The end of a great era. It was the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453

Mehmed the Conqueror is part of Constantinople. Fragment Fausto Zonaro. © /


565 years ago, 5 April 1453, Sultan Mehmed II, the Conqueror pitched his camping tent on the European shore of the Bosphorus. Began the siege of the City. That’s right – with capital letters. For the simple reason that Constantinople was the only one. The only real center of European civilization. His loss is finally divided history into “before” and “after”.

This critical episode in the relationship strange. They say, and so all went to the fact that Constantinople is captured by Turks. Their darkness, and the darkness, and in the City only know how to pray and perform religious processions. Anyway while Byzantium has come to an end – she is decrepit and possessed only a shadow of its former greatness.

Mehmed II Fatih. Photo:

Actually, to put it mildly, does not match. Even from a purely military point of view “doom” of Constantinople is a moot point. Beautiful songs about the harsh invincible soldiers of Islam and the effete Greeks, who do not know which end to hold a sword is nothing more than a figment of by unscrupulous propaganda.

In reality, the capture of the City was worth Mehmed II is very, very large blood. This is despite the fact that the preparation he reacted very responsibly.

So, Constantinople was isolated from the land and from the Black sea, where the Sultan promptly built the Rumeli fortress, which had an unofficial, but very characteristic name – Bogaz-kesen. That is “Cut throat.”

For the siege and assault on Mehmed has prepared an army numbering up to 150 thousand people, which included directly assault troops, sappers and artillery. In those days artillery was considered strong if a thousand soldiers had one gun, which produces from 3 to 5 shots a day. The bombardment of Constantinople was conducted daily for 6 weeks. The day made from 100 to 150 shots, and quite effectively used to bombard the Hungarian engineer urban. In particular, the “Basilica”, which metal core stone weighing half a ton to a distance of 2 km. in a Word, everything was expertly prepared, can’t complain. A city with a population of 50 thousand and the army of 10 thousand would immediately fall to the feet of the Sultan.

View of Constantinople of the Byzantine era from the height of bird flight (reconstruction).

But did not fall. If a schedule of battles from 6 April to 29 may, then come the Turks again suffered defeat.

7 APR. The storming of the advanced fortifications. Repulsed with losses to the Turks.

April 12. Turkish Navy tries to break into the Golden Horn. The attack was repelled.

April 17-18 – night attack of the Turks, a four-hour battle. Positions withheld, the attack was repelled without losses and with great damage to the Turks.

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April 20, three Venetian galleys with weapons and gold, and one Greek ship of grain to burst in the besieged Constantinople. The commander of the Turkish fleet Baltoghlu lose this fight outright. Furious, the Sultan orders to flog him with whips.

May 7. The Turks, using artillery to make a significant dent in the area of the gate of St Roman. The use of Hungarian Basilica bombard almost virtuosic. But to build on the success of can’t – the Greeks counterattack, the Turks fleeing.

May 16. The Greeks of the Turkish blow up a tunnel under the walls of Constantinople. Taken in the underground battle captive Turks surrender all the rest of the mines. They explode or filled with water.

On may 18-19. The Greeks make a sortie, undermine and burn the Turkish siege towers.

The plan of the walls of Constantinople.

After all these clicks on the nose “invincible” Mehmed the Conqueror takes a timeout. His mood depressed. The first adviser to the Sultan, Ali Pasha, saying: “Regarding this from the beginning I anticipated, as it will be, and often told you this, but you weren’t listening. And now again, if you want it, it would be good to get out of here, no matter what happens with us what the worst.”

However, in the night from 28 to 29 may, is assigned to attack. And he initially does not bring success to the Turks. Selected assault troops ready to waver. Some even run. However, behind them are reliable people. Building and ravdouha police officers and judicial officials of the Ottomans. Which at this critical moment did not make a blunder: “They began to beat the retreating iron rods and whips, to those not showing back to the enemy. Who can describe the screams, cries and sorrowful moans beaten!”

But it does not bring success. Assault troops after all are rolled back. In fact the only place where some hundreds of the Turks managed to break into the city through the breach, they were simply surrounded and massacred to the last man.

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On the scales the last drop. Ensures the Sultan to his “invincible” army, which is kind of how fervently one believes and sort of ready to fight in the name of high ideals of Islam: “If we win, the salary that I pay will be doubled from now until the end of life. And for three days the whole city will be yours. What loot there gold utensils or clothes, or the prisoners will be men and women, children and infants, you are free to dispose their life and death, no one will require you to answer.” A call to animal, baser instincts – really the last resort. Any ideals here and does not smell – only blood, violence, brutality.

The last Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine XI understood this perfectly. This is evidenced by his speech before the final assault on the City. “Those who go against us like dumb animals. May be directed against them and your shields, and swords, and spears. Think that hunt plenty of wild pigs to know the enemies that they are dealing not with dumb animals, as they, and the masters and rulers of their descendants of the Greeks and Romans”.

The accession of Mehmed II in Constantinople. Painting Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant. reproduction

The city was captured in the evening. The descendants of the Greeks and Romans were unable to hold it. The top took a brutal force that interrupted the proper flow of history and sterevshey the face of the earth the last island of antiquity, where, until the last moment remained alive of the European civilization. Again its values, the West will come only after the Renaissance. Which would be necessary in the presence of Constantinople, the successor and heir to Greece and Rome.

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