The David Collection
The David Collection is a museum of fine and applied art in Copenhagen, built around the private collections of lawyer and art collector C. L. David; the museum is noted for its collection of Islamic art from the 8th to the 19th century, one of the largest in Northern Europe. The museum holds fine and applied art from Europe in the 18th century and the Danish Golden Age as well as a small collection of Danish early modern art. All the works of art in the collection of Danish early modern art were acquired by C. L. David himself; the museum is located in a neo-classical building in 30 Kronprinsessegade in central Copenhagen, overlooking Rosenborg Castle Garden. From 2006 to 2009 the collection was closed to the public while the premises underwent a major refurbishment and rearrangement; when it reopened on 15 May 2009, it was described as "the most exclusive museum in Denmark" in national Danish newspaper Politiken. The museum is built around the private collection of C. L. David, a barrister of the Danish Supreme Court.
The building in Kronprinsessegade which houses the museum used to be the private home of the founder and was bought in 1810 by his great-grandfather, C. N. David, but sold again in 1830. In 1917 it was re-acquired by C. L. David, who took up residence in it but made his collection available to the public at the upper floors of the building. On 12 December 1945, the collection, along with the building which houses it, became the independent institution, the C. L. David Foundation and Collection, the museum opened in 1948. Over the years, the exhibition space was continuously rebuilt as the collections grew. In 1960, on the death of its founder, the Foundation became the sole heir to his fortune. In 1986, the foundation acquired the adjacent property, 32 Kronprinsessegade, where the architect Vilhelm Wohlert known for the design of Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, designed a whole new gallery for the expanding collection of Islamic miniatures in 1990. Further rebuildings have included more rooms and improved facilities.
In 2006 the museum was temporarily closed to the public when it embarked on a major refirbishment and rearrangement of the collections. It reopened on 15 May 2009. Following the Copenhagen fire of 1795 the king granted the city a strip of land, part of the Rosenborg Castle Gardens, it was on this land that Kronprinsessegade 30 was built in the years 1806–07 together with other houses in the street. The building was constructed in the prevailing neo-classical style for Captain J. C. Krieger by his brother-in-law, the city surveyor, J. H. Rawert; the floor plan of the building along with that of the other houses in the street is a characteristic L-shape consisting of three rooms facing the street, the dining room in the corner of each floor — where the front building meets the side building — together with a series of smaller rooms in the latter section. The side building is further extended by means of a side annex of five storeys which included the kitchens and servants’ quarters; the architect Carl Petersen was responsible for the first rebuilding of the top floor, where the roof was given a steeper pitch so as to create adequate space for two large, skylighted rooms.
This rebuilding was completed around 1920. Part of the top floor were made into three rooms, finished in neo-classical style with coffered ceilings, tall panels, patterned parquet floors. Two of the rooms had skylights since these rooms were used as galleries; the woodwork still attracts much attention. The wood comes from the King Christian VI's dock, broken up in 1918; the darker or lighter colour of the oak depends on the time. In 1928, the architect Kaare Klint designed two exhibition rooms for the growing collection of porcelain; the walls are covered with Douglas-fir and the exhibition cases were manufactured in Rudolf Rasmussen's workshop. The rooms and the exhibition cases are still in use, but now for the Islamic collection; the current rebuilding of the museum, lasting until 15 May 2009, is undertaken by Wohlert Arkitekter. The collection is most noted for its collection of Islamic art and contains works from the entire Islamic cultural sphere, from Spain in the West to India in the East and dating from the 7th to the 19th centuries.
The European and Danish collections include: Furniture Porcelain and faience Silverware Sculptures, ceramics made by Danish artists between c. 1880 and 1950and paintings by: The David Collection website
Mihrab is a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla. The wall in which a mihrab appears is thus the "qibla wall". Mihrab should not be confused with the minbar, the raised platform from which an Imam addresses the congregation; the mihrab is located to the left of the minbar. The word is derived from Iranian mythology; the word mihrab had a non-religious meaning and denoted a special room in a house. The Fath al-Bari, on the authority of others, suggests the mihrab is "the most honorable location of kings" and "the master of locations, the front and the most honorable." The Mosques in Islam, in addition to Arabic sources, cites Theodor Nöldeke and others as having considered a mihrab to have signified a throne room. The term was subsequently used by the Islamic prophet Muhammad to denote his own private prayer room; the room additionally provided access to the adjacent mosque, the Prophet would enter the mosque through this room. This original meaning of mihrab – i.e. as a special room in the house – continues to be preserved in some forms of Judaism where mihrabs are rooms used for private worship.
