Race and Culture, Religion

Going Medieval

This is, and isn’t what you think it is.

If all the history you learned was in high school and college, unless you specialized, you got American History and Western Civilization. And western civilization followed a more or less direct line from the ancient Greeks, from Plato to Alexander to Rome, and thence, after Rome’s downfall, to the rise of the Western European royal system.

Almost all world history that we read as interested amateurs is written from the Western European perspective, including that of Christianity. After all, it was in Rome that Peter went to establish his Church.

The Greek part of western history since Alexander has been largely demoted as a subordinate member of the cast. The chorus line. For instance you have to dig some to learn that almost all the region of the New Testament (the Holy Land and Asia Minor) had been under the Greeks for over 200 years before the Romans had conquered those places where Christ was born, raised, and finally, taught.

Moreover, the Greeks and Romans didn’t really like one another, and it was less about who had the greater armies and conquests, and more about who possessed the greater minds.

A couple of years ago, Boris Johnson, now the PM of Great Britain, but also a classical scholar, debated Mary Beard, another classical scholar, over the comparative greatness of “classical Greece” and “the Roman Empire”. Boris took the Greeks.

You can watch this if you like, it’s an hour and a half, and very entertaining as well as instructive.

The Greeks didn’t like the Romans who came after them, red-headed stepchildren, so to speak. For one, from the 1st Century BC the Greeks had been treated as second class citizens by their new Roman overlords, at the same time considering themselves vastly superior intellectually to them. They thought of the Latins as bumpkin country cousins, only with a knack for engineering, making things work, from aqueducts, to running water in houses, to all sorts of battlefield equipment the ancient Greeks, going back to the Pythagoreans, had theoretically made possible five centuries earlier, but thought it almost sacrilegious to build something with their math. Somehow, turning a beautifully symmetric formula, A squared + B squared = C squared, into architecture debased the deep intellectual beauty of the original thought. (The Pythagoreans were funny that way.)

And the Romans couldn’t even come up with their own gods, stealing the Greeks’, only giving then different names, calling Athena Minerva, or Jupiter Zeus. They even claimed “The Aeneid” by Vergil to be a rank theft of Homer’s “Iliad”. Theme-piracy. Political writers see that all the time, especially when trying to outguess Trump.

But the point is that western History as we know it was directed toward Rome as it remained the seat of the Church even though its final articles of incorporation were registered not in Rome but in Nicea and Constantinople in the 4th Century, by the Roman Emperor Constantine, who seemed to prefer the air and waters of the Hellespont (Dardanelles) over the dank, stagnant Tiber. He wanted to build a new Rome there, only found out that none of his 4th Century architects knew how to replicate the work of Roman builders 400 years earlier. So they cannibalized old Rome and brought it to Constantinople to be re-erected there, leaving the city of the Roman Church a mere shell of itself. (By doing so, Constantine also taught, for future use, both the Russians and Chinese how to build empires without knowing a single thing about design, or for that matter, original ideas. Just steal them. A subject for future discussion.)

So, there was an Eastern Roman Empire (Constantinople) and Western Roman Empire (Rome) but they would eventually quit being Roman, splitting into two churches with different rites, Latin (Roman Catholic) and eastern rites, Greek (Orthodox). I once nearly got my mouth washed out with soap when I referred to their Church as “Greek Orthodox” to a scientist in Bulgaria . “Iz Eastern Orthodox. Please don’t say that name again.”

What the American history student of WesternCiv doesn’t know is that from the 4th Century all the way into the 15th Century, the Eastern Church was vastly larger, more wealthy, and powerful, and more civilized and sophisticated than the “reconstructed” Catholic Europe of the West, we were taught.

We were taught about the Dark Ages, which engulfed the old Roman Empire in western Europe, and that the Church in Rome, facing armies of barbarians, having been sacked by the Vandals in 455 AD and facing a return to the old days of fearing for its life, finally signed a kind of power sharing agreement in 800  with the barbarian Frankish, but recently converted king, Charlemagne, crowning him Holy Roman Emperor. The Church would be guaranteed protection and security, as well as a third of the royal pie, (Sweeet!) in exchange for guaranteeing the royals and all they could bring to the church for baptizing, eternal life. Since this was at the very beginning of the Feudal System in Europe, where everyone who wasn’t of the nobility was owned by the nobility, this was just about everyone. In 800 AD this meant the Roman Church no longer had to go out and work hard to capture souls. The serfs were brought to them. An almost 100% conversion rate.

For Americans the Middle Ages in western Europe wasn’t interesting until Hollywood made the Crusades, Robin Hood and Goth popular. Too many kings and dynasties from dozens of countries. So many in fact that countries only taught their own local histories for centuries. The Germans knew of Frederick Barbarossa (Frederick the Great) but very few knew of any English king.

