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ed. R. Lauer and P. Schreiner (G¨ ttingen, 1996), pp. 80“1. See also Reinsch™s article cited in the
o
previous note.
133 Scholarios, ’uvres, vol. iv, p. 496; cf. PP, vol. ii, pp. 125, 127.
134 The religious insincerity of the majority of unionists who supported ecclesiastical union primarily
for political ends is emphasized by both Byzantine and Latin sources: John Eugenikos, in PP, vol. i,
pp. 123“5; Scholarios, ’uvres, vol. iii, pp. 147, 165“6; Doukas“Grecu, XXXVI.2,6, pp. 315, 319;
Leonardo of Chios, in PG 159, cols. 926, 929“30. According to the last, the only genuine unionists
in Constantinople in 1452“3 were, apart from a few unidenti¬ed monks and lay theologians, John
Argyropoulos, Theophilos Palaiologos, and Theodore Karystinos: cols. 925b, 934d, 941b.
218 Constantinople
days after Mehmed II™s entry into the city he was executed together with
some members of his family, even though the Ottoman ruler had allegedly
promised him the city™s governorship.135 The continued existence of the
Notaras family was to depend thereafter on its members in Italy, who could
draw upon Loukas™ and his father Nicholas™ formerly established contacts
and money deposits there.
Opposition to the union of the Churches, on the other hand, seems
to have encompassed a stronger religious dimension, for the majority of
the anti-unionists belonged to ecclesiastical and monastic circles, and their
anti-Latin propaganda, which was directed at an audience primarily of
lower-class citizens, carried heavy religious overtones.136 To the common
people, the preservation of their religious identity was of prime impor-
tance, removed as they were from the political and economic interests that
inclined members of the ruling class to accommodation with the Latin
West. As noted earlier, moreover, the presence and activities of the Latins
in Constantinople often jeopardized the social and economic well-being of
the lower classes. Consequently, some among them came to hold that sub-
mission to the Latin Church was an evil far less desirable than subjection
to the political domination of the Ottomans, whose religious policy, as
witnessed on many occasions elsewhere, guaranteed them the preservation
of their Orthodox faith. Such was the opinion of John Eugenikos as well,
who wrote to Loukas Notaras that Latinization “is a real captivity worse
than any captivity to the barbarians.”137
Religious tensions grew worse in Constantinople following the failure
of the Crusade of Varna against the Ottomans in 1444. This catastrophe,
which illustrated the limits to the effectiveness of help from the Latin
West, weakened the position of the unionists who had placed high hopes
on the Crusade.138 Some among the anti-unionists did not fail to point as
well to the example of Thessalonike, which had found no salvation in the
hands of the Venetians during 1423“30.139 Even John VIII™s mother, the
Empress Helena, considered giving support to the anti-unionists around

135 Doukas“Grecu, pp. 379“83; cf. Chalkok.“Dark´ , vol. ii, pp. 165“6. For Loukas™ role in obtaining
o
loans for the defense of Constantinople in 1453, see Ganchou, “Le rachat des Notaras,” pp. 188“9, 199
n. 205; cf. G. Olgiati, “Notes on the participation of the Genoese in the defence of Constantinople,”
Macedonian Studies, n. s. 6/2 (1989), 50. On controversies regarding the reasons behind Notaras™
execution, see E. A. Zachariadou, “Ta l»gia ki o q†natov tou Louk† Notar†,” in Rodwni†.
Timž ston M. I. Mano…saka (Rethymnon, 1994), vol. i, pp. 136“46.
136 See Doukas“Grecu, XXXI, XXXVI“XXXVII, pp. 265“71, 315“29; Scholarios, ’uvres, vol. iii,
pp. 165“6; PP, vol. ii, pp. 120“1.
