The Ottoman Empire Episode 5 Urdu | The Story of the Red Apple 1453 | عثمانیوں کا سرخ سیب کیا تھا؟
In the 15th century a 19-year old enthusiastic and energetic Sultan ruled the the Ottoman Sultanate. Without caring about the strong walls of Constantinople, this young Sultan led his army to this city. His army had a new weapon which was meant for demolishing strong walls. This weapon was cannon (gun). But the bravery of this young Sultan and his cannons totally failed and he was forced to retreat. Later, the young Ottoman Sultan could not realize the dream of conquering Constantinople in his life time.
What was this story?I will tell you these historic facts in the ‘Ottoman Empire’ series of ‘Dekho, Suno, Jano.’ Do you know who was this young man who bombarded the indestructible walls of Constantinople? He was Sultan Murad II, who besieged Constantinople the next year of becoming the Ottoman Sultan in 1421. The Ottoman army was equipped with cannons (guns) that were the most modern weapon of that time. In the supervision of Germans, the army of Sultan fired countless cannon balls on the walls of Constantinople.
As many as 70 balls were fired only at one tower of the city walls. But Sultan’s brother and Governor of Hameet, Mustafa, was incited to revolt by the Byzantine emperor. This forced Murad II to lift besiege of Constantinople and fight his brother. The Sultan battled and killed his brother yet he could not turn to Constantinople again. He received tribute from the Romans in Constantinople but never intervened in their affairs. But the failure of Sultan Murad against Constantinople was a lesson for his son.
The son, Sultan Mehmed II, commonly known as Sultan Mehmed Fatih, avoided the mistake of his father. He knew that a complete peace in his Sultanate was necessary to conquer Constantinople. He was willing to pay any price for peace on his land. Secondly he wanted to improve the fire power of his cannons so that they could pull down… the 1000-year old invincible walls of Constantinople like a wall of sand. As it was the only way to get the ‘Red Apple’ which his father had failed to achieve in his life time.
What was this ‘Red Apple’? It was a huge church called, Hagia Sophia, in the city of Constantinople. Outside the church, statue of a Roman Emperor riding a horse was placed at the top of a 100-foot tall pillar. The same emperor had built the Hagia Sophia church. The Emperor was wearing the dress of the legendary Greek hero, Achilles. In his hand he held a globe on which a Cross was pinned. The Cross and the globe symbolized the dominance of the Christians all over the world.
It was known in Europe that who got the Cross and the globe conquering the City would rule the world also. Therefore conquering Constantinople remained a challenge for every ruler. For a 1000 years many attempted to conquer Constantinople, but its strong walls frustrated everyone. The Ottomans also tried more than once to capture the city but they failed. but they failed. The Turks called this Cross-pinned globe, the Red Apple, and a symbol of world rule.
Sine the Turks had become the world super power so they were eager to get the Red Apple also. So Sultan Mehmed II, had also inherited the challenge of gettnig the Red Apple after demise of his father. It was a very tough challenge. More difficult than getting the throne and the crown. Sultan Mehmed II, did not face any significant resistance in succeeding to the power. This easy sail through the power had very interesting and mysterious reasons. In the first place, look at those who ran with him in the race for succession.
Mehmed II had two elder sons, Ahmed and Ali. Ahmed was older yet their father Sultan Murad had more love for Ali and wanted him to be his successor. Mehmed II, who was the youngest of all, had the reputation of a stubborn, arrogant and idle. He stood no chance of becoming the Ottoman Sultan after the death of Sultan Murad. Circumstances favoured either Ahmed or Ali for becoming the next Sultan. After one became the Sultan, others were to share the ‘Silk Thread’ meaning death to other aspirants of power.
It happened that Ahmed who was also Governor of Amaysa, suddenly died in 1433 AD. Ali was appointed Governor of Amaysa after Ahmed’s death. But in 1343, a Turk Chief, Hisar Pasha killed Ali and his two infant children. What was the end of Hisar Pasha and why he killed Ali? The history is not clear about it. The death of his two brothers, paved the way of Mehmed II, to power. There was also no hurdle within his family in the way of his becoming the Sultan.
