Tuesday, August 7, 2012

June 29, 626 – Avars Storm Constantinople

Following the fall of Rome to the Visigoths, Constantinople took up the mantle of Roman Empire and again established rule through the Mediterranean under the emperor Justinian (527-565). Such a massive empire again proved unwieldy, and Justinian had to install massive bureaucracy to achieve the continuation of his empire. While maintaining order, the bureaucracy was also incredibly expensive, which ironically created unrest as the populace grew weary of heavy taxes despite the wealth of empire. Emperor Maurice (582-602) created cost-saving measures whenever possible, such as refusing in 598 to pay ransom to the Avar Khaganate for thousands of Byzantine prisoners-of-war. The result was the soldiers being slaughtered, but the coffers of the Empire remaining full. In 602 as another measure, he ordered the army to make winter quarters on the frontier north of the Danube rather than march home. This action caused the army to rebel and march on Constantinople, dragging Maurice out of sanctuary in a monastery to execute him. Their leader Phocas was installed the new emperor.

Although popular, Phocas proved unable to defend the empire. In the north, the Avars and their Slavic allies overwhelmed the Balkan territories. In the east, Governor Narses of Mesopotamia incited a rebellion against Phocas' rule. When Phocas sent an army to put him down, Narses sought aid from Khosrau II, emperor of the Sassanid Persians, who was pleased to attack the weakened Byzantines. The Persians defeated the Byzantine army sent against them and began conquering through Armenia and Asia Minor. In 610, Heraclius, the Exarch (“regional governor”) of Africa, overthrew the now very unpopular Phocas and tried to make peace. The Persians denied him and continued conquering the Levant and Egypt. Heraclius assembled expeditionary forces to counterattack in northern Asia Minor and then left Constantinople in 624 to campaign in the Caucasus.

The Avars continued their sweep across the Balkans to the capital itself with some eighty thousand men and siege equipment with the goal of wiping out the Byzantines altogether. An army twelve thousand strong and featuring cavalry defended the city, but it was the bureaucracy who managed life there. A bureaucrat named John determined that food the coming siege was of crucial value and began work to maintain the bread supply. He moved to cancel the free bread ration for the imperial guard (who had ample money of their own to spend) and enacted that overall bread prices be increased from three to eight folles to ensure none was wasted. On May 14 and 15, people gathered at the Great Church and chanted in protest. The local governing body under Bonos discussed what to do and ultimately decided that austerity must be retained in the face of the oncoming barbarians. After days of protest, the government sent loyal soldiers to chase away the chanters. Rioting began, and soon the city was set aflame. Order was restored at times, but the populace proved unresponsive even to zealous religious appeals. In the end, most of the citizenry abandoned the city and fled by sea in convoys to avoid attack Persians. City bureaucrats attempted to stop the retreat with control of the sea walls, but defenses were sabotaged by the people hoping to escape.

When the Avars arrived on June 29, few soldiers were left loyal to Byzantium. A short battle followed, and, despite superior defensive technology with its walls, the Avars broke into Constantinople. Barbarians looted what remained of the city and burned the rest, ending what had been a key position of trade in the known world. Heraclius found himself without a capital, and his allies lost all confidence. He began an overall evacuation to Africa and established himself there, though the empire continued to crumble with Visigoths seizing lands to the west in Spain. The Persians and the Avars reached agreement on a border along the Hellespont, giving both access to trade there while making it a dangerous haven for pirates on the newly unprotected strait.

Although victorious over their Byzantine rival, the Sassanids soon found themselves overwhelmed by the Arab Empire that grew up following the spread of Islam in the 630s and 640s. It eclipsed Zoroastrianism and spread through Africa to Spain, India, and northward to become the principal religion of the Huns and Rus. Charlemagne maintained Christendom in central Europe, and the Scandinavian nations joined as well. Western Europe continued as a marginal corner of the world with trade centering on the vast holdings of the Caliphates. Eventually European explorers seeking a westward route around the Muslim monopoly discovered the New World, which brought a new age of empire upon the out-of-the-way continent.


In reality, the government removed John (who earned the name “Seismos” or “Earthquake”) and instead worked to reinforce the spirit of the Constantinopolitans to stand against the heathen hordes. After a short siege that summer, the Avars “lacked the technology and the patience to take the city” (Walter Kaegi) and gave up when they deemed Heraclius' victories divinely inspired. Heraclius defeated the Persians and established Byzantine security, which was reaffirmed by the Crusades against the Turks beginning in 1095. Constantinople would not be conquered until 1453.

