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(Greek Konstantinoupolis ; city of Constantine)

Capital, formerly of the Byzantine, now of the Ottoman, Empire.


Constantinople occupies one of the most beautiful and advantageous sites in the world, uniting as it does Europe with Asia and putting in communication the Black Sea and all Southern Russia with the greater part of Europe and Asia, and even with distant America. It is surrounded by water on all sides except the west, which is protected by walls. Its sea front is about eight miles in length. The air is generally pure, and the climate very temperate. Constantinople forms a special district (sanitary cordon) divided into three principal sections, two in Europe and one in Asia. The two European sections are Stamboul (ancient Byzantium), whose suburbs border the Sea of Marmora; Galata and Pera, more or less Europeanized quarters, with many villages rising in rows along the green hills that look down on the Golden Horn and the Bosporus. The Asiatic section is Scutari (Turk. Uskudar; Chrysopolis ) and Kadi-Keui (Chalcedon), with their extensive suburbs on the Asiatic shore of the Bosporus, the pleasant coasts of the Gulf of Nicomedia, and the Isles of the Princes. The city is divided into ten quarters or circles, each with its own municipality. The population is estimated (1908) at 1,200,000 inhabitants, four-fifths of whom are in Europe. There are about 600,000 Turks or other Mussulmans ; the remainder include, in order of numerical importance, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, and foreigners of various nationalities.

The Bosporus separates Europe from Asia ; it is about eighteen miles long and varies in width from about half a mile to a mile and a half. The Golden Horn separates Stamboul from Galata and Pera, extends inland for about four and one-half miles and ends abruptly at the Valley of the Sweet Waters beyond Eyoub. Two wooden bridges unite Galata with Stamboul, which latter section is mostly inhabited by Turks, and still preserves its ancient ramparts with their towers and gates.

The chief monuments of the city are: St. Sophia, the magnificent church built in the first half of the sixth century by the Emperor Justinian, now a mosque; about 2000 other mosques (e.g. the Suleimanieh, the Ahmedieh, the Bayazidieh, Mohammed's mosque, etc.); many ancient churches; beautiful fountains; imposing "turbés", or tombs of sultans and other great personages; the Seraskierat or war office, with its enormous tower; the Tcharshi, or bazaar (more than 10,000 merchants); Yedi-Kouleh or the Seven Towers Castle, where ambassadors and other men of note were often imprisoned ; the palace of the public debt ; the large post office; the old seraglio of the sultans. The imperial museum has a remarkable collection of sarcophagi and another of cuneiform texts. In the Galata section the Genoese Tower (over 150 feet) attracts attention, as in Pera the residences of the ambassadors. Beyond, on the European shore of the Bosporus are the large palaces of Dolma-Baghtché and Tcheragan, also the Yildiz Kiosk, the residence of the reigning sultan. On the Asiatic shore are the palace of Beylerbey, many beautiful mosques, and the great Mussulman cemetery at Scutari, the Selimieh barracks (largest in the world), the magnificent new school of medicine, quite close to which is the little port of Haïdar-Pasha, whence starts the railway line to Bagdad.


Constantinople was founded c. 658 B. C. by a Greek colony from Megara ; the site was then occupied by the Thracian village of Lygos. The chief of the Megarian expedition was Byzas, after whom the city was naturally called Byzantion (Lat. Byzantium). Despite its perfect situation, the colony did not prosper at first; it suffered much during the Medic wars, chiefly from the satraps of Darius and Xerxes. Later on, its control was disputed by Lacedæmonians and Athenians; for two years (341-339 B. C. ) it held out against Philip of Macedon. It succeeded in maintaining its independence even against victorious Rome, was granted the title and rights of an allied city, and its ambassadors were accorded at Rome the same honours as those given to allied kings; it enjoyed, moreover, all transit duties on the Bosporus. Cicero defended it in the Roman Senate, and put an end to the exactions of Piso. Later on, the Roman emperors entrusted the government of the city to prætors, at once civil and military magistrates, who maintained, however, the earlier democratic forms of government. For a while Vespasian placed it under the Governor of Mæsia. The city continued prosperous to the reign of Septimius Severus, when it sided with his rival, Pescennius Niger. After a siege of three years (193-196) Severus razed to the ground its walls and public monuments, and made it subject to Perinthus or Heraclea in Thrace. But he soon forgave this resistance, restored its former privileges, built there the baths of Zeuxippus, and began the hippodrome. It was devastated again by the soldiers of Gallienus in 262, but was rebuilt almost at once. In the long war between Constantine and Licinius (314-323) it embraced the fortunes of the latter, but, after his defeat at Chrysopolis (Scutari), submitted to the victor.


