Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > Medieval and Byzantine History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old June 11th, 2012, 06:56 AM   #1

PubliusBassus's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: May 2012
From: Tennessee, USA
Posts: 642
What happened to the Constantine's tomb?


I understand that Constantine, Heraclius, Justinian, and a number of other Byzantine emperors and their wives were buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles, and that their tombs were desecrated and looted during the 4th Crusade and the sack by the Turks in 1453. What I don't understand:

1. Why was this beautiful church destroyed by the Turks rather than being converted into a mosque the way the Hagia Sophia was?

- and -

2. What happened to the tombs and the bodies in the tombs? Were they just buried beneath the ruins and forgotten? Would it be possible to excavate them today? Is their exact fate known at all?
PubliusBassus is offline  
Remove Ads
Old June 11th, 2012, 07:33 AM   #2

MinoanGoddess's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2012
From: New York City
Posts: 1,638
Blog Entries: 4

Donald M. Nicol

The Death Of Constantine

From: Donald M. Nicol, The Immortal Emperor, Cambridge Univ. Press, Canto edition, 1992. (ISBN 0 521 41456 3). © Cambridge U.P.



The fall of Constantinople and the death of its Emperor were very soon interpreted as the fulfilment of prophecies of one kind or another. The monk Gennadios, who had caused the Emperor so much trouble, and whose name was nοt mentioned in dispatches during the defence of the city, was taken prisoner with his fellow monks and sold into slavery by the Turks. The Sultan Mehmed was well briefed about the religious dissension among the nοw defeated Orthodox Christians. He knew that many of them openly attributed their defeat to the union of Florence; and he knew that the unionist Patriarch Gregory ΙΙΙ had abandoned if he had not forfeited his office. Ιn his capacity as successor to the Christian Roman Emperor in Constantinople the Sultan felt bound to appoint a new Patriarch, who would be answerable to him for the conduct of all Christians in his dominions. His choice fell οn George Scholarios, the monk Gennadios. He was generally respected by the Orthodox and particularly acceptable to the Sultan as one would could be relied upοn to denounce any moves that the western Christians might make tο upset the course of history. A search was made and Gennadios was found and brought to Constantinople where the Sultan invested him as Patriarch with all the traditional ceremony proper to the occasion, in January 1454.

Gennadios left nο detailed account of the Turkish conquest of his city and the death of its Emperor Constantine. But he compiled a series of chronological observations οn the ways in which the hand of providence could be seen to have influenced the dreadful events of his lifetime. He noted that the Christian Empire of the Romans had originated with the Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena and had come tο its end when another Constantine, son of Helena, was Emperor and was killed in the conquest of his city. Between the first and the last Constantine there had been nο Emperor of the same name whose mother was a Helena. He observed that the first Patriarch of Constantinople under Constantine Ι was Metrophanes and the last Patriarch was also called Metrophanes, who died in 1443; for his successor, the Patriarch Gregory ΙΙΙ, whom Gennadios never recognised, went off to Rome and died there. There was nο other Patriarch with the name of Metrophanes between the first and last. Gennadios also noted that the city of Constantinople had been founded οn 11 May (330), finished οn another 3 Μay and captured οn 29 Μay (1453), so that all the events of its birth and death occurred in the month of Μay. Finally, he recorded the prophecy that when an Emperor and a Patriarch whose names began with the letters Jo- reigned at the same time, then the end of the Empire and of the church would be at hand. So it had come about. For the men who brought ruin οn the church in Italy (at the Council of Florence) were Joannes the Emperor and Joseph the Patriarch. Gennadios was an accomplished scholar but he retained a naive faith in prophecies. It had long been foretold that the world would end with the Second Coming of Christ which, οn Byzantine calculation, was scheduled to happen in the 7000th year after the creation of the world (in 5509-08 BC), or in AD 1492. He took some comfort therefore from the belief that, in 1453, there was not long to go.

