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Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


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Old May 24th, 2013, 01:38 PM   #11
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What is Roman empire? Its an empire based to its people and to principle Ideas of the Greek Roman world.
The spirit of the empire is the everyday alive tradition of its people.
Do that spirit remained alive?
Do those traditions survived, where and by whom?
Does the name of the identity of those people became alive and still called same as 1000 years before ?

We indeed had, so much candidates contenders and candidates gravediggers, so we divide periods, phases etc

Unfortunately the nationalism thinking that has to divide [anyway] for understanding a process, even when there is no [time or functional] limit, so the outcome is no true or safe result.

Roman state[s], stopped existed at 1461.
Romans still exist.

The unsuccessful try of Bessarion around 1472 of the reborn of the Roman state to Italy, by Greeks/Romeoi answers of Roman empire and its principles. Byzantine Empire - Your Thoughts

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I do not like refer in hypothesis , what will happen if '.... in such content.
as also my previous comment is what happens , not what happens if.

Now if you like to play the game of divination, there possible only one thing, if 1204 did not happened, then the anatolian lands propably will remained secure and possible almost recovered, so World history would become different, but with if ... and hypothesis of such kind does not offer anything usefull in the meaning of reality and preciseness, as there millions of parameters such who the leader, how the development of the trade and the army, economy etc

1204 just shown the debt of the West -non ever been Roman- looters.

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Last edited by ANAX; May 24th, 2013 at 01:43 PM.
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Old November 12th, 2015, 06:09 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by The Mad Mummer View Post
We all know the Empires fate was sealed long term, especially after Mazinkert, and that the empire was already dead by the time Mehmet the Conqueror ordered the bombardment of the Theodesian walls at the siege in 1453.

But did it have to be that way? Where there forks in the historical road where the successor to the Roman empire could survive the odds and remain a noteworthy state, until finally it took part in the first world war instead of the Ottomans in 1914?


Thanks in advance for your contributions
Although I am new to this forum, I casually studied the Medieval era and found it to be extremely interesting. The Byzantines or Romans interested me as this anomaly I never heard of , since the history textbooks were not always of the good type. Almost nothing about them. I was mainly interested due to the Greek and Roman connection, but there's just so much information about this period that could have gone differently.

The Romans would have to face several hurdles and not manage to mess anything up with the West or the Further East. The most realistic scenario for long term survival is basically acknowledge that the West is its own entity, that expansion could only occur within simialr cultural bounds. Basically, they would need to keep on talking and writing in Latin.


Quote:
First off, the Empire should have enforced Latin language as the lingua franca of the empire. One of the major caveats of latter Byzantine relations involves the lack of a common tongue. Making Greek the language of the Empire solidified that would be isolated from their Western neighbors. One of the main reasons why the schism happened was due to the language and cultural differences, which if Latin were adopted as the lingua franca, would be more minimal.

Quote:
Second, we need to break it down to the first element. Justinian's reconquest of Italy, North Africa and Spain. Instead of focusing on administration and maintaining the current borders to be in the Eastern half, Justinian's military campaigns have been said to have been only good in the short term. Not only that, but it demolished preexisting infrastructure Due to this military campaign, the Empire lost them anyways in the next century and would lose even more in the one after that. And it created bad memories with the local populace.


Instead, Justinian should have went Eastern. Middle East. That was and would be the cause for many of the wars which withheld and eventually fell the Empire. Not just military conquest, but economic like the Carthaginian method. Make the Arabs of the region satiated with Roman wealth and gradually assimilate them somehow in the Empire. Perhaps as client states which are merely glorified bases, as well as providing favorable returns to Persian wealth. Establishing formal connections with the Ethiopian Empire would be a must, connecting the two in some political alliance via marriage and favorable trade agreements to make them submit.

The major threat to the Byzantine Empire of the sixth century before the dawn of Islam was Persia. The key to eliminating them is to force Persia to fight a two sided war. That is, for having Arab proxies fighting from the one side while on the other, the Romans come through in the attack, converging on Persian territory to a defeat. Even if Persia was defeated, I highly doubt Persia or the Near East could have been held by the Byzantines, since in our timeline, the Persians fell. So perhaps any expansion for the Byzantines would have been a lose-lose scenario.Unless said expansion was in the right regions.

Hoping that the Empire hasn't faced an incompetent emperor, the Empire might have a chance of keeping its own lands while perhaps a common enemy would soften tensions between the rival powers to overcome the rebel Arab tribes. If Persia still falls, assuming if Ethiopia developed a navy based on contact with the Romans, could attack from that one end. Or Ethiopia could fall to becoming a trade-centric state like Venice and use naval power, maybe becoming the Empire of the South in practice? This is just mere conjecture as I know sparsely about Ethiopia in this era.

