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The Fall of Constantinople, 1453

4. The Siege Begins

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about Mehmed's initial attack on Constantinople, focusing in particular on his ingenious method of launching Ottoman ships directly into the Golden Horn, the effectiveness of his new giant cannon on the walls of the city, and his fear of dysentery in the army as April turns into May.


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 Siege Begins [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

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