Monday, January 9, 2012

Peppers, Aubergines (egg plants) and the Fall of Byzantium

So apparently 50,000 people were taken away into slavery when Constantinople fell in 1453. Apparently this was not unusual, the Byzantines would have done the same were the situation reversed. Part of the point of medieval warfare  was the promise of booty and this came in human form as well as material form. According to some, the crusaders of 1204 inflicted far greater sufferings on the city than the armies of Mehmet the Conquerer in 1453.

In an era when ancient-world slavery was only slowly going out of fashion and the European early modern type was yet to take off, being conquered was a little bit like being taken hostage (if you survived the slaughter and if you were a man). If you had rich friends who would buy you back you were lucky, most however would have had to be content to start a new life. 

I find it hard to emotionally grasp the magnitude of a situation where some mother or daughter after finding themselves on the losing side of a seige, suddenly becomes one of the wives of a foreigner who killed their husband or father!

Apparently some of the Greek nobles captured after the fall of the city converted to Islam, historians wonder if this was not just a prudent move under the circumstances but rather a heart felt conversion after feeling catastrophically let down by the god of Byzantium. The Ottomans and their god did indeed seem invincible even if the fall of the city was a relatively close run thing.

I'm beginning to enjoy the way that watercolour works with vegetables....

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