Today American Catholics today know more about Braveheart than they do about the Avignon Papacy, when a French king stole the Papacy and moved it across the Alps to France.

So you can imagine how much less people know about the Eastern Roman Empire and how it became the Byzantine Empire. But it was as splendid as Rome of the early Caesars, with almost as much territory, and entirely Christian, and lasted over a thousand, 1000!, years. But, oh, those impossible to name long, hard-to-pronounce Greek names (as you’ll see below). The Empire finally fell to the (jack) Muslim Ottoman Turks in 1453, who, (take notice if you want to know about persistence) had been banging at its door for over 400 years, just as western Europe was entering its Renaissance.

It was during the Crusades that East and West clashed, especially the Third and Fourth, in the 1100’s, after Saladin had taken back for Islam much of the Christians’ kingdoms. The Roman Church wanted to recoup their losses in the Holy Land, and Constantinople was a stopping off place for Latin armies heading south.

The Byzantine Empire in the east would rise and fall depending on the quality of its emperors for another 250 years, but the Fourth Crusade Latins, who stopped over in Constantinople en route to the Holy Land, filled the city with Latin pilgrims as well as armies, all of whom had a grudge against the Byzantines who had “mistreated” (actually massacred) Latin Christians about 20 years earlier. They would burn and sack the city, melting precious gold art and relics into easier to carry bars, losing priceless artifacts. And not unlike the loss of the Library at Alexandria in the 7th Century, vast volumes of manuscripts were simply used as toilet paper by the vandalizing pilgrims, not unlike the homeless of California if only Gavin Newsom would give them some library keys (thus killing two birds with one stone in the eyes of modern California social engineers.)

This is how all that came about. So enough history.

About Going Medieval

This sack and destruction of Constantinople in 1204 came about because of this event 19 years earlier.

In 1183 a man named Andronicus Comnenus, was the avaricious cousin to the Byzantine Emperor Manuel, who died leaving a 13-yr old son, Alexios, as emperor, and his mother, a Western Catholic, as his guardian. Andronicus hated all Latin Christians, so decided to stage a coup and claim the title of co-emperor, and becoming Alexios guardian instead of that Latin witch.

So he staged a massacre of thousands of the Latin Christians in Constantinople, and killed the young Alexios and his mother, and declared himself emperor, then set about ruling. For about two years.

Then, in 1185, while out of town, his chief lieutenant, Stephen Hagio-christo-phorites (broken down so you can read it), attempted to arrest a man by the name of Isaac Angelous, who was troublesome to his boss, Andronicus. But instead of surrendering and coming quietly, Isaac bolted and took refuge at the famous Hagia Sophia, the greatest church in the world (now the greatest mosque in the world) and whipped up the crowd against Andronicus and the way he’d been doing things.

So when Andronicus returned to the city he found out he’d been deposed as emperor and Isaac named in his place. He then attempted to escape with his wife and favorite prostitute, but was captured.

At which time the whole city went “medieval” on him. This is how it came down, from a factual account.

From Umberto Ecco in Baudolino (2002):

Andronicus was captured on the shore of the Euxine (Black Sea) and was brought before Isaac. The courtiers had kicked him and beaten him, torn out his beard, knocked out his teeth, shaved his head;

then they cut off his right hand and flung him into prison.

(Later they brought him forth on a camel.)

Andronicus was more mangy-looking than the mangy camel on which he had been hoisted; he was almost naked, with a foul clump of bloody rags on the stump of his right wrist and clotted blood on his gaunt cheeks, because they had gouged out one of his eyes.

Around him the most desperate of the city’s inhabitants, whose lord and autocrat he had been for so long, sausage makers, tanners, and the dregs of every tavern, collecting like swarms of flies in spring around a horse turd, struck his head with their clubs, stuffed ox excrement in his nostrils, squeezed sponges soaked  in cow piss over his nose, thrust skewers into his legs; the milder threw stones at him, calling him rabid dog and son a bitch in heat. A prostitute emptied a pan of boiling water over him.

Then the crowd’s fury increased further; they pulled him down from the camel and hanged him by his feet from the two columns beside the statue of the she-wolf giving suck to Romulus and Remus.

Andronicus behaved better than his tormentors, not emitting a moan. He confined himself to murmuring “Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison.” and asked why they were breaking a chain already shattered.

Once he was strung up, a man with a sword neatly cut off his genitals, another stuck a spear in his mouth, impaling him to his viscera, while still another impaled him through the anus.

There were also some Latins present, who had scimitars and moved as if they were dancing around him, slashing away all his flesh.

