Siege and falling of Constantinople

Siege and capture of Constantinople
Siege and capture of Constantinople

With approach of spring of 1453 the huge army of the sultan Muhammad II rose to Constantinople. The siege began. Day and night from walls of the Byzantine capital peered into the sea from where expected arrival of the promised warships from Naples, Venice and Rome. They should not have been late. The brigantine with 12 seamen disguised as the Turkish clothes, was sent to coast of Greece in search of this fleet. But vessels did not arrive, nobody sent them. The prophecy was not executed that the angel, having come back to Earth near a column of the emperor Constantine the Great, will indicate the stranger sitting at the bottom who with the divine help will drive away aggressors. On May 29 after fierce storm the city passed to the sultan. The emperor fell in battle. Capture of Constantinople was followed by mass beating of civilians until winners decided that living slaves it is better than dead Christians. About 50 thousand people were sold in slavery. The Turkish chronicles tell that. 300 Greek monks declared: god, granting a victory to the sultan, showed what religion is true — and accepted Islam. The city underwent full plunder. When this or that house fleeced, on it hung out a tag to relieve other groups of the Turkish army of unnecessary searches of the hidden property. Book treasures — that part which escaped at capture of Constantinople by crusaders in 1204 and after sale in the next two and a half centuries — seldom attracted a greedy look of winners. The eyewitness Greek cardinal Isidor tells that not less than 120 thousand ancient manuscripts died. If to trust a rumor, the part of them got to Muhammad II’s library, but this hearing did not find confirmation. Even in century, in 1555, Ozhye Gizelin Busbek, the ambassador of the king Ferdinand, the brother of the emperor Charles V, without effort could buy the whole mountains of the Greek manuscripts. The governor of the Genoa trade quarter in Constantinople of Pera (Galatians) which Turks spared, wrote I” June, 1453 under fresh impression of falling of the ancient capital of Byzantium that in two years Muhammad will go a campaign to Rome. “I swear god if Christians do not take a measure or there will be no miracle, falling of Constantinople will repeat in Rome”. And the prominent writer Aeneas Silvius Pikkolomini (later become the Pope under the name of Pia II) declared at a meeting of the imperial Reichstag in Frankfurt that the road to Hungary and through it — to Germany and Italy is opened further for Turks. The dead emperor’s brothers Thomas and Demetry owning principalities in the Southern Greece quarreled among themselves. Out of hatred to the brother Demetry preferred to capitulate to Turks. In 1460 he returned to Constantinople, refusing to look for a shelter in the West for religious motives. In the new capital of the Ottoman empire he received from the sultan as a present considerable pension and the eunuch as the honourable bodyguard; subsequently he peacefully died from an old age. The daughter Demetriya was taken in Muhammad II’s palace. Thomas (the father of Zoya-Sofia who married the grand duke Moscow Ivan III) went to Italy, having taken a precious relic — Saint Andrey’s head, and received pension from the Pope and cardinals. One of Thomas’s sons — Manuel — returned to Constantinople. Muhammad II presented to it two slaves. Manuel’s son became a one of court the sultan. As for other son Thomas — Andrey — that he married the Italian courtesan and sold the more than illusive rights for the Byzantine throne at first to the king of France, and then once again — to the king of Aragon. From tragic, as well as from great, to ridiculous — one step. However, these words were told in three and a half centuries after the end Paleologov. The tragedy of Constantinople made big impression on Western Europe. Many generations of Europeans were under the influence of “krestonosny spirit” which it was possible to call even ideology of crusades. Bitterly humanists mourned capture “incorrect” the Christian countries, especially, of course, Greece which was considered as a cradle of the European culture. At the same time the fact that the Christian states did not come to the rescue of Constantinople showed their obvious unwillingness to be at war for belief if their direct interests are not infringed. Some western authors, starting with X. Trevor-Ropera, are inclined to compare confrontation of the socialist and so-called free (capitalist) world to collision between the East and the West in Renaissance. “Really — R. Shvebel wrote — there are some noticeable parallels. In both cases it is possible to find not only fight and the conflict of ideologies and opposite social, economic and political systems. In the period of the Renaissance as today, opponents — the Latin Christianity and ottoman Turks — believed that they combat for existence. Everyone sought to change a way of life of another. Both parties applied that carry out divine mission and that their corresponding modes make the best hope of mankind. Then governors thought mainly of the military solution of dispute. XIV, XV and XVI centuries are filled with fights between Turks and the Christian states. Big wars alternated limited operations and the periods of a fragile peace, “cold wars”, comparable with ours. However hostile actions were interrupted by also diplomatic negotiations and the peace relations. Protagonists entered negotiations, traded and even conducted a cultural exchange. And at the time of the world or war they were sensitive to the questions affecting prestige and public opinion; therefore all parties promoted the policy by means of promotion within the country and abroad”. Shvebel recognizes that along with the similar moments there are also distinctions, however he incorrectly defines these distinctions and lowers main of them, connected with the fact that the conflict between the East and the West in the 16th century was the intraformational conflict, and in the 20th century for the first time in the history of a front line the camp consists of the states of not exploiter type. Sluggish political support by the West of the perishing Byzantium was not, of course, casual. Falling of Constantinople coincided with the final stage of Centenary war. Contemporaries did not consider it finally complete at all. It was for the French king the convenient cause to reject any plans of a crusade against Turks. Interest in this idea showed at the French yard only