Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Myriokephalon (1176)

While in many respects the 1071 Battle of Manzikert was the beginning of the end for the Byzantine Empire, it was a very long end and it should not be said that the empire went quietly. In fact, over the next century after Manzikert there were signs of life out of Constantinople and it even … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Myriokephalon (1176)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Lalakaon (863)

The two centuries-old Arab-Byzantine conflict was on the cusp of a total shift in fortunes in the middle of the 9th century. Where the Arabs had been the aggressors for most of the period following the Battle of Yarmouk in 636, the Abbasid Caliphate now found itself falling apart, with local principalities asserting more and … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Lalakaon (863)

Today(?) in Middle Eastern history: the Sack of Amorium (838)

The 1071 Battle of Manzikert and the political chaos that ensued ended a period of around two centuries during which the Byzantine Empire seemed to be finally making a comeback. After having endured massive losses in the early Arab conquests, then having survived several offensives by the Umayyad Caliphate, and then having watched pieces of … Continue reading Today(?) in Middle Eastern history: the Sack of Amorium (838)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the North Yemen Civil War begins (1962)

Historians of the 20th century Middle East have to reckon with the impact of not one, but two cold wars. The main one was of course the Cold War, in which the United States and Soviet Union jockeyed for power and influence all over the world and particularly in the oil-rich Greater Middle East. The second was … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the North Yemen Civil War begins (1962)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Siege of Acre ends (1799)

Napoleon’s siege of Acre, which lasted for two months from March 20 to May 21, 1799, was the high water mark of his eastern campaign. The French general (his years as emperor were still to come) had arrived in the eastern Mediterranean with a splash, capturing Malta on the way to a crushing victory against … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Siege of Acre ends (1799)

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 North African history: the Battle of Derna ends (1805)

For a military clash that didn’t involve that many soldiers, the 1805 Battle of Derna has a lot of symbolic importance. For one thing, it was the final and most decisive battle of the First Barbary War, arguably the first overseas war the United States ever fought (unless you count the 1798-1800 Quasi-War against the … Continue reading Today in North African history: the Battle of Derna ends (1805)

Today in Caucasian history: the Battle of the Terek River (1395)

The collapse of the Mongolian empires in the 14th century was almost as destabilizing to geopolitics as the Mongolian invasions had been in the 13th century. In fact when you juxtapose the dates like that it makes a pretty good argument for treating the invasions and the collapse as all one big century-long disruption rather … Continue reading Today in Caucasian history: the Battle of the Terek River (1395)

Today in European history: the Treaty of San Stefano (1878)

Today we're commemorating the anniversary of a treaty that doesn't exist. By “doesn't exist,” I don't mean that it was in effect for a while but then got superseded by another treaty. I mean it never came into effect. I mean its terms were so unacceptable to so many European powers—states that hadn’t even participated … Continue reading Today in European history: the Treaty of San Stefano (1878)