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Historical Narratives on Religion Essay

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Updated: Mar 19th, 2021

Fall of the Byzantine Empire

As indicated in history in 1430, the whole of Peloponnesus was ruled by Byzantine since the Fourth Crusade in 1204 making it the Byzantine Empire. This was done through marriage, annexation and winning of wars. When the last Constantine came into power in 1448 , he carefully ensued his successors ‘s hated agreements for church unions with the Latin’s which was acknowledged in Florence with the expectation of winning Latin help but was never put into practice. This agreement was to be stated publicly in Hagia Sophia on December 12, 1452 and this provoked the greater part of his subjects while it won him little efficient help from the Latin West.

In reference to O’Shea (5)1, Muhammad took the throne at only 19 years of age after the death of his father Murad II and after conveniently having his infant brother drowned in the bath so as not to oppose to his plans. He hired renegades, and Christians who had turned to “Turk” so as to accumulate wealth. These men had greed for power and expansion of the Turkish Empire that they would do anything so as to increase to their wealth. Muhammad entertained individuals of vast capabilities in spite of their origins. This made the Turks call him “conqueror” even up to date.

According to Tarpley (15),2 the last Constantine found it difficult to mount a credible defense of the eastern Christendom against the attack in 1453 because his soldiers had lost faith following the events of the earlier day whereby, they believed that only a miracle would save them. They had held a procession but the rain had scattered them leaving them afraid and terrified that their prayers for a miracle would go unanswered. In addition, the Turkish army was advancing towards their security walls and there was nothing that could stop the attack. Constantine gave words of encouragement to his men and told then to fight for one’s faith, one’s country, one’s family and one’s sovereignty, so the people of Constantinople fought with courage and great honor.

From atop their security walls they felled many Turks with arrows but the Turks were much stronger than them and they scaled up the walls killing most Christians and finally bringing down the walls using their canons. The fact that Constantine had implemented the hated agreements for church unions and the Latin’s, angered most of his subjects and they felt betrayed, the Latins had not come to the aid of the people of Constantinople despite the putting into practice of the agreement. The last Constantine led his army fearlessly and even refused to surrender his city as he believed he would win the war and that he would restore his empire. According to O’Shea (7), with only a little help from the Latins, Crete and the Dodecanese Constantine bravely faced the Turkish Sultan Muhammad commenced his immense attack against Constantine in early April 1453. On May 1453, the Turks finally broke into the city bringing down the security walls with the help of their canons and Constantine heroically died during the attack.

Sea of faith

According to the article “facing Islam”, the defeat of Byzantine could have extended its life as the Turks who were Muslims wanted to unite both Christianity and Islam into one religion. With Constantinople under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Christians fled to West and this timely gave resurgence, due to the Greek manuscripts they carried with them (Lorenzo 271)3. The Byzantine Empire in the East was entirely cut off from the West under the rule of Islam. Christians were looked upon as second class persons; this meant that any converts from Islam to Christianity would be killed and termed as traitors, as an example to other people, whereas the converts from Christianity to Islam were highly welcomed and celebrated.

The defeat led Muhammad to publicly sell the throne to the uppermost buyer, who in turn made major imbursements to the regime. To recover their wealth, the new administration taxed the local churches and clergy. Under this new rule most churches, were converted to mosques, building of churches and ringing of church bells was prohibited, missionary work among the Muslims was outlawed and schooling of the clergy education was done away with. The defeat of the Byzantine extended its life as Muhammad allowed the Christians to continue living, and carry on with their religious orientation. Although he ruled over them he left them to carry out their religious obligations therefore ensuring continuity of the Byzantine Empire (Olasky, 25)

Italy’s display of intellect

The article “Islam’s pivotal role in Europe’s intellectual; and cultural rebirth” states that major historical movements in Europe have taken place thanks to the connection between Europe with Islamic thought and culture, Italy is not an exception to this. According to Cobb, “Islam, impinging culturally upon adjacent Christian countries, was the virtual creator of the Renaissance in Europe” (Islamweb.net n.p). This means that Islam loosened the tight Christian values in Italy and allowed people to express themselves freely without fear of the dominating Catholic Church. After the capture of Constantinople in 1453, Greek scholars moved to Italy and with them the period of learning and light came. Two conflicting religions, Islam and Christianity become closer during this time bringing forth a solid core of new Europe. The Arabs translated Aristotle and studied his works, cultivated astronomy, optics and various branches of medicine; they also contributed to the widespread of algebra (Olasky, 86)4

Differences between official Latin Christendom and Ottoman Islam

According to the article why Latin Christendom overtook Islam, some of the differences between official Latin Christendom and ottoman Islam are:

Culture differences

The Latin Christendom had a much stronger use of the hereditary principle which applied through the political and social structure while in Islam, warriors held rights that were revocable at any one time, they could not be inherited and were allocated according to how the ruler saw fit. This meant that succession in Latin Christendom was peaceful while succession in Islam was characterized by war.

