Mehmed II, the Conqueror (ca. 1432-1481) was a Turkish sultan who conquered Constantinople and ruthlessly consolidated and enlarged the Ottoman Empire with a military crusade into Asia and Europe.
Mehmed Celebi, the third son of the Ottoman sultan Murad II, was born on March 30, 1432 (or 1430, as cited in some sources). Though much is known of his father, very little is known of his mother. According to some traditions she was a French princess, while others refer to her simply as an Italian woman named Estella. In later custom, she is referred to as Huma Hatan, after the bird of paradise of Persian legend. Yet most likely, Mehmed's mother was a slave, and there is evidence to suggest that she was a recent convert from Judaism.
The first years of the prince were spent in the harem of the palace at Erdine (in the European territories of the Empire), although in 1434 he was sent to Amaysa, in eastern Anatolia. According to custom, at five years of age he was given the governorship of the city, with a number of carefully chosen councillors, for his first taste of authority. In 1439, he was brought back to Erdine for his circumcision ceremonies whereupon he was given a different governorship.
Mehmed had not been his father's favorite son. The impetuous and headstrong prince had been difficult to control and to educate. Yet when his brother was strangled one night in bed, the 11-year-old Mehmed became the heir to his father's throne and was summoned to Erdine to learn of the workings of government.
Although Murad had made numerous military excursions himself, he hoped generally to secure peace to the east and to the west of the Empire. Yet in 1444, Christian forces advanced into Ottoman territory on the second crusade in two years. Leaving his son in charge at court, Murad prepared to meet this threat to his state. That summer, while his father was away, Mehmed briefly enjoyed the authority of the sultanate for the first time.
On November 10, in a major battle at Varna on the Black Sea, the Turkish army defeated the Crusaders, and the Christian prospect of pushing Islam off the European continent no longer seemed likely. Yet in the wake of this victory, Murad somewhat surprisingly abdicated the throne to his son, who had not won great respect during his recent regency. The young Mehmed already entertained the bold notion of attacking Constantinople, the capital of the waning Byzantine Empire that sat in the midst of Ottoman territories on the straits between the Mediterranean and Black seas. At the behest of his former councillors, however, Murad returned to the throne on May 5, 1446, to replace the unpopular, and unready, Mehmed and to turn his military attention toward a renewed threat from the West.
In a successful battle against Hungarian forces in October 1448, Mehmed was given his first experience of battle. In January of that same year, his first son was born to a slave girl, Gulbahar, a Christian of Albanian origin. Quickly thereafter, according to his father's wishes, he was properly married to a more suitable noblewoman, Sitt Hatun. The wedding was magnificently celebrated over a three-month period, but unfortunately for the two, their marriage was unhappy and remained childless.
In February 1451, Murad II died leaving the ambitious Mehmed II as sultan. Since the laws of succession were not entirely clear during this period, Mehmed typically had his brother drowned to eliminate potential opposition to his claim. Later, he was to formalize fratricide in law claiming, "whichever of my sons inherits the sultan's throne, it behooves him to kill his brothers in the interest of the world order." The Ottoman state had been growing in strength and organization since early in the century, but it was far from unified and stable. Mehmed was to spend his entire reign trying to consolidate his authority and to invigorate his state. Thus, his initial efforts were to the elimination of all resistance to his rule within the Empire.
With the news of Mehmed's accession to the throne, many European powers felt that affairs had changed to their advantage. Indeed, he was preoccupied with various rebellions along the eastern frontier of the Empire. Moreover, he had to face a revolt among the Janissaries, an elite military corps which he was able later to reorganize under his direct authority to enforce his will within the Empire and in newly conquered territories. Soon Mehmed no longer felt it necessary to maintain good relations with his neighbors to the west.
Throughout his life, Mehmed had declared his hatred of Christianity and his desire to destroy it. Thus, when his attentions turned toward the West his first major act was the construction of a fortress on the European side of the Bosporus straits with which to police all shipping to the Black Sea. This was a virtual declaration of war on nearby Constantinople which was thereby further isolated from its Western allies. According to Mehmed, "The ghaza (Holy War) is our basic duty, as it was in the case of our fathers." Specifically, he felt, "The conquest of (Constantinople) is …essential to the future and the safety of the Ottoman state." The remaining inhabitants of this once vibrant and important city were justifiably frightened by Mehmed's intentions. From April 6, 1453, Mehmed, with the help of huge cannon, laid siege to the final remnant of Christian greatness in the East. Venetian and Hungarian forces were mobilized for the city's defense, but Mehmed acted quickly. By May 29, when his terms were refused by the last Byzantine emperor Constantine XI Paleologus, Muslim forces were ordered to storm the city which was quickly overrun and looted.
