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Mehmed the Conqueror, the Man Who Changed the Destiny of Europe


The year 1444 was a long one. And many events, beyond to be realized in one year in the Ottoman Empire, were fit into that year. Tired from wars, Murad the Second left his throne to 12 years old Mehmed or in fact, to the Vizier’s Group led by Candarli Halil Pasha. Mehmed II was born in Edirne on March 30th 1432. He was very fond of the city he was born into. He spent his childhood in this palace located at the banks of Tundzha River in the beautiful city of Edirne that was the Ottoman capital.

Edirne Palace

It is certain that Mehmed II had a strong education during his princehood. He had a single wish since his childhood to become the Ruler of the world. The little prince made plans about the future and developed ideas that would change the course of the world’s history as he grew older and matured. He discovered life as he was reading and learning and also he was designing the future of the Ottomans in a way that, maybe, nobody could have imagined. The notebook for rough drafts that Mehmed II used during his childhood attracts attention for showing the area of interest of the Sultan.

The notebook, which also has his signature scribblings, some texts in the Persian language and the letters of the Greek Alphabet besides some portrays, drawings that obviously belonged to non-Muslims and some Ottoman type castings, is still preserved in the Topkapı Palace’s Library.

interest of the Sultan Mehmed II

He was curious about books and was reading a lot since his princehood. When prince Mehmed II was 10 years old, he was sent to Saruhan, the Manisa province of today. He had his mentors Kasapzade Mahmud and Nişancı Ibrahim Pashas and his mother Hüma Hatun with him. Manisa Palace was the place where the Conqueror of the future was prepared. The uncontrollable and active little Prince Mehmed II, had worn out his mentors. Only person who could deal with him was Mollah Gürani.

Rumour says that Mehmed II expected a lot the imposing Mollah Gürani character who used to stroll around with a stick in his hand and the Conqueror used to get up and show respect to him when his mentor entered in his presence even after he became a sultan. The death of Prince Alaeddin by falling off a horse opened the way of the sultanate for Mehmed. The death of his elder Prince upset Sultan Murad he descended the throne he resigned into solitude to Bursa. And Sultan Murad he says:

“At this moment, I am your Sultan but from now on your Sultan will be my son. Because I am turning over my crown and throne and all my titles to my son. From now on, the Sultan is my son and that’s my decision.”

He preferred to retreat and follow the events from a distance. But Çandarlı Halil Pasha was severely against it because a new threat a new danger could come out any moment from the west and the Byzantine Empire was causing trouble. On the other hand Karamanids were becoming an important force in Anatolia. Due to the pressure of all these political events Çandarlı Halil Pasha believed that the young Sultan could not deal with all these and that Murad the Second had to ascend the throne again.

In fact, looking on this content his intentions was to follow a peaceful politics and bridle the falcons, people who wanted war around Mehmed II. The news that a kid ascended the throne set the Wast into action. Crossing the Danube River the Crusade Knights began to advance towards Anatolia in September.

The Crusade Knights
Scene in the movie: Kingdom of Heaven

Grand Vizier Çandarlı Halil Pasha sent his envoy to Bursa, to Murad the Second, and Murad II said: “You have a Sultan, let him deal with it.” And Çandarlı Halil Pasha’s envoy said: “My Sultan, your Vizier Halil Pasha says: he should come if he owns this land and protect his country. And he also says: if he is a slave, then let him act as one and serve his country.” And Sultan Murad the Second was finally convinced and he led the army against the Crusaders.

Sultan Mehmed stayed in Edirne with Çandarlı Halil Pasha. Two armies met in Varna and the Crusaders suffered a heavy defeat. The Ottoman dominance in the Balkans became definite with this victory. In spite of the insistence of Çandarlı Halil Pasha, a few days later, Murad II set off for Manisa this time. Çandarlı Halil Pasha who understood that he would loose the power that he has in his hands took another step. He used the Janissaries. The janisseries rebelled in Edirne.

