When the Roman Empire died under the blows of the "barbarians", its eastern part survived. She still called herself the Roman Empire, although it was already another state - the Greek, and another name was introduced into history - Byzantium. This state has shown remarkable vitality. In the chaos of the Early Middle Ages, it remained the main center of high civilization in Europe. Byzantine commanders were victorious, the fleet dominated the seas, and the capital, Constantinople, was rightly considered the largest and most beautiful city in the world.
The empire was the main stronghold of Christianity, created its own world system, the Orthodox - in the X century. Russia entered it. But even in Western countries, poor and fragmented, the church existed thanks to the support of the Greeks - Constantinople allocated money, liturgical literature, and qualified clergy to it. Over time, significant differences have accumulated between the Western and Eastern Churches. Roman theologians were little educated, made serious mistakes in dogma. And most importantly - the popes entered the role of leaders of the "Christian world". They crowned and regulated the kings, began to put their power above the secular.
Nevertheless, the Roman high priests recognized themselves as vassals of the Byzantine emperors - the Greeks patronized them and defended them from enemies. And among the Western rulers, Byzantine authority was unattainable, it was fawned upon, dreamed of intermarrying with the Greek dynasty, and wooing royal daughters and sisters. Very few people received this honor. Usually they answered that they were the kings of the “barbarians” and were not worthy of marrying “born in purr” (as is well known, St. Vladimir forced the Byzantines to such a marriage only by force, taking Chersonesus).
The fabulous riches of Byzantium attracted many, and it lay on the busiest place, covering the border of Europe and Asia. The invasions of Persians, Avars, Arabs, Bulgarians fell upon it. But the soldiers of the empire fought valiantly. The entire population came out to protect the cities. And engineers invented the terrible weapon - “Greek fire”. Its composition is not known until now, from the vessels of special construction, installed on the walls of fortresses or ships, streams of burning liquid were thrown out, which could not be extinguished with water. Byzantium fought off all enemies.
But the West did not experience such powerful blows, gradually crawled out of the confusion, intensified. And the Greeks accumulated internal diseases. Constantinople was buried in luxury and debauchery. Officials were predators, the capital's mob was spoiled, thirsty for lush holidays, shows, hands of money, food, wine. In the XI century. the inertia of greatness broke down. The court groups of nobles and oligarchs began to put their puppets on the throne, to plunder the treasury. In pursuit of sources of income destroyed the army. Military service and the maintenance of troops replaced the additional tax. Announced that it is better to hire professionals. Although the mercenaries were worth five times more expensive than their soldiers, and the collected money did not reach the troops, they spread into the hoppers' pockets. The defense collapsed, with the Pechenegs raiding from the north, the Seljuk Turks from the east.
In Rome, they realized that it was no longer necessary to count on help, and Pope Leo IX found another support for himself — the Norman pirates. Rough and arrogant messages went to Constantinople from the Vatican, and in 1054 the Latin and Greek churches were divided. And among the Greeks disgrace and predation of the nobility angered his subjects, civil strife broke out. This took advantage of the Seljuks, captured almost all of Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine.
Alexey Komnin won the troubles. The position of the empire was difficult, but not critical. The Pechenegs were far inferior in power to the Avars or the Bulgarians, and the Seljuk power fell into the Emirates, who were fighting among themselves. But Comnenus was by nature a staunch "Westerner." Instead of mobilizing national forces, he began to build bridges with Europe. Against the attacks of the Normans, the king called the fleet of Venice to the rescue, and for this he bestowed upon her the right of duty-free trade throughout Byzantium. And in 1091, it became known that they were preparing the next raids of the Pechenegs and the Seljuk leader Chah. Alexey panicked, addressed the pope and the kings with the message: “The empire of Greek Christians is strongly oppressed by the Pechenegs and Turks ... I myself, clothed with the rank of emperor, do not see any outcome, I do not find any salvation ... help me and the greek christians ... ”
Help was not required. Pechenegs Byzantines defeated in alliance with the Polovtsy and Russian. But Chah was killed in a fight with other Seljuk leaders, his campaign did not take place. But the emperor continued negotiations with the West about “common threats”, and Pope Urban II had to do this very well, a crusade was proclaimed at the cathedral in Piacenza. In 1096, an avalanche of knights flowed east. On the Greek land they fully showed themselves. Robbed, willful. But the Comnenus humiliated and cursed. He gave the leaders tremendous treasures, if only they were friends with Byzantium, they would recapture its lost territories. And the Crusaders did not refuse the jewels, they even took the vassal oath to the emperor for this. Without much difficulty, they smashed scattered emirs, occupied Syria and Palestine. But they did not take them for the Greeks. They expelled the imperial representatives from their army and became full masters in the Middle East.
