Κυριακή, 11 Δεκεμβρίου 2011

Greek Conquistadors and explorers in the Spanish army

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, in the hands of the Ottomans many Greeks migrated to European countries. Many of them went to Italy, France, Austria, Russia and Spain. Most of them managed to prosper in various sectors, such as merchants, artists, scholars, soldiers or even officers in foreign armies. Many Greeks migrated to Spain, one of the most famous was El Greco (whose name was Dominikos Theotokopoulos), a great artist and distinguished painter (he is considered as the father of Expressionism). But besides El Greco there were others who even served in the Spanish army. Many of those Greek soldiers were mercenaries, or Condottieri, who helped the Spanish against the Ottomans in many battles. Greek soldiers even traveled to the New world in the 16th century, where they served as shipmasters, sailors, soldiers and especially as artillerymen, conquistadors and explorers. Many of those Greeks knew how to manufacture gunpowder and could operate cannons and firearms.




Don Theodoro Griego

Theodoro Griego was a Greek explorer and conquistador, he was born in the Aegean and later moved into Spain. He then set sailed from the spanish port of Sanlucar de Barrameda and followed Panfilo de Narvaez in his expedition to North America in 1527. He was one of the first Greeks to reach the new continent (America) in the modern era. The expedition sailed from Cuba in 1527 and reached Florida. Narvaez ordered his men to explore Florida and march further to the north, in 1528 they reached the Apalachee, but Narvaez arrogantly attacked the Indians and destroyed their settlements. Soon after they were attacked by the Apalachee warriors and they run out of resources. At that difficult moment Don Theodoro made 5 rafts, using liquid from pines, wood and leather and saved most of his companions. Eventually Don Theodoro Griego was killed searching for water in a nearby Indian settlement. Most of the men who participated in the Narvaez expedition were killed, including Narvaez himself and only 4 survived to tell the story. Today a statue has been erected in Florida in the city of Tampa in honor of this great Greek Conquistador and explorer.




