The Fall of Constantinople, May 29, 1453

The siege of Constantinople by the Ottomans, in 1453, was a huge and complex war effort, made up of many separate smaller-scale military operations. One of them was the attempt by the Turks to cause the walls of the Byzantine capital to collapse by digging undermining tunnels. After all, the Ottoman sultan, Mohammed II, had decided to use any kind of military trickery in order to achieve his goal. The aim of the besiegers was to dig a tunnel that would start from their positions and would reach underground under some point of the Byzantine walls. Then they would burn the wooden pillars on which the subversive portico was supported, causing it to collapse. However, the part of the walls above it would also be dragged along with it, which would completely dissolve.

The Fall of Constantinople was the result of the siege of the Byzantine capital, whose Emperor was Constantine XI Paleologos, by the Ottoman army, led by Sultan Mohammed II. The siege lasted from April 6 to Tuesday, May 29, 1453 (Julian calendar). This fall of Constantinople also marked the end of the over a thousand-year Byzantine Empire.

Νωπογραφία από άγνωστο καλλιτέχνη στην Εκκλησία της Μονής Μολντοβίτσα απεικονίζει την άλωση της Κωνσταντινούπολης, 1537.

Byzantium was already weakened and divided for the last two centuries, a shadow of the old Empire. The Fall of 1204 by the Crusaders and later, after its recapture in 1261, political and religious strife, the lack of help from the West, the poor economic situation and the flight of manpower, led to its gradual weakening and shrinking.

Η Βυζαντινή Αυτοκρατορία και η ευρύτερη περιοχή το 1450.

The capture of Gallipoli in 1354 by the Ottomans, which brought hordes of fanatical Muslim warriors to Europe, gradually surrounded Byzantium territorially, which in 1373 became vassal to the Ottoman sultan. Thus, the Conquest came as a natural result of the continuous expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the wider region. The conflicts were particularly unequal in favor of the Turks, to the point that the sources mention the fait accompli of the outcome of the siege. Special mention is also made of the heroism of the besieged and especially of the Emperor. The fact of the fall of the "theophylactus City" left deep traces in the sources of the time.

The outcome of the Fall was the merciless continuation of the territorial advance of the Turks in North Africa and Central Europe. During the late 17th century the Ottoman Empire reached its height, threatening Vienna. Many times the Fall of Constantinople is used by historians as an event that marks the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. Many of them even agree that the mass movement of many Greeks from Constantinople to Italy due to the Fall played a decisive role in shaping the content and philosophy followed by the figures of the Renaissance.


The various sources that describe in detail the last moments of the Byzantine Empire come from eminent historians of the time and are recorded in various languages: Greek, Latin, Italian, Slavic, Turkish. The four main Greek sources vary greatly in their assessment of the facts. The only eyewitness, eminent historian, official and diplomat George Sfrantzis, who himself took part in the siege and was a close friend of the Emperor, described the last days of Byzantium with the aim of restoring the honor of the defeated Constantine XI, his humiliated country and the offended Orthodox faith. Michael Kritovoulos, who had joined the camp of the Turks, describes the events from the perspective of a citizen of the new Ottoman Empire, although he never attacks his Greek compatriots. The Duke, a supporter of the union of the churches, emphasizes the need for Byzantium to cooperate with the Western powers of the time. He particularly mentions the Genoese Ioannis Justinianis, who would contribute to the defense of the city for some time. Finally, Laonikos Chalkokondylis chooses not Byzantium but the Ottoman Empire as the main subject of his story, emphasizing its rapid expansion. However, Chalkokondilis's work is of a particularly general nature and he himself was not an eyewitness to the events.

