HomeTURKEY TRAVELLERSCITIES, TOWNS, VILLAGESThe Entire History of Constantinople

The Entire History of Constantinople

foreign [Music] standing out on Deck as we flank the city walls [Music] Eagles Glide overhead guiding Us in on our approach [Music] the views on the skyline coming in thick and fast foreign this isn’t just any Boat Trip the place oozes history [Music] beautiful day one of those very few throughout the year back home when it’s not too hot not too cold just right but that seems to be every day here I can see why the Ancients chose the place [Music] first glance a visitor could be forgiven for mistaking this Waterway for anywhere in the Mediterranean that’s when a massive Russian cargo vessel Thunders by Bound for the Black Sea and the distant riverways of the far north Beyond not too dissimilar to their Longboat wielding Roost predecessors for more than a thousand years in the past of course we’re headed to The Old City of Istanbul Metropolis now and always [Music] but it wasn’t always called that [Music] it’s had many names over the years [Music] one in particular more long-lasting and iconic than the rest Constantinople [Music] today the sea lanes are filled with tourist boats commercial vessels and the occasional warship [Music] but for most of its history this was one of the world’s Premier waterways the gateway to the Black Sea [Music] those who held it by default became rich and Powerful all they had to do was endure [Music] it was a Roman capital for over 1 000 years [Music] Greek colony before it and probably some kind of a settlement long before that [Music] and this is the Golden Horn where Europe meets Asia site of so many sieges and World defining conflicts over the long millennia it’s one of the most iconic seaways in the world my name’s Pete Kelly the past five years or so I’ve made it my mission to tell the stories of our ancestors travel to the great sites of the ancient world and to bring you along for the ride [Music] in October 2019 I made a trip here to a place I’d been reading about for more than a decade the place I talked about in at least 50 percent of my work to date excited is an understatement but on this journey I’m not alone I recruited my oldest friend to come along for the ride [Music] foreign cruising along these Waters it’s easy to Envision Roost dragon boats Venetian trading galleys Byzantine fire dromans and ottoman warships although centuries ago and oh what Delights the city itself has to offer [Music] when I was a broke house sharer in my mid-20s I lived next door to a kebab shop regularly I’d wake up bleary-eyed and confused after quaffing one too many fine ales of an evening often I’d be the first customer of the day for a breakfast kebab I never did see any other customers in there maybe it was a drug front who knows but kebabs still hold a dear place in my heart now I was headed for it All Began they stand Bull Birmingham [Music] what does it mean to a brummy football history great food hospitality [Music] all right I’ve come here in search of footage and The elusive first Kebab in history let’s go [Music] foreign buff what do you do when you first arrive in Istanbul get on the tram and go and see the theodosian walls just do it still encircling the entirety of the old city are the finest surviving examples of Roman walls standing anywhere in the world [Music] it’s almost unbelievable to think that these Mighty barricades with only a few additions in the ottoman era have stood here since the days of Attila the hunt [Music] protecting the city for a thousand years they trace around the entirety of the old Center snaking through neighborhoods and overlooking highways foreign [Music] but just don’t get lost when you get there [Music] we’re staying in the heart of the old city of course where better [Music] although the loudest family in the world are staying in the room above us and the hotel staff give us a double bed to share we can’t shake off the feeling that they think we’re a couple I’m sure Marco Polo had the same problem [Music] breakfast we leave the hotel greeted by tour guides along the way offering far-out Journeys to deepest Anatolia [Music] to the great copper age metropolises and world-renowned Stone Age temples the country has to offer built in a time when the horseback riding Byzantine still thundered across the wild steps thousands of kilometers to the north and east because of course this city too has Neolithic foundations [Music] and if you’re a fan of pre-history get yourself down to the excellent Museum of archeology it’s one of the most important collections in the world and one of the best I’ve ever been to not just housing hittite lewian phrygian Greek and Roman items from all over Anatolia but from all corners of the Ottoman Empire too it wasn’t just the British French and Germans who amassed Antiquities during their Imperial age foreign [Music] the Ottoman Empire was one of the largest of all here you can find Sumerian Assyrian even pre-islamic ancient Arabian artifacts it’s a massive place and like every visit to the British museum in London I get the feeling that I’m really