What were the religious effects of the initial Arab conquests in the Byzantine Empire?

What were the religious effects of the initial Arab conquests in the Byzantine Empire?


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I've been reading some articles and books about the early Islamic conquests that started at about 634 CE, mainly in areas that belonged to the Byzantine Empire. Problem is, the majority of works I've read until now emphasize the military or administrative aspects of these events, and when religion is mentioned it is only to explain discussions and polemics about Monophysites and Chalcedonians, making it seem that Islam didn't affect the empire at all. That can't be the case because, already in 656, Syria proclaimed Mu'awiya as a Caliph, starting a civil war that would end in 661 with his victory and the creation of the Umayyad Caliphate.¹

As I am very interested in contacts between different civilizations and how they affected common people, I am curious to know if there was some kind of major conversion to Islam in the conquered provinces of Syria, Egypt, Palestine, and others in the 7th century, or if that was a slow process.

¹The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire, pp. 230-231


The Muslims did not pursue a convert-all policy in their conquered territories, one reason being that that would cause revolts and make those territories terribly difficult to manage. But this doesn't mean that there weren't any initial conversions. As Hugh Kennedy puts it in his The Great Arab Conquests:

Attraction, not coercion, was the key to the appeal of the new faith.

What he meant by this is that people were not forced to convert to Islam, and instead the situation was rigged so that it was an advantageous thing to do. Muslim people paid less taxes than non-Muslims, even if they weren't Arabs, and people could only be a part of the ruling elite by being Muslims. (Curiously, this was so even though the administrative language was still Greek for some time after the conquests.) Another key element is that it was essential to be a Muslim if one wished to pursue a military career. Of course after some time problems arose between newly-converted people and old-timers, but that goes beyond the question.

About Mu'awiya and his claim to the Caliphate in 656: his family already had properties in Syria, which let him form a power base that lifted him to the Caliphate in 661, after the First Muslim Civil War. So even though the general population didn't convert, his participation in the ruling class made him able to advance his name as a possible Caliph after the death of Uthman, the last of the Rashidun Caliphs.

All these claims are due to the aforementioned book by Hugh Kennedy.


Somewhat more narrowly, the traditional account of iconoclasm in Byzantium is that it was at least partly motivated by the successes of Islam with its aniconic tradition. See Byzantine Iconoclasm, with its rich caveats.


Spread of Islam

The Arabs spread Islam throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Iberia in an amazingly short period of time. The conquests were carried out by the sword. They began in the harsh deserts of Arabia and spread as far west as Spain and Portugal and east into Centrl Asia and the southwest Pacific. Mohammed death (632) was followed by one of the most remarkable military campaign in history. One of the fascinating aspects of Islam is how the new religion of the Arab tribes so rapidly became one of the major religios of the world and the dominant religiom from Noth Africa west to central Asia. The common concept in the Wesr is that Islam was spread by the sword. This is an important element in the success of Islam, but it is hardly the only factor. There are a range of economic and social factors which contributed to the success of Islam. The weakness of Byzantine Christianity was a major factor. As was after the conquest, the obvious economic advantages of converting. There were other factors involved. And these factors varied over time and in the different areas in which Islam became the domininant or principal religion. Another interesting question is the strength of Islam in the modern world.


The Islamic Conquests - Essay Example

In Empire to Commonwealth (12-19), historian Garth Fowden has delineated three separate geographical, cultural, and political spheres in Eurasia: China, India, and the Near East (the Fertile Crescent and the adjacent Mediterranean coast). These areas were all ancient centers of civilization and because of the distances and geographical barriers involved, had little interaction with each other. This is why China, India, and the Near East/Mediterranean can be thought of as continuous discrete civilizations even though throughout much of their history they lacked the political unity to provide full national identity.

Although Islam eventually spread to all three areas, it origin and center lay in the Near East and it was only there that it became fully dominant. The Near East is unique among the three in having close interaction with a wide variety of surrounding areas. The Fertile Crescent is "a vortex that pulls inward and fuses what lies around it. So not only can the Fertile Crescent never enjoy long-term autonomy, but its unity can only be realized on a secure bases as part of a wider unification of the Iranian Plateau with the Mediterranean" (Fowden, 18).

This unity was only achieved twice, in the first instance by the Achaemenid Empire (Alexander's fleeting unification of an even larger territory was based on Achaemenid Iran) in the sixth to fourth centuries BC, and in the seventh century by the Umayyad Caliphate. The initial Arab conquests unified the entire Fertile Crescent region with Iran for the first time in centuries, providing a secure economic, political, and geographical base for further conquests, for instance by allowing the Islamic state to compete on an even footing with the Byzantine navy (Fowden, 140).

It may well be that the impetus to sustain large scale conquests into the eighth century came from the Islamic practice of providing for the army from the income of conquered lands collectively, rather than distributing the lands. This tended to keep the army in being (Karsh, 24). How did the initial Arab conquest succeed so well The Arabs' opponents in the area, the Byzantine and Sassanian Empires, were exhausted after a generation of fruitless war with each other over the Fertile Crescent and were in internal states of near collapse.

In Iran, ultimately the loosing party in this conflict, on which the pressure was increased by Turkish invasions from the north (Christian, 260-285), the aftermath of defeat had led to assassination, civil war, and by 633 a state of anarchy in the empire (Nafziger and Walton, 18). Rome was also riven with internal dissensions (see below). So, to a large degree from a military perspective, the rapid Arab conquest of the Iranian state and of nearly half the territory of the Byzantine state, is to be attributed to the internal weakness of the defeated Empires rather to any special qualities of Islam.

Other possible purely military factors to explain the Islamic conquests have been proposed, though with less plausibility. In Islam at War, Nafziger and Walton suggest a 'great man' solution to the problem of the Arab conquest, arguing that Khalid ibn al Waleed was "one of the great [sic] natural military leaders in all of human history" (16-17). But this hardly seems plausible. However remarkable Khalid's successes were on an operation level, and as astounding as his victories were, the were (as above) due more to the


14: Islam and the Caliphates

  • Christopher Brooks
  • Full-time faculty (History) at Portland Community College

Thus, from its very beginning, there have been historical reasons that Christians and Muslims sometimes considered themselves enemies. The first generations of Muslims did indeed try to conquer every culture and kingdom they encountered, although not initially in the name of conversion. The important thing to bear in mind, however, is that throughout the Middle Ages many of the struggles between Christian and Muslim kingdoms, and Christian and Muslim people, were as often about conventional battles over power, wealth, and politics as religious belief. Likewise, once the years of conquest were over, Islamic states settled into familiar patterns of peaceful trade and they contained religiously diverse populations.

  • 14.1: Prelude to Islam Thus, it is important to include the story of Islam as an inherent, intrinsic part of the history of Western Civilization, not the religious bogeyman Medieval Europeans sometimes imagined it to be. That being noted, it is not just medieval prejudices or contemporary geopolitical conflict that has created the conceit that Islam is some alien entity to Western Civilization.
  • 14.2: The Origins of Islam The pre-Islamic Arabian peninsula, most of which is today the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was populated by the Arab people. The Arabs were herders and merchants. They were organized tribally, with tribes claiming descent from common ancestors and governing through meetings of the patriarchs of each clan. The Arabs were well known in the Roman and Byzantine world as merchants for their camel caravans that linked Europe to a part of the Spice Road, transporting goods from India and China.
  • 14.3: Muhammad Everything changed in the Arab world in the sixth century CE. A man named Muhammad was born in 570 CE to a powerful clan of merchants, the Quraysh, who controlled various trade enterprises in Mecca and surrounding cities.
  • 14.4: Islam According to Islam, Muhammad was the last in the line of prophets stretching back to Abraham and Moses and including Jesus, whom Muslims consider a major prophet and a religious leader, but not actually divine. Muhammad delivered the &ldquodefinitive version&rdquo of God's will as it was told to him by Gabriel on the mountainside. The core tenets of Islamic belief are referred to as the "five pillars."
  • 14.5: The Political History of the Arabs After Muhammad When Muhammad died, there were immediate problems among the Muslim Arabs. He did not name a successor, but he had been the definitive leader of the Islamic community during his life it seemed clear that the community was meant to have a leader. The Muslim elders appointed Muhammad's father in-law, Abu Bakr (r. 632 &ndash 634), as the new leader after a period of deliberation. He became the first Caliph, meaning "successor": the head of the Ummah.
  • 14.6: The Umayyad Caliphate and the Shia It was under the leadership of caliphs who were not themselves related to Muhammad&rsquos family line that the Arab conquests not only continued, but stabilized in the form of a true empire. The Umayyad clan created the first long-lasting and stable Muslim state: the Umayyad Caliphate. It was centered in Syria and lasted almost 100 years. It oversaw the consolidation of the gains of the Arab armies to date, along with vast new conquests in North Africa and Spain.
  • 14.7: The Umayyad Government and Society The Umayyads did not just complete and consolidate the conquests of the Arabs. They also established lasting forms of governance. They quickly abandoned the practice of having elders come together to appoint leadership, insisting on a hereditary line of caliphs. This alone caused a civil war in the late seventh century, as some of their Muslim subjects rose up, claiming that they had perverted the proper line of leadership in the community. The Umayyads won that war, too.
  • 14.8: Other Faiths One of the noteworthy aspects of the Arab conquests is the complex role of conversion. The Koran specifically forbids the forcible conversion of Jews and Christians. It does allow that non-Muslim monotheists pay a special tax, however. Many Jews and Christians found Arab rule preferable to Byzantine rule, however, because the Byzantine government had actively persecuted religious dissenters and the Arabs did not. Likewise, taxes were lower under the Arabs as compared to Byzantium.
  • 14.9: The Abbasids The Umayyads fell from power in 750 because of a revolutionary uprising against their rule led by the Abbasids, a clan descended from Muhammad's uncle. The Abbasids were supported by many non-Arab but Muslim subjects of the Caliphate (called mawali) who resented the fact that the Umayyads had always protected the status of Arabs at the expense of non-Arab Muslims in their empire.
  • 14.10: Europe Two parts of Europe came under Arab rule: Spain and Sicily. Spain was the last of the large territories to be conquered during the initial Arab conquests, and Sicily was eventually conquered during the Abbasid period. In both areas, the rulers, Arab and North African immigrants, and new converts to Islam lived alongside those who remained Christian or Jewish. During the Abbasid period in particular, Spain and Sicily were important as bridges between the Islamic and Christian worlds.
  • 14.11: Conclusion As should be clear, the civilizations of the Middle East and North Africa were transformed by Islam, and the changes that Islam's spread brought with it were as permanent as were the results of the Christianization of the Roman Empire earlier. The geographical contours of these two faiths would remain largely in place up to the present, while the shared civilization that brought them into being continued to change.

Thumbnail:The Kaaba in Makkah. Image used wtih permission (GFDLFree Art LicenseMuhammad Mahdi Karim).


Contents

Church of Constantius II Edit

The first church on the site was known as the Magna Ecclesia ( Μεγάλη Ἐκκλησία , Megálē Ekklēsíā, 'Great Church') [33] [34] because of its size compared to the sizes of the contemporary churches in the city. [11] According to the Chronicon Paschale, the church was consecrated on 15 February 360, during the reign of the emperor Constantius II ( r . 337–361 ) by the Arian bishop Eudoxius of Antioch. [35] [36] It was built next to the area where the Great Palace was being developed. According to the 5th-century ecclesiastical historian Socrates of Constantinople, the emperor Constantius had around 346 "constructed the Great Church alongside that called Irene which because it was too small, the emperor's father [Constantine] had enlarged and beautified". [37] [35] A tradition which is not older than the 7th or 8th century reports that the edifice was built by Constantius' father, Constantine the Great ( r . 306–337 ). [35] Hesychius of Miletus wrote that Constantine built Hagia Sophia with a wooden roof and removed 427 (mostly pagan) statues from the site. [38] The 12th-century chronicler Joannes Zonaras reconciles the two opinions, writing that Constantius had repaired the edifice consecrated by Eusebius of Nicomedia, after it had collapsed. [35] Since Eusebius was the bishop of Constantinople from 339 to 341, and Constantine died in 337, it seems that the first church was erected by Constantius. [35]

The nearby Hagia Irene ("Holy Peace") church was completed earlier and served as cathedral until the Great Church was completed. Besides Hagia Irene, there is no record of major churches in the city-centre before the late 4th century. [36] Rowland Mainstone argued the 4th-century church was not yet known as Hagia Sophia. [39] Though its name as the 'Great Church' implies that it was larger than other Constantinopolitan churches, the only other major churches of the 4th century were the Church of St Mocius, which lay outside the Constantinian walls and was perhaps attached to a cemetery, and the Church of the Holy Apostles. [36]

The church itself is known to have had a timber roof, curtains, columns, and an entrance that faced west. [36] It likely had a narthex and is described as being shaped like a Roman circus. [40] This may mean that it had a U-shaped plan like the basilicas of San Marcellino e Pietro and Sant'Agnese fuori le mura in Rome. [36] However, it may also have been a more conventional three-, four-, or five-aisled basilica, perhaps resembling the original Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem or the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. [36] The building was likely preceded by an atrium, as in the later churches on the site. [ citation needed ]

According to Ken Dark and Jan Kostenec, a further remnant of the 4th century basilica may exist in a wall of alternating brick and stone banded masonry immediately to the west of the Justinianic church. [41] The top part of the wall is constructed with bricks stamped with brick-stamps dating from the 5th century, but the lower part is of constructed with bricks typical of the 4th century. [41] This wall was probably part of the propylaeum at the west front of both the Constantinian and Theodosian Great Churches. [41]

The building was accompanied by a baptistery and a skeuophylakion. [36] A hypogeum, perhaps with an martyrium above it, was discovered before 1946, and the remnants of a brick wall with traces of marble revetment were identified in 2004. [41] The hypogeum was a tomb which may have been part of the 4th-century church or may have been from the pre-Constantinian city of Byzantium. [41] The skeuophylakion is said by Palladius to have had a circular floor plan, and since some U-shaped basilicas in Rome were funerary churches with attached circular mausolea (the Mausoleum of Constantina and the Mausoleum of Helena), it is possible it originally had a funerary function, though by 405 its use had changed. [41] A later account credited a woman called Anna with donating the land on which the church was built in return for the right to be buried there. [41]

Excavations on the western side of the site of the first church under the propylaeum wall reveal that the first church was built atop a road about 8 metres (26 ft) wide. [41] According to early accounts, the first Hagia Sophia was built on the site of an ancient pagan temple, [42] [43] [44] although there are no artefacts to confirm this. [45]

The Patriarch of Constantinople John Chrysostom came into a conflict with Empress Aelia Eudoxia, wife of the emperor Arcadius ( r . 383–408 ), and was sent into exile on 20 June 404. During the subsequent riots, this first church was largely burnt down. [35] Palladius noted that the 4th-century skeuophylakion survived the fire. [46] According to Dark and Kostenec, the fire may only have affected the main basilica, leaving the surrounding ancillary buildings intact. [46]

Church of Theodosius II Edit

A second church on the site was ordered by Theodosius II ( r . 402–450 ), who inaugurated it on 10 October 415. [47] The Notitia Urbis Constantinopolitanae, a fifth-century list of monuments, names Hagia Sophia as Magna Ecclesia, 'Great Church', while the former cathedral Hagia Irene is referred to as Ecclesia Antiqua, 'Old Church'. At the time of Socrates of Constantinople around 440, "both churches [were] enclosed by a single wall and served by the same clergy". [37] Thus, the complex would have encompassed a large area including the future site of the Hospital of Samson. [46] If the fire of 404 destroyed only the 4th-century main basilica church, then the 5th century Theodosian basilica could have been built surrounded by a complex constructed primarily during the fourth century. [46]

During the reign of Theodosius II, the emperor's elder sister, the Augusta Pulcheria ( r . 414–453 ) was challenged by the patriarch Nestorius ( r . 10 April 428 – 22 June 431 ). [48] [49] The patriarch denied the Augusta access to the sanctuary of the "Great Church", likely on the 15 April 428. [49] According to the anonymous Letter to Cosmas, the virgin empress, a promoter of the cult of the Virgin Mary who habitually partook in the Eucharist at the sanctuary of Nestorius's predecessors, claimed right of entry because of her equivalent position to the Theotokos – the Virgin Mary – "having given birth to God". [50] [49] Their theological differences were part of the controversy over the title theotokos that resulted in the Council of Ephesus and the stimulation of Monophysitism and Nestorianism, a doctrine, which like Nestorius, rejects the use of the title. [48] Pulcheria along with Pope Celestine I and Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria had Nestorius overthrown, condemned at the ecumenical council, and exiled. [50] [48]

The area of the western entrance to the Justinianic Hagia Sophia revealed the western remains of its Theodosian predecessor, as well as some fragments of the Constantinian church. [46] German archaeologist Alfons Maria Schneider began conducting archaeological excavations during the mid-1930s, publishing his final report in 1941. [46] Excavations in the area that had once been the 6th-century atrium of the Justinianic church revealed the monumental western entrance and atrium, along with columns and sculptural fragments from both 4th- and 5th-century churches. [46] Further digging was abandoned for fear of harming the structural integrity of the Justinianic building, but parts of the excavation trenches remain uncovered, laying bare the foundations of the Theodosian building.

The basilica was built by architect Rufinus. [51] [52] The church's main entrance, which may have had gilded doors, faced west, and there was an additional entrance to the east. [53] There was a central pulpit and likely an upper gallery, possibly employed as a matroneum (women's section). [53] The exterior was decorated with elaborate carvings of rich Theodosian-era designs, fragments of which have survived, while the floor just inside the portico was embellished with polychrome mosaics. [46] The surviving carved gable end from the centre of the western façade is decorated with a cross-roundel. [46] Fragments of a frieze of reliefs with 12 lambs representing the 12 apostles also remain unlike Justinian's 6th-century church, the Theodosian Hagia Sophia had both colourful floor mosaics and external decorative sculpture. [46]

At the western end, surviving stone fragments of the structure show there was vaulting, at least at the western end. [46] The Theodosian building had a monumental propylaeum hall with a portico that may account for this vaulting, which was thought by the original excavators in the 1930s to be part of the western entrance of the church itself. [46] The propylaeum opened onto an atrium which lay in front of the basilica church itself. Preceding the propylaeum was a steep monumental staircase following the contours of the ground as it sloped away westwards in the direction of the Strategion, the Basilica, and the harbours of the Golden Horn. [46] This arrangement would have resembled the steps outside the atrium of the Constantinian Old St Peter's Basilica in Rome. [46] Near the staircase, there was a cistern, perhaps to supply a fountain in the atrium or for worshippers to wash with before entering. [46]

The 4th-century skeuophylakion was replaced in the 5th century by the present-day structure, a rotunda constructed of banded masonry in the lower two levels and of plain brick masonry in the third. [46] Originally this rotunda, probably employed as a treasury for liturgical objects, had a second-floor internal gallery accessed by an external spiral staircase and two levels of niches for storage. [46] A further row of windows with marble window frames on the third level remain bricked up. [46] The gallery was supported on monumental consoles with carved acanthus designs, similar to those used on the late 5th-century Column of Leo. [46] A large lintel of the skeuophylakion's western entrance – bricked up during the Ottoman era – was discovered inside the rotunda when it was archaeologically cleared to its foundations in 1979, during which time the brickwork was also repointed. [46] The skeuophylakion was again restored in 2014 by the Vakıflar. [46]

A fire started during the tumult of the Nika Revolt, which had begun nearby in the Hippodrome of Constantinople, and the second Hagia Sophia was burnt to the ground on 13–14 January 532. The court historian Procopius wrote: [54]

And by way of shewing that it was not against the Emperor alone that they [the rioters] had taken up arms, but no less against God himself, unholy wretches that they were, they had the hardihood to fire the Church of the Christians, which the people of Byzantium call "Sophia", an epithet which they have most appropriately invented for God, by which they call His temple and God permitted them to accomplish this impiety, foreseeing into what an object of beauty this shrine was destined to be transformed. So the whole church at that time lay a charred mass of ruins.