In the Qur'an, the word mihrab refers to a sanctuary/place of worship. During the reign of Uthman ibn Affan, the Caliph ordered a sign to be posted on the wall of the mosque at Medina so that pilgrims could identify the direction in which to address their prayers; the sign was however just a sign on the wall, the wall itself remained flat. Subsequently, during the reign of Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik, Al-Masjid al-Nabawi was renovated and the governor of Medina, Umar ibn AbdulAziz, ordered that a niche be made to designate the qibla wall, it was in this niche that Uthman's sign was placed; the niche came to be universally understood to identify the qibla wall, so came to be adopted as a feature in other mosques. A sign was no longer necessary; the Qur'anic passage that refers to a mihrab – "then he came forth to his people from the sanctuary/place of worship" – is inscribed on or over some mihrabs. Today, Mihrabs vary in size, are ornately decorated and designed to give the impression of an arched doorway or a passage to Mecca.
In exceptional cases, the mihrab does not follow the qibla direction. One example is the Mezquita of Spain that points south instead of southeast. Among the proposed explanations, there is the localization of the ancient Roman cardo street besides the old temple the Mezquita was built upon. Another is the Mosque of the Two Qiblas; this is where the Prophet Muhammad received the command to change the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to Mecca, thus has two prayer niches. In the 21st Century the mosque was renovated, the old prayer niche facing Jerusalem was removed, the one facing Mecca was left. Exedra Diez, Ernst, "Mihrāb", Encyclopaedia of Islam, 3, Leiden: Brill, pp. 559–565. Fehérvári, Geza, "Mihrāb", Encyclopaedia of Islam, New edition, 7, Leiden: Brill, pp. 7–15
Muslims are people who follow or practice Islam, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion. Muslims consider the Quran, their holy book, to be the verbatim word of God as revealed to the Islamic prophet and messenger Muhammad; the majority of Muslims follow the teachings and practices of Muhammad as recorded in traditional accounts. "Muslim" is an Arabic word meaning "submitter". The largest denomination of Islam are Sunni Muslims who constitute 85-90% of the total Muslim population, followed by the Shia who make up most of the remainder of Muslims; the beliefs of Muslims include: that God is eternal and one. The religious practices of Muslims are enumerated in the Five Pillars of Islam: the declaration of faith, daily prayers, fasting during the month of Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime. To become a Muslim and to convert to Islam, it is essential to utter the Shahada, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, a declaration of faith and trust that professes that there is only one God and that Muhammad is God's messenger.
It is a set statement recited in Arabic: lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāhu muḥammadun rasūlu-llāh "There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of God."In Sunni Islam, the shahada has two parts: la ilaha illa'llah, Muhammadun rasul Allah, which are sometimes referred to as the first shahada and the second shahada. The first statement of the shahada is known as the tahlīl. In Shia Islam, the shahada has a third part, a phrase concerning Ali, the first Shia Imam and the fourth Rashid caliph of Sunni Islam: وعليٌ وليُّ الله, which translates to "Ali is the wali of God; the word muslim is the active participle of the same verb of which islām is a verbal noun, based on the triliteral S-L-M "to be whole, intact". A female adherent is a muslima; the plural form in Arabic is muslimūn or muslimīn, its feminine equivalent is muslimāt. The ordinary word in English is "Muslim", it is sometimes transliterated as "Moslem", an older spelling. The word Mosalman is a common equivalent for Muslim used in South Asia.
Until at least the mid-1960s, many English-language writers used the term Mahometans. Although such terms were not intended to be pejorative, Muslims argue that the terms are offensive because they imply that Muslims worship Muhammad rather than God. Other obsolete terms include Muslimist. Musulmán/Mosalmán is modified from Arabic, it is the origin of the Spanish word musulmán, the German Muselmann, the French word musulman, the Polish words muzułmanin and muzułmański, the Portuguese word muçulmano, the Italian word mussulmano or musulmano, the Romanian word musulman and the Greek word μουσουλμάνος. In English it has become archaic in usage. Apart from Persian, Polish, Portuguese and Greek, the term could be found, with obvious local differences, in Armenian, Pashto, Hindi, Marathi, Turkish, Uzbek, Azeri, Hungarian, Bosnian, Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian and Sanskrit; the Muslim philosopher Ibn Arabi said: A Muslim is a person who has dedicated his worship to God... Islam means making one's religion and faith God's alone.
