“The capital city’s incalculable wealth, its beauty and elegance, amazed all the European peoples, who were still barbarians at the time when the Byzantine Empire was in its apogee. One can only imagine — indeed, history records it as such — how crude, ignorant Scandinavians, Germans, Franks, and Anglo-Saxons, whose chief occupation at the time was primitive sacking and pillage, after arriving from some town like Paris or London (which had populations of some tens of thousands) to this megalopolis of millions, a city of enlightened citizens, scholars, and elegantly dressed youths crowding imperial universities, dreamt of only one thing: invading and robbing, robbing and invading.
“In fact, when this was actually accomplished in 1204 by an army of Europeans calling themselves Crusaders, who, instead of freeing the Holy Land treacherously sacked the most beautiful city in the world, Byzantine treasures were carried away in an uninterrupted flow over the course of fifty years. Hundreds of tons of precious coin alone were carried away at a time when the annual budget of the wealthiest European countries was no more than two tons of gold.
“Priceless holy relics and works of art were looted, but even more taken by barbarians from Brussels, London, Nuremburg, and Paris were simply destroyed — melted down into coin or thrown away like refuse. To this day, the museums of Europe are bursting with stolen Byzantine treasures. But let us take into consideration that only a small portion was actually preserved.
After such reminders, the directors wonder:
“So what made it possible for a nation so great in the arena of world history, with such extraordinary capabilities, to so suddenly begin to lose its life force?”