Gennadios jotted down his chronological notes some time after the death of the Patriarch Gregory ΙΙΙ in 1459. He was thus not the first to remark οn the coincidence of names between the first and the last Constantine and Helena. The Venetian surgeon, Nicolo Barbaro, in his Diary of the siege of Constantinople, notes that God decided that the city should fall when it did in order that the ancient prophecies should be fulfilled, one of which was that Constantinople should be lost to the Christians during the reign of an Emperor called Constantine son of Helena. Cardinal Isidore, who managed to escape from the ruins οf the city disguised as a beggar, reported it as a fact rather than a prophecy in a letter which he wrote to Pope Nicholas V οn 6 July 1453: "Just as the city was founded by Constantine, son of Helena, so it is nοw tragically lost by another Constantine, son of Helena." Kritoboulos of Imbros, one of the principal historians of the event, wondered at the coincidence of names in the city's long history: "For Constantine, the fortunate Emperor, son of Helena, built it and raised it to the heights of happiness and prosperity; while under the unfortunate Emperor Constantine, son of Helena, it has been captured and reduced to the depths of servitude and misfortune." The coincidence was remarked upοn by several of the writers of the so-called Short Chronicles and by the author of at least one of many laments οn the fall of Constantinople. Unless God ordained that it should be so, as Barbaro believed, it is a fortuitous if melancholy juxtaposition of names of the kind beloved by pedantic antiquarians. But it answers none of the questions concerning the fate of the last Emperor Constantine.

The Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453 was an event that shocked the Christian world. It was widely reported at the time and lamented for many years afterwards. The reports were embellished and the tale grew with the telling. Laments and dirges became a new Greek literary genre and added legends to the facts. Even the more sober and nearly contemporary reports, however, in Greek, Latin, Turkish, Slavonic and other European languages, are at variance as to the fate of the Emperor Constantine. Some make nο mention of his death. Others record simply that he was killed in the fighting. A few have it that he escaped. The man most likely tο have known the facts was George Sphrantzes, Constantine's lifelong friend, who was there at the time οn 29 Μay 1453. But, as he says in his memoirs, he was not at the Emperor's side, for he was obeying orders to inspect the defences in another part of the city. All that he could truthfully say was that his master was killed, or rather martyred, during the conquest of the city. The earliest eye-witnesses of the conquest, though nοt of the Emperor's death, express a general uncertainty about his fate. The Archbishop Leonardo of Chios, who was taken prisoner but managed to get away, wrote his account tο the pope οn 16 August 1453. He reports that once the valiant Genoese captain Giustiniani had been wounded and forced to withdraw in the fight, Constantine's courage failed. He begged one of his young officers to run him through with his sword so that he would not be captured alive. Νο one was brave enough; and as the Turks came pouring in through the walls he was caught up in the mêlée and fell. He got up, only to fall again, and he was trampled underfoot....

To read the above in its entirety follow link below.

Donald M. Nicol - The Death Of Constantine

Last edited by MinoanGoddess; June 11th, 2012 at 07:34 AM. Reason: update
MinoanGoddess is offline  
Old June 11th, 2012, 07:39 AM   #3

MinoanGoddess's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2012
From: New York City
Posts: 1,638
Blog Entries: 4

The Church of the Holy Apostles was originally erected by Emperor Constantine the Great, the first Roman emperor to embrace Christianity, in 330. The church included a large tomb intended for himself as well as 12 empty reliquaries in which he intended to place the relics of the Twelve Apostles.
The mausoleum-church that was the Church of the Holy Apostles broke with imperial tradition in several ways. It broke with funerary custom by establishing a tomb within the city walls and unlike previous imperial mausolea it was not associated with a palace complex. And Constantine's burial alongside the apostles instead of amongst images of earlier rulers showed his desire to be seen as a saint and a successor to Christ's own successors.
Constantine died in Nicomedia in 337 and was laid to rest in a sarcophagus in the Church of the Holy Apostles, which was the only church in the city built before his death. Constantius, Constantine's son and successor, later procured the relics of St. Andrew, Luke, and Timothy to be enshrined in the church.

