Byzantine Empire Will Fall To Turks, Historian Warns

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Vol 32 Issue 06

Geopolitical Balance Of Power Somehow Unaffected By Death Of Princess

LONDON—In a development that has baffled experts, the geopolitical balance of power has been strangely unaffected by the death of Princess Diana, considered by many to be the world's most important person. According to reports, there have been no measurable changes in treaty alignments, trade agreements, defense budgets, poverty levels, international tariffs, taxation proposals, human-rights measures, world fiscal policy, education programs, deficit reduction, literacy rates, distribution of power, birth rates, public irrigation, disease research, pollution levels, distribution of wealth or any other major global trends since her death on Aug. 31. "I don't get it," said Oxford University professor Sir Jeremy Eton-Shropshire. "This is clearly one of the biggest news events of the century, yet it's almost as if the death of Diana is an event of no demonstrable significance."

Independent-Film Festival Crushed By Paramount Troops

AUSTIN, TX—Six independent film producers and over 100 art-house patrons are dead following a hostile invasion of the 23rd annual Austin Film Festival by a squadron of Paramount Pictures troops Monday. "The movie industry has been liberated for all of blockbusterdom," said Sgt. Roy McCue of Paramount's 53rd Armored Division, announcing the raid. "The moviegoing public is finally safe from the independent filmmakers who are incapable of giving them the big-budget, computer-animated spectaculars they crave. No longer will confused, victimized movie lovers pay $6.50 to see films like In The Company Of Men, when films with budgets 25 times bigger, like Con Air, can be seen for the same price."

Area Gambler Likes Those Odds

RENO, NV—Area gambler Steve Ehrlich, in an official statement to his lucky dice at a Caesar's Palace craps table Monday, announced that he "likes those odds." Ehrlich, who has lost over $40,000 gambling in the past year, plans to regain the sum several times over in the next few hours via a "can't-miss" combination of lady luck and "that old Ehrlich magic." "My lucky stars are shining tonight," he said. "By this time tomorrow, my double mortgage will be paid off in full, and I'll be rolling in the do-re-mi, baby."

Amtrak Passengers Treated To Whirlwind Tour of Poor People's Yards

CHICAGO—Amtrak passengers traveling on the "Heartland Express" through Illinois were treated to a special sight Monday: mile after mile of yards belonging to low-income Americans. "I was happy enough to be going to Chicago," said commuter Janice Beasley, "but to see all those rusted-out swingsets and sagging porches was just the perfect bonus." Amtrak boasted that all their lines offer such views.

Grecian Formula Falls Into Non-Grecian Hands

SOLDOMAYA, GRECIA—In a daring midnight raid Tuesday, an unidentified band of foreign spies broke into a secret government hair-care lab and stole the closely guarded Grecian Formula, badly compromising Grecian national security and drastically shifting the global balance of dark, youthful-looking hair. "This is a terrible blow to our nation," said Grecian deputy foreign minister Alzun Teoderic, 67, sporting a lustrous, chestnut-brown mane of hair. "Our enemies can now look 10, even 20 years younger." It is believed to be the most serious international cosmetics incident since 1978, when Estée Lauder secretly drained millions of gallons of oil reserves from the Republic of Olay.

I Look Back On My Boxing Career With Greebert

Back in the '70s, I was the best damn bantamweight in Philadelphia. No one would stand up and say anything different because they know they'd be the fool. I beat them all. I downed Kid Dupree with my famous right hook in the third round. I knocked out Texas Tall four times in my career, even though he had nine inches on me. My secret? I was a beenobing, and I fought like a beenobing.

The Scourge Of Onanism, And Its Contribution To The Dementia Of Youth

To-day's Sermon concerns the Youth of our Parish, who as I speak are committing Perverted Acts of the Veriest Onanism; that is, the Manipulation and Touching of Bodily Organs God creat'd for the Enabling of the Propagation of Man, for the sole Purpose of Luxurious Pleasurement and Gratification of the Self.

