This major study is a comprehensive scholarly work on a key moment in the history of Europe, the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The result of years of research, it presents all available sources along with critical evaluations of these narratives. The authors have consulted texts in all relevant languages, both those that remain only in manuscript and others that have been printed, often in careless and inferior editions. Attention is also given to 'folk history' as it evolved over centuries, producing prominent myths and folktales in Greek, medieval Russian, Italian, and Turkish folklore. Part I, The Pen, addresses the complex questions introduced by this myriad of original literature and secondary sources. Part II, The Sword, applies the results of these researches, first to the topography of the wall areas and adjacent structures, surveying key areas that played a part in the defense of the imperial city. These investigations have resulted in new conclusions, compelling the acceptance of consequences that previous studies failed to consider.
There then follows a fresh study of the land and sea operations during the siege, with particular attention given to Ottoman offensive strategies and methods, and to the defensive operations of the besieged. This work is detailed in its evaluation of and presentation of sources, and it fills a gap in scholarship, as there is no comprehensive guide to these events. In addition, as a reference work, it will be essential as a starting point for any future studies of the siege and fall of Constantinople.
Classified as 'Research Essential' by Baker & Taylor YBP Library Services A Yankee Book Peddler US Core Title for 2011 'This is a monster of a book. It must be the most detailed assessment of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 that there has ever been. It subjects the scholarly literature devoted to the subject over the last century-and-a-half to a searching scrutiny. It is the work of two authors, who between them have a profound knowledge of the written sources, the bibliography, the topography and the material remains relating to the fall of Constantinople.' Reviews in History '... this is an exceptional work of research that is a great addition to the field. Summing Up: Recommended.' Choice '... it will be justifiably a central reference point for anyone who has a serious interest in the fall and the historiographical tradition that followed it. The work of Philippides and Hanak, here and elsewhere, is a necessary step toward future synthesis and narrative of one of the most famous events ever.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review '... this large book is both very necessary and extremely welcome... To sum up, this book is not a synthesis or narrative but a resource that places the evidence in context and explores the problems that arise from it. There is nothing else available that provides such detailed insights into the siege and as such it will be an invaluable work of reference for many years to come.' English Historical Review 'Cet ouvrage accompagne son lecteur au plus pres des evenements grace aux tres nombreuses citations de sources qu'il comporte, systematiquement traduites... La bibliographie, quasi exhaustive, et les annexes sont aussi tres appreciables, en particulier la prosopographie des defenseurs de Constantinople, outil qui n'existait pas jusqu'ici... [L]'etudiant comme le specialiste trouveront dans ce volumineux ouvrage matiere a stimuler leur curiosite et a formuler de nouvelles questions sur l'enchainement des evenements qui ont mene a la chute de la capitale byzantine. ['This book leads the reader right close to the events thanks to numerous quotes from sources systematically translated... The bibliography, almost exhaustive, and the annexes are also very significant, especially the prosopography of the defenders of Constantinople, a tool that did not exist until now... The student as well as the specialist will find in this voluminous work material to stimulate their curiosity and to formulate new questions about the sequence of events that led to the fall of the Byzantine capital.']' Revue des etudes byzantines '...a truly wonderful work and I for one am very grateful to the authors for putting all their vast knowledge onto paper for us all to share.' Arquebusier
Preface; Part I The Pen: Scholarship and the Siege of 1453; Four testimonies: a ghost, a pope, a merchant and a boy; A 'chronicle' and its elaboration: Sphrantzes and pseudo-Sphrantzes; Myths, legends, and tales: folk history.; Part II The Sword: The land fortifications: an impregnable fortress 'thou art' or 'art not'; Prelude to the siege of 1453; A castle and a bombard; Naval maneuvers: subordinate operations; Land operations: the main targets; Some observations on strategy; Conclusions; Appendices; Bibliography; Indexes.