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More resources

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.