During the sack of Constantinople of 1204 in the Fourth Crusade, the church and the imperial sarcophagi were devastated and plundered by the Crusaders: most of the reliquaries, the gold and silver vessels decorated with precious stones, the icons, the imperial crowns, the somptuous vestments and other important objects were carried off to Western Europe. The Crusaders plundered the imperial tombs and robbed them of gold and gems. Not even Justinian's tomb was spared. Today, many of these relics and treasures remain in the collections of European museums, especially in Rome and St. Mark's Basilica in Venice.
When Michael VIII Palaeologus (1261-1282) recaptured the city from the Crusaders, he erected a statue of the Archangel Michael atop a pillar at the church to commemorate the event. In 1328 a severe earthquake toppled the statue. The church, once again restored to a large extent by Andonicus II Palaeologus (1282-1328), was thenceforth abandoned to the ravages of time and neglect as the Byzantine Empire declined and Constantinople's population fell. The Florentine Cristoforo Buondelmonti saw the dilapidated church in 1420.
In 1454, shortly after the Fall of Constantinople, Mehmet the Conqueror allowed Patriarch Gennadios to install the See of the Orthodox Patriachate at the Church of the Holy Apostles. But because the church was in a dilapidated state and stood in a district where few Christians lived, the Patriarcate was soon transferred to the Theotokos Pammacaristos Church where it remained until 1586 before moving to St George Church. In 1461 Mehmet II demolished the church and built the Fatih Mosque over its foundations.
Church of the Holy Apostles, Constantinople (Istanbul)
MinoanGoddess is offline  
Old June 11th, 2012, 07:45 AM   #4

MinoanGoddess's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2012
From: New York City
Posts: 1,638
Blog Entries: 4

New evidence for the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles from Fatih Camii, Istanbul

  1. Ken Dark,
  2. Ferudun Özgümüş
The Church of the Holy Apostles was one of the most important buildings in Byzantine Constantinople. The mausolea of Constantine the Great (the main imperial burial place until the eleventh century) and of Justinian I were in the complex surrounding this vast cruciform church. Nothing of this complex appeared to have survived its demolition to clear the site of the Ottoman mosque complex of Fatih Camii after 1461. Fieldwork in 2001 recorded walls pre–dating the fifteenth–century phase of the mosque complex, still standing above ground level and apparently including a large rectilinear structure. This is identified as the Church of the Holy Apostles and an adjacent enclosure may be that containing the mausoleum of Constantine the Great. The reconstructed church plan resembles those of St John of Ephesus and St Mark's (San Marco), Venice – churches known to have been modelled on the Church of the Holy Apostles, Constantinople.

New evidence for the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles from Fatih Camii, Istanbul - Dark - 2002 - Oxford Journal of Archaeology - Wiley Online Library
Oxford Journal of Archaeology

Index to Volume 21, 2002

Last edited by MinoanGoddess; June 11th, 2012 at 07:46 AM. Reason: update
MinoanGoddess is offline  
Old June 11th, 2012, 07:46 AM   #5

PubliusBassus's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: May 2012
From: Tennessee, USA
Posts: 642

Thanks for the above, but to be clear I was referring to the original Constantine who founded Constantinople (and the early Byzantine emperors), not the last emperor who died in battle against the Turks - the essay you reference deals with the latter Constantine.

And the link you provided doesn't really explain what happened to the tombs of Constantine and his fellow emperors - were they utterly destroyed, or do they remain buried beneath the mosque and preserved to some extent? Or is that altogether unknown?
PubliusBassus is offline  
Old June 11th, 2012, 07:48 AM   #6

Kirialax's Avatar
Megas Domestikos
 
Joined: Dec 2009
From: Canada
Posts: 3,473
Blog Entries: 3

The Church of the Holy Apostles was initially given by Mehmed II to the patriarchate. However, the church appears to have been in quite bad shape by the time of the Turkish conquest and it is questionable whether maintenance and repair would have been possible at the time, thus leaving the place a bit of a hazard for public health. It also occupied the highest hill inside the land walls, and thus was a desirable location for Mehmed to put his mosque. To acquire the church, there's a story of the corpse of a Turk being found in the courtyard, which led to hostile demonstrations by the Turks. The patriarch requested to move elsewhere, and the patriarchate thus passed to the Pammakaristos church, part of which is today a museum with spectacular golden mosaic. I suspect that Mehmed had two reasons behind its destruction. First, repairs would have been quite costly. Second, by putting his own mosque on the highest hill, he demonstrated very clearly to his subjects that he could do as he pleased while reminding them that they now lived in a Muslim empire. This latter point is important because Mehmed immediately set about re-populating Constantinople after the conquest, but not with Turks. He filled the city with Armenians.

