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Omar al Hashim View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Aug 2010 at 15:27
The Arabs preferred to fight with the desert to their back. That way they could always escape and manuever where Roman and Persian armies couldn't follow. In anatolia there is no desert, so the manueverability of the Arab armies would be reduced. Neither were the Arabs really soliders, they fought because it was something that everyone had to do. They certainly weren't looking for soliders, they didn't even let non-Arabs* into the army.
 
I stand corrected about the Berbers. Though my point still stands with Lybia, there also local Arab tribes sided with the Arab invaders against the Byzantines. Although I am not totally familar with the Lybian campaigns, Lybia would also have been an area that was very difficult for Byzantium to defend while being very easy for the Arabs to attack.
 
There doesn't need to be another visible local power to replace the muslim elite if Constantinople had been conquered. Spain was in the same position, and indeed, so were the Balkans after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. Your making the assumption that a people will convert to the religion of its leaders. This is not always the case. To know why you must know why nations convert - which, as I have said, is not something I think we'll ever know. Therefore any argument over whether a place would or would not be a particular religion if such and such had happened is flawed because its based upon assumptions that are impossible to prove.
 
*Excepting if a non-Arab wanted to join. If that makes sense.


Edited by Omar al Hashim - 03 Aug 2010 at 15:32
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Aug 2010 at 16:02
Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

The Arabs preferred to fight with the desert to their back. That way they could always escape and manuever where Roman and Persian armies couldn't follow. In anatolia there is no desert, so the manueverability of the Arab armies would be reduced. Neither were the Arabs really soliders, they fought because it was something that everyone had to do. They certainly weren't looking for soliders, they didn't even let non-Arabs* into the army.


I see what you mean now. Though this factor would not, and did not, stop them from taking a interest in conquering non desert areas. The Arabs invaded wherever they could, be it fertile delta regions in Egypt, the mountains of Armenia, or even the islands of the east Med. They may have started out as desert warriors, but they quickly adapted to fighting in other environs.

As for being soldiers, well very few people back then strictly fit the definition of a professional employed in a standing army. What we can say is that a far greater proportion of the Arab male population had martial training and experience, and valued martial prowess, to a greater degree than many contemporary societies. This is certainly true in comparison to your average Greek peasant (though by the 10th century it was your average Byzantine Anatolian who was more warlike than a typical Syrian Arab).

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

There doesn't need to be another visible local power to replace the muslim elite if Constantinople had been conquered. Spain was in the same position


They didn't finish off the local Spanish elite entirely, and from that remainder sprung the kingdoms which ultimately defeated the Muslims in Spain (though it took so long).

Quote so were the Balkans after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.


Late 19th century nationalist movements are rather different from early medieval feudal ones though. Plus those nationalist movements would not have succeeded without the intervention of other large powers in the decades before to weaken the Ottomans (i.e. Russia). So there were competing powers in the Balkans in the 19th century, most certainly.

Quote Your making the assumption that a people will convert to the religion of its leaders. This is not always the case.


But it was the case in lands which Muslim armies had invaded and installed themselves as the elite. Sometimes the conversion was quick, other times slow, but what is undeniable is that conversion continued along that trajectory once the conquest had been completed and consolidated.

Quote To know why you must know why nations convert - which, as I have said, is not something I think we'll ever know. Therefore any argument over whether a place would or would not be a particular religion if such and such had happened is flawed because its based upon assumptions that are impossible to prove.


But we can make contemporary comparisons. This process did occur elsewhere in the Middle east after the conquests. The question should be, what makes you think a similar process would not have occurred in Byzantium had this land been conquered and remained securely under the rule of Muslim elites?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Aug 2010 at 18:52


Quote Constantinople in itself was both wealthy and of enormous strategic importance. Control of that city and its environs was of far greater value than the poorer and less populated lands in the Maghreb. It controlled all trade between the Black and Med seas, a large amount of east-west trade, was the logical stepping stone between the Caliphate and Europe. Certainly the Arabs considered it a worthy enough prize to spend years meticulously planning its capture and marshalling forces far more vast than they directed towards any other theatre (80,000 land troops and hundreds of ships for the siege of 717 alone).

