Tours the Franks attempted seize the region as they had with Toulouse, but it was successfully defended by the Goths. Later on they shifted allegiance to the Franks, though not without controversy as there was still a strong anti-Frank faction in favour of the Moors.
 
Regarding Alexander Nevsky, he is also credited with having defeated a Swedish invasion in 1240 at the battle of Neva, which supposedly is what made him famous in the first place. While the battle on Lake Peipus is well documented, there is no contemporary mention of the Neva battle. Swedish sources do not mention it at all (I have read most if not all of the Swedish source material for this period), which could be explained with bias but they do relate other defeats and portray them as noble stands against the heretics, so I see no reason why they would leave out this one. The Russian sources don't mention the battle until a century later, which is curious given its alleged significance, but then it's described as a battle of great proportions that threatened to wipe out Novgorod. The Swedes did lead a crusade against the Tavastians in the late 1230s, and while this was certainly a threat to the Novgorodians who were competing with the Swedes for control of Finland's tribes, it was not directed at Novgorod itself. The crusade was also a complete success and Tavastia remained a part of Sweden for 600 years. What could be possible is that the Swedes in extension of this success decided to probe further east and were turned back.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan 2010 at 21:19
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

 
In WWII he was promoted for his struggle against the Germans but before that I simply can't find a reason why he of all Russian historical figures (Cathrine, Peter, Ruric, Ivan III and IV etc) got all the publicity.
 
AL-Jassas

Alexander Nevskij has been used as a propaganda tool since long before the Second World War. The Nevsky part comes from him defeating a semi-mythological Swedish raid on the Neva in 1240, when Novgorod and Sweden competed for the Finnish lands in nowadays Finland, Karelia and Ingria.  Peter I later used him as a propaganda tool to legitimize his claims on the Baltic shores and moved Alexander's remains to S:t Petersburg. That the myths surrounding him still lives on is apparent: he recently won a vote as the most important Russian ever, and on wikipedia today you can read things as "The Neva battle of 1240 saved Rus' from a full-scale enemy invasion from the North", which is complete nonsense.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan 2010 at 22:02
Originally posted by Styrbiorn Styrbiorn wrote:

That the myths surrounding him still lives on is apparent: he recently won a vote as the most important Russian ever
 
Most overrated Russian ever, then. Apart from leading armies, the knyaz of Novgorod did not have much influence, as Novgorod was ruled by a merchant oligarchy who appointed and dismissed military commanders as they saw fit. When the Teutonic Knights invaded, Alexander was summoned to lead the defence.
 
The Wiki article on Alexander Nevsky is a disaster. It's a panegyric detailing all his exploits but cites only three sources; a much later chronicle, a book on Swedish history and the BBC.
 
Most important Russian could be Peter the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Lenin or maybe even Vladimir I, who brought Christianity and Roman civilization to the Rus. Stalin is the most important Georgian.
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And birds of prey
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jan 2010 at 04:34
Strangely enough, the appearance of this discussion brought to mind the verbal altercation of a few years back when 300 was released to movie theaters. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard was not pleased to say the least:
 
The movie's slavish imitation of the anti-Iran discourses by those circles is inextricably tied up with its voice-over metaphoric thrust, reflecting a subtle propaganda that feels no obligation to respecting the sensibilities of the Iranian people.
 
In a sense, what is being discussed here is sensibility. And often, historical interpretation of past events are shaped by contemporary exigencies and the foibles of hindsight. Were there decisive battles in History, most certainly, but in discussing them we must do so in terms of their immediate consequences. For example, which the more important: the Battle of Leipzig (1813) or the subsequent engagements conjoined as the Battle of Waterloo (1815)? Much the same question can be raised if the Battle of Granicus (334) is juxtaposed to Issus (333 BC).
 
Now, as already mentioned, the Battle of Tours can not be posited as a great confrontation between the forces of Islam and those of Christianity--that mindset was totally alien to the 8th century. The proposition also makes mush of the socio-political realities that brought an end to the Kingdom of the Visigoths and history in the Iberian peninsula of the 8th and 9th centuries. In a sense the aura of Tours is made out of the whole cloth of Romanticism within historiography.  
 
(TO BE CONTINUED)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jan 2010 at 16:02
Constantine, in re:  "Of course, to many foreigners the idea of celebrating a defeat seems unfathomable."

Actually, it appears to be quite common. The Texans have the Alamo, and the French Foreign Legion their 'Camerone" day, celebrated on 30 April, every year. I assume that you read Carlyon's book on Gallipoli, where he makes a similar point and does much to strip away legend from fact. I think that the real point is that a nation can find in a military defeat the genesis of understanding that they are no longer the people they thought they were, and have become something else. I think that some American historians used to argue that the genesis of the American Revolution lay with Braddock's defeat. Just a thought.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2010 at 04:30
Along these lines think what the French did with Vercingetorix and the siege of Alesia? In many ways this discussion is integrally related to 19th century Nationalism and its impact on historiography. Let us look at a contemporary celebratory fetish: the English look at El Alemain as the turning of the tide; the Russians choose Stalingrad; while the Americans laud Normandy. Hell, look what the 19th century Germans made of the Teuteborg Forest...silly momument and all.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2010 at 05:09
Hello to you all
 
Returning to the subject. Nationalism and religion aren't the only reasons why certain battles became of mythological importance. Sometimes its pure racism.
 
The first battle I read about that didn't involve an Arab/Muslim side was Marathon and the writer portrayed the battle as if the only reason why Persians invaded Greece was to distroy their democracy and implement their "eastern" ways. European civilization was saved on that failed and Europe took the banner of civilization ever since (his words). Now for a 13 year old child this meant nothing but later on I learned much. The book was written in the mid 19th century when colonialism was at its height and was full of racist crap of those days.
 
Now I can understand this battle being celebrated then but Marathon is still portrayed in those same words the guy used 150 years ago. Seeing documentries on it and the general history of Greece and region I wonder how did this crap survive Academia's deconstructionism.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2010 at 09:36
Well, Al Jassas, don't blame historians for the continuing romance of the Classicists. After all, it was the Greeks in their perpetual rivalries that first involved the Persians within the politics of the Western Aegean. Historians have long chuckled over intellectualizations such as "the banner of civilization" given the fact that the "idealization" of the Greeks has as many holes as a roll of Swiss cheese. Were the "Midized" Greeks wrong when they made their choices?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2010 at 20:52
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Along these lines think what the French did with Vercingetorix and the siege of Alesia? In many ways this discussion is integrally related to 19th century Nationalism and its impact on historiography. Let us look at a contemporary celebratory fetish: the English look at El Alemain as the turning of the tide; the Russians choose Stalingrad; while the Americans laud Normandy. Hell, look what the 19th century Germans made of the Teuteborg Forest...silly momument and all.


And the monument even stands on the wrong place.

But at least the Teutoburger battle were of some importance.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2010 at 23:33
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Returning to the subject. Nationalism and religion aren't the only reasons why certain battles became of mythological importance. Sometimes its pure racism.
 
The first battle I read about that didn't involve an Arab/Muslim side was Marathon and the writer portrayed the battle as if the only reason why Persians invaded Greece was to distroy their democracy and implement their "eastern" ways. European civilization was saved on that failed and Europe took the banner of civilization ever since (his words). Now for a 13 year old child this meant nothing but later on I learned much. The book was written in the mid 19th century when colonialism was at its height and was full of racist crap of those days.
 
From what I can see this author had a problem with Persian values and form of government, not their race.
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Which brought ten thousand pains to the Achaeans,
And cast the souls of many stalwart heroes
To Hades, and their bodies to the dogs
And birds of prey
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