John II Komnenos

John II Komnenos or Comnenus was Byzantine emperor from 1118 to 1143. Known as "John the Beautiful" or "John the Good", he was the eldest son of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and Irene Doukaina and the second emperor to rule during the Komnenian restoration of the Byzantine Empire. John was a pious and dedicated monarch, determined to undo the damage his empire had suffered following the battle of Manzikert, half a century earlier. John has been assessed as the greatest of the Komnenian emperors. In the course of his twenty-five year reign, John made alliances with the Holy Roman Empire in the west, decisively defeated the Pechenegs and Serbs in the Balkans, led numerous campaigns against the Turks in Asia Minor. John's campaigns fundamentally changed the balance of power in the east, forcing the Turks onto the defensive and restoring to the Byzantines many towns and cities right across the Anatolian peninsula. In the southeast, John extended Byzantine control from the Maeander in the west all the way to Cilicia and Tarsus in the east.

In an effort to demonstrate the Byzantine ideal of the emperor's role as the leader of the Christian world, John marched into Muslim Syria at the head of the combined forces of Byzantium and the Crusader states. Under John, the empire's population recovered to about 10 million people; the quarter-century of John II's reign is less well recorded by contemporary or near-contemporary writers than the reigns of either his father, Alexios I, or his son, Manuel I. In particular little is known of the history of policies; the Latin historian William of Tyre described John as short and unusually ugly, with eyes and complexion so dark he was known as'the Moor'. Yet despite his physical appearance, John was known as Kaloïōannēs, "John the Good" or "John the Beautiful". Both his parents were unusually pious and John surpassed them. Members of his court were expected to restrict their conversation to serious subjects only; the food served at the emperor's table was frugal and John lectured courtiers who lived in excessive luxury.

His speech was dignified. All accounts agree. Despite his personal austerity, John had a high conception of the imperial role and would appear in full ceremonial splendour when this was advantageous. John was famed for his remarkably mild and just reign, he is an exceptional example of a moral ruler, at a time. He is reputed never to have condemned anyone to mutilation. Charity was dispensed lavishly. For this reason, he has been called the Byzantine Marcus Aurelius. By the example of his personal morality and piety he effected a notable improvement in the manners of his age. Descriptions of him and his actions indicate that he had great self-control and personal courage, was an excellent strategist and general. John II succeeded his father as ruling basileus in 1118, but had been crowned co-emperor by Alexios I between 1 September and early November, 1092. Despite this coronation, the accession of John was contested; that Alexios I favoured John to succeed him is made obvious by the elevation of his son to the position of co-emperor.

However, Alexios' influential wife, favoured the Caesar Nikephoros Bryennios, the husband of her eldest child Anna Komnene. Anna, who in infancy had been betrothed to her father's first co-emperor Constantine Doukas, herself harboured obvious aspirations to power and the throne. During Alexios' final illness both wife and daughter exploited his physical weakness to apply pressure on him in support of their agenda for the succession. Alexios endured these constant demands without formally changing his intended successor; as Alexios lay dying in the monastery of the Mangana on 15 August 1118, relying on trusted relatives his brother the sebastokratōr Isaac Komnenos, gained entry into the monastery and obtained the imperial signet ring from his father. He assembled his armed followers and rode to the Great Palace, gathering the support of the citizenry on the way; the palace guard at first refused to admit John without clear proof of his father's wishes, the mob surrounding the new emperor forced an entry.

In the palace John was acclaimed emperor. Irene, taken by surprise, was unable either to persuade her son to step down, or to induce Nikephoros to contend for the throne. Alexios died the night following his son's decisive move to take power. John refused to attend his father's funeral, despite the pleas of his mother, because he feared a counter-coup. However, in the space of a few days, his position seemed secure. Within a year of his accession, John II uncovered a conspiracy to overthrow him which implicated his mother and sister. Anna's husband Nikephoros had little sympathy with her ambitions, it was his lack of support which doomed the conspiracy. Anna was stripped of her property, offered to the emperor's friend John Axouch. Axouch wisely declined and his influence ensured that Anna's property was returned to her and that John II and his sister became reconciled, at least to a degree. Irene retired to a monastery and Anna seems to have been removed from public life, taking up the less active occupation of historian.

