The Fall of Constantinople

1453 The Fall of Constantinople.jpgConstantinople was built-in the year 330 by Constantine. It was captured in both the years 1204 and 1261. It lost much of its populations from the black death in the years 1346-1349.

A problem arose when Constantine the Eleventh realized that Mehmed the Second (the Sultan of Ottoman) was preparing for war. He call on Europe for help but because of the papal schism they were still at odds. He gained 7,000 men and 2,000 of them were foreigners. Mehmed had 50,000-80,000 men this making the odds more in his favor (he also had many ships and cannons).

Constantine really tried to defend his city but it still fell. It is believed that the Ottomans still did suffer much from this battle. Mehmed looted the city for three days and then allowed the citizens to continue living their lives. They were now under the power of the Ottoman Empire though. This was the end of the remains of the Roman Empire. It also marks the end of the Middle Ages. Constantinople’s name was changed to Istanbul and became the capital of the Ottoman Empire.

The fall of Constantinople led to many changes. Some of which would be the use of cannons would become more popular or the old religions of the time were pretty much gotten rid of. This event was yet another part of God’s perfect plan and he used it for the glory of Him. Sometimes terrible things like war are used for the best of reasons.

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The Black Death

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The black death was an epidemic plague that spread in Europe in the year 1348. It was going around for a while but the recognized date was 1348. This great plague killed 30-60% of Europe’s populations. Due to the numerous amount of deaths working men became scares and this let to less food coming to harvest. Even more deaths came from the famine that was produced from the plague.

Symptoms of the plague were boils, fevers, aches, chills, and vomiting. The boils or spots would turn black and you would have just a few days left after this. Doctors did not have enough knowledge to know how to treat the disease. They tried dangerous things like bloodletting but all was in vain.

Some people believed the plague was judgement from God and they whipped themselves in public. This was their attempt to make it right with God. I believe that it could be very likely that it was God’s judgment. The people did not help themselves at all because they did not respond how God would want them to. God wants them to repent from their sins not try to take punishment into their own hands. It may have been painful and embarrassing to be whipped in public but it is not what God would require. Therefore they embarrassed themselves on their own accord and gained absolutely nothing from it.

You may not have known it but you most likely sang a poem about the plague as a child. The poem Ring Around The Rosy is a poem about the black death. Rosy symbolizes the red spots that would appear when you infected by the plague. Posies symbolize the bundles of flowers that people would carry around to try to help with the smell from the bodies of the dead. Ashes symbolize the bodies that had to be burned to try to control the smell. What may have been a sweet poem to recite is actually telling a story about a terrible plague.

The plague was mostly gone by 1350 but did show up a few times in the 19th century. It took Europe approximately 150 years to regain its numbers. The plague was a major dent in Europe’s history.

The Hundred Years’ War

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In the year 1066 William the Conqueror who was also the Duke of Normandy invaded England and took it. William was still a vassal of the king in France and this caused a big problem. England and France became at odds and it was not going to end quickly.

In 1337 Edward the Third of England would not pay homage to Philip the Sixth of France. He even claimed to be the rightful king of France. Due to an ancient law code Philip became king instead.

A major place in the wars was Gascony. The problem with Gascony was that it was part of France but had been a duchy of England for a long time. In 1337 it was agreed that it should be part of France.

The wars are divided into three parts. They were the Edwardian Era (1337-1360), the Caroline War (1369-1389), and the Lancastrian Era (1415-1453).

The first battle began on June 22, 1340. It was known as the Battle of Sluys and it was won by Edward the Third of England. In 1346 he then captured the city of Caen and followed this with a victory at the battle of Crecy. Then he captured the city of Calais. The wars had a pause because of the black death but are continued with the next kings.

Edward the Black Prince led the battle in 1356 and won a victory in the Battle of Pointier. The king of France, John the Second, was captured and his son succeeded him. Then came the Treaty of Bretigny which lasted 1360-1369.

Richard the second of England was the son of the Black Prince. He did not really want to fight so a peace was made in the years 1389-1415. Then the English king Henry the Fifth started the wars up again.

The English and French met at the Battle of Agincourt. The battlegrounds were muddy and small. This led to the victory of the English because of their lightweight armors unlike the French who got stuck in the mud easily. Henry then became the Duke of Normandy. In 1420 he married the French princess Catherine. Treaty of Troyes ended this part of the war with a promise that Henry’s son would rule France.

Joan of Arc turned the war around and gave victories to the French. She had visions coming from saints telling her to help save France. She went to see the king at age 16 and was turned down three times first. She later got to see him and he allowed her to raise an army against the English. She laid siege on Saint Loup and won. She made the path clear for Charles the Seventh to be crowned king. Joan was later captured and tried for heresy. She was burned at the stake on May 30th, 1431. She was known as the “Maiden of Orleans”. The wars went on for many years after her death but she definitely affected the wars greatly.

 

 

 

 

 

John Wycliffe

thJohn Wycliffe was the first to promote the Reformation. He is known as “The Morning Star of the Reformation”. He was born in about 1320 near Yorkshire, England. In 1374 he went to Lutterworth and lived there for the rest of his life.