From the Latin sources, the "Appeal to all the believers of Christ" (Ad universos Christifideles de expugnatione Constantinopolis) stands out from Cardinal Isidore, who just escaped captivity by the Turks. Leonardo of Chios, Latin archbishop of Lesvos, sent a report to the Pope, presenting the events of the Fall as divine punishment of the Byzantines for their departure from the Catholic faith. Among the most important sources is the "Diary of the Siege of Constantinople", by the Venetian Nicolaos Barbaro, which describes the conflicts day by day. The Russian secretariat also has remarkable works to present. Finally, there are also Turkish sources that present the events from the perspective of the triumphant and victorious Islam and its representative, Muhammad II. Turkish sources are also enriched by legends related to Constantinople and the Bosphorus.

State of the Byzantine Empire

During the 1,100 years of life of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople had been besieged several times, but only once had it fallen into enemy hands, in 1204 by the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade. After 1204 a weak Latin kingdom was established in the city and the rest of the Empire had broken up into separate kingdoms. One of them, the Greek Empire of Nicaea managed to prevail in the region and recapture the City in 1261. Over the next two centuries, the weakened Byzantine Empire was constantly attacked by Latins, Serbs, Bulgarians and especially by the Ottoman Turks. In 1453, apart from Constantinople itself and its surroundings, the largest part of the Peloponnese, centered on Mystras, belonged to the Empire. The Empire of Trebizond, a Greek state that was created in 1204 on the edge of Asia Minor and managed to survive all this time, was a completely separate political entity from Byzantium.

The rival leaders

Πορτραίτο του Μωάμεθ Β΄, από τον Τζεντίλε Μπελλίνι (Λονδίνο, Εθνική Πινακοθήκη). Σύμφωνα με μια παράδοση ο Μωάμεθ διαφώνησε με τον Μπελλίνι για το πώς έπρεπε να απεικονίζεται ο ανθρώπινος λαιμός. Για να λύσει το πρόβλημα, ο σουλτάνος διέταξε να φέρουν μπροστά τους έναν δούλο, τον οποίο έβαλε να αποκεφαλίσουν επιτόπου.

Mohammed II

In the Ottoman camp, Muhammad II, whose real name is Mehmet II, only twenty-one years old (in 1453), a character, as the Byzantine scholar Vassiliev asserts, particularly hard-hearted, warlike, generally succumbed to baser passions, but at the same time showed interest for science and education, while also possessing the gifts of a general, politician and organizer. G. Sfrantzis mentions that he dealt with the sciences with particular zeal, at the same time he was interested in astrology, read fairy tales and spoke five other languages ​​in addition to Turkish. Muslim sources extol his piety and the protection he extended to his fellow scholars.

The desire to conquer Constantinople had become an obsessive idea for the young sultan: it is saved that he stayed awake for continuous nights, drawing on paper the plan of the city and marking the points that could be easily attacked. Having decided to deliver the final blow to the City, Muhammad set to work with extreme care. First he built, to the north of the city, on the European shores of the Bosphorus, at its narrowest point, a strong fortress, Rumeli Hisar (or Bogaz Kesen, in Turkish "Cut the Throat"). The cannons placed there were the most advanced military technology of the time. This action caused particular concern to the Byzantines, who now believed that their end was near. This fortification project, in combination with the pre-existing fort on the opposite Asian coast (Anatolou-Hisar), cut off the maritime communication of Constantinople with the ports of the Black Sea, thus depriving the city of valuable reinforcements and supplies. Soon after, Muhammad II sent Turahan Bey to invade the Byzantine territories of the Peloponnese, to prevent reinforcements from being sent by Constantine's brothers, who ruled the Despotate of Mystras.

Φανταστικό πορτραίτο του Κωνσταντίνου ΙΑ΄ Παλαιολόγου

Constantine XI Palaeologus

The area that recognized the authority of the last Byzantine Emperor was limited to Constantinople, with the territories of Thrace nearest to it, as well as the greater part of the Peloponnese (Moreos), which was far from the reigning one and under the essential rule of the brothers of the Emperor.

