вторник, 30 июня 2020 г.

News update 01/07/2020 (236)

In the early morning of May 29, 1453, the pre-dawn silence over the Bosphorus was broken by drumming and the roar of cannons. The besiegers rushed to storm the ancient Constantinople - the capital of the once powerful Byzantine Empire. The city heroically defended itself from the hordes of the Ottoman Turks for the second month. Their Sultan Mehmed P, known as the "Conqueror", vowed to crush the last stronghold of the "infidels" in the East.

The majestic walls of the city proved to be a poor defense. The 100,000-strong Ottoman army was opposed by about 7,000 people, half of whom were Venetians and Genoese, who defended not so much the city on the Bosphorus as their trade profits associated with it. Even during the days of the siege, merchants-competitors found time for internecine strife - the Genoese secretly sold military secrets to the besiegers. Western Europe never sent the promised aid. Constantinople was doomed. Through a gap in the wall, the Turks broke into the city. Emperor Constantine died in battle, Christian soldiers were partly killed, partly taken prisoner. Only a few managed to escape on Italian ships.

Mehmed the Conqueror rode into Constantinople on a white horse. The city was rebuilt. The dome of Hagia Sophia now crowned the Turkish crescent, and instead of Christian banners over the Bosphorus, the green banner of the Prophet Muhammad was raised. Under the new name of Istanbul (in European - Istanbul), the city became the capital of the Turkish state.

The formidable empire of the Ottoman Turks did not arise from scratch. Militant nomads have long lived in Asia Minor, information about them reached Europe from the time of the Crusades. Thanks to the efforts of church preachers, the Europeans formed an idea of ​​them as barbarians, impudent robbers, enemies of Christianity, with whom there can be no peace. However, the Turks knew how to be a religiously tolerant and accommodating people. The "cruel barbarian" Mehmed knew six languages, was interested in the sciences and arts, and willingly invited educated Europeans to his place. The Byzantines and Italians, despite numerous conflicts, tried to maintain mutually beneficial relations with the Turks. In a word, the Turks could be both enemies and friends for Christians, and no one could predict who they would be tomorrow.

In the 13th century, after the Mongol invasion, the Turkish prince Osman Bey gathered the Turks under his banner and created a combat-ready army. The Turks - now they began to be called "Ottomans" by the name of the leader - were strong, first of all, by unexpected swift raids of 150,000 cavalry, consisting of service people - sipahs. With this cavalry they conquered Asia Minor from Byzantium. At the beginning of the XIV century. the Ottomans go to the Mediterranean; using the experience of the Greeks, they are building a fleet. From now on, the islands of the Greek archipelago and merchant ships become their victims. The Turks did not pay attention to the pathetic attempts of the Venetians, the Knights Hospitallers and the Pope of Rome to organize a crusade: after all, each of the "allies" pursued its own interests, bargaining with each other and even with the enemy. Meanwhile, the Turks began the conquest of the Balkan Peninsula.

The Balkans were actually conquered by the hands of the Balkan peoples themselves. From the captured boys and youths, converted to Islam and trained in military affairs, the Turks created infantry - Janissaries (from the Turkish yeni ceri - "new army"). Sultan Murad I crossed the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles with this elite army, bound by strict discipline, and in 1362 took Adrianople and turned it into his capital. Serbia and Bulgaria, weakened by feudal strife, became easy prey for the conquerors. The Bulgarian cities of Sofia and Tarnovo fell. On June 15, 1389, on the day of St. Vitus, on the Kosovo field, the Turkish army met with the army of the Serbs. The Slavs fought bravely, the Serbian knight Milos Obilich made his way into the enemy camp and stabbed the Sultan to death with a sword. But there was no unity in the Christian army, noble military leaders competed with each other, and the Serbs were defeated. Many soldiers fell in the battle, the Serbian prince Lazar was captured. St. Vitus Day, "Vidovdan", has become a day of mourning for the Serbs. After the fall of Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire was formed, uniting European and Asian Turkey - Rumelia and Anatolia.