John was against indulgences and believed the scriptures should govern the church not the Pope. The Pope greatly disliked him for his preaching. He was widely popular in England so the Pope was wasn’t as harsh as he could have been. Pope Gregory issued five bulls (official documents) against John. He did not however excommunicate him.

At the time it was believed that God’s Word should not be for everyday use to the people. John believed otherwise and wanted everyone to have access to one. He began to translate the Bible for people to read. He died before it was completed but his friend was credited for finishing it.

In the year 1384, John Wycliffe, suffered from a stoke and died. His followers were known as the Lollards and continued his teachings.

He was so hated by the Pope that his works were all burned and his bones dug up and also burned. All of this was an attempt to rid of what John had started. John’s teachings instead lived on and despite the struggles of the Pope they continued to flourish.

William Wallace

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William Wallace was born around the year 1270 and grew up to be a Scottish landowner. During the his childhood, Alexander the third was reining. Alexander’s granddaughter preceded him but after her death there was no heir. Edward of England was suggested but the people of Scotland chose John Balliol. John left his throne and Edward became king of Scotland and England. The people still viewed John as king and did not want to be governed by the English.

When he was not yet thirty years old he led an army against the English. He burned the city of Lanmark and killed the sheriff while doing so. He met in battle with the English near Stirling. Even though he was outnumbered he still won the battle of Stirling Bridge. When he went back to Scotland he was knighted and named the Guardian of the Kingdom.

A few months later Edward tried to attack the Scots. The Scots followed them to try to break them in their weak points. Edward’s army found out and fought with them and won. Edward was then crowned king in the year 1304. Wallace did escaped from the battle.

Unfortunately, a Scottish knight who was loyal to Edward betrayed Wallace. William was convicted of treason in Westminster Hall. He was executed in an absolutely horrible way. It was terribly painful and he was cut into pieces and each part was hung throughout Scotland as a warning to the other Scots. I have heard two different accounts of what William said as he was being executed. The first was that William yelled “freedom” right before he died. The second was that William was singing Psalms to the Lord. I certainly hope for the latter.

William Wallace will always be remembered as a martyr and a hero.

Marco Polo

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Marco Polo was actually born into a family of travelers. He inherited the love for travel from his father (Niccilo Polo) and his uncle (Maffeo Polo).  He was probably born in Venice where he lived with his aunt and uncle. His mother had died and his father and uncle were believed to be dead as well.

His father and uncle were not dead. What had happened was when they were traveling they had been captured. They were saved by Kublai Khan’s army and convinced to return to China. They were treated very well and Kublai Khan was very interested in their lifestyle. He requested that they send a message to the Pope and ask for 100 monks and holy oils. He wanted the monks to teach his people. They agreed to do as he asked.

Marco was fifteen years old when he first met his father. Marco went on the journey back to China with his father and uncle to take the things the Khan had asked for. Marco was fascinated with China and he immediately began writing about it. They were all treated like royalty and given whatever they wanted. Marco was most surprised by the paper money and the coal. The money was surprising because they thought money should be gold or silver. The coal he was also fascinated by and he described it as “stones that burn like logs”.  The Khan quite liked Marco and asked him to be his Privy Council in the year 1277.

He spent 17 years in China and learned four languages. They all decided to return to Venice in fear of a new Khan. They asked Kublai Khan to leave and he refused but later allowed them to leave with a princess on her way to marry a Persian prince. They did not easily fit in when they got back and had a hard time speaking Italian. Marco became a galley ship captain during a war. He eventually married and had four daughters. He never returned to China but encouraged others to travel.

Marco’s book, Travels of Marco Polo was not really accepted as true. It even was given the nickname ” The Million Lies”. Marco said that it was all true and he had not even written half of what he saw. Marco fell ill in the year 1323 and died in 1324. His book influenced many travelers. Most notably his book was found in Christopher Columbus’ ship.

Saint Francis of Assisi

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The Franciscan order of monks was founded by Saint Francis. Saint Francis was born in the year 1182 to a wealthy family. This was right after the first two crusades.  He had a very carefree manner throughout his lifetime.

He eventually joined the military and during his time there he was taken as a prisoner. Many people believe this is where he was converted to Christ. He managed to go back home but still had a very carefree character. This is one reason we cannot be sure he was converted during his imprisonment.

A year later Francis became very ill. And, when he rejoined the army in 1204 he had a vision that led him to return to Assisi and learn more about Christianity. He spent a lot of time alone asking God for wisdom and direction. His family was unhappy with his decision but Francis renounced his father and continued on. He preached repentance to many people. His followers were called the Franciscan monks.

Francis was known for his love of nature. It is said that he even would preach to the birds. Today we have veterinarians that work in places called Saint Francis of Assisi. They would have named their storefronts this for their similar love to animals that Saint Francis had.

Saint Francis a few years before his death claimed that he had wounds like Christ did on his hands. He also became blind in the year 1224. In the year 1226 he died singing Psalms 142.