Mehmed (or Mahomed) the Conqueror was tall, full faced, well muscled and strong, with a ruddy complexion and a ram-like nose. He was one of the most eminent and learned men of his time, gathering poets, artists and learned men around him. He was quiet, calm and courageous.
Mehmed was a superb leader and warrior. He was always secretive and never gave away state secrets. He was always calm in times of trouble, was determined and self-controlled.
He spent most of his life engaged in campaigns. He destroyed, finally, the Byzantine Empire and conquered Istanbul. He changed St. Sophia into a mosque and willed "Whoever abolishes this, may he be cursed by Allah the Almighty."
During his sultanate Mehmed conquered many lands and cities. These are just some of them: Enez, Galata, Kefe, Imroz and Boghdan. He led the army personally at the siege of Belgrade and was seriously wounded in the forehead and on the knee. In 1458 he gained most of Morea and Serbia a year later. He put an end to the Greek kingdom of Trebizond and in 1462 he captured Romania, Yaiche and Midilli. He fought against a Crusader army made up from the soldiers of 20 different countries. In 1464 Bosnia was taken and Herzegovina annexed. Albania, Koniah and Caramania became part of the Empire and after the victory over Ouzoun Hassan at Otloukbeli Sultan Mehmed set 40,000 prisoners free to celebrate the victory. In 1476 Hungary and Moldavia became part of the Empire. During his sultanate he commanded the armies in 25 campaigns and expanded the Ottoman kingdom from 900,000 to 2,214,000 square kilometres.
The Venetian King hatched 14 plots on Mehmed's life and he survived them all apart from the last. Using a Jewish doctor whose name was Maesto Jakopo the Venetians managed to poison the Sultan. According to the historian Bobinger, the doctor had been under-cover at the Imperial Palace, using the name of Jacoub Pasha. On the third day of a campaign in 1481 Mehmed died at his headquarters at Gebze. On his death, the Pope ordered the bells of all the churches tolled for three days and nights, in celebration (as the Christians thought) of Mehmed's passing. He was 49 years old.
The burial service of the great Ottoman who had destroyed two Empires, four kingdoms and eleven principalities was performed by Moustapha Vefa Effendi at the Mosque of the Conqueror in Istanbul. His tomb is next to the mosque.
Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror proved himself to be one of the greatest Emperors in the history of the world by his eelfless work on behalf of the Moslem world. He conquered Istanbul, the pearl of all the world. He completed the building of the Kulliye of Fatih (a collection of buildings or institution, comprising schools, a mosque, an asylum, hospital etc.) which is today's University of Istanbul. When he conquered the city he changed eight churches into mosques and the nearby chambers of the priests into a Moslem School of Theology. He caused a large number of Islamic Theological Schools to be built in many Anatolian cities.
Mehmed had four sons? named Moustapha, Bayezid the Second, Djem and Korkoud. He had only one daughter whose name was Sultana Gevkherkhan
History of Mehmed the conqueror by Kritovoulos. Translated from the Greek by Charles T. Riggs Princeton New Jersey Press 1954.
Strange it is that the most vivid and accurate picture of a great series of campaigns should come from one of the defeated party-as if the great history of the American War of Independence had been written by an Englishman. But not only did Greek write this story of the Turkish destruction of the Greek Empire, but it took another Greek to translate it into Turkish.
Equally strange is it that, while Kritovoulos distinctly states that he hope to influence the Philhellenes in the British Isles by this story of a Turkish Sultan, it has been necessary to wait five hundred years before it is put in English.
...Everything known until the present, however, indicates that here we have a ork of high value, written with the true genius of an historian and with commendable non-partisanship. When compared with the histories of such men as Phrantzes, Khalkondylis, and Dukas, the facts recorded by Kritovoulos seem to be more accurately given in general than the records of the others.
...He was a Greek, and eventually came into service of the Sultan Mehmed and studied his career most carefully. He admired the Sulan's military prowe and ability, even while mourning the loss of the city and the downfall of the last vestige of the Byzantine Empire. Modern Greek historians such as Papparigopoulo, have been inclined to berate and undermine Kritovoulos because he made a hero out of the man who defeated the Greeks. Yet such impartial judges as Professor Alexander Van Millingen of Robert College and Sir Edwin Pears. long the Doyen of Constantinople Bar, rate Kritovoulos very high as an authority on matters pertaining to the entire campaign.
...The original manuscript of this valuable work is one of the treasures of the Seraglio Point Museum Library in Istanbul.
To the Supreme Emperor, King of Kings, Mehmed, the fortunate, the victor, the winner of trophies, the triumphant, the invincible, Lord of land and sea by the Will of God, Kritovoulos the Islander, servant of thy servants.
Seeing that you are the author of many great deeds, O mot mighty Emperor, and in the belief that are many great achievements of generals and kings of old, nor merely of Persians and Greeks, are not worthy to be compared in glory and bravery ad martial valour with yours, I do not htink it just that they and their deeds and accomplishments, as set forth in the Greek historians and their writings from contemporary times and up to the present, should be celebrated and admired by all, and that these should enjoy over lasting remembrance , while you so great and powerful a man , possessing all the lands under the sun, and glorious in your great and brilliant expolits, should have no witness for the future, of your valour and the greatest and best of your deeds, like one of the unknown and inglorious ones who are till now unworthy of any memorial or record in Greek; or that the deeds of others petty, petty as they are in comprison to your, should be better knon and more famed before men because done by Greeks and in greek history, while your accomplishments, vast as they are, and in no way inferior to those of Alexander the Macedonian, or the generals and kings of his rank, should not be set forth in Greek to the Greeks, nor passed onto posterity for the undying praise and glory of your deeds.
Indeed you are the only one of kings, or at any rate one of a very few, who have united deeds with words and wisdom and majesty; for you are both a good king and a mighty warrior. So I have deemed it fitting and right, trusting in your favour, to undertake the present effort and commit to writing in Greek, as best as I may, your merits and accomplishments, which far exceed in number and greatness those of any other.
Perhaps many of the honourable Arabs and Persians (Ottomans) may recod these better and hand them on to our successors, for they know them well and have studied the facts; but nothing of this kind will take the place of treatise in the Greek language, which has very great renown in all parts. For such writings will thus become known only among Arabs and Persians (Ottomans) and those who are familiar with language. But these things will thus become the common pride and wonder, not of Greeks alone, but of all western nations, indeed those beyond the Pillars (of Hercules) and those who inhabit the British Isles, and many more, when they are tranlated into the language of those peoples who are Philhellenes and are learned in such matters. This also has aroused me still more to this task, for I believe there will be many to judge and bear witness to my history.
Speech of the Sultan inciting his followers to battle against the city. Also a recital of previous deeds of his forefathers, and a brief survey of the entire rule.
My friends and men of my empire! You all know very well that our forefathers secured this kingdom that we now hold at the cost of many struggles and very 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 maturer of years-and the younger of you have heard of these deeds from your fathers. They are not such very ancient events nor of such a sort as to be forgotten through th lapse of time. Still the eyewitness of those who have seen testifies better than does the hearing of deeds that happenned but yesterday or the day before.
It is perfectly possible to see even now, all over our land, signs of those deeds clealrly shown-the walls of castles and towns torn down but yesterday or the day before, the ground, so to speak, still red and damp with their blood, and many other such clearly-read monuments of their heroism and valour stand as ever memorable proofs of their courage in danger. And they ehibited in it all such heroism of spirit and firmness of purpose, and greatness of mind that, from the very beginning, from their very small kingdom and power, they set their minds on the destruction of the rule of the Romans (Byzantines), and hoped to secure complete power over Asia and Europe.