May 29, 1453: Constantinople, capital of Roman Empire (and late Byzantine Empire) since Constantine founded the city in 324, falls to the Turks under Mehmed II, ending the Byzantine Empire. Muslims later rename the city Istanbul. The lavish cathedral that crowned the city, Hagia Sophia, was also converted into a mosque (see issue 74: Christians & Muslims). Today it is a museum and restoration work is being done to preserve both the Muslim and Christian layers of religious history.
May 29, 1546: In retaliation for the execution of Reformation preacher George Wishart, Scottish Protestants murder Cardinal David Beaton in St. Andrews. John Knox, who was not part of the assassination plot, went on to lead the Scottish Reformation (see issue 46: John Knox).
May 29, 1660: England's King Charles II triumphantly enters London, marking the full restoration of the monarchy. Though he promised religious liberty, he cracked down on Dissenters (including John Bunyan) following a 1661 attempt by religous fanatics to overthrow him (see issue 11: John Bunyan).
May 29, 1874: English essayist, poet, and writer G.K. Chesterton is born in London. The 400-pound man was occasionally absent-minded, but brilliant. He loved paradoxes, which he called "supreme assertions of truth," and used them often in his writing. Poet T.S. Eliot credited him with doing "more than any man in his time … to maintain the existence of the [Christian] minority in the modern world." Chesterton converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism in 1922 (see issue 75: G.K. Chesterton).
February 26, 398: John Chrysostom, the greatest preacher of the early church, becomes bishop of Constantinople. So well-regarded was his preaching that he earned the name Chrysostom: "golden-mouth." He was exiled in 403 for his outspoken criticism of his congregation, including Empress Eudoxia. After the church recalled him, he again offended Eudoxia, who exiled him again. He died three years later (see issue 44: John Chrysostom).
February 26, 1536: Swiss Protestants sign the First Helvetic ...