How was Mehmet the Conqueror able to subjugate Constantinople? What were his actual tactics used that resulted in so much success?
A complete investment of the city from both land and sea, secure communication and supply lines, and big cannons. He rolled some naval ships into the harbor over land, built some fortresses across the strait and around the horn, and kept the morale of his forces high long enough for a breach in the wall to open.
1) He had Turkic Çepni sailors from Astrakhan build galleys that could cross land (by oiled wooden rails, 8 km long - literally inventing the basic train concept)
2) He recruited Hungarian Inventor and Progenitor of all Cannonsmiths Orban, by offering him nobility in Ottoman Empire, and carte blanche in terms of budget.
3) He was patient, and had a rival keep constructed 5 years before the actual invasion to keep the Genoese reinforcements bombarded who tried to arrive from the Black Sea.
4) By age 23 (when he took the city) he was already schooled in tactics by his father (great general) as well as the ridiculously talented Gedik Ahmet Pasha
5) He was smart in fracturing the schism further by diplomatically sending gifts to the catholic west, who wanted to fuck with the orthodox east.
because constantinople was already barely functional due to the sack of the fourth crusade.
the Byzantines had zero control of any territory outside of some backwater greek towns and what they could see from the crumbled theodosian walls.
Taking constantinople wasn't a problem when the byzantines had no outside help aside from a couple italian ships, no navy aside from a couple italian ships, no army aside from the pathetic garrison + the emperor, and no capability to generate the money needed to fix any of the many problems they had at the time
in fact, it was a fucking shame that it took Mehmet so long to take Constantinople in the first place.
Simply put, the Turks were better soldiers than the defenders. Constantinople had only a skeleton defense force who were loyal to the Emperor himself; the bulk of them were foreign mercenaries, a lot of them from Italy. If you know anything about the Italian city-states of this era, you know that they were basically like the Bloods and the Crips but with even more rivalry.
There is a contemporary account of the Siege by one of these mercenaries, a Venetian by the name of Niccolo Barbaro, which provides a major part of the narrative in most historical accounts. Barbaro takes every opportunity to disparage the efforts of the native Greeks and the other Italians in his writings; even if only half of it is true, it hints at the sort of internal tumult in the defenders' ranks.
Because of this, the defense of Constantinople fell to a handful of officers who had enough charisma to get all these sods to work together, or who could vouch for enough money to pay them to work together. By contrast, the Ottoman forces were all loyal to the Sultan, and were organized down to the tactical level with officers and subordinates who could exercise initiative. This is what allowed the Turks to execute maneuvers like building several siege towers overnight, or ferrying several ships overland. When it came time for the final assault, the Turks were able to pressure Constantinople from multiple sides, swarming the defenders with low-tier troops before sending in the Jannisaries, shock troops who were better-drilled than anyone on the opposing side. When push came to shove, the superior organization of the Ottomans won the day. They could adapt to changing battlefield conditions due to the redundancy in their chain of command, whereas the defenders broke down when their officers inevitably fell in the fray.
TL;DR: the Ottomans had better organization and leadership than the defenders, and this gave them the tactical flexibility to win the Siege.
This. Constantinople as a city and Byzantium as an "empire" had been all but stripped of land and population after the fourth crusade.
They enjoyed a brief and modest "resurgence" after retaking Constantinople five decades later, but the damage was done. The city had been depopulated and pillaged so hard it would never recover, and many important provinces in Anatolia had been lost to the turkic sultanates.
As is the notion of cannons winning the Siege. Even immediately after Constantinople fell, Europe was keen to accept the story of the walls being laid low by cannon fire so they wouldn't have to admit that a bunch of heathens soundly beat the good Christian defenders.
In actuality, the Ottoman guns were just one small part of the larger operation, and caused a lot of problems for the Ottomans themselves. They were wildly inaccurate, slow to reload, and couldn't offer any sustained fire for fear of overheating and exploding (which happened a few times anyway).
