The Umayyads conquer Constantinople in 717

Kirialax

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Dec 2009
4,899
Blachernai
The later decades of the seventh century and the early eighth century was a formative period for the Umayyads, who began to make an effort to distinguish themselves from the people they ruled. Islamization was extremely thin on the ground, and many of the elites may not have known or cared a whole lot about it, and some outsiders saw it as a Christian heresy. The Umayyads made efforts to put their conquering troops in garrison cities to keep them from assimilating into the local population. The capital at Damascus was likely selected to provide access for the rulers to the desert world and the Mediterranean, and Umayyad art is clearly part of the Mediterranean world, as the Great Mosque in Damascus or the hunting lodge at Qusayr' Amra demonstrate. Under Abd al-Malik and the Marwanids we see further effort at Islamic distinction in coinage, rulership, and religious codification, but only serves to indicate just how much early Islam is part of the late antique Mediterranean world. Given these trends, what happens if the Umayyads take Constantinople? Does the geographical focus of their empire shift? Do the conquerors become culturally conquered?


*Not in speculative history because this is how you do a counter-factual, kids. It's not really about the speculation, but a means to examine prevailing trends at the time. And for all that's good, if I hear the word "Europe"...
 

Maki

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Jan 2017
3,667
Republika Srpska
I think Balkan Slavs accept Islam eventually. Maybe not under the Arab supremacist Umayyads, but later definitely. And the Byzantine Empire pretty much ends.
 
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Maki

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Jan 2017
3,667
Republika Srpska
Okay, the 654 siege succeeds. Mu'awiya sits on the throne of the Caesars. Now what?
The Byzantines were still holding to the parts of North Africa at the time so they would not be totally out of the game, but I don't see how they would be able to do anything. It would be ironic at least that the last remnant of the Roman Empire would be centered in the city that was Rome's greatest rival.
 

JoanOfArc007

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
3,913
USA
The later decades of the seventh century and the early eighth century was a formative period for the Umayyads, who began to make an effort to distinguish themselves from the people they ruled. Islamization was extremely thin on the ground, and many of the elites may not have known or cared a whole lot about it, and some outsiders saw it as a Christian heresy. The Umayyads made efforts to put their conquering troops in garrison cities to keep them from assimilating into the local population. The capital at Damascus was likely selected to provide access for the rulers to the desert world and the Mediterranean, and Umayyad art is clearly part of the Mediterranean world, as the Great Mosque in Damascus or the hunting lodge at Qusayr' Amra demonstrate. Under Abd al-Malik and the Marwanids we see further effort at Islamic distinction in coinage, rulership, and religious codification, but only serves to indicate just how much early Islam is part of the late antique Mediterranean world. Given these trends, what happens if the Umayyads take Constantinople? Does the geographical focus of their empire shift? Do the conquerors become culturally conquered?


*Not in speculative history because this is how you do a counter-factual, kids. It's not really about the speculation, but a means to examine prevailing trends at the time. And for all that's good, if I hear the word "Europe"...
Do you know the numbers on each side wrt the Siege of Constantinople?

Siege of Constantinople (717–718) - Wikipedia

Wiki says that the Byzantines were severely outnumbered but still won the decisive battle. What are your thoughts on the numbers provided by wiki?
 
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Futurist

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May 2014
22,461
SoCal
The Byzantines were still holding to the parts of North Africa at the time so they would not be totally out of the game, but I don't see how they would be able to do anything. It would be ironic at least that the last remnant of the Roman Empire would be centered in the city that was Rome's greatest rival.
TBH, though, I really don't see the Byzantines permanently holding onto North Africa in this scenario unless they are able to successfully relocate a lot of their troops from Anatolia and Constantinople to North Africa.
 
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At Each Kilometer

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
4,018
Bulgaria
I presume in order second siege to succeed you need to remove Greek fire from this speculative scenario, because Umayyad fleet suffered greatly because of it. One needs also to erase somehow from this alternative timeline Theodosian Walls because it was impossible for Arabs to penetrate them despite their vast numerical superiority. The winter of 717–718 was very harsh and the attackers suffered greatly because of famine and disease, so it also should be changed. Lastly remove from the equation Tervel and his Bulgars who attacked the Umayyad's rear by land. I guess than Maslama could continue the siege to the bitter end (of eastern Romans).
 
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Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,899
Blachernai
Do you know the numbers on each side wrt the Siege of Constantinople?

Wiki says that the Byzantines were severely outnumbered but still won the decisive battle. What are your thoughts on the numbers provided by wiki?
If we take those as figures for combat troops, then it is dubious at best; Treadgold is taking the numbers of Mas'udi and Theophanes at face value, both of whom wrote well after the event. That the attack was a massive and well-prepared logistical undertaking is clear. It's certainly possible that the Umayyad figures all told were something like 120,000 if we include sailors, shipwrights, ribat troops who never Syria, and logistics personnel. The actual details of the siege itself are muddied, but it seems that Maslama was able to dig a palisade along the Theodosian Walls to encircle the city by land, but was unable to operate too far from his main base, which was somewhere near Hebdomon. This is actually a question that we might be able to take a stab at answering, given that some Umayyad diwans survive, which could then be cross-referenced to later biographical dictionaries to put together a list of individuals who (purportedly) were present and the units they may have commanded. But that's not going to happen because Kirialax doesn't read Arabic, and no one who studies the Umayyads these days does much military history.

The size of the defending force is completely unknown. All we can say with certainly is that the Anatolikon troops were not in the city, and some Arab raiders in the vicinity of Opsikion ran into Byzantine resistance, so at least some of them stayed home. My guess would be that most of the Kibyrrhaiotai troops were assigned to the defense of the city.
 
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Dec 2009
969
UK
Well I think there are already examples of this question.

The Umayyad's Spanish territories in Cordoba etc, as far as I can tell the Umayyad's kept a strong enough cultural identity throughout their time there.

When part of your rule is based in religion and that religion is distinctly Arabic then your going to keep that going as much as possible to consolidate your rule.

The Ottomans aren't even Arabic but as a Muslim faction they kept Islam and the associated culture relatively strong in their courts, despite absorbing lots of Balkan and Anatolian population.

I think Byzantine would of become very similar to Cordoba.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,810
Cornwall
Well I think there are already examples of this question.

The Umayyad's Spanish territories in Cordoba etc, as far as I can tell the Umayyad's kept a strong enough cultural identity throughout their time there.

When part of your rule is based in religion and that religion is distinctly Arabic then your going to keep that going as much as possible to consolidate your rule.

The Ottomans aren't even Arabic but as a Muslim faction they kept Islam and the associated culture relatively strong in their courts, despite absorbing lots of Balkan and Anatolian population.

I think Byzantine would of become very similar to Cordoba.
As Maki said, Arab supremacists. I'll call them Omeyas (Spanish) as it's easier to spell :)

Best way to describe Omeyas in Spain is, I guess as some sort of elitist cult. The connections between the conquest leaders of 711/12 and the intial governors of Cordoba on the one hand and anything post-Abassid in the next 7 or 800 years of arab elitism, are fairly tenuous IMHO - and heavily diluted by the berber clans and Andalusian aristocracy of the Visigoths.

Despite all that their culture impact was indeed remarkable for so few numbers - although I think your average tourist in Spain today is wholly unable to distinguish theirs from that of the Almoravids and Almohads. But that's another story - as they were 'reverse-influenced' by the culture of Al Andalus and it's Omeya roots!!
 
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