Mehmed II ( 1432-1481) rules 1444-6  and 1451-81

 

 

 

Painting of Mehmed II by Sinan Bey

 

 

 Mehmed was the third son of Murad II. In 1444, his father abdicated, and Mehmed succeeded him briefly, but was deposed at the insistence of the great magnates of Anatolia .His father died in 1451 and he took the throne again .With the improved Ottoman calvary, army and improved artillery, Mehmed II was able to master Asia Minor and take Constantinople. With the conquest of Constantinople, Mehmed was able to reform the administration of the Ottoman Empire, breaking the power of the aristocracy and raising and new administrative class, who were the personal slaves of the Sultan .The new administration drew upon Byantine and Islamic traditions. The rank and position of the administrative class were marked by distinctive turbans .With Mehmed the Ottoman capital moved to Constantinople, the Porte, the Ottoman government of the Empire begins .

 

The Fall of Constantinople in 1453

 

Map of Byzantine Constantinople

 

By 1453, all that was left of the once mighty Byzantine Empire was the city of Constantinople itself and a few islands in the Aegean and the Propontis .The Turks had tried to take the city in 1422, but were defeated by the city's defenses .Mehmed II , 21 years old, with an army of 150,000 surrounded the city on April 7 and summoned the city to surrender, guaranting the lives of those inside, which was rejected . To conceal his lack of troops, the Byzantine empeor had men constanly move back and forth on the Great Wall .The key to the Ottoman success were the 12,000 janissaries and a very powerful cannon forged by a Hungarian named Urban, with a barrel over 25 feet long and fired a quarter ton stone cannon ball over a mile . Not even the great walls of Constantinople could withstand this . However, the Christian repaired the breeches and put bales in front off the walls to blint the force . Mehmed's massive cannon fired on the walls for weeks, but due to its imprecision and extremely slow rate of reloading the Byzantines were able to repair most of the damage after each shot, limiting the cannon's effect. The Ottomans tries many large scale attacks to try to overwhelm the city, such as an attack of 50,000 on May 12, which was beaten off .On  the night of May 28, a large attack on the city on all sides was started with the bashi-bazouks (irregulars) a few who managed to scale the walls, but were beaten back. then the turkish artillery battered the walls until dawn .Some alert Turks noticed a side gate, called the Kerkoporta, used to launch night attacks, had not been properly secured .They took the gate, but were beaten back. They were able, however, to place their banners on the wall, which gave some Christians that the Turks had taken the city .Mehmed pushed his janissaries back into the attack, and they breached the Christian stockade and overwhelmed the defenders . The Turks clambered up the Great Wall and broke open the Gate of St. Romanus. The Byzantine Emperor Constantine threw away his imperial helmet and sought an anonymous death in the fighting .The city fell after a siege of 53 days . since the Christians rejected the offer to surrender, Mehmed allowed his troops to do as they wished with the city for three days .Inflamed by their conditions during the siege, seeing Turkish prisoners hanging from the walls, and the slaughter was great .The city was stripped of anything of value, and the remaining citizens sent to the slave market

 

Mehmed II enters Constantinople

 

After the conquest, Mehmed claimed the title of Caesar in addition to his other titles.After the conquest, Mehmed set about rebuilding the city and renaming it Istanbul and constructing a palace at Topkapi in 1459, which became the primary residence for the Sultans from 1465 to 1853, when the more European Dolmabahce Palace was used .The non-Muslim areas were organized into millets (nations), headed by a rabbi or church leader, who was responsible for order and remitting taxes .Non Muslims were subject to a tax, known as the the Jizya.

 

Imperial Hall at Topkapi Palace

 

After this conquest, he conquered the Despotate of Morea in the Peloponnese in 1460, and the Empire of Trebizond in northeastern Anatolia in 1461. The last two vestiges of Byzantine rule were thus absorbed by the Ottoman Empire. The conquest of Constantinople bestowed immense glory and prestige on the country; the Ottoman state was internationally recognized as an Empire for the first time.

After the Fall of Constantinople, Mehmed claimed the title of Caesar of Rome (Kayser-i Rūm), since Byzantium was what had become of the Roman Empire after the transfer of its capital to Constantinople in 330 AD. Mehmed also had blood lineage to the Byzantine imperial family, as his predecessors like Sultan Orhan I had married a Greek princess.

 

 

Mehmed II advanced toward Eastern Europe as far as Belgrade, and attempted to conquer the city from John Hunyadi at the Siege of Belgrade in 1456. Hungarian commanders successfully defended the city and Ottomans retreated with heavy losses but at the end, Ottomans occupied nearly all of Serbia.

He also came into conflict with and was defeated by his former vassal, Prince Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia in 1462 at the Night Attack. Then, Mehmed II helped Radu, the brother of Vlad, to take the revenge of the Ottoman military losses and Radu managed to take the control of Wallachia in the same year. Vlad lost all his power and escaped from his country.Mehmed II invaded Italy in 1480. The intent of his invasion was to capture Rome and "reunite the Roman Empire", and, at first, looked like he might be able to do it with the easy capture of Otranto in 1480 but Otranto was retaken by Papal forces in 1481 after the death of Mehmed.Mehmed II amalgamated the old Byzantine administration into the Ottoman state. He first introduced the word Politics into Arabic "Siyasah" from a book he published and claimed to be the collection of Politics doctrines of the Byzantine Caesars before him. He gathered Italian artists, humanists and Greek scholars at his court, kept the Byzantine Church functioning, ordered the patriarch to translate the Christian faith into Turkish .

After the fall of Constantinople, he founded many universities and colleges in the city, some of which are still active. Mehmed II is also recognized as the first Sultan to codify criminal and constitutional law.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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