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The conquest of Constantinople

Date Published: 
Tuesday, 30 May, 2017
Summary: 

It is useful, in our comfortable complacency and general lack of any historical memory at all, and overarching concern to avoid “Islamophobia,” to recall what happened when the Muslims entered the great city.

Historian Steven Runciman notes that the Muslim soldiers “slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women, and children without discrimination. The blood ran in rivers down the steep streets from the heights of Petra toward the Golden Horn. But soon the lust for slaughter was assuaged. The soldiers realized that captives and precious objects would bring them greater profit.” (The Fall of Constantinople 1453, Cambridge University Press, 1965, p. 145.)

Some jihadists “made for the small but splendid churches by the walls, Saint George by the Charisian Gate, Saint John in Petra, and the lovely church of the monastery of the Holy Saviour in Chora, to strip them of their stores of plate and their vestments and everything else that could be torn from them. In the Chora they left the mosaics and frescoes, but they destroyed the icon of the Mother of God, the Hodigitria, the holiest picture in all Byzantium, painted, so men said, by Saint Luke himself. It had been taken there from its own church beside the Palace at the beginning of the siege, that its beneficient presence might be at hand to inspire the defenders on the walls. It was taken from its setting and hacked into four pieces.” (P. 146.)