However, the political situation depends on the Byzantine's treatment of North African territories. If they mistreat the Egyptians and other powers, they might see it temporarily as a preferable measure to being with Constantinople. If Ethiopia is a growing local power, then I can see them instead looking towards the South. Depending on if Ethiopia can send in help, Egypt could become an independent state like the other North African states. And with a Southernmost bulwark as well as a Northern one, Islam might be restricted to coastal regions and Sub-Saharan Africa. But if history plays out similarly, then it would be as divided as it is in the present.

In all by the eighth century, Ethiopia would be a rival power alongside Egypt, a surviving Persia [I doubt the Sassanids survive but let's play that scenario for a bit] and a Middle East that's more or less tumultuous with them squabbling like the equivalent of the European states during the colonial era. However though.... Buddhism might catch on in Persia and so spread in their Western territories, allowing the religion to have more formal exposure than in our current timeline. The minor Persian religions might be erased because in a survived Persia, they could instead adopt the Christian religion.

In this kind of scenario, Persia and Byzantium would be like France and Britain. Many of the threats that exist would still hamr Western Eurasia, and likely, the Crusades would have happened [because I doubt that the Byzantine Empire could ever hold on that land due to the Islamic Expansion.] and the Seljuk Turks would have posed a threat to both Persians and Byzantines. The only difference is that there is a Middle East that is pluralistic.

But I doubt the Roman Empire would have lasted much after 1453 without major changes to the politics of the area. The biggest reason why China lasted for so long dynasty after dynasty is because they were at a better area geographically. Everything and everyone was inland. Culturally, they weren't impressive after Zheng He's fleets were disbanded and kept going inward without advances. They had stability in place of dynamism and competition. It made Chinese society weaker to the Mongols, but they were protected up right until the 18th century from outside forces.

And even then, they made the invaders conform to their beliefs. Had the Byzantine Empire done that with its invaders and assimilated them in the same zeal, they might have existed today. If the Byzantine Empire was in a stabler area, they would have survived. As a catch, though, the Greco Roman civilization would be incredibly vulnerable to modern forces outside of it. Had they been as stable in that respect instead of changing dynasties every two centuries, they would have had a shot.

However, a Byzantine Empire today would not exist. European forces such as nationalism would have sparked zeal of becoming independent and more modernized like the West. Going by the Ottoman history, the Empire had by the 19th century became a backwater that was too weak. The Ottoman Empire is the closest equivalent we have to a Roman Empire in the present, and they fell downwards. The kudos they have is that they didn't switch dynasties and controlled all of the previous Byzantine territories, and much of the Middle East.

While some might contest that they are not the Roman Empire, which does go towards destroying the tombs of all the Caesars, but they had as much of a right as Moscow or the Spanish [which today owns the meaningless title after one of the emperors sold it].

But such speculation is hard to fall behind.

Now moving to the third thing that needs to happen. This takes place in an era similar to our own. Muslims and Christians are warring and the ones in the seas are kind of losing. However , due to a stronger Ethiopian power with Egypt as a client state to the North, its naval power minimizes some of the damage. To keep it realistic, the Muslims get the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily, and some areas of North Africa that the expansionist Ethiopians want to grab. The Byzantines don't suffer as much damages to their land-holdings other than Egypt, which is now been held by Kemet/Copt Kingdom/Empire for centuries .

Quote:
The Easterners need to interact with the West. In military and diplomacy. The original issue stems from the conflict over who should be considered the Emperor of the West. The Pope believes he has the power to make one , while the East disagrees. For this one, the Byzantines are going to have to cede that legal right. Maybe it was a few centuries earlier than Charlemagne, due to Theodoric's dynasty becoming more and more assimilated. By ceding that right of succession to the Pope and waiving control of the Western sphere to political reality, the Byzantine Empire can create valuable allies in the West rather than ruffling feathers.

By taking this further, one of the surest ways that they could hold stable power for the longer term by marrying their princes and princesses to the West and vice versa, as it was with local powers. Otto III was going to marry a Byzantine princess, and maybe in some way this vital connection of the two Romes would make the Crusades go differently. Less snobbishness from the Byzantines being more supportive of the Crusaders would lower the chance of a 1204 event.

But even then, there are the Turks, and then, the Mongols. Perhaps the Mongols and Turks would break up the Near East.


