Yıl 2020, Cilt 2 , Sayı , Sayfalar 197 - 199 2020-12-22

The Date of the Conquest of Constantinople: May 29, 1453?
İstanbul'un Fethinin Tarihi: 29 Mayıs 1453?


It is generally accepted that Mehmed II and his Ottoman armies conquered Constantinople on the morning of May 29, 1453, as it is stated in the quattrocento texts of many numerous eyewitnesses. Modern scholarship is in agreement. This piece questions the validity of this date by examining the primary sources.
II. Mehmed II ve Osmanlı ordusunun Konstantinopolis'i 29 Mayıs 1453 sabahında fethettiği genel olarak kabul edilir. Bu yazı, bu tarihlendirmeyi, birincil kaynaklar ışığında tartışmaya açıyor.
  • 1 Steven Runciman, The Fall of Constantinople 1453 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), xi. The siege has been masterfully portrayed in the six episodes of the recent Karga Production of the Netflix series Rise of Empires: Ottoman, under the skilled direction of Mr. Emre Şahin.
  • 2 Agostino Pertusi, La Caduta di Costantinopoli, vol. 1: Le Testimonianze dei Contemporanei (Verona: Fondazione Lorenzo Valla, 1976), 30.
  • 4 Pertusi, La Caduta di Costantinopoli, 156 (with the note in the apparatus criticus: “Maii codd. edd., sed legendum Iunii, id est 29 Maii”).
  • 5 For the recent biography of this fascinating personality, see Marios Philippides and Walter K. Hanak, Cardinal Isidore, c. 1390-1462: A Late Byzantine Scholar, Warlord, and Prelate (London: Routledge, 2018).
  • 6 For a discussion and analysis of Isidore’s letters, see Philippides and Hanak, Cardinal Isidore, 189–212.
  • 7 Philippides and Hanak, Cardinal Isidore, 201 (Latin text), 205 (translation). “inter haec quinquaginta et tres dies Turcus [...] obsidens nec quicquam perfecit [...] vigessimo itaque nono die mensis Maii proxime peracti aurora illuscente, solis etiam radiis nostros oppugnantibus, mari ac terra urbem invadentes Turci.”
  • 8 Philippides and Hanak, Cardinal Isidore, 209 (Latin text), 211–212 (translation). “instabamus usque ad quiqunquagesimum diem. In quanquagesimo vero die [...] urbs Constantinopolitana [...] capta est, die 29 Maii”
  • 9 Cardinal Isidore had a deep interest in astrology, prophecies, and matters of the occult, in general. Thus certain manuscripts of ancient works copied by his own hand survive and illustrate his interests; notable among them, in connection with astrology, is Pseudo-Ptolemy in Vat.gr.1698.
  • For his activities in this field, see Christos G. Patrinelis, “Ἕλληνες Κωδικογράφοι τῶν Χρόνων τῆς Ἀναγεννήσεως,” Ἐπετηρὶς τοῦ Μεσαιωνικοῦ Ἀρχείου 8/9 (1958/1959): 63–124; see also Philippides and Hanak, Cardinal Isidore, 11–12.
  • 10 Philippides and Hanak, Cardinal Isidore, 202 (Latin text), 208 (translation). “in Creta die sexta Iulii anno Domini M°CCCC°LIII°”
  • 11 Philippides and Hanak, Cardinal Isidore, 201 (Latin text), 205 (translation). Isidore omits any mention of astrology in his letter to the pope, which was written originally in Greek but translated by a humanist into Latin (as Isidore never achieved fluency in Latin) nine days after he had written his letter to Cardinal Bessarion; see Philippides and Hanak, Cardinal Isidore, 210: “datum Candiae, die XV Iulii LIIIo .”
  • “[...] ut Martem potentissium ac diem et horam eius accuratissime observavit [sc. Mehmed II]; habet enim diligentissimos astrologos Persas, quorum consiliis ac iudicio fretus summa queque ac maxima sese consecuturum sperat.”
  • 12 On the Sufi, see: H.-J. Kissling, “Aq Şems ed-Din, ein türkischer Heiliger aus der Endzeit von Byzanz,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift 44 (1951): 322–333; Philippides and Hanak, The Siege and Fall of Constantinople, 88–89.
  • 13 This letter survives in one manuscript, Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Arşivi 5584 and published by Halil Inalcık, Fatih Devri Üzerinde Tetkikler ve Vesikalar (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1954); İnalcık, “Istanbul: An Islamic City,” in Essays in Ottoman History (Istanbul: Eren, 1998), 249–271.
