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SamB
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« on: December 19, 2004, 04:41:13 AM »

I seem to recall an account that spoke of a massacre in Hagia Sophia (and if I remember, one committed as prayer services were being led) when the city fell to the Turks.

Can anyone confirm whether such was perpetrated? - and if one can cite a primary or secondary source, I would be grateful.

Unfortunately, all I can find concerning the violation of the cathedral deals with the Crusaders' 1204 sack.

Danke.

Oh, and if one can name primary sources or eye-witness accounts of the 1453 sack aside from Leonard of Chios, I'd like that too.

Also, I understand the event was more plunder than killing.  Can anyone verify things one way or the other?  Does what happened qualify as a massacre in the same sense as what followed the Crusaders' capture of Jerusalem? 

A good amount of questions, and if answering them all is manageable, then thank you, but my primary question remains that of a massacre in Saint Sophia's.

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« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2004, 03:41:07 PM »

I thought you folks would jump at this one.  I'm bumping the thread up in the hope that you all take notice.

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« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2004, 06:23:21 PM »

[I thought you folks would jump at this one.  I'm bumping the thread up in the hope that you all take notice.]

Only massacre I know that took place within Hagia Sophia was during the fourth crusade -


http://www.stmichael.org/ConSack.shtml

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« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2004, 06:47:38 PM »

Thanks, but I am inquiring only about the fall of the city to the Ottomans.

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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2004, 01:25:01 AM »

Hey SamB,

From the book "The Fall of Constantinople 1453" by Steven Runciman, page 147 in the chapter "The Fate of the Vanquished":

"The Holy Liturgy was ended, and the service of matins was being sung. At the sound of the tumult outside the huge bronze gates of the buildeing were closed. Inside the congregation prayed for the miracle that alone could save them. They prayed in vain. It was not long before the doors were battered down and the worshippers trapped. A few of them, the ancient and the infirm were killed on the spot; but most of them were tied of chained together. Veils and scarves were torn off the women to serve as ropes. Many of the lovelier maidens and youths and many of the richer-clad nobles were almost torn to death as their caprtors quarreled over them. Soon a procession of ill-sorted little groups of men and women bound tightly together was being dragged to the soldiers bivouacs, there to be fought over once again. The priests went on chanting at the alter till they too were taken. But at the last moment, so the faithful believed, a few of them snatched up the holiest vessels and moved to the southern wall of the sanctuary. It opened for them and closed behind them; and there they will remain until the sacred edifice becomes a church once more.

The pillage continued all day. Monastaries and convents were entered and their inmates rounded up. Some of the younger nuns preferred martyrdom o dishonour and flung themselves to death down well-shafts; but the monks and the elder nuns now obeyed the old passive Orthodox Church and made no resistance."


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« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2004, 03:57:32 AM »

Samer,

From a Hellenic Genocide site,

Quote
The assault began after midnight, into the 29th of May 1453. ... The battle lasted two hours and the irregulars withdrew in disorder, leaving behind an unknown number of dead and wounded.

Next came the Anatolian troops of Ishak Pasha. They tried to storm the stockades. ...This second attack also failed.

But now came the Janissaries (what an irony that they were born Greek Orthodox), disciplined, professional, ruthless warriors, superbly trained, ready to die for their master, the Sultan. ... Then a group of enemy soldiers unexpectedly entered the city from a small sally-port called Kerkoporta, on the wall of Blachernae, where this wall joined the triple wall. Fighting broke near the small gate with the defenders trying to eliminate the intruders.

It was almost day now, the first light, before sunrise, .... More Janissaries came in and many reached the inner wall.

Meanwhile more were pouring in through the Kerkoporta, where the defenders had not been able to eliminate the first intruders. Soon the first enemy flags were seen on the walls. ...

Now, thousands of Ottoman soldiers were pouring into the city. ...

Bands of Ottoman soldiers began now looting. ... Monasteries and Convents were broken in. Their tenants were killed, nuns were raped, many, to avoid dishonor, killed themselves. Killing, raping, looting, burning, enslaving, went on and on according to tradition. The troops had to satisfy themselves. The great doors of Saint Sophia were forced open, and crowds of angry soldiers came in and fell upon the unfortunate worshippers. Pillaging and killing in the holy place went on for hours. Similar was the fate of worshippers in most churches in the city. Everything that could be taken from the splendid buildings was taken by the new masters of the Imperial capital. Icons were destroyed, precious manuscripts were lost forever. Thousands of civilians were enslaved, soldiers fought over young boys and young women. Death and enslavement did not distinguish among social classes. Nobles and peasants were treated with equal ruthlessness.