Cheese Doodles Give Me Gas

I just had the new Wampler Longacre turkey franks, and I've got one thing to say: Those new franks are tremendous.... You look up "class" in the dictionary, you get a picture of Jack Scalia.... There is nothing more painful than the loss of a loved one....

Zweibel 'N' The Kids

Yesterday, my great-great-great grand-niece burst into my bed-chamber with her two young brats in tow. "Uncle Zweibel," asked Ludmilla, "can you watch the kids while I go shopping?" The very idea was the height of absurdity, but Ludmilla noted that it was the nanny's day off, and that I had ordered the rest of the servants to witness the flogging of the chauffeur. Consequently, there was no-one to watch the children. "Why not that damned ro-bot nurse of mine?" I said. But Mr. Tin, who happened to be in the room, said that it was not programmed to attend to tots.

Anti-Paparazzi Legislation?

In the wake of Princess Diana's death while speeding from photographers, many are calling for anti-stalking laws that protect celebrities from paparazzi. What do you think?
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Byzantine Empire Will Fall To Turks, Historian Warns

ITHACA, NY—The Byzantine Empire, the Eastern continuation of the Roman Empire, is in grave danger and will soon fall to united armies of Ottoman Turks, Cornell University history professor Wallace Schroeder warned Monday.

In a speech delivered to more than 300 students, Schroeder said that the Empire, having never fully recovered its unity and strength following the violent sacking of Constantinople by Christian crusaders in 1204, remains a severely truncated shadow of its former self. Once a powerful bulwark against the Muslim armies of the Middle East and Anatolia, the Byzantine Empire now faces its most formidable threat yet, the Ottoman Turks.

"It is clear that this situation is very grave indeed for the Byzantines," Schroeder said during the one-hour address in Room 101 of Uris Hall. "By this point, their army consists entirely of mercenaries and inexperienced would-be landholders who are serving temporary stints in the military, merely in the hopes of being granted huge amounts of farmland in the central Anatolian plain under the greatly unprofitable 'feudal levy' system. This rather ragtag bunch is altogether no match for the extraordinarily well-trained janissaries of the upstart Ottoman clans."

The U.S., long interested in the Byzantine Empire for its strategic location and close proximity to Eastern spice and silk markets, is following the developments closely.

"The stability of Byzantium is extremely important to the United States," said U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-RI), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Certainly we're concerned about the Ottomans' ambitions and the threat they pose to the security of the spice routes. Rest assured we'll be in close contact with the Venetian city-state and the Frankish duchies on this matter."

Cornell University history professor Wallace Schroeder.

Despite a pledge of full military support from President Clinton and the threat of severe U.S. economic sanctions against the Ottomans, many seriously question the Byzantines' ability to withstand a Turkish siege.

"Even if the United States were to deploy 20,000 of its finest horse-mounted warriors to the Near East and cut off all opium exports to the Turks, it is still unlikely that that would be enough to stem the tide of history," said Arthur V. Wills, a Duke University professor of Near Eastern Studies and noted Byzantine scholar. "The reality is, U.S. aid or not, the once-great Byzantine Empire will in all likelihood not survive the 1290s."

Philip A. Brannock, visiting professor of Near Eastern Studies from Cambridge University, agreed. "I must concur with my esteemed colleague," Brannock said. "How easily we forget what an imposing force the Ottoman Turks are. Even an extremely capable and prestigious ruler like Holy Roman Emperor Charles V bent to their will, eventually ceding much of his Hungarian possessions to them."

While the volatile Byzantine situation is drawing the attention of scholars and government officials, perhaps no one is monitoring the developing crisis more closely than Kathleen Altman, a Cornell sophomore majoring in English.

"Professor Schroeder said that everything through the end of the Hundred Years War is going to be on the midterm," the 19-year-old from Syosset, NY, said, "so I guess we'll definitely have to know all the stuff about the Ottomans. Oh, my God, I have to pass that test."

Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI could not be reached for comment.

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