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Constantinople

Reader comment on item: How to End Terrorism:
in response to reader comment: For ianus: great post

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Dec 22, 2006 at 16:22

Hi , dhimmi no more !

The more I learn about you the more I feel amazed, dhimmi no more. I even wonder if you have ever been a "dhimmi" so that now you can logically call yourself "dhimmi no more"? ;)

> The fall of Constantinople is a great topic. I must admit that I only read Runciman as this is not the area of history that I study.

What do you focus on then? Early caliphate ?

> If he would write this book now I suspect that it would not be published without some major changes.

You hit the nail on the head! I do strongly prefer - as more objective and realistic - books on Islam published before the 60-ies , 70-ies. Afterwards, they degenerate as an eloquent manifestation of the progressing Moslem barbarisation of the West (immigration, Saudi bribes, notorious political "correctness", lowering of scholarly standards in the west etc. ) into distasteful biased journalism. Useless self-defeating propaganda at its worst ! Small wonder that Bernard Lewis is so successful now. I distrust such books.

> One example here is his lack of understanding of the historical topos of 40, 400, 4000 etc...He claims and I stand corrected here that 4000 citizens of the city were killed and in some other place that the number of attackes was 400,000. I'm sure you know that the number 40, 400, 4000 etc... in Greek, Syriac, Coptic and Arabic literature means: many and very many.

In Greek "myrias" ("10 000") means very very many. The unreliability of any statistics in ancient and medieval times is notorious. It is due largely to the widespread lack of exact data and reliance on eye-witnesses and deficient mathematical training or simply neglect .

> So 4000 does not really mean that 4000 were killed, it only means that plenty were killed.

This is roughly the number (actually "4500" according to F.I. Uspenskij , History of the Byzantine empire,Moscow 2002, 2.ed, v.5,p.546 ) given by Kritobuolos from Imbros, the author of "Historia", one of the four chief Greek historians of the fall of Constantinople. He may be justly suspected of playing down the number of Greek losses as he had close ties with the high-ranking Turks later on and was rather prone to say what might please them . He enjoyed some privileges under the Turkish rule and had no interest to anger his new masters showing the Turks a mirror of bitter truth. Until now the manuscript of his work has been preserved in Constantinople at the Sarai Library. He admits nonetheless that 60 000 inhabitants were enslaved by the Turks and their fate was probably much worse than death at battle or soon afterwards. But on the whole the Turks were more after booty, rape and slaves than just after corspes they could not sell and abuse later.

> So my question is: How many citizens of the city were killed?

It's hard to say. The city had never recovered from the destruction of 1204 and the number of inhabitants before 1453 is not sure as far as I know, but in any case it was small both compared to the times before 1204 and to our own age. The state treasury was empty as the "empire" was largely restricted to the small area of the city itself. The churches could hardly display genuine precious stones during services any longer. The frustration and rage of the Turks must have been the more savage then.

Besides , many citizens had sought security beforehand in Mistra, far away from the cursed Turkish hordes.

But even if the numbers are correct (I doubt it is , too) : 4000 killed (a number of wounded must have been at least three , four times more and many of them must have succumbed to them afterwards; the number of suicides is not given either ), 60 000 enslaved, an unknown number of those that managed to flee by sea, there were not so many left. And after the horrors and plundering the survivors didn't have much to start with and for. Imagine their situation . They were enslaved and now had to work for their cruel slave-holders that destroyed all they had had and held to be sacred and worth living for.

Small wonder that the Turks had to deport to Constantinople a great number of Greek dhimmis from the Black Sea region, as the new capital was practically depopulated and the savage and barbarian Turks were unable to reconstruct or run a modern urban centre.

> It is clear to me that the number 4000 in Runciman is only a topos (the topos of plenty) Could you also provide me with references?

I don't have to hand any original sources now. I'd have to go to the univeristy library in the city. Do you have any access to Greek books , also written in modern Greek ?

If you can you should probably inspect :

Κritoboulos o Ιmbrios , "Historia" (in 2005 appeared a translation into modern Greek)

Georgius Sphrantzes, Τα καth' eαυτόn 1401-1477 , Brachu Chronikon (Modern Greek translation 2006)

M. Ducas, Historia Turcobyzantina, ( Modern Greek translation 1997)

I feel sorry that I indicate the pages or less known sources. My home library is so tiny.

> And yes my Greek is good.

Where did you learn the language of the Olympian gods ? Are you also fluent in modern Greek ?

With wishes and

Submitting....

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