Anatolia was also important. While perhaps not as wealthy and fertile as the Nile valley, it did possess good agricultural land which proved a perfect recruiting ground for good soldiers and heavy cavalry. Yet despite being only a few hundred miles from the Abbasid and Ummyad capitals, the Arabs also did not conquer this region.


Strategic yes, but if it was worth their while they would have had at Byzantium like the Turks did, they tried, failed and gave up whereas the Turks tried, tried and tried again until they got their coveted prize.

Byzantium although important (as a status symbol with perks, I'll concede), was not a be all and end all for the Arabs, I think that much is apparent.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

The Arabs preferred to fight with the desert to their back. That way they could always escape and manuever where Roman and Persian armies couldn't follow.


Did you make this up?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Aug 2010 at 19:16

Hello to you all

Interesting discussion but there are alot of errors and misconceptions that need to be clarified.
 
First of all, Constantinople's conquest was largely symbolic than of any real strategic benifit. The prophet is said to praise the guy who conquers the city and that was the motive for the two early campaigns against the city. Again, other than those two campaigns there was simply no other major campaigns directed against the Byzantines that compare with the first round of conquests. All the minor campaigns showed that Byzantium was simply too weak to offer any resistance.
 
In two summer campaigns Erzurum and Erzincan were easily conquered. A single summer campaign by Al-Walid reached and held land as far as Afyon and the number of troops invested in both campaigns was very small, no more than 20k men. If Al-Walid wanted to conquer the city he would have easily done it and why shouldn't he, in 710 he had 60k Arabs in NA, 80k+ Arabs campaigning in Central Asia, 30k campaigning in Sindh, 20k+ Against Mazandran, 30k in Khazaria and Azerbaijan and only 20k with his brother in his base at Marash. And I haven't even discussed the number of auxilaries who fought with the Arabs.
 
Second point is about the goals and motives behind the conquests. As a caliph, the Ummayyds were very responsible when it came to their troops and their money. Only when muslim population concentrations are under direct threat or as the case in North Africa overran will they do whatever they can to protect muslims. Muslim settlement in conquered border lands was especially forbidden (ever since the first Caliphs) which is why Central Asia is largely Arab free and its countryside converted fairly late. The problem was always in people who converted and In North Africa and Bukhara region alot did and since they were under direct threat Abdul-Malik Ibn Marwan, Al-Walid, Omar II, Yazid II and Hisham all did whatever they could to keep the peace and secure the muslim population even if it meant stopping the conquest of Byzantium. I would go on to give examples but it will take time but Qutaibah's 9 campaigns and Musa Ibn Nusair's north Africa campaign are a perfect example on this policy.
 
From this perspective we can understand why Byzantium was never really a concern. it was simply too weak to offer any kind of strategic threat but too expensive to waste resources on it while other far more important and very far regions lay at stake.
 
A third reason is economic, Khorasan alone (with Central Asia being part of it then) was responsible for 1/4th of all revenue, NA also had a significant share of the revenue as was Azerbaijan, Rayy (facing Mazandran) etc. The money that came from conquering Byzantine lands was simply not worth it especially if we know that the Campaign against Byzantium in 717 literally Bankrupted the state (it used the entire revenue of that year and the year before forcing the state to impose taxes for the first time) as Omar II found when he ascended to the throne. Omar (who was crown prince) vehemently opposed the campaign so did Suleiman's chancellor and his brother and commander of the Byzantine front but to no avail.
 
Fourth point, The Berbers had nothing to do with the conquest and then reconquest of NA, in fact they were completely in league with the Byzantines and were lead by the kahina, Kusailah and many others. Hassan ibn al-Numan and then Musa ibn Nusair's campaigns between 695 and 710 were to reimpose Ummayyad rule and liberate the thousans of enslaved Arabs and it was on a second note a Berber vs Arab war and the latter were not merciful in their vengence .
 