A contemporaneous diary by a Venetian surgeon, Nicolo Barbaro, is described as "perhaps the most detailed and accurate eyewitness account of the siege and fall of Constantinople." He makes no mention of what happened at 'Agia Sophia on that day, although he provides much detail about the attacks and goings-on elsewhere in the city. However, his diary is criticized for the fact that it "often focuses on the activities of his fellow Venetians, sometimes to the detriment of the Greeks and Genoese who were also defending the city." A section of it is on the web at:
Seige of Constantinople (1453)

Quote
Also, I understand the event was more plunder than killing. Can anyone verify things one way or the other?

One on-line site says "There was no general massacre, but the city was thoroughly sacked, its literary treasures dispersed or destroyed, and 60'000 of the population were sold into slavery." However, that statement is at odds with the descriptions elsewhere about the amount of blood-letting that transpired, although there were clearly those who, for whatever reasons, were granted parole, allowed to live, and even to depart the city.

Many years,

Neil
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« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2004, 05:59:58 AM »

This is yet another rendering on the Fall of the City published  in
the British journal HISTORY TODAY. The primary sources Judith Herrin uses
come from the Greek. Has anyone here read "Nestor-Iskander, The Tale of
Constantinople (of Its Origin and Capture by the Turks in the Year 1453),
translated and annotated by Walter K. Hanak and Marios Philippides (New
Rochelle NY and Athens 1998); M. Philippides," which she lists in her
further reading citation and cites in her own article? Thank you in advance.

*********************************



http://historytoday.com/index.cfm?Articleid=19435

historytoday.com Volume: 53 Issue: 6 June 2003 pp12-17
The Fall of Constantinople



Judith Herrin tells the dramatic story of the final moments of Byzantine
control of the imperial capital.


At this moment of confusion, which happened at sunrise, our omnipotent God
came to His most bitter decision and decided to fulfil all the prophecies,
as I have said, and at sunrise the Turks entered the city near San Romano,
where the walls had been razed to the ground by their cannon GǪ anyone they
found was put to the scimitar, women and men, old and young, of any
conditions. This butchery lasted from sunrise, when the Turks entered the
city, until midday GǪ The Turks made eagerly for the piazza five miles from
the point where they made their entrance at San Romano, and when they
reached it at once some of them climbed up a tower where the flags of Saint
Mark and the Most Serene Emperor were flying, and they cut down the flag of
Saint Mark and took away the flag of the Most Serene Emperor and then on the
same tower they raised the flag of the Sultan GǪ When their flag was raised
and ours cut down, we saw that the whole city was taken, and that there was
no further hope of recovering from this.

With these words, and much longer descriptions of the slaughter that
followed, the Venetian Nicol-é Barbaro recorded the fall of Constantinople to
the Ottoman Turks. His eyewitness account describes the progressive
stranglehold devised by the Turks and the sense of fatalism that developed
within the city. As the major trading partner of the empire, Venice had
strong links with Constantinople and its citizens fought bravely in its
defence. Barbaro’s account of their loyalty is impressive. Although he is
less favourably inclined to the Genoese, who also played a leading role in
the defence of the city, his account has the immediacy of one who lived
through the siege.

There is no shortage of records of the fall, although some were concocted
long after the event and claim a presence that turns out to be quite
inauthentic. Greeks, Italians, Slavs, Turks and Russians all composed their
own versions; they cannot possibly be reconciled. But those written closer
to the date, May 29th, 1453, and by people involved in some capacity all
share a sense of the disaster they documented. Taking account of many of
their variations and contradictions, they permit a basic outline of events
to be constructed.

