- Prime Student members get £10 off with a spend of £40 or more on Books. Enter code SAVE10 at checkout. Enter code SAVE10 at checkout. Here's how (terms and conditions apply)
Constantinople: The Last Great Siege, 1453 Paperback – 18 Apr 2013
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Special offers and product promotions
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A beautifully constructed story of mischance, mistake and massacre. -- BBC History Magazine
A powerful telling of an extraordinary story, presented with a clarity and a confidence that most academic historians would envy. -- Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph
Engagingly fresh and vivid. -- Malise Ruthven, Sunday Times
Narrative history at its most enthralling. -- Christopher Silvester, Daily Express --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Constantinople: The Last Great Siege, 1453 by Roger Crowley is narrative history at its very best: an intense, extraordinary tale of courage and cruelty, technological ingenuity, endurance and luck.See all Product description
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
But all of these things are centuries away from the concerns of this book. Roger Crowley has focused this narrative history entirely on the campaign for the city undertaken by Mehmet against the now shrunken remnants of the Byzantine Empire, the successor to the glories of Rome. The text explains in clear, lucid terms the background, but is a perfect introduction to the subject by not over-elaborating on the intricate details of past Byzantine-Ottoman conflicts and diplomacy. Instead a broader picture is painted, taking in the treachery of the Italian city states, the precarious position of truncated Byzantium, the desperate attempts to reach a compromise over the Orthodox/Catholic differences in doctrine and the increasing power of the Ottoman state.
By the year 1453 it is clear that the city of Constantinople, the inheritor of Rome and the centre of the Eastern orthodox world is a shadow of its former glorious past. Its riches had already been stripped in the chaotic and rapacious fourth crusade, its hinterland was either under direct control of Ottoman forces, or weakened by enemy incursions. Various other scattered possessions, the Despot of Moria, a sprinkling of port cities and the reduced Empire of Nicaea were a sad shadow for an Empire which had dominated eastern and central Europe.
Crowley uses the more intimate accounts of the siege, drawing heavily from the surviving accounts on both the Byzantine and Ottoman side. These are augmented by the sabre rattling discourses between the Genoan and Venetian forces who all had extensive commercial and mercantile interests in the preservation of a Christian city.
Crowley’s work is a fine narrative. The end is obvious, but even so there seems to be a glimmer of hope for the inhabitants as their defences are continually attacked but resilient. Various omens, most notably the fall of the blessed icon of Mary, protector of the city, on a procession round the walls, seemed to spell defeat. And by the end it was a simple matter of time. The determination of Mehmet is contrasted with the desperate but brave defence of Emperor Constantine.
Crowley manages to fit a lot into what is a relatively short history. He highlights the wrangling between papacy and patriarchy over what would today seem like minor matters (chiefly the concept of the filioque clause and the authority of the Pope), the role of new technology, the canons and gunpowder which finally toppled the previously impregnable city walls, and the in infighting in Christian Europe which prevented a concerted rescue mission.
In the end Crowley’s is a very intimate and personal history, focusing on the individuals who led the defence, the attack, those who were witnesses and those who received the news of final defeat either in chest-beating, wailing sorrow or jubilant, satisfied pleasure. Even though the world was a very different place over 500 years ago, the human emotions and desires were the same.
One criticism is that Crowley’s titular aim for the book, to prove this as being a holy war for the city is only partially successful. Of course Constantinople was infamous for its heightened religious zeal, and so any conflict here would be marked with Christian rhetoric. And there is no doubt that the desire to conquer the unconverted was a central tenant of the Ottoman interpretation of Islam. But the chief concerns of both defenders and attackers went beyond the divine. They were the regular, mundane desires for temporal glory, commercial wealth and power. This becomes clear with Mehmet’s actions following victory, and even Crowley moves towards this conclusion towards the end of the book. It is a relatively minor point in what is a fine addition to the narrative history of the period, and an extremely good introduction to what can be a complex and much debated point in history.
Most poignantly, it's the story of a doomed emperor standing with his allies and subjects against overwhelming odds, determined not to be the one to surrender a heritage of 1000+ years and the last living link to antiquity.
The author brings out several turning points where things could have gone differently, that make you wonder "what if?" ... but even as you do so, you realise -- because of the broader picture that he paints -- that even if Constantinople had survived this particular siege (as it had so many before) its ultimate fall was inevitable.
This book is an exception. Lucid, exciting and thoroughly entertaining, this is one of the best I've ever read.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews