Siege of Constantinople (1453)

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Ottoman Minature Depicting the Siege (Expand)
Duration: April 6th, 1453—May 29th, 1453
(565 years, 5 months and 16 days ago)
Result:
  • Decisive Muslim Victory
    —Eastern Roman Empire Falls
Belligerents:
Flag of Turkey.svg.png Turkish Empire (Muslim)
Belligerents:
Gr byze.jpg Byzantine Empire (Orthodox Christian)
Strength:
Strength:
  • 6,000[7]—10,000[8] Soldiers
    —15,000—24,000 Reserve[n. 3]
    —15,000—140,000 Civilians[9]
  • 25[10] Battleships + 5 Venetian Allied Ships[11]
  • 40 ft (Height) x 200 ft (Thick) walls[12]
Casualties:
  • Minimal (200 to April 18th[13])

Casualties:

In 1354 the Ottoman Turks lead an unprecedented Westward expansion, in search of more land and territory.[15] It was around this time that the Byzantines re-evaluated the threat of the West, and became gripped with the East.[16] The Ottoman's most significant victory came in 1453 when they destroyed the Byzantine Dynasty by doing what was previously thought impossible—breaching the great walls of Constantinople and it's triple-line defence, which had protected the Empire since the days of Thcodosius (also known as Theodosius II[17]),[18] who built the wall in the fifth century. This wall is still left standing today, and measures 35—40 foot high, and more impressively 15—20 foot thick stone, repeated for a second and third time concurrently to make a total capable defence of 200 foot in thickness, which included a 60—65 foot-wide moat.[17] The wall was the prime reason, the Byzantines lasted so long.

Since it's inception in 412, the wall had survived dozens of massive sieges that had seen thousands die in their failure to the take the wall; most notably from the Avar people, the Bulgars, Arabs and Rus.[17] It was only during the Ottoman siege that the wall was finally breached by brute force for the first time after centuries of standing unbroken against a single unified military.[19] The sole reason the Byzantines lasted so long was down to the belief that the wall itself was divinely protected by God and, moreover it's strength.[17] This important victory, which took over a 1,000 years to accomplish, gave them control of the Black Sea and the routes into mainland Europe through the Balkans and Eastern Adriatic.[15] The Ottomans would later reach a zenith between the 16th and 18th century, eventually leading to a war of supremacy between the Romanov Russians, Austro-Hungarian Habsburgs and the Ottoman Turks.[20]

This wasn't the first time Muslims had sacked Rome; previously they sacked Western Rome in 846.[21][22][23]

Background

The Byzantine Empire (330—1453) at it's peak; a threat to the East.
Constantinople had survived many sieges in the past thanks to it's massive fortifications. It was attacked firstly by the Goths in 378,[24] and then again in 476; almost attacked by the Huns in 441,[25] attacked by the Slavs in 540, 559 and 581, and then later by the Avars in 617, then again by the Avars in 626,[26] the Persians in 626,[27] the Arabs between 669 and 679,[28] and then again between 717 and 718,[29] the Bulgars in 813,[29] 913, 924[30] and 1235[26] the Russians at least four times between 860,[26] 907,[26] 941[26] and 1043,[31] and the Pechenegs in 1087.[32] Venetian Crusaders between 1203—1204, did manage to sack the city, but did so without[n. 6] destroying the walls[n. 7] (having betrayed the Byzantines under the guise of "Christian friendship",[n. 8] and also by scaling the low[n. 9] inside walls;[33] probably from knowledge of how to by the Byzantine prince himself, Alexios III Angelos, who led[34][35] them on a previous similarly successful siege in 1203[n. 10]). The Turks began preparations for their siege in 1452; where they also constructed a fortress, called the "Rumeli Hisari", near the Bosphorus River.[32] Another fort would also be constructed between 1453 and 1455, named the "Yedi Kule" (or the "Seven Tower Citadel") west of Constantinople, "where the land walls meet the Sea of Marmara" (which was the equivalent of the "Bastille Tower" in France, or the "Tower of London" in England).[32] Here, the spoils of the siege (and later battles) were stored for safekeeping, and also where foreign enemies were later imprisoned.[32] The first victim to the "Yedi Kule" was the last Greek emperor of Trebizond, David Comnenus.[32][36]
Constantinoples geographic, strategic, and economic location, coupled with the accumulation of the resident's gold, silver, and other precious metals, all attracted the attention of various empires and dynasties across Europe and the Middle-east.[32] Indeed the Jewish traveller, Benjamin of Tudela (1130–1173), wrote that "[t]he Greek inhabitants are very rich in gold and precious stones and they go clothed in garments of silk with gold embroidery, and they ride horses and look like princes...".[32] It's strategic location was perhaps the primary factor which lead to so many empires desiring it (with it's ease of access to Africa, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea presenting highly lucrative opportunities for trade).[32] It was, in effect, a natural, as well as, man made fortress, with it's own deep sea port.[32] Although the city was founded in 324, it's walls were not built until 412—422.[32] It was then moated, reinforced for warfare, and had a total of 192 towers built before it, over-looking the triple line defence.[32] The Turks probably first saw the city first-hand when in 1352, the Byzantine emperor John Cantacuzenus (1292—1383[37]) hired them as his mercenaries during the Byzantine Civil War (1352—1357[38]).[32] The build up for the conflict likely arose as a result of the increasing trade ties between the Turks and the Europeans (the Genoese especially).[32] By 1366, the Turkish capital had moved from Brusa in the East to Edirne in the West.[32][39] The Ottomans also spent 30 years pulverising and inflicting defeat on the Serbians and Bulgarians, who were also competing to conquer Constantinople for themselves.[32] The problem for all these competitors, was that the Byzantines in battle would always hold a strategic advantage over their opponents, given that their troops were not as exposed.
Walls of Constantinople; ~200 ft. thick; ~40 ft. tall.
The Byzantine Empire (330—1453) at it's peak; a threat to the East.
Constantinople had survived many sieges in the past thanks to it's massive fortifications. It was attacked firstly by the Goths in 378,[24] and then again in 476; almost attacked by the Huns in 441,[25] attacked by the Slavs in 540, 559 and 581, and then later by the Avars in 617, then again by the Avars in 626,[26] the Persians in 626,[27] the Arabs between 669 and 679,[28] and then again between 717 and 718,[29] the Bulgars in 813,[29] 913, 924[30] and 1235[26] the Russians at least four times between 860,[26] 907,[26] 941[26] and 1043,[31] and the Pechenegs in 1087.[32] Venetian Crusaders between 1203—1204, did manage to sack the city, but did so without[n. 11] destroying the walls[n. 12] (having betrayed the Byzantines under the guise of "Christian friendship",[n. 13] and also by scaling the low[n. 14] inside walls;[40] probably from knowledge of how to by the Byzantine prince himself, Alexios III Angelos, who led[34][35] them on a previous similarly successful siege in 1203[n. 15]). The Turks began preparations for their siege in 1452; where they also constructed a fortress, called the "Rumeli Hisari", near the Bosphorus River.[32] Another fort would also be constructed between 1453 and 1455, named the "Yedi Kule" (or the "Seven Tower Citadel") west of Constantinople, "where the land walls meet the Sea of Marmara" (which was the equivalent of the "Bastille Tower" in France, or the "Tower of London" in England).[32] Here, the spoils of the siege (and later battles) were stored for safekeeping, and also where foreign enemies were later imprisoned.[32] The first victim to the "Yedi Kule" was the last Greek emperor of Trebizond, David Comnenus.[32][36]
Walls of Constantinople; ~200 ft. thick; ~40 ft. tall.
Constantinoples geographic, strategic, and economic location, coupled with the accumulation of the resident's gold, silver, and other precious metals, all attracted the attention of various empires and dynasties across Europe and the Middle-east.[32] Indeed the Jewish traveller, Benjamin of Tudela (1130–1173), wrote that "[t]he Greek inhabitants are very rich in gold and precious stones and they go clothed in garments of silk with gold embroidery, and they ride horses and look like princes...".[32] It's strategic location was perhaps the primary factor which lead to so many empires desiring it (with it's ease of access to Africa, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea presenting highly lucrative opportunities for trade).[32] It was, in effect, a natural, as well as, man made fortress, with it's own deep sea port.[32] Although the city was founded in 324, it's walls were not built until 412—422.[32] It was then moated, reinforced for warfare, and had a total of 192 towers built before it, over-looking the triple line defence.[32] The Turks probably first saw the city first-hand when in 1352, the Byzantine emperor John Cantacuzenus (1292—1383[37]) hired them as his mercenaries during the Byzantine Civil War (1352—1357[38]).[32] The build up for the conflict likely arose as a result of the increasing trade ties between the Turks and the Europeans (the Genoese especially).[32] By 1366, the Turkish capital had moved from Brusa in the East to Edirne in the West.[32][39] The Ottomans also spent 30 years pulverising and inflicting defeat on the Serbians and Bulgarians, who were also competing to conquer Constantinople for themselves.[32] The problem for all these competitors, was that the Byzantines in battle would always hold a strategic advantage over their opponents, given that their troops were not as exposed.