Barbaro tells of how the defenders were constantly repairing the walls with earthworks, often in-between barrages, and even used bales of hay to all but negate the impact of cannon shot.
It was strangely not unlike the fall of Rome in 476. Surround the city, etc. Only this time the besieging army was organized and had the best artillery in Europe and forces numerous and large enough to break through sea blockades
>break through sea blockades
Except they didn't, really. By all accounts, the Ottomans had a great number of ships during the Siege, but they were vastly inferior to those of the defenders. None of them were warships, merely tugs and fishing boats and anything else the Ottomans could buy in order to cross the Hellespont. The few naval skirmishes which occurred over the course of the Siege resulted in Ottoman routs.
It's precisely because of this inferiority that the Ottomans had to circumvent the harbor chain and defending fleet by carrying their ships overland. When the defenders were fleeing the city, there was almost nothing the Ottomans could do to stop them.
>On his accession as conqueror of Constantinople, aged 21, Mehmed was reputed fluent in several languages, including Turkish, Serbian, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Greek and Latin.
>And Mehmed II spoke softly, ten thousand men on horseback listened, another ten thousand infantry resting in pools of blood, Roman and Turk alike. He smile before stepping into the city:
>"Know ye all that we did not conquer this city for man's ambitions and his greed. Neither for want nor need. We conquer to flourish Rome as a better Empire, we unite East and West at the City of World's Desire. We are neither Muslim nor Christian, neither Turk nor Rum. We are Man, and Man does because he can, God watches, and blesses him for his courage."
He was a based man all around. He also was childhood friends with Vlad the Impaler and his brother Radu.
>We conquer to flourish Rome as a better Empire, we unite East and West at the City of World's Desire. We are neither Muslim nor Christian, neither Turk nor Rum.
Ah yes, the secular Ottoman Empire where Turks and muslims were the priveledged ones while Greeks and other christians under Ottoman rule were treated like shit until they had enough and rebelled against their merciful rulers. What a bunch of bullocks.
They were treated better than religious minorities in other realms. In fact there's a lot of accounts of christian populations in the balkans migrating into Ottoman lands because they preferred them to slav/greek despots. oh and lets not even get started on the fucking catholics "better the sultans turban than the bishops mitre" etc
They just stormed it with quantities of quality troops.
They had a hard time because the walls were just that epic buy the smuggling of those ships over the horn into the bay was probably decisive.
The cannons did their part in making the city seizable, Big meme cannon or else.
Constantine fought bravely with the defenders till he was killed.
He also built badass forts to close up the straits from any reinforcements. In like a few weeks.
Do NOT believe byzantineboo revisionists and believe either of these meme theories:
>turks only won beacuse they "found" an old unguarded OPEN gate (yeah right)
>turks only won because of muh big gun
(Big impact but the smaller pieces had more impact.)
>turks only won because 5 guys, 7 women and a three-legged dog were left to defend the city and turks had modern 155 mm Artillery on their side + Main battle tanks
>Turks only won beacuse the walls were already memed by the latin crusaders (Another POPULAR excuse meme. The walls were at their all time epicness high when Turks attacked.)
Daily reminder to not let Ar*bs and other muslims take credit for the capture.
100% Turkish achievement.
has some good points
well it was a long operation, ottomans didn't simply walk up to the gates with an overwhelming force and durka their way in. if you read the preparation for the siege and the assault you can easily appreciate the skill that went onto this particular conquest
you will see people with greek historical bias make a million excuses for the byzantine loss but the ultimate truth is that they lost because the turks were competent and knew what they were doing whilst greeks were incompetent and divided. as such from a backwater raider party in anatolia ottomans were able to create an empire that spanned over three continents and lasted for 600 years
You mean the ottoman empire where every christian albanian, serbian, bosnian, arab, greek, caucasus boy was able to rise up in rank till they formed the all-stars of the ottoman state?
Generals and Pashas and especially Navy guys were often from the countries mentioned before or even Spain.
These guys came together under the Ottoman flag and together with the Turks they fucked shit up.
Just wiki any big known pasha.