Empress Theodora |

Theodora (c.497-548) was born in Constantinople – modern day Istanbul. In her remarkable life she became probably the most powerful woman in Byzantine history. Little is known about her early…

Source: Empress Theodora |

Florence Nightingale’s Dark Decade

On the 12th of May 1820, Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Tuscany, the city she owes her name to. She was a national heroine in her lifetime already, elevated to near sainthood by some an…

Source: Florence Nightingale’s Dark Decade

The shameful conquest and sack of Constantinople

April 12th 1204

The shameful conquest and sack of Constantinople.

The sack of Constantinople or siege of Constantinople was the final shameful act of the Fourth Crusade that had began the previous year in 1203. It was a culmination of events that led the crusader armies to the walls of the eternal city, in which the Latins had entered in an agreement to restore the rightful heir of the Byzantine Empire. Following the first siege of the city in 1203, the disgraced Emperor Alexios III…

Source: What happened this month in history? – If It Happened Yesterday, It’s History

March 25th: celebrating the Annunciation and the War of Independence | Letters from Athens

One of our main national celebrations in Greece is March 25, which commemorates the start of the 1821 Greek Revolution against the Ottoman Empire, a revolt whose motto was the cry “Freedom or death.”

Following the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Greece remained under Turkish occupation for four centuries. After a number of unsuccessful attempts at revolt, the War of Independence started in 1821. Despite many reversals, this would lead to the establishment of a Greek sovereign state with the London Protocol of 1830, signed by England, France and Russia – the allies who intervened to help win the war. The Greek struggle had elicited strong sympathy in Europe, and many leading intellectuals had promoted the Greek cause, including…

Source: March 25th: celebrating the Annunciation and the War of Independence | Letters from Athens

A Yorkshireman in Istanbul, 1593 | History Today

Soon after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, a young Yorkshireman named Edward Barton was despatched to the Sultan’s court to promote the interests of the Levant Company.

The capture of Constantinople in 1453 by the Ottoman Turks signalled the collapse of Byzantine power and, because the Turks knew little of international trade and commerce, it might have led to an administrative vacuum. But the Sultan, Mohammed, wisely decided to adopt many of the customs and institutions developed by the Byzantines during the 1,000 years of their Empire. Among these was the system of capitulations – a word derived from the Latin capitulae, meaning the chapters of an agreement or treaty governing the relations between the State and other nations and their citizens in Constantinople. The status and rights of non-Turks in the Ottoman Empire thus came to be defined by…

Source: A Yorkshireman in Istanbul, 1593 | History Today.

Gallipoli 13: Turkey! Where’s Turkey?

First World War Hidden History

Map of the Gallipoli Peninsula and the NarrowsIf the Admiralty’s planning for the seaborne attack had been poor, the organisation for the military campaign was shambolic. As Les Carlyon put it so succinctly, ’Instead of being planned for months in London, down to the last artillery shell and the last bandage, this venture was being cobbled up on the spot, and only after another enterprise, the naval attack, had failed.’ [1] The only operation of similar stature that could be compared with this lay thirty years ahead on the beaches of Normandy, and the planning for that amphibious landing took not three weeks, but nearly two years. [2] Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, British war correspondent at Gallipoli, wrote that no country other than Great Britain would have attacked the Dardanelles without months of reflection and preparation by a highly trained general staff composed of the best brains of the army. He added, ‘Never have I known such a collection…

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The Last Pagan Emperor

Gallipoli 10: It’s All For You

First World War Hidden History

On 6 January 1915 Winston Churchill sent a telegraph to the commander of the Mediterranean fleet, Vice-Admiral Sackville-Carden asking how many ships he needed to break through the Dardanelles and how he would go about it? In his response five days later Carden suggested a force of 12 battleships, three battle-cruisers, three light cruisers, 16 destroyers, six submarines, four seaplanes and 12 minesweepers. In addition, he required a dozen support vessels. Surely but subtly, responsibility for the operation that could never succeed was passed to Carden.

Dardanelles Gun

What he proposed was not so much a plan as the order in which the ships might attack the Dardanelles forts, [1] but from that moment on, Churchill presented Carden’s list as if it was a carefully considered strategic plan. The old Vice-Admiral imagined that battleships would first bombard the outer forts guarding the entrance to the Dardanelles from a long distance. Minesweepers would…

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Gallipoli 8: Trouble With Russia

First World War Hidden History

Russian_prisoners_tannenberg

Once the immediate German threat to Paris had passed, and the Western Front stuck fast in what would become a four year-long stalemate of miserable trench warfare, London was faced with a serious problem. The Russians had been badly beaten on the Eastern Front. They had invaded Germany’s eastern borders but were driven back by the German defensive-offensive at the Battle of Tannenberg and the first Battle of the Masurian Lakes. Despite outnumbering the German Eighth Army under von Hindenberg and Ludendorf by almost two to one, the Russians had lost some 300,000 men by the middle of September 1914. Rather than face the wrath of the Czar, General Alexander Samsonov shot himself.

