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Fall of the Constantinople: A Fateful Blessing

Essay by   •  March 13, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  2,226 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,858 Views

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Fall of the Constantinople: A fateful blessing

The city of Constantinople was one of the main cities that had tied the world together in the thirteenth and fourteenth century. The main reason why the city was so important relies on the geographic location. The city of Constantinople is one of the significant midpoints in the world which had changed the trading routes completely. The city was located "the sixth climate, at 49o longitude and 45o latitude" (Praeger; Ishaq ben Al-Husain). The city was located between Asia and Europe, making it a very diverse and strategic place for one to trade. The many bodies of water surrounding the peninsula gave Constantinople many trade routes as well as protection. The famous walls were also built to further strengthen security. Constantinople eventually rose to a beautiful city of strength and wealth. The city had constant gone through wars with enemies, starting by the Avars and Persians in year 626, followed by the Arabs in 674-678 and 717-718, then by Krum the Bulgar in 813, following the Russians in 860 and then finally the first crusade in 1097, as described by Stephen Turnbull in his book The Fall of the Constantinople. Despite of the constant attacks, year after year, the city of the Constantinople stayed strong. The main strength was the wall that had surrounded the city for protection until the year 1204. The Strong Theodosian walls of Constantinople which had helped keep the Roman Byzantine Empire safe for about eleven hundred years, was not strong enough for the returning crusaders in the year 1204 and strong rising Ottoman Empire two centuries later. It is because of the organized military power, the advanced technology and the strong desire and determination of a twenty one year old Ottoman Mehmet, who had made the once unconquerable Constantinople, lie in the ruins in 1453; yet the fall gave a new horizon to the Age of Exploration.

The Walls of the Constantinople were unbelievably strong. They were strong enough to endure constant threats of the enemies and other calamities. The walls had "three layers of defense" (Turnbull), which were built with "squared stone, brick and lime mortar" (Turnbull). According to the article of Ancient History magazine, the walls were hand built in the way that defended the natural obstacles and to make it more stable, "the towers and the walls were built independently of one another" ( Ancient History: Fall of the Constantinople(FOC)). Constantinople was a city that was "surrounded in a defensive circuit of fourteen miles of walls" (Ancient History: Fall of the Constantinople). Though the whole was strongly made, the main strength of the walls was the inner walls. According to Turnbull, the inner wall was "30 ft. 6 in. above the ground the level" and was "15ft. 6in. thick from the base to the top". In addition to the walls, there were "96 massive towers which were each capable of mounting the heaviest military engines" (Ancient History: FOC). Hence the thickness of the inner walls and the strategic assemblies of the pathways inside the inner walls had made sure that whichever danger that the city would face from any direction, it would not be able to go pass the inner walls. Thus, the strong walls of the Constantinople played a very significant role in keeping the strength, wealth and prosperity of the city intact for so many years. However all good things come to an end eventually. The city of Constantinople felt itself weaken at the dawn of the year 1204.

In the year 1204, the Constantinople saw its first treat that would weaken the strength of the walls. It is because that the "crusaders returned a century later" (Turnbull). Their return started the fear in the people of Constantinople as the crusaders were now even stronger with the help of Latin army and the Venetians, they decided to siege the sea walls of Constantinople with its twenty war ships that had shaken the navy army of the Constantinople and had weakened the walls by almost destroying it into pieces (Ancient History: FOC) After that time, the city of Constantinople never had slept peacefully. With the weakened walls, their fear started rising because now any enemy would try harder to conquer their peaceful city. Little did they know that what happened with the crusaders was just the beginning? The final attack to completely break the strength of Constantinople was waiting for the year 1453.

While the Byzantine Empire was slowly and gradually weakening, the Ottoman Empire was growing strong each day. Always wanting to conquer the Constantinople, now the Ottoman Empire had the perfect opportunity to take over the already weakened city of the Constantinople. As Turnbull describes in her book, "The conquest of the Byzantine capital had been a dream of Islamic armies ever since their first assaults in the 8th century." The Ottomans did not waste any time after they saw a slight chance of achieving their dream of capturing the capital city of Byzantine Empire, the Constantinople. After seated in the Turkish throne, a 19 year old Mehmet II had a " burning desire to succeed where his father, Murad II, had failed 29 years before-to capture Constantinople and make it the capital of his empire"( Ancient History: FOC). Thus now there was no stopping of the strong will powered and determined Mehmet to conquer the once unconquerable city of Constantinople. According to the article written by Roger Crawley, Mehmet wanted to get Constantinople by hook or by crook! Mehmet desired to make Constantinople "a fitting capital for the Ottoman Empire, and its capture was the subject of ancient Muslim prophecies, attributed to Muhammad himself." (Crawley) Thus his sheer motivation and desire was to spread his Muslim religion all over the world and to start the auspicious thing, what better than the most famous city in the world in 1400's.

To start the task, Mehmet knew he had to find the way to bring down the strong walls of Constantinople. The only possible way was by building a strong weapon. Mehmet asked "a Hungarian cannon founder, Orban...if he could cast a cannon of bronze with the capacity of the stone" (Crawley), to which Orban replied that "I can cast a cannon of bronze with the capacity of the stone you want. I have examined the walls of the city in great detail. I can shatter to dust not only these walls with the stones from my gun, but the very walls of Babylon itself" (Crawley). With keeping his motivation and desire in his mind, he took actions very quickly. Soon the tool to his dream was built. According to Orban, it was "a horrifying and extraordinary

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