Until the Middle Ages, Constantinople was considered the safest city in the world. The town survived in spite of hundreds of years of invasions.
Many victorious warriors were defeated by the arrogance of the impenetrable walls of constantinople. For a time, it took people, Constantinople might be invincible. Why was Constantinople so secure? The main reason for this is the geographical location of the city.
It is thought that the ancient city was founded 700 years before the beginning of the English calendar. However, modernization or popularity began during the reign of the emperor constantine. He was the emperor of the eastern part of the divided Roman Empire, known as Byzantine.
After 313 AD, he brought the whole empire under his control and chose Constantinople as his capital.
The triangular city is bordered by the Golden Horn to the north, the Bosphorus Strait to the east, and Marmara’s Sea to the south. The town was also naturally protected as it was waterlogged on three sides.
Not only was it naturally protected, but it was also surrounded by an invincible wall 40 feet high and 60 feet thick. There was a Watch Tower at a distance of 50 meters from the wall, from where enemy soldiers could quickly be fired upon, hot water could be poured.
A weapon called Greek fire played a unique role in defending Constantinople. This weapon was so terrible that its fire could not be extinguished with water. There was also a giant chain of gold horns from the Bosphorus to the waterway to prevent any naval attack.
As a result, if a ship wanted to cross the Golden Horn, the ship’s bottom could be easily broken by pulling the chain. It was almost impossible to attack from the back of the city. Nothing in the world is permanent. Today’s world is through disintegration. Constantinople also fell. The thousand-year invincible title ended with the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad II.
Sultan Muhammad II
The flag of the Ottoman Empire then spread beyond Asia Minor to the Balkans in Europe. Sultan Murad II, on the throne, was fighting hard against the Crusaders. Suddenly one day, he decided to resign from all the kingdoms. For 25 years in a row, Sultan Murad was devastated by the Crusaders’ war, internal strife, and the untimely death of his three beloved sons. After the end of the first two sons, he thought he would nominate another son, Ali. But Ali also died suddenly.
Then there is Muhammad, who later became known as Muhammad II. After losing his other sons, Murad called his younger son Muhammad for the first time. Before Ali’s death, Murad never thought of Muhammad as his successor. He was brought to the capital when he was only five or seven years old.
Murad was so busy with the Sultanate that he never looked at Muhammad before the first two princes’ death. Muhammad would never have come so close to Murad had it not been for Prince Ali’s sudden death. Murad looked at Prince Muhammad for the first time, now the only successor to the Ottoman Empire. But Muhammad’s mischief and monotony made him think. Murad himself took the responsibility of punishing the boy.
Not far from the capital, he hired two teachers to educate the future Sultan. One is Ulama Ahmad Qurani, and the other is Shaykh Aka Shamsuddin. The prince changed completely when he came in contact with two wise sheiks.
Although at first, the Shaykhs had to gain tremendous speed to bring him under control. The Sultan allowed the use of a cane if necessary. At the age of 12, the prince became wise in Shia-Sunni-Sufi doctrine, Catholicism, Orthodox, etc. He was fluent in seven languages, including Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. His knowledge was not limited to theoretical subjects.
He learned how to design a castle. He had a particular interest in the construction of cannons and even in the design of ships. In so much talent, the tactics will be left out. What is it! He was also remarkable as a warrior.
The prince convinced Murad of these talents so much that even though Muhammad was only 12 years old, he chose the Sufi life by handing over the empire. Declaring Muhammad the Sultan, he left alone with some companions for the sole purpose of worshiping God.
Deprivation of power and acceptance of power.
In 1444, at the age of 12, Muhammad came to power. He was indeed enriched with knowledge and wisdom in contact with the Shaykhs, but the stubborn nature remained even then. Shortly afterward, Chief Wazir Halil Pasha clashed over the salaries and allowances of the soldiers. Meanwhile, the Crusaders decided to take advantage of the weakness of the young Sultan, and the combined Christian forces began to prepare for the attack.