Final note about the Ummayyad (and Abbasid) army. Omar's assumption of that Arabs were worrior nations where there were no soldiers is completely wrong. In the initial conquest this might be true but not after that. During the late Rashidi rule the Byzantine Theme system was adopted with a touch of old Roman army organisation. Details are sketchy since all the detailed books on this subject were lost but there was some sort of a reserve force, a standing force with a fixed number of years of service, pensions and ranks. Anyone could join provided he is a muslim Arab or a moula (muwali, allied) to a Arab tribe. Christian Arabs were part of the aux. and only called upon during crises (like the Khazar invasion).
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2010 at 02:20
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Hello to you all

Interesting discussion but there are alot of errors and misconceptions that need to be clarified.
 
First of all, Constantinople's conquest was largely symbolic than of any real strategic benifit. The prophet is said to praise the guy who conquers the city and that was the motive for the two early campaigns against the city. Again, other than those two campaigns there was simply no other major campaigns directed against the Byzantines that compare with the first round of conquests. All the minor campaigns showed that Byzantium was simply too weak to offer any resistance.
 
In two summer campaigns Erzurum and Erzincan were easily conquered. A single summer campaign by Al-Walid reached and held land as far as Afyon and the number of troops invested in both campaigns was very small, no more than 20k men. If Al-Walid wanted to conquer the city he would have easily done it and why shouldn't he, in 710 he had 60k Arabs in NA, 80k+ Arabs campaigning in Central Asia, 30k campaigning in Sindh, 20k+ Against Mazandran, 30k in Khazaria and Azerbaijan and only 20k with his brother in his base at Marash. And I haven't even discussed the number of auxilaries who fought with the Arabs.
 
Second point is about the goals and motives behind the conquests. As a caliph, the Ummayyds were very responsible when it came to their troops and their money. Only when muslim population concentrations are under direct threat or as the case in North Africa overran will they do whatever they can to protect muslims. Muslim settlement in conquered border lands was especially forbidden (ever since the first Caliphs) which is why Central Asia is largely Arab free and its countryside converted fairly late. The problem was always in people who converted and In North Africa and Bukhara region alot did and since they were under direct threat Abdul-Malik Ibn Marwan, Al-Walid, Omar II, Yazid II and Hisham all did whatever they could to keep the peace and secure the muslim population even if it meant stopping the conquest of Byzantium. I would go on to give examples but it will take time but Qutaibah's 9 campaigns and Musa Ibn Nusair's north Africa campaign are a perfect example on this policy.
 
From this perspective we can understand why Byzantium was never really a concern. it was simply too weak to offer any kind of strategic threat but too expensive to waste resources on it while other far more important and very far regions lay at stake.
 
A third reason is economic, Khorasan alone (with Central Asia being part of it then) was responsible for 1/4th of all revenue, NA also had a significant share of the revenue as was Azerbaijan, Rayy (facing Mazandran) etc. The money that came from conquering Byzantine lands was simply not worth it especially if we know that the Campaign against Byzantium in 717 literally Bankrupted the state (it used the entire revenue of that year and the year before forcing the state to impose taxes for the first time) as Omar II found when he ascended to the throne. Omar (who was crown prince) vehemently opposed the campaign so did Suleiman's chancellor and his brother and commander of the Byzantine front but to no avail.
 
Fourth point, The Berbers had nothing to do with the conquest and then reconquest of NA, in fact they were completely in league with the Byzantines and were lead by the kahina, Kusailah and many others. Hassan ibn al-Numan and then Musa ibn Nusair's campaigns between 695 and 710 were to reimpose Ummayyad rule and liberate the thousans of enslaved Arabs and it was on a second note a Berber vs Arab war and the latter were not merciful in their vengence .
 
Final note about the Ummayyad (and Abbasid) army. Omar's assumption of that Arabs were worrior nations where there were no soldiers is completely wrong. In the initial conquest this might be true but not after that. During the late Rashidi rule the Byzantine Theme system was adopted with a touch of old Roman army organisation. Details are sketchy since all the detailed books on this subject were lost but there was some sort of a reserve force, a standing force with a fixed number of years of service, pensions and ranks. Anyone could join provided he is a muslim Arab or a moula (muwali, allied) to a Arab tribe. Christian Arabs were part of the aux. and only called upon during crises (like the Khazar invasion).
 