the successor of a throne — we will remind that it is about future king Louis XI who became the embodiment of policy of insidiousness and secret intrigues. Louis XI conducted persistent fight against the largest feudal lords whose power weakened the power of a crown, and first of all against the duke Burgundian Philip and his successor Karl Smely, also active advocates — in the theory — a crusade. Approximately the same could be told also about the German emperor Frederick III. At certain stages of the conflict, especially at the beginning (or at renewal after a long break) and at the end, the known confrontation of opinion of his ideologists and ruling circles is characteristic. The first or overtake time — and their appeals to participation in the conflict do not meet sympathy at the mighty of this world — or lag behind requirements of time and cling to this participation, uselessness or harm of which is realized by those who make political decisions. Originally Turkish gains in Asia Minor and in Greece caused a weak response from the Western European monarchs. Soon after death of the sultan Murad II who carried out these gains in 1451 the humanist Frantsisko Filelfo appealed to the French king Charles VII to head new krestovy approach. In this document characteristic features of thinking of ideologists of the new century conflict are clearly distinguishable: and revaluation of threat from the enemy, and underestimation of his military resources, abilities of his heads (the son Murad — Muhammad II, in two years who took Constantinople), and exaggeration of potential which potential friends and adherents in enemy camp had (in this case — Christian citizens of the Turkish sultan) and, the main thing, exaggeration of readiness of the main states which had to form the coalition, having laid aside the disputes. Filelfo planned participation in the union under the auspices of Charles VII even of British though yet Centenary war and in London did not end did not leave plans of return of recently lost extensive areas of the French kingdom. Impact which was exerted at each other by the intertwining century conflicts was very various. Moreover, one century conflict could make internal inconsistent impact on another so the historian should establish what of these influences was nevertheless prevailing. Besides it is necessary to consider that this influence could be limited only to ideological influence, or influence through system of the international relations — that is a political sphere, or, at last, impact on social and economic development. (Collision of Christianity and Islam in the Mediterranean had such character in the 7th century. The famous Belgian historian A. Pirenn therefore was inclined to consider further 7th century as time of death of a classical antiquity and a boundary with which the Middle Ages begin.) Influence of one of the conflicts can aggravate, expand, deepen or, on the contrary, soften, remove aside, to gradually nullify other conflict. There are even situations at which the old conflict remains as a form, as cover, as derivation of attention from new. It is necessary to stipulate, however, that not always the new conflict dominates over old, sometimes the first all the time remains in the subordinated role. It depends on many factors, and first of all on that, how deeply this conflict reflects the leading antagonism of an era. 192 years since restoration of the Byzantine empire in 1261 of a wave of the Turkish expansion broke against walls of Constantinople. The next 230 years, from 1453 to 1683, were time the threat of the Turkish invasion accruing, weakening, but never disappearing to Western Europe. It was the intraformational conflict. However, in the 15th century the Turkish feudalism was even in process of transition from an early stage to developed. In this regard Turks lagged behind approximately for four centuries Western Europe where similar development happened in the 11th century. Engels noted that Ottoman invasion “threatened all European development” that “the Turkish, as well as any other east domination is incompatible with capitalist society”. The Turkish gain was followed usually by a robbery and beating of the population, and later — gradual strengthening of a tax burden. However this oppression originally not everywhere was heavier, than that which was tested earlier by the peasantry from local feudal lords. As for toleration, Turks here favourably differed from the conquerors overwhelmed by “krestonosny spirit”. The violent address to Islam, however, practiced, but in various won countries its scales usually depended on conditions in which there was a gain. In a number of places the part of churches was turned by Turks into mosques, the authorities forbade a sound of bells and introduced other similar restrictions. However, as a rule, Turks preferred to turn clergy into the tool of the management, into an appendage of the Turkish administration. In any case, the orthodox church used considerably bigger tolerance from Turks, than from the Catholic countries and Vatican. The Turkish government, as a rule, was not interested in recruitment of new adherents of Islam — the Christian population was assessed with a surtax, and from his environment violently withdrew children for education of future soldiers of sultan guard — the Janissar. It is necessary to add that this “the tax blood” was especially heavy in the 16th century and gradually decreased in the following, the 17th century — just when it became widely known in Europe and served as a favourite subject of accusation of the Turkish conquerors. However this tax seldom where the Janissar sometimes encountered the special resistance, transfer of Christian children in the case served as a prolog to the military and court career causing envy of Turks. The ratio of the Turkish advance and peasant wars attracts attention. Though there was no direct link of peasant wars in France and England with the Turkish expansion, it cannot be told about indirect communication — through impact of these wars on system of the international relations. As for revolt in Hungary and Peasant war in Germany, their connection with the subsequent Turkish invasion was more direct. The attempts of further strengthening of feudal oppression which caused the broad country movements concentrated the main forces of a ruling class on suppression of a people at large and limited their opportunities and will to repulse to the external enemy

Chernyak E. B. Century conflicts

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