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The Fall of Constantinople

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Judith Herrin tells the dramatic story of the final moments of Byzantine control of the imperial capital.

At this moment of confusion, which happened at sunrise, our omnipotent God came to His most bitter decision and decided to fulfil all the prophecies, as I have said, and at sunrise the Turks entered the city near San Romano, where the walls had been razed to the ground by their cannon … anyone they found was put to the scimitar, women and men, old and young, of any conditions. This butchery lasted from sunrise, when the Turks entered the city, until midday … The Turks made eagerly for the piazza five miles from the point where they made their entrance at San Romano, and when they reached it at once some of them climbed up a tower where the flags of Saint Mark and the Most Serene Emperor were flying, and they cut down the flag of Saint Mark and took away the flag of the Most Serene Emperor and then on the same tower they raised the flag of the Sultan … When their flag was raised and ours cut down, we saw that the whole city was taken, and that there was no further hope of recovering from this.

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