Pedro de Candia

Pedro de candia was born in Crete somewhere in 1485 or 1494 in the Greek city of Candia (Heraclion), he was a Greek conquistador and explorer and his Spanish companions and Spanish archives called him El Griego. Pedro de Candia served in the Spanish army as Condottieri and fought the Turks in many places of the Mediterranean sea and he also participated in various battles in Italy. Later he  married the daughter of a Duke in Spain at Villapando, his descendants became members of the Spanish and Italian nobility. In 1526 he followed Pedro de los Rios to Panama (also known as Tierra Firme). In 1527 he joined the expedition of Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro, who went to explore the lands south of Panama. During that expedition Diego de Almagro and Francisco Pizarro argued, as Almagro wanted to return to Panama to take provisions and reinforcements, while Pizarro refused to return. Pizarro decided to stay in the isla del Gallo and only Pedro de Candia and few men which were called the famous 13 (Los Trece de fama) decided to stay with Pizarro. When Diego de Almagro returned Pizarro and his men joined another expedition to the south. They passed todays Colombia and Equador and reached northern Peru. There Francisco Pizarro sent Pedro de Candia to explore the city of Tumbes. The Greek Conquistador entered alone the Inca city, the indians were astonished by the looks of Pedro de Candia, as he was wearing a shining armor and was very tall and white, with blue eyes and black hair and beard (In fact Pedro de candia was the tallest man amongst the Spaniards). He was then brought infront of
the Inca governor who was very curious of his arquebus and challenged him to prove his might. Pedro de Candia then aimed and fired a wooden tablet which he completely destroyed. As soon as the sound of the firearm was heard some indians screamed and others fell to the ground terrified. The Inca governor then ordered to bring wild beasts (apparently Jaguars) to see what Pedro de Candia would do. Pedro then fired again with his arquebus and the wild beasts approached him and stood calmly by his side. The governor of Tumbes then said to him that he holds the thunder of the sky and made an offering to him, an offer which is made to the gods and especially Illapa the god of thunder! Then the virgin priestesses of the sun god, escorted him to the sun temple of Tumbes. In the city Candia noticed golden and silver leafs and Jewels unprotected and in public in common sight. The gold or the silver for the Indians was of no importance. When Candia returned into the Spaniards he reported all that he had seen in the city and his report, especially about the gold and silver, filled the Spaniards with enthusiasm. Pedro de Candia returned in Spain in 1528-1529 and he was declared a nobleman, commander of the artillery of the Spanish army in Peru and was apointed as mayor of Tumbes. In 1532 the Spanish army with Diego de Almagro and Francisco Pizzaro arrived in Peru again, they conquered Tumbes and marched to the south. The Inca emperor Atahualpa attacked the Spanish army at Cajamarca. During the battle Candia's cannons played an important role in the battle, as the indians had never seen cannons before and had a psychological effect on them. At Cajamarca the Spanish army (only 138 men) managed to beat the Inca army (9000 men) and managed to capture Attahualpa himself. After they captured Cuzco which was the capital of the inca empire, Pizarro killed Atahualpa, although the inca emperor had converted to Christianity and requested to spare his life. Pizarro also apointed Manco Inca as the new emperor of Cuzco. In the years that followed Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro became enemies and in 1538 fought each other in the battle of las Salinas. Pedro de Candia and his cannons gave the victory to Pizarro. After that battle Pedro de Candia had aquired much wealth and he even had his own army of about 300 men. In 1538 he decided to make an expedition east of Cuzco with his men, in search of a mythical kingdom similar to El Dorado which was called Ambaya and according to the indians, it was full of riches (It should be noted that gold for the indians was not a sign of wealth). Pedro de Candia had learnt of the existance of that kingdom, as he had friendly relations with the native indians and he even had one son with an Indian woman. Candia and his army travelled EAST of Cuzco and entered a dangerous jungle in an area called today as Madre de Dios. The jungle was an unfriendly enviroment for Candias men, and it was also habited by fierce indian tribes which were also practising cannibalism. Facing the indian attacks in the jungle and mistrust by his men he decided to return to Cuzco. In the following years Francico Pizarro was assassinated by Diego the son of Almagro. War broke out in 1542 between Almagro the younger and the brothers of Pizarro. Pedro de Candia and his men this time joined the forces of Almagro. Amongst Candia's men there were many Greeks under his command, 16 of them were engineers who could operate and create cannons and gunpowder. From the other side were also 4 or 5 Greeks in the army of the Pizarro brothers. Almagro and Candia met the forces of the Pizarro brothers at a place called Chupas.  Almagro's men before the battle discovered one letter which was sent for Candia by the Pizarro brothers that talked to him to betray Almagro. The letter never came in the hands of Candia, although in the battle of Chupas, Candia and his Greek artillery men performed very badly, something that Diego Almagro the younger recieved as treachery. As the battle was lost Almagro run with anger against Candia and killed him with his own hands. Very soon Almagro was killed as he tried to find refuge in the walls of Cuzco. This was the end of one of the greatest Conquistadors and explorers of the New world.


Map of Pizarro's conquest of Peru.



Jorge Griego

Jorge Griego (George the Greek) was a Greek Conquistador, he was born in Greece in 1504 and followed his Greek friend Pedro de Candia, who was a Conquistador and commander of the artillery, he went in Spain and then to Panama and Peru. Jorge Griego served in the spanish army in Peru as a footman. In 1532 under the command of Francisco Pizarro he participated in the battle of Cajamarca, where the much less Spanish army (probably 138 men) managed to beat the overwhelming Inca army (9000 men) of the Inca emperor Atahualpa. In Cuzco, Jorge received his share from the Inca treasures. He was later appointed as an encomendero in the city of Jauja in Peru. In later years he moved into Lima (where he had a large estate) and participated in 1544 and 1545 in the campaigns of Blasco Nunez Vela and of Pedro de la Gasca. Although it wasn't his profession he manufactured large quantities of gunpowder for the Spanish army. Finally Jorge Griego after 1545 went back to Spain and settled in the city of Seville in the district of Triana.







Juan Griego (Philippines 1571)

Another Greek conquistador appears during the Spanish conquest of the Philippines. During the campaign of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi a Greek conquistador named Juan Griego follows Legazpi and for his services he becomes an encomendero (land lord) in the island of Mindanao. His encomienda included many lands of northern Mindanao, however in 1572 Legazpi recalled this encomienda because the Spanish forces did not effectively controlled the area.
Spanish map of the island Mindanao 17th century















Juan Griego 1514-1560

Juan Griego was another Greek conquistador who served in the Spanish army.  After having spent 5 years in  the far indies he went to Santo Dominigo in 1514 and in 1518 he went to Cuba. He became a member of the Cortez entrada and after the capture of Tenochtitlan he went to Guatemala. He returned to Mexico (New Spain) and was finally assigned as an encomendero of the province of Atoyaquillo until his death in 1560. It should also be clarified that Juan Griego the encomendero of Atoyaquillo shouldnt not be confused with Juan Griego the encomendero of the Mindanao province. The name Juan or John (Ioannes in Greek) was a common name amongst the Greek population and many Greeks had that name.