The Qur'an describes many prophets and messengers within Judaism and Christianity, their respective followers, as Muslim: Adam, Abraham, Jacob and Jesus and his apostles are all considered to be Muslims in the Qur'an. The Qur'an states that these men were Muslims because they submitted to God, preached His message and upheld His values, which included praying, charity and pilgrimage. Thus, in Surah 3:52 of the Qur'an, Jesus' disciples tell him, "We believe in God. In Muslim belief, before the Qur'an, God had given the Tawrat to Moses, the Zabur to David and the Injil to Jesus, who are all considered important Muslim prophets; the most populous Muslim-majority country is Indonesia, home to 12.7% of the world's Muslims, followed by Pakistan and Egypt. About 20 % of the world's Muslims lives in the Middle North Africa. Sizable minorities are found in India, Russia, the Americas and parts of Europe; the country with the highest proportion of self-described Muslims as a proportion of its total population is Morocco.
Converts and immigrant communities are found in every part of the world. Over 75–90% of Muslims are Sunni; the second and third largest sects and Ahmadiyya, make up 10–20%, 1% respectively. With about 1.8 billion followers a quarter of earth's population, Islam is the second-largest and the fastest-growing religion in the world. Due to the young age and high fertilit
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, colloquially "the Met", is the largest art museum in the United States. With 6,953,927 visitors to its three locations in 2018, it was the third most visited art museum in the world, its permanent collection contains over two million works, divided among seventeen curatorial departments. The main building, on the eastern edge of Central Park along Museum Mile in Manhattan's Upper East Side is by area one of the world's largest art galleries. A much smaller second location, The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, contains an extensive collection of art and artifacts from Medieval Europe. On March 18, 2016, the museum opened the Met Breuer museum at Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side; the permanent collection consists of works of art from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, an extensive collection of American and modern art. The Met maintains extensive holdings of African, Oceanian and Islamic art.
The museum is home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments and accessories, as well as antique weapons and armor from around the world. Several notable interiors, ranging from 1st-century Rome through modern American design, are installed in its galleries; the Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 for the purposes of opening a museum to bring art and art education to the American people. It opened on February 20, 1872, was located at 681 Fifth Avenue; the Met's permanent collection is curated by seventeen separate departments, each with a specialized staff of curators and scholars, as well as six dedicated conservation departments and a Department of Scientific Research. The permanent collection includes works of art from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, an extensive collection of American and modern art; the Met maintains extensive holdings of African, Oceanian and Islamic art. The museum is home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments and accessories, antique weapons and armor from around the world.
A great number of period rooms, ranging from 1st-century Rome through modern American design, are permanently installed in the Met's galleries. In addition to its permanent exhibitions, the Met organizes and hosts large traveling shows throughout the year; the current chairman of the board, Daniel Brodsky, was elected in 2011 and became chairman three years after director Philippe de Montebello retired at the end of 2008. On March 1, 2017, the BBC reported that Daniel Weiss, the Met's president and COO, would temporarily act as CEO for the museum. Following the departure of Thomas P. Campbell as the Met's director and CEO on June 30, 2017, the search for a new director of the museum was assigned to the human resources firm Phillips Oppenheim to present a new candidate for the position "by the end of the fiscal year in June" of 2018; the next director will report to Weiss as the current president of the museum. In April 2018, Max Hollein was named director. Beginning in the late 19th century, the Met started acquiring ancient art and artifacts from the Near East.
From a few cuneiform tablets and seals, the Met's collection of Near Eastern art has grown to more than 7,000 pieces. Representing a history of the region beginning in the Neolithic Period and encompassing the fall of the Sasanian Empire and the end of Late Antiquity, the collection includes works from the Sumerian, Sasanian, Assyrian and Elamite cultures, as well as an extensive collection of unique Bronze Age objects; the highlights of the collection include a set of monumental stone lamassu, or guardian figures, from the Northwest Palace of the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II. Though the Met first acquired a group of Peruvian antiquities in 1882, the museum did not begin a concerted effort to collect works from Africa and the Americas until 1969, when American businessman and philanthropist Nelson A. Rockefeller donated his more than 3,000-piece collection to the museum. Today, the Met's collection contains more than 11,000 pieces from sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific Islands, the Americas and is housed in the 40,000-square-foot Rockefeller Wing on the south end of the museum.