Column and capital with a Greek cross

Columns and other fragments

Theodosian capital for a pilaster, one of the few remains of the church of Theodosius II

Church of Justinian I (current structure) Edit

On 23 February 532, only a few weeks after the destruction of the second basilica, Emperor Justinian I inaugurated the construction of a third and entirely different basilica, larger and more majestic than its predecessors. [55] Justinian appointed two architects, mathematician Anthemius of Tralles and geometer and engineer Isidore of Miletus, to design the building. [56] [57]

Construction of the church began in 532 during the short tenure of Phocas as praetorian prefect. [58] Although Phocas had been arrested in 529 as a suspected practitioner of paganism, he replaced John the Cappadocian after the Nika Riots saw the destruction of the Theodosian church. [58] According to John the Lydian, Phocas was responsible for funding the initial construction of the building with 4,000 Roman pounds of gold, but he was dismissed from office in October 532. [59] [58] John the Lydian wrote that Phocas had acquired the funds by moral means, but Evagrius Scholasticus later wrote that the money had been obtained unjustly. [60] [58]

According to Anthony Kaldellis, both of Hagia Sophia's architects named by Procopius were associated with to the school of the pagan philosopher Ammonius of Alexandria. [58] It is possible that both they and John the Lydian considered Hagia Sophia a great temple for the supreme Neoplantonist deity who manifestated through light and the sun. John the Lydian describes the church as the "temenos of the Great God" (Greek: τὸ τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ Τέμενος , romanized: tò toû meglou theoû Témenos). [59] [58]

Originally the exterior of the church was covered with marble veneer, as indicated by remaining pieces of marble and surviving attachments for lost panels on the building's western face. [61] The white marble cladding of much of the church, together with gilding of some parts, would have given Hagia Sophia a shimmering appearance quite different from the brick- and plaster-work of the modern period, and would have significantly increased its visibility from the sea. [61] The cathedral's interior surfaces were sheathed with polychrome marbles, green and white with purple porphyry, and gold mosaics. The exterior was clad in stucco that was tinted yellow and red during the 19th-century restorations by the Fossati architects. [62]

The construction is described by Procopius's On Buildings (Greek: Περὶ κτισμάτων , romanized: Peri ktismatōn, Latin: De aedificiis). [54] Columns and other marbles were brought from all over the empire, throughout the Mediterranean. The idea of these columns being spoils from cities such as Rome and Ephesus is a later invention. [63] Even though they were made specifically for Hagia Sophia, the columns show variations in size. [64] More than ten thousand people were employed. This new church was contemporaneously recognized as a major work of architecture. Outside the church was an elaborate array of monuments around the bronze-plated Column of Justinian, topped by an equestrian statue of the emperor which dominated the Augustaeum, the open square outside the church which connected it with the Great Palace complex through the Chalke Gate. At the edge of the Augustaeum was the Milion and the Regia, the first stretch of Constantinople's main thoroughfare, the Mese. Also facing the Augustaeum were the enormous Constantinian thermae, the Baths of Zeuxippus, and the Justinianic civic basilica under which was the vast cistern known as the Basilica Cistern. On the opposite side of Hagia Sophia was the former cathedral, Hagia Irene.

Referring to the destruction of the Theodosian Hagia Sophia and comparing the new church with the old, Procopius lauded the Justinianic building, writing in De aedificiis: [54]

. the Emperor Justinian built not long afterwards a church so finely shaped, that if anyone had enquired of the Christians before the burning if it would be their wish that the church should be destroyed and one like this should take its place, shewing them some sort of model of the building we now see, it seems to me that they would have prayed that they might see their church destroyed forthwith, in order that the building might be converted into its present form.

When first seeing the finished building the Emperor is alleged to have said: "Salomon, I have surpassed thee" [65]

Justinian and Patriarch Menas inaugurated the new basilica on 27 December 537 – 5 years and 10 months after construction started – with much pomp. [66] [67] [68] Hagia Sophia was the seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and a principal setting for Byzantine imperial ceremonies, such as coronations. Like other churches throughout Christendom, the basilica offered sanctuary from persecution to outlaws. [ citation needed ]

Earthquakes in August 553 and on 14 December 557 caused cracks in the main dome and eastern semi-dome. According to the Chronicle of John Malalas, during a subsequent earthquake on 7 May 558, [69] the eastern semi-dome fell down, destroying the ambon, altar, and ciborium. The collapse was due mainly to the unfeasibly high bearing load and to the enormous shear load of the dome, which was too flat. [66] These caused the deformation of the piers which sustained the dome. [66] Justinian ordered an immediate restoration. He entrusted it to Isidorus the Younger, nephew of Isidore of Miletus, who used lighter materials. The entire vault had to be taken down and rebuilt 20 Byzantine feet (6.25 meters or 20.5 feet) higher than before, giving the building its current interior height of 55.6 meters (182 ft). [70] Moreover, Isidorus changed the dome type, erecting a ribbed dome with pendentives whose diameter was between 32.7 and 33.5 m. [66] Under Justinian's orders, eight Corinthian columns were disassembled from Baalbek, Lebanon, and shipped to Constantinople around 560. [71] This reconstruction, giving the church its present 6th-century form, was completed in 562. The poet Paul the Silentiary composed a long Greek poem, an ekphrasis, for the re-dedication of the basilica presided over by Patriarch Eutychius on 23 December 562. Paul the Silentiary's poem is conventionally known under the Latin title Descriptio Sanctae Sophiae, and he was also author of another ekphrasis on the ambon of the church, the Descripto Ambonis. [72] [73] The mosaics were completed in the reign of Emperor Justin II ( r . 565–578 ), Justinian I's successor. [ citation needed ]

According to the history of the patriarch Nicephorus I and the chronicler Theophanes the Confessor, various liturgical vessels of the cathedral were melted down on the order of the emperor Heraclius ( r . 610–641 ) after the capture of Alexandria and Roman Egypt by the Sasanian Empire during the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628. [74] Theophanes states that these were made into gold and silver coins, and a tribute was paid to the Avars. [74] The Avars attacked the extramural areas of Constantinople in 623, causing the Byzantines to move the "garment" relic (Greek: ἐσθής , translit. esthḗs) of Mary, mother of Jesus to Hagia Sophia from its usual shrine of the Church of the Theotokos at Blachernae just outside the Theodosian Walls. [75] On 14 May 626, the Scholae Palatinae, an elite body of soldiers, protested in Hagia Sophia against a planned increase in bread prices, after a stoppage of the Cura Annonae rations resulting from the loss of the grain supply from Egypt. [76] The Persians under Shahrbaraz and the Avars together laid the Siege of Constantinople in 626 according to the Chronicon Paschale, on 2 August 626 Theodore Syncellus, a deacon and presbyter of Hagia Sophia, was among those who negotiated unsuccessfully with the khagan of the Avars. [77] A homily attributed by existing manuscripts to Theodore Syncellus, possibly delivered on the anniversary of the event, describes the translation of the Virgin's garment and its ceremonial re-translation to Blachernae by the patriarch Sergius I after the threat had passed. [77] [78] Another eyewitness to write an account of the Avar–Persian siege was George of Pisidia, a deacon of Hagia Sophia and an administrative official in for the patriarchate from Antioch in Pisidia. [77] Both George and Theodore, probably belonged to Sergius's literary circle, attribute the defeat of the Avars to the intervention of the Theotokos, a belief that strengthened in following centuries. [77]

In 726, the emperor Leo the Isaurian issued a series of edicts against the veneration of images, ordering the army to destroy all icons – ushering in the period of Byzantine iconoclasm. At that time, all religious pictures and statues were removed from the Hagia Sophia. After a brief reprieve under Empress Irene (797–802), the iconoclasts made a comeback. The Emperor Theophilus ( r . 829–842 ) had two-winged bronze doors with his monograms installed at the southern entrance of the church. [ citation needed ]

The basilica suffered damage, first in a great fire in 859, and again in an earthquake on 8 January 869, that made one of the half-domes collapse. Emperor Basil I ordered the church repaired. [ citation needed ]

In the 940s or 950s, probably around 954 or 955, after the Rus'–Byzantine War of 941 and the death of the Grand Prince of Kiev, Igor I ( r . 912–945 ), his widow Olga of Kiev – regent for her infant son Sviatoslav I ( r . 945–972 ) – visited the emperor Constantine VII and was received as queen of the Rus' in Constantinople. [79] [80] [81] She was probably baptized in Hagia Sophia's baptistery, taking the name of the reigning augusta, Helena Lecapena, and receiving the titles zōstē patrikía and the styles of archontissa and hegemon of the Rus'. [80] [79] Her baptism was an important step towards the Christianization of the Kievan Rus', though the emperor's treatment of her visit in De caerimoniis does not mention baptism. [80] [79] Olga is deemed a saint and equal-to-the-apostles (Greek: ἰσαπόστολος , translit. isapóstolos) in the Eastern Orthodox Church. [82] [83] According to an early 14th-century source, the second church in Kiev, Saint Sophia's, was founded in anno mundi 6,460 in the Byzantine calendar, or c. 952 CE. [84] The name of this future cathedral of Kiev probably commemorates Olga's baptism at Hagia Sophia. [84]

After the great earthquake of 25 October 989, which collapsed the western dome arch, Emperor Basil II asked for the Armenian architect Trdat, creator of the Cathedral of Ani, to direct the repairs. [85] He erected again and reinforced the fallen dome arch, and rebuilt the west side of the dome with 15 dome ribs. [86] The extent of the damage required six years of repair and reconstruction the church was re-opened on 13 May 994. At the end of the reconstruction, the church's decorations were renovated, including the addition of four immense paintings of cherubs a new depiction of Christ on the dome a burial cloth of Christ shown on Fridays, and on the apse a new depiction of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus, between the apostles Peter and Paul. [87] On the great side arches were painted the prophets and the teachers of the church. [87]

According to the 13th-century Greek historian Niketas Choniates, in 1133 the emperor John II Comnenus celebrated a revived Roman triumph after his victory over the Danishmendids at the siege of Kastamon. [88] After proceeding through the streets on foot carrying a cross, with a silver quadriga bearing the icon of the Virgin Mary, the emperor participated in a ceremony at the cathedral before entering the imperial palace. [89] In 1168, another triumph was held by the emperor Manuel I Comnenus, again preceding with a gilded silver quadriga bearing the icon of the Virgin from the now-demolished East Gate (or Gate of St Barbara, later the Turkish: Top Kapısı, lit. 'Cannon Gate') in the Propontis Wall, to Hagia Sophia for a thanks-giving service, and then to the imperial palace. [90]

In 1181, the daughter of the emperor Manuel I, Maria Comnena and her husband, the caesar Renier of Montferrat, fled to Hagia Sophia at the culmination of their dispute with the empress Maria of Antioch, regent for her son, the emperor Alexius II Comnenus. [91] Maria Comnena and Renier occupied the cathedral with the support of the patriarch, refusing the demands of the imperial administration that they depart peaceably. [91] According to Niketas Choniates, they "transformed the sacred courtyard into a military camp", garrisoned the entrances to the complex with locals and mercenaries, and despite the strong opposition of the patriarch, made the "house of prayer into a den of thieves or a well-fortified and precipitous stronghold, impregnable to assault", while "all the dwellings adjacent to Hagia Sophia and adjoining the Augusteion were demolished by her men". [91] A battle ensued in the Augustaion and around the Milion, during which the defenders fought from the "gallery of the Catechumeneia (also called the Makron)" facing the Augusteion, from which they eventually retreated and took up positions in the exonarthex of Hagia Sophia itself. [91] At this point, "the patriarch was anxious lest the enemy troops enter the temple, with unholy feet trample the holy floor, and with hands defiled and dripping with blood still warm plunder the all-holy dedicatory offerings". [91] After a successful sally by Renier and his knights, Maria asked for a truce, the imperial assault ceased, and an amnesty was negotiated by the megas doux Andronikos Kontostephanos and the megas hetaireiarches, John Doukas. [91] Niketas Choniates compared the preservation of the cathedral to the efforts made by the 1st-century emperor Titus to avoid the destruction of the Second Temple during the Siege of Jerusalem in the First Jewish–Roman War. [91] Niketas Choniates reports that in 1182, a white hawk wearing jesses was seen to fly from the east to Hagia Sophia, flying three times from the "building of the Thōmaitēs" (a basilica erected on the southeastern side of the Augustaion) to the Palace of the Kathisma in the Great Palace, where new emperors were acclaimed. [92] This was supposed to presage the end of the reign of Andronicus I Comnenus ( r . 1183–1185 ). [92]

According to the Greek historian Niketas Choniates, in 1203 during the Fourth Crusade, the emperors Isaac II Angelus and Alexius IV Angelus stripped Hagia Sophia of all the gold ornaments and all the silver oil-lamps in order to pay off the Crusaders who had ousted Alexius III Angelus and helped Isaac return to the throne. [93] Upon the subsequent Sack of Constantinople in 1204, the church was further ransacked and desecrated by the Crusaders, as described by Niketas, though he did not witness the events in person. According to his account, composed at the court of the rump Empire of Nicaea, Hagia Sophia was stripped of its remaining metal ornaments, its altar was smashed into pieces, and a "woman laden with sins" sang and danced on the synthronon. [94] [95] [96] He adds that mules and donkeys were brought into the cathedral's sanctuary to carry away the gilded silver plating of the bema, the ambo, and the doors and other furnishings, and that one of these slipped on the marble floor and was accidentally disembowelled, further contaminating the place. [94] According to Ali ibn al-Athir, whose treatment of the Sack of Constantinople was probably dependent on a Christian source, the Crusaders massacred some clerics who had surrendered to them. [97] Much of the interior was damaged and would not be repaired until its return to Orthodox control in 1261. [45] The sack of Hagia Sophia, and Constantinople in general, remained a sore point in Catholic–Eastern Orthodox relations. [98]

During the Latin occupation of Constantinople (1204–1261) the church became a Latin Catholic cathedral. Baldwin I of Constantinople ( r . 1204–1205 ) was crowned emperor on 16 May 1204 in Hagia Sophia, at a ceremony which closely followed Byzantine practices. Enrico Dandolo, the Doge of Venice who commanded the sack and invasion of the city by the Latin Crusaders in 1204, is buried inside the church, probably in the upper eastern gallery. In the 19th century, an Italian restoration team placed a cenotaph marker, frequently mistaken as being a medieval, near the probable location and still visible today. The original tomb was destroyed by the Ottomans during the conversion of the church into a mosque. [99]

At the capture of Constantinople in 1261 by the Empire of Nicaea and the emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus, ( r . 1261–1282 ) the church was in a dilapidated state. In 1317, emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus ( r . 1282–1328 ) ordered four new buttresses (Byzantine Greek: Πυραμίδας , romanized: Pyramídas) to be built in the eastern and northern parts of the church, financing them with the inheritance of his late wife, Irene of Montferrat (d. 1314). [17] New cracks developed in the dome after the earthquake of October 1344, and several parts of the building collapsed on 19 May 1346 consequently, the church was closed until 1354, when repairs were undertaken by architects Astras and Peralta. [ citation needed ]

On 12 December 1452, Isidore of Kiev proclaimed in Hagia Sophia the long-anticipated and short-lived ecclesiastical union between the western Catholic and eastern Orthodox Churches as decided at the Council of Florence and the papal bull Laetentur Caeli. The union was unpopular among the Byzantines, who had already expelled the Patriarch of Constantinople, Gregory III, for his pro-union stance. A new patriarch was not installed until after the Ottoman conquest. According to the Greek historian Doukas, the Hagia Sophia was tainted by these Catholic associations, and the anti-union Orthodox faithful avoided the cathedral, considering it to be a haunt of demons and a "Hellenic" temple of Roman paganism. [100] Doukas also notes that after the Laetentur Caeli was proclaimed, the Byzantines dispersed discontentedly to nearby venues where they drank toasts to the Hodegetria icon, which had, according to late Byzantine tradition, interceded to save them in the former sieges of Constantinople by the Avar Khaganate and the Umayyad Caliphate. [101]

According to Nestor Iskander's Tale on the Taking of Tsargrad, the Hagia Sophia was the focus of an alarming omen interpreted as the Holy Spirit abandoning Constantinople on 21 May 1453, in the final days of the Siege of Constantinople. [102] The sky lit up, illuminating the city, and "many people gathered and saw on the Church of the Wisdom, at the top of the window, a large flame of fire issuing forth. It encircled the entire neck of the church for a long time. The flame gathered into one its flame altered, and there was an indescribable light. At once it took to the sky. … The light itself has gone up to heaven the gates of heaven were opened the light was received and again they were closed." [102] This phenomenon was perhaps St Elmo's fire induced by gunpowder smoke and unusual weather. [102] The author relates that the fall of the city to "Mohammadenism" was foretold in an omen seen by Constantine the Great – an eagle fighting with a snake – which also signified that "in the end Christianity will overpower Mohammedanism, will receive the Seven Hills, and will be enthroned in it". [102]

The eventual fall of Constantinople had long been predicted in apocalyptic literature. [103] A reference to the destruction of a city founded on seven hills in the Book of Revelation was frequently understood as Constantinople, and the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius had predicted an "Ishmaelite" conquest of the Roman Empire. [103] In this text, the Muslim armies reach the Forum Bovis before being turned back by divine intervention in apocalyptic later texts, the climactic turn takes place at the Column of Theodosius nearer Hagia Sophia, in others, at the Column of Constantine, closer still. [103] Hagia Sophia is mentioned in a hagiography, of uncertain date, detailing the life of the fictional saint Andrew the Fool. [104] The text's author claims to have been Nicephorus, a priest of Hagia Sophia, and contains a description of the end time in the form of a dialogue, in which the interlocutor, on being told by the saint that Constantinople will be sunk in a flood, and that "the waters as they gush forth will irresistibly deluge her and cover her and surrender her to the terrifying and immense sea of the abyss", says "some people say that the Great Church of God will not be submerged with the city but will be suspended in the air by an invisible power". [104] The reply is given that "When the whole city sinks into the sea, how can the Great Church remain? Who will need her? Do you think God dwells in temples made with hands?" [104] The Column of Constantine, however, is prophesied to endure. [104]

From the time of Procopius in the reign of Justinian, the equestrian imperial statue on the Column of Justinian in the Augustaion beside Hagia Sophia, which gestured towards Asia with right hand, was understood to represent the emperor holding back the threat to the Romans from the Sasanian Empire in the Roman–Persian Wars, while the orb or globus cruciger held in the statue's left was an expression of the global power of the Roman emperor. [105] Subsequently, in the Arab–Byzantine wars, the threat held back by the statue became the Umayyad Caliphate, and later still the statue was thought to be fending off the advance of the Turks. [105] The identity of the emperor was often confused with other famous saint-emperors like Theodosius the Great and Heraclius. [105] The orb was frequently referred to as an apple in foreigners' accounts of the city, and was interpreted in Greek folklore as a symbol of the Turks' mythological homeland in Central Asia, the "Lone Apple Tree". [105] The orb fell to the ground in 1316 and was replaced by 1325, but while it was still in place in 1421/2, by the time Johann Schiltberger saw it in 1427 the "empire-apple" (German: Reichsapfel) had fallen to the earth. [105] An attempt to raise it again in 1435 failed, and this amplified the prophecies of the city's fall. [105] For the Turks, the "red apple" (Turkish: kızıl elma) came to symbolize first Constantinople itself and then the military supremacy of the Islamic caliphate over the Christian empire. [105] In Niccolò Barbaro's account of the fall of the city in 1453, the Justinianic monument was interpreted in the last days of the siege as representing the city's founder Constantine the Great, indicating "this is the way my conqueror will come". [102]

According to Laonicus Chalcocondyles, Hagia Sophia was a refuge for the population during the capture of the city. [106] Despite the ill-repute and empty state of Hagia Sophia after December 1452, Doukas writes that after the Theodosian Walls were breached, the Byzantines took refuge there as the Turks advanced through the city: "All the women and men, monks, and nuns ran to the Great Church. They, both men and women, were holding in their arms their infants. … What a spectacle! That street was crowded, full of human beings." [106] He attributes their change of heart to a prophecy. [106]

What was the reason that compelled all to flee to the Great Church? They had been listening, for many years, to some pseudo-soothsayers, who had declared that the city was destined to be handed over to the Turks, who would enter in large numbers and would massacre the Romans as far as the Column of Constantine the Great. After this an angel would descend, holding his sword. He would hand over the kingdom, together with the sword, to some insignificant, poor, and humble man who would happen to be standing by the Column. He would say to him: "Take this sword and avenge the Lord's people." Then the Turks would be turned back, would be massacred by the pursuing Romans, and would be ejected from the city and from all places in the west and the east and would be driven as far as the borders of Persia, to a place called the Lone Tree …. That was the cause for the flight into the Great Church. In one hour that famous and enormous church was filled with men and women. An innumerable crowd was everywhere: upstairs, downstairs, in the courtyards, and in every conceivable place. They closed the gates and stood there, hoping for salvation.

