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Why did Constantinople Fall

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    Posted: 25 Nov 2012 at 06:21
Why did the Pope and the rest of Europe ignore the pleas for reinforcements  by the Byzantine emperors in the mid 1400?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Nov 2012 at 07:12
And why should they help the Byzantines in the first place?
 
As happened in the crusades, politics and self interest always trumped ideology and this was just the case.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Henry Fleischmann Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Nov 2012 at 07:46
This is my first post on this board. I apologise for not posting an introduction but I'm really terrible at them. Please inform me of any etiquette mistakes. I have read the rules and am trying to follow them but I will sincerely appreciate your indulgence in this area should I need it.
 
When you remember that the Pope had not been on good terms with Constantinople since the 4th Crusade decided to forget about Jerusalem, and either destroy or steal most of the city in 1204 anyway, you really begin to wonder why Constantinople even bothered to ask. Me, I would have just asked Mehmet II for terms. My general understanding is he really wasn't that bad a sort and the Turks themselves had great respect for the city (One theory of how the name Istanbul came about is that it's a misprounciation of a Turkish term meaning literally "this city here" or just "the city")
 
If you aren't familiar with it already, look up Sultanlar Askina  (or Askinya) on Youtube (For some reason I can't get either spelling to link, but it's there) Absolutely beautiful video 


Edited by Henry Fleischmann - 25 Nov 2012 at 08:46
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Nov 2012 at 08:02
Welcome to the Forum.Smile Not really a bad introduction in itself. I can't really think of encountering a bad introduction. Well, unless a newbie poster were to tell every one in the community to go jump off the nearest cliff in their introduction.

Anyways, i clicked on your link and there was a problem loading the page. Maybe if you copied and pasted it here we could fix it where everyone could view it?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Nov 2012 at 08:53


Is this it?
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It fell because the Greeks were not strong enough to defend it. It wasn't the Pope's or the Western Europeans' job to hold the walls, it was the Greeks. And they failed.

Why did they fail? Because made too many mistakes. Including but not limited to their excessive conservatism, hyper-religiosity, establishment of a political structure designed to extract value from their subjects and give very little back, their mercantile ineptitude, their pompous and myopic court culture, their slavish adherence to past traditions at the expense of learning from more modern innovations, their inability to maintain a culture that was sufficiently martial to face the threats on their frontiers which were so obviously serious.

Other European civilisations which were positioned on the frontiers of Christendom and so faced potential religious/cultural/linguistic extirpation managed to adapt and rise to new challenges. The Germans took on the Magyars and Slavs, the Iberians managed to drive out of Islamic Moors, and the Russians faced a plethora of enemies from Khazars to Mongols to Turks. Each of these civilisations had poorer resources and inherited less of just about everything at the end of the Roman period compared with the Byzantines. Byzantium inherited just about the best of everything, and squandered most of it.

Just about every primary sources from outsides cultures that encountered the Byzantines could not help but deride the moral bankrupty of these greedy, short sighted, perfidious, cruel and lazy people. When the roof of the Haghia Sophia collapsed during an earthquake in the mid 14th century, the Russians (still paying tribute to their Mongol overlords) nonetheless raised the funds to repair the building. The Greeks received it and it went straight into the pockets of Turkish mercenaries that the rival Byzantine royals had hired to fight their civil war for them (because Greek troops weren't considered to be made of strong enough stuff for such a task). And people wonder why the rest of Europe had so little interest in expending vast sums of money and manpower to prop up a moribund state ruined by its own excess and inertia.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Henry Fleischmann Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Nov 2012 at 09:47
Yes, thank you. There are two versions there and it seems my machine was becoming confused.
You got the better one, the original, though the one with the recorder is pretty too
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Nov 2012 at 16:50
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

It fell because the Greeks were not strong enough to defend it. It wasn't the Pope's or the Western Europeans' job to hold the walls, it was the Greeks. And they failed.

Why did they fail? Because made too many mistakes. Including but not limited to their excessive conservatism, hyper-religiosity, establishment of a political structure designed to extract value from their subjects and give very little back, their mercantile ineptitude, their pompous and myopic court culture, their slavish adherence to past traditions at the expense of learning from more modern innovations, their inability to maintain a culture that was sufficiently martial to face the threats on their frontiers which were so obviously serious.

Other European civilisations which were positioned on the frontiers of Christendom and so faced potential religious/cultural/linguistic extirpation managed to adapt and rise to new challenges. The Germans took on the Magyars and Slavs, the Iberians managed to drive out of Islamic Moors, and the Russians faced a plethora of enemies from Khazars to Mongols to Turks. Each of these civilisations had poorer resources and inherited less of just about everything at the end of the Roman period compared with the Byzantines. Byzantium inherited just about the best of everything, and squandered most of it.

