Five decisive military defeats of Imperial Rome

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Image Source: Roman legion. Wkimedia Commons. Free Art License

Rome was not built in one day: neither did it fall in one day. The process through which the Roman Empire declined and eventually fell was a long one, going all the way to the fateful day of 29 May 1453 when Constantinople, seat of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Emperor, fell to the army of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II. It wasn’t all decline and fall as imperial power recovered dramatically from time to time but it is impossible to deny the gradual recess of imperial power.

Such a decline was more due in part to state institutions that could…

Byzantium’s surprisingly advanced educational system

The educational system of the Byzantine Empire was in large part that inherited from the Hellenistic/Roman past. During primary schooling, students were initiated in reading and writing while secondary schooling deepened their knowledge. Higher education was to be found in large cities only and from the middle Byzantine period onward almost exclusively in Constantinople and with the initiative of Emperors or high ranking officials.

Despite some initial difficulties in synthesizing the Christian religion with the Pagan literature of antiquity, the Church accepted that the study of the intellectual tradition of the ancient world was to its benefit. …

The defeat of populists by centrism in Greece

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Image Source: Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece’s new Prime Minister. European People’s Party. Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

In an era in which we hear of the electoral success of right-wing and left-wing populists and the political center and establishment politicians are considered discredited by both sides, in Greece a center-right party managed to win the elections: and it did so by quite a margin and by achieving almost 40% of the vote. Whereas traditional conservative parties in much of the West have either been sidelined by right-wing populist ones or have succumbed to such populism themselves, in Greece the traditional party of the right made a comeback under a centrist, (classical) liberal leader espousing a platform of…

Byzantium in Northern Africa

North Africa was under Byzantine control for almost two centuries, a relatively short amount of time for an empire that lasted more than eleven centuries. The region was under the Latin cultural sphere and as such Byzantine influence on North Africa was rather limited. The greatest influence Byzantium had on North Africa was physical rather than cultural, with the construction of many military sites to defend the province and sepulchral mosaics by the noble landowners. On purely cultural matters, Byzantine attempts to impose Orthodoxy caused civilian discontent and conflicts. …

The Rise and Fall of a Hellenistic State

The Seleucid Empire was the largest and most diverse of the successor states to Alexander’s Macedonian Empire. It was able to field a large and powerful army led by Kings who were first and foremost military commanders. The Seleucids managed to dominate Iran for 183 years (312–129 BC), a notable achievement considering the fact that the only uniting force keeping the Empire together was the martial prowess of the Kings. At its height, the Empire had a population equaling almost half of that of Qin Dynasty China. …

The greatest of the Roman Emperors

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Image Source: Constantine the Great. Wikipedia. Public Domain.

Constantine the Great (27 February 272 AD — 22 May 337 AD) is a towering figure in Roman, European and Western history. It is generally true that social and economic conditions are more important than ‘great men’ in shaping history but Constantine was one of the few people who really did shape history. His decisions to create a new imperial capital in the East, Constantinople, and embrace a new religion, Christianity, had momentous consequences for the history of Europe and the world in general.

The Tetrarchy — Constantine’s Early Years

A comparative study of the two great empires of antiquity

Introduction: The rise of Rome and Qin-Han

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Image Source: Locator map for the Roman Empire and the Chinese Han dynasty, c. AD 1. Wikipedia. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The rise of the Roman Republic can in some ways be compared to the rise of the Qin state to prominence. Both were in the western margin of the civilized ecumene (the Greek states and the eastern Chinese states respectively) and were viewed as semi-barbaric. Their geographical position favored a focus on military capability. Both Rome and Qin were militaristic states. Both were able to develop thanks to being shielded by their geographical position from the great powers in the east. Eventually they were able to gain hegemonic power over a large sector of the ecumene, Italy for Rome and…

The Indo-Greek Kings who ruled parts of modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan and India are perhaps the most interesting and yet elusive figures of the Hellenistic World. The Indo-Greek states were a fusion of Greek and Indian traditions, their armies were some of the largest and most able of the Hellenistic era, and their Kings patronized Buddhism and influenced the artistic depiction of Buddha.


Alexander’s conquest of parts of northern India, although fascinating, was short-lived. A later attempt by Seleucus, one of the Macedonian Warlords attempting to carve out a Kingdom of his own, to reassert Greek control over India failed…

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Image Source: Manuscript miniature of Manuel I. Wikipedia Public Domain.

Manuel Komnenos has been a controversial figure, even in his own time. He was hailed for his charisma and military victories but also criticized for being overambitious, overconfident and for his failure at the battle of Myriokephalon. He can be considered however the greatest monarch of the Komnenian period of Byzantium. His ambitions have been overstated and his mistakes were not the main cause of Byzantium’s decline after his death though. During his reign, Byzantium was a strong state that made military gains at the expense of its neighbors.

Byzantium at the Age of the Komnenoi

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Image Source: Zhang Guo Having an Audience with Emperor Tang Xuangzong. Wikipedia. Public Domain.

The Tang Dynasty (618–907) is considered to be China’s golden age. It was a rich, educated and cosmopolitan realm that was well-governed by the standards of the age and expanded its influence in Inner Asia. It saw a flourishing of Chinese poetry and innovation.

Establishment of the Dynasty

China had for centuries been divided. Since the Western Jin Dynasty (265–316) collapsed due to internal infighting and barbarian invasions, much like those that plagued the Roman Empire during that period, China was fractured. There was a succession of dynasties in the North and South. The Sui Dynasty (established in 581) had managed by 589 to…

Christos Antoniadis

Undergraduate university student. Greek. I mainly write on historical subjects but occasionally write essays from a libertarian conservative viewpoint.

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