If the time was kept like ours, the only thing that needs to happen is to never disband the Navy. That was the hugest nail in the coffin for the Byzantine Empire as the entire navy went to the Ottomans for jobs. And for that to happen, the Palailogos never attain power or they maintain the navy. And perhaps just settle all differences with the Catholic Chruch even if you have to put down revolts from the populace. Because in this timeline, realistically, the Empire was in hard shape and needed the help.
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Old November 16th, 2015, 06:22 AM   #13
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I tend to think the Byzantines would have held out to modern times.
The fact is even after Manzikert the Empire was still holding together. The interior of Anatolia wasn't critical to the economy of the state and the population of Constantinople up to 1200 is estimated to be up to 500,000 in size. It was still a trade and economic power that had the wealth to recover from military defeats.

So long as the Byzantine navy would be more than able of holding the sea passes into the Bosphorus and as long as a reasonable army was maintained the Theodossian Walls were more than capable of protecting the city from any adversary in the middle-ages. If the Byzantines were able to prevent Venice from getting too much control over the trade routes they should be able to maintain sufficient income to finance the expenditures of the state.

Ultimately the city was only lost to intrigue and I think that highlights where the main weaknesses of the state were.
I suspect that the perception of Constantinople as the eternal city protected by the Virgin Mary that could never be conquered possibly made the aristocracy and emperors overconfident and arrogant - consequently they probably spent too much time indulging in the luxuries of the palaces and decadency.
That most likely led to the decline in quality of the administration of the themes and border fortresses.
They also treated Western Europeans as uncivilized barbarians which was partly true but those Kingdoms and Republics were modernising quickly and were getting to the stage where they could rival Byzantium not just in military strength but also in technology, economy and trade. That elitist attitude did Byzantium no favors and made it reactive instead of proactive to economic and technological changes in the middle-ages.

The other long term danger imo was the increasing ritualisation and totalitarian nature of the court. The political ideology in Byzantium seemed to grow closer and closer to ancient China and further away from the more flexible and dynamic political structures that defined classical Greece & Rome and were re-emerging in Western Europe.
I'm sure it's no coincidence that the most successful emperors of middle-Byzantium were the soldier Emperors who instead of lazing about the Palace, were in the field leading their armies to victory. The emperors that had the respect and loyalty of the army were able to use that leverage to curb the power of the aristocracy and church - thus spreading the balance of power & wealth without the risk of a political coup.

Basil 2 followed this style of leadership and again it's probably no surprise the Empire expanded greatly during his reign. Even then though I think the failure of Basil 2 was not restructuring the political system, laws and administration to ensure that a capable successor would rule. And indeed his successors poor administration lost any respect they had in the recently conquered Bulgaria - essentially undoing any chance the Byzantines had of fully assimilating the Bulgars into the Empire.

There does seem to be a notable difference in quality between the Emperors of the Byzantine period in contrast to the Emperors of Rome and stretching back earlier to Alexander the Great and Ptolemy. The difference is that the great rulers of classical Greece and Rome were brilliant at both military campaigning and administration. In Byzantium it's very rare to see an example of both - and usually one is at the expense of the other. I wonder if that phenomena is more apparent the longer an Empire lasts - does the quality of leaders decline relative to the age of state which inevitably becomes more and more bureaucratised and corrupt, and simply becomes unable to produce quality, dynamic rulers???
New and resurgent powers at this time for eg. Franks, Venice, Turks etc... hadn't fallen into the pitfall of administration and were able to adapt themselves more readily to the challenges they faced in the world around them - the Byzantines in contrast were clinging to an obsolete ideology that Constantine introduced - One God, One Emperor, One Empire which realistically should have been abandoned after Justinian.

I mean could you imagine what Augustus, Trajan, Tiberius or even Constantine would say if they saw what Justinian did in causing a major schism between the monophysites and Chalcedonians (disregard the fact that those earlier emperors were pagans for now) or the Iconoclastic purges! Letting the classical scholarship and philosophy be replaced by civil war over various beliefs in icons! Despite what people say about Byzantine society being relatively educated and literate - the fact that these arguments even had to occur demonstrates just how much of the classical philosophical tradition middle-Byzantium had lost.

The earlier Emperors did actually uphold the integrity and image of the State - respecting the rights of Roman Citizens and not trashing the integrity of the state with pathetic religious quarrels. Even though those emperors lapsed into tyranny at times they still held themselves as the chief public servant who's job was to serve the interests of the State of Rome. (This attitude to government can be traced back to the republic and contrasts to the Kings of Persia or Emperors of China that saw themselves almost as Diety's
Even Diocletian who changed the face of the Administration into a much more Oriental System still had the integrity to abdicate from the throne as a symbol of trusting the State to be able to manage without him as Emperor - Essentially casting a vote in support of the system and against selfish politics which underpinned the 3rd century crisis.