Just about every primary sources from outsides cultures that encountered the Byzantines could not help but deride the moral bankrupty of these greedy, short sighted, perfidious, cruel and lazy people. When the roof of the Haghia Sophia collapsed during an earthquake in the mid 14th century, the Russians (still paying tribute to their Mongol overlords) nonetheless raised the funds to repair the building. The Greeks received it and it went straight into the pockets of Turkish mercenaries that the rival Byzantine royals had hired to fight their civil war for them (because Greek troops weren't considered to be made of strong enough stuff for such a task). And people wonder why the rest of Europe had so little interest in expending vast sums of money and manpower to prop up a moribund state ruined by its own excess and inertia.


Fascinating contribution Constantine.  Out of curiosity, do the primary sources include most Ottoman sources as well or is it mostly European sources? I was under the impression that the Ottoman's held the Byzantines in higher regard compared to other sources.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Nov 2012 at 20:37
Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:

Why did the Pope and the rest of Europe ignore the pleas for reinforcements  by the Byzantine emperors in the mid 1400?


This isn't exactly true. There were Battle of Varna, Battle of Nicopolis and there was Venetian fleet helping Greeks to defeat Constantinople.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paradigm of Humanity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Nov 2012 at 20:54
Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:


Out of curiosity, do the primary sources include most Ottoman sources as well or is it mostly European sources? I was under the impression that the Ottoman's held the Byzantines in higher regard compared to other sources.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/books/chap1/constantinople.htm


Very well written Smile


Edited by Paradigm of Humanity - 26 Nov 2012 at 20:58
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2012 at 21:02
I think the answer to your question is a lot simpler than all of that confusing babble up there.  You asked, "why did Byzantium fall?"  the answer is quite simple: The Turks tripped it.





Sorry - just being facetious. =P
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2012 at 22:53
One should also take into account, that western world just fought a tough war against the hussites. It is very likely that they did not have enough resources to fight the Ottomans.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Nov 2012 at 09:05
Originally posted by Anton Anton wrote:

Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:

Why did the Pope and the rest of Europe ignore the pleas for reinforcements  by the Byzantine emperors in the mid 1400?


This isn't exactly true. There were Battle of Varna, Battle of Nicopolis and there was Venetian fleet helping Greeks to "defeat" Constantinople.


You mean "to defend", right? Sounds like a typo and i am famous for those Embarrassed Thanks for the information. Gives me something to look up. Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Nov 2012 at 09:07
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

I think the answer to your question is a lot simpler than all of that confusing babble up there.  You asked, "why did Byzantium fall?"  the answer is quite simple: The Turks tripped it.





Sorry - just being facetious. =P


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Nov 2012 at 10:57
Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:


You mean "to defend", right?


I mean "to defend", of course :) Although, there are some indications that the initial admiral of the Ottoman fleet (Baltaoglu Suleyman Beg) had originally been Christian:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=qvvdVXckfqQC&pg=PA434&lpg=PA434&dq=Baltaoglu+Suleyman+christian&source=bl&ots=leO0PYG1lP&sig=T6um-ZtvobzeZhhNBWsFW80XCEo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=tWC1UOa9J6m00QWi2ICgCw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Baltaoglu%20Suleyman%20christian&f=false



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paradigm of Humanity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Nov 2012 at 04:54
Most of the Sultan's guards was originally been Christian... But "Baltaoğlu" is a Turkish family name.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Nov 2012 at 08:01
I know. That's why I wrote "some indications" :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paradigm of Humanity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Nov 2012 at 08:52
Originally posted by Anton Anton wrote:

I know. That's why I wrote "some indications" :)

Yes, but there was also "some indications" like the Sultan himself being a secret Christian at time due his mother originaly been christian LOL Not really different from "some indications" of Obama being a secret muslim because his father was a muslim Tongue
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Nov 2012 at 12:17
In case you didn't get it, the indication came from Doukas chronicle.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Nov 2012 at 01:07
I think my answer has the most substance out of all the above, Panther. 
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The fall of Constantinople was a long time process. The late Byzantine Empire was no more than a small city state and she held no political or military power whatsoever. Its only importance was that she was a holy city and nothing else. The Byzantine/Ottoman relations were also much more chaotic than what is written in popular history. The main reason I think why Constantinople fell is because The Byzantine Empire had already lost the Marmara region. So I agree with the former admin of this forum, Komnenos, that Bithynia was the main source of Byzantine empire in terms of man power, political stability and economical growth. Keep in mind that when Latins took the city the Byzantines were able to be reorganized in Nicaea. And then could capture the city later on. 
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Why Byzantium has fallen? First was the military coup-de-etat of the greek general Fokas that went in 602 a.C. with all his army from Danube (letting so the slavish tribs to penetrate in the Balkans) to Constantinople, made himself emperor and changing the latin language, right, culture with the greek language, culture and behaviour. Is no wonder what after that the eastern roman world experienced: low moral, political, cultural and social declin, slavish states made on empires balkan provinces and in the end the crusader assault and steal of all the wonders of the ancient East-Rome (mostly of the buildings and statues from San Marco Place in Venice was transported with the ships, stone by stone) so what to wonder? In the XV century the Constantinople was more an ideal and not a fortress!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb 2013 at 15:25
Originally posted by panther panther wrote:

Fascinating contribution Constantine.  Out of curiosity, do the primary sources include most Ottoman sources as well or is it mostly European sources? I was under the impression that the Ottoman's held the Byzantines in higher regard compared to other sources.
 