He became the Sultan but a problem yet existed. Mehmed’s one year old -brother, Ahmed, from his Serbian step mother was still alive. Apparently this child was not an immediate problem for Sultan Mehmed II. But Mehmed wanted peace in his Sultanate at every cost to achieve the Red Apple. Yet he did not rule out the possibility that this infant could become a potential threat in future.
Therefore the moment his Serbian step mother was greeting Sultan Mehmed on succeeding to the throne… a servant was drowning the infant in the water pool on the order of the Sultan. Next day Sultan Mehmed also killed this servant on the charges of killing his step brother. Then the Sultan married his Serbian step mother to a Turk noble and sent her out of the capital. Sultan Mehmed II also framed a law that provided…- killing of his all other sons by the one who became the Ottoman Sultan.
This law aimed at establishing peace in the Sultanate. In addition to that Sultan Mehmed also agreed peace with states around the Ottoman Sultanate. He also reached peace and trade agreements with the European powers to end chances of fight with them. Thereby Sultan Mehmed successfully met the challenge of establishing peace in and around his land. Now the Sultan tended to find out such a powerful gun or prepare one that would smash… the walls of Constantinople to enable the Ottoman forces to enter the city.
The cannons (guns) manufactured in the 15th century fired the shells made of saltpeter and charcoal. These shells were prepared at the battlefield and put into the barrels for fire. These shells did not blast while hitting the target rather took time… burning slowly near to it. As such they did not cause much damage to the target. That was why Sultan Mehmed wanted a new and better gun. Luckily Sultan Mehmed found a much improved technology of manufacturing the shells.
The new shells would explode as they hit the walls thereby caused notable damage to the target. Side by side shells, the cannons were also improved by manufacturing them with bronze instead of iron. It was expensive yet it made design of the guns much better. Moreover bronze was also not difficult to get. It were the Balkan states, that were subservient to the Ottoman Sultanate, which provided the bronze. The churches in these states had heavy weighted bells made of bronze.
Besides other sources, the bronze was also derived through breaking bells of the churches. The new cannons were 16 feet long with the capacity to fire 750 pounds heavy shells. But Sultan wanted even heavier cannon that could cause maximum damage with minimum number of shell fires. The Sultan did not want defeat by any means. His Prime Minister (Grand Vizier) Halil Pasha tried to refrain Sultan Mehmed from attacking Constantinople. Pasha feared the attack would provoke the Christians to trigger new Crusades against the Ottomans.
He considered the Sultan’s desire to conquer Constantinople as a folly of a crazy young-man. But Sultan Mehmed was committed to fulfill his dream. What he needed an engineer who… could bolster the power of his cannons as per his vision. Sultan Mehmed who idealized Alexander, himself turned out to be lucky like Alexander when his wish came true. A Hungarian engineer offered ruler of Constantinople, Constantine XI, his services for making cannons. He offered to make cannons for the Romans.
The Engineer Orban demanded a heavy salary and other benefits for manufacturing the guns. Constantinople those days was financially quite weak. It was under the burden of heavy debts and the treasury had no money. In this situation Constantine XI was more focused on improving the finances than the defence of the City. Moreover he also did not regard young Ottoman Sultan a major threat to his empire. Rather the European rulers from Constantinople to France had greeted Mehmed advent to the Ottoman rule.
They regarded Sultan Mehmed as a weak and inexperienced ruler of a super power. Constantine did not hire the services of the Engineer as he did not feel imminent threat from the Ottomans. However he fixed a small salary of the engineer to restrain him from going to any other side. But the talented Orban was not satisfied with it. Orban found the salary much below his abilities and was also irked by its late payment. While the dishonest clerks also got their share in this small salary.
Therefore following the other European youth, Orban also decided to serve the Ottomans. Orban desired maximum return so he decided to offer something to Sultan Mehmed which he could not refuse. He was aware of Sultan’s desperation for breaking the walls of Constantinople city. Therefore he thoroughly inspected the walls of Constantinople. After that he left for Edirne to meet Sultan Mehmed II. When the Sultan learnt about skill of the Hungarian engineer to prepare the cannons,… he called him to his Court immediately.
The Sultan himself knew much about war technology so he put some questions to Orban and then directly asked. Could you manufacture a cannon that would pull down walls of Constantinople with the fire of heavy shells? Sultan Mehmed explained him size of the shell with the sign of his hands. Orban spent many months finding answer to this question. He said confidently that he had examined the walls of Constantinople very closely.
