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 II

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:

Image: The Sultan Mehmet II by Gentile Bellini, 1480, The National Gallery (NG3099), via Wikimedia Commons.