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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Cecasander

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Pottericon.jpg


I had never been in Koinion before, but judging from the well-kept buildings it was one of the inner city’s most well to do areas. Most of the district was made up of large apartment buildings, five or six stories high and built in what I believed to be art nouveau style. The tram stopped along the main avenue, so we walked the rest of the way. According to Kalina, the address on the note should be about half way in one of the streets crossing the avenue. She knew that professor Doxiadus lived somewhere in Koinion, but she had never been there. We found the street very soon though, and the address wasn’t very hard as well. It was a café, located at the floor level of one of the apartment buildings, named Café Ianus. The café looked very new and light, keeping something loosely resembling a Roman theme as far as I could tell from the outside. When we pushed open the door to enter, we found a familiar face, though. It was the same student that had told us that we would meet the professor here instead of his office. He nodded in acknowledgment as he was us. “Professor Doxiadus is waiting for you at the table to your right, near the rear wall,” he said monotone. Surprised, I eyes him up. “What… errr what are you doing here?” “Lookout,” the student said grimly, as if he found the setup as uncomfortable as I did.

Professor Doxiadus was indeed at the table near the wall, facing away from the door. I recognized his brown tweed jacket that was draped around the back of the seat, and that had even made him look dustier than professor Sisinis on the first impression, weeks ago. I now knew better, realising I never met Sisinis in a downtown café with a student lookout, mimicking a setup that looked a lot like a criminal business transaction. When he looked over his shoulder and saw us, he smiled at his polite, calming way and he told us to take a seat opposite of him. “Alexandros, Kalina, good you could make it to Koinion. I bet you wonder why we had to meet here, instead of my office at the faculty.” I laughed. “That did cross my mind, sir. I also wondered why you have a lookout at the door.” Professor Doxiadus nodded. “Well, quite simply, I didn’t want professor Bokova around. Her present would compromise the sincerity of this meeting, you see. My esteemed colleague and me are… a bit at odds, you see?” I wasn’t the one to complain, nor did I really want to talk about professor Bokova today. “But why meet us here?” Kalina asked. The professor laughed. “Frankly, it was the most convenient place for me. I live here, you see? Well, a few stories up, actually. You know, Alexandros, your grandfather used to live in this street too. We actually met in this café often in those days, although it looked much different back then.” I didn’t know, of course. After all, I never knew he had lived and teached in Constantinople until he had died. “I can imagine that you have a lot of questions about your grandfather.” Crap… actually I didn’t. It suddenly came to me that the professor had blown the thing out of proportion. I had always intended to remember him from my own experiences as a child, on the porch of his house on Kefalonia. Not by what other people from his past would tell me, because frankly I didn’t really care that much about his past. Kalina and the professor looked at me with expectation though. “Well… professor, do you know anything about the money he left me to go study at the Imperial Academy? Not even my grandmother knew anything about that.” The professor nodded. “Yes, he arranged that way back. Your father wasn’t very interested in history, so when you were born your grandfather had it arranged that the Imperial Academy would pay for your study. Your study and even that of your children.” I frowned. “My children, sir?” Professor Doxiadus laughed. “Oh yes, it was his wish that you and… you would get children to also follow your footsteps, and keep the interest in history alive within the Elias family.” Wait… “Me and who, sir?” Professor looked a bit flabbergasted. “What? Errr, well, whoever would want to have children with you, of course.” I could swear he winked at Kalina. I never considered having children, with her or anyone. We haven’t been that close yet, anyway.

“He really never told you about his teachings?” I shook my head. “Never. I always thought he had lived on Kefalonia forever. But then again, I was so young.” We laughed. Once the talk had progressed into informalities, things had become much more relaxed. Although Kalina was still just sitting there, laughing with us and drinking her coffee, me and the professor had been exchanging memories about my grandfather like we were some old friends rather than teacher and pupil. “I can imagine it must seem like he has lived two separate lives. I remember that in the years after my graduation, he began to cut back on hours. He was… well, he was planning to move to Kefalonia, I suppose. I think it has been twenty years or so, that he left the history faculty.” That must have been only a year or two before I was born. I never realised that my father also lived here, then. Didn’t he go to college in Thessaloniki? “It’s a shame though, he wasn’t quite so old. If you have the chance, you should have a look at his writings. He did some pretty inspiring things. You should at least read his reports on the digs in Nineveh II, or his cooperative work with… well, with professor Bokova.” “They… they worked together?” Professor Doxiadus nodded slowly. “Yes, I believe they go back together a long time. At least since the time I was still a student. She… she never really talked about that time, but there is a reason why she became one of the coordinators of the archaeology department.”

“Sir, so you and professor Bokova are at odds?” Kalina suddenly asked, somewhat sassy. Professor Doxiadus was clearly surprised and laughed. “Is that what is said on the faculty?” “It's what you just said,” I pointed out. It would explain the strange relationship between the two professors. Professor Doxiadus simply shrugged though. “I suppose. Professor Bokova… well, let’s just say we have some conflicting interests. And the good professor has on several times taken the liberty to get her… oh, you know… it’s not really any of your business.” I completely agreed, but Kalina seemed to have taken a sudden interest in the relationship of two of her teachers. “Is that why you didn’t want her at this meeting? Because of conflicting interests?” Professor Doxiadus seemed to squint at Kalina for a split second, but then shrugged nonchalantly. “I just didn’t like that she invited herself, without even asking me. She’s the faculty coordinator, but that doesn’t mean she is allowed to attend private meetings between me and students. I don’t have to justify that to her… and aptly miss Taneyev, nor do I have to justify that to you.” Kalina smiled innocently. I knew the professor and she knew each other personally, and I couldn’t tell if they were just joking around or not.

