divendres, 19 de març del 2010

An emperor on a Catalan ship

"It is hard to envy Constantine his crown. He inherited bankruptcy, a family with a taste for civil war, a city divided by religious passions, and an impoverished and volatile proletariat. The empire was a snake pit of internecine feuding - in 1442 his brother Demetrios marched on the city with Ottoman troops. It lived a half-life as the vassal of the Ottoman emperor, who could lay siege to the city at any time. Nor was Constantine's personal authority particularly secure: a whiff of illegitimacy surrounded his accession to the throne in 1449. He was invested in Mistra in the Peloponese, a highly unusual protocol for an emperor, and never subsequently crowned in St. Sophia. The Byzantines had to ask Murat's approval of their new emperor but were then too poor to provide him with transport home. Humiliatingly, he had to beg passage to his throne on a Catalan ship."

Roger Crowley, 1453. The Holy war for Constantinople and the clash of Islam and the West.