Magazine article History Today

Pillaging the Past

Magazine article History Today

Pillaging the Past

Article excerpt

ONE ASPECT OF THE CURRENT FASCINATION with anniversaries--a fascination which we share, though not, I hope, to the point of following it slavishly--is that you are forced to re-evaluate history from unexpected angles.

This month, we are marking two, each one unsavoury in its details (and each involving a significant degree of looting of ancient cultures) but momentous in its results. First is the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, which brought a great deal of Byzantine treasure to the West. The Constaninian copper horses taken back to Venice became the symbols of La Serenissima herself, becoming more than booty and embodying an aspiration and style of government that transcended the grubby details of their seizure.

The second anniversary, a massacre by a British expeditionary force on a high valley in Tibet a hundred years ago, is a shocking story in its own right--a bloodbath that apparently resulted from the determination of both armies to face each other resolutely yet to avoid fighting at all costs. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.