Mankind: The Story of All of Us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall of Constantinople

Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today, it is called Istanbul. Strategically located on Bosphorus Strait, it now serves as the capital of Turkey.

In 1453, Constantinople reigns as the Eastern capital of the Christian world. For over 1,000 years it has been the largest city in Europe.

Constantinople comes under siege by the Ottoman Turks with an Islamic army 70,000 strong. Commanding them is Sultan Mehmet II, age 21. Highly intelligent, secretive, and obsessed, he has been dreaming about this battle since becoming Sultan at age 12.

Like the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan, the Turks are marauding nomads from the East. Centuries of migration, conversion, and conquest have made them the most feared army in the world.

Sultan Mehmet wants to make Constantinople his capital since it is a key strategic port, a bridge between Europe and the East. The city’s lifeblood is the trade of exotic goods: spices. Nutmeg from Indonesia is marked up 60,000 times its original price. One dried berry represents over two-thirds of the spice trade coming into Europe: pepper.

The Hagia Sophia is one of the most famous buildings in the world. It was built as a cathedral, then converted to a mosque after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Today it is a museum.

Over 500 tons of pepper arrives in Europe every year. It has become a status symbol in European society, valuable enough to be used as currency. A few ounces cost as much as an average monthly salary.

Constantinople is rich. The greatest symbol of this wealth is an architectural gem of epic proportions — mankind’s then largest cathedral — St. Sophia. A marvel of engineering, the great circular dome soars 180 feet above the floor and stretches 100 feet across. Built just 300 years after the life of Christ, it is an icon of Christian power in the East.

 

Sultan Mehmet vows to conquer all of Europe for the Islamic Empire stating: “There must only be one empire, one faith, and one sovereignty in the world.” Mehmet’s big challenge: bringing down the walls of Constantinople — three walls, up to 100 feet high and four miles long. No one has ever defeated the walls of Constantinople.

Mehmet’s campaign to take Constantinople hinges on a new deadly tactic: continual artillery bombardment. The Turks use 68 cannons with teams of four, each with a specific task: cooling, cleaning, reloading, and firing. Working in shifts, Islamic warriors pound the city 24/7. Thousands of stone cannon balls traveling at 600 miles per hour are propelled into the walls.

The people in Constantinople have never experienced anything like a cannon bombardment. This non-stop artillery barrage ushers in a new era of military hardware.

Great defensive walls are no longer enough. This will change warfare forever. The outcome of this battle will impact Mankind on a global scale, igniting an age of discovery unparalleled in human history. After 53 days of round-the-clock bombardment the Turks break through and storm the city.

An eyewitness reports: “There were desperate wailings, cries and groans, everyone beating their breasts with their fists, tearing their hair and faces.”

The trade routes are now controlled by an empire hostile to the west, forcing Europe to find a different route to the East — by sea. This will change everything as explorers find new lands and peoples around the world.

Christian Constantinople becomes Islamic Istanbul. St Sophia—the greatest church—becomes the largest mosque in the world.