Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Post

In 1071, at the battle of Manzikert, the fate of the Byzantine empire was sealed.  Although in the short run, the defeat and capture of Byzantine Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes by the Seljuk Turks under Arp Arslan (=lion, like Aslan), meant only Seljuk domination of modern Armenia, it is often seen as the beginning of the end for the Byzantine Empire in Turkey.  Only after this point did Turks begin to live in Turkey, the high Anatolian Plateau reminding them of the great Asian steppes which were the ancestral homelands of the nomadic Turkic people.

I bring this up because it is Memorial Day, and because the fate of the Byzantines wasn't quite sealed by a simple military loss.  The Emperor had engaged Turkic troops, and the Petchenegs switched sides during the battle, to join their fellow Turkish speakers.  Was this decisive?  I have no reason to believe so.  But it does relate to Language and Conflict.

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