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(The Death of Constantine cont'd)

Apart from the obvious inconsistencies in this account, as tο whether Constantine died at the Gate of St Romanos or at the Golden Gate, there are several fabrications. There was nο Patriarch of Constantinople at the time to receive and honour the Emperor's head or give him his blessing; there was nο Empress, wife of Constantine, to be rescued by boat; and the Great Church of St Sophia, beneath whose altar the imperial relic is alleged to have been buried, was closed to Christians immediately after the conquest. The Diary of Nestor Iskinder may originally have been a straightforward record of events. But it accumulated fictitious and legendary accretions with the passage of the years.

The abundance of conflicting testimony makes it impossible to be certain about the place and the manner of Constantine's death. The Greek tradition maintained that he was killed as a hero, or a martyr, fighting at or near the Gate of St Romanos; while the Turkish and Slav traditions set the scene by the Golden Gate, whether or not he met his death as he was trying to run away. Naturally nο Greek historian would take kindly to the suggestion that the last Byzantine Emperor met his death while trying to escape. Οn the other hand, the honour and glory of the Turks were not enhanced by the admission that the Emperor had been killed and decapitated without being recognised; that his regalia had been lost or stolen; and that his head was never brought to the Sultan, as Tursun Beg and Ibn Kemal imply. The Greek tradition is  reinforced  by  the  fact  that  the  authors  of  the  earliest contemporary accounts, Leonardo of Chios and Nicoḷ Barbaro, were inclined to belittle the bravery of the Greeks. Οn the whole it is perhaps best to accept one or other version of what the last Byzantine historians have to say about Constantine's death. It is certainly kinder to the memory of one who was without doubt a courageous man of action, 'a prince worthy of immortality', as Sagundino  called  him.44  He  died,  as  a  later  lament  over Constantinople puts it, 'having enjoyed none of the fruits of his high office, save that of being known as the Emperor who perished in the general destruction of the Empire of the Romans'.45

A most charming legend of Constantine's death is contained in another of the many laments for the fall of the city. It tells how the wretched Emperor Constantine, when the Turks broke in at the Gate of St Romanos, was guarding the walls with some of his nobles.

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Other Greek Historic Events:  

  • The Balkan Wars · During these wars that occurred in the early 20th century Greece managed to double its' territory and population.
  • Katoxi · A sad time in modern Greek history when Greece was occupied by the Axis forces between 1941-1944.
  • Oxi · "No" - Greece's response to an ultimatum by Italy  in the second world war which would have resulted in the subjugation of Greece to the Axis. Greece enters the war against the Axis powers.
  • Article on the Asia Minor Disaster (by the New York Times) · A great disaster for Hellenism, the forced expulsion and murder of millions of Greeks in Turkey in the early 20th century.


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