Political differences

Islam had an autocratic political model ruled by warrior king, or someone who was able to claim religious sanctions. Islam rulers had the last say in all matters and their word was law. On the other hand the Latin Christendom and a system of republics, self governing cities, hereditary and elective monarchies, that varied among themselves.

Islam had and has only one set of basic laws the Sharia law and they used this law to guide the people and decide on matters. The Latin Christendom all law was human, the laws were many and they could be altered (Klein 163).5

Institutional differences

Islam’s autocratic leadership was unstable whereby, they put in place regimes that decayed and got replaced, which was an unstable support for institutional evolution. Institutions put in place could not carry out their orders efficiently when it came to instigating development of institutions. Latin Christendom on the other hand encouraged the streaming of ideas, goods, people and capital ensuring the persistence of polities and in jurisdiction divisions, therefore promoting the rising of private property and competitive power agreements to attract capital.

Different responses to the crisis of eastern Christendom

A new set of values emerged in Western Europe Christendom due to the crisis in the eastern Christendom. The Columbia Encyclopedia states that, Spain and Portugal, radical church reorganization movements materialized bringing forth a renewal of religion and missionary activity in the new empires. This showed that the people were rejecting the rigid rule of the church and they wanted a change in the way they were governed.

In reference to the article “Venice’s wart against western civilization,” Venice revolted against the Roman Catholic Church and set up the protestant church, thus the leading figure of the protestant reformation was Venice’s Cardinal Gasparo Contrarini who was also the leader of the catholic Counter Reformation. Rome had undergone a number of church reforms before the main reform that resulted in the division of Catholicism into Lutheran, Calvinism and Anabaptism that followed different doctrines than those of the Catholic Church which brought an end to the united church built in the middle ages (Machiavelli, 246)6.

In conclusion from the narrations discussed, it can be held that despite religions having different doctrines and similar doctrines at the same time, people tend to focus more on the differences therefore creating hostility among themselves due to the nature of the religion they follow. Hence, people should change their approach to issues in society and embrace a more united front in their day to day challenges. Also from the above, the society ought to embrace tolerance in their religious lifestyles which will result in peace and prosperity instead of destruction and unrest.

Works Cited:

Islam’s pivotal role in Europe’s intellectual; and cultural rebirth. Islamweb.net, 2009. Web.

Lorenzo, Rey. Why Latin Christendom overtook Islam (and Orthodox Christendom) Thinking Out Loud. (2010): 45-261. Print.

Klein, Naomi. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New Delhi: Metropolitan Books, 2007. Print.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. (Translated by Thomson Hill). Feedbooks. (online), 1503. Print.

Olasky Marvin. “Facing Islam.” World News Today, Vol. 23, No. 25, (2008): 23-105. Print

O’shea, Stephen. Sea of Faith: the shared story of Christianity and Islam in the Medieval Mediterranean world. New York: Walker & Company, 2006 Print.

Tarpley, Webster. “Venice’s War against Western Civilization.” Fidelio Magazine, Vol. IV, No 2, (2009): 10-83. Print.

Footnotes

  1. O’shea, Stephen. Sea of Faith: the shared story of Christianity and Islam in the Medieval Mediterranean world. New York: Walker & Company, 2006 Print. 15.
  2. Tarpley, Webster. “Venice’s War against Western Civilization.” Fidelio Magazine, Vol. IV, No 2, (2009): 10-83. Print.
  3. Lorenzo, Rey. Why Latin Christendom overtook Islam (and Orthodox Christendom) Thinking Out Loud. (2010): 45-261. Print.
  4. Olasky Marvin. “Facing Islam.” World News Today, Vol. 23, No. 25, (2008): 23-105. Print. 86.
  5. Klein, Naomi. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New Delhi: Metropolitan Books, 2007. Print. 163.
  6. Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. (Translated by Thomson Hill). Feedbooks. (online), 1503. Print. 246.
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