History

Strategy

Ottoman Battle positions.
The Ottomans began the battle by filling the outer moat with debris, so that they're men could cross (or that their cannons could be brought closer). This was a 22[41]—100 ft deep moat,[42] and considerable effort was required to fill it.[6] The Byzantines, situated high above on the ramparts, attempted to prevent the Turks from doing this by firing crude missiles, arrows and musket-fire at them.[6] During the night they would also go out and clear the ditch, and also repaired any damage that the walls may have sustained.[6][43][44] The Turks also used a wooden siege tower, and later managed to gain a foothold before the Byzantines were able to drive them back.[6] Similarly to what they had done before, at night the Byzantines attempted to destroy it and were successful at it, having tumbled powder kegs underneath it, blowing it up.[6] By April 20th, 1453, in another surprise move, the Genoese—economic allies of the Ottomans[n. 16]—fought their way through a Turkish blockade at the Golden Horn.[6] A massive chain that stretched all the way from Galata to the harbour of Constantinople—and which was used to prevent ships from coming close to the walls[45]—was lowered in order to allow the Genoese in.[6] The chain provided a tactical advantage for the Byzantines, and with it's raising and lowering, supplies and reinforcements were easily able to arrive.[6] Frustrated by this weakness in his strategy, Mehmat II ordered a wooden bridge and railway to be constructed between the Sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn.[6][46] Some 70 ships were then carried and wheeled onto the two mile platform, and in a single day all the ships had bypassed the chains.[6]
Thus, by April 22nd, 1453, the Byzantines had suddenly lost their advantage.[6] Growing desperate, by April 28th the Byzantines launched an all out assault in order to destroy the ships at night, but failed to set the ships alight.[6] The Turks had also captured 40 of their sailors,[47] who were promptly executed in front of Constantine as mark of Turkish defiance.[6] Enraged, he in turn murdered 260 Turkish hostages atop the walls beheading them all in full view.[6] Despite this affair, the tactical advantage was now in favour of the Turks; Mehmet II was now freely able to shift his colossal artillery pieces across previously inaccessible areas.[6] As soon as the artillery Turkish bombardment re-started, the Byzantines were now totally unable to outpace it with their repair rate.[6] Morale inside the city then began to decline drastically,[6] and soon their hopes shifted to Venice, who had promised to send at least 15 galleys carrying supplies and men to reinforce the city some time ago.[6] Twelve Venetian soldiers snuck out of the city using Turkish uniforms, but after returning from Venice three weeks later on May 23rd, 1453, they reported Venice had abandoned them.[6] On May 28th, 1453, the Turks fell silent;[48] perhaps knowing they were on the cusp of victory.[6] Lanterns decorated every Muslim tent outside Constantinople, as well as on every ship.[6][49] Inside the city the mood had turned desperate.[6] Betrayed by the Venetians, and bombarded with cannon-fire, the Byzantines lost hope; and even began to weep openly, "exchang[ing] tearful farewells".[6] At 1.30 am, on May 29th, 1453, the final attack began.[6][50]
Ottomans bypass the chains of the Horn.
Constantinople suffers multiple breaches.
The dregs (poorly armed Christian contigents and basibozuks[51]) were first sent in (perhaps twice[47]), intended to be used to sap the strength of the Byzantines and exhaust supplies.[6] This strategy worked, and soon enough a pile of dead bodies littered the moat, creating a firm foothold for the second wave of Turkish soldiers—who were this time better equipped than the first contingent—to dash over.[6] The cannons blew a hole in the wall, breaching the city, and soon enough a bloody four hour hand to hand combat battle erupted.[6] The Turks were then faced with an elite unit of soldiers, numbering some 700 men in total, and who were lead by Giovanni Guistiniani.[6] The battle was so furious that Guistiniani was eventually shot and wounded,[52][n. 17] forcing his retreat, despite Constantine shrieking for him to stay.[6] On the other side of city—whether by betrayel, or attempts to flee or by the genius of the Turks themselves—someone had managed to unlock the Northern Circus Gate.[6] Panic striken, Constantine rushed to the scene but found out that the Turks already had the upper hand.[6] He made a dash back to Guistiniani (probably to inform him that their rear was dangerously exposed), but found that the Genoese had all abandoned him.[6][53] Constantine then became so terrified of being captured alive that he begged his fellow Christians to behead him, shouting "cannot there be found a Christian to cut off my head?".[6][54] Constantine died that night—what of no one is sure.[6] A corpse with an imperial insignia on it's boots was later found, marking the emperor.[6] It's head was severed off, stuck on a pike and paraded about the city.[6] The Sultan allowed his troops to sack the city for three days as reward for their triumph and many atrocities occurred.[55]
Ottoman Battle positions.
The Ottomans began the battle by filling the outer moat with debris, so that they're men could cross (or that their cannons could be brought closer). This was a 22[41]—100 ft deep moat,[42] and considerable effort was required to fill it.[6] The Byzantines, situated high above on the ramparts, attempted to prevent the Turks from doing this by firing crude missiles, arrows and musket-fire at them.[6] During the night they would also go out and clear the ditch, and also repaired any damage that the walls may have sustained.[6][43][44] The Turks also used a wooden siege tower, and later managed to gain a foothold before the Byzantines were able to drive them back.[6] Similarly to what they had done before, at night the Byzantines attempted to destroy it and were successful at it, having tumbled powder kegs underneath it, blowing it up.[6] By April 20th, 1453, in another surprise move, the Genoese—economic allies of the Ottomans[n. 18]—fought their way through a Turkish blockade at the Golden Horn.[6] A massive chain that stretched all the way from Galata to the harbour of Constantinople—and which was used to prevent ships from coming close to the walls[45]—was lowered in order to allow the Genoese in.[6] The chain provided a tactical advantage for the Byzantines, and with it's raising and lowering, supplies and reinforcements were easily able to arrive.[6] Frustrated by this weakness in his strategy, Mehmat II ordered a wooden bridge and railway to be constructed between the Sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn.[6][46] Some 70 ships were then carried and wheeled onto the two mile platform, and in a single day all the ships had bypassed the chains.[6]
Ottomans bypass the chains of the Horn.
Thus, by April 22nd, 1453, the Byzantines had suddenly lost their advantage.[6] Growing desperate, by April 28th the Byzantines launched an all out assault in order to destroy the ships at night, but failed to set the ships alight.[6] The Turks had also captured 40 of their sailors,[47] who were promptly executed in front of Constantine as mark of Turkish defiance.[6] Enraged, he in turn murdered 260 Turkish hostages atop the walls beheading them all in full view.[6] Despite this affair, the tactical advantage was now in favour of the Turks; Mehmet II was now freely able to shift his colossal artillery pieces across previously inaccessible areas.[6] As soon as the artillery Turkish bombardment re-started, the Byzantines were now totally unable to outpace it with their repair rate.[6] Morale inside the city then began to decline drastically,[6] and soon their hopes shifted to Venice, who had promised to send at least 15 galleys carrying supplies and men to reinforce the city some time ago.[6] Twelve Venetian soldiers snuck out of the city using Turkish uniforms, but after returning from Venice three weeks later on May 23rd, 1453, they reported Venice had abandoned them.[6] On May 28th, 1453, the Turks fell silent;[48] perhaps knowing they were on the cusp of victory.[6] Lanterns decorated every Muslim tent outside Constantinople, as well as on every ship.[6][49] Inside the city the mood had turned desperate.[6] Betrayed by the Venetians, and bombarded with cannon-fire, the Byzantines lost hope; and even began to weep openly, "exchang[ing] tearful farewells".[6] At 1.30 am, on May 29th, 1453, the final attack began.[6][50]
Constantinople suffers multiple breaches.
The dregs (poorly armed Christian contigents and basibozuks[51]) were first sent in (perhaps twice[47]), intended to be used to sap the strength of the Byzantines and exhaust supplies.[6] This strategy worked, and soon enough a pile of dead bodies littered the moat, creating a firm foothold for the second wave of Turkish soldiers—who were this time better equipped than the first contingent—to dash over.[6] The cannons blew a hole in the wall, breaching the city, and soon enough a bloody four hour hand to hand combat battle erupted.[6] The Turks were then faced with an elite unit of soldiers, numbering some 700 men in total, and who were lead by Giovanni Guistiniani.[6] The battle was so furious that Guistiniani was eventually shot and wounded,[52][n. 19] forcing his retreat, despite Constantine shrieking for him to stay.[6] On the other side of city—whether by betrayel, or attempts to flee or by the genius of the Turks themselves—someone had managed to unlock the Northern Circus Gate.[6] Panic striken, Constantine rushed to the scene but found out that the Turks already had the upper hand.[6] He made a dash back to Guistiniani (probably to inform him that their rear was dangerously exposed), but found that the Genoese had all abandoned him.[6][53] Constantine then became so terrified of being captured alive that he begged his fellow Christians to behead him, shouting "cannot there be found a Christian to cut off my head?".[6][54] Constantine died that night—what of no one is sure.[6] A corpse with an imperial insignia on it's boots was later found, marking the emperor.[6] It's head was severed off, stuck on a pike and paraded about the city.[6] The Sultan allowed his troops to sack the city for three days as reward for their triumph and many atrocities occurred.[55]

