In recent days, the city has been heavily bombarded. On May 27, Sultan Mehmed drove around the army and announced the imminent decisive assault on Constantinople. His heralds reported that the Byzantine capital would be given to the “fighters for the faith” for a complete plunder within three days. Sultan promised a fair division of loot. A high reward was promised to the one who first ascends the enemy walls. In the Ottoman camp, festive bonfires blazed and festivities began. 28 May 1453, Monday, declared a day of rest and repentance, so that Muslim warriors gained strength before a decisive battle.
The defenders of the city, seeing so many bonfires and torches, thought that the enemy was burning extra belongings, intending to leave. However, these hopes were in vain. Giovanni Giustiniani Longo engaged in filling up gaps and strengthening temporary structures, sent a messenger to Luka Notaras with a request to transfer to his disposal all the backup artillery. Notaras refused. Longo accused him of treason. It almost came to a fight, and it took the emperor to intervene to calm them down.
The Turkish Sultan gave the last orders. It was decided to attack the enemy without stopping, sending wave after wave of the attack, until the enemy trembled. Admiral Hamza Bey was instructed to distribute the ships on the wall overlooking the sea, where only you can try to land assault troops. Zaganos Pasha received the task of landing part of his troops on ships in the Golden Horn to attack the walls from the side of the bay. The rest of his forces must go over the pontoon bridge and strike Vlaherna. To his right, a section of the wall to the Harisian Gate attacked Karadzha Pasha with the Rumelian. Ishaq Pasha and Mahmud Pasha with Anatolian stormed the area from the gate of St.. Romana to the Sea of Marmara, concentrating on the Golden Gate. The Sultan and the Grand Vizier with selected troops struck around the valley of the river Lycos.
In the city, Emperor Constantine XI Palaeologus gathered all distinguished people and commanders. The emperor spoke of the need to be ready to give his life for the faith, family, homeland and sovereign. He recalled the accomplishments and exploits of the great ancestors. He thanked the Italians present and called on the defenders of the city to stand to the death. Then he went around and asked for forgiveness. All those present followed suit, hugging and saying goodbye. In St. Sophia came all who are not on duty on the walls, and the Orthodox, and supporters of the union, and Catholics. They confessed their sins, offered prayers. Before the death fight the unity of Christians occurred.
The defenders redistributed their forces as best they could. Manuil of Genoa with 200 archers and crossbowmen defended the site near the Golden Gate and Studion. Theophilus Paleologus commanded a detachment south of the Pigiysky Gate. Giustiniani Longo with the Italians 400 and the core of the Byzantine army was responsible for the most dangerous area at the gate of St. Romana The place of the junction of the walls of the city with Vlachern was defended by taking Bocciardi. Minotto was in charge of Blakhern. The Caligari gates were defended by the "best shooter on earth" Theodorus of Kariston and military mechanic Johannes Grant. At Xiloport's gate, Archbishop Leonard of Chios and Hieronymus stood guard, with Cardinal Isidore on their right. A squad of Luke Notaras was standing in the Petrion area, he was in charge of the area before the gates of Saint. Theodosius. 500 archers and arquebusiers guarded the walls near the Golden Horn. Gabriele Trevisano, with 50 soldiers, guarded the central section of the walls by the bay. The sailors from Crete stood at the Oreus gate. Antonio Dieudo commanded the ships. Catalan Consul Pere Julia (Pedre Julia) guarded the area of the harbors of Bukolene (Vukoleon) and Condoscaliani. Near the harbor of Eleutheria, Prince Orhan was located. The squad of Jacopo Contarini covered the wall from Eleutheria to the Psamphic gates. Dmitry Kantakuzin with Nikifor Palaeologom took up positions near the church of sv. Apostles.
