As war rages in Ukraine, the anniversary of a catastrophic event for the Christian world – specifically that of the Eastern Orthodox Church – is upon us. That event took place 569 years ago on May 29, 1453. It is an event little noted or remembered in the Western world, yet it almost resulted in the downfall of Western Civilization. Only the bravery and tenacity of the Orthodox Christians of the Balkans and a brave and wise Polish king and his cavalry prevented the total fall of Western Civilization that began that May 29, 1453. That catastrophe, that slaughter, which nearly ended Western Civilization and did little or nothing for the victorious Muslim Ottoman Turks, still haunts the world today.
In Ukraine the battle is also religious, between Ukrainian Orthodox Christians and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch. Defending the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful is the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew.
The disaster to which I refer is the Fall of Constantinople, “The City” (in Greek “ steen polis” - where the Turks get “Istanbul”) to the Ottoman Turks. It is only one of two nations' capitals still occupied by the conquering enemy. In 1453 it was the Ottoman Turks at Constantinople. In 1974 it was the Turkish Army’s invasion of Cyprus and part of its capital, Nicosia. Now, the new “Ottoman Emperor” want-to-be, Mr. Erdogan, as well as the new “Russian Czar'' want-to-be, Mr. Putin, and the Patriarch of Russia – who wants to be head of all the Eastern Orthodox Churches and have Moscow be considered “The Third Rome” after Rome and Constantinople - are ganging up on the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, which the West ignores.
What has caused the ire of the Russian Patriarch – Putin’s puppet – and Putin himself is the fact that Patriarch Bartholomew has granted the Ukrainian Orthodox Church its independence, autocephaly, from the Russian Patriarch. This action gives further fallacy to Putin’s fantasy that Ukraine is not - nor ever has been -an independent nation.
For Erdogan the goal is to divide and destroy the Orthodox Church because it is the mainstay, the bulwark, against Turkish dominance and return to the Balkans in strength. And, 569 years after Constantinople was conquered through slaughter, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch remains resolute in his small corner of occupied Constantinople.
While not using military force, Erdogan is using economics and threats of more refugees to be unleashed on the Balkan E.U. nations, specifically Greece. It is his way of destabilizing the region. For Putin, Erdogan’s actions stir a hornet’s nest in an area well known for inter-ethnic religious wars. The U.S. and NATO still have troops in Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina three decades after NATO’s war against Serbia. Northern Macedonia has its issues between Muslims and Christians. Kosovo continues to be unsettled and prone to regional violence and the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Kosovo. Bosnia, well, that is one big mess that may soon divide into three. Wouldn’t it be something if NATO had to worry about its southern borders and stay another three decades?
Westerners, should they even know of the event, must wonder how and why people in the 21st century would care about something that happened 569 ago. Greeks care because they know that it presaged nearly 400 years of slavery and subjugation to a brutal and inept, uncaring regime. Tragically it saw the theft, and blasphemous use, of the greatest cathedral in the Western world at the time - Hagia Sophia - as a mosque and then turned into a museum. And now, Erdogan has turned it back into a mosque for political benefit. Finally – one hundred years ago – the ethnic cleansing of Asia Minor of almost all its Greek and Armenian Christians by the modern Turkish nation began.
Greece now accepts as refugees the same people - the Kurds - that helped Turkey destroy Greek and Armenian Christian communities in Asia Minor. That’s because the Turks, having removed everyone else not Turkish from occupied Asia Minor, are now trying to eliminate the Kurdish language and culture in Turkey and destroy the free Kurds in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq. Erdogan is also now threatening Swedish and Finnish entry into NATO, at the same time he buys anti-aircraft weapons from Russia, which will be a security nightmare for NATO air forces.
And someone might inform Mr. Putin that Odessa, in the Crimea, was first Greek, with an ancient Greek settlement from the middle of the 6th century B.C. and that its name comes from the ancient Greek city of Odessos. Later Odessa was a place of refuge for the Greeks that survived the slaughter that came from the conquering of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Eventually it was an Ottoman Turkish outpost - where they could capture European Christians to be slaves in Harems or rowers in slave ships - and finally Russian after the Russo-Turkish War in 1792. In 1795 the German born Russian Czarina, Catherine the Great, established the city using “The Greek Plan”.
The people of Ukraine are suffering, and very soon so many of the world’s food challenged will be suffering as well, due to a narcissistic megalomaniac who wants to recreate the Russian Empire and a sort-of sidekick who wants to recreate the Ottoman Empire. Unlike at Constantinople on May 29, 1453, the Western world has finally seen the threat and is reacting and has come to Ukraine’s defense. Of sorts. How long the West will be willing to continue the cause and when they will perceive that cost to be too high, only time will tell.
The Ottomans continued successfully until Vienna in 1683. That was the Ottoman high water mark. The Western Christians - Lutherans and Roman Catholics - had come together to save the West. The Greek and other Balkan Orthodox Christians were left to suffer until 1821 when Greeks rose up - again - and gained their freedom. There would be wars between Ottoman Turks and the Russian Empire which continued until the Crimean War, which Russia lost and which depleted its army. It also saw Russian naval vessels banned from ports in the Black Sea. A possible outcome for soon to be defeated Russian forces?
Forgetting or ignoring history can come back and bite one. Putin, Erdogan, and we in the West had best remember this. And how the Fall of Constantinople 569 years ago still impacts us all.
The history of the Greek Orthodox Church is so great and vast, it is even said that it was established while Jesus and his Apostles were alive. It was in 1054 when the Orthodox church split from the Catholic Church, this was when the Greek Orthodox Church became what we now know it as today. Though it is often contested by many, Greek Orthodox Christians believe that the Orthodox Church was the church established by Jesus Christ himself.
The modern day marathon as we know it originated from the battle of the marathon. There was a battle between Greece and Persia, which was won by the Greeks. This video reveals how the name actually came to be! You will all be so shocked from this piece of Ancient Greek history!
Greece has some of the best museums of history museums in the world! And amazing opportunities to see history up close in archaic relics like the Parthenon and Epidavros. These are the best history museums in my opinion, but please let me know your favorites!
- Acropolis Museum
- Heraklion Archeological Museum
- Museum of Byzantine Culture
- National Archeological Museum
The island of Delos has been uninhabited since the ancient times. In Greek mythology, it is considered to be the birthplace of Apollo. The island is full of ancient Greek history, and it now stands as an archeological site that people can visit near the island of Mykonos. In just about a week, there will be a concert which will bring musicians from around the world to hold a special concert on the island. I have my fingers crossed that we'll see more and more of these performances over time, and the tourists will be able to visit the site and see some more parts of modern Greek culture like this concert.
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