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By Roger Crowley

A gripping exploration of the autumn of Constantinople and its connection to the area we are living in today.

The fall of Constantinople in 1453 signaled a shift in historical past and the top of the Byzantium Empire. Roger Crowley's readable and accomplished account of the conflict among Mehmet II, sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and Constantine XI, the 57th emperor of Byzantium, illuminates the interval in background that used to be a precursor to the present clash among the West and the center East.

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Extra info for 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West

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When the Ottomanist solution did not work, Muslim intellectuals, including some Ottomanists, began to voice a discourse of Islamism as a way of finding a common ground, now among remaining Muslim subjects of the empire. Turkish nationalism developed partly as a secular translation of Islamism and partly as a reaction to the failure of the Islamic ideal of unity. There were two streams of Turkish nationalism: an ethnic nationalism, which was defended by Akçura, and a cultural nationalism, which was formulated by Ziya Gökalp among others.

18 This was the beginning of a long-enduring Turkish strategy of containing the Russian threat through alliances with major European powers. “The Concert of Europe,” that came into effect after the Congress of Vienna in 1814, established a balance of power that would continue until the outbreak of the First World War. Yet Russian expansionist motives regarding the Ottoman territories were regarded as threatening the balance. 19 The foundations of the classical Turkish grand strategy of seeking to balance Russia through alliance with Western powers were laid down during this period, which witnessed at least a partial convergence of European and Ottoman interests.

Ottoman intellectuals developed three alternative responses or identity discourses to tackle the challenge of finding a common ground for the diverse population of the empire: liberalism (Ottomanism), Islamism, and Turkish nationalism. Each of these discourses emerged in response to a previous one in the order in which they are listed. They were also very much influenced by each other. Ottomanism, or the idea of Ottoman patriotism, was expressed in Islamic terminology, and Turkism even in its most secular expressions was never formulated in contradiction to Islam.

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