MichaelCD - The Blog.

The thoughts of Michael Cadwallader. Coffee loving, history book reading, Cheshire man.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Blackest Day?

In a post titled 'Black Tuesday: The Last Day of the World', Robert Spencer states:

On Tuesday, May 29, 1453, the armies of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II entered Constantinople, breaking through the defenses of a vastly outnumbered and indomitably courageous Byzantine force. Historian Steven Runciman notes what happened next: 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.)

It has come to be known as Black Tuesday, the Last Day of the World.

Obviously Spencer, who writes consistently about Islamism, is trying to draw an analogy between the Byzantines and our present situation. But the question is, was it really the blackest day in European history? Not in my opinion.

It's true that from 1453 to the 19th century the Turks menaced Eastern Europe. And, if Vienna would have fallen during the siege, then that truly would have been, Europe's darkest hour. As it turned out, that was the high water mark of the Ottoman Empire, which was seriously in decline by the time of the Crimean war.

Lepanto, was also a major turning point. The Turks would have had mastery of the Mediterranean, which would have been equally as disastrous for Western Civilisation. But, it was the events of 29th May 1453 that led to that defeat. And the events of that day, also led to what in my opinion was the greatest era in 'our' history.

Because of that day, the West now longer had a reliable supply of spices from India.Byzantiumum and the Italian Republics had supplied the West during the Medieval era. But, that route was completely severed by 1453. So, if you add that to the vision and greatness of Prince Henry the Navigator, and finally, the reintroduction of the study of geography, the result is this and this. And, by Lepanto in 1571, the result of this was a Spanish navy that was (despite the Armada) powerful enough to crush the Turks.

So yes, the 29th of May 1453 was a bad day for Christendom. But in hindsight, paradoxically, it was also a great day for the West. And that's the beauty of history.


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