Storm 29 May 1453 of the year
28 May closer to the end of the afternoon, when the setting sun shone in the eyes of the defenders of the city, the Ottomans rushed to fill the moat and began to pull the artillery and throwing tools closer to the walls. Three hours before dawn, the Ottoman artillery struck, and the Turkish irregular units under the command of Mustafa Pasha rushed to the assault. The sentinel raised the alarm, and the garrison was prepared for battle. Sultan somewhat changed his plans and was the first to throw into the battle not his choice forces, but the bashi-bazouks. These were poorly armed, as compared with regular units, and poorly disciplined troops, recruited from mountain tribes, Albanians, loot seekers from various countries, including Slavs, Hungarians, Germans, and even Greeks. The attack went along the entire line of the walls, but the main attack was aimed at breaking through the gate of St. Romana Here was holding the 3 defense, a thousand detachment of Justiniani Longo, who pulled most of the soldiers armed with firearms here weapons. Despite the huge losses, the bashi-bazouks did not retreat and stubbornly went forward. The soldiers of Justinian, being better armed and prepared, restrained their onslaught — in a narrow gap, the Ottomans could not take advantage of their numerical advantage. The units advancing from other directions also failed. After a nearly two-hour battle, Mehmed recalled his troops.
The Byzantines began to restore the fortifications, but had little time. After a new artillery strike, regular Ottoman troops went into battle. They were much better armed and organized than bashi-bazouks. If necessary, retreated, allowing gunners to fire on fortifications. But they also suffered heavy losses - a large number of soldiers tried to break through on a narrow sector. About an hour before dawn, the Ottoman artillery pierced the site of the palisade on the spot of the breach. Three hundred soldiers broke into the breach. The emperor blocked this group, most of the Turks were slaughtered, some were rejected. At other sites, especially fierce battles were fought on the walls of Vlaherna. Such a fierce rebuff caused confusion in the Ottoman troops, moreover, they were already tired. Turkish commander took the troops. In all directions, the assault was repulsed.
Sultan did not wait until the troops put themselves in order, and threw into battle the last fresh forces - the palace regiments and the Janissaries. Selected warriors of the Sultan attacked, observing awe-inspiring discipline, moving silently, without shouting, music. The Sultan himself brought them to the brink of a moat and remained there cheering the Janissaries. The battle has reached its highest point. The Greek warriors were tired, they had been fighting for several hours in a row, but they held on. A stubborn battle lasted about an hour, and it seemed that the Christians would repulse the third attacking wave.
But then there were two accidents that changed the picture of the battle in favor of the Ottomans. Someone from the Janissary discovered that the door of the Cerkoport between the wall of Theodosius and Vlahernem, through which the defenders made forays, was not locked. Whether it was just a mistake of the guard, or someone's malicious intent is unknown. Several dozen soldiers broke into this doorway and, running up to the inner wall, raised the rod. The Genoese Bocciardi was too small to stop the enemy. However, soon the Turkish soldiers were cut off and were threatened with total annihilation, if luck hadn’t yet smiled upon the Ottomans.
Giovanni Giustiniani Longo, who was at the front line, on a wooden parapet near one of the gaps, was injured. The bullet (or a fragment of the nucleus) pierced the arm and, striking the cuirass, apparently passed under the arm. Longo, bleeding and in great pain, asked his comrades to remove him from the battlefield. The emperor was nearby and asked him to stay in order not to undermine the morale of the troops. Giustiniani insisted on being taken away. His comrades carried him to the Genoese ship, which, when the city was captured by the enemy, would break into the sea and go to Chios. But the wound was really serious and Longo would die in June. The soldiers of Giustiniani saw that the commander was being carried off, confused, and panicked. Someone thought that the city was doomed, so the command is saved. Panic quickly spread, especially in light of the fact that the Ottoman flag was flying on the wall to the north. Many soldiers ran, hoping to find salvation on ships.
Ottoman commanders noticed dismay in the ranks of the enemy and a squad of janissaries under the authority of the giant Hasan made his way to the crest of a broken barrier. The Greeks rushed to the counterattack and killed the Janissaries, but they were able to hold out so long that they were joined by the main forces. The Greeks, without soldiers Giustiniani, could not hold back this wave. Emperor Constantine tried to organize the defense of the inner gates, and fell in battle. His cousin Theophilus Paleologus died with him.
