Mehmed II

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Image:20pxOttomanicon.png Mehmed II
Ottoman Period
Image:Gentile Bellini 003.jpg
Preceded by:
Murad II</br>Murad II
Ottoman Sultan
1444–46</br>1451–81
Succeeded by:
Murad II</br>Bayezid II

Mehmed II (also known as el-Fatih (الفاتح), "the Conqueror", in Ottoman Turkish, or, in modern Turkish, Fatih Sultan Mehmet) (March 30, 1432May 3, 1481) (Ottoman Turkish: محمد ثانى Meḥmed-i sānī) was first the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire for a short time from 1444 to 1446, and later from 1451 to 1481. At the age of 21, he conquered Constantinople, bringing an end to the medieval Greek Byzantine Empire. From this point onward, he claimed the title of Caesar in addition to his other titles.

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[edit] Early reign

Mehmed II was born in Edirne(Greek: Adrianoupolis), then the capital city of the Ottoman state, on March 30, 1432. His father was Sultan Murad II (1421–51) and his mother Huma Hatun was a daughter of Abd'Allah of Hum, Huma meaning a girl/woman from Hum. When Mehmed II was 11 years old he was sent to Amasya to govern and thus gain experience, as per the custom of Ottoman rulers before his time. After Murad II made peace with the Karaman Emirate in Anatolia in August 1444, he resigned the throne to his 12-year-old son Mehmed II.

During his first reign, Mehmed II asked his father Murad II to reclaim the throne in anticipation of the Battle of Varna, but Murad II refused. Enraged at his father, who had long since retired to a contemplative life in southwestern Anatolia, Mehmed II wrote: "If you are the Sultan, come and lead your armies. If I am the Sultan I hereby order you to come and lead my armies." It was upon this letter that Murad II led the Ottoman army in the Battle of Varna in 1444. It is said Murad II's return was forced by Chandarli Khalil Pasha, the grand vizier of the time, who was not fond of Mehmed II's rule, since Mehmed II's teacher was influential on him and did not like Chandarli. Chandarli was later executed by Mehmed II during the siege of Constantinople on the grounds that he had been bribed by or had somehow helped the defenders.

[edit] Conquest of the Byzantine Empire

In 1451 Mehmed II reclaimed the throne upon his father's death. Two years later he brought an end to the Byzantine Empire by capturing its capital during the Siege of Constantinople. After this conquest, he conquered the Despotate of Morea in the Peloponnese. This last vestige of Byzantine rule was absorbed by 1461. The conquest of Constantinople bestowed immense glory and prestige on the country- the Ottoman state began to be recognized as an Empire for the first time.

Some modern scholars believe that the following tale is merely one of a long series of attempts to portray Muslims as morally inferior, and point to the story of Saint Pelagius as its probable inspiration.<ref>Andrews, Walter G., Mehmet Kalpaklı (2005). The Age of Beloveds: Love and the Beloved in Early Modern Ottoman and European Culture and Society. Duke University Press, 2. ISBN 0-8223-3424-0.</ref> Steven Runciman recounts that during the siege of Constantinople Mehmed II promised his men "the women and boys of the city." Upon its conquest, he ordered the 14-year-old son of the Grand Duke Loukas Notaras be brought to him for his personal pleasure. When the father refused to deliver his son to such a fate he had them both decapitated on the spot.<ref>Runciman, Steven (1990). The Fall of Constantinople, 1453. Cambridge University Press, 150–153. ISBN 0-521-39832-0.</ref>. This story was originally recorded by Doukas, a Byzantine Greek living in Constantinople at the time of the fall of the city and does not appear in accounts by other Greeks who witnessed the conquest. However, Doukas is frequently hostile towards Notaras.

Other explanations for this alleged departure from Mehmed II's nominal amnesty were that Loukas Notaras, a treasury official, had attempted to ingratiate himself with Mehmed II by retaining money from the Byzantine treasury as a gift for the Sultan. Mehmed II was neither impressed nor grateful, instead suggesting it should have been used for the defense of the city and viewed it as treason.

