A legend, similar to some surrounding the legendary King Arthur, has Constantine being rescued by an angel and turned into marble, which will awaken when Christians reconquer Constantinople. I have also provided links to the books and pages that I am using as references, so you will be able to follow along. Constantine and the Last Vespers at Hagia Sophia. Ferrell enjoys coffee, tea, reading, history, philosophy, politics, video games, anime, and long walks. Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site. The once capital of the greatest Christian empire had now become the capital of the most successful Islamic empire in history. The alternative, of course, would be the sack of Constantinople. Then he received his last communion. Having heard the Emperor’s determination, the council acquiesced, and it would not have the opportunity again to persuade Constantine to abandon his post. In the final and most memorable passage of his response as recorded in the chronicles, Constantine explained why he could not abandon the city: “To surrender this city is neither in my power nor in the power of any one here. Constantine’s death, however, would spark many legends – likely owing to his courage, the inability to find his body, and the sense of loss of the Greek people. Indeed, it is perhaps ironic that one of the greatest empires in history surrendered rather meekly without much of a struggle. The Hagia Sophia that we know today was completed in 537 under the reign of Justinian I, the last Latin-speaking Roman Emperor, and the one who extended the Eastern half of the Roman Empire to its greatest territorial extent. According to one chronicler, Constantine stood in shock when news reached him that the walls had been breached. Nevertheless I release thee from all thy oaths and treaties to me, I close the gates of my city, I will defend my people to the last drop of my blood. The Sultan also pledged to allow the people of Constantinople who wanted to depart to do so, and he would guarantee the safety and possessions of those who stayed. Welcome to The New Leaf Journal Guestbook. In an earlier post that you may read here, I discussed the events of May 28 and related several other anecdotes about Constantine XI’s actions during the Siege of Constantinople and his last stand with his men once the Ottomans breached the city’s defenses. As my city falls, I will fall with it!”. Unlike Constantine the Great, who some 1100 years earlier reigned from Constantinople over an Empire that stretched from Britain to Syria, Constantine XI inherited the remnants of an Empire that did not extend far from Constantinople itself. Heading for the gate, they engaged Turkish troops and fought until the end. After establishing himself as the Despot, Constantine worked to strengthen the defence of the Morea, including reconstructing a wall across the Isthmus of Corinth called the "Hexamilion" (Six-… Whoever of them was persecuted by misfortune and came to us was safe; but whoever raised a hand against our city never prospered.”, “Retain as thy rightful possession the territories which thou has unjustly taken from us, and settle the amount of tribute, which we will do our utmost to pay every year, and then go in peace. The next morning, the Ottomans launched the final assault. For three days the city was abandoned to pillage and massacre, after which order was restored by … When he is not working on The New Leaf Journal, he is a legal research specialist in the area of U.S. immigration law. Despite the fact that he was both kind and competent, his empire was beyond the point of no return. As we know, the Christian emperor would, within the day, cast aside his regalia and make his final stand as a Christian soldier, falling with his men. We are told by another chronicler than his personal intervention along with additional troops repaired a breach in Constantinople’s defenses on May 13. He had already sent away the ladies of the imperial household, his sister-in-law, and her attendants. However, the Turks, after vicious fighting, breached the gates and poured into the city. I am resolved to die here with you.’ And saying this, the Emperor turned his head aside, because tears filled his eyes; and with him wept the Patriarch and all who were there.”. but even then, he put up a heroic last stand and almost won. The last stand of the Byzantines was led by Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos (some, including Edward Gibbon, number him XII), who had been on the throne for a mere four years before he fell along with his city on its final day. by Paul Antonopoulos. They were joined in the Hagia Sophia by their Emperor, Constantine XI, who went to church for the final time to pray and ask his subjects for their pardon. As I will quote below, Mijatovic went into more detail regarding the final night of Christian prayers at the Hagia Sophia. Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos is not only remembered for being the last Byzantine Emperor who put up a brave last stand against the Ottomans, but also for his last speech to his officers and allies before the Fall of Constantinople on May 29, 1453 by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II. It was likely, as historian Sean Munger suggested in a blog post in 2014, that Constantine likely removed removed royal regalia before he entering the fray (as some accounts reported), leaving the Ottomans with no way of recognizing him among the thousands of dead. This is post 1 of 2 in the series “Constantine XI”. Our second account comes from a book with two names:  “Constantine, The Last Emperor of the Greeks; or, The Conquest of Constantinople by the Turks.”  