When the armies of Sultan Mehmed II breached the walls of Constantinople at the end of May 1453, they brought an end to the Byzantine Empire. Europeans knew the Ottomans were poised to take control of a third of Europe, and a few decades later they did. The Ottomans were, of course, Muslim and at the time, Islam was the largest religion in the world. After Constantinople fell, the leader of European Christendom, Pope Pius II (1458-1464), encouraged by several of his closest friends, reconsidered the nature of Islam. This strange episode in the cultural entanglement of Europe and the Muslim world shows us how religions try to define cultural boundaries and how the critical study of religion proves how open those boundaries actually are.

Image: DavidConFran / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Simultaneous Arabic translation will be provided

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