History of Mehmed the Conqueror by Kritovoulos
Including the beginning of the reign of the Great Sultan Mehmed, his accession, his works and deeds, the building of the new fortress on the Bosporus, the battle for Constantinople and its capture. Period included: three years [a.d. 1451-1453]. [*]
*. These brief summaries at the head of the five books are written in the manuscript in purple ink by a different hand, and are evidently not by the author himself.
Of the reasons for the composition 9
Beginning of the History 12
How the Sultan was also a Philosopher 14
Treaties of the Sultan with Constantine, King of the Romans [Byzantines], and Karaman 14
Scrutiny of the lists of the army, etc. 14
Examination of the Public Funds, and of their Treasurers 15
Reply of Sultan Mehmed to the Ambassadors 17
Activity of the Sultan by land and sea, and his arrival at the Bosporus for the fortification of the castle 18
He builds the walls and the castle in the strongest way 20
The Plan of the Castle 20
The Place of the Stone-Throwing Machines 21
How the Uniting of the Continents was Done 21
Return of the Sultan to Adrianople and the Building of the New Palace 22
Speech of the Sultan inciting his followers to battle against the city 23
Of the Courage of the Heroes 23
Of the Conquest of Asia 24
The Beginning of the Crossing into Europe 24
The Conquest of Europe 24
In Praise of Those Men and Their Kings 26
The Crossing of the Ister [Danube] by the Paeonians [Hungarians] and Their Defeat by Beyazid 27
Voting for War by the Sultan and by All 33
Attack and Pillage of those outside the City 33
Great activity of the Sultan against the City by land and sea 37
Arrival of the Italian Giustinianni in the City with his ships to help 39
Review of the whole army.. 41
Statement as to the Construction of the cannon, and as to its shape and power 43
Arrival of the Sultan at the fort of Therapia, and its capture in two days 47
Subsequent arrival at the Studius Fort, and the immediate capture of this 47
Voyage of Baltaoglou to the Island of Prinkipo; siege and capture of its fort 47
First Assault attempted by the Sultan against the wall, and its failure 49
Attack of Baltaoglou against the vessels at the entrance to the harbor, and at the chain; the great sea battle 50
The invention of another and newer sort of cannon 51
Attack by the Sultan's fleet on the ships that appeared in the open sea; severe naval battle and failure 53
A Surprising Plan and Decision 55
Of Some Marvels 58
Still another portent 59
Second Address of the Sultan, calling upon all to fight bravely.. 60
Position and orders given the generals 64
Capture of the City 71
Death of Emperor Constantine 71
Great Rush, and Many Killed 71
Plunder of the City 72
Here, too, a Sad Tragedy 72
Plundering and Robbing of the Churches 73
Death of Orhan 74
Surrender of Galata to the Sultan 76
Number of Romans who died in the struggle, and of the prisoners taken 76
Entry of the Sultan into the City, and his seeing of it all, and his grief 76
Comparison with other captures. Comparison with that of Troy 77
Comparison with that of Babylon 77
Comparison with that of Carthage 78
Comparison with that of Rome 78
Comparison with that of Jerusalem 78
Comparison with Other Cities 79
Comparison of this City with itself, that is, with the capture by the Latins and . . . alas! 79
Personal Lamentation and Soliloquy over the City 79
Soliloquy on the uncertainty of human affairs.. 80
Date of Capture 81
Elegy over Emperor Constantine 81
Advice of those in high position to the King to remove the men. The fate of the family 84
An Estimate of the Grand Duke 84
Arrival of Embassies to the Sultan at Adrianople 85
Arrival of Ambassadors whom Kritovoulos sent to surrender the islands of Thasos, Imbros, and Lemnos 86
The Islands given over by the Sultan to the rulers of Enos and Mitylene, Palamedes and Dorieus 87
Arrest and execution of Halil 87
Ishak brought into the place and power of Halil 88
Of the reasons for the composition
§ 1. Kritovoulos the Islander, originally of the inhabitants of Imbros, wrote this history in the belief that events so great and wonderful, occurring in our own times, should not remain unrecorded, but ought to be written up and handed down to subsequent generations so that brave deeds, well worth recording, certainly no less so than those of the old heroes, shall not disappear from the knowledge of men, being hidden by time. Thus those who live after us may not be greatly injured by being deprived of such a history and its lessons, and the authors of these deeds may have a fitting memorial for time to come of their heroism and valor, through this history and its portrait of these deeds.
§ 2. Hence it seemed to me, not the least for this reason, that this present history was needed. For ancient deeds, although very honored and very great, are somehow hard to accept as true, and it is with difficulty that they secure a hearing; as if, as time passes, they are credited or else despised in accordance with the general trend of memory. Everything redundant reaches the point of surfeit, and surfeit brings disgust. Whereas the modern, being new and near and well-known, is easily accepted and retained, and since it is nearby, it is the more admirable, still more so since it is more interesting and is credited because it is clear and well-known. Men for the most part prefer the more recent events and wish to study them rather than others.
§ 3. For these and similar reasons, the present history appears to me necessary. Great and remarkable deeds have been done here in our times, deeds such as were enacted in ancient times among both Greeks and barbarians, yea, deeds of valor like those of the most noteworthy men. A very great government, and the oldest we know, has been destroyed after a struggle of no long duration—that of the Romans [Byzantines]. And this has been the greatest event
of all, and is a change in affairs that is of no little importance.
§ 4. I shall write of these things one by one, exactly as they occurred, suiting the words to the deeds, and never separating the deeds from the times when they took place, but preserving carefully the order as between persons and as between dates. And in all this I shall use the utmost care to tell the truth.
§ 5. The events previous to our times, what happened to this people in earlier days, what their sultans who followed one another in succession from those days till the present accomplished in the way of brave and remarkable deeds, the wars they waged, the victories they won, victories by which they gradually humbled the great rule of the Romans of former times and brought it to the point where they completely subdued and utterly destroyed it—all this has been narrated by many before me, and it is not my purpose now to record these things, nor is this the material for my present composition.
§ 6. Instead I shall write this out, God willing, in other books later on, devoting to it a separate treatise, setting forth accurately the dates, the events, and the grand achievements of that period.
§ 7. Even though many have told of these events, they have not done so systematically, nor have they arranged their history as should have been done, but have followed a sort of chance arrangement, either according to their own judgment, or else as they happened to remember it. They either lacked experience in writing history or else paid little attention to accuracy. However, my present composition does not treat of these things.
§ 8. My object is rather to present the deeds of the now reigning great Sultan Mehmed, excellent as they are and in every respect surpassing those of his predecessors. I give them as a result of my own study and from the accounts of my contemporaries, as a model and an excellent example to be followed by all who love bravery and courage. For this man excelled not only his own predecessors, but also the kings who were of his generation, in valor and courage, generalship and good fortune, and in his experience in military
matters, as much as they excelled their predecessors and their contemporaries.
§ 9. So I beg of my compatriots, both those now living and those who in times to come may read this history, not to condemn me for either stupidity or perversity, if in place of grieving as others do over our misfortunes, or being burdened at the sufferings of our nation, I choose to record and to openly hold up to ridicule and disparagement our own internal evils, which—in others' views—ought rather to be covered up as far as possible and by no means brought to the notice of the public.
§ 10. First, then, let me say that I would not place any censure on my nation or proceed to slander or speak evil of my people. With a far different purpose have. I embarked on the present effort. For I am not so past feeling or so bitter in my judgment as to wish to condemn the unfortunate rather than to share their pain. Nor would I criticize my race.
§ 11. Furthermore, I am not so stupid or so lacking in judgment, nor so altogether unacquainted with human affairs as not to recognize their fortunes and changes or the inconstancy, uncertainty, and irregularity of events, or to think that in such confusion and disorder of things, and in the diseases common to all mankind, I should seek in my own nation alone for healthy and stable and altogether immutable conditions, as though it were absolutely above all others and not under any circumstances to be compared or contrasted with any others.
§ 12. Who does not know that since men have existed the kingly or ruling power has not always remained in the same people, nor has it been limited to one race or nation? Like the planets, rule has gone from nation to nation and from place to place in succession, always changing and passing, now to the Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians, and tAen to the Greeks and Romans, according to the times and epochs establishing itself in a place and never returning to the same.
§ 13. There is therefore nothing astonishing if the same
things happen and are endured now also, and the Romans [Byzantines] lose their rule and prosperity, which pass on and are transferred to others, just as they came from others to them, so forever preserving the same nature and order of events. And since this is the case, how then can we possibly condemn our nation, with any justice, because it has not been able to preserve its happiness forever or to guard its supreme power and good fortune unshaken?
§ 14. And if certain individuals, who in their own times had the responsibility for affairs, have by the depravity of their character misdirected the affairs of empire and have not made proper use of circumstances, this is not a fault of the nation, but of those who have badly and wrongfully misused their opportunities. They alone should justly be held responsible, and the nation should not be condemned. In the same way the good should now be praised and their good deeds admired in every way and honored. We should not desire to deprive them of praise and of the rewards of virtue because of the indolence and wickedness of others, for this would not be just.
§ 15. This is what Josephus, the Hebrew, a truthful man well acquainted with the facts, recognizes in his book about the capture [of Jerusalem]. He praises the skill and valor of the Romans, and exalts them very truthfully in his discourse. He also reproaches the evils which appeared within his own nation, but he frees from blame those who had done no wrong. This is what I also shall try by all means to do, not shrinking in the least but preserving in every respect what is fitting and true. But enough of this; let us turn to our subject.
Beginning of the History
§ 16. It was the year 6959 from the beginning [a.d. 1451] when the Sultan Murad came to the end of his life, having lived a total of fifty-two years and having reigned thirty-one, a very good man in every way, high-minded, and also a very great general who had exhibited throughout his life many brave and wonderful deeds, as indeed these
exploits show. He was the sixth of the brilliant line of the Ottomans, a nobleman of noblemen.
§ 17. These men are of the very oldest people, that of Achaemenes and Perses, and springing from them, all the kings of the Persians are descended. There were indeed Persians of other lines, as Herodotus relates, but they were common and ordinary while these were alone the illustrious line of kings—those who had their primitive origin from Achaemenes and Perses.
§ 18. So too the Greeks are descended from Danaus and Linges, who were in origin Egyptians, from the town of Chemis, situated in the marsh land. They migrated into Greece. Ages afterwards, the descendants of these people, who were called Achaemenidae and Persidae, crossed over into Asia and settled at first in Persia. And when they died, they left their race and name to that place.
§ 19. So when this Murad, of whom I spoke, died, his son Mehmed succeeded to the sultanate, he being the seventh Sultan and now in the twentieth year of his life. He was sent for from Asia, for it was there that he had his province which had been assigned him by his father.
§ 20. Just at that period the Divine power sent many unusual, unexpected, and prodigious signs. These occurred both at the birth of this man and also at his entering on his rule as Sultan. For strange and exceptional earthquakes took place, and subterranean rumblings, also severe thunder and lightning from heaven, and whirlwinds and terrible storms, and an unusual light appeared in the sky, and many similar signs which the Divine power is accustomed to exhibit at the time of the greatest events and changes in the customary order.
§ 21. The soothsayers, sages and prophets and inspired persons foretold and foresaw many things that were to happen, and announced that the new Sultan would have every sort of good fortune and virtue, that his dominion would be very large in every way, and that he would surpass all the sultans before him in the very great abundance of his glory and wealth and power and accomplishments.
§ 22. When he became heir to a great realm and master
of many soldiers and enlisted men, and had under his power already the largest and best parts of both Asia and Europe, he did not believe that these were enough for him nor was he content with what he had: instead he immediately overran the whole world in his calculations and resolved to rule it in emulation of the Alexanders and Pompeys and Caesars and kings and generals of their sort.
How the Sultan was also a Philosopher
§ 23. His physical powers helped him well. His energies were keen for everything, and the power of his spirit gave him ability to rule and to be kingly. To this end also his wisdom aided, as well as his fine knowledge of all the doings of the ancients. For he studied all the writings of the Arabs and Persians [Ottomans], and whatever works of the Greeks had been translated into the language of the Arabs and Persians—I refer particularly to the works of the Peripatetics and Stoics. So he used the most important philosophies of the teachers of the Arabs and Persians.
Treaties of the Sultan with Constantine, King of the Romans [Byzantines], and Karaman
§ 24. He did not postpone anything or put off any action, but immediately carried everything through. First he made a treaty with the Romans and the Emperor Constantine [XIII];  and after that, with Karaman,  the ruler of Upper Phrygia and Cilicia, believing that for the present this move was beneficial to his affairs.
Scrutiny of the lists of the army, etc.
§ 25. Then he gave himself to an examination of his whole realm. Using his judgment about the governorships of the nations under him, he deposed some of the governors and substituted others who he deemed to be superior to the former in strategy and knowledge and justice. It was his aim,
1. Constantine XIII Palaeologus, 1448-1453.
2. The most important of the Anatolian Seljuks' successor-states, and the Ottomans' principal Anatolian Moslem rival.
above all, to have every province under him ruled as well and as justly as possible.
§ 26. He also went over the registers and battle order of the troops, cavalry and infantry, which are paid from the royal treasuries. He especially made the royal palace subject of considerable thought and increased the pay of its troops. I refer to the "new recruits," his personal guard of foot-soldiers, customarily called in their own language Yenitsari [Janissaries], a term meaning "new levy." He realized how important these were for himself, for the protection of his person and of the whole realm.
§ 27. In addition to this, he collected a supply of arms and arrows and other things needful and useful in preparation for war. Then he examined his family treasury, looking especially closely into its overseers. He carefully questioned the officials in charge of the annual taxes and obliged them to render accounts.
Examination of the Public Funds, and of their Treasurers
§ 28. And he discovered that much of the public and royal revenue was being badly spent and wasted to no good purpose, about one-third of the yearly revenues which were recovered for the royal treasury. So he set the keeping of this in good order. He greatly increased the annual revenue. He brought many of the tax officials to reason through fear, and for them substituted trustworthy and wise men to collect and safe-keep the funds. His father had dealt with such matters in a much more hit-or-miss manner, but he made short work of them.
§ 29. So, with the arrangement of these affairs in this fashion, the ordering of the reign in the best possible manner, there passed the year 6959 from the beginning [a.d. 1451], the first year of the reign of the Sultan. Thus he prepared for greater things; and so everything contributed to the plan he had before him.
§ 30. And this plan was: he meant to build &, strong fortress on the Bosporus on the European side, opposite to the
Asiatic fortress on the other side, at the point where it is narrowest and swiftest, and so to control the straits by uniting both continents, Asia and Europe; and to cross there whenever he should choose, quite independently of any other individuals and with no least question that it was the Sultan himself who controlled the passage.
§31. For he well knew how many and what varied difficulties this problem had presented to those of previous times, in the days of his forefathers, and especially of his father— what a hindrance this had offered to their operations, and how it had frequently almost made them abandon the other continent. Meanwhile the Emperor of the Romans [Byzantines] reigned securely in the City, always watching the times and the events, for the most part controlling the sea, making use of it sometimes to the advantage of his own nation, and injuring whom he pleased. In addition, the Italians, and especially the Venetians, in their quarrels with these others, often cruised in long triremes through the Bosporus and the Hellespont, preventing the crossing of these straits.
§ 32. Not only did these facts influence him, but, in looking toward his set purpose, he also believed it would be wise to have a walled fortress. And in connection with the siege of the City, which he planned for the not distant future, he believed that a very strong fortification would shut off from the City not only the two continents of Asia and Europe, but also both seas, from above, the Euxine Sea through the Bosporus, and from below, the Aegean and all the Grecian sea through the Hellespont.
§ 33. With this plan in mind, that winter he ordered all the materials to be prepared for building, namely, stone and timbers and iron and whatever else would be of use for this purpose. He set the best and most experienced officers over the work, instructing them to put everything speedily in the best order, so that when spring came he could undertake the task.
§ 34. The Emperor Constantine, on the other hand, and the men of the City, when they learned this, regarded it as terrible and as the beginning of great evils. Considering it a certain danger of enslavement—as indeed it was—they decided
to fortify their town and to prepare the whole City. They were sorely troubled.
§ 35. Hence he [Constantine] decided to send an embassy composed of his associates to try by any possible means to forestall this threat.
