Today in European history: the Siege of Syracuse ends (878)

The Aghlabid dynasty governed the province of Ifriqiya (which included modern Tunisia as well as eastern Algeria and western Libya) from 800 until 909. Although nominally they operated as vassals of the Abbasid caliphate, they were almost totally autonomous from Baghdad. Their reign is noteworthy for the growth of Ifriqiya as an economic center and … Continue reading Today in European history: the Siege of Syracuse ends (878)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Andrassos (960)

As the Abbasid caliphate lost much of its real power in the 10th century it gave way to a series of “caretaker” sovereigns in the imperial core (first Turkish slave soldiers, then later the Buyid and Seljuk dynasties) and local emirates elsewhere. These emirates were technically dynastic governorships. Most paid nominal homage to the caliph … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Andrassos (960)

Today in European/Middle Eastern history: Frederick Barbarossa drowns (1190) and more

Some days there are a bunch of little historical anniversaries to commemorate, but none that of themselves seem to warrant their own post. June 10 is one of those days. We’ve got four different anniversaries to note, so let’s take them in chronological order. This is just a placeholder. If you’d like to read the … Continue reading Today in European/Middle Eastern history: Frederick Barbarossa drowns (1190) and more

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Sack of Damietta (853)

The city of Damietta, located in Egypt’s Nile Delta, became quite important during the later Crusades, as the Crusaders began to see that capturing Jerusalem was irrelevant so long as Muslims ruled Egypt. Its location made it the ideal beachhead for both the unsuccessful Fifth Crusade and the ridiculously unsuccessful Seventh Crusade, both of which sought … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Sack of Damietta (853)

Today in European history: the Siege of Chandax ends (961)

The island of Crete has changed hands so many times that it can be hard to keep track of all of its various owners and operators. Before it became Greek again (which includes a period of Axis occupation during World War II), Crete was (briefly) independent, and before that Ottoman, before that Venetian, Byzantine, Roman...and it … Continue reading Today in European history: the Siege of Chandax ends (961)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Heliopolis (640)

The Arab conquest of Egypt can be considered the third stage of the early caliphate’s expansion, after its early successes against the Byzantines and the Persians. It also presented a different challenge for the caliphate and its armies. While Egypt may be home to more Arabs than any other country in the world today, in … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Heliopolis (640)

Today in European history: the Siege of Thessaloniki ends (1430)

Historically, Thessaloniki is one of the most important cities in Europe, though it's probably never been quite as prominent as its importance should have warranted because it's generally would up being overshadowed somehow. Founded in the fourth century BC by Macedonian King Cassander, it rose in stature to become the most important city in Macedon...shortly … Continue reading Today in European history: the Siege of Thessaloniki ends (1430)

Today in European history: the Siege of Constantinople begins (maybe, 717) and ends (718)

Before it fell for good to the Ottomans in 1453, the city of Constantinople withstood something like a dozen sieges by foreign armies over its long history. The one successful siege, by the soldiers of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, was of course eventually rolled back when the Latin Empire went defunct in 1261. But other than that, all … Continue reading Today in European history: the Siege of Constantinople begins (maybe, 717) and ends (718)

Today in European history: the Fourth Crusade sacks Constantinople (1204)

The Fourth Crusade is for me, in many ways, the Crusadiest of all the Crusades. Sure, the First Crusade actually achieved its goal, which you can’t really say about any of the others in any serious sense, and other Crusades produced quintessential Crusading heroes like Richard the Lionheart and Saint Louis. But overall the Crusades … Continue reading Today in European history: the Fourth Crusade sacks Constantinople (1204)

Today in Middle Eastern history: Antioch surrenders to the Arabs (637)

This will be short, since there's very little to say about the Arab conquest of Syria after the Battle of Yarmouk in 636 shattered Byzantine resistance there. But Antioch was one of the great cities of the eastern Roman Empire, and its conquest was significant, if anticlimactic. The city itself put up almost no resistance … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: Antioch surrenders to the Arabs (637)