Thursday, December 14, 2006

Foreign Lands #12

That was in 630. Who would have guessed that within ten years both these great empries would be prostrated: that the Byzantine Empire would be utterly defeated, that Syria and Egypt would be lost for ever, that Jerusalem and the Cross of Christ would again pass to the infidel; and that the Persian Empire, the State which, with its great horses and its armed chivalry, had seemingly invented the perfect device against nomad invaders, would dissolve in a day? Yet this is what happened. It happened because a new social force had arisen in the Middle East: a force which combined the confederative powers of an Attila or a Genghis Khan with the intoxication of new ideology: Islam.

Hugh Trevor-Roper, The Rise of Christian Europe