Mehmed II was born on 30/03/1432, in the then Ottoman capital Edirne. His father was Sultan Murad II (1404–1451) and his mother Hüma Hatun, a slave of most probably Greek origin.
As other sultans had done previously, the eleven years old Mehmed II was sent to the city of Amasya to govern and gain experience. Furthermore, he received the best education ever while his Sheikh Akshamsaddin influenced Mehmed's life significantly from a young age.
Mehmed was fluent in several languages, including Turkish, Serbian, Arabic, Persian, Greek and Latin. When he was 12, in August 1444, his father Murad II made peace with the Karamanids in Anatolia and abdicated the throne to him. So, Mehmed’s first reign was between 1444 and 1446, a time period during which he defeated the crusade led by the Hungarian King John Hunyadi!
Sultan Mehmed Fatih on one side of the coin.
At this time, Mehmed II asked his father Murad II to reclaim the throne and to fight the revolting Janissaries in the empire. Sultan Murad ruled again until his death (1451). When Mehmed II ascended the throne again in 1451, he made preparations for an attack on Constantinople with strengthening the Ottoman navy. Next to the fortress Anadoluhisarı, built by his great-grandfather Bayezid I on the Asian side, Sultan Mehmed II erected an even stronger fortress called Rumelihisarı on the European side, and thus gained full control of the Bosphorus.
Mehmed’s most important achievement is without any doubt the opening of Constantinople, which had been tried previously by several other Muslim rulers but had failed a number of times. The very first attempt to open this mighty city happened in the 7th century (674-678) when the standard bearer of our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) , Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, died. Sultan Mehmed II built Eyüp Sultan Mosque at the site of Abu Ayyub’s tomb which can still be visited today.
In 1453, Mehmed surrounded Constantinople by sea and land and began the siege In early April. Although the Ottoman army used the new powerful cannon, Constantinople could defend itself. So, on 22 April, Mehmed transported 80 of his lighter warships overland, around the Genoese colony of Galata and managed to defeat the Byzantines on the 29th of May, following a fifty-seven-day siege. He prayed two Rakat in the Hagia Sophia and made it the central mosque in his new capital Constantinople, exchanging Edirne.
Seeing that Constantinople had been the seat and capital of the East Roman Empire since 330 AD, Mehmed claimed the title of Caesar of the Roman Empire (Qayser-i Rûm). However, most of Western Europe and its Catholic population did not recognise the claim. It was only the Eastern Orthodox Church with its newly appointed ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Gennadius Scholarius, who recognised Mehmed Fatih as successor to the throne!
The opening of Constantinople bestowed immense glory and prestige on the Ottoman Empire!
This Immensely powerful situation that cemented the Ottoman presence in the region for centuries to come, is delved into with much better clarity and simpleness on our Online Course: The Rise. This Mini series (6 episodes) will grant you the benefit of understanding the real rise of the Ottoman empire and get to know each sultan/ruler better, from Ertughrul to Suleiman.
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