Civilizations rise and fall with a peculiar regularity, even if it’s hard to realize within the average human lifetime. The many peoples of today’s Italian peninsula collided before the birth of Christ to form the Roman Kingdom which eventually gave birth to the Roman Empire, which itself fell to rubble. The Byzantine Empire rose from its ashes, and survived for about a thousand years. Each of these cultures provided insight and inspiration for those that formed later–even for the United States of America, which stole heavily from Roman architecture and even political entities. The more immediate political aftermath of dying empires had a lasting effect.
The aftermath of an injury is always the same. First there is chaos, turmoil, and hurt. Then there is a period of healing. This period isn’t always easy, and can last centuries. Only the scar is left at the end. What was the political aftermath of the Byzantine Empire like?
When the Byzantine Empire had been reduced to a single independent state–a territory called the Despotate of the Morea–it was forced to pay a tribute to the Ottomans who had crushed the once powerful empire. This tribute was a tough pill for the citizens of the Despotate to swallow, and so they inevitably failed to deliver. The Despotate’s fraternal rulers had a shaky hold over the state, and eventually a revolt broke out. The rebellion led to an Ottoman invasion in May of the year 1460. Mehmed II led this invasion.
It wasn’t an accident. One brother turned on the other, and invited the invaders in return for sole ownership. As such things go, it didn’t work out. The Ottomans took it all for themselves, and the Byzantine influence in the region died a little bit more. This trend continued, and a few descendants of the last emperor, Constantine XI, were forced to remain in hiding or forfeit their lives. Others were assimilated into the Ottoman Empire as children, and were renamed. One served Mehmed personally, and another even became an admiral in the Ottoman fleet.
After World War 1, the Ottoman Empire finally disintegrated. Shockingly, it was the direct successors of Mehmed II who ruled until the empire finally fell. This was the same Mehmed II who crushed the last remnants of the Byzantine Empire so many centuries earlier.
Unsurprisingly, many political figures from the middles ages until the contemporary era have fought to keep the idea of the Roman Empire alive in one form or another. The American Forefathers certainly had this in mind when the American Revolution took place, and a very temporary Russian Empire succeeded as a sort of Third Rome before the Russian Revolution ended it once and for all. It stands to reason that the influences of these early empires will probably last as long as humanity survives.