And perhaps they were the only ones entitled to vengeance, given what Andronicus had done to those of their race a few years before.

Finally the wretch still had the strength to raise to his mouth his right stump, as if he wanted to drink his own blood, to make up for the blood he was losing in great spurts.

Then he died.

Now that’s medieval…

….and 17 years later, the Latins would take their revenge on Constantinople, Christian on Christian. Still it would rise again, to last another 250 years, until the Turks finally took the city.

(There’s some kind of lesson here. Try to figure it out.)


13 thoughts on “Going Medieval

  1. Just when one suggests that the world has run out of skilled thinkers….
    rabbi mizrachi rails these days against the greeks….
    The whole idea of the greeks coming to realize that the warring did not forward mankind…..
    Homer Plato Socrates
    One of them gave us Alex Great
    Stoics shared the region with the young christian times.
    The NT was rendered in Greek apparently for a boatload of reasons
    The beginnings of the new world there

    I mean,
    Wasn’t it Peter Ustinov that had to remind us that the Russians didn’t enjoy a renaissance……
    For this they need to be given time to come around…

    Should we grant the same hopeful grace to Gomez
    or Greta Tunafish ?
    Are they the catatonic movement?

    I have been lovingly plead with- by their sort – not to wake them from their dreamy state. “It is easier to blame others than to take responsibility and learn from the wise”

    I thank the creator for providing us with a frame of reference that the pre-Greeks did not have the luxury of turning to.
    Thanks again Prof!


  2. If I may-
    I`d like to ask –
    what you think about the notion / claim some years ago- that Friedrich II was considered the first modern man?

  3. Thanks as always, Mr Schmiderer. but I’m confused about which Frederick. I’m more familiar, so more partial to, Barbarossa, the Hohenstaufen, than the later 18th C Hohenzollern. Also the era. I think Adam Smith lent more to modern man than all the royals combined, for all the people he drew a path forward to liberate, while all the rest wittingly chose not to, for the very same reason.

  4. Sir!!
    One could drive the third Army through the gaps in my education
    And still have room for a rec center
    The son of Barbarossa was meant at the time
    Indicating that old fritz was still a cave man of sorts
    And the son considered a finer approach
    Yes yes The Hohenzollern
    The Habsburger

    I would like to read more about or from Adam Smith
    Recommendations, Sir?

    Maybe off topic but the revolution of 1848 in Germany what was a grasp for modern times (us like republic)

    The movement was met with middle aged like punishment from the Prussian

  5. Read Wealth of nations. Remarkably easy read, Also, Road to Serfdom, by FA Hayek.
    I like philosphers who try to explain things as they are instead of how they should be.
    As for the Revolt of 1848, those arose in several places, almost simultaneously but also organically. No coordination. Modern historians like to say these were “republican” in nature, against the royal establishment, but a generation ago we were taught they arose on the back of Marx and the rise of the intellectuals, who thought they could run the world better than the royals. Probably half right. But no one knew what was going on in America undoin g both the royal and Marxist ideal of human management. Interesting stuff, tho.

  6. An attempt to break away from the
    Middle Ages

    My great grandfather was Bürgermeister in Renchen by Achern in Baden
    Anyone taking part at these meetings in the gymnastic halls was severely punished
    I heard it said:
    You want America ? go there!
    Stay here you get 10 years dungeon

    Was a grasp for the stars at the time.
    Half the Family came to New Orleans.

    What remained were the obedient bottom feeders.

    Americans are not bottom feeders.
    For this I admire you sir

    The ones eating from the bottom of the trough never see the dangers of the approaching
    They trusted somebody’s watching out for them
    This take lives on in modern day Germany. I’ve heard it said. “ we pay you politicians to take care of us”

    This cheap Barack Obama approach which is like that of a low level used car salesman‘s spiel : like “we all know and you would agree that we down here ….
    Appeals to those who have forgotten why people came to America to forge their own way.

    Sometimes the title of a book might even be more important than what’s written in the book

    Take the Declaration of Independence for instance

    Each person that comes to America from far away takes the title of the document for themselves

    The declaration of my independence

    America as a basis that makes this possible for me to declare my independence

    Going mid-evil for me would mean giving up my personality as it is in Germany. You sir in Germany would be known as the BushMills Vassar and not as Vassar BushMills only one of many Not one out of many.
    And places like that the collective always trumps the individual
    is actually written into law

    Nobody opens a business just to make a living everyone that does so has the idea that they might get rich

    Up until Teddy Kennedy nobody came to America to crawl under a social blanket.