Al-Jassas
It is OK to discuss only some periods and some peoples (am I correct You restrict it to early conquest by arabs?), but then perhaps it should be stated explicitly. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2010 at 10:28

Originally posted by CXI CXI wrote:

But we can make contemporary comparisons. This process did occur elsewhere in the Middle east after the conquests. The question should be, what makes you think a similar process would not have occurred in Byzantium had this land been conquered and remained securely under the rule of Muslim elites?

It may have, I'm just saying that it is impossible to say it would have.
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:


Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

The Arabs preferred to fight with the desert to their back. That way they could always escape and manuever where Roman and Persian armies couldn't follow.

Did you make this up?


No.
Read anything concerning the strategies of the early campaigns. It was a deliberate policy.
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Final note about the Ummayyad (and Abbasid) army. Omar's assumption of that Arabs were worrior nations where there were no soldiers is completely wrong. In the initial conquest this might be true but not after that. During the late Rashidi rule the Byzantine Theme system was adopted with a touch of old Roman army organisation. Details are sketchy since all the detailed books on this subject were lost but there was some sort of a reserve force, a standing force with a fixed number of years of service, pensions and ranks. Anyone could join provided he is a muslim Arab or a moula (muwali, allied) to a Arab tribe. Christian Arabs were part of the aux. and only called upon during crises (like the Khazar invasion).

I was talking about the initial conquest before borders had been settled.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2010 at 19:08
Sounds more like an expression which should be taken with a pinch of salt and by the time in question I think they were somewhat beyond such tentative tactical considerations otherwise they wouldn't have gotten anywhere without a desert to its back.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2010 at 19:50
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

While Islam for a long time has been a dominant force in very large parts on the southern and eastern shores of The Meditteranean and far away to the east and South the same cannot be said for very much of Europe, despite the fact there has been large muslim empires on european ground almost since the time of the origin of Islam. Any comment on this significant difference regarding relative succes?
 
Perhaps exactly because there were Muslim empires on European ground. As medieval historian Jacques le Goff, author of The Birth of Europe, put it; "Muhammed created Europe". By providing an antithesis to Christendom, the Muslim states gave the Europeans a sense of their own identity by making them realise they had more in common with each other than the Muslims. Humans have a general tendency to define themselves in response to a perceived other and will be more inclined to distance themselves from that other the more imposing it is.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2010 at 21:24
How do you square that with, e.g., English/British co-operation with the Ottomans, whether against Spain or against Russia?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2010 at 22:25
That cooperation was not in the formative years of Europe as some sort of broadly defined entity.  It was after Britain had largely isolated itself from the rest of Europe by rejecting the Roman Church.


Edited by Zagros - 04 Aug 2010 at 22:28
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2010 at 23:03
Yes, that is a later stage of history when the idea of Europe was long since established. Furthermore, co-operation does not mean the British would want to become Ottomans or vice versa, and the British would have been very much aware of how their cultural legacy was different from the Ottoman. From an idealistic POV I'm sure most Britons back then would have found Christian alliances more agreeable, but as we all know political necessities take precedence over religion.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2010 at 23:14
 The Ottoman empire had different allies at different times. The Ottomans, Sweden and France sometimes joined against others, like Russia and the Austrians.

Edited by fantasus - 04 Aug 2010 at 23:15
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 01:06
Originally posted by Reginmund Reginmund wrote:

Yes, that is a later stage of history when the idea of Europe was long since established. Furthermore, co-operation does not mean the British would want to become Ottomans or vice versa, and the British would have been very much aware of how their cultural legacy was different from the Ottoman. From an idealistic POV I'm sure most Britons back then would have found Christian alliances more agreeable
I'm not so sure. Feelings against people who have (or are seen to have) betrayed their faith are quite often worse than feelings against those who never shared  it. At least in many countries Muslims who deny their faith are worse treated than people who were never Muslim in the first place.
Quote
, but as we all know political necessities take precedence over religion.
Not only necessities. Consider the Fourth Crusade.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 04:20
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

Strategic yes, but if it was worth their while they would have had at Byzantium like the Turks did, they tried, failed and gave up whereas the Turks tried, tried and tried again until they got their coveted prize.