Juan de Fuca

Juan de Fuca was a Greek explorer under the services of the Spanish empire. Juan de Fuca was either called Ioannis Fokas or Apostolos Valerianos. Juan de Fuca was born in the Greek island of Kefalonia in 1536, he later offered his services to the Spanish empire. In 1587 he arrived in New Spain (todays Mexico) and began to travel as a maritime pilot from Mexico to the Philippines and China. His Galleon though santa Anna was attacked by an English ship and was sunk near California. Juan de Fuca survived but he lost all of his fortune. In 1592 the viceroy of New Spain Luis de Velasco ordered him to undertake a journey in an effort to explore the fabled strait of Anian (todays Vancouver). In his first journey he joined the Spanish expedition of 3 ships under the overall command of a Spanish captain. The journey was a failure because of a mutiny and returned to California. In the second journey he lead the expedition with one Galleon and armed marines. He began his journey from Acapulco and went far to the north and finally he found the strait of Anian. Juan de Fuca returned to Acapulco and described the latitude and the geographical composition of the strait. Juan de Fuca never recieved his payment for his services and after two years having not been rewarded by viceroy Velasco, Juan went on to Spain. The old Greek explorer never received his payment in 1596 he decided to return to Kefalonia his homeland. But he met an Englishman, Michael Lok who recorded the journeys of Juan de Fuca and tried to convince the old explorer to join the English navy. Eventually they didn't came to an agreement and Juan de Fuca retired in his homeland and died there in 1602.

Today the strait in Vancouver bears his name and is called Juan de Fuca strait.



Other Greeks who are mentioned in the Spanish army

 Also in Magellan's expedition, 1519-1522  many Greek sailors took part on the journey. It should also be mentioned that amongst the Spaniards the rest of the crew were Greeks, Italians, Portugese, English, French and Germans. These men were the first to make a circumnavigation of the globe, but many of them and including Ferdinand Magellan himself died during that journey and only 18 out of 237 men of the original crew survived. Amongst those 18 survivors, 4 of them were Greeks.

The 4 Greek survivors were:
Francisco Albo from Rodas (Island of Rhodes), a maritime pilot
Miguel de Rodas (Island of Rhodes), a maritime pilot
Nicholas the Greek from Nafplion, a mariner
Miguel Sanchez from Rodas (Island of Rhodes), a mariner

It should also be noted that Francisco Albo was the only one who kept a log book, along with the Italian Antonio Pigafetta. Their descriptions were a valuable source of information for the future explorers.




Other Greeks who are being mentioned in the Spanish archives are Anton de Rodas a respected Greek shipmaster and commander of two Spanish ships, the first one was San Jorge and the other was San Juan, he was a maritime pilot in the soars of Peru from 1535-1537. He made several journeys from Lima to Panama in the 1540s and finally he settled at Lima in 1550 where he had a large house. He married a Spanish wife and continued to be a ship master in the Pacific sea, at least until 1563. Another Greek shipmaster which is mentioned in the Spanish archives is Juan de Xio a Greek captain from Chios island. While most captains who sailed in the Pacific in the soars of Chille knew nothing of latitude and traveled by instinct, from the other hand Juan de Xio was the only one who navigated during that time (1540) with an astrolabe, a navigating chart and three mariner's compasses. A Greek captain in the Spanish army was Juan Griego, he was born in Seville, in the 16th century he began to make journeys from Spain to the Americas. Juan Griego is being mentioned in a census of 1545, he even founded a city on the island of isla Margarita in Northern Venezuela. Today that city is called Juan Griego and is named after the Greek captain, it has a population of about 28.256 inhabitants and is located on the Marcano municipality of the Nueva Esparta state, in the island of Margarita in Venezuela. Another Greek also named Juan Griego, son of Lazaro Griego from Negreponte or Crete, born in 1566, he participated in the expedition of Juan de Onate against the native indians of the Akoma tribe in Mexico in 1598. Juan Griego is described as a 32 years old man with a grey beard and of good stature, armed and with a big scar in his forehead. Juan was married with his wife Pascuala Bernal, and was one of the first residents of Santa Fe. He also had 3 sons named Lazaro, Juan and Fransisco. Juan died in Santa Fe probably after 1631.