Halil Pasha realized that it would not be possible for Muhammad to cope with this attack in such a situation. He advised Murad to return to power, but Murad refused. Muhammad himself then wrote a letter requesting Murad to return. It would be wrong to say the exact request, said to come back hard.
Muhammad wrote in the letter,
“If you are a sultan, protect the people with the responsibility of a quick force. And if I am a sultan, I order you to return to the capital and defend the people and advance against the enemies.”
Murad returned to power after realizing that the boy’s harshness, the state’s chaos, the possibility of the Crusaders attacking, and the overall situation were quite turbulent.
With Muhammad, he again suppressed the Crusaders and restored the internal order of the SultaSultanateruFebruary 31. Sultan Murad II died at the age of 46. Muhammad came to power again at the age of 19 by inheritance.
Preparations for the expedition to Constantinople.
Muhammad ascended the throne for the second time as Sultan. The first time at the age of 12, the second time at the age of 19. Sitting on the throne, he took up the plan to expand the empire.
Sheikh Aqa Shamsuddin has inspired Muhammad to conquer Constantinople since childhood. Aka Shamsuddin was also highly respected by Muhammad as a teacher. That may be why Muhammad’s only goal was to conquer Constantinople after taking over as Sultan.
By the time Sultan Muhammad II took over, the sultaSultanate European superpowers had been at war with each other for a long time. France and England have been at war for almost 100 years. Germany, Poland, Hungary – these countries were also militarily weakened in their civil wars. The Byzantine Empire was then in a state of disarray, with Constantinople being their last refuge.
Muhammad was as adventurous as he was prudent. Although young, he understood the political tricks well. He realized that if he attacked Constantinople at this moment, the shaky Byzantines would not be able to resist adequately. Meanwhile, other European countries will not give up their war and come forward to defend Constantinople. Despite the Sultan’s stubborn nature, Halil Pasha, the chief adviser, decided to attack Constantinople.
News of the expedition to Constantinople spread to the SultaSultanatey volunteered to join the Sultan’s forces. There was, of course, a particular reason for joining. A hadith of Hazrat Mohammad (PBUH) was prevalent in the Muslim world at that time. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to his followers during his lifetime,
“Muslims will one day conquer Constantinople. How fortunate is their victorious commander? How blessed is that victorious army.”
(Ahmad al-Musnad 14: 131)
The Muslims had so much faith in this prophecy that everyone wanted to be a part of this victory. Extensive preparations for the expedition began, with Sultan Muhammad II building the Ottoman navy for the first time.
At that time, the Sultan got another surprise, as if it was raining without asking for clouds. At that time, a skilled cannon engineer from Hungary came to the Sultan with a unique cannon design, which he also presented to the then Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI.
However, when the engineer Urban demanded a large sum of money, the emperor somehow ignored him and drove him away. Meanwhile, since Sultan Muhammad himself was a cannon designer, he realized how useful this cannon could be in battle. The famous battery ‘Basilica’ was built with Sultan Urban in compliance with all his demands.
He basilica was so large that it required 30 pairs of bulls and 300 soldiers to carry it. There were some limitations in the basilica, too. Once a cannon was fired, another cannon could not be fired in three hours. But it was a turning point in the battle of Constantinople
Before the final invasion, forts were built on the Bosphorus Strait’s European shores, the leading trade route of the Byzantine Empire. Earlier, Sultan Bayazid had built a fort At Yildirim on the Asia-Pacific coast of the Bosphorus to blockade Constantinople commercially.
As a result, the two forts on both sides of the Bosphorus were dominated by the Ottomans before the war. Meanwhile, Constantinople did not stop. Although at first, the emperor Constantine XI did not take the young Sultan as a threat. But Muhammad’s one step after another made him think. The emperor realized that Constantinople was going to face a great storm.
Roman Byzantines were Orthodox Christians, while other European countries were Catholic Christians.
