The Ottoman Empire -- By: Anonymous
BSac 14:55 (July 1857) p. 556
The Ottoman Empire1
No spectacle, perhaps, combines more elements of grandeur and pathos, is more full of lofty and inextinguishable sadness, than the decline of a great nation; when the lights of its better days go out, one after another, the traditions of its glory become forgotten, corruption assumes the place of honor, and its pathway leads downward to humiliation and forgetfulness. The course of one such nation — the mightiest of the ancient, the most domineering and most tenacious of life — has been pourtrayed by the first historical genius of England, in pages which will be read as long as literature endures, or fallen greatness can excite sympathy or teach a lesson. The history of another nation, somewhat similar in its course, and, though of far less grandeur and importance, not to be forgotten in the review of modern achievements of peril, has not, until lately, received its share of attention.
On the 29th of May, 1453, the last of the Constantines fell beneath the ruins of the city which he could not defend, and Mohammed II. entered Constantinople in triumph. “The Conqueror gazed with satisfaction and wonder on the strange, though splendid appearance of the domes and palaces, so dissimilar from the style of Oriental architecture. In the Hippodrome or Atmeidan, his eye was attracted by the twisted column of three serpents; and, as a trial of his strength, he shattered, with his iron mace or battle-axe, the
BSac 14:55 (July 1857) p. 557
under-jaw of one of these monsters, which, in the eyes of the Turks, were the idols or talisman of the city. At the principal door of St. Sophia, he alighted from his horse and entered the dome; and such was his jealous regard for that monument of his glory, that, on observing a zealous Mussulman in the act of breaking the marble pavement, he admonished him with his scimitar, that, if the spoil and captives were granted to the soldiers, the public and private buildings had been reserved for the prince. By his command, the metropolis of the Eastern church was transformed into a mosque; the rich and portable instruments of superstition had been removed; the crosses were thrown down; and the walls, which were covered with images and mosaics, were washed, and purified, and restored to a state of naked simplicity. On the same day, or on the ensuing Friday, the muezzin, or crier, ascended the most lofty turret, and proclaimed the ezan, or public invitation, in the name of God and his prophet; the imam preached; and Mohammed the Second performed the namaz of prayer and thanksgiving at the great altar, where the Christian mysteries had so lately been celebrated before the last of the Cæsars. From St. Sophia, he...
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