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Building the Walls of Constantinople
YouTube ^ | September 15, 2023 | Garrett Ryan, Ph.D as toldinstone

Posted on 09/20/2023 7:45:20 AM PDT by SunkenCiv

Building the Walls of Constantinople | 11:35
toldinstone | 421K subscribers | 79,760 views | September 15, 2023
Building the Walls of Constantinople | 11:35 | toldinstone | 421K subscribers | 79,760 views | September 15, 2023

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: History; Science; Travel
KEYWORDS: byzantineempire; garrettryan; garrettryanphd; godsgravesglyphs; middleages; renaissance; romanempire; toldinstone
0:00 Introduction
0:44 The Rhegium Gate
1:37 The design of the walls
2:48 The Golden Gate
3:51 Defying invaders
4:45 The Ottoman threat
5:36 The Mesoteichon vs. Mehmed's guns
6:58 The Kaligaria Gate
7:22 The final assault
8:16 The Kerkoporta
8:41 The Turks take the walls
9:44 The Charisius Gate
0:08·The walls of Constantinople shaped the Middle Ages. Without them, the Byzantine Empire could
0:15·have collapsed in late antiquity, the Arab invasions might have swept over the Balkans
0:20·and beyond, and the whole course of European history would have been dramatically different.
0:26·The famous walls were begun early in, or possibly just before, the reign of Theodosius II,
0:31·and were completed by the year 413. They consisted of a double ring of walls about
0:38·6 km long, extending the full width of the peninsula on which Constantinople was built.
·The Rhegium Gate
0:44·This is the Rhegion or Mevlana Gate. It has survived almost unchanged since the mid-fifth
0:50·century. It has several inscriptions. The most intriguing of these, on the left of the doorway,
0:56·bears witness to the most extensive reconstruction of the Theodisan Walls.
1:01·In 447, only a generation after their completion, a massive earthquake destroyed many towers.
1:07·Since Attila the Hun was then ravaging the Balkans, the timing was quite poor – so a
1:12·massive reconstruction effort was set in motion. It was spearheaded by the prefect Constantine,
1:18·who left this fun little record of his efforts here, in Latin. It says:
1:24·"On the orders of Theodosius, Constantine rebuilt these mighty walls in less than two months.
1:31·Athena herself could scarcely have built so mighty a fortress so quickly."
·The design of the walls
1:38·Both walls were faced with brick-banded limestone over a core of mortared rubble.
1:43·The inner wall, 11 m high and up to 6 m thick, was fortified with 96 towers, each up to 20 m tall.
1:53·The outer wall, set at a lower elevation, was about 9 m high and 2 m thick,
1:58·with towers positioned midway between those of the inner wall.
2:03·Let's take a closer look at the walls. I'm standing on what was the rampart of the lower
2:08·wall. To my left is the inner wall, and the parateichon – the raised terrace between them.
2:16·As I pan, you can see how the walls were built, with bands of brick and rubble.
2:22·To our left, where there is now a park, is where the moat was.
2:27·Beyond the outer wall was a moat more than 20 m wide and up to 10 m deep.
2:33·Since the terrain sloped, the moat was divided by lateral walls that functioned as dams,
2:38·allowing each section to be filled to a different height.
2:42·The moat and walls were pierced by nine principal gates and a disputed number of posterns.
·The Golden Gate
2:49·Here we have a fine view of the south end of the Theodosian Walls. But the real highlight
2:54·is just behind us – and that is the Porta Aurea, the Golden Gate, the most impressive of all the
3:01·gates in the Theodosian Wall. As you can see, it's a monumental, marble-plated structure – so
3:08·monumental, in fact, that it's sometimes thought it might have been built before
3:11·the rest of the walls, by Theodosius I. Whoever built it, the sense of grandeur is indisputable,
3:17·even though it has lost the elephant quadriga that once crowned it. The grand central portal
3:23·was used by the emperors after their triumphs. So it was here that Heraclius came back to
3:29·Constantinople after the great Persian campaign, and here too – much later – that Michael VIII
3:35·returned after the Latin occupation. The side gates were used by everyday traffic.
3:41·Behind this gate, as you can probably just make out, is a small castle – the so-called Yedikule,
3:46·the Seven Towers – which was built in the late Byzantine period.
·Defying invaders
3:52·The walls proved their worth almost as soon as they were built, deflecting Attila the Hun
3:56·toward the Western Roman Empire. They saved the Byzantines during the Avar-Persian siege of 626,
4:03·and preserved the empire again during the massive Arab sieges of 674-8 and 717-18.
4:11·Over the following centuries, the walls defied the Bulgars,
4:14·Kievan Rus, and every other invader drawn to the richest city in the Mediterranean world.
4:21·The walls continued to be developed. Here, in the angle facing the Golden Horn,
4:27·they were supplemented by this line of defenses, which enclosed the suburb of Blachernae.
4:33·This section was built by Manuel Comnenus in the twelfth century.
4:37·Though only a single wall, as opposed to the double Theodosian Wall,
4:41·it is higher and thicker than the inner line of the Theodosian defenses.
·The Ottoman threat
4:46·For the last century of its existence, the Byzantine Empire was an impoverished
4:50·fragment of its former self, encircled by the rising power of the Ottoman sultans.
4:56·After establishing their capital at Edirne, a few days' march from Constantinople,
5:00·the Ottomans repeatedly tried and failed to take the city. But in the spring of 1453, the dynamic
5:08·young sultan Mehmed II marched with an Ottoman army of unprecedented size on the imperial city.