The young Sultan descended the throne following a rebellion in Edirne organized by the Grand Vizier Candarli Halil Pasha himself. And he unwillingly went to Manisa. This time, Mehmed II went to Manisa with a different title than he had before Mehmed the Prince Sultan. Because he had sat on the sultanate throne for a while. Now, he had different powers than an ordinary prince and beside that he also had a great experience and a terrible rancor.

Mehmed II learnt about both the East and West with their politics, history and culture during this era. He was constantly reading, writing poems and making battle drills. His mentors, Zaganos and Akshamsaddin transferred their experiences to the young Prince. The Conqueror of future was raised and matured in such an environment.

The picture of Sitti Hatun with whom he married with a splendid ceremony is in Venice today, in the Marciana Library.

Sitti Hatun

He got married in Edirne with Sitti Hatun, the daughter of Suleiman Bey, the Head of Dulkadir Principality. The Conqueror was 17 years old when he married to Sitti Hatun. Yet, he did not consider it as a marriage. Sitti Hatun dedicated her life to charity. She did not have any child. She rests in a grave in Edirne in the garden of a mosque she had built. She does not have a turbah.

Sultan Murad the Second, who was tired from the difficulties of the campaigns and the chaos of the sultanate, died at the age of 48. Maybe the death was something he was longing for. In his testament he says:

This is my order! Let them bury me in Bursa in the grave right next to my deceased son Ali. Let them built four walls and a turbah on it. Let them leave the top open for rain to fall on me. Do not let them put whoever dies from my lineage, not to bring him by my side.

The grave of Sultan Murad the Second

Mehmed II, who ascended to the throne in Edirne with an official ceremony, was the real sovereign this time. He addressed Halil Pasha and to the other viziers who kept their distance to the throne during the ceremony: “Why do the viziers of my father stand far away? Halil Pasha is my Grand Vizier and Ishak Pasha my Governor-general.” And immediately coins were minted bearing the name Sultan Mehmed as a symbol of the sultanate and the power. Right after his ascension to the throne his step-brother, Ahmed, who was still a baby in arms, had been strangled for the order of the world not to be harmed.

And whoever inherits my sultanate from my sons has the right to kill his brothers for the order of the world not to be harmed. Many of the wise find this reasonable. Let it be like this!

Sultan Mehmed II was saying these in his digest of the laws regulating the state protocols and sultanate he had put down on paper just before his death. He wants to say that, “In order the public order would not to be harmed the one who ascends to the throne can murder his brothers. And many of the wise men of the era find this acceptable.” We also understand that some opposed to this.

As the division of the Ottoman state would bring out a very important problem, the family digested such a painful remedy in itself. And all the princes, who were left alive, rebelled. The new Sultan had rejected the traditions of his ancestors, especially of his thrifty father and began to exhibit a splendor peculiar to him. He wanted to compete with Alexander the Great who he took as an example. Probably, he had read about him from the Islamic legends.

Alexander the Great

Constantinople, the Queen of all cities and the great dream of Sultan Mehmed; The conquest! After returning from the Karamanid campaign, while he was crossing Akcahisar or Anatolian fort, looking at Constantinople side he said to Halil Pasha standing right next to him: “Mentor, we need to build a fortress here.” And the construction of the castle we call the “Fortress of Rumelia” today or the “Bosphorus Cutter” as Sultan named, it began. The giant cannons, which have the ability of collapsing the city walls and would be used during the conquest of Constantinople were casted by Hungarian cannon expert Urban under the watchful eyes of the Sultan Mehmed II.

The giant cannons

As soon as the construction of the Bosphorus Cutter Fortress ended, the Sultan sent a message to the Emperor who tried to impede the construction of the fortress and requested Constantinople to be handed over. He said: “We are enemies from now on. Either you hand me the city or you will be doomed.” Sultan set off from Edirne on March 23rd, for the siege of Constantinople. When he reached the city walls the big part of the army was already waiting for him. 50 thousand people were gathered in front of the city.

