My Sultan, I advise caution. Do not repeat the mistakes of your youth. Accept the advice and guidance of this council. In time, you will have the support you seek in these things.” Halil bowed again, a slight smirk on his face. He stepped back amidst several elders who placed supportive hands on him.
The Grand Mufti, religious leader of the Ottomans now came forward to speak. Mehmet felt tense. Much would ride on the opinion of the Mufti, who he hoped would support him.
“My Sultan, I agree that it is the will of Allah to capture the city.”
Mehmet smiled, with the Mufti’s support, he would not fail.
The Mufti hesitated. “However, there is of course the question of timing. With all respect, you are still young in years, my Sultan. We have many enemies, including not only John Hunyadi but also the White Sheep of Anatolia. These enemies but wait for an opportunity of advantage to attack us. I agree with Halil: if we rob our borders of forces to embark on a lengthy siege of the city, then we leave ourselves open to attack.
Also, think of what a failure would bring. You have not won any great victories as Sultan. The West watches you closely, perhaps considering you the most vulnerable Sultan in many years. If you fail at Constantinople, you will have lost the faith of your people. We will have expended our treasury, depleted our troops. We will be vulnerable. I agree with Halil. We could lose everything. That is certainly not what Allah intends. We are his keepers on this earth. We cannot gamble recklessly with our duty. I cannot support this plan my Sultan. I too urge caution.”
Halil came forward again. “My Sultan, you have our support and advice for so much. Please do not react recklessly to our response. It is intended only for your own good. We will be here to assist you in all your endeavors. Forget Constantinople for now. I have many suggestions for you that I believe you will find promising and will assist you in your future rule.”
Mehmet could feel his blood rising.
“I see no reason to wait. We have waited long enough to take this city. My father should have captured it when he had the opportunity. These Greeks have nothing left to fight with. He had Constantinople in his grasp, and he let it fall through his fingers. I won’t make this same mistake.”
“Your father was very wise. He didn’t make a mistake in not taking the city. It was his choice. If he didn’t choose to take the city then with all respect, Sultan, you should heed his actions. He had the love of his people, a lifetime of experience, and the trust of his council.”
“And I do not have that trust!”
Halil bowed. “Of course I do not claim that. However the more time you are in power the easier it will be to accomplish what you wish. You have already had a revolt while you were in power. I certainly would not wish for that event to be repeated. Let your people see you leading them wisely. Listen to the advice of those who advised your father. In time you will have the people’s trust, and when the time is right we can consider attacking Constantinople again, if appropriate.”
Mehmet was incensed. He wanted nothing more than to draw his sword and behead Halil right here and now. He let the anger burn through him without showing any emotion, simply staring thoughtfully at the council. He saw that almost exclusively the old guard backed Halil and the Grand Mufti. Only a few of the younger members surrounded Zaganos and obviously supported him. His hands were tied.
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG