The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Constantinus – Constantinus Acropolita



the overwhelming power of the Turks, who had gradually reduced the Byzantine empire to the city of Constantinople and a few maritime places and islands in Greece. In his embarrassment he sent Phranza, the historian, to the court of sultan Murad II., declaring that he would not exercise that power which the Greeks had conferred upon him, unless the sultan would give him his permis­sion. Murad having received the ambassador favourably, and given his consent, Constantine embarked on board a squadron, and soon after­wards arrived at Constantinople. He made peace with his brothers by giving them his former do­main in the Peloponnesus. The beginning of his reign was quiet; but sultan Murad died in 1450, and his son and successor, the ambitious and lofty Mohammed, was far from shewing the same senti­ments towards Constantine as his father. Mo­hammed was then engaged in a war against the Turkish emir of Caramania, who made such a des­perate resistance, that the councillors of Constan­tine thought this to be a favourable opportunity for making their master somewhat more indepen­dent of the sultan. xThey threatened to assist prince Urkhan (the eldest brother of Mohammed?), who lived at Constantinople and claimed the Turk­ish throne, to raise an army and to enter into a contest with Mohammed. Ambassadors having been sent to the sultan to inform him of the dispo­sitions of the Greek court, the vizir Khalil re­proached them with their imprudent and presump­tuous conduct in very severe terms, and concluded with the words, "If you will proclaim Urkhan as sultan, you may do so; you may call the Hunga­rians for assistance, you may try to reconquer all those countries which we have taken from you; but know ye that you will succeed in nothing, and that instead of winning an inch of ground, you will lose the petty remains of your empire which we have left you. My master shall be informed of the subject of your message, and his will shall be done." (Ducas, p. ] 32.) Soon afterwards, Mo-Is ammed made preparations for a siege of Constan­tinople, having declared that he would not make peace till he could reside in the capital of the Greek empire.

Constantinople was blockaded by land and by sea till the sultan's artillery was ready, which was cast at Adrianople- by Urban, a Dacian* or Hun­garian founder, and was of greater dimensions than had ever been made before. While it was casting Mohammed took Mesembria, Anchialos, Byzon, and other towns which still belonged to the em­pire. On the 6th of April, 1453, Mohammed ap­peared under the walls of Constantinople at the head of an army of 258,000 men, carrying with him, among other pieces of large size, a gun which threw a stone ball of 1200 pounds. The city was defended by the Greeks and numerous Venetian, Genoese, and other Frankish auxiliaries or volun­teers ; and the Christian navy was superior to the Turkish, not in number, but in the construction of the ships and the skill of the Frankish marines.

Our limits do not allow us to give a history of this siege. Among the numerous works, in which the account is given with more or less truth or

* A Dacian (Aa£) according to Chalcondylas, and a Hungarian according to Ducas. Gibbon (xii. p. 1.97, ed. 1815) says, "a Dane or Hunga­rian,"—either a mistake or a typographical error.


beauty, we refer to Gibbon, Le Beau, '* Histoira du Bas Empire," continued by Ameilhon, and Hammer, " Geschichte des Osmanischen Reiches." The contest lasted from the 6th of April till the 29th of May, 1453: prophecies had foretold its issue. On that day the last emperor of the East fell on the wall of his trembling capital: OeAo/ fraveiv fjia\\ov rj ffv, he cried out in despair when the Turks stormed the wall and he was forsaken by his guards. Surrounded by a crowd of Janis­saries, and foreseeing his fate, he cried out again, " Is there no Christian who will cut off my head ?" He had scarcely uttered these words when he was struck by two Turks at once, and expired un­known to them on a heap of slain. His body was afterwards discovered, and when Mohammed was in undisputed possession of the city, he ordered his head to be cut off, and had it nailed on the porphyry column on the place called Augusteum. It was afterwards sent as a trophy to the principal towns in Turkish Asia. One of the first acts of the vic­tor was the consecration of the church of St. Sophia as a mosque, and Mohammed was the first Moslem who prayed there standing on the altar. It is said that he entered that church on horseback, but this is an idle story invented by monks. He alighted from his horse at the principal gate, en­tered the church with visible respect and admira­tion, and was so far from committing any profana­tion, that he killed with his own hand a Turk whom he discovered breaking up the beautiful marbles of the pavement.

The conquest of Constantinople was an event of the greatest importance to the Sultans. During upwards of one thousand years that city had been looked upon by the nations of the East as the sacred seat of both the supreme temporal and spiritual power, and being masters of Constanti­nople, the Sultans at once were considered as the heirs of the Roman emperors. Until then the obedience paid to them was but submission to the sword of a conqueror: it was now both fear and habit, and the transient impression of victory ac­quired the strength of hereditary duty. With the fall of Constantinople, darkness spread over the East; but the Muses flying from the Bosporus found a more genial home on the banks of the Arno and the Tiber. Almost four centuries have elapsed since the first Mohammedan prayer was offered in St. Sophia; yet all the power and glory of the Sultans have been unable to root out of the minds of the Greeks the remembrance of their past gran­deur, and at the present moment the duration of the Turkish power in Constantinople is less pro­bable than the revival of a new Greek empire. (Phranzes, lib. iii., &c.; Ducas, c. 34, &c.; Chalco-condyles, lib. vii., &c.; Leonardus Chiensis, Hist. Constant, a Turc. expugnatae^ 1st ed., Nilrnberg, 1544, 4to., a small but curious work, written a few months after the fall of Constantinople.) [W. P.]

CONSTANTINUS ACROPOLITA. [acko-polita, georgius.]

CONSTANTINUS, of antioch, also called Constantius, was a presbyter at the metropoli­tan church of Antioch, lived about a. d. 400, and was destined to succeed bishop Flavianus, Porphyrius, however, who wished to obtain that see, intrigued at the court of Constantinople, and succeeded in obtaining an order from the emperor Arcadius for the banishment of Con­stantine. With the aid of some friends, Constan-

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of