Mosque (1453–1935) Edit

Constantinople fell to the attacking Ottoman forces on 29 May 1453. Sultan Mehmed entered the city and performed the Friday prayer and khutbah (sermon) in Hagia Sophia, this action marked the official conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque. [107]

In accordance with the traditional custom at the time, Sultan Mehmed II allowed his troops and his entourage three full days of unbridled pillage and looting in the city shortly after it was captured. Once the three days passed, he would then claim its remaining contents for himself. [108] [109] According to the Encyclopædia Britannica Mehmed II "permitted an initial period of looting that saw the destruction of many Orthodox churches". [110] However, by the end of the first day, he proclaimed that the looting should cease as he felt profound sadness when he toured the looted and enslaved city. [111] [108] [112]

Hagia Sophia was not exempted from the pillage and looting and specifically became its focal point as the invaders believed it to contain the greatest treasures and valuables of the city. [113] Shortly after the defence of the Walls of Constantinople collapsed and the Ottoman troops entered the city victoriously, the pillagers and looters made their way to the Hagia Sophia and battered down its doors before storming in. [114]

Throughout the period of the siege of Constantinople, the trapped worshippers of the city participated in the Divine Liturgy and the Prayer of the Hours at the Hagia Sophia and the church formed a safe-haven and a refuge for many of those who were unable to contribute to the city's defence, which comprised women, children, elderly, the sick and the wounded. [115] [116] [112] Being trapped in the church, the many congregants and yet more refugees inside became spoils-of-war to be divided amongst the triumphant invaders. The building was desecrated and looted, with the helpless occupants who sought shelter within the church being enslaved. [113] While most of the elderly and the infirm/wounded and sick were killed, the remainder (mainly teenage males and young boys) were chained up and sold into slavery. [117] [112]

The church's priests and religious personnel continued to perform Christian rites, prayers and ceremonies until finally being forced to stop by the invaders. [117] When Sultan Mehmed and his entourage entered the church, he ordered that it be converted into a mosque at once. One of the ʿulamāʾ (Islamic scholars) present climbed onto the church's ambo and recited the shahada ("There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his messenger"), thus marking the beginning of the conversion of the church into a mosque. [17] [118] Mehmed is reported to have taken a sword to a soldier who tried to prise up one of the paving slabs of the Proconnesian marble floor. [119]

As described by Western visitors before 1453, such as the Córdoban nobleman Pero Tafur [120] and the Florentine geographer Cristoforo Buondelmonti, [121] the church was in a dilapidated state, with several of its doors fallen from their hinges Mehmed II ordered a renovation of the building. Mehmed attended the first Friday prayer in the mosque on 1 June 1453. [122] Aya Sofya became the first imperial mosque of Istanbul. [123] To the corresponding waqf were endowed most of the existing houses in the city and the area of the future Topkapı Palace. [17] From 1478, 2,360 shops, 1,300 houses, 4 caravanserais, 30 boza shops, and 23 shops of sheep heads and trotters gave their income to the foundation. [124] Through the imperial charters of 1520 (AH 926) and 1547 (AH 954) shops and parts of the Grand Bazaar and other markets were added to the foundation. [17]

Before 1481, a small minaret was erected on the southwest corner of the building, above the stair tower. [17] Later, Mehmed's successor Bayezid II ( r . 1481–1512 ) built another minaret at the northeast corner. [17] One of these collapsed after the earthquake of 1509, [17] and around the middle of the 16th century they were both replaced by two diagonally opposite minarets built at the east and west corners of the edifice. [17] In 1498, Bernardo Bonsignori was the last Western visitor to Hagia Sophia to report seeing the ancient Justinianic floor shortly afterwards the floor was covered over with carpet and not seen again until the 19th century. [119]

In the 16th century, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent ( r . 1520–1566 ) brought two colossal candlesticks from his conquest of the Kingdom of Hungary and placed them on either side of the mihrab. During Suleiman's reign, the mosaics above the narthex and imperial gates depicting Jesus, Mary and various Byzantine emperors were covered by whitewash and plaster, which was removed in 1930 under the Turkish Republic. [125]

During the reign of Selim II ( r . 1566–1574 ), the building started showing signs of fatigue and was extensively strengthened with the addition of structural supports to its exterior by Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, who was also an earthquake engineer. [126] In addition to strengthening the historic Byzantine structure, Sinan built the two additional large minarets at the western end of the building, the original sultan's lodge and the türbe (mausoleum) of Selim II to the southeast of the building in 1576–1577 / AH 984. In order to do that, parts of the Patriarchate at the south corner of the building were pulled down the previous year. [17] Moreover, the golden crescent was mounted on the top of the dome, [17] while a respect zone 35 arşın (about 24 m) wide was imposed around the building, pulling down all the houses which in the meantime had nested around it. [17] Later his türbe hosted also 43 tombs of Ottoman princes. [17] Murad III ( r . 1574–1595 ) had two large alabaster Hellenistic urns transported from Pergamon (Bergama) and placed on two sides of the nave. [17]

In 1717, under Sultan Ahmed III ( r . 1703–1730 ), the crumbling plaster of the interior was renovated, contributing indirectly to the preservation of many mosaics, which otherwise would have been destroyed by mosque workers. [127] In fact, it was usual for them to sell the mosaic's tesserae—believed to be talismans—to the visitors. [127] Sultan Mahmud I ordered the restoration of the building in 1739 and added a medrese (a Koranic school, subsequently the library of the museum), an imaret (soup kitchen for distribution to the poor) and a library, and in 1740 a Şadirvan (fountain for ritual ablutions), thus transforming it into a külliye, i.e. a social complex. At the same time, a new sultan's lodge and a new mihrab were built inside.

Renovation of 1847–1849 Edit

Restoration of the Hagia Sophia was ordered by Sultan Abdulmejid I ( r . 1823–1861 ) and completed by eight hundred workers between 1847 and 1849, under the supervision of the Swiss-Italian architect brothers Gaspare and Giuseppe Fossati. The brothers consolidated the dome with a restraining iron chain and strengthened the vaults, straightened the columns, and revised the decoration of the exterior and the interior of the building. [128] The mosaics in the upper gallery were exposed and cleaned, although many were recovered "for protection against further damage". [ citation needed ]

Eight new gigantic circular-framed discs or medallions were hung from the cornice, on each of the four piers and at either side of the apse and the west doors. These were painted, to designs by the calligrapher Kazasker Mustafa Izzet Efendi (1801–1877), with the names of Allah, Muhammad, the Rashidun (the first four caliphs: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali), and the two grandsons of Muhammad: Hasan and Husayn, the sons of Ali. The old chandeliers were replaced by new pendant ones. [ citation needed ]

In 1850 the architects Fossati built a new maqsura or caliphal loge in Neo-Byzantine columns and an Ottoman–Rococo style marble grille, connecting to the royal pavilion behind the mosque. [128] The new maqsura was built at the extreme east end of the northern aisle, next to the north-eastern pier. The existing maqsura in the apse, near the mihrab, was demolished. [128] A new entrance was constructed for the sultan: the Hünkar Mahfili. [128] The Fossati brothers also renovated the minbar and mihrab.

Outside the main building, the minarets were repaired and altered so that they were of equal height. [129] A clock building, the Muvakkithanesi was built by the Fossatis for the use of the muwaqqit (the mosque timekeeper), and a new madrasa (Islamic school) was constructed. The Kasr-ı Hümayun was also built under their direction. [128] When the restoration was finished, the mosque was re-opened with ceremonial pomp on 13 July 1849. [ citation needed ] An edition of lithographs from drawings made during the Fossatis' work on Hagia Sophia was published in London in 1852, entitled: Aya Sophia of Constantinople as Recently Restored by Order of H.M. The Sultan Abdulmedjid. [128]

Nave before restoration, looking east.

Nave and apse after restoration, looking east.

Nave and entrance after restoration, looking west.

North aisle from the entrance looking east

Nave and south aisle from the north aisle.

Northern gallery and entrance to the matroneum from the north-west.

Southern gallery from the south-west

Southern gallery from the Marble Door looking west.

Southern gallery from the Marble Door looking east.

Museum (1935–2020) Edit

In 1935, the first Turkish President and founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, transformed the building into a museum. The carpet and the layer of mortar underneath them were removed and marble floor decorations such as the omphalion appeared for the first time since the Fossatis' restoration, [130] while the white plaster covering many of the mosaics was removed. Nevertheless, the condition of the structure deteriorated, and the World Monuments Fund (WMF) placed Hagia Sophia on 1996 World Monuments Watch, and again in 1998. The building's copper roof had cracked, causing water to leak down over the fragile frescoes and mosaics. Moisture entered from below as well. Rising ground water had raised the level of humidity within the monument, creating an unstable environment for stone and paint. The WMF secured a series of grants from 1997 to 2002 for the restoration of the dome. The first stage of work involved the structural stabilization and repair of the cracked roof, which was undertaken with the participation of the Turkish Ministry of Culture. The second phase, the preservation of the dome's interior, afforded the opportunity to employ and train young Turkish conservators in the care of mosaics. By 2006, the WMF project was complete, though many other areas of Hagia Sophia continue to require significant stability improvement, restoration and conservation. [131]

In 2014, Hagia Sophia was the second most visited museum in Turkey, attracting almost 3.3 million visitors annually. [132]

While use of the complex as a place of worship (mosque or church) was strictly prohibited, [133] in 1991 the Turkish government allowed the allocation of a pavilion in the museum complex (Ayasofya Müzesi Hünkar Kasrı) to be used as a prayer room, and since 2013, two of the museum's minarets had been used for voicing the call to prayer (the ezan) regularly. [134] [135]

In 2007, Greek American politician Chris Spirou launched an international organization "Free Agia Sophia Council" championing the cause of restoring the building to its original function as a Christian church. [136] [137] [138] From the early 2010s, several campaigns and government high officials, notably Turkey's deputy prime minister Bülent Arınç in November 2013, had demanded that Hagia Sophia be converted into a mosque again. [139] [140] [141] In 2015, in response to the acknowledgement by Pope Francis of the Armenian genocide, which is officially denied in Turkey, the mufti of Ankara, Mefail Hızlı, said that he believed that the Pope's remarks would accelerate the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque. [142]

On 1 July 2016, Muslim prayers were held again in the Hagia Sophia for the first time in 85 years. [143] On November, the Turkish non-governmental organization, the Association for the Protection of Historic Monuments and the Environment filed a lawsuit for converting the museum into a mosque. [144] The court decided it should stay as a 'monument museum'. [145] In October 2016, Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) appointed, for the first time in 81 years, a designated imam, Önder Soy, to the Hagia Sofia mosque (Ayasofya Camii Hünkar Kasrı), located at the Hünkar Kasrı, a pavilion for the sultans' private ablutions. Since then, the adhan has been regularly called out from the Hagia Sophia's all four minarets five times a day. [134] [135] [146]

On 13 May 2017 a large group of people, organized by the Anatolia Youth Association (AGD), gathered in front of Hagia Sophia and prayed the morning prayer with a call for the re-conversion of the museum into a mosque. [147] On 21 June 2017 the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) organized a special programme, broadcast live by state-run television TRT, which included the recitation of the Quran and prayers in Hagia Sofia, to mark the Laylat al-Qadr. [148]

Reversion to mosque (2018–present) Edit

Since 2018, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had spoken of reverting the status of the Hagia Sophia back to a mosque, a move seen to be very popularly accepted by the religious populace whom Erdoğan is attempting to persuade. [149] On 31 March 2018 Erdoğan recited the first verse of the Quran in the Hagia Sophia, dedicating the prayer to the "souls of all who left us this work as inheritance, especially Istanbul's conqueror," strengthening the political movement to make the Hagia Sophia a mosque once again, which would reverse Atatürk's measure of turning the Hagia Sophia into a secular museum. [150] In March 2019 Erdoğan said that he would change the status of Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque, [151] adding that it had been a "very big mistake" to turn it into a museum. [152] As a UNESCO World Heritage site, this change would require approval from UNESCO's World Heritage Committee. [153] In late 2019 Erdoğan's office took over the administration and upkeep of the nearby Topkapı Palace Museum, transferring responsibility for the site from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism by presidential decree. [154] [155] [156]

In 2020, Turkey's government celebrated the 567th anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople with an Islamic prayer in Hagia Sophia. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said during a televised broadcast "Al-Fath surah will be recited and prayers will be done at Hagia Sophia as part of conquest festival". [157] In May, during the anniversary events, passages from the Quran were read in the Hagia Sophia. Greece condemned this action, while Turkey in response accused Greece of making “futile and ineffective statements”. [158] In June, the head of the Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) said that "we would be very happy to open Hagia Sophia for worship" and if this happens "we will provide our religious services as we do in all our mosques”. [144] On 25 June, John Haldon, president of the International Association of Byzantine Studies, wrote an open letter to Erdoğan asking that he "consider the value of keeping the Aya Sofya as a museum". [32]

On 10 July 2020, the decision of the Council of Ministers to transform the Hagia Sophia into a museum was cancelled by the Council of State, decreeing that Hagia Sophia can be used only as a mosque and not “for any other purpose”. [159] Despite secular and global criticism, Erdoğan signed a decree annulling the Hagia Sophia's museum status, reverting it to a mosque. [160] [161] The call to prayer was broadcast from the minarets shortly after the announcement of the change and rebroadcast by major Turkish news networks. [161] The Hagia Sophia Museum's social media channels were taken down the same day, with Erdoğan announcing at a press conference that prayers themselves would be held there from 24 July. [161] A presidential spokesperson said it would become a working mosque, open to anyone similar to the Parisian churches Sacré-Cœur and Notre-Dame. The spokesperson also said that the change would not affect the status of the Hagia Sophia as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and that "Christian icons" within it would continue to be protected. [149] Earlier the same day, before the final decision, the Turkish Finance and Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak and the Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül expressed their expectations of opening the Hagia Sophia to worship for Muslims. [162] [163] Mustafa Şentop, Speaker of Turkey's Grand National Assembly, said "a longing in the heart of our nation has ended". [162] A presidential spokesperson claimed that all political parties in Turkey supported Erdoğan's decision [164] however, the Peoples' Democratic Party had previously released a statement denouncing the decision, saying "decisions on human heritage cannot be made on the basis of political games played by the government". [165] The mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, said that he supports the conversion "as long as it benefits Turkey", adding that he always said that Hagia Sophia is a mosque and for him it has remained a mosque since 1453. [166] Ali Babacan attacked the policy of his former ally Erdoğan, saying the Hagia Sophia issue "has come to the agenda now only to cover up other problems". [167] Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and Nobel laureate, publicly denounced the move, saying "Kemal Atatürk changed . Hagia Sophia from a mosque to a museum, honouring all previous Greek Orthodox and Latin Catholic history, making it as a sign of Turkish modern secularism". [161] [168]

On 17 July, Erdoğan announced that the first prayers in the Hagia Sophia would be open to between 1,000 and 1,500 worshippers, and reiterated that the issue was a matter of Turkey's sovereignty and international reaction would not deter him. [169] Turkey invited foreign leaders and officials, including Pope Francis, [170] for the first prayers which was held on Friday on July 24, 2020, in the Hagia Sophia. [171]

On 22 July, a turquoise-coloured carpet was laid to prepare the mosque for worshippers Ali Erbaş, head of the Diyanet, attended its laying. [167] The omphalion was left exposed. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey, Erbaş said Hagia Sophia would accommodate up to 1,000 worshippers at a time and asked that they bring "masks, a prayer rug, patience and understanding". [167] The mosque opened for Friday prayers on 24 July, the 97th anniversary of the signature of the Treaty of Lausanne, which after the victory of the Republic in the Turkish War of Independence, reversed many of the territorial losses Turkey incurred after World War I's Treaty of Sèvres, including ending the Allies' occupation of Constantinople. [172] [167] White drapes covered the mosaics of the Virgin and Child in the apse. [168] Erbaş, holding a sword, proclaimed during his sermon, "Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror dedicated this magnificent construction to believers to remain a mosque until the Day of Resurrection". [168] Erdoğan and some government ministers attended the midday prayers as many worshippers prayed outside at one point the security cordon was breached and dozens of people broke through police lines. [168] It is the fourth Byzantine church converted from museum to a mosque during Erdoğan's rule. [173]

International reaction Edit

Days before the final decision on the conversion was made, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople stated in a sermon that "the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque would disappoint millions of Christians around the world”, he also said that Hagia Sophia, which was "a vital center where East is embraced with the West", would "fracture these two worlds" in the event of conversion. [174] [175] The proposed conversion was decried by other Orthodox Christian leaders, the Russian Orthodox Church's Patriarch Kirill of Moscow stating that "a threat to Hagia Sophia [wa]s a threat to all of Christian civilization". [176] [177]

Following the Turkish government's decision, UNESCO announced it "deeply regret[ted]" the conversion "made without prior discussion", and asked Turkey to "open a dialogue without delay", stating that the lack of negotiation was "regrettable". [28] [161] UNESCO further announced that the "state of conservation" of Hagia Sophia would be "examined" at the next session of the World Heritage Committee, urging Turkey "to initiate dialogue without delay, in order to prevent any detrimental effect on the universal value of this exceptional heritage". [28] Ernesto Ottone, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Culture said "It is important to avoid any implementing measure, without prior discussion with UNESCO, that would affect physical access to the site, the structure of the buildings, the site's moveable property, or the site’s management". [28] UNESCO's statement of 10 July said "these concerns were shared with the Republic of Turkey in several letters, and again yesterday evening with the representative of the Turkish Delegation" without a response. [28]

The World Council of Churches, which claims to represent 500 million Christians of 350 denominations, condemned the decision to convert the building into a mosque, saying that would "inevitably create uncertainties, suspicions and mistrust" the World Council of Churches urged Turkey's president Erdoğan "to reconsider and reverse" his decision "in the interests of promoting mutual understanding, respect, dialogue and cooperation, and avoiding cultivating old animosities and divisions". [178] [29] [179] At the recitation of the Sunday Angelus prayer at St Peter's Square on 12 July Pope Francis said, "My thoughts go to Istanbul. I think of Santa Sophia and I am very pained" (Italian: Penso a Santa Sofia, a Istanbul, e sono molto addolorato). [note 1] [181] [30] The International Association of Byzantine Studies announced that its 21st International Congress, due to be held in Istanbul in 2021, will no longer be held there and is postponed to 2022. [32]

Josep Borrell, the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Vice-President of the European Commission, released a statement calling the decisions by the Council of State and Erdoğan "regrettable" and pointing out that "as a founding member of the Alliance of Civilisations, Turkey has committed to the promotion of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue and to fostering of tolerance and co-existence." [182] According to Borrell, the European Union member states' twenty-seven foreign ministers "condemned the Turkish decision to convert such an emblematic monument as the Hagia Sophia" at meeting on 13 July, saying it "will inevitably fuel the mistrust, promote renewed division between religious communities and undermine our efforts at dialog and cooperation" and that "there was a broad support to call on the Turkish authorities to urgently reconsider and reverse this decision". [183] [184] Greece denounced the conversion and considered it a breach of the UNESCO World Heritage titling. [149] Greek culture minister Lina Mendoni called it an "open provocation to the civilised world" which "absolutely confirms that there is no independent justice" in Erdoğan's Turkey, and that his Turkish nationalism "takes his country back six centuries". [31] Greece and Cyprus called for EU sanctions on Turkey. [185] Morgan Ortagus, the spokesperson for the United States Department of State, noted: "We are disappointed by the decision by the government of Turkey to change the status of the Hagia Sophia." [31] Jean-Yves Le Drian, foreign minister of France, said his country "deplores" the move, saying "these decisions cast doubt on one of the most symbolic acts of modern and secular Turkey". [179] Vladimir Dzhabarov, deputy head of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian Federation Council, said that it "will not do anything for the Muslim world. It does not bring nations together, but on the contrary brings them into collision" and calling the move a "mistake". [31] The former deputy prime minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini, held a demonstration in protest outside the Turkish consulate in Milan, calling for all plans for accession of Turkey to the European Union to be terminated "once and for all". [186] In East Jerusalem, a protest was held outside the Turkish consulate on the 13 July, with the burning of a Turkish flag and the display of the Greek flag and flag of the Greek Orthodox Church. [187] In a statement the Turkish foreign ministry condemned the burning of the flag, saying "nobody can disrespect or encroach our glorious flag". [188]

Ersin Tatar, prime minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey, welcomed the decision, calling it "sound" and "pleasing". [189] [31] He further criticized the government of Cyprus, claiming that "the Greek Cypriot administration, who burned down our mosques, should not have a say in this". [189] Through a spokesman the Foreign Ministry of Iran welcomed the change, saying the decision was an "issue that should be considered as part of Turkey's national sovereignty" and "Turkey's internal affair". [190] Sergei Vershinin, deputy foreign minister of Russia, said that the matter was of one of "internal affairs, in which, of course, neither we nor others should interfere." [191] [192] The Arab Maghreb Union was supportive. [193] Ekrema Sabri, imam of the al-Aqsa Mosque, and Ahmed bin Hamad al-Khalili, grand mufti of Oman, both congratulated Turkey on the move. [193] The Muslim Brotherhood was also in favour of the news. [193] A spokesman for the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas called the verdict "a proud moment for all Muslims". [194] Pakistani politician Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi of the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) welcomed the ruling, claiming it was "not only in accordance with the wishes of the people of Turkey but the entire Muslim world". [195] The Muslim Judicial Council group in South Africa praised the move, calling it "a historic turning point". [196] In Nouakchott, capital of Mauritania, there were prayers and celebrations topped by the sacrifice of a camel. [197] On the other hand, Shawki Allam, grand mufti of Egypt, ruled that conversion of the Hagia Sophia to a mosque is "impermissible". [198]

When President Erdoğan announced that the first Muslim prayers would be held inside the building on 24 July, he added that "like all our mosques, the doors of Hagia Sophia will be wide open to locals and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims." Presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said that the icons and mosaics of the building would be preserved, and that "in regards to the arguments of secularism, religious tolerance and coexistence, there are more than four hundred churches and synagogues open in Turkey today." [199] Ömer Çelik, spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), announced on 13 July that entry to Hagia Sophia would be free of charge and open to all visitors outside prayer times, during which Christian imagery in the building's mosaics would be covered by curtains or lasers. [186] In response to the criticisms of Pope Francis, Çelik said that the papacy was responsible for the greatest disrespect done to the site, during the 13th-century Latin Catholic Fourth Crusade's sack of Constantinople and the Latin Empire, during which the cathedral was pillaged. [186] The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, told TRT Haber on 13 July that the government was surprised at the reaction of UNESCO, saying that "We have to protect our ancestors’ heritage. The function can be this way or that way – it does not matter". [200]

On 14 July the prime minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said his government was "considering its response at all levels" to what he called Turkey's "unnecessary, petty initiative", and that "with this backward action, Turkey is opting to sever links with western world and its values". [201] In relation to both Hagia Sophia and the Cyprus–Turkey maritime zones dispute, Mitsotakis called for European sanctions against Turkey, referring to it as "a regional troublemaker, and which is evolving into a threat to the stability of the whole south-east Mediterranean region". [201] Dora Bakoyannis, Greek former foreign minister, said Turkey's actions had "crossed the Rubicon", distancing itself from the West. [202] On the day of the building's re-opening, Mitsotakis called it not a show of power but evidence of Turkey's weakness. [168]

Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. [6] Its interior is decorated with mosaics and marble pillars and coverings of great artistic value. The temple itself was so richly and artistically decorated that according to much later legend, Justinian proclaimed, "Solomon, I have outdone thee!" (Byzantine Greek: Νενίκηκά σε Σολομών ). Justinian himself had overseen the completion of the greatest cathedral ever built up to that time, and it was to remain the largest cathedral for 1,000 years up until the completion of the cathedral in Seville in Spain. [203]

The Hagia Sophia is of masonry construction. The structure has brick and mortar joints that are 1.5 times the width of the bricks. The mortar joints are composed of a combination of sand and minute ceramic pieces distributed evenly throughout the mortar joints. This combination of sand and potsherds was often used in Roman concrete, predecessor of modern concrete. [204]

Justinian's basilica was at once the culminating architectural achievement of late antiquity and the first masterpiece of Byzantine architecture. Its influence, both architecturally and liturgically, was widespread and enduring in the Eastern Christianity, Western Christianity, and Islam alike.