only scratching the surface of what’s here [Music] but ancient Anatolia isn’t the focus of this trip not yet that’s for another day this time we’re focusing on the great City itself [Music] Constantinople as we know the place on the European side of the Bosphorus was founded long after all of those ancient empires [Music] foreign [Music] it’s a newcomer coming into existence only in the 7th Century BC in the mysterious centuries following the collapse of the Bronze Age world it had a different name then too byzantian it was founded by the Greeks foreign but don’t tell the Turks that in those bygone days Greek settlers spanned all sides of the Aegean and The Wider Mediterranean and black Seas Beyond founding cities and trading centers with very little opposition The Immortal words of Socrates they were frogs sitting around a pond [Music] in the future the Mediterranean would be known playfully as the Roman Lake but to begin with it was all Greek [Music] having already plied the water roads since the Mythic days of Jason and the Argonauts and the Trojan War in the second millennium BC Byzantium became especially prosperous [Music] anyone wishing to go through to those cities on the Black Sea of which there were a huge amount along with other stranger places homelands of Fierce scythians and proud cultions did so at the acquiescence of the rulers of the city and of course they grew rich [Music] foreign by the time of the expansion of the Roman Republic in the last few centuries BC not just here but all of Anatolia soon came under Roman influence and the byzantians having little choice either way made the decision to go with it a modest sized town then existed on this immensely strategically important location thank you soon enough ever-growing in size and power the place came under the direct control of the Romans but like many places in the Empire those who’d come on side were largely allowed to continue as they had before and rewarded for their loyalty with the Peace of Rome came yet more riches for merchants and Traders there is nothing better than peace by the 4th Century A.D the stage was set for byzantium’s most glorious phase yet not far from where we’re staying stand the ruins of the old hippodrome and a massive column erected here during the late Roman world this is Constantine’s column and such was his Fame and power that the city would be renamed for him Rome‘s first Christian emperor though little remains now in its day the Hippodrome would have been a sight to behold massive arena for games and Civic ceremonies a little like the Colosseum of ancient Rome but for a more modern audience [Music] unlike the gladiatorial combat of the Pagan past another sport was favored here arguably no less brutal [Music] the atmosphere of the chariot races of Constantinople must have been incredible to behold the Thundering of hooves the din of the crowd not to mention the prolonged Street battles that waged between die-hard factions of fans before and after the games on one notable occasion in the 6th Century the emperor Justinian nearly lost the city and his throne to these gangs of late antique Hooligans known as the blues Reds and greens [Music] Justinian ultimately ended up ordering tens of thousands of them to be massacred to save his Empire it puts modern football hooliganism to shame [Music] speaking of football I’m with Joe after all so we head to the ground of fenerbachi FC ataturk’s favorite team and Rivals of Istanbul‘s other major player galatasaroy they take their football very seriously over here buses carrying players have been shot at before and the violence of their fans has historically given hours in England a run for their money just like in Roman times the SE guys are professionals waging Street battles between various factions there isn’t a game on while we’re there unfortunately but we get a good sense of the place nonetheless [Music] I think of the amphitheater the Coliseum the chariot races [Music] screaming crowds [Music] [Music] it’s a Pity the entire tour is in Turkish but oh well [Music] just as the rest of the Roman Empire fell to pieces in the 5th and 6th centuries Riven by Foreign invasions from Beyond The Pale [Music] the early Byzantine era is a fascinating and brutal time of opulence and Majesty here at a Crossroads between Europe and Asia the culture of the Empire increasingly diverged from the West [Music] enthralled to an incoming class of Germanic Warrior Lords [Music] here Greek became the main language and Greek culture continued to rise in prominence the evidence of those years can still be seen all over the city if you look in the right places we visit an incredible underground water system built by those Roman rulers close to 1500 years ago [Music] [Music] until roadworks dug this place up in the 19th century no one had any idea it was here today it’s very touristy I can’t imagine the dower zealous Emperors of Eastern Rome would approve but at least it survives and you can visit [Music] I’m reminded of the minds of Moria and Lord of the Rings how amazing that this sort of Technology was lost everywhere else in Europe