” hills, thou shall not continue a thousand years.”
What made the majority of people in Constantinople believe in prophecies saying that the city would not last forever and that they are doomed? In the years before the Turkish conquest it was known that the reign of anti-Christ could not long be delayed. What made the proud people and ancestors of the Roman Empire lose all hope and will to react? After withstanding 22 previous sieges, the first in 340 BC and the last in 1437 AD, the Ottoman army entered into the capital which Constantine had found as the heart of the Christian Empire. After three days of plundering that caused the city a misfortune comparable only to the fall of Carthage, the Sultan entered the church Hagia Sophia and prayed to Allah saying after proclaiming the conversion of the church into a Mosque: “Here after my capital is Istanbul”.
Constantinople–the city that inspired many great men to admire, praise, and desire it. Since its creation it was a strategic commercial, military, and religious center. Its riches and charms were not only a source of admiration but its attractiveness had necessitated a rigorous fortification and protection from attacks and raids. In spite of being for more than 1000 years the unconquerable and surely the wealthiest city, it stood on the crossroads of the East and the West which proved to be an incessant source of troubles, always being entangled in the interests of foreign peoples. It was the conveyor of eastern and roman culture, the most sig...
nificant commercial and religious center and it can undoubtedly regarded as the heart of a civilization incredibly contributed to the mankind. A bastion of orthodox Christianity, it was conquered by the Crusaders–the “defenders” of Christianity,
and this colossal blow on it was one of the main causes for the fall of the Empire under the fanatic and irresistible power of the Ottoman Turks. Lead by the zeal of their religion and the skillful leadership of Sultan Mehmed II they succeeded in subduing Constantinople after a fierce siege. The mightiness of the noble city, however, has faded long before that conquest. It had started at the end of the 10 century with the numerous defeats in battles with the Turks and later on the Latin aggression and constant threat from the North. The weakening and losses of the Empire ended up with Constantinople as the only place left not conquered. The church did not manage to resolve its theological debates of whether to unite with the Roman church and receive help from the West, thus the only possibility for survival disappeared.
Its legendary history is goes back as early a 431 BC when it participated in the Peloponnesian on the side of Sparta. It was founded in 667 BC by the Greeks who afterwards were conquered by the Romans in 196 AD after a siege and declared by Constantine I the Great the capital of the Roman Empire in the East. The favorable location of the city was the reason for its numerous sieges and the appetites of different peoples to possess it. As long as it was
holding, the existence of the Empire was not threatened. This fact was known by all the invaders who wanted to conquer or rule the Roman Empire in the East. The main objective of Bulgarians, Serbs, Latins and finally Turks was to conquer the great city because it meant power and invincibility, accumulated wealth and culture, security and recognition.
One of the major explanations for the fall of Constantinople in the fatal 1453 is viewing it from the angle of the political consequences of the Latin Conquest and fall of the city in 1204. According to Sir Edwin Pears the capture of Constantinople was the necessary prelude to the Ottoman Conquest and it was the cause that brought about the fall of the Roman Empire in the East.
Being the strongest defense against Asia, the Byzantine Empire received a tremendous blow from the Latin conquest. The main forces of the East Empire were spent withstanding the Asian hordes which were pushed by the Tartar immigration westward. It was continuously weakened by the fight on two fronts. From the North it had for years to resist the constant blows of Bulgarians, Comans, Patchinaks, Uzes and Serbs. This was accompanied by an internal weakness in the Empire due to the transformation that was taking place–the feebleness and impotence of the despotism and its replacement by oligarchic regimes an the civil wars that followed. This lessened the strength and protective power of the Empire and the period of 250 years after the the Latin conquest proved to be insufficient for it to recover. Although it had gained considerable victories against the Second Bulgarian Empire in the late thirteenth century due to the Tartar invasions and was not troubled from the East, in the same period, because of the divisions of the Seljukian Turks, the Empire did not have the resources for a quick revival. In the fourteen century, the successful invasions of the Ottoman Turks in the territories of Roumelia were to great extent due to the weakness that the Empire still experienced from the devastation caused by the Fourth Crusade. The savages of the crusaders had placed an immovable obstacle to the union of the churches of the West and the East. It has caused an antagonism of the Greeks towards the Latins which turned out to be the tragedy of the city in the years before its conquest by the Ottomans.
During the period of a century and a half before the fall of Constantinople, the Roman Empire in the East confronted a mighty enemy with inexhaustible power. The new host1s deficiencies were immediately supplied by newcomers.1 The conquered territory in Asia Minor were the main areas for the recruitment of soldiers for the Empire. More and more it had to depend on mercenaries which was a major cause for the draining of the imperial treasury.
What caused an Empire with its roots in the very beginning of human history to crack under the pressure of a newly born formation the Moslem Turks. The reason could be traced back to the teaching of Mohammed. Unlike the Christian religion of humbleness and self-denial, the Moslem ideal suited
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