Epilogue
The Greeks after the fall of their homeland and the fall of Constantinople seemed devastated but they never yielded, as they managed to rise up again and managed to prosper in various sectors in western Europe, as well as in the Ottoman empire. Many Greeks became successful captains and soldiers, artists and scholars in countries such as Italy and Spain and even in the ottoman empire many high officers, dragomans and captains were of Greek origins. While in Spain Greek scholars and artists like El Greco, distinguished themselves. The Greeks of the Spanish army contributed mainly in the conquest and exploration of the continent of America and played a significant role. Many of them were sailors and captains, others were explorers like Juan de Fuca and artillery men, while some of them were even Conquistadors like Pedro de Candia and Jorge Griego.



Sources
Books

  • Spanish Peru, 1532-1560: a Social history by James Lockhart
  • The discovery and the conquest of Peru of Pedro de Cieza by Alexandra Parma Cook and Noble Cook
  • Men of Cajamarca by James Lockhart
  • A history of the Conquest of Peru by William H. Prescott 
  • Old ties and new solidarities: studies on Philippine communities by Charles J-H Macdonald and Guillermo M. Pesigan
  • The encomenderos of new Spain 1521-1555 by Romerich Himmerich y Valencia
And Wiki articles
Other links

Τετάρτη, 9 Νοεμβρίου 2011

The Byzantine empire 336-1453


The Eastern Roman Empire or else Byzantium was a majestic empire which lasted over a milenia. Its capital Constantinople (Nova Roma) was founded by emperor Constantine the Great in 330 AD, at the place of the ancient Greek city Byzantio. The empire was the ark of the ancient Greek knowledge, because many ancient documents preserved in the monasteries and the library of Constantinople. The Byzantine empire was connected with the Greek element, because in the eastern roman empire the people used the Greek language and after the 7th century AD it became the official language. The Byzantine society was very advanced, the capital reached 1.000.000 citizens. Also their weapons were very advanced, for example the liquid fire or else the Greek fire as it is called, was a flamethrower weapon and with its use they destroyed the Arab fleet and save europe from Islam. In 530AD emperor Justinianus with his architects Anthemius and Isidorus built the temple of Aghia Sofia, which was the wonder of medieval times. The economy of Byzantium was not Feudalism, as it was in Europe, it was a commercial economy. The empire with missionaries helped culture to expand in the slavic and russian kingdoms. Cyril and Methodius created the slavic alphabet or else Cyrilic alphabet as it called and converted them to Orthodox christianity. The Byzantine empire had many enemies, but outlasted them for many years, especialy with emperor Basil the 2nd the empire was restored. After the death of the emperor Basil (1025) Byzantium began to fall because of incapable emperors. In the year 1071 the Byzantines lost the battle of Manzikert against the Turks, while at the same time Bari fell to the Normans. Emperor Alexius Comnenus and his sucessors began the restoration of the empire. In the year 1204 Constantinople was captured by the crusaders of the 4th crusade. The remnants of the empire were divided in the empire of Nikea, of Trapezunta and in the despotate of Epirus. In the year 1261 Constantinople was recaptured by the Byzantines and Michael Palaeologos became Emperor. The Palaeologian dynasty was the last dynasty of Byzantium. The two civil wars at the years 1324-1357 torn appart the empire. The civil wars gave the oppotunity to the Ottoman turks to invade europe. Emperor John Palaeologos in a last effort asked for help from the Pope, but the people of Constaninople refused his help. In May 29 1453 Constaninople fell to sultan Mehmet the 2nd of the Ottomans. The capital renamed to Istanbul and became the capital of the Ottoman empire. After the capture of the Byzantine capital the Balkans and Hungary fell to the Ottomans rule. The Despotate of Morea fell in 1460 and the empire of Trapezunta fell in 1461. The destruction of the Byzantine empire triggered Renaissance age, because many ancient documents from the monasteries and greek scholars fled to Italy, where they translated the documents from greek to Italian and Latin. The legacy of the Byzantine empire is Orthodoxy, the Orthodox church preserved the memories and the values of the empire until the present day.