§ 36. And they, when they arrived, used all sorts of arguments, citing the treaties and agreements. They told how, in all the previous treaties which had been drawn up and ratified, both with his forefathers and with his father, and indeed with him also, it was in every case promised that no one should build a fortress or anything else in this place. Furthermore it was specified that, if any such undertaking was begun, both sides would oppose this by every possible means. So the country had been saved from danger of this until now and was free. They said they would agree simply to the passing across of the Sultan's armies and other equipment from continent to continent, but they demanded that he should not in any way break the treaties, concluded but yesterday and the day before, for any trivial reason. For surely he did not wish to commit any injustice, as they certainly were not doing any injustice on their part.
Reply of Sultan Mehmed to the Ambassadors
§ 37. The Sultan replied to them: "I have no intention to do you any injustice, O Romans, nor to do anything contrary to the agreements and treaties in this undertaking of mine, but only to protect my possessions while doing no injury to you. It is, however, just and right for each of us to guard and make sure of his own, not in the least injuring those with whom he has a treaty, and this is the desire of all. But, as you see, I rule over both Asia and Europe, continents separated from each other, and in each of these I have many opponents and enemies of my rule. I am obliged to be present everywhere and to be equal to the needs of both continents if I do not wish to be taken by surprise—which is what my enemies wish. And know this well, that the Italian triremes gave us many great difficulties in the days of my father when we wished to cross against the Paeonians [Hungarians]
who were attacking us-—how they sailed and prevented us from crossing. We must therefore stop this threat from them and make our sea safe and not suffer the injury, and still more the shame, cast on us by everyone, that we cannot guard our own seas and dominions. Besides, this place where I am now going to build a fortress is our own, being the place for crossing into our own territory, whether from Asia into Europe or from Europe into Asia. So you must not interfere too much. If you wish to enjoy peace, and if you have no intention on your part of preventing us from having this crossing-place, I on my part will neither break my pledges nor desire to do so, provided you will stay in your own place and not meddle at all in our affairs nor wish to be too prying."
§ 38. With this reply, he dismissed the ambassadors. They on their return told everything to the Emperor Constantine and all the Romans [Byzantines]—the whole story and especially that it was not possible to prevent this undertaking entirely, either by argument or by persuasion, but only by resort to force, if indeed that were possible. And they, since they fully realized the exceeding gravity of the situation and that there was nothing they could do, kept an unwilling silence.
Activity of the Sultan by land and sea, and his arrival at the Bosporus for the fortification of the castle
§ 39. Sultan Mehmed, at the very first opening of spring, as everything had been prepared for him, filled thirty triremes and armed them fully as for a naval fight—in case that should be necessary, or if there were any resistance. He prepared other ships to carry the equipment, and sent them up from Gallipoli to the Bosporus.
§ 4.0. He himself with a large army went by land. On arrival at the straits on the seventh day, he halted his army; and taking with him some of the strongest young men and also some of the older men whom he knew as having intimate knowledge of the surroundings, he himself reconnoitered on
horseback to spy out the country and its topography, especially with the greatest care the narrow part at the crossing, exceedingly narrow, with its twisting curves, densely wooded promontories, retreating bays and bends.
§ 41. At the swiftest point of the current, with its resulting whirlpools and eddies made by the promontories and everything else making the crossing most perplexing and difficult, he established his ferry.
§ 42. The ancient Greeks, knowing these facts, called the district "Symplegades."  They said Hercules was the first man to pass here, and after him was Jason with his Argonauts. They had the greatest difficulty, because they were shut in on every side and hemmed in and tangled up by the narrowness of the passages and of the channel and the frequent recesses and the jutting out of the promontories, so that it seemed as if the land were on all sides of them as they sailed up or down, and they felt as though confined in the middle of a small lake with no outlet.
§ 43. On account of the great noise and swift current of these waters, borne down from the Euxine Sea, that very great and extensive sea to the north which comes down and ends in a very narrow part, great waves are raised by the rush and force of the current as it bubbles and swirls and drives boats along, dashing them against the rocks and sinking them unless indeed great care and skill are exercised by the sailors in them. On measuring the width of the strait to find the narrowest point, he found it to be about seven stadia. 
§ 44. After examining and considering all these matters and deciding only after most careful thought, the Sultan came to the conclusion that this was the most suitable place, and made up his mind to build the castle there. He marked out with stakes the location where he wished to build, planning the position and the size of the castle, the foundations, the distance between the main towers and the smaller turrets, also the bastions and breastworks and gates, and every other detail as he had carefully worked it out in his mind. He then
3. The Symplegades were small islands in the Black Sea entrance to the Bosporus and had no connection with the narrows where Sultan Mehmed constructed his castle.
4. The actual distance is ca. 1,800 feet.
portioned it out in detail, ordering his men to undertake the work with the utmost speed, and offering prizes of a splendid character to those who should accomplish it best and most speedily.
He builds the walls and the castle in the strongest way
§ 45. And he himself undertook the portion of the castle along by the sea, and began the work of building in the middle of the spring, with a large force of men and at great expense. And through the zeal and rivalry of all who were employed on the work, before the summer had entirely passed, he had walled the castle, the. best fortified, safest, and most renowned of all castles ever built. He worked it out with very large stones, carefully selected and fitted together. The joints were strengthened with much iron and lead and many other things, and it was fortified and made secure by the great massive towers, solidly constructed and raised to a great height, and by the strength of the smaller towers and bastions plus the height and thickness of the wall.
The Plan of the Castle
§ 46. The thickest part of the wall was twelve cubits wide. Its height was four times that, and the size of the fortress was not like a castle, but rather like a small town. He made the shape of the castle triangular. The sides of the right angle went up the ascent to the summit, for the locality had a gradual slope, each like an outwork with its tower projecting, very strong and very large, uniting the two transverse sides and guarding them.
§ 47. And the two corners of the base, along the shore, on each end of the side thus walled in, were strengthened by other towers; these were smaller in size than the ones at the apexes, but by no means deficient in strength.
§ 48. He planned this form and this place for the castle, in the first place so that he might control as much of the shore as possible, for the sake of the stone-hurling machines. The thicker parts of the wall were toward the sea, so that
the machines might close the straits and sink the ships. In the second place, by holding the points at the top and guarding them, he might keep the warriors of the enemy as far away as possible, so that they might not shoot down from above on those manning the battlements and wound them but would have to keep at a respectful distance.
The Place of the Stone-Throwing Machines
§ 49. After building the fortification in the aforementioned manner, he prepared all sorts of weapons: javelins and bows and spears, also helmets and shields and many more such arms. And in addition to these, with cannon and larger or smaller crossbows he armed all the battlements of the great towers and the smaller towers and bastions.
§ 50. And the largest of the cannon he placed by the seashore, on the ground under the wall, putting them close together along the whole side, pointing at the sea, as I said. They were not all in a straight line, but pointed in various directions at the deep water and guarded both directions, those on the right facing left, and those on the left facing right and firing from the right, thus cutting off the passage of the straits. For they hurled immense round stones that went along the surface of the sea as if they were swimming.
How the Uniting of the Continents was Done
§ 51. From this castle toward the one opposite, and again from that one to this in the same way, other cannon prevented the passing through, not only of galleons or triremes, but of any freight boat or small cargo ship and even of the smallest boat, on penalty of being sunk or broken to bits and being condemned to be sent to the bottom. And this by night as well as by day, unless a ship passed by the consent of the commander of the castle.
§ 52. Thus the management of the castle was arranged for by him, and in this way he united the two continents and placed the crossing under his own control. So then, having fortified it well and armed it, and made it impregnable to all, or in other words absolutely immune to capture, and
Mehmed the conqueror having left there a sufficient garrison, and having appointed one of his most trustworthy men as commander of the castle, and put in charge of the cannon men who could use them skilfully and well, he went back to Adrianople, since the autumn was already waning. And so the 6960th year from the beginning passed by, which was the second of the Sultan's reign [a.d. 1452].
Return of the Sultan to Adrianople and the Building of the New Palace
§ 53. During the same period he also built a splendid palace near Adrianople, on the banks of the Hebrus River beyond the city. It was adorned with splendid stones and transparent marbles, and was resplendent with much gold and silver within and without and embellished with sculptures and paintings and with many other costly things carefully designed and wrought. Around it he planted gardens decked with all sorts of shrubs and domestic trees bearing beautiful fruit. In these gardens he put various kinds of domestic and wild animals and flocks of birds, and made the place attractive with many other beautiful things which he knew would bring enjoyment and beauty and pleasure. And in his zeal he constructed a royal courtyard very near this, and made ample barracks for the new cavalry and infantry troops, in it and around it, guarding the palace on all sides.
§ 54. He also resolved to carry into execution immediately the plan which he had long since studied out and elaborated in his mind and toward which he had bent every purpose from the start, and to wait no longer nor delay. This plan was to make war against the Romans [Byzantines] and their Emperor Constantine and to besiege the city. For he thought, as was true, that if he could succeed in capturing it and becoming master of it, there was nothing to hinder him from sallying forth from it in a short time, as from a stronghold for all the environs, and overrunning all and subduing them to himself. For this reason he could no longer be restrained at all. He did not think he ought to stay quiet in his own
parts any longer and maintain peace, but believed he should speedily make war and capture the city.
§ 55. There were also certain supernatural signs that urged him to this, together with some oracles, auguries, soothsayings, and other such things, to which he gave great weight, and on which men rely to tell them the future. All these pointed to the same conclusion, and gave him strong hopes that he could capture the city. So, calling together all those in authority, that is, the governors, the generals, the captains of cavalry, the majors of battalions, and the chiefs of the soldiery, he made them the following address.
Speech of the Sultan inciting his followers to battle against the city. Also a recital of previous deeds of his forefathers, and a brief survey of the entire rule
§ 56. "My friends and men of my empire! You all know very well that our forefathers secured this kingdom that we now hold at the cost of many struggles and very great dangers and that, having passed it along in succession from their fathers, from father to son, they handed it down to me. For some of the oldest of you were sharers in many of the exploits carried through by them—those at least of you who are of maturer years—and the younger of you have heard of these deeds from your fathers. They are not such very ancient events nor of such a sort as to be forgotten through the lapse of time. Still the eyewitness of those who have seen testifies better than does the hearing of deeds that happened but yesterday or the day before.
Of the Courage of the Heroes
§ 57. "It is perfectly possible to see even now, all over our land, signs of those deeds clearly shown—the walls of castles and towns torn down but yesterday or the day before, the ground, so to speak, still red and damp with their blood, and many other such clearly-read monuments of their heroism and valor stand as ever-memorable proofs of their courage in danger. And they exhibited in it all such heroism of spirit and firmness of purpose, and greatness of mind that, from
the very beginning, from their very small kingdom and power, they set their minds on the destruction of the rule 6f the Romans [Byzantines], and hoped to secure complete power over Asia and Europe.
Of the Conquest of Asia
§ 58. "And indeed, they did not belie themselves. Sallying forth at the start from the mountains of Cilicia and Taurus, with a small force, as I said, but with the greatest forethought and prudence, they quickly overran Lycia, Pamphylia, and upper Phiygia. They destroyed the Lydians, Carians, Mysians, and lower Phrygians and the Ionians, all of the Greek seacoast. Then they subdued the Galatians, Cappadocians, Pamphlagonians, Chalybians, Bithynians, Hellespontians—in a word, all the land which the Taurus encloses from Cilicia clear to Sinope on the Euxine Sea, which territory they call Lower Asia, they captured within a short time and made it secure for themselves.
The Beginning of the Crossing into Europe
§ 59. "They made themselves masters of all this region and of its coasts, and gained a firm control over the cities in it. And having established their capital in Brusa, they crossed the Hellespont in fairly great numbers, it is true, but not for open warfare, rather for plundering and quick surprise raids as opportunity offered. At the same time they were held in check by the sea, because the Romans [Byzantines] had control of it. But they captured the peak of the mountain in front of the monument of Helle, opposite the isthmus of Chersonesus, and having taken the castle there, by assault or by stratagem, they at first made raids from there and used the methods of banditry and of unforeseen attack and plunder, despoiling those who were near by.
The Conquest of Europe
§ 60. "But when they had advanced a short distance and were constantly becoming numerically stronger, they also
captured some of the near-by fortresses, some by force of assault and others through stratagems. Thus they came down into the plain, and there nothing was any obstacle to them any more. They occupied the level country, sacked the villages and captured the cities, overthrew castles, defeated armies, and subdued many peoples. In a word, they overran without much delay the whole of Thrace and Macedonia. So they destroyed the Mysians [Bulgarians], who lived in the interior and along the Ister [Danube] River; also the Illyrians [Albanians], the Triballians [Serbs], the Hellenes, and many other races, and they subdued mighty castles and many large cities, some of them inland and others lying along the coasts.
§ 61. "But why should I waste time enumerating cities and nations? All the land that the Danube bounds, from its mouths at the Euxine Sea up to the junction with the Save, and going thence inland between the Bistres [Bosnians] and the Dalmatians between the Save and the Albanians, toward the south and west as far as the Ionian Gulf [the Adriatic Sea]—all this they conquered and overthrew, subjecting to taxation all who were in it. In addition, they conquered the Getae [Wallachians] beyond the Danube, and not only that, but all the coastlands except the Peloponnesus, a territory with a circumference of more than a thousand stadia.
§ 62. "All this was not done without toil, nor as if one did it by simply speaking the word, nor without opposition and resistance by those who were strong enough to resist. Nor did they get the mastery without bloodshed and without dangers. And they have not kept it till now without these. It cost them much blood, many wounds, and much sweat and pain.
§ 63. "For many great nations in both Asia and Europe took up arms against them, and struggled bravely, even to death, in behalf of liberty, and with valor. And many large cities among these peoples, fortified by walls and the bodies and arms and wealth and valor of their inhabitants, and many other things, rose up to resist. And fortified castles that were hard to capture, and places hard to cross, and many difficulties, and numerous rivers not easily crossed, and many such obstacles delayed them.
In Praise of Those Men and Their Kings
§ 64. "But the greatest obstacle of all was the forces of the Romans [Byzantines], both on land and on sea, always opposing them and fighting them and giving them much resistance and many struggles. Still, none of these things checked their forward progress, or curbed their impetuosity and valor until, having overthrown and completely demolished all, they firmly held the rule. They showed everyone their great strength, being valorous men to the very end and never yielding anything, from the very start, of their plans and ideals. Whenever they conquered their enemies, they went forward against them a great distance. And when they were beaten, they did not fall back or give up their good hope, but because of their confidence in themselves and their hope for the future, they endured everything, even when it was unknown to the Fates; moreover they bore up valiantly under events, daring even beyond their powers, taking unbelievable risks, and keeping good hope even in the worst circumstances.
§ 65. "They were also unyielding in distress, indefatigable in whatever they thought was advantageous to them, and eager for none of the pleasant things. They were quick to recognize duty, and swift to put into execution what they conceived as such. They always took delight in long absences from home in order to get possession of something they did not have. They were never content with what they had, nor did they allow others to be. They did not consider what was present as of any value, for they always went after the things they did not have, and they considered what they had not yet attained but which they had in mind, as if they already had it. They got very little encouragement out of what they already had, because of their desire for greater things, even though they toiled hard to gain and enjoy what they did not have. Their bodies they used as though they belonged to other persons as far as pain or danger was concerned. They did not in the least spare them, often even for mistaken purposes, and they kept their spirits unconquered. Thus, laboring all through their epoch, they chose for themselves a life full of struggles and pains. So they brought the realm
to such a point of glory and strength, by their numbers and wealth and by the arms and ships and all that they had, and handed it down to us very great in appearance and most capable for either war or peace. Let us not seem to betray the trust!
§ 66. "Our part, then, is not to destroy the achievements of our ancestors, nor detract from our own glory which we have secured through a long period. We are famed among all peoples for our courage and strategy and valor, and until now have been considered, and rightly so, as unconquerable. But now we are defeated by one city, and that one no longer daring to trust to itself but almost emptied of all its inhabitants and entirely cut off from and deprived of all the good things it previously enjoyed by the long-continued and repeated attacks and sieges of our forces, so that it is no longer a city but survives only in name. As for the rest, it is only farm land and an enclosure of plants and vineyards, as you see, and worthless houses and empty walls, most of them in ruins. And you see how it is located in the midst of our realm, finely situated by land and sea, how many great difficulties it has given us from the beginning, and still gives us now—always fighting against us, lying in wait for our goods and battening on our misfortunes and injuring us as much as possible.