Byzantium although important (as a status symbol with perks, I'll concede), was not a be all and end all for the Arabs, I think that much is apparent.


No, it wasn't a status symbol with perks.  It was the gateway to the West Roman Empire (a thing especially coveted seeing as the eastern half had been conquered). It was a very fertile region with enormous trade. It was better populated than most surrounding regions at the time.

They failed to take it because they could not do so. Their technology was not up to the task of taking a triple walled city (the best defended medieval of all time) which was easily resupplied by sea and that had a navy which possessed Greek Fire.

Arab ships of the time were small, absolutely no match for Constantinople's massive seas walls. Despite mustering over 80,000 land troops and over 40,000 naval troops, they still failed. As did every other invader for the next 600 years.

The Turks only took it because they supplied even more troops and supplemented this with newly invented cannon (plus they had naval supremacy, which the Arabs did not have). Also in 1453, only 8,000 defenders stood against the Turks. The notion that Constantinople could fall to anyone in 700 AD when the city was defended with over 30,000 men (as opposed to 1453 when it only had 8,000) is absolutely laughable.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 04:28
Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:


It may have, I'm just saying that it is impossible to say it would have.


So are you willing to accept that what I propose is at least probable and likely?

Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

First of all, Constantinople's conquest was largely symbolic than of any real strategic benifit. The prophet is said to praise the guy who conquers the city and that was the motive for the two early campaigns against the city. Again, other than those two campaigns there was simply no other major campaigns directed against the Byzantines that compare with the first round of conquests. All the minor campaigns showed that Byzantium was simply too weak to offer any resistance.


So why did the Arabs fail to conquer Anatolia?

Quote In two summer campaigns Erzurum and Erzincan were easily conquered. A single summer campaign by Al-Walid reached and held land as far as Afyon and the number of troops invested in both campaigns was very small, no more than 20k men. If Al-Walid wanted to conquer the city he would have easily done it and why shouldn't he, in 710 he had 60k Arabs in NA, 80k+ Arabs campaigning in Central Asia, 30k campaigning in Sindh, 20k+ Against Mazandran, 30k in Khazaria and Azerbaijan and only 20k with his brother in his base at Marash. And I haven't even discussed the number of auxilaries who fought with the Arabs.


The Arabs couldn't conquer the city. It was that simple. Without overwhelming numbers and also naval supremacy, no force could take Constantinople. If they could have, then they could have done so. You can't argue that the Arabs chose to conquer distant Iberia and Sindi when Constantinople lay less than half the distance of either of those targets from the Caliphate capital.

Could they raid? Sure. Could they win victories in the Byzantine heartland? Sure, until the middle of the 9th century. Could they conquer Constantinople? No.

The first conquest of Constantinople did not happen until 1204, and in that case the attackers possessed naval technology and infantry far in advance of anything the Caliphate possessed in 1204.


Edited by Constantine XI - 05 Aug 2010 at 04:29
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 05:10
The Arabs were crushingly defeated that's why they couldn't conquer Constaninopol. The assertions that they didn't do that, because "it was just too easy" is laughable. Constaninopol was considered the reachest and most important city of Europe for the largest part of the Middle Ages.
Moreover, apparently the Byzantine empire was the most dangerous enemy too close to the hearland of Khalifate so, its conquest was vital for the Arabs.
The wars with Khazars were just a sideshow and a part to the main antagonism with the Byzantines. Khazars were close Byzantine allies connected with them by blood dynastic ties and were supplied and sponsored by the empire.
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 07:28
Hello to you all
 
It seems that I am misunderstood again.
 