It has quite lately been established that Byzantium received its new name of Constantinople as early as the end of 324 (Centénaire de la société nationale des antiquaires de France, Paris, 1904, p. 281 sqq.). Nevertheless, the solemn inauguration of the new city did not occur until 11 May, 330; only after this date did the Court and Government settle permanently in the new capital. It was soon filled with sumptuous edifices like those of Rome ; like the latter it was situated on seven hills and divided into fourteen regions; in the matter of privileges also it was similar to Rome. Among the new public buildings were a senate house, forums, a capitol, circuses, porticoes, many churches (particularly that of the Holy Apostles destined to be the burial-place of the emperors). The most beautiful statues of antiquity were gathered from various parts of the empire to adorn its public places. In general the other cities of the Roman world were stripped to embellish the "New Rome ", destined henceforth to surpass them all in greatness and magnificence. Traces of Christianity do not appear here before the end of the second or the beginning of the third century. In 212 Tertullian commemorates the joy of the Christians at the defeat of Pescennius Niger ("Ad Scapulam", iii: "Cæcilius Capella in illo exitu Byzantino: Christiani gaudete"). About 190, an Antitrinitarian heretic, Theodotus the Currier, a native of Byzantium, was expelled from the Roman Church ("Phiosophoumena, VIII, xxxv; St. Epiphanius, "Adv. Hær.," liv). A probably reliable tradition makes the Byzantine Church a suffragan of Heraclea in Thrace at the beginning of the third century. In the fifth century we meet with a spurious document attributed to a certain Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre at the end of the third century, according to which the Church of Byzantium was founded by the Apostle St. Andrew, its first bishop being his disciple Stachys (cf. Romans 16:9 ). The intention of the forger is plain: in this way the Church of Rome is made inferior to that of Constantinople, St. Andrew having been chosen an Apostle by Jesus before his brother St. Peter, the founder of the Roman Church.

The first historically known Bishop of Byzantium is St. Metrophanes (306-314), though the see had perhaps been occupied during the third century. It was at first subject to the metropolitan authority of Heraclea, and remained so, at least canonically, until 381, when the Second Ecumenical Council (can. iii) gave the Bishop of Constantinople the first place after the Bishop of Rome . (For the exact meaning of this canon see Hefele, Hist. des Counciles, tr., Leclercq, Paris, 1908, II, 24-27.) Fuller details are given in Fischer, "De patriarcharum Constantinopolitanorum" catalogis (Leipzig, 1894); Schermann, "Prophetenund Apostellegenden nebst Jüngerkatalogen des Dorotheus und verwandter Texte" (Leipzig, 1907); Vailhé, "Origines de l'Eglise de Constantinople" in "Echos d'Orient" (Paris, 1907), 287-295.

Constantine had chosen this city as the new capital of the Roman Empire, but owing to his wars and the needs of the State, he rarely resided there. His successors were even more frequently absent. Constantius, Julian, Jovian, and Valens are found more habitually on the Danube or the Euphrates than on the Bosporus; they reside more regularly in Antioch than in New Rome. It was only under Theodosius the Great (379-95) that Constantinople assumed definitive rank as capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. However, its ambitious prelates did not wait so long to forecast the future greatness of the new city. In 339 Eusebius, and in 360 Eudoxius, quitted the great Sees of Nicomedia and Antioch for what was yet, canonically, a simple bishopric. Both the city and its inhabitants suffered much during the Arian controversies; the Arian heretics held possession of the Church for forty years. Honourable mention is due to two of its bishops : St. Alexander, whose resistance and prayers were crowned by the sudden death of Arius in Constantinople; and St. Paul the Confessor, a martyr for the Faith. We must add the eighty martyrs put to death simultaneously by Emperor Valens . St. Gregory of Nazianzus restored religious peace in this Church early in the reign of the aforesaid Theodosius. From the council of 381 may be said to date the ecclesiastical fortunes of Constantinople. Its bishop began thenceforth to claim and to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the six provinces of Thrace, hitherto subject to Heraclea, and soon over the twenty-two provinces of Asia Minor and Pontus, originally subject to Ephesus and Cæsarea. These rights of supremacy, though usurped, were acknowledged by the twenty-eighth canon of the Council of Chalcedon (451), from which time the bishops of Constantinople ruled over about 420 dioceses. In 431 began an almost continuous conflict with the Roman Church, that was crowned with success in 733, when an Iconoclast emperor withdrew from the jurisdiction of Rome all ecclesiastical Illyricum, i.e. more than a hundred dioceses. About the end of the ninth century, when Photius broke with the Roman Church, his own patriarchate included 624 dioceses (51 metropolitan sees, 51 exempt archbishoprics, and 522 suffragan bishoprics ). At that time the Roman Church certainly did not govern so great a number of sees. At this period, moreover, by its missionaries and its political influence, Constantinople attracted to Christianity the Slav nations, Serbs, Russians, Moravians, and Bulgars, and obtained in these northern lands a strong support against the Roman and Frankish West.

