What Is: Constantinople

What Is: Constantinople

How the Mighty do Fall
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Modern-day Instanbul has a history that reaches back millennia. Thought to have been originally founded as a trade settlement by Thracian tribes, it was eventually settled by the Greeks in roughly 300 BCE. However, during the era of the late Roman Empire, it was chosen as the site of Nova Roma, the new capital built by Constantine. More commonly, however, it was known by many names, most commonly as Constantinople, or the "City of Constantine." For over a millennia afterwards, it remained as the richest, largest, and most advanced city of Europe, and its fall to the Ottoman Empire dramatically affected the course of the world.

The city was protected by a series of defenses that protected the entire peninsula, conveniently locking out anyone the citizens didn't want--mostly "barbarian" immigrants. The city also benefited from the affluent trade routes between Anatolia (modern Turkey) and Greece, which served as the link between east and west and was a critical stopping point of the silk road and other valuable trade routes from the east. This wealth made life in the city cozy, to say the least, and soon turned it into a continental epicenter of learning and influence. Of course, as a result, everybody wanted to take the city--and many tried.

At one point, the city was reinforced with a new set of fortifications, the Theodosian Walls, which successfully guarded the city against repeated sieges. Even Attila the Hun turned around and decided the city was impregnable, which wasn't a common approach of his. Three layers of walls and a deep moat successfully protected the city against Huns, Sassanids, Arabs, Bulgars, and Crusaders alike. Needless to say, the city earned a bit of a reputation as impregnable.

One of the more famous defenses of the city was the closely-guarded secrets of Greek Fire, which allowed their dominance of the sea and created actual flamethrowers for the land defenses and sea walls alike. Pots would be filled with the flammable liquid that burnt on water and land alike, although some accounts claim siphons would propel the liquid from tubes like a modern flamethrower. Things heated up quickly when it was brought into battle.

All of that said, nothing lasts forever. The fourth crusade ended as the Venetians used the crusaders to take advantage of Byzantine politics and sack the city during a coup attempt on the emperor, leaving the city and remnants of the empire crippled. Eventually, the Ottoman Turks grew powerful enough to successfully topple what was left of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. The advent of canons allowed a bombardment of firepower that, after weeks of siege, reduced the walls to rubble. Even then, the defenders mounted valiant defenses that held the Turks off, but the defensive lines finally failed. The last Byzantine/Roman Emperor, Constantine XI, died in the gap.

Afterwards, Constantinople was renamed Istanbul and served as the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. The ever-helpful Venetians fought them for control of Greece on multiple occasions, even managing to blow up most of the Parthenon in Athens in the process, but the Ottomans were there to stay. Istanbul remained a major economic and cultural center, but, ironically, it's change of hands also spelled its decline. The Byzantines had controlled the silk road for years thanks to the location; after the fourth crusade, the Venetians had largely controlled the trade through the Byzantines. However, after the success of the Ottomans, the rising Spanish and Portuguese kingdoms decided to circumvent the Ottoman dominance of the road by finding a sea route around Africa--and then inadvertently finding the Americas. In a way, although the Ottomans remained a major power for at least a century longer, and Istanbul remains an important city to this day, the last Roman defenders had the last laugh over the Ottomans and Venetians alike.

Cover Image Credit: msecnd.net

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22 New Things That I Want To Try Now That I'm 22

A bucket list for my 22nd year.

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"I don't know about you but I'm feelin' 22," I have waited 6 long years to sing that and actually be 22! Now 22 doesn't seem like a big deal to people because you can't do anything that you couldn't do before and you're still super young. But I'm determined to make my 22nd year a year filled with new adventures and new experiences. So here's to 22.

1. Go sky diving.

What's crazier than jumping out of a plane? (Although I'll probably try indoor skydiving first.)

2. Go cliff jumping/diving.

I must be the only Rhode Islander who hasn't gone to Jamestown and jumped off a cliff.

3. Ride in a hot air balloon.

Up, up and away.

4. Try out skiing.

Cash me in the next Olympics, how bout dat.

5. Try out snow boarding.

Shawn White, I'm coming for you.

