The Fall of Constantinople: Due to Sin?

Eusebius Erasmus

Kingfisher
Orthodox
(I'm not sure whether this is a general faith question, or one specific to Orthodoxy, but I'm posting here.)

I cancelled my Netflix subscription a while back, but managed to watch the excellent docudrama, Rise of Empires: Ottoman, which portrays the Ottoman siege of Constantinople in 1453.

Despite overwhelming odds, such as the Ottomans' superior technology (including cannons), the Byzantine defenders successfully held onto Constantinople for one whole month. They were aided by Giovanni Giustiniani, a brilliant Genoese commander, along with his European mercenaries. What should have been a cake walk for the Ottomans turned into a migraine.

However, the mercenaries needed pay, and Emperor Constantine XI had no money. He therefore melted the Orthodox Church's chalices, ornaments and crosses in order to mint gold and silver coins, so that he could pay his troops. Using holy items in such a foul way is, of course, a sin punishable by death (see The Book of Daniel, Chapter 5). It also betrays a lack of faith.

After the emperor's egregious sin, apparently the Theotokos, the patron saint of Constantinople, turned her back on the city, causing lighting to strike locally at the dome of the Hagia Sophia.

After this, of course, the Ottomans had the upper edge, and the rest is history: Constantinople fell.

Based on these data, I have a few questions:

1. Is there an Orthodox tradition relating the Fall of Constantinople with Constantine XI's melting of Church holy items?

2. If the Panagia truly turned her back on Constantinople, does this explain why the city continues to be under Islamic occupation, and why the Ecumenical Patriarch is gradually departing from Holy Tradition?

3. Are there similar instances of this occurring in Christian history?
 

Eusebius Erasmus

Kingfisher
Orthodox
Far worse than that, in order to gain the support from the West, both the Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople swore allegiance to Rome.
On 1452, 12 December, a Catholic liturgy commemorating the names of the Pope and Patriarch Gregory III was held in Hagia Sophia by Isidore.

Celebrating a schismatic liturgy in the Hagia Sophia is certainly an affront to God. It calls to mind the Crusaders’ desecration of the Hagia Sophia in 1204 and its temporary use as a Roman cathedral.

However, it appears that the minting of coins from holy items is what ultimately caused the Theotokos to shun the city. Surely this is an abomination to the Lord.
 

Caramasão

Sparrow
I don't disagree with you, but I do believe that Uniatism was the end for Constantinople, from the moment the nobility and clergy sworn alligance to the Pope, there was no longer grace in Hagia Sophia.
The amazing thing is that after the fall of Constantinople, the uniate princess heir of the empire, Sophia Palaiologina, ended up marrying the Grand Prince of Moscow, at the behest of the Pope who hoped to strengthen the influence of the Catholic Church in Russia. The plan did not work well because soon after her wedding, she returned to the Orthodox faith.
Is due to her lineage that the Russian Empire was considered the third Rome.
 

NickK

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Celebrating a schismatic liturgy in the Hagia Sophia is certainly an affront to God. It calls to mind the Crusaders’ desecration of the Hagia Sophia in 1204 and its temporary use as a Roman cathedral.

However, it appears that the minting of coins from holy items is what ultimately caused the Theotokos to shun the city. Surely this is an abomination to the Lord.
It was the last straw. The miniting of coins from holy items shows what the priorities of the autorities was at the time.
The last Emperor gave a powerful speech right before the end, acknowledging his sins, but actions speek louder than words:

False Council of Florence (the Emperor forced most bishops to betray the Church).
Co-liturgy with heretics in the Hagia Sofia.
And then the melting of the holy items to pay mercenaries.

Here's part of the speech:

"You know well, my brothers, that we have four obligations in common, which force us to prefer death over survival: first our faith and piety; second our homeland; third, the emperor anointed by the Lord, and fourth; our relatives and friends.

Well, my brothers, if we must fight for one of these obligations, we will be even more liable under the command strength of all four; as you can clearly understand. If God grants victory to the impious because of my own sins, we will endanger our lives for our holy faith, which Christ gave us with his own blood. This is most important of all. Even if one gains the entire world but loses his soul in the process, what will be the benefit! Second, we will be deprived of such famous homeland and of our liberty. Third, our empire, renowned in the past but presently humbled, low and exhausted, will be ruled by a tyrant and an impious man. Fourth, we will be separated from our dearest children, wives and relatives."

"We are placing all hope in the irresistible glory of God. Some have faith in armament, others in cavalry, might and numbers but we believe in the name of our Lord, our God and Saviour, and second, in our arms and strength granted to us by divine power."
 
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NickK

Woodpecker
Orthodox
2. If the Panagia truly turned her back on Constantinople, does this explain why the city continues to be under Islamic occupation, and why the Ecumenical Patriarch is gradually departing from Holy Tradition?
The Ottoman occupation was a blessing in disguise.
The alternative would be Latin occupation, which would mean immediate latinization of the Church.
God sends heathens to separate the wheat from the chaff, to cleanse His people. Our Turks are the Babylonians of Old Israel.

There was no departure from Holy Tradition under the Ottomans. This has happened recently. Certainly after the the Revolution of 1821.

Several things happened since then:
a. The EP lost its flock. This had three stages: first the in 1835, the Greek State, ruled by western powers, forced the separation of the Greek Church from Constantinople. Second in 1922 with the mass removal of Christians from Asia Minor, and in 1955 with the pogroms in Constantinople. Without faithful laity, it's easier to gradually subvert a council of few bishops.
b. The Greek state abandoned the Great Idea (the restoration of the Roman Empire) and became more and more westernized. Support to the EP was reduced greatly.
c. In 1971, the Turkish state closed the Theological School of Halki where the EP used to train its clergy. Most current bishops are trained in western universities, hence their ecumenistic tendencies.
d. Increased power plays from the Soviet Patriarchate of Moscow against the EP (very relevant today, with the Ukranian Church situation).
 

Caramasão

Sparrow
From the book History of the Byzantine Empire by Alexander A Vasiliev:

"(...)when he saw fatal danger approaching the city, Constantine again appealed for aid to the West. Instead of the desired military aid, only the former metropolitan of Moscow, Isidore, who had participated in the Union of Florence, now a cardinal in the Roman Catholic church, arrived in Constantinople and in December 1452, five months before the fall of the city, read in St. Sophia the solemn promulgation of union and celebrated the union liturgy, including the name of the pope. This act at such a crisis aroused the greatest agitation among the population of the city.

(...)

The first patriarch of Constantinople under the new rule was elected by the clergy soon after the capture of the city by the Turks, and he was recognized by the sultan. The choice fell on Gennadius (George) Scholarius. He had accompanied John VIII to the Council of Ferrara and Florence and had been then a partisan of union, but later he changed his mind and became a zealous defender of Orthodoxy. With his accession, the Greco-Roman union entirely ceased to exist."
 
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