Monday, August 6, 2012

June 28, 1519 – Frederick the Wise Elected Holy Roman Emperor

After the death of Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, and Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I in January of 1519, many of his titles went directly by inheritance to his Habsburg grandson Charles V. The title emperor, however, would be given by decision of the seven elector-princes of the Germans, Albert of Mainz; Richard von Greiffenklau zu Vollrads of Trier; Hermann of Wied of Cologne; Frederick III of Saxony; Joachim I of Brandenburg; Louis V, Elector Palatine; and Louis II Jagiellon, King of Bohemia. Charles was most obvious choice as brother-in-law to Louis of Bohemia, but others were nervous about too much power being placed in one man's hands. Along with his grandfather's titles, Charles had also recently inherited the title “King of Spain”, which he ruled alongside his mother, Joanna the Mad of Castile.

Francis I of France also wished to hold the powerful title, rejoining lands that had all once been Carolingian. Francis and Charles were bitter rivals since a French victory at the Battle of Marignano the year before brought the twenty-one-year-old Francis to the forefront of European politics. The two began a bribing war for votes, which made some electors all the more nervous.

The suggestion of eliminating outside influence arose, and Frederick II of Saxony (called "the Wise") was offered the election.  The task would be monumental and place him at the forefront of politics among much wealthier and more powerful figures, but Frederick determined it to be the right path and agreed.  To the dismay of Francis and Charles both, Frederick was elected.

Problems quickly arose in the empire. The knights of Rhineland rebelled, using Protestant rhetoric to rally their people against the growing "new money" as Feudalism began to break down.  Frederick met with the knights and created the Diet of the Germans to address issues.  The Diet was proven successful as the communistic Peasants' War was put down and undercut by expanding religious freedom to the growing factions of Protestants.  Germany became a powerful center to the new Europe, but would eventually be torn apart into its smaller kingdoms due to religious strife.

June 28, 1519 – Henry VIII Elected Holy Roman Emperor

After the death of Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, and Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I in January of 1519, many of his titles went directly by inheritance to his Habsburg grandson Charles V. The title emperor, however, would be given by decision of the seven elector-princes of the Germans, Albert of Mainz; Richard von Greiffenklau zu Vollrads of Trier; Hermann of Wied of Cologne; Frederick III of Saxony; Joachim I of Brandenburg; Louis V, Elector Palatine; and Louis II Jagiellon, King of Bohemia. Charles was most obvious choice as brother-in-law to Louis of Bohemia, but others were nervous about too much power being placed in one man's hands. Along with his grandfather's titles, Charles had also recently inherited the title “King of Spain”, which he ruled alongside his mother, Joanna the Mad of Castile.

Francis I of France also wished to hold the powerful title, rejoining lands that had all once been Carolingian. Francis and Charles were bitter rivals since a French victory at the Battle of Marignano the year before brought the twenty-one-year-old Francis to the forefront of European politics. The two began a bribing war for votes, which made some electors all the more nervous. Ideally, a German would be emperor, which was suggested to Fredrick of Saxony, but he refused. Another possibility for the election was Henry VIII of England, but he did not have nearly the money or influence to compete with the Bourbons of France and all the holdings of the Habsburgs. The decision seemed to settle toward Charles until Cardinal Thomas Woolsey, the Lord Chancellor who had conducted matters of state for the young Henry, presented in secret a new plan: Francis use his influence to support Henry's election. Francis, though disappointed that he would not win the title, was at least satisfied that Charles would be deprived of it. The electors were amiable toward an English king (since at least they could relate the language to German) and were more comfortable with a less overwhelming force. The election of Henry was announced to the shock of Europe and instant dismay of Habsburg-supporters.

In 1520, Francis and Henry met in a garish display at the Camp du Drap d'Or (“Field of the Cloth of Gold”) in northern France as Henry began a tour of his new lands. Wolsey orchestrated this meeting as well, but it proved ineffectual as, despite Francis' generosity, Henry declined forging an alliance. Wolsey, who was quietly campaigning for himself as pope, also organized a meeting with Charles while in Germany, but this meeting also came to no avail. Instead, Europe was in a tense peace as Henry threatened to attack whoever began a war.

