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The Fall of Constantinople, 1453, by Steven Runciman
Download The Fall of Constantinople, 1453, by Steven Runciman
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First published in 1965, this is a scholarly and highly accessible study of Constantinople’s fall, an event which had tumultuous repercussions across both East and West. Runciman demonstrates the inevitability of the Turkish conquest and the impotence of the Byzantine Empire which, at the time, comprised only one ineffectual city. This vivid account reconstructs the dramatic events which won the Turks an imperial capital, with a vital geographical location, and examines how the Greeks reacted to this devastating blow.
- Sales Rank: #3978017 in Books
- Published on: 1969-05-01
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: 14.09″ h x .63″ w x 5.51″ l, .79 pounds
- Binding: Paperback
- 270 pages
‘Once again Sir Steven Runciman demonstrates his mastery of historical narrative … an excellent tale, full of suspense and pathos … He tells the story and, as always, tells it very elegantly.’ History
‘Runciman [is] eminently accessible and readable.’ Evangelicals Now
About the Author
Sir Steven Runciman (1903 2000) was the pre-eminent historian of the Crusades and the Byzantine Empire. His acclaimed History of the Crusades was first published from 1951 4.
Most helpful customer reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful.
A True History Better than any Fiction
By Amazon Customer
There are few historical events that conjure up the adventure, drama and pation of the fall of Constantinople; Barbarian hordes, age old empires, tremendous siege engines, feuding merchant states, conflicted religious leaders, age old prophecies of doom (or victory depending on your view), naval battles and finally a philosopher emperor who having failed to get the outside support his city needs to survive, dies at the hands of the enemy while defending the city’s walls, his body never to be found. This book tells the story of the final empire of the Greeks, as if told by a story-teller rocking in a chair by a fire. The story is that good, the characters, their motives and actions are all that good, and they are all true. Some of my favorite parts were the descriptions of the Sultan’s Janissaries, and the work of Urban, the canon builder that Constantine turned away, and who Mehmet was only too eager to hire.
If you enjoyed any of Norwich’s books on the rise and fall of Byzantium, then this book serves as an excellent conclusion. The author, Mr. Runciman, does a fantastic job of detailing the story, placing it in its appropriate historical time frame and setting the record straight on many elements. One of his central tenemants is the arbitrary nature of defining Constantinople’s fall as the ‘end’ of the Dark Ages, and he does a convincing job of making his point that many of the effects often ascribed to the fall had long been in process. First published in 1965, this is by no means the latest re-telling of this event, but its ability to stand the test of time certainly reinforces that it is one of, if not outright, the best. The only disadvantage that may be age related is that it would be nice to have a few more, and perhaps better organized maps and figures that went along with the text.
I highly recommend this book, it would be of interest to anyone wanting to learn more about Constantinople, Greek history, Turkish history, Islaamic history, the early Renaissance, and the intricacies of Papal, Venetian and Genoan relations. This is also a great book for anyone who is just looking for a good book.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful.
The tragic end of a proud civilization beautifully told
By Anthony Calabrese
Even after his death, Steven Runciman’s works on the medieval Greeks and the Orthodox Church remain the standard for student seeking general information and for non-scholars seeking knowledge.
As with all his works, The Fall of Constantinople is both well researched, but more importantly, well written. He provides enough background on the decline of the Eastern Empire and the rise of the Ottoman Turks to place the fall in proper perspective. The Eastern Empire in 1453 was a mere shadow of its once glorious self. The conspiracies and plots between Emperors, Patriarchs, Popes and Kings, ultimately, between Eastern and Western Christendom doomed the heir to the Caesars.
Runciman’s wonderful writing makes this come alive. He does not, like many historians, feel that a dry recitation of the facts alone is enough. Rather, his history reads almost like a novel. The characters have depth and emotion. The last Emperor is shown as a shrewd many trying desperately to save his people, even to the point of entering into an unpopular union with the Roman Church. The Sultan is no mere cartoon villain as often portrayed in medieval Europe or a politically correct Third World leader (as might be portrayed today) but rather a ruthless, though driven young man, determined to fulfill the goal of 8 centuries of Moslem leaders – the capture of “The City.”
And as the story winds toward its inevitable conclusion, you root for the heroes and mourn their deaths.
Constantinople fell not because the Ottomans were the strongest empire in the world. Rather, it fell because the petty jealousies of the Western leaders made the defense of Constantinople impossible. Today, as the West finds itself again under attack, we should keep heed of our history, and avoid allowing our jealousies to cause another Fall of Constantinople.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful.
An excellent book
By S. Lewis
This was the first book I read by Runciman and I was immediately enamored with his style. He conveys both the strategic and human elements well with sprinklings of the concurrently developing subplots throughout. While the title itself leaves no doubt as to the outcome of this tragic tale, the reading is an engrossing story and you are left spellbound as history unfolds through the pages. I have used this book to introduce friends to medieval history(although it takes place towards the end of that period) and have then had them come back to me to suggest other books in this field of study with intrigued interest. An epic tale of the final winking out of the glory that was the Byzantine Empire presented by a master storyteller.
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