Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

May 11, 330 AD – The Naming of Constantinople…And Why You Should Care!

Byzantine Empire Research Topic

Byzantine Empire Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Byzantium. Constantinople. Istanbul.  Three names for one city – one of the most important cities in the history of civilization.

The year 324 marked a turning point for western civilization, for it was then that Emperor Constantine the Great proclaimed Byzantium the new capital of the Roman Empire. On May 11, 330, he officially changed the city’s name to Constantinople to reflect the importance of the city to the world.

It is believed that Byzantium was founded by the Greeks around the year 657 B.C. The meaning of the name Byzantium is unknown, but it likely comes from an ancient Greek legend of a King Byzas.

Constantine the Great Research Topic

Constantine the Great Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Constantine chose his new capital wisely. The city is located on the European side of the Strait of Bosporus. The Bosporus (in northwestern Turkey) is significant because it is the passage linking the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, forming part of the continental boundary between Europe and Asia. Due to its natural and man-made defenses, the “City of Constantine” was able to withstand the barbarian invasions that devastated Rome and the Western Empire in 476.

Constantine referred to his newly-named city as “Nova Roma,” or, the New Rome. After the fall of Rome, the Eastern Empire, referred to as the Byzantine Empire, lasted for more than a thousand years. From the mid-5th century to the early 13th century, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe. The city spawned a rich tradition of art, literature and architecture, as well as serving as a buffer between Europe and threats of invasion from Asia.

Constantinople was especially important for preserving in its libraries manuscripts of Greek and Latin authors during a period when violence and chaos resulted in the mass-destruction of books and art in western Europe and north Africa. When the city finally did fall, thousands of these ancient manuscripts were taken by refugees to Italy, where they played a key part in stimulating the transition to the Renaissance and then to the modern world. In addition, moving the capital of the Empire to the East gave prestige to the Bishop of Constantinople (Ecumenical Patriarch) and made the city a dual center of Christianity, alongside Rome. This eventually led to the Great Schism that divided Western Catholicism from Eastern Orthodoxy in 1054.

Ottoman Empire Research Topic

Ottoman Empire Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Turkey Research Topic

Turkey Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary









The month of May is important in the history of Constantinople for another reason: on May 29, 1453, after Sultan Mehmed’s Ottoman army stormed the city, Emperor Constantine XI was killed in battle, ensuring that the fall of the Byzantine Empire was complete. The city was then under Ottoman control and was the capital of the Ottoman Empire until its demise in 1922.

It is not an overstatement to say that the military, political, religious and artistic influence of the city on the Western world, over the many centuries of its existence, is incalculable.

Teachers: You can help your students learn more about this culturally significant city by pointing them to the great History and Geography resources in eLibrary.

Trivia Time!

  • From the date of its construction in 537 AD until 1453, Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople. It was the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years. The building was later converted into an Ottoman mosque from 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum in 1935.
  • Constantinople was renamed Istanbul in 1930.
  • The name Instanbul (which means “in the city”) likely comes from the word Stamboul which refers to the older, ancient Byzantium part of the city.
  • It is said that on the day when the city fell to Mehmed, a crescent moon hung in the sky. Today, many Islamic nations around the world commemorate the military victory of 1453 with crescent moons on their flags.
  • France and Britain promised Constantinople to the Russians if the Entente won World War I. (Didn’t happen due to the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917).
  • The song “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” was released in 1953 by The Four Lads, and later recorded in 1990 by They Might Be Giants.
  • The Byzantine Empire was the only organized state west of China to survive without interruption from ancient times until the beginning of the modern age.

Not yet a subscriber to ProQuest products? Request a Free Trial here!

100th Anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli

Gallipoli Campaign Research Topic

Gallipoli Campaign Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

By 1915, the Great War’s Western Front appeared almost hopelessly deadlocked. The Russians were threatened by the Turks in the Caucasus and begged the Allies for relief. Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, suggested a plan for a new war front in the Dardanelles. Churchill’s idea was to create a diversion that would force Germany to split its army in order to support the Ottoman Empire. When the Germans went to assist the Turks, that would leave their lines weakened in the West or East and lead to smaller forces that the Allies would have to fight against. Also, if the Allies could take the Gallipoli Peninsula, then Constantinople would be within reach as well, and with the Turks out of the war, the Balkans might join the Allies against Germany.

Map of the Dardanelles Operations

Map of the Dardanelles Operations via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

Carried out between 25 April 1915 to 9 January 1916, the Battle of Gallipoli ended up being one of the Allies’ great disasters of World War I. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Turkish army was able to repel the British-led Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, which had to withdraw to Egypt. Had the campaign in the Dardanelles succeeded, it would have ended Turkey’s participation in the war. Instead, it forced the Allies to continue the bloody stalemate at the Western Front. The failure at Gallipoli led to H. H. Asquith being replaced as Britain’s Prime Minister by David Lloyd George.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, 1915

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, 1915 Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

French Soldier in the Dardanelles, 1915

French Soldier in the Dardanelles, 1915 Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]









Some 480,000 Allied forces took part in the campaign at a cost of more than 250,000 casualties, with some 46,000 killed. The Turks also suffered 250,000 casualties, with 65,000 killed. While the Campaign was considered a military failure, Gallipoli became a household name in Australia and New Zealand. April 25th is known as “ANZAC Day” (Australian & New Zealand Army Corps), which is the most significant commemoration of military casualties in both countries.

Use eLibrary to learn more about the Battle for Gallipoli and other Great War topics in this centennial of World War I.

Selected Resources:

 Aegean Sea

History of the World: True Stories of the Great War

The Journal of Military History

MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History

Military History

The Reader’s Companion to Military History

U.S. History

World War I Topic Search

World War I: A History in Documents


CultureGrams — Teaching Activities: Turkey

Teachers looking to adopt the Common Core State Standards Initiative can find a great resource in CultureGrams. In the Teaching Resources area located in the lower right-hand corner of each country landing page, and at the bottom of each page, CultureGrams includes a link to sample teaching activities for all grades that follow Common Core, as well as national curriculum standards.


One example is the “Turkey: Europe or Asia?” activity, which correlates to standards for a multitude of subjects, including history, social studies, and geography. The activity helps students to understand the factors that influence how countries are grouped into regions.

  1. Divide the class into two debate teams: one that will argue that Turkey should be classified as part of Europe and another that will argue that it should be grouped with Asia. Select three students to be judges, making sure they are aware they must read both teams’ materials.
  2. For homework, assign all students to read the CultureGrams report for Turkey. Then, assign each team the reports from the two different regions. Team One will read selections from the Middle Eastern reports (Iran, Syria, Lebanon, etc.). Team Two will read selections from the European reports (Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria, etc.).
  3. Instruct the students that they may want to skim the CultureGrams reports assigned to the opposite teams in order to anticipate their opponent’s arguments. Remind the judges to read the assignments for both teams.
  4. In class, give each team time to prepare and organize its arguments.
  5. Divide the board in half and have each time write the group’s main arguments on it.
  6. Have a spokesperson from each team explain the group’s arguments (without responding to what the other team has written on the board).
  7. Give the teams time to consult and come up with rebuttals, while reinforcing their initial arguments. A different spokesperson from each team delivers the rebuttals to the class, with help from team members who raise their hands to offer additional comments.
  8. The class judges decide which team wins and justify their decision to the class.

Find more ideas for this teaching activity, as well as dozens more activities, on CultureGrams. Have you used a teaching activity? Leave a comment to share your experience and ideas with us!