The vast interior has a complex structure. The nave is covered by a central dome which at its maximum is 55.6 m (182 ft 5 in) from floor level and rests on an arcade of 40 arched windows. Repairs to its structure have left the dome somewhat elliptical, with the diameter varying between 31.24 and 30.86 m (102 ft 6 in and 101 ft 3 in). [205]

At the western entrance side and eastern liturgical side, there are arched openings extended by half domes of identical diameter to the central dome, carried on smaller semi-domed exedrae a hierarchy of dome-headed elements built up to create a vast oblong interior crowned by the central dome, with a clear span of 76.2 m (250 ft). [6]

Therefore, Svenshon suggested that the size of the side of the central square of Hagia Sophia is not 100 Byzantine feet, but instead 99. This measurement is not only rational, but is also embedded in the system of the side-and-diagonal number progression (70/99) and therefore a usable value by the applied mathematics of antiquity. It gives a diagonal of 140 which is manageable for constructing a huge dome as was done in the Hagia Sophia. [208]

Floor Edit

The stone floor of Hagia Sophia dates from the 6th century. After the first collapse of the vault, the broken dome was left in situ on the original Justinianic floor and a new floor laid above the rubble when the dome was rebuilt in 558. [209] From the installation of this second Justinianic floor, the floor became part of the liturgy, with significant locations and spaces demarcated in various ways with different coloured stones and marbles. [209]

The floor is predominantly of Proconnesian marble, quarried on Proconnesus (Marmara Island) in the Propontis (Sea of Marmara). This was the main white marble used in Constantinople's monuments. Other parts of the floor were quarried in Thessaly in Roman Greece: the Thessalian verd antique "marble". The Thessalian verd antique bands across the nave floor were often likened to rivers. [210]

The floor was praised by numerous authors and repeatedly compared to a sea. [119] The Justinianic poet Paul the Silentiary compared the ambo and the solea connecting it with the sanctuary to an island in a sea, with the sanctuary itself a harbour. [119] The 9th-century Narratio writes of it as "like the sea or the flowing waters of a river". [119] Michael the Deacon in the 12th century also described the floor as a sea in which the ambo and other liturgical furniture stood as islands. [119] In the 15th-century conquest of Constantinople, the Ottoman caliph Mehmed is said to have ascended to the dome and the galleries in order to admire the floor, which according to Tursun Beg resembled "a sea in a storm" or a "petrified sea". [119] Other Ottoman-era authors also praised the floor Tâcîzâde Cafer Çelebi compared it to waves of marble. [119] The floor was hidden beneath a carpet on 22 July 2020. [167]

Narthex and portals Edit

The Imperial Gate was the main entrance between the exo- and esonarthex. It was reserved exclusively for the Emperor. The Byzantine mosaic above the portal depicts Christ and an unnamed emperor. A long ramp from the northern part of the outer narthex leads up to the upper gallery.

Upper gallery Edit

The upper gallery, the matroneum, is laid out in a horseshoe shape that encloses the nave on three sides and is interrupted by the apse. Several mosaics are preserved in the upper gallery, an area traditionally reserved for the Empress and her court. The best-preserved mosaics are located in the southern part of the gallery.

The upper gallery contains runic graffiti presumed to be left by members of the Varangian Guard.

Throughout history the Hagia Sophia has been a victim to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, and has also fallen victim to vandalism. Structural damage can easily be seen on its exterior surface. To ensure that the Hagia Sophia did not sustain any damage on the interior of the building, studies have been conducted using ground penetrating radar within the gallery of the Hagia Sophia. With the use of GPR (ground penetrating radar), teams discovered weak zones within the Hagia Sophia's gallery and also concluded that the curvature of the vault dome has been shifted out of proportion, compared to its original angular orientation. [211]

Dome Edit

The dome of Hagia Sophia has spurred particular interest for many art historians, architects and engineers because of the innovative way the original architects envisioned it. The dome is carried on four spherical triangular pendentives, one of the first large-scale uses of them. The pendentives are the corners of the square base of the dome, which curve upwards into the dome to support it, restraining the lateral forces of the dome and allowing its weight to flow downwards. [212] [213] It was the largest pendentive dome in the world until the completion of St Peter's Basilica, and has a much lower height than any other dome of such a large diameter.

The great dome at the Hagia Sophia is 32.6 meters (one hundred and seven feet) in diameter and is only 0.61 meters (two feet) thick. The main building material for the Hagia Sophia composed of brick and mortar. Brick aggregate was used to make roofs easier to construct. The aggregate weighs 2402.77 kilograms per cubic meter (one hundred and fifty pounds per cubic foot), an average weight of masonry construction at the time. Due to the materials plasticity it was chosen over cut stone due to the fact that aggregate can be used over a longer distance. [214] According to Rowland Mainstone, "it is unlikely that the vaulting-shell is anywhere more than one normal brick in thickness". [215]

The weight of the dome remained a problem for most of the building's existence. The original cupola collapsed entirely after the earthquake of 558 in 563 a new dome was built by Isidore the younger, a nephew of Isidore of Miletus. Unlike the original, this included 40 ribs and was raised 6.1 meters (20 feet), in order to lower the lateral forces on the church walls. A larger section of the second dome collapsed as well, in two episodes, so that today only two sections of the present dome, in the north and south side, still date from the 562 reconstructions. Of the whole dome's 40 ribs, the surviving north section contains eight ribs, while the south section includes six ribs. [216]

Although this design stabilizes the dome and the surrounding walls and arches, the actual construction of the walls of Hagia Sophia weakened the overall structure. The bricklayers used more mortar than brick, which is more effective if the mortar was allowed to settle as the building would have been more flexible however, the builders raced to complete the building and left no time for the mortar to cure before they began the next layer. When the dome was erected, its weight caused the walls to lean outward because of the wet mortar underneath. When Isidore the Younger rebuilt the fallen cupola, he had first to build up the interior of the walls to make them vertical again. Additionally, the architect raised the height of the rebuilt dome by approximately 6 metres (20 ft) so that the lateral forces would not be as strong and its weight would be transmitted more effectively down into the walls. Moreover, he shaped the new cupola like a scalloped shell or the inside of an umbrella, with ribs that extend from the top down to the base. These ribs allow the weight of the dome to flow between the windows, down the pendentives, and ultimately to the foundation. [217]

Hagia Sophia is famous for the light that reflects everywhere in the interior of the nave, giving the dome the appearance of hovering above. This effect was achieved by inserting forty windows around the base of the original structure. Moreover, the insertion of the windows in the dome structure reduced its weight. [217]

Buttresses Edit

Numerous buttresses have been added throughout the centuries. The flying buttresses to the west of the building, although thought to have been constructed by the Crusaders upon their visit to Constantinople, were actually built during the Byzantine era. This shows that the Romans had prior knowledge of flying buttresses, which can also be seen at in Greece, at the Rotunda of Galerius in Thessaloniki, at the monastery of Hosios Loukas in Boeotia, and in Italy at the octagonal basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna. [217] Other buttresses were constructed during the Ottoman times under the guidance of the architect Sinan. A total of 24 buttresses were added. [218]

Minarets Edit

The minarets were an Ottoman addition and not part of the original church's Byzantine design. They were built for notification of invitations for prayers (adhan) and announcements. Mehmed had built a wooden minaret over one of the half domes soon after Hagia Sophia's conversion from a cathedral to a mosque. This minaret does not exist today. One of the minarets (at southeast) was built from red brick and can be dated back from the reign of Mehmed or his successor Beyazıd II. The other three were built from white limestone and sandstone, of which the slender northeast column was erected by Bayezid II and the two identical, larger minarets to the west were erected by Selim II and designed by the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. Both are 60 metres (200 ft) in height, and their thick and massive patterns complete Hagia Sophia's main structure. Many ornaments and details were added to these minarets on repairs during the 15th, 16th, and 19th centuries, which reflect each period's characteristics and ideals. [219] [220]

Originally, under Justinian's reign, the interior decorations consisted of abstract designs on marble slabs on the walls and floors, as well as mosaics on the curving vaults. Of these mosaics, one can still see the two archangels Gabriel and Michael in the spandrels (corners) of the bema. There were already a few figurative decorations, as attested by the late 6th-century ekphrasis of Paul the Silentiary, the Description of Hagia Sophia. The spandrels of the gallery are faced in inlaid thin slabs (opus sectile), showing patterns and figures of flowers and birds in precisely cut pieces of white marble set against a background of black marble. In later stages, figurative mosaics were added, which were destroyed during the iconoclastic controversy (726–843). Present mosaics are from the post-iconoclastic period.

Apart from the mosaics, many figurative decorations were added during the second half of the 9th century: an image of Christ in the central dome Eastern Orthodox saints, prophets and Church Fathers in the tympana below historical figures connected with this church, such as Patriarch Ignatius and some scenes from the Gospels in the galleries. Basil II let artists paint on each of the four pendentives a giant six-winged seraph. [87] The Ottomans covered their faces with a golden star, [87] but in 2009 one of them was restored to the original state. [221]

Loggia of the Empress Edit

The loggia of the empress is located in the centre of the gallery of the Hagia Sophia, above the Imperial Door and directly opposite the apse. From this matroneum (women's gallery), the empress and the court-ladies would watch the proceedings down below. A green stone disc of verd antique marks the spot where the throne of the empress stood. [222] [223]

Lustration urns Edit

Two huge marble lustration (ritual purification) urns were brought from Pergamon during the reign of Sultan Murad III. From the Hellenistic period, they are carved from single blocks of marble. [17]

Marble Door Edit

The Marble Door inside the Hagia Sophia is located in the southern upper enclosure or gallery. It was used by the participants in synods, who entered and left the meeting chamber through this door. It is said [ by whom? ] that each side is symbolic and that one side represents heaven while the other represents hell. Its panels are covered in fruits and fish motives. The door opens into a space that was used as a venue for solemn meetings and important resolutions of patriarchate officials. [224]

The Nice Door Edit

The Nice Door is the oldest architectural element found in the Hagia Sophia dating back to the 2nd century BC. The decorations are of reliefs of geometric shapes as well as plants that are believed to have come from a pagan temple in Tarsus in Cilicia, part of the Cibyrrhaeot Theme in modern-day Mersin Province in south-eastern Turkey. It was incorporated into the building by Emperor Theophilos in 838 where it is placed in the south exit in the inner narthex. [225]

Imperial Door Edit

The Imperial Door is the door that would be used solely by the Emperor as well as his personal bodyguard and retinue. It is the largest door in the Hagia Sophia and has been dated to the 6th century. It is about 7 meters long and Byzantine sources say it was made with wood from Noah's Ark. [226]

Wishing column Edit

At the northwest of the building, there is a column with a hole in the middle covered by bronze plates. This column goes by different names the "perspiring" or "sweating column", the "crying column", or the "wishing column". The column is said to be damp when touched and have supernatural powers. [227] The legend states that since Gregory the Wonderworker appeared near the column in the year 1200, it has been moist. It is believed that touching the moisture cures many illnesses. [228] [229]

The first mosaics which adorned the church were completed during the reign of Justin II. [230] Many of the non-figurative mosaics in the church come from this period. Most of the mosaics, however, were created in the 10th and 12th centuries, [231] following the periods of Byzantine Iconoclasm.

During the Sack of Constantinople in 1204, the Latin Crusaders vandalized valuable items in every important Byzantine structure of the city, including the golden mosaics of the Hagia Sophia. Many of these items were shipped to Venice, whose Doge, Enrico Dandolo, had organized the invasion and sack of Constantinople after an agreement with Prince Alexios Angelos, the son of a deposed Byzantine emperor.

19th-century restoration Edit

Following the building's conversion into a mosque in 1453, many of its mosaics were covered with plaster, due to Islam's ban on representational imagery. This process was not completed at once, and reports exist from the 17th century in which travellers note that they could still see Christian images in the former church. In 1847–1849, the building was restored by two Swiss-Italian Fossati brothers, Gaspare and Giuseppe, and Sultan Abdulmejid I allowed them to also document any mosaics they might discover during this process, which were later archived in Swiss libraries. [232] This work did not include repairing the mosaics and after recording the details about an image, the Fossatis painted it over again. The Fossatis restored the mosaics of the two hexapteryga (singular Greek: ἑξαπτέρυγον , pr. hexapterygon, six-winged angel it is uncertain whether they are seraphim or cherubim) located on the two east pendentives, covering their faces again before the end of the restoration. [233] The other two placed on the west pendentives are copies in paint created by the Fossatis since they could find no surviving remains of them. [233] As in this case, the architects reproduced in paint damaged decorative mosaic patterns, sometimes redesigning them in the process. The Fossati records are the primary sources about a number of mosaic images now believed to have been completely or partially destroyed in the 1894 Istanbul earthquake. These include a mosaic over a now-unidentified Door of the Poor, a large image of a jewel-encrusted cross, and many images of angels, saints, patriarchs, and church fathers. Most of the missing images were located in the building's two tympana.

One mosaic they documented is Christ Pantocrator in a circle, which would indicate it to be a ceiling mosaic, possibly even of the main dome which was later covered and painted over with Islamic calligraphy that expounds God as the light of the universe. The Fossatis' drawings of the Hagia Sophia mosaics are today kept in the Archive of the Canton of Ticino. [234]

20th-century restoration Edit

Many mosaics were uncovered in the 1930s by a team from the Byzantine Institute of America led by Thomas Whittemore. The team chose to let a number of simple cross images remain covered by plaster but uncovered all major mosaics found.

Because of its long history as both a church and a mosque, a particular challenge arises in the restoration process. Christian iconographic mosaics can be uncovered, but often at the expense of important and historic Islamic art. Restorers have attempted to maintain a balance between both Christian and Islamic cultures. In particular, much controversy rests upon whether the Islamic calligraphy on the dome of the cathedral should be removed, in order to permit the underlying Pantocrator mosaic of Christ as Master of the World, to be exhibited (assuming the mosaic still exists). [235]

The Hagia Sophia has been a victim to natural disasters that have caused deterioration to the buildings structure and walls. The deterioration of the Hagia Sophia's walls can be directly related to salt crystallization. The crystallization of salt is due to an intrusion of rainwater that is at fault for the Hagia Sophia's deteriorating inner and outer walls. Diverting excess rainwater is the main solution to solve the deteriorating walls at the Hagia Sophia. [236]

Built between 532 and 537 a subsurface structure under the Hagia Sophia has been under investigation, using LaCoste-Romberg gravimeters to determine the depth of the subsurface structure and to discover other hidden cavities beneath the Hagia Sophia. The hidden cavities have also acted as a support system against earthquakes. With these findings using the LaCoste-Romberg gravimeters, it was also discovered that the Hagia Sophia's foundation is built on a slope of natural rock. [237]

Imperial Gate mosaic Edit

The Imperial Gate mosaic is located in the tympanum above that gate, which was used only by the emperors when entering the church. Based on style analysis, it has been dated to the late 9th or early 10th century. The emperor with a nimbus or halo could possibly represent emperor Leo VI the Wise or his son Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus bowing down before Christ Pantocrator, seated on a jewelled throne, giving his blessing and holding in his left hand an open book. [238] The text on the book reads: "Peace be with you" (John 20:19, 20:26) and "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). On each side of Christ's shoulders is a circular medallion with busts: on his left the Archangel Gabriel, holding a staff, on his right his mother Mary. [239]

Southwestern entrance mosaic Edit

The southwestern entrance mosaic, situated in the tympanum of the southwestern entrance, dates from the reign of Basil II. [240] It was rediscovered during the restorations of 1849 by the Fossatis. The Virgin sits on a throne without a back, her feet resting on a pedestal, embellished with precious stones. The Christ Child sits on her lap, giving his blessing and holding a scroll in his left hand. On her left side stands emperor Constantine in ceremonial attire, presenting a model of the city to Mary. The inscription next to him says: "Great emperor Constantine of the Saints". On her right side stands emperor Justinian I, offering a model of the Hagia Sophia. The medallions on both sides of the Virgin's head carry the nomina sacra MP and ΘΥ , abbreviations of the Greek: Μήτηρ του Θεοῦ , romanized: Mētēr Theou, lit. 'Mother of God'. [241] The composition of the figure of the Virgin enthroned was probably copied from the mosiac inside the semi-dome of the apse inside the liturgical space. [242]

Apse mosaics Edit

The mosaic in the semi-dome above the apse at the east end shows Mary, mother of Jesus holding the Christ Child and seated on a jewelled thokos backless throne. [242] Since its rediscovery after a period of concealment in the Ottoman era, it "has become one of the foremost monuments of Byzantium". [242] The infant Jesus's garment is depicted with golden tesserae.

