Volume III - Church History

Fifteenth Century

The Fall of Byzantium

On May 29, 1453, the Ottoman Turks, under their sultan Mohammed II (or Mehmet; r. 1451–1481), captured the city of Constantinople after a furious siege of six weeks. Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque, and the city eventually became known as Istanbul. This marked the tragic end of the Roman/Byzantine Empire—an empire that had lasted almost 1500 years.

The Ottomans went on to completely subjugate Serbia in 1459, incorporating it directly into their realm. The same happened with Greece in 1459–1460, and Bosnia in 1463. Moldavia managed to resist Ottoman encroachment during the long and illustrious rule of Stephen the Great (r. 1457–1504), but after his death his realm, and the other &rldquo;Transdanubian Provinces” of Wallachia and Transylvania (regions in modern-day Romania), all became vassal states of the Turks. And Syria, Palestine, and Egypt were taken by the Ottomans from the decaying Arabian Mamluk Dynasty by 1520. From then on, for nearly 400 years the Ottoman Turks would hold sway over the Orthodox Christians in almost all the lands of the former East Roman (Byzantine) Empire.