On April the 6th, in city walls people were celebrating the Easter and the army outside the holy Friday. The Emperor said that they could have all the lands outside the city but the city itself would not surrender. And everybody knew the answer of the Sultan: “Either he would get the city or the city would get him.

The Ottoman navy, which came to support the land strike, reached in front of the chain that was blocking the Golden Horn and began to fight the Byzantine navy that was situated behind the chain. But the Ottoman ships with booms very low compared to the Byzantine ones had to retreat quickly due to the arrow, lance, stone and Greek fire attacks. After his disappointing naval war, Sultan Mehmed II decided to carry down his ships to the Golden Horn from land. The fact that the ships sent by the Pope could enter successfully in the city boosted the morale of the Byzantine people who had become low-spirited till then.

This situation had strengthened the position of Çandarlı Halil Pasha and the opposition surrounding him who suggested lifting the siege. Çandarl Halil Pasha said: “The Greek Caesar Emperor accepted to give 70 thousand gold coins every year as tax. And he also accepts the forces we would sent in the city. Peace is better than war. Think about the fate of your ancestor Bayezid. Let us take what we can while we still have the power and lift the siege. And Mehmed II says:

What are you saying, Mentor? This conquest is the prophecy of our dear prophet to us. Either Constantinople will get me or I will get it. There is no other way!

And one night the Conqueror shifted his ships from a point outside the Galata walls and took them into the Golden Horn behind Galata and that way he could enter into the Golden Horn. On May 29th, at dawn, after the morning prayer, soldiers took their positions for the attack. People of Constantinople sheltered in the big church in panic. All night long, they had prepared for the big attack of the next day. This time, the attack began simultaneously from all positions. The giant cannons of Mehmed II fired all at the same time. With a final big attack the city was captured. Now, a silence was ruling at the battleground. Constantinople belonged to Sultan Mehmed II.

Mehmed II that would be known as the Conqueror from then on entered the city with 200 people including his viziers and guards by his side in the afternoon when its conquest became definite. It has been said that he was on a white horse. He advanced slowly and reached. The Hagia Sophia but unfortunately he could not witness the magnificence of the church that people had been telling him for a long time.

The scheme he saw when he entered the Hagia Sophia was awful. Everything was looted, destroyed and smashed. Kritovulos who stood by him tells that the Sultan’s eyes filled with tears when he saw this looting. We know from our sources that he climbed till the level of the dome from those ramps and looked around from there. And there was a famous Persian couplet back then. An Ottoman historian Mr. Tursun wrote that he cited that couplet.

The spider spins his web in the Palace of the Caesars An owl hoots in the towers of Afrasiyab.

Of course, the traveler guides of the 19th century, especially Greek ones invented some lies saying “There were so many dead bodies in the Hagia Sophia that Conqueror had to go in on his horse and then, his horse kicked and broke off a piece from the columns in there. And the Sultan himself hit with his sword and cracked a column. And also he rubbed his bloody hands over there and left its mark.” they say much nonsense lies, all nonsense. An Ottoman ruler would never enter in a place used to worship with his horse. And he did not. There is no such thing.

Mehmed II, walking in the Hagia Sophia, he saw a soldier trying to pull out angrily the marble flooring. Hitting to the soldier with the back of his sword the Sultan asked him why he was tearing apart the flooring. He got angry hearing the answer “It’s the property of the infidels. I do it in the name of our religion.” Sultan Mehmed II shouted “Be content with the looting and captives. The buildings are mine.

The Hagia Sophia Museum

According to the Ottoman conquest tradition, he first recited the call to prayer and performed his gratitude prayers. It is said that after finishing his prayers his mentor Akshamsaddin read the Angel’s Sura from the Koran and took him to a high rostrum to speak. It was a tradition of the Ottomans to convert the biggest religious buildings of the city into a mosque after the conquest and perform the first Friday prayer there with the Sultan Mehmed II and they did the same in Istanbul.

