.9. The fall of Constantinople

Constantinople fell to Sultan Mehmed II on May 29, 1453 following a suffocating two-month siege. The fall of Constantinople was to have a number of consequences. Firstly, Europe was to feel the threat posed by Ottoman expansionism for the first time. This sense of fear was to lead to a number of population movements, while the Balkan peoples, who had already been conquered by the Ottomans, suffered enormous losses. On a less dark note, the Greeks, whom the crusaders had split into fragmented communities, were now united within a single empire again, and trade passed into Greek hands once more.

Although the Fall of Constantinople naturally led to the dissolution of the Byzantine state and the emergence of a new empire under the Ottomans, Byzantine civilization adapted to its new circumstances and continued to thrive. Rallying around the Orthodox Church, it remained the focal point of the Orthodox world and saw the Greeks and their culture through to the establishment of the modern Greek state.

The grief from the loss of Constantinople remained unceasing for centuries. Folksongs lamenting the fall of the City are recorded from as early as the 15th century, while Constantine Palaiologos, the last Byzantine Emperor, assumed legendary status and became the central hero in a number of tales, the most popular of which was that of the king turned into marble who would one day return to lay claim to his throne.