Guillaume-Joseph Grelot [fr] , who had travelled to Constantinople, in 1672 engraved and in 1680 published in Paris an image of the interior of Hagia Sophia which shows the apse mosaic indistinctly. [242] Together with a picture by Cornelius Loos drawn in 1710, these images are early attestations of the mosiac before it was covered towards the end of the 18th century. [242] The mosaic of the Virgin and Child was rediscovered during the restorations of the Fossati brothers in 1847–1848 and revealed by the restoration of Thomas Whittemore in 1935–1939. [242] It was studied again in 1964 with the aid of scaffolding. [242] [243]

It is not known when this mosaic was installed. [242] According to Cyril Mango, the mosaic is "a curious reflection on how little we know about Byzantine art". [244] The work is generally believed to date from after the end of Byzantine Iconoclasm and usually dated to the patriarchate of Photius I ( r . 858–867, 877–886 ) and the time of the emperors Michael III ( r . 842–867 ) and Basil I ( r . 867–886 ). [242] Most specifically, the mosaic has been connected with a surviving homily known to have been written and delivered by Photius in the cathedral on 29 March 867. [242] [245] [246] [247] [248]

Other scholars have favoured earlier or later dates for the present mosaic or its composition. Nikolaos Oikonomides pointed out that Photius's homily refers to standing portrait of the Theotokos – a Hodegetria – while the present mosaic shows her seated. [249] Likewise, a biography of the patriarch Isidore I ( r . 1347–1350 ) by his successor Philotheus I ( r . 1353–1354, 1364–1376 ) composed before 1363 describes Isidore seeing a standing image of the Virgin at Epiphany in 1347. [242] Serious damage was done to the building by earthquakes in the 14th century, and it is possible that a standing image of the Virgin that existed in Photius's time was lost in the earthquake of 1346, in which the eastern end of Hagia Sophia was partly destroyed. [250] [242] This interpretation supposes that the present mosaic of the Virgin and Child enthroned is of the late 14th century, a time in which, beginning with Nilus of Constantinople ( r . 1380–1388 ), the patriarchs of Constantinople began to have official seals depicting the Theotokos enthroned on a thokos. [251] [242]

Still other scholars have proposed an earlier date than the later 9th century. According to George Galavaris, the moasic seen by Photius was a Hodegetria portrait which after the earthquake of 989 was replaced by the present image not later than the early 11th century. [251] [250] According to Oikonomides however, the image in fact dates to before the Triumph of Orthodoxy, having been completed c. 787–797 , during the iconodule interlude between the First Iconoclast (726–787) and the Second Iconoclast (814–842) periods. [249] Having been plastered over in the Second Iconoclasm, Oikonomides argues a new, standing image of the Virgin Hodegetria was created above the older mosaic in 867, which then fell off in the earthquakes of the 1340s and revealed again the late 8th-century image of the Virgin enthroned. [249]

More recently, analysis of a hexaptych menologion icon panel from Saint Catherine's Monastery at Mount Sinai has determined that the panel, showing numerous scenes from the life of the Virgin and other theologically significant iconic representations, contains an image at the centre very similar to that in Hagia Sophia. [242] The image is labelled in Greek merely as: Μήτηρ Θεοῦ , romanized: Mētēr Theou, lit. 'Mother of God', but in the Georgian language the inscription reveals the image is labelled "of the semi-dome of Hagia Sophia". [242] This image is therefore the oldest depiction of the apse mosaic known and demonstrates that the apse mosaic's appearance was similar to the present day mosaic in the late 11th or early 12th centuries, when the hexaptych was inscribed in Georgian by a Georgian monk, which rules out a 14th-century date for the mosaic. [242]

The portraits of the archangels Gabriel and Michael (largely destroyed) in the bema of the arch also date from the 9th century. The mosaics are set against the original golden background of the 6th century. These mosaics were believed to be a reconstruction of the mosaics of the 6th century that were previously destroyed during the iconoclastic era by the Byzantines of that time, as represented in the inaugural sermon by the patriarch Photios. However, no record of figurative decoration of Hagia Sophia exists before this time. [252]

Emperor Alexander mosaic Edit

The Emperor Alexander mosaic is not easy to find for the first-time visitor, located on the second floor in a dark corner of the ceiling. It depicts the emperor Alexander in full regalia, holding a scroll in his right hand and a globus cruciger in his left. A drawing by the Fossatis showed that the mosaic survived until 1849 and that Thomas Whittemore, founder of the Byzantine Institute of America who was granted permission to preserve the mosaics, assumed that it had been destroyed in the earthquake of 1894. Eight years after his death, the mosaic was discovered in 1958 largely through the researches of Robert Van Nice. Unlike most of the other mosaics in Hagia Sophia, which had been covered over by ordinary plaster, the Alexander mosaic was simply painted over and reflected the surrounding mosaic patterns and thus was well hidden. It was duly cleaned by the Byzantine Institute's successor to Whittemore, Paul A. Underwood. [253] [254]

Empress Zoe mosaic Edit

The Empress Zoe mosaic on the eastern wall of the southern gallery date from the 11th century. Christ Pantocrator, clad in the dark blue robe (as is the custom in Byzantine art), is seated in the middle against a golden background, giving his blessing with the right hand and holding the Bible in his left hand. On either side of his head are the nomina sacra IC and XC , meaning Iēsous Christos. He is flanked by Constantine IX Monomachus and Empress Zoe, both in ceremonial costumes. He is offering a purse, as a symbol of donation, he made to the church, while she is holding a scroll, symbol of the donations she made. The inscription over the head of the emperor says: "Constantine, pious emperor in Christ the God, king of the Romans, Monomachus". The inscription over the head of the empress reads as follows: "Zoë, the very pious Augusta". The previous heads have been scraped off and replaced by the three present ones. Perhaps the earlier mosaic showed her first husband Romanus III Argyrus or her second husband Michael IV. Another theory is that this mosaic was made for an earlier emperor and empress, with their heads changed into the present ones. [255]

Comnenus mosaic Edit

The Comnenus mosaic, also located on the eastern wall of the southern gallery, dates from 1122. The Virgin Mary is standing in the middle, depicted, as usual in Byzantine art, in a dark blue gown. She holds the Christ Child on her lap. He gives his blessing with his right hand while holding a scroll in his left hand. On her right side stands emperor John II Comnenus, represented in a garb embellished with precious stones. He holds a purse, symbol of an imperial donation to the church. his wife, the empress Irene of Hungary stands on the left side of the Virgin, wearing ceremonial garments and offering a document. Their eldest son Alexius Comnenus is represented on an adjacent pilaster. He is shown as a beardless youth, probably representing his appearance at his coronation aged seventeen. In this panel, one can already see a difference with the Empress Zoe mosaic that is one century older. There is a more realistic expression in the portraits instead of an idealized representation. The Empress Irene (born Piroska), daughter of Ladislaus I of Hungary, is shown with plaited blond hair, rosy cheeks, and grey eyes, revealing her Hungarian descent. The emperor is depicted in a dignified manner. [256]

Deësis mosaic Edit

The Deësis mosaic ( Δέησις , "Entreaty") probably dates from 1261. It was commissioned to mark the end of 57 years of Latin Catholic use and the return to the Eastern Orthodox faith. It is the third panel situated in the imperial enclosure of the upper galleries. It is widely considered the finest in Hagia Sophia, because of the softness of the features, the humane expressions and the tones of the mosaic. The style is close to that of the Italian painters of the late 13th or early 14th century, such as Duccio. In this panel the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist (Ioannes Prodromos), both shown in three-quarters profile, are imploring the intercession of Christ Pantocrator for humanity on Judgment Day. The bottom part of this mosaic is badly deteriorated. [257] This mosaic is considered as the beginning of a renaissance in Byzantine pictorial art. [258]

Northern tympanum mosaics Edit

The northern tympanum mosaics feature various saints. They have been able to survive due to their high and inaccessible location. They depict Patriarchs of Constantinople John Chrysostom and Ignatius standing, clothed in white robes with crosses, and holding richly jewelled Bibles. The figures of each patriarch, revered as saints, are identifiable by labels in Greek. The other mosaics in the other tympana have not survived probably due to the frequent earthquakes, as opposed to any deliberate destruction by the Ottoman conquerors. [259]

Dome mosaic Edit

The dome was decorated with four non-identical figures of the six-winged angels which protect the Throne of God it is uncertain whether they are seraphim or cherubim. The mosaics survive in the eastern part of the dome, but since the ones on the western side were damaged during the Byzantine period, they have been renewed as frescoes. During the Ottoman period each seraph's (or cherub's) face was covered with metallic lids in the shape of stars, but these were removed to reveal the faces during renovations in 2009. [260]

Mosaic in the northern tympanum depicting Saint John Chrysostom

Six patriarchs mosaic in the southern tympanum as drawn by the Fossati brothers

Moasics as drawn by the Fossati brothers

Guillaume-Joseph Grelot [fr] 's engraving 1672, looking east and showing the apse mosaic

Interior of the Hagia Sophia by John Singer Sargent, 1891

Watercolour of the interior by Philippe Chaperon, 1893

Detail of relief on the Marble Door.

Imperial Gate from the nave

19th-century centotaph of Enrico Dandolo, Doge of Venice, and commander of the 1204 Sack of Constantinople

Ambigram ΝΙΨΟΝΑΝΟΜΗΜΑΤΑΜΗΜΟΝΑΝΟΨΙΝ ("Wash your sins, not only the face") inscribed upon a holy water font

Gate of the külliye, by John Frederick Lewis, 1838

Fountain of Ahmed III from the gate of the külliye, by John Frederick Lewis, 1838

Southern side of Hagia Sophia, looking east, by John Frederick Lewis, 1838

From Verhandeling van de godsdienst der Mahometaanen, by Adriaan Reland, 1719

Hagia Sophia from the south-west, 1914

Hagia Sophia in the snow, December 2015

Many religious buildings have been modeled on the Hagia Sophia's core structure of a large central dome resting on pendentives and buttressed by two semi-domes.

Many Byzantine churches were modeled on the Hagia Sophia including the namesake Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki, Greece. Under Justinian, the Hagia Irene was remodeled to have a dome similar to the Hagia Sophia.

Several mosques commissioned by the Ottoman dynasty closely mimic the geometry of the Hagia Sophia, including the Süleymaniye Mosque and the Bayezid II Mosque. In many cases, Ottoman architects preferred to surround the central dome with four semi-domes rather than two. [261] This is true in the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the New Mosque (Istanbul), and the Fatih Mosque. Like the original plan of the Hagia Sophia, many of these mosques are also entered through a colonnaded courtyard. However, the courtyard of the Hagia Sophia no longer exists.

Neo-Byzantine churches modeled on the Hagia Sophia include the Kronstadt Naval Cathedral and Poti Cathedral which closely replicate the internal geometry of the Hagia Sophia. The interior of the Kronstadt Naval Cathedral is a nearly 1-to-1 copy of the Hagia Sophia. The marble revetment also closely mimics the source work. Like Ottoman mosques, many churches based on the Hagia Sophia include four semi-domes rather than two, such as the Church of Saint Sava in Belgrade. [262] [263]

Several churches combine the layout of the Hagia Sophia with a Latin cross plan. For instance, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis (St. Louis), where the transept is formed by two semi-domes surrounding the main dome. This church also closely emulates the column capitals and mosaic styles of the Hagia Sophia. Other similar examples include the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia, St Sophia's Cathedral, London, Saint Clement Catholic Church, Chicago, and Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The Catedral Metropolitana Ortodoxa in São Paulo and the Église du Saint-Esprit (Paris) closely follow the interior layout of the Hagia Sophia. Both include four semi-domes, but the two lateral semi-domes are very shallow. In terms of size, the Église du Saint-Esprit is about two-thirds the scale of the Hagia Sophia.


Islamic History, Part 9: The Caliphate of Umar b. al-Khattab (634-644)

The reign of Umar b. al-Khattab, or Umar I as he is sometimes known, was one of the most important periods in early Islamic history. While Abu Bakr’s caliphate was really an exercise in succession and consolidation, establishing that the community founded by Muhammad would live on past his death and expending considerable military force to ensure it would hold together, it was under Umar’s leadership that the community became an Empire. The military conquests of his reign were so dramatic that when Patricia Crone and Michael Cook attempted their revision of early Islamic history, Hagarism, they concluded that Umar must have been the real focal figure of the movement, with Muhammad, if he existed at all, having been essentially his herald, only elevated to the status of “Messenger of God” in hindsight.

During Umar’s reign, Arab (Islamic, if you prefer, though what “Islam” meant was probably still somewhat unclear at this point) armies swept across the Iranian plateau and the Levant, and into Egypt and Libya, taking territories that had previously belonged to the two great empires of late antiquity, the Byzantines and the Sasanians, and bringing them into the Islamic world in which they exist to this day. His forces reduced the Roman Empire, which once controlled the entire Mediterranean basin, to an area that basically encompasses modern-day Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans, and they virtually destroyed the Persian Empire, which had existed in various forms, under various dynasties, for over a thousand years, although its final death wouldn’t occur the reign of Umar’s successor. The Islamic world had much more growing to do eventually it would add North Africa, the Iberian peninsula, the Indian subcontinent, and large parts of southeast Asia to its territory. But under Umar, the only two world powers capable of quashing the nascent Arab empire were dealt devastating, in one case mortal, blows.

Before we get into Umar’s reign we should talk a bit about his activities during Muhammad’s life and under Abu Bakr’s reign Abu Bakr was so important to Muhammad that we had a pretty good sense of what he’d done before he became caliph, but Umar hasn’t been in our story very much so far. Umar was a Qurayshi from Mecca, about 10 years Muhammad’s junior (he’s thought to have been born around 579). It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Umar was initially a strident opponent of Muhammad’s preaching, which he saw as divisive and detrimental to the Meccan community. The sources tell us that one day in 616, Umar resolved to kill Muhammad, which would have been a bold act because it wasn’t until 619 that Muhammad lost the protection of his tribe against acts of violence. Umar first went to the home of his sister and her husband, who had become followers of Muhammad, and after a quarrel that turned violent he asked to see the Qur’anic verses they had been reciting. After reading them for himself, he was so struck by the beauty of the language and the message that he immediately sought out Muhammad and, instead of killing him, became his follower.

Umar had been so outspoken in his opposition to Muhammad that his conversion carried considerable weight with the rest of the Quraysh, but obviously not enough to make life easier for Muhammad and his followers. He followed Muhammad to Medina, leaving Mecca in broad daylight (most of the migrants fled under cover of darkness) with the threat to kill anyone who tried to stop him. He became a leading member of the movement, participating in all the major clashes with Meccan forces including the conquest of Mecca itself. We saw last time that he was instrumental in holding together the Medinan community after Muhammad’s death and in seeing Abu Bakr installed as Muhammad’s successor (caliph). Indeed, Umar’s most lasting historical mark may have nothing to do with military conquests but may instead be the fact that the caliphate was established at all, that this fragile young movement stayed united after its founder’s death when it could so easily have fragmented and been lost to history.

Umar served as Abu Bakr’s top lieutenant, and was probably the logical choice to succeed him, but he seems to have had few friends among the other leaders of the community, the men who would have been tasked with finding a successor once Abu Bakr died. Umar was apparently a fairly intense guy, strict and imperious, which was evident when he made the decision to kill Muhammad in 616 these charming personality traits hadn’t abated when he converted to Muhammad’s message. Abu Bakr, always the smartest guy in the room, probably knew that Umar was the only person who could succeed him peacefully (or, more to the point, that Umar would make life impossible for anybody else who was chosen to succeed Abu Bakr), so he sidestepped the fact that Umar wouldn’t be appointed his successor in council by designating Umar as his successor in his will.

Unsure whether he could be called “Caliph of the Messenger,” as Abu Bakr had been, or if he’d have to be called “Caliph of the Caliph of the Messenger,” or something clunky like that, Umar formally titled himself amir al-muʾminin, or “Commander of the Faithful,” a title that would be adopted by all future caliphs (the title of “Caliph” was still retained). His choice of title reflects the degree to which, in these still-uncertain early years of the new community, military authority was the most stable and widely recognized kind of authority. In reality his powers extended beyond the military, and he was called upon to issue rulings on all manner of subjects (many we would probably call “religious” nowadays, though it was probably still too soon to be calling this movement a “religion” yet), though his authority in these matters was derived as much from his personal prestige and his closeness to Muhammad as it was from the formal office he now held.

As caliph, one of Umar’s first acts was to demote Khalid b. al-Walid (d. 642), the general who had performed so brilliantly in the Ridda Wars and who had, against incredible odds, led what Abu Bakr had planned as probing strikes against the Sasanians and Byzantines and won major military gains, including the Byzantine city of Damascus.One of the fascinating aspects of Umar’s conquests is that, at least against the Romans, they were accomplished under a general for whom Umar never seems to have felt anything other than mistrust and fear. Umar removed Khalid from command twice (in 634 and again in 638, the second time dismissing him from the army entirely), out of what must have been his fear of Khalid’s popularity with the people and, more importantly, the army upon the second dismissal, when Khalid went to Umar to complain, Umar is said to have told him something like, “You have achieved what no man did ever before, but in fact it was God who achieved it.” Publicly, Umar held that Khalid’s successes were causing people to venerate him rather than properly credit the successes to God, but privately he must have been very worried about Khalid as a potential threat to his authority.

The Arab (Islamic) Empire as it stood after Umar’s conquests

After Damascus fell in 634, the Romans must have realized that their strategy to contain the Arab advance wasn’t going to work. After an initial Arab offensive had captured part of Palestine, the Romans seem to have done what they usually did when faced with invasions from “barbarian” (i.e., anybody other than the Persians) peoples: hole up behind their city walls, commission the people of those cities to participate in their own defense, and wait for the invaders to exhaust themselves. In this way the Romans hoped to avoid pitched battle–in the Byzantine era it cost so much and took so long to train an army that the Romans were only willing to risk losing one in the field under the most extreme circumstances. I don’t think you can blame the Romans for adopting this policy as far as they knew this Arab army was no different from others who had raided the empire for spoils without any intention of sticking around. Nobody in Constantinople knew that these guys were the vanguard of a whole new empire, organized around a whole new religion, just beginning to expand out of Arabia. But unlike, say, the Avars, or the Huns, or previous Arab armies, who were raiders as opposed to conquerors, these Arabs were able, despite a lack of siege equipment, to take and hold fortified Roman cities.

It’s not entirely clear why this was the case. Later Arab sources often–so often that it’s likely a trope or meme–write about somebody in the city having a conversion experience and letting the Muslims in, but we can’t be sure if any of these accounts are accurate. It’s possible, with the memory of the Persian invasion–and the relatively light treatment that cities got when they surrendered easily–still fresh in people’s minds, that surrender just seemed like the best course of action. It’s possible that people in those cities who had maybe benefited from brief Persian rule and regretted being brought back under Constantinople’s rule–i.e., Jews and/or non-Chalcedonian Christians–welcomed the Arabs and opened city gates to them. It’s also possible that, after decades of plague followed by decades of war, the Roman people were simply too exhausted to put up a defense. Certainly the Roman military was. Whatever the cause, though, by it must have been apparent to Constantinople that the Arabs would have to be defeated in pitched battle, that simply waiting them out was not an option.

The Roman Emperor Heraclius (d. 641) and the Persian Emperor Yazdegerd III (d. 651) attempted to make an alliance against the Arabs in 635, but it fell apart when the Romans began a counteroffensive in Syria before the Persians were ready to begin theirs in Iraq. For all the territory the Arabs conquered under Umar, from the Levant (modern Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel/Palestine), Egypt, and Libya in the west to almost the entire Persian empire in the east, there really seem to have been only two major battles, both fought and won by the Arabs in 636: the Battle of Yarmouk against the Romans and the Battle of Qadisiyah against the Persians. In both cases the much larger armies of the Romans and Persians were utterly beaten by a combination of more experienced fighters (the Arabs were mostly veterans of the Ridda Wars while the Romans and Persians had just pulverized each other’s armies and were both relying to a large extent on new recruits) and smarter generalship. The decrepitude of both major empires was so great by this point that a single conclusive defeat was enough to pierce their imperial armor and leave them in ruins.

Yarmouk was fought in August, when Heraclius attempted to mass his forces against the Arabs, who had divided their army in fourths to speed up pacifying the region. Unfortunately his first target was the part of the army that still had Khalid. Abu Ubaydah, who had been appointed as Khalid’s superior by Umar, wisely turned field command back over to Khalid, who promptly massed his forces on the plains of Yarmouk, along the modern Syria-Jordan border. The Romans massed their five-part army in response, preparing for a large battle, and their soldiers, a mix of mostly Romans, allied Arabs, and Armenians, fell to quarreling among themselves. Khalid made some overtures of negotiating, probably to allow the Roman forces more time to bicker and also for veteran reinforcements to arrive from Arabia.

When the battle finally began it didn’t go well for the Romans, though it wasn’t an immediate rout either. We read that Roman champions were killed in single combat, a few Roman unit commanders actually converted and changed sides on the battlefield, and Khalid was able to use his cavalry to even the odds wherever the Roman advantage in manpower threatened to break his lines. Some of that is probably romanticized (the historicity of single combat in these engagements is iffy, and later Muslim historians loved to write about Byzantine soldiers and civilians Seeing The Light and aiding the Muslim cause), but the quality of Khalid’s generalship is amply attested and seems about right. By the sixth day of the battle, the Romans, who had been on the offensive the entire time to no avail, were broken. Khalid’s cavalry forced the Roman cavalry from the field and then flanked the Roman infantry line, which crumbled.

After Yarmouk the only resistance the Roman Empire offered the Arabs was geographic the Taurus Mountains had been the empire’s refuge in the face of the Persian onslaught, and now they prevented the Arabs from moving into Anatolia. But the rest of the empire was lost. Heraclius probably returned to the tactic of ordering cities to close their gates and wait the attackers out and/or wait until the empire could muster up a new army–hey, it had worked pretty well for the Romans for a few centuries now, so why not? But at this point you have to wonder if Heraclius really believed it would work again. Jerusalem fell after a bloodless siege in 637, and Egypt fell after a two year campaign (640-642). The Arab armies were undoubtedly aided by the fact that so many Roman subjects, who were tired of being persecuted by Constantinople for their adherence to unsanctioned Christian sects and who were exhausted by the recent Roman-Persian war, were not greatly inclined to resist the arrival of another conqueror.