For many, the fall of Byzantium and the foundation of a unified Islamic Empire straddling Europe and Asia marks the division between the Middle Ages and the modern era. For Mehmed, who immediately became the most important sultan in the Muslim world, it marked the beginning of a dream to create a universal empire based on his new capital, henceforth to be called Istanbul. In an attempt to rebuild the city to its former glory, he repaired the ancient walls and built many public buildings. Among the most prominent of these were his palaces and the great Mosque of the Conqueror, with its hospitals, colleges, and public baths. His city was to be the center of the world—politically, culturally, and spiritually. To this end, he forced resettlement from all parts of the Empire of people of all religions.
As the heir to the Byzantine Empire, Mehmed was forced to modify slightly the system of government that he had inherited and to incorporate some foreign administrative and cultural institutions. All of this he codified in his Book of Laws which thereafter defined the unique character of the Ottoman Empire with its Islamic, Ottoman-Turk, Byzantine, and other influences. Under Mehmed II, now known as The Conqueror, some significant measure of local tradition and religious practice could remain under the new administration of conquered territory (if necessary), though effective and direct control remained in his hands. Clearly, Mehmed's predominant concern was with his own authority. After the fall of Constantinople, for example, he dismissed his powerful chief councillor whom he had inherited from the reign of his father. Henceforth, he would make all of his own appointments to important positions (usually from among his personal slaves). Determined to rule firmly and effectively, Mehmed was often brutal and cruel. It has been said that he delighted in killing people as someone else might kill fleas.
Further conquest was the most passionate pursuit of Mehmed II. For him, the non-Muslim world was "war territory" ordained by the Koran to be subjected. Thus, the glory of the sultan's authority and the Ottoman state was to be based primarily on the pursuit of Holy War inspired by the duty to spread Islam and the benefits of Ottoman rule.
From 1454, Mehmed turned actively against the islands in the Aegean Sea and against the Balkan Peninsula at the expense of both Serbia and Hungary. He met with much success in the Aegean, and to the north he forced an annual tribute from Moldavia. Initial expeditions into Serbia brought it more closely under Ottoman control, but the first large-scale military operation after the fall of Constantinople was directed against Hungary. Arriving at Belgrade, considered essential for further expansion into the European continent, Mehmed began his ill-fated siege in June 1456. After heavily bombarding the city over an extended period, the Turks were compelled to retreat, and Mehmed, wounded in the thigh, was forced to spend the next year at court.
Later, in April 1458, he set forth again at the head of an army toward Greece, and in August he entered Athens, which was to remain under Ottoman control for over 300 years. In 1459, the Serbian city of Smederevo capitulated without a struggle, and by the end of the year all of Serbia was occupied. In 1460, he subjugated Morea, the southern peninsula of the Greek mainland. Efforts to unite Western resistance to the powerful Ottoman threat in another crusade were largely unsuccessful, as were similar attempts by threatened princes to the east of the Empire. Indeed, the next year, Mehmed quickly became master of Trebizond which lay along the northern coast of Asia Minor on the Black Sea.
In 1462, he subdued Walachian resistance to Ottoman suzerainty, and later turned easily against the island of Lesbos with the navy that he was building up. Meanwhile, it was obvious to most observers that Mehmed was preparing another major campaign against the West, particularly against the possessions of Venice. By March 1463, his forces were afoot, and the immediate target of hostilities was Bosnia. Soon the greater part of the region was overrun. This advance terrified the Venetians. Clearly, Venice would have to give up all its possessions in Greece and the East or fight the Turk. When Ottoman forces attacked the Venetian holding of Argos in Greece that same year, Venice, with the support of Hungary, declared war against Mehmed II.
Yet Mehmed had a powerful rival to the east in Prince Uzan Hasan of the House of Karaman in southeastern Anatolia. He also had conquered many territories and now held the title of king of Persia. Karaman was annexed to the Ottoman Empire in 1468, though Hasan and his Eastern allies still presented one of Mehmed's greatest challenges. In 1472, Hasan's forces raided the city of Tokat and marched well into western Anatolia. Mehmed spent that year preparing to meet this renewed challenge. Finally, in July of 1473, the two armies met on the plain of Erzincan by the Euphrates River, and on August 11 Mehmed won another great victory extending his authority well into Asia Minor.