This ecclesiastical prosperity coincided with the political and municipal grandeur of the city. At the death of Theodosius the Great (395), when the Roman Empire was divided into two parts, Constantinople remained the centre and capital of the Eastern Empire. The Western Empire was destined soon to fall before the onslaughts of the barbarians. While its provinces were held by uncouth German tribes, Constantinople alone remained to represent Christian civilization and the greatness of the Roman name. Simultaneously the city was enlarged and embellished, particularly under Theodosius II, Justinian, Heraclius, and Basil the Macedonian. In 413 it reached its actual (1908) size on the right bank of the Golden Horn, under the city prefect, Anthemius. In 625 Heraclius added the famous quarter of Blachernæ with its venerated church of the Blessed Virgin, whose image was considered as the palladium of the city. The circumference of the walls was then (and still is) eleven or twelve miles. They were often rebuilt, especially under Tiberius III (c. 700), Anastasius II (714), Leo III (740), Nicephorus I (803), Theophilus (831), Michael VIII (1262), Andronicus II (1316), John VII (between 1431-1444). To protect the territory of Thrace from the invasions of the barbarians, Anastasius I, in the early part of the sixth century, built a great wall about fifty miles in length and about twenty feet in breadth from Silistria to the Lake of Derkoi. The ramparts of Constantinople had many gates: the principal one was the Golden Gate, the terminus of the Triumphal Way. On the Sea of Marmora numerous havens gave shelter to boats and barques; the present unique port of the Golden Horn had not yet been created. The strongly fortified Great Palace was a real town. Other splendid palaces adorned the city (Boucoleon, Chalké, Blachernæ); many graced the European and Asiatic suburbs. Hundreds of churches and monasteries, thousands of clerics, of monks, and nuns, attested an intensely religious life. The church of St. Sophia alone, the glory of Justinian's reign, owned 365 estates. How vast these domains were may be judged from a law of Heraclius (627) that established 625 clerics as the number necessary for the service of St. Sophia. The little church of Blachernæ had 75 endowed clerics. The names of at least 463 churches are known, 64 of which were dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. As early as 536, 68 superiors of local monasteries were present at a council in the city.

So many rich churches and monasteries, imperial or private palaces, not to speak of the luxury of the court and the great imperial dignitaries, naturally excited the covetousness of barbarian peoples. Constantinople had, therefore, to sustain numberless sieges; it was attacked in 378 by the Goths, by the Avars and Persians during the reign of Heraclius (610-41), by the Arabs during the reign of Constantine Pogonatus (668-85), and again by the Arabs under Moslemeh in 717; many times also by Bulgarians, Patzinaks, Russians, and Khazars. But the city always defied its besiegers, thanks to the solidity of its walls, often to the valour of its soldiers, but chiefly to the gold that it distributed in profusion. More grievous, perhaps, were the domestic conflicts that broke out in almost every new reign: the quarrels between the Blue and Green factions that clamoured for imperial favour in the races of the hippodrome; the conflagrations and earthquakes that sometimes levelled the city with the ground, e.g. the conflagration that broke out during the Nika revolt (532), on which occasion Justinian nearly lost his throne, more than 80,000 persons were killed, and fire destroyed the greater part of the city.