Still, the Byzantine Empire survived, which is more than you can say about the Sasanians and I think is a testament to Heraclius’s decision to pull out of Syria and protect what he could. The Persians, who seem to have committed far more fully to trying to defeat the Arabs in pitched battle, were therefore more completely destroyed when that pitched battle failed to go their way. After Khalid was sent to Syria by Abu Bakr, the Persians mounted a counter-offensive that resulted in Iraq being traded between the two sides while Umar directed most of his attention and resources at Syria. Eventually, Yazdegerd was able to muster a large enough force to chase the Arabs out of Iraq and force them to regroup. When they were ready to invade Iraq again, Umar planned to lead this army himself, but he was convinced to remain in Medina for as long as the Syrian front was active, to better manage both wars. He appointed Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas to command the army and ordered them to stop at a small town called Qadisiyah in the south of Iraq, then to stall the Persians with negotiations while the Arab armies did their work in Syria. A large Persian army met them there under the command of Rostam Farrokhzad, and the two sides talked for months, until Umar sent word (after Yarmouk) that the Arabs could stop negotiating and prepare to fight.

This fight went somewhat like Yarmouk, with the Persians on the offensive, in particular using their war elephants to great effect, pushing the Arabs back but never breaking their lines. The Arabs finally drove the elephants off the field on day 3, and on day 4 the Arabs were able to break through Persian lines and Rostam died, either accidentally or at Arab hands–the sources are unclear. Qadisiyah ended Persian control of Iraq their capital city of Ctesiphon (not far from where Baghdad would later be built) fell in 637, then northern Iraq soon after. The Persians attempted another counterattack but were again decisively beaten by the Arabs at Nihavand in 642, and that was the last time Yazdegerd was able to raise an army. He spent the rest of his life in the eastern fringes of his former empire, running from the court of one minor vassal to another, trying to raise an army but in constant fear that one of these minor princes would kill him as a peace offering to the oncoming Arabs. Which, as it turns out, is what probably happened he was killed in the city of Merv (in what is today Turkmenistan) in what the sources seem to say was a simple robbery, but was likely arranged by the local ruler. Almost all of his empire, save the far east and a strip of land on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, was in Arab hands by 644.

Umar’s reign is notable both for the enormous conquests that were made and for his administrative reforms, which began the process of turning Muhammad’s band of followers into a functioning political entity that would be able to govern a vast empire. Among many other reforms, Umar organized the army into more of a professional fighting force by creating a master record of soldiers and veterans, known as the diwan, so that their salaries and pensions could be calculated. This record determined benefits based on the length of service provided, so those who had been with Muhammad from his earliest battles against the Quraysh were in line for the highest rewards, and this naturally set Arab “Muslims” (still a nebulous term at this point) above the rest of the empire, with the muhajirun and the Medinan ansar at the highest levels of society. To emphasize the importance of the Hijrah to the emerging community, and to help formalize the empire’s bureaucracy, Umar instituted a dating system starting with the year of the Hijrah as year 1, and the Islamic calendar was born.

Umar began the practice of establishing new provincial capital cities (known as amsar, singular misr) in which to garrison his troops, carefully placed in strategically important locations. This kept the Arab armies set apart from local populations and allowed stricter administrative control as well as ensuring religious cohesion (and this was, after all, a religious movement, even if it may not yet have been “Islam” as we know it today) as such they were crucial to the early development of what became Islam, away from the influence of local Christian and Zoroastrian cultures. The amsar are a big part of the reason why the cultural and political impact of the Arab conquests sustained to the present day. Compare the cultural staying power of Islamic civilization to the Germanic conquests in Western Europe, where within about four centuries a German king would be having himself crowned the Holy Roman Emperor. Or compare the staying power of the Arab conquests to later Mongol conquests, the Mongols being practically the archetype of a conquering force that was itself ultimately conquered by the civilizations it came to rule. They also, I suspect, had benefits in the other direction–by keeping soldiers out of newly conquered civilians’ faces, they made it easier for those civilians to acclimate to the new order of things (which, for the most part, probably didn’t seem all that different from the old order of things).

Some of the more famous and long-lived amsar include the cities of Kufa and Basra in Iraq Fustat, which would later be absorbed into the city of Cairo (the Arabic name for Egypt is Misr), and the city of Qayrawan (well, it’s not much of a city nowadays, but it is still there) in modern Tunisia. Syria, where Damascus remained the capital, was the one exception to this policy, but Syria had already been so heavily Arabicized even in the pre-Islamic period that it must have made little sense to separate the new Arab soldiers from the local populace.

Among his other administrative advances, Umar also established an independent judiciary by employing experts in the law (particularly family law) as it could be discerned from the Muhammad’s revelations, his own preaching, and his own personal example. These new judges received lifetime appointments at high salaries to make them less susceptible to bribery. Umar emphasized Muhammad’s revelations as the uniting and driving force behind the empire and the key to retaining its cohesion, and made sure that his garrison cities were staffed with formally trained Qurʾan reciters to ensure uniformity of message. He began to formalize the ritual aspects of the emerging faith, as well. He established regular taxes, to finance both his army and a welfare system to provide for widows, orphans, the poor, elderly, and disabled. He also began the study of Hadith, reports of the sayings and deeds attributed to Muhammad, in an effort to root out fraudulent reports “Hadith science” would become one of the first major academic disciplines in the Islamic world and led directly to the great tradition of Islamic history writing and historiography.

Umar was assassinated, stabbed to death, in 644 by a group of conspirators who had been Persian subjects, as revenge for the Arab conquest of that empire. He lingered for three days, during which time he appointed a six man committee to choose his successor from among their number. He insisted that their vote be unanimous and ordered his son to kill any member or members of the committee who refused to vote for the consensus choice. The committee eventually whittled the choice to three: Ali, a man named Abd al-Rahman b. Awf, or Uthman b. Affan, a very wealthy early convert whose wealth had sustained the movement in some of its more trying periods, and who had been a chief advisor to both Abu Bakr and Umar during their reigns. Each controlled two votes. Abd al-Rahman elected to drop out and throw his support to one of the other two candidates the sources allege that he asked both whether they would agree to reign according to the examples of Abu Bakr and Umar, and while Uthman said yes, Ali said that he would only be bound by the Qurʾan and the example of Muhammad. Abd al-Rahman then gave his support to Uthman, at which point Ali and his supporter, not wanting to be killed, reluctantly did likewise.

Next time: The caliphate of Uthman

Further Reading:

Remember how I said these reading lists would really overlap for the first few caliphs? Yeah.

Fred Donner’s Early Islamic Conquests.

Hugh Kennedy’s The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates, 600–1050, his The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live in, and his The Armies of the Caliphs: military and society in the early Islamic State.

Patricia Crone’s God’s Caliph: Religious Authority in the First Centuries of Islam.

As always, The Cambridge History of Islam and The New Cambridge History of Islam (also volume 4 of The Cambridge History of Iran) are worthwhile if you’re really looking to immerse yourself, but they’re not for the casual reader.


Essay Defending ChristendomThroughout History

the crusade can be directly traced to the speech Pope Urban II gave at the Council of Clermont in 1095, its’ roots can be established much earlier. The death of the prophet Muhammad in 632 marked the start of nearly a thousand years of military expansion and religious conversion. The timing of this assault on the Christendom was impeccable, with the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476 left a huge power vacuum in its’ previously stable boarder provinces, notably those in Spain, North Africa, Egypt,


Do Cities Even Matter?

Although they were a small portion of the population, Medieval cities were hugely important. Clusters of skilled trades were extremely rare in the Medieval period: so controlling one of the few major cities that possessed large-scale ironworks, or a good shipyard, or an organized financial sector, mattered a great deal. Well-fortified cities could also withstand sieges and project power, providing dynastic security. Furthermore, rural populations were often difficult to control, tax, and conscript, and could form a base of population for provincial lords or commanders to rebel. Urban populations were easier to manage and directly sway, and so often commanded outsized influence on their host realms.


What were the religious effects of the initial Arab conquests in the Byzantine Empire? - History

Posted on 10/02/2004 2:47:48 PM PDT by miltonim

Jihad in the West, 'Muslim Conquests from the 7th to the 21st Centuries'
by Paul Fregosi

(pp. 15-18)
There is a link between terrorism known as Jihad today, with wars of Muslim expansion beginning with Muhammad.
All expressions of Islam's basic distaste for the outside world.
Most Muslims claim crusades are the origin of the conflict between Islam and Christianity, but this is the wrong way around. The first crusade was in 1096 AD. Jihad had already been going on for 500 years by then.

The Holy War that Isn't (pp. 19-27)
Definition of Jihad: not attempt to convert people to Islam by force (except maybe in the 1st century of Islam).
Rather, attempt to "expand and extend Islam until the whole world is under Muslim rule. The jihad is essentially a permanent state of hostility that Islam maintains against the rest of the world, with or without fighting for more sovereignty over more territory" (20). It is a duty, an obligation for all Muslims.
[p.22] A contrast between Christ (He who lives by the sword will die by the sword), with Muhammad (the sword is the key to heaven and hell).

· Christians who kill are ignoring the words of Christ. Muslims who kill are obeying Muhammad.
[p.23] Crusades - 1096 AD until 1270 AD. An attempt to retake (formerly Christian) Palestine.

· Jihad = 1,300 years. An attempt to occupy Europe, Asia and Africa, and then Islamicize them.
[p. 25] Why do we not hear of the Muslim capture of Jerusalem from the Christians in 638 AD, or of the capture of Spain about 70 years later, or of the subsequent 800 year occupation?

· It was the success of Jihad against Europe that triggered Pope Urban II to call for the first Crusade in 1095 AD.

· Colonialism - not exclusively western. Muslim lands colonized much of Europe in the 7th - 19th centuries, and the two colonized each other in the 19th century.

· In fact Europe colonized Muslim lands for only 130 years (1830s - 1960s)!!
[p. 26] Muslims have freedom of worship in Christian lands, not vice versa (penalty of apostasy = death).

Part One: The Days of the Prophet

Chapt. 1: The Beginning: Mecca 570-622 (pp. 31-33)
A summary of the traditional accounts of Muhammad's life, describing Islam as being "essentially a patriotic movement aimed at asserting Arabian independence and prestige" (p.32)

Chapt. 2: Gabriel Cometh: Medina (pp. 34-39)

· A traditional account of the early followers and opposition. Unfaltering description of the Qur'anic revelation.

· A description of the clash between Muhammad and Abu Sufyan (Umayyad originator). Early days, Muslims at risk, and Hijra to Medina.

· Perhaps a pious exaggeration of dangers in Mecca. Those that remained were undisturbed.

Chapt. 3: The First Battles (pp. 40-45)

· A description of the early days in Medina.

· Quarrels between Ansars and Muhajirun.

· Problems with the Jewish tribes.

· Poets writing verses mocking Muhammad.

· Muhammad establishing his authority - intrigue, manoeuvering , assassinations, wars, monetary gains thru caravan raids.
Battles
Nakhla = success
Badr = success (angels helped)
Abu Jahl (enemy from Mecca) executed, head given to Muhammad.
Poets
Female: Asthma bint Marwan, killed for making disrespectful verse.
Male: Abu Afak and Kab, both killed.

· Terror is effective, as many people became loyal as a result.
Jews: one tribe forced to leave (without possessions)

Chapt. 4: A man of Many Parts (pp. 46-51)
Many examples of Muhammad's cruelty.

· Torturing a Jew until he revealed a gold store.

· Killing and robbing tribesmen to whom he had given hospitality (killing by cutting off hands and feet so they bled to death).

· Had a number of pious followers willing to act as assassins. This is different from the Muhammad of the Muslim psyche. In the Muslim psyche he is kind, helps the poor, saves baby girls, is nice to 11 wives.

· Combination of religion and politics. The Qur'an occasionally addresses Muhammad's enemies with vengeance, and helps Muhammad out with exemptions from laws or answers , or knotty problems.

Chapt. 5: When the Killing Had to Stop (pp. 52-55)
Battle at Mt. Uhud was the first major defeat for Muhammad, but Abu Sufyan does not follow up his advantage. Two years later, the Meccans attack Medina, but due to a big trench which had been dug, their attack failed.

· Kihouna - Jewish chief at Khaybar had a fortune in gold, was tortured by Muhammad in order to reveal the whereabouts of his gold (46). When he was dead, Muhammad married his 17 year old widow, Safiya, that same day (54).

· Killing by subordinates was routine.

· An assassination attempt of Abu Sufyan was foiled, but not completely useless, as four others were taken instead.

· Zaid (Muhammad's adopted son) avenged a raid on a Medinan caravan, killed a middle-aged woman named Um Kirfa, along with her daughter, and two sons, by tying her legs to camels and having them pull her to pieces. Muhammad congratulated him on his return saying it was a job well done.

· When Muhammad returned to Mecca there was not much bloodshed, only a poet, a minor singer and one or two others.

Chapt. 6: A Man of His Time (pp. 56-59)
Basically a summary of preceding chapters with a special comment that Muhammad's actions weren't so much worse than other men of his time, but he was a hypocrite for preaching love and mercy at the same time and in any case his life in history is nothing like his mage in Islam today.

· Now a comment on the slaughter of the Jewish Beni Quraiza tribe (660-800 men slain, wives and children sold as slave). Soldiers receive large amounts of booty (Muhammad gets 1/5). The Qur'an (S. 33:25) praises God for the killings because with them Muhammad becomes feared.

Chapt. 7: Of Banes and Stones (pp. 60-64)
A summary of the traditional account of the compilation of the Qur'an some early controversy about it and the Mut'azilites. Throughout history other Muslims have challenged the idea of an eternal, uncreated Qur'an. A bit about the Hadith and questions on its reliability.

Chapt. 8: A Paradise for Warriors (pp. 65-68)
Why did outnumbered, under-equipped Arabs make such huge territorial victories so quickly?
1) dissensions between the Christians
2) warfare between the Byzantines and the Persians exhausted both.
3) plunder - either in this life or the next, the soldier of Islam was promised riches and women.
There is a detailed and graphic description of Muslim paradise, complete with houris, rivers of wine and the enjoyment of watching those in torment.

Chapt. 9: Onward Muslim Soldiers: Byzantium and Persia 632-640 AD (pp. 71-75)
After the death of Muhammad came the caliphate of Abu Bakr (2 yrs.), Umar (for ten years, then assassinated), followed by Uthman.
Uthman was the descendant of Abu Sufyan, the implacable enemy of Muhammad.
630 AD was the first battle outside of Arabia - against the Byzantines in Jordan. Muhammad ordered two campaigns just before his death:
Usama - led troops to the north
Khalid - captured Baghdad (he was a great general later on of the Umayyads)
Fall of Jerusalem, Damascus (635) and Antioch (636)
Muawiyya was active in the campaign against Syria. He was declared the governor of Syria by Umar in 640 AD.
By 641 AD much of Egypt and Persia had fallen
Islam (poor)
Sword (middle class)
Tribute (rich)

Chapt. 10: The Island Campaign: Cyprus, Rhodes, and Crete 649-668 AD (pp. 76-82)
A summary of the civil war between Muawiyya and Ali, establishment of the Umayyad caliphate.
Ali - 4th caliph, had capital in Basra. Muawiyya accuses him of complicity in Uthman's murder.
657 - battle at Siffin. Ali's troops stop fighting when Muawiyya's appeal to the Qur'an for a verdict. The Kharajites leave Ali and one of them murders him.
Muawiyya is the caliph between 661-680, with his capital in Damascus. The Umayyads rule until 749 - then the Abbasids take over and rule until 1258 AD.
Abbasid rule - was anti-Umayyad, with much destruction of any references to them. Thus we know very little about the Umayyads.
We do know that Muawiyya was a good leader, was an imperialist, had wanted to take ships to attack the Mediterranean islands, but Umar refused (Umar like many Arabs, was afraid of the sea). But Uthman gave him permission to attack Cyprus in 649, first from Saida (Lebanon) and then from Alexandria. The first major Arab naval enterprise brought great booty. Later the Arabs left when the island promised to pay tribute.
Crete was raided in 653 AD. Rhodes was raided in 653. The "Saracens" remanined there 5 years, stripped the island bare, melted down the giant bronze colossus (one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world). Sicily was raided in 668 AD (at which time Muawiyya was now the caliph and not simply a general)
Advancement to Constantinople and a 6 year siege.

Chapt. 11: Checkmate on the Bosphorus: Constantinople 668-673 (pp. 83-86)
The dream of conquering Constantinople, greatest city of the east. In 668 there was an amphibious assault. An expedition sails from Syria, the Arab headquarters established on the island of Cyticus (a few miles south in the straits). Siege for 7 years.
The Byzantines had a secret weapon, a flaming mixture of 'naphtha', sulphur and pitch poured down on the attackers.
Eventually, Muawiyya realized he couldn't take the city. The problem was that many of his ships were burnt, so he loaded as many soldiers as possible on the remaining ships. 30,000 soldiers were left to march back through Anatolia. The infantry was destroyed by the Byzantines during this retreat until there was a peace settlement, which forced Muawiyya to pay a tribute to Constantinople.

Part Three: The Iberian Venture

Chapt. 12: The Toledo Whore: Spain 710
Legend: the King Rodrigo of Spain seduces the daughter of count Julian of Morocco. In retaliation, Julian sides with the Emir Musa, a Muslim ruler of North Africa, based in Tunisia. Musa's dream was to invade through Spain and France and meet Muslims invading from the east, so that Islam would surround the Mediterranean.

Chapt. 13: The Mountain of Tarik: Spain 711 (pp. 93-96)
The Caliph al-Walid authorizes the invasion of Spain, so the Musa and his commander, Tarik, with the count Julian as advisor, cross from Tangier to Gibralter (then called Jabil Tarik).
Spain - peasants oppressed by aristocracy. Internal dissension especially against Jews. They were now ruled by the Visigoths, who were complacent and corrupt.
The first battle, on the banks of the Guadelete river was a decisive victory for the Muslims. King Rodrigo was killed and his head sent back to Damascus.
The Muslims called Iberia al-Andalus and immediately began the campaign to take it all and head on for France.

Chapt. 14: A Conqueror's Fate: Spain 711-715 (pp. 97-100)
Musa had commanded Tarik to wait for reinforcements, but the general ignored him, dividing the army into 2 parties, one heading for Cordova and the other for Toledo. The inhabitants fled and the cities and booty were taken without a fight.
Musa arrived with reinforcements in 712 en route to Toledo. He captured several other cities Carmona, Medina, Sidonia, and Seville. Often the Jews helped the Muslims as liberators.
By 715 nearly all of Spain was under Muslim occupation. Leaving his son in charge, Musa returned to Damascus to report, but the new Caliph, Suleiman, feared his victories and had him banished to live as a beggar in a town in Arabia.

Chapt. 15: The Forgotten Isaurian: Constantinople 717-718 (pp. 103-106)
Leo the Isaurian, Anatolian and Byzantine emperor repelled the second Muslim attack on Constantinople in 717AD, initiated by Suleiman, consisting of 120,000 Arabs and Persians by land and 100,000 by sea.
Leo filled the granaries and the citizens watched with full bellies as the besiegers starved throughout the winter. The Arab supply ships were destroyed by Greek fire. A final doom for the Muslims came about when the Bulgarians joined the Greeks against them. The retreat was ordered, again, 30,000 by land, the rest by sea.

Chapt. 16: The Dhimmis: Dar-al-Islam from the Seventh Century Onwards (pp. 107-109)
Dhimmis could not carry weapons, ride horses, wear shoes, ring church bells, wear anything green, or fight back against a Muslim assault.
Proclaiming Jesus' divinity and conversion from Islam were capital offenses.
Muslim rulers were not anxious for converts because Dhimmis were more valuable economically, as they paid tribute and were the slave labour.

Chapt. 17: Forays into France: The Langvredoc 718-732 (pp. 110-115)
The Spaniards began the Reconquista in 718 (ended in 1492). They started out as resistance movements.
Pelayo ruled a tiny territory and ran guerrilla raids against the Muslims.
Muslims began moving north.
Al-Semak led the first invasion across the Pyrenees in 721, establishing a base at Norbonne.
He was succeeded by Abderaman, who moved up the Rhone as far as Lyon and Dijon specially targeting churches and monasteries. Then he moved on to Bordeaux. Between Poitiers and Tours, there was a clash between Abduraman and Charles Martel.

Chapt. 18: The Hammer of the Franks: Tours 732-759 (pp. 116-121)
Summary of the battle of Poitiers (or Tours) where Charles Martel turned back Abderaman's advance. There was lots of fighting in the south of France (to the west in Langredoc under ibd-al-Malik, up the Rhone river again, east to Piedmont in Italy). The Muslims helped by Christian allies, began quarrelling with each other.
737 - Charles Martel retakes Avignon and continues to recapture Muslim strongholds until in 739 he reaches Marscilles.
741 - Charles Martel dies and is succeeded by Pepin the Short. Te Muslims are effectively driven out of France by this time.

