The Conqueror of Istanbul,
8th Ottoman Sultan, poet (B. March 29, 1432,
Padishah Mehmed II started to make necessary
preparations for the conquest of Istanbul. Muslihuddin Saruca Sekban, an
engineer of the period and Magyar Urban who took refuge in Ottoman, charged
with cannon casting at
Mehmed II, who completed the preparations, took
over Istanbul (May 29, 1453) after about two and a half year from the beginning
of his reign, ended the East Roman Empire and moved the capital from Edirne to Istanbul. After
this accomplishment, he began to be called as Fatih Sultan Mehmed (T.N. Sultan
Mehmed the Conqueror). Fatih Sultan Mehmed achieved being the big commander who
were praised by the Prophet Muhammad in his well known hadith saying “Verily one shall conquer
The conquest of Istanbul led to very important consequences. After the conquest of Istanbul, Fatih Sultan Mehmed launched many expeditions to Europe in order to strengthen his dominance in the West, enlarging the borders and spreading Islam to the farthest places. With Serbia (1454, 1459), Morean (1460), Wallachia (1462), Moldova (1476), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Venice (1463-1479), Italy (1480) and Hungary expeditions, he strengthened the dominance in Europe of the Ottoman Empire.
Fatih was also aiming to dominate the Black Sea. Starting out to prevent the slave trade made by Venetians and Genoese against the Islamic world, to invade the Crimea coasts where is crucial for shipping the trade goods coming to Istanbul and to make Black Sea an Ottoman Lake, Fatih firstly conquered Amasra in 1459. In 1460, Candaroğulları Principality was ended. On October 26, 1461, he included Trabzon into Ottoman Territories and imbedded Pontus Empire in history. With the invasion of Crimea in 1475, the Black Sea completely entered into the domination of Ottomans. Thus, the Genoese dominance over the Black Sea ended and full control of the Silk Road passed to the Ottomans. The Kingdom of Serbia was completely dissolved and made an Ottoman sanjak, Morean was completely conquered, Wallachia was made an Ottoman province, Bosnia was taken under the Ottoman sovereignty again and Albania was invaded. After Ottoman-Venetian Sea Wars, which lasted for sixteen years, the Venice accepted to make a peace agreement. During expedition to Italy, Otranto, which was a key centre regarding the conquest of Rome, was taken but it was lost upon the sudden death of Fatih Sultan Mehmed.
In the spring of 1481, he departed from Istanbul for expedition together with the army; however he got sick because of podagra at Maltepe. He couldn’t progress further and died at Tekürçayırı (Gebze) on May 3, 1481 at the age of 51. He was buried in the tomb carrying his name, next to the Fatih Mosque.
Fatih, who was educated very well, could speak six foreign languages and was one of the great scholars of the period. He loved reading very much. He got lessons on the ancient history and had translations made. He read philosophical works translated into Arabic and Persian.
The poet padishah Fatih Sultan Mehmed, the first “Divan” owner Ottoman padishah, was frequently gathering the scholars, poets and artists and conversing with them. He had articles written on various subjects and reviewed them. Akşemseddin, who was also his teacher, was one of the most valuable scholars for Fatih Sultan Mehmed. The Sultan, who knew very well the graces of saying poems and the value of poem, always promoted and protected the scholars and poets.
In order to make Istanbul an important cultural centre, he brought important scholars of the period such as the big mathematician and a scientist of astronomy, Ali Kuşçu, who was the student of Kadızade Rumi and served in the observatory of Ulugh Beg, Molla Husrev, Hocazade Muslihuddin Mustafa, and Hatipzade Muhyiddin Mehmed. On the hill where old Havariyyûn Church of East Rome and old emperor graves were located, he built eight madrasahs called “Sahn-ı Seman” and an imaret and hospital affiliated to the mosque. In 1466, he had the Batlamyos Map translated again and the names on the map written in Arabic letters. Regarding the scientific issues, he always protected the scholars from different nationalities, regardless of their religions or sects and had them write several works. He invited the famous painter Gentile Bellini to Istanbul between 1479 and 80 and had Bellini make his portrait. He examined the Christian doctrines (issues on faith and worship) and discussed with Gennadios Scolarius, whom he appointed as the Istanbul’s Patrick.
When Fatih Sultan Mehmed took over
Fatih, who was given a strong Sufism upbringing, became a fair sultan. He respected the human rights and freedoms very much, he granted a complete language and conscience freedom to the nations he dominated.
During his reign, he joined twenty five expeditions within approximately twenty eight years. He was a very good commander and ruler, and a determined, deliberate, strong-minded person who was certainly putting his decisions into practice.
Fatih, at the same time, was a strong poet of his period. His poems were incorporating an outstanding modesty, a grace keeping love superior to reign and a simple and clear style very close to spoken language. He has considerable number of poems advising working and struggling for Allah.
In 1966, his poems were collected by Kemal Edip Ünsel in a book called “Fatih’in Şiirleri (T.N. The Poems of Fatih)”. In addition, a forty pages review on the poems of Fatih has been published in 1954 by Prof. Abdülkadir Karahan with the name Şair Avnî – Fatih (T.N. Poet Avnî).
REFERENCE: Kemal Edip Ünsel / Fatih’in Şiirleri (1946), Selahattin Tansel / Osmanlı Kaynaklarına Göre Fatih Sultan Mehmed’in Siyasî ve Askerî Faaliyeti (1953), Samiha Ayverdi / Edebi ve Manevi Dünyası İçinde Fatih (1953), Halil İnalcık / Fatih Devri Üzerinde Tetkikler ve Vesikalar (1954), Abdülkadir Karahan / Şair Avnî - Fatih (Türk Dili ve Edebiyatı Dergisi, c. 6, sayı: 38, 1954), İsmail Hakkı Uzunçarşılı / Osmanlı Tarihi (c. 2, 1975), Adnan Adıvar / Osmanlı Türklerinde İlim (1982), Coşkun Ak / Şair Padişahlar (2001), İskender Pala / Fatih’in Şiirleri (2003), İhsan Işık / Resimli ve Metin Örnekli Türkiye Edebiyatçılar ve Kültür Adamları Ansiklopedisi (2006, gen. 2. bas. 2007) - Ünlü Devlet Adamları (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 1, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013).