The collection ranges from 40,000-year-old indigenous Australian rock paintings, to a group of 15-foot-tall memorial poles carved by the Asmat people of New Guinea, to a priceless collection of ceremonial and personal objects from the Nigerian Court of Benin donated by Klaus Perls. The range of materials represented in the Africa and Americas collection is undoubtedly the widest of any department at the Met, including everything from precious metals to porcupine quills; the Met's Asian department holds a collection of Asian art, of more than 35,000 pieces, arguably the most comprehensive in the US. The collection dates back to the founding of the museum: many of the philanthropists who made the earliest gifts to the museum included Asian art in their collections. Today, an entire wing of the museum is dedicated to the Asian collection, spans 4,000 years of Asian art; every Asian civilization is represented in the Met's Asian department, the pieces on display include every type of decorative art, from painting and printmaking to sculpture and metalworking.
The department is well known for its comprehensive collection of Chinese calligraphy and painting, as well as for its Indian sculptures and Tibetan works, the arts of Burma and Thailand. All three ancient religions of India – Hinduism and Jainism – are well represented in these s
Turkey the Republic of Turkey, is a transcontinental country located in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. East Thrace, located in Europe, is separated from Anatolia by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorous strait and the Dardanelles. Turkey is bordered by Bulgaria to its northwest. Istanbul is the largest city. 70 to 80 per cent of the country's citizens identify as Turkish. Kurds are the largest minority. At various points in its history, the region has been inhabited by diverse civilizations including the Assyrians, Thracians, Phrygians and Armenians. Hellenization continued into the Byzantine era; the Seljuk Turks began migrating into the area in the 11th century, their victory over the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 symbolizes the start and foundation of Turkey. The Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm ruled Anatolia until the Mongol invasion in 1243, when it disintegrated into small Turkish principalities. Beginning in the late 13th-century, the Ottomans started uniting these Turkish principalities.
After Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453, Ottoman expansion continued under Selim I. During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent the Ottoman Empire encompassed much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa and became a world power. In the following centuries the state entered a period of decline with a gradual loss of territories and wars. In an effort to consolidate the weakening social and political foundations of the empire, Mahmut II started a period of modernisation in the early 19th century, bringing reforms in all areas of the state including the military and bureaucracy along with the emancipation of all citizens. In 1913, a coup d'état put the country under the control of the Three Pashas. During World War I, the Ottoman government committed genocides against its Armenian and Pontic Greek subjects. Following the war, the conglomeration of territories and peoples that comprised the Ottoman Empire was partitioned into several new states; the Turkish War of Independence, initiated by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues against occupying Allied Powers, resulted in the abolition of monarchy in 1922 and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, with Atatürk as its first president.
Atatürk enacted numerous reforms, many of which incorporated various aspects of Western thought and customs into the new form of Turkish government. The Kurdish–Turkish conflict, an armed conflict between the Republic of Turkey and Kurdish insurgents, has been active since 1984 in the southeast of the country. Various Kurdish groups demand separation from Turkey to create an independent Kurdistan or to have autonomy and greater political and cultural rights for Kurds in Turkey. Turkey is a charter member of the UN, an early member of NATO, the IMF and the World Bank, a founding member of the OECD, OSCE, BSEC, OIC and G-20. After becoming one of the first members of the Council of Europe in 1949, Turkey became an associate member of the EEC in 1963, joined the EU Customs Union in 1995 and started accession negotiations with the European Union in 2005 which have been stopped by the EU in 2017 due to "Turkey's path toward autocratic rule". Turkey's economy and diplomatic initiatives led to its recognition as a regional power while its location has given it geopolitical and strategic importance throughout history.