Chapt. 19: The Umayyad Takeover: Spain 756-852 (pp. 122-129)
749 - the end of the Umayyad caliphate in Damascus. The new Abbasid rulers try to kill off all the remaining Umayyads. Abu al-Abbas manages to murder them all, but one, Abd al-Rahman, who escaped to Spain. Al-Abbas sent an army after him, but al-Rahman defeated it and established hi control over al-Andalus.
Charlemagne invaded from the north, but had to return to France to fight the Germans. So Abd al-Rahman was able to consolidate his power over his Muslim subjects.
(788-796) - Hisham I - succeeded Abd al-Rahman. Muslims invaded France, but turned back by the Christians there.
(796-822) - al-Itakam succeeded Hisham I. There was violent and quarrelling dissension even among the Muslim subjects. Notorious for massacres. In 801 Louis I (son of Charlemagne) invaded. Turned back, and also had troubles with the Basques.
(822-852) - Abd al-Rahman II - relatively peaceful, focussed on his 97 children. Exception - execution of nearly 1 dozen Christians of Cordova, who deliberately sought martyrdom by insulting the prophet.

Chapt. 20: The Long Resistance: Sicily 827-902 (pp. 130-134)
Conquest of Sicily began in 827 AD, though it had been raided several times earlier. The conquest took place when Admiral Euphemius of the Byzantine navy rebelled against discipining action for marrying a nun. He joined up with the emir of Tunisia. The campaign was slow and bloody, complete with many massacres. From Sicily they took other islands (Corsica, Malta, Sardinia, Pantellerva), and then marched on to Italy, reaching Rome and pillaging the churches of St. Peter's and St. Paul's in 846 AD.
In Sicily the Arab occupation lasted 264 years. In 1091 AD the Normans defeated the Saracens.

Chapt. 21: The French Riviera Campaign: St. Tropez 898-973 (pp. 135-139)
Muslim sailors landed at St. Tropez and began a disjointed pattern of conquest. All throughout the Riviera, in the Alps, cutting off France from Italy. Many settled and intermarried. Slowly the tide began to turn and in places Muslims were being pushed out. But a weak and divided Christendom was singularly unfit for the task.

Part Five: For Spain, My Humble Duty

Chapt. 22: The Corpses of Simancas: Spain 912-961 (pp. 143-148)
Incoherent, disorganised battles between Muslims and Christians and between different groups on each side characterised the early 10th century. Abd Al-Rahman III (912-961) decides to establish order. (He was following on the heals of Abdalla (882-912), a notoriously cruel caliph. After the surrender of the Castle of Polei he ordered the decapitation of all Christians unless they converted – only one took that offer and survived.) Abd al-Rahman III re-established the authority of Cordova, putting down insurgent Muslim cities and waging war against Christian kingdoms of the north. But the Reconquista continued to grind on. The Christians won a major victory at Simancas while Abd al-Rahman was preoccupied with Muslim rebels in the south. But the Christians did not follow up on their victory, preferring instead to settle for peace with the Muslims and internal dissension at home.

Chapt. 23: Aurora's Lover: Santiago De Compostela 967-1002 (pp. 149-152)
Ibn Abi Amir (a.k.a. "Almanzor") seduced the wife of Caliph Hakim II and became vizier of al-Andalus. He became especially powerful when his lover's 5-year-old son, al-Hisham II became caliph. In 981 Almanzor lead the Muslim conquest of Zamora and executed over 4000 Christians. As a sign of his religious zeal he copied the whole Qur'an by hand and carried it around with him on campaigns. He also helped to build a mosque with his own hands. In the face of internecine warfare on the Christian side, Almanzor took Rueda, Barcelona, a group of villages in Castile and Leon, the shrine of Santiago De Compostela (reputed burial site of St. James), and Caneles. Each campaign was followed by a massacre of prisoners and civilians, the burning of the town and desecration of churches and monasteries. The great bells of Santiago de Compostela were carried off to Cordova on the backs of Christian slaves to be hung in the new mosque built by Almanzor. In 1002 Almanzor died of illness on the return from capturing Caneles.

Chapt. 24: Exeunt the Umayyads: Spain 1085 (pp. 153-155)
Muslim empire : The Abbasid empire was divided with the Buhaywids in Iraq and Persia, Damanids in China, Fatimids in Syria, Egypt, eastern North Africa, Sicily and the Hijaz. The Spanish Caliphate was the de facto ruler of western North Africa until disunity among Muslims in Spain lead to the fall of the Umayyads in 1031 followed by "taifas," a collection of

30 little Muslim statelets each ruled by their own king. In contrast, the Christians were making attempts to unify. But not much was done in the way of jihad or reconquista, though the latter gained momentum in the closing decades of the 11th century, culminating with the reconquest of Toledo in 1085.

Chapt. 25: The Desert Warrior: Zalaca 1085-1086 (pp. 156-160)
1085- reconquest of Toledo stimulates the "taifa" of Seville to ask for help from the Almoravid leader, Yusuf ibn Tashufin. The Almoravids were a puritanical movement, following the Maliki school of jurisprudence. Yusuf, a military genius, came eager to fight against Christians and with the intention of remaining in Spain. The kings of the Muslim taifas chose Islam over Spain, they preferred the suzerainty of Africa rather than the Christian kingdom of Castile. Near Badajoz, at the Battle of Zalaca (a.k.a. Sagrajas), Yusuf defeated the Castilian army of Alfonso VI. >24,000 Christians were slaughtered and their heads shipped to all the main towns of al-Andalus and North Africa. Yusuf then returned to North Africa to tidy up affairs in his kingdom there.

Chapt. 26: Mio Cid: Valencia 1080-1108 (pp. 161-167)
El-Cid, born Rodrigo Diaz de Biuar, one of the heroes of the Reconquista, a tactical genius. He was estranged from Alfonso VI while the king appeared to be making progress against the Muslim taifas, but after Zalaca el-Cid and his knights joined the Christian knights of Leon and Castile in their assault on Valencia. After a 20 month siege Valencia was taken and its ruler burned alive. After that Yusuf and the Almoravids returned from Marrakech to retake Valencia. Their attempt to starve the city into submission failed when el-Cid led his troops in an attack that scattered the invaders. It was not until el-Cid's death in 1099 that Valencia was retaken for Islam.

Part Six: Deflection in the South

Chapt. 27: Liberation in Lusitania: Portugal 1079-1147 (pp. 171-174)
The French knight, Henry of Burgundy, came to crusade against Islam on behalf of Alfonso VI of Castile and Leon. (Many French knights were at this time answering the appeal of the pontiff in Rome to save Spain from the Saracens). Henry married the daughter of Alfonso VI and was given the fiefdom of Portugal. His son, Alfonso Henrique, freed Portugal from the Muslims with the assistance of a fleet of 164 vessels carrying hundreds of crusaders bound for the Holy Land who stopped in Portugal and decided to stay. After the Christians reconquered Lisbon in 1147 they massacred the Muslim inhabitants and turned their attention against their Castilian overlords. By 1171 nearly all the Muslims had been expelled from Portugal and the Portuguese had established independence from Castile. In 1185 Alfonso Henrique died, king of an independent country.

Chapt. 28: Whence the Greeks and Normans: Sicily 1025-1091 (pp. 175-181)
961-Byzantines had retaken Crete from the Muslims
1035-Byzantine general, Giorgios Maniakes, assisted by the Viking Harold Hadrada, invaded Sicily.
1038-Byzantine victory at Rametta, however, no permanent landing was made because of fighting with the Normans in Italy and intrigues in the Byzantine court. The Normans had been brought to Italy as mercenaries in the wars between little Italian statelets. In 1061 a contingent of >2000 Normans landed on Sicily, ready to fight both with Muslims and Greeks. Initially a war between roving bands, in 1084 it took on more religious overtones for the Christians when the Muslims of southern Italy burned down the churches of Reggio and enslaved the monks of the Rocco d-Asino monastery.
1091-Noto, the last Muslim stronghold in Sicily, surrendered.
After the conquest of Sicily was complete mot of the Muslim population co-operated with their conquerors, some even joining the Norman army. A few rebellions were put down among those who would not co-operate, but a Muslim population remained until 1300 when the remnant was deported or forcibly converted to Christianity.

Chapt. 29: The African Take-over: Spain 1104-1212 (pp 182-191)
Yusef and the Almoravids introduced the North African rule of Spain. Spain became a secondary battlefield when war broke out between 2 rival Berber sects, the Almoravids and the Almorhads. This internecine "jihad" (so-called by the mullahs on each side) were often as fierce as those against the Christians. This infighting finally assured Spanish victory in Spain.
During the 12th century many of the Orders of Christian warriors were founded (e.g. Knights of Calatrava, Knights of Santiago, Knights of our Lady of Montjoie) They began to play a crucial role in the Liberation of Spain from the Moors in the 13th century.
By 1114 the North Africans had taken nearly all the Muslim taifas and were pushing north. This conflict roused Christendom as if it were a crusade, and many knights, veterans of the reconquest of Jerusalem in 1097, poured in to defend Spain. After some back and forth movement (complicated by power struggles between the Christian kingdoms) the tide began to move against the Moors.
The collapse of the Almoravids was not caused by the Christians, but by the Almorhads, who invaded Spain in 1146 and by 1150 were rulers of al-Andalus. (The Almoravids were desert nomads, ancestors of today's Tuareg, and the Almorhads were peasant farmers and pastoralists from the Atlas mountains. The had little in common but love of Islam, hatred of each other, and the practices of slaver and violence.) Once firmly in power the Almorhads continued the Jihad in Spain.
1195 – Battle of Alarcos – fought between Alfonso VIII of Castile and the Almorhad el-Mansur. Expected Christian victory turned into a terrible defeat, which shook the rest of Western Europe. The pope (Celestine III) then intervened on behalf of Christian unity. He excommunicated the Leonese king who had formed an alliance with the Muslims, demanded the co-operation of rival kings against the Moors, and sent some crusaders to Spain instead of to the Holy Land.

Chapt. 30: The Year of Decision: Las Navos de Tolosa 1212 (pp. 192-196)
King Alfonso VIII of Castile called together the largest Christian army ever assembled in Spain, >100,000 men. This army met the Almohads at Las Navos de Tolosa. After fierce fighting the Moors were routed. After the Christian victory 1 million Moors migrated back to Africa. And the Christian campaign pressed forward.

Chapt. 31:The Muslim Debacle: Spain 1212-1250 (pp. 197-200)
La Reconquista took nearly 800 years to finally rid Spain of the colonial invaders.
Stage I: 710-1080 – retake 1st 1/3 of Iberia
Stage II: 1080-1210 – retake 2nd 1/3 of Iberia, including Portugal
Stage III: 1210-1250 – retake last 1/3 (except Grenada)
Most important battles: Simancas, Zalaca, Alarcos, Las Navos de Tolosa
Key Christian Leaders: Fernando III of Castile, Jaime I of Aragon. Most of the Christian soldiers were knights of military orders. The Muslims helped to destroy themselves. Some joined the Christians as mercenaries, the rest fought among themselves for power (in the 1220's there were 3 rival caliphs in Spain.) The Spanish Muslims could expect no help from North Africa, which was embroiled in its own civil war. Muslim leaders rose and were swiftly decapitated by their fellows as the Christians moved inexorably south.

Chapt. 32: Five Cities to Go: Andalusia 1230-1248 (pp. 201-205)
The Almohads were expelled from Spain in 1230, after their departure five cities still remained in Muslim hands:
Cordova – reconquered by Fernando III of Castile. The bells of the mosque of Cordova, which had been made for Santiago de Compostela and were carried by Christian slaves to Cordova upon the order of Almanzor, 300 years earlier, were now carried back to Compostela by Muslim slaves upon the order of Fernando III. La Reconquista had come a full circle.
Seville – reconquered by Fernando III of Castile after the Muslim population assassinated their leader for suggesting they surrender. Instead the siege last 2 years and 2 months before the inhabitants finally surrendered and emigrated to Morocco in 1248.
Grenada – became a vassal state of Castile
Jaen - surrendered to Fernando III of Castile by its Muslim governor in exchange for permission to rule Grenada as a vassal of Castile.
Valencia – reconquered by Jaime I of Aragon. The Muslim king quickly capitulated because he wanted to convert to Christianity.

Part Seven: Onslaught from the East

Chapt. 33: The Ottoman Advent: Turkey Mid-1200's (pp. 209-211)
1250- Turkey - Othman, son of Ertognil, is born. His tribe begins moving into Anatolia fighting the Byzantines on the west and the Mongols on the east. The Mongols had been sweeping across central Asia. In 1258, Hulagu (grandson of Ghengis Khan) took Baghdad. After the adoption of Islam the Turkish advance on Europe became a holy war. In a short time they became the most feared threat to Eastern Europe, twice nearly reaching Vienna.

Chapt. 34: The Mongolian Horde: Russia 1340-1480 (pp. 212-205)
Mongols – during their overrunning of central Asia they had no formal religion, practising a vague sort of shamanism. After conquering Muslim lands they adopted Islam (mid-13th cen,) and then moved north into Russia (at that time ruled by Lithuania in the east and Nougorad in the north.) 1223, Mongol victory by the river Kalka. 1237 – Mongols crossed the Volga and conquered Russian principalities one after another. The society ruled by the Mongols was a mixture of Mongols, Turks, Russians, Armenians and Greeks.
Late 14th century a Russian vassal state ruled from Moscow rebelled against the Mongols. After initial success they were trounced by and Moscow sacked. But the Mongols did not stay so far north for long. They remained in the south where they gradually disintegrated into different states. Those in the Crimea became known as the Tartars.
15th century - Russia was becoming a unified state. 1480 – Russia refused to pay tribute to the Mongols. The two armies faced off and disperse without a battle, effectively a victory for Russia.
1491 – Final battle of Mongols in Europe at Zasalvi in Poldavia, where a Polish army defeated a mixed Tartar-Turkish force.

Chapt.35: Janissaries Ahoy: Thrace 1301-1353 (pp 216-218)
Othman I – gave his name to the Ottoman Empire and little else. He didn't fight much, just moved his people into sparsely populated areas of Asia Minor.
Orkhan I – son of Othman. Sultan in 1326 and made Bursa his capital.
Byzantine Empire – throne contested by John Cantacuzene and John V (a child, his widowed mother was protecting his claim to his father's throne). John Cantracuzene invited the Ottomans into Europe to support his claim.
1345 - 1st Ottoman excursion across the Dardanelles
1349 – Byzantines ask for Ottoman help against Bulgaria
1353 – Turks establish their first permanent European settlement in Gallipoli
Orkhan I created the Janissary force – originally drawn from Christian slaves removed from their families as children. They were raised to be an elite fighting corp, loyal to the sultan alone. For the next 300 years, they were the best fighting force in Europe. (Janissaries were generally converted to Islam, sometimes by force, sometimes willingly.)

Chapt. 36: The Gay Revolt: Thrace 1376-1388 (pp. 291-223)
Under Orkhan I the Ottomans conquered Thrace. Europe was in its usual disarray. The French and English were beginning their 100 years war. Genoa and Venice were in a 30 years war. Spain endured internecine warfare between Christian kingdoms. In Germany the Black Death raged. Lithuania and Hungary were fighting over the Ukraine. Russia was fighting the Mongols and the Balkans were resisting Hungarian imperialism.
Murad I (Othman's son) – began the first serious Ottoman invasion of Europe and tripled the size of the Empire. Pope Urban V, afraid of a renewed Muslim invasion from North Africa and the rising Ottoman threat in the Balkans, called upon Catholic Hungary and Orthodox Serbia to stop the Turks.
1371 םst important Eastern European response to Jihad. Christians were stopped by Muslims at Cenomen. 1 st conflict between Janissaries and their Christian relations, also 1 st between Turks and the Serbs. Murad cleverly intervened in the Byzantine civil war between the rival "Johns", supporting now one, now the other. The sons of John V and Murad began having an affair and also planned to overthrow their fathers. The coup was halted, and Murad was so enthusiastic that he launched a new invasion of Europe. Sofia fell in 1385 and Salonika in 1387.

Chapt. 37: The Field of Blackbirds: Kosovo 1389 (pp 224-230)
King of Serbia (Lazar I), threatened by advancing Ottomans, gathered together a force of Serbians, Wallachians, Bosnians and Albanians to oppose the invaders. The Christian force outnumbered the Muslims, but a well-timed addition of Janissaries to the fight turned the tide and the Ottomans won. Murad was wounded and ordered the execution of King Lazar before himself dying. The new sultan, Bajazet, immediately ordered his brother Yakub to be strangled. Yakub had led the counterattack that turned the battle against the Christians and might have proved a little too popular for the new sultan's comfort. (The execution of surviving siblings proved to be a common political manoeuvre in the Ottoman court)

Chapt. 38: The Wild Knights of France: Nicopolis 1396 (pp. 231-239)
King Sigismund of Hungary sent envoys to France to plead for protection against the invaders. The 100 years war had just taken a breather and French knights were happy to head off to Hungary with the blessing of the pope. The purpose of the expedition of these

10,000 knights was to retake Nicopolis on the Bulgarian side of the Danube. The brought no siege equipment, trusting on their courage to route the Turks. Instead, Nicopolis held, waiting for reinforcements, which Bajazet duly brought. Against the advice of Sigismund, the French knights rushed to meet the enemy – straight into a trap, rows and rows of sharpened stakes planed in the ground so the French were forced to dismount or disembowel their horses. Effectively helpless on the ground, the French were massacred, Bulgaria became an Ottoman vassal, and Hungary remained in danger.
One of the surviving French knights returned to France and brought a small force to assist in the siege of Constantinople. For a time the French forced the Turks to lift the siege by land and sea, but the eventual fall of Constantinople was really delayed by the invasion of the Mongol Timurlane who was leading his troops across Asia from Samarkand. He defeated Bajazet and established himself as sultan.

Chapt. 39: The Hungarian Hero: Varna 1444 (pp 240-247)
The Ottoman empire quickly degenerated into a 4-sided civil war. The Serbs foolishly sided with a prince that lost and were massacred in their thousands for their folly. Eventually only one claimant survived, Mahomet I, an exceptionally humane and just ruler. He signed peace treaties with Venice and Constantinople. His son, Murad II, resumed the invasion of Europe. In the Balkans he had been facing two resistance movement, one lead by Janas Hunyadi of Hungary and one led by John Castriot of Albania, and Murad was eager to make up his lack of prestige.
1443- The Hungarians, Poles, Serbs, Wallachians, and Germans untied under the Hungarian king Ladislaus and went out to face the advancing Turkish army. The vastly outnumbered Christians defeated the Turks, but, inexplicably, within sight of the Turkish capital King Ladislaus pulled back and signed a treaty with Murad. A year later the Hungarians changed their mind and started the war again, this time marching as far as Varna (where they were supposed to receive aid from Venetian ships which never arrived.) This time the Christians were soundly defeated by a renewed Muslim force.

Chapt. 40: The Last Agony: Constantinople 1453 (pp 245-259)
In 1453 Constantinople fell, unaided by any European ally except a few hundred troops from Genoa. Beset by internal quarrels, the European states did not notice until it was too late. The next thing they knew, Turkey was the most powerful state in Europe. Suleiman the Magnificent was far more powerful than his contemporaries Elizabeth of England, Charles V of Austria or Francois I of France.

(Pg. 249) "They feared the Turks. The Turks did not fear them. The Turkish threat was for centuries the main concern of all the European nations, and every European man and woman lived in terror of the Turks. They feared the Muslim Turks much more than they ever feared the Nazi Germans or the Communist Russians, and for much, much longer. The Nazi peril lasted 10 years. Soviet imperialism lasted 70 years. The Turkish threat lasted 500 years."

Since its founding in 658 Constantinople had been besieged 29 times. Frequently by the Muslims (during the initial Arab conquests and then a frequent Ottoman activity), but occasionally by Catholic Christians who sacked the Orthodox city en route to the Holy Land on the crusades. Mahomet II determined to take Constantinople and the few hundred square mile remaining of the once glorious Roman empire. 1 st he besieged the city, and waited. He made a treaty with the Catholic Hungarian Janas Hunyadi to ensure peace on his northern front. Mahomet was not a pious man.(rather he was fond of blaspheming the prophet, murder, and homosexual activity) and this war barely pretended to be a Jihad, rather it was straightforward imperialism. The Turks attacked the city relentlessly from 6 April to 29 October. Despite determined resistance and the addition of the Genoese troops, the city walls fell. The night of 28 October the remaining citizens crowded into St. Sophia's Cathedral for a final service. The next day the city was overwhelmed, the soldiers slaughtered, the civilians enslaved, and the women raped – beginning with the convent. St. Sophia was declared as mosque, as it has remained to this day. But the Ottomans had to make long term arrangements for the surviving Christians throughout the empire, most of whom refused to convert, so they commanded the remaining Orthodox priests to appoint a new patriarch, who could shepherd his little flock at the will of the Sultan.

