Dear Members and Friends of the Collegium,
With his striking sense of wording, the British historian Steven Runciman describes the Fall of Constantinople, in 1453, as a tragedy for the Greek people and, at the same time, a new start for the Ottoman Empire. By hosting the 61th CORLAS meeting at the edge of the Marmora Sea, close to the Bosphorus entrance, President Metin Önerci enabled some 225 members, guests and accompanying persons to realize the dual meaning of this middle-age crucial event. Behind the long murals that had contributed to its fame, the capital of the fifteenth-century Byzantine Empire was in a weaker position than it seemed at first sight. While economical power and political influence of Byzantium had inexorably been declining over the previous decades, the Turkish army had become the strongest armada of this part of the world, both in terms of infantry, cavalry, artillery and, above all, organization of its components. This remarkable military development was made possible by the talent of rulers such as Osman, Orhan, Murad (I and II) and Mehmet II. The Ottoman sultanate’s final victory was accelerated by divisions in Christendom. The reasons for disagreement were, first, religious as a result of the long-lasting theological conflict between Western (Rome) and Eastern (Constantinople) Church, the Vatican being even more reluctant to bring military support to a community that refused its leadership. There were also other sources of limited cooperation between Western forces, such as struggle for influence between occidental monarchs and trade rivalry between Genoese and Venetian states, among others.
The Corlas Board met on Saturday 23 August 2014 at Polat Renaissance hotel, the venue of the conference. The proposals made by the Board to the General Assembly will be described in the section devoted to Business meeting. For the time being, the composition of the Board throughout the whole conference is recalled: Metin Önerci (President), Orhan Ozturan (Vice-President), René Dauman (General Secretary), Reidar Grénman (Treasurer), Ashley Wackym (President-Elect and Second Secretary), Wolfgang Arnold (Counsellor), Yasuo Hisa (Counsellor), Hamlet Suarez (Counsellor), and Matti Anniko (Editor to the Acta, the reference review for the conference-related manuscripts). The Credentials committee consisting of Allen Ryan (USA, President), René Leemans (The Netherlands) and Patrice Tran Ba Huy (at the end of his last term, France) joined the Board in its second part.