If you want to find about more about the fall of Constantinople, here are a few more resources and sources of information. You might like to look at ‘Visit the siege’ and ‘Gallery’ as well.


From the internet

  • Listen to the author taking part in a radio discussion on Melvyn Bragg’s BBC radio programme, In our time.
  • Read an article by the author on the role of artillery at the fall of Constantinople from Military History magazine.
  • PDFs
    Download some detailed maps and diagrams of the walls of Constantinople from Van Millingen’s Byzantine Constantinople (see below):
    Map of the walls (approx 1MB)
    Cross section of the walls (approx 1MB)


Books to read


Here is a short list of reasonably available, largely non-academic books on the fall of Constantinople and its background.


Stephen Runciman: The Fall of Constantinople – the classic work on the subject


John Julius Norwich: A History of Byzantium - a lively three volume narrative that unfolds the extraordinary panorama of Byzantine history. If you think life is too short for 1,200 pages of reading, try the one volume version, A Shorter History of Byzantium.


Judith Herrin: Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire – an excellent accessible academic account that takes a thematic approach


Lord Kinross: The Ottoman Centuries – robust, readable popular account of the history of the Ottoman Empire from start to finish


Jason Goodwin: Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire – a vivid impressionistic take on Ottoman history


Colin Imber: The Ottoman Empire: 1300-1650 – an extremely good academic book on the chronology and institutions of the early Ottoman empire


John Freely: Istanbul: Imperial City – part popular history, part guide, this tells the whole story of the city from its founding to modern times


Franz Babinger: Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time – if you get seriously interested in the protagonists at the fall of Constantinople, this weighty but accessible book is a mine of information on complex personality of the sultan and the Ottoman conquests of the fifteenth century.


Donald M. Nicol: The Immortal Emperor: The Life and Legend of Constantine Palaiologus, Last Emperor of the Romans – short readable account of the life, death and after-life of Constantine XI  in Greek culture


David Nicolle: Constantinople 1453 – illustrated guide from the military history publishers, Osprey


Stephen Turnbull: The Walls of Constantinople AD 324-1453 – another illustrated Osprey offering: a guide to the walls and the defences of Constantinople


Alexander Van Millingen: Byzantine Constantinople: The Walls of the City and Adjoining Historical Sites – First published in 1899 and now in print again. For anyone who wants to go to Istanbul and study the walls in serious detail, this is a great book and an antiquarian delight.  I’ve reproduced some of his sectional maps above.


Lastly, on the subject of guide books: there are of course hundreds of offerings on Istanbul. I would like to champion the almost completely overlooked Everyman Guide to Istanbul (in the US Knopf Guide: Istanbul). It won’t help you much with the practicalities of hotels and restaurants, but this book is a work of art in its own right. Illustrated with thousands of reproductions of art and architecture, cut-away drawings, old photographs, excerpts from travellers’ accounts, quotations, timelines and maps, it’s a brilliant visual guide to the richness of the city and its past – makes you want to set out straightaway.


Read Roger's history blog here

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