When Photius (d. 891) began the schism consummated by Michael Cærularius in 1054, the Byzantine Church had, since the death of Emperor Constantine in 337, been formally out of communion with the Roman Church during 248 years (55 years on account of Arianism, 11 on account of the condemnation of St. John Chrysostom , 35 on account of Zeno's Henoticon, 41 on account of Monothelism, 90 on account of Iconoclasm, 16 on account of the adulterous marriage of Constantine VI). On the whole, therefore, Constantinople had been out of communion with the Apostolic See one out of every two years. During this period nineteen patriarchs of Constantinople were open heretics, some of them quite famous, e.g. Eusebius of Nicomedia, Eudoxius, Macedonius, Nestorius, Acacius, Sergius, Pyrrhus. On the other hand must be mentioned several orthodox bishops, e.g. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. John Chrysostom, St. Flavian, St. Germanus, St. Tarasius, St. Methodius, and St. Ignatius, the opponent of Photius, whose virtues and literary fame compensate for the scandalous heterodoxy of their confrères. Nor can we omit illustrious monks and hymnographers like St.Romanus (Melodus), the greatest liturgical poet of the Byzantine Church, St. Maximus Confessor, St. Theodore, the noble abbot of the famous monastery of Studium (Stoudion), and many others who suffered martyrdom during the reigns of Iconoclast emperors.

Many councils were held in Constantinople, sometimes against heresies, sometimes in favour of them. Chief among these councils are: the ecumenical councils of 381, 553, 681, and 869; the Trullan Council (692), very important for the history of canonical legislation; the councils of 712 and 878 which ratified, respectively, Monothelism and the revolt of Photius against Rome. The schism of Photius was not at once followed by its worst consequences. The learned but ambitious patriarch was yet living when union with the Roman Church was re-established by Emperor Leo the Wise in 886; he obliged Photius to quit the patriarchal throne. From that time to the patriarchate of Michael Cærularius (1043-1049), in spite of the Filioque question, relations with the papacy were generally cordial. There were indeed, at the beginning of the tenth century, some difficulties caused by the emperor's fourth marriage, but in this conflict both the opposing patriarchs attempted to obtain from the Roman Church justification of their conduct. It was only under Michael Cærularius that the schismatic condition was finally confirmed, almost without any apparent motive and only through the bad will of this patriarch. After long and sharp disputes between the two Churches, the pope's legates, with the approbation of the imperial court, deposited, 15 July, 1054, on the altar of St. Sophia the Bull of excommunication against the patriarch. This act resulted in a popular revolution. Five days later Michael Cærularius replied by excommunicating the pope and the "azymite" Latins. The weak-minded and lewd emperor, Constantine Monomachus, dared not resist the all-powerful patriarch. It must be noted, however, that, unhappily, the idea of schism had long been familiar to the minds and hearts of the Greeks. The first period of the schism was coeval, especially at Constantinople, with a remarkable literary revival, inaugurated as early as the tenth century by the Macedonian dynasty and carried to its perfection under the Comneni and the Palæologi. This revival, unfortunately, did not affect favourably the morality of the population, being chiefly an unconscious return to models of antiquity, indeed a kind of neo- paganism. We owe to it, however, beautiful works in literature, architecture, and painting.


After the division of the Roman Empire in 395, Constantinople beheld the passage of many great dynasties: that of Theodosius, prolonged by adoption until 602; that of Heraclius, from 610 to 711, with intrusion of several usurpers; that of Leo the Isaurian, from 717 to 802; the Amorium dynasty from 820 to 867; that of Basil the Macedonian from 867 to 1057; finally from 1081 to the Frankish conquest in 1204, that of the Comneni and the Angeli. Succession, of course, was not always regular; even in the legitimate dynasties murder and cruelty, it is well known, often marked the accession of an emperor. Sometimes the streets of the capital were on the same day decked with flowers and drenched with blood. Nevertheless, till the middle of the eleventh century, the empire held its own in Asia Minor against the Arabs. The latter were now gradually supplanted by their coreligionists, the Turks, who, towards the end of that century, occupied most of the Asiatic peninsula and set up their capital at Nicæa, not far from Constantinople. Then began the Crusades, that great overflow of the West towards the East, started by the pious wish of all Christian Europe to deliver the Holy Sepulchre. Constantinople saw the crusaders for the first time in 1096. The contact between the two civilizations was not cordial; the Greeks gave generally to the crusaders an unkindly reception. They looked on them as enemies no less than the Turks, except that the crusaders, marching in the name of Christ and backed by all the strength of the West, appeared much more dangerous than the Mussulman Turks. On the other hand the Franks were only too ready to treat the Greeks as mere unbelievers, and, but for the opposition of the popes, would have begun the Crusades with the capture of Constantinople.