It was past five when the professor informed us that he had another meeting, and that he would have to leave. When Kalina took her time to start asking questions about the lecture she would have from him Monday, I took my time to visit the bathroom. Kalina and I had planned to get to town afterwards, to get a bite and find a nice pub afterward. I needed an empty bladder if I was going to criss-cross the city with her again. When I got back, she and the professor seemed to be in some heated discussion. “…just shouldn’t know! This is simply not the time!” Professor Doxiadus said, struggling to keep his voice down. “If this is not the time, than it’s never going to be the time!” Kalina fumed, her beautiful emerald eyes so focused on her teacher that she hadn’t seen me returning yet. “Perhaps. Perhaps it’s for the better,” the professor said, apparently trying to calm her down. What the hell was going on? “He deserve to… Oh…” Her passionate rebut suddenly stopped when she saw me standing behind the professor. Professor Doxiadus also turned around, looking up at me in a mixture of surprise and amusement about my own surprise. “Ah, Alexandros… “ He got up from his chair. “I’m afraid I have to leave now, people. Time waits for no man. Not even for historians.” The professor laughed as he got his wallet from his tweed jacket and put a 1000-Drachma bill on the table. More than enough to cover our coffees. Then he said goodbye and casually walked out of the café. The lookout had already been gone. I was still standing behind the chair. “So… what was that all about?” I asked carefully. Kalina shrugged and waved the question away. “Ah, archaeology nonsense about pottery.”

Instead of taking the tram again, we walked back to the old city from Koinion. It was quite a walk, but I had never really been in the area so I kept looking around all the time. Eventually Kalina told me to knock it out because it made her restless, and we walked on hand in hand. On my request, we went to drink something in café Axum across the train station, which did not look any better around dusk. Afterwards we went to a little Armenian restaurant near the old palace and more or less pub-crawled our way back to the artisan district. It was around two that we entered the bendy alleys of the city’s oldest standing district. It seemed to be just as quiet as the last time. Kalina had told me a lot of students lived in the district, so I was surprised to found ourselves alone on the street. Perhaps the others were still in the pubs along the Mese?

And as before, I found the empty streets a bit haunting. Kalina walked very close to me, holding my arm so she would walk straight. Although she insisted she was a big girl, she wouldn’t take her ouzo as well as me. Big girls are still girls, after all. I led her to her place, while a voice in my head warmed me that I should say no if she would invite me up. Suddenly it became very clear to me we were being followed. I had noticed something before, when we entered the district, but I blamed that on my own intoxication. But now I was certain I saw somebody hiding away to my left when we took a turn. Feeling the liquid courage flow through my veins, I turned around and looked better. There was a lot of darkness. Suddenly I saw something move into the alley to our right. “Wait here,” I told Kalina, and I walked towards the alley. I felt watched like the first time I had been here, but now the ouzo had taken away my fear of getting mugged. Besides, now I had a lady to defend. Then the figure in the alley ran away. I did a few steps, and felt I could still run. The next second I found myself chasing after the shade, keeping in mind to put one foot after the other. The person wasn’t very fast himself, but he had an advantage on my on the account of not bouncing from one side of the alley to the other when running. The man – because I could see it was a man – wore a hat and a hat and a long dark coat. While I kept following him into another alley, I reckoned he would have mugged me if he had wanted that. He went into another, even more shallow and dark alley, that apparently led between two large old warehouse buildings. I could hear footsteps behind me too, now and I wondered if that was Kalina, or if I was running into a trap. Somehow I won distance on the man, who was clearly getting out of breath now. “Hey, you!” I heard myself say, and I nearly grabbed his coat. Suddenly he got into a dark doorway, and he tried to push the door close. He clearly hadn’t realised how close I had been onto him, though. I managed to grab his coat, and tried to drag him back outside. He turned around in surprise, jerked his coat from my hand. I saw his face. “Go away!” he said, but I didn’t hear him, nor did I noticed how the door closed before me. It couldn’t be.

It could have been a minute or an hour later, that Kalina had reached me, stumbling more than running. “What… what the hell was that, Alexandros?” she asked worried. I stared at her with big eyes, my heart racing while my brains had ground to a halt. “That… was my grandfather…”
 

Cecasander

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Passepartout - Absolutely. Besides, having the Bulgarian rulers (or any other 'barbarian' rulers) on my sides means more auxiliary troops for me :D

And you make a valid point, I'll keep an eye on that. Truth to be said, the conversion from bitmap to jpeg didn't really help too...


Now, on to the story. As promised, the plot thickens even more, and it has almost reached a full circle. I apologize for this belated update, but Christmas and a nasty Trojan kinda messed up my plans of finishing this before. The next update will contain a (hopefully) nice rundown of 1250's Constantinople, so stay tuned!
 

unmerged(59077)

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Academic politics, revenant relatives...nice.
 

humancalculator

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Very interesting.

Why did he fake his own death?

Well, i probably shouldn't ask, im sure it will all be revealed in due time. :)
 

J. Passepartout

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This is quite odd, to say the least. Pull out any of the three or four individual strange things and it still would be very strange...
 

Cecasander

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Enewald - Story development ;)

asd21593 - No, no ghosts. Ghosts would just float through the walls, not run though alleys.

RGB - Academic politics... almost as interresting as watching grass grow.

humancalculator - Hehe, true. But what makes you think he faked his own death?

J. Passepartout - Ofcourse, the oddities are all closely related ;)
 

Cecasander

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Pottericon.jpg


That thought was the last thing I remembered, until I woke up the next morning. It was my own bed, at my own dormitory. I didn’t know how I had gotten home. All I knew I saw my grandfather last night, who had been running away from me through the dark alleys of Byzantion’s artisan district. My grandfather, who had been dead for almost eight years. Or at least, that’s what I have been told by… well, by everybody, really. If it had been untrue, would there be some kind of conspiracy within my family, to keep me from knowing my grandfather is still alive? But that’s just ridiculous. The fact I just woke up did not improve the confusion and the conflicting thoughts. I had to call people.