Constantine XI made generous efforts to save from the Empire what was possible, himself as a character distinguished for his energy and valor. An Italian humanist, Francesco Filelfo, describes him as a man "of pious and superior spirit". Many researchers argue that the Byzantine Emperor made every effort in this unequal struggle, transported to the city all the quantities of grain that could be gathered and repaired the city walls. The entrance to the Gulf of Horn was closed with a heavy chain, as was always the case in impending siege situations to prevent the enemy fleet from penetrating. The city's garrison, however, had barely reached a few thousand.

The Emperor also turned for help to the states of the West. Ultimately, serious military reinforcements never arrived in the city. Instead of military aid, a cardinal of Greek origin, Isidoros, who had previously taken part in the Council of Florence, arrived in Constantinople. Isidoros also performed a service in Hagia Sophia, but this fact caused great unrest among the anti-theonists of the city and disapproval of Palaiologos. One of the historians of Alosia, Doukas, who was a contemporary of the events, quoted the following words of an anti-Anthenian Byzantine noble:

It is more likely that in the middle of the city there was a king of Turks covered with Latin.


The Ottoman army

According to newer historians the regular troops must have reached 35,000-45,000 soldiers, who were gathered from the European and Asian provinces. They included the elite body of 11,000 janissaries and several Christian vassals of the Ottomans. The army consisted of infantry, cavalry, artillery. There were also light bodies of archers, slingers and spearmen. All the warriors were very well equipped with every kind of weapon, defensive or offensive, and carried shields, clad with iron, helmets, bows and arrows, swords, and anything else deemed suitable for wall combat. The army was well trained and organized and there was great enthusiasm. The Ottoman army seemed much larger because it was followed by a large number of auxiliaries. Moreover, endless multitudes of Turkish miscreants had gathered, attracted by the prospect of plunder. Also numerous fanatical Muslim monks (dervishes) and priests circulated among the soldiers and with sermons emphasized their warlike drive.

Η τελευταία πολιορκία της Κωνσταντινούπολης, γαλλική μινιατούρα της εποχής, 15ος αιώνας

Muhammad knew that without first being able to control the sea area of ​​the city, it would be very difficult to conquer it by land alone. That is why he decided to create a powerful fleet consisting of 6 triremes (which instead of three parallel rows of oars that the ancients had, these had one with three oarsmen), 10 biremes, about 15 galleys, about 70 skirts, 20 sloops and an unknown number of boats and kites. Its size must have reached 150 units. The sultan personally carefully selected the officers who would staff him, while as his commander he chose a Bulgarian outlaw, Suleiman Baltoglu.

But where the sultan paid the most attention was in the construction of cannons that could destroy the strong walls that protected Constantinople. Mohammed II was the first military leader who had at his disposal a truly organized artillery.

Σχεδιαστική τομή των χερσαίων τειχών της Κωνσταντινούπολης

The man who improved it and made it the best of his time was a skilled craftsman, Urvanos, who was of Hungarian or Saxon descent. The largest cannon made by Urbanos was 8 meters long and fired stone projectiles weighing about 400 kilograms. In total the Ottoman artillery had 70 guns of which 11 fired 250 kg projectiles and over 50 used 100 kg projectiles. With these Muhammad formed 14 artillery regiments, 9 of which included the smaller caliber guns and 5 which included the larger guns. The historian Kritovoulos typically mentions that the sewers and underground passages that the Turks opened under the walls turned out to be completely unnecessary, as the cannons solved the problem. Even up to the end of the 19th century huge projectiles were visible in many parts of the city in the same place they had fallen in 1453.

Η Κωνσταντινούπολη και τα τείχη του Θεοδόσιου

The defenders of Constantinople

Regarding the army of the defenders, the report of Sfrantzis, who undertook the counting of the forces by order of the emperor, is considered more valid. Sfrantzis mentions 4,937 Byzantines and about 2,000 foreigners. Among the foreigners, the 700 masked soldiers who arrived in the Byzantine capital in January 1453 on two Genoese ships stood out. Constantine XI Paleologos awarded their leader Ioannis Justiniani Longos, an experienced warrior, the title of protostator (chief general) and entrusted him with the defense of the city. In any case the total number should not have exceeded 8,500.