Byzantine intellect and Byzantine culture


The university of Constantinople 5th-15th cent



The very foundations of the Byzantine culture and intellect lay in the Greco-Roman world and the Christian ideas of the Apostles, Greek philosophy and Greek ideas were a dominant role model of the empire, while the Greek was the official language of the empire at least from the 7th cent AD. The eastern Roman empire was also an empire of the mind and had briliant scholars, in fact the greatest in Europe, as their knowledge and abilities were unmatched. The Byzantines gave emphasis in philosophy and in spiritualism, some of the greatest cultural achievements of the empire were, the Orthodox dogma which dominated and influenced half of Europe and the creation of the Cyrilic alphabet by two Greek brothers, Cyril and Methodius  from the city of Thessalonica. The Byzantines had also the first university in medieval Europe which was the Magnaura university in Constantinople (The pandidaktirion) which was founded in 425 AD.  The university included schools of medicine, philosophy and law. At the time various economic schools, colleges,polytechnics, libraries and fine arts academies were also open in the city. Byzantine scholars were able of creating automatic machines such as automatic birds and lions by using steam or hydraulic power, advanced weapons such as flamethrowers and grenades and they wrote important works such as the Alexiad by Anna Comnena, the work "De administrando imperio" by emperor Constantine porphyrogenitus and the "Poliorcetica" of Hero of Byzantium. Byzantine scholars were also familiar with the philosophical works of ancient Greece. After the destruction of the library of Alexandria, Constantinople, the imperial capital, had the greatest library in Europe. The library of Constantinople had all the works of ancient Greece and of the Hellenistic world, unfortunatelly the library of Constantinople was looted by the barbaric raids of the Crusaders in 1204. The Byzantine art also had its roots from the Hellenistic world. Byzantine art was expanded in eastern Europe in south Italy and in middle east. Marvelous works of art were created and wonderfull structures were erected. A Byzantine wonder of Architecture was the Hagia Sophia Cathedral and was the greatest building in medieval Europe, while it was built by two Greek architects and mathematicians, Anthemius of Trales and Isidore of Miletus in 537 during the reign of emperor Justinian. The Byzantines not only they influenced Europe but also the Arab world. The islamic world, after the fall of Byzantine Alexandria and the fall of Byzantine Syria, adopted the ideas and philosophy of ancient Greece, the philosophical ideas of Aristotle were very popular amongst various muslim philosophers such as Avicenna. The Arabs despite the wars and their rivalry with the Byzanine empire had close contacts with the Byzantines and the Arabs were very intrested in the cultural achievements of the empire, for example the Caliph of Baghdad Al Mamun frequently exchanged letters with  Leo the Mathematician, the Byzantine scholar answered all his questions of Astrology, mathematics and philosophy. Byzantine Scholars were also responsible for the creation of the Renaissance age, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, many ancient documents from the monasteries and greek scholars fled to Italy, where they translated the documents from greek to Italian and Latin.






