Sophie (age 8) and Ellie (age 6) tell the story of the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. Constantinople was all that was left of the once mighty Roman Empire. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, 1500 years ago, the Eastern Roman Empire survived. Its capital was Constantinople. Over time though it became known as the Byzantine Empire. Constantinople was a might city. It had 500,000 people living there and huge walls to protect it.
Then came Islam. People who follow Islam are called Muslims. They conquered much of the Byzantine Empire. Other Christians came to help. This was called the Crusades. However, the Muslims defeated them too. Eventually, all that was left of the Byzantine Empire was Constantinople. By now Constantinople had lost most of its people. It only had 50,000 left in the city. However, it still had its mighty walls.
The Muslims were determined to conquer it. Its location made it difficult for people in Asia to attack Europe. The muslims who wanted to attack the city were called the Ottomans. They ruled what we now called Turkey.
They had a secret weapon. Massive cannon. The walls of Constantinople were not built when cannon existed.
The massive Ottoman army surrounded the city. Their cannon began firing. They blasted holes in the walls.
Then the Ottomans attacked. The Ottoman army actually had Christians fighting in it. They led the way. There were not enough Byzantines to defend all the holes in the walls and the gates. As the Ottomans breached the city gate the Byzantine Emperor tore off his robes, drew his sword and charged into battle.
His body was never found.
The city was captured. 30,000 people in the city were made into slaves. The Ottomans turned the largest Church into a Mosque. This was now their capital.
Europe was stunned. Now Constantinople was conquered it meant that the Ottomans could now attack Europe more easily.
However, there was one benefit for Europe. Constantinople had been a centre of learning. They knew of many things that the ancient Romans and Greeks had invented. As people fled Constantinople they took with them that knowledge. This caused a rebirth in science, art, literature and history in Europe. We call this Rebirth, the Renaissance.
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