The Historical Memory of Constantinople, 567 Years After the Fall – Greek Reporter

Michael Goodyear*

May 29, 1453: the final Ottoman assault on Constantinople succeeds. Ottoman cannon fire had battered the great Theodosian Walls of the city. The last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI Palaiologos-Dragases, had torn off his imperial regalia and died fighting as a common soldier.

Ottoman troops plundered as Ottoman sultan Mehmet II marched through the city before coming to that most famous of Christian cathedrals, Hagia Sophia, converting it to a mosque, and thanking God for his victory.

Constantinople was to be the new capital of the growing Ottoman Empire. The Byzantine Empire, this state of the Romans which stretched more than two millennia back into history, was, at last, no more.

“Mehmet the Conqueror enters Constantinople,” by Fausto Zonaro. Photo Source: Wikipedia

Europe received the news of the fall of Constantinople with unmitigated horror. The great city, the bastion of Christendom against the Muslim tide, had fallen. Pope Nicholas V called for yet another Crusade. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III convened three imperial diets to discuss a counterattack to retake the great city.

Renaissance composer Guillaume Dufay even penned a lament to the city, describing its loss as full of “grievous torment and sorrowful rage.” The future Pope Pius II called