Η διάταξη των αντιπάλων

The Byzantines also had artillery, smaller in caliber compared to the Ottomans. It was used mainly in the first days of the siege and then fell silent due to the minimal amount of gunpowder and projectiles, but also the disagreements on how to use these weapons.

At the beginning of the siege there were 26 warships in Keratios gulf. Of these, 10 belonged to Byzantium, 5 were Venetian, 5 Genoese, 3 Cretan, 1 from Ancona, 1 from Catalonia and 1 from Provence. There were also smaller Genoese vessels and merchant ships docked at Peran.

The city walls

The form of walled Constantinople can be described as triangular. As the base of the triangle were the land walls while its sides, which also formed the coastline of the city, were formed by the sea walls.

The land (or Theodosian) walls, which were approximately 5,570 meters long, stretched from the quay of Pigi on the Propontis coast to the district of Blacherna. They were double along their entire length, with the one facing the city being called the Inner Wall and the one facing the plain being called the Outer Wall. The Byzantines' main line of defense was the Inner Wall, which was 12 meters high and 5 meters wide, and included 96 towers 18 to 20 meters high each. These towers were about 55 m apart. The Outer Wall was 8.5 meters high and 2 m wide and also had 96 towers, which were about 10 m high and were positioned so that they were in the center of the gap left between them by the inner towers. The walls were 15 to 20 m apart, while the space between them was called "Perivolos" by the Byzantines. Along the entire length of the Outer Wall and at a distance of 15 to 17m. approximately from this there was a moat whose width was 19 to 21 m. and its depth about 10 m. The land walls had 10 gates.

Access to the city from the sea presented great difficulties thanks to a strong sea current in the Bosphorus, the northerly winds and a series of reefs and reefs that existed in the Propontis. Thus, only a series of walls was sufficient to protect the coasts. The coastal wall of the Keratio gulf extended from the district of Vlacherna to the old Acropolis and was 10m high. approximately, 17 gates, 110 towers and 5,600 m long. On its outer side was a narrow strip of land. The wall of the Propontis, which started from the Acropolis and reached the quay of the Springs, was 12 to 15 m high, had 188 towers, about 13 gates and was 8,900 m long. For almost its entire length the wall of the Propontis was adjacent at sea, therefore the landing of enemy forces was impossible, and the task of defense was made easier.

Ο σουλτάνος Μωάμεθ Β΄ επιβλέπει την υπερνεώλκηση του τουρκικού στόλου. Πίνακας του Φαούστο Τσονάρο, (1854-1929)

The siege

The Ottomans before the walls

The first Ottoman detachments made their appearance on 2 April, while the entire army gradually arrived outside the city walls by 5 April. On the same date, the sultan arrived with the last units and immediately blockaded the city by land and sea.

Regarding the arrangement of the opponents, the emperor with his best troops undertook the defense of the middle part of the land walls (Mesoteihi), which were also the most vulnerable, because at that point the river Lykos crossed them vertically. Opposing him was the sultan with the janissaries and other elite units, as well as the great cannon that Urbanus had built.

On the emperor's left, towards the Propontis, were Cattenao with his Genoese troops, Theophilus Palaiologos, who together with some Byzantines guarded the Gate of the Springs, Philippos Codarini who was in charge of the section from the Gate of the Springs to Chrysi gate, in which was the Genoese Manuel, while a little further down, next to the sea walls, was Dimitrios Kandakouzinos. Against them the Ottomans arrayed the Asia Minor troops under Isak Pasha.

To the right of the emperor, towards the gulf of Horn, on the part of the walls called Myriandrion, Justinnians lined up, who shortly afterwards moved to where the emperor was. It was replaced by a department under the Bocciardi brothers. Further up, in the palace of the Blachernae, the Venetian bailiff Minnoto was installed, while a compatriot of his, Teodoro Caristo, camped with his men on the part of the walls between the Caligaria gate and the Theodosian wall. Archbishop Leonard with the brothers Langasco was behind the ditch at the point where it ended at the Horn. All of them had to face the European troops of the Ottomans, under Karatza Pasha.

