August 15, 718: Victory at Constantinople

One thousand two hundred ninety years ago today, the forces of Islam met their first major defeat—one that saved Western civilization. Here is Edward Gibbon’s account. Strong defenses, unity with the Bulgarians, Greek fire, and a harsh winter saved the day.

At length, after a siege of thirteen months, the hopeless Moslemah received from the caliph the welcome permission of retreat. The march of the Arabian cavalry over the Hellespont and through the provinces of Asia, was executed without delay or molestation; but an army of their brethren had been cut in pieces on the side of Bithynia, and the remains of the fleet were so repeatedly damaged by tempest and fire, that only five galleys [out of over 2,000] entered the port of Alexandria to relate the tale of their various and almost incredible disasters.

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