5:15·Mehmed had between 80-100,000 men, and the latest in gunpowder technology.
5:22·Constantinople had fewer than 7,000 defenders, led by Emperor Constantine XI.
5:29·Mehmed focused his attack on the Mesoteichon,
5:32·the section of the Theodosian Walls in the valley of the Lycus River.
·The Mesoteichon vs. Mehmed's guns
5:37·This is the Mesoteichon, the weakest point in the Theodosian Walls.
5:41·The busy road at the bottom of the hill more or less follows the course
5:44·of the Lycus River. The Lycus was never a major stream, but its valley was deep.
5:50·This allowed any attacker with guns to fire straight down on the walls at this point.
5:56·Because the elevation of the walls was lowest here, Mehmed's cannons could fire
6:01·straight down on them. The largest gun, cast by a Hungarian engineer named Urban, could hurl a
6:07·1,200-pound stone ball more than a mile; it was so heavy that 30 oxen were needed to draw it,
6:13·and so temperamental that it could only be fired seven times a day. But each of its
6:19·shots caused tremendous destruction, and about 70 smaller cannons kept up a continuous bombardment
6:26·The bombardment went on for almost two months. Although long sections of the outer
6:31·wall were soon reduced to rubble, the defenders repaired every breach and repelled each assault.
6:37·Even after Mehmed dragged part of his fleet overland into the Golden Horn,
6:42·forcing the Byzantines to stretch their resources even further, resistance remained stubborn.
6:47·Mehmed's grand vizier advised retreat; but the sultan was determined to take the city,
6:52·and ordered a final assault prepared for Tuesday, May 29.
·The Kaligaria Gate
6:58·By May 28, it was clear that the final assault was imminent.
7:03·After returning from a service at Haghia Sophia, the emperor rode here,
7:07·to the Caligaria Gate – the Turkish Egri Kapi – near Blachernae Palace.
7:13·He climbed this tower, and surveyed the Ottoman camp a final time. The next day would be his last.
·The final assault
7:22·The final assault began well before dawn.
7:25·Thousands of irregular troops charged the outer wall, focusing their attacks on the Mesoteichon.
7:32·After two hours of continuous fighting, they were hurled back. Then, as Mehmed's
7:37·cannons pounded the walls at almost point-blank range, the Anatolian regulars charged forward.
7:44·A colossal ball from Urban's cannon smashed into the Byzantine stockade, leaving a wide breach. But
7:51·the emperor stationed himself in the gap, and the Turks were repulsed again. Finally, as the first
7:57·light of dawn washed over the Bosporus, Mehmed sent in the Janissaries, his finest soldiers.
8:04·For an hour, amid savage hand-to-hand combat, wave after wave crashed into the Byzantine stockade.
8:11·At this critical moment, disaster struck.
·The Kerkoporta
8:16·According to the Byzantine historian Doukas, just as fighting between the
8:20·Byzantines and the Janissaries reached its height,
8:22·a small group of Turks noticed that a postern known as the Kerkoporta had been left open,
8:28·and seized possession of the Blachernae Walls. This may be the Kerkoporta Gate – but since no
8:35·historian besides Doukas mentions the incident, we should take all this with a grain of salt.
8:39·At the height of the struggle with the Janissaries, Giovanni Giustiniani,
·The Turks take the walls
8:45·the commander of the Genoese troops aiding the Byzantines, was mortally wounded and carried away.
8:52·His men streamed after him. As they did, Mehmed – noticing the confusion – ordered another charge.
9:00·This is the Pempton Gate. The Turkish name is Hucum Kapisi, "Assault Gate," because it was near
9:07·here that Mehmed's Janissaries took the walls. The first man over the top was a giant named Hassan.
9:13·He was cut down, but his companions followed, and quickly overran the Byzantine stockade.
9:20·The Janissaries took the stockade, forcing the defenders back through the inner wall.
9:26·As they broke through, they may have been joined by another band that had entered
9:30·through the Kerkoporta Gate. Emperor Constantine, sensing that all was lost,
9:36·cast aside his imperial insignia and charged the advancing Janissaries. His body was never found.
·The Charisius Gate
9:44·This is the Charisius, or Edirne, Gate. On the afternoon of May 29, 1453,
9:52·Mehmed entered the city by this gate,
9:55·and was acclaimed by the title he would bear the rest of his life: Fatih – conqueror.
10:02·That afternoon, Mehmed II entered Constantinople. He prayed in Hagia Sophia,
10:08·which he ordered converted into a mosque. Then, passing through the Augusteion,
10:13·with its colossal statue of Justinian, the Sultan entered the half-ruined Great Palace. As he
10:21·walked through rubble-strewn courts and roofless halls, he is said to have quoted a Persian poet:
10:27·"Spiders weave the curtains in the palace of the Caesars."
10:32·It was a fitting epitaph for the Roman Empire.
10:38·I have a new book: Insane Emperors, Sunken Cities,
10:42·and Earthquake Machines: more frequently asked questions about the ancient Greeks and Romans.
10:48·It's a sequel to Naked Statues, Fat Gladiators, and War Elephants;
10:53·and it's available for pre-order now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and through your local bookstore.
11:00·If you're interested in more toldinstone content (including my podcast),
11:04·check out my channel Toldinstone Footnotes. I also have a channel called Scenic Routes
11:11·to the Past, which is dedicated to historically-themed travel. You'll
11:15·find both channels linked in the description. Last but not least, please consider joining other
11:22·viewers in supporting toldinstone on Patreon. Thanks for watching.