These sad quarrels and the fratricidal conflicts of Christian nations lasted nearly a century, until in 1182 Emperor Andronicus Comnenus, a ferocious tyrant, ordered a general massacre of the Latins in his capital. In 1190 the Greek patriarch, Dositheus, solemnly promised indulgences to any Greek who would murder a Latin. These facts, together with the selfish views of the Venetians and the domestic divisions of the Greeks, were enough to provoke a conflict. The Greek Emperor Alexius III had dethroned his brother and stripped his nephew of all rights (1195); the latter sought a shelter in the West (1201), and, together with his brother-in-law, Emperor Philip of Swabia, with Venice, and Boniface of Montferrat (chief of the projected crusade ), he turned aside the Fourth Crusade and directed the knights, first to the siege of Zara in Dalmatia, and afterwards to Constantinople. In spite of the formal veto of Innocent III , the crusaders laid siege to the city, which soon surrendered (17 July, 1203). Emperor Alexius III took flight. His brother, Isaac Angelus, was taken from prison and crowned emperor, with his son Alexius IV. The crusaders had hoped that the new emperors would keep their promises and reunite the two Churches; confident of this they wrote to Innocent III (August, 1203) to justify their behaviour. But the imperial promise was not kept; indeed, it could not be executed. In November, 1205, Alexius IV broke off all relations with the crusaders. Thereupon the hostility between the Greeks and the Latins was in almost daily evidence; brawls and conflagrations were continually taking place. Alexius IV and his father were dethroned and put to death (February, 1204) by a usurper who took the name of Alexius V Murtzuphlos. The latter made haste to put his capital in a state of defence, whereupon the crusaders began a second siege. After several onslaughts the city was taken (12 and 13 April, 1204) amid scenes of great cruelty; the slaughter was followed by an unbridled plunder of the countless treasures heaped up during so many centuries by the Byzantine emperors. The holy relics especially excited the covetousness of the Latin clerics ; Villehardouin asserts that there were but few cities in the West that received no sacred booty from this pillage. The official booty alone, according to the same historian, amounted to about eleven millions of dollars whose purchasing power was then of course much greater than at this day. The following 9 May, Baldwin, Count of Flanders, became emperor; Boniface of Montferrat obtained Thessalonica and Macedonia ; the knights, various feudal fees; Venice, the islands and those regions of the empire that assured her maritime supremacy. This new Latin Empire, organized according to feudal law, never took deep root. It was unable to hold its own against the Greeks (who had immediately created two empires in Asia, at Nicæa and at Trebizond, a despotate in Epirus and other small States) nor against the Bulgarians, Comans, and Serbs. After a much-disturbed existence it disappeared in 1261, and Constantinople became again the centre of Greek power with Michael Palæologus as emperor.


Together with the Latin Empire a Latin patriarchate had been established in 1204 at Constantinople, on which occasion the Greek patriarch took refuge at Nicæa. Notwithstanding the missions of Cardinal Benedict a Sancta Susanna (1205-1207) and Pelagius of Albano (1213), negotiations, and even persecutions, the Latins failed to induce all their Greek subjects to acknowledge the authority of the pope. In its best days the Latin patriarchate never numbered more than twenty-two archbishoprics and fifty-nine suffragan bishoprics, situated in Europe, in the islands, and even in Asia Minor. However, the Latin Patriarchate of Constantinople outlived the Latin Empire, after the fall of which the Latin patriarchs resided in Greece or in Italy. From 1302 the Holy See reserved to itself the appointment to this office and united with the patriarchate first the Archbishopric of Candia, later the Bishopric of Negropont; this was still the situation as late as 1463. A consistorial decree of 1497 reserved this high title to cardinals ; the rule, however, was subject to many exceptions. In modern times a contrary practice has prevailed; the Latin titular Patriarch of Constantinople ceases to bear this title only on entrance to the Sacred College. Of course, after the fall of the Latin or Frankish Empire in 1261, the Latin patriarch could not deal directly with the Catholics of Constantinople; they were committed to the care of patriarchal vicars, simple priests chosen usually among the superiors of religious orders resident in the city, Observantine or Conventual Franciscans , and Dominicans. This lasted until 1651, when the Latin patriarch was allowed by the sultan to have in Constantinople a patriarchal suffragan bishop, who was free to administer the diocese in the name of the patriarch. Finally, in 1772, the Holy See suppressed the office of patriarchal suffragan an appointed patriarchal vicars Apostolic, which system is yet in existence.


