Given the importance of the holy land to the Christians, as well as the importance of many great cities (Alexandria, Damascus and Jerusalem) to the Byzantine empire, why were not there any early attempts to recapture those strategic and religiosuly important land from the Arabs (either by the Byzantines or Rome)? Were the Byzantines so exhausted from their wars with the Sassanids that they relinquished these lands to the Arabs?

  • 1
    Questions that ask about counterfactuals, including Why didn't X do Y? invite speculation and discussion rather than answers. H:SE does not want to discuss alternate histories. H:SE may wish to consider holding these questions to a higher standard of preliminary research (for example proving that there were strategic considerations rather than bluntly asserting it).
    – MCW
    Jun 11 '14 at 11:51
  • By Rome you mean The Pope?
    – NSNoob
    Dec 27 '16 at 10:08

Because they were too busy trying to keep the Arabs from capturing Constantinople (in the 700s) and forcing them out of Anatolia (after that).

If they had managed that, I'm sure it would have gotten on the agenda. But the Islamic forces remained too strong.

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    +1. Also it wasn't just the Arabs. As soon as Arabs became weak, A new force in shape of Muslim Turks rose and took their place as the fighting power of Asia or Islam if you will. Byzantines just couldn't catch a break. And not to mention, the glorious Fourth Catholic Jihad...Erm Crusade which is arguably the most decisive factor in ultimate fall of ERE.
    – NSNoob
    Dec 27 '16 at 10:09

Well, one possible answer to this question may be rooted in the Slavic settlements within Greece proper, as well as Slavic settlements closely approaching Constantinople during the time when the Arab Muslims were conquering the Middle East-(such as Israel/Palestine & Egypt).

Although the Byzantines were engaged in constant conflict with the Persian Sassanian Empire to their East, the unanticipated Slavic settlements to their North, were a growing problem facing the Hellenic homeland, including, Constantinople. The Slavs never officially conquered or captured Constantinople, though they did manage to settle in sizable numbers throughout the Hellenic interior, as well as the wider Southern Balkan interior-(which, at time, was under Byzantine rule).

The Slavic settlements into mainland Greece-(and the Southern Balkans) during the Early Middle Ages, may have been a major geopolitical distraction for the Byzantine Empire and in turn, may have indirectly prevented the Byzantines from recapturing the Middle East from the Arab Islamic colonial onslaught. It appears from the historical literature of the Early Middle Ages that the Slavic settlements into Greece-(and the Southern Balkans) were initially, a major concern for the Byzantines and preserving their Middle Eastern sphere of influence was becoming less significant-(comparatively speaking).

Perhaps if the Slavs had not invaded mainland Greece, as well as the Southern Balkans during the Middle Ages, the Byzantines may have been able to have withstood the Arab Muslim campaigns into the Middle East......though of course it is pure speculation and theorizing.

  • Greece was indeed overrun by Slavs; but my impression from reading Byzantine history was that the province of Hellas didn't really matter that much to the Empire, and what was happening in Anatolia was much more of a pressing concern. Slavic pastoral settlers were not a military threat to the Empire, the way the Bulgars and Bulgarians became a couple of centuries later. Apr 21 '18 at 12:22

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