OPINION

June 12, 1953

HOURMOUZIOS VS MAULNIER: «Today allow me to (…) look at an article from abroad. The subject is an important one, as is the name of its author. ‘Why 1453?’ wonders Mr Thierry Maulnier, in three front-page columns of ‘Le Figaro Litteraire.’ The question refers to the significance people are wont to attribute to the fall of Byzantium, a significance that Mr Maulnier finds exaggerated – if not entirely false – at least for the West and its culture. All reservations about historical claims are legitimate, even when the premises upon which these reservations are founded do not stand up to closer scrutiny. (…) The fall of Byzantium, in 1453, to be precise, is by no means the cutoff point for the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance. It would be extremely naive to set dates for the beginning and end of major periods in history that have changed the face of the world, while ignoring the events that led up to these changes. (…) Religious fanaticism and the conflict between the two churches prevented the West and the Papists from correctly weighing the decline in its rival’s prominence and the damage done generally to Christianity, as an expression of culture and education, which was caused by the downfall of Byzantium. It is a pity that one still has to draw attention, even today – judging from the flippant way a distinguished man of letters deals with the fall of the Byzantine Empire – to the significance of Byzantium for the Christian world.»