when this was built soon it would be lost here too for Byzantium has a strange history in intermittent terminal decline for a thousand years not far from the completely crowded Aya Sofia and Blue Mosque the biomosaic museum so much to see from the Western Days of late antiquity Once Upon a Time this had been an Imperial Palace and the mosaics found here are some of the best preserved you can see anywhere no one was in there at all when we visited to see the amazing classical images uncovered only very recently miraculously having remained hidden for so many centuries of course they’d been covered up with good reason if they’d been found earlier during the Ottoman era they likely would have been destroyed [Music] as far as I’m concerned it’s unfortunate that Islamic art doesn’t generally allow the depiction of individuals even their own depictions from the 7th and 8th centuries have largely been destroyed [Music]

because well this ban wasn’t always the norm foreign there’s plenty of amazing Islamic art and we see a lot of it at the Museum of Islamic Art one of my highlights of the trip incredible geometric stuff but I do like a depiction of an individual an early medieval monarch [Music] I’d love to be able to see some of the early caliphs as depicted by their own contemporary artists Searchers did exist at places like the umayyad Palace of the frescoes in the Levant not those made hundreds of years later but such is history [Music] we also visit some of the oldest churches in the city the Cora Church where yet more recently uncovered mosaics can be seen and another in a much more normal neighborhood of Istanbul almost completely forgotten and more kebabs of course [Music] and ice cream we round off the day in an authentic ottoman restaurant during the days of that later Empire so much had been inherited from their Roman predecessors outlandish exotic dishes were common drawn from all corners of the Empire perfected by armies of chefs in the pay of the upper echelons of high society [Music] I try a traditional kebab that’s very different from my days in snenten what a place [Music] [Music] foreign city of Constantinople declining in influence for centuries was finally conquered by the Ottomans in 1453 in truth the place was a shadow of what it had once been [Music] those still considered one of the great cities of the world 250 years earlier it had been an even more impressive sight to behold the greatest but of course 1200 was the time of the Crusades and it wasn’t just the holy land that bore the wrath of those zealous adventurous [Music] five years before whilst passing through Venice on an interrailing trip around Europe I witnessed for myself the Majesty that had once stood in Constantine City foreign there to Saint Mark’s Square from halfway across the Mediterranean when the place was sacked during The Fourth Crusade not by Muslims but by the Crusaders themselves I also later passed through one of the sea Empires which inherited the power once held by Constantinople its far roaming trade ships and spice Merchants filling the void left behind here once existed the city-state of Ragusa better known today as Dubrovnik [Music] for it wasn’t just the Muslim Turks who really destroyed the power of the Eastern Empire but their Western Catholic co-religionists [Music] the complicated and intermingle story of Byzantium and the West is one of the great tragic tales of the high Middle Ages for brief moments in the later 10th Century it looked like the entire Empire might be reforged [Music] Imperial houses of the East and the West United under a single family ancient Rome made anew but of course it wasn’t to be far too much had happened in the century since by the time of the final Schism of the 11th century the two halves of Europe had already diverged so much in the 700 years since Constantine’s day to be utterly unrecognizable almost every facet of life was different not to mention politics architecture and the church but how did it all happen well let’s find out where next to go on a trip to Istanbul of course the is Sofia largest building in the world when it was built by Justinian in the 6th century [Music] during a time when almost no buildings in stone were built in Western Europe at all still fewer that survive an immensely impressive sight when we went the walls were still covered with Incredible mosaics Christian iconography and the Eastern Emperors of old [Music] this place was the heart of Orthodox Christianity for a thousand years [Music] I came looking to evidence of one of the most interesting Bodyguards of the Medieval World hereditary Institution for hundreds of years King makers and Viking Marauders of course I came searching for the varangian guard it’s almost unbelievable to think that this graffiti was etched here A Thousand Years Ago by board Norseman I can imagine them sitting back watching one of the Endless droning sermons in a language they didn’t even understand no wonder they etched these famous runes recording their presence here for posterity but what do they say well this one simply reads half Dan was here and by that time this