The Crossing of the Ister [Danube] by the Paeonians [Hungarians] and Their Defeat by Beyazid
§ 67. "For who does not know how, in the days of our forefather Beyazid, their king roused the whole west against us, from the ocean and Marseilles, and the western Gauls, the inhabitants of the Pyrenees and of Spain, from the Rhine river and those of the extreme north, the Celts and the Celtiberians and the Germans, the king of the Paeonians and the Dacians.  The latter sent a great force of soldiers by land and also triremes down the river, and these, crossing the Ister [Danube] and coming down the banks of that
5. Sigismund of Hungary, leader of the "Crusade" of Nicopolis (1396).
river, encamped in our territory. Nor did they have any less object in view than to destroy all our power and rule and to drive us out of both Europe and Asia, had it not been for the expedition of Beyazid at that time. His experience and daring prevented this, dispersed them, and completely conquered and annihilated them, so that some were cut to pieces, others were drowned in the Danube, while of the immense number only a few escaped, and were barely saved.
§ 68. "And again, shortly after, when she [the city of Constantinople] had stirred up Timur the Scythian [Tamerlane the Great] from Babylon against us, and urged him on, we suffered under him, as you know. And at that time we came within a very little of losing all our rule and power, that is, of losing one of the continents. From that time up to the present, the city has unceasingly and constantly plotted against us, armed our own people against each other, created disorders, and disturbed and injured our realm.
§ 69. "Yesterday and a short time ago she stirred up John the Goth,  with the Paeonians and Dacians against us. He crossed the Danube River two or three times with his army, and invaded our land and did much against my father. I pass over all the things we have suffered because of deserters, and the injury and loss this causes, which have occurred to us every day, for the words not only of slaves but also of free men should be brief. The city has not ceased, nor will it ever cease, withstanding and resisting our forces. Nor will it give up warring against us and stirring up trouble, as long as we allow it to remain in their possession. We must entirely destroy it, or else be enslaved under their hand.
§ 70. "So then, my friends, since such a city as this has set itself against us and does all it can against us, both openly and in secret, and plots against our power, should we hesitate and do nothing? Shall we not hasten to destroy it ere it does us great damage? Do we think it will always be in our power to arrange for battle where we like? And do we not know that we should not wait for wars and crises to come upon us, that we should never despair of gaining an opportunity, that
6. John Hunyadi.
the affairs of Fate are everywhere uncertain and the outcome of things is undetermined and unproved?
§ 71. "Thinking men should always take time by the forelock and attack their enemies while they have the opportunity, and not wait till they suffer evils before defending themselves, but rather act before they suffer and take measures against the enemy beforehand rather than afterwards. One should in such cases consider as a gain whatever precautions one can take in deceiving or in forcing the enemy. For the fortunes of war do not go by schedule, but victory comes in most cases to him who can conceal his moves or anticipate the foe, and so gain something above what he already has.
§ 72. "My men, since I am of this opinion and have reasoned out the thing and have these motives, and further since I am so stirred by these great crimes, I have gathered you together here, for I consider the situation no longer tolerable. I recognize the right of all who are so persuaded to make known their opinion to me. And I maintain that we must undertake this, and fight quickly, and must accept war and capture the City with all determination and speed, or never lay claim to our realm any more, or to its possessions as our own, or think of anything as certain for the future. For our own realm cannot be free of fear, or our goods out of danger, unless this City be either captured or destroyed by us.
§ 73. "The matter is very simple: I prefer either to hold our empire with this City also, or without it to be bereft of our empire as well. For if we get the City, you may be sure that our possessions will be secure and what we do not now have may also be secured. But without it, or while it is as at present, nothing we have is safe, and we can hope for nothing additional. If these people hold the City and are hard pressed by us, they will secure some stronger alliance and will hold the seas that are rightfully ours, and we shall be constantly at war and in danger and put to ruinous expenses, and the result of the war will be uncertain.
§ 74. "War is always likely to bring in such a case many illogical and unexpected results, and the prolongation of war subjects many things to chance. Again, if unable to save the
City, they should turn it over to others stronger than themselves and better equipped in men, money, ships, arms, and everything, and these should oppose our plans still more vigorously and withstand us as if in defense of their own homes—think what would then be our condition! A city so large, situated so favorably by land and sea and forever attacking our forces and taking advantage of our weak points and getting a preponderating power, would fight with us on equal terms. I myself believe—but I do not wish to say anything distressing! May such blasphemy be turned against the heads of our enemies! Even if it is terrible to hear, such things are not for us or for our good.
§ 75. "Wherefore we must no longer delay, or let slip the opportunity we have, but must attack the City, all of us, with all our men and power. Especially now that the Divinity is with us, we must not spare anything needed for the war, either men, or money, or arms, or anything else of that sort, and we must not consider anything else as more important until we have by every means captured it, or entirely destroyed it, or have been brought under subjection to them.
§ 76. "Let none of you think the City cannot be taken, or reason from the experience of my grandfather and my father, who, being of my opinion from the very beginning, carried on merciless warfare against it with a surpassingly large force of men and power, and arms, and made use also of a long siege and terrible famine, but were nevertheless still unable to conquer it.
§ 77. "If it had then withstood by its own strength and power, and had showed itself better than its attackers in troops and funds and arms and everything else, and had been better protected, or if they of our side had been unsuccessful because they were weaker in their own forces and preparations and so were never able to capture it, then this line of reasoning would be correct.
§ 78. "But who does not know that an unexpected piece of luck, coming in contrary to all logic, snatched victory out of the hands of Beyazid—a thing that often happens to man from the Divinity. For an agreement had been reached that the people of the City should surrender the City and themselves
on a certain day, since they were unable to resist any longer on account of the famine due to the long siege. Then suddenly there appeared from Europe the king of the Paeonians and Dacians, and shortly thereafter, from Asia, Timur the Babylonian, and they made him raise the siege and turned him off to attack them. That was how this came about: the City was saved by an unexpected piece of good fortune.
§ 79. "You know also with what preparation and with what a large force my father set out against it, and how he had succeeded so well with the siege of the City that not even the wall itself could protect the defenders, who were hit by the archers and by the stones hurled by the machines. Indeed he had the City in his hands and would have captured it by the force of his weapons, had not those who were extremely near of kin to him, and whom he especially trusted, worked secretly against him and, what is particularly inexplicable, had they not taken the part of the besieged, for the sake of their own gain. Thus, then, they made him give up the siege, and saved the City.
§ 80. "But even if at that time this had resulted from the strength of the Greeks themselves—for we even make this supposition!—still, the circumstances then and now are not the same, for the City or for us. For at that time the City had the benefit of wiser and more warlike persons and of those more experienced in affairs. It was guarded by the Emperor and his officers and by more inhabitants than now, and it had authority over that part of the sea next to the City. It also had at that time some assistance from the Italians and was hopeful of more, and it had many other sorts of help.
§ 81. "But now, things are weaker for the City, and in everything it is worse off. It has been to a great extent emptied of inhabitants, and is wholly cut off by sea. And its Emperor and his entourage are exactly the sort one might wish to have as adversaries. As for help from the Italians, they have hardly even a hope of this. Nay, rather they are actually fighting as enemies over their differing religious beliefs, and their internal organization is full of sedition and disturbance on this very account. And by carefully examining other points, one would find many other deficiencies.
§ 82. "As for us, our powers have grown very much by proficiency along many lines. We have enrolled soldiers, both horse and foot, more and better and better equipped than ever, and our youth are much more manly. Our royal court now enjoys its greatest power. We have the greatest wealth and a very great supply of treasure and of annual tribute and of arms and of machines and other implements for war, and not a few triremes plus many other things. All this would enable us to fight, not only against this one city but against many cities, even if we had to divide our forces and attack them all.
§ 83. "Furthermore we hold the sea, both on our own shores and also along all theirs. We have fortified it above and below the City, along both straits, with castles, shutting off the City from both continents by land and by sea. And we have not a few other advantages, because of which I hope, nay, am practically certain, that it will not be able to resist at all, but we shall either capture it by attack through the power of our arms, or take it after a brief siege.
§ 84. "Only, let us not delay, nor give the City time any longer to plot against us, but let us show ourselves brave men as soon as possible and prove to them and to all men that the City has survived until now, not because we lack valor, or because of our cowardice or weakness, carelessness and softness. Let us not shame the valor and virtues of our forefathers, nor appear unworthy of them by allowing one city in the midst of our empire—and such an empire!—'to act as a tyrant and in every way to plot against us. Rather let us show ourselves to be of their line, sharing in their manliness and valor.
§ 85. "For they overran in a short time all of Asia and Europe and conquered them by their oWn efforts and perils. They captured many great cities, stormed fortified castles, and became masters of countless peoples. And we shall capture this City. Then, sallying forth from it as from an acropolis, with little trouble we shall overrun all the rest in a little while, and nothing shall be able to stand before us nor shall a single one of the rest be able to resist our power and rule, but in a short time we shall be masters of land and sea.
§ 86. "Let us not then delay any longer, but let us attack the City swiftly with all our powers and with this conviction: that we shall either capture it with one blow or shall never withdraw from it, even if we must die, until we become masters of it.
§ 87. "And I myself will first of all be with you and gladly share your travails, and will direct everything in the best way. I will reward the brave with appropriate gifts, each after his worth and valor, according as each is conspicuous in danger or distinguished for some special exploit."
Voting for War by the Sultan and by All
§ 88. So, when he had said this, he cast his vote for war. And practically all of those present applauded what was said by the Sultan, praising him for his good will and knowledge, bravery and valor, and agreeing with him, and still further inciting each other to war—some of them because of their own ambition and hope of gain, hoping from that time on to make something out of it and secure more riches for themselves, others to please the Sultan and at the same time wishing to make some gain themselves out of such affairs, and still others, with no knowledge of war—those who were young and inexperienced in such things.
§ 89. But those whose ideas were against the step for various reasons and especially because of the misfortunes they had had in war and the difficulties usually attendant on it, wanted to advise against making war. However, seeing the insistence and zeal of the Sultan, they were afraid, as it seems to me, and unwillingly yielded and were carried along with the majority. So the war was sanctioned by all.
Attack and Pillage of those outside the City
§ 90. So he immediately ordered the governor of Europe to raise an army quickly and attack the City itself and the region around it, and whatever other regions belonged to the Romans. This man immediately without delay raised an army, attacked everything around the City, and went up to the very gates of the City, plundering. He also attacked
Selymbria and its environs, and he disarmed the seacoasts near it, Perinthus also, and other places. Then the fortress of the Epibatae surrendered to him of its own accord. He dismantled also the region of the Black Sea, as much as was subject to the Romans, and he captured the fortress in Mesimbria also, which surrendered of its own accord. And the rest he plundered and did with them as he pleased.
§ 91. The Emperor Constantine and the men of the City, amazed at the speed of the movement and the unexpected attack and seeing hopelessly this unproclaimed war coming upon them—for it was but a short time since they had made a treaty with the attackers—despaired utterly of any further negotiations on these matters or of appealing to the agreements for peace. They were sure that this was impossible, for they saw the impetuosity of the Sultan to achieve his end, and all that had been so quickly done by him from the start, and how all those things came to no good purpose. Hence they expected a siege such as the City had never experienced before and a merciless war on land and sea, and all the evils of war: capture, and the sufferings of captivity, the killing of young and old, the plunder of their goods, the defiling of temples, and the enslaving and outrage of women and children.
§ 92. They did not believe they could resist, even for a short time, since they were faced with so great a war by land and sea. Therefore their morale was poor from the very beginning and they were in utter despair and could think of no useful move to meet the situation. They gave themselves up in their thoughts to something hopeless and unthinkable, and resigned themselves readily, with no longer any hope of safety.
§ 93. And they had good reason to do so. For in previous sieges they had had many things in their favor, and had had great hopes of surviving. They then had control over the neighboring seas and had to fight only on land. And this they could easily manage, for they faced the foe simply on one side—the land side—while on both seas they could sail with their galleons and transports. Further, their commerce then brought them great abundance of necessary supplies and
other things. The City also was then full of both foreigners and citizens. They had much money stored up, both in public funds and in private and sacred funds, &nd also arms, ships, javelins, and all sorts of other things were abundantly prepared for the City, so that the siege scarcely seemed to be a siege.
§ 94. But now everything seemed and actually was the very opposite. The sea was cut off at both upper and lower straits by fortresses, and navigation was utterly impossible. Both continents were the scene of fighting, and a large fleet was expected which would make an attack on the sea-walls. It seemed altogether impossible that they would have enough soldiers for the whole circuit of the City, because of the lack of men. Further, it came at a time of great scarcity of money, both public and private, and the City suffered from the want of all sorts of things. And they saw no help for them from any direction.
§ 95. What disturbed them no less were the inexplicable events happening just then, events which they took as divine portents—unusual and strange earthquakes and boilings of the earth, and from heaven thunders and forked lightnings and frightful thunderbolts and brightness seen in the sky, and fierce gales and floods of rain and torrents. Furthermore there were irregular movements of unusual stars, their wandering courses, and again their disappearances, and still others again fixed in position but for long periods pouring out smoke. And many other such marvelous and unusual signs showed the Divine power presaging the future and suggesting a new order of things and a complete change. For pictures sweated in the churches, as did pillars, and statues of holy men. There were instances of supernatural possession or inspiration of men and women which boded no good, and the soothsayers prophesied many misfortunes. Old prophecies and oracles were recalled and repeated, and every sort of thing which is likely to happen under such circumstances, all took place, all pointing to no good. These all brought great terror and agony to people, totally confounded them, and gave no hope for the future.
§ 96. Still, as if rousing themselves a little in the midst
of these evils, they made preparation as they were able. They cleared out the moats, repaired the breaches in the walls, armed the battlements, built up towers and breastworks, and strengthened the whole wall, both on the landward side and along the sea. Furthermore they collected arms, arrows, and every sort of weapon; and they provided the points outside the fortifications with weapons and garrisons, and also fortified the islands.
§ 97. After that, they closed up the great harbor with long chains, the whole Golden Horn from the Arsenal in Galata over to the Gate of Eugenius, which was the narrowest point. And they collected moneys from public funds, private sources, and from the churches. They also provided wheat and other foodstuffs, and in every other way they made what preparation they could, and got ready the armaments for the City and for its walls, knowing that they would be besieged by land and by sea.
§ 98. In addition to this, they sent ambassadors everywhere, wherever they had the least hope of aid, some to the Peloponnesus, to the Despots  there, asking for grain, and for helpers; for they thought this aid might be furnished them eventually, and they did not expect that the City would be taken by assault and by force of arms, as it actually was. They also sent to the great High Priest of Rome [the Pope], from whom they had still more hope, and also to the other princes of Italy and of the other western nations, begging them to grant to them as soon as possible their alliance and aid, if indeed they would take the risk, for they were already in the greatest danger. This was the situation of the one party.
§ 99. But Sultan Mehmed, since he was already carrying on the war brilliantly against the foes outside the City, attacking and scattering some, plundering apd dispersing others, and subduing still others, now prepared to attack the City itself in the early spring, by land and by sea. He first collected his forces and drilled them, gathering his armies from all parts, from Asia and from Europe, cavalry and infantry. Also heavy infantry and bowmen and lancers and slingers were
7. Demetrios and Thomas Palaeologus, brothers of Constantine XIII and governors of the remaining Byzantine territories in the Peloponnesus.
enlisted, and he reviewed all the other units. He also prepared armor for the protection of those in the front line of battle: shields, helmets, breastplates, and great oblong shields lined on the outside with iron; arrows, javelins, swords, and whatever else was thought suitable for fighting against a walled city. He did all this with great haste. Besides these, he devised machines of all sorts against this wall, among others various stone-throwers and especially the newest kind, a strange sort, unbelievable when told of but, as experience demonstrated, able to accomplish everything.
§100. Above all, he prepared the fleet, building some new triremes, repairing others that were damaged by time, and drying out and caulking those that leaked. In addition, he built long ships, heavily armed and swift, with thirty to fifty rowers, and he prepared and arranged everything else necessary for the equipment of these as quickly as possible, sparing nothing that would serve this end.
§ 101. Furthermore, he chose crews from all his coasttowns, Asiatic and European: rowers, overseers, pilots, and those who should serve on the decks, also captains and boatswains, trireme commanders, commanders of the sailing ships, and admirals, and the rest of the crews for the ships. He accomplished this with great care and speed, for he attached greater importance, for the siege and for fighting, to the fleet than to the army. He therefore gave more of his attention to it, and used all haste and earnestness, and also zeal, for this purpose. For he thought this was of special advantage to him.