The greatest Byzantine Scholars and philosophers


Zosimos of Panopolis 4th cent


Hypatia 370-415


Nonnus of Panopolis 5th cent


Proclus 415-485


John Philoponus 490-570


Anthemius and Isidore 6th cent


Stephanus of Byzantium 6th cent


Stephen of Alexandria 610-641


Callinicus of Heliopolis 7th cent


Marcus Graecus 8th cent


Leo the Mathematecian 790-869


Photios I of Constantinople 810-893


Cyril and Methodius 9th cent


Hero of Byzantium 9th cent


Michael Psellus 1017-1078


Anna Comnena 1083-1153


George Pletho Gemistus 1355-1452


Basilios Bessarion 1403-1472






Byzantine society


The Byzantines called themselves as Romaioi and their empire as kingdom of the Romans (Basilion ton Romeon) or Romania (Ρωμανια), but their cultural identity and language was Greek. The Byzantine society was very advanced, the Byzantine capital had reached 1.000.000 citizents at its high peak. Constantinople was the greatest city in the medieval world, even greatest in population from Bejiing. Clearly we see the greatness of  byzantine society in the work of Henri Pirenne "Medieval cities: Their origins and the revival of trade". While in west and north Europe people lived enclosed in small fortified castles being depended by the land as the economical system in Europe was feudalism, while Byzantium had a commersial economy. Trade was very limited in Europe as the people were forbiden to move from their villages or cities. The Feudal system had the people binded by the land and the Feudarch had the full control over his subjects. That had as a result to limit trade and eventually caused the collapse of the Carolingian economy. Feudalism had led Europe to economic exhaustion and prevented the development of trade and the growth of cities. While the Byzantine society had a growing economy as it was based on a commercial system. Byzantine traders traveled to the middle east and even in the far east. Byzantine trade had even reached china and fine Silks were brought to Constantinople eventually the Byzantines developed their own silk industry and made great profits from the silk trade. The Orthodox Church had a leading role in Byzantium, there wasnt much superstition amongst the circle of the orthodox church although, the issue of iconoclasm had created serious problems and divided the Byzantine society and hierarchy.During the issue of Iconoclasm many works of art were destroyed and many people were persecuted and killed. Finally the whole issue was resolved by empress Irene of Athens. The orthodox church also faced various "heretical" dogmas such as the "herecy" of Nestorianism, Arianism and Paulicianism. The emperors were often ruthless against such religious groups. The great hippodrome of Constantinople was a popular mean of entertainment, horse racing and chariot racing were popular pastimes in the ancient world and hippodromes were common features of Greek cities in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras. It should also be mentioned that in the Hippodrome were various factions such as the Blue (Veneti) and the green (Prasini) faction. These factions were very popular and their strength could even threaten emperors, for example in the Nika riot the two factions of the hippodrome caused a whole riot from which Justinian almost lost his throne. Like in all empires, there were many nationalities in the Byzantine empire, such as Syrians, Armenians, Slavs, Thracians and Anatolians, but the Greek population was the one which dominated the empire, first the Greeks dominated the empire culturally as they were able to force their culture over all the other groups, and in the 7th cent the Greek language replaced latin in the govermental status. Slowly as the empire shrunk the Greek population became the most dominant and until the 13rd cent AD the Byzantine empire had became  a Greek state.



Byzantine military


The Byzantine empire faced many enemies and managed to outlast them for centuries, during its over 1000 years existance. The Byzantines faced, Goths, Persians, Arabs, Turks, Slavs, Bulgars, Vikings, Lombards, Crusaders... and managed to survive for a milenia. The Byzantine army was a direct descendant of the Roman army, in the eastern Roman empire legion formations were used at least untill the time of emperor Heraclius in the 7th century AD. Emperor Heraclius reformed the army and that put an end to the old Roman military structure, Heraclius also created the Byzantine themes (Themata), the very name of the Themes draws its etymology from the Greek word thesis (placement), the themes replaced the former Roman provincial administration. The Byzantine batalions or regiments were called Tagmata, some of the greatest military units were the Cataphracts, the Akrites, which was the border line guard in Anatolia and the Varangian guard.
The Varangian guard was formed during the reign of emperor Basil II, the members of that guard were vikings. The Varangians were renowned for their bravery in battle, they were fierce warriors and well respected soldiers. The Byzantines were once tested by their attacks, the Viking Rus had made several raids against the empire, but the Byzantines managed to hold them back with their superior Greek fire weapons. Emperor Basil II created the Varangian guard, since then the Varangians became a trusted ally and one of the best Byzantine units, they participated in many battles, in the balkan peninsula against the Bulgars and in Anatolia and sicily against the Arabs. Other units were the Palatine Scholae which was an elite guard originating from the Roman empire, the Hetaireia (The Company) which was the personal guard of the emperor, echoing from the ancient Macedonian companion cavalry of Alexander the great (hetairoi). The guard was composed by Byzantine Aristocratic members and also by many foreigners such as Franks, in later times it was divided in various units such as the Byzantine immortals (Athanatoi) in the 10th and 11th cent AD. The Byzantines also employed many mercenaries, but the loyalty of these mercenary units was doubtfull, for example the Catalan company was employed by the Byzantines but eventually the Catalans turned against the empire they raided many cities in Thrace and created many problems to the empire.
The Byzantines were also very advanced in the art of warfare. They were the first to use trebuchets in medieval Europe and it apears that the Byzantines were the ones who invented the counterweight trebuchet and it was a very effective weapon especially in sieges. The Byzantines were very innovative and had great engineers, one of them, Leo the mathematician had created an optical telegraph (a system of beacons) which alerted the Byzantines of the movements of the enemy, very quickly.That system gave the upper hand to the Byzantines in Anatolia and secured victory over the Arabs. But of all the Byzantine weapons the greatest was the Byzantine flamethrowers which were called as Greek fire, or as "automaton pyr" (Automatic fire). During an Arab attack against Constantinople in 672 AD Callinicus of Heliopolis brought the weapon to the imperial capital. Callinicus was credited with the invention of Greek fire and the Byzantines achieved victory over the muslim army. The weapon itself was kept secret and the family of Callinicus continued to develop it under secrecy, the Alexiad in the 11th century mentions of Lambros an engineer of Greek fire, who was a descendant of Callinicus.The Byzantines also used flamethrowers at naval battles, they had installed huge fire siphons in their war ships. The Byzantine navy was tested by the saracens but eventually managed to become dominant in eastern mediteranean. The imperial navy also confronted Viking fleets of the Kievan Rus and Normans, the Pisan fleet in 1099 near Rhodes, seljuk and pirate fleets. Also pyrotechnics and cannons were used in the Byzantine army, for example during the siege of Constantinople the Byzantines had installed various cannons on the city walls. There is also an assumption that gunpowder may had been known to Byzantine engineers in Constantinople from the 8th cent AD as some sources mention. The greatest military tacticians in Byzantium were, General Belisarius, general Nikiphoros Ouranos, Emperor Alexius Comnenus, Emperor Basil II, Emperor Heraclius, Emperor Nikiphoros II Phocas and John I Tzimiskes. It should also be mentioned that the title of general was called as Strategos or Stratelates and as Magister (Magistros). Important military works were the Tactica of Leo the wise, the tactica of Nikephoros Ouranos and the Poliorcetica of Hero of Byzantium. Finally the Byzantine army managed to survive for over a milenia but eventually the empire was overrun as enemies apeared from all fronts and due to inner rivalries it finally collapsed.