city had weathered Siege after Siege attack after attack all through the Early Middle Ages for well over 500 years [Music] fearsome Huns and avars assistant Arab caliphs and bulgar khans and by the 11th century the Imperial house stood under very real threat of losing its Authority altogether to a new breed of usurper Warrior generals from within the aristocracy magnates like John zimaskis and nicerous focus [Music] literary power and sometimes popularity threatened to turn the Imperial position into one akin to the popes in the West after a series of spectacular downfalls and civil conflict however Under The Firm rule of the young reigning Emperor basil II later to be known as the Bulger Slayer a ruler who fused the hereditary might of the Imperial house with the power of the military it would all be turned around [Music] it’s amazing to know that many buildings here still survive from that time well over a thousand years ago [Music] and yet the Glory Days of reconquest were to be brief a mere generation or two before the rot of bureaucracy and cronyism kicked in again following Basil’s expansionist Reign a number of weak ineffectual Emperors ruled their machinations and politicking every bit as Shakespearean as later High medieval rulers in the West [Music] fascinating as this era is Imperial apparatus was rotting from within by the 1070s heralded by outriders for nearly a hundred years already Great Wave of newcomers arrived flames of burned out cities in eastern Anatolia signaling their advance a new age was about to Dawn the Turks had arrived [Music] another must visit Museum in Istanbul I mentioned earlier not far from the Aya Sofia is the Museum of Islamic art and in this Museum alongside all manner of amazing artwork from Muhammad to the Ottomans all through the Islamic era we have one of my favorite cultures of all that of the seljuk Turks [Music] many of the carvings here come from the city of Iconium modern day conure in central Anatolia that would soon be established as a capital by those turkic Invaders from the step and in these artworks we get a unique glimpse into their culture very different from the more established Muslim cultures of the region [Music] adherence to Islamic Dogma these newcomers were not [Music] like Irishmen and Vikings during the Early Middle Ages they’d accepted the abrahamic faith on their own terms and they didn’t play by many of its strictest rules they simply didn’t have to militarily Supreme having taken on the mantle of Saviors of the sunny Faith against the heretical Shiite fatimids in Egypt they didn’t have to answer to anyone islamized step Warriors the seljuks had far more in common with the christianized Norsemen in the varangian guard than it might first appear [Music] there artists and Artisans didn’t adhere to the strict rules on individualistic art they often Drew and sculpted animals and people and it’s really impressive stuff and like the Vikings their art is more derived from the animal art style of the step than the world of the city builders its roots lying in the Wilds of the altai mountains rather than the cities of Mesopotamia [Music]   in 1071 when the forces of the sultan Alp are slam triumphant in battle against rivals in his own family faced off against Eastern Roman Emperor Romanus IV diogenes on the plains of manzakert it was the step tactics of the Turks that won the day tens of thousands of horse archers encircled the emperor again and again hacking into his forces much of which were comprised of mercenaries who soon abandoned him but al-baslan he didn’t kill Romanus sending him back to the city with gifts and a peace settlement instead his enemies were the fatimids in Egypt when Romanus returned to the city though he was blinded by political rivals dying in agony from his wounds [Music] engulfing the empire into Civil War when albertland 2 died the next year the peace treaty went with him opening the door to a torrent of further turkic invasions into Anatolia [Music] from then on constantinople’s History became a complicated one the playing off the Turks against the westerners now invited in by the new emperor Alexius komnenus as a last-ditch effort to save his Empire new type of ruler who’d been born in the chaos Alexius actually numbered Turks in his personal retinue and had often fought alongside them against Normans during his lengthy career in Anatolia [Music] the invitation that he sent to the West was enthusiastically taken up by not only princes and Lords but the pope himself whether Alexius liked it or not First Crusade was on the way in one of the most impressive logistical Feats of the age Alexius who really had just wanted a small group of hardened Warriors not a flood of humanity did all he could to move the westerners on through his lands as quickly as possible he was successful but not all of his successors would be [Music] a hundred years later another invitation to the city was extended this one by a deposed Emperor seeking to reclaim his throne by any means necessary [Music] initially aiming for Egypt Fourth Crusade a mostly Venetian and Frankish Affair agreed to stop