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Empress Irene of Athens

07.03.2019 in History

Empress Irene of Athens   Was it common for the Byzantine Empire to have a female ruler? Certainly not. And Irene of Athens was anything but a common woman.   Born into an aristocratic Athenian family in 755 CE, the young Irene was well known for her exceptional beauty, which is likely the reason Constantine V chose her as a bride for his son Leo IV. Irene produced a male heir Constantine VI, but after her husband Leo’s death, Irene succeeded him as ruler of the Empire by neutralizing her opponents. This included killing her son by her own hands….

Palaiologos – The last emperor

17.05.2017 in History

Konstantinos Palaiologos: the last Emperor The last Byzantine Emperor Konstantinos Palaiologos could be a character drawn from an ancient Greek tragedy. His heroic death during the siege of Constantinople on May 29, 1453, rendered him a legendary figure in Greek folklore while also essentially marking the end of the Byzantine Empire. Born in Constantinople in 1405, Konstantinos was one of the sons of Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos. In 1443, he became Despot of Morea (the ruler of Peloponnese) and launched numerous expeditions against the Ottoman invaders and their vassal of Latin dukes across continental Greece. Following the death of his…

The Fall of Constantinople

17.05.2017 in History

Constantinople, 1453: The Fall of the Queen of Cities The capture and destruction of the Byzantine capital by the Ottoman Turks is one of the most dramatic events in the history of the Western world. For the Byzantines, Constantinople was not just a mere city, but the Queen of all the cities, the Second Rome. The Roman Empire incarnated itself in the Byzantine Empire the years following the fall of Rome and the transportation of the Roman capital from Rome to Constantinople by Constantine the Great in 4th century CE. During a thousand years of history, the Byzantines stood against…

The Castle of Monemvasia: Where History Comes Alive

01.12.2015 in Travel

The Castle of Monemvasia: Where History Comes Alive  The first autumn breeze had made its appearance in Athens and we were already loading our luggage into the car… destination, Monemvasia. Many times I had heard about the famous “Castle of the Peloponnese” – the “Gibraltar of the East” – as it was once called. I had never had the chance to visit this magic place until now…   After four hours of driving through highways and twisty rural roads, the landscape began to change. The small villages gave way to steep hills as the sun shined above us.  Finally, after the…