Meanwhile, Henry focused on the problems of the Reformation beginning in his new empire. Reacting to the sale of indulgences as part of the funding for construction on St. Peter's Basilica, Augustinian friar Martin Luther had posted Ninety-Five Theses critiquing the Catholic Church. During the latter part of Henry's tour in 1521, he heard Luther's case at Worms. In the end, and to the frustration of Pope Leo X, Henry determined to appease his subjects and declared the matter religious debate and did not seek any punishment for him. The support for Luther won over the respect of disgruntled knights in the Rhineland who were nervous of new money but reaffirmed by Henry out of his fanaticism for jousting. The knights' loyalty proved key to Henry's defeat of the German Peasants' Uprising a few years later.

Despite his great realms, Henry struggled to produce an heir. His wife, Catherine of Aragon, six years his senior, had not had a pregnancy since the birth of their daughter Mary. Henry had become fascinated with one of Catherine's maidens, Anne Boleyn. Anne refused to become a mistress and replied that she could only meet Henry's advances if she were queen. Henry asked Pope Clement VII for an annulment of his marriage as Catherine had earlier been married to his brother Arthur, but the pope declined. After the debate dragged for years, Henry decided to break with Rome as the Swedes has had done, name himself Supreme Head of the Church of England in 1533, and bring about his marriage to Anne.

This led to the question of what to do with his holdings in the Holy Roman Empire. Catholic regions saw Henry as an adulterer, but the Protestants saw a chance for freedom from Rome. When Henry dissolved the monasteries of England and seized their valuables, Charles took a stand as defender of Catholicism and invaded the Holy Roman Empire to seize the title he long believed to have been stolen. Henry counterattacked with Swedish assistance, and the war spilled across the Alps as Italian states saw a chance to rebel. Germany served as the principal battleground with towns razed and re-razed as Protestant and Catholic armies carried on campaigns. France attempted to remain neutral as internal strife with the Huguenots grew up, and eventually Francis I determined a policy of religious freedom to maintain his allies. The war threatened to expand further with an unprecedented alliance with Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire who had previously besieged Vienna and threatened Hungary, and Charles knew when to capitulate and agreed to a treaty.

Upon the death of Henry in 1547, the electors met again and, thanks to Henry's urgings, named his son Edward VI of England as the new, ten-year-old emperor. Edward proved a great mover in Protestantism, but he was sickly, dying in 1553. His half-sister Mary ascended the throne of England; the electors, however, could not have a female emperor and instead chose Henry II of France, whose consort Catherine de Medici had great influence and policies of religious tolerance were a healthy compromise between electors optioning Protestant King Christian of Denmark or staunchly Catholic Habsburg Ferdinand I. Bourbons continued to be Holy Roman Emperors until 1685 when Louis XIV worked to affirm his autocracy by promoting Catholicism as the single state religion. Many Protestants fled to Germany, but when Louis began to enact strict religious rule in the Empire as well, the electors refused and stripped him of his title. The Franco-German War brought about a liberated Germany at the expense of France. The electors named Frederick, King in Prussia, as emperor; Augustus II of Saxony, King of Poland, also stood had allegiances outside of Germany, and the time had come for German self-rule. United Germany became a powerful central figure in Europe, leading modernization and industrialization through the next two centuries.


In reality, there was no alliance between Francis I and Henry VIII, even at the later a lavish meeting at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Wars between Catholics and Protestants would flare up in Germany to a height in the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). The Habsburgs held onto the Holy Roman Empire nearly continuously for hundreds of years until it was dissolved by Napoleon in 1806.

Friday, August 3, 2012

June 27, 1950 – US Decides Not to Fight in South Korea

Communism was seen as creeping into post-war Europe, but the success of the Marshall Plan injecting billions of dollars into the West suppressed the growth of communist parties in countries such as France and Italy.  Czechoslovakia, which had turned down the Marshall Plan due to political pressure from the Soviet Union, fell to a coup in 1948.  Shortly after, the Berlin Airlift successfully ended Stalin’s plans of forcibly reuniting Germany.  President Truman enacted his doctrine of stemming the spread of Communism through dollar diplomacy, which proved effective in Greece and Turkey.  An Iron Curtain descended across Europe, establishing clear borders between the capitalist West and communist East.

