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

Damietta is a much bigger deal as a military target during the Crusade years, when it became the beachhead for both the unsuccessful Fifth Crusade and the ridiculously unsuccessful Seventh Crusade. But this little Byzantine raid in 853 was actually fairly significant at the time, and talking about it allows us to talk about one… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Sack of Damietta (853)

Today in Caucasian history: the Battle of Bagrevand (775)

When Arab armies moved out of Arabia in the 630s and utterly wrecked the Roman-Persian balance of power that had defined western Asia for centuries, you could make a strong case that nobody, apart from the Romans and the Persians, felt it more acutely than the Armenians. The Kingdom of Armenia had long been a buffer… Continue reading Today in Caucasian history: the Battle of Bagrevand (775)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Mongols sack Baghdad (1258)

Still, imagine the psychological shock to Muslims around the world to see Islam’s greatest city and its symbolic leader brought down like this. I don’t think we have any modern reference for it–maybe seeing the Nazis march into Paris, though I don’t even think that does it justice. Constantinople’s fall to the Ottomans was probably… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Mongols sack Baghdad (1258)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of the Zab (750)

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of the Zab, which took place in 750 and was the climactic battle in the Abbasid Revolution that ousted the Umayyads from the caliphate. Obviously you can find out more about the revolution elsewhere on this blog, but the battle itself deserves a little mention. Source: Today in… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of the Zab (750)

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… Continue reading Today in history: a lot of stuff

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Siege of Damascus ends (634)

Originally posted on and that's the way it was:
Before the Battle of Yarmouk broke Byzantine military power south of the Taurus and Anti-Taurus Mountains pretty much for good, Caliphal forces had already taken the jewel of Roman Syria, Damascus, nearly two years earlier. How they did so may illustrate part of the reason…