off on route to install Alexius IV in return for a hefty fee of course the problem was Egypt was so far away and when the newly and stated Emperor couldn’t pay up negotiations broke down and the City was put to the sword foreign taking part in The Siege horrified at how events had played out their Crusade had been a holy mission after all earned around in disgust and left [Music] for the others motivated by a hunger for gold and riches Constantinople would do nicely [Music] contemporary writers like Jeffrey vilhardoon and Robert De Clary describe in Vivid detail the variety of tortures and violence meted out against the holy city [Music]  it would never be the same again never again unified into a hole divided as it was into a number of successor States one of which at trebizond on the Black Sea would actually outlive Constantinople for a number of years to come Constantinople was shamelessly ruled over by a new Latin emperor foreign the first of which though Baldwin the first after a Savage defeat by the newly independent Bulgarian State disappeared into captivity living out the rest of his days imprisoned in a bleak Tower his head allegedly turned into a drinking cup for of course the bulgas now saw their opportunity to solidify their new Second Empire permanently taking the lands north of Constantinople a ever-threatening the great City for the exiled Roman Nobles ruling over the Greek peninsula The Next Century would be spent waging perennial Wars in an attempt to reclaim the place in those decades conflict raged between Byzantine holdouts and Western claimants [Music] not to mention Venetian Merchant Lords seljuk Sultans and bulgar cards [Music] when the byzantines finally succeeded in getting the place back the world but moved on [Music] it was a shell no longer the greatest in the world [Music] by that time in the 14th century though the great city was back in Imperial hands Anatolia was completely lost and much of the islands and Mainland Balkans never to be reclaimed they might not have realized it but when those Roman Warriors took the city back celebrating their glorious victory the end was all ready on the way out on the steps of Anatolia a new Clan began rising to the fore amongst the Turkish balex ruled by a powerful political Mastermind his name was Osman his descendants would form one of the most powerful Empires the world would ever know bringing Europe to its knees from then on until the end of its independence in the 15th century the capital hung on where the skin of its teeth its immense walls and stature allowing it to survive increasingly backward hemmed in an ever-changing new world another must do for a trip to the great City well a boat trip of course Istanbul is full of them we Cruise out along the Golden Horn skirting along the seaward walls into a view of both European and Asian sides of the city new worlds United today by a massive Bridge but back in the 15th century they were Worlds Apart one side besides the small genoan colony of Galata was under the control of the turkic Ottoman sultanate the other the Romans just as it had been for well over a thousand years a huge chain crossed over the harbor back then stopping any unwanted visitors from making it in while protecting friendly vessels Within [Music] a little further down the coast we see our first view of those ottoman rulers this is rumeli Fortress completed by the sultan mehmed II in 1452. to dominate this artery of trade it was one of the final set pieces in a lengthy protracted attempt to strangle the great City once completed anyone attempting to get into the place from the North had to run a gauntlet of guns and War vessels arrayed by the shore we stop off and have a delightful lunch and then we crack on aside from having an excellent taste in hats the Young mehmed II was absolutely determined to take Constantinople obsessed with Alexander the Great from a young age similarly teenaged Emperor he saw himself as the great conqueror of his age having dreamed of taking the city as a boy when he became Sultan at just 19. he decided he was the chosen one to do it dedicating all of his time to the task [Music] despite the fact that so many of his predecessors had tried and failed over the previous century conquering vast swathes of the Balkans instead undaunted mehmed set his plans to action alongside his battle-hardened army of tens of thousands of men had a large Navy and a secret weapon [Music] the largest guns the world had ever seen constructed by a Hungarian armorer specifically designed to bring the walls down but the Romans wouldn’t go down without a fight [Music] alongside Elite household Warriors vestiges of the vaunted legions of old battle hardened genoan mercenaries fought for their livelihoods and their homes they’d lived inside the city for Generations foreign s themselves were still immensely strong able to withstand anything thrown at them so the Defenders thought of course despite the dizzying gods stacked up against them morale was high [Music] The Defenders firmly believed they had God on their side [Music] however after a lengthy Siege breach was