Aqui vai um artigo que o Luís me convidou a ler, do qual gostaria de destacar a personagem ibérica de Sancto Eulógio (799 - 11.III.859 A.D.), cujas vida e obra podemos ler online em língua nobre. Grande parte do texto, porém, aqui pouco abreviado, foca a conquista do Império Romano do Oriente, desgastado ao longo de sæculos pela geada islâmica e pela desunião da Christandade.
«Crusading ideals in the West were an answer to the greater threat of jihad. (...) The extent of Islam's victories can be seen in the all-but-complete disappearance of the once-thriving Christian communities in North Africa, the Middle East, and Western Asia, as well as the deep roots that Islam still has in the Balkans -- a region whose very name was imposed upon it by successful late medieval Turkish imperialism. (...)
The Rise of the Dar al-Islam
(...) Fierce doctrinal disputes among Christians and a thoroughly exhausting war with the Persians left the world's only major Christian power, Byzantium, unprepared to face a frightfully effective jihad. The various small Christian and pagan principalities in North Africa and Spain -- like the weakened Zoroastrian Persians -- were even less able to turn back the Muslim armies.
(...) In the West, particularly in Spain, the Muslim religious presence left surprisingly few traces in the sparse Christian documents of the first century after the conquest. It appears that most Christians accepted their new Muslim overlords with equanimity. Indeed, many found that collaboration with rulers who were tied into the Dar al-Islam's "common market," stretching from Spain to the Hindu Kush in India, was more profitable than resistance against a new ruling class whose demands were not initially onerous and whose military power was irresistible.
The earliest Spanish documents that dwell at any length on the Muslim presence as a religious issue are the works of St. Eulogius, written more than a century after the conquest, in the 850s. His Liber Apologeticus Martyrum, written to other Christians in Spain, defended the sanctity of Christian martyrs ("the 40 martyrs of Cordoba") who had recently been executed for publicly denouncing Islam and the Prophet. Eulogius, who would soon be killed himself by Muslim authorities for defending the martyrs, addressed Christian objections that those whom the Muslims had executed were not martyrs because they had "suffered at the hands of men who venerated both God and the law." This illustrates how thoroughly most Spanish Christians were submitted to Islamic rule; they defined both Muslims and their relations to Islam entirely in Islamic terms.
Frankish resistance defeated a major Arab raid at Tours in 732 a.d., but it was as much their poverty as their arms (and growing divisions within the Dar al-Islam) that defended Christians north of the Pyrenees from incorporation into the Muslim world.
(...) Beginning in the seventh century, the Byzantines secured their greatly reduced landward frontier in the East through a series of drastic militarizing reforms that turned much of the empire into a garrison state. Though its Muslim neighbors lacked the unity to launch all-out assaults, the constant pressure of Muslim raiders searching for slaves and loot -- as well as the equally permanent threat of Arab piracy throughout the Mediterranean -- required Byzantium to remain on a permanent war footing.
Byzantium endured this centuries-long conflict and produced a remarkable flowering of its culture at home and abroad. Byzantine missionaries, artists, teachers, and soldiers expanded their empire's cultural, religious, and political influence in the Balkans and southern Ukraine. Yet this revival took place under the shadow of three increasingly heavy swords of Damocles. The first two were of Byzantium's own making, but forged by the strains of a war for survival: its own fractured, despotic internal politics and its tortured and at times hostile relations with other Christians -- both with older Christian Churches to their east and west as well as northward among the newly Christianized peoples its missionaries evangelized. Their belief in the empire's mission led Byzantines to regard their state as the political center of Christendom -- but also produced an imperial arrogance that undermined the empire's ability to cooperate effectively with other Christians. These two factors were rendered more dangerous still by the third and most unpredictable of threats: the permanent commitment of Muslims to jihad.
The Calm Before the Storm
(...) The original expansion and vast reach of the Dar al-Islam provided it with the necessary power to recover from the period of weakness and division that ensued after its founding. Byzantium, on the other hand, had no such sure allies.
The tenth century is often regarded as a low point in Islamic expansion and jihadist enthusiasm, as well as a time of Byzantine revival as the empire recovered from over a century of hammer blows and engaged in a modest reconquista of some of its territories. (...) Ghazis, or Muslim holy warriors, launched numerous raids on Byzantine territory throughout the century and successfully internationalized their anti-Byzantine struggle by drawing in other peoples to join in the "defensive" effort to hold earlier Muslim conquests and keep Byzantium hemmed into easily assaulted frontiers.
The century opened with a spectacular Muslim success: the Arab sack of the second city of Byzantium, Thessalonica, on July 29, 903, enslaving 30,000 Christians. In 931 Muslim raiding parties reached as far as Ankuriya (modern Ankara), deep in Byzantine territory, and took thousands more Christians captive. Ribats, quasi-monastic Muslim establishments that were part monastery and part fortress, flourished all along the border of northern Syria and southern Anatolia and acted as bases from which Ghazis, who came from as far away as Central Asia, traveled to join in assaults against Christian "polytheists."