Strength & Casualties

The Europeans had a grand total of 25,000—30,000 men to fight off the Ottomans.[7] However, European historians maintain the claim that only 6,000—7,000 were equipped for combat.[56] Other European historians claim there were 7,000—8,000 men (4,973 native to Constantinople and 2,000—3,000 foreign soldiers consisting of Venetians and Genoans), as well as an additional 25 battleships.[10] Yet others claim 10,000 men were present.[8] Thus, the total strength of the Byzantines amounted to 27,000—32,000 men. The Ottomans had 50,000[57]—80,000 men.[58][59] A significant number of them would have had to operate varying non-combatant roles for most of their time. Approximately 50,000 lbs (22,680 kg) of gunpowder was used throughout the entirety of the siege.[60] It is notable that although the Turks numbered as such, only 12,000 participated in the battle when the walls were brought down,[2] with the rest presumably used as reserves, and to help operate the 70 cannons that were used in the battle (a significant number of these soldiers would have also died owed to diseases such as the plague which were also prevalent, considering they were out in the open; whilst the besieged would have been safe from such catastrophes). These cannons were split into "fourteen batteries of five pieces each, made up of one big bombard 5 inches thick and four smaller pieces".[5] Other sources claim that only twelve Great Bombards were used, instead of fourteen, including one named "Basilica", which was pulled by 60 oxen, and which could fire an 800 lb (362.9 kg) projectile.[2] Unfortunately it cracked after a few shots as the force of the blast caused it to stress under the power of it's own weight.[2] There was a substantial risk it might explode if carried on.
Ottoman military uniforms 1453—1683.
Turkish minature.
According to European historians, they maintain that the Byzantine side suffered only 4,000 deaths, and 50,000 captured (going as far as to call even this figure "exaggerated").[61] However, given the cultural bias of European historians, who often exaggerate the figures of their enemies, the size of the Byzantine casualties itself is put to question, and also that of it's army. European historians have contested that the amount of Ottoman soldiers that fought in the battle could have been as high as 400,000.[62][n. 20] In reality it was only 50,000[57]—80,000 (60,000 cavalry and 20,000 infantry; and of this 30,000 were Christian[63]).[58][62] This exaggerated figure is out by approximately a factor of five. If European historians applied the same rationale to the Byzantines, but reduced that figure by a factor of five in order to "soften the blow", then the Byzantines probably had a much larger army than European historians would like to admit, and therefore the casualties must have been a lot higher. If the figures of 7,000—10,000 are not to be believed, then the Byzantine army could have been as high as 35,000—50,000. And if the figure of 4,000 is not to be believed, the casualty figures for the Byzantines could have numbered as high as 20,000 dead. The argument is strengthened further by the fact that it has already been established that Europeans have often also greatly exaggerated the role of individual Europeans who worked for the Ottoman artillery (and the strongest evidence for this is vis-a-vis the over-emphasis of Orban's alleged contribution towards the construction of the Great Bombards that were used to tear down the walls of Constantinople).
Ottoman military uniforms 1453—1683.
The Europeans had a grand total of 25,000—30,000 men to fight off the Ottomans.[7] However, European historians maintain the claim that only 6,000—7,000 were equipped for combat.[56] Other European historians claim there were 7,000—8,000 men (4,973 native to Constantinople and 2,000—3,000 foreign soldiers consisting of Venetians and Genoans), as well as an additional 25 battleships.[10] Yet others claim 10,000 men were present.[8] Thus, the total strength of the Byzantines amounted to 27,000—32,000 men. The Ottomans had 50,000[57]—80,000 men.[58][59] A significant number of them would have had to operate varying non-combatant roles for most of their time. Approximately 50,000 lbs (22,680 kg) of gunpowder was used throughout the entirety of the siege.[60] It is notable that although the Turks numbered as such, only 12,000 participated in the battle when the walls were brought down,[2] with the rest presumably used as reserves, and to help operate the 70 cannons that were used in the battle (a significant number of these soldiers would have also died owed to diseases such as the plague which were also prevalent, considering they were out in the open; whilst the besieged would have been safe from such catastrophes). These cannons were split into "fourteen batteries of five pieces each, made up of one big bombard 5 inches thick and four smaller pieces".[5] Other sources claim that only twelve Great Bombards were used, instead of fourteen, including one named "Basilica", which was pulled by 60 oxen, and which could fire an 800 lb (362.9 kg) projectile.[2] Unfortunately it cracked after a few shots as the force of the blast caused it to stress under the power of it's own weight.[2] There was a substantial risk it might explode if carried on.
Turkish minature.
According to European historians, they maintain that the Byzantine side suffered only 4,000 deaths, and 50,000 captured (going as far as to call even this figure "exaggerated").[61] However, given the cultural bias of European historians, who often exaggerate the figures of their enemies, the size of the Byzantine casualties itself is put to question, and also that of it's army. European historians have contested that the amount of Ottoman soldiers that fought in the battle could have been as high as 400,000.[62][n. 21] In reality it was only 50,000[57]—80,000 (60,000 cavalry and 20,000 infantry; and of this 30,000 were Christian[63]).[58][62] This exaggerated figure is out by approximately a factor of five. If European historians applied the same rationale to the Byzantines, but reduced that figure by a factor of five in order to "soften the blow", then the Byzantines probably had a much larger army than European historians would like to admit, and therefore the casualties must have been a lot higher. If the figures of 7,000—10,000 are not to be believed, then the Byzantine army could have been as high as 35,000—50,000. And if the figure of 4,000 is not to be believed, the casualty figures for the Byzantines could have numbered as high as 20,000 dead. The argument is strengthened further by the fact that it has already been established that Europeans have often also greatly exaggerated the role of individual Europeans who worked for the Ottoman artillery (and the strongest evidence for this is vis-a-vis the over-emphasis of Orban's alleged contribution towards the construction of the Great Bombards that were used to tear down the walls of Constantinople).

Eurocentricism

Orban (also known as Urban) is an alleged Hungarian or German weapons-smith, who many European historians are quick to point out and claim, is allegedly the designer of all of the Great Turkish bombards.[64] However, such claims are problematic, in that, hardly anything is known of his life, and after 1453 any record of him vanishes from history. Indeed all of the information on Orban also comes from a single non-Ottoman based source; Kritoboulos of Imbros, who wrote about him in his book "History" (1467)[65]—however he is known to have been an unreliable historian, since he never verified his sources and nor does he use correct names for people.[n. 22] The Ottomans also make no special mention (or indeed any mention) of him in their history. Another particular problem with this theory is that Orban was known to sign his creations when he cast them, but many of them simply don't exist; which is very unusual given how the Ottoman's kept and conserved many of their other historical cannons of this time period in pristine condition.[53] Munir Ali, for example designed (likely independently) his own bombard, the "Dardanelles Gun" in 1464,[n. 23] which has survived for over 554 years (it now sits in the "Tower of London"; being gifted to Queen Victoria by the Turkish Emperor Abdul Aziz I in the 20th Century[66]).[53] Other European authors have suggested Munir Ali and Orban may actually be the one and the same person, given how similar in design Ali's and Orban's guns were; and given how Orban's records vanish around this time, only to be replaced with Munir Ali (who may actually be Orban after he converted to Islam).[53]
Munir Ali's Great Turkish Bombard (cast in 1464). Munir Ali is believed to be Orban, an alleged Hungarian or German bombard designer. The 1464 gun weigh's 18,600 kg (Tower of London).
How the Great Turkish Bombards were carried.
Recent evidence has however suggested that the role of Orban has been greatly exaggerated by both medieval and contemporary European historians.[4] Paul E. J. Hammer, author of the authoritative "Warfare in Early Modern Europe 1450–1660" (2017), for instance notes "Though European cannon founders and artillerymen played important role in creating the Ottoman artillery, their contribution should not be exaggerated. Mehmed II is known to have had Turkish craftsmen working independently of Master Orban in 1453, and an engineer named Saruca also managed to cast a large cannon. Nicolo Barbara reported at least 12 cannons were used by the Ottomans in 1453 to shoot at the walls of Istanbul from four points, and of the twelve only one cannon had been made by Master Orban".[4] Other historians such as Brett D. Steele (2005) also subscribe to this view and have also presented strong evidence which supports their claim,[67] as has Gábor Ágoston (2005) who also notes "Eurocentrists and Orientalists alike tend to overstate the importance of foreign technicians in the Ottoman Empire...to prove the putative Ottoman inferiority and dependence upon Western technology".[68] Their view makes sense given that the casting of many of these great cannons would take decades if they were solely designed by one man. The variation in designers would also explain why there was a variety of different projectile weights that could be used for each Great Bombard. At least one other cannon designed by the Ottomans could fire cannonballs weighing up to 1,500 lbs (680.4 kgs)—thus making it the largest bombard ever.[69] They were transported using wooden constructions.
Munir Ali's Great Turkish Bombard (cast in 1464). Munir Ali is believed to be Orban, an alleged Hungarian or German bombard designer. The 1464 gun weigh's 18,600 kg (Tower of London).
Orban (also known as Urban) is an alleged Hungarian or German weapons-smith, who many European historians are quick to point out and claim, is allegedly the designer of all of the Great Turkish bombards.[64] However, such claims are problematic, in that, hardly anything is known of his life, and after 1453 any record of him vanishes from history. Indeed all of the information on Orban also comes from a single non-Ottoman based source; Kritoboulos of Imbros, who wrote about him in his book "History" (1467)[65]—however he is known to have been an unreliable historian, since he never verified his sources and nor does he use correct names for people.[n. 24] The Ottomans also make no special mention (or indeed any mention) of him in their history. Another particular problem with this theory is that Orban was known to sign his creations when he cast them, but many of them simply don't exist; which is very unusual given how the Ottoman's kept and conserved many of their other historical cannons of this time period in pristine condition.[53] Munir Ali, for example designed (likely independently) his own bombard, the "Dardanelles Gun" in 1464,[n. 25] which has survived for over 554 years (it now sits in the "Tower of London"; being gifted to Queen Victoria by the Turkish Emperor Abdul Aziz I in the 20th Century[66]).[53] Other European authors have suggested Munir Ali and Orban may actually be the one and the same person, given how similar in design Ali's and Orban's guns were; and given how Orban's records vanish around this time, only to be replaced with Munir Ali (who may actually be Orban after he converted to Islam).[53]
How the Great Turkish Bombards were carried.
Recent evidence has however suggested that the role of Orban has been greatly exaggerated by both medieval and contemporary European historians.[4] Paul E. J. Hammer, author of the authoritative "Warfare in Early Modern Europe 1450–1660" (2017), for instance notes "Though European cannon founders and artillerymen played important role in creating the Ottoman artillery, their contribution should not be exaggerated. Mehmed II is known to have had Turkish craftsmen working independently of Master Orban in 1453, and an engineer named Saruca also managed to cast a large cannon. Nicolo Barbara reported at least 12 cannons were used by the Ottomans in 1453 to shoot at the walls of Istanbul from four points, and of the twelve only one cannon had been made by Master Orban".[4] Other historians such as Brett D. Steele (2005) also subscribe to this view and have also presented strong evidence which supports their claim,[67] as has Gábor Ágoston (2005) who also notes "Eurocentrists and Orientalists alike tend to overstate the importance of foreign technicians in the Ottoman Empire...to prove the putative Ottoman inferiority and dependence upon Western technology".[68] Their view makes sense given that the casting of many of these great cannons would take decades if they were solely designed by one man. The variation in designers would also explain why there was a variety of different projectile weights that could be used for each Great Bombard. At least one other cannon designed by the Ottomans could fire cannonballs weighing up to 1,500 lbs (680.4 kgs)—thus making it the largest bombard ever.[69] They were transported using wooden constructions.