Chapt. 41: The Road to Rome: Belgrade 1456 (pp 260-264)After the fall of Constantinople, Mahomet II set his sights on Rome and turned his army north toward the Balkans. In the next few years he conquered 12 kingdoms and 200 cities. 1 st , Peloponnese, the remaining part of Greece, then Bosnia. At its surrender the king and heir were promised their lives, but shortly they were executed as the Grand Mufti argued that agreements with unbelievers were invalid. The population generally converted to Islam so as to avoid the same fate, a crime for which the Serbs, who remained Orthodox, have never forgiven them. Serbia fell next, but for a time Albania held out under the leadership of John Castriot (a.k.a. Skanderbeg) until 1468. Hungary, still with Janos Hunyadi at the head of the army, stood firm and called for a crusade to protect Belgrade. Hunyadi's victory there proved a major setback to the Ottomans.
After 15 years of fighting in the Balkans Mahomet II decided to try a sea assault against Italy. But plans went awry when he announced his plans to keep the plunder for himself and his Janissaries refused to attack. Mahomet died before leaving Asia Minor. The pope called for a crusade to protect southern Italy.

Part Eight: By Land and by Sea

Chapt. 42: The Sigh of the Moor: Granada 1492 (pp 267-274)
Mahomet II's death triggered a power struggle between his two sons, Bayazid and Djem. Bayazid won, exiled his brother and established the Ottoman navy as a significant power in the Mediterranean. Muslim-Christian fighting had very much died down in Spain, as only Grenada and a few sea ports remained in Muslim hands. But Morocco sent a stead supply of soldiers, so the Spaniards decided to retake the last of these towns, but the effort was half heart (distracted by things such as the 100 years war between France and England) and took over a century.
1461 – Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile marry and together unify Spain
1480 – Beginning of the serious campaign against Grenada. The final conquest was completed in 1492.

Chapt. 43: The Ottoman Empire: Selim the Grim 1512-1520 (pp. 275-277)
After the fall of Grenada, Hungary plunged into civil war, the aristocracy brutally oppressed the peasantry which rebelled and then were crushed. But the Ottomans were busy elsewhere for the time being and missed their golden opportunity to take Hungary. Selim I (1512-1520) built up the navy and nearly doubled the size of the empire through conquests in Asia and Africa. He took for himself the title "caliph" which vastly increased his religious prestige. A devout Sunni, he hated the Shi'a nearly as much as Christians. A strong sadistic streak left a record of hundreds of thousands of executions and goulish torture.

Chapt. 44: The Red Danube: Manacs 1526 (pp. 278-284)
Suleiman the Magnificent succeeded his father Selim in 1520. He did fight 3 wars against Persia, his main Muslim enemy, but the general focus of his imperial policy was west, toward Europe. His navy moved to retake the island of Rhodes, which was defended by the Knightly order of St. John of Jerusalem. It fell in 1522 and Suleiman permitted the surviving knights to leave Rhodes unharmed, a gesture he bitterly repented when they moved to Malta and repulsed his attacks 43 years later.
Previous Jihad campaigns destroyed Serbia, Bulgaria, Wallachia and Bosnia, Albania and Greece. Only remaining was Hungary, which Suleiman was determined to destroy. Wracked by internal dissent and ruled by a foolish playboy, (Louis II), Belgrade fell in 1521. Louis II rushed to meet the enemy rather than waiting for reinforcements. The armies met at Mohacs, and the outnumbered Hungarians were destroyed by Turkish guns. During the next two centuries the Ottomans depopulated Hungary (from 4 to 2 /2 million), exporting

3 million Hungarians as slaves and hunting others like partridges.

Chapt. 45: The Untaken Capital: Vienna 1529 (pp. 285-287)
In 1529 Suleiman moved on Vienna only to find that to his disgust both Charles V and his brother Ferdinand were elsewhere. After 3 weeks of vile weather which prevented the use of Turkish guns Suleiman decided the effort and time needed to take the city wasn't worth the satisfaction of defeating the unimportant general in charge, so he returned to Istanbul.

Chapt. 46: Sailors, Slaver and Raiders: The Mediterranean 1504-1546 (pp. 288-294)
The Muslim fishermen of Grenada established a thriving piracy business from bases in North Africa. The chief commodity was Christian slaves from Spain and Italy. The pirates considered their actions to be Jihad, citing sura ix: 5-6 "kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find them and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every type of ambush.) Slavery was considered to have Qur'anic (and therefore divine) sanction (as compared to Christianity, where, though it has taken place, has nearly always been considered reprehensible.) The pirate Barbarossa, based in Algiers, brought the territory he controlled into the Ottoman Empire and then became head of Suleiman's navy. 1535 – Charles V sacked Tunis committing atrocities worthy of the Turks. Generally the Europeans were too preoccupied with fighting each other to spend too much effort on the Ottomans.

Chapt. 47: In Arms Always and Prepared for Combat: Malta 1565 (pp. 295-308)
A shipload of luxury goods was captured and taken to Malta. Investors in the enterprise, including several of the sultan's wives, stood to lose heavily, so they pleaded with Suleiman to attack Malta instead of launching a second attack on Vienna. 1565, the Ottoman fleet set out for Malta (galleys rowed by Christian slaves). To both sides this was a holy war, the struggle of Islam and Christianity. The battle started at St. Elmo, defended by Neapolitan knights who used "Greek fire" and boiling oil against guns and canons. After a month long bombardment, the fortress fell. The siege of Malta continued for 2 ½ months after the fall of St. Elmo. The island reached the breaking point, with even women and children joining the battle to defend their 1500 year old faith, first brought to the island by St. Paul. At last reinforcements arrived from Sicily and the Ottomans lifted the siege and returned to Istanbul. 30,000 Moors and Turks died. 8,000 of the 9,000 knights of Malta died, as did 5,000 civilians. The Ottomans never attempted to attack Malta again.

Chapt. 48: The Rhapsody of Death: Hungary 1566 (pp 309-311)
As Suleiman marched the largest ever Ottoman army north through the Balkans, he was annoyed by the Hungarians who stubbornly and repeatedly rebelled against their Turkish overlords. Suleiman looked on these rebellions as an affront not only to his personal majesty, but also to God, who had given him the right to rule Hungary. The rebels were brutally slaughtered, but the march to Vienna did not continue, as Suleiman died of a heart attack and was succeeded by his son Selim.

Chapt. 49: The Alpujarras Rising: Spain 1568-1570 (pp 312-316)
70 years after the fall of Grenada, 100,000 Muslims still lived in Spain, dreaming of the day Islam would return to rule al-Andalus. They were also persecuted in the Inquisition. A secret resistance movement formed, stockpiling arms to aid an eventual invasion from North Africa. Revolt broke out in the mountains of Grenada, and King Philip II petitioned the Pope for assistance. The Spanish force (for a time led by Don John) beat back the Moriscos, eventually completely uprooting them from Grenada and scattering them all over Spain.

Chapt. 50: The Flaying of Bragadino: Famagusta 1571 (pp. 317-321)
1570 – Selim launched an invasion of Cyprus to get a hold of the vineyards. After a year the defense collapsed and the Ottoman general Lala Mustafa had the governor of Cyprus, Bragadino, flayed to death.

Chapt. 51:A Good Day to Die: Lepanto 1572 (pp. 322-328)
1571 – Pope P ius V founded the Holy League in an attempt to unite Europe against the Muslim invaders. Commander-in-Chief was 25 year old Don John of Austria (who was actually a Spaniard). 1572 – The league sent out a navy of 316 ships which met the Ottoman navy at Lepanto where a mammoth battle took place. The result was a Christian victory that annihilated the Muslim fleet, but bad weather prevented a follow up attack on Istanbul.

Chapt. 52: Colonialism Muslim Style: Eastern Europe 1574-1681 (pp. 329-339)
Turkey was the first major colonial power (100 years before Spain). Following the victory at Lepanto the Holy League fell into disarray, its members preoccupied with quarreling with each other ( e.g. Elizabeth of England and Philippe of Spain). Selim II had fallen down in a drunken stupor and cracked his head. He was succeeded by Murad III who didn't encourage much Jihad and allowed the Janissaries to degenerate. Revolts broke out in Transylvania, Moldavia, and Wallachia. The Janissaries rebelled several times and engaged in widespread corruption. Mahomet III led a relatively uneventful reign. His son Ahmed I became sultan at age 14 and aside from a brief excursion into Hungary pretty much focused on Persia. Othman II (1618) was jailed and strangled by his own Janissaries (it was during his reign that a British envoy first described the Ottoman Empire as the "sick man of Europe). Murad IV (1623) Sultan at age 11, restored order at the price of 100,000 executions and quelled mutinies by the army and the Janissaries. An alcoholic and sadist (killing was a kind of sport to him), he did a few kind deeds, e.g. Ending the tribute in children which had been demanded of Christian villages, and thus he forced the Janissaries to find a new source of manpower. Ibrahim, (brother of Murad IV) resumed the Jihad in Europe against the Cossacks, assisted by the Tatars. He also broke a treaty with Venice and attacked Crete. The siege of Candia lasted 20 years, when the Venetians in turn besieged Istanbul. The irritated populace and the Janissaries overthrew the sultan. Mahomet IV (1648, age 10) briefly restored the Ottoman empire to its former greatness. He sent an army against the Holy Roman (i.e. Austrian) Empire and defeated the Christian force at the Battle of St. Gothard. In 1672, the Ottomans defeated the Poles and Russians, intervening at the request of the Cossacks. In 1681, the war turned around. The Poles and Russians had retaken all the land lost to them, and had made inroads into Ottoman territory.

Part Nine: The Waning of Holy War

Chapt. 53: Never was there a victory more complete: Vienna 1683 (pp. 343-348)
1682 – Hungarians revolted against Austria, providing a golden opportunity for the Ottomans, who sent a ½ million man army northward. 1683 – The Ottoman army, led by Kara Mustafa, besieged Vienna. Anxious not to damage the city he intended to rule, Kara Mustafa decided to starve out the inhabitants. Leopold I of Austria fled, issuing appeals for help from all over Europe. The pope sent prayers. The French promised not to attack Austria. But King John III of Poland (the same John Sobieski who defeated the Turks in four battles in four days a decade earlier) brought an army. 3,000 Polish cavalry and 18,000 Polish and German infantry set out to meet 500,000 Turks. The Ottoman encampment was lazy and ill-planned, and the Polish force routed them in a single charge. The flight headed by Kara Mustafa himself (who was duly strangled when he returned to Istanbul).

Chapt. 54: The Jihad Totters: Greece and Hungary 1685-1699 (pp. 349-353)
The Ottoman Empire is collapsing in the centre with corruption and mutinous Janissaries and crumbling at the edges as the Austrians moved steadily on. 1685 - Francisco Morosini leads a force to retake much of the Morea (Peloponnese) for the Greeks. Austrian victory at Gran taking Buda. 1687- Russians besiege Azov. Austrian victory at Mohacs taking Croatia and Transylvania. 1688 – Austrians take Budapest. 1690 – Turks regroup, take back Belgrade and renter Kosovo. France, threatened by growing Hapsburg strength attacks the Rhineland. 1691 – Austrians defeat Muslims in battle at Salankeman. 1697 – Battle of Zenta leads to Austrian capture of Sarajevo. 1699 – The treat of Karlowitz as the Turks sue for peace. This is the first time in the history of the Ottoman Empire that it had been forced to send envoys abroad to treat with its foes. This is the turning point. From now on the Turks are on the defensive.

Chapt. 55: The Gravediggers: Central and Southeastern Europe 1716-1770 (pp. 354-361)
Ottoman wars are no longer expansionist, and barely pretend to be religious. The empire is now a major player in European power politics. 1715 – Ottoman navy and army head out to attack the Hapsburgs. They are defeated at Peterwardein (1716) and the Austrians take Belgrade, but instead of taking Istanbul the victorious Hapsburgs sign a peace treaty. Sultan Achmed II (ruled 1703-1730) lost a war against Persia in the Caucasuses. Under Mahmoud I the Janissaries revolted. But the empire did not fall because it was alternately supported by different European nations who were trying to maintain a balance of power. Western European nations did not want a collapsing Ottoman empire to enhance the power of the Austrians or Russians. Turkey and Russia got into a war over Poland (who knows why?). Austria took more of the Balkans and under Catherine the Great Russia moved south toward the Black Sea.

Chapt. 56: The Orloff-Suvarov Duet: The Mediterranean and Crimea 1770-1792 (pp 362-36
1770 – Russian navy turns to assist Greek rebellion against Turkey. The Greeks took the opportunity to massacre the local Turks in particularly hideous ways. But the Ottomans managed to restore order with equal severity. The Ottoman navy was nearly destroyed, but most of the Russian sailors were killed in skirmishes around the Med. Catherine the Great ordered the Russian army to the Crimea which they took from the Tatars. The resulting peace treaty turned Turkey into a semi-vassal of Russia. 1783 - Russia incorporated the Crimea into her empire leading, causing a fresh outbreak of war. The threat of Ottoman collapse concerned the rest of Europe./ the resulting peace treaty (1792) pushed the Russian border further south but left the Ottoman empire alive.

Part Ten: Warriors of a Willing Doom

Chapt. 57: To the shores of Tripoli: North Africa 1798-1830 (pp 370-379)
French occupation of Egypt under Napoleon, who was unable to ally the Egyptians. Instead its Muslim inhabitants fiercely opposed him, calling for Jihad. The Janissaries joined the French, but eventually the Mameluks survived the temporary French presence. Napoleon's attack on Egypt was an attempt to strike against the British in India, so when the British threatened Istanbul the French joined the Turks, bringing weapons and modern training.
The Americans clashed with the Muslims first over the Barbary pirates who annoyed US merchants and embarrassed the navy by capturing a frigate and holding the sailors hostage. A variety of skirmishes took place, ending with a treaty between the US and Algeria in 1815.
1816 – the British navy bombarded Algiers over its refusal to stop the practice of Christian slavery. 1830 - An exchange of insults between the French and Algerians deteriorated into warfare resulting in a French victory and the beginning of the French occupation of Algeria for the next 132 years. 1880s – The French took Tunisia. This was a disorienting change for the Muslims, for whom the natural order of things was Muslim rulers and Christian slaves. They weren't quite sure what to do about the Europeans who were quite certain that the opposite situation was the natural order.

Chapt. 58: The Surrogates of Pericles: Greece 1821-1827 (pp. 380-388)
Rebellions in Wallachia and Moldovia triggered a revolt in Greece. Within a few weeks nearly the entire Turkish population of Morea had been slaughtered, and from the Peloponnese the revolt spread. Now Jihad was primarily a defensive concept to the Turks who fought to retain both their Ottoman nationality and Islamic religion. Furious at the deaths of their co-religionists in Greece, Turks turned on Christians throughout the rest of the empire. Simple death was too kind, instead they were brutally tortured, triggering further atrocities by the Greeks in a downward spiral. Philhellics from all over Europe joined the cause of Greek independence.
Sultan Mahmoud II finally managed to free himself from the tyranny of his imperial guard, secretly recruiting a gunner force that destroyed the Janissaries during one of their many revolts. Support from Muhammad Ali, pasha of Egypt (virtually independent for some time), turned the tide against Greece, until Britain, France, and Russia threatened to jointly attack Turkey if it did not sign a peace treaty with the Greeks. A short naval battle persuaded the Ottomans of their sincerity by destroying the Turkish fleet. Greece was finally free.

Chapt. 59: War Galore: The Balkans 1825-1878 (pp. 389-395)
Following the revolt of Greece the Ottoman empire plunged into a series of wars:
Russo-Turkish War (1828-29)
Crimean War (1853-56)
Russo-Turkish War (1877-78)
Balkan Wars (1912-13)
World War I (1914-18)
Russia was Turkey's greatest enemy, and the Balkan states generally gained their independence because of their relationship with Russia. This growing power intimidated Britain and France enough to join the Ottomans against Russia in the Crimea. The wars were conceived almost exclusively as political struggles by the "Christian" nations, but the rhetoric of jihad still dominated Ottoman propaganda until the mid-19th century.
In the face of revolts in Egypt, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Bulgaria, and the Russian advance to Edirne (

50 miles from Istanbul), belated military reforms and savage reprisals against rebels could not keep the empire together.
In India, 1877, a gathering of Muslim clerics decided that for their part, jihad against Britain was unnecessary, as long as she permitted the practice of Islam to her subjects.

Part Eleven: The Jihad Returns

Chapt. 60: The Great Unholy Wars: Dar al-Harb 1912-1945 (pp. 399-409)
The new Balkan states created in the first few decades of the 20th century had no experience at self-government. Their only model of government for the last few centuries had been Ottoman corruption and ruthlessness. The new borders were not drawn with intelligible divisions of ethnicity or language.
1912 - 1st Balkan war - Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania, Turkey - lots of switching sides. Austria got involved when Serbia claimed Bosnia, and the death of Archduke Francis Ferdinand triggered the 1st World War. Turkey entered on the side of Germany and the sultan/caliph declared universal jihad against the enemy nations. But in general the call failed and few Muslims in these countries rebelled. The British persuaded the Arabs in turn to declare a jihad against the Ottomans. Various rival factions declaring jihad on one another further weakened the empire.
1915-massacre of 1 million Armenians while being deported from Turkey to Syria. Most of the victims died along the way when deprived of food, water and all clothing. e.g. In one group of 18,000 Armenians, only 150 survived to reach Aleppo.
1922-100,000 Greeks massacred at Smyrna
All the victims in both cases were Christian.
With the destruction of the Ottoman empire, after the last orgy of violence in Smyrna, the caliphate and the rhetoric of jihad temporarily disappeared. In fact, the new leader of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal (Attaturk) detested Islam. But during W.W.II the first hints of the return of jihad appeared in Bosnia, unrecognised by almost everybody. In the midst of inter-ethnic violence where everybody appeared to be killing everyone else, Muslims began banding together, forming religiously defined defence groups. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem travelled to Yugoslavia to preach jihad against the Jews and other enemies of Islam on the side of Nazi Germany.

Chapt. 61: Terrorism: The West 1980s-1990s (pp. 410-412)
The vocabulary of jihad has returned, justifying terrorist actions of every type. But rather than uniting Islam, jihad today is dividing it as Muslims war against one another. Not all Muslims identify with this violence. Islam is still a political ideology, considering its destiny to rule the world and replace the outdated religions of Christianity and Judaism. Religious submission is demanded of its own people.
Epilogue: An Action in all its Luster (pp. 413-415)
Story about a good relationship between a Christian and a Muslim in the 18th century.


Popular reputation

In Western Europe, the Crusades have traditionally been regarded by laypeople as heroic adventures, though the mass enthusiasm of common people was largely expended in the First Crusade, from which so few of their class returned. Today, the "Saracen" adversary is crystallized in the lone figure of Saladin his adversary Richard the Lionheart is, in the English-speaking world, the archetypical crusader king, while Frederick Barbarossa (illustration, below left) and Louis IX fill the same symbolic niche in German and French culture. Even in contemporary areas, the crusades and their leaders were romanticized in popular literature the Chanson d'Antioche was a chanson de geste dealing with the First Crusade, and the Song of Roland, dealing with the era of the similarly romanticized Charlemagne, was directly influenced by the experience of the crusades, going so far as to replace Charlemagne's historic Basque opponents with Muslims. A popular theme for troubadors was the knight winning the love of his lady by going on crusade in the east.

The ever-living Frederick Barbarossa, in his mountain cave: a late 19th century German woodcut

In the 14th century, Godfrey of Bouillon was united with the Trojan War and the adventures of Alexander the Great against a backdrop for military and courtly heroics of the Nine Worthies who stood as popular secular culture heroes into the 16th century, when more critical literary tastes ran instead to Torquato Tasso and Rinaldo and Armida, Roger and Angelica. Later, the rise of a more authentic sense of history among literate people brought the Crusades into a new focus for the Romantic generation in the romances of Sir Walter Scott in the early 19th century. Crusading imagery could be found even in the Crimean War, in which the United Kingdom and France were allied with the Muslim Ottoman Empire, and in the First World War, especially Allenby's capture of Jerusalem in 1917.

In Spain, the popular reputation of the Crusades is outshone by the particularly Spanish history of the Reconquista. El Cid is the central figure.

Eastern Orthodoxy

Like Muslims, Eastern Orthodox Christians also see the Crusades as attacks by the barbarian West, but centered on the sack of Constantinople in 1204. Many relics and artifacts taken from Constantinople are still in Roman Catholic hands, in the Vatican and elsewhere. Disagreement currently exists between modern Turks and Greeks over the claimant rights to the Greek Horses on the facade of St. Mark's in Venice. The Greeks argue that the frieze is inherently part of Greek culture and identity, similar to the "Elgin" Marbles and the Turks counter that the freize originated from what is now modern-day Istanbul. A picture of Turkish popular history of the Crusades can be assembled by compiling text of official Turkish brochures on Crusader fortifications in the Aegean coast and coastal islands. Countries of Central Europe, despite the fact that formally they also belonged to Western Christianity, were the most skeptical about the idea of Crusades. Many cities in Hungary were sacked by passing bands of Crusaders one ruler of Poland refused to join a Crusade, allegedly because of the lack of beer in the Holy land. Later on Poland and Hungary were themselves subject to conquest from the Crusaders (see Teutonic Order), and therefore invented the idea that pagans have the right to live in peace and have property rights to their lands (see Pawel Wlodkowic).


Watch the video: Religion: Crash Course Sociology #39