Son and successor to Alexei Comnenus, John tried to correct the miscalculations of his father. In contrast to the West, he strengthened the alliance with Russia, gave his daughter for the Suzdal Prince Yuri Dolgoruky. Venetians, who choked the trade, refused to confirm the privileges. Where there! It was too late. Venice immediately sent the fleet, which began to devastate the Byzantine coast. I had to return the privileges, and also pay with an apology “compensation for damages”.
And the heir of John Manuel Comnenus turned out to be a “Westerner” even worse than his grandfather Alexei. He gave foreigners high posts at the court, in the army, the government. Constantinople began to dress in European fashion. Men flaunted in stockings and short pants, ladies put on high caps, squeezed busts with corsages. Knightly tournaments became a favorite sight. In addition to the Venetian merchants, Manuel launched into the country the Genoese and the Pisans, gave them the same broad rights. Western models of management were adopted too. The archons, the governors of the provinces, who were previously only officials of the king, gained greater autonomy, like the dukes. And to collect taxes, the Western payoff system was introduced. Tax collectors paid cash to the treasury, but collected it themselves from the population, with interest.
Manuel made an alliance with Rome. He sacrificed Orthodoxy, agreed to subordinate the Vatican to the Greek church. And in relation to Russia, the policy has changed dramatically. He aimed to subordinate her to his influence. Supported strife, helped put on the throne of Kiev Mstislav II, who recognized himself as a vassal of the emperor. The Greek metropolis launched an attack on the Russian church, rented bishops, and under a trifling pretext excommunicated the Kiev-Pechersk monastery. But Mstislav II and Metropolitan Kirill in 1169 solemnly met the ambassadors of the Pope. It was supposed to conclude an alliance with him, to send Russian soldiers to the enemy of Rome and Byzantium, the German emperor. To commit apostasy and draw Russia into another's war did not allow St. Blessed Vladimir Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky. Sent shelves and captured Kiev. Mstislav II, the Greek Cyril and the papal ambassadors fled, and from the desecrated metropolitan churches the Vladimir inhabitants took away all the shrines (the Pechersk monastery was taken under protection).
Despite this "puncture", it seemed that right now Constantinople had reached the pinnacle of prosperity. The harbor was overwhelmed by alien ships. Wealthy people bought imported costumes, wonders, luxury items. Construction was in full swing — grandee-bribe takers, foreigners, nouveau riche hurried to build new palaces and villas for themselves. But the province was ruined. Tax collectors stripped people clean. The villages were empty and abandoned. The cities declined and were settled by Arabs, Armenians, Persians, who bought houses and land for a pittance. And the Byzantine population flowed to the capital. Only here it was possible to live comfortably at the “foreign firms”, at construction sites, in the port, in the service of the rich. Constantinople turned into a parasite-metropolis, sucking juices from their own country.
The people grumbled, and the crooks, rushing to power, took advantage of it. Son Manuel, Alexei II in 1182, overthrew and killed Uncle Andronicus - declaring himself a defender of popular interests. In 1185, under the same motto, Isaac the Angel threw him from the throne. But it only got worse. Under Angela, according to contemporaries, “posts were sold as vegetables,” “merchants, money changers, and dress sellers were honored for honorable differences.” It got to the point that the prison governor Lagos let out thieves and robbers for the night, and part of the booty went to him.
Angels were friends with the West too. But the West was not a friend of Byzantium. The European kings conducted secret negotiations with the discontented, and a wave of “velvet revolutions” began to roll — Armenian Cilicia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and the Trebizond Empire separated from Byzantium. And the archons of the provinces enjoyed the obtained great rights, did not pay attention to the government, even fought each other.
Meanwhile, the Crusades exhausted. Muslims appreciated the greed and cruelty of Europeans. This was especially distinguished by the English king Richard the Lionheart, who exterminated prisoners by thousands. The population rallied against the occupiers, it became clear that the Middle East can not hold. But after all, the desired wealth and land were much closer! Pope Innocent III with the Venetian Doge Dandolo from 1098 began to prepare the Fourth Crusade - on the collapsed Byzantium.
It took place in 1204, the Crusaders were only 20 thousand! But Byzantium no longer had an army or fleet. Admiral Stryfn plundered and sold ships, timber, canvas, anchors. The "Greek fire" was also lost. Engineers have not been trained for a long time, the staff has been forgotten. Even the population of Constantinople was half a million! But instead of defense, it rallied and squabbled over who would lead the country. Knights easily broke into the city. They killed a little, but robbed thoroughly. Palaces, houses, temples. Young and beautiful people were selected from the inhabitants for sale as slaves, and the rest were torn to the bottom or naked (in the West, even a shirt was considered a considerable value) and expelled.