Russian morale plummeted. Such heavy and unexpected losses only six weeks into the war drained their enthusiasm. With the way to Constantinople blocked by the Goeben, some of the Czar’s advisors began to consider an armistice with…

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Gallipoli 4: Fumbling Incompetence … And Too Few Stokers

First World War Hidden History

Goeben and Breslau entering the Dardanelles

The escape of the Goeben and Breslau in their mad-cap dash across the Mediterranean to the safety of the Dardanelles has become part of the folklore of the First World War. The escape was astonishing; the consequences staggering. Mainstream historians claim that from the German perspective it was a blessing that verged on a miracle; for the British it was a great embarrassment. Churchill ranted that it was a ‘curse.’ [1] The truth is somewhat different. Evidence now proves that the British Foreign Office and the Admiralty in London knew precisely where the German warships were in the Mediterranean and, crucially, where they were headed. Far from attempting to destroy the Goeben and Breslau, the Secret Elite in London took active steps to keep them from harm and ensure their safe passage to Constantinople. Had the sinking of the German cruisers been the real objective, neither the Goeben nor…

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Gallipoli 3: David and Goliath

First World War Hidden History

On 31 July, the day after Russia demanded seizure of the two Turkish dreadnoughts, the British Cabinet, with its attention drawn to the crisis in Serbia, accepted that they should be retained by the Royal Navy. Churchill later said he requisitioned the ships on 28 July. His memory, though suspect, always ensured that he took all the credit.

sultan osman 1914

British sailors boarded Sultan Osman 1 that same day and the Ottoman ambassador was informed that the warship was being detained for the time being. [1] Buoyed by the seizure of the Turkish dreadnoughts, and confirmation by telegram from France that the government there was in ‘hearty high spirits’ and ‘firmly decided on war,’ [2] Russia continued full speed with the general mobilisation of her armies on Germany’s eastern border. At 4 pm on 1 August, the French also ordered general mobilisation. There was no turning back. It meant war. [3] Over…

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Gallipoli 2: Promises, Promises

First World War Hidden History

For a true appreciation of what Gallipoli was about we must take a brief step back in time. In the early years of the twentieth century the Secret Elite in London saw Germany as a rapidly growing economic, industrial and imperial threat to the British Empire, and began planning a European war to destroy her. However, Britain could never destroy Germany on her own in a continental war and had to create alliances with France and Russia. [1]

Constantinople

The Entente Cordiale between England and France, signed on 8 April 1904, marked the end of an era of conflict between the two that had lasted nearly a thousand years. But it was much more important than that. The Entente included secret clauses hidden from the British Cabinet and parliament that grew into a commitment to support each other in a war against Germany, [2] a war in which France would regain…

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Gallipoli 1: The Enduring Myth

I am still having connection problems and am thus unable to like and respond to your comments with any consistency.

First World War Hidden History

Map showing Constantinople, the Dardanelles and the Gallipoli PeninsulaThe infamous Gallipoli campaign of 1915 was set up to fail. 180,000 allied soldiers were sacrificed, wounded or dead, for a strategic policy which served the imperial designs of the British Empire by failing. This is the essential truth which the next series of blogs will prove. Over the last century, in both Britain and Australia, Gallipoli has been turned into a heroic-romantic myth; [1] a myth promoted by court historians and pliant journalists in order to hide the stark truth. It was a ruse, a sop to the Russians to keep them out of Constantinople in the belief that allied forces would capture the city on their behalf. Put into the hands of incompetent generals and admirals, starved of determined leadership, ill-equipped, ill-advised and certain to fail, the attack on the Dardanelles obligated the Russians to turn back to the eastern front and wait. As an integral part of…

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WWI: The Smuts-Gandhi Agreement

Edinburgh Eye

On Tuesday 30th June 1914 the House of Commons had a routine sitting.

The Conservative MP for Knutsford, Alan Sykes, who had been commissioned a Deputy-Lieutenant to the Lord Lieutenant for Cheshire in 1910, rose to ask a question of the Under-Secretary of State for War about the Infantry Territorial battalions of Lancashire and Cheshire:

What percentage of the total enrolled number of officers and men of the Infantry Territorial battalions of Lancashire and Cheshire attended their annual camp this year in the Whitsuntide holidays, indicating what percentage attended for one week and what for the whole period, and giving comparative figures for the same battalions of their attendance at last year’s annual camp?

Harold Tennant, the Liberal Under-secretary of State for War, answered the Opposition question with specific percentages for 1914 and 1913, and said, when Sykes asked if the bounty of a pound had improved…

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Days that live in Infamy: The Fall of Constantinople

Byzantine Blog

Mehmet the Conqueror enters Constantinople

Faced with the certainty of death it is said that experienced soldiers are ready to make that last leap into the fray, knowing that they have only one fate. A man schooled in princely duties such as Constantine XI Dragases Palaeologos knew his duty and on this day, 29 May in 1453 he died fighting for his empire, his people, and his faith.

By Tom Sawford

After a series of unrelenting attacks by the Ottomans since 1.30 am, Constantine was at his post at the Lycus valley at aaround 7.00 am but it was clear that all seemed lost now. He gave final orders to his friends John Dalamata and Don Francisco de Toledo, and weighed in to fight hand to hand beside his troops fighting desperately in one last bid to throw back the enemy.

How tired he must have been. Covered in the…

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