Today in Catholic History – The Siege of Constantinople

On this day in 1453, the forces of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II surrounded the city of Constantinople to begin a siege of the city that would end on 29 May 1453 with the fall of that city to the Ottoman forces and the end of the Byzantine Empire.

While the last Roman Emperor Constantine XI appealed for help from the West, Pope Nicholas V was unwilling to send help without an agreement to accept the decrees of the Council of Florence regarding union between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. Though it is questionable how much help Nicholas could have provided considering the limited assistance Pope Eugene IV was able to provide in 1438 when the Emperor of Constantinople did agree to acknowledge papal authority.

Still some Western forces did arrive from the Italian city states. But the forces of Constantinople numbered only 7,000 [of which 2,000 were foreign mercenaries] and they faced a besieging army of 100,000.

What was not accomplished by Church council was accomplished by the threat of the Ottoman armies as Catholic and Orthodox fought together against the common foe and Orthodox and Catholic faithful united in liturgy and prayers for God’s assistance.

With the fall of the city, the beginning of the Renaissance is said to have begun.

More on the Fall of Constantinople



  1. Robert Rearden
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 8:51 am | Permalink | Reply

    While I subscribe to your podcasts via iTunes, I only occasionally visit the Catholic Under the Hood web site. I was pleasantly surprised find the daily “Today in Catholic History” articles you recently began posting daily. Thank you.


  2. sbeshonertor
    Posted April 3, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Glad you enjoy the daily posts. I wanted to do a bit more with the blog site and hope to make additional upgrades/changes in the weeks to come.

    • Posted August 9, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

      These Today in Catholic History posts are very cool, Father. I try to cram as much history as I can into my head, and these small posts help. I have been listening to your podcasts for a while now. My favorites so far are the one about the Franciscan sent as a messenger to the Mongol chief (I’m not remembering names here), the Battle of Petrovaradin, the background on the Ruthenians. There are lots more, but my head is obviously crammed with too much data. My “terminal” degree was in modern church history, specifically American. I did take some courses in Byzantine and Reformation topics, but your information is my continuing education. Thank you.

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