(...) In sermons that anticipate the tender reassurances of God's protection that Pope Urban showered on Crusaders over a century later, Ibn Nubata constantly exhorted Ghazis to take up the cause of jihad. Take this passage, for example, cited in Carole Hillenbrand's The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives (Routledge, 2000):
Do you think that He will forsake you whilst you are assisting Him, or do you imagine that He will desert you whilst you are steadfast in His path? Certainly not! …So put on -- may God have mercy on you -- for the Jihad the coat of mail of the faithful and equip yourselves with the armor of those who trust [in God].
If (...) this was the low point of jihadist ideals among Muslims, even this ebb stretched Byzantine defenses and forced them to wage perpetual war. It also sowed seeds that flowered in the eleventh and twelfth centuries in the Dar al-Islam. Jihad proved to be an integral and hardy perennial in the gardens of Islam.
The End of the Beginning
On the Day of Orthodoxy -- March 13, 1071 a.d. -- the Byzantine Emperor Romanus IV led one of the largest armies that Byzantium had fielded in centuries out of Constantinople. Romanus's goal was to end the ongoing Turkish raids that were slowly wearing away the defenses of the heartlands of the Byzantine Empire and one of the richest and most ancient centers of Christian life: Anatolia. Though we know this region today as Turkey, in the eleventh century Anatolia was a thoroughly Christian territory. (...)
From earliest antiquity, Anatolia's position at the crossroads of Europe and Asia had made it one of the wealthiest and most heavily urbanized parts of the Mediterranean world. It was a diverse region, containing many large Greek communities as well as Phrygians, Cappadocians, Celts in the region of Galatia, Armenians, and Jews, among others. In this urbanized melting pot of peoples -- which included St. Paul's hometown of Tarsus -- Christianity spread rapidly.
The names of a number of the cities in the region, if not their subsequent histories, are especially familiar to those steeped in the book of Revelation: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicia. It seems that the call for repentance recorded in St. John's revelations proved successful in the early second century, because these and other churches experienced an intense and vibrant urban Christianity and carried out fruitful missionary endeavors. In Anatolia the transition from paganism to Christianity was gentler than elsewhere in the Roman world. The wealth and deep Christian roots of the region recommended it to Constantine as the place to locate Constantinople and refound the Roman Empire in the East. By the tenth and eleventh centuries, Anatolia was the home of eight to ten million people, including many tens of thousands of refugees -- most Christian, but some Muslim -- from the Dar al-Islam.
Ironically, the people who conquered this region in the name of Islam, the Seljuq Turks, came to their faith peacefully, though they had not experienced the millennia of high culture that set them apart from the peoples of Anatolia. Conversion of the warlike and nomadic Turkish peoples in Central Asia began in the eighth and ninth centuries; they began to migrate to the Middle East in the tenth and eleventh centuries. It was these peoples who crushed Byzantine military power in 1071 and thereby brought on the Crusades. Eventually, led by the House of Osman -- hence, the Ottomans -- the Turkish peoples completed the conquest of Constantinople and created an empire and a caliphate on Byzantium's ruins that endured until 1924. (...)
The Turks, like the first Muslim Arabs, combined the devotion of enthusiastic converts with a determination to wage war for the Prophet and profit. Converted by Sunni missionaries, these Turkish immigrants were appalled by the power (and tempted by the wealth) of the heterodox and latitudinarian Shia who dominated much of the political life of the Middle East at the time. In the eyes of Turkish tribesmen, among the many faults of contemporary Islamic society was its relatively greater tolerance toward Christians and Jews, who lived among Muslims or came as pilgrims to the Holy Places -- as well as the less-than-fully-committed pursuit of jihad against the Byzantines.
The Turks sought to cut out this rot in three ways:
- Struggle with the heterodox Shia within the Dar al-Islam
- Greater persecution of Christians, especially pilgrims coming to the Holy Places in the Dar al-Islam
- Vigorous jihad against Byzantium.
(...) The disciplines of nomadic life, with its emphasis on horsemanship and horse archery, made the Turks crushingly effective at raiding and war. Seljuq raids into Armenia, which began in the 1020s, devastated the country and began speculation among some Armenian princes and priests that the end of the world was at hand. What made such raids all the more difficult to repel was their constant, yet ad hoc, character. Turkish raiding parties often operated independently. Even treaties the Byzantines negotiated with Turkish princes or the caliph could not restrain raiders who thought of themselves as ghazis and who often had the verbal approval of their overlords to carry on their assaults.
These ad hoc raids enslaved thousands of Christian captives yearly, endangered trade and agriculture along the borders, and wore at Armenia and Byzantium's defenses; yet worse was soon to come. Alp Arslan ("the Valiant Lion"), the Turkish prince who unified the Seljuqs in 1063 and was eventually to win the great victory of Mantzikert, carried on raids of such brutality and scope that Christian chroniclers referred to him as "a drinker of blood" and one of the forces of the Antichrist.
(...) Matthew of Edessa, an Armenian historian, describes Alp Arslan's sack of Ani (now known as Arpa Cay), the capital of Armenia in 1064 (which Seljuq chronicles describe as a "large flourishing city with 500 churches"):
The army entered the city, massacred its inhabitants, pillaged and burned it leaving it in ruins, making prisoners of all who escaped the massacre, and took possession. [The number dead were such] that they blocked all the streets and one could not make way for himself without crossing over them. The number of prisoners was not less than 30,000 souls… I wanted to enter the city and see it with my own eyes. I tried to find a street without having to walk over corpses. But that was impossible.
