The Turks, Led by Mohammed II, Take Constantinople
Amid the awful tumult of the Janizaries' furious charge the emperor was seen trying to encourage his men; but it was in vain. Broken and panic-stricken they fled before the irresistible attack of the fierce horsemen; but Constantine realizing that his empire was lost, refused to fly, and fighting to the last, fell dead upon a heap of his slain companions.
Constantinople was now left helpless, a prey to barbarous hordes of conquerors. Amid dreadful scenes of carnage, bands of wild Asiatics rushed from house to house, pillaging and destroying; women and children were collected together, a wretched band of captives, to be carried away as slaves by their heathen captors, while all resistance was put down by the sword. For three days Mohammed permitted his savage followers to plunder and kill as they would. Forty thousand of the unfortunate inhabitants were slain, while sixty thousand, yet more unfortunate, were carried away captive.
It is related, that during the sack of Constantinople, the Turks took the cross form the spire of the great church of St. Sophis, and writing over it, "This is the Gos of the Christians," carried the sacred emblem around the city, and exposed it to the contempt of the soldiers. The body of the emperor being found among the slain, was also subjected to insult. Mohammed commanded the head to be stuck on a spear, and exhibited it to the mocking crowd. Such Christians as escaped from the wreck of the empire fled to parts of Western and Northern Europe; the ancient, imperial city itself became, and has ever since remained, the home of the sultans and the citadel of Mohammedanism.
Thus the ancient capital of the Roman empire, which had been founded by a Constantine, fell during the reign of another Constantine, eleven hundred and twenty-three years later, into the hands of the barbarians of Asia.
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