First I tried to call my grandmother, but she didn’t answer. When I called my parents, my sister Sophia picked up. She told me they had just gone to the supermarket. When I told her she laughed at me, and wouldn’t stop laughing so I hung up on her. Finally I called Kalina. She had been there last night, after all. “Don’t be silly, Alex, you were drunk. Did you really believe you saw your grandfather’s ghost?” she said. Judging from her tone, she had just been up herself. “I know what I saw,” I said, becoming less confident. “You saw a man running away from you. So what, it was probably someone who had wanted to mug us. And you talked about your grandfather all afternoon, so that must have still been stuck in your head.” “He wore a hat and a trench coat, and he was clearly not very fit. What kind of mugger wears that, and can’t even outrun a dru… intoxicated person?” Kalina sighed. “Don’t ask me. Listen, dear. Don’t try to think about it. The man you saw last night was not your grandfather. Perhaps he was someone who looked a lot like him… perhaps you just saw what you wanted to see. The truth is that you don’t know for sure. But your grandfather is dead.” I sighed deeply through the phone. She was right. Of course she was right. It seemed ridiculous now, to have seen my late grandfather in an alley at night. It reminded me of those stories of people seeing the face of Jesus in a pitabread. Kalina suddenly laughed. “Don’t take it too heavy. Hey, listen… come by my place around three. I’ll show you around the artisan district at daylight… and we make a proper end to the evening.”

Kalina had been right that the artisan district looked a lot different in daylight. A lot… friendlier, so to say. The dark alleys that I remembered now suddenly appeared to be walled off by tall, well-kept white-washed buildings with colourful planters hanging under the large windows. The larger streets were filled with people now, both tourists and locals, and there were even some street performers. The fact that it was a very sunny spring Saturday alone seemed to have transformed that dark maze into a pleasant, open city district. And now the artisan shops were also open. Many of the craftsmen were working in their shop or even before their shop. Cutting, painting, hammering, anything. I had been here years ago as a tourist, and I remembered imagining Constantinople would have looked like this five centuries ago or so. Minus the tourists of course. I didn’t really have time to admire the craftsmanship now, though, because a pretty Bulgarian girl was waiting for me.

I found her outside, before her apartment building, and my heart stopped a second as I saw her standing there in the crowd. She wore a beautiful white summer dress – it was a very sunny Saturday afternoon – and she was talking to an elder men whom I suspected to be one of the artisans. The man apparently had pointed me out to her, because she turned around and walked directly to me, a smile on her face that would melt the heart of the most antipathic psychopath. She was so goddamn beautiful… “You’re early,” she said, and she kissed me. I nodded. “You look beautiful,” I replied. Kalina smiled, as if to reinforce my point. “You know a lot of artisans here?” “I know some. The man over there is Khveli, he’s from Georgia. A lot of Georgians fled to Constantinople during the war, as you might know. Khveli and a few others came to the artisan district. He makes ornament from old gun shells, you know. Says it helps him process the war, turning tools of destruction into art.” I was genuinely touched by the idea, and as walked I saw a few other shops that had ornamented gun shells on display on the little tables before them.

“There is someone I would like you to meet,” Kalina said, and she led me into one of the smaller alleys, away from the crowd. We ended up before a small potter shop. The shop owner, an old, bald man with a pair of jeweler magnifying glasses sat before the door, concentrated on painting a vase. “Vasili, it’s me,” Kalina said. The man looked up. “Ah Kalina, lovely as ever. You brought a friend?” “This is Alexandros. I told you about him.” The old man seemed to dig through his vast memory. “Ah, yes. Good to finally meet you, son. What brings you here?” “Well, I thought it would be nice to have him have a look at one of the artisan shops, and well… this was the nicest I could think of.” “Sweet girl, of course! Come in, come in!” The old man slowly stood up, and led us inside. I was amazed at the many different objects that were on display, all painted and seemingly without a flaw. These were truly products of love and care. “You made them all yourselves?” I said impressed. The old man laughed. “Oh no, not all. I work here with an old friend of mine, Cadmus. He also made a lot… He’s out for today, though.”

Near the back of the shop I found a large work bench full with what appeared to be shards of pottery. Above the work bench was a rack with a dozen different kinds of glue, and two large extendable lights. Under the bench was a collection of dishes and vases, most of them also partially broken. “Oh, that’s Cad’s work space. He loves to repair ceramics, to puzzle with the pieces. It’s a hobby of his.” “Really? You mean he repairs the things he had made?” “Oh no, most of it isn’t his. A lot of people know he does it, so from time to time they come by him if they dropped a plate or something. Then he glues it back together, polishes it. Sometimes the owner won’t even recognise it, so good it looks.” This Cad sounded like a weird old man to me. Crafty, but weird. I looked at Kalina, but she shook her head. “No, he’s not really strange,” she said as if she had read my mind. “He is just a bit obsessive sometimes about putting things back together. To pick up all the shards, no matter how small, and make something whole again.” Vasili laughed. “That’s right. He often says to people that everything can be put back together, no matter how small the pieces. All it needs is a lot of time and patience.”

We strolled through the artisan district until it became dark, the tourists disappeared and the shops closed. Then she dragged me to a small but cosy deli shop just around the corner where we got filled up on salad, pita’s and grilled meats for only a few hundred Drachma. Afterwards I walked her home. “Well, I had fun again, today. As long as I don’t run into ancestral zombies on my way home, at least,” I said as we got to her place. Kalina laughed, and she took my hand. She whipped some hair from her face. “Well, if you’re afraid to walk alone through the dark again you, you can come up and keep me company for some longer. It’s still early, and I’m sure we can add up to today’s fun.”