The defense collapsed. Foreigners, for the most part, tried to make their way to the ships, local residents rushed to their houses, trying to save their families. More and more Ottoman flags and pennants appeared on the walls. In the Kerkoporta area, the Genoese fought for some time, then realizing that the case was lost, the Bokkiardi brothers (one died - Paolo) cut through a still weak ring and made their way to the ships. They got to Peru. Minotto’s Venetian squad was unlucky: he was blocked in the old imperial palace in Vlaherna, some died, others were captured (some were later executed). Turkish flotilla in the bay, having received news of a breakthrough, landed troops and without a fight climbed the walls. The defenders have already fled. On a site south of the Lycos Valley, Christian soldiers were surrounded, many fell trying to break through, others were captured. Surrendered L. Notaras, F. Contarini and D. Cantacuzinus. The quarters Studio and Psamafia surrendered to the regular Turkish units, saving the churches from plunder and life to people. The Catalans and Orhan warriors were cut off and were mostly killed. Orhan himself changed into a monk and tried to escape, but was caught.
Cardinal Isidore was able to get into Peru. Alvizo Diedo arrived in Peru to discuss the situation, and his sailors cut off the straps that held the chain covering the entrance to the bay. As a result, many Christian ships fled, taking those they could. The Turks could not prevent them, many Ottoman sailors, fearing that the city would be plundered without them, threw ships and fled to Constantinople. The last center of resistance was in the three towers near the Oreisk gate, where sailors from the Cretan ships barricaded themselves under the command of captains Sgur, Anthony Ialin and Filomat. They stubbornly resisted until the beginning of the afternoon, refusing to surrender. Ottoman Sultan, respecting their courage and endurance, ordered to give them their ships and let them go. It should be noted that the captured Christian soldiers were quite small - about 500 soldiers. The remaining defenders of the fortress fell in battle or were able to escape.
In Constantinople there was a robbery and slaughter. Some quarters were able to provide organized resistance to the mob of marauders and hold out until the regular campaign of the Sultan. Robbery and defeat continued until regular troops, at the behest of the Sultan, stopped the human element. Mehmed did not want the destruction of the city, which was to become the jewel of his empire. Initially, many residents were killed, including women and children. Then, when the first heat of fury subsided, people began to be captured for sale into slavery. In particular, in sv. Sophia, where people fled in the hope of escape, killed all the elderly, wounded and sick, took prisoners who could sell or get a ransom — young women, girls, boys, children, and noble people. During the pogroms, many cultural treasures were destroyed or disappeared, including real relics, such as the icon of Our Lady Odigitria (Guidebook). It must be said that the mayhem of the city was in some respects weaker than when the crusaders captured Constantinople in 1204. It was already a Turkish city and Mehmed did not allow him to burn and destroy. 1 June, the Sultan stopped all the looting and led excessive troops out of the city walls. The neutrality of the Genoese Peru-Galatia did not save her, the sultan annexed the quarter to his possessions.
Results and consequences
The Byzantine Empire ceased to exist. Constantine XI Palaeologus became the last Byzantine emperor. The Ottoman Sultan granted the rights of the self-governing community within the state to the city’s Greeks. The community was headed by the Patriarch of Constantinople, who was in charge of it before the Sultan. The Sultan himself, began to be called the successor of the Byzantine emperor, took the title Kaiser-i Rum (Caesar of Rome).
30 May Mehmed replaced Grand Vizier Chandarly Khalil with Zaganosa Pasha. The reason was the denunciation that Chandarly Khali incited the Greeks to stubborn defense, promising the speedy departure of the Ottoman army. After some time, the former Grand Vizier was executed. Venetian leader Girolamo Minotto and his sons were executed. He was accused of continuing the resistance, after the fall of the city. Luca Notaras was also executed; he refused to give the 14-year-old son to the sultan's harem. Important Greek and Italian captives were taken to Edirne, many were bought.
