29 May 2021

Final Speech Of The Last Roman Emperor, Constantine XI Palaiologos, 29 May 1453

Remember, Constantine died a Byzantine Catholic, not an Orthodox!

A legend refers to Constantine XI, as the Marble King, holding that, when the Ottomans entered the city, an angel rescued the emperor, turned him into marble and placed him in a cave under the earth near the Golden Gate, where he waits to be brought to life again.

When God wills Constantinople to be restored to Christendom, the angel will descend from heaven, resurrect Constantine, give him the sword he used in the final battle and Constantine will then march into his city and restore his fallen empire, driving the Turks as far away as the "Red Apple Tree", their legendary homeland.

Orthodox Christians consider Constantine XI a saint, but he has not been officially recognized as such. However, his bravery and last stand are seen by many as a great heroic act. Additionally, in the centuries of Ottoman rule, any effort on the part of the Orthodox Church to officially glorify Constantine XI as a saint would have been seen as an act of rebellion, and hence decidedly ill-advised. After the Greek War of Independence (1821-1831), when the Greek Orthodox Church once again had the freedom to act, an official act of glorification was thought to be superfluous, on account of longstanding veneration as a saint and martyr, specifically, an ethnomartyr, Greek ἐθνομάρτυρας. However, the erection of the statue of "Saint Constantine XI the Ethnomartyr" in the Cathedral Square in Athens, with the formal blessing of the Church authorities, appears to be a semi-official act of recognition. His feast falls on 29 May.

Never having repudiated his union with Rome, and dying in full communion with Rome, having received Holy Communion at the hands of Cardinal Isidore of Kyiv only a few hours before his death, he technically died a Greek-Catholic, and for this reason, he is also venerated by Eastern Catholics.


Constantine Palaiologos XI speaks to his officers and allies before the final push of the siege of Constantinople by the jihadist Ottomans.

When Constantinople’s walls were finally breached, Constantine XI knew there would be no quarter, but he would not flee with the Genoese generals. He died fighting in the streets of Constantinople.

“Most noble leader, illustrious tribunes, generals, most courageous fellow soldiers and all loyal honest citizens! You know well that the hour has come: the enemy of our faith wishes to oppress us even more closely by sea and land with all his engines and skill to attack us with the entire strength of this siege force, as a snake about to spew its venom; he is in a hurry to devour us, like a savage lion. For this reason I am imploring you to fight like men with brave souls, as you have done from the beginning up to this day, against the enemy of our faith. I hand over to you my glorious, famous, respected, noble city, the shining Queen of cities, our homeland. 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 it 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.
“This wretch of a Sultan has besieged our city up to now for fifty seven days with all his engines and strength; he has relaxed the blockade neither day nor night, but, by the grace of Christ, our Lord, who sees all things, the enemy has often been repelled, up to now, from our walls with shame and dishonor. Yet now too, my brothers, feel no cowardice, even if small parts of our fortifications have collapsed from the explosions and engine missiles, as you can see, we made all possible, necessary repairs. 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 Savior, and second, in our arms and strength granted to us by divine power.

“I know the countless hordes of the impious will advance against us, according to their custom, violently, confidently and with great courage and force in order to overwhelm and wear out our few defenders with hardship. They attempt to frighten us with loud yells and innumerable battle cries. But you are all familiar with their chattering and I need say no more about it. For a long time they will continue so and will also release over us countless rocks, all sorts of arrows and missiles, like the sand of the sea. But I hope that such things will not harm us; I see, greatly rejoice, and nourish with hopes in my mind that even if we are few, you are all experienced and seasoned warriors- courageous, brave, and well prepared. Protect your heads with shields in combat and battle. Keep your right hand, armed with the sword, extended in front of you at all times. Your helmets, breastplates and suits of armor are fully sufficient together with your other weapons and will prove very effective in battle. Our enemies have no and use no such weapons. You are protected inside the walls, while they will advance without cover and with toil.

“For these reasons, my fellow soldiers, prepare yourselves, be firm, and remain valiant, for the pity of God, Take your example from the few elephants of the Carthaginians and how they dispersed the numerous cavalry of the Romans with their noise and appearance. If one dumb beast put another to flight, we, the masters of horses and animals, can surely even do better against our advancing enemies, since they are dumb animals, worse even than pigs. Present your shield, swords, arrows, and spears to them, imagining that you are a hunting party after wild boars, so that the impious may learn that they are dealing not with dumb animals but with their lords and masters, the descendants of the Greeks and the Romans.