The sea walls were guarded on the Propontis side by Giacomo Codarini, who defended himself in the area of ​​the Studio. Next to him was a section of Greek monks. In the port of Eleftheri was Prince Orhan with his Turks, while on the eastern coast of Propontida men from the Catalan community under Pere Houlia settled. Cardinal Isidoros with 200 archers defended the promontory of the acropolis. The coasts of the Keratian Gulf were guarded by 700 Venetian and Genoese sailors under Gabriele Trevisano. Alvizo Diedo was given command of the ships in the bay. Opposite them was Zaganos Pasha with a part of the Ottoman army, which lined up at the point where the land walls joined the walls of the Horn. Inside the city there were two detachments as a reserve: one under Loukas Notaras, which was stationed in the district of Petra, and the other, under Nikephoros Palaiologos, near the church of the Holy Apostles.

On April 6, the siege was officially declared by Mohammed II, after first, according to the customs of the time, his proposal to surrender the city promising to respect the life and property of the inhabitants, was rejected by the Byzantines. The cannonade immediately began, with the result that a section of the walls near the Grace Gate was destroyed, but the defenders were able to quickly repair it. At the same time the Ottomans started work to fill the moat, so that in the event of a breach in the walls they could attack with ease. Undermining work was also undertaken against the sections of the walls where the terrain was suitable. At sea the ships made their first attack, probably on 9 April, without success, with the result that Baltoglu waited for the arrival of the Black squadron to plan new operations. Between April 6 and 11, Mohammed took some troops and captured two fortresses outside the city, Therapio and Studiou, while at the same time Baltoglu attacked and captured Prigiponissa.

On the 12th the Turkish fleet arrived from Gallipoli and anchored at Diplokionio. It was the first truly battle-worthy fleet the Ottomans had acquired. On the same day the bombardment with the cannons began, which continued without interruption throughout the period of the siege. The Byzantines could not use their own cannons, which were far inferior to the Turkish ones, which they had placed on the walls to fire at the besiegers, but they quickly found that each shot caused cracks in the walls themselves. However, the defense in the first weeks was conducted successfully.

On the night of April 18, the Ottomans attacked Mesoteichio with shouting and drumming. As the point of attack was narrow, the numerical superiority of the Turks was meaningless, while the superior armor of the Byzantines, as well as the leadership of Justinian, were instrumental in the successful repulse of the attack. After four hours of fruitless attacks the Ottomans retreated, having 200 dead, while the defenders none.

On April 20 an unexpectedly pleasant event occurred for the besieged: A flotilla of four ships (consisting of three Genoese ships and one Byzantine under the command of Fladanella), after a victorious engagement with a numerically superior Turkish fleet, came to reinforce the Byzantines by carrying, between of the others, food and supplies to the besieged capital. The sultan was so upset by this naval battle that he rode into the sea. This fact was particularly encouraging for the psychology of the besieged, who believed that the favorable outcome of the siege was now visible.

On April 22, the Turkish fleet, after an operation of the previous night, managed to penetrate into the Gulf of Horn. For this purpose, a kind of wooden platform had been constructed in the valley between the entrances, on which the Ottoman ships, placed on wheels, were dragged - with the help of a large number of people who were at the disposal of Mohammed II. In order for the project not to be noticed, the cannons bombarded the land wall incessantly. The fleet of the Byzantines and their Italian allies, which was stationed inside the Horned Gulf, found itself between two fires and the situation of the city became critical. A plan was then organized to set fire to the Turkish fleet with liquid fire the following night on April 28 under the leadership of a ship captain from Trebizond, Giacomo Coco, but the plan was betrayed to the Turks and thus did not take place. In addition, the defense of the city was weakening, as forces had to be placed on the wall of Keratio, which until then did not need special guarding.