Written by Cedomilj Mijatovic, this story upon which I relied heavily for my earlier article on Constantine XI, was published in 1892. Regardless of the sincerity of all of the Sultan’s promises, the historian and diplomat Cedomilj Mijatovic noted that the Ottoman’s assessment of the Emperor’s military position consisted of “undeniable facts.”  He noted that “[t]he walls on the land side [of Constantinople] were broken through in several places, four towers were quite destroyed, the small garrison could not be otherwise than exhausted, and there was no prospect of a speedy arrival of help from without.”  Nevertheless, Mr. Mijatovic observed that “Constantine had a more lofty conception of his own duty and dignity,” one that could not survive by accepting the Sultan’s terms. Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos is not only remembered for being the last Byzantine Emperor who put up a brave last stand against the Ottomans, but also for his last speech to his officers and allies before the Fall of Constantinople on May 29, 1453 by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II. Constantine XI, born in either 1404 or 1405, assumed the throne on January 6, 1449. I know that my going out of the city might be of some benefit to me, inasmuch as all that you foresee might really happen. That possibility didn’t exist for the Emperor and he knew it. Into your hands I commit now my scepter. He resolved to stand up to the Ottomans, and when a young and ambitious Mehmet II took the Ottoman throne in 1451, the two leaders would fight with everything they possessed. Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site. Chroniclers report that all those who were gathered were moved by Gregory’s words, and that the Emperor, upon hearing it vocalized that the Church now recognized that the fall of Constantinople as unavoidable, he momentarily fainted. You will find many articles about society and culture, music, arts and literature, history, and current affairs. We are all prepared to die, and shall do so without regret.”. Shall I be the one to flee from it? For the account itself, we learn a bit more about how sources described Constantine’s visit. First, Hutton made reference to the significance of this final night of prayers at the Hagia Sophia beyond it being Constantine’s final visit:  “For the last time the Holy Sacrifice was offered in S. Sophia…”  Then, in a line that was the focus of my earlier article on Constantine, Hutton made reference to Constantine XI’s place in the lineage of Roman Emperors, as tenuous as the links to Caesar Augustus may have been by 1453:  “[T]hen the last of the Cæsars and his nobles went forth to die.”. A stand-alone adventure, or use its detailed background as source material for your own campaigns! Combined with exposure to Islamic and far eastern (India and China) learning and wisdom, the Byzantium Empire was at one point, the height of knowledge on Earth. Evidence suggests the European Renaissance was brought about an influx of, “Gr… The New Leaf Journal’s tag-line – “Where the leaves are perennially virid” – highlights the common fiber that holds our content together. After speaking to his men, he visited the Hagia Sophia. Constantine XI’s reign was brief, and his dominion, even before the fall of Constantinople, was small. The final assault was made on May 29, and, in spite of the desperate resistance of the inhabitants aided by the Genoese, the city fell. No, I will stay and die here with you!”. He could have walked away, unscathed, but chose to die fighting. Meanwhile Constantine XI manages to overthrow the Ottomans in Europe with the help of a general uprising of their Orthodox subjects and thus revitalizes the empire. Before the beginning of the siege, Mehmed II, the leader of the Ottoman forces, made an offer to Constantine to surrender the city. When the siege of Constantinople began on April 6, 1453, the Emperor and his 7,000 soldiers were vastly outnumbered – nearly ten-to-one by one account. “If the Emperor had not arrived with fresh assistance, that same night would have been our final destruction.”   According to the same account, he had to be discouraged from going to the front lines himself. The city, however, was surrounded b… The Hagia Sophia, one of Christendom’s most hallowed churches, was converted into a mosque before being turned into a museum. With the ascent of Mehmed II as Ottoman Sultan in February of 1451, it quickly became evident that Constantine’s declining Empire was in existential danger. Constantine Xi Palaiologos 1405-1453 was the final emperor of the Byzantine Empire. As the sun both literally and figuratively set on the Roman Empire on May 28, the Emperor addressed his commanders and chief citizens one final time. Similarly to the Greeks, who made the final Byzantine Emperor a symbol of national resilience during their ultimately successful push for independence in the early nineteenth century, I find the story of Constantine XI’s last stand quite moving. But just as the ground of Constantinople was “sanctified for ever by the heroic death of the last Greek Emperor,” the Hagia Sophia is forever sanctified by those who built it. Constantine XI, also known as Constantine Paleologos, led a valiant effort to defend the city until the final day of the siege when he was killed. During a council meeting on the 25th of May, the Emperor was again encouraged to flee the city. All of the Catholics in … “I should praise God if thou wouldst live in peace with us, as thy forefathers did; they treated my predecessors with filial respect, and this city with the greatest consideration. A census made in the first half of 15th century revealed that the city officially only had 4,973 