He said his cannons would be so powerful that even the strong walls of Babylon would not be spared by their fire. Sultan Mehmed wanted the same answer. The Sultan committed to pay Orban four times more than his demand. He ordered Orban to prepare the cannons as early as possible. After three months, Orban got ready the first new cannon. This cannon was dispatched to Rumelian castle at the shore of Bosphorus. In November 1452, a fire from this cannon sunk a ship of Venice when it was moving towards Constantinople.
The power of the new cannon was proved by the sinking of this ship. Sultan was quite pleased with Orban and he ordered him to manufacture a super gun bigger than this cannon. So the super gun began to be prepared. The preparation of the super gun had a very interesting story. For making this gun a 127 feet long die was prepared with clay and ropes. Orban built two large furnaces with bricks and stones which were heated to 1000 degree centigrade. A mountain like structure made of charcoal, was erected all around the furnaces.
The mountain was so high that only opening of the furnaces could be seen from its top. And the furnaces also produced so much heat that it could be felt at the top of the mountain. When these furnaces were set on fire all workers gathered at a place to say, Allah Allah. At the final stage when tin was to be put into the furnaces, ministers, muftis and sheikhs were called… so that the process could be blessed with their prayers. Moreover no-one was permitted to go near the furnaces to protect the new weapon from evil eyes.
Only 40 persons apart from staff of the furnaces, were allowed to present at the site. Clerics and the ministers at a 100 feet distance from the furnaces constantly praised Allah to seek His blessings. The clerics and the ministers were asked to throw gold and silver coins into the furnaces as alms. So they gave the coins that were mixed with the burning material in the furnaces. In the end, a 27 foot long bronze gun was prepared that had a 30-inch wide mouth. This gun was according what Sultan had told Orban about.
The gun as per the idea of Sultan Mehmed was ready. Now the gun was to be put to test. The cannon was taken out for test-fire in January 1453. The people were forewarned about the explosion that could sound them as thundering. People were advised not to get panicked. The pregnant women were also advised to take care against the bang of the gun fire. The gun was brought near the city gate and the rocky ball was put in it with the help of many people Candle fire was used to ignite the explosive at the bottom of the gun.
The fire of the rocky ball produced a deafening sound. The ball dropped at a distance of one mile. A six foot deep crater was created where the ball had landed. It was a successful experiment. The bang of the explosion was heard up to the distance of 10 miles. The Sultan spread the news of his success to Constantinople to demoralize Constantine and his army. Later Orban prepared many cannons but they were smaller to the super gun. Orban manufactured over 60 more cannons each around 14 feet long.
The Sultan had achieved both peace in the Sultanate and his dream guns. It meant Sultan Mehmed II, had met both the preconditions for attacking Constantinople. Now there was also no reason to delay the battle. Following the tribal tradition, the Sultan affixed a flag made of the horse’s tail at the courtyard of his palace. It was a declaration that the Sultan was going to wage the war. Through the messengers, Ameers across the Sultanate were ordered to reach Edirne with their armies.
As war methodology every Ameer was asked to bring maximum number of soldiers. The Ameers were also responsible for providing weapons, shields, and horses to the soldiers. By the Spring of 1453, an army of 200,000 Ottoman soldiers had gathered at Edirne. It also included a powerful fleet of 180 warships. Roman Emperor Constantine, had made Constantinople his capital a 1000 years ago. And when the Ottoman army was quite ready to pull down walls of this city… the namesake of Constantine was the Roman Emperor.
Constantine XI. This last Roman emperor had neither the heavy guns nor the army of 200,000 soldiers. But the Muslim and the Christian history showed him a brave emperor who had the spirit to fight till last. But bravery was not enough to combat heavy guns and the large army which the Ottomans had. Constantine needed means to face the Ottomans’ might. In this situation he rest a tremendous confidence in a source. It was something which neither the guns of the Ottomans nor their large army could deal with.
What was that in which a very weak Roman Emperor had such a great confidence? We will show you this in the next episode and meanwhile you make a guess in the comments section. In the comments below you write what was the thing Constantine XI trusted in the most and why? And also write what inspired you the most if you have been to Turkey or from its pictures? Yes, do touch the ‘Like Thumb’ below this video.
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