Few events have riveted the imagination or wrung the heart as did the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. With its passage into the hands of the Ottoman Empire, European history entered a new era and Byzantine Civilization disappeared forever. Although Constantinople had been under constant pressure from Muslim incursions for over seven centuries, its fall came as a bitter shock to the West.
Neglected and mistrusted by Catholic Europe, and absorbed in its own problems, help was too little and too late in coming.When the young Mehmet II became Sultan of the Ottoman Turks in 1451, few expected this quiet young man to be rash enough to disturb the simmering peace which his father had maintained with the Greeks for decades. They were soon to learn otherwise. Though the city was bravely defended by 7,000 soldiers, the odds were hopeless and the outcome increasingly clear to the beleaguered Emperor Constantine XI, who courageously joined the last of the desperate fighting...never to be seen again.
Though Constantinople was gloriously resurrected and had a population 10 times greater within 30 years, its magnificent Byzantine Civilization was over. Its inhabitants came under the yoke of Islam while thousands who could afford to, fled to the West, bringing valuable knowledge which hastened the flowering of the Italian Renaissance. Listen as one of the most poignant stories in European history unfolds.Listeners are encouraged to go online to Wikipedia for maps of the conflict in order to get a grasp of place names.
©1965 Cambridge University; (P)2009 Audio Connoisseur