TURKEY: Unfinished Business

When Mohammed II in 1453 wrested Constantinople from the last of the Caesars, Constantine XI Palaeologus, he barely missed capturing the papal ambassador, Cardinal Isidore of Russia, as an extra prize. But Isidore put his distinctive cardinal's hat and robes on a corpse, and in plebeian rags scuttled through a gap in the wall even as Mohammed's followers were mistakenly displaying the severed head of the corpse as Isidore's.

Although his undignified escape embarrassed the Vatican, Isidore had good reason for disappearing. Sent by Pope Nicholas V to show Western support for...

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