Sunday morning I woke up to the bells of the Saint Basil’s Cathedral, in a strange bed with purple bed sheets that smelled of lavender and sweat. It took me at least fifteen seconds to come to the realisation that this was Kalina’s bed. The events of the night quickly came to me. They explained the sweat. Kalina was nowhere to be found. I looked around the room, and realised I had never been here before. It was a light, somewhat stuffed room with two large windows in the opposite wall, overlooking a small courtyard. The walls of the room were painted white with pastel violet flower patterns painted on (or stamped on, perhaps). A big, stuffed white bookcase stood on both sides of the room. To the right of me was Kalina’s messy nightstand. Apart from the alarm clock that told me it was almost noon, an empty cup, a watch, her cellphone, a strip of paracetamol and a half empty strip of strepsils, a remote control, a pack of hair pins and a hardcover book all seem to vie for control of the top of the night stand. On further inspection, the book turned out to be a bible. Funny, I never realised Kalina would have a religious book on her nightstand. Suddenly I heard the sound of a flushing toilet, and I realised the door to my right was open. I got up, nearly slipped on the white summer dress that laid next to the bed, and walked to the door. There was a small kitchen in there, and Kalina in her night gown, wearing magnifying glasses while seemingly putting small pieces of mosaic together on her kitchen counter. She turned around when she saw me, and smiled as she took her glasses off. “Good morning, dear. I’m making us some tea.” She pointed to the pot of tea that was steeping on the counter. “I can also make us some toast,” she added. I smiled, and kissed her. “That would be lovely. So… what are you doing?” She laughed as I gestured at the mosaic puzzle. “Oh, some homework from archaeology class. Gluing some tiny shards together.” “Reminds me of the potter from yesterday.” She laughed again, looking at me teasingly. “Indeed… By the way… you found quite a lot of shards. Perhaps you should also start assembling…”
 

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Sorry, some more story while my Constantinople lecture is in scaffolding. That doesn't mean this was just filler. There was most certainly a point to it. After all, Kalina's prophesying is also aimed at you, my faithful readers!
 

unmerged(59077)

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Constantinople...a bit crowded as a refugee destination?
 

Cecasander

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asd21593 - Hehe, thanks :)

RGB - Well, it's a very big city, and big cities often happen to have a large number of refugees or other immigrants. And it's not like there are millions of Georgians in Constantinople :p

Enewald - Actually, reread the first lines of the final paragraph;
"Sunday morning I woke up to the bells of the Saint Basil’s Cathedral, in a strange bed with purple bed sheets that smelled of lavender and sweat. It took me at least fifteen seconds to come to the realisation that this was Kalina’s bed. The events of the night quickly came to me. They explained the sweat."
 

Cecasander

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Pottericon.jpg

I didn’t give Kalina’s words any additional though until I got home that afternoon, and sat before the television waiting for my rice to cook. What had she meant with shards? Was she talking about the feud between professors Bokova and Doxiadus? I mean, those questions had been answered by the good professor Friday, and I didn’t really think of it as my problem anyway. On the other hand, it was obvious that Kalina knew more than me, and that there was ‘something’ going on. But why wouldn’t she tell me, then? I sighed. Perhaps she was just playing with me, perhaps this whole relationship of ours was just some game of hers. But, why would she do such a thing? As far as I knew her – and I liked to think I knew her at least a bit – she was anything but the manipulative bitch you would expect that to do. She wanted me to figure it out myself. But figure what out? I would at least need an example of what I was supposed to make before I could glue shards together. After all, how else was I supposed to know which shard weren’t part of the mosaic puzzle? For a moment I considered calling her. But then my rice was done, and I had to get back to cooking.

When we met the next time it was Tuesday afternoon, just before Doxiadus’ workshop, and the whole matter of shards was not mentioned. When we found ourselves a seat in the classroom, Kalina did inform me that professor Bokova was in the hospital.
“They say she had an accident of some sort. She won’t be able to teach for at least a couple of weeks. That is all I know,” she explained with a smile. That was kind of nasty though, no matter how big a bitch the professor was. At that moment, professor Doxiadus entered the classroom, and he would start his lecture. A picture of Constantinople from a bird’s eye perspective appeared on the smartboard behind him. It took me a few seconds to realise it was not a modern photograph, but rather a rendering of the city in the middle ages.

land-3d2.jpg

“Welcome everyone, good to see so many faces today,” professor Doxiadus began. “Today I am going to tell you some more about out great city here, the city of Constantinople. Or rather, the city as it was in the timeframe we are currently discussing in the regular lectures, so around the year 1250. Constaninople. Konstantinoupoulos, the city of Konstantinos. The Queen of Cities. Nuova Roma, the New Rome. Theofilaktos, the City guarded by God. Dersaadet, the Door to Ultimate Happiness. Farrouk, the City of Two Continents. Tsargrad, the City of Emperors. Miklagrad, the Great City. And of course He Poulis or Stambul, simply meaning The City. There are many more nicknames for Constantinople, and it shows that no matter what time or what place, the city was known and revered. It has been one of the biggest cities in the world for pretty much since its official foundation by Constantine the Great – after which it was named of course – in 330 CE. And now, with it’s agglomeration of almost fifteen million, it is still the largest city in Europe and one of the biggest and most important in the world.”

“But first a short history of the city. I know you have had this before, so I’ll make it short. The city was originally founded in 667 BCE by settlers from the Greek city state of Megara, in Attica. They called the colony Byzantion, after their king Byzas. It became a trading city of some importance as it held the control of the Bosphorus, which connected the Greek city states with their colonies along the Black Sea. It lost some importance with the arrival of the Romans, but this changed when Emperor Constantine the Great founded a new city on the site. He called it Nuova Roma, and intended it to be the new capital of his empire, far away from the corruption and pollution of Rome. It was named in his honour after his death. When the Roman Empire broke in two in 395, Constantinople became the capital of the Eastern Empire, under Emperor Arcadius. Under his rule and that of his son Theodosius II, the city matured. It had been Theodosius II who constructed the great Theodosian walls. The city would expand even more during the reign of Justinian I, who would build, amongst other, the Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Apostles. In the following centuries Constantinople would suffer sieges from all sides, but its mighty walls would withstand all of them. During the Komnenoi dynasty the city got out of harm’s way again, and this insured another new influx of economic activity, including the trade and rediscoveries of knowledge that started following the crusades. In these years, rebellious nobles – like the strategoi during Mikhail VIII’s reign – or disgruntled foreign lords – like the Prince of Kiev during the wars with the Serbians – would attack the city, but those sieges were more like a traditional sign of disagreement than that they were a threat to the city. This was further reinforced with the completion of the Basilian walls in the 1250’s, about which I will talk later.”

