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Author Topic: The Fall of Constantinopolis 1453  (Read 3645 times) Average Rating: 0
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Stavro
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« on: January 16, 2004, 02:55:32 AM »

Dear All,
I know that the The Fall of Constantinopolis in 1453 in the hands of the Turks is one of the very sad events in the history of christianity, but one which needs to be studied.
Therefore, please recommend good books which deal in detail with the circumstances of this tragic event from all aspects.
I am also interested in knowing more about the Byzantine empire. Any books?

Thanks in advance. Appreciate your help.
Peace,
Stavro
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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2004, 08:57:11 AM »

I would suggest that you look for books by Steven Runciman, who wrote about many aspects of Byzantine history.  One of his books deals specifically with the fall of Constantinople, titled, aptly enough: "The Fall of Constantinople 1453".

On the other hand, I am less enthused about a more popular historian of the time, John Julius Norwich.  My impression is that Norwich does not understand Orthodoxy, which colors his impressions in a negative way.
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« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2004, 12:11:28 PM »

See if you can locate A.A. Vasiliev's History of the Byzantine Empire. It is available in excerpt form on the web (I lost bookmark), but the full work would be better.
Good starter

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« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2004, 12:24:32 PM »

Oxford History of Byzantium.
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« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2004, 02:04:48 PM »

I am also interested in knowing more about the Byzantine empire. Any books?

History of the Byzantine State, by George Ostrogorsky.
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« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2004, 05:10:39 PM »

Thanks brothers, I appreciate your quick replies and help. I will definitly look for the books you suggested.
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« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2004, 05:18:15 PM »

Yeah, Norwich in his "A Short History of Byzantium" ignores the Church all together. Maybe he covers it in his longer volumes which he was summarizing with this one, but he had some pretty silly and disparaging remarks about the Hesychasts for example.

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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2004, 05:43:34 PM »

Oxford History of Byzantium.
I would avoid that one.  Expesive and poorly written.  A lot of the authors take a very condescending tone towards Eastern Christianity.  Of all the Oxford Press books I've ever read, I think it is easily the worst.
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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2004, 06:11:40 PM »

Nico: admittedly it is a western view of the east and written for the pulp market rather than as a scholarly work . . . but it does pay to see how others see you.  

ALSO - The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant cover Byzantium all through their 12 volume set.  If you are serious about history, its a must have.
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« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2004, 07:05:28 PM »

The other Runciman book that I can recommmend is "Great Church in Captivity," a history of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople since the Turks.

Also, I must respectfully disagree with Bro. Max's recommendation regarding the Will and Ariel Durant series.  I used to have them; I read them.  Yes, they cover quite ambitiously the sweep of History, mostly Western and there is some on the East.  Nonetheless, in my opinion, the Durants are not good historians.  Although every human being who writes historical books cannot help but interject his or her own personal opinions and perhaps biases, the Durants inject this stuff with wild abandon into their history series.

I prefer more objective histories that allow the motivated reader to come to his or her own conclusions.

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« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2004, 07:37:16 PM »

Just a reminder, for the acquiring of these and other books, go to www.bookfinder.com   I've just done a quick check and go a heap of listings for the Vasiliev "History" and a goodly number of Runciman's *many* books.

No, I don't get a commisson for mentioning this site.  I just think that Books are a Good Thing, reading old books or books that aren't on the best seller lists is a Good thing and supporting small bookshops is a Very Good Thing.

Also, this site links book stores all over the world, for our far flung forum members.

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« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2004, 09:11:39 PM »

JBC: There is no such thing as an objective person.  If you say you disagree with durant because you do not like their bias that is one thing, but to label them as "bad historians" you should offer evidence of faulty research or deliberate misinformation.
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« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2004, 01:57:50 AM »

Another great book on the subject is H.W. Crocker's Triumph...KIDDING!
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« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2004, 05:56:22 PM »

History of the Byzantine State, by George Ostrogorsky.

Seconded.

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« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2004, 10:23:43 PM »

Nico: admittedly it is a western view of the east and written for the pulp market rather than as a scholarly work . . . but it does pay to see how others see you.  