First of all, the Arabs did not fail to conquere Anatolia, they conquered a large part of it. First they took Malatya, Ayintap and Marash, then Erzurum, then Erzincan, then Sivas then Ankra and finally Afyon, all these were taken within a decade during the rule of Abdul-Malik and then Al-Walid and some were taken twice during the campaigns of Hisham and all were held for decades or even centuries. And the northern part of Anatolia wasn't the only part that was Conquered, Kayseri and Konya were held for a long time during that period too.
 
When the Khazars invaded plus the Abbasid rebellion in Iraq and Jibal provinces things changed dramatically, the Khazars reached as far as Mosul and were threatening the very existence of the state. Hisham ordered the evacuation of the western outposts of anatolia but not all of it.
 
Second point about the importance of Constantinople. Again Constantinople was more symbolic then anything else. The best troops of the Ummayyds were sent everywhere except on one occasion when only part of them were sent in the doomed campaign of 717. The Arabs had on their hands prizes far more important than Constantinople, the trade routs to China and India, the grain baskets of Libya and Tunisia were far more important to them than a city with little agricultural land and no major trade routs nor any product of real value to them that they couldn't get it cheaper from other sources. The Mediterranean was under the full control of the Arabs even after the destruction of the fleet in 717, all the major Islands except Sicily were under their rule too.
 
Its all about the money and Arab historians were never shy in mentioning that.
 
Third point, about the campaigns against the city. Ummayyads calculated what did they gain from a campaign financially before they actually went for it. They knew that Nubia had massive gold reserves but they found the hard way after a very costly victory that it was not worth it. So they made a deal with the Nubians that stood for 500 years to come. When Al-Walid who conquered everything conquerable wanted to go on a campaign he was disuaded by his generals and advisors and didn't go for it because it wasn't worth the cost. Omar II had a newly built fleet along with tens of thousands of newly arrived veteran troops ready when he took over from Suleiman and most of these were on their way to help the besiegers. He saw that the war literally bankrupted the state and there was no gain from it nor from any more conquests so he halted all military action at once and not only recalled the troops that were on their way but also made peace, freed thousands of slaves and POWs (he was called the liberator of slaves in old history books) in exchange for his POWs.
 
On the other hand if there was anything that threatened trade and/or muslim populations they will use whatever necessary to bring peace. Mazandran was a small principality left alone from the initial conquests, when it became a direct threat on the trade routs the most brutal campaign ever launched by the Arabs was launched and the order "take the country at all costs". 20k men died in the campaign and tens of thousands were brutally massacred to send a message. Same happened Armenia after a large uprising.
 
Now Constantinople (from 660 untill 730s) was neither worth it economically nor was it a threat of any kind. As I said, Suleiman's campaign was opposed by everyone including his own crown prince whom he chose over his own brothers. The result was a disaster that everyone expected. Hisham returned to the incremental conquest policy but was stopped short by the Transoxania rebellion first then the Khazar invasions.
 
Final point, about the Khazars, you should read a bit more about them. They were an existential threat to the Ummayyad empire that Byzantium never came close to being as dangerous as them. They took Derbent, then Baku, then Ardebil and then with alliance with rebelling Armenians the whole of present day Armenia and reached Mosul. Everything the ummayyads threw at them was crushed and the Khazars were not alone, they came with their families and herds. To defeat them in Mosul the Arabs fielded an army they never fielded before and they succeeded in winning a victory that took them 6 years to complete.
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 07:58
Perhaps, dear Al-Jassas, you need to do some more research too.
 
Khazars were close allies of the Byzantines in the wars with Arabs and both of them coordinated their military campaigns, there was even an emperor called Leo the Khazar (the son of Khazar princess and the empress of Byzantine, Irene).
 