“You are well aware that this irreligious Sultan, the enemy of our holy faith, violated for no good reason the peace treaty we had with him and disregarded his numerous oaths without a second thought. Suddenly, he appeared and built his castle in the straights of Asomatosso he might be able to inflict daily harm on us. Then he put our farms, gardens, parks, and houses to the torch, while he killed and enslaved as many of our Christian brothers as he found; he broke the treaty of friendship. He befriended the inhabitants of Galata, the wretches rejoice over this, as they are unaware of the parable of the Farmer’s son who was roasting snails and said, “Oh stupid creature,” etc. Well my brothers, since he started the siege and the blockade, every day he opens his fathomless mouth and is seeking an opportunity to devour us and this city, which thrice-blessed Constantine the Great founded and dedicated to the all holy most chaste Mother of God, our lady, Mary the eternal virgin. She became the Queen of Cities, the shield and aid of our homeland, the shelter of Christians, the hope and joy of all wishes to destroy this city, which was once proud and blooming like a rose of the field.
“I can tell you that this city mastered the entire universe; She placed beneath her feet Pontus, Armenia, Paphlagonia, The Amazonian lands, Cappadocia, Galatia, Media, Georgian Colchis, Bosphoros, Albania, Syria, Cilicia, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Palestine, Arabia, Judea, Bactria, Scythia, Macedonia, Thessaly, Hellas, Boeotia, Locris, Aetolia, Arcarnania, Achaea, the Peloponnese, Epirus, Illyria, Lykhnites, the Adriatic, Italy, Tuscany, the Celts, and Galatian Celts, Spain up to Cadiz, Libya, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Beledes, Scude, Numidia, Africa and Egypt.

Now he wants to enslave her and throw the yoke upon the Mistress of Cities, our holy churches, where the Holy Trinity was worshipped, where the Holy Ghost was glorified in hymns, where angels were heard praising in chant the deity of and the incarnation of God’s word, he wants to turn into shrines of his blasphemy, shrines of the mad and false Prophet, Mohammed, as well as into stables for his horses and camels.

“Consider then, my brothers and comrades in arms, how the commemoration of our death, our memory, fame and freedom can be rendered eternal.”

He next turned and addressed the Venetians, who were standing at his right side: “Noble Venetians, my dearest brothers in Christ, courageous men, experienced and seasoned fighters! Often have you dealt death to the multitude of the sons of Hagar with your shining swords and grace; their blood has flown in streams at your hands. I implore you today to become, with all your souls, the defenders of this City caught in the misfortunes of such a war; for you have come to know her as your second homeland and mother forever. Once more, I ask and beg you to act in this hour as loyal allies, fellow Christians, and brothers.”

Turning to his left, he addressed the Genoese: “Most honored brothers from Genoa, courageous and illustrious warriors! You are aware and know that this City was not only mine but yours too for many reasons. You have often assisted her willingly in hours of need and have delivered her from her enemies, the sons of Hagar. Once again, it is time to demonstrate your love in Christ, your bravery, and your excellence in her cause.”

Then he spoke to the combined assembly: “There is no time for longer speeches. I only entrust my humbled scepter to your hands; guard it with good will. I implore and beg you to exhibit, if you have any affection for me, the proper honor and obedience to your commanders, tribunes, and centurions, each according to his rank, regiment, and duty. Know this, too: If you keep my orders in your heart, I hope to God taht we will be delivered from His present, righteous threat. Second, the diamond crown awaits you in heaven; there will be an eternal worthy memory in the world for you.”

With this he concluded his speech. In the midst of tears and sighs he gave thanks to God, and all the rest, in union answered in sobbing: “Let us die for our faith in Christ and for our fatherland.” The emperor listened and thanked the crowd profusely, pledged many gifts, and added:

“Well then my brothers and fellow soldiers, be prepared for the morning. With the grace and strength granted you by God and with help from our Holy Trinity, in which we have placed all our hope, let us force the enemy to depart from here in shame.”

The Fall of the Byzantine Empire: A Chronicle by George Sphrantzes, 1401-1477

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting. 29th May 1453 was the chief turning point in European history when the center of Christendom bifurcated in two directions, moving west to the Latin world sparking the Renaissance and east to Moscow prompting the Russian Orthodox precept of a Third Rome. May 29th 1660 was also a turning point in English history when Charles II was restored to the throne and re-established Christian monarchy against the republican and iconoclastic politics of the Puritans and the Cromwellian regime. Happy Royal Oak Day or Oak Apple Day to one and all.

    Amid the "post modern" iconoclastic and deconstructionist revolution happening around us in our own day I hold fast to the memory of this anniversary as it reminds the faithful Christian that authority descends from on high and the person of the Ascended Christ. The final Emperor St. Constantine XI Palaiologos, in his defiance of overwhelming odds and a ruthless enemy of the cross, reveals the nobility of soldiering on for Christ even if resistance is futile. Martyrdom is the seed of the Church since it is grounded in the promise and hope of the Resurrection. As we watch what remains of Christendom die, assailed on all sides by ideological enemies who desire its eradication, may we soldier on defending its few remaining ramparts.

    Christ is Risen.

    St. Constantine VI Palailogos pray for us.


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