29 May 1453: The Fall of Constantinople


Five hundred and sixty-four years ago, Mohammed II the Conqueror, the seventh Sultan of the Osmanli dynasty (Ottomans), conquered the city that for many centuries was the capital of that part of the world known as Roman Empire of the East. It is the end of an era and the beginning of another.

The last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI Dragases Paleologo, faces his fate in battle against the Turks and dies there.
To accomplish the task, Mohammed II, just twenty-one years old, showed talent and willpower, but above all to be a great strategist. In preparation for the attack he built a fortress on the Bosphorus exactly at the height of another fortress previously built by his ancestor Bajazed I to besiege Constantinople. The two fortresses allowed the Ottomans to control the Bosphorus and prevent reinforcements from reaching the city.

The Emperor Constantine realized the intentions of Mohammed II and asked for help from the Pope and the Western Christian powers. It seems that the defense of the city was organized on about 7.000 soldiers while the Ottoman army is said to have consisted of 160.000 at 300.000 men. Moreover the Turks possessed the first rudimentary cannons.

Mohammed II also does not hesitate to have part of his fleet transported across the hills to reach the Golden Horn, as the passage was blocked by a chain. 
The siege lasted about two months and ended with the conquest of the city by Mohammed II.
The Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine cathedral built in 537 AD, was used as a mosque.

The conquest of Constantinople, which from then on will take the name of Istanbul, caused the Ottoman Empire to be recognized by all as such. 
Istanbul will become the capital until 1922 when, for strategic reasons, it was moved to Ankara.

Alessandro Rugolo