Byzantine chant: Lament for Constantinople: Ο Θεός ήλθοσαν έθνη/ “O Lord the heathen are come” | YouTube

Source: Byzantine chant: Lament for Constantinople – Ο Θεός ήλθοσαν έθνη / “O Lord the heathen are come” | YouTube (performed by Alexander Lingas/ Liturgica)

“Fall of Constantinople, (29 May 1453). After ten centuries of wars, defeats, and victories, the Byzantine Empire came to an end when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in May 1453. The city’s fall sent shock waves throughout Christendom. It is widely quoted as the event that marked the end of the European Middle Ages. Ο Θεός ήλθοσαν έθνη translated as ‘O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance’. Manuel Chrysaphes, the composer of this marvellous historical piece, which has been discovered at the beginning of the first world war, did not find more eloquent words than those of Psalm 78 [Psalm 79] in order to mourn in it the church of Aghia Sophia [Hagia Sophia].”

 

The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise | Intercollegiate Studies Institute

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“The existence of a Muslim kingdom in Medieval Spain where different races and religions lived harmoniously in multicultural tolerance is one of today’s most widespread myths… The problem with this belief is that it is historically unfounded.” – Dr. Darío Fernández-Morera, Ph.D.

Source: The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise – Intercollegiate Studies Institute: Think. Live Free.

“The existence of a Muslim kingdom in Medieval Spain where different races and religions lived harmoniously in multicultural tolerance is one of today’s most widespread myths. University professors teach it. Journalists repeat it. Tourists visiting the Alhambra accept it. It has reached the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, which sings the virtues of the ‘pan-confessional humanism’ of Andalusian Spain (July 18, 2003).

“The Economist echoes the belief: ‘Muslim rulers of the past were far more tolerant of people of other faiths than were Catholic ones. For example, al-Andalus’s multi-cultural, multi-religious states ruled by Muslims gave way to a Christian regime that was grossly intolerant even of dissident Christians, and that offered Jews and Muslims a choice only between being forcibly converted and being expelled (or worse).’

“The problem with this belief is that it is historically unfounded, a myth. The fascinating cultural achievements of Islamic Spain cannot obscure the fact that it was never an example of peaceful convivencia.”

I have thought for years – since my undergraduate medieval studies days, in fact – that there was something that did not ring true about the standard narrative of “peaceful, multicultural” Cordoba / Andalusia, where Muslims, Christians, and Jews allegedly lived together in harmony, and the arts and sciences flourished. There were hints of a shadow – such as the admission that non-Muslims had to pay jizya – but it was hard to pin down anything more. There had to be more to the story!

Now, Dr. Darío Fernández-Morera, Ph.D., has written an exhaustively researched and documented book on the subject, of which the linked (and rather lengthy) article is but an abstract, and which makes it abundantly clear that the much-lauded “peaceful coexistence” was enforced by brutal oppression, in which Christians – in their own land! – and Jews were emphatically second-class citizens, subject to the whims of their overlords, and in which the undeniable artistic achievements were financed by heavy taxes and the spoils of conquest.

I would add, also, that the much-vaunted Muslim medical and other arts were based heavily on Classical and late Hellenistic – Greco-Roman – antecedents, texts to which medieval Christians would have had access, had the great libraries of the Mediterranean world not fallen to Islamic conquerors in the 7th and 8th centuries.

And the “intolerance” shown by the Christian successor state in what had been al-Andalus is perhaps somewhat more comprehensible – perhaps even forgivable – in light of the more than seven centuries (722 – 1492 AD) Spanish Christians had spent re-taking the Iberian peninsula from its Muslim overlords. A cautionary tale for today’s West! But I digress:

In dealing with the question of why this myth (in the popular sense of the term, which is to say, fallacy) has been so persistent in both popular and academic culture, Fernández-Morera suggests – accurately, in my opinion – that it “may be that extolling al-Andalus offers the double advantage of surreptitiously favoring multiculturalism and deprecating Christianity, which is one of the foundations of Western civilization,” and continues,

“This mechanism is not unlike that in the mind of those who dislike Western culture intensely, but who with the fall of Communism find themselves without any clear alternative and so grab Islam as a castaway grabs anything that floats. So anyone who dislikes Western culture or Christianity—for any reason, be it religious, political, or cultural—goes on happily pointing out, regardless of the facts, how bad Catholic Spain was when compared to the Muslim paradise.”

A paradise which exists only in the cultural Marxist imagination.

As I say, this is a lengthy essay. It is, nonetheless, worth a read, for the light it casts on a much-misunderstood, and greatly mis-characterized, time and place in history. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest!

Glories of the West: Ancient Minoan Crete – “Ancient tablets may reveal what destroyed Minoan civilization”

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The mystery of what happened to the Minoan civilization has tormented archaeologists for over a century, and the tale has now taken a new twist.

Source: Ancient tablets may reveal what destroyed Minoan civilization – Archaeology – Haaretz.com

Fascinating! I have long been interested in the Minoan civilization – and my folks got to visit Knossos during their tour of the Holy Land and Greek isles – but it has been a long time since I’ve taken a course in ancient Mediterranean archaeology, and much of this is new to me. As I say, most interesting!

“According to historians, Knossos was Europe’s oldest proper city, established between 2000 to 1900 B.C.E. Its palace had features considered very advanced for the time, for instance monumental architecture, stone-built storm drains and sewers, and lavatories” – nearly two millennia before the birth of Christ. There are places in the world that don’t have these yet, if they haven’t been brought in from other, more advanced areas!

Ancient Minoan Crete was, in fact, one of the Glories of the West in its time: “In the golden age of the Minoan civilization,” the linked article notes, “they traded with Egypt, the Levant, the Aegean, Asia Minor and less so beyond Italy and Sicily, and possibly as far as Spain and up the Atlantic coast. But,” it continues, “all things come to an end.” Nonetheless: “More than a thousand years later, the Greeks remained impressed by the Cretan achievement.” That is an accomplishment, by any standards!

Sad news, though, for those who think the Minoans came from lost Atlantis, or perhaps even the stars: “archaeologists had once thought the Minoans must have ‘come from somewhere else’ because of their advancement compared with the surroundings. But genetic analyses in 2017 concluded that both the Minoans and Mycenaeans descended from the stone-age farmers of western Anatolia and the Aegean, plus smidgens of heritage from the Caucasus and Iran.” Pesky darned genetics!