137 PP, vol. i, p. 142. 138 On the Crusade of Varna, see above, ch. 2, p. 37 and note 52.
139 John Eugenikos, in PP, vol. i, p. 316.
219
Constantinople (1403“1453)
1445, though she changed her mind afterwards.140 More enduring, how-
ever, was the impact of the Varna disaster on other disillusioned unionists
who permanently joined thereafter the ranks of the anti-unionists, Gen-
nadios Scholarios presumably being one of them.141 When John VIII died
in 1448, he was buried without the customary ecclesiastical honors, which
is indicative of the great in¬‚uence exercised by the anti-unionists at this
time.142 The unionist Patriarch Gregory Mammas, who had been elevated
to the patriarchal throne in 1445, was so unpopular that John VIII™s suc-
cessor Constantine XI chose not to be crowned by him. Hence, he earned
the distinction of being the sole Byzantine ruler who did not undergo
an of¬cial coronation ceremony in the imperial city.143 In August 1451
Gregory Mammas ¬nally ¬‚ed to Rome as a result of intense opposition
from the anti-unionists, and Constantinople remained without a patriarch
until after the Ottoman conquest, when the anti-unionist leader Gen-
nadios Scholarios assumed this position.144 Over a year after Mammas™
¬‚ight, the Byzantine capital became the scene of a new series of agitations
and riots on the part of the anti-unionists, when the papal legate Cardi-
nal Isidore, the former bishop of Kiev, arrived in the city on a mission
to con¬rm and re-enact the Union of Florence. Isidore had to wait for
about a month and a half before he could accomplish his task of proclaim-
ing the union and celebrating the Latin liturgy in the church of Hagia
Sophia. He later wrote to Pope Nicholas V that the entire population of
the city was present at the ceremony, which took place on December 12,
1452; yet it is questionable whether the participants included all the anti-
unionists, despite the mood of terror and panic that had set in by this time
due to the completion of Mehmed II™s siege preparations.145 Under such
140 Ibid., pp. 59, 125.
141 Sp. Vryonis, Jr., “The Byzantine Patriarchate and Turkish Islam,” BS 57/1 (1996), 92“5; cf. Turner,
“Scholarius and the Union of Florence,” 92“7.
142 Scholarios, ’uvres, vol. iii, p. 100.
143 On the question of Constantine XI™s coronation, see Nicol, Immortal Emperor, pp. 36“40 and
M. Kordoses, “The question of Constantine Palaiologos™ coronation,” in The Making of Byzantine
History. Studies Dedicated to Donald M. Nicol, ed. R. Beaton and C. Rouech´ (Aldershot, 1993),
e
pp. 137“41, with further bibliography. For the date of Mammas™ accession, see Gill, Council of
Florence, pp. 365“6 (n. 2).
144 On Mammas™ ¬‚ight, see Sphrantzes“Grecu, XXXI.12, p. 82. On Scholarios™ assumption of the
patriarchal throne under Ottoman rule, see V. Laurent, “Les premiers Patriarches de Constantinople
sous domination turque (1454“1476),” REB 26 (1968), 229“63, esp. 243“5; Turner, “Career of
Scholarius,” 439“55; A. Papadakis, “Gennadius II and Mehmed the Conqueror,” B 42 (1972),
88“106; Vryonis, “Byzantine Patriarchate,” 82“111. See also H. ™ Inalc±k, “The status of the Greek
Orthodox Patriarch under the Ottomans,” Turcica 21“3 (1991), 407“36, with further bibliography.
145 Isidore of Kiev, in Pertusi (ed.), Caduta, vol. i, p. 92; Doukas“Grecu, XXXVI.1“6, pp. 315“19.
Cf. S. Runciman, The Fall of Constantinople 1453 (Cambridge, 1965), pp. 69“72; Nicol, Immortal
Emperor, pp. 57“61. On Isidore of Kiev, see Gill, Personalities, pp. 65“78.
220 Constantinople
circumstances even Scholarios, who was in the forefront of the con¬‚icts
between unionists and anti-unionists during the ¬nal years of Byzantine
rule in Constantinople, could not help observing the detrimental effects of
the increasing dissensions upon the security of the city. As early as 1449 he
drew attention in one of his sermons to the internal divisions of the Byzan-
tine capital which rendered it helpless before Ottoman attacks.146 Writing
from Rome in 1451, Theodore Gazes likewise expressed his concern that
while the inhabitants of Constantinople were engaged in religious disputes
and controversies, the Ottomans were capturing their few remaining cities
and enslaving their wives and children.147
Such, then, was the internal state of Constantinople when Mehmed II
ascended the Ottoman throne in 1451 for the second time and steered all
his efforts towards the city™s conquest.148 His ¬rst move was to start the
construction of a fortress on the European shore of the Bosphorus, opposite
the Asiatic fortress his great-grandfather, Bayezid I, had built in preparation
for his blockade of the same city. Mehmed™s fortress was completed by
August 1452, and together the two fortresses gave him effective control over
the naval traf¬c through the Bosphorus. On September 13, 1452, Theodore
Agallianos, a patriarchal of¬cial in Constantinople, recorded the Sultan™s
recent activities in the area from the time of the fortress™s completion until
his return to Adrianople, with vivid descriptions of the physical condition
of the environs of the Byzantine capital as well as the moral state of the
citizens within. According to Agallianos™ report, for three days Mehmed II
attacked the regions around the construction site, laying waste to the ¬elds
and vineyards there, and capturing some important fortresses such as those
of Stoudios and Epibatai. Meanwhile, wrote Agallianos, Constantinople
received no military or ¬nancial help either from within or from foreign
powers; and as the inhabitants watched the enemy attacks they feared
far worse was still to come, but they felt already exhausted because of
the poverty, destitution, and need that had long been reigning in their
midst. Their only remaining hope was that God, who had abandoned the
Byzantines because of the “evil” and “falsely named” Union of Florence,