Significance & Aftermath

Muslim View

Mehmet began a massive repopulation campaign in order to bring the city back to it's former glory, and thus concentrate it into an economic hub.[70] The siege of Constantinople was an immense shock across Europe (in a similar way to the shock that the Muslim world experienced when the Crusaders had invaded and occupied Palestine in 1099; this, was the Muslim worlds response[n. 26] to the horrendous series of centuries worth of massacres, rapes and pillaging that the Christians had done across the Middle-east). The siege also had a more symbolic meaning; that of realising an old prophetic dream where it was said Constantinople would fall by Muslim hands.[71] By the time the siege was over, the population had dropped to near zero; with all of its inhabitants either enslaved or sold off.[71] In order to combat this problem, Mehmet issued a series of laws and decrees that made it mandatory for Turks, Greeks and Armenians to move there, coupled with Jewish refugees from Spain and Portugal.[70] This resettlement plan reinvigorated the city's diversity, and propelled it's forthcoming demographic growth.[70] The Muslim population within the city eventually just made up short of a majority.[70] In order to further stabilise the situation, Shari'ah was introduced, which gave Christians and Jews special privileges (including exemption from military service in the form of a means-tested and income-based poll tax, better known as the "Jiz'yah").[70] The poorest of the non-Muslims were totally exempted from paying this tax.[70] Overall, in the immediate aftermath, the population grew to a 100,000.[72] Ever since, it has never been re-taken (albeit almost, during the "Turkish War of Independence" between 1919—1922).[73]
The destruction of Constantinople was akin to the shock of the first Crusade (1096—1099).
Constantinople (Istanbul) c. 1572 (Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg).
The taking of Constantinople is a significant juncture in the history of Islam and in the history of Muslims; as it's downfall is referenced directly in the Qur'an, which provided a great impetus for the early (Arabic) Muslims—known as the "Rashiduns"—to take on and destroy the Byzantine Empire.[74] The Rashiduns thereafter had long dreamt of taking the city, in order to fulfil this prophecy.[74] The Qur'an directly mentions the Byzantines (calling them the "Rum" or "Romans"), which iterates an actual historical fact; that at the time of the verses revelation the Byzantines had already been defeated by the Sasanian Persians, but who will in turn be defeated within the space of 10 years at the hands of the Byzantines.[74] The Qur'an goes on to state that Allah will give the final and ultimate victory to the Muslims however in this East vs. West narrative (or Byzantine—Sassanian struggle (602—628)[75]), as "[i]n that day [the] believers will rejoice in God's help to victory".[74] However, rather unfortunately, the Rashiduns had to eventually resign themselves to the fact that they would never take Constaninople, as after launching several sieges, none saw victory.[74] This is not to say that the Rashiduns were weak; indeed they weren't. They won tremendous victories against the Byzantines, particularly at Damascus (634),[76] Yarmouk (636),[77] Aleppo (638),[78] Jerusalem (637)[79] and Germanicia (638). The ambition however never died down, and was all the more surprising to everyone involved when the Turkish Muslims, who were regarded as inferior by the Arab and Persian Muslims, came from nowhere and destroyed the Byzantines.[74] This brought significant prestige to the Ottomans,[80] who had now cemented their supremacy in the Islamic world as the most powerful Muslim Empire of its time.[81]
The battle against the Byzantines was an important moment in Turkish, and indeed Muslim, history. However, given it's importance, it is incredibly surprising to know that there are very few original accounts from the Turks of the battle left in existence.[82] There are no eyewitness accounts, no personal reports, no written feelings or motivations of the soldiers who fought on the Muslim side, or diary entries.[44] This can largely be explained by the fact that the Turks were in the early phases of building their civilisation. Most, indeed if not many, Turks were illiterate, and most accounts were kept orally, instead of being written down.[44] Therefore, the entire history of the siege of Constantinople comes solely from the perspective of the European side.[44] This is considered extremely unusual, since the losers of the battle would not traditionally have been in a position to dictate what had occurred.[44] However, this is not to say that the Europeans had documented everything correctly.[44] Indeed, medieval Europeans were known for their heavy handed judgements and racism regarding different ethnicities, nationalities and religions; frequently condemning these "others" who were different to them (including the "blood drinker", Mehmet II).[44] The Venetians had a habit of puffing their capabilities as "skilled" sailors, who would condemn the Genoese for treachery (which would be paid back in turn vice versa); the Italians would accuse the Greeks of being lazy, cowardly and stupid, and the Catholic and Orthodox Christians would insult each other, and all would throw abuse at the Turkish Muslim infidels.[44] Thus European bias remains problematic.
Munir Ali's Great Turkish Bombard (cast in 1464). Munir Ali is believed to be Orban, an alleged Hungarian or German bombard designer. The 1464 gun weigh's 18,600 kg (Tower of London).
The destruction of Constantinople was akin to the shock of the first Crusade (1096—1099).
Mehmet began a massive repopulation campaign in order to bring the city back to it's former glory, and thus concentrate it into an economic hub.[70] The siege of Constantinople was an immense shock across Europe (in a similar way to the shock that the Muslim world experienced when the Crusaders had invaded and occupied Palestine in 1099; this, was the Muslim worlds response[n. 27] to the horrendous series of centuries worth of massacres, rapes and pillaging that the Christians had done across the Middle-east). The siege also had a more symbolic meaning; that of realising an old prophetic dream where it was said Constantinople would fall by Muslim hands.[71] By the time the siege was over, the population had dropped to near zero; with all of its inhabitants either enslaved or sold off.[71] In order to combat this problem, Mehmet issued a series of laws and decrees that made it mandatory for Turks, Greeks and Armenians to move there, coupled with Jewish refugees from Spain and Portugal.[70] This resettlement plan reinvigorated the city's diversity, and propelled it's forthcoming demographic growth.[70] The Muslim population within the city eventually just made up short of a majority.[70] In order to further stabilise the situation, Shari'ah was introduced, which gave Christians and Jews special privileges (including exemption from military service in the form of a means-tested and income-based poll tax, better known as the "Jiz'yah").[70] The poorest of the non-Muslims were totally exempted from paying this tax.[70] Overall, in the immediate aftermath, the population grew to a 100,000.[72] Ever since, it has never been re-taken (albeit almost, during the "Turkish War of Independence" between 1919—1922).[73]
Constantinople (Istanbul) c. 1572 (Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg).
The taking of Constantinople is a significant juncture in the history of Islam and in the history of Muslims; as it's downfall is referenced directly in the Qur'an, which provided a great impetus for the early (Arabic) Muslims—known as the "Rashiduns"—to take on and destroy the Byzantine Empire.[74] The Rashiduns thereafter had long dreamt of taking the city, in order to fulfil this prophecy.[74] The Qur'an directly mentions the Byzantines (calling them the "Rum" or "Romans"), which iterates an actual historical fact; that at the time of the verses revelation the Byzantines had already been defeated by the Sasanian Persians, but who will in turn be defeated within the space of 10 years at the hands of the Byzantines.[74] The Qur'an goes on to state that Allah will give the final and ultimate victory to the Muslims however in this East vs. West narrative (or Byzantine—Sassanian struggle (602—628)[75]), as "[i]n that day [the] believers will rejoice in God's help to victory".[74] However, rather unfortunately, the Rashiduns had to eventually resign themselves to the fact that they would never take Constaninople, as after launching several sieges, none saw victory.[74] This is not to say that the Rashiduns were weak; indeed they weren't. They won tremendous victories against the Byzantines, particularly at Damascus (634),[76] Yarmouk (636),[77] Aleppo (638),[78] Jerusalem (637)[79] and Germanicia (638). The ambition however never died down, and was all the more surprising to everyone involved when the Turkish Muslims, who were regarded as inferior by the Arab and Persian Muslims, came from nowhere and destroyed the Byzantines.[74] This brought significant prestige to the Ottomans,[80] who had now cemented their supremacy in the Islamic world as the most powerful Muslim Empire of its time.[81]
Munir Ali's Great Turkish Bombard (cast in 1464). Munir Ali is believed to be Orban, an alleged Hungarian or German bombard designer. The 1464 gun weigh's 18,600 kg (Tower of London).
The battle against the Byzantines was an important moment in Turkish, and indeed Muslim, history. However, given it's importance, it is incredibly surprising to know that there are very few original accounts from the Turks of the battle left in existence.[82] There are no eyewitness accounts, no personal reports, no written feelings or motivations of the soldiers who fought on the Muslim side, or diary entries.[44] This can largely be explained by the fact that the Turks were in the early phases of building their civilisation. Most, indeed if not many, Turks were illiterate, and most accounts were kept orally, instead of being written down.[44] Therefore, the entire history of the siege of Constantinople comes solely from the perspective of the European side.[44] This is considered extremely unusual, since the losers of the battle would not traditionally have been in a position to dictate what had occurred.[44] However, this is not to say that the Europeans had documented everything correctly.[44] Indeed, medieval Europeans were known for their heavy handed judgements and racism regarding different ethnicities, nationalities and religions; frequently condemning these "others" who were different to them (including the "blood drinker", Mehmet II).[44] The Venetians had a habit of puffing their capabilities as "skilled" sailors, who would condemn the Genoese for treachery (which would be paid back in turn vice versa); the Italians would accuse the Greeks of being lazy, cowardly and stupid, and the Catholic and Orthodox Christians would insult each other, and all would throw abuse at the Turkish Muslim infidels.[44] Thus European bias remains problematic.