Halfway across the world, however, Communism continued to spread.  China’s decades-long civil war ended with a Communist victory as the Nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1950.  Even before that war was over, North Koreans from the area that had been occupied by Soviets after the war invaded the South.  South Koreans appealed to the United Nations, who on June 25 enacted United Nations Security Council Resolution 82 (the Soviets had boycotted the UN over the refusal to recognize the PRC) and following resolutions calling up forces to help defend the country.  This put US President Truman in a delicate position between a war-weary populace and the prediction of losing Japan if Communism spread across the Sea of Japan.  After much discussion with Secretary of State Dean Acheson, he determined not to repeat the mistakes of appeasement as had been seen with Hitler, but he doubted the desire of fellow Americans to enter another war.

On June 27, 1950, Truman announced before Congress that the United States would offer support from its bases in Japan, funding, advisers, and arms, but only a voluntary expeditionary force would be dispatched rather than a renewal of the draft and a full declaration of war.  The UN and its allies would be supportive, but the US would not be “running the show.”  The first evidence of support was the movement of the US Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Strait, which ended the PRC’s hopes of fully crushing the Nationalists.  Mao Zedong reorganized what would have been the invasion army for Taiwan into the People’s Liberation Army North East Frontier Force to intervene in Korea, whom Premier Zhou Enlai called “China’s neighbor.”

Reinforcements from the UN arrived in September, as the South Koreans had been nearly pushed off the peninsula.  At the Battle of Inchon, US, Canadian, and British naval attacks provided cover as a mixed group of Allied marines stormed the beach and seized Kimpo Airfield.  The largely unorganized Allies made some advancement toward Seoul, but the lack of troops slowed progress despite the clear supply line.  That fall, the Chinese again warned of intervention of the UN crossed the 38th Parallel that had initially divided the North and South.  The UN obliged, preparing for winter as the South Koreans made their own strikes across the border.  Many, such as General Douglas MacArthur in Japan, criticized the move, stating that victory against North Korea should be absolute.  If the Chinese joined the war, then it would be another communist country to defeat and liberate.

Instead, the war became a stalemate as the South Koreans bolstered their defenses and gradually replaced UN soldiers.  In the North, China and the Soviet Union gave aid, but neither side could legally enter the fight.  For the remainder of his term, Truman kept up his doctrine of aid for communist-threatened countries but felt glad he had kept America at large out of another war.  Chinese expansion continued southward, however, as they seized Tibet in 1950 and gave aid to rebels against colonialism in French Indochina.  The Eisenhower Administration gave similar aid, but was unsuccessful in halting the fall of Vietnam and Laos.  Closer to home, however, economic support to Cuba won over Castro’s new government.

In the Middle East, meanwhile, the Soviets began to make political maneuvers to expand their political influence.  Americans drew up their own allies, but notions of Pan-Arabism stilted the effect of both.  Instead, the US limited its efforts while the Soviets pressed all the harder, leading up to the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.  The war would prove too costly for the Soviet Union, which had been decaying internally for years, and contribute to its collapse in 1991. 

Chinese communism began to suffer similar decay, but the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 brought in a new generation of leaders who put into effect economic reforms that brought a new era of prosperity.  The death of Hu Yaobang in 1989 led to protest for similar reforms on democratization and freedom of speech, but the ideas were suppressed.  The prosperity of smaller Asian communist states has not followed as readily while some, such as Vietnam, do well with tourism and manufactures while others still suffer repression.

North Korea remained under the control of guerilla leader Kim Il-sung until he left for Moscow in 1956 to stand up to Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization.  Former followers seized the government and worked to stop his return as his popularity had never recovered from his futile invasion.  This coup won over much of the support of the military and of Mao Zedong, who had begun to question Kim’s stability.  Kim was exiled to Russia, where he remained despite attempts to reinvade his country.  North Korea continued as a satellite of China, but began to seek a more independent stance in the 1980s.  In August 2000, the Koreas became reunified.


In reality, the US was the primary contributor to the Korean War, and General Douglas MacArthur led the UN forces there.  Early victories came swiftly with the UN crossing the 38th Parallel on October 1 and even marching into China itself in pursuit of North Korean armies.  The Chinese entered the war with over a million soldiers, and the fighting became a stalemate near where it had started.  An armistice was announced in 1953 with a formal division in 1954 that lasts even today, though talks of reunification are beginning to blossom.

