Mehmed II

7th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (r. 1444–1446, 1451–1481)

Mehmed the Conqueror (30 March 1432 – 3 May 1481), or Mehmed II was an Ottoman Turkish sultan who ruled first for a short time from August 1444 to September 1446, and later from February 1451 to May 1481. At the age of 21, he conquered Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) and brought an end to the Eastern Roman Empire. Mehmed continued his conquests in Anatolia with its reunification and in Southeast Europe as far west as Bosnia, Thanks to him, the Bosnians became Muslims. Mehmed, introduced his head in Constantinople after he killed Vlad the Impaler. Mehmed is considered a hero in modern-day Turkey and parts of the wider Muslim world. Among other things, Istanbul's Fatih district, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and Fatih Mosque are named after him.

Portrait of Mehmed the Conqueror made by Italian painter Gentile Bellini in 1479

Quotes

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  • True art is to create a magnificent city and fill the hearts of its people with happiness.
(From his introduction to the Fatih Mosque Foundation Charter)


  • Tell to your emperor that where my power has reached, not even his dreams can![1]
(Mehmed's response to the Byzantine ambassador while Constantinople were being besieged)


  • We are not afraid of the owl, we are sometimes hawks.[2]


  • O, Constantinople! It's either I who'll take you, or you![3]
(During the conquest of Constantinople)


(When he said that the ships would pass by land)


  • We conquer hearts, not lands.[5]


  • If even a single strand of hair in my beard were to learn a secret of mine, I would cut it from the root.[6]


  • One night, I shall add your kingdom to my empire.[7]


  • If you cut even a branch out of my forests, I'd cut your head off![8]


  • To turn away from the enemy is cowardice. Misfortune is the fate of the enemy.[9]
(When he learned that the Crusaders had come toward him)


  • The Christian land has lost its sword and shields.[10]
(In referral to the death of Skanderbeg, who led a rebellion against the Ottomans)


  • I declare to the whole world, the Bosnians are under protection. No one can disturb these people nor their churches, nor harm them. Nobody in the world will touch these people and not harm them.[11]


  • We, the Turks, are faithful Muslims.[12]


  • Just as there is one sun in the sky, ideally there should be only one state and religion in the world.[13]


  • If you are the sultan, be at the head of our army in this difficult day for our state. However, if I am the sultan, I order you to come and command my armies immediately!
(From the letter in which he called his father to the war that broke out after his father, Sultan Murad II, left the throne to him and retreated to Manisa. He was only 12 years old at this time.)


  • Even I accepted that the rituals and rituals of the people of Galata should continue in the same manner as they have always been.[14]


  • Let the Genoese merchants travel and trade freely. We will not take their children to join the Janissary corps nor will we ever use force against those who do not accept our religion.[15]


  • Cover the Christian mosaics with plaster so that the believers will not be disturbed. But do not destroy this masterpiece.
(To the architects who tried to remove the mosaics in Hagia Sophia)


  • I am astonished that the Italians treat me with hostility and incite the Greeks against me, even though we are of the same origin as the Italians and, like them, I have the right to avenge the blood of Hector on the Greeks.[16]


  • These troubles are paved in the way of Allah. As we have the sword of Islam in our hands, if we were to not endure such hardship, it would not be worthy to call ourselves ghazis.[17]

Quotes about

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  • Would all of Europe soon go the way of northern India? By 1529, with the Turks besieging Vienna, this must have appeared a distinct possibility to some. In actual fact, the line then stabilized in northern Hungary and the Holy Roman Empire was preserved; but thereafter the Turks presented a constant danger and exerted a military pressure which could never be fully ignored. Even as late as 1683, they were again besieging Vienna. Almost as alarming, in many ways, was the expansion of Ottoman naval power. Like Kublai Khan in China, the Turks had developed a navy only in order to reduce a seagirt enemy fortress—in this case, Constantinople, which Sultan Mehmet blockaded with large galleys and hundreds of smaller craft to assist the assault of 1453. Thereafter, formidable galley fleets were used in operations across the Black Sea, in the southward push toward Syria and Egypt, and in a whole series of clashes with Venice for control of the Aegean islands, Rhodes, Crete, and Cyprus. For some decades of the early sixteenth century Ottoman sea power was kept at arm’s length by Venetian, Genoese, and Habsburg fleets; but by midcentury, Muslim naval forces were active all the way along the North African coast, were raiding ports in Italy, Spain, and the Balearics, and finally managed to take Cyprus in 1570–1571, before being checked at the battle of Lepanto.
    • Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500-2000 (1987)


  • The Ottoman Empire was, of course, much more than a military machine. A conquering elite (like the Manchus in China), the Ottomans had established a unity of official faith, culture, and language over an area greater than the Roman Empire, and over vast numbers of subject peoples. For centuries before 1500 the world of Islam had been culturally and technologically ahead of Europe. Its cities were large, well-lit, and drained, and some of them possessed universities and libraries and stunningly beautiful mosques. In mathematics, cartography, medicine, and many other aspects of science and industry—in mills, gun-casting, lighthouses, horsebreeding—the Muslims had enjoyed a lead. The Ottoman system of recruiting future janissaries from Christian youth in the Balkans had produced a dedicated, uniform corps of troops. Tolerance of other races had brought many a talented Greek, Jew, and Gentile into the sultan’s service—a Hungarian was Mehmet’s chief gun-caster in the Siege of Constantinople. Under a successful leader like Suleiman I, a strong bureaucracy supervised fourteen million subjects—this at a time when Spain had five million and England a mere two and a half million inhabitants. Constantinople in its heyday was bigger than any European city, possessing over 500,000 inhabitants in 1600.
    • Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500-2000 (1987)

References

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  1. Conquest and Doomsday
  2. Aşıkpaşoğlu History (Prepared: Atsız), 79
  3. Conquest and Doomsday
  4. Ahmet Akgündüz - Mehmed's tolerance
  5. Aşıkpaşoğlu History (Prepared: Atsız), 154
  6. Freely, John (The Grand Turk)
  7. Freely, John (The Grand Turk)
  8. Aşıkpaşaoğlu History
  9. Ahmet Akgündüz - Mehmed's tolerance
  10. Alphonse de Lamartine (Ottoman History)
  11. Alphonse de Lamartine (Ottoman History)
  12. Halil İnalcık, Devlet-i'Aliyye I.Cilt, Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları
  13. https://www.takvim.com.tr/yazi_dizisi/2012/02/24/ornegi-yok
  14. Ahmet Akyol - Fatih'in Hoşgörüsü
  15. Biz Osmanlıyız (Yavuz Bahadıroğlu)
  16. Meydan, Sinan (Son Truvalılar, s. 257)
  17. Halil İnalcık, Devlet-i'Aliyye I. Cilt, Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, s. 2