- Jul 2018
- United States
I love finding those ridiculous, or heroic, dramatic, etc. stories in history that are so perfect you'd find it hard to believe if you first encountered it in a movie. Any to share?
great anecdote, thanksI think the following notice in Zosimus (1.71.2) could be the basis for a pretty out-there movie: 'But the Franks having applied to the emperor (Probus), and having a country given to them, a part of them afterwards revolted, and having collected a great number of ships, disturbed all Greece; from whence they proceeded into Sicily, to Syracuse, which they attacked, and killed many people there. At length they arrived in Africa, whence though they were repulsed by a body of men from Carthage, yet they returned home without any great loss.'
Based on the logic of what Zosimus briefly tells us, one can create the following narrative: Probus campaigns against various Frankish bands who are crossing the Rhine into Gaul (he did indeed defeat a Frankish incursion into Gaul). A group of Franks, perhaps defeated by the Romans or perhaps escaping rival Franks, apply to Probus for resettlement. Probus settles them on the shores of the Black Sea to farm land recently destroyed by the Goths (who had been raiding the area in recent times) and perhaps where they can be easily recruited should a new Gothic incursion occur. For whatever reason, the Franks rebel, and they seize ships at a Black Sea port. Their opportunistic adventure takes them to Greece, then Sicily, and then Africa, and they manage to avoid capture and/or destruction, despite a setback in Carthage. They then go through the Straits of Gibraltar into the Atlantic, and they travel along the Spanish and Gallic coasts, passing through the English Channel. Finally, they make it to the mouth of the Rhine. Avoiding the Roman camps, they make their way east and return to their homeland.
The Turkish prisoners begged to be allowed to return to the Ottoman lines, otherwise, they said, Mehmed would execute them as traitors. Constantine relented and let the men go.
Constantine was now compelled to acknowledge the hard truth of the situation. He drafted a message of defiance for Mehmed: Since you have preferred war to peace and I can call you back to peace neither with oaths or pleas, then follow your own will. I take refuge in God. If He has decreed and decided to hand over this city to you, who can contradict Him or prevent it? If He instills the idea of peace in your mind, I would gladly agree. For the moment, now that you have broken the treaties to which I am bound by oath, let these be dissolved. Henceforth I will keep the city gates closed. I will fight for the inhabitants with all my strength.
Constantine's hopes were now fixed on Venice sending a fleet to break the blockade. Minotto, the chief Venetian official in the city, had sent an appeal three months earlier, but there was still no sign of a relief fleet. Just before midnight on 3 May, a Venetian ship, disguising itself as a Turkish vessel, slipped out of the Golden Horn. It returned twenty days later with crushing news: they had scouted the Dardanelles and the Aegean and seen no sign of a Venetian fleet. The men had nonetheless decided to return to Constantinople to report the news, even though it meant they would probably share the city's doom. Constantine tearfully thanked each one of the crew for their service.
At sunset, as the shadows lengthened across the city, people came out of their homes spontaneously, and converged on the Hagia Sofia for vespers. The church, darkened for nearly five months, was again ablaze with golden light. Old hatreds were put aside as Orthodox and Catholic bishops sang the liturgy together. Constantine arrived late for the service, entering the narthex through the Imperial Gate. Trembling with emotion, he took the holy sacrament, fell to his knees and begged God for forgiveness for his sons. The emperor then drew himself up, bowed respectfully to everyone present, and strode out of the church. As he departed, a terrible cry of anguish went up from the congregation.
- Ghost Empire by Richard Fidler, p. 387-429The emperor dashed back and forth, desperately trying to rally his fleeing soldiers, but the frantic Romans fell over each other in a panic, fighting to get out the small gate with the enemy almost on top of them. The crush of Roman soldiers blocked up the doorway, trapping the rest inside the killing zone. The horn blasts, cheers and screams were deafening now. Constantine, seeing that his city was lost, resolved not to flee, but to die at the walls.... One account records that the emperor tore off his imperial insignia, drew his sword, ran into the melee and was never seen again.... Constantine's long struggle was over. The last of the Roman emperors was dead.
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