In the meantime, the lack of food had become particularly noticeable in the Byzantine capital. The warriors were beginning to tire of the successive enemy attacks. Also Venetians and Genoese were quarreling, the former accusing the latter of collaborating with the enemy. There were rumors that the Genoese of Galata, who remained untouched by the Turks throughout the siege, were helping the sultan. Also, many Byzantines and foreigners advised the Emperor to flee, but Constantine with courage and dignity rejected this humiliating solution.

The continuous bombardment of the city, which did not stop for several weeks at all, completely exhausted the population, men, women, children, priests, monks were trying to restore the numerous cracks in the wall. The siege had already lasted fifty days. At the same time, there were rumors in the Ottoman camp, probably false, about the possible arrival of a large Christian fleet from the West, which forced Muhammad to intensify the effort to capture the city.

On May 21, the Sultan sent an ambassador to Constantinople. He demanded the surrender of the city with a promise to allow the Emperor and those who wished to leave with their possessions. It would also recognize Constantine as ruler of the Peloponnese. Finally, it guaranteed the safety and property of the population that would remain in the city. Constantine's counterproposals were imbued with a spirit of dignity and determination. They agreed to pay even higher taxes of servitude and to remain in the hands of the Turks all the castles and lands they had in the meantime conquered. For Istanbul, however, he stated:

But the city shows you neither we nor any other of the inhabitants in it; for it is a common opinion that we all die of our own free will and do not lose our lives.

That is, in modern rendering:

However, it is not up to me to hand over the city to you, nor to any of its inhabitants, because by common decision we will all die of our own free will and will not count our lives.

Η Άλωση της Κωνσταντινούπολης από τον Θεόφιλο Χατζημιχαήλ

The final attack

After the failed approach, Mohammed II called a council of war and then addressed his soldiers, asking them for courage and steadfastness. He emphasized that there are three conditions for a successful war: desire (for victory), shame (for defeat), and obedience to leaders. He also declared on oath that he wanted only the walls and buildings of the city and that he was leaving everything else to his army. He emphasized that there are treasures inside the buildings and especially in the churches and that they will benefit from the Exandrapodism of the residents, among them there were many young women. Finally he ordered fasting and prayer. The attack was set for the night of May 29.

On May 28, a large service was held in Hagia Sophia, the last Christian service held in the city's famous church, which was attended by a large number of officials and believers. Constantine XI in a speech to his people, as rescued by Sfranzis, urged them to resist bravely, saying that the Turks "are supported by arms, cavalry, artillery and their numerical superiority, but we rely first on our God and Savior and then in our hands and in our strength that God himself has given us". Constantine concluded his speech as follows:

...So you have known this: If you will sincerely obey what I have commanded you, I hope that, with God's help, we shall escape His just punishment, which hangs upon us.

On Tuesday night, May 29, between 01.00 and 02.00, a general Turkish attack took place. As soon as the signal was given the city came under a combined attack from three sides at the same time. The Byzantines managed to cut the underground tunnels from where the Turks tried to pass under the walls. Although they were outnumbered in the attacks, the Byzantines repulsed them several times causing them terrible losses. The first two attacks were repelled. But Mohammed II very carefully organized the third and final attack. With particular persistence the Turks attacked the part of the walls which was near the gate of Agios Romanos (Pepton), where the Emperor himself was fighting. One of the main defenders of the city, the Genoese Justinianis, was seriously injured and forced to abandon the fight. This loss was irreparable for the Byzantines. However, even after this success, the Ottomans were unable to penetrate the City. However, cracks were constantly created in the walls and the Emperor, fighting as a simple soldier, fell in battle. There is no accurate information about his death and for this reason his death quickly became the subject of a legend that has obscured the historical reality. According to popular tradition, the Turks did not manage to break the defense line of the walls, only when they entered through the Kerkoporta through internal treachery and surrounded the defenders.

Η είσοδος του Μωάμεθ Β΄ στην Κωνσταντινούπολη (πίνακας του Ζαν-Ζοζέφ Μπενζαμίν-Κονστάν, 19ος αιώνας).