Great activity of the Sultan against the City by land and sea
§ 102. While he was so engaged, making preparations throughout the winter, spring began to appear. Immediately he prepared the ships to start out from Gallipoli, for there they were all assembled And be put in command as Admiral over them, Baltaoglou, the Governor of Gallipoli. The total number of ships was said to be three hundred and fifty without counting the transports or those engaged in some other
necessary service. They set sail with great speed, and with shouts and noise and cheers, and they sang rowing chanties and urged one another to emulation by shouts.
§ 103. When they left the Hellespont, they created the greatest possible astonishment and fear among all who saw them. Nowhere for a very long time had such a large fleet of ships or such great preparations by sea been made. Most of all did this astound the unfortunate Romans [Byzantines], for it was so much greater than they had anticipated, and it reduced them to abject despair and took away every last ray of hope from them. On former occasions, whenever enemies had attacked them, they had been besieged only by land but had held the seas and could get the necessities in abundance by using their maritime commerce. Hence they had borne the war easily and withstood the attacks without difficulty, having many means of help, since the enemy was attacking only on one side, from the land. But now, seeing war approaching both by land and by sea, quite naturally they were terrified and greatly dismayed, and were a prey to terrible fear.
§ 104. The Sultan himself set out from Adrianople with all his army, cavalry and infantry, moving along across country, devastating and disturbing everything, causing panic and agony and the greatest dismay wherever he went. He brought with him also the machines [cannon], and in ten days he reached Byzantium. He encamped before the City, rather near the walls, about four stadia off, opposite the gate called the Gate of Romanos.
§ 105. Now the ships came to anchor here and there along the shore, opposite the City, filling all the coast, while the entire army was, as it was stated, more than three hundred thousand fighters without counting the other multitude, a very large one, of camp-followers.
§ 106. The Romans [Byzantines], seeing such a great force, both military and naval, and such vast preparations going on by land and sea, were astonished at the unheard-of sight and at the immensity of the attack. But they on their part by no means neglected preparation for the fight and counter-measures. Instead, they did everything, neglecting nothing. First they moored great galleons near the chain at
the mouth of the great harbor, in close array and with bows forward, then long triremes around these in order to prevent by this means the entry of the enemy's ships.
§ 107. There happened also to be present at that time triremes from Italy, six Venetian ships, not come for war, but for a special duty and also great galleons from Crete, coming for trade. And these they persuaded to accede to their demand and stay for the battle.
Arrival of the Italian Giustinianni in the City with his ships to help
§ 108. During these same days there arrived also a certain Italian gentleman, Justin by name,  a powerful man and of the nobility, and also experienced in matters of war and extremely gallant, having with him two of the large galleons which he had of his own accord equipped and armed well, with men and with all sorts of arms. He had on the decks four hundred men in full armor. He had stopped near Chios and Rhodes and that part of the sea, recruiting more men from there.
§ 109. This man, when he learned of the war against the Romans and of the impending siege of the City and of the great preparations of Sultan Mehmed against it, came of his own accord with his galleons to help the Romans and the Emperor Constantine. There are those who say that he was asked to come by Constantine, who promised him, after the war, the island of Lemnos as a reward for his help.
§ 110. This man in a short time gave proof of his sagacity and cleverness, and was given great marks of confidence. He was received and brilliantly honored by the Emperor, the nobles, and the city government, and was appointed military dictator and chief of the whole war, including things both under and beyond the control of the laws. He was also put in charge of the weapons and every necessity and preparation for war. On his appointment, he made all sorts of repairs in the City, armed all the land walls, and furnished the battlements with catapults and all sorts of weapons. He also gave
8. Giovanni Longro di Giustinianni, a Genoese.
careful instructions to those in the front line and to their scouts, and placed each one of them where he ought to be, and instructed them how they must resist the attackers and defend the wall.
§ 111. He also fortified the harbor walls, as I said, with galleons and triremes and all sorts of machines, and he abundantly supplied the entire sea wall with arms, as he had the land walls. This man was experienced in war, as I stated, and was especially trained in wall-fighting.
§ 112. He designated for himself that part of the wall opposite the encampment of the Sultan, as being a good place for fighting. There was the finest part of the [Ottoman] army, and the imperial guard and the court, and there the attackers planned to bring their cannon into action. So he chose to lead the fighting there, and to join battle and to defend the wall with his own body-guard. For he had with him, as I have just said, four hundred men in armor, not counting the rest of the ships' crews.
§ 113. At that juncture there was a brief sortie from the City against some from the besieging army who had attacked in irregular formation, and they killed some of them and wounded a few. But after encountering a larger force in a counter-attack from the [Ottoman] army, they took refuge in the City, closed the gates, and did not sally forth again but simply guarded the City.
§ 114. Sultan Mehmed pitched his camp somewhere near the place called Mesoteichion,  and Myriandrion, not far from the wall, but as near as possible, only out of range of the arrows. He first judged it wise to use conciliatory words toward the Romans, to the effect that if they were willing to deliver over the City and themselves to him with agreements and solemn oaths they might live with their wives and children and all their belongings in safety, suffering no evils and carrying on their business in peace. He sent men to make these proposals, and they on their arrival delivered the Sultan's message.
§ 115. The Romans, however, would not accept such conditions.
9. "The Middle of the Wall"—the low-lying region between Top Kapu and Edirne Kapu.
They said they were willing to make another sort of treaty, but that they could not surrender the City to him.
§ 116. When the Sultan heard this, he immediately laid waste the country and devastated all the parts around the City. After that he took with him Zaganos and Halil, men of the highest rank, and with them others of the generals, and went along the landward side of the City, reconnoitering the wall on that side to see where it was most vulnerable to attack and where it was impregnable, and where he must place the cannon so as to shatter it.
Review of the whole army, and the assignment of the parts of the City on landward and seaward sides to the generals by the Sultan
§ 117. After this, he reviewed the whole army and gave to the governors and cavalry captains and generals of divisions and chiefs of battalions, to each his orders, assigning the stations where they must guard and fight and giving them directions what to do. And he divided the whole City into parts, the land-walls and the sea-walls. To Zaganos and his men with certain others of the captains, he entrusted the siege of Galata and the region all around it, with the Horn and the entire harbor, going as far as what is called the "Wooden Gate" of the City. He ordered him to make a bridge across that part of the Horn, from Cerarnica [The Brick-kilns] to the other side. Opposite them was the wall of the City. He knew that by sending the heavy infantry and the bowmen across this bridge, he could attack the City from every point, and so would make the siege complete.
§ 118. To Karaja, the Governor of Europe, and to others of the generals, he committed the section from the Wooden Gate going up toward the Palace of Porphyrogenitus and extending to what is known as the Gate of Charisus; and he gave him some of the cannon, accompanied by the founders who had cast them, to bombard the wall at that point, if perchance it might be weak and vulnerable and he might knock it down.
§ 119. And he assigned to Ishak, the Governor of Asia at
that time, and to Mahmud, the Count of that region, brave men and men of remarkable experience and daring in battle, the section from Myriandrion to the Golden Gate and the sea at that point.
§ 120. The Sultan himself, with the two Pashas, Halil and Karaja, took over the middle of the City and of the land-wall, where he certainly expected there would be the most of the fighting. He had with him the whole imperial guard, by which I mean the best of the infantry and the bowmen and the aides-de-camp and the rest of his personal forces, which were the finest in the army.
§ 121. When he had thus deployed his land forces, and had secured the wall in every section by means of them, and had hemmed it in with his army, he entrusted the fighting by sea to Baltaoglou, a brave man, experienced in all sorts of maritime enterprises, and a skilled commander, whom he appointed Admiral of the whole fleet, and of all the shore, both Asiatic and European. He was the governor of Gallipoli. This man blockaded the entire sea-wall with his ships, from the Golden Gate at the corner as far as the Neorion region of Galata, a distance of just about forty-three stadia. The blockade included the chain and the fighting-ships and galleons anchored by it.
§ 122. It was at this chain that he attacked daily, and he pushed the fighting, being desirous of forcing an entrance into the harbor, so that he might carry the battle to the whole of the wall along the Horn.
§ 123. The entire circuit of the City as besieged by the army by land and sea, carefully calculated, was about 126 stadia; of this, only the wall along the Horn, inside the chain, was unguarded—35 stadia; all the rest was defended.
§ 124. Having done all this, the Sultan summoned the cannon-makers and spoke to them about the cannon and the walls, and about how the wall could most easily be demolished. They assured him it would be easy to demolish it if, in addition to the guns they already had (for they already had some others, made earlier), they should construct one more, which, they believed, would be strong enough to batter down and destroy the wall. For this, heavy expense was needed, to
purchase both a large amount of brass and many other materials.
Statement as to the Construction of the cannon, and as to its shape and power
§ 125. No sooner said than done. The Sultan immediately provided them in abundance with everything they needed, and so they constructed the cannon, a thing most fearsome to see and altogether unbelievable and hard to accept when one hears about it. I shall describe its construction, its appearance, and its power, as it really was.
§ 126. Clay was mixed for many days, so as to make it very workable, made of the lightest, cleanest and finest earth. It was thoroughly mixed together and mingled with linen, hemp, and other such things combined and worked in, after having been chopped up fine, so as to form one body, continuous and inseparable.
§ 127. Of this, a round model was constructed like a pipe, oblong, to be the core. The length of this was forty spans. Of this the forward half, for the reception of the stone cannonball, was of twelve spans as the circle and circumference of its thickness; while the hinder half, or tail, for the reception of the substance called "fodder" was of four spans or slightly more, as the circumference of its thickness, in proportion, I believe, to the whole.
§ 128. There was also another, an outer casing, made to receive this, altogether hollow, and like a scabbard, but wider, so as to fit over the core and leave some space between. And the space between the core and the casing, uniform throughout the whole length, was of one span, or a little more. It was to receive the bronze poured out from the crucible to form the body of the cannon. And this outer mold was made of the same clay, but was completely bound around and protected by iron and wood and earth and stones built up and reinforced from outside, so that the great weight of the bronze bearing down within, might not break it apart or spoil the form of the cannon.
§ 129. Two furnaces were then built, very near to the
mold, ready for the foundry, very strong and reliable, made on the inside with burnt brick and of clay well worked and hardened, and on the outside completely strengthened with immense stones, lime, and everything else suitable for this purpose.
§ 130. Of bronze and tin an amount of great value and of great weight was cast into the foundries—in fact, 1500 talents, as was reported. Besides, a great quantity of charcoal and of tree-trunks was heaped up on the outside of the crucibles, above and below and all around, to such a depth as to hide the furnaces, all but their mouths.
§ 131. Around them were bellows blowing violently and continuously, setting fire to the whole mass for three whole days and as many nights, until the bronze was entirely melted and dissolved, becoming liquid and fluid.
§ 132. Then, when the mouths were opened, the bronze poured out through the conduits into the mold until the whole receptacle was completely full, and it covered the inner core entirely, and overflowed this by a cubit in height; and thus was the cannon completed. After that, when the bronze had cooled off and become cold, it was cleared of both the inner core and the outer casing, and being smoothed and polished by scrapers, it shone altogether. Such was the construction and the form of the cannon.
§ 133. And now I will speak of its method of working. First, what is called "fodder" [powder] was put in, filling up tightly the rear compartment and cavity of the machine up to the opening of the second compartment which was to receive the stone cannon-ball. Then there was put in a huge rod of strongest wood, and this, pounded hard by iron bars, pressed down on the material inside, closing in and packing down the powder so completely that, whatever happened, nothing could force it out in any way except by an explosion.
§ 134. Then they brought the stone also, pushing it in until they used the rod and fitted the stone in snugly on all sides.
§ 135. After this, having pointed the cannon toward whatever it was intended to hit, and having leveled it by certain technical means and calculations toward the target, they
brought up great beams of wood and laid them underneath and fitted them carefully. On these they placed immense stones, weighting it down and making it secure above and below and behind and everywhere, lest by the force of the velocity and by the shock of the movement of its own emplacement, it should be displaced and shoot wide of its mark.
§ 136. Then they set fire to it through the short hole behind, igniting the powder. And when this took fire, quicker than it takes to say it, there was a fearful roar first, and a shaking of the earth beneath and for a long way off, and a noise such as never was heard before. Then, with an astounding thunder and a frightful crashing and a flame that lit up all the surroundings and then left them black, the rod, forced out from within by a dry hot blast of air, violently set in motion the stone as it came out. And the stone, borne with tremendous force and velocity, hit the wall, which it immediately shook and knocked down, and was itself broken into many fragments and scattered, hurling the pieces everywhere and killing those who happened to be near by.
§ 137. Sometimes it demolished a whole section, and sometimes a half-section, and sometimes a larger or smaller section of a tower or turret or battlement. And there was no part of the wall strong enough or resistant enough or thick enough to be able to withstand it, or to wholly resist such force and' such a blow of the stone cannon-ball.
§ 138. Such was the unbelievable and inconceivable nature of the power of this implement. Such a thing, the ancients, whether kings or generals, neither had nor knew about. Had they possessed it, nothing could have withstood them at all, nor stood up against them in their sieges; nor would it have been difficult for them to topple over and destroy walls. Even the best fortified of them would have offered no obstacle. They built walls, and dug intrenchments, and mined under the earth, and did all sorts of other things so as to secure possession of cities and capture forts, but all these would have surrendered quicker than it takes to tell it, if shattered and overthrown by these machines. But they had none.
§ 139. This is a new invention of the Germans or Kelts, about a hundred fifty years ago or a little more—a very wise
and ingenious invention. Especially the composition and formation of "fodder," which is a combination of the very warmest and driest forms of nitre, sulphur, carbon, and herbs, making a dry and warm gas, which, being enclosed in the impervious, strong, compact body of the bronze and not having any other exit of any sort anywhere except this one, is impelled by the explosion and force from within and gives so great and powerful a force to the stone ball. But it also frequently causes the bursting of the bronze as well. Now no ancient name is found for this machine, unless someone may speak of it as the battering-ram or the propeller. But in common language everybody today calls it an apparatus. Such are the details about the cannon, as far as we have been able to learn from those who could inform us.
§ 140. Sultan Mehmed, since the makers of the cannon had completed them successfully, ordered them to bring the cannon near the walls. Over against the Middle Wall where he had his camp, and where his tent was, he ordered them to set up three of them, chosen as the largest and most powerful, and to bombard and shake the wall at that point. He ordered the others to be brought up against portions of the wall here and there, choosing the most vulnerable and weakest parts of the walls. For he judged it best to attack the wall at many points, so that, after he had begun the battle in several placed, the capture of it would prove easier and more facile for him, as indeed it turned out to be.
§ 141. And the cannon, on being brought up to the wall, shook it to pieces and toppled it down as they were expected to.
§ 142. Then the Sultan filled up the moat in front of the cannon, bringing up stones and wood and earth and collecting every other sort of material so that when the wall was battered down and had fallen, the way should be easier for the heavy infantry, and their approach and attack facilitated. And he ordered the sappers to dig underneath the wall, and to dig subterranean galleries in toward the City, so that the heavy infantry might get in secretly by night through these. This work also went forward, but later he deemed this superfluous
and a useless expenditure, since the cannon were accomplishing everything.
Arrival of the Sultan at the fort of Therapia, and its capture in two days
§ 143. While these events were occurring, the Sultan took some of the troops with him, including the entire Royal Guard, and went against the particularly strong fortress at Therapia. Having set up some cannon, he battered down and destroyed the greater part of it. Of the men within many died from the stone cannon-balls, while the rest of the defenders, unable to resist any longer, surrendered, saying he might do as he pleased with them. So he impaled them, being forty men.
Subsequent arrival at the Studius Fort, and the immediate capture of this
§ 144. From there he went against another fort called Studius's Castle. And when he had shattered it with his guns and thrown it down, he immediately entered it and impaled its thirty-six men, bringing them in front of the City wall so that they might be easily visible to those inside the City.
Voyage of Baltaoglou to the Island of Prinkipo; siege and capture of its fort
§ 145. During those same days, Baltaoglou, Admiral of the fleet, left the greater part of his ships to attack the mouth of the harbor and the chain, so that none might sail in or out. He himself, with the rest, then sailed at the command of the Sultan against Prinkipo Island. There was there a very strong castle with a guard of some thirty fully-armed men aside from the local inhabitants. So he besieged it, brought up some cannon against the wall, and shattered and overthrew a part of this. But though he attacked in every way and tried all means, he was as yet unable to capture it.
