Front Page Titles (by Subject) 27.: The Byzantine Empire and Its Mission - Judgments on History and Historians
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27.: The Byzantine Empire and Its Mission - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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The Byzantine Empire and Its Mission
Its main test of strength came in its leadership in the contest against Islam. After huge initial losses (the entire East, Africa, Sicily) the Byzantine Empire stood its ground and kept advancing in Asia Minor, even as far as Mesopotamia. How would the multi-divided Europe, the dismembered Carolingian empire have fared without this state? There is something to be said for Nicephorus’ mockery at the troops of Otto the Great.
It was impossible for the Byzantine Empire to come to sensible terms with the Western crusaders, to achieve a real collaboration. The Crusades did only harm in the East; they resuscitated the entire heroic fanaticism of Islam, which would not have awakened from the fight against the Eastern Empire alone; they took an ever worsening course and finally, in 1203–1204, the crusaders captured the Byzantine Empire itself, through an alliance with one of the local factions. The Latin Empire was wretched; only now did the opposition to Islam weaken fatally, and finally the Palaeologi actually succumbed to the Turks. And subsequently, at such a late stage of Islam, Europe had to tremble before the Turks for centuries, except where it had an alliance with them. However, as long as the Palaeologi had some strength left, they helped to protect Europe.