The conflict between Catholicism and Orthodox doctrine was so old that Constantinople’s emperor could not get help from other countries. But when the matter finally turned into a crusade, the Catholic pope agreed to help the Byzantines. However, other European countries could not help much due to internal problems. Many joined the Crusades on their initiative with 200-400 troops to defend Constantinople.
Among them was Giovanni Justinian, from Genoa. He was quite skilled at defending the walls. When he arrived in Constantinople with the Justinian troops in January 1453, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the Wall Defense. Also, some sailors from Venice, who were then stationed at the Golden Horn, came forward to defend Constantinople.
With little help from other parts of Europe, the Byzantine army and the ordinary youth of the city formed the defenses of Constantinople. When Sultan Muhammad II was coming to invade Constantinople with about a million troops, the Byzantine army numbered eight thousand or more. In such a situation, the Byzantine emperor was a little upset but did not break down. He was confident enough that the Ottoman navy would never cross the Golden Horn chain and that Ottoman soldiers would not be able to break through the 40-foot-high Theodosian wall.
April 1453, springtime.However, no one in Constantinople is in the mood to enjoy the beauty of spring. The excitement of the war has touched every man in the city. Emperor Constantine XI was ready to defend Constantinople with all his might. On April 2 2an Muhammad II pitched a tent near the city. He wants to offer the Byzantines surrender before the attack. The letter was sent, In the letter, Sultan wrote,
“I assure you, if you hand over the city to me, I am responsible for the safety of every soul. An indigenous person will not be tortured in any way. Your house, your business, your wealth will be where you were. No one will interfere with it. Your churches and church pastors will all be protected. Your religious freedom will not be curtailed. If you obey this decree, you will be given the kingdom of Pelonis and the due honor of a king. “
The emperor refused to surrender. The battle culminated in Constantine’s deep faith in the Theodosian walls and the security of the city. On April 6 6, Sultan’s troops surrounded the entire city and the Ottoman fleet at the Golden Horn entrance. The Byzantines were also ready.
The walls were guarded under the direction of Giovanni Justinian. Constantine himself took up position on one side of the city. The Byzantine ships are also ready. If the Ottoman navy somehow crosses the Golden Horn chain and falls, they will resist from there. Although crossing the Golden Horn chain was undoubtedly impossible. The siege began, and the basilica cannon roared. One giant shell shook the Theodosian walls.
However, it did not cause much damage, as the average shot from the basilica hit two of the four bullets, each hitting the same spot again, each taking three hours to fire. As a result, Byzantine engineers had enough time to repair the walls. On AprilApril, 17arge hole was made in the Theodosian wall when four bullets hit the same spot. An Ottoman army near the hole quickly entered through the hole. But they did not know that the Greek Fire Trap was made inside the cave.
At that moment, the Greek fire was set on the soldiers, so they had to retreat. At noon, the Byzantines resisted when the Ottomans tried to enter through a narrow alley inside the hole. About 2,000 Ottoman soldiers were killed that day but did not enter the city.
Meanwhile, the Ottoman navy, which was stationed at the Golden Horn again, could not succeed. Some Byzantine ships from Genoa aided the Ottoman navy and reached the city. On the one hand, the invincible walls and the failure of the navy on the other made the Sultan very angry.
The newly awakened Pasha was given the responsibility of the naval chief. On April April 21, Sultan made a strange decision. Since Ottoman ships could not enter the Golden Horn for defensive chains, they were instructed to take the boats up the hill.
Despite the strong opposition of Halil Pasha, the Sultan remained steadfast in his decision. A bull towed the ship in the dark of night with a buffalo fat coating on the tree’s trunk. The turn of the battle changed when about 60 boats crossed the mountain valley and entered the Golden Horn in one night because the number of Byzantine ships in the Golden Horn was half that of the Ottomans.