§ 146. At last he decided to use fire against the fort and
see whether he could burn it down, providing a favorable wind should come up. Hence he ordered his men to gather great bundles of fagots of all sorts, reeds, twigs, weeds, and other inflammable things, and bind them together and place them against the wall. When this had been done in a short time by many hands and the material was heaped up to a great height, they set it on fire, having added brimstone and pitch. And this, being soon ignited by the flames and, as it happened, fanned by a breeze, made such a big flame, blazing up to such a height, that it rose higher than the turrets and caught inside the castle also. It burned up many of those within, and indeed came near destroying them all. The survivors barely escaped, being seriously endangered by the fire. They surrendered unconditionally to him. He took them all prisoners, sold the civilians as slaves, and killed the rest of the guards.
§ 147. Now the Romans [Byzantines] and Giustinianni, seeing the City wall so severely battered and damaged by the guns, both within and without, extended great beams from above the wall, and let down bales of wool on ropes, and placed with them other similar things so as to break the force of the stone balls as much as possible and lighten the effect.
§ 148. But since this proved of use only a short time and accomplished nothing worth mentioning inasmuch as the cannon were piercing and scattering everything and demolishing the wall—for already a large part of the lesser outer wall had fallen and also two towers and a turret of the main wall— they devised another thing. They brought up huge stakes and made a palisade along the damaged part of the wall—that is, on its outer side—fastening the stakes securely together. In addition they brought a quantity of all kinds of stones and wood, bundles of brushwood and' branches and reeds and many other bushes of all sorts, putting them together in bundles and so raising the stockade higher. There were also screens, made of skins and hides, put over the wood of the palisade so that it should not be injured by the firebrand arrows. They thus had a fine shelter against the enemy, and a strengthening of the palisade from within, which was in place of a wall. Moreover the stone ball, hurled with great
force, fell and was buried in the soft and yielding earth, and did not make a breach by striking against hard and unyielding materials.
§ 149. On the top of the palisade and of the earthworks were placed rows of wooden containers filled with earth, to act as breastworks for the fighters in the forefront and as a protection so that they should not be hit by the arrows.
First Assault attempted by the Sultan against the wall, and its failure
§ 150. When Sultan Mehmed returned from the fortresses, he believed he could after a few days try an assault on the City at the points where the wall had been broken through. Therefore, taking the heavy infantry and the bowmen and javelin-men and all the imperial foot-guards, he made a vigorous attack on the wall. The moat was already filled up, so the foot-soldiers, with shout and battle cry, quickly crossed it and assaulted the wall. First they tried to set fire to the gate, so as to burn the stockade and spread confusion and panic among their opponents in the fight.
§ 151. But since this did not succeed as they had hoped, because the men who were stationed at the top of the stockade fought finely and put out the fire, they changed to another plan. Fastening hooks on the ends of their spears, they pulled down from above the wooden containers and thus stripped the defenders of their shelter. These containers had served them like the crenellations of a wall, but now the archers and slingers and javelin-hurlers could easily attack the undefended enemy. Others brought ladders and put them up against the wall and tried to climb up them while the cannon fired stones frequently against the defenders and did considerable damage.
§ 152. Giustinianni and his men (for they and a considerable number of the Romans also, had been detailed to the damaged part of the wall), since they were fully armored, sustained no injury from the arrows or other missiles. Instead, they stoutly resisted, fighting bravely and using every measure to withstand and frustrate whatever their opponents did.
At last the Romails and Giustinianni prevailed and repulsed them, though not without difficulty, and drove them from the wall, wounding many of them and killing not a few.
§ 153. Other attacks were made daily, here and there, on the wall, especially where it had been demolished. During these attacks the defenders in the City were by no means worsted, but fought vigorously and resisted bravely.
§ 154. Baltaoglou, after capturing the fortress [of Prinkipo], immediately sailed to the harbor where the other triremes were drawn up. On the second or third day he received an order from the Sultan to make careful preparation and collect his ships and join battle with the galleons and triremes that were guarding the mouth of the harbor and the chain, so as to force an entrance if he could. The Sultan had determined by all means to get the harbor and the Horn under his control so that he might attack the City from all sides, by land and by sea, for he thought (as was true) that if he could make an opening in the sea-wall as well, the capture of the City would be easier for him, since the defenders were insufficient for the entire circuit, they being few and the circuit great.
Attack of Baltaoglou against the vessels at the entrance to the harbor, and at the chain; the great sea battle
§ 155. Having put all the ships in good condition and fully armed them, and the fighting men with them, Baltaoglou attacked the galleons and the chain with great force, fury, and vigor, and with shouts and battle cries. And first, having slowed down the ships, when they were about a bowshot from the enemy, they attacked from afar, firing on them and being fired upon with arrows and with great stone balls from the guns. Then he furiously attacked the center of the fleet. Of the heavy infantry on the decks, some carried fire in their hands with the purpose of setting fire to the ships. Others hurled flaming arrows, while others tried to cut the ropes of the anchors, and still others attempted to board the ships, climbing up by grappling-hooks and ladders. Others with javelins
and pikes and long spears attacked the defenders. Their attack and their zeal for the task were very great.
§ 156. Now those on the large galleons had already been prepared for such attack by the Grand Duke, who had been placed in command over the ships as well as of the sea-walls of the City; so, fighting from a higher position, and hurling down on the attackers stones, javelins, spears and pikes, especially from the crowsnests at the top of the masts, they succeeded in wounding many, and killed not a few. Furthermore they brought great jars of water to put out the fires, and heavy stones which they let fall, tied by ropes, and thus did a great deal of damage.
§ 157. There was the greatest zeal on both sides, and energy too, the attackers determined to prevail and to force their way in while the defenders were bound to fight their best to guard the harbor and the ships and drive off the enemy. At last the crews of the galleons, fighting magnificently, turned the flank of the attackers and drove them off, having proved themselves valiant men to the very end.
The invention of another and newer sort of cannon
§ 158. Sultan Mehmed, seeing that he had been repulsed in this attack, set himself to discover another sort of machine. Hence, calling the makers of the cannon, he demanded of them whether it was not possible to fire cannon-balls at the galleons fighting at the entrance to the harbor, and sink them there. They replied that they were unable to do this, especially because the walls of Galata were in the way at every point. He then showed them another way to do this by a new form of cannon. For, he said, if they were willing, it was possible to construct a different sort of gun with a slightly changed design that could fire the stone to a great height, so that when it came down it would hit the slap, amidships and sink them. He said that they must first aim it and level it, getting the measures by mathematical calculation, and then fire on the galleons. Thus he explained to them his plan.
§ 159. When they had reasoned out the scheme, they decided
it was possible. So they constructed a cannon of this type, as designed by the Sultan, and after a careful survey of the land, they placed it a little beyond the point of Galata on a slight elevation opposite the galleons. Then having aimed it with care, and after leveling it by a special design, they fired it by applying a live coal to it. It shot the stone up to a great height, but as this first stone descended, it missed the ships, falling into the sea quite near them. However, when they had immediately corrected the error by changing the aim a little, they fired again, and this stone went to an immense height and came down with tremendous crash and velocity, striking the galleon in the center. It immediately crushed it completely and sank it in the depths, killing some of those on board immediately and drowning others. The very few who were not killed swam with difficulty to the other galleons and triremes near by.
§ 160. This unexpected event frightened all those in the City, and threw them into the greatest terror and anguish. Nonetheless, since this was the only possible safe step, the rest of the galleons and triremes were retired a short distance to a safer place, and a guard was set. Thus they suffered no further injury from the cannon-balls, but strongly guarded the harbor and the Horn.
§ 161. While affairs were in this condition, not more than three or four days later, three large galleons appeared in the open sea sailing grandly along. The High Priest of Rome [the Pope] had sent these from Italy, bringing food and help to the City. He had already learned of the fighting and of the approaching siege of the City, so he had sent these ahead as help until he should fit out the rest of his fleet as well. He was preparing to send from Italy thirty triremes and galleons after these, as aid to the Romans and the Emperor Constantine, but these were delayed.
§ 162. When the enemy saw these galleons sailing out in the open sea, they gave word to the Sultan, who immediately sent for Baltaoglou, Commander of the fleet, and ordered him to put out with the entire fleet as quickly as possible, putting on a full complement of rowers and others on all the ships and fighters on the decks, and arming them with every sort
of weapon. He also put on board the ships many other weapons: shields, cutlasses, helmets, breastplates, also javelins, pikes, long spears, daggers, and whatever else was usable in this kind of fight. Furthermore he provided the ships with as many heavy infantry and bowmen as he could, and from his own bodyguard the best fighters, the bravest in battle, and those best armed. So, after equipping and preparing the fleet with plenty of men and all sorts of arms, he sent it out, ordering them either to capture the galleons and bring them to him or else never to come back safe themselves.
Attack by the Sultan's fleet on the ships that appeared in the open sea; severe naval battle and failure
§ 163. Baltaoglou took the entire fleet and started immediately against the transports in all haste and zealously, and also with ambition and hope of success. He almost imagined that they were already in his hands. When they came within range of his arrows, they first lay to for a little while, and then he had very lively skirmishes, with arrows and with stones hurled by his cannon and even with flaming arrows against the sails and the galleons, with the purpose of setting them on fire.
§ 164. The men on the galleons also fought bravely. They attacked from a height, and in fact from the yardarms and the wooden towers they fired down with arrows, javelins and stones, impetuously and indeed successfully. There was much shouting, and men were wounded and killed on both sides.
§ 165. When they had kept on in that way for a time, Baltaoglou set up a great shout and ordered the rest to do so too. Then with great speed and force he attacked the center of the galleons, and there followed a hand-to-hand fight as both sides attacked with small-arms. Altogether it was a terrible struggle. Some carried fire and tried to set the galleons ablaze from below. Others with axes and daggers tried to break through their sidewalls, while others with long lances and javelins shot at the warriors from below. Some hurled pikes and stones, and others climbed up, clinging to anchors and ropes, and tried to get aboard the ships. So in various
ways they fought, wounding and being wounded, in ferocity and anger.
§ 166. The men on board the galleons were fully armed and fought desperately against them from their higher position, defending themselves energetically against the attackers. First they emptied great vessels of water which they had hung over the sides, and dropped down from above heavy stones that they had tied with ropes. Thus they put out the fire and killed many. The stones, falling heavily and with great force on all who were attacking from below, sank some boats and injured others. After that, some of them hurled spears and javelins and pikes on the attackers, others threw stones from above, while others with their cutlasses cut off the hands of those who tried to board. Still others beat down with clubs and sticks and broke the heads of those men by their blows. There was great shouting and din on all sides as they encouraged each other, hitting and being hit, killing and being killed, pushing and being pushed, blaspheming, scolding, threatening, groaning—it was all a terrible noise.
§ 167. And yet, although the men in the galleons struggled bravely, those in the fleet were getting the better of them through sheer force of numbers, for they fought by turns, relieving one another, fresh ones taking the places and work of those who had been wounded or killed. And those on the galleons would have lost hope of fighting successfully, because the battle had gone on so long, had not a south wind, suddenly coming up strong, blown into the bellying sails and powerfully swelled them out and driven the galleons along with great force. In a brief time they left behind the triremes, which could not keep up with the galleons. Therefore the fight died down, and they got safely away to the other galleons at the entrance of the harbor, and thus, in spite of their fears, were saved. They escaped a very great danger.
§ 168. The Sultan, seated on his horse by the shore, watched these events and seemed to be encouraging his men as well as watching the outcome of the battle. For he felt absolutely sure his fleet would defeat the galleons and capture them and bring them as captives to him, and he was in great glee. But when he saw the wind freshening, and the galleons
drawing away, he was immediately greatly chagrined. Whipping up his horse, he went off in silence.
§ 169. Of the men in the galleons, universal testimony says twenty-two were killed, but more than half of the men in their complements were wounded.
§ 170. Of the men in the Sultan's fleet, a little more than a hundred were killed, and the wounded were more than three hundred. Baltaoglou, the admiral of the fleet, was hit in the eye with a stone. This contributed both to the safety of the galleons and to the saving of Baltaoglou himself from death by order of the Sultan, for the latter took very hard the escape of the galleons, and felt very badly at the affair, accusing Baltaoglou of cowardice and pusillanimity. Rather, he thought the outcome due to the admiral's carelessness and idleness, and that the admiral had betrayed his plans. For he did not consider the failure in the matter of the galleons was a good omen for the task he had before him. Hence he relieved the admiral of the command immediately and gave the fleet and the governorship of Gallipoli to Hamza, one of his companions whom he greatly trusted in such affairs.
§ 171. On the other hand, this unhoped-for outcome brought to the Romans more than a little respite and encouragement and filled them with better hopes, not only at what had occurred but also in expectation of better things to come—until they had to suffer badly. The evils had not yet come upon them. They were not to be happy for any length of time; they were to be captured, and given over to all sorts of evil, to captivity and slavery, murder, plunder, and the abuse of women and children.
A Surprising Plan and Decision
§ 172. Sultan Mehmed considered it necessary in preparation for his next move to get possession of the harbor and open the Horn for his own ships to sail in. So, since every effort and device of his had failed to force the entrance, he made a wise decision, and one worthy of his intellect and power. It succeeded in accomplishing his purpose and in putting an end to all uncertainties.
§ 173. He ordered the commanders of the vessels to construct as quickly as possible glideways leading from the outer sea to the inner sea, that is, from the harbor to the Horn, near the place called Diplokion, and to cover them with beams. This road, measured from sea to sea, is just about eight stadia. It is very steep for more than half the way, until you reach the summit of the hill, and from there again it descends to the inner sea of the Horn. And as the glideways were completed sooner than expected, because of the large number of workers, he brought up the ships and placed large cradles under them, with stays against each of their sides to hold them up. And having under-girded them well with ropes, he fastened long cables to the corners and gave them to the soldiers to drag, some of them by hand, and others by certain machines and capstans.
§ 174. So the ships were dragged along very swiftly. And their crews, as they followed them, rejoiced at the event and boasted of it. Then they manned the ships on the land as if they were on the sea. Some of them hoisted the sails with a shout, as if they were setting sail, and the breeze caught the sails and bellied them out. Others seated themselves on the benches, holding the oars in their hands and moving them as if rowing. And the commanders, running along by the sockets of the masts with whistlings and shouting, and with their whips beating the oarsmen on the benches, ordered them to row. The ships, borne along over the land as if on the sea, were some of them being pulled up the ascent to the top of the hill while others were being hauled down the slope into the harbor, lowering the sails with shouting and great noise.
§ 175. It was a strange spectacle, and unbelievable in the telling except to those who actually did see it—the sight of ships borne along on the mainland as if sailing on the sea, with their crews and their sails and all their equipment. I believe this was a much greater feat than the cutting of a canal across at Athos by Xerxes, and much stranger to see and to hear about. Furthermore, this event of but yesterday, before our very eyes, makes it easier to believe that the other
also actually happened, for without this one, the other would have seemed a myth and sounded like idle talk.
§ 176. Thus, then, there was assembled in the bay called Cold Waters, a little beyond Galata, a respectable fleet of some sixty-seven vessels. They were moored there.
§ 177. The Romans, when they saw such an unheard-of thing actually happen, and warships lying at anchor in the Horn—which they never would have suspected—were astounded at the impossibility of the spectacle, and were overcome by the greatest consternation and perplexity. They did not know what to do now, but were in despair. In fact they had left unguarded the walls along the Horn for a distance of about thirty stadia, and even so they did not have enough men for the rest of the walls, either for defense or for attack, whether citizens or men from elsewhere. Instead, two or even three battlements had but a single defender.
§ 178. And now, when this sea-wall also became open to attack and had to be guarded, they were compelled to strip the other battlements and bring men there. This constituted a manifest danger, since the defenders were taken away from the rest of the wall while those remaining were not enough to guard it, being so few.
§ 179. Not only was there this difficulty, but, the bridge being completed, heavy infantry and bowmen could cross against the wall. Hence that part also had to be guarded. And the ships near the mouth of the harbor and at the chain, galleons and triremes alike, as well as the other ships in the harbor had the greater need to be on guard since now they were subject to attack from within as well as from outside. Therefore in many directions they appeared to have, and actually had, difficulties. Still, they did not neglect anything that could be done.
§ 180. Giustinianni removed one of his galleons from the mouth of the harbor plus three of the Italian triremes, and took them against the end of the gulf where the Sultan's ships were anchored. There he anchored so as to fight from them and prevent the [Ottoman] warships from going out anywhere in the gulf or being able to do any harm to the harbor or its shipping. This he thought was the best plan
as a counter-measure. But it was only a temporary expedient.