The first Friday prayer was performed in Hagia Sophia that was converted into a mosque but Mehmed II did not change the name of the place to the “Fatih Mosque” as expected for the tradition, and the name “Hagia Sophia” survived until today.

The mosaic of Virgin Mary

He did not pull out the mosaics and drawings on the walls of the Hagia Sophia but covered them with plaster. Yet, it was interesting that he did not cover the mosaic of Virgin Mary which was located at one of the semi-domes. The mosaic we mentioned stayed in exactly the same way for years in the semi-dome. And then, it was covered with plaster probably in 16th century.

The virgin mary - Hagia Sophia

The Byzantine historian Ducas tells the agony he felt when he listened to the first call to prayer in the Hagia Sophia as “We really reached a vicious result. Our worshipping was not regarded as important at all compared to other nations due to our sins.”

The Grand Vizier Çandarlı Halil Pasha was thrown into this dungeon three days after the conquest.

Dungeons of the Seven Towers

He was executed on July the 10th 1453. His 120,000 ducat cash and all his worldly possessions were confiscated and transferred to the State treasury. Even mourning after him was prohibited. The sovereignty of the Çandarlı family, whose four members became grand viziers one after another, ended with the death of Halil Pasha. For many reasons, Mehmed II had doubts about him for a long time. The Sultan gained his real power only following his death.

On the one hand the Principalities Era has great success in establishing the big state in 100-150 years till Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror’s childhood and on the other hand it keeps the tension lines, fault lines that we may call the fruits of the disorder of the Principalities Era. After conquering Constantinople in 1453, just as the old Rome had turned into a Christian and new one before, Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror laid the foundations of the second new Rome, in other words a new Rome with a Muslim Emperor and took the title “Sultan-i Iklimi Rum” which means the “Roman Emperor”.

After the conquest Mehmed II the Conqueror ordered an Orthodox Patriarch to be elected according to the traditions. The priests, who stayed in the city, agreed on Gennadius II After the appointment ceremony, the Sultan called him in his presence and made compliments. Since the Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque, he appropriated him the Havariyun Church which later would be known the Fatih (The Conqueror) Mosque. On the warrant he gave to Patriarch Gennadius, Mehmed II the Conqueror stated that he could serve in there with his clerics without undergoing any harassment and free from taxes.

This way, Mehmed II was laying the foundations of the Empire that he wanted to establish under the tolerance denominator.

Mehmed II and Gennadius II

The patriarch (Orthodox Patriarch of the Phanar) Peter:
Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror was an open minded man. He had a great knowledge on theology and conquest. And he also knew that the eastern world thinks way different than the western one. He accepted the autonomy of the Eastern Church. And if he did not help, if the Ottoman State had not been a greater force, maybe this Eastern Church would be influenced or managed by the Pope.

In 1454, Mehmed II (the Conqueror) orders a palace to be built in Istanbul. Many of the buildings of the palace that would be known as the Old Palace were finished when Sultan Mehmed came to Istanbul in 1455 to spend the summer. The castle that is located in the Bayezid Square of today was constituted by covering buildings surrounding an inner patio with gardens and an outer wall.

The historian of the era Mr. Tursun tells us that this palace had a very well guarded harem, fine large wooden houses where Sultan and his servants lived, official court rooms and hunting grounds where you could find many wild animals. According to the documents the gardens were full of all kinds of exotic birds like ostriches and peacocks. After the construction of the new palace in other words the Topkapı Palace this place began to be known as “Saray-ı Atik” or the Old Palace.

Mehmed II carried out a conscious mixed population politics after the conquest. A new empire was being established. He brought Armenian merchants from the Central Anatolia. Or he did not accept people who were exiled from Konya region saying that they were very poor ones. We mean, he in a way designed carefully the city with elite people and we use the expression “conscious hybridity” for this project. We can easily say that a multi-linguistic, multi-ethnic and multi-religious population was established.

