Jump to: navigation, search

Fall of Constantinople

964 bytes removed, 22:33, May 17, 2015
Deleted a lot of useless trivia, and added some new info. Also changed every mention of the term "Byzantine" or "Greek" to "Roman" where it made sense to do so.
[[Image:Siege of Constantinople.jpg|right|frame|The 1453 Siege of Constantinople (painted 1499)]]
The '''Fall of Constantinople''' was the conquest of that Greek Roman city by the Ottoman Empire under the command of Sultan Mehmet II, on Tuesday, [[May 29]], 1453. This event marked not only the final destruction of the [[Eastern Roman Empire|Eastern Roman ("Byzantine") Empire]], and the death of the last Roman Emperor, [[Constantine XI Palaiologos|Constantine XI]], the last Roman Emperor, but also the strategic conquest crucial for Ottoman hegemony over the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkans.
==State of the Eastern Roman Empire==In the approximately 1000 1,123 years of the Constantinople's existence of , the Empire, Constantinople city had been besieged many times; it , but had only been captured only once, during the [[Fourth Crusade]] in 1204. The crusadersCrusaders, however, had not originally set out to conquer the Empireentirety of the empire, and the Byzantines Romans re-established themselves in the city in 1261. In the following two centuries, the much-greatly weakened empire was gradually taken apart piece by piece by a new threat, the [[Ottoman empire|Ottoman Empire]]. In 1453 , the "empire" consisted of little more than the city of Constantinople itself and a portion of the Peloponnese (centered on the fortress of [[Mystras]]); the . The Empire of Trebizond, a completely independent successor state formed in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade , also survived on the coast of the Black Sea.
MehmetII, whose great-grandfather Bayezid I had previously built a fortress on the Asian side of the Bosphorus called ''Anadolu Hisarı'', now built a second castle outside the walls of Constantinople on the European side, which would called ''Rumelihisarı''. Its purpose was to increase Turkish influence on the straits. An especially relevant aspect of this fortress is its ability , and to prevent help assistance from Genoese colonies on the Black Sea coast from reaching the city. This castle was called ''Rumeli Hisarı''; ''Rumeli'' and ''Anadolu'' being in the names of European and Asian portions event of the Ottoman Empire, respectively. The new fortress is also known as ''Boğazkesen'' which has a dual meaning in Turkish; strait-blocker or throat-cutter, emphasizing its strategic positionsiege. Meanwhile, Constantine XI tried to buy him off with gifts. The However, the closing of the small mosques within Constantinople the city by Constantine XI the emperor, and the pressures pressure on Greek Muslims to [[convert]] back to Christianity formed the pretext for Mehmet to declare war.
Constantine appealed to Western Europe for help, but [[Nicholas V of Rome|Pope Nicholas V]] was unwilling to support the Empirecity. Ever since the [[Great Schism|mutual excommunication]] of the [[Orthodox Church|Orthodox]] and [[Roman Catholic Church|Roman Catholic]] churches in 1054, the Roman Catholic West had been trying to re-integrate the East; the West now used this as a negotiating tactic, promising to send help if the "Byzantines " brought their church back into [[full communion|communion]] with Rome. Attempts had been made to do this after the [[Council of Florence]] and the Council of Basel, but the Orthodox population refused to support it. Ultimately, Pope Nicholas and many other western Western leaders made the decision not to support the Empirein its greatest time of need, although some troops did arrive from the city states of northern Italyto lend their support.
The Byzantine army itself Roman garrison totaled about 7000 7,000 men, 2000 2,000 of whom were foreign mercenaries. The city also had fourteen miles of walls, probably - the strongest set of fortified walls in existence at the time. The Ottomans, on the other hand, had a much larger force, numbering around 100,000, including 20,000 Janissaries, the elite bodyguard of the Ottoman Emperor himself. Mehmet also built a fleet to besiege the city from the sea.
The Ottomans employed a Hungarian engineer called named Urban , who was a specialist in the construction of cannons, which were still relatively new weaponsat the time. He In addition to building a number of cannons for the siege, he also built an enormous cannon which he claimed "could blast the walls of Babylon itself." The cannon, dubbed "the Basilic", was nearly twenty-seven feet (more than 8 m) in length and 2.5 feet (about 75 cm) in diameter, which and could fire a 1200 lb (544 kg) . ball as far as one mile. It was dubbed "Fortunately for the Basilic". Although the Byzantines also had cannonscity however, they were much smaller and their recoil tended to damage their own walls. Urban's cannon had several drawbacks, however. It could hardly hit anythingwas greatly inaccurate, not even as large as Constantinople; it took three hours to reload; the cannon balls were , and its ammunition was in very short supply; and . After six weeks of bombarding the city, the cannon collapsed under the force of its own recoil after six weeks, killing Urban and his crew.
==Siege and final assault of the city==
