Recent literature has established an inseparable relationship between the Islamic Empire of the 15th century and the Eastern Roman Empire. The emphasis is less on Islamic forces acting as a separate and direct antagonist against Byzantines to their fall, but rather a series of circumstances that gradually weakened the empire until it fell in 1453. Within the most recent decades scholars have begun to examine at the international negotiations and cultural exchanges between Byzantines and Muslims to establish both empires were much closer than early historians believed.
Research focused on the Byzantine Empire and especially Islamic influences has met a variety of challenges and was slow to emerge as a field of study. Notable historians such as Montesquieu and Gibbon were often credited for the lack of interest in the topic. The fall of the Western Roman Empire remained the dominant interest of European historians. The earliest comments on the Eastern Roman Empire was that it was not worth the effort to study.
While works came out after Edward Gibbon published his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the topic was few and far between. The 20th century saw a revival in the amount of works produced on the Eastern Roman Empire, and by the 21st century a multitude of scholarly research has been done on the topic of the influence of Islam on the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire. There are two schools of thought concerning Gibbon’s work on the fall of Rome. The first is a sort of resentment, in which historians write in their preface an inspiring reason for the publication was to right the wrongs of Gibbon. The second is an attitude of admiration. It was common practice within the preface to thank Gibbon for his contributions and not claim their work is on his level, but that they wish to fill in some of the gaps.
Early 20th century French historians were among the first to produce work on the fall of the Byzantine empire. Cited often was fellow French historian Du Cange, a mid-17th century scholar who specialized in Byzantine history. By validating Byzantine history as a subject to study, other historians soon explored his work further, but not until the first quarter of the 20th century. At this point in time French historians had a few reasons to be interested in the Middle East. They had just come out of World War 1, in which the Ottoman Empire was their enemy, and shortly after had been involved in Franco-Turkish War. Consequently, both factors lent themselves to French interest in the Islamic world, especially present day Turkey.
An influential work to come out of the early 20th century was Charles Diehl’s History of the Byzantine Empire, which established a narrative about Turkish Muslims that would not disappear until further international interest in the topic. From his work, and works to follow came the histories of Byzantium that read as victim vs. villain. Without access to sources in any other language than Greek, historians were...