1 posted on 09/20/2023 7:45:20 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
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To: StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; 31R1O; ...

2 posted on 09/20/2023 7:47:01 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Putin should skip ahead to where he kills himself in the bunker.)
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To: SunkenCiv

Kinda shocked me when A CAR drove thru the The Rhegium Gate! Was not expecting that.

3 posted on 09/20/2023 7:54:01 AM PDT by moovova ("The NEXT election is the most important election of our lifetimes!“ LOL...)
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To: moovova

Heh, yeah.

4 posted on 09/20/2023 8:04:30 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Putin should skip ahead to where he kills himself in the bunker.)
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To: SunkenCiv
I'll have to watch it in a little while.   ...sounds intriguing.
5 posted on 09/20/2023 9:17:05 AM PDT by higgmeister (In the Shadow of The Big Chicken!)
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To: SunkenCiv

Cool. Thanks!

6 posted on 09/20/2023 10:33:40 AM PDT by stylecouncilor (The war is inevitable -- and let it come! - Patrick Henry)
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To: SunkenCiv

Good post.

7 posted on 09/20/2023 8:19:05 PM PDT by higgmeister (In the Shadow of The Big Chicken!)
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To: Red Badger; BenLurkin; moovova; stylecouncilor; higgmeister
Engineering An Empire: The Great Walls of Constantinople
(S1, E11) | Full Episode
| 44:47
History | 12.3M subscribers | 74,332 views | August 31, 2023
Engineering An Empire: The Great Walls of Constantinople (S1, E11) | Full Episode | 44:47 | History | 12.3M subscribers | 74,332 views | August 31, 2023

8 posted on 09/21/2023 12:31:50 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Putin should skip ahead to where he kills himself in the bunker.)
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9 posted on 09/21/2023 12:34:04 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Putin should skip ahead to where he kills himself in the bunker.)
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