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Hagia Sophia built by Emperor Constantine of the Byzantine Empire. Source: feferoni  / Adobe Stock.

A Millennium of Glory: The Rise and Fall of the Byzantine Empire

Late antiquity was one of the most dramatic periods in our history – a turbulent time in which nations and peoples rose and fell, vying for power and territory in a merciless fight for prominence...
Modern Representation of a Varangian Guard.

Varangian Guard: Bodyguards and Berserkers of the Byzantine Empire

Read Part 1 The tale of the Varangians continues in its prime in the form of the Varangian Guard, a prominent and selective Byzantine army arising in the 10th century. Composed of the Scandinavian...
Quedlinburg Castle and Monastery, Quedlinburg, Germany where the Annals of Quedlinburg were written.

The Annals of Quedlinburg: Rare Example of Female Scholarship in Medieval Europe

Mention medieval scholarship , and the first image that most people will have would probably be that of a monk with a quill in his hand and an open book before him. The most well-known scholars of...
Komnenian Dynasty mosaic in the Hagia Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey. The Virgin Mary and baby Jesus are flanked by John II Komnenos and his wife, Irene of Hungary.

The Komnenian Dynasty: The Byzantine Royal Family that Kept Coming Back

The Komnenos (also spelled as Comnenus) family was a medieval noble family from Paphlagonia, Anatolia, in modern day Turkey. During the 11th century, the Komnenian Dynasty was founded. This dynasty...
The Fall of Constantinople

The Fall of Constantinople: Relentless Ottoman Fire Power Finally Pulverizes the Last Vestiges of the Roman Empire

Constantinople stood against sieges and attacks for many centuries, until finally new technology—the big cannons of the Ottoman Empire—brought down the Byzantine Empire’s capital. The fall of...
A miniature depicting the defeat of the Georgian king George I ("Georgios of Abasgia") by the Byzantine emperor Basil II. Skylitzes Matritensis, fol. 195v.

Byzantine Basil II: He Took an Icon of the Virgin into Battle Then Gouged Out the Eyes of Foes

The horrors and mass slaughters that many monarchs around the world perpetrated in ancient and more modern times may be eclipsed by the Byzantines, including Byzantine Emperor Basil II, known as...
The Hagia Sophia, an iconic work of architecture that housed many iconic works of art.

How Byzantine Art and Architecture Captivated the Known World

The rich, beautiful art and opulent architecture of the Byzantine Empire glorified Jesus, the saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the emperors. Byzantine art motifs, the mosaics, paintings, and...
Heraclius is depicted beheading Choroses, the Persian king as Cherubim angels look on.

Wild Success and Deplorable Failure: The Cursed Reign of Heraclius, Byzantine Emperor

The reign of Heraclius, the Byzantine emperor from 610 to 641, reads like a series of disasters that continued to be visited on his heirs. In between the disasters he had some successes, but he and...
Detail; The entry of Sultan Mehmed II into Constantinople, painting by Fausto Zonaro (1854-1929)

Orban’s Colossal Cannon: Holding a Tiger by the Tail – Part II

Sultan Mehmed II was so pleased with Orban’s massive, destructive cannon that he wanted another twice its size! Orban headed back to his foundry in Edirne (Adrianople) acquiring more timber and...
From Papyrus to Parchment: The Imperial Library of Constantinople

From Papyrus to Parchment: The Imperial Library of Constantinople

Many years after the destruction of the great libraries of the ancient world, such as the libraries of Pergamum and Alexandria, the Imperial Library of Constantinople preserved precious Ancient Greek...
Illustration of Godfrey of Bouillon (central figure) from William of Tyre's Histoire d'Outremer, in the care of the British Museum.

Godfrey of Bouillon: Leader in the First Crusades and Ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem

Godfrey of Bouillon was a medieval Frankish nobleman best known for his role as one of the main leaders during the First Crusade. As a consequence of this successful military expedition to the Holy...
What is in that Reliquary? Trying to Find the True Cross

What is in that Reliquary? Trying to Find the True Cross

The cross of Jesus is one of the most important objects in Christianity and there are many reliquaries around the world which are believed to contain a piece of the cross. The most famous one is...
The Invitation of the Varangians.

Tracing the Paths of the Vikings Through Their Graffiti

One of the things that the Vikings are renowned for is their seafaring abilities. As a result of their expertise in this field, the Vikings were able to travel around Europe (and beyond) via various...
Illustration of Godfrey of Bouillon (central figure) from William of Tyre's Histoire d'Outremer, in the care of the British Museum.

Godfrey of Bouillon: Leader in the First Crusades and Ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem

Godfrey of Bouillon was a medieval Frankish nobleman best known for his role as one of the main leaders during the First Crusade. As a consequence of this successful military expedition to the Holy...
Rosa Solymanni uxor. (16th century).

Hurrem Sultan, the Cheerful Rose of Suleiman I and a Powerful Woman of the Ottoman Empire

Hürrem Sultan appeared in Topkapi Palace as a slave, but in a very short time she became one the most influential women of the Ottoman Empire. The name Hürrem was given her by the Sultan Suleiman I,...
Hagia Sophia at dusk

Secrets of the Hagia Sophia - Healing Powers, Mysterious Mosaics and Holy Relics

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul has a very long history. It has survived earthquakes, religious power struggles, and has been a church (basilica), a mosque and is now a museum. It is known as the...

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