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Angel Portillo

Why Today Matters

Why Today Matters is written by Berryville resident Angel Portillo. Portillo is an undergrad at University of Arkansas, seeking his bachelor's degree in History. His column appears in the Tuesday Midweek edition of Carroll County News. He can be reached at aporae@gmail.com.

Opinion

May 29, 1453: The fall of an empire, the rise of the modern world

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

There are many dates that have completely changed world history. One of these dates without a doubt is May 29, 1453, which was the fall of the city of Constantinople.

The fall of the city of Constantinople was a turning point in history, and it definitely affected the way we live today.

Constantinople (now Istanbul) was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. This was the only remaining part of this legendary empire since the Western Roman Empire had been conquered and torn apart since the year 476.

When the Turks invaded Constantinople, all the intellectuals decided to emigrate to Western Europe, mostly to Italy. It is said that these refugees helped found the Renaissance, which was a period of great innovations.

The most important fact about this event was that as a result of it, the Western Hemisphere was discovered. Just imagine where we would be now if North and South America had not been discovered. How did this happen? Well, the Turks conquered Constantinople and they would not allow any merchant ships coming from Europe to cross their waters.

The Europeans traded lots of goods with the Asian countries, especially China. But then they had to find a different route to reach their destination. This is what motivated Christopher Columbus to sail west 39 years later in search of a different passageway. That is how he ended up bumping with America, the New World. He did not know it at the time, but he had discovered our current home.

Basically the final fall of the Roman Empire was a wake-up call for European civilization. It was time to think differently: to go out and explore and have a change of lifestyle. This change of lifestyle led to the glorious Age of Exploration and the Renaissance.

Though it was unfortunate to see such a magnificent empire go down to ruins, the fall of Constantinople on May 29, 1453 makes us realize that some good things just have to come to an end. This is not a pessimistic opinion at all, because we would not be here if this would not have happened, and instead of America, we would be calling another part of the world "our home."

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Why Today Matters is written by Berryville resident Angel Portillo. Portillo is an undergrad at University of Arkansas, seeking his bachelor's degree in History. His column appears on Tuesdays.

aporae@gmail.com