Some of the tombs still exist, and are lined up outside the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul. I'll get you some pictures later today.
Kirialax is offline  
Old June 11th, 2012, 07:50 AM   #7

PubliusBassus's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: May 2012
From: Tennessee, USA
Posts: 642

Quote:
Originally Posted by MinoanGoddess View Post
New evidence for the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles from Fatih Camii, Istanbul

  1. Ken Dark,
  2. Ferudun Özgümüş
The Church of the Holy Apostles was one of the most important buildings in Byzantine Constantinople. The mausolea of Constantine the Great (the main imperial burial place until the eleventh century) and of Justinian I were in the complex surrounding this vast cruciform church. Nothing of this complex appeared to have survived its demolition to clear the site of the Ottoman mosque complex of Fatih Camii after 1461. Fieldwork in 2001 recorded walls pre–dating the fifteenth–century phase of the mosque complex, still standing above ground level and apparently including a large rectilinear structure. This is identified as the Church of the Holy Apostles and an adjacent enclosure may be that containing the mausoleum of Constantine the Great. The reconstructed church plan resembles those of St John of Ephesus and St Mark's (San Marco), Venice – churches known to have been modelled on the Church of the Holy Apostles, Constantinople.

New evidence for the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles from Fatih Camii, Istanbul - Dark - 2002 - Oxford Journal of Archaeology - Wiley Online Library
Oxford Journal of Archaeology

Index to Volume 21, 2002
Interesting, thank you for the link!
PubliusBassus is offline  
Old June 11th, 2012, 07:51 AM   #8

MinoanGoddess's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2012
From: New York City
Posts: 1,638
Blog Entries: 4

As you can read above, efforts have been made to locate the mausolea and excavations are being conducted, last reports in 2002. I do not have access to the online library as I am not a member. I do have access to my college library and I can access OJA, however I am not there often and will not attend grad courses till September
MinoanGoddess is offline  
Old June 11th, 2012, 08:05 AM   #9

MinoanGoddess's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2012
From: New York City
Posts: 1,638
Blog Entries: 4

"I was referring to the original Constantine who founded Constantinople (and the early Byzantine emperors), not the last emperor who died in battle against the Turks - the essay you reference deals with the latter Constantine"



You indicated the following "looted during the 4th Crusade and the sack by the Turks in 1453". I attached an article to note what happened at that period of the attack and followed by the OJA archaeological report on the excavations of the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles . I hope this clarifies my intentions.

Last edited by MinoanGoddess; June 11th, 2012 at 08:06 AM. Reason: correction
MinoanGoddess is offline  
Old June 11th, 2012, 08:13 AM   #10

PubliusBassus's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: May 2012
From: Tennessee, USA
Posts: 642

Quote:
Originally Posted by MinoanGoddess View Post
"I was referring to the original Constantine who founded Constantinople (and the early Byzantine emperors), not the last emperor who died in battle against the Turks - the essay you reference deals with the latter Constantine"



You indicated the following "looted during the 4th Crusade and the sack by the Turks in 1453". I attached an article to note what happened at that period of the attack and followed by the OJA archaeological report on the excavations of the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles . I hope this clarifies my intentions.
Sure, absolutely. Thanks for your help. That is an interesting archaelogical find, for sure, and certainly looks promising. Hopefully this will yield some interesting results...
PubliusBassus is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > Medieval and Byzantine History

Tags
constantine, happened, tomb


Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Helena, Constantine's Mother laketahoejwb General History 16 June 10th, 2012 04:22 AM
Cao Cao's Tomb Discovered? Taizu. Asian History 8 January 9th, 2011 05:56 PM
Saint's Tomb petwil90 Medieval and Byzantine History 17 December 15th, 2009 06:48 AM
Constantine's vision Commander Ancient History 21 April 2nd, 2009 10:03 AM
Alexander's Tomb Commander Ancient History 10 January 27th, 2009 12:18 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.