§ 181. For Sultan Mehmed, seeing this, made the following counter-moves: He ordered the cannon-makers to transfer the cannon secretly by night and place them near the shore, opposite to where the ships and the galleon were moored, and fire stones at them. This they did with great speed, and they hit one of the triremes in the middle and sank it with all on board, excepting a very few who swam to the other triremes. Then the crews quickly moved the ships away a good distance, and anchored there. If this had not been done quickly, the other triremes also would have been sunk, with their crews, as well as the galleon, for they seemed to have had no sense at all of their danger. They were thus very near to destruction, for the cannon were ready to fire the stone balls at them.
§ 182. But when this failed, the Romans had nothing else they could do. They simply fired at the ships from the walls with catapults and javelins and prevented them from moving about. And from the triremes at the mouth of the harbor some attacked them every day and chased them back and prevented their injuring anything in the harbor. And they often pursued them till near the land, toward their own men. Then these ships would again turn and attack the triremes, and men would follow on foot, firing and being fired on, and so they had long-range exchanges daily.
Of Some Marvels
§ 183. During those same days there occurred the following divine signs and portents of the terrors that were very soon to come to the city. Three or four days before the battle, when all the people in the City were holding a religious procession, men and women together, and marching around with the Ikon of the Mother of God, this latter slipped suddenly from the hands of its bearers without any cause or power being apparent, and fell flat on the ground. And when everybody shouted immediately, and rushed to raise up the ikon, it sank down as if weighted with lead, and as if fastened to the ground, and became well-nigh impossible to raise. And
so it continued for a considerable time, until, by a great effort and much shouting and prayers by all, the priests and its bearers barely managed to raise it up and place it on the shoulders of the men.
§ 184. This strange occurrence filled everyone with much terror and very great agony and fear, for they thought this fall was no good omen—as was quite true. Later, when they had gone on but a short distance, immediately after that, at high noon, there was much thunder and lightning with clouds, and a violent rain with severe hail followed, so that they could neither stand against it nor make any progress. The priests and the bearers of the ikon and the crowds that followed were depressed and hindered by the force of the waters that flowed down and by the might of the hail. Many of the children following were in danger of being carried away and drowned by the violent and powerful rush of water, had not some men quickly seized them and with some difficulty dragged them out of the flood. Such was the unheard-of and unprecedented violence of that storm and hail which certainly foreshadowed the imminent loss of all, and that, like a torrent of fiercest waters, it would carry away and annihilate everything.
Still another portent
§ 185. Such, then, were the events of the first day. On the next day in the morning a dense fog covered the whole city, lasting from early morning till evening. This evidently indicated the departure of the Divine Presence, and its leaving the City in total abandonment and desertion, for the Divinity conceals itself in cloud and appears and again disappears. So then, this happened thus and let no one disbelieve, for there were many witnesses of these things, observers who were both visitors and dwellers in the City.
§ 186. For Sultan Mehmed, then, all went well. There was as yet no hindrance, for both the inner wall and the outer one had been wrecked to the ground by the cannon; the whole moat was filled up; the Horn and all the wall along its shores had been opened up for battle by brilliant tactics; and the
siege was complete all around the City, with ladders, wooden towers, and all the rest well prepared. And the siege had lasted quite a while, for nearly fifty days had passed. But there was fear lest something might happen, or that help might appear by sea from somewhere. The Sultan had already heard that a convoy of ships had arrived in Chios, so he knew he had better not delay any longer or wait further, but should join battle quickly and try to capture the City with all speed and with all his force, by an attack by land and sea, and make this greatest and final attempt on it.
§ 187. So he called together all the high officers and those in his entourage, namely: the governors, generals, cavalry officers, majors and captains, the captains over a thousand, over a hundred, and over fifty, and the sub-officers of his soldiers and the cavalry of his body-guard; also besides these, the captains of the heavy transports and of the triremes, and the Admiral of the whole fleet; and he made the following speech.
Second Address of the Sultan, calling upon all to fight bravely, and promising them that they would be rewarded with goods and many other fine things, if they fought well
§ 188. "My friends and my comrades in the present struggle! I have called you together here, not because I would accuse you of any laziness or carelessness in this business, nor try to make you more eager in the present struggle. For a long time past I have noted some of you showing such zeal and earnestness for the work that you would willingly undergo everything necessary rather than leave here without accomplishing it, and others of you not only zealous themselves but even inciting the rest with all their might to redouble their efforts.
§ 189. "So it is not for this that I have called you together, but simply in order to remind you, first of all, that whatever you have at present you have attained, not by sloth and carelessness, but by hard work and with great struggles and dangers together with us, and these things are yours as
the rewards of your own valor and manliness rather than as gifts of fortune. And secondly, as to the rewards now put before you here, I wish to show you how many and how great they are and what great glory and honor accompany the winning. And I also wish that you may know well how to carry on the struggle for the very highest rewards.
§ 190. "First, then, there is great wealth of all sorts in this city, some in the royal palaces and some in the houses of the mighty, some in the homes of the common people and still other, finer and more abundant, laid up in the churches as votive offerings and treasures of all sorts, constructed of gold and silver and precious stones and costly pearls. Also there is countless wealth of magnificent furniture, without reckoning all the other articles and furnishings of the houses. Of all these, you will be the masters!
§ 191. "Then too, there are very many noble and distinguished men, some of whom will be your slaves, and the rest will be put up for sale; also very many and very beautiful women, young and good-looking, and virgins lovely for marriage, noble, and of noble families, and even till now unseen by masculine eyes, some of them, evidently intended for the weddings of great men. Of these, some will be wives for you, while others will do for servants, and others you can sell. So you will gain in many ways, in enjoyment, and service, and wealth.
§ 192. "And you will have boys, too, very many and very beautiful and of noble families.
§193. "Further, you will enjoy the beauty of the churches and public buildings and splendid houses and gardens, and many such things, suited to look at and enjoy and take pleasure in and profit by. But I must not waste time listing all these. A great and populous city, the capital of the ancient Romans, which has attained the very pinnacle of good fortune and luck and glory, being indeed the head of the whole inhabited globe—I give it now to you for spoil and plunder— unlimited wealth, men, women, children, all the other adornments and arrangements. All these you will enjoy as if at a brilliant banquet, and will be happy with them yourselves and will leave very great wealth to your children.
§ 194. "And the greatest of all is this, that you will capture a city whose renown has gone out to all parts of the world. It is evident that to whatever extent the leadership and glory of this city has spread, to a like extent the renown of your valor and bravery will spread for having captured by assault a city such as this. But think: what deed more brilliant, what greater enjoyment, or what inheritance of wealth better than that presented to you, along with honor and glory!
§ 195. "And, best of all, we shall demolish a city that has been hostile to us from the beginning and is constantly growing at our expense and in every way plotting against our rule. So for the future we shall be sure of guarding our present belongings and shall live in complete and assured peace, after getting rid of our neighboring enemies. We shall also open the way to further conquest.
§ 196. "You must never imagine that, although this is all true, the City is impregnable or its wall hard to approach and difficult to pierce, or that very great danger awaits those who attack it, as if it were not easily to be taken. Lo, as you can see, the moat has all been filled up and the land-wall at three points has been so broken down that not only heavy and light infantry like yourselves, but even the horses and heavily armed cavalry can easily penetrate it. Thus I do not offer you an impregnable wall, but a wide plain fit for cavalry for you to cross with your weapons.
§ 197. "And what should I say about our opponents? There are very few of them, and most of these are unarmed and inexperienced in war. For, as I have learned from deserters, they say that there are but two or three men defending a tower, and as many more in the space between towers. Thus it happens that a single man has to fight and defend three or four battlements, and he, too, either altogether unarmed or badly armed.
§ 198. "How then can they do anything against such a multitude as we are? And especially since we are fighting by relays, and new troops are constantly coming into the fray, so that our men have time to indulge in sleep and food and
to rest themselves, while they on the other hand fight continuously, without intermission, and desperately, and have no time to snatch sleep or food or drink or rest, since we are attacking in battle and forcing the fighting. Now we shall no longer merely use skirmishes and sallies, or simple attacks and feints, as we did at first—and as they anticipate—but once we have begun to fight, the battle will be continuous and uninterrupted, night and day, without any rest or armistice until all is up with them. Therefore I think these men, under the constraint of continuous fighting and of distress and starvation and sleeplessness, will easily yield to us.
§ 199. "And as for such Italians as are stationed on the ruined wall, if any think these are seasoned veterans able to defend themselves against the attackers, as though they were well armed and experienced in battle, especially behind fortifications, I, at least, believe the opinion of such persons altogether incredible and mistaken.
§ 200. "In the first place, being intelligent men, they will not be willing to fight on behalf of the goods of others, or suffer and expose themselves to evident risks when they have nothing to gain for themselves. And besides, they are a motley crew, coming from here and there and thinking simply of getting something and going back home in safety, not of dying in battle. For the present they do actually bear it and keep on, because we have been bombarding and attacking only at intervals, and they think that in future also we will go at it as if in child's play.
§ 201. "But when they see the battle rolling in on them, and brilliantly and relentlessly pressed on every side, and death imminent before their eyes, then I am perfectly sure they will not hesitate at all, but will throw away their weapons, turn their backs, and flee, and never turn around. And there will be nothing to deter them or give them courage at all.
§ 202. "But even if by some means they should stand firm, so be it! We will still easily put them to flight by our might and experience and daring. Thus even in that case I do not in the least think we have any good reason at all for worry. All things go to show that victory is on our side, and that we shall capture the City. As you see, it is entirely
surrounded, as if in a net, by land and sea; and it cannot, finally escape our arms and our grasp.
§ 203. "Then be brave yourselves and urge all the men under you to follow you bravely, and to use all zeal and dili- gence in the task, in the belief that there are three elements in good fighting: the will to fight, a realization of what is and is not honorable, and obedience to authority. Know that this obedience involves each keeping his own position and going to the attack quietly and in good order so that one can quickly hear the commands given and pass them on to the rest: when they must advance silently, to be silent, when they must shout and yell, to do so with fearsome yells. For while many of these things are wise in every sort of fighting, they are not the least so in battles at the walls. As for the rest, order them all to do everything well and in good order and discipline.
§ 204. "So then, fight bravely and worthily of yourselves and of those who have fought before you; and do not weaken, for you see how much hangs on this struggle, and do not allow any of your men to do so either. I myself will be in the van of the attack [applause by all the gathering]. Yes, I myself will lead the attack, and will be fighting by your side and will watch to see what each one of you does.
§ 205. "Go back, then, each one to his post and his tent, have your supper and rest yourselves. Give like orders to the men in your commands. Then be up early and get your divisions in good order and well arranged, paying no attention to anything outside and listening to no one else. And let the ranks keep silent. But when you hear the battle-cry and see the signal, then get to your jobs!
Position and orders given the generals
§ 206. "You, then, Hamza, sail with your ships along the sea-walls, have some of the ships lie to within shooting range, and order the archers and those who have crossbows in their hands, and muskets, to fire from the decks against the battlements so continuously that no one may lean out at all, nor have a chance to attack in the battle. And run
some of the ships aground, if it seems advantageous, by the wall. Then have the men in charge bring out the ladders, and let the infantry try to scale the wall. So fight bravely and show yourself to be a hero.
§ 207. "And you yourself, Zaganos, cross the bridge quickly and attack the Golden Horn wall very vigorously. Take with you the ships inside the harbor, which are assigned to you for this purpose, and be a hero!
§ 208. "Now too you, Karaja, take your men and cross the moat and attack the ruined part of the wall just in front of you. Stoutly hurling back the defenders, try to scale the wall, struggling manfully, like a hero.
§ 209. "And you also, Ishak and Mahmud, cross the moat safely with your own divisions and try to scale the wall with ladders. Have the archers and cannoneers and musketeers shoot incessantly at those on the battlements, so that they may be the least possible hindrance to your attack.
§ 210. "Lastly you, Halil and Saraja, have your troops close ranks on both sides and fight. When you see me struggling and trying to climb up the ruined parts of the wall and forcing the Italians back and opening access for my men into the City, do your utmost on both sides to check those drawn up opposite you, attacking them strongly, so that being given no respite by you they may be less able to pay attention to us, and wholly unable to help those hard pressed by us.
§ 211. "So much for the present. I myself will take care of all the rest. Therefore go back now to your tents and to your troops, and good luck to you! Eat, and drink, and rest."
§ 212. Having said this much, he dismissed the assembly. Each man went to his own troops and tents, and the Sultan himself, after his evening meal, went to rest.
§ 213. Rising at dawn, he first called the gunners and ordered them to make the guns ready and aim them at the wrecked parts of the wall, so that when the time came they might fire on the defenders there.
§ 214. Afterward he summoned the cavalry and infantry of his guard—I mean the heavy infantry and shield-bearers and archers and all the royal guard—and grouped them
effectively by bands, masses, groups, and companies, by thousands and sometimes in larger numbers. He ordered them to fight in shifts, when their turns came. Some were to fight and do battle while others took food and sleep and rested so that they might be refreshed and renewed for the struggle. Then those should replace the others, and that thus, with one division constantly succeeding another and with periods of rest, the battle should go on incessantly and continuously, so as to allow their opponents no respite or relaxation in the fight. He also appointed a place for each, and a time and a regular order, and commanded them how and where and when to make their best effort.
§ 215. Then the Sultan mounted his horse and went around to all the other divisions, reviewing them and giving his orders to all in general and each in particular. He encouraged them and stirred them up for the battle, especially the officers of the troops, calling each one by name. Then, having passed along the entire army, along the wall from sea to sea, and having given the necessary orders and encouraged and incited all for the fight, and having urged them to play the man, he ordered them to have their food and rest until the battle-cry should be given and they should see the signal. And after doing all this, he went back to his tent, had his meal, and rested.
§ 216. Now the Romans, seeing the army so quiet and more tranquil than usual, marveled at the fact and ventured on various explanations and guesses. Some—not judging it aright—thought this was a preparation for withdrawal. Others —and this proved correct—believed that it was a preparation for battle and an alert, things which they had been expecting in the near future. So they passed the word along and then went in silence to their own divisions and made all sorts of preparations.
§ 217. The hour was already advanced, the day was declining and near evening, and the sun was at the Ottomans' backs but shining in the faces of their enemies. This was just as the Sultan had wished; accordingly he gave the order first for the trumpets to sound the battle-signal, and the other instruments, the pipes and flutes and cymbals too, as
loud as they could. All the trumpets of the other divisions, with the other instruments in turn, sounded all together, a great and fearsome sound. Everything shook and quivered at the noise. After that, the standards were displayed.
§ 218. To begin, the archers and slingers and those in charge of the cannon and the muskets, in accord with the commands given them, advanced against the wall slowly and gradually. When they got within bowshot, they halted to fight And first they exchanged fire with the heavier weapons, with arrows from the archers, stones from the slingers, and iron and leaden balls from the cannon and muskets. Then, as they closed with battleaxes and javelins and spears, hurling them at each other and being hurled at pitilessly in rage and fierce anger. On both sides there was loud shouting and blasphemy and cursing. Many on each side were wounded, and not a few died. This kept up till sunset, a space of about two or three hours.
§ 219. Then, with fine insight, the Sultan summoned the shield-bearers, heavy infantry and other troops and said: "Go to it, friends and children mine! It is time now to show yourselves good fighters!" They immediately crossed the moat, with shouts and fearful yells, and attacked the outer wall. All of it, however, had been demolished by the cannon. There were only stockades of great beams instead of a wall, and bundles of vine-branches, and jars full of earth. At that point a fierce battle ensued close in and with the weapons of hand-to-hand fighting. The heavy infantry and shieldbearers fought to overcome the defenders and get over the stockade, while the Romans and Italians tried to fight these off and to guard the stockade. At times the infantry did get over the wall and the stockade, pressing forward bravely and unhesitatingly. And at times they were stoutly forced back and driven off.
§ 220. The Sultan followed them up, as they struggled bravely, and encouraged them. He ordered those in charge of the cannon to put the match to the cannon. And these, being set off, fired their stone balls against the defenders and worked no little destruction on both sides, among those in the near vicinity.
§ 221. So, then, the two sides struggled and fought bravely and vigorously. Most of the night passed, and the Romans were successful and prevailed not a little. Also, Giustinianni and his men kept their positions stubbornly, and guarded the stockade and defended themselves bravely against the aggressors.