Mehmet planned to attack the Theodosian Walls, the intricate series of walls and ditches protecting Constantinople from an attack from the west, as it was the only part of the city not surrounded by water. His army encamped outside the city on [[Bright Monday]], [[April 2]], 1453. For weeks , Mehmet's massive cannon fired on the walls, but it was unable to sufficiently penetrate them, and due to its extremely slow rate the enormous amount of reloading time it took to reload the gun, the Byzantines Romans were able to repair most of the damage after each shot. Meanwhile, Mehmet's fleet could not enter the Golden Horn due to the large chain the Byzantines Romans had laid across the entrance. To circumvent this , he built a road of greased logs across Galata on the north northern side of the Golden Horn, and rolled his ships across. This succeeded in stopping the flow of supplies from Genoan ships and demoralizing the Byzantine Roman defenders, but it did not help in breaching give the land walls. Mehmet offered Ottomans access to raise the siege for an astronomical tribute that he knew the city would be unable to pay. When this was declined, Mehmet planned to overpower the walls by sheer force, knowing that the Byzantine defenders would be worn out before he ran out of troops.
On the night of [[May 22]] there was a lunar eclipse, which must have seemed a bad omen to the defenders of the city. On the morning of [[May 29]] , the attack assault began. The first wave of attackers, the bashi-bazouks, were (poorly trained and equipped, and Ottoman infantry) were meant only sent in first to kill as many Byzantine soften the defenders as possible. The second assaultwave, consisting largely of Anatolians , focused on a section of the Blachernae walls in the northwest part of the city, which had been partially damaged by the cannon. This section of the walls wall had been built much more recently, (in the eleventh century, 11th Century) and was much weaker; the crusaders Crusaders in 1204 had broken through the walls there. The Ottoman attackers also managed to break through, but were just as quickly pushed back out by the Byzantine Roman defenders. The Byzantines Romans also managed to hold off a third attack by the Sultan's elite Janissaries (ironically, most of the Janissaries had been Christian children who were captured by the Ottomans at an early age and trained as warriors), but the Genoan general in charge of the defense, Giovanni Giustiniani, was wounded in the attack, and the Greeks defenders began to panic.
Unfortunately for the GreeksRomans, the Kerkoporta gate in the Blachernae section of the wall had been left unlocked, and the Ottomans soon discovered this mistake (there was no question of bribery or deceit by . With the Ottomans; the gate had simply been overlookednow pouring in, probably because rubble from a cannon attack had obscured or blocked the door). The Ottomans rushed in. [[Constantine XI]] himself led , the last defense of the Roman emperors, said, "The cityis fallen and I am still alive." Tearing off his imperial ornaments so as to let nothing distinguish him from the soldiers who fought bravely by his side, dying he led his troops in a final charge against the invaders. The emperor was never seen alive again, and the ensuing battle Ottomans were unable to locate his body in the streetsaftermath of the siege.
Although Mehmet II initially intended to allow the traditional three-day days of rape, pillage and looting of the city, (as was the custom of virtually all armies during victorious sieges in that ageera), he changed his mind after seeing the great structures of the city being destroyed , and stopped the activities after 24 hours. Unfortunately, at that point even though only a large part day had passed, the vast majority of the populace was either raped, despoiled, or enslavedby that time. Of the estimated 50,000 persons residing in the city at the time of its capture, approximately only half were still free when Mehmet issued his order to cease the pillage of the citycarnage. Luckily, however, valuable Christian treasures were later returned to the Church intact, such as the precious Gifts of the Three Magi. After the area city was securedand under control, Mehmed Mehmet entered the city in a ceremonial procession where the local population brought him flowers in congratulations.
In Mehmet's view, he was the successor to the Roman Emperor, but he was nicknamed "the Conqueror", and Constantinople became the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. Allthough the [[Hagia Sophia (Constantinople)|Hagia Sophia]] was converted into a mosque, although the [[Church of Constantinople]] remained intact, and [[Gennadius Scholarius]] was appointed [[Patriarch]] of Constantinople. The Peloponnesian fortress of Mystras held out until 1460, and the autonomous Byzantine state in Empire of Trebizond did not fall until 1461fell a year later.
Many Greeks fled the city and found refuge in Italy, bringing with them many ancient Greek writings that had been lost in the West. These helped contribute , thus giving spark to the European Renaissance. Those Greeks who stayed behind were mostly confined to the [[Phanar]] and Galata districts. The Phanariots, as they were called, often provided capable advisors advisers to the Ottoman sultans, but were just as often seen as traitors by the other Greeks. Scholars consider the Fall of Constantinople as a key event ending the Middle Ages and starting the Renaissance because of the end of the old religious order in Europe The city still remains under Turkish control today, and the use of cannon and gunpowder. Down to the present day, many Greeks have considered consider Tuesday (the day of the week that Constantinople fell) to be the unluckiest day of the week.
==Further reading==

Navigation menu