Though he was greatly distracted by these events in the East, the West was not spared. Ottoman raiders had long been making excursions to the eastern shore of the Adriatic sea, and in 1469 earnest preparations were undertaken for the transport of troops to Negropont in Greece, the Aegean naval base of Venice. Soon, a massive military expedition set out and the siege of Negropont began. After a long, brutal, and bloody siege that almost exhausted both parties, Negropont capitulated on July 12. This was a terrible blow to Venice and a grave portent of danger to the rest of Europe.
In the area of the Black Sea, Mehmed was also successful. Since early in his reign, he had forced tribute from the various Genoese colonies, later occuping them outright. By 1475, he had made the Crimea a vassal state of the Empire, making the entire sea virtually an Ottoman lake.
Despite recent successes, 1474 was a relatively quiet year for Mehmed, perhaps because of the greatly distressing death of his favorite son, Mustapha, or perhaps because of his own illness. Nevertheless Ottoman forces continued to raid Albania, Walachia, and even Hungary with some Ottoman raiders appearing within sight of Venice itself. By 1476, well enough again to lead his armies, Mehmed almost completely overran Albania.
Peace was concluded with Venice in 1479, ending what had become a long, troublesome struggle. Although the Italian city-state maintained many of its former trading privileges, it was forced to pay tribute to the sultan. Mehmed now looked beyond Venice. On August 11, 1480, Otranto in the south of Italy was overrun, and all the male inhabitants were killed by the invading forces. From this base, the Turks laid waste to the countryside for miles around, threatening the entire Italian peninsula.
Ottoman forces were concurrently involved in many other areas. They were storming the Aegean Islands and laid siege to the fortress on Rhodes. There were continuing raids into the Balkans, but most significantly, the Empire was involved in another struggle in southeastern Anatolia with the sultan of Syria and Egypt.
Despite the military success of the Empire, Mehmed himself was not well. Throughout his life, the sultan increasingly suffered from gout and rheumatism. An abscess had recently grossly disfigured his leg, a divine affliction (it seemed to some) for a life of gluttony. This pushed the moody Mehmed further into seclusion from the public eye. Now, on May 1, 1481, as he prepared for further conflict against the Egyptian sultan, he was struck with severe abdominal pains and died two days later. Since Mehmed had always feared being poisoned and dined alone, there was immediate suspicion that he had been murdered, perhaps even by his son and heir Bayezid, who was eager to secure his position quickly.
Although Mehmed II died unsatisfied in his goal to build a universal empire, he had established the primacy of the Ottoman Turks within the Muslim world. In his dedication to conquest, he extended Ottoman influence east as far as the Euphrates and west throughout the Balkans and even onto the Italian peninsula. Whether reviled for his brutality and his fervor or saluted for these successes, Mehmed II, the Conqueror, affirmed the authority of the sultanate and secured the character of the Ottoman Empire. From the remains of Byzantium, he built a vibrant capital of a growing Turkish Empire which would be a major world power over the next four centuries.
About Mehmed II "The Conqueror", Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Mehmet II (Ottoman Turkish: محمد الثانى Meḥmed-i s̠ānī, Turkish: II. Mehmet),(also known as el-Fātiḥ (الفاتح), "the Conqueror", in Ottoman Turkish, or, in modern Turkish, Fatih Sultan Mehmet; Known as Mahomet II in early modern Europe) (March 30, 1432, Edirne – May 3, 1481, Hünkârçayırı, near Gebze) was Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (Rûm until the conquest) for a short time from 1444 to September 1446, and later from February 1451 to 1481. At the age of 21, he conquered Constantinople, bringing an end to the Byzantine Empire. Mehmet continued his conquests in Asia, with the Anatolian reunification, and in Europe, as far as Belgrade. Administrative actions of note include amalgamating the old Byzantine administration into the Ottoman state. It is notable that Mehmet II is not considered the first ruler of Constantinople of Turkic origin. Before him, the Christian Leo IV the Khazar was a de jure Roman Emperor. Beside Turkish, he spoke French, Latin, Greek, Serbian, Persian, Arabic and Hebrew.
He had several wives: Valide Sultan Amina Gul-Bahar , an Orthodox Greek woman of noble birth from the village of Douvera, Trabzon, who died in 1492, the mother of Bayezid II, and Gevher Sultana; Gulshah Hatun; Sitti Mukrime Hatun; Hatun Çiçek; Helene Hatun, who died in 1481, daughter of Demetrios II Palaiologos, the Despot of Morea; briefly Anna Hatun, the daughter of the Emperor of Trebizond; and Hatun Alexias, a Byzantine princess. Another son of his was Djem Zizim, who died in 1495.