Turkey is a secular, unitary parliamentary republic which adopted a presidential system with a referendum in 2017. Turkey's current administration headed by president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of the AKP has enacted measures to increase the influence of Islam, undermine Kemalist policies and freedom of the press; the English name of Turkey means "land of the Turks". Middle English usage of Turkye is evidenced in an early work by Chaucer called The Book of the Duchess; the phrase land of Torke is used in the 15th-century Digby Mysteries. Usages can be found in the Dunbar poems, the 16th century Manipulus Vocabulorum and Francis Bacon's Sylva Sylvarum; the modern spelling "Turkey" dates back to at least 1719. The Turkish name Türkiye was adopted in 1923 under the influence of European usage; the Anatolian peninsula, comprising most of modern Turkey, is one of the oldest permanently settled regions in the world. Various ancient Anatolian populations have lived in Anatolia, from at least the Neolithic period until the Hellenistic period.
Many of these peoples spoke the Anatolian languages, a branch of the larger Indo-European language family. In fact, given the antiquity of the Indo-European Hittite and Luwian languages, some scholars have proposed Anatolia as the hypothetical centre from which the Indo-European languages radiated; the European part of Turkey, called Eastern Thrace, has been inhabited since at least forty thousand years ago, is known to have been in the Neolithic era by about 6000 BC. Göbekli Tepe is the site of the oldest known man-made religious structure, a temple dating to circa 10,000 BC, while Çatalhöyük is a large Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlement in southern Anatolia, which existed from approximately
The Louvre, or the Louvre Museum, is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement. 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres. In 2018, the Louvre was the world's most visited art museum; the museum is housed in the Louvre Palace built as the Louvre castle in the late 12th to 13th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. Due to the urban expansion of the city, the fortress lost its defensive function and, in 1546, was converted by Francis I into the main residence of the French Kings; the building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre as a place to display the royal collection, from 1692, a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons.
The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum to display the nation's masterpieces; the museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801; the collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum was renamed Musée Napoléon, but after Napoleon's abdication many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown through donations and bequests since the Third Republic; the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities. The Louvre Palace, which houses the museum, was begun as a fortress by Philip II in the 12th century to protect the city from English soldiers which were in Normandy.
Remnants of this castle are still visible in the crypt. Whether this was the first building on that spot is not known. According to the authoritative Grand Larousse encyclopédique, the name derives from an association with wolf hunting den. In the 7th century, St. Fare, an abbess in Meaux, left part of her "Villa called Luvra situated in the region of Paris" to a monastery.. The Louvre Palace was altered throughout the Middle Ages. In the 14th century, Charles V converted the building into a residence and in 1546, Francis I renovated the site in French Renaissance style. Francis acquired what would become the nucleus of the Louvre's holdings, his acquisitions including Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. After Louis XIV chose Versailles as his residence in 1682, constructions slowed. Four generations of Boulle were granted Royal patronage and resided in the Louvre in the following order: Pierre Boulle, Jean Boulle, Andre-Charles Boulle and his four sons, after him. André-Charles Boulle is the most famous French cabinetmaker and the preeminent artist in the field of marquetry known as "Inlay".
Boulle was "the most remarkable of all French cabinetmakers". He was commended to Louis XIV of France, the "Sun King", by Jean-Baptiste Colbert as being "the most skilled craftsman in his profession". Before the fire of 1720 destroyed them, André-Charles Boulle held priceless works of art in the Louvre, including forty-eight drawings by Raphael'. By the mid-18th century there were an increasing number of proposals to create a public gallery, with the art critic La Font de Saint-Yenne publishing, in 1747, a call for a display of the royal collection. On 14 October 1750, Louis XV agreed and sanctioned a display of 96 pieces from the royal collection, mounted in the Galerie royale de peinture of the Luxembourg Palace. A hall was opened by Le Normant de Tournehem and the Marquis de Marigny for public viewing of the Tableaux du Roy on Wednesdays and Saturdays, contained Andrea del Sarto's Charity and works by Raphael. Under Louis XVI, the royal museum idea became policy; the comte d'Angiviller broadened the collection and in 1776 proposed conversion of the Grande Galerie of the Louvre – which contained maps – into the "French Museum".
