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. “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. Constantine XI's last moments in life, as he stood before the walls of Constantinople in 1453, have bestowed a heroic status on him. The borders would continuously expand and contract according to the pressure of its teeming enemies, however, and by 1453, the Byzantine Empire was little more than just the city state of Constantinople. And amidst such displays of sympathy from deeply moved human hearts, Constantine, himself, greatly and visibly affected, walked slowly out of the church which his predecessors had raised as a grand monument of their glory and of their piety.”. 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. Constantine XI Palaeologus, Palaeologus also spelled Palaiologos, (born February 9, 1404, Constantinople, Byzantine Empire [now Istanbul, Turkey]—died May 29, 1453, Constantinople), the last Byzantine emperor (1449–53), killed in the final defense of Constantinople against the Ottoman Turks. “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. 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. Ferrell enjoys coffee, tea, reading, history, philosophy, politics, video games, anime, and long walks. 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. Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos was the last emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, today more commonly known as the Byzantine Empire. Constantinople had neither the finances nor the manpower to adequately prepare for a Turkish invasion, and help from the West came in insufficient numbers. He was killed in the melee. While the Sultan could not settle on terms that did not included his taking Constantinople, Constantine could not make peace on terms that would involve his abandoning it. As I will quote below, Mijatovic went into more detail regarding the final night of Christian prayers at the Hagia Sophia. However, the Turks, after vicious fighting, breached the gates and poured into the city. Sourced from Pinterest. 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. He noted that the pleas for him to escape were motivated by concerns for his personal safety rather than prospects for bettering the fate of the city (“inasmuch as all that you foresee might really happen”). He undertook to fortify the city and appealed for support from Catholics in Western Europe, but it would be for naught. The Hagia Sophia was built nearly 1,500 years ago as a Christian cathedral during the reign of Greece’s last Latin-speaking Emperor. Constantine Xi Palaiologos 1405-1453 was the final emperor of the Byzantine Empire. The next morning, the Ottomans launched the final assault. So far the good news. The pre-Christian Romans fretted over their final words and revered honorable deaths. 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. You see, Constantine XI Palaiologos didn’t die an emperor, he died a soldier. 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. I pray you, my friends, in the future do not say to me anything else but, ‘Nay, sire, do not leave us.’ Never, never, will I leave you. 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. Just as the story of Constantine XI’s last stand tied together the heroic ideals of classical and Christian Rome, the Hagia Sophia endures, as a testament to the faith that went into it and as a link to the pinnacle of the Eastern Roman Empire (see final thoughts). And he went out in a way that none of his predecessors had ever come close to matching. Because no Greeks who survived were with the Emperor in his final moments, the exact circumstances of his end are lost to the tides of time. but even then, he put up a heroic last stand and almost won. Benjamin Harrison’s Memorable July 4, 1888, Irene Triplett, last Civil War Pensioner, Dies. But it is impossible for me to go away: how could I leave the churches of our Lord, and His servants the clergy, and the throne, and my people in such a plight? 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. (Sultan Mehmed II subsequently had his head cut off, peeled off the skin, and stuffed it … 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. Mijatovic, relying on the same sources as Hutton, had the same account of the events leading up to Constantine’s last visit to the Hagia Sophia. After addressing his soldiers for the final time, Constantine visited the church of St Sophia where he prayed “with great fervor.” Then Constantine “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.” Mr. Mijatovic wrote: “As a Christian emperor, and as a Christian soldier, he was solemnly, and in the sight of his people, preparing to appear before his God.” Those present reportedly cried as he left the church, and Constantine himself was not unaffected. With 567 years having passed since Constantine and the Eastern half of the Roman Empire breathed their last, I thought that it would be fitting, with the aid of some older books and other resources, to make a toast to the last Emperor. We must all bow to the decree of the Almighty, whose mercy might return to our people as it had returned to Israel in olden times.”. When the Emperor came to, he was again faced with pleas for him to flee. The Hagia Sophia, one of Christendom’s most hallowed churches, was converted into a mosque before being turned into a museum. Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site. This book produces a more balanced portrait of an intriguing individual: the last emperor of Constantinople. However, slowly but surely, the position of Constantine XI and his army deteriorated. Constantine XI was the last Byzantine emperor, the last Christian ruler of what had been the Eastern Roman Empire, killed trying to defend his city against the final, successful Ottoman attack in May 1453. Speaking both to the Greeks and to the Italians who had joined the cause, Constantine said: “Let us work together, my companions and my brethren, to gain for ourselves liberty, glory, and eternal memory! We are told by a chronicler that the Emperor listened carefully and patiently, pausing to think about what he had heard before responding (146): “I thank you all for the advice which you have given me. The last stand of Emperor Constantine XI. Launched on April 27, 2020, The New Leaf Journal is a growing online magazine. When his city was invaded, he was offered safety if he gave up his empire over and over again. The final message from Constantine XI to the Sultan read as follows (p. 138): “As it is plain thou desirest war more than peace, as I cannot satisfy thee by my vows of sincerity or by my readiness to swear allegiance, so let it be according to thy will. Veterans Day and World War I Double Quarantines, 75th Anniversary of the Japanese Surrender. The once capital of the greatest Christian empire had now become the capital of the most successful Islamic empire in history. 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. 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. In 1448, the last Roman/Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI, ascended to the throne. “[Constantine] listened to the monotonous beating of the drums, and to the wild tumult that prevailed in the Turkish camp. 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. 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