On this day, 5 April in 1453, the Ottoman Turkish Sultan, Mehmet II “The Conqueror” (1451-1481) arrived to join his army establishing its siege of Constantinople. The people of the city had experienced many (long) sieges over the preceding centuries. They had reason to hope; the thousand year old walls of Theodosius remained strong, and their faith in the Virgin Mary was unshakeable. How many times had She saved the city before? Why would She not save them again?
The Byzantine Emperor was appropriately enough named Constantine, the eleventh to bear that name; and he would be the last. He had prepared the city for the expected attack, and had organised large stores of arms, cleared the ditches, and repaired the walls. The citizens had worked to support their Emperor, stopping only for the Easter celebrations in Hagia Sophia (1 April). He had called upon allies for help but none was forthcoming, save seven hundred Genoese led by Giovanni Giustiniani Longo.
Night fell. The dawn would bring the roar of Mehmet’s cannon.