Why the Byzantine empire was a Greek empire

The Byzantine empire was the eastern part of the Roman empire, the people of the empire called themselves as Romaioi (Ρωμαιοι) and called their state as Romania (Ρωμανια) or Kingdom of the Romans (Basilio ton Romeon). The term Byzantine was introduced by Hieronymus wolf a German historian in the 16th century after the fall of Constantinople. The empire was trully Roman only untill the 7th century AD when emperor Heraclius reformed the empire, he abolished latin and made Greek the official language of the empire.It is also true that the name Hellene was corrupted and took the meaning of pagan in the first centuries of the Byzantine empire. But the eastern part of the Roman empire was Greek speaking and was once a part of the Hellenistic world. Heraclius also adopted the tittle of Basileus instead of the Roman tittle of Imperator. From that point and after the empire was becoming more and more Greek and untill the 13rd century AD it had became a Greek state untill its fall. The empire was multinational with a significant Greek population, all these national groups inside the empire, were under the influence of Greek culture, language and education.



The Byzantines although they called themselves as Romans they were aware of their Hellenic origins. Some examples of their Greek concioucness are:


Evidence of the use of the term Graikos can be found in the works of Priscus, a historian of the 5th century AD. The historian stated in one of his accounts that while unofficially on an embassy to Attila the Hun, he had met at Attila's court someone who dressed like a Scythian yet spoke Greek. When Priskos asked the person where he had learned the language, the man smiled and said that he was a Greek by birth.

Leo the Mathematecian (790-870 AD)  calls himself a Greek through one of his poems with the tittle"To myself who is called Greek" And he describes himself as a modest person who doesnt desire fame or riches.

Already from the 11th century Anna Comnene ("The Alexiad") uses the name Greeks as a national identification for the people of the empire.
Anna Comnene "The Alexiad"

Nicetas Choniates insisted on using the name "Hellenes", he states that he cannot continue in writting history, which is one of the greatest inventions of Hellenism and he stressed out the outrages attacks of the "Latins" against the "Hellenes" in the Peloponessus.
Nicetas Choniates, "The Sack of Constantinople", 9 '¦Å, Bonn, pp.806

Emperor John III Ducas Vatatzes (1192-1254 AD), wrote in a letter to Pope Gregory IX about the wisdom that "rains upon the Hellenic nation"and states that Constantine's heritage was passed on to the Hellenes, so he argued, and they alone were its inheritors and successors.
John Vatatzes, "Unpublished Letters of Emperor John Vatatzes", Athens I, pp.369--378, (1872)