“But let’s start with the city as it was around 1250. At the time it was without a doubt the largest city in Europe and the Christian world. It is hard to establish a certain population, as this increased and declined continuously. But most historians agree the city had at least 300.000 people in 1250, and some say even half a million or more. Half a million may not seem much now, but it’s still six times more than the second city in Europe – Paris. Let’s have a look at the city.”

A coloured, schematic map appeared on the screen.

Constantinople1250new.jpg

“This is a map of Constantinople in the early thirteenth century. In a way, little had changed since its early years under Constantine or Theodosius. And in a way, little has changed since then. Here you can see the thick light grey lines that are the main avenues of the city. They were called the Mese – the middle or central – avenues, and the current Mese Avenue is basically a continuation of that. The smaller road grid is not printed on this map, but you could place it over a modern map, and pick out only a few dissimilarities. Just think about that next time you walk through the street; you’re walking over a seventeen century old street grid. Another obvious remain of the old city that can still be seen are the squares that the Mese cross. Currently these are just open squares, but in both the Constantine age as well as the thirteenth century they were called forums – market spaces – and they were the centers of commerce as well as the city’s social and political life. These forums are marked with dark grey dots. Following the alphabetic order on the map, they were the Arcadion, Oxus, Philadephion or Kapitolion, Tauri or Theodosian, Constantine and Augustaion forums. That latter one, the Augustaion, was more of a square in a traditional sense though, which has to do with its location. But we come to that later.”

“Things that are harder to spot nowadays are the walls and the aqueduct. The aqueduct was the final stage of a 250 kilometre long network of runs and canals throughout Thrace that had been constructed to supply the city with fresh water. Within the city the water was then stored in large reservoirs or in underground cisterns. The thirteenth century aqueduct is marked here with a blue line. Most of it was demolished over time, as the modern water system was developed, and currently only the Valens Aqueduct between Third and Fourth hill stands. Outside the old city you can still find part portions of the old aqueduct standing, though.”

An image appeared on the screen of what I knew were the ancient seawalls.

seawall.jpg

“Another thing lost in time are the seawalls, also constructed by Theodosius and his successors. They are not shown on the map, but they follow the coastline around the city. The seawalls of Constantinople successfully kept invaders from the sea at bay – pardon my choice of words – like there were the Arabs, the Norsemen, the Russians and later the Italians. The seawalls were in continuous use until the early sixteenth century, after which they were gradually lowered and then demolished. Currently you can find some remaining sections in Mangana east of the Arcopolis, before the Theodosian harbour of course, and around Blachernae. Which bring us to the regular walls, the red lines on the map which are marked with capital letters.”

“A is the Theodosian Wall, finally completed in 448 and the prime line of Constantinople’s defence against Huns, Bulgars, Goths, Avars, Russians… etcetera for eight centuries straight. The wall was 6,5 kilometres long and 12 meters high, and as it was in fact a construction of three separate walls, up to 40 meters wide. It had a moat, and 96 towers that were up to 20 meters high, built 55 meters apart. The walls were throughout the middle ages considered to be impenetrable, and I think that says enough. Wall B is the Constantine Wall, constructed during the reign of Constantine the Great. After the construction of the Theodesian Wall the wall lost its importance, but it remained standing and would be structurally demolished only in the 18th century. All that remains now are parts that were cooperated into the walls of buildings built on the spot. Another reason why I put this wall on the map, is that it shows the approximate limit of urban buildup. With the exception of Petrion and Blachernae in the northern section, the area between the Constantine and Theodesian walls was primary agricultural ground. Only in the thirteenth century the urban buildup would grow in this area, and this would be one of the reasons for the construction of the Basilian Walls – to secure (more) new farmland within the walls. The advantage of agriculture within your city walls during times of siege are clear; your food supplies won’t dry out so fast. Finally, wall C is the wall around Pera, the district opposite the Golden Horn. The wall marks the limits of the district, which was indeed quite limited. The Basilian Walls will also change that.”

A new map appeared on the screen.

wallsetc.jpg

“Now, before we’re going to take a break, I will show you what these Basilian Walls are. The Basilian Walls, also called the Basilian Works, were constructed between 1246 and 1255. They were conceived by Emperor Basilios III and Manouel Argyropoulos several years earlier, during the wars for Russian dominance where Prince Mikhail of Kiev launched a siege upon Constantinople. The prime reason for the construction was an even greater defensive system than the Theodosian Walls, but as I just said, other reasons were to have more farmland within the city walls, and to allow crowded districts like Pera to expand. The construction, while very costly in both money and manpower, went very prosperous. The Basilian Works consisted of a new city wall west and north of the old Theodosian Wall, and a new wall north of Pera’s city wall. Furthermore, two large fortresses were constructed at the end of the Golden Horn, marked C and D on this map. These were meant to keep a defensive hold over the entire Golden Horn. At B, the large Kosmidion fortress was constructed, that would be the cornerstone of the entire system. To the south, at A, the Golden Gate fortress was greatly extended and became known as the Heptapyrgion, the Fortress of Seven Towers. Within the city walls and near the Great Palace - at G on the map - another fortress was built on the seawalls, known as the Fortress of Tzykanisterion. At F on the map, within Pera’s new walls another fortress was built, the Tophanion Fortress. Finally, when you look at E, you see there are no seawalls there. That’s because that was going to be the site of the new Imperial shipyards, which would eventually cover most of the modern district of Krenides.”

“In lower case letters are the new main gates, eight in total. There had been main eight gates in the Theodosian Wall as well, and most of the new gates would be named after the old gates, as the same roads passed through them. In alphabetic order, or from north to south, these are the Blachernae Gate, Kosmidion Gate, Adrianolian Gate, Romanus Gate, Rhesios Gate, Pege Gate, Xylopkerkos Gate and the main gate; the Golden Gate. Apart from these public gates, there were six so-called military gates.”