The leaders of what became such a mythic battle were both younger sons who
had never expected to become rulers. The Ottoman sultan Mehmet II, born in
1432, was made sole heir at the age of eleven by the death of his two elder
brothers; Constantine XI, born in 1404, was the fourth of six sons of Manuel
II, whose imperial authority was inherited by the eldest John VIII. When
John died in 1448, the Empress-Mother Helena insisted that Constantine
should be crowned in a disputed succession. His two younger brothers,
Demetrios and Thomas, were appointed Despots in the Morea (southern Greece),
and took no interest in the fate of Constantinople. In 1453 the Sultan was
twenty-one years old, the Emperor forty-nine, and the Ottomans far
out-numbered the Christian forces who undertook the defence of the city.

The imperial capital dedicated by Constantine I in ad 330 had resisted siege
on numerous occasions. The triple line of fortifications constructed on the
land side in the fifth century had held off attacks by Goths, Persians,
Avars, Bulgars, Russians, and especially Arabs. Even today they make an
impressive sight. Over the centuries new aqueducts and cisterns were built
to ensure an ample water supply, and the imperial granaries stored plentiful
amounts of grain.

From the first attempt by the Arabs to capture the city in 674-78, Muslim
forces aimed to make Constantinople their own capital. Using this ancient
foundation as their base, they hoped to extend their power across Thrace and
the Balkans into Europe, in the same irresistible way that they advanced
across North Africa into Spain. Frustrated in these efforts, the centre of
their operations was moved to Baghdad, and they occupied the Fertile
Crescent and vast areas further east. In the eleventh century these same
ambitions were taken up by Turkish tribes from central Asia, who constantly
harried the empire. First Seljuks and later Ottomans maintained pressure on
Constantinople, hoping to take a symbol of unconquered strength and great
strategic importance.

Their aim was not merely political and military. For centuries
Constantinople was the largest metropolis in the known world, the
impregnable core of a great empire, served by a deep-water port that gave
access to the sea. Known as New Rome and the Queen City, it had been built
to impress, its magnificent public monuments, decorated with statuary set in
an elegant classical urban landscape. Its apparent invincibility and famous
reputation made it a great prize. The city was also reputed to be hugely
wealthy. While the Turks had no interest in its famous collection of
Christian relics, the fact that many were made of solid gold and silver,
decorated with huge gems and ancient cameos, was of importance. Their
existence added weight to the rumour that Constantinople contained vast
stores of gold, a claim which cannot have been true by 1453. By the early
fifteenth century the city had lost all its provinces to Turkish occupation
and was totally isolated. The surviving Greek territories of Trebizond and
the Morea were similarly surrounded and made no effort to assist the ancient
capital.

It is notoriously difficult to reconstruct the early history of the Ottoman
Turks from the sparse sources that survive. They seem to have been a tribe
of ghazi warriors (men devoted to holy war) who gradually adopted a more
organised monarchy. Their leader Osman (1288-1326) gave his name to the
group, which is now associated with one of the most successful empires of
all time. During the fourteenth century these Ottoman Turks took full
advantage of the civil war in Byzantium. From his capital at Nikomedia
Sultan Orhan offered assistance to John VI, claimant to the throne, and
married his daughter Theodora, thus setting up an excellent excuse for
invading the empire.

At the same time, he was able to exploit unexpected developments at
Gallipoli when an earthquake shook the castle fortifications so violently
that they collapsed in 1354. Orhan ferried an entire army across the
Dardanelles and opened a bridgehead on the European shore. The conquest of
Thrace, the last province loyal to the empire, and the capture of
Adrianople, which became the Ottoman capital as Edirne, meant that the Turks
were now in a position to threaten the capital from the west. Once they
could mount an attack by land as well as by sea, Constantinople was totally
surrounded. This stranglehold on the empire was symbolised by the treaty of
1373, which reduced the emperor to the status of a Turkish vassal. John V
agreed to pay Sultan Murad an annual tribute, to provide military aid
whenever it was required, and to allow his son Manuel to accompany the Turks
back to their court as a hostage.

