Skip to comments.The Man Behind the Quote: Emperor Manuel II Paleologos
Posted on 09/18/2006 12:00:58 PM PDT by happymom
In today's edition of the American Thinker, Peter Muhearn raises an interesting point in the current Pope-Islam controversy:
Did Pope Benedict give Muslims cause for offense by quoting the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus (born 1350, died 1425)? Manuel once scored debating points on a Persian scholar by demanding
[s]how me just what Mohammed brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
. . .
Manuel certainly knew what he was talking about. He spent some time as a hostage in the court of one Muslim neighbor and he spent a lifetime fighting back against expansionist Islam. Almost nobody pauses to consider that Manuel might have something to teach us. Instead our conversation centers on whether the Pope is to blame for riling Muslims up and what he (and we) can do to mollify them.
Manuel II Paleologos was born in 1350 to the Emperor John V (reigned 1341-1391), a weak ruler who was overthrown twice, once by his son Andronicus IV, and later by his grandson, John VII. At the time of the 1373 coup by Andronicus, John appointed Manuel co-emperor. In 1376, Andronicus imprisoned John and Manuel, but they were able to escape and seek protection from the Ottoman Sultan Murad I, who, ironically, had backed Andronicus in his coup. John and Manuel promised Murad a heftier tribute than Andronicus was willing to pay, and were able to regain their throne. (Source: Manuel II PALAIOLOGOS (1391-1425 A.D.) Wilhelm Baum, Univeristät Graz, Austria)
In 1390, John was again overthrown by Andronicus and his son, John VII. Manuel was sent as a hostage to the court of the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I. He was forced to fight with the Turks against the Byzantine city of Philadelphia. (Source: Wikipedia) During this period, John V was restored to his throne for the last time, but Manuel remained in humiliating submission to the Sultan. When John tried to rebuild the fortified walls of Constantinople, Bayezid threatened to gouge out Manuel's eyes. The refortification project came to an end. (Baum) It was at this time that Manuel participated in the conversations which he published in 1399 as the Twenty-six dialogues with a Persian.
After his father's death in 1391, Manuel was installed as Emperor, in vassallage to the Sultan. Manuel tried to enlist help from the West to throw off the Ottoman overlord, enraging the Sultan, who laid seige to Constantinople from 1394 to 1402. On a diplomatic mission to Serres in 1394, Manuel, his nephew John VII, Theodore of Morea, and Prince Stefan Lazervic of Serbia were ambushed by Bayezid, who wanted to kill them all. They were forced to watch as several Byzantine army officers were blinded. "The events in Serres confirmed Manuel's opinion that the Turks were not amenable to any kind of reasoning." (Baum)
Manuel spent the rest of his life trying to rouse the West to help him defend Constantinople against the Turks, but with no success. In 1424, he and his son, John VIII Paleologous, were forced to sign a peace treaty and pay tribute to the Ottoman Empire. He died in 1425, and was buried in the monastic Church of the Pantokrator. His grave was later destroyed by the Turks.
So what are some of the lessons that Manuel might be able to teach us? Here are a few:
* Unity is essential against an enemy. If the Paleologoi hadn't been so busy overthrowing each other, they wouldn't have had to seek allies among the Ottomans, and may have been able to put up more of a defense against their common enemy.
* Appeasment doesn't work. As Andronicus and his son learned, there is always someone willing to pay a higher tribute, at which point your value drops to zero. As Winston Churchill was to say many years later, "Appeasment is like feeding a crocodile, hoping that he will eat you last."
* The West must be willing to fight. Manuel spent the last 20 years of his life trying to win help from his European neighbors against the onslaught of the Ottoman Empire. While Europe celebrated the prosperity and artistic expression of the Renaissance, Constantinople was beseiged and humiliated, and ultimately sacked. Although the West won a temporary respite, the Ottomans didn't leave them alone. They continued to attack and conquer Christian Europe until they were turned back from the gates of Vienna in 1683.
So, will we learn from this tragic emperor or will we continue to pretend that Western Civilization is the real enemy and that we have more to fear from Pope Benedict XVI than from the Islamic radicals who threaten to kill him?
Thank you for posting this.
Love the title of your blog. I am not interested in a burqua either!
Thank you for your replies! I hope you'll take a look around the blog.
The best lesson is taught by history. Conatantinople fell in 1453 and is now Istanbul. As Santayana said, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it".
In this global struggle against Islamofascism too many havn't remembered the past.
And, of course, that past, indeed the entire history of the Roman Empire from the retirement of the last Western Augustus to a villa near Naples in 476 until its actual fall in 1453, is not merely forgotten the way school history is, but is not taught at all, or if taught falsified with the name 'Byzantine', and lies about the Muslims 'preserving' classical learning they cribbed from the Christians who had preserved it.
Thank you for your comments. I have a correction to make, the author of the American Thinker article is Peter Mulhern, not Muhearn.
Its full of facts, starting with the fall of Constantinople in 1453, when Mehmet II celebrated with beheading and sodomizing, and some lucky lads found themselves on the receiving end of both. This section is a lively read in an age when most westerners, consciously or otherwise, adopt the blithe incuriosity of Jimmy Kennedys marvelous couplet in his 1950s pop hit Istanbul (Not Constantinople):
Why did Constantinople get the works?
Thats nobodys business but the Turks.
Now, the curious thing is that, although in Turkish popular usage, for centuries, the city was called Istanbul (a Turkish corruption of the Greek 'eis politas', meaning 'to the City'), even as in the popular usage of the Greek-speaking Romanoi befor them, it was simply "the City", the official name was not changed by the Ottoman sultans, who were proud of their conquest of the city of Constantine, but only officially changed to Istanbul by the secularist New Turks who overthrew the Sultan (and Caliph--hey, any Sunnis on the board, remind your coreligionists it wasn't the US or the Brits or the French who abolished the Caliphate, it was the Turks).
Yes, and before Constantine (and Constntinople)the city was Byzantium. The Byzantine Empire was originally considered to be just the eastern Roman Empire. But Latin was replaced by Greek as the language of state and the Latin Christianity to which Constantine converted became Greek/Eastern Orthodox.
The whole ethos of the region became eastern and was very different from Rome and the West. It was much more elaborate, ornate, and full of convoluted political intrigue -- thus the word 'byzantine' for Westerners came to mean just that.
The name 'Byzantine Empire' is actually a lie. No one ever lived in a country called the Byzantine Empire. The Romanoi lived in the Roman Empire, its capital moved from (Old) Rome to New Rome, as Constantine called his city. The name was made up by 'Enlightenment' historians with an anti-Christian axe to grind, who wanted to separate the 'good' pagan Roman Empire from the 'bad' Christian Roman Empire by denying the later the name Roman.
Until the late 18th century, if you called a Greek speaking subject of the Ottoman Sultan a Greek (Hellene), he'd have punched you in the nose: Hellenes were pagans, he was a Christian and a Roman.
The Turks and Arabs remember this. We Orthodox Christians are called Rum in Arabic, and the Turkish name for the Patriarchate of Constantinople is "Rum Patrikhi", meaning Roman Patriarchate.
I know but I'm just using terms that all historians have used for the sake of common parlance.
I think the main lesson is that the Muslims never give up. Byzantine emperors fought off Muslim agression for 700 years before they fell. Although Europeans sent four major crusades, they eventually lost interest after 200 years. Do you think Democrats will stay in the game for hundreds of years? They are already impatient after 3 years.
That is a great point. I really don't think the liberals understand that even though we want to "move on", the jihadists won't let us. If we go for several years without an attack, it's not because they've given up their ambitions, it's more likely they're just laying low. But they will be back.
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