The Renaissance bronze candlesticks in Hagia Sophia
Sultan Suleiman, the Magnificent as he is sometimes referred to, won a battle at Mohács in 1526. He could not believe his good luck and after the battle, all his riders had to remain in the saddle despite the heavy rain. They were allowed to dismount only towards dawn but their order was to hold on to the reins and stay in readiness. Nobody thought to chase the Hungarians.
The Sultan was not sure that the day was his.
The next day, he mass-executed thousands of freshly captured Christian prisoners of war on the spot; he could have been angered by their staunch resistance on the previous day. In fact, after the Hungarian cavalry fled and abandoned them, these valiant Polish, Czech and Hungarian pike-and-shot units withstood the enemy until evening, causing great damage. Finally, their squares had to be broken up by Suleiman’s more than 100 cannons. Now they were put to the sword.
You can watch a very good quality animated video with English subtitles about the Battle of Mohács here:
As for the captives, the Sultan had to execute them because he thought that serious Hungarian, Croatian and Transylvanian reinforcement was due to come in any minute. But nobody attacked him.
Then, he began to march north.
Many miles before reaching Buda, he received the delegation of the Jewish burghers of Buda at Dunaföldvár. They brought him the key of the capitol and were begging for their lives. As the Sultan has come to understand that these people were rather terrified of the wrath of Christians than the Muslims, mercifully promised to take them under his shelter. Indeed, upon arriving at the abandoned city of Buda, he had them put on boats and sent them to his Empire. They returned only in 1541 to Buda…
The Sultan admired the palace of King Matthias, sounded the organ’s music and sighed: “Wish I could have a palace like this in Istambul, it is a pity I can’t bring it home.”
However, he did his best. While he went out to hunt in the Hungarian kings’ famous hunting garden in Nyék, his men hoarded the more valuable copies of Matthias’ library on boats, along with the rich supplies of its armory. He found beautiful bronze statues that were decorating the palace and he took them as well. (Later, they were broken to shreds in Istanbul, during a religious revolt.)
He took the two bronze candlesticks from the church of Holy Virgin, too. They were made in Italian fashion but in Hungary.
Before leaving for home, his Janissaries accidentally burned the city to the ground: but the Sultan spared the palace from the flames. Thus, he could enjoy it next time when he finally took the city into his possession in 1541.
Upon returning to Istambul, he placed them in front of the Mihrab: scripts on the wall tell us the deeds of his Hungarian conquest.
The candlesticks have been standing there ever since he put them there. However, it was allowed to make two replicas after them in 2005. These modern replicas were brought back to Buda in 2006 to commemorate the re-conquest of the city.
Above in the gallery, you can see the real ones and the replicas, too.