On the other hand, it was also important that this population was a wealthy one which contributed to the city’s liveliness. When Mehmed the Conqueror got hold of the city, the elder brother of Constantine XI had three sons, he taken them in to the court and educated them there. One of them later becomes Mesih Pasha, a man who was married to the daughter of Bayezid, who served two times as the Grand Vizier. If the events were a bit different, this man could very well be the next Byzantine Emperor. But he became an Ottoman Grand Vizier instead. This means that even a person who could very well be a Byzantine Emperor could ascend till the position of the Grand Vizier.

Beginning with Mahmud Pasha throughout 250 years 90 percent of the viziers and the grand viziers come from this origin. And you cannot think of a better way to win the heart of the Janissaries. You open the way for the top for all your subjects. We may say that Mehmed II the Conqueror was the founder of the “Enderun”. His father too makes an attempt but the real founder of the Enderun is Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. And this is a Palace School. They recruit Christian boys and settling them in the Turkish family houses to teach them Turkish and the main principles of Islam first and then, educate them in the schools equivalent to the high schools of today and finally the most successful ones enter in the Palace School, the “Enderun”.

The Christian Unity

While the Conqueror was reorganizing the capital of the Empire, the head of the Christian Unity, Pope Pius II both delivered a message to the Sultan and also called the Christian princes to a unity, strengthened his authority with a 100 page letter he wrote. He wanted to find a World Empire again in the spiritual leadership of the Papacy. Pius II sent a very interesting letter to Mehmed II the Conqueror. He said “I know that I am addressing a clever, logical and intellectual man. That’s why I want to bring arguments coming out from my religion and valid only for my religion to the Emperor Mehmed the Conqueror.”

The Pope said in his letter:
What you need to be the Emperor of the entire Christian world is only a couple drops of water. Meaning to be baptized and convert to the Christianity. If you do that, you could be the most renowned and powerful Prince of the world. We would declare you as the legal Emperor of the Greeks and the East.

The Pope and his letter

As you can see, the Pope was very optimistic. It means, you are the Conqueror of the second Rome and I am the leader of the genuine, the first Rome. If we join forces, we can rule the world. But with a single condition, you have to convert to the Christianity. Of course that was something unthinkable. Meanwhile, did Mehmed the Conqueror read the letter or not, did he write a reply or not. We do not know that. And at the other hand, the Conqueror was changing the destiny of Europe with the power he gained and the Pope was well aware of this. Mehmed II often accepted the Florentine merchant and spy Benedetto Dei in his presence.

The Peloponnese…

The Peloponnese

The first big step towards the conquest of the Europe. Mehmed II quickly got hold of the Peloponnese completely. Yet, he gave people right to keep on living under their communities. Thus, the Greek Orthodox Christianity continued to live in the Greek Peninsula. Mehmed II stopped by Athens on the return from the Peloponnese. Sultan admired the Acropolis. He felt compassion for the people. The annual tax of Athens was only a single golden coin. The Sultan, who knew Greek Mythology well, even read Homer’s Iliad from its original version probably looked across the Aegean coast towards Troy from the top of the Acropolis. Nobody knew what he had thought. They say he drove his horse towards the Acropolis and yelled,

O Athens, I took the revenge of the East from you!

The center of the Conqueror’s “the Single Empire, the single Religion and the single Ruler” idea was Istanbul. That is why he gave a great importance in the city’s improvement. Mehmed II ordered a new palace to be built at this hill that dominated the Bosphorus, the port and the Golden Horn. To be distinguished from the one that was built few years back they called it “Saray-i Cedid”, meaning the New Palace. Later on, due to its cannons meaning “top” in Turkish, turned towards the Sea of Marmara Sea it became to be known as Topkapi, the “Cannon-gate” Palace. For the Ottomans, palace was both the place where the Sultan lived and the buildings complex where the affairs of the state were managed.

