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 Middle Eastern history: the Iranian Revolution ends (1979)

Right off the bat I should note that today's post is somewhat ahistorical. February 11 is generally considered the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, and I'm not sure I agree with that. The date is not insignificant--it was on February 11, 1979, when the royal Iranian army surrendered, marking the end of organized resistance to … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Iranian Revolution ends (1979)

Today (?) in Middle Eastern history: Muhammad conquers Mecca (630?)

You've probably noted those question marks in the title to this post, and they aren't there to remind me to go back and check my facts later. The question marks are there because there's no compelling reason to believe that this event happened on the date that corresponds with January 11, 630, on our calendar. … Continue reading Today (?) in Middle Eastern history: Muhammad conquers Mecca (630?)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Grand Mosque seizure (1979)

Religious fervor was truly in the air in 1979. Presumably we don't need to go into much detail about that year's Islamic Revolution in Iran, which ousted Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi's monarchy in favor of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his Islamic Republic. But across the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia had its own run in with Islamist … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Grand Mosque seizure (1979)

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)