The siege lasted almost 2 months, and finally the significantly stronger Muhammad captured Constantinople on Tuesday, May 29, 1453 (Affras Day). After the death of Constantine the Turks rushed into the city, starting massive looting. A large number of citizens fled to Hagia Sophia, hoping to find safety there. But the Turks broke through the main gate and rushed into the church where they slaughtered the crowd. On the day of the fall of Constantinople, or possibly the day after, the Sultan formally entered the city and went to Hagia Sophia, where he prayed. Then the Conqueror settled in the imperial palaces of Blacherna.

According to Sfrantzis, an order was given for a three-day looting of the city. Other sources state that looting essentially stopped after the first day. The historian Doukas mentions that the sultan reserved for himself the buildings and walls of the city, leaving the rest of the goods, the prisoners and the spoils at the disposal of the troops. The civilian population of Constantinople was being killed indiscriminately. The churches headed by Hagia Sophia, as well as the monasteries with all their wealth were looted and desecrated, while private property became the object of plunder and plunder. During these days countless cultural treasures were lost. Valuable books were burned, shredded or sold at humiliating prices. The historian Kritoboulos, who belonged to the Ottoman camp, reports that there was no elemental pity during the looting and the city was completely deserted.

Consequences of the Fall

The Orthodox Byzantine Empire ceased to exist and in its place the Ottoman Empire was founded and developed, whose capital was moved from Adrianople to Constantinople where it was renamed Constantiniye by the Turks. The name Istanbul emerged later, but from the symbiosis of the two languages ​​it remained popular. (from the phrase to the city) and remained the seat of the Empire until its final dissolution, in 1922. On the contrary, the Patriarchate of Constantinople shone with the appointment of the anti-Anthenian Gennadius Scholarios as patriarch at the suggestion of Muhammad, receiving from him various additional privileges until even an Ottoman garrison.

The first who allegedly tried to arouse the Western Rulers for the recapture of Constantinople by the Christians was the then Grand Master of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, who was based at that time in Rhodes, Jean de Lastique, who in his letters to the Pope and he exhorted all the Rulers to take up arms and "take revenge for the Christian blood that was shed in Constantinople because of the Turks but also for the salvation of Rhodes, the strongest bastion of the Christian state". At the same time, however, there were many Greeks who ran through Europe preaching a "holy war" against the Turks, among them was Isidore the Peloponnesian, Bessarion the Trebizond, Andronikos the Thessalonica, etc., while the Rhodian folk lyricist Emmanuel Georgilas delivered the spirit of the time in his poems urging the West to unite against the Turks for the liberation of Constantinople, because:

"Polis was the sword, / Polis the pole.

Polis was the key / of all Romania

They locked and secured / the whole of Romania

And the whole Archipelago / locked up".

In the above appeals, Pope Nicholas V showed complete indifference, in contrast to his successors on the papal throne, Callisto III and Pius II. Also, Emperor Frederick III of the Holy Roman Empire and Duke Philip III of Burgundy, the chosen Good, as soon as they were informed about the fall, met and agreed, but their intentions were wrecked by the "unnamed resistance" and for "merciful petty philanthropies" of then king of France Charles VII.

It is recalled that at that time a large part of the Greek area consisted of kingdoms such as Cyprus, Duchies such as the Frankish one of Athens and mainly Venetian possessions such as the Duchy of the Archipelago based in Naxos, Evia or Negreponte and Kefalonia (from 1209), the Crete (from 1212), Corfu (from 1215), Rhodes etc., the two despotates of Mystras and Epirus as well as some nobles.

