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The Fall of Constantinople, 1453

2. The Defence of Constantinople

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about how it was the Constantinople had survived being taken over by the Ottomans, despite being surrounded by Ottoman territory for almost 100 years. In particular, we think about both the natural and man-made defences of the city, as well as the abortive attempt of Bayezid I to besiege the city at the end of the 14th century.


In this course, Professor Jonathan Harris (Royal Holloway, London) explores the capture of Byzantium by the Ottomans in late May 1453. We begin by thinking of the decline of the Byzantine Empire, and the growth of the Ottoman Empire, in the centuries leading up to 1450. After, we think about the defensive situation of the city of Constantinople, before turning in the third module to the accession of Sultan Mehmed II and the preparations he made in order to conquer the city – including his investment in Ottoman naval power and military technology. In the fourth and fifth modules, we trace the progression of the siege itself, ending with the final capture of the city on the morning of 29 May 1453, before exploring the short-, medium- and long-term consequences of the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in the final module.


Jonathan Harris is professor of the History of Byzantium at Royal Holloway, University of London. Harris's research is in the area of Byzantine History 900-1460, relations between Byzantium and the west, especially during the Crusades and the Italian Renaissance, and the Greek diaspora after 1453. His recent publications include The Lost World of Byzantium (2015), The End of Byzantium (2010), Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium (2007).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Harris, J. (2018, August 15). The Fall of Constantinople, 1453 - The Defence of Constantinople [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Harris, Jonathan. "The Fall of Constantinople, 1453 – The Defence of Constantinople." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,