Many proposals were offered for the Louvre's renovation into a museum. Hence the museum remained incomplete until the French Revolution. During the French Revolution the Louvre was transformed into a public museum. In May 1791, the Assembly declared that the Louvre would be "a place for bringing together monuments of all the sciences and arts". On 10 August 1792, Louis XVI was imprisoned and the royal collection i
Fall of Constantinople
The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire by an invading Ottoman army on 29 May 1453. The attackers were commanded by the 21-year-old Sultan Mehmed II, who defeated an army commanded by Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos and took control of the imperial capital, ending a 53-day siege that began on 6 April 1453. After conquering the city, Sultan Mehmed transferred the capital of the Ottoman State from Edirne to Constantinople and established his court there; the capture of the city marked the end of the Byzantine Empire, a continuation of the Roman Empire, an imperial state dating to 27 BC, which had lasted for nearly 1,500 years. The conquest of Constantinople dealt a massive blow to the defense of mainland Europe, as the Muslim Ottoman armies thereafter were left unchecked to advance into Europe without an adversary to their rear, it was a watershed moment in military history. Since ancient times, cities had used ramparts and city walls to protect themselves from invaders, Constantinople's substantial fortifications had been a model followed by cities throughout the Mediterranean region and Europe.
The Ottomans prevailed due to the use of gunpowder. The conquest of the city of Constantinople and the end of the Byzantine Empire was a key event in the Late Middle Ages which marks, for some historians, the end of the Medieval period. Constantinople had been an imperial capital since its consecration in 330 under Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. In the following eleven centuries, the city had been besieged many times but was captured only once: during the Fourth Crusade in 1204; the crusaders established an unstable Latin state in and around Constantinople while the remaining empire splintered into a number of Byzantine successor states, notably Nicaea and Trebizond. They fought as allies against the Latin establishments, but fought among themselves for the Byzantine throne; the Nicaeans reconquered Constantinople from the Latins in 1261. Thereafter, there was little peace for the much-weakened empire as it fended off successive attacks by the Latins, the Serbians, the Bulgarians, most the Ottoman Turks.
The Black Plague between 1346 and 1349 killed half of the inhabitants of Constantinople. The city was depopulated due to the general economic and territorial decline of the empire, by 1453 consisted of a series of walled villages separated by vast fields encircled by the fifth-century Theodosian walls. By 1450 the empire was exhausted and had shrunk to a few square miles outside the city of Constantinople itself, the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara, the Peloponnese with its cultural center at Mystras; the Empire of Trebizond, an independent successor state that formed in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade survived on the coast of the Black Sea. When Sultan Mehmed II succeeded his father in 1451, he was just nineteen years old. Many European courts assumed that the young Ottoman ruler would not challenge Christian hegemony in the Balkans and the Aegean; this calculation was boosted by Mehmed's friendly overtures to the European envoys at his new court. But Mehmed's mild words were not matched by actions.
By early 1452, work began on the construction of a second fortress on the Bosphorus, on the European side several miles north of Constantinople, set directly across the strait on the Asian side from the Anadolu Hisarı fortress, built by his great-grandfather Bayezid I. This pair of fortresses ensured complete control of sea traffic on the Bosphorus. In October 1452, Mehmed ordered Turakhan Beg to station a large garrison force in the Peloponnese to block Thomas and Demetrios from providing aid to their brother Constantine XI Palaiologos during the impending siege of Constantinople. Michael Critobulus says about the speech of Mehmed II to his soldiers: "My friends and men of my empire! You all know well that our forefathers secured this kingdom that we now hold at the cost of many struggles and great dangers and that, having passed it along in succession from their fathers, from father to son, they handed it down to me. For some of the oldest of you were sharers in many of the exploits carried through by them—those at least of you who are of maturer years—and the younger of you have heard of these deeds from your fathers.
They are not such ancient events nor of such a sort as to be forgotten through the lapse of time. Still, the eyewitness of those who have seen testifies better than does the hearing of deeds that happened but yesterday or the day before." Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI swiftly understood Mehmed's true intentions and turned to Western Europe for help. Since the mutual excommunications of 1054, the Pope in Rome was committed to establishing authority over the eastern church. Nominal union had been negotiated in 1274, at the Second Council of Lyon, indeed, some Palaiologoi emperors had since been received into the Latin church. Emperor John VIII Palaiologos had recently negotiated union with Pope Eugene IV, with the Council of Florence of 1439 proclaiming a Bull of Union; these events, stimulated a propaganda initiative by anti-unionist Orthodox partisans in Consta