Having anticipated a little we may here take up the thread of our narrative. By the recovery of Constantinople in 1261, Michael Palæologus had drawn on himself the enmity of some Western princes, especially of Charles of Anjou, brother of St. Louis and heir to the rights of the aforesaid Latin emperors of Constantinople. To forestall the crusade with which he was threatened, the Greek emperor opened negotiations with the pope and accepted the union of the Churches. It was proclaimed at the Ecumenical Council of Lyons in 1274, and was confirmed at Constantinople by several particular councils held under the Greek patriarch, John Beccus , a sincere Catholic. It was not, however, accepted by the Greek people who remained always inimical to the West, and, on the emperor's death in 1282, it was rejected at a council held in the Blachernæ church. Thenceforth the rulers of Constantinople had to reckon with the ambitious claims of Charles of Valois, brother of Philip the Fair , and of other Latin pretenders to the imperial crown. The city itself was remit by the theological disputes of Barlaamites and Palamists arising from Hesychasm, also by the domestic dissensions of the imperial family during the reigns of the two Andronici, John Palæologus, and John Cantacuzene. With the aid of Turkish mercenaries John Cantacuzene (the hope of the Palamists) withstood the legitimate emperor and conquered the city.

The Byzantine Empire was now in face of its last and greatest peril. The smaller Greek Empire of Trebizond controlled since 1204 a part of its Asiatic provinces. The Fourth Crusade had caused almost all the islands and a great part of its possessions in Europe to fall into the hands of the Venetians, Genoese, Pisans, and local dynasts. It feared most, however, the new empire of the Osmanlis that was rapidly overflowing all Asia Minor. The Osmanlis were originally a small Turkish tribe of Khorassan; in the thirteenth century they had settled near Dorylæum (Eski-Shehir), whence they gradually annexed all the sultanates and principalities of the Seljuk Turks and others. As early as 1326 Brusa in Bithynia had become the centre of their power. A Genoese fleet soon conveyed their army into Europe, where they took Gallipoli in 1397. Thenceforth, while the popes were especially anxious to save the Greek East and Constantinople, the Byzantines, excited by their priests and monks, appeared daily more hostile to the West and exhausted their opportunities in useless theological disputes. The memorable defeat of the Serbs and Bulgarians at Kossovo in 1389, and that of the crusaders at Nicopolis in 1396, seemed to indicate the hopelessness of the Byzantine cause, when the Mongol invasion of Timur-Leng (Tamerlane) and the defeat of Sultan Bayazid at Angora in 1402 combined to assure another half-century of existence to the doomed empire.

Scarcely had Manuel II heard of the Turkish disaster when he pulled down the mosque in his capital and abandoned his negotiations at Rome, where he had initiated proposals of peace, but only for political reasons. However, the Turkish power had not been destroyed on the plain of Angora. From June to September, 1422, Sultan Murad II laid siege to Constantinople, which he nearly captured. Though finally repulsed, the Turks tightened daily their control over all approaches to the city, which only a new crusade could have relieved. At the Council of Florence, therefore (1439), the Greeks again declared themselves Catholics. This formal reunion, however, imposed by the emperor and again rejected by the Greek nation, could not in the beginning be proclaimed even at Constantinople, in spite of the election of a patriarch favourable to Rome, and of Western promises to help the Greeks with men and money. Mark of Ephesus and after him Gennadius Scholarius were omnipotent with clergy and people, and infused into them fresh hatred of the Latins. Nevertheless, the promised crusade took place under the direction of Cardinal Giuliano Cesarini. János Hunyady and Iskender-Beg (Scanderbeg) performed miracles of valour, but in vain. The crusaders were completely defeated at Varna in 1444, and nothing was left to Constantinople but to perish honourably. The reunion with Rome, as accepted at Florence, was at last proclaimed officially in St. Sophia by Cardinal Isidore, Metropolitan of Kiev (12 Dec., 1452). It was thus fated that Emperor Constantine Dragases, the last heir of the great Constantine, was to die in the Catholic Faith.


