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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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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To My Little Sister, Don't Wish For Time To Move Faster, Soak Up The Stage Of Life You're In

Live in the moment and you will come out having no regrets.

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To my best friend,

Time goes by quickly, do not wish it away. Enjoy living in the moment you are in right now because you will never get it back. Stop wishing you were in college already because you have so much to live for right now.

I know all you want to do is get away from home and start over, which is normal because I wanted to do the same thing at your age. But as your older sister, and as someone who has gone through that stage already, I am here to tell you that it is not all rainbows and sunshine 24/7.

With the time you have left in high school, enjoy every second of it because eventually, you will come to miss it.

Graduation is just around the corner for you and it honestly freaks me out how fast time is going. And it only goes faster in college. As kids, all we wanted was to be in high school and be able to drive on our own and once we hit high school, all we want is to be in college. With almost being in college for two years, I can easily say that all I want is to be a kid again. We have been wishing our whole lives away since we can remember. Enjoy today.

I see so much potential in you and I am beyond excited for what the future has in store for you.

Many times, you have been the one to give me advice even though I'm the older sister and this shows how caring and loving you are. Life is going to treat you so well and it already has.

There is one piece of advice I must give to you though. Make sure to thank mom and dad and tell them you love them as often as possible. I know they can get on your nerves and may make you angry at times, but they have given us the best life. You will learn in college just how much they love us and how much they have given up just to make us happy.

You have a good head on your shoulders and I know life is going to turn out to be exactly what you wanted. Just don't wish it all away. Some of my favorite times were when I was a senior in high school.

I'm always looking out for you so don't ever think you are alone in this crazy world. Remember, I am just one phone call away.

I love you so much sis, you got this.

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