Christian View

The fall of Constantinople was a disastrous shock for the West.[83] It was described by European historians "as the loss of one of the two eyes of the church".[84] In bittersweet revenge, the Christians had suffered what they had unleashed in Jerusalem in 1099; with the "carnage shock[ing] contemporaries who witnessed the streets running in blood and watched as bloated bodies floated like melons along the waters of the Dardanelles".[84] In order to understand the immensity of the loss, it is important to understand how the Europeans had become so used to Constantinople existing.[85] Most Europeans held firm beliefs that the city would weather out the storm; as "it had always managed to prevail over its oriental foes".[7] The West didn't fully come to terms with the city's rapid downfall until the first refugees started to arrive in the Summer of 1453.[7] Only then did it dawn on them the gravity of the situation.[7] The initial news was however met with disbelief, and anyone who tried to prove that it had fallen had their accounts fall "upon deaf ears".[7] It later slowly turned to widespread public grief.[7] Europe first heard of the catastrophe on June 29th, 1453 in Venice, from where it spread to Bologna on July 4th, then to Rome on July 8th.[7] Amusingly, on July 19th, rumours began to circulate that Europe had recovered Constantinople and driven away the Turks.[7] By August, the news was brought to Walachia, Transylvania and Hermanstadt, with letters also sent to Burgundy, Portugal, Spain, Denmark and London.[7] Worse was yet to come for Europe, as the Ottoman Turks began to continue their expansion efforts.[86]
The "Shahi" Cannon (c. 1870), built indigenously by the Ottomans and used during the siege.[87] Orban only built one of the 12—14 cannons used in the battle (not pictured); not all of them as is pushed by Eurocentric historians.
The siege opened the way for Ottoman domination of the Mediterranean.
After Europe had recovered from the shock, European leaders convened a council with some of the highest authorities the continent had to offer. A new crusade was proposed in order to recapture Constantinople. As early as February 24th, 1454, King Philip the Good of Burgandy and the Knights of the Golden Fleece vowed the "Oath of the Pheasant", pledging a holy war against the Turkish infidels. By Spring 1454, King Frederick III also held his own council with a similar end in mind. Several Pope's even dedicated the Catholic Church to the recovery of the city.[n. 28] King Alfonso of Naples also pledged to wage a holy war, on the condition he become the Latin Emperor of Constantinople. He formally wrote of his ambition on April 1st, 1454, ready to begin a "reconquista of Greece" (with the "reconquista" alluding to the 770 year old struggle between Muslim Spain and Catholic Spain for supremacy[88]). Plans were drawn of how to accomplish this by others, such as Tetaldi who proposed an invasion by land and sea. A fleet consisting of Aragonese, Ventians, Genoese and Florentines would block the Dardanelles, and a land force of Bohemians, Hungarians, Poles and Walachians (all under the command of John Corvinus Hunyadi) would attack Adrianople (or Edirne). An Italian army would then advance into Albania and enlist the help of George K. Skanderbeg. However, despite all this talk, the idea of a crusade did not come into fruition. This was because Europe had become weary of launching crusades in the East. They were costly to maintain, and most significantly of all, the Christians had lost almost all of them (only ever winning one of the ten[n. 29]). The Greeks in the Balkans, however, campaigned for such an endeavour of the arrival of their "European liberators".[89]
For the Greeks, the loss of Constaninople was incredibly difficult to comprehend, and hurt them to the extent that they placed their hopes in myth and legend. One of these concerned Constantine himself, who went on to become something of a revered figure in later Greek folklore.[7] An abundance of tales were told about him throughout the middle-ages, where he was often portrayed as a saviour who was destined to return one day, and reclaim his empire back.[7] Within these stories, it was said he was rescued by an angel during the battle, turned to stone, and placed under a deep sleep inside a chamber somewhere within the walls of Constantinople itself; and it is said that there his body lies waiting for the same angel to return from heaven, awaken him, and given him back his sword in order for him to strike when the time is right.[7] Western humanists were particularly important in spreading this rather romanticised myth, as they likened it to ancient epic dramas (especially that concerning the Battle of Troy).[7] Additionally, other rumours which had spread was that of the lunar eclipse occurring on May 22nd, 1453, which epitomised Constantinople's demise.[90] Several day later, a thick fog overtook the city (unusual given that the battle took place in the summer), which the Byzantines interpreted as the Holy Spirit departing or abandoning the city.[91][92] Thus, the trauma of losing the city was, for the Byzantines, a complex mix of emotion that concerned loss of faith, abandonment, sorrow and disbelief. Re-acquiring Constantinople has long been a goal of the Greeks since (and forms part of their "Megali Idea" in Greek nationalism[93]). They almost acquired it after WWI, but the "Turkish Independence War" prevented it's annexation.[73]
Greeks nationalism stipulates that Constantinople is their true capital.
The "Shahi" Cannon (c. 1870), built indigenously by the Ottomans and used during the siege.[87] Orban only built one of the 12—14 cannons used in the battle (not pictured); not all of them as is pushed by Eurocentric historians.
The fall of Constantinople was a disastrous shock for the West.[94] It was described by European historians "as the loss of one of the two eyes of the church".[84] In bittersweet revenge, the Christians had suffered what they had unleashed in Jerusalem in 1099; with the "carnage shock[ing] contemporaries who witnessed the streets running in blood and watched as bloated bodies floated like melons along the waters of the Dardanelles".[84] In order to understand the immensity of the loss, it is important to understand how the Europeans had become so used to Constantinople existing.[85] Most Europeans held firm beliefs that the city would weather out the storm; as "it had always managed to prevail over its oriental foes".[7] The West didn't fully come to terms with the city's rapid downfall until the first refugees started to arrive in the Summer of 1453.[7] Only then did it dawn on them the gravity of the situation.[7] The initial news was however met with disbelief, and anyone who tried to prove that it had fallen had their accounts fall "upon deaf ears".[7] It later slowly turned to widespread public grief.[7] Europe first heard of the catastrophe on June 29th, 1453 in Venice, from where it spread to Bologna on July 4th, then to Rome on July 8th.[7] Amusingly, on July 19th, rumours began to circulate that Europe had recovered Constantinople and driven away the Turks.[7] By August, the news was brought to Walachia, Transylvania and Hermanstadt, with letters also sent to Burgundy, Portugal, Spain, Denmark and London.[7] Worse was yet to come for Europe, as the Ottoman Turks began to continue their expansion efforts.[86]
The siege opened the way for Ottoman domination of the Mediterranean.
After Europe had recovered from the shock, European leaders convened a council with some of the highest authorities the continent had to offer. A new crusade was proposed in order to recapture Constantinople. As early as February 24th, 1454, King Philip the Good of Burgandy and the Knights of the Golden Fleece vowed the "Oath of the Pheasant", pledging a holy war against the Turkish infidels. By Spring 1454, King Frederick III also held his own council with a similar end in mind. Several Pope's even dedicated the Catholic Church to the recovery of the city.[n. 30] King Alfonso of Naples also pledged to wage a holy war, on the condition he become the Latin Emperor of Constantinople. He formally wrote of his ambition on April 1st, 1454, ready to begin a "reconquista of Greece" (with the "reconquista" alluding to the 770 year old struggle between Muslim Spain and Catholic Spain for supremacy[88]). Plans were drawn of how to accomplish this by others, such as Tetaldi who proposed an invasion by land and sea. A fleet consisting of Aragonese, Ventians, Genoese and Florentines would block the Dardanelles, and a land force of Bohemians, Hungarians, Poles and Walachians (all under the command of John Corvinus Hunyadi) would attack Adrianople (or Edirne). An Italian army would then advance into Albania and enlist the help of George K. Skanderbeg. However, despite all this talk, the idea of a crusade did not come into fruition. This was because Europe had become weary of launching crusades in the East. They were costly to maintain, and most significantly of all, the Christians had lost almost all of them (only ever winning one of the ten[n. 31]). The Greeks in the Balkans, however, campaigned for such an endeavour of the arrival of their "European liberators".[89]
Greeks nationalism stipulates that Constantinople is their true capital.
For the Greeks, the loss of Constaninople was incredibly difficult to comprehend, and hurt them to the extent that they placed their hopes in myth and legend. One of these concerned Constantine himself, who went on to become something of a revered figure in later Greek folklore.[7] An abundance of tales were told about him throughout the middle-ages, where he was often portrayed as a saviour who was destined to return one day, and reclaim his empire back.[7] Within these stories, it was said he was rescued by an angel during the battle, turned to stone, and placed under a deep sleep inside a chamber somewhere within the walls of Constantinople itself; and it is said that there his body lies waiting for the same angel to return from heaven, awaken him, and given him back his sword in order for him to strike when the time is right.[7] Western humanists were particularly important in spreading this rather romanticised myth, as they likened it to ancient epic dramas (especially that concerning the Battle of Troy).[7] Additionally, other rumours which had spread was that of the lunar eclipse occurring on May 22nd, 1453, which epitomised Constantinople's demise.[90] Several day later, a thick fog overtook the city (unusual given that the battle took place in the summer), which the Byzantines interpreted as the Holy Spirit departing or abandoning the city.[91][92] Thus, the trauma of losing the city was, for the Byzantines, a complex mix of emotion that concerned loss of faith, abandonment, sorrow and disbelief. Re-acquiring Constantinople has long been a goal of the Greeks since (and forms part of their "Megali Idea" in Greek nationalism[93]). They almost acquired it after WWI, but the "Turkish Independence War" prevented it's annexation.[73]