Theodore II Lascaris (1222-1258), was eager to project the name of the Greeks with true nationalistic zeal. He made it a point that "the Hellenic race looms over all other languages" and that "every kind of philosophy and form of knowledge is a discovery of Hellenes... What do you, O Italian, have to display?"
Theodore Lascaris, "Christian Theology", 7,7 & 8

In the 14th cent AD  Nikolaos Kavasilas calls Greeks the scholars of Thessaloniki, and the city as "house of Hellenism". Nicephorus Blemmydes referred to the Byzantine emperors as Hellenes. Theodore Alanias (in 1204) wrote in a letter to his brother that "the homeland may have been captured, but Hellas still exists within every wise man".
Nicephorus Blemmydes, "Pertial narration", 1, 4
Theodore Alanias, "PG 140, 414"

The neo-platonic philosopher George Gemistos Plethon (15th cent AD) stated "We are Hellenes by race and culture".
George Gemistus Plethon, "Paleologeia and Peloponessiaka", pp.247

The scholar, teacher, and translator, John Argyropoulos (15th cent AD) calls John VIII Palaiologos  as a Greek king and addresses him  as "Sun King of Hellas".
Makrides, Vasilios (2009). Hellenic Temples and Christian Churches: A Concise History of the Religious Cultures of Greece from Antiquity to the Present. New York, New York: New York University Press.

Two days before the fall of Consantinople the Emperor Constantine Paleologos calls the city as "The joy and hope of all Greeks".
Sphrantzes, George (1477). The Chronicle of the Fall.




Byzantine papacy and Byzantine Rome
Another fact which confirms that the empire was Greek , is that when the city of Rome was in Byzantine hands, Greek Popes were elected (678-752). Popes like saint Pope Agatho and Pope Zachary were of Greek origins. From 678 to 752, thirteen popes were elected, 11 of them were either of Greek origins or Greek speaking. This is another fact that confirms the turning point of the 7th cent AD, the reforms of Emperor Heraclius had changed the latin character of the empire into Greek and that is reflected and during the Byzantine papacy of 678 to 752.


The foreigners saw the empire as Greek and reffered to it as Imperium Graecorum. For Pope Gregory the great, Gregory of Tours, Isidore of Seville, Liutprand of Cremona, Paul the Deacon the chronicler of the lombards, wiliam of Tyre and many others the eastern Roman empire was Greek and all the western documents call the empire as Imperium Graecorum which means a Greek empire. Also Stefan Dousan after conquering parts of the Byzantine empire took the title of "Imperator Grecorum et Raxie".
   While the vikings saw the Byzantines as Greeks.In their runestones which are being called as Greece runestones, they recorded the Byzantine empire as a Greek empire.
"On these runestones the word Grikkland ("Greece") appears in three inscriptions, the word Grikk(j)ar ("Greeks") appears in 25 inscriptions, two stones refer to men as grikkfari ("traveller to Greece") and one stone refers to Grikkhafnir ("Greek harbours"). Constantinople is being mentioned by the Norse as Miklagard which means the big city. Rune inscriptions are even to be found inside the Hagia Sophia temple and were made by the Varangian troops who served in the Byzantine army."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greece_runestones



Epilogue

The orthodox world

The Byzantine empire or else Eastern Roman empire was the most powerfull and most advanced state in medieval europe. The empire was a direct descendand of the Roman empire, but it transformed into a Greek empire, as its language and culture after the 7th cent AD was Greek. Constantinople was a beacon of knowledge and art and it was the greatest city in the world. The empire managed to survive for over 1000 years, an achievement that few empires acomplished in world history. The empire ceased to exist by 1453 and 1461 (fall of Trapezunta), but its legacy remained. Some reminders of this legacy are, the Cyrilic alphabet, the Byzantine art and the Orthodox church.






Sources

  • Henri Pirenne "Medieval cities their origins and the revival of trade"
  • James Riddick Partington "A history of Greek fire and gunpowder"
  • Anna Comnena "The Alexiad"
  • History of the Greek nation, Academy of Athens  (Ιστορία του Ελληνικού έθνους,  Ακαδημία Αθηνών)
  • Γιώργος Καραμπελιάς "1204 Η διαμόρφωση του Νεώτερού Ελληνισμού"
  • Νίκος Σβορώνος "Επισκόπηση της Νεοελληνικής ιστορίας"
  • Articles from wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greece_runestones
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_Papacy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_army
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_the_Greeks