Like today, the fall of Constantinople by the Ottomans

How Constantinople fell

Screenshot 4 22 Fall of Constantinople, Byzantium, Constantine the Great

On May 29, 1453, the Fall of Constantinople takes place. "Reigning", as they called the bright and powerful capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, founded by Constantine the Great and later the capital of Byzantium as it was later established to call this empire, fell after a siege to the Ottomans and the iconic leader them, Muhammad II.

"The siege of Constantinople is not, as is usually assumed, a simple result of the siege, which was set up by the ambitious and par excellence representative of the martial spirit of his tribe and the wild enjoyment of the battle Sultan Muhammad II.

"It is a question whose origin one must seek, on the one hand, in the position that the Byzantine Empire reached after the capture of the City by the crusaders, and on the other hand, in the spirit with which the converts of Islam were imbued, right from the appearance of this leader of the new religion, facing the greatest and richest City "the eye of all cities, the crown of glory and joy of the earth".

"Because everyone's imagination was captivated by her vision. Everyone looked at her, some with admiration and wonder and others with envy and gluttony. He cannot contain his astonishment when Arabs Hasan Ali el Herebi sees her, but also not to express his envy and by describing her not to echo: May God grant his infinite mercy and his generosity may he make her his metropolis of Islam.

Centuries of effort

"The effort to capture Constantinople was the issue of many generations of the Muslim world. For seven hundred whole years this desire was conceived and grew.

"It had become a great and sacred tradition to the point that it was proclaimed as a dogma of faith that the prophet Muhammad had conversed about this matter with God and that he had heard from him that the great day of judgment would not come before the City was destroyed by the sons of Hagar.

"That's why the Arabs besieged it seven times. And the Turks five in just 57 years. This also explains the restless rush of Muhammad's warriors after that morning of the 29th of May.'

Prophecies and divinations

"Gradually the Fall of the City became "the subject of prophecies and prophecies in the imagination of both the Muslim world and the Byzantines. Astrologers and magicians who were always popular with the Byzantine Emperor and the Caliphs and the Sultans predicted and prophesied various things that endlessly captured the imagination of the crowd.

Decline and subsidence

Historians and scholars clearly analyze the irreversible decline and subsidence to which Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire in general were led by the Crusader conquerors.

"Constantinople fought bravely for its survival, but its fate was already predetermined 249 years ago, when it was sacked by the Crusaders and the Venetians of the Christian West.

»The Byzantine state then split into three parts: the Empire of Nicaea, the Despotate of Epirus and the Empire of Trebizond. Thus, when in 1259 Michael Palaiologos, usurper of the imperial throne of Nicaea, managed with the help of the Genoese to expel the Venetians from Constantinople and after two years, in 1261, to crown himself emperor of Byzantium, as Michael H' the Liberator, the empire was now dismembered and shrunken, and the Reign plundered and penniless.'


» The once rich Byzantine ports and urban centers were occupied by the Franks, and in Asia Minor the Turks became more and more threatening. The interior of the empire was torn by civil strife.

"The inability - and often the negligence - of the emperors to protect the eastern borders from the Ottoman advance deprived Byzantium of the rich granaries of Asia Minor and of the possibility of recruiting men.

Thus, tormented by civil wars, by the plague of 1347 that exterminated more than a third of its population, having lost almost all its possessions (even Thessaloniki), with only the Despotate of the Moreus surviving and flourishing spiritually and culturally, and with the Turkish cordon constantly tightening around it, Constantinople at the beginning of the 15th century was now a city-state and not the capital of an empire".

The siege begins

We thus arrive at March 1453, when the siege of the City begins that will lead to its Fall.

"The great cannon of Urvanos, on a specially made wheeled cart pulled by 60 oxen, also arrived. Muhammad appeared on April 5 at the head of his 12.000 chosen janissaries and pitched his golden-red tent in the Valley of the Wolf, a few hundred meters outside the gate of Saint Roman.

The bad news is that the Turkish fleet occupying the Princely Islands and having under its control the coasts of the Propontis "strangled" the supply of the besieged City.

On April 6, Muhammad asks the people of Constantinople to surrender the city, promising that his army will harm no one, while declaring that otherwise he would show no mercy. The besieged responded negatively and the Ottomans began their attack.

A key element of the first days was that the besiegers had procured very powerful cannons, new technology for the time. Initially, however, the defenders could and did repair, at least rudimentarily, the damage to the hitherto impregnable walls of the City.

The capture of Keratio Gulf

The most pivotal event in this fatal siege of Constantinople was that the Ottomans managed to capture the Horned Gulf with their ships. The Byzantines, as in previous periods of war, had closed the entrance to the bay, with a large iron chain, which was tied from one side to the other.

Mohammed II, however, finally found a way to get his navy into the Horned Gulf.

“He followed the advice of an Italian engineer to transport his ships by land. Which he did, while at the same time keeping the Byzantines busy with the constant bombardment of the land walls of the City.

The Ottomans pass their ships into the Horned Gulf by land

"The thousands of workers that the sultan had at his disposal built killivants which were launched into the sea from the Galata side, the ships were tied to them and then pulled with pulleys. In this way around 70 ships were transported into the Horn Gulf.

"On April 22, the Byzantines found themselves facing a fait accompli. The attempt of the heroic Venetian Giacomo Cocco to set fire to the Turkish ships failed. The expulsion of the Turkish fleet from Keratio was now impossible".

The last night

The entry of the Ottomans into the Horned Gulf was also the beginning of the definitive end for Constantinople. The bombardment of the walls intensifies while the besiegers try to enter the City and through tunnels dug under the walls. We thus arrive at the last night before the fall.

"On the evening of May 28 in Hagia Sophia, Orthodox and Catholic priests donned their official vestments and officiated together before a flock united for the first and last time.

The attack began shortly after midnight. The Turks relied on the bulk of their forces. The few defenders of the city, however, continued to repel them, so that a certain hope glimmered for a while. But at some point Justinianis (s.s. Ioannis Justinianis, Genoese soldier, defender of Constantinople) was wounded [seriously] and asked his men to carry him to his ship. The line of defense was broken. (…)

"Then the last Byzantine emperor (s.s. Constantine Palaiologos) took off from his uniform the insignia that could betray his position and rushed towards the walls. No one ever saw him again."

Was there a Backdoor?

The Ottomans finally succeed and invade the city. The constant cannonades had caused openings in the outer and inner walls of Constantinople.

There is always a lot of discussion, when we refer to the Fall of Constantinople, about the Kerkoporta, the gate through which, it is said, the besiegers entered Constantinople.

The Kerkoporta was a small gate in the inner walls, half of which was below ground level. Historians categorically reject that there was treachery and that the Kerkoporta was opened by a Constantinopolitan, and they consider it very likely that the besiegers found this particular gate unguarded.

They also note that the besiegers, having advanced so close to the inner walls, found many more points by which they could enter the City.