Mehmed II was born in Edirne, the then-capital city of the Ottoman state, on March 30, 1432. His father was Sultan Murad II (1404–51) and his mother Valide Sultan Hüma Hatun, born in Devrekani county of Kastamonu province, was a daughter of Abd'Allah of Hum (Huma meaning a girl/woman from Hum). When Mehmed II was 11 years old he was sent to Amasya to govern and thus gain experience, as per the custom of Ottoman rulers before his time. After Murad II made peace with the Karaman Emirate in Anatolia in August 1444, he abdicated the throne to his 12-year-old son Mehmed II.
During his first reign, Mehmed II asked his father Murad II to reclaim the throne in anticipation of the Battle of Varna, but Murad II refused. Enraged at his father, who had long since retired to a contemplative life in southwestern Anatolia, Mehmed II wrote: "If you are the Sultan, come and lead your armies. If I am the Sultan I hereby order you to come and lead my armies." It was upon this letter that Murad II led the Ottoman army in the Battle of Varna in 1444.
It is said Murad II's return to the throne was forced by Chandarli Khalil Pasha, the grand vizier at the time, who was not fond of Mehmed II's rule, since Mehmed II's teacher was influential on him and did not like Chandarli. Chandarli was later executed by Mehmed II during the siege of Constantinople on the grounds that he had been bribed by or had somehow helped the defenders.
He married Valide Sultan Amina Gul-Bahar, of Greek descent of noble birth from the village of Douvera, Trabzon, who died in 1492. She was the mother of Bayezid II.
Conquest of Constantinople
When Mehmed II ascended the throne in 1451 he devoted himself to strengthening the Ottoman navy, and in the same year made preparations for the taking of Constantinople. In the narrow Bosporus Straits, the fortress Anadoluhisarı had been built by his great-grandfather Bayezid I on the Asiatic side; Mehmed erected an even stronger fortress called Rumelihisarı on the European side, and thus having complete control of the strait. Having completed his fortresses, Mehmet proceeded to levy a toll on ships passing within reach of their cannon. A Venetian vessel refusing signals to stop, was sunk with a single shot.
In 1453 Mehmed commenced the siege of Constantinople with an army between 80,000 to 200,000 troops and a navy of 320 vessels, though the bulk of them were transports and storeships. The city was now surrounded by sea and land; the fleet at the entrance of the Bosphorus was stretched from shore to shore in the form of a crescent, to intercept or repel any assistance from the sea for the besieged.
Map of Constantinople and its land walls and harbor.
In early April, the Siege of Constantinople began. After several fruitless assaults, the city's walls held off the Turks with little difficulty, even with the use of the new Orban's bombard, a cannon similar to the Dardanelles Gun. The harbor of the Golden Horn was blocked by a boom chain and defended by twenty-eight warships. On April 22, Mehmed transported his lighter warships overland, around the Genoese colony Galata and onto the Golden Horn's northern shore; eighty galleys were transported from the Bosphorus after paving a little over one-mile route with wood. Thus the Byzantines stretched their troops over a longer portion of the walls. A little over a month later Constantinople fell on May 29 following a fifty-seven day siege. After this conquest, Mehmed moved the Ottoman capital from Adrianople to Constantinople.
Mehmed II enters Constantinople by Fausto Zonaro
It is said that when Mehmed stepped into the ruins of the Boukoleon, known to the Ottomans and Persians as the Palace of the Caesars, probably built over a thousand years before by Theodosius II, he uttered the famous lines of Persian poetry:
The spider weaves the curtains in the palace of the Caesars;
the owl calls the watches in the towers of Afrasiab.
After the Fall of Constantinople, Mehmed claimed the title of "Caesar" of Rome (Kayser-i Rûm), although this claim was not recognized by the Patriarch of Constantinople, or Christian Europe. Mehmed's claim rested with the concept that Constantinople was the seat of the Roman Empire, after the transfer of its capital to Constantinople in 330 AD and the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Mehmed also had a blood lineage to the Byzantine Imperial family, as his predecessors like Sultan Orhan I had married a Byzantine princess. He was not the only ruler to claim such a title, as there was the Holy Roman Empire in Western Europe, whose emperor, Frederick III, traced his titular lineage from Charlemagne who obtained the title of Roman Emperor when he was crowned by Pope Leo III in 800 - although never recognized as such by the Byzantine Empire.
