Turkish historians slam Musk’s ‘open gate’ tweet
Musa Kesler – ISTANBUL
Turkish historians have lashed out at the world’s richest man Elon Musk for his “1453 Constantinople” tweet, hinting that Istanbul was conquered, not with a military victory, but due to an open gate forgotten by Byzantine soldiers.
According to historical records, Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, seized Istanbul, then Constantinople, on May 29, 1453, following a 53-day siege that began on April 6, 1453.
“The open gate theory was penned by [20th century Austrian author, journalist] Stefan Zweig. He knew European history well, but does not know Turkish history much,” prominent Turkish historian İlber Ortaylı said.
On June 17, Musk posted a tweet showing a Byzantine king asking himself, “Did I lock the gate?”
Many social media users remarked on the timing of the tweet when the tensions between Türkiye and Greece peaked. Some thought Musk belittled the fall of Constantinople, some warned Greece to “keep gates tight against Turks.”
“Istanbul was conquered following enormous military preparations. It was not that easy,” Ortaylı noted.
“Musk may refer to [Zweig’s] theory, but [it seems] he does not know the details,” he added.
Erhan Afyoncu was another historian getting angry with Musk.
“The rumors of ‘open gate’ have nothing to do with reality. It was spread to recover from the shock of conquest and underestimate the fall of city to Turks,” he expressed.
Necmettin Alkan, an Ottoman historian, stated that the conquest was “not something as simple as 50 janissaries’ entrance through an open gate.”
When asked what Musk’s motive was, he added: “With this tweet, he says to Greeks, ‘Watch out. Turks can come out again.’ Or maybe he meant, ‘Keep your gates tight [now] not to feign an excuse [tomorrow].’”
Byzantium historian Ebru Altan is another expert thinking that Musk is in mockery with the Greeks. “That ‘open gate’ is said to be ‘Kerkoporta,’ which is now between [Istanbul’s old city neighborhoods of] Eğrikapı and Edirnekapı. Some keep this myth alive to belittle the conquest.”