  • In an earlier period, Murad II had also consulted astrologers and occultists to discover a favorable date for launching his general assault upon Constantinople; see the narrative of the eyewitness John Kananos in Andrea Massimo Cuomo, Ioannis Canani de Constantinopolitana Obsidione Relatio: A Critical Edition, with English Translation, Introduction, and Notes of John Kananos’ Account of the Siege of Constantinople in 1422 (Boston: De Gruyter, 2016), 21–23.
  • 14 Agostino Pertusi, La Caduta di Costantinopoli, 60. This letter was probably dictated in Greek and translated into Latin, as the incipit indicates: “epistola composita per ser pasium Bertipalia [Pasio Bertipaglia] notarium ad instantiam reverendisimi domini domini Isidori cardinali Sabinensis.”
  • “O diem infelicem, si fas est infelicem dici diem qua natalitia Santae Theodosiae virginis et martiris colerentur, festus quidem haut quaquam dies, verum infesta semper et christiano nomini perpetuo memoranda tantae cladis acceptae memoria praeteriti mensis Junii quarto Kalendas.” My translation, for clarity’s sake, is ad sensum and not ad verbum.
  • Santa Theodosia’s cult was celebrated in a large church, which still survives in its modern form as the beautiful Gül Camii near the Aya Kapı in the modern district of Fatih in Istanbul. For this mosque and the legends and folktales attached to it, see Philippides and Hanak, The Siege and Fall of Constantinople, 265–288.
  • 15 George V. Coyne, Michael A. Hoskin, and Olef Pedersen, eds., Gregorian Reform of the Calendar: Proceedings of the Vatican Conference to Commemorate its 400th Anniversary, 1582–1982 (Vatican City: Pontificia Academia Scientiarum, 1983).
  • 16 Barbaro’s important passage is cited, with English translation and brief comment, in Philippides and Hanak, The Siege and Fall of Constantinople, 226–227. For a discussion of all the “omens” that predicted the fall of the city during the siege, see 214–231. This lunar eclipse is hauntingly portrayed in the fifth episode of the aforementioned Netflix series, entitled “Ancient Prophecies.”
  • 17 Steven Runciman had seen this error in Barbaro: “[...] the eclipse of the moon [...] is two days out”; see Runciman, Fall of Constantinople, 196; elsewhere he correctly states that the moon was full on May 24 (Julian date); ibid., 121. See the catalogue of lunar eclipses compiled by NASA, eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov.
  • 18 For Nestor-Iskander’s Slavonic text, with English translation, see Walter K. Hanak and Marios Philippides, NestorIskander: The Tale of Constantinople (of its Origin and Capture by the Turks in the Year 1453) (New Rochelle, NY: Aristide D. Caratzas, 1998), 80–81.
  • 19 Nestor-Iskander, 80: “тако н отшествiе Святаго Духа видҍ.”
  • 20 Previously the Greco-Byzantine version of the Julian calendar was used. This calendar was even more complicated in the Byzantine era, which cited September 1 as the beginning of the New Year and further counted years from the creation of the world, which had been calculated to have occurred in 5508 BC. This Julian “old style” calendar is still used in conservative religious circles, such as the monasteries of Mount Athos.
  • 21 Previously the Islamic lunar calendar based on Hegira was used.
  • 22 On the festivities and parades, see G. D. Brockett, “When Ottomans Become Turks: Commemorating the Conquest of Constantinople and Its Contribution to World History,” American Historical Review 119 (April 2014): 399–433.
Birincil Dil en
Konular Ortaçağ ve Rönesans Çalışmaları, Tarih
Bölüm Meclis

Kurum: University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Ülke: United States

Teşekkür I would like to thank Mr. Emir Alışık, who invited me to write this note. Mr. Alışık noted in our publication, Marios Philippides and Walter K. Hanak, The Siege and Fall of Constantinople in 1453: Historiography, Topography, and Military Studies (Farnham: Ashgate 2011), 266, no. 208, that we alluded in passing to the problem addressed here and asked me to expand on our brief comments in the footnote of SFC.

Başvuru Tarihi : 8 Eylül 2020
Kabul Tarihi : 30 Temmuz 2021
Yayımlanma Tarihi : 22 Aralık 2020

Chicago Phılıppıdes, M . "The Date of the Conquest of Constantinople: May 29, 1453?". YILLIK: Annual of Istanbul Studies 2 (2020 ): 197-199