§ 222. And the other generals and officers with their own troops, and particularly the admiral of the fleet, also attacked the wall by land and sea and fought vigorously. The archers shot arrows from their bows, others fired cannon, and others brought up ladders and bridges and wooden towers and all sorts of machines to the walls. Some of them tried to climb up the wall by main force, especially where Zaganos and Karaj a were in command.
§ 223. Zaganos had crossed the bridge in safety, and brought ladders and bridges up to the wall. He then tried to force the heavy infantry to climb up, leaving with him the archers and musketeers from the ships inside the harbor. These fired from the decks fiercely, attacking the left flank of those who were on the fortifications as the ships sailed by.
§ 224. Karaja crossed the moat and bravely attacked, attempting to get through inside the demolished wall.
§ 225. But the Romans on their part met them stubbornly and repulsed them brilliantly. They fought bravely and proved superior to the Ottomans in battle. Indeed they showed that they were heroes, for not a one of all the things that occurred could deter them: neither the hunger attacking them, nor sleeplessness, nor continuous and ceaseless fighting, nor wounds and slaughter, nor the death of relatives before their very eyes, nor any of the other fearful things could make them give in, or diminish their previous zeal and determination. They valiantly kept on resisting as before, through everything, until evil and pitiless fortune betrayed them.
§ 226. Sultan Mehmed saw that the attacking divisions were very much worn out by the battle and had not made any progress worth mentioning, and that the Romans and Italians were not only fighting stoutly but were prevailing in the battle. He was very indignant at this, considering that it ought not to be endured any longer. Immediately he brought
up the divisions which he had been reserving for later on, men who were extremely well armed, daring and brave, and far in advance of the rest in experience and valor. They were the elite of the army: heavy infantry, bowmen, and lancers, and his own bodyguard, and along with them those of the division called Yenitsari [Janissaries].
§ 227. Calling to them and urging them to prove themselves now as heroes, he led the attack against the wall, himself at the head until they reached the moat. There he ordered the bowmen, slingers, and musketeers to stand at a distance and fire, to the right, against the defenders on the palisade and on the battered wall. They were to keep up so heavy a fire that those defenders would be unable to fight, or to expose themselves because of the cloud of arrows and other projectiles falling like snowflakes.
§ 228. To all the rest, the heavy infantry and the shieldbearers, the Sultan gave orders to cross the moat swiftly and attack the palisade. With a loud and terrifying war-cry and with fierce impetuosity and wrath, they advanced as if mad. Being young and strong and full of daring, and especially because they were fighting in the Sultan's presence, their valor exceeded every expectation. They attacked the palisade and fought bravely without any hesitation. Needing no further orders, they knocked down the turrets which had been built out in front, broke the yardarms, scattered the materials that had been gathered, and forced the defenders back inside the palisade.
§ 229. Giustinianni with his men, and the Romans in that section fought bravely with lances, axes, pikes, javelins, and other weapons of offense. It was a hand-to-hand encounter, and they stopped the attackers and prevented them from getting inside the palisade. There was much shouting on both sides—the mingled sounds of blasphemy, insults, threats, attackers, defenders, shooters, those shot at, killers and dying, of those who in anger and wrath did all sorts of terrible things. And it was a sight to see there: a hard fight going on hand-to-hand with great determination and for the greatest rewards, heroes fighting valiantly, the one party struggling with all their might to force back the defenders,
get possession of the wall, enter the City, and fall upon the children and women and the treasures, the other party bravely agonizing to drive them off and guard their possessions, even if they were not to succeed in prevailing and in keeping them.
§ 230. Instead, the hapless Romans were destined finally to be brought under the yoke of servitude and to suffer its horrors. For although they battled bravely, and though they lacked nothing of willingness and daring in the contest, Giustinianni received a mortal wound in the breast from an arrow fired by a crossbow. It passed clear through his breastplate, and he fell where he was and was carried to his tent in a hopeless condition. All who were with him were scattered, being upset by their loss. They abandoned the palisade and wall where they had been fighting, and thought of only one thing—how they could carry him on to the galleons and get away safe themselves.
§ 231. But the Emperor Constantine besought them earnestly, and made promises to them if they would wait a little while, till the fighting should subside. They would not consent, however, but taking up their leader and all their armor, they boarded the galleons in haste and with all speed, giving no consideration to the other defenders.
§ 232. The Emperor Constantine forbade the others to follow. Then, though he had no idea what to do next—for he had no other reserves to fill the places thus left vacant, the ranks of those who had so suddenly deserted, and meantime the battle raged fiercely and all had to see to their own ranks and places and fight there—still, with his remaining Romans and his bodyguard, which was so few as to be easily counted, he took his stand in front of the palisade and fought bravely.
§ 233. Sultan Mehmed, who happened to be fighting quite near by, saw that the palisade and the other part of the wall that had been destroyed were now empty of men and deserted by the defenders. He noted that men were slipping away secretly and that those who remained were fighting feebly because they were so few. Realizing from this that the defenders had fled and that the wall was deserted, he shouted
out: "Friends, we have the City! We have it! They are already fleeing from us! They can't stand it any longer! The wall is bare of defenders! It needs just a little more effort and the City is taken! Don't weaken, but on with the work with all your might, and be men and I am with you!"
Capture of the City
§ 234. So saying, he led them himself. And they, with a shout on the run and with a fearsome yell, went on ahead of the Sultan, pressing on up to the palisade. After a long and bitter struggle they hurled back the Romans from there and climbed by force up the palisade. They dashed some of their foe down into the ditch between the great wall and the palisade, which was deep and hard to get out of, and they killed them there. The rest they drove back to the gate.
Death of Emperor Constantine
§ 235. He had opened this gate in the great wall, so as to go easily over to the palisade. Now there was a great struggle there and great slaughter among those stationed there, for they were attacked by the heavy infantry and not a few others in irregular formation, who had been attracted from many points by the shouting. There the Emperor Constantine, with all who were with him, fell in gallant combat.
§ 236. The heavy infantry were already streaming through the little gate into the City, and others had rushed in through the breach in the great wall. Then all the rest of the army, with a rush and a roar, poured in brilliantly and scattered all over the City. And the Sultan stood before the great wall, where the standard also was and the ensigns, and watched the proceedings. The day was already breaking.
Great Rush, and Many Killed
§ 237. Then a great slaughter occurred of those who happened to be there: some of them were on the streets, for they had already left the houses and were running toward the tumult when they fell unexpectedly on the swords of the
soldiers; others were in their own homes and fell victims to the violence of the Janissaries and other soldiers, without any rhyme or reason; others were resisting, relying on their own courage; still others were fleeing to the churches and making supplication—men, women, and children, everyone, for there was no quarter given.
§ 238. The soldiers fell on them with anger and great wrath. For one thing, they were actuated by the hardships of the siege. For another, some foolish people had hurled taunts and curses at them from the battlements all through the siege. Now, in general they killed so as to frighten all the City, and to terrorize and enslave all by the slaughter.
Plunder of the City
§ 239. When they had had enough of murder, and the City was reduced to slavery, some of the troops turned to the mansions of the mighty, by bands and companies and divisions, for plunder and spoil. Others went to the robbing of churches, and others dispersed to the simple homes of the common people, stealing, robbing, plundering, killing, insulting, taking and enslaving men, women, and children, old and young, priests, monks—in short, every age and class.
Here, too, a Sad Tragedy
§ 240. There was a further sight, terrible and pitiful beyond all tragedies: young and chaste women of noble birth and well to do, accustomed to remain at home and who had hardly ever left their own premises, and handsome and lovely maidens of splendid and renowned families, till then unsullied by male eyes—some of these were dragged by force from their chambers and hauled off pitilessly and dishonorably.
§ 241. Other women, sleeping in their beds, had to endure nightmares. Men with swords, their hands bloodstained with murder, breathing outrage, speaking out murder indiscriminate, flushed with all the worst things—this crowd, made up of men from every race and nation, brought together by chance, like wild and ferocious beasts, leaped into
the houses, driving them out mercilessly, dragging, rending, forcing, hauling them disgracefully into the public highways, insulting them and doing every evil thing.
§ 242. They say that many of the maidens, even at the mere unaccustomed sight and sound of these men, were terror-stricken and came near losing their very lives. And there were also honorable old men who were dragged by their white hair, and some of them beaten unmercifully. And well-born and beautiful young boys were carried off.
§ 243. There were priests who were driven along, and consecrated virgins who were honorable and wholly unsullied, devoted to God alone and living for Him to whom they had consecrated themselves. Some of these were forced out of their cells and driven off, and others dragged out of the churches where they had taken refuge and driven off with insult and dishonor, their cheeks scratched, amid wailing and lamentation and bitter tears. Tender children were snatched pitilessly from their mothers, young brides separated ruthlessly from their newly-married husbands. And ten thousand other terrible deeds were done.
Plundering and Robbing of the Churches
§ 244. And the desecrating and plundering and robbing of the churches—how can one describe it in words? Some things they threw in dishonor on the ground—ikons and reliquaries and other objects from the churches. The crowd snatched some of these, and some were given over to the fire while others were torn to shreds and scattered at the crossroads. The last resting-places of the blessed men of old were opened, and their remains were taken out and disgracefully torn to pieces, even to shreds, and made the sport of the wind while others were thrown on the streets.
§ 245. Chalices and goblets and vessels to hold the holy sacrifice, some of them were used for drinking and carousing, and others were broken up or melted down and sold. Holy vessels and costly robes richly embroidered with much gold or brilliant with precious stones and pearls were some of them given to the most wicked men for no good use, while
others were consigned to the fire and melted down for the gold.
§ 246. And holy and divine books, and others mainly of profane literature and philosophy, were either given to the flames or dishonorably trampled underfoot. Many of them were sold for two or three pieces of money, and sometimes for pennies only, not for gain so much as in contempt. Holy altars were torn from their foundations and overthrown. The walls of sanctuaries and cloisters were explored, and the holy places of the shrines were dug into and overthrown in the search for gold. Many other such things they dared to do.
§ 247. Those unfortunate Romans who had been assigned to other parts of the wall and were fighting there, on land and by the sea, supposed that the City was still safe and had not suffered reverses, and that their women and children were free—for they had no knowledge at all of what had happened. They kept on fighting lustily, powerfully resisting the attackers and brilliantly driving off those who were trying to scale the walls. But when they saw the enemy in their rear, attacking them from inside the City, and saw women and children being led away captives and shamefully treated, some were overwhelmed with hopelessness and threw themselves with their weapons over the wall and were killed, while others in utter despair dropped their weapons from hands already paralyzed, and surrendered to the enemy without a struggle, to be treated as the enemy chose.
Death of Orhan
§ 248. Orhan, the uncle of the Sultan, of the Ottoman family, happened to be present there at the time and fighting on the wall with them [the Byzantines], for the Emperor Constantine had him in the City and was treating him with much respect and honor because of his hopes. Orhan had been a fugitive for a long time through fear of his brother who had tried to kill him. When he saw that the City was captured, he sought to save himself. At first he thought he would run away secretly, as if he were one of the army, because of his uniform and of his correct pronunciation [of Greek]. But as
soon as he saw. he was recognized and being pursued, he threw himself immediately from the wall and died. And the soldiers rushed up, cut off his head, and took it to the Sultan, for he had wished to see him quickly, dead or alive.
§ 249. At this same time Hamza, Admiral of the fleet, when he saw the City already taken and the heavy infantry plundering it, quickly sailed up to the chain, cut it, and got inside the harbor. And of all the Roman ships which he found (for the Italian triremes and galleons had immediately put on all sail and made for the open sea), he sank some on the spot, and others he captured with all hands and ran them aground at what is called the Imperial Gate. When he found this still shut, he broke open the locks and bars and knocked down the gates.
§ 250. Entering the City with his marines, he found there many of the Romans gathered and making a brave stand. The [Ottoman] land forces had not yet reached that point, as they were plundering the rest of the City. Encountering these, he overcame them and killed them all, so that much blood flowed out of the gates. At that juncture the land army also arrived.
§ 251. In the same way, the sea army streamed in victoriously through the other shore gates, smashing them and throwing them down. Thus the whole naval force, scattering through the whole City, turned to plunder, robbing everything in their way, and falling on it like a fire or a whirlwind, burning and annihilating everything, or like a torrent sweeping away and destroying all things. For they hunted out everything, more carefully than Datis is said to have done in Eretria. Churches, holy places, old treasuries, tombs, underground galleries, cisterns and hiding-places, caves and crannies were burst into. And they searched every other hidden place, dragging out into the light anybody or anything they found hidden.
§ 252. Going into the largest church, that of the Holy Wisdom,  they found there a great crowd of men, women, and children taking refuge and calling upon God. Those
10. Sancta Sophia.
they caught as in a net, and took them all in a body and carried them captives, some to the galleys and some to the camp.
Surrender of Galata to the Sultan
§ 253. Upon this, the men of Galata, seeing the City already captured and plundered, immediately surrendered en masse to the Sultan so as to suffer no ills. They opened their gates to admit Zaganos and his troops, and these did them no harm.
§ 254. The entire army, the land force and the marine, poured into the City from daybreak and even from early dawn until the evening. They robbed and plundered it, carrying all the booty into the camp and into the ships. But some, like thieves, stole some of the booty and secretly went out of the gates and off to their abodes. Thus the whole City was emptied and deserted, despoiled and blackened as if by fire. One might easily disbelieve that it had ever had in it a human dwelling or the wealth or properties of a city or any furnishing or ornament of a household. And this was true although the City had been so magnificent and grand. There were left only ruined homes, so badly ruined as to cause great fear to all who saw them.
Number of Romans who died in the struggle, and of the prisoners taken
§ 255. There died, of Romans and of foreigners, as was reported, in all the fighting and in the capture itself, all told, men, women, and children, well-nigh four thousand, and a little more than fifty thousand were taken prisoners, including about five hundred from the whole army.
Entry of the Sultan into the City, and his seeing of it all, and his grief
§ 256. After this the Sultan entered the City and looked bout to see its great size, its situation, its grandeur and beauty, its teeming population, its loveliness, and the costliness of its churches and public buildings and of the private
houses and community houses and of those of the officials. He also saw the setting of the harbor and of the arsenals, and how skillfully and ingeniously they had everything arranged in the City—in a word, all the construction and adornment of it. When he saw what a large number had been killed, and the ruin of the buildings, and the wholesale ruin and destruction of the City, he was filled with compassion and repented not a little at the destruction and plundering. Tears fell from his eyes as he groaned deeply and passionately: "What a city we have given over to plunder and destruction!"
§ 257. Thus he suffered in spirit. And indeed this was a great blow to us, in this one city, a disaster the like of which had occurred in no one of the great renowned cities of history, whether one speaks of the size of the captured City or of the bitterness and harshness of the deed. And no less did it astound all others than it did those who went through it and suffered, through the unreasonable and unusual character of the event and through the overwhelming and unheard-of horror of it.
Comparison with other captures. Comparison with that of Troy
§ 258. Troy was captured, but by Greeks and after ten years' fighting. Thus even if in point of the number of those killed and captured the disaster was not less or perhaps even greater, still both of these circumstances gave a certain relief and comfort to her. For the Greeks acted more philanthropically toward their prisoners, respecting their common Fates, while the prolonged and lengthy fighting and the daily expectation of capture had dulled the acuteness of feeling toward such sufferings. The present capture, however, was altogether devoid of any comfort.
Comparison with that of Babylon
§ 259. Babylon was captured by Cyrus, but it was given
no mortal wound nor was it enslaved by a captivity or given over to the dishonoring of women and children. It merely exchanged despots, getting a good one in place of a bad.
Comparison with that of Carthage
§ 260. Carthage was captured twice by Scipio. But the first time, by giving hostages and paying the costs of the war, it suffered simply a financial loss. And the second time, though forced to establish themselves a little farther away, with their women and children and all their belongings, and with their hostages restored safe and sound, they suffered no such horror.
Comparison with that of Rome
§ 261. Rome was captured, first by the Kelts and Gauls, and secondly by the Goths. But it suffered no such horror, but was simply tyrannized over for a time, and its economy and wealth impaired. The property of the first families was confiscated, and its illustrious men were exiled. And again, a little later, having recovered, she rose to a new height of glory and wealth and power and good fortune.