made macmed clutched Victory from the verge of defeat Constantine the last Roman emperor charged to his Doom [Music] heading into where the fighting was thickest never to be seen again [Music] upon taking the city mehmed was relatively lenient for the time of course the place was sacked and many sold into slavery but not everyone was killed and the architecture largely survived the place was to be his crowning glory after all the churches were changed to mosques and it became the new capital of the Ottoman Empire thus began the Golden Age of the Ottomans for hundreds of years by far the most powerful State on the European mainland and a perennial existential menace to the various states of the Balkans and Eastern Europe that seemingly never-ending Advance into Christian Europe wouldn’t be truly ended until the 17th and 18th centuries only at slightly awkward geographical position halted the Ottomans from claiming an overseas Empire in the Americas [Music] thus losing out in the slow Battle of capitalism on the waves fought by the European powers though the Ottomans had a massive Empire of Their Own they tended to look to the east rather than the West today though Roman buildings like the Aya Sofia are wildly impressive some of the greatest architecture in the city dates from that ottoman era foreign the Blue Mosque completed in 1616 by the sultan Ahmed the first is one of the most impressive and we see a number of other immensely impressive sites my favorite places of the trip is the Museum of Islamic science an incredible insight into the fascinating world of Muslim technological achievements [Music] we see devices ranging from the ottoman era all the way back into the days of the Abbasid caliphs hundreds of years before a similarly Majestic age of immense intellectual achievement [Music] this artifact isn’t from the age of discovery though they were used then too this is an astrolabe used to navigate the high seas and it’s over a thousand years old in the 9th century whilst Europeans fought off Norseman and Magyar horse riders during one of the darkest centuries they’d ever known Muslim Mariners explored and mapped the world amassing books and knowledge under the Abbasid caliph Alma Moon saving many of the classic works of the ancient world for us to read today and most amazing of all for me sight I’d been dreaming of here is a replica of the very first kebab maker in history truly those Ottomans were in advanced people [Music] all things must come to an end and by the 19th century it was the Turks who’d fallen behind [Music] like the Romans before them they were now the dinosaurs in this new age of Commerce [Music] Financial adventurers of the other European powers spanned all over the globe their Railways and steamboats chugging around every sea and continent and now it would be European Engineers who’d arrive in Anatolia sell their services to improve the Aging sometimes still essentially medieval infrastructure the Ottomans began to be called the old man of Europe [Music] we pass by a massive Palace from the later years of that Empire we’re told the entire thing was cast in bronze and brought here from Vienna [Music] the empires of the austro-hungarians and the Ottomans cooperating during this time and relations prospering [Music] towards the end of our boat trip we stop off at another massive Palace it’s not too dissimilar to stately homes I’ve seen all over Britain and there are other similarities too to the age of Victoria this is a relic of a time when similarly conservative political leaders ruled a similarly vast and sprawling Empire but that Ottoman Empire would soon be dead in the first world war the Ottomans lost out [Music] technological disparity quickly showing through the Germans had helped them build Railways in the decades before the war but they’d picked the losing horse despite their devastating defeat of the British at Gallipoli the Russians made advances in the east and the Armenians declared independence soon enough the entire Empire would be lost carved up between Brits and French leading to the bizarre situation of Immaculate straight-lined borders that we have today drawn in the Sand by French and British diplomats with very little knowledge of the region like many places in the world turkey’s Great War didn’t truly end until the mid-1920s though which time a brutal Civil War had raged with the Greeks who once lived all over the country genocide or Fury directed against Armenians [Music] and out of that chaos a new order and a new ruler emerged one who would latinize the Turkish alphabet and modernize the country a friend to Churchill and a snubber of Hitler he was at a Turk still revered today as the father of modern turkey but today that new secular turkey is increasingly at risk who knows what the future will hold as always I leave turkey filled with ore I can’t wait to return thanks for watching don’t forget to like And subscribe if you enjoyed the video it really does help me out and let me know where you’d like to see me visit next and I’ll see you next time [Music]



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