After the Fall of Constantinople, Mehmed claimed the title of Roman Emperor, since Byzantium was the nominal succesor of the Roman Empire after the transfer of the capital from Rome to Costantinople in 330 AD. However, at the same time there was the Holy Roman Empire in Western Europe. This emperor, Frederick III, traced his titular lineage from Charlemagne who obtained the title of Roman Emperor when he was crowned by Pope Leo III in 800.

Reference is made to the prospective conquest of Constantinople in an authentic hadith, attributed to the Prophet Mohammed. "Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will that leader be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!" <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Conquests in Asia

The conquest of Constantinople allowed Mehmed II to turn his attention to Anatolia. Mehmed II tried to create a single political entity in Anatolia by capturing Turkish states called Beyliks and the Greek Empire of Trebizond in northeastern Anatolia and allied himself with the Golden Horde in the Crimea. These conquests allowed him to push further into Europe.

[edit] Conquests in Europe

With Anatolia secure and Constantinople as his capital, Mehmed II advanced into Europe. Mehmed II thought of himself as the heir to the Roman Empire and, as a result, adopted the title "Kayser-i-Rûm" (Roman Caesar) and invaded Italy in 1480. The intent of his invasion was to capture Rome and reunite the Roman Empire for the first time since 751, and, at first, looked like he might be able to do it with the easy capture of Otranto in 1480. However, a rebellion led by a Albanian named George Kastrioti Skanderbeg in Albania between 1443 and 1468 and later in 1480 cut into his military links, allowing a massive force led by Pope Sixtus IV (1471–84) to defeat and evict his army in 1481. He led successful campaigns against small kingdoms in the Balkans. Mehmed II advanced toward Eastern Europe as far as Belgrade, and attempted to conquer the city from John Hunyadi at the Siege of Belgrade in 1456. He also came into conflict with his former vassal, Prince Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia in 1462 at the Night Attack. In 1475, the Ottomans suffered a defeat at the hands of Stephen the Great (1457–1504) of Moldavia at the Battle of Vaslui. His conquests led to the increase of the empire.

[edit] Administrative actions

Mehmed II amalgamated the old Byzantine administration into the Ottoman state, as he gathered Italian artists, humanists and Greek scholars at his court, kept the Byzantine Church functioning, ordered the patriarch to translate the Christian faith into Turkish and called Gentile Bellini from Venice to paint his portrait. He was extremely serious about his efforts to continue the Roman Empire, with him as its Caesar, and came closer than most people realize to capturing Rome and conquering Italy. Mehmed II also tried to get Muslim scientists and artists to his court in Constantinople, started a University, built mosques e.g. the Fatih Mosque, waterways, and the Topkapi Palace.

Mehmed II's reign is also well-known for the tolerance with which he treated his subjects, especially among the conquered Byzantines, which was very unusual for Europe in the middle ages. Within the conquered city he established a millet or an autonomous religious community, and he appointed the former Patriarch as essentially governor of the city. However, his authority extended only to the Orthodox Christians of the city, and this excluded the Genoese and Venetian settlements in the suburbs, and excluded the coming Muslim and Jewish settlers entirely. This method allowed for an indirect rule of the Christian Byzantines and allowed the occupants to feel relatively autonomous even as Mehmed II began the Turkish remodeling of the city, eventually turning it into the Turkish capital, which it remained until the 1920s.


[edit] Mehmed and Justice

Mehmed II is also recognized as the first Sultan to codify criminal and constitutional law long before Suleiman the Magnificent (also "the Lawmaker" or "Kanuni") and he thus established the classical image of the autocratic Ottoman sultan (padishah). After the fall of Constantinople, he founded many universities and colleges in the city, some of which are still active.

It is claimed that Mehmed II spoke six languages when he was 21 years old (the age at which he conquered Constantinople)<ref>Norwich, John Julius (1995). Byzantium:The Decline and Fall. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 413–416. ISBN 0-679-41650-1.</ref>, and early Ottoman historians claimed that the prophet of Islam praised him with the quote "They will conquer Kostantinaya (Constantinople). Hail to the prince and the army to whom that good fortune will be given."<ref>Babinger, Franz (1978). Mehmed the Conqueror and his Time. Princeton University Press, 85. ISBN 0-691-01078-1.</ref>

Mehmed II's tomb is located at Fatih Mosque in Istanbul; the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge is also named after him.

[edit] See also

[edit] External Links

[edit] References

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