146 Scholarios, ’uvres, vol. i, pp. 161“72; esp. 171, lines 23“5. 147 PP, vol. iv, pp. 46“7.
148 ™
Among the vast literature on Mehmed II™s siege and conquest, see F. Dirimtekin, Istanbul™un
Fethi (Istanbul, 1949); S. Tansel, Osmanl± Kaynaklar±na G¨re Fatih Sultan Mehmed™in Siyasˆ ve
o ±
Askerˆ Faaliyeti (Ankara, 1953), pp. 1“111; ™
Inalc±k, Fatih Devri, pp. 109“36; F. Babinger, Mehmed
±
the Conqueror and his Time, trans. R. Manheim (Princeton, 1978), pp. 64“128; Runciman, Fall of
Constantinople; Setton, The Papacy and the Levant, vol. ii, pp. 108“37; Nicol, Immortal Emperor,

pp. 54“73; F. Emecen, Istanbul™un Fethi Olay± ve Meseleleri (Istanbul, 2003); T. Kioussopoulou
(ed.), 1453. H †lwsh thv Kwnstantino…polhv kai h met†bash ap» touv mesaiwniko…v stouv
neÛterouv cr»nouv (Iraklion, 2005).
221
Constantinople (1403“1453)
might show them his merciful and compassionate nature and come to
their rescue.149 The testimony of Agallianos, despite his partisan position
as an acclaimed anti-unionist, is signi¬cant because it is an eyewitness
report conveying the general mood that prevailed among the inhabitants
of Constantinople on the eve of Mehmed II™s siege, which formally began
seven months later, on April 6, 1453. Within a single passage Agallianos
expressed the most crucial problems of the Byzantine capital that made it
extremely vulnerable at this time to the enemy attacks: the city contained
almost no hinterland and lay in isolation, surrounded by destroyed ¬elds
and vineyards; the majority of the citizens suffered from overwhelming
poverty and in their fatigue and destitution lost all hope, seeing especially
that no help was coming from anywhere; ¬nally, there was a strong current
of anti-unionist sentiment, accompanied with a resurgent fatalism amongst
the people who applied the age-old notion of “punishment for our sins”
to the Union of Florence and concluded that God had abandoned the
Byzantines because of the sinful union with the Latin Church.150
All sources written thereafter also point to the role played by the city™s
internal problems on the ineffectiveness of defense against the forces of
Mehmed II. In his history of the Sultan™s deeds, Kritoboulos echoes Agal-
lianos™ words, declaring that the morale of the Constantinopolitans was
rather poor even before the siege had actually begun. Among the reasons
for this state, Kritoboulos enumerates the isolation of the city that resulted
from its having been cut off from the sea; the great scarcity of money, sup-
plies, and defenders; and the visible absence of help from any direction.151
The situation seemed desperate at the time not only to those within
Constantinople but to observers from abroad as well. There were, in fact,
unmistakable signs that at least some western powers were contemplating
abandoning the Byzantine capital to its fate, as illustrated by the discus-
sions that took place at a meeting of the Senate of Venice on August 30,
1452. Several senators suggested during this meeting that Venice should not
become involved in the defense of Constantinople against Mehmed II.152
Although this proposition failed to win the support of the majority

149 Schreiner, Kleinchroniken, vol. ii, pp. 635“6. On the capture of the fortresses of Stoudios and
Epibatai (near Selymbria), see also Kritob.“Reinsch, I.17.3, I.32.2, pp. 35“6, 47; Doukas“Grecu,
XXXIV.10, pp. 303“5.
150 This was, of course, the exact opposite of the argument made by both unionist Byzantines and
the papacy. For instance, in 1451 Pope Nicholas V wrote to Constantine XI that the failures of
the Byzantines before the Ottomans were due to the sin of schism which persisted as the Union
of Florence had not been put