When the tragic hour struck, the emperor had only about 7000 men, including all foreign succour. Since March, 1453, the Turks, to the number of 200,000, had invested the city; the preceding year they had built on the Bosporus the redoubtable fortress of Rumeli-Hissar. Their fleet also held the entrance to the Dardanelles, but was prevented from entering the Golden Horn by a strong iron chain that barred its mouth. But Mohammed II caused seventy of his ships to slide on greased planks behind Galata; in this way they entered the Golden Horn (22 April). He then cast across it a bridge of boats broad enough to allow the passage of five soldiers abreast, while his troops, constantly renewed, kept up without ceasing their attacks by land. Eventually the defenders were exhausted by the toils of a continuous and hopeless conflict, while their ranks grew steadily thinner through death or wounds. The population gave no help and was content to taunt the Latins, while waiting for the miracle of Heaven that was to save them. Finally, 29 May, 1453, about 4 o'clock in the morning, a furious assault of the Turks broke down the walls and gates of the city, and the besiegers burst in from every side. Emperor Constantine fell like a hero at the gate of St.Romanus. St. Sophia was immediately transformed into a mosque, and during three days the unhappy city was abandoned to unspeakable excesses of cruelty and debauchery. The next year, at the demand of the sultan himself, Gennadius Scholarius , Rome's haughty adversary, was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople, and soon the Greek Church was reestablished, almost in its former position.

Thus was granted the sacrilegious prayer of so many Greeks, blinded by unreasoning hate, that henceforth, not the tiara, but the turban should rule in the city of Constantine. Even the name of the city was changed. The Turks call it officially (in Arabic) Der-es-Saadet, Door of Happiness, or (chiefly on coins ) Konstantinieh. Their usual name for it is Stamboul, or rather Istamboul, a corruption of the Greek expression eis ten polin (pronounced stimboli ), perhaps under the influence of a form, Islamboul, which could pass for "the city of Islam ". Most of the churches, like St. Sophia, were gradually converted into mosques. This was the fate of SS. Sergius and Bacchus -- a beautiful monument built by Justinian, commonly called "the little St. Sophia"; of the church of the monastery of Khora, whose splendid mosaics and pictures, mostly of the fourteenth century, are among the principal curiosities of the city; of the churches of the celebrated Pantocrator and Studium monasteries, etc. Other churches were demolished and replaced by various buildings; thus the church of the Holy Apostles gave way to the great mosque built by the conquering Sultan Mohammed II. The imperial tombs in this church were violated; some of their gigantic red porphyry sarcophagi were taken to the church of St. Irene. The latter is the only church taken from the Greeks that has not been changed into a mosque or demolished; it became, and is yet an arsenal, or rather a museum of ancient weapons.

The sultans in turn endowed their new capital with many beautiful monuments. Mohammed II built the castle of Yedi-Kouleh, the Tchinili-Kiosk (now a museum), the mosques of Cheik Bokhari, of the Janizaries, of Kassim-Pasha, of Eyoub, where every sultan at his accession is obliged to be girt with the sword of Othman, etc. Bayazid II built the Bayazidieh (1458). Soliman the Magnificent built the Suleimanieh, the most beautiful Turkish monument in Constantinople. His architect Sinan constructed fifty other mosques in the empire. Ahmed I built (1610) the Ahmedieh on the foundations of the imperial Great Palace, a pretty fountain near St. Sophia, etc. The buildings of the old seraglio at Seraglio Point are also of Turkish origin; nothing is left of the Byzantine imperial palaces that once stood there. The Blachernæ palace has also disappeared; its church was accidentally burned in the seventeenth century. Not far distant are the important ruins of the palace of the Porphyrogenitus. When the Turks took Constantinople, the hippodrome was already in ruinous decay. There remain yet three precious monuments of ancient imperial splendour: the Egyptian obelisk brought thither by Theodosius the Great, the Serpentine Column brought from Delphi by Constantine, and the Byzantine monument known as the Walled-up Column. Near them has been constructed, on the plans and at the expense of the German Emperor, William II, a fountain in Byzantine style. The Turks have also respected some other relics of antiquity, especially the columns of Constantine, Marcian, Theodosius, and Arcadius, the aqueduct of Valens, and many of the great subterraneous cisterns.


This is not the place to narrate the later history of the city, so often the scene of sanguinary events, revolts of the Janizaries, palace-revolutions, etc. In 1826 Mahmud II suppressed the redoubtable prætorians, but the tragic domestic revolutions go on as before. In 1807 a British fleet threatened the city, which was courageously defended by Sultan Selim III and the French ambassador, General Sebastiani. In 1854 Anglo-French armies encamped at Constantinople before and after the Crimean expedition against Russia. In 1878 the Russians advanced to San Stefano, a little village in the European suburbs, and dictated there the treaty of that name. In 1821 the Greek patriarch, Gregory V, with many bishops and laymen, was hanged on the occasion of the outbreak of the Greek War for Independence. In 1895-1896 the capital, as well as the provinces, saw many Armenians massacred by the Kurds, with the complicity, or rather by order of the Government. Even the dreadful physical catastrophes of former times have been renewed; great conflagrations in 1864 and 1870 destroyed entire quarters at Stamboul and Pera. In the latter place many thousands of lives were lost (most of the houses are built of timber). In 1894 an earthquake laid low a great part of the Bazaar and killed several thousand persons. The city is now undergoing a slow process of cleansing; it is lit by gas, and there are some tramways in its streets, most of which are still very narrow and dirty, and are at all times obstructed by vagrant dogs. A cable railway joins Galata to Pera.


