Qarquya

Qarquya was an important man in the development of Syria. He truly played his own part in a pivotal time in the history of the region, steering the failing emirate of Aleppo into a new period of peace and prosperity, but his name is unknown in the west.

Qarquya was an important man in the development of Syria. He truly played his own part in a pivotal time in the history of the region, steering the failing emirate of Aleppo into a new period of relative peace and prosperity, but his name is unknown in the west. In defeat he accepted a fate which would largely defend his people from the common strife of the era, and secured the continuity of the Syrian state of Aleppo.

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The Rebellion of Bardas Phokas the Younger

During the second half of the tenth century the Byzantine Empire managed to conquer a slew of new territories, largely thanks to the Phokas clan, an aristocratic family who consistently produced competent generals.

The Rebellion of Bardas Phokas the Younger was a major Byzantine civil war fought mostly in Asia Minor. During the second half of the tenth century the Byzantine Empire was characterized by emperors either devoted to or forced into long periods of campaigning mostly in the Middle East, Crete, Cyprus, Antioch; many other territories were also conquered during this period. The success Byzantium experienced in these conquests was largely thanks to the Phokas clan, an aristocratic family who consistently produced competent generals. Indeed, during the reigns of Nikephoros II Phokas and his nephew John I Tzimiskes, these aristocratic generals supplanted the legitimate heirs of the Macedonian dynasty, the adolescent brothers Basil II and Constantine VIII, as the true rulers of the empire. When Tzimiskes died in 976, Basil II ascended to power. Quickly, however, tensions began to flare up within the royal court itself as the purple-born emperor attempted to reign fully out of the influence of the established court eunuchs. The figureheads behind the simmering tensions in the capital would come to blows in a major rebellion lead by Bardas Phokas the Younger, the most powerful man left of the old Phokas regime.

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History of the Emirate of Crete

The history of the Emirate of Crete begins around 825 A.D. when a group of Andalusian (Arab Muslims from Spain) rebels were exiled by the ruling Emir of Cordoba, al-Hakam I.

The history of the Emirate of Crete is an interesting one. Although it had little long-term repercussions on the region, the political integrity of the state was an incredibly important issue of the day, specifically of the 9th and early 10th Centuries. Due to the strategic position of Crete, often thought of as a gateway to the Aegean, the island could be used, and was used as, an important staging ground for numerous raids throughout the Eastern Aegean, from Thessaloniki to Alexandria during both the Arab and Byzantine periods. Control of the island was often analogous to naval dominance of the Aegean, Cilician, and Palestinian coastlines, and without control of the island, it has historically been nearly impossible to maintain control of Eastern Mediterranean maritime affairs, both commercial and militant, from the Byzantine Empire to the Ottoman Empire to Nazi Germany.

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The Life of Nikephoros Phokas

Nikephoros II Phokas was the sole emperor of Byzantinium from 963 to 969. His brilliant military exploits contributed to the resurgence of the Byzantine Empire during the 10th century.

Who was Nikephoros II? Nikephoros II Phokas was the sole emperor of Byzantinium from 963 to 969. His brilliant military exploits contributed to the resurgence of the Byzantine Empire during the 10th century. In the east, he exhibited tactical prowess in the complete reconquest of Cilicia and of Crete, whilst also initiating the recapture of Cyprus, thereby opening the path for future Byzantine incursions into the Levant and the Jazira under future emperors, thus creating a safer, more secure empire not only for his successors, but also for his subjects, in that he, by bringing Crete and Cyprus under Christian rule, manage to spare much of the Aegean coastline from the devastating Arab raids which became commonplace over the 9th and early 10th Centuries. His reign, however, was not unmarred by controversy. In the west, relations with Bulgaria worsened, while Nikephoros was powerless to halt the Muslim conquest of Sicily. Incursions by the German emperor Otto II were also left unpunished. Nikephoros also had issues in the domestic sphere. His long wars resulted in increased taxes both on the people and on the church, while he also maintained unpopular theological positions which alienated many of his most powerful allies, including his top general and future emperor John Tzimiskes.

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