More than a month has passed, but there is not much success. Entering the Golden Horn was advantageous, but the Basilica shell still failed to break through the Theodosian walls. Ottoman engineers made new plans. The tunnel will be dug into the city, the work of digging the tunnel has started.
But unfortunately, by May 1, May 16Byzantines found out about the plan. On 21-23 May, the Ottomans dug a counter tunnel and attacked the tunnel with Greek fire. Two Ottoman officers were also detained on 23 Malay 23 Byzantines flooded all the Ottoman tunnels with information from the officers. As a result, this plan also failed utterly. This time the Sultan himself became disappointed.
On 24 Malay 24, Sultan’s two Shaykhs, Ahmad Ahmad Qurani and Aka Shamsuddin, came to see the Sultan. The Sultan was talking to them in frustration. At that time, Aka Shamsuddin said that he had dreamed of Ayub (a). Ayub (a) was the flag bearer of the Prophet (saw). When the Muslims invaded Constantinople during the Umayyad rule, the kneeling Ayub (ra) took part in the battle.
The Muslims were defeated in the fight. Ayub (a) also died during the war. He made a last wish before his death, to be buried as close to Constantinople as possible.
The Sultan and his three companions searched the grave all night. He found the grave in the morning. The shroud was opened. Muhammad saw Ayub (ra) holding a small piece of paper in his hand. Written there-
“If you can ever conquer Constantinople, bring me a
piece of soil of the city.
Muhammad returned to the camp. The soldiers were called. Everyone appeared in fear. Muhammad told all the facts. He said to the soldiers, “We have in front of us a massive wall built by the Romans, which no one has been able to break down in the last one thousand years. 🙂 You have told us. I am Muhammad bin Murad, and I am willing to sacrifice my whole life for the conquest of Constantinople.
Either I will conquer Constantinople, or I will die in front of Constantinople. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, the Prophet’s beloved companion (peace be upon him), asked for the soil of this city for his grave. Shall I not bring the ground of Constantinople to his grave? “
The army responded in an exuberant voice:
“Sultana! I will bring the soil with my life.”
It is worth mentioning that many historians are skeptical about discovering the letter in the tomb of Ayub Ansari. They think that the Sultan arranged the incident only to motivate the soldiers. Whether the message is arranged or accurate, it is true that the whole army was revived.
At dawn on May 2 May, 29 basilica cannon, along with the smaller batteries, roared. Basilica fired three more shots at the same place where the cannonballs had hit before. Holes were made in the Theodosian wall. Hundreds of Ottoman soldiers began to enter through there. The fierce clashes started. The Byzantines are also fighting hard.
Meanwhile, a sepoy leader named Hasan Ulubadi climbed the ladder alone on the wall. One arrow after another pierced his body, but he continued to move steadily. His adventure also created panic in the minds of the Byzantine soldiers. No obstacle could stop him. One after the other, the Ulubadis threw the Byzantine flag, but the Ottoman flag was hoisted. Hasan Ulubadi breathed his last with the flag in his hand.
Seeing the flags on the walls boosted the morale of the Ottoman soldiers. At that moment, Commander Justinian was killed, and his Genoese soldiers began to flee. The Byzantine emperor was not even sitting that day, leaving the royal attire and fighting death. But the Byzantine army did not last long, and soon the Ottoman army entered the city like the waters of the Ban.
Upon entering the town, some angry soldiers carried out extensive destruction, despite the Sultan’s Ban. But after losing 53 comrades in a row for a row, one soldier was reckless; So reckless that the Sultan himself could not control several careless soldiers for a short time. At that time, the Sultan deployed two regiments of soldiers so that the angry soldiers could not attack the churches.
The Sultan entered the city with humility, dismounted from his horse, and prostrated himself. He renamed Constantinople Islambul (now Istanbul), meaning the city of Islam. The name of the Sultan is associated with ‘Fatih’ or Conqueror. From then on, Sultan Muhammad II became known as Muhammad al-Fatih.