Despite a surprising defeat by the Mongols in 1402, Ottoman attempts to
capture Constantinople continued. In preparation for the campaign of
1452-53, Sultan Mehmet II ordered the blockade of the city. Since the
southern entrance to the Bosphorus from the Aegean at the Dardanelles was
already in Ottoman hands, he concentrated on the northern entrance from the
Black Sea. Two castles were constructed close to the mouth of the Bosphorus
on the Asian and European shores, to prevent any aid arriving from the Black
Sea. Barbaro gives a vivid description of how the garrison at Rumeli Hisar
on the European shore tried to control shipping by firing on any galleys
entering the Bosphorus until they lowered their sails:

From the walls of the castle, the Turks began to shout ‘Lower your sails,
Captain’ GǪ and when they saw that he was unwilling to lower them, they began
to fire their cannon and many guns and a great number of arrows, so that
they killed many men ... After he had lowered his sails, the Turks stopped
firing, and then the current carried the galleys towards Constantinople. And
when they had passed the castle and the Turks could not reach them any
longer with their cannon, the captain quickly raised his sails and got
through safely.

Ships also carried oars so that sailors could row with the current in order
to avoid the blockade.

Byzantine rulers had made too many appeals to Western powers to come to the
aid of their Christian city. The crusading movement had been exhausted by
numerous military disasters. After the failure of the crusade of 1396 at
Nicopolis on the Danube, the young emperor Manuel II made a long tour of
western capital cities between 1399 and 1403 in the hope of gaining
financial and above all military support for the defence of the city. In
Paris he noticed a fine tapestry hanging in the palace of the Louvre and
wrote a letter to his old tutor describing its beauty. In London he was
invited to the Christmas dinner hosted by Henry IV at the palace of Eltham.
Manuel’s attempts to obtain aid were enhanced, as so many times before, by a
promise to unite the Latin and Greek churches.

In this respect Manuel and his son John VIII proved that they could achieve
the desired ecclesiastical union. At the Council of Ferrara-Florence in
1438-39 the union of the churches was finally realised. But even after this
major compromise, help from the papacy, the Italian city republics and the
monarchs who had received Manuel during his trip was slow to materialise. In
the autumn of 1452, the papal legate Cardinal Isidore and Bishop Leonard of
Chios arrived in the city with a body of archers recruited and paid for by
the papacy. The Cardinal then celebrated the official union of the Latin and
Greek churches in the cathedral of Hagia Sophia on December 12th.

As Bishop Leonard of Chios reports the event:

Through the diligence and honesty of the said Cardinal, Isidore of Kiev, and
with the assent (if it was not insincere) of the emperor and the senate, the
holy union was sanctioned and solemnly celebrated on December 12th, the
feast of Saint Spiridon, the bishop.

But even with the union in place, Western promises to assist the last great
Christian centre in the East Mediterranean proved empty, while a large
portion of the Greek population of Constantinople remained obstinately
opposed to it.

Among those who joined the Greek inhabitants in the city to defend it
against the expected siege, were numerous representatives of the Italian
republics of Venice and Genoa. Both enjoyed commercial privileges from
trading in Constantinople but were staunch rivals. Some of those who fought
had been residents for many years, had adopted Byzantine citizenship and
married Greek wives. A significant number of Armenians were present and the
resident Catalan traders took part under their consul. Prince Orhan,
pretender to the Ottoman throne, who had lived for years as a guest of the
Byzantine court, offered his services with his Turkish companions. Ships
from Ancona, Provence and Castile added to the naval forces, and a group of
Greeks from Crete elected to remain in the city. When they saw what would
happen, though, on February 26th, 1453, six of their ships slipped away with
one Venetian.

The inhabitants were greatly cheered by the arrival in January 1453 of the
Genoese condottieri, who braved the Turkish blockade and got through with
his two ships and about 700 men. This was Giovanni Giustiniani Longo,
identified in many sources as Justinian, a friend of the emperor, whose
determination to assist the city was greatly appreciated. Constantine XI put
him in charge of the weakest part of the land walls, the section by the Gate
of Romanos, and, as Nestor-Iskander says:

... he invigorated and even instructed the people so that they would not
lose hope and maintain unswerving trust in God GǪ All people admired and
obeyed him in all things.

After masterminding the defence Justinian was hit on the chest during the
last days of the assault. The Genoese managed to get him out of the city on
one of the first ships to leave after the capture but he died at Chios. His
disappearance lowered the spirits of the Christian forces.