Sources

Further Reading

Footnotes

  1. ^ The absolute minimum number of soldiers that sources state that were on the Turkish side was 50,000.
    1. Daniel Carson (21 February 2016). The Day the World Changed: May 29, 1453. Lulu.com. p. 86. ISBN 978-1-329-70596-8.
    Since 12,000 Ottomans participated in the final attack, that would leave a reserve of 38,000.
    1. Harold A. Skaarup (5 April 2003). Siegecraft - No Fortress Impregnable. iUniverse. pp. 109–110. ISBN 978-1-4620-4750-5.
  2. ^ The absolute maximum number of soldiers that sources state that were on the Turkish side was 80,000.
    1. Amanda Oneil; Richard O'Neill (1 November 1992). The Middle Ages. Crescent Books. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-517-06565-5.
    2. Ilhan Niaz (26 March 2014). Old World Empires: Cultures of Power and Governance in Eurasia. Routledge. p. 207. ISBN 978-1-317-91379-5.
    Since 12,000 Ottomans participated in the final attack, that would leave a reserve of 68,000.
    1. Harold A. Skaarup (5 April 2003). Siegecraft - No Fortress Impregnable. iUniverse. pp. 109–110. ISBN 978-1-4620-4750-5.
  3. ^ The Europeans had a grand total of 25,000—30,000 men. However only 6,000—10,000 could be equipped for battle. The rest presumably served as the reserves (15,000—24,000).
    1. Marios Philippides; Walter K. Hanak (2 May 2017). The Siege and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453: Historiography, Topography, and Military Studies. Taylor & Francis. p. 735. ISBN 978-1-317-01608-3.
    2. George Childs Kohn (31 October 2013). Dictionary of Wars. Taylor & Francis. p. 192. ISBN 978-1-135-95501-4.
  4. ^ See section on strength and casualties.
  5. ^ See section on strength and casualties.
  6. ^ Quote: "Constantinople had been sacked once before, but without its walls being breached. Attacked twice in 1204 by Latin knights of the Fourth Crusade, it was captured on the second attempt in a confusion of complex misunderstandings, broken contracts, mob violence and internal disunion over the murder of Emperor Alexios IV. Its walls were scaled and holed by hand, not breached by trebuchet or other bombardment. After a Byzantine resurgence, the Latins were driven out in 1262".
    1. Cathal Nolan (2 January 2017). The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars Have Been Won and Lost. Oxford University Press. p. 582. ISBN 978-0-19-991099-1.
  7. ^ Quote: "The second siege of Constantinople was far more laborious than the first. Near three months, without excepting the holy season of Lent, were consumed in skirmishes and preparations, before the Latins were ready or resolved for a general assault. The land fortifications [walls] had been found impregnanable; and it was therefore determined to attack the city from the harbour. The first assault was repelled; but the second was crowned with success. Four towers were scaled; three gates were burst open; the Latins entered the city under the banners of their leaders; and either design or accident kindled a third conflagration, which consuned in a few hours the measure of three of the largest cities of France. In the close of evening the barons checked their troops and fortified their stations: but in the morning a suppliant procession, with crosses and images, announced the submission of the Greeks and deprecated the wrate of the conquerers".
    1. Edward Gibbon; William George Smith (1857). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Harper. p. 22.
  8. ^ Quote: "In 1204 the crusaders, proclaiming friendship with their Christian brethren, anchored their ships in the Golden Horn, the city's harbour. They then scaled the low walls on that side and looted the city."
    1. Paul Aron (2006). Mysteries in History: From Prehistory to the Present. ABC-CLIO. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-85109-899-6.
  9. ^ Quote: "In 1204 the crusaders, proclaiming friendship with their Christian brethren, anchored their ships in the Golden Horn, the city's harbour. They then scaled the low walls on that side and looted the city."
    1. Paul Aron (2006). Mysteries in History: From Prehistory to the Present. ABC-CLIO. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-85109-899-6.
  10. ^ In 1203, the tactics were indeed similar. The French crusaders who attacked the wall were totally repelled back after having scaled the walls. The Ventian crusaders on the other side however, had some better success (but also didn't bring down the walls). They succeeded in only scaling the walls.
    Quote: "It was arranged that the French should attack the city by land and the Venetians by sea. After ten days incessant labour the Latins effected a breach, and attempted to scale the walls; but they were driven back by the numbers that defend the vantage ground".
    Quote: "The naval attack was more successful; the soldiers, who leaped from the galleys on shore, immediately planted and ascended their scaling-ladders, while the large ships, advancing more slowly into the intervals, and lowering a drawbridge, opened a way through the air from their masts to the rampart".
    1. Edward Gibbon; William George Smith (1857). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Harper. p. 22.
  11. ^ Quote: "Constantinople had been sacked once before, but without its walls being breached. Attacked twice in 1204 by Latin knights of the Fourth Crusade, it was captured on the second attempt in a confusion of complex misunderstandings, broken contracts, mob violence and internal disunion over the murder of Emperor Alexios IV. Its walls were scaled and holed by hand, not breached by trebuchet or other bombardment. After a Byzantine resurgence, the Latins were driven out in 1262".
    1. Cathal Nolan (2 January 2017). The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars Have Been Won and Lost. Oxford University Press. p. 582. ISBN 978-0-19-991099-1.
  12. ^ Quote: "The second siege of Constantinople was far more laborious than the first. Near three months, without excepting the holy season of Lent, were consumed in skirmishes and preparations, before the Latins were ready or resolved for a general assault. The land fortifications [walls] had been found impregnanable; and it was therefore determined to attack the city from the harbour. The first assault was repelled; but the second was crowned with success. Four towers were scaled; three gates were burst open; the Latins entered the city under the banners of their leaders; and either design or accident kindled a third conflagration, which consuned in a few hours the measure of three of the largest cities of France. In the close of evening the barons checked their troops and fortified their stations: but in the morning a suppliant procession, with crosses and images, announced the submission of the Greeks and deprecated the wrate of the conquerers".
    1. Edward Gibbon; William George Smith (1857). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Harper. p. 22.
  13. ^ Quote: "In 1204 the crusaders, proclaiming friendship with their Christian brethren, anchored their ships in the Golden Horn, the city's harbour. They then scaled the low walls on that side and looted the city."
    1. Paul Aron (2006). Mysteries in History: From Prehistory to the Present. ABC-CLIO. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-85109-899-6.
  14. ^ Quote: "In 1204 the crusaders, proclaiming friendship with their Christian brethren, anchored their ships in the Golden Horn, the city's harbour. They then scaled the low walls on that side and looted the city."
    1. Paul Aron (2006). Mysteries in History: From Prehistory to the Present. ABC-CLIO. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-85109-899-6.
  15. ^ In 1203, the tactics were indeed similar. The French crusaders who attacked the wall were totally repelled back after having scaled the walls. The Ventian crusaders on the other side however, had some better success (but also didn't bring down the walls). They succeeded in only scaling the walls.
    Quote: "It was arranged that the French should attack the city by land and the Venetians by sea. After ten days incessant labour the Latins effected a breach, and attempted to scale the walls; but they were driven back by the numbers that defend the vantage ground".
    Quote: "The naval attack was more successful; the soldiers, who leaped from the galleys on shore, immediately planted and ascended their scaling-ladders, while the large ships, advancing more slowly into the intervals, and lowering a drawbridge, opened a way through the air from their masts to the rampart".
    1. Edward Gibbon; William George Smith (1857). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Harper. p. 22.