Despite these setbacks I still think the Empire would have survived (if the 1204 sack had not occurred) purely because of the strategic position of Constantinople - so long as the rulers had some competency in running the state. But that is a big IF - the problem with Byzantium was that Constantinople bred the type of people that would make terrible rulers, and couldn't govern effectively in a world that was much more unstable and dangerous than the Emperors of antiquity faced.
In Western Europe I think it was a bit different - the palaces of the royal families weren't so far removed from the peasantry so the nobility were more aware of the dangers of the outside world.

Back to Byzantium - ask this - despite the resurgent wealth of the Empire in the 9-12th centuries hardly any rulers bothered building new fortified cities - that certainly would have paid off in Anatolia. By and large the Byzantines couldn't match the savage Turkmen in battle but the early Turk invaders had no experience in siege warfare so the Byzantines should have been fortifying the frontiers (regardless of threats) and rebuilding economic cities with strong fortification to make the economy more versatile. That this didn't happen shows that self-interest ruled the Palace.

Last edited by Redaxe; November 16th, 2015 at 06:29 AM.
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Old November 16th, 2015, 07:58 AM   #14

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A very well-reasoned opinion, Redaxe.

I might add that the continued friction between the emperors and their artistocrats had a significant impact on the general security of the empire. The constant taxation issues with the City allowed many aristocrats (the core of defense) to be picked off by the invaders, piecemeal, until they gained strength enough to end the assault and end the empire. Hence I might question how much longer even a 'full strength, better financed" empire could have held out, but certainly longer than it did, to be sure, without the sacking, looting, and depopulation of the City.
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Old November 17th, 2015, 06:37 AM   #15
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A very well-reasoned opinion, Redaxe.

I might add that the continued friction between the emperors and their artistocrats had a significant impact on the general security of the empire. The constant taxation issues with the City allowed many aristocrats (the core of defense) to be picked off by the invaders, piecemeal, until they gained strength enough to end the assault and end the empire. Hence I might question how much longer even a 'full strength, better financed" empire could have held out, but certainly longer than it did, to be sure, without the sacking, looting, and depopulation of the City.
And that I think highlights the danger of having a 1 city focused Empire. If the emperors focused on rebuilding & fortifying the earlier cities that had fallen into ruin like Ephesus, Varna, Nicaea, Sinope etc.... then maybe the Empire would have held together more effectively

The advantage with the position of the Empire is that many regions could be reached by sea so even if a coastal city was put under siege it could theoretically be supplied or reinforced by naval operations.

I'm pretty clueless about the Byzantine aristocracy except that the only real way to curb their power was essentially to win the loyalty and respect of the army - with the army behind the Emperor the aristocracy couldn't really do anything to threaten an Emperor.
And again another common theme that runs through the numerous bad emperors is that many either neglect the military or lose the loyalty of their soldiers.
Justinian's attitude toward the military ended in disaster - and probably contributed to his numerous failures on the Persian front which undid all the work of Anastasius so that by the end of his reign Syria was weakened so badly that he was forced to pay the Persians enormous sums of gold to stop them sacking the Empire - essentially by 560 the pendulum had swung well toward the Persians. Roman gold was essentially paying for the Persian army to hold the Byzantines in tribute - a downward spiral for the Romans that would progressively impoverish their state and enrich Persia - this situation could have been totally avoided.

Maurice (a seemingly genius emperor who made miracles happen out of potential disasters) was otherwise worse in that he was a general so he should have understood the army better than anyone and yet he failed to realise just how fragile the Empire was in 600AD and that the army was the only thing capable of holding the ruined state together.
Rather than letting his captured soldiers be massacred he should have done everything he could to support the welfare of his army - which had a tremendous job to do with trying to stabilise the many collapsing borders on the frontiers.

Last edited by Redaxe; November 17th, 2015 at 06:41 AM.
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Old November 19th, 2015, 10:19 AM   #16

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I believe the best chance the Byzantines would get is by not murdering Alexious IV.

Namely, the crusaders entered the city and did not sack it because they were there to install the "rightful" emperor, which they did(along with his father).

It was not until Alexious was assasinated by...Alexious...that the crusaders and the Byzantines went into free for all and the sack happened.

If the Byzantines kept Alexious IV in power, they would have to pay the Crusaders a lot of money and support their future crusades and most importantly;

They would become catholic.

Now, this would then result in a completely different scenario because Constantinople would then become equally(well, nearly as) important to the crusaders as Jerusalem and thus, the focus of their attempts to "defend" Christendom would inevitably be swerved towards Anatolia.