Aug 3, 1949 - MacArthur Declares Himself Japanese Dictator

Douglas MacArthur, born 1880 and in 1925 made the youngest major general the in US Army, proved his military record in World War II with a 30:1 kill ratio against the Japanese as well as being awarded a Medal of Honor, multiple distinguished service medals on land, sea, and air, and two purple hearts.  When the war ended, he was given the title Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers and ordered to oversee the Occupation of Japan.  He drafted a new constitution in 1946 that became ratified the following year, reformed land ownership to put millions of acres into the hands of owner-operators, and reorganized and rebuilt the nation's industry as a peacetime leader.

One of his most significant moves was to recommend immunity to Japanese scientists such as those in the infamous Unit 731 who conducted human experiments.  In exchange for their information (which would remain secret), the doctors would not be tried for crimes against humanity.  Rather than handing the data on biological weapons over to the United States government, he kept the information to himself, an action believed to be the first on his road to megalomania.

In 1948, MacArthur was among those put forth for the Republican nomination for the presidency.  Democrats had held the White House since 1932, and it seemed like a good chance to bring about needed post-war change.  When MacArthur lost to Dewey, who in turn lost to Truman, he became despondent about his homeland.  Meanwhile, the great changes he had made to Japan continued, and he began to focus more on his life in Japan.

MacArthur became unruly in the eyes of Washington as he too-often traded out military personnel, eventually creating a power structure completely loyal to him.  He had won over the respect of the Japanese with his land reforms and encouragement of trade unions in the new industry, creating grassroots support.  Censorship boards, which MacArthur began to direct personally, equated all good news with himself and bad news with other American figures.  When President Truman called for MacArthur's removal, he refused and pronounced himself dictator of Japan.  His title became Gaijin Shogun ("foreign military ruler"), and he stated that any threat to remove him would be met with military-grade biological weapons cultivated from Unit 731's experiments.

Americans balked, but war-weariness caused them to leave him as MacArthur allowed any of the 30,000 Americans stationed in Japan to evacuate peacefully.  Much of the military equipment had "disappeared" into MacArthur's personal army's hands, leaving no paper record to prove claims for return of American materiel.  After obligatory reorganization and crackdown, MacArthur sealed the Japanese borders with rearmed fishing vessels, allowing trade only through approved channels.

Until 1964, Japan was an isolated state controlled by rationing and fear of MacArthur's release of plagues.  Sanctions were placed on the nation, but they only contributed to the seclusion.  International forces reacting to the Korean War were believed to be staging for a campaign of liberation, but as the war became stalemated, the idea was never explored.  Instead, for fifteen years, Japan returned to a feudal period and did not return to the world scene until MacArthur died and his son Arthur MacArthur refused to continue rule, fleeing to Switzerland.  Since then, Japan has been a figure of East Asian politics despite economic struggles.


In reality, General MacArthur was a loyal American. Under his leadership, the Japanese, as he told Congress in 1951,  "have from the ashes left in war's wake erected in Japan an edifice dedicated to the supremacy of individual liberty and personal dignity, and in the ensuing process there has been created a truly representative government committed to the advance of political morality, freedom of economic enterprise, and social justice."  Shortly before his death, the Japanese respectfully referred to him as the Gaijin Shogun.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

June 26, 363 – Emperor Julian defeats Sharpur II

After a divine vision foretold Constantine’s victory over Maxentius at Milvian Bridge in 312, he determined to reverse the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire.  In 313, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, returning confiscated property to churches and affirming freedom of religion granted by Galerius in 311.  His mother, Helena, led expeditions to sites important to Christianity such as the birthplace of Christ in Bethlehem, and Constantine used his resources to build cathedrals after cathedral upon them, such as the Church of the Nativity.  In 325, Constantine commanded bickering bishops to meet at the Council of Nicaea, which clarified doctrine, hamstrung Arianism, and made Christianity far more political.

