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22 February, 2020
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3. History of Civilization (3.11-3.12)

3.11    Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire is truly an interesting Empire in history. My guess is that if we would dig deeper into its soul we would find solutions too many of the modern civilizations ethnic and moral problems. One can generalize and say that the Byzantine Empire merged together by the best parts of West (Mainly meaning Christianity), the best parts from the East (Islam, Muslims) along with the ancient Greek and Macedonian thoughts of nature, science and philosophy.

As the years passed, since Roman Emperor Constantine founded the Empire in 330, it looked less like the Roman Empire. The Empire covered Greece, the Balkans, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt and by the 7th century Greek had completely replaced Latin as the language of the Empire. The Byzantine emperors still thought of themselves as the successors of Caesar Augustus, but over the years Roman influence gradually disappeared.

Within the Byzantine Empire old Greek ideas flourished which led to a multi-ethnic Empire which over bridged between religious boarders. In the 11th century Byzantine Empire experience large numbers of Turkish immigrants that recently had become Muslims.

Some historians say the Byzantine Emperor feared Muslims would soon overpower his Christian Empire and therefore he asked the leader of the Christian Church to assist in a holy war against the Turks. However, there are other historians who say that the Roman Catholic Church saw the increasing Byzantine Empire as a threat and therefore launched a holy war. The latter seems more likely as the Russian Orthodox Catholic Patriarch and Roman Catholic Pope had mutually excommunicated each other in 1054. This excommunication would be active as late as to the mid 20th century.

In year 1095, Pope Urban II launched the first of many Crusades. This one was aimed to free Byzantine Empire from the Muslim threat and possibly also from the Orthodox Catholics. Soldiers from Western Europe, for the first time ever, left their homes to free the Byzantine Empire from the threat. It was this initiative who exposed new and different cultures before the travelers that later would lead to the “Renaissance”.

3.11.1    Roman Catholic’s attacks Orthodox Catholic Church?

Roman Catholic Crusaders conquered Constantinople in the year 1204. This must be mapped together with the establishment of Orthodox Church in Russia about two centuries before. One can wonder, was the establishment in Russia a way to flee from the Roman Catholic threat? Turks eventually conquered the whole Byzantine Empire in 1543 and made it a part of their “Ottoman Empire”. Constantinople is today more known as Istanbul, Turkey.

3.12    The Vikings

 The Vikings

Viking Expeditions

First let’s sort out things about the word “Viking”. It is commonly known to derive from the Scandinavian word “vik”, meaning “bay”, “creek” or “inlet” and may be related to naval pirates who attacked settlements in such areas. But as the definition is unknown, I would add my own, based my interpretation of Viking history. I suggest that the word “Viking” is based on the expression: “Vi kings” and would today be translated to “We, the kings” or “We are your kings”. My conclusion is based on the old Germanic word “King” meaning a mixture of ruler, war leader, judge, priest and the word “Vi” which is the Scandinavian word for the English “we”, which it also seems to be the origin to. I suggest that the Vikings became know as what they expressed during their conquests.

In general Scandinavians is referred to as “Norse” and possibly feared the Vikings as much as any other settlement around the shores of northern Europe. Norse settlements around the Baltic Sea were focused on farming, fishing, hunting and of course trading. It seems like it’s the trade expeditions and foreign settlements that later, in the 18th century, related Scandinavians with the word “Viking” and a more peaceful nature. Generally speaking, the Norwegians expanded to the north and west, the Danes to England, settling in the Danelaw, and the Swedes, (called the Rus) to the east.



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