Also, sorry, but I absolutely, don't buy the points about "non-significance" of Constantinopole, it had a key strategical location and was the reachest city in Europe.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 08:21

Hello Sarmat

Leo the Khazar ruled after the period of the Conquests (which ended when the Abbasids took over in 750). The alliance between the Khazars and Byzantines was actually a Byzantine policy to reduce the threat posed to them by strengthening Arab power. Arab historians talked about this alliance but the Byzantines were not as much a threat as the khazars or else why would Ummayyads send provincial nobodies to face the armies of the emperor while the entire Ummayyad clan is mustered to face the Khazar threat in Mosul, Armenia and then Balanjar?
 
Al-Jassas 


Edited by Al Jassas - 05 Aug 2010 at 08:22
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 08:36
My point is that it's hard to distance Khazars from the Arab-Byzantine conflict. It's more proper to say that both Arab-Byzantine and Arab-Khazar clashes were a part of the same war. Moreover, it were wars of the Arabs with Byzantines that led to Khazar invasions.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 08:51
Europe's richest city you say.  Is that even saying much in The Dark Ages?
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 09:07
It is saying much especially in the Dark Ages.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 09:25
Oh no not that old turkey again! The past is only "dark" with regard to an ever deluded present that always carps it represents the best of all worlds.  
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 19:42
Originally posted by Sarmat Sarmat wrote:

It is saying much especially in the Dark Ages.


Why?  Did it take much to be the richest city in Europe at that time? What other city could even come close?  It like saying Mogadishu is the richest city of Somalia, the US surely wanted to conquer it but could not overcome its defenses.

Considering the state of the rest of Europe, I think some Western sources just have a very romantic view of Byzantium as some last bastion of European resistance and see it as some sort of prestige issue that the Arabs should covet it.  The facts are that it was a shadow of its former self in this period and actually it had more in common with the Middle East and North Africa than most other parts of Europe.  So was it even Europe's richest city? was Europe defined then as it is now?


Edited by Zagros - 05 Aug 2010 at 19:48
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 19:51
Hello to you all
 
So what if it was the richest part of europe? Transoxania had far more riches than the entire Byzantine empire back then, was a threat to the stability of the Ummayyad empire and muslim populations plus it controlled the silk road.
 
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Edited by Al Jassas - 05 Aug 2010 at 19:52
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 20:52
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

Originally posted by Sarmat Sarmat wrote:

It is saying much especially in the Dark Ages.


Why?  Did it take much to be the richest city in Europe at that time? What other city could even come close?  It like saying Mogadishu is the richest city of Somalia, the US surely wanted to conquer it but could not overcome its defenses.

Considering the state of the rest of Europe, I think some Western sources just have a very romantic view of Byzantium as some last bastion of European resistance and see it as some sort of prestige issue that the Arabs should covet it.  The facts are that it was a shadow of its former self in this period and actually it had more in common with the Middle East and North Africa than most other parts of Europe.  So was it even Europe's richest city? was Europe defined then as it is now?
 
Sorry, Zagros, but I have to take issue with that. I think it is extremely easy to downplay the significance of Constantinople, as it isn't generally focused on in Western history classes (although I understand that they do a better job on your side of the pond). Constantinople's status as the richest city in Europe doesn't, necessarily, constitute a solely demographic or economic assessment.
 
It may be true that the infrastructure of the Byzantine Empire was a shadow of that of Rome -- the same might be said for the Arab powers. That said, a great deal was maintained; and while populations fluctuated and a variety of factors complicated things, you would be hard pressed to find anything comparable in western Europe. You would find something comparable in certain Middle Eastern states, but they were largely copying from both the Byzantine and Sassanian traditions. More importantly, much of the wisdom of the Greco-Roman world was still preserved in the medieval Roman Empire. We tend to forget this in the study of the history of Western philosophy, since it is so focused on the form of Aristotle, which was initially received through Muslim intermediaries. That said, both Aristotelian and Platonic thought was preserved and even developed upon by the Byzantines. As late as the 15th century, Plethon led a revival of neo-Platonic learning.
 