After Constantine’s death, his three sons inherited the empire, which soon fell into civil war again.  Constantius II, the second son, eventually gained control and reorganized his command structure with those who had proven loyal.  Among them was his bookish cousin Julian, who had spent much of his life in exile at studies of philosophy and religion.  Julian had become a lector in the Church, but Constantius ordered him to become the representative Caesar in Gaul to keep further rebellions from arising.  There, Julian learned the art of war while defeating Franks and Germans and winning utter loyalty of his soldiers.  He also abandoned Christianity, instead seeing religion in the Neoplatonic perspective as metaphor for ideals, a metaphor better viewed, he believed, through pagan myth and ritual.

Renewed war with the Sassanids in Persia prompted Constantius to recall half of Julian’s forces in 360.  Julian, who had become even more popular by seizing civilian rule and preventing tax increases toward corrupt local government, refused.  His soldiers dubbed him “Augustus”, and Julian marched to war against his cousin in 361.  Constantius fell deathly ill and, to stave off civil war, pronounced Julian the rightful ruler of Rome.  Julian arrived in Constantinople and began abolishing the autocratic practices established by Constantine, whom he blamed for corruption throughout the empire.  He also blamed the weakness of Roman values, which he attributed to the spread of Christianity.  While encouraging his peers to take up pagan ritual again, Julian stripped the Church of privileges and required that all public educators had to be approved by him, ending the careers of numerous Christian tutors.  To spread his popularity and speed the demise of Christianity, which had become integral as the empire’s system of charity, he began to create state philanthropy and universal ethical codes for priests regardless of religion.

While Julian worked to push his reforms through, issues arose in the East as the Sassanids continued their harassment of Roman fortifications and its ally, Armenia.  He settled in Antioch (known for its wealth of temples to Apollo) for a time and solved a food shortage by forcing land-holders to sell.  From there, he built up a massive expeditionary force of nearly 100,000 and marched into Persia.  His armies moved enigmatically, feigning invasions northeastward to draw out King Shapur II and his army, while Julian’s main force worked its way down the Euphrates to attack the Sassanian capital at Ctesiphon across the Tigris.  The defenders determined to attack him in the field, but Julian won a staggering victory where 2,500 Sassanids died versus seventy Romans.  Julian met with his commanders to determine action as the Romans did not have the equipment for a siege and Shapur’s larger army was returning quickly while 30,000 Romans who had been a distraction in the north.  The general consensus was a retreat to regroup, but Julian refused and dubbed himself the avatar of Alexander the Great.

Julian ordered a siege of Ctesiphon, which proved to be yet another feint.  When Shapur arrived, he withdrew the sieging troops to the marshlands that had been flooded by locals breaking dykes as defense against Julian’s arrival.  Shapur attacked, but the wet ground made his heavy cavalry and war elephants useless.  The light Romans, however, held high ground and were able to defeat the soldiers sent against them.  When Shapur’s army began to retreat, Julian signaled the counterattack, which drove the Sassanids to flee.  Shapur was captured, and Julian became the conqueror of Persia.

Julian stayed in Persia for years to maintain control and began adapting to the eastern cultures.  His religious philosophy proved to welcome new cults such as Mithras and Isis, which he exported all over Rome.  Money from the conquests went to projects to support other religions, such as Judaism, for whom Julian rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem despite fires caused by an earthquake in Galilee that had driven away workers during the first attempt in 363.  Christianity dwindled into one of a multitude of religions, all represented in Rome, whose Pantheon served as the capitol of all belief toward the platonic ideal.  Political rule, which governed and promoted religious action, was maintained in Constantinople.

The Persian frontier proved difficult to hold as Huns attacked, but it served well as a buffer for Rome.  Germans were welcomed into the empire fluidly due to Julian’s universalist appeals, as were the later Huns upon their settlement of eastern Europe.  Eventually the Roman Empire fell due to myriad reasons, particularly civil war as particular cults rose up against corrupt leaders.  The tradition of religious egalitarianism continues with periodic new cults coming to the forefront while others faded.  Christianity continues as a general belief held by many largely as a social philosophy of “love thy neighbor” and held stringently only by a few ascetic monks.


In reality, Julian retreated while the Sassanids harassed the army.  At the Battle of Samarra, Julian himself aided in the defense of the rear, driving away attackers but being speared in the fray.  While there are theories of assassination by a Christian soldier, his personal physician Oribasius of Pergamum determined the wound was from a Persian spear.  According to legend, Saint Mercurius (224-250) appeared to the imprisoned Saint Basil in 363, who had been praying for aid, which Mercurius had delivered by spearing Julian himself.

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