There are very few dates in the history of the world that should be remembered as May 29, 1453 should. On that date the City of Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks. The fall of Constantinople not only marked the end of the 1,500 year-old Holy Roman Empire but also the end of the Middle Ages in Europe and the beginning of a new era in the history of the world. The City of Constantinople, named for the Byzantine Emperor Constantine the Great, who laid out the plans for the new Christian city in 330 A.D., marked the dividing point between two great continents and two great religions, Europe and Asia - Christianity and Islam. In the 1400's the city became a gathering point of all cultures-European and Asian- to mix their knowledge of the arts and sciences. For the Turks, led by the 21-year-old Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, taking Constantinople would open the door for Islam to spread throughout all of Europe. As the Turks rampaged through Constantinople on May 29, 1453 raping and killing, the scholars, poets and artists of the city fled west to Europe taking their knowledge with them. They settled in countries like France and Italy where a new philosophy, Humanism, would give rise to the Renaissance and the birth of the modern world. After the Turks took Constantinople they renamed the city Istanbul. That name became official in 1930; which brings us to swing dance music. In 1953 the musical sensation known as the Four Lads released the song “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” which was covered by the band They Might Be Giants on their Album Flood released in 1990. They Might Be Giants performed at the Five Points South Music Hall in Birmingham, Ala., on September 15, 1999 where I saw them perform the song, a delight I must say. Enjoy the song in the Youtube link below as we celebrate May 29, 1453!
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org