The population, we have already said, is (1908) at least 1,000,000, perhaps 1,200,000; Turkish statistics are very uncertain. The Turks seem to form about three-fifths of this population. There are more than 2000 mosques, near which are generally found elementary schools for boys and even for girls; often also medressehs or Mussulman theological schools. The tekkés are Mussulman monasteries for dervishes of various orders. Superior instruction is given at the Lyceum of Galata Seraglio. It has about 1200 pupils (mostly Mussulmans ), and instruction is given in both Turkish and French. Efforts are being made to transform this college into a university. There are also about 20 secondary schools, a university of law, a school of medicine, military schools, and other professional and special schools. The libraries annexed to the great mosques contain precious Eastern manuscripts. There are many Turkish hospitals, several of which are in charge of Catholic Sisters of Charity, an asylum for the poor, a Pasteur institute, and other charitable foundations. The Persian Mussulmans, generally Shiites, have their own religious organization, with a hospital at Stamboul, conducted by Sisters of Charity. The Jewish population increases rapidly, and is of two kinds: the Spanish Jews who came to Turkey in the sixteenth century when expelled from Spain, and still speak a bad Spanish; others, who came and still come from Russia, Rumania, Austria, Germany, etc. The latter often obtain good situations; not so the former, whose social status is low and unhappy. There is also among the Jews of the city a diversity of rites, synagogues, schools, and works of beneficence. The Christians seem to number over 300,000. If we except an insignificant body of Jacobites and their bishop, the rest may be divided as Monophysites, Protestants, Orthodox Greeks, and Catholics. The Monophysites are Armenians, who call themselves Gregorians, after their apostle, St. Gregory Illuminator. They number about 100,000, with a patriarch resident at Koum-Kapou (Stamboul), many churches, 53 elementary schools, 2 colleges, a large charitable establishment at Yédi-Kouleh, etc.

Protestantism is represented by English, American, German, and other foreign colonies, also by about one thousand Armenian converts. Its chief institutions, apart from several churches, are the Bible house at Stamboul with its branches (homes for sailors and foreign girls), Robert College at Rumeli-Hissar on the Bosporus (a large American school founded in 1863, with about 600 pupils), and a high school for girls at Scutari. There are also some elementary Protestant schools and a special mission for the Jews, finally an English and a German hospital. The Schismatic Greeks who call themselves Orthodox, number about 150,000, some thousands of whom are Hellenes, i.e. subjects of the Kingdom of Greece. The Ecumenical patriarch, who resides in the Fanar (Greek quarter, along the Golden Horn),is the bishop of the diocese (there are metropolites at Kadi-Keui and at Makri-Keui, the latter with the title of Derki). He is aided in the administration of his office by the Great Protosyncellus. There are 40 parishes, 12 of which are first class, 11 second class, and 17 third class. The principal churches prefer instead of a simple priest, a titular bishop or chorepiscopus : they are five in number. Recent statistics show 72 schools, 64 of which give elementary and middle, and 8 superior teaching. Amon the higher schools are included the so-called Great National School in the Fanar (said to date from the Middle Ages ), the commercial and theological schools at Halki, etc. The theological school is a seminary for future bishops of the Greek Church. These Greek schools have 398 teachers and 13,217 pupils; the elementary schools have 10,665 pupils, and the superior schools 2562. We may add that many Greek boys and girls, also Armenians, are taught in foreign schools, chiefly in those of the French religious congregations and at Robert College. The Greeks have a large charitable establishment at Balekli and an orphanage. Quite important also are their various associations ( syollogi ), the principal one being the important learned body known as the Literary Greek Society, with a rich library. The libraries of the Metochion, of the Holy Sepulchre, and the theological school at Halki are also remarkable for their manuscripts. For the general organization of the Greek Schismatics, see GREEK CHURCH. The Russians have at Constantinople 3 monasteries, a school, a hospital, and an archæological institute, with a rich library. The Serbs and Rumanians have also their national establishments. There are in the capital about 15,000 Bulgarians. They are considered

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