6. Go bungee jumping.

Because at least this time I'll be attached to something.

7. Go to Portugal.

I mean I'm Portuguese so I have to go at some point, right?

8. Go to Cape Verde.

Once again, I'm Cape Verdean so I have to go.

9. Vist one of the seven wonders of the world.

I mean hey, Egypt's on, my bucket list.

10. Try out surfing.

It's only natural that somebody from the Ocean State knows how to surf.

11. Learn a new langauge.

Because my little bit of Portuguese, Spanish and Latin isn't cutting it anymore.

12. Travel to a state that I've never been to before.

Fun fact: I've only been to 17 of the 50 states.

13. Go paddle boarding.

Pretty boring but I've never done it.

14. Go scuba diving.

I'm from the Ocean State so I guess I should see the ocean up close and personal.

15. Learn how to line dance.

There's actually a barn in my state that does line dancing, so this one will definitely get crossed off.

16. Go kayaking.

All this water around me and I haven't done a lot of the water activites.

17. Stay the night in a haunted hotel room.

I bet if I got my friends to come with me, it would be like the Suite Life of Zach and Cody episode, minus the ghost coming out of the wall but you never know.

18. Get my palms read.

Because who doesn't want to know their future.

19. Go to a medium.

Like a medium that can communicate with people that have died.

20. Take a helicopter ride.

Air plane: check Helicopter:....

21. Sleep under the stars.

Because sleeping in a tent is more like glamping than camping

22. Just to try new things in my everyday life.

Whether it's trying a new restaurant, getting something different at my usual restaurants, changing my usual style, going on the scary rides at amusement parks, and bringing things I used to do back into my life now.

Cover Image Credit:

Author's illustration

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50 ways to demonstrate self-love Today

It's the little things that count.

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Today, and every day, it's important to incorporate self-love into our lives. Each day, we can do something little that adds up to something big to benefit ourselves and our mental health. Loving yourself comes in many forms and activities.

1. Remind yourself that you, and your feelings, are valid.

2. Be true to yourself.

3. Do not let others take away your uniqueness.

4. List 10 things that you love about yourself.

5. Read your favorite book.

6. Take a walk alone and reflect on what makes you happy.

7. Do yoga.

8. Watch a movie that makes you laugh (or cry).

9. Paint your nails.

10. Buy your favorite drink from your favorite coffee shop.

11. Take a nap.

12. Eat your favorite food.

13. Start exercising.

14. Write down how you are feeling.

15. Identify a challenge in your life, and develop a plan to overcome it.

16. Get a massage or a facial.

17. Talk on the phone with someone you love.

18. Cry if you need to.

19. Pet a dog.

20. Go get your hair done.

21. Buy a new outfit that you feel confident wearing.

22. Log off of social media for one day.

23. Drink lots of water.

24. Talk about your life journey with someone else.

25. Color a picture.

26. Try a new hobby.

27. Go outside, and find five beautiful things to take pictures of.

28. Think about what has made you grateful today.

29. Let go of something that is bothering you.

30. Look up inspiring quotes.

31. Engage in uplifting self-talk.

32. Light your favorite candle.

33. Go on a drive to a place where you feel at peace.

34. Think about how much you have grown.

35. Take note of your accomplishments for the day.

36. Recognize your feelings and know that you are allowed to feel.

37. Take the leap of faith to get the help or assistance that you need.

38. Be kind to others.

39. Write a letter to your younger or future self, and read it over.

40. Start a gratitude journal.

41. Put on your favorite face mask.

42. Clean out your closet or room of clothes you no longer wear.

43. Understand how important self-love is.

44. Write small, encouraging notes to yourself on post-its, and put them around your room or home.

45. Take a bubble bath.

46. Smile at yourself.

47. Try meditating for 10 minutes in the morning.

48. Do something that is truly relaxing to you.

49. Go to a park.

50. Do what makes you the happiest.

Every single person is worthy is self-love. The ways of engaging in self-love are infinite, so you are able to find what works best for you. Do not doubt yourself! When you start to love yourself, it seems like life makes a lot more sense.

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