My knowledge of the earlier period of Byzantine history is best, and both eastern and western neighbours regarded the Byzantines in the same vein as I discussed.
 
I have not examined Ottoman sources specifically, as these would only apply to the final century and a half of the empire's existence. Though the Turks in general regarded the Byzantines as perfidious. Manuel I's decision not to destroy fortresses he promised to after Myriokephalon serves as a good example of why.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paradigm of Humanity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb 2013 at 16:14
I think both are true.

Byzantines helded in higher regard because Byzantine emperors were "Caesars of Rome" and possessor of Costantinople. These two are what Ottoman Sultans were looking for. They possessed almost entire part of the land which they called "Rome" but sametime some guy was sitting in Costantinople and legitimately called himself Roman emperor.

Also Turks regarded Byzantines treacherous due vast number of incidents they experienced with them. Most significant part of this conflicts decended from Altaic succesion laws of Ottoman Empire. It means not only eldest son have right to rule but also all of his brothers. This is what was ruined numerous Turkic and Mongol Empires. When a Ottoman prince succeded to throne naturally his brothers sought protection somewhere else in fear of their lifes. This place was mostly behind walls of Costantinople. Of course, Byzantines quickly realised political value of this situation and exploited it very well. They demanded large sum of annual payments for "expenditures" of Ottoman prince residing in Constantinople. Ottomans had no choice but paying it in order to avoid a civil war. But regardless of payment, Byzantines released Ottoman princes whenever they sense a weakness in Ottoman Empire. A very good example of this is just aftermath of I. Bayezid's captivity to Timur. In fact Byzantines played four brother to each other so well, they almost managed to disintegrate Ottoman Empire. That's probably why Byzantines regarded as treacherous LOL

I remember Ottomans were paying 300 000 gold ducats anually for "expenditures" of an Ottoman prince named Orhan residing in Costantinople. He was defending sea side of walls during last siege of Costantinople with his five hundred men. He tried to escape from the city when fall of the city became apparent but commited suicide by threwing himself from walls when recognised by Ottoman troops.

Edited by Paradigm of Humanity - 14 Feb 2013 at 22:06
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That seems like a typical attitude held by the neighbours of Byzantium. Being impressed by the pomp, wealth and tradition of the Byzantine court and the magnificene of Constantinople. But at the same time being repelled by how effete, lazy, treacherous and lacking in moral strength the culture was. Russians and Bulgarians shared this perception.
 
Latins and Westerners seemed even less impressed from an examination of the primary sources. Liutprand of Cremona's writings are a good example. Other European countries typically had social and political institutions which the Byzantines did not. Concepts such as noblesse oblige, parliaments, clerical independence and limits on absolute royal power were common in Catholic Europe but not in Byzantium. So excessive despotism, overtaxation, abuse of the masses and coercion of the clergy were more obvious to Westerners than to the Byzantines or their immediate neighbours.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Voltage Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Mar 2013 at 03:47
No matter who you are it is still an impressive siege
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Mar 2013 at 10:02
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

That seems like a typical attitude held by the neighbours of Byzantium. Being impressed by the pomp, wealth and tradition of the Byzantine court and the magnificene of Constantinople.


Indeed, the Byzantine desire to overawe their neighbors with displays of wealth has always reminded me of Hezekiah's pride before the Babylonians. It's fitting, as the emperors were, at least symbolically, the heirs of the Davidic office.

Long story short? Don't! Unless you have the hard power to protect it. It doesn't end well -- ever. Turkish or Italian works just as well as Aramaic for saying "Give me all your shinies!"

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Edited by Akolouthos - 19 Mar 2013 at 10:04
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paradigm of Humanity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Mar 2013 at 11:17
Many soldiers involved in the siege got very rich for sure. But Latins was already hit the big spot much before. The city was already a ghost city prior the siege by comparison of wealth and population to pre-4th crusade city. Most districts of the city was consisted of desolated empty buildings. It's wealth was still incredible for an ordinary man but it was insignicant for Ottoman Empire. City's importance to the Ottomans were of prestige and strategic aspects. After conquest, II. Mehmed forcefully relocated Turks from Anatolia and Greeks from Morea to Costantinople and bought enslaved population and freed them in condition of staying in Costantinople in order to repopulate the ghost city. Later in reign of his son, Jew's rescued from Spanish Inquisition by Oruç Reis (Original Barbarossa) were partly relocated to Salonika and rest relocated to Costantinople. And of course later by being administrative center of the empire, city's population swell into 700 000 by 1650 (it was declined to 73000 prior the last siege) and again become most populous city on Earth after it's previous golden ages during Byzantine era.

Edited by Paradigm of Humanity - 19 Mar 2013 at 13:05
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