  16. ^ Quote: "The Ottomans came into contact with the Italian maritime states when they reached the Aegean shore, where the Genoese and the Venetians maintained several colonies. Rivalry between these two and the Byzantines allowed the Ottomans to ally with both Genoa and Venice. The earliest Ottoman-Genoese alliance against the Byzantines and the Venetians dates back to the mid-14th century. The first treaty regulating matters such as commercial rights and the exchange of captives was signed in 1387.55 The Genoese transported Ottoman troops across the Dardanelles in 1402, when the latter were fleeing from the approaching army of Timûr (1336–1405) , in 1422, and again in 1444, during one of the most difficult episodes of Ottoman history, when the Ottoman armies were stuck in Anatolia while a crusader army was approaching and frontier warlords were defying central authority.56 The Genoese colony even took the liberty of offering to carve the insignia of Murad II (c. 1403–1451) on the Christea Turris, the Genoese tower in the citadel of Galata, facing Constantinople, in exchange for construction material."
    1. Emrah Safa Gürkan (December 3rd, 2010). Christian Allies of the Ottoman Empire. European History Online. WayBackMachine Link. Retrieved September 30th, 2018.
  17. ^ According to other sources he was struck in the chest with a stone shot.
    Quote: "According to this chronicle, in the early stages of the final assault Giustiniani was struck by a stone shot on the chest, lost conciousness, and fell to the ground. He was then treated extensively throughout the night...".
    1. Marios Philippides; Walter K. Hanak (2 May 2017). The Siege and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453: Historiography, Topography, and Military Studies. Taylor & Francis. p. 158. ISBN 978-1-317-01608-3.
    2. Clive Ponting (30 November 2011). Gunpowder: An Explosive History - from the Alchemists of China to the Battlefields of Europe. Random House. pp. 67. ISBN 978-1-4481-2811-2.
  18. ^ Quote: "The Ottomans came into contact with the Italian maritime states when they reached the Aegean shore, where the Genoese and the Venetians maintained several colonies. Rivalry between these two and the Byzantines allowed the Ottomans to ally with both Genoa and Venice. The earliest Ottoman-Genoese alliance against the Byzantines and the Venetians dates back to the mid-14th century. The first treaty regulating matters such as commercial rights and the exchange of captives was signed in 1387.55 The Genoese transported Ottoman troops across the Dardanelles in 1402, when the latter were fleeing from the approaching army of Timûr (1336–1405) , in 1422, and again in 1444, during one of the most difficult episodes of Ottoman history, when the Ottoman armies were stuck in Anatolia while a crusader army was approaching and frontier warlords were defying central authority.56 The Genoese colony even took the liberty of offering to carve the insignia of Murad II (c. 1403–1451) on the Christea Turris, the Genoese tower in the citadel of Galata, facing Constantinople, in exchange for construction material."
    1. Emrah Safa Gürkan (December 3rd, 2010). Christian Allies of the Ottoman Empire. European History Online. WayBackMachine Link. Retrieved September 30th, 2018.
  19. ^ According to other sources he was struck in the chest with a stone shot.
    Quote: "According to this chronicle, in the early stages of the final assault Giustiniani was struck by a stone shot on the chest, lost conciousness, and fell to the ground. He was then treated extensively throughout the night...".
    1. Marios Philippides; Walter K. Hanak (2 May 2017). The Siege and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453: Historiography, Topography, and Military Studies. Taylor & Francis. p. 158. ISBN 978-1-317-01608-3.
    2. Clive Ponting (30 November 2011). Gunpowder: An Explosive History - from the Alchemists of China to the Battlefields of Europe. Random House. pp. 67. ISBN 978-1-4481-2811-2.
  20. ^ Most European historians throughout the centuries have chosen to go with 300,000 Turks. Right up until c. 1900, was this number never questioned.
    1. Chronological Tables: Comprehending the Chronology and History of the World, from the Earliest Records to the Close of the Russian War. R. Griffin. 1857. p. 300.
    2. The Book of Dates; Or, Treasury of Universal Reference: ... New and Revised Edition. C. Griffin & Company. 1866. p. 300.
    3. Columbian Cyclopedia. Garretson, Cox. 1897. p. 1.
    4. Jules Michelet (1855). Modern history: from the French of M. Michelet. Harper & brothers. p. 44.
    5. The Historic Gallery of Portraits and Paintings: Or, Biographical Review. Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe. 1807. p. 248.
    6. A Summary of Modern History. Macmillan. 1875. p. 14.
    7. George Cochrane (1837). Wanderings in Greece. H. Colburn. p. 2.
    This is in spite of the fact that other European authors had clearly and explicity stated that the Ottomans numbered as low as 70,000.
    1. Edward Shepherd Creasy (1858). History of the Ottoman Turks: from the Beginning of Their Empire to the Present Time. Chiefly Founded on Von Hammer. New Ed. Richard Bentle.
  21. ^ Most European historians throughout the centuries have chosen to go with 300,000 Turks. Right up until c. 1900, was this number never questioned.
    1. Chronological Tables: Comprehending the Chronology and History of the World, from the Earliest Records to the Close of the Russian War. R. Griffin. 1857. p. 300.
    2. The Book of Dates; Or, Treasury of Universal Reference: ... New and Revised Edition. C. Griffin & Company. 1866. p. 300.
    3. Columbian Cyclopedia. Garretson, Cox. 1897. p. 1.
    4. Jules Michelet (1855). Modern history: from the French of M. Michelet. Harper & brothers. p. 44.
    5. The Historic Gallery of Portraits and Paintings: Or, Biographical Review. Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe. 1807. p. 248.
    6. A Summary of Modern History. Macmillan. 1875. p. 14.
    7. George Cochrane (1837). Wanderings in Greece. H. Colburn. p. 2.
    This is in spite of the fact that other European authors had clearly and explicity stated that the Ottomans numbered as low as 70,000.
    1. Edward Shepherd Creasy (1858). History of the Ottoman Turks: from the Beginning of Their Empire to the Present Time. Chiefly Founded on Von Hammer. New Ed. Richard Bentle.
  22. ^ Quote: "The psychological insight, the dramatic sense, the economy of language and the objectivity of outlook of his classical prototype are beyond his power to use. Although he is never guilty of a conscious perversion of truth he frequently appears unreliable, chiefly because of his inexact use of geographical and personal names and of chronology and on account of his failure to ascertain the veracity of his sources".
    1. Costas, Procope S. (1955). "History of Mehmed the Conqueror Kritovoulos". Renaissance News. 8 (1, Part 1): 30–32. doi:10.2307/2857657. ISSN 0277-903X.
  23. ^ The gun weighs 18,600 kg, is 5.18 metres long, and fired cannonballs 0.63 metres in diameter.
    1. Syed Ramsey (12 May 2016). Tools of War: History of Weapons in Medieval Times. Vij Books India Pvt Ltd. p. 188. ISBN 978-93-86019-81-3.
  24. ^ Quote: "The psychological insight, the dramatic sense, the economy of language and the objectivity of outlook of his classical prototype are beyond his power to use. Although he is never guilty of a conscious perversion of truth he frequently appears unreliable, chiefly because of his inexact use of geographical and personal names and of chronology and on account of his failure to ascertain the veracity of his sources".
    1. Costas, Procope S. (1955). "History of Mehmed the Conqueror Kritovoulos". Renaissance News. 8 (1, Part 1): 30–32. doi:10.2307/2857657. ISSN 0277-903X.
  25. ^ The gun weighs 18,600 kg, is 5.18 metres long, and fired cannonballs 0.63 metres in diameter.
    1. Syed Ramsey (12 May 2016). Tools of War: History of Weapons in Medieval Times. Vij Books India Pvt Ltd. p. 188. ISBN 978-93-86019-81-3.
  26. ^ Quote: "Islam came to the Balkans in an organized and institutionalized form only with the Ottomans. In the 14th century, the Ottomans possessed significant political and military capacities, and ideaologically acted as the avant-garde of the Islamic world in the West, representing its militant reaction to the crusades and posing a serious threat to Christendom".
    1. Oliver Jens Schmitt; Andreas Rathberger (2010). Religion und Kultur im albanischsprachigen Südosteuropa. Peter Lang. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-3-631-60295-9.