Also among the defenders was a young man called Nestor, who had been taken
captive by a Turkish regiment in Moldavia, southern Russia, forcibly
converted to Islam and enrolled in the unit. Since he had some education,
Nestor, renamed Iskander, was employed in military administration and
learned about Turkish artillery practices. He accompanied the unit on its
march to Constantinople and then ran away, ‘that I might not die in this
wretched faith’. His account of the siege may have been written many years
later when he was a monk in a Greek monastery, but it has the quality of a
lived experience, a first-hand account of what he witnessed as a
non-combatant. It has been suggested that he was attached to Giustiniani’s
forces at the Romanos Gate and helped them to identify the Ottoman
commanders and their weaponry.

Siege warfare was revolutionised in the fifteenth century by the invention
of cannon. In the 1420s when the Byzantines had their first experience of
bombardment by cannon, they reduced the effectiveness of the new weapon by
suspending bales of material, wood and anything that might absorb and
diffuse its impact. But the fifth-century fortifications of Constantinople
presented an easy target. Now Byzantium needed new technology as well as new
warriors to match the enemy. Appreciating this vital combination, in 1451
Constantine XI employed a Christian engineer, a Hungarian named Urban, to
assist with the first, while he sent numerous appeals to the West for extra
soldiers. But when he failed to pay Urban adequately, the cannon expert
offered his skills to the Turkish side. The former allies of the Empire,
meanwhile, sent little or no assistance.

It was undoubtedly Byzantine inability to invest in this technology of
warfare that sealed the fate of the city. Once Urban was in the employ of
the Sultan, who was happy to pay what he asked, the Hungarian cast the
largest cannon ever produced, a 29 foot-long bore which fired enormous
stones variously identified as weighing 1,200-1,300 lbs. This was called
Imperial (Basilica) and was so heavy that a team of sixty oxen had to haul
it from Edirne. It could only be fired seven times a day because it
overheated so greatly. But once correctly positioned opposite the Gate of
Romanos and fired, it brought down the ancient walls and created the
historic breach through which the Ottoman forces entered the city on the
morning of May 29th.

Against this monster weapon, the defenders set up their own much smaller
cannon. But when fired they caused more damage to the ancient structures of
the city than to the enemy. All the regular techniques of siege warfare were
employed: the attackers dug tunnels under the walls, and built tall siege
towers which they rolled up to the walls, in order to fix their scaling
ladders. The defenders dug counter tunnels and threw burning material into
those of the invaders; they poured hot pitch from the walls and set fire to
anything wooden set against them. The smoke of fires, as well as cannon,
meant that the combatants fought without seeing clearly what was around
them.

In 1453 Easter was celebrated on Sunday April 1st, and the next day the
Emperor ordered the boom which protected the city’s harbour on the Golden
Horn to be set in place. Once it was stretched between Constantinople and
the Genoese colony of Pera it prevented ships from entering the harbour. As
they watched the Turks bringing up their forces, the inhabitants must have
realised that battle was about to commence. From April 11th, the cannon
bombardment began and the following day the full Turkish fleet of 145 ships
anchored two miles off from Constantinople. Fighting occurred on land and
sea, with a major onslaught on the walls on April 18th, and a notable naval
engagement on April 20th. After the land battle Constantine XI ordered the
clergy and monks to gather up the dead and bury them: a total of 1,740
Greeks and 700 Franks (i.e. Westerners) and Armenians, against 18,000 Turks.
This duty was repeated on April 25th, when 5,700 defenders were slain, and
35,000 enemy. While the figures (which vary from source to source) are not
reliable, the sense of loss and disaster permeates all accounts.
Constantinople had been under siege in effect for many years. In 1453 the
actual conquest took forty-six days.

Towards the middle of May after stalwart resistance, the Sultan sent an
envoy into the city to discuss a possible solution. Mehmet still wished to
take the city, but he announced that he would lift the siege if the Emperor
paid an annual tribute of 100,000 gold bezants. Alternatively, all the
citizens could leave with their possessions and no one would be harmed. The
Emperor summoned his council to discuss the proposal. No one seriously
believed that such a huge sum could be raised as tribute, nor were they
prepared to abandon the city. As in many earlier meetings he had with
Cardinal Isidore and the clergy of Hagia Sophia, the Emperor refused to
consider flight. Further discussion on the issue was useless. He had
embraced his heroic role.