The Annals of the Siljuq Turks, which describes a whole series of campaigns Arp Arslan waged in Armenia that year -- including the destruction of numerous towns and monasteries -- corroborates Matthew's history. In words that reflect no more regret of the costs of jihad than the chroniclers of the Crusades displayed when describing the fall of Jerusalem, the annals report:
They entered the city and killed more of the inhabitants than one could count, so that many of the Muslims were unable to enter the city because there were so many corpses. They took captive nearly as many as they killed…. The happy news of these conquests traveled around these lands and the Muslims rejoiced. The report…was read out in Baghdad in the Caliphal Palace and the caliph issued a rescript praising and blessing Arp Arslan.
(...) For the next several years Arp Arslan and other Seljuq raiders became more bold in their assaults, sacking major shrines such as that of St. Basil in Cappadocia and in 1070 capturing Chonae, a site famed for its shrine of the archangel (which the Turks promptly turned into a stable).
And so, the next year, Emperor Romanus led his Byzantine army to battle. It did not go well for him.
The Battle of Mantzikert was one of the more decisive and yet unknown battles of the early Middle Ages. Arp Arslan's forces routed Romanus's army, taking the emperor himself as prisoner. The panic that ensued in Byzantium was as complete as was the rejoicing in the Dar al-Islam, whose armies had fought Byzantium for centuries without scoring such a success. The Byzantine defeat was made all the more terrible by the successful efforts of Romanus's rivals to seize the throne during his captivity. The short but sharp civil war that followed -- upon his release Romanus attempted to retake his throne and pay the ransom he had negotiated with Arp Arslan -- drew even more troops into battle far away at Constantinople. As a result, Byzantine defenses in the east were shattered and the empire divided. The Turks had little trouble mopping up the remains.
The wars that followed were not a traditional conquest; the Turks were too few in number to thoroughly subdue a region only slightly smaller than Texas and containing millions of Christians. Rather, over time, their continual raids throughout Anatolia allowed them to expel, enslave, or impoverish the region's Christian inhabitants. For the next 300 years the population plummeted by almost half, in spite of increasing Muslim migration to the region. Much of these formally fertile territories became pastureland for the still-nomadic Turks, while many cities fell into ruin. Just as southern Spain would be devastated 500 years later by the expulsion of its Muslim population, Anatolia became a wasteland under the rule of its new, religiously intolerant and alien masters. Furthermore, losing Anatolia permanently crippled Byzantium. (...)
Once they finished with Eastern Christendom, the gateway to further European conquest was wide open.
Our Enemies, Our Teachers
It is commonplace to claim that the Crusades scarred the imagination of the Muslim world for centuries. (...) Western Christendom remained a subject of relatively little interest to Muslims for centuries after the Crusades. In spite of the hard-fought campaigns of the Crusades, Arab -- and later Turkish -- ignorance of even the most basic aspects of Europe's geography and culture during and after the struggle could make a modern undergraduate blush. For centuries, Western Christendom remained a frontier area for Muslims against which they continued to wage successful war until almost the beginning of the modern era. Beyond that, it held little interest.
(...) Yet for Islam the fruits of victory often spoiled. The intermittent but relatively greater tolerance that characterized Islam's relations with other "peoples of the book" in the Middle East, Muslim Spain, and the Balkans was the tolerance of victors secure in their triumph. Even in the midst of triumph, however, this tolerance was mingled with contempt. The pressures of jihad that called forth the West's Crusades led Muslims to abuse their power over Christian and Jewish subjects under the Dar al-Islam in campaigns of forced conversion, pogroms, and other brutalities. In the modern era, as the pace of Islam's advance slowed and the tide began to turn in the West's favor, the Dar al-Islam's tradition of tolerance also collapsed. The magnanimity of victory has proven too limited an experience for Muslims to have established tolerance as a key part of their religious culture.
(...) In the face of Islam's even more successful jihads in the 15th and 16th centuries, Christianity in turn became more aggressive and expansive than it had ever been. Christendom succeeded in garnering power and resources by colonizing the Western Hemisphere and sidestepping the Dar al-Islam's status as the middleman in trade with Asia, eventually breaking Islam's hegemonic power in Eurasia. However, as Christendom experienced its greatest triumphs in discovering and colonizing the New World, Christians also turned their own militarized struggles for religious security inward during the Reformation, unintentionally undermining Christendom and leaving a secularizing Western Europe in its wake.
(...) Let us hope that the nihilism and isolation of jihadist militancy presage the renunciation by faithful Muslims of sacralized violence. Such a turn would free those who call upon the name of the One God from the well-earned stigma of religious brutality.
T. David Curp is an assistant professor of history at Ohio University, where he teaches the contemporary history of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. This article originally appeared in the November 2005 issue of Crisis Magazine.» 11/10/2009
Santo Eulógio, rogai por nós.