The long and short of it is, that it is relatively easy to write off Byzantium as "just another backwards medieval society", but that this is a product of our reflexive and unthinking dismissal of the value of the Middle Ages rather than of any real analysis.
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 21:02
Even in the pre-Islamic period Greek scholars persecuted by the Byzantine state escaped to Sassanian lands to pursue their studies with freedom from religious persecution.  Actually, it was mostly through them that the Greek traditions were passed and not through Byzantium proper which had no apetite for it with its still new found religious zealousy.

Again, for me the Byzantium of the Islamic expansion period was desired as a status symbol for the Arabs who with their control of such a vast empire would have made a greater use ofits strategic position than the Byzantines, but they did without having annexed most of its wealth and territories already.  There are states today which occupy positions of massive potential wealth and potential (think Afghanistan, Iran etc) yet are in no position to exploit it because of their political, military and social relaities and that is what I am afraid Byzantium of the 8th - 9th century was.


Edited by Zagros - 05 Aug 2010 at 21:07
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 21:23
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

Even in the pre-Islamic period Greek scholars persecuted by the Byzantine state escaped to Sassanian lands to pursue their studies with freedom from religious persecution.  Actually, it was mostly through them that the Greek traditions were passed and not through Byzantium proper which had no apetite for it with its still new found religious zealousy.

Again, for me the Byzantium of the Islamic expansion period was desired as a status symbol for the Arabs who with their control of such a vast empire would have made a greater use ofits strategic position than the Byzantines, but they did without having annexed most of its wealth and territories already.  There are states today which occupy positions of massive potential wealth and potential (think Afghanistan, Iran etc) yet are in no position to exploit it because of their political, military and social relaities and that is what I am afraid Byzantium of the 8th - 9th century was.
 
I think we have to avoid confusing periods of Byzantine history, as well as certain modern prejudices. There were certainly pagan philosophers who fled to the Sassanids during the early centuries of the post-Nicene era, as there were Christian theologians -- John of Damascus comes to mind -- who fled to Arab courts in later years. This was more a result of being out of favour than of anything else. Entrenched dogmatism was part and parcel of the period, but it was near universal at one point or another. Even today, a Muslim dissident would have an easier time in America than in a home country.
 
And I am sorry, but it is entirely inaccurate to say that Greco-Roman intellectual culture was passed primarily through the Sassanids, and not the later Roman Empire. It was transformed, yes, but you would be hard pressed to see a corpus of the thought of Late Antiquity coming out of Persia. And yes, I am aware of examples such as Simplicius and his attempts to secure asylum; the point is that the question must regard how the body of tradition was passed on in an organic fashion. And that, my dear Zagros, would have been through Byzantium, as evidenced by the humanist revival after the fall of Constantinople.
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 21:50
Quote Even today, a Muslim dissident would have an easier time in America than in a home country.


Well that is just another modern analogy that serves my argument.  You say "even today" when the fact is that Islamic societies of the period in question were far more toelrant and diverse than most of todays.

Quote And I am sorry, but it is entirely inaccurate to say that Greco-Roman intellectual culture was passed primarily through the Sassanids, and not the later Roman Empire.


This is the first mention I read of it.  But you angle your statement as though the later "Roman Empire" was some sort of willing contributor to the "Islamic Golden Age" when in fact it was individuals who were enticed by wealth as well as a desire to study unmolested who brought their intellects and books with them.  Your analogy with modern America resonates here again.

Quote It was transformed, yes, but you would be hard pressed to see a corpus of the thought of Late Antiquity coming out of Persia.


I really don't see what relevance this has.  My point was simply that Byzantium was not as desirable to the Arabs as some people like to think.  But regardless, a huge body of that knowledge was refined in Persia or by Persians indicating a certain tradition.

Quote And that, my dear Zagros, would have been through Byzantium.


Actually no, it was mostly through Venice.



Edited by Zagros - 05 Aug 2010 at 21:54
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 22:02
Sorry just realised where the misunderstanding came from:

Quote Actually, it was mostly through them that the Greek traditions were passed and not through Byzantium proper which had no apetite for it with its still new found religious zealousy.


I meant through individuals rather than through Persia.  Although a substantial number of Persian texts were translated into Arabic too, and the sources would well have included Greek ones.
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.
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