Greek Fire

Topics: Common law, Byzantine Empire, Roman Empire Pages: 8 (2958 words) Published: August 27, 2008
Greek fire was a burning-liquid weapon used by the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines typically used it in naval battles to great effect as it could continue burning even on water. It was largely responsible for many Byzantine military victories, and partly the reason for the Byzantine Empire surviving as long as it did. Medieval sources mention weapons sometimes referred to as "Greek fire" as being also used by Arabs, Chinese, and Mongols; however, these were most likely another incendiary weapon of a different composition and not Greek fire based on the original formula, which was a highly protected secret of the Byzantine Empire and not even discovered by the Latin Empire or the Ottoman Empire. Whilst the real formula is not known, some of the ingredients may have included naphtha, quicklime, sulfur, and niter.[1] [2] Although the phrase "Greek fire" is general in English and most other languages (Greek being a notable exception), early sources used terms whose literal translation would be otherwise, such as "Byzantine fire", "Roman fire",[3] "sea fire".

England and the United States have in a measure been excepted from the otherwise universal concurrence of all the civilized nations of the world in the acceptance of the Code Napoleon, or of the Civil Law of Rome in some shape, as the basis of their jurisprudence. In the great turmoil of the disruption of the Roman Empire by the Teutonic barbarians, what of Britain? The country was then called Britain, as will be remembered, and not England. This is a later appellation. And it was inhabited by a branch of the great Celtic Race, which had peopled all of western Europe - Romanized and civilized by four centuries of Roman occupation. The barbarians broke into Britain too; and ruin and desolation marked where the Anglo-Saxon savages came. Populous cities disappeared, or shrank into miserable villages. Fertile fields became barren wastes; commerce died; the Roman Civilization perished, and for two hundred years and upwards barbarism reigned supreme over Britain. Even the very name of the country was lost for several ages, and when the island emerged again from darkness into the morning twilight of a feeble civilization, and became sufficiently selfconscious to require a new name, it received that of England.

The predatory bands, composed of tribes bearing the various names of Angles, Jutes, Saxons and Frisians, and known to subsequent ages by the composite appellation of the Anglo-Saxons, who swarmed to Britain from the shores of North Germany during the fifth and sixth centuries of the Era (A.D. 483-586), under the leadership of Hengist and Horsa, and other chiefs, first to help the Britons against their northern enemies from Caledonia, the Picts and Scots; and afterwards treacherously to turn upon their allies, and to plunder, massacre, exterminate or expel the unwarlike Britons from their homes, were easily the worst, the most savage, and the most bloodthirsty of all the barbarians who overran and dismembered the Roman Empire. Franks, Goths, Vandals, and even the Huns, must yield the palm of savagery to the Teutonic invaders of Britain. To this effect is the unanimous testimony of all the historians of the time; and their own historians, when they became civilized enough afterwards to have historians, never sought to deny the fact. Sad confirmation is found of the bloody story in the condition of the country when Christianity and civilization were again introduced from Rome as contrasted with the flourishing state of Britain before the withdrawal of the Roman legions and the advent of the invaders from Germany. A recent English writer has given some reasons for believing that, in consequence of the ruin and devastation wrought by these intruders, even the great city of London - for comparatively a great city it was even in the old Roman times - was for a time wholly abandoned and without inhabitants.

But the Anglo-Saxons, with all their savagery, had great...
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