At the time, and for centuries, Constantinople was a symbol of unchallenged power and glory. It was the seat of power of the mighty Holy Roman Emperor which consisted of a thriving seaport connecting Asia through the Bosphorus and Europe via the “Golden Horn”.
At the age of 21, Sultan Mehmet, was acutely aware of the geo-political, historical and cultural importance of gaining a stronghold in Constantinople. Constantinople, boasted of Christianity’s second most revered Holy Site, the 6th century marvel, Hagia Sophia; the jewel of Constantinople. Eventually, the loss of this city and the beloved Hagia Sophia to the Muslims, would be a major blow to Christian Europe.
Situated on the crossroads of culture and civilization, Constantinople was a city protected by water on two sides and the grand, impenetrable Theodosian Walls built in the 5th century, on the third side. The city had stood the test of time as the ambitions of many conquerors seeking power and glory shattered outside its formidable walls. But Mehmet’s excellent strategy and planning from the moment he stepped in the shoes of a Sultan, up until he finally conquered the city, stood him apart from those before him.
Mehmet’s ingenious war strategy
- Mehmet started preparations for the conquest, immediately after taking the throne. He struck strategic alliances with the Venetians and the Genoese, which was a key step towards the grand conquest.
- Mehmet diffused a network of spies to provide valuable insights on the preparations within Constantinople. Mehmet was well-informed about the lack of manpower, declining Roman influence in the region, internal conflicts and a dwindling treasury.
- He announced an unnamed prize for the best engineers, blacksmiths, cannon makers in his kingdom and abroad to come forward with a plan to breach the infamous Theodosian walls.
- He took advantage of the situation and captured the surrounding areas of Constantinople to further enfeeble the hopes of the defenders within.
- He built a fortress on the route between Europe and Constantinople, helping him to intercept the correspondence and occasional supplies between the Byzantines and the Pope.
- He commissioned a Hungarian cannon maker, who built the deadliest cannon the world had ever witnessed, targeting the “invincible” His military and naval fleets caused significant disruptions in supplies to the city.