Jun 9, 2011
From April 6 until May 29, 1453, the Ottomans, under the command of Sultan Mehmed II, laid siege to Constantinople. The city fell. The great Byzantine Empire collapsed. So ended the last vestige of the Roman Empire.
That great empire had risen over the ashes of another people. Every student who has ever delved in the classics remembers Cato the Elder's insistent demand “Carthago delenda est” (Carthage must be destroyed). Carthage was “the eternal rival of Rome.” In 146 B.C., in one of the most defining moments of ancient history, Rome defeated Carthage. Almost 1,500 years later, the lingering glory of Rome herself was extinguished.
History repeats this lesson again and again. Empires rise and fall. Nations come and go. The destruction of Carthage and the Fall of Rome are memorable events, but easily left in history books. Even more recent events, such as the slow decline of the British Empire and the collapse of the Soviet Union, quickly become faded memories.
War, drought, economic instability, disease, overpopulation and political corruption: any of these or a combination of these may be the immediate cause for a nation’s demise. But, ultimately, there is a more profound reason for the death of a people.