Without the issues between the Orthodox church and the pope, Europe would surely provide a far greater assistance to the then most glorious Catholic city on Earth.

I seriously doubt that in that case, the Ottomans would even happen, or that Constantinople would ever fall.
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Old November 19th, 2015, 11:43 AM   #17

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Originally Posted by NeutralFellow View Post
I believe the best chance the Byzantines would get is by not murdering Alexious IV.

Namely, the crusaders entered the city and did not sack it because they were there to install the "rightful" emperor, which they did(along with his father).

It was not until Alexious was assasinated by...Alexious...that the crusaders and the Byzantines went into free for all and the sack happened.

If the Byzantines kept Alexious IV in power, they would have to pay the Crusaders a lot of money and support their future crusades and most importantly;

They would become catholic.

Now, this would then result in a completely different scenario because Constantinople would then become equally(well, nearly as) important to the crusaders as Jerusalem and thus, the focus of their attempts to "defend" Christendom would inevitably be swerved towards Anatolia.

Without the issues between the Orthodox church and the pope, Europe would surely provide a far greater assistance to the then most glorious Catholic city on Earth.

I seriously doubt that in that case, the Ottomans would even happen, or that Constantinople would ever fall.
Many times I ''admire'' how in history books mostly of local origin, Alexius and his family considered so incapable, stupid and evil, before the presentation of their exile and murder, I admire how they still try like good christians to justify everything evil that happened there, from the treason of Scholarius in 1453 to the slain of Alexius in 1202 and the slaughter of the latins 20 years earlier than that, all caused by the same Abrahamic bigotry. Another answer of mine in the original question of this thread is the same as yours ''the slaying of the alexius'' but is just a significant event, the real reasons are older , it's an overall corruption and degeneration traced back to the schism of the churches and further in iconoclasm. I believe the enforcement of iconoclasm is the beginning of the degeneration, and the murder of Alexius the end of the empire, everything else after that was irreversible.

Last edited by skapeti; November 19th, 2015 at 11:55 AM.
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Old November 19th, 2015, 12:32 PM   #18

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The Sultanate of Rum pretty much imploded after the Mongol invasion of the 1240s. If the Fourth Crusade had been averted and Byzantium was stronger, it might well be able to use the opportunity to reconquer much or even all of Anatolia.
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Old November 20th, 2015, 03:21 AM   #19

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Originally Posted by NeutralFellow View Post
I believe the best chance the Byzantines would get is by not murdering Alexious IV.

Namely, the crusaders entered the city and did not sack it because they were there to install the "rightful" emperor, which they did(along with his father).

It was not until Alexious was assasinated by...Alexious...that the crusaders and the Byzantines went into free for all and the sack happened.

If the Byzantines kept Alexious IV in power, they would have to pay the Crusaders a lot of money and support their future crusades and most importantly;

They would become catholic.

Now, this would then result in a completely different scenario because Constantinople would then become equally(well, nearly as) important to the crusaders as Jerusalem and thus, the focus of their attempts to "defend" Christendom would inevitably be swerved towards Anatolia.

Without the issues between the Orthodox church and the pope, Europe would surely provide a far greater assistance to the then most glorious Catholic city on Earth.

I seriously doubt that in that case, the Ottomans would even happen, or that Constantinople would ever fall.
Given that the Orthodox, then AND now, still consider themselves to be THE Catholic Church that whole pope-thing looses credence. That, plus the fact that the popes had little influence on the monarch's of the west (who all promised aid as long as one or another or ALL of the rest did), renders this moot. The east may have asked for crusades; what it got was definitely not what it wanted, or needed in any event.
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Old November 20th, 2015, 03:33 AM   #20

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Given that the Orthodox, then AND now, still consider themselves to be THE Catholic Church that whole pope-thing looses credence.
What?

Alexios IV promised to bring the Orthodox church under the authority of the pope as part of the agreement with the crusaders in return for them putting him back on the throne and reinstating his dethroned father.

If he stayed in power and if the crusaders stayed in influence, it surely might have happened.


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That, plus the fact that the popes had little influence on the monarch's of the west (who all promised aid as long as one or another or ALL of the rest did), renders this moot.
What are you talking about?
That is complete nonsense.

Nearly every crusade was done by individual leaders and armies that volunteered on their own expense.

What do you think the crusades on Nicopolis and "The Long Campaign" were if not to liberate the Balkans and the Byzantines from the Ottoman yoke?


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The east may have asked for crusades; what it got was definitely not what it wanted, or needed in any event.
Or needed?

You do realize that they were wiped off map never to be seen again?
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