Another drawn image appeared on the screen, which I suspected to be a cross section.

wallscut.jpg
“The design of the Basilian Walls, and the main wall in particular, was very much based on the Theodesian Wall. It was surrounded by a moat, 20 to 30 meters wide and up to 10 meters deep. Across the moat stood the first wall, the Moat Wall, three meters high and two meters wide. Behind the Moat Wall was a five meter wide terrace. Behind the Moat Wall was the Outer Wall, eight to nine meters high, three meters thick and 116 towers, each twelve meters high. The towers and the wall were crowned with battlements, and the towers themselves had archery stations. In twelve of the towers were small archery garrisons where ammunition could be stored. These larger towers also were equipped with light ballistae. Behind the Outer Wall laid another open, elevated terrace about fifteen meters wide. Behind that stood the Inner, or Great Wall. The Inner Wall was fourteen meters high and six meters thick, and contained 58 large towers, each containing a small garrison as well as counter-siege weaponry. These towers were all of different height, ranging from seventeen to twenty-two meters, and were also crowned with battlements.”

The professor looked at his watch. “Oh yes, it is due time for a short coffee break. Let’s have five minutes, and then I’m going to tell you about some of the main buildings in the city in the last half hour.”
 
Last edited:

Enewald

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Well, looks like Constantinople might be impossible to conquer. :rolleyes::p
 

unmerged(59077)

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Wow, that's beautiful, and I didn't know that site existed.

AARland is educational :D
 

Cecasander

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Enewald - Well, I hope so. Bigger than this doesn't come in CK. So unless the Germans or the Khwarizmians bring their entire army to the Imperial City... Besides, as with all great military projects, it's built with the hope never to have to use it :p

asd21593/RGB - Indeed, it's a really great site. The big tiled map of the city is one of the most awesome things I ever saw online. Next update is going to include a lot of links to it.
 

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Five minutes was just enough to get some coffee from the machine. When I looked at my watch I understood why. The professor had less than forty minutes left. When we got back into the classroom, he was standing before the smartboard already, showing the map of Constantinople.

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“Alright, let’s start with Constantinople’s main buildings and complexes around the year 1250. The black squares on the map are numbered, as you can see, and I’m just going to run through these numbers, telling a little bit about them. Now, due to serious time constrain, I won’t be able to tell all I want to tell about some of them. The Great Palace of the Hagia Sophia, for example, it simply wouldn’t be sufficient to talk about them for only five minutes. And therefore I will be giving longer lectures about those buildings in a future workshop. But let’s start with the biggest building of them all, and one which will need at least a few hours of explaining; the Great Palace. Construction of the Great Palace began with the foundation of the city in 330, and it was greatly extended and renovated for a couple of times. Eventually it would span the entire area between the hippodrome and the new Church and between the Boukoleon Palace and the Hagia Sophia. The palace ground also extended further east, toward the eastern sea walls. A polo field was situated here, as well as several gardens. The Great Palace was in fact a massive complex of connected buildings that were constructed over time, spanning 19 thousand square meters. Buildings included were the Palace of Daphne – the old Imperial residence and main building of the palace, the Chrysotriklinos or the Golden Reception Hall, the Reception Hall of 19 Couches, the Palace of Magnaura – which housed the first Imperial Academy, and the imperial guard barracks; the Scholae Palatinae. The main gate of the Great Palace was called the Chalke Gate, which gave access from the Augustaion.”

“Although the Great Palace was no longer used as the Imperial residence in the 13th century, it remained the centre of the Imperial bureaucracy as well as the place where the emperor met vassals and foreign visitors. Basileios III sponsored a project for restoration of the complex in 1244, and during his reign it was connected with the Boukoleon Palace.”

An image appeared on the smartboard, labeled 'Boukoleon Palace'

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“Which brings us to the Boukoleon Palace, number two on the map. Although it is sometimes considered part of the Great Palace complex, it was not connected to it until 1244 as I said. The Boukoleon was mostly constructed by Emperor Theophilos in the ninth century as an Imperial residence, and it is most known for being incorporated into the seawalls, creating a seaside palace. The Imperial residence would move to the Blachernae Palace in 1081 and in the 13th century the palace had fallen somewhat in disrepair. However, it would become the residence of Basileios’ wife Glykeria after their marriage went to shambles.”

“Third on the map is the Church of Saints Sergios and Bacchos, built by Justinian in 526. the church was a fairly small building, but its architecture and decorations had much in common with the Hagia Sophia, and it would be known as the Little Sophia by the commoners during the middle ages and the early modern age. It is currently harbouring one of the best examples of early medieval mosaics and iconography outside the Great Palace. Next are the so-called Baths of Zeuxippus. These public baths presumably originate from the second century, so when the city was still called Byzantion, and received its name from the old temple to Zeus that stood on its place. It was considered one of the splendours of its time. The floors were laid with many mosaic and over eighty statues and busts of the great people of the ancient times. The baths were open to all and were very popular with the people at the time. But with many buildings in the palace district, the baths were destroyed by fire during the 532 Nika riots. Although Justinian would rebuild the Baths of Zeuxippus, they would never really regain their splendour or popularity. In the 8th century, when public bathing became out of fashion, they would be converted into a prison, which it would remain in the 13th century. Eventually, as you might know, it was be renovated and would become one of the first public art galleries in the world in 1744, which still exists as the Zeuxippus Museum today."

"Now we come to the Hippodrome, number five. For most of its history, the hippodrome was the centre of Constantinople’s social life. It was constructed by emperor Septimus Severus in 203, but would be greatly expanded by Constantine, eventually allowing up to 100.000 spectators. Chariot racing at the time was a very popular sport and many people made – and lost – money on bets for the races. There were four racing teams, namely the Blues, the Greens, the Reds and the Whites, disguisable by the tunica they wore. The Greens and Blues were the most successful and eventually even became a political power in the city, with progressive and orthodox groups aligning themselves with the teams. This would result in the Nika riots of 532, where spectators and supporters of both the Blues and Greens would attack Justinian in his palace. The riot that followed destroyed half of the city – including the Baths of Zeuxippus and the Hagia Sophia basilica – and over 30.000 people would die. The popularity of chariot racing would slowly decline, and would low by the 13th century. However, an influx of new Turkish and Arab subjects into the city would lead to the introduction of conventional horse racing. Basileios III would also introduce western-style jousting tournaments to the hippodrome around 1250, after seeing such events being held during his Balkan campaigns."