Steven Runciman recounts a story by the Byzantine historian Doukas, known for his colorful and dramatic descriptions, in which Mehmed II, upon the conquest of Constantinople, was said to have ordered the 14-year old son of the Grand Duke Lucas Notaras brought to him for his personal pleasure. When the father refused to deliver his son to such a fate he had them both decapitated on the spot. Another contemporary Greek source, Leonard of Chios, professor of theology and Archbishop of Mytilene, tells the same story in his letter to Pope Nicholas. He describes Mehmed II requesting for the 14 year old handsome youth to be brought "for his pleasure" .
Reference is made to the prospective conquest of Constantinople in an authentic hadith, attributed to a saying of the Prophet Muhammad. "Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will he be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!" Ten years after the conquest of Constantinople Mehmed II visited the site of Troy and boasted that he had avenged the Trojans by having conquered the Greeks (Byzantines).
Conquests in Asia
The conquest of Constantinople allowed Mehmed II to turn his attention to Anatolia. Mehmed II tried to create a single political entity in Anatolia by capturing Turkish states called Beyliks and the Greek Empire of Trebizond in northeastern Anatolia and allied himself with the Golden Horde in the Crimea. Uniting the Anatolian Beyliks was first accomplished by Sultan Bayezid I, more than fifty years earlier than Mehmed II but after the destructive Battle of Ankara back in 1402, the newly formed Anatolian unification was gone. Mehmed II recovered the Ottoman power on other Turkish states. These conquests allowed him to push further into Europe.
Another important political entity which shaped the Eastern policy of Mehmed II was the White Sheep Turcomans. With the leadership of Uzun Hasan, this Turcoman kingdom gained power in the East but because of their strong relations with the Christian powers like Empire of Trebizond and the Republic of Venice and the alliance between Turcomans and Karamanoğlu Tribe, Mehmed saw them as a threat to his own power. He led a successful campaign against Uzun Hasan in 1473 which resulted with the decisive victory of the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Otlukbeli.
Conquests in Europe
After the Fall of Constantinople, Mehmed would also go on to conquer the Despotate of Morea in the Peloponnese in 1460, and the Empire of Trebizond in northeastern Anatolia in 1461. The last two vestiges of Byzantine rule were thus absorbed by the Ottoman Empire. The conquest of Constantinople bestowed immense glory and prestige on the country.
Mehmed II advanced toward Eastern Europe as far as Belgrade, and attempted to conquer the city from John Hunyadi at the Siege of Belgrade in 1456. Hungarian commanders successfully defended the city and Ottomans retreated with heavy losses but at the end, Ottomans occupied nearly all of Serbia.
In 1463, after a dispute over the tribute paid annually by the Bosnian kingdom, Mehmed invaded Bosnia and conquered it very quickly, executing the last Bosnian king Stjepan Tomašević.
He also came into conflict with and was defeated by Prince Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia in 1462 at the Night Attack. Then, Mehmed II helped Radu Ţepeş, the brother of Vlad, to take the revenge of the Ottoman military losses. Very soon Radu and his battalion of Romanian Janissary as a single force managed to defeat Vlad III Dracula north of the Danube after months of lingering fighting, Radu also managed to take the control of Wallachia and was honored the title of Bey in the same year. His brother Vlad (the Dracula) lost all his power and escaped from his country.
In 1475, the Ottomans suffered a great defeat at the hands of Stephen the Great of Moldavia at the Battle of Vaslui. In 1476, Mehmed won a victory against Stephen at the Battle of Valea Albă and nearly destroyed all of the relatively small Moldovian army. Then, he sacked the capital of Suceava, but could not take the castle of Târgu Neamţ, nor the citadel of Suceava. With a plague running in his camp and food and water being very scarce, Mehmed was forced to retreat as Stephen was reinforcing his army and Dracula, turning from exile, was marching with a 30,000-strong army to aid the Moldavians.
Mehmed II invaded Italy in 1480. The intent of his invasion was to capture Rome and "reunite the Roman Empire", and, at first, looked like he might be able to do it with the easy capture of Otranto in 1480 but Otranto was retaken by Papal forces in 1481 after the death of Mehmed.
The Albanian resistance in Albania between 1443 and 1468 led by George Kastrioti Skanderbeg (İskender Bey), an Albanian noble and a former member of the Ottoman ruling elite, prevented the Ottoman expansion into the Italian peninsula. Skanderbeg had united the Albanian Principalities in a fight against the Empire in the League of Lezhë in 1444. Mehmed II eventually reversed the momentum of Skanderbeg, by creating an autonomous Albanian Muslims force under the leadership of Iljaz Hoxha, Hamza Kastrioti and the Albanian Janissary battalion, the new force eventually captured Kruje and was indeed loyal to the Sultan and the entire Ottoman Empire.
