Constantinople: The Last Great Siege, 1453 (59 page)

BOOK: Constantinople: The Last Great Siege, 1453
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Zaganos Pasha

influences Mehmet

a forceful Christian renegade

and building of Rumeli Hasari

sent to build a roadway at top of Horn

a leading military commander

favours pursuing siege with more vigour

controls land behind Galata

bombards ships defending the Horn

favours war

told to prepare army for battle

attack on end of land wall


The idea for this book has been on the road for such a long time that the debts for its creation are many. The fact that it now exists is due most immediately to Andrew Lownie, my agent, Julian Loose at Faber and Bill Strachan at Hyperion for believing in the story, and then to the professional and enthusiastic teams at both publishers for making it happen.

For its deepest origins I am always grateful to Christopher Trillo, the champion of Istanbul, for persuading me to go there in 1973, and a small army of old friends who have advised along the way: Andrew Taylor, Elizabeth Manners and Stephen Scoffham for proposal and manuscript reading, Elizabeth Manners again for her cover photographs of the wall paintings from the monastery of Moldovita in Rumania, John Dyson for a huge amount of help in Istanbul sourcing books and for hospitality, Rita and Ron Morton for matching hospitality in Greece, Ron Morton and David Gordon-Macleod for taking me to Mount Athos to glimpse the living Byzantine tradition, Annamaria Ferro and Andy Kirby for translations, Oliver Poole for photographs, Athena Adams-Florou for scanning pictures, Dennis Naish for information on casting cannon, Martin Dow for advice on Arabic. To all these people I am very grateful. Last and always my deep thanks are to Jan, not only for proposal and manuscript reading, but also for surviving Turkish dog bites and the author year in, year out, with love.



I am also grateful to the following publishers for permission to reproduce substantial extracts included in this book. Material from
Tale of Constantinople by Nestor-Iskander
, translated and annotated by Walter K. Hanak and Marios Philippides, courtesy Aristide D. Caratzas, Publisher (Melissa International Ltd); Material from Babinger, Franz:
Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time
(1978 Princeton University Press, reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press.

Picture Credits

Illustrations in the plate section are reproduced by kind permission of the following: The British Library, London (1); Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul/ Giraudon/ (2); (3); The British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings, No Pp, 1-19 (8); La Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (9); Musée des Augustins, Toulouse/ (10); Private Collection, Archives Charmet/ (11); National Gallery, London/ (12); Ruggero Vanni/Corbis (13)

Further praise for



‘Moving and convincing … Crowley gets you by the throat, switching back and forth between the Ottoman and the Byzantine camps as he leads his story to a nail-biting close.’ Jason Goodwin,
Literary Review



‘A powerful telling of an extraordinary story, presented with a clarity and a confidence that most academic historians would envy.’ Noel Malcolm,
Sunday Telegraph



‘More comprehensive and more leisurely than its immediate predecessor in English, Sir Steven Runciman’s
The Fall of Constantinople
… Roger Crowley’s
The Last Great Siege
, 1453 tells an old story, but tells it well, with great flair and authority. A carefully paced, compelling and ultimately fair narrative, it is firmly grounded in the original Italian, Greek and (in lesser number) Ottoman accounts.’ Christine Woodhead,
Times Literary Supplement



‘Gripping … Mixes intriguing details of military history with rich references to the religious imagery that influenced both parties.’
The Economist



‘Crowley’s fascinating account of the years leading up to and the final sacking of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire reads more like lively fiction than dry recounting of historical events. The characters, led by Mehmet II, the young leader of the Ottoman Turks, and Constantine XI, the wearying fifty-seventh emperor of a weakening Byzantium, are drawn in great detail.’ Michael Standaert,
Los Angeles Times

Author biography

Roger Crowley read English at Cambridge before going to live in Istanbul. He now works in publishing and lives in Gloucestershire. His first book,
, was published in 2005 and his second,
Empires of the Sea
, in 2008. His website is at rogercrowley. co. uk.


First published in 2005
by Faber and Faber Limited
Bloomsbury House
74–77 Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DA
This ebook edition first published in 2009


All rights reserved
© Roger Crowley, 2005
Maps © John Flower


The right of Roger Crowley to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with Section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988


ISBN 978—0—571—25079—0


This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.



BOOK: Constantinople: The Last Great Siege, 1453
10.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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