"Near the hippodrome was the Church of Euphemia, marked number six on the map. The Church of Euphemia was original another palace, that of Antiochos. Antiochus had been a very influential eunuch in the 5th century, and had his house built near the hippodrome and next to that of another famous eucuch, Lausus. While the palace of Lausus would burn down, that of Antiochos remained standing and would become a martyr church dedicated to Saint Euphemia in the Hippodrome. In the 17th century, the church had been neglected, but it would be bought by the Imperial Academy in 1663. After being used as an archive, it would harbour the history department after its foundation. And when the history department moves to more spacious quarters here in the Komnenos Fortress, the building, now known as the Palace of Antiochos again, would house the Imperial Museum up to this day."

Another image appeared on the screen, labeled 'The Augustaion, with Justinian's Column'

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Then we reach the Augusteion. The Augustaion was originally one of the fora along the Mese, but it was turned into a closed courtyard later on. The Augustaion was at the time considered the very center of the Empire for two reasons. First it was situated in the very heart of the city. South was the massive Great Palace complex. North was the Hagia Sophia, as well as the palace of the Patriarch. To the west was were the Baths of Zeuxippus and the Hippodrome, centre of the city’s social life in the early age, and to the east stood the Magnaura – one of two senate halls in the city. The Augustaion was also located at the very beginning of the Mese. Which brings us to the second reason; the Augustaion was also the site of the Milion. This was the Imperial Mile Mark, from where all Imperial roads began and all distances in the Empire were measured."

"Number eight is of course the Hagia Sophia, the Church of the Holy Wisdom. The first church built on the spot was called the Megale Ekklesia, commissioned by Constantine the Great but burned down in 404. A second church was burned during the Nika revolt. After this, Justinian commissioned Isidorus of Melitus and Anthemios of Tralles as architects, who would design the third church to be biggest and most beautiful ever built, with materials being brought from all parts of the Empire. Not in the least because of its typical enormous dome, it is currently considered to be one of the modern wonders of the world, whose beauty have inspired poetry, literature and song in the past fifteen centuries. It was also the center of the Greek Orthodox Church ever since the Great Schism, being the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople who lived in the palace besides the Hagia Sophia. And finally it was the Imperial church, where crownings, marriages and other state ceremonies were held and still are, in fact."

An image appeared on the screen, labeled 'From left to right; The Hagia Eirene, Hospital of Sampson and the Hagia Sophia'

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"Connected to the Hagia Sophia are the Hospital of Sampson and the Hagia Eirene, the Church of Holy Peace, found on number nine. The Hagia Eirene was in fact the first church to be built in Constantinople, and it was too destroyed during the 532 Nika riots. When the two great churches were scheduled to be reconstructed however, a renowned physician and citizen of the city later known as Sampson the Hospitable asked the emperor to establish a hospital for the poor on the church grounds. As Sampson had healed Justinian on an early date, the emperor agreed and helped the physician to found the Hospital of Sampson. Sampson soon died, and the hospital would become property of the Patriarchate and priests of the two churches would run the hospital. It became the largest hospital in the world, which it still was in the 13th century. It would exist until it was destroyed by fire in 1445. The Hospital of Bochiatus that was founded in Pera after this war still considered itself to be the successor to the Hospital of Sampson."

"To the very east, near the sea walls, is the Monastery of Saint Georgios of the Mangana. In fact, the area between the Acropolis and the sea walls was the location of several churches and monasteries, like the Saint Lazaros, Saint Stephanos and Pantanassa monasteries and the Church of Christos Philantropos – Christ the Lover of Man. But the largest and most certainly richest was the monastery of Saint Georgios, founded in the mid 11th century by emperor Konstantinos IX. By the middle of the 13th century, the Mangana monasteries, as they were collectively known, were slowly growing closer together. This process was quickened when emperor Nikolaos II gave the old Mangana Palace – which was previously used as an armoury – to be used by three monasteries to be used in unison. Still, it would be until 1401 before the Patriarch decided to bring the seven Mangana monasteries together under one abbot."

"On top of the Acropolis we find numbers eleven and twelve on the map. At eleven we find the theatre of Constantinople. Now, we are fairly certain that there had been an amphitheatre in Byzantion before it became under Roman administration, but little is known about it. The 13th century version of the theatre was in fact built under Demetrios I, and was finished in 1208. It was essentially a large amphitheatre like the ones before, but it could largely be covered and had a number of buildings that would for example house changing rooms, storage and toilets, as well as reception rooms for performances to smaller groups. North of the theatre stood the Column of the Goths, a tall Corinthian column that had been placed in honour of the emperor Claudius II, and thus preceded the foundation of Constantinople. Near the column were the statues of Byzas, the mythical founder of Byzantion, and Constantine the Great, the founder of Constantinople."

"We are now leaving the Palace district and the Acropolis area, so I’m going to speed up a little. Number thirteen on the map is the Palace of Botaneiates, along the Strategion. The Strategion had long been a exercise field of the Roman army since the days of Constantine, as well as a market forum that serves the area around the Neorion and Prosphorion harbours and the so-called Latin Quarters where most Italian merchants lived. The Palace of Botaneiates was founded by Nikophoros III around 1080, and by the thirteenth century it was used by the Imperial Army as a headquarters as well as quarters for officers of the city guards. It would later be extended to include training grounds, including target fields for the Toxotai Basileion. South of the Palace of Botaneiates, along the Mese, there was the Forum of Constantine. Founded by and named after Constantine the Great, it had stood just outside the pre-Constantine city wall, and was generally considered to be the most important of for a. This remained true in the thirteenth century, while it was the site of the largest mark. In the center of the forum stood Constantine’s Column, although it had been crowned with a cross after Constantine’s statue had fallen off in 1106. The forum was also the site of the Constantine Senate, which in the thirteenth century was used as Constantinople’s city hall."