I agree it does pay to see how others see you, I was just suggesting that he not literally pay for it, going to the library for it would be a better option.  Cheesy

Actually, one of the coolest classes I took in college was called "How Others See Us" a graduate level course studying foreign periodicals, films, books, etc to examine how the US is portrayed in the media and in popular culture outlets of other countries.  I learned a lot about the US that way.  It really opened my eyes to a lot of things about US that could improve, and changed my behavior and thinking on some things.
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« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2004, 11:14:56 PM »

Nico: on some things, I could care less how the rest of the world views us because they have a misconceived notion about America - CASE IN POINT:  When I first went to Ireland to teach, the first question I was asked by my students after I introduced myself and offered them the chance to ask questions was: "What kind of gun do you own?"  While I am a firm believer in the 2nd amendment, I personally do not own a gun (yet), nor have I ever.  Too many people in europe think that Jerry Springer IS America.
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« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2004, 11:24:51 PM »

Nico: on some things, I could care less how the rest of the world views us because they have a misconceived notion about America - CASE IN POINT:  When I first went to Ireland to teach, the first question I was asked by my students after I introduced myself and offered them the chance to ask questions was: "What kind of gun do you own?"  While I am a firm believer in the 2nd amendment, I personally do not own a gun (yet), nor have I ever.  Too many people in europe think that Jerry Springer IS America.
 I know there are a multitude of misconceptions about Americans, I've encountered them in my travels and meeting travelers to this country, but on the other hand, some people can pick things out that need changing, or at least make you think.  Heck, I'm from Alabama, I think I know a thing or two about people's misperceptions of a place  Grin

I remember reading a story by one Polish writer talking about how Americans will bring food to a party and then leave with it after the party's over.  He just said he found it shocking because Americans are so wealthy (as compared to the rest of the world), but that we can seem materialistic and stingy with our wealth at times.  I'm not saying he's right about everyone or every instance (or even this instance), but a lot of Americans are materialistic.  

Like you said, it doesn't hurt to see what others have to say about you, right or wrong.  If they're wrong, we can help correct it.  If they're right, and we need correcting, that's just as well too.
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« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2004, 12:23:49 AM »

ME WRONG??? Angry

NEVER Tongue

I thought I was wrong once - but I was mistaken!! Grin
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« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2004, 12:25:42 AM »

I'm not foolish enough to claim that America or Americans are perfect, but I will say that we get a heck of alot closer to perfection than any of the "progressive"  humanist/socialist states.
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« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2004, 12:38:20 AM »

Quote
I thought I was wrong once - but I was mistaken!!

You too ?? That's my favorite phrase.  Grin

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« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2004, 12:57:29 AM »

JBC: There is no such thing as an objective person.  If you say you disagree with durant because you do not like their bias that is one thing, but to label them as "bad historians" you should offer evidence of faulty research or deliberate misinformation.  


Being a "bad historian" is not necessarily based on "faulty research" or "deliberate misinformation."  In my opinion, Will Durant was very biased in his opinions in his history.   For example, he was wasn't overly enamored with the Roman Catholic Church, especially in his book on Medieval History.  Does one have to be enamored with the RCC?  No, but one should lay out the history of the period to the best of his ability and let the reader come to his or her own conclusions.  And different readers of the Durant's history series will undoubedly have various points of view as they likely would reading a more objective account of the period or any historical period.

Admiral Chester Nimitz, one of the great naval leaders of WWII was once asked by Professor E. B. Potter, a professional historian (and later biographer of Adm Nimitz) about a thorny issue that he intended to present in a book that he (Potter)  was writing on the Naval War in the Pacific.  A series of actions off the Philippine Islands led to the destruction of 3 of 5 jeep carriers (CVE--escort carriers) by a superior Japanese Battleship Task Force because of a failure in judgement by the famous Adm Bull Halsey.  Furthermore, the amphibious landing forces off the Phillippines coast were threated by this powerful Japanese naval force.  Prof. Potter did not want to demean the ilustrious naval career of an otherwise brilliant Admiral so he asked Adm. Nimitz how he should go about descirbing these series of actions in his book (a history book!).  Adm Nimitz suggested that Prof. Potter lay the situation out as accurately and as objectively as he could and let the reader come to his own conclusions.  Good advice in my opinion.  No human being is totally objective, but the effort to be objective will likely bear good fruit.    

It is also (or still) my opinion that the Durants did not practice this methodlogy in their history series.  I'm not saying that they didn't put a lot of work into it--years of their lives in fact--and I'm not saying that there are gross errors in the facts that they report.  It is clear that their efforts were monumental in scope, time taken, and results.  I just opine that if you want to read a good history of any particular historical period you can do much better than the Durants.  For example, for the Medieval Age, I would recommend the several books of Prof. Norman Cantor.  They are eminently readable by the motiviated and reasonably intelligent layman who is not a specialist in the period.


I still stand by my statement that you can do better than reading the Durants' works.

