Special Medieval Warfare

At the start of next week, our very first Medieval Warfare Special will arrive at our office. For those of you who have missed our updates over the past few months, the Special focuses on the Fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks in the Spring of 1453. With 84 pages, the Special is much thicker than a usual issue, and it’s fully devoted to the main theme. That means no non-theme articles, and no advertisements. Just 84 pages full of fascinating articles on the events surrounding the end of the last remnant of Roman rule.

In the Special, several of our authors share their extensive knowledge by taking us through the story of the final days of the Byzantine (or Eastern Roman) Empire. Starting off the issue is Eugenia Russell, who provides us with an overview of historical events before and during the 1420s-30s. That their situation was dire must have been known to the Byzantine emperors. The Ottoman Turks had been swallowing up large tracts of Byzantine land, and the Romans were slowly being pushed back towards a few bastions in Greece and Constantinople. Earlier sieges had failed, but the fall of Thessaloniki must have made it clear that the end was near. As discussed by Kenneth Cline in the next article, the last Roman emperors tried their best to gather support from the west; but, at the same time, they actively tried to influence Ottoman politics as well, especially during civil conflicts, which was rather unwise when the overall military situation is taken into account. Emperor Constantine XI would be the last to make the mistake of becoming tangled into Ottoman politics. His adversary, Sultan Mehmed II, was not a man to take any opposition lightly. Murat Özveri explains how ‘The Conqueror’s unique upbringing influenced his behaviour towards friends and foes alike, even if some of his actions might seem strange in the eyes of contemporaries and modern historians alike. 

Constantinople had both allies and strong defenses to rely on during a siege. The next article, of Nicola Bergamo, focuses on Byzantium’s most important allies when its end was near, the Venetians and Genoans. The relationship between the three powers was often precarious and volatile, but in the end, Constantinople had to rely on these Italian maritime powers for its defense. Of course, another major hurdle were the famous Theodosian Walls of the city, discussed in detail by Konstantin Nossov, which had held off many attempts to capture the city in the centuries before. 

However, in the end, neither allies nor walls could hold back the Ottomans, and the city would fall in 1453. It was by no means a fixed ending, though, despite the numerical superiority of the Turks; even halfway during the siege, the odds seemed to be quite even. In the main article of the special, Nils Visser and Stephen Bennett cover the siege from beginning to end, leading us through the separate stages and providing us with powerful anecdotes which truly brings the story back to life. 

News of the fall slowly spread amongst the Christian powers. Murray Dahm discusses some of the contemporary letters and documents which contained first word of the conquest of the city. The documents convey a sense of fear and consternation, often including horror stories of atrocities committed by the Turks. Naturally, one would expect the enemy soldiers to view the fall of the city quite differently; thus, it is all the more surprising to have a more nuanced source available, possible by the hands of a European Janissary, one who, according to author Łukasz Różycki, may have been present when the last vestiges of Byzantine power fell.

The Janissaries as a unit are discussed in the following two articles, along with many of the other types of warriors from both sides involved in the siege of Constantinople. The Eastern Roman and Latin defenders are covered by Raffaele D’Amato, while Vassilis Pergalias explains how the Ottoman army was composed of a large variety of soldiers, and how this amalgam was turned into an effective and near-unstoppable army.

How unstoppable is described by Ben Sheppard in the final aftermath article. Mehmed continued to direct his armies across Greece, Turkey, the Balkans and even Italy, losing several battles, but winning even more. His conquests would put the real fear of Ottoman power into the heart of the Christian nations. 

Some of the amazing artwork and images which appear in the Special are copied here as small files. The issue is fully packed with dozens of illustrations and pictures related to the topic; if you’re not interested in the information, at least there are plenty of amazing images to keep you occupied. 

We offer a 15 % discount if you pre-order your copy before it comes back from the printers. If you’d like to benefit from this discount, you’ll have to be fast; probably as of Monday the 12th, the issue will only be available at a regular price. Don’t miss out on this issue packed with information and amazing artwork, and order a copy today!

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