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**Posted by Phineas
Today marks the 1,295th anniversary of the lifting of the Muslim siege of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire and fortress guarding the West against the East.
Raymond Ibrahim recounts the the events of the siege, including the serial atrocities of the vast Islamic army that marched out from Syria and the cleverness of the Byzantine Emperor, Leo III, in finally defeating them. Read the whole article –it’s a watershed moment in Western History that should be remembered along with the sieges of Vienna– but here’s an excerpt where Ibrahim discusses its profound consequences:
It is difficult to exaggerate the significance of this battle. That Constantinople was able to repulse the caliphate’s hordes is one of Western history’s most decisive moments: Had it fallen, “Dark Age” Europe — chaotic and leaderless — would have been exposed to the Muslim invaders. And, if history is any indicator, the last time a large expanse of territory was left open before the sword of Islam, thousands of miles were conquered and consolidated in mere decades, resulting in what is known today as Dar al-Islam, or the “Islamic world.”
Indeed, this victory is far more significant than its more famous Western counterpart, the Frankish victory over the Muslims at the Battle of Tours, led by Charles Martel (the “Hammer”) in 732. Unlike the latter, which, from a Muslim point of view, was first and foremost a campaign dedicated to rapine and plunder, not conquest — evinced by the fact that, after the initial battle, the Muslims fled — the siege of Constantinople was devoted to a longtime goal, had the full backing of the caliphate, and consisted of far greater manpower. Had the Muslims won, and since Constantinople was the bulwark of Europe’s eastern flank, there would have been nothing to prevent them from turning the whole of Europe into the northwestern appendage of Dar al-Islam.
Nor should the architect of this great victory be forgotten. The Byzantine historian Vasiliev concludes that “by his successful resistance Leo saved not only the Byzantine Empire and the Eastern Christian world, but also all of Western civilization.”
The West’s war with Islam, a jihad begun and fought against us as a religious obligation, didn’t begin on September 11th, 2001, nor even in 1979, when Khomeini took over Iran. It’s been fought off and on for over 1,400 years, and now is in an active phase. The genius and determination of Leo III in desperate battle bought Western Europe the time it needed until it could stand on its own.
I think tonight I’ll raise a toast to the Emperor and his people; perhaps somewhere they’ll know their valor is still honored.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)