JBC
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« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2004, 01:17:04 AM »

WIll durant was not biased against the RCC, he was just not enamored with it.  Considering what some have to say about the RCC, Mr Durant was very forgiving.
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« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2004, 05:18:43 AM »

I'm not foolish enough to claim that America or Americans are perfect, but I will say that we get a heck of alot closer to perfection than any of the "progressive"  humanist/socialist states.

Therein is your overweening self confidence exposed. Sad And I really do like many of the Americans that I know. It's just even the most intelligent seem un-reflective on this issue. I've been having the same discussion (i.e. being shouted at by 'manifest destiny' Americans who are good friends of mine on another place).

The US pov seems just like the Victorian British one. I guess you'll get over it. Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2004, 09:23:13 PM »

[I just opine that if you want to read a good history of any particular historical period you can do much better than the Durants.  For example, for the Medieval Age, I would recommend the several books of Prof. Norman Cantor.  ]

You can do better than the Durants though they are ok to start with.  Cantor is good but how about Henri Daniel-Rops?  A very good and balanced historian.  His book Cathedral and Crusade is very good.  Another good author re the medieval period is Regine Pernoud.

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« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2004, 10:42:48 PM »

I recall reading  a history of the Church in the Dark Ages written in the late 1950's or early 1960's that Henri Daniel-Rops wrote .  I no longer have the book--probably lost in one of my many moves while on active duty in the navy.  

I also read Pernoud's Heloise and Abelard in the 1970's but not Cathedral and Crusade.  Good book (Heloise, etc.)!  

Jim C.
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« Reply #25 on: January 18, 2004, 11:01:03 PM »

Pernoud has a new one in English about the Crusades published by Ignatius Press.  Just got it and it looks good.
If you liked Pernoud's "Heliose and Abelard" try the one by Etienne Gilson which is also very good.

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« Reply #26 on: January 19, 2004, 05:43:39 PM »

carpo-rusyn writes:

If you liked Pernoud's "Heliose and Abelard" try the one by Etienne Gilson which is also very good.



Responsio:

Thanks for the recommendation.  I like Gilson.  Well, why not? I'm a traditionalist, throwback, non-ICEL Roman Catholic!  Unfortunately Gilson's Heloise . . .  is not in our public library so I may have to risk SWiMBO's wrath if I choose to buy it on-line or at a local bookstore!  Perhaps the Univ of NM library has it.  If I can find parking I can "purchase" a library patron card as I have earned 2 degrees from the place.  

Our public library has Pernoud's Heloise & Abelard!  I may check it out and re-read it.  It's been more years than I care to count since my last read so it might be just like a new read afterall!  The only problem is I have a current backlog of five books  that I want to get through, not to mention the lists of others that I want to read.  So much to read . . . so little time!

This is a little off-topic of the Middle Ages, but I'm curently half-way through Guy Sajer's, The Forgotten Soldier.  It is the autobiography of the life of a German soldier on the Eastern front.  It is an absolutely great but depressing read of that horrific war.  There is NO GLORY in the narrative.  He just tells it like it happened in all its awfulness.  Sajer is more French than German being from Alsace-Lorraine.  I should be finished with it by tomorrow night.  I have been glued pretty much to it except for taking care of necessary business,  the occasional foray to check my email and a couple of web sites such as this one, and the need to escape from the subject matter of the book every now and then.

I very much recommend Sajer's book albeit with a caveat regarding the subject matter.  You will learn how much of a scourge on humanity warfare is if you read it.  

Thanks,

Jim C.

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« Reply #27 on: January 20, 2004, 04:55:31 PM »

I would avoid that one.  Expesive and poorly written.  A lot of the authors take a very condescending tone towards Eastern Christianity.  Of all the Oxford Press books I've ever read, I think it is easily the worst.

I would agree with you, as far as a historical work, it is very lacking.  The pictures are good however.  

The best general history of Byzantium I have read and I have used in my class is History of the Byzantine State and Society by Warren Treadgold.  It is more up to date than George Ostrogorsky, although that is a good work as well.  

A good book written during the time period, is Fourteen Byzantine Rulers (this is the English translation by Penguin Books)  by Michael Psellus.  Psellus has an entertaining writing style and lived during the period he wrote about.  He makes a number of references to the Church and its practices.  Some of the incidents described  about some of the emperors are quite funny.
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« Reply #28 on: January 21, 2004, 06:27:18 PM »

Psellus is very good.  You also might want to try "The Alexiad" by Anna Comena (I can never remember how to spell her name)


Gilson's "Heloise and Abelard" is worth buying.  How about Helen Waddell's "Abelard and Heloise"?

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