Greek professional soldiers as defenders, accompanied by around 200 foreign residents. Christian Rome and Greece revered history’s martyrs. This, we are told, elicited tears from both the Emperor and his council. N.A. Launched on April 27, 2020, The New Leaf Journal is a growing online magazine.We feature creative writing content and musings from our editors and writers. The New Leaf Journal’s tag-line – “Where the leaves are perennially virid” – highlights the common fiber that holds our content together. Constantine XI Palaiologos was the last Byzantine emperor in history. Here it is! Constantine XI Paleologos, the last Emperor of the East Roman Empire, who was martyred by the forces of Sultan Mehmet during the assault on The City on May 29, 1453, was a man whose personal life was marked by tragedy, but who above all maintained steadfast his Christian faith and his dedication to his duties as the Christian Emperor. See our About page to learn more. However, by refusing to surrender and fighting bravely with his men until the end, Constantine XI secured a different place for himself in history. After addressing his Court for a final time, Constantine made his last inspection of the walls of Constantinople. Constantine and the few gallant men who shared with him the burden and responsibility of the defence recognized in that spectacle the precursor to general assault. After the death of his father Murat II, Mehmet II ascends to the Ottoman throne. However, on July 10, 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan turned the hallowed Hagia Sophia cathedral back into a mosque. At the time, Mistra, a fortified town also called Sparta or Lacedaemon due to its proximity to the ancient city,was a center of arts and culture rivalling Constantinople. Copyright © 2021 The New Leaf Journal All Rights Reserved. In this post, in light of recent events, I will look at a couple of accounts of the final night of prayers in the Christian Hagia Sophia, telling the story of Emperor Constantine XI’s visit. We feature creative writing content and musings from our editors and writers. However, slowly but surely, the position of Constantine XI and his army deteriorated. Wounded, but still ambulatory, Constantine fought until he was struck down by an Ottoman soldier. In Constantine XI’s view, it was his duty to God and to his station to defend Constantinople with his life. After concluding his prayers, Constantine XI then proceeded in a manner suggesting that he did not expect to return to the cathedral again: “Having passed some time in prayer, he approached every prelate present in the church, asked them to pardon him if he had ever offended any of them, embraced each of them, and then went to the altar and received the Holy Communion.”. The now-former Patriarch Gregory, we are told, implored the Emperor: “If the Imperial City could not be saved, let the Emperor be saved! It remained a functioning church until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 – a period that makes up well more than half of its existence. He left his imperial chair, and approaching the screen separating the altar from the nave, he prostrated himself before the great eikons of Christ and the Madonna, which were on the left and on the right side of the central entrance to the altar.”. For the last time the Holy Sacrifice was offered in S. Sophia, and then the last of the Cæsars and his nobles went forth to die.”, Although the account is fleshed out in more detail in our next selection, there are two striking notes from Hutton’s telling of the Emperor’s last visit to the cathedral. Welcome to The New Leaf Journal Guestbook. For all we can know, in the din, dust and fury of his battle Custer may have thought he was winning until the moment he was killed. If God gives us grace and valour, and the Holy Trinity help us, in Whom alone we trust, we will do such deeds that the foe shall fall back with shame before our arms.”. Before continuing, it is worth noting that we will be relying on ancient sources, mostly as condensed by the writers of two nineteenth century history books. We feature creative writing content and musings from our editors and writers. (Sultan Mehmed II subsequently had his head cut off, peeled off the skin, and stuffed it … Not only did Byzantium achieve greater feats of art and science than Rome, they safeguarded (and advanced) for nearly 1,500 years the ancient knowledge of the Greeks and Romans. “[A]nd then the last of the Caesars and his nobles went forth to die”  (149). So it would remain, in practice, until 1934, when the new Republic of Turkey turned it into a museum open to all faiths. Veterans Day and World War I Double Quarantines, 75th Anniversary of the Japanese Surrender. Copyright © 2021 The New Leaf Journal All Rights Reserved. That there is a thread linking Augustus, who became master of the Roman world after prevailing in his civil war against Marc Antony in the latter half of the first century BC, to Constantine XI, the final Greek and Christian ruler of Constantinople, is remarkable in and of itself. Emperor Constantine XI cast off his purple cloak and made a last stand with his remaining soldiers. He declined the Sultan’s terms with full knowledge that doing so would mean giving his life, for by this point all hope for a miracle had expired, but Constantine was resolved to see his destined path through. This book was published in 1900. As the sun set on the Roman Empire for what would be its final night, anxious citizens of the city gathered in the magnificent cathedral, the Hagia Sophia, for what would be its final night to date as a functioning Christian church. 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