The Turkish emir Osman I, father of the Ottoman dynasty, had a dream. A tree sprang from his loins, and from its roots flowed the great rivers of the world, and its canopy spread from the Caucasus to the Atlas. In the branches nightingales and parrots cried out. Every leaf was a scimitar. A wind blew up that turned these blades toward the cities that lay beneath the tree; most turned toward Constantinople. That city became the emerald in a ring, and the emir slipped the ring on his finger, and awoke. The Byzantines had said that when, as at its founding in a.d. 330, they were again ruled by an emperor named Constantine, son of a Helena, Constantinople would fall, which in 1453 they were and it did. The Muslims foretold that a leader who bore the Prophet’s name would take Constantinople, and in 1453 he did and he did. When the Turks at last breached Constantinople’s walls it was because someone left the door open.

more from Rafil Kroll-Zaidi at Harper’s Magazine here.