Undergraduate Course: The End of an Empire: The Siege and Fall of Constantinople in 1453 (HIST10375)
|School||School of History, Classics and Archaeology
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||The fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1453 was a pivotal point in the history of medieval Europe and the Near East. It marked the end of the Byzantine empire and the beginning of the centuries-long Ottoman domination of the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans; the effects of which are still being felt to this day. The course will give students wide scope to pursue their own interests within the course topics, whether they be in the study of Italy, Byzantium and the Ottomans, or in military, art and intellectual history. The sources provide a variety of contrasting perspectives of the siege and resulting conquest of the city, from eyewitnesses serving on the Greek and Turkish sides, to the accounts of Venetian and Genoese merchants in and around the city, all in translation. By focusing on these different sources, this course will enable the students to analyse this event not only in the context of the Western medieval world, but also from the perspective of Byzantium and the Ottomans. It will therefore give the students the opportunity to explore less-familiar themes which are not often covered in other surveys of the period.
In the early fifteenth century with most of the Balkans under the domination of the Ottoman Turks, Constantinople, capital city of the shrunken Byzantine empire, held out behind its formidable defences. The first part of course examines the background of the decline of Byzantium and the rise of the Ottoman Turks and takes as its starting point the accession of Sultan Murad II (1421-1451). It examines Murad┐s unsuccessful attack on Constantinople in 1422 following the ill-judged attempt by the Byzantine emperor to back a rival candidate for the Ottoman throne and the subsequent Byzantine attempt to secure western military aid at the Council of Florence. The second part makes a detailed examination of the many contemporary accounts of the siege of 1453 launched by Murad┐s successor, Mehmed II (1451-1481) and considers the political, strategic and military factors that enabled him to succeed where so many before him had failed and to break through the city┐s land walls. Finally, the response to Mehmed┐s victory will be considered and the failure to mount any effective counter-attack.
The course will be seminar-based, here is a list of topics covered in the seminars:
I The Background
1. The Protagonists: Byzantium, the Ottoman Turks, the Papacy, Venice and Genoa
II The Lead-up to the Siege
2. Constantinople in the Early Fifteenth Century: Travellers┐ Accounts (1)
3. Constantinople in the Early Fifteenth Century: Travellers┐ Accounts (2)
4. Murad II and the Siege of 1422
5. The Council of Florence 1438-9
6. Sylvester Syropoulos on the Council of Florence
7. The Last Years of Byzantine Constantinople
8. Guided Study Week: Seminar replaced by essay tutorials
III The Fall of Constantinople
9. The Accession of Mehmed II
10. The Building of Rumeli Hisar, February 1451-November 1452
11. The Preparations and beginning of the Siege, November 1452-April 1453
12. The Naval Developments of April 1453
13. Cannon, April-May 1453
14. Undermining, April-May 1453
15. The Final Assault, 29 May 1453
16. The Aftermath: May-July 1453
17. Guided Study Week: Seminar replaced by essay tutorials
IV Europe Confronts the Ottomans (1453-1481)
18. The Call for a Crusade
19. Pius II and the Congress of Mantua (1)
20. Pius II and the Congress of Mantua (2)
21. Italy and the Ottomans: Cultural and Commercial Contacts
22. A Turkish Capital: Constantinople Transformed
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2014/15, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 44,
Summative Assessment Hours 4,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||2 x 3,000 word essay (1 per semester) (50%)
2 x 2 hr examination (40%)
2 x seminar presentation (10%)
|No Exam Information
| By the end of the course it is intended that students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the relevant areas of Byzantine and Ottoman history
2. Execute defined research and produce structured and analytical essays on aspects of the course
3. Critically analyse the sources relevant to the course and be familiar with their strengths and limitations
4. Work effectively with classmates and take part in detailed discussions and debates
|ANGOLD, M., The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans (2012). DF649 Ang.|
BARKER, J.W. Manuel II Palaeologus (1391-1425): A Study in Late Byzantine Statesmanship (1969). DF639 Bar.
BISAHA, N., Creating East and West: Renaissance Humanists and the Ottoman Turks (2004). CB251 Bis.
BABINGER, F., Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time (1978). DR501 Bab.
CROWLEY, R., Constantinople: The Last Great Siege (2005). HUB DR730 Cro.
HARRIS, J., The End of Byzantium (2010). HUB DF639 Har.
HOUSLEY, N., The Later Crusades: From Lyons to Alcazar, 1274-1580 (1992). D202 Hou.
NECIPO┐LU, N., Byzantium between the Latins and the Ottomans: Politics and Society in the Late Empire (2009). DF631 Nec & E-Resource.
NICOL, D.M., The Last Centuries of Byzantium, 2nd ed. (1999). DF631 Nic.
PHILIPPIDES, M. & HANAK, W.K., The Siege and Fall of Constantinople in 1453: Historiography, Topography and Military Studies (2011), pp. 297-357. DF649 Phi.
RUNCIMAN, S., The Fall of Constantinople (1965). DF649 Run.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||The module will encourage transferable skills by encouraging students to work independently for essay research, class and exam preparation and for their assessed presentations. It will also encourage teamwork through the focus on in-class debates and discussions, which will sometimes be carried out in groups. Assessed presentations will enable students to focus on communication skills. The focus on different cultural perspectives will give students an overview of non-western European source materials and ideologies.
|Course organiser||Dr Michael Carr
|Course secretary||Miss Clare Guymer
Tel: (0131 6)50 4030
© Copyright 2014 The University of Edinburgh - 12 January 2015 4:08 am