Today in history: a lot of stuff

So many things happened on October 30 that relate to this blog’s usual material that it would be impossible to pick just one to talk about. Last year I wrote about three of them, but instead of reblogging all three I thought I’d just list them all here in chronological order.

Antioch surrenders to the Arabs (637): This one was fairly anti-climactic, since the Byzantines had already retreated into Anatolia by this point and the caliphal armies faced little resistance. Still, Antioch was one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire–hell, in the whole world–before it fell, and then it quickly deteriorated into a small frontier outpost before a brief revival during the Crusader era, so its surrender warrants some kind of commemoration.

The Eighth Crusade ends (1270): One of the greatest of the Crusader catastrophes, and that’s saying something. The famed Louis IX of France, AKA St. Louis (shown below in a 16th century painting by El Greco), tried to redeem his failures during the Seventh Crusade by capturing Tunis, and in the process got a big chunk of his army, including himself, killed by disease in the hot North African weather.

El Greco’s portrait of Louis IX (Wikimedia)

The Battle of Río Salado (1340): This is the last time a North African principality tried to cross into the Iberian Peninsula and reestablish Muslim rule there. A combined Marinid and Granadan army was defeated by a combined Castilian and Portuguese army, and the Reconquista continued apace.

The Armistice of Mudros (1918): The Ottomans I think sometimes get a bad rap for losing World War I, because, hey, if you only go by the final result it was a pretty total Ottoman defeat. But the fact of the matter is that Ottoman forces generally acquitted themselves well for most of the war, especially in Europe and the Caucasus, and right up until the bitter end there was reason to believe that the empire, or at least a shrunken version of it, would survive, with the loss of its Arab territories somewhat cushioned by gains made against the Russians following the events of 1917. But when Bulgaria was forced to surrender in September 1918, and the Ottomans learned that Germany was on the verge of doing the same, it quickly became clear that the path was wide open for a massive Allied army to march on Istanbul, and the Ottomans realized that they couldn’t withstand that.

The Ottoman surrender, known as the Armistice of Mudros, was signed on October 30, 1918 on board a British ship in Moudros harbor on the Island of Lemnos. The Ottomans surrendered all their garrisons outside Anatolia, disbanded their army, gave up whatever territory they’d captured at Russian expense, and gave the Allies the right to occupy Ottoman territory basically at will. The Allies occupied Istanbul and began partitioning the empire, a process that only ended when the Turkish War of Independence both deposed the last Ottoman sultan-caliph and ensured that Anatolia would remain united and form the core of a new Turkish republic.



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