  27. ^ Quote: "Islam came to the Balkans in an organized and institutionalized form only with the Ottomans. In the 14th century, the Ottomans possessed significant political and military capacities, and ideaologically acted as the avant-garde of the Islamic world in the West, representing its militant reaction to the crusades and posing a serious threat to Christendom".
    1. Oliver Jens Schmitt; Andreas Rathberger (2010). Religion und Kultur im albanischsprachigen Südosteuropa. Peter Lang. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-3-631-60295-9.
  28. ^ Altogether at least three pope's pushed for a crusade, and neither was successful. Pope Nicholas V, Pope Calixtus III and Pope Pius II all wanted to respond to the fall.
    1. Professor Morimichi Watanabe (28 July 2013). Nicholas of Cusa – A Companion to his Life and his Times. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 376. ISBN 978-1-4094-8253-6.
  29. ^ People's Crusade: Muslim Victory
    1. George Childs Kohn (31 October 2013). Dictionary of Wars. Routledge. p. 134. ISBN 978-1-135-95494-9.
    2. John Child; Martyn John Whittock; Nigel Kelly (1992). The Crusades. Heinemann. pp. 16. ISBN 978-0-435-31283-1.
    First Crusade: Christian Victory
    1. Kelly Rodgers (30 July 2012). The Byzantine Empire: A Society That Shaped the World. Teacher Created Materials. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-4333-5023-8.
    Second Crusade: Muslim Victory
    1. Philip Parker (February 2010). World History. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 448. ISBN 978-1-4053-4124-0.
    2. John L. Esposito (7 October 1999). The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?. Oxford University Press. pp. 59–61. ISBN 978-0-19-982665-0.
    Third Crusade: Inconclusive (both sides claim victory)
    1. Walter Hazen (1 September 2002). Inside Islam. Lorenz Educational Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-7877-0526-
    2. Thomas Asbridge (2012-01-19). The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land. Simon and Schuster. p. 376. ISBN 978-1-84983-770-5.
    Fourth Crusade: Christian Self-Defeat (Catholics Christian vs. Orthodox Christians; no Muslims were involved)
    1. Judith Kidd; Rosemary Rees; Ruth Tudor (2000). Life in Medieval Times. Heinemann. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-435-32594-7.
    2. Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.) (1997). The Glory of Byzantium: Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843-1261. Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 390. ISBN 978-0-87099-777-8.
    Fifth Crusade: Muslim Victory
    1. Philip Parker (February 2010). World History. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 448. ISBN 978-1-4053-4124-0.
    Sixth Crusade: Muslim Victory
    1. Jeffrey Ian Ross (4 March 2015). Religion and Violence: An Encyclopedia of Faith and Conflict from Antiquity to the Present. Routledge. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-317-46109-8.
    2. Gustave Dore; Gustave Doré (15 July 1997). Doré's Illustrations of the Crusades. Courier Corporation. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-486-29597-8.
    Seventh Crusade: Muslim Victory
    1. Philip Parker (February 2010). World History. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 448. ISBN 978-1-4053-4124-0.
    2. Joseph J. Conte (4 December 2008). The 14th and Final Crusade to the Middle East: Crusades from the 11th Century to the 21st Century. AuthorHouse. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-4520-5546-6.
    3. Jean-Pierre Filiu (2015). From Deep State to Islamic State: The Arab Counter-revolution and Its Jihadi Legacy. Oxford University Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-19-026406-2.
    4. Philip Parker (February 2010). World History. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 448. ISBN 978-1-4053-4124-0.
    Eighth Crusade: Muslim Victory
    1. Philip Parker (February 2010). World History. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 448. ISBN 978-1-4053-4124-0.
    2. Joseph J. Conte (4 December 2008). The 14th and Final Crusade to the Middle East: Crusades from the 11th Century to the 21st Century. AuthorHouse. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-4520-5546-6.
    Ninth Crusade: Muslim Victory
    1. Joseph J. Conte (4 December 2008). The 14th and Final Crusade to the Middle East: Crusades from the 11th Century to the 21st Century. AuthorHouse. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-4520-5546-6.
  30. ^ Altogether at least three pope's pushed for a crusade, and neither was successful. Pope Nicholas V, Pope Calixtus III and Pope Pius II all wanted to respond to the fall.
    1. Professor Morimichi Watanabe (28 July 2013). Nicholas of Cusa – A Companion to his Life and his Times. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 376. ISBN 978-1-4094-8253-6.
  31. ^ People's Crusade: Muslim Victory
    1. George Childs Kohn (31 October 2013). Dictionary of Wars. Routledge. p. 134. ISBN 978-1-135-95494-9.
    2. John Child; Martyn John Whittock; Nigel Kelly (1992). The Crusades. Heinemann. pp. 16. ISBN 978-0-435-31283-1.
    First Crusade: Christian Victory
    1. Kelly Rodgers (30 July 2012). The Byzantine Empire: A Society That Shaped the World. Teacher Created Materials. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-4333-5023-8.
    Second Crusade: Muslim Victory
    1. Philip Parker (February 2010). World History. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 448. ISBN 978-1-4053-4124-0.
    2. John L. Esposito (7 October 1999). The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?. Oxford University Press. pp. 59–61. ISBN 978-0-19-982665-0.
    Third Crusade: Inconclusive (both sides claim victory)
    1. Walter Hazen (1 September 2002). Inside Islam. Lorenz Educational Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-7877-0526-
    2. Thomas Asbridge (2012-01-19). The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land. Simon and Schuster. p. 376. ISBN 978-1-84983-770-5.
    Fourth Crusade: Christian Self-Defeat (Catholics Christian vs. Orthodox Christians; no Muslims were involved)
    1. Judith Kidd; Rosemary Rees; Ruth Tudor (2000). Life in Medieval Times. Heinemann. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-435-32594-7.
    2. Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.) (1997). The Glory of Byzantium: Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843-1261. Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 390. ISBN 978-0-87099-777-8.
    Fifth Crusade: Muslim Victory
    1. Philip Parker (February 2010). World History. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 448. ISBN 978-1-4053-4124-0.
    Sixth Crusade: Muslim Victory
    1. Jeffrey Ian Ross (4 March 2015). Religion and Violence: An Encyclopedia of Faith and Conflict from Antiquity to the Present. Routledge. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-317-46109-8.
    2. Gustave Dore; Gustave Doré (15 July 1997). Doré's Illustrations of the Crusades. Courier Corporation. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-486-29597-8.
    Seventh Crusade: Muslim Victory
    1. Philip Parker (February 2010). World History. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 448. ISBN 978-1-4053-4124-0.
    2. Joseph J. Conte (4 December 2008). The 14th and Final Crusade to the Middle East: Crusades from the 11th Century to the 21st Century. AuthorHouse. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-4520-5546-6.
    3. Jean-Pierre Filiu (2015). From Deep State to Islamic State: The Arab Counter-revolution and Its Jihadi Legacy. Oxford University Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-19-026406-2.
    4. Philip Parker (February 2010). World History. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 448. ISBN 978-1-4053-4124-0.
    Eighth Crusade: Muslim Victory
    1. Philip Parker (February 2010). World History. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 448. ISBN 978-1-4053-4124-0.
    2. Joseph J. Conte (4 December 2008). The 14th and Final Crusade to the Middle East: Crusades from the 11th Century to the 21st Century. AuthorHouse. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-4520-5546-6.
    Ninth Crusade: Muslim Victory
    1. Joseph J. Conte (4 December 2008). The 14th and Final Crusade to the Middle East: Crusades from the 11th Century to the 21st Century. AuthorHouse. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-4520-5546-6.

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External Links

  • Fetih 1453—a film by Turkish cinema depicting the Siege of Constantinople (1453).
  • The Cannons of Mehmet II—An article about Salim Ayduz on "Muslim Heritage" detailing the cannon's used by Mehmet II.