When in 1456 Mohammed II wrested Athens from the Franks and a little later subjugated all the Greek regions, as well as the Peloponnese, then the West woke up from its slumber and the first voices began to be heard about the unfaithful and common enemy. The Parthenon, which had then been converted by the Christians into a church of the Virgin, was re-converted by order of Mohammed II himself into a mosque. In 1457, the papal fleet appears in the Aegean and begins raids to occupy islands that were under Turkish rule, with the consequence of abolishing the Hegemony of the Blood of the House of Cateluz. In 1461, the Empireria of Trebizond also came under the power of the Ottomans. In the same year, the last remnants of the Despotate of Epirus were captured.

The fall of Constantinople may have marked the beginning of Turkish rule in Greece, but more importantly: it led to the culmination of the renaissance of ancient Greek studies that spread to Italy first and then to the rest of Europe. Cities like Venice, Florence, Rome etc. they opened their arms to the refugee Byzantine scholars who settled there, carrying the precious cargo of ancient Greece, thus contributing to the emergence of the new trends, mainly humanism, that the new century (15th century) brought.

Η Πύλη του Χαρίσιου από την οποία μπήκε στην Κωνσταντινούπολη ο Μωάμεθ Β΄ ο Πορθητής όπως είναι σήμερα. Υπάρχει στα δεξιά μαρμάρινη επιγραφή που υπενθυμίζει το γεγονός.

Legends and traditions

The manner in which the last Emperor was sacrificed, as well as the fact that no information about his last moments on the battlefield survived, inspired various legends, the main one being that of the "marbled king" waiting for the moment to reclaim his City and Empire

Στήλη του Κωνσταντίνου Α

A popular Christian tradition states that at the moment when the Turks broke through the gate of Hagia Sophia, the divine service was being held and the priest, when he saw the Muslims rushing into the crowd of believers, entered and disappeared inside the wall, behind the Holy Altar. , which miraculously opened before him. It was said that when Constantinople returned to Christian hands, the priest would come out of the wall to continue the service. Another legend says that the emperor Constantine had six fingers on one of his hands and if a Greek is found who has six fingers then he (Constantine) will recover the City and his empire.

In the late 19th century, the American historian E. A. Grosvenor reports that in the Abu Wefa district of Constantinople, there was a low unmarked tomb which the Greeks revered as the tomb of Constantine and secretly used as a place of prayer. But the Ottoman Government intervened at that time by imposing penalties and deserting the place.

The reception of Alosis by international and modern Greek historiography

The Fall of Constantinople in 1453 was one of the landmark events in World History that marked the transition from the medieval era to modern times, according to the tripartite distinction of Christophe Sellarius with his work Historia Medii Aevi.

The reception and integration of Alosia by 19th century historiography follows the integration of Byzantium and the Byzantine historical period. The conditions for its assimilation were, among other things, its religious significance, something that found acceptance in popular culture. It could become a tangible symbol in the context of national ideology formation. Thus it was perceived as the fall of the Orthodox kingdom. It is nationalized because Constantinople was the most important center of the East and therefore a central point in the implementation of the Great Idea.

Spyridon Zampelios in his extensive introduction to his work Asmata Municipalia of Greece, does not focus on the internal factors of the decline of the empire, but on the greedy Catholic West, which from 1204 contributed to the decline of the empire. Finally, Divine Providence chose the Ottoman conqueror to be saved from the Catholic dynasties. Konstantinos Paparrigopoulos also agrees on this point, but without adopting the philosophical view of Zampelios.

Various other representatives of the romantic historiographic trend, such as Alexandros Paspatis, Konstantinos Sathas, Spyridon Lambros, Adamantios Adamantiou, Vasilios Mystakidis, Theodosios Venizelos, Athanasios Bernardakis, Konstantinos Amandos enrich their anti-Western interpretative scheme with references to treacherous actions of the Latins (e.g. .the change of camp of Urbanus the craftsman who built the cannon, the help of the Genoese of Galata to the Turks, the faint-heartedness of Justinian). These historians chose the so-called Majus chronicle of Georgios Sfratzis - a compilation compiled in 1573-1575 by Makarios Melissinos - with a strongly religious character and exuding from the perception that God directs the destinies of the world using people and even the Turks for to fulfill its purposes.


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