Sultan Mehmed quickly restored the city. True, it was no longer a Christian, European city, but the largest center of the Eastern, Muslim world. The walls were repaired, the city was opened to access, both Eastern Christians and Turks, other Muslims. Some were attracted by tax breaks and privileges, others were simply driven by force, filling long empty quarters. In particular, after the capture of Trabzon, the local Christian population was resettled to Constantinople, and the Turks settled in the liberated territories. The implementation of an extensive urban planning program has begun. They built a new palace, a large hospital with a training center and students, a cultural complex, a barracks for the janissaries, a foundry yard for the production of cannons, etc. Mehmed II the Conqueror decided to turn Constantinople into the capital of the world, the center of many cultures, all peoples of Scripture - Muslims Christians and Jews. The new great empire, the heir to the First and Second Romes, was to become a crossroads, where the cultures of the East and the West met and supplemented each other. Moreover, Mehmed declared himself the legitimate heir of the Roman and Byzantine empires with claims to territories that were located far from the borders of the Ottoman state.
For the Christian world, the loss of Constantinople was a serious blow. The Ottomans cut the trade routes of Genoa and Venice through the strait to the Black Sea and back. As a result, the great Italian cities will be forced to wage a stubborn struggle against the Ottoman Empire and will gradually decline. Europeans will begin to look for other ways to the East, to fabulous India, to the forefront will be navigators from Spain, Portugal, and then Holland and England. Italian navigators will make up a significant percentage of the discoverers. The Italian "golden elite" will move to Antwerp, Amsterdam and London. A general flight of the Genoese from the colonies on the Black Sea began, in a couple of decades Genoa will lose all possessions beyond the Bosphorus. The remnants of the Crusader possessions and the wreckage of the former Byzantine Empire quickly fell: in 1456, the Turks invaded the Athenian Duchy, the last Athenian Duke Franco held in the citadel of the Acropolis for two years, having lost hope of help, surrendered; in the 1460, the Sea of Desporata fell; in 1461, the Ottomans captured the Trapezund "empire"; in 1470, the Turks captured Negroponte (Evia).
After the fall of Constantinople, the Ottomans continued military campaigns aimed at expanding their possessions. The conquest of the Serbian, Albanian and Danube lands continued, the islands in the Aegean Sea were conquered. The Ottoman fleet began to make pirate raids on Italian cities. There was a stubborn confrontation, where some wars were replaced by others, and so it lasted for centuries.
What lessons can be drawn from the sad Byzantine experience?
- We should not miss the situation with the education and upbringing of the military-political elite. Each generation of elites should be brought up in patriotic, national traditions. Cosmopolitanism, internationalism is the path to death. In Russia, at least two state projects have already crashed - the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, due to the westernization and cosmopolitanization of elite circles. The Russian Federation is repeating their path, but at a faster pace, due to the growth of informatization and communication capabilities. The elite of Russia must be predominantly Russian by nationality and completely Russian in spirit. The Russian Tatars, the Germans, the Georgians, the Armenians, etc., have brought immense benefit to the Russian Empire, this must not be forgotten. The point is in the upbringing and education system - they must educate the Russians in the spirit of all Russian citizens.
- It is impossible to allow mass migration to the lands of the empire of carriers of other racial, ethnic and cultural and religious signs. The result will be sad. Indigenous peoples will be assimilated and implanted by more resilient and active ethnic groups, which may be inferior in education and cultural development, but will triumph in the field of demography (they will give birth and educate children on 3-7, unlike the white race, who are now massively creating or single-child families). It is possible to allow only the resettlement of certain representatives of other races, ethnic groups and cultures, which without a large community of fellow countrymen, are quickly assimilated. It is also permissible to relocate in Russia a significant number of representatives of related - Slavic, Indo-European ethnic groups.
- It is unacceptable rapprochement with the Western world, the game by its rules. The West has all the "cards" marked. You can not go on the trick of "universal" (actually Western) values. Playing by western rules has always led Russia to a catastrophe.