    But to be the best freestanding man in the world ever known
    for this they thank God that there is an America

    If the Gomez’s and the Sanders were to succeed in making all of us the bottom feeders blamers and losers -where the hell are we going to go? there is no new America to go to
    this is it
    that’s why we must protect it

    For years I spent many hours in many countries and cities explaining to the people what America is
    a concept
    And a platform

    For so many misstook it for being their country just with guns

    Our America has no comparison
    no rival anywhere I’ve seen
    you’re right we cannot let these spoiled stupid kids give it away so they can get a lollipop and a blanket and a pat on the head

    Freudian slip
    Joe Biden told us what
    He really meant
    We’re gonna put you all back in chains.

    Please excuse Sir
    I digress


  7. Valid question Sierra Faith

    At one point the only thing Rome exported was manure.

    in re to Boris
    But how were these other great ones viewed in their days of old?

    How did they take Mark Twain while he was here?
    Lincoln? Christ?
    Mediocre through familiarity?

    Zappa spoke about how so many only revered dead white guys…
    so then to fail to acknowledge their contemporaries before it was too late:
    Hendrix was not so socially acceptable during his time – his fault or not
    but look at me daddy guitarists are still TRYING to emulate him, today

    did someone reach out to find Jimi to help him onto the right path in a language he could understand?

    As little as I may know about Boris J.
    I must admit that is apparent that he continues to perfect his skills as a thinker and presenter.

    I find his style compelling enough to listen for the shining moments.
    He did not dissapoimt.

    How do we cultivate this new set of people?


    I don’t mean fan-boying….

    How do we help those stand up and speak for us?

    I see more and more that would benefit from acquiring and improving skills in the area of discernment.
    The long view.

    Quickly recognizing the gift of sharing the earth with aspiring exceptional humans
    and making ones self available to forward that cause.

    Actionary vs Reactionary

    I have a great interest in peoples strong suits.

    Weaknesses and flaws are everywhere and cheap

    but jewels in the rough are still with us

    hope not to bore anyone with this
    the strong suit was in your first lines

    The comment about coming from BOJO or so and so is what stopped me.

    The ItalianSoccer coach Trippitoni was grilled on why he didn’t have this and this guy on the team… Trippitoni “We gotta play with da guysa dat we a got!”

    Theres a new “( insert famous no longer with us name here ) Standing around here somewhere.

    Ahh , forget all this…

  8. I was impressed that you know about your German heritage. In America, that relegated to mostly Germans, as almost no Anglo_saxons had a clue, at least in the first century.

    My interest is in what makes America different, and there are several natural law reasons. I participate in a Forum, UNwashePhilosophy.com where those kinds of questions are discussed. Some, I also publish here, but as to American exceptionalism, I start with this theme: Apologetics, http://www.vassarbushmills.com/?p=68215 and continue to try to develop the theme. Have fun.

  9. I’m very grateful for your forums your website And your interest in these matters sir

    My curriculum vitae
    Has been a wild one
    It’s only ever made me more curious about the human condition

    I hope to have the discipline and the time
    Since I’ve returned back to the world as we would say I’ve had a great deal of concern about my personal development and I have had and still am having difficulties with social contracts and cultural /societal ssues

    There is a real brick and mortar and and imaginary learning group initiated by JG Bennett known as the society for continuous education
    I stole some of his aphorisms and understood that the title of this institution could be used for my own purposes as to create my own university in the world
    As pretentious as that may sound I remember Frank Zappa saying if you want to get laid go to the university if you wanna get an education go to the library
    For this I’ve got my eyes and ears open in this world for great teachers and men like you Who compelled and inspired me to think and point out what it is they believe could be important to be thinking about at this present time
    I have looked over the unwashed philosophy site and I am interested sorry for my windy comments but my heart yearns for learning and for expressing what I’ve understood so that maybe somebody can point out that what I’m thinking or saying is ultimate bunk or possibly useful.

    “ Qualitive structures work by example and invite reciprocation “
    Fripp or Bennet

    Thx Prof

  10. Thanks for visiting our sites. I’d like to see that Unwashed Philosophy site grow to be kind of place where you can meet and greet a lot of other people. My son, age 50< likes a site named Quora, where you can pick your special area of interest. I go there to read, but not comment, as time constraints no longer allow that.

  11. Good day Sir!!

    I’ll be there!
    I to receive Quora posts in my mail.

    After perusing the headlines in the morning I tend to only return the threads papers and sites that allow commenting and discourse and generally don’t return often to the sites where I cannot pitch in or the authors are not willing to have their thoughts and papers challenged or affirmed.

    Thanks so much for the platforms and I push starts and have a great day

  12. It’s a good site. My son (age 50) loves the give and take.

    But keep watching here. I don’t get many clicks. It’s a kind of “by invitation only” site. Glad you found it.

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