North, across the Golden Horn and near the southern end of Pera we find number fifteen. This was, and is, the site of the Megalos Pyrgos, the Great Tower. This tower was a defense tower, but its prime goal was to house the giant metal chain that could be used to close off the Golden Horn in times of war. Usually, the chain, which was about seven hundred meters long, lay on the bottom of the Golden Horn. When an enemy fleet would invade Constantinople from over the sea, they would need to land along the Golden Horn, where the sea walls were the weakest. By raising the chain at or just under the water level, access to the Golden Horn could easily be denied to the ships of the time, which were only wind or oar powered. Only once by this time the chain was negated; when the Rus invaded in the 10th century they had dragged their shallow longships out of the water and carried them around Pera, launching them on the other side into the Golden Horn. The chain would not be broken until the sixteenth century, and even after that never again until it was taken out of commission when steam ships became commonplace. The practice gave birth to the expression ‘raising the chain’, which in modern times has become to mean building an emotional wall around yourself, but originally meant to thoroughly close something off."

An image appeared on the smartboard labeled 'Monastery of Christ the Almighty'

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"I’m now going to discuss a few numbers at the same time, because they are all churches and monasteries. These are at sixteen, seventeen, nineteen and twenty on the map. The first is the Church of Saint Prokopios, founded in the early 11th century on the site of an older church. The next is Myrelaion, originally a small palace but in the early 10th century converted into a monastery. Currently, Myrelaion is one of the most original buildings in the old city, experiencing only a minor extension once, and requiring little renovation over the ages. Most modern historians agree that the Myrelaion monastery is one remainings of pre-Kantakouzenoi architecture. Now, next on the list is the Monastery of the Mother of God on number nineteen. This monastery is usually called the Lips Monestery, after the rich patrician Konstantinos Lips who founded the monastery in the early 10th century. Unlike Myrelaion, the Lips Monastery was extended, renovated and rebuilt several times, and it is also the only major monastery inside the old city walls that does no longer exist in any form today, after being destroyed in the Great Libos Fires of 1695. Finally, on number twenty we find the Monastery of Christ the Almighty – Kristos Pantokrator. It was built by Ioannes II in the early 12th century, and was around 1250 both the newest and the largest of the city’s major monasteries. It was the burial site of several emperors, starting with Ioannes and his wife, and their son Manouel I. The emperors Nikolaos I and II would also be buried here, as they would be the first of the Kantakouzenoi emperors to appreciate the legacy of the Imperial House of Komnenos. To this day, it remains the largest monastery inside the city walls, and one of the few still to function as a monastery."

"As you should have realised, I skipped number eighteen, which as you can see on the map is actually located in the water. Number eighteen is the Harbour of Theodosius or Eleutherios, the largest harbour in the city since it was constructed by its namesake emperor in the fourth century. In fact, it had only been reopened by Basileios III in 1236 after massive extensions and renovations to the harbour. It had previously been silted, with only a small canal connecting the docks to the sea. After Basileios’ renovations, it experienced a swift rise in activity and for about three decades became the undisputed center of trade in Constantinople. The growth was somewhat tempered when the new shipyards of Pera were opened, which again gave rise to the northern harbours. The current Theodosian Harbour, which only functions as a marina, is in fact the sixth reincarnation of the harbour, after a long and somewhat emberrasing series of siltings and reopenings in the past seven centuries."

"Number twenty-one should be of a familiar location to you, for it is this very building you’re in now! The Komnenos Fortress, as it is called in modern time, was in fact built after the departure of the last Komnenos emperor. It was constructed by Demetrios I in 1211, originally used as a prison but from 1240 on as the new armoury of the Imperial guards. In the 14th century the site became the place of the first testing of and training with firearms, which would slowly become adopted into the Imperial Army. The name it received from the story that it was originally constructed to hold the heirs of the Komnenoi family, and that it was later designed to become a general prison. We historians know this isn’t true, ofcourse. The Komnenoi were mostly safely on Cyprus, after all."

"We reach the end of our tour now, and we find the Monastery of the Savior in the Field – commonly known as the Chora Monastery – at number twenty-two. Although founded in the 6th century, it was of modest importance until the Blachernae Palace complex was greatly expanding under Basileios III, as it was the monastery closest to the Imperial residence. Which brings us to the next site, which is actually the Blachernae Palace. This palace was the residence of the Roman Emperor and his closest family from 1081 until the completion of the Golden Horn compex opposite the water in 1561. The first buildings on the palace ground originate from the early 6th century, actually, but it would not be until the Komnenoi moved the residence here that most building began. Around 1250, the most impressive must have been the so-called New Palace, whose construction was began by Mikhail VIII but which would not be completed until 1231. Other prominent buildings on the palace ground were the Palaces of Bertha and Porphyrogenetus, the Prison of Anemas, the Emperor’s Baths and the Palace of Manouel Komnenos."

An image appeared on the screen labeled 'The Golden Gate'

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"Finally we reach number twenty-four, the Porta Aurea or the Golden Gate. The Golden Gate was the main city gate in the Theodosian Walls, and it remained its function with the completion of the Basilian Walls. The Golden Gate was constructed out of white marble, and as the name implies, golden gate doors. The Golden Gate was where the emperors rode out to battle and would return through in victory. The Golden Gate lost most importance when the increase in land trade called for broader city gates, and the Xylopkerkos, Adrianolian and Romanos gates became the main entrances to the city."

"Well… that was all for now. It seems we passed the time limit a little bit… Nontheless, I expect you to hand in the assignment you were supposed to make two weeks ago.” The professor laughed loudly, and then he ended the lesson. Kalina and I dropped off what we made; my two-page paper on the Hippodrome and Kalina’s six-page laminated booklet on Leander’s Tower. I wonder why the professor hadn’t discussed that small island tower in the Bosphorus; it had a very nice story to it. Nontheless, we had to hurry if we wanted to get some food in us before professor Doxiadus would hold his normal lecture.