Comparison with that of Jerusalem
§ 262. Jerusalem was captured three times: by the Assyrians the first time, by Antiochus the second time, and by the Romans the third time. But the first time she sustained simply a transfer, with women and children and belongings, to Babylon. Under Antiochus, they were under a tyrant for a short time, and then again possessed their city. Under the Romans, even though the sufferings of the capture were insupportable, yet there had been in the city many terrible uprisings of a civil nature, with plunderings and slaughters and merciless murders of the inhabitants and even of members of their own families, both before and during that last war. Many times people had prayed fervently that the city might be captured so that they might thus find relief from those terrible evils, either in death or in slavery.
Comparison with Other Cities
§ 263. Therefore the fall of those other cities cannot be compared with that of this City. Still other cities, many and large, in Asia and Europe, have been captured. They were flourishing in wealth, glory, learning, the valor of their inhabitants, and in many other worthy aspects. But the sufferings of these cities were not comparable to the present horrors.
Comparison of this City with itself, that is, with the capture by the Latins and . . . alas!
§ 264. This hapless City was also captured by the Western peoples, tyrannized over for sixty years,  and robbed of great wealth and of many very beautiful and costly statues from the churches. The brilliant and honored and sought-after masterpieces which had been seen and heard of by all were carried off to the west, while those which were left in the City became the prey of the flames. But loss and suffering were limited to that, though of course that alone was no small thing. Of the inhabitants, however, no one lost wife or children or was deprived of his most valuable things. All the inhabitants were unharmed and unmolested. Then, having overthrown the tyranny and recovered herself, the City regained its former state and was a seat of empire again, ruling over many races in Asia and Europe and not a few islands. It became splendid and rich and glorious and famed, a ruler and an example in all good things, the center of learning and culture and wisdom and virtue, in fact, of all the best things in one.
Personal Lamentation and Soliloquy over the City
§ 265. But this time the City's possessions vanished, its goods summarily disappeared, and it was deprived of all things: wealth, glory, rule, splendor, honor, brilliance of population, valor, education, wisdom, religious orders, dominion—in short,
11. The "Fourth Crusade" and the Latin rule of Constantinople, 1204-1261.
of all. And in the degree in which the City had advanced in prosperity and good fortune, to a corresponding degree it was now brought down into the abyss of misfortune and misery.
§ 266. While previously it had been called blessed by very many, it now heard everyone call it unfortunate and deeply afflicted. And while it had gloriously advanced to the boundaries of the civilized world, it now filled land and sea alike with its misfortunes and its ignominy, sending everywhere as examples of its misery the inhabitants, men, women, and children, who were scattered disgracefully in captivity and slavery and insult.
§ 267. And the City which had formerly ruled with honor and glory and wealth and great splendor over many nations was now ruled by others, amid want and disgrace and dishonor and abject and shameful slavery.
§ 268. While it had been an example of all good things, the picture of brilliant prosperity, it now became the picture of misfortune, a reminder of sufferings, a monument of disaster, and a by-word for life.
Soliloquy on the uncertainty of human affairs and the mutability of present things, and how nothing is lasting or certain
§ 269. So there is in human affairs nothing trustworthy or sure, but everything is like the Euripus, twisting and turning up and down, in turn playing with and being played with by the fickle changes of life. And it will never cease from this irregular and noisy ebb and flow, or the coming and going of one against another, as long as things are as they are.
§ 270. But the thing I wonder at the rather is this: the parallelism of names occurring in the changed circumstances, while the City went on for such a long period, or for nearly 1200 years. For Constantine, the fortunate Emperor, son of Helen, built her and brought her to the pitch of happiness and fortune. And now again, under Constantine, the unfortunate Emperor, son of Helen, she is taken and reduced to the worst slavery and misfortune.
§ 271. The thirty triremes that the High Priest of Rome had sent as a help to the City and to Constantine, reached Chios where they met with adverse winds and remained, awaiting suitable weather. But after a short time they heard of the capture of the City. So, as their help was too late, they sailed for home again, having accomplished nothing that they started out to do. It was fated that this unfortunate City should inevitably be captured and suffer. Therefore it had to be deprived of all succor from any possible quarter which might have helped it, for so had God decreed.
Date of Capture
§ 272. Thus, then, it was captured from the Romans under the Emperor Constantine, seventh of the Palaeologi, on the 29th of May in the 6961st year from the beginning [a.d. 1453] and 1124 years after the founding and establishment of the City.
Elegy over Emperor Constantine
§ 273. The Emperor Constantine himself, as I said, died fighting. He was wise and moderate in his private life and diligent to the highest degree in prudence and virtue, sagacious as the most highly-trained of men. In political affairs and in matters of government he yielded to no one of the kings before him in preeminence. Quick to perceive his duty, and still more quick to do it, he was eloquent in speech, clever in thought, and very accomplished in talking of public affairs.
§ 274. He was exact in his judgments of the present, as someone has said of Pericles, and usually correct in regard to the future, a splendid worker, who chose to do and to suffer everything for the fatherland and for his subjects. Therefore, when he saw with his own eyes the evident danger threatening the City, and was able to save himself, he did not choose to do so, although there were many who begged him to, but preferred to die with his country and his subjects, or rather to die beforehand himself, so that he might not see his country captured and all the inhabitants either
cruelly murdered or made captive and ignominiously taken away.
§ 275. For when he saw the enemy pressing in on him and coming into the City through the broken wall, he is stated to have cried aloud this last word: "The city is taken and it is useless for me to live any longer." So saying he. hurled himself into the midst of the enemy and was cut to pieces. He was a splendid man and the guardian of the common good, but unfortunate all through his life and doubly unfortunate at its close.
§ 276. As for the great City of Constantine, raised to a great height of glory and dominion and wealth in its own times, overshadowing to an infinite degree all the cities around it, renowned for its glory, wealth, authority, power, and greatness, and all its other qualities, it thus came to its end.
§ 277. The Sultan Mehmed, when he had carefully viewed the City and all its contents, went back to the camp and divided the spoils. First he took the customary toll of the spoils for himself. Then also, as prizes from all the rest, he chose out beautiful virgins and those of the best families, and the handsomest boys, some of whom he even bought from the soldiers. He also chose some of the distinguished men who, he was informed, were above the rest in family and in- telligence and valor. Among these was Notaras himself, a man among the most able and notable in knowledge, wealth, virtue, and political power. The Sultan honored him with a personal .interview, spoke soothing words to him, and filled him with hope, and not him only but the rest who were with him.
§ 278. For the Sultan was overcome with pity for the men and their misfortune, as he saw from what good circum- stances they had fallen into such great predicaments. And he had good intentions towards them, even though his ill will soon overcame these plans.
§ 279. After arranging these affairs and all that concerned
with the soldiers, suitably in accordance with his intentions, he honored some of them with government positions and offices, and others with money, and still others with stipends and many other sorts of gifts. He also did kindnesses to and personally received those whom he knew to have fought well. And after making an address to them and telling them many things, praising and thanking them, he disbanded the army.
§ 280. Then, with the notable men, and his courtiers, he went through the City. First he planned how to repopulate it, not merely as it formerly was but more completely, if possible, so that it should be a worthy capital for him, situated, as it was, most favorably by land and by sea. Then he donated to all the grandees, and to those of his household, the magnificent homes of the rich, with gardens and fields and vineyards inside of the City. And to some of them he even gave beautiful churches as their private residences.
§ 281. For himself, he chose the most beautiful location in the center of the City for the erection of a royal palace. After this, he settled all the captives whom he had taken as his portion, together with their wives and children, along the shores of the city harbor, since they were sea-faring men whom they previously had called Stenites. He gave them houses and freed them from taxes for a specified time.
§ 282. He also made a proclamation to all those who had paid their own ransom, or who promised to pay it to their masters within a limited time, that they might live in the City, and he granted them, also, freedom from taxes, and gave them houses, either their own or those of others.
§ 283. He wanted those of the nobility whom he approved of to live there with their wives and children. Accordingly he gave them houses and lands and provisions for living, and tried in every way to help them. This was his intention and purpose, as has been stated.
§ 284. He contemplated making Notaras the commandant of the City, and putting him in charge of its repopulation, and he had advised with him previously regarding this. But the arrows of envy laid that man and his sons low with mortal wounds, and they were condemned to an unjust death.
Advice of those in high position to the King to remove the men. The fate of the family
§ 285. For some men of great influence, I know not whence, moved by envy and hatred toward those men, persuaded him, since he had them in his power, to put them out of the way, saying that Romans, and especially prominent ones, not only ought not to live in this City or occupy any positions but even should not live at all, or go about the place. For, they said, after recuperating a little and having become free from slavery, those men would no longer hesitate to plot in their own interests and seek to get back what they formerly had, and especially their freedom. Thus they would do all they could against the City, or else would desert to our enemies, even while remaining here. Persuaded by these arguments, or rather being dissuaded from his intention, the Sultan ordered the men to be removed. And they were all killed, and among them were executed the Grand Duke and his two sons.
§ 286. They say that when this man was taken to the place of execution, he begged the executioner first to kill his children before his very eyes, so that in terror at his death they might not abjure their faith. And so, as he waited to be sacrificed with his children, he watched attentively while his sons were being executed, without turning his eyes, and unterrified in mind. Then, after praying and thanking God for taking home his children and himself, he bared his neck to the sword. Thus bravely and with firm and lofty sentiments, he died with the spirit of a hero.
An Estimate of the Grand Duke
§ 287. This man was devout in all relations with God, and of signal prudence, known for the loftiness of his sentiments and the sharpness of his intellect and the freedom of his spirit from all trammels. Through it all he exhibited both physical and moral greatness. Through these he attained political reputation, secured power in public affairs, and attained great glory and wealth. He was in the front rank in the
estimation not only of the Romans but also of many from other nations. And his companions, nine in number, died bravely, with steady and manly courage.
§ 288. Later on, the Sultan discovered the under handedness and wickedness of those who had persuaded him to put these men to death, and in disgust at their treachery he removed them from his sight, condemning some of them to death, and depriving the rest of their positions and honors. Thus they were not long in paying the penalty for their injustice to these men. But all this we shall refer to a little later.
Arrival of Embassies to the Sultan at Adrianople
§ 289. Then he appointed as regent of the City and its suburbs a most intelligent and useful man, possessed of the finest manners, Suleiman by name. He put him in charge of everything, but in particular over the repopulating of the City, and instructed him to be very zealous about this matter. Having done this, the Sultan went back to Adrianople at harvest time.
§ 290. There he received delegations from the Triballians [Serbs], and Illyrians [Albanians], and Peloponnesians, also from the people of Mitylene and Chios, and many others. To all of these he acted graciously. With some he made a truce and gave and received pledges. To others he granted what they asked. To some he remitted taxes, and to others he performed some other kindness, and to all he spoke peaceably.
§ 291. Similarly he gave audience to ambassadors sent him from the rulers of Persia and of Egypt, and also from Karaman, prince of the Cilicians, who all congratulated him on his accomplishments and praised him for his valor and virtue and zeal for his nation. These he received gladly, and honored with rich and varied and numerous gifts, including some of the spoils. And he sent them away with great ceremony.
§ 292. After this he appointed some of the youths of high family, whom he had chosen according to their merits, to
be in his bodyguard and to be constantly near him, and others to other service as his pages. He admired them for their prudence and other virtues and for their training. They were indeed of signal physical beauty and nobility and talent of soul, and in their manners and morals they were outstanding, for they were of high and renowned ancestry and splendid physique, and well trained in the royal palace.
§ 293. So, too, he admired the modesty, grace, and beauty of the virgins, and their superiority among their race in every sort of good trait.
Arrival of Ambassadors whom Kritovoulos sent to surrender the islands of Thasos, Imbros, and Lemnos
§ 294. During those days there arrived also the embassy from the islands to the Sultan, which Kritovoulos the Imbriote, the author of this book, had sent. They were to give over to him the islands in the Aegean Sea, Imbros, Lemnos, and Thasos, which had formerly been subject to the Emperor Constantine. But the chiefs sent by him in these delegations, on first hearing of the capture of the City and the death of the Emperor, had taken flight, despairing of everything.
§ 295. Those from Lemnos went off with the Italian triremes escaping from the City, which had touched at the point of Lemnos on their return to their homes. Those from Imbros had sailed with the heavy transports to the cape called Cephalos, in Imbros, and the people of the islands, seeing the flight of their chiefs, were terrified at a possible attack by the Sultan's fleet, if it should sail against them. For they had learned that the fleet had already returned to Gallipoli. Therefore they resolved to flee.
§ 296. In fact, nearly two hundred men of the Lemniotes, with their wives and children, did flee, some to Crete, some to Chios, and some to Euboea.
§ 297. Learning this, Kritovoulos halted their impetuosity, encouraged them with well-founded hopes, and secretly sent a trustworthy man to Hamza, Governor of Gallipoli and Admiral of the entire fleet, and made an agreement with him
not to sail against the islands, nor do them any harm at all, nor even plan it. He persuaded him by sending him many gifts. Through the Admiral he also sent ambassadors to the Sultan—the priest of the island, and with him the chief man of the inhabitants. These men brought gifts and surrendered the islands to him, at the same time begging him to allow the inhabitants to remain as before, and promising to pay over to him whatever taxes he levied, year by year, and to receive as governor whomever he appointed.
The Islands given over by the Sultan to the rulers of Enos and Mitylene, Palamedes and Dorieus
§ 298. The Sultan received these men kindly, granted their requests, and entrusted the islands as follows, in accordance with the arrangement made in the time of the Emperor: namely, Imbros to Palamedes, governor of Enos, and Lemnos and Thasos to Dorieus, chief of Mitylene. It so happened that the latter, Dorieus, had sent his elder son to the Sultan, and the former, Palamedes, had sent one of his highest officials, a very near relative, to ask for these very islands. The messengers sent by Kritovoulos, being entrusted with a similar task, themselves also made the same request from the Sultan. Thus the islands were freed from danger for the time, for no small danger had threatened them through the return of the fleet from the City to Gallipoli.
Arrest and execution of Halil
§ 299. During this same period the Sultan arrested Halil also, one of his first-rank men and very powerful, and put him in prison. And after torturing him in many ways, he put him to death. In his possession was found much silver and gold money and every sort of wealth, collected during many years both by his ancestors and by himself. For he belonged to one of the first families among them, renowned for glory, wealth, and power. All this wealth the Sultan turned into the royal treasury, except for a very limited sum which he allotted to the sons. Later on, however, he gave it all back to these sons.
§ 300. The Sultan had ample reasons to be angry with Halil. Chief of these were the following: While the Sultan's father was still reigning, Halil had worked against Mehmed in many ways and had been a strong force against him. And when the father had once appointed Mehmed lord of the whole realm, then on the advice of Halil he subsequently revoked this appointment. Also during Mehmed's campaign against the City, Halil had tried to dissuade the Sultan from it. Further, he had had secret negotiations with the Romans, trying to make the Sultan's efforts miscarry. In every way he worked against the Sultan and opposed him. These were the openly avowed reasons for his arrest and execution, but there were also other secret ones.
Ishak brought into the place and power of Halil
§ 301. In place of this man, the Sultan substituted Ishak, a man of the wisest sort, experienced in many spheres but especially a military leader and a man of courage.
§ 302. After a few days, he also dismissed Zaganos, and deprived him of rule and rank. He also put away the daughter of Zaganos, whom he had recently married, and sent father and daughter back into Asia, granting them there a piece of land large enough to support them.
§ 303. The Sultan substituted for him in his position in general oversight, his kinsman by marriage with Zaganos's other daughter, a man named Mahmud, who had formerly belonged to the Roman nation on both his father's and his mother's side. His paternal grandfather, Philaninos, had been ruler of Hellas, with the rank of Caesar. This man had so fine a nature that he outshone not only all his contemporaries but also his predecessors in wisdom, bravery, virtue, and other good qualities. He was very quick to recognize spontaneously what needed to be done, even when another told him of it, and still quicker in carrying it out. He was also eloquent in addressing a crowd, able in commanding men, and still more clever in making use of things and in finding a way out of difficulties. He was enterprising, a good counsellor, bold, courageous, excelling in all lines, as the times and circumstances proved him to be.
§ 304. For from the time he took charge of the affairs of the great Sultan, he gave everything in this great dominion a better prospect by his wonderful zeal and his fine planning as well as by his implicit and unqualified faith in and goodwill towards his sovereign. He was thus a man of better character than them all, as shown by his accomplishments.
§ 305. When the Sultan had done these things in Adrianople, he went back in .the autumn to Byzantium, so the year 6961 counting from the beginning went by, which was the third of the Sultan's reign [a.d. 1453].
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