Birth of Mehmet II
Today in 1432, Mehmet II – also known as Mehmet the Conqueror – was born. He was the fourth son of Sultan Murad II, and would first come to rule the Ottoman Empire when he was twelve years old, after his father abdicated. This unsuccessful rule would last only two years before Murad returned to the throne.
Mehmet’s second reign began when he was nineteen, after the the death of Murad in 1441. This reign lasted thirty years, and (from his point of view) would be much more successful than his first. The Ottoman Empire would see great expansion under his leadership, beginning with the conquest of Constantinople just two years into his reign, prompting Mehmet to take the name ‘Conqueror’.
Mehmet was a great military leader and he was also highly educated. He invited many scholars, theologists and artists to his court, and was a great patron of the arts and sciences. During his rule, there were great advancements in mathematics and astronomy, and he encouraged learning by building eight colleges teaching sciences. Mehmet himself was fluent in several languages and wrote poetry, leaving behind a collection of his own work.
But the Christians of Europe would view Mehmet with dread. Constantinople had once been the seat of Christianity in the east, and its loss to the Ottomans sent shockwaves throughout Europe. They feared that more Christian kingdoms would fall and that Rome itself might be taken. Europe was in a state of unrest, and Pope Pius II called for a crusade.
My Order of Darkness series is set during Mehmet’s rule, not long after the fall of Constantinople. I explore the fear in Europe at the time, and the feeling that the expanding Ottoman Empire was a sign of the end of days. These were dark and dangerous times, full of suspicion.
Dark Tracks is the newest book in the Order of Darkness series. You can find out more about the series here: https://goo.gl/mzUoa7
Image: The Sultan Mehmet II by Gentile Bellini, 1480, The National Gallery (NG3099), via Wikimedia Commons.
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Order of Darkness
The two young men stepped out of the front door of the inn and found the quayside now crowded with boys and girls, some of them barefoot, some of them dressed in little more than rags, all of them travel-stained and weary. Most were seated, exhausted, on the cobblestones; some of them stood looking out to sea. None were older than sixteen, some as young as six or seven, and more of them were coming in through the town gate all the time, as the gatekeeper watched in bewilderment, racking his brains for an excuse to close the gate and shut them out. - Stormbringers
The five travellers on horseback on the rutted track to Pescara made everyone turn and stare: the woman who brought them weak ale in a roadside inn; the peasant building a hewn stone wall by the side of the road; the boy trailing home from school to work in his father’s vineyard. Everyone smiled at the radiance of the couple at the front of the little cavalcade, for they were beautiful, young, and – as anyone could see – falling in love. - Stormbringers
It was the strangest sight. The girl’s hand had swung down as they lifted her; now she was quite unconscious. It seemed that she had fainted when they had pulled her from the barred gate. Her head was rolled back, the little laces from her nightcap brushing the ground as they carried her, her long nightgown trailing in the dust. - Changeling
Slowly, some hours after, the sky grew bright and the five travellers got up from where they had been sitting at the back of the boat and went to the prow to look east where the rising sun was turning the wispy clouds pink and gold with the dawn light. From the back of the boat the boatman called to them that they were entering the Lagoon of Venice, God be praised that they were safe at last after such a night, and at once they felt the movement of the ship quieten as the waves stilled. - Fools' Gold