The Topkapi Palace reflects both the power and the splendor in the center of the Empire and the modesty with its simple structure. The 592,000 square meters land that Mehmed II chose for this palace was the remains of the old Byzantine Palace called “Olive Grove” by people but this is a modest palace. It has a barracks atmosphere. It has the beautiful tiles, the beautiful gardens but the life in here is in fact very boring and troubling.

People work, do exercises, get educated, work again, get up early and it seems that they do not go to bed early in here. The entertainment is very seldom in this palace. After moving the throne from Edirne to Istanbul, he, of course, first, built the Topkapi Palace and the Fatih Mosque and the buildings complex. These two building complexes let us say, these two great building groups could be considered as the most striking and powerful reflections of the Ottoman Imperial identity of the era we mentioned.

Mehmed II who visited the complex he built, had asked a room for himself in the university. The scholars of the university discussed the matter and decided that they could not give a room to the Sultan. They said “Yes, you have built this university and granted it to us, yet we have rules, to have a room you have to be either a student or a scholar in the university. And you are neither of those.

Then, the Great Sultan asked, “What should I do?” The scholars replied “You have to pass an exam; there is no other way.” And Sultan Mehmed II took the exam. The Conqueror answered the questions and passed the tests and then, he had the right to have a room in the university that he had built. The room they gave to the Sultan was not different from an ordinary student room.

Sultan Mehmed II had become a foreseeing ruler who ensured the development of science and art, created the Ottoman enlightenment and a protector who created the Ottoman Renaissance. His descendants followed the route he had opened. He said “O scientists, come to my city from wherever you are. You’ll find laboratories ready here.” And he also said “O artists, come to Istanbul from wherever you are. Your workshops will be ready in here.

Because he aimed to gather the Turkish states and the principalities that entered in an interregnum period under a single flag, a single Turkish country and he needed an art, a literature and a science world to be able to do that. Only such a ruler could gather the science and the art world, the scientists and the artists from all over the world in Istanbul. And he did that.

History and geography were amongst the Conqueror’s favorite subjects. The famous map of Ptolemaios in the Marciana Library of Venice. The conqueror gave a special importance to this map. It is very interesting, Katip Çelebi, who is much known to us and has a work called “Mizan-ul Hak” which was also translated to English, says this in 17th century, “The madrasah programs used during the era of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror were very successful and generally rational sciences were studied there.

But during the periods of Sultans who followed him, he also criticizes Suleiman the Magnificent a little bit here, the rational sciences left their places to the recounted sciences. And the free scientific debate atmosphere of the madrasahs disappeared.” To say “I heard that there is such a debate, let the participants come and let me hear their arguments” requires a serious self-confidence.

Mehmed II was considering himself as a Renaissance ruler and not only with his words but also he tried to prove this with his action. He wanted to be the protector of the Renaissance scientists, authors and philosophers as western Renaissance rulers did.

Not a single lover came and burned the candle of reunion! Go on Avni and let it be you, who burns tonight!

Mehmed II was a poet; he was writing poems using the Avni (helper) pseudonym. There were almost a hundred poets around him. A regular salary was paid every month almost 30 poets. Mehmed II appreciated poets very much and protected them. Yet, he had no tolerance towards anyone who wrote poems for flattery.

An assassination occurred in 1478 in Florence. A member of the Medici family was killed as a result of a fight for power. The murderer Bandini had escaped to Istanbul. Upon the request of the Medici family the Conqueror immediately sent back Bandini saying “My country is not a shelter for the killers.” The killer was hanged at the window of the family palace in Florence. The painter Leonardo Da Vinci was amongst the crowd.

Uzun Hasan (Uzun means tall), the ruler of the Akkoyunlu Principality was the biggest supporter of the Pope and Venice in the East. The two Turkish rulers who wanted a complete dominance on the Anatolian territory confronted in 1473. Both armies suffered big losses. At the end, the Uzun Hasan lost both the war and his dominance on Anatolia and the European powers their hopes of eliminating Ottomans completely.