And when crowds of robbed people wandered along the roads, the people of the province laughed at them! Say, so and it is necessary to you, to "snickering" Constantinople. But soon came their turn. The knights followed, they divided the villages, and the peasants suddenly found out that they were serfs. A serfdom in the West was cool. Build a castle to the owner, pasha in barshchina, pay, beaten or hung for offense. On the site of Byzantium lies the Latin Empire. Persecution of Orthodox priests and bishops took place, the punishers attacked Athos, tortured and executed the monks, demanding to convert to Catholicism.
Nevertheless, the Lord pardoned Byzantium. When the crusaders stormed Constantinople, a group of young aristocrats elected Theodore Lascaris as emperor. He fled to Asia Minor. On the local outskirts of the government has long given up, did not provide them with any protection against the Seljuks. However, the border population has learned to organize itself, to own weapons, like the Cossacks. Lascaris first accepted unkindly. The cities did not let him in, the governors did not want to obey. But the crusaders followed, and Theodore became the banner around which the patriots gathered. Latins rejected ...
The Nicene empire arose, and a miraculous transformation took place. All the worst, corrupt, remained in the Latin Empire, looking for, as it were more profitable to settle down to the occupiers. And Nicaea flocked to the best, honest, selfless. The patriarchy was restored - Russia went under its aegis. Theodore relied on the common people - and defeated all enemies! Latinyans, Seljuks, rebels.
His successor, John Vataci, conducted reforms. On the lands confiscated from the traitors, he created large state farms. He supported peasants, lowered taxes, personally supervised officials. I ordered to buy domestic, not foreign goods, and the result was amazing! The recent wretched outskirts of Byzantium has become the richest country in the Mediterranean! A powerful fleet was built, the borders were covered with fortresses. Even the Tatar-Mongols did not attack this state, concluded peace and alliance. Nicene troops cleared the Crusaders of Asia Minor, began to liberate the Balkans.
But ... the “magnates” were extremely dissatisfied with the “people's kingdom” - it was not the high-born and the rich who were promoted to the Laskars. In 1258, the emperor Theodore II was poisoned. Regent with his 8-year-old son John became the head of the conspirators, Mikhail Paleolog. And in 1261, the Nicaean detachment abruptly beat Constantinople from the Crusaders. Under the noise of the celebrations of the liberation of the capital, Mikhail overthrew and blinded the child, he put on the crown.
Indignation rose, Patriarch Arsenius excommunicated him, and the inhabitants of Asia Minor revolted. But the king had already formed a mercenary army and crushed the rebellion with a cruel slaughter. At the helm of the state again found themselves the oligarchs and crooks. The huge treasury accumulated by Lascari was squandered for the revival of the former court tinsel. The worst Byzantine vices, ambitions, abuses returned.
Mikhail Palaeologus again undertook to build friendship with the West and in order to heighten mutual understanding in 1274, he concluded the Union of Lyons, subordinated the church to the Vatican. For refusing to change Orthodoxy, people were imprisoned and executed, rebellions were drowned in blood, and Uniate punitive again committed atrocities on Athos. The son of Michael Andronik II tried to correct what his father had done, terminated the union. But the ruined country did not give income. I had to disband the fleet, to reduce the army. In the Balkans, she went into complete confusion. Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians, Latin barons, Italians got bogged down in wars with each other.
And in Asia Minor, a new community emerged from the fragments of various tribes - the Ottomans. There was actually no “Turkish conquest” of the empire. The Ottomans simply settled the land, which the Byzantines themselves devastated during the suppression of the uprisings. Locals joined them. They did not see anything good from the government; they only fought three skins. The Turks also helped their own, guarded. People converted to Islam and turned into full-fledged Ottomans, the community grew rapidly.
Constantinople at first did not appreciate the danger. On the contrary, they began to invite Turks to participate in wars. They took cheap, were content with extraction. Ottoman troops were the best in the Greek army! But one day the Turks in boats began to cross the Dardanelles, settling Thrace, depopulated by strife. Only then did the government clutch its heads, but nothing could be done. Greek archons began to cross over to the Ottomans, turning into Turkish beys. Without a fight, the cities surrendered and won. The decaying Adrianople (Edirne) with 15 Thousands of Residents made Sultan Murad his capital, and it expanded into a luxurious center with a population of 200 Thousands.
For help, the Byzantines turned all the same to the west. In 1369, the emperor John V went to Rome. Lebezil, agreeing to the union, and dad did not immediately accept him, allowed him to kiss the shoe and take the oath of allegiance. Then John went to the French court, but achieved nothing, except for new humiliations. And on the way back, the Venetians arrested him for debts. The blessing the son has gained, has sent money. Well, when John returned, the Sultan nagged at him and pointed out: that outside the walls of Constantinople is yours, and outside the walls is mine. And the emperor humbled himself. He recognized himself as a vassal of Murad, began to pay tribute, and sent his daughter to the sultan's harem.
