Constantinople Should Have Known Better

mperor Constantine of Rome founded Constantinople in 325 AD. Having converted to Christianity, but with Roman Senators not amenable to institution of civil laws that reflect Christian principles in Rome, with founding of Constantinople, Emperor Constantine founded the Eastern Roman Empire in 325 AD.

Many Christians relocated with Constantine to regions of Constantinople. Constantinople would become the center of the Byzantine Empire and Civilization, a civilization within which inclusive of peasant farmers, the notion of freedom was not an artifice for deception, was a promise actively maintained and pursued by civil government.

But Constantinople would not only be associated with spiritual and economic freedoms. Rather, it also would become a center for intellectual achievements. In this respect, consider the following quote from the history books.

“All these developments point to the continuous encouragement of scholarship by the state and the church in Byzantium. The Imperial College of Constantinople, which probably dated from the time of Constantine, trained students in philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, law, and medicine and was used to train aspirants to the civil bureaucracy. The School of the Patriarch provided instruction in theology and other sacred subjects. In both, the classics, going back to the Greeks, was the common base of study. To a large extent it was the work of the Byzantine scholars that kept alive the tradition of Greek classical scholarship and saved for posterity knowledge of the work of such writers as Plato, Aristotle, and Ptolemy (see end of this post for reference).”

hen Christians argued over truthfulness of the doctrine that God is Triune, while he himself was not on either side, with himself as neutral mediator or umpire, Emperor Constantine helped convene the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD for debate over the matter of the Trinity. The outcome of that debate, that God simultaneously is Father, Word, and Holy Spirit remains central to conventional Christian beliefs.

Constantinople went on to become the delight of the then known world, went on to become an epitome of civilization. Regardless of founding of civil laws on Christian beliefs, Constantinople truly was a civilization. Constantinople was open to everyone who was willing to be law abiding. It is well established that Russian Orthodox Christianity was derived from interactions with Christians in Constantinople. The great Cathedral of St. Sophia, erected by Emperor Justinian between 532 and 537 AD remains a world landmark to this day.

Right after founding of Islam somewhere between 610 and 630 AD, the relative peace of Asia was shattered, and the Eastern Roman Empire was under full blown attack. By 636 AD, Palestine had been invaded by Muslims. By 673 AD, Constantinople had been blockaded by sea. By 716 AD, the Muslims had reached the walls of Constantinople. The attack eventually was defeated, resulting in a pact for peaceful coexistence that would last about 300 years.

bout 1095 AD, worrying that Muslims grew restless, the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire grew worried that perhaps Constantinople would not be able to continue to stave off future attacks waged against Constantinople in context of Islamic Jihad.

With the thought that he pretty much did not have any other choice, the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire asked for help from Papal Rome, which was heir to the throne of the now defunct Western Roman Empire.

The request for help led to the First Christian Crusade against Islam between 1096 and 1099 AD, resulted in retaking of Jerusalem. Jerusalem and it’s environs would remain in possession of Christians until about 1187 AD when again it was recaptured by Muslims under leadership of Salah al-Din, the legendary leader of the Saracens.

hile the Eastern Roman Empire had thrived from 325 AD, and would continue to thrive up until at the very least, 1204 AD, the Western Roman Empire was sacked about 454 AD.

With respect to the sacking of Rome, just about all notable historians agree that the sacking of the Western Roman Empire occurred no later than 467 AD. In this respect, in 867 AD at the Council of Constantinople, the Christian Church of Constantinople declared it’s spiritual independence from Papal Rome.

Spiritually and scientifically speaking, if the Eastern Roman Empire was light, what used to be the Western Roman Empire essentially was darkness. Just about all of the enlightenment that transpired between 325 and 1204 AD emanated out of Constantinople.

Papal Rome was mired in politics of succession that engulfed Europe subsequent to demise of the Western Roman Empire. In this respect, in a space of only 4 years, 1045 to 1049 AD, there were altogether 6 different Popes. We have then that at about the timing of request for help from Papal Rome, the Eastern Roman Empire was spiritually and intellectually the superior of what used to be the Western Roman Empire.

ubsequent to retaking of Jerusalem from Muslims, politics set in among Christians because all of the kings of Western Europe who had committed resources to the crusade wanted something in return. In the political infighting and division of some of the lands in and about the Eastern Roman Empire, while Islamic Jihad would cease to be a threat, rather than be strengthened, hegemony of the Eastern Roman Empire was weakened.

Eventually, the fourth Christian crusade targeted at retaking Jerusalem from Muslims would abandon the objective, resort under directive of Papal Rome to an attack on Constantinople. We have then that a supposedly Christian Institution — Papal Rome — gave directive for undermining of it’s Christian Cousin — the Byzantine Empire whose capital resided in Constantinople.

The attack on Constantinople by it’s Christian cousins was successful. The resulting weakening of Constantinople made it easy for the Turks to overrun Constantinople by 1453 AD. Istanbul, the most developed city in Turkey is modern day version of what used to be the ancient city of Constantinople. In the weakening of Constantinople and in essence, ceding of the East — Asia — to Islam, Papal Rome acted strategically for concentration of the defense of Christian lands in Western Europe. The decision was strategically sound, yet simultaneously was spiritually and intellectually detestable.

A decision can be strategically sound, yet lack spiritual and intellectual merit.

Every act of religious terrorism is strategically sound, yet lacks spiritual and intellectual merit, for a god who directs murder so people can believe in his existence is a capricious unloving god.

Anyone interested in worshiping a capricious and unloving god?

The Lesson?

you ask for help from your spiritually and intellectually inferior ‘cousin’, you just might be asking for more trouble than you can handle. For if your cousin cares only about strategy, does not care about your spiritual and intellectual ethos, he or she just might sacrifice you to ensure he or she wins.

If the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire had focused on winning the confidence of the people on outskirts of his domain via treaties and care for their welfare, as opposed to attempting to win them over by force of war, we perhaps have that most of Asia remains Christian, as opposed to the outcome, which was a taking over of Asia by Islam.

It was this strategy — treaties and giving of far off peoples opportunity for governing of themselves, while yet part of the Greek Empire — that enabled the Greeks and Macedonians spread their culture all over the then known world. If the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire had taken a cue from the Greeks, it perhaps is the case that the whole matter turns out entirely differently.

Sometimes it is better to be diplomatic than to be forceful; better to be respectful of those who seem inferior in power because, respected they add to your strength; better to devise your own strategy for success than allow metrics for your success be defined by others.

Constantinople and the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire ought to have known better than to ask their spiritual and geographical ‘Cousin’ whom they had disavowed of spiritually in 867 AD at Christian Council of Constantinople for help.

Hall, J.W. 2015 (pg. 168). “The Byzantine Empire,” in History of the World: Earliest Times to the Present Day, Hall, J.W. (ed.) World Publications Group, CT.

Educator and Researcher, Believer in Spirituality, Life is serious business, but we all are pilgrims so I write about important stuff with empathy and ethos

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