The story of the fall of Constantinople with a bit more emphasis on the military aspects of this event was decided to be told by Mr. Roger Crowley in his book entitled ‘Constantinople. The Last Great Siege, 1453’. The author devotes a lot of space to the description of the defense system of Constantinople, as well as briefly describes some of the major sieges that this system underwent (not always successfully) over the long centuries of operation. This is a kind of supplement to the outstanding book by Steven Runciman on the same subject.
I have always been amazed at the stubbornness of the union of the Eastern and Western Churches that most stubborn Byzantines displayed, even in the last moments of their now vanishing state. This stubbornness worthy of the greatest maniac on the part of a large part of the Byzantines was and still is explained in various ways. It is true that religious, historical and demographic (the overwhelming majority of the Greek population were already subjects of the sultan) reasons for the continued refusal to agree to the union with the Latins. Nevertheless, persisting in his anti-Latin position was by no means rational. However, this does not change the fact that the union itself was signed by the rather pragmatic last Byzantine emperor, far too late for sufficient aid from Western countries to reach Constantinople on time. In my opinion, the tireless Constantine XI Palaiologos (1405 – 1453), who would be more suited to the times of the warlike Macedonian dynasty, deserves some recognition and good memory. He persevered exemplary in his post until the very end, despite the fact that the position he occupied was not for a moment unenviable. Although, on the other hand, the fact is that his body was never found/identified, which must have been a bit of a disappointment to his, also noteworthy and respectable opponent, Mehmed II the Conqueror (1432 – 1481). The siege itself and finally the final fall of Constantine’s stronghold is one of the most interesting episodes in the military history of the European Middle Ages. During this memorable event, the warring parties did not spare their opponents both tricks and technical innovations, in which the Ottoman side was in the lead due to its incomparably greater possibilities. It is sometimes worth reading another book, presenting this interesting event from a slightly different perspective than in the work by the great Byzantine historian Steven Runciman. I once came across an opinion that Mr. Crowley takes a “strongly pro-Turkish” position in his book. After reading this book, I cannot agree with the quoted opinion, because admitting the superiority of the Ottoman art of warfare in those times (especially artillery), or recognizing the leadership and organizational qualities of Mehmed himself does not take anything away from the historical truth. The position taken does not prevent the author from soberly assessing the described event and its participants.