However, Nikephoros remained on good terms with his brother-in-law. To safeguard his own succession, John crowned his yo

Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality

Christianity, Social Tolerance, Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century is a 1980 book about the history of Christianity and homosexuality by the historian John Boswell. The work is divided into four parts: “Points of Departure”, “The Christian Tradition”, “Shifting Fortunes” and “The Rise of Intolerance”. In his introduction, Boswell discusses Derrick Sherwin Bailey's Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, which he describes as a "pioneering study" upon which all "modern historical research on gay people in the Christian West" has depended. However, he writes that it, "suffers from an emphasis on negative sanctions which gives a wholly misleading picture of medieval practice, is limited to data regarding France and Britain, has been superseded in its major focus, biblical analysis." Christianity, Social Tolerance, Homosexuality was published in 1980 by the University of Chicago Press. In 1981, the book appeared in paperback.

Christianity, Social Tolerance, Homosexuality won a National Book Award and the Stonewall Book Award in 1981. The historians George Chauncey and Martin Duberman, writing with the women's studies scholar Martha Vicinus, described Christianity, Social Tolerance, Homosexuality as an "erudite study" in their anthology Hidden From History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, they credited Boswell with providing "a revolutionary interpretation of the Western tradition", but noted that his premise that "a gay identity and gay people can be found throughout history" had been challenged as "essentialist" by social constructionists. The political scientist Sheila Jeffreys argued in Anticlimax that while Boswell covered material that "should provide fascinating insights into gender and sexuality" he "avoids any such insights scrupulously." She criticized him for confusing "the abuse of slave children in prostitution" with "eroticism" and concluded that like other gay theorists he was guilty of "moral and political myopia."The philologist Warren Johansson, the art historian Wayne R. Dynes and John Lauritsen criticized Boswell's thesis in Homosexuality and Christianity, first published in 1981.

They argued that Boswell had attempted to whitewash the historic crimes of the Christian Church against gay men. Books Online articles

The Willing Flesh

The Willing Flesh is a novel by Willi Heinrich, chronicling the Eastern Front combat experiences of a depleted infantry platoon during the 1943 German retreat from the Taman Peninsula in the Caucasian coast of Russia. The war film, Cross of Iron, directed by Sam Peckinpah, is based upon this novel. Editions of The Willing Flesh have been re-titled Cross of Iron to link book and film; the literary and cinematic "Sergeant Steiner" character may be based upon Johann Schwerdfeger who soldiered from 1935 to 1937 in Infanterie Regiment 84, in 1939 was transferred to the Third Company of Infanterie Regiment 186 of the 73rd Infantry Division, at the Polish Campaign's start. In June 1942, after serving in Jägerersatzbataillon 75, Schwerdfeger joined Jäger Regiment 228 of the 101st Jäger Division, who fought in the Don Bend, at Rostov, at Maykop, in the Caucasus, joined the retreat through the Kuban and the Taman Peninsula, the setting of the novel Das Geduldige Fleisch. On 17 May 1943, Feldwebel Schwerdfeger was awarded the Knight's Cross as a platoon leader in the First Company.

In April 1944, in the breakout from Hube's Pocket, he was wounded, was awarded Oak Leaves for his Knight's Cross on 14 May 1944. In two passages of The Willing Flesh, Meyer tells Stransky that Steiner saved Lieutenant Colonel Brandt's life. From The Willing Flesh, in English: Steiner saved his life once... It happened at Studenok on the Donets River. Brandt was the battalion CO then; the Second Company was situated, as far, right on the riverbank. The Russians had succeeded in crossing the river at night. In the battle, the Second Company was completely wiped out. During the war, a similar action occurred to the First Battalion of the 228th Jäger Regiment. Two German military history books about that division chronicle how one of the battalion's companies was surprised and pinned down by two Russian regiments and eleven tanks of the 296 Division, who had crossed the Donets River the night of 19–20 May 1942