In 1480, the Conqueror sent a fleet consisting more than 100 ships to the South Italy shores for a siege. The Ottoman navy preferred the calm Otranto shores for the landing. Gedik Ahmed Pasha, the Admiral General was at the head of the fleet. On the morning of July the first, Ottoman forces landed on the shallow Otranto shores controlled by the Kingdom of Naples and captured the region in no time. The powerful castle of Otranto that was captured right after the landing became an Ottoman military base. Raids were organized to the nearby areas from here. Today, Otranto city still tries to keep alive the memories of the victims of the Ottoman landing. Almost every street’s name comes from a martyr.

Martire 1480 Italy

After the capture of Otranto rumours about the Sultan coming to Italy at the head of the army spread. The fear of the Turks so extreme that the Pope even thought of escaping to France. Shortly after, Gedik Ahmed Pasha returned to Rumelia planning to return to Otranto with a more powerful army. But he could never come back. When Gedik Ahmed Pasha reached Istanbul, Sultan Mehmed II was seriously ill.

On the winter of 1481 the health of Mehmed II the Conqueror got worst and he spent that winter quietly in his palace in Istanbul. He was mostly reading and chatting with poets and scientists. And at that period he had a guest, an Italian painter, Gentile Bellini. And Gentile Bellini had finished the paintings that the Sultan ordered right before the winter months when the Sultan Mehmed II got sick. The most famous portrait of the Conqueror is exhibited in London’s National Gallery.

Portrait of Mehmed the Conqueror

When spring arrived the Conqueror felt better enough to set off for a campaign. But even people who were closest to him didn’t know where this new campaign would be. He had said: “Even if one hair of my beard knew where this campaign will be, I would have shaved it completely”. Nobody knew where this great campaign would be. To the Mamluk (Mamluk Sultanate) lands, to Rhodes or to Italy? Maybe to leave Prince Cem as the single heir of the throne, he had planned a campaign on his other son Prince Bayezid. Nobody knew.

According to some historians, most probably his last campaign was to the Mamluks. Because being the biggest Islamic State of the era, being the protector or the ruler of the holy lands of Islam at that time, the Mamluks was an obstacle for his ideal, “The Great Ottoman Islamic Empire.” Without defeating the Mamluks, the Ottoman union wouldn’t be completed in that geography and his grandson would accomplish that.

He crossed to Uskudar on April 25th, Wednesday and the last campaign began. They set camp around Gebze. And on May the first he began having severe stomachaches. His physicians, beginning from Yakup Pasha, tried everything to heal the Sultan. But they couldn’t. And Mehmed the Conqueror died on May 3rd 1481 at the place called Hünkarçayırı (The Ruler’s Meadow). At the beginning of a campaign that nobody knew to where, he was just 49 years old.

When he heard about the death of the Conqueror, the Venetian Ambassador immediately wrote a letter and sent it to the Venetian Duchy with a captain. Duchy was in a meeting when the captain reached his palace. But the captain entered the meeting room excitingly, and said, “La grande Aquila e morta!“, “The Great Eagle is dead!” And The Duchy read the letter in excitement and ordered the bells of the big tower in San Marco Square to be rung. This bell rang on very special occasions. And this time its sound spread around Europe.

The Great Eagle was dead indeed…

When the news of the death of Mehmed the Conqueror spread around Europe entire Christian world rejoiced. There was sadness and chaos in one corner of the world and joy and hope in the other. Even the earthquakes occurred in the Mediterranean on May 3rd were linked to Mehmed the Conqueror’s death…

The death of Mehmed Khan, the Sultan of the sultans, the Ruler of the lands and the seas, the Conqueror of Constantinople, the shadow of the God Almighty on Earth had influenced the entire world like his life and actions did. He, as an Ottoman poet said centuries after, was a man who brought the spring with his joy and darkened the world with his grief.

The spring came when you smiled for a moment and the darkness of your grief covered everywhere like an eclipse…



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