These military conflicts between the Ottomans and the European forces showed that the Ottoman presence in Europe was not a temporary situation. During the reign of Mehmed II, the Balkan forces were not completely surpassed by the Ottoman war machine, but could not stop it either.
Mehmed II amalgamated the old Byzantine administration into the Ottoman state. He first introduced the word Politics into Arabic "Siyasah" from a book he published and claimed to be the collection of Politics doctrines of the Byzantine Caesars before him. He gathered Italian artists, humanists and Greek scholars at his court, kept the Byzantine Church functioning, ordered the patriarch to translate the Christian faith into Turkish and called Gentile Bellini from Venice to paint his portrait. He was extremely serious about his efforts to continue the Roman Empire, with him as its Caesar, and came closer than most people realize to capturing Rome and conquering Italy. Mehmed II also tried to get Muslim scientists and artists to his court in Constantinople, started a University, built mosques e.g. the Fatih Mosque, waterways, and the Topkapı Palace.
Mehmed II's reign is also well-known for the religious tolerance with which he treated his subjects, especially among the conquered Christians, which was very unusual for Europe in the Middle Ages. However, his army was recruited from the Devshirme. This group took Christian subjects at a young age. They were split up: those regarded as more able were destined for the sultans court, the less able but physically strong were put into the army or the sultan's personal guard, the Janissaries.
Within the conquered city, Mehmed established a millet or an autonomous religious community, and he appointed the former Patriarch as essentially governor of the city. His authority extended only to the Orthodox Christians of the city, and this excluded the Genoese and Venetian settlements in the suburbs, and excluded the coming Muslim and Jewish settlers entirely. This method allowed for an indirect rule of the Christian Byzantines and allowed the occupants to feel relatively autonomous even as Mehmed II began the Turkish remodeling of the city, eventually turning it into the Turkish capital, which it remained until the 1920s.
Mehmed II spoke seven languages (including Turkish, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian and Latin) when he was 21 years old (the age at which he conquered Constantinople). After the fall of Constantinople, he founded many universities and colleges in the city, some of which are still active. Mehmed II is also recognized as the first Sultan to codify criminal and constitutional law long before Suleiman the Magnificent (also "the Lawmaker" or "Kanuni") and he thus established the classical image of the autocratic Ottoman sultan (padishah). Mehmed II's tomb is located at Fatih Mosque in Istanbul; the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge is also named after him.
On May 3, 1481, Mehmed II mysteriously died at the age of 52. It is said from a poisoning instigated by his son Bayezid.
Freedom of the Bosnian Franciscans
Mehmed II's Firman on the freedom of the Bosnian Franciscans
"I, the Sultan Khan the Conqueror,
hereby declare the whole world that,
The Bosnian Franciscans granted with this sultanate firman are under my protection. And I command that:
No one shall disturb or give harm to these people and their churches! They shall live in peace in my state. These people who have become emigrants, shall have security and liberty. They may return to their monasteries which are located in the borders of my state.
No one from my empire notable, viziers, clerks or my maids will break their honour or give any harm to them!
No one shall insult, put in danger or attack these lives, properties, and churches of these people!
Also, what and those these people have brought from their own countries have the same rights...
By declaring this firman, I swear on my sword by the holy name of Allah who has created the ground and sky, Allah's prophet Mohammed, and 124.000 former prophets that; no one from my citizens will react or behave the opposite of this firman!"
This oath firman, which has provided independence and tolerance to the ones who are from another religion, belief, and race was declared by Mehmed II the Conqueror and granted to Angjeo Zvizdovic of the Franciscan Catholic Monastery in Fojnica, Bosnia and Herzegovina after the conquest of Bosnia and Herzegovina on May 28 of 1463. The firman has been recently raised and published by the Ministry of Culture of Turkey for the 700th anniversary of the foundation of the Ottoman State. The edict was issued by the Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror to protect the basic rights of the Bosnian Christians when he conquered that territory in 1463. The original edict is still kept in the Franciscan Catholic Monastery in Fojnica.
It is one of the oldest documents on religious freedom. Mehmed II's oath was entered into force in the Ottoman Empire on May 28, 1463. In 1971, the United Nations published a translation of the document in all the official U.N. languages.
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