It was dangerous to argue. The Turks conquered the Balkan peoples fighting each other: the Bulgarians, the Serbs. But Byzantium completely scanty. Pottery was covered with gilding at the courtyard, and rhinestones glittered on the crowns and thrones — genuine stones were laid by usurers. Emperors sold their islands, cities. And Constantinople was destroyed by the inhabitants themselves. They took away stones and bricks of palaces and temples for new buildings, small and crooked. Marble burned to lime. Residential areas were interspersed with vast areas of ruins and wastelands.
About national revival no longer thought. The “Turkophile” party fought, believing that the Sultan should be obeyed, and the “Westernist” party that trusted in Europe. The West has indeed intervened; in 1396, he began a crusade (by declaring in advance which countries and regions will go to whom). But the people of the Balkans already knew what the rule of the Crusaders was. Even the Serbs, 7 years ago, who fought with the Turks on the Kosovo field, preferred to side with the Sultan. Europeans smashed to pieces under Nikopol.
However, the Greek "Westerners" is not taught anything. Emperor John VIII once again went with an outstretched hand to European countries. As a result, a council was convened in Ferrara and Florence, and a union was concluded in 1439. Although the results were deplorable. The city of Rome at this time reached the full disintegration of morals, bribetakers, homosexuals, murderers replaced each other on the papal throne. The Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antiochian patriarchs refused to obey such high priests, they gave the union anathema. Russia did not accept it either, Grand Prince Vasily II arrested and expelled Uniate Metropolitan Isidor sent to Moscow.
Most Greeks also protested. It got to the point that the Uniate Patriarch Grigory Melissin preferred to flee to Rome, and he did not dare to replace him, the country was left without a patriarch at all. Well, in those centuries the Turks patronized Orthodoxy, did not touch the faith. The popes made two more crusades, in 1443 and 1448, but the Ottomans, along with the Serbs, Bulgarians, Romanians, thrashed the knights together.
Finally, Sultan Mohammed II decided to eliminate the nest of intrigue, protruding in the midst of his possessions. The reason for the war gave the emperor Constantine XII, a brave military, but useless politician. Again he bore with the West, addressed the Sultan with a bold message. In 1453, the Turks imposed Constantinople from land and sea. The European allies of the Greeks, the Venetians and the Genoese, were quick to assure the Sultan of their loyalty in order to preserve trade gains. And even the brothers of Emperor Thomas and Dmitry, the rulers of the frontiers in Morea, did not help. At that time they were fighting among themselves and agreed to let the Turks help them!
When Konstantin called for the population of the capital to arms, only 200 thousand responded from 5 thousand residents. Apart from them, a squad of mercenaries came to the defense, foreign merchants with servants - to protect their own homes. This handful fought heroically, but the forces were too unequal. 29 May Turks broke into the city. The emperor and his associates died. And the rest of the inhabitants were no longer capable of self-defense. Been home and waited for someone to save or cut out. They were cut, and 60 thousand were sold into slavery.
Although Rome has not yet calmed down, announced a new crusade to "liberate" the Greeks. Worried not about the Greeks, but about saving the perishing union. The papal envoys aroused the hopes of the rulers of the surviving fragments of the empire, the sea Thomas, Trapezund's little David, they rebelled. But the western knights received too well from the Turks, and there were no more volunteers. And the Sultan drew conclusions: as long as there are pieces of Byzantium in his state, the West retains a reason for aggression. In 1460, Mohammed II crushed these fragments.
Thomas fled, died in Rome. His dissolute sons, Andrei and Manuel, sold the rights to the Byzantine throne to anyone who paid (bought by the French). And his father, Sophia, married his Russian Emperor Ivan III, hoping to drag him into the union through his wife, but in vain. But Ivan III after this marriage included the Byzantine double-headed eagle in his coat of arms, and the growing Moscow began to turn into the “Third Rome”. In general, the West and Russia divided the legacy of Constantinople. All material wealth flowed to Europe - something that the Crusaders did not plunder, pumped Italian merchants.
And Russia inherited spiritual and cultural treasures. She adopted the best achievements of Greek history, philosophy, architecture, icon painting, and inherited the role of the world center of Orthodoxy. By the way, Pope Sixtus IV was greedy with Sophia's dowry. I didn't want to shell out, but many books were evacuated from Byzantium to Italy. Dad, they were unnecessarily, and in the dowry loaded a huge train. This was the only thing that survived the colossal baggage of Byzantine literature. Everything else was soon destroyed by the Inquisition as a “heretic.” Rev. Maxim Greek, who saw the collection of books that came to Russia, admired: "All Greece now has no such wealth, nor Italy, where Latin fanaticism has turned the creations of our theologians to ashes."