For Byzantium, the XIV and XV centuries were the decline of the empire. She lost a significant part of her vast holdings. The country was shaken by internal strife and civil wars. Taking advantage of these troubles, the Turks reached the Danube. As a result, Byzantium was surrounded on all sides. The time for the collapse of the empire was approaching.
Not only internal strife contributed to the weakening of the power of Byzantium. The formerly great empire was also torn apart by the struggle between supporters and opponents of the alliance with the Catholic Church. The idea of such an agreement was supported mainly by representatives of the political elite. The most far-sighted Byzantine politicians believed that empires could not survive without the help of the West. The rulers of Byzantium sought to reconcile the different branches of the church, proceeding from practical and economic considerations.
The disputes over relations with Rome were accompanied by the economic decline of Byzantium. The main city of the empire, Constantinople, known today as Istanbul, was a sad sight at the end of the 14th century. Destruction and decline reigned here, the population was steadily declining. Almost all of the land suitable for farming was lost. The empire lacked weapons and food. A miserable existence awaited the weakened empire in the future.
By the winter of 1452, the warlike Turkish army had occupied the outskirts of Constantinople. But a serious assault on the city began only in April of the following year. On May 29, Turkish troops finally penetrated into Constantinople through the least fortified gates. The defenders of the city, headed by Emperor Constantine himself, were forced to flee to the center of the capital.
Many of the defenders were able to take refuge in the Hagia Sophia. But the patronage of the saints did not save the defenders of Constantinople from the fury of the Turkish soldiers. The attackers brutally suppressed any resistance of the inhabitants of the city, overtaking them in any place. The emperor was killed in battle, and the city was completely plundered. The Turks did not spare either the inhabitants of Constantinople or the Orthodox shrines. Subsequently, the Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque by the conquerors.
At the end of May 1453, Constantinople finally fell under the blows of Turkish troops. Having existed since 395, Byzantium, long considered the "Second Rome", ceased to exist. This was the end of a huge period in world history and culture. For most of the peoples of Asia and Europe, this event was a turning point. The time has come for the rise of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of Turkish rule over a vast territory.
The capture of Constantinople by the Turks and the fall of Byzantium agitated all of Europe. This event was considered by many to be the greatest in the past millennium. However, some European statesmen were convinced that Byzantium would still be able to recover from the shock and would certainly revive along with the traditions of Orthodoxy. Further history showed that this did not happen.