Although Mehmet II initially intended to allow the traditional three-day rape, pillage and looting of the city, as was the custom of all armies during that age, 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 a large part of the populace was either raped, despoiled, or enslaved. Of the estimated 50,000 persons residing in the city at the time of its capture, approximately half were still free when Mehmet issued his order to cease the pillage of the city. Luckily, however, valuable Christian treasures were later returned to the Church intact, such as the precious Gifts of the Three Magi. After the area was secured, Mehmed 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. [[Hagia Sophia (Constantinople)|Hagia Sophia]] was converted into a mosque, although the [[Church of Constantinople]] remained intact, and [[
Gennadius II (Scholarius) of Constantinople|Gennadius Scholarius]] was appointed [[Patriarch]] of Constantinople. The Peloponnesian fortress of Mystras held out until 1460, and the autonomous Byzantine state in Trebizond did not fall until 1461.
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 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 to the Ottoman sultans, but were just as often seen as traitors by other Greeks.