One aspect of the siege emphasised by many authors is the immense din of
battle. The Turks made their dawn prayers and then advanced with castanets,
tambourines, cymbals and terrifying war cries. Fifes, trumpets, pipes and
lutes also accompanied the troops. Three centuries later this manifestation
of Turkish military music inspired Mozart to some of his most exciting
compositions. In response to the Turks’ percussive noise, the Emperor
ordered the bells of the city to be rung, and from the numerous churches the
tolling of bells inspired the Christians to greater zeal. Trumpets blared at
the arrival of troops in support of the city. Nestor-Iskander records how
the sound of church bells summoned the non-combatants, priests, monks, women
and children to collect the crosses and holy icons and bring them out to
bless the city. He also says that women fought among the men and even
children threw bricks and paving stones at the Turks once they were inside
the city. His account reminds us of the long clash of Muslim and Christian
forces which can still be heard today.

George Sprantzes, Constantine XI’s loyal secretary, recorded the outcome of
the final battle and the way the last emperor of Byzantium conducted
himself:

On Tuesday May 29th, early in the day, the sultan took possession of our
City; in this time of capture my late master and emperor, Lord Constantine,
was killed. I was not at his side at that hour but had been inspecting
another part of the City according to his orders ... What did my late lord
the emperor not do publicly and privately in his efforts to gain some aid
for his house, for the Christians and for his own life? Did he ever think
that it was possible and easy for him to abandon the City, if something
happened? ... Who knew of our emperor’s fastings and prayers, both his own
and those of priests whom he paid to do so; of his services to the poor and
of his increased pledges to God, in the hope of saving his subjects from the
Turkish yoke? Nevertheless, God ignored his offerings, I know not why or for
what sins, and men disregarded his efforts, as each individual spoke against
him as he pleased.

In many respects the city of Constantinople which had for so long eluded the
Arabs and Turks was no longer the great Queen of Cities it had once been.
That city had already been destroyed in 1204 by Western forces of the Fourth
Crusade who had plundered its wealth and then occupied it for fifty-seven
years. When the Byzantines reconquered their capital in 1261, they attempted
to restore its past glory but could never recreate its former strength. As
the Ottomans closed in on their prize, Constantinople became the last
outpost of Christian faith in the Middle East, and its inhabitants had to
face their historic destiny. The battle between Christianity and Islam was
joined around the city.

Constantine XI was the first to realise this and his disappearance during
the last day of fighting heightened the myth of 1453. Although a head was
solemnly presented to Sultan Mehmet and a corpse given to the Greeks for
formal burial, Constantine’s body was never found. As a result many stories
of his escape and survival circulated. The idea that he had found shelter
within the walls of the city and would emerge to triumph over the Muslims is
typical. The prolonged resistance and bravery of the defenders made heroes
of them all. And within a few years, to have been present in the city on May
29th, 1453, became a badge of honour, claimed by many who had been
elsewhere. By the same token Sultan Mehmet would have delighted in the
nickname which recognised his role in the fall: from the late fifteenth
century onwards, and even today, 550 years later, he is still known as
Mehmet the Conqueror.

For Further Reading:

J. R. Melville Jones, The Fall of Constantinople 1453: Seven Contemporary
Accounts (Amsterdam 1972); J. R. Jones, Nicol-é Barbaro: A Diary of the Siege
of Constantinople 1453 (New York 1969); Nestor-Iskander, The Tale of
Constantinople (of Its Origin and Capture by the Turks in the Year 1453),
translated and annotated by Walter K. Hanak and Marios Philippides (New
Rochelle NY and Athens 1998); M. Philippides, The Fall of the Byzantine
Empire: A Chronicle by George Sphrantzes 1401-1477 (Amherst, 1980); Steven
Runciman, The Fall of Constantinople 1453 (Cambridge 1965); Mark Bartusis,
The Late Byzantine Army: Arms and Society, 1204-1453 (Philadelphia, 1992)

Judith Herrin is Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at King’s
College London. Her most recent book is Women in Purple. Rulers of Medieval
Byzantium (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2002).
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« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2004, 01:31:03 PM »

+á+¦-ä-ü+¦-ë-ä++-é,

-Ç++++-Ã  +¦+++¦+¦+¦-Ã¥+¦-ü-ë++

+¦-à -ç+¦-ü+¦-â-ä-ë

Demetri
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« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2004, 06:59:36 PM »

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