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The History of the Church 138 The Fall of Constantinople We will never know the gender of the angels with any certainty. A long debate carried on by Orthodox theologians, in hopes of at last obtaining a definitive response to the question, was interrupted by the fall of the city where they were holding their discussions. The capture of Constantinople on May 29, 1453, was in reality the fall of a ghost town. TheTurks already held dominion over Asia Minor and the Balkans, having established their capital in Adrianopolis, which they renamed Edirne. From there, Mehmed II launched his assault against the isolated and emptied city that could only muster 5,000 arm-bearing men. In contrast, the Ottoman Turks mobilized a half million soldiers and the most powerful cannons of the day. Nonetheless, the Byzantines put up fierce resistance under the command of Constantine Dragases, the last Basileus, who was killed, sword in hand, at the breach of the Topkapi door. Paradoxically, this defeat would be a comfort to Roman Christendom, which was left as the single free Christian center until such day as Moscow would propose to revive the Byzantine heritage. The catastrophe had staggering repercussions that still echo today; Prince Bibescu, drawing on words of the poet Lord Byron who died in 1824 for the liberation of Orthodox Greece, reflected, “The fall of Constantinople is a personal tragedy that happened to us last week.” Panagiotis Zografos (painted in 1836) The Capture of Constantinople National Museum of History, Athens ...


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