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Antiochus Strategos: The Sack of Jerusalem (614)
Byzantine law granted toleration to Jews [Theodosian Code 16.8.21], although there were occasional attempts at forced conversion [Leo VI, Novels], but there was a general prejudice against Jews. The following account of the fall of Jerusalem to the Persians in 614, by the monk Antiochus Stategos, who live din the monastary (lavra) of St. Sabas inJerusalem, shows this attitude. It provides a Byzantine version of the later blood libel.

It also, of course, may reflect Jewish resistance to Byzantine restrictions an oppression.

Finally, it might be noted that, despite Antiochus’ account, the Persians of this period seem to have been significantly more tolerant of religious diversity than almost any contemporary government. They began the system, long continued and later known (under the Turks) as the Millet system by which each religious group governed itself in religious and family matters.

The beginning of the struggle of the Persians with the Christians of Jerusalem was on the 15th April, in the second indiction, in the fourth year of the Emperor Heraclius. They spent twenty days in the struggle. And they shot from their ballistas with such violence, that on the twenty-first day they broke down the city wall. Thereupon the evil; foemen entered the city in great fury, like infuriated wild beasts and irritated serpents. The men however, who defended the city wall fled, and hid themselves in caverns, fosses and cisterns in order to save themselves; and the people in crowds fled into churches and altars; and there they destroyed them.

For the enemy entered in a mighty wrath, gnashing their teeth in violent fury; like evil beasts they roared, bellowed like lions, hissed like ferocious serpents, and slew all whom they found. Lile mad dogs they tore with their teeth the flesh of the faithful, and respected non at all, neither male nor female, neither young nor old, neither child nor baby, neither priest no monk, neither virgin nor widow….

Meanwhile the evil Persians, who had no pity in their hearts, raced to every place in the city and with one accord extirpated all the people. Anyone who ran away in terror they caught hold of; and if any cried out from fear, they roared at them with gashing teeth, and by breaking their teeth on the ground forced them to close their mouths.

Antiochus Strategos part 6

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There before the cross they laid him. Then they began earnestly to implore God, the Maker of all things, to bring them consolation and to save their son’s life. And in their prayers they...

Antiochus Strategos part 11

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Beautiful spot near EphesusThence they sailed for Syracuse, a city in the same country. Sailing from Syracuse, they crossed the Adriatic and reached the city of Monembasia, in the land of Slavinia, and from...

Antiochus Strategos part 14

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This Spaniard had a brother at the king’s court, who was the chamberlain of the King of the Saracens. And when the governor who had sent them to prison came to court, both the...

Antiochus Strategos part 15

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Then they made for the town called Tiberias. It stands at the edge of the sea on which our Lord walked dry¬shod and where Peter sank when walking on the waters towards Him. Many...

Antiochus Strategos part 16

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On the very place where Christ was baptized and where they now baptize there stands a little wooden cross: a little stream of water is led off and a rope is stretched over the...

Antiochus Strategos part 1

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Antiochus Strategos: The Sack of Jerusalem (614)Byzantine law granted toleration to Jews , although there were occasional attempts at forced conversion , but there was a general prejudice against Jews. The following account of...

Antiochus Strategos part 2

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On the contrary they destroyed persons of every age, massacred them like animals, cut them into pieces, mowed sundry of them down like cabbages, so that all alike had severally to drain the cup...

Antiochus Strategos part 3

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How many souls were slain in the reservoir of Mamel! How many perished of hunger and thirst! How many priests and monks were massacred by the sword! How many infants were crushed under foot,...

Antiochus Strategos part 4

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His notices of the Holy Places at Jerusalem, however, are of the highest interest, and some of them are of great archaeological value. Among these, special attention may be called to his references to...

Antiochus Strategos part 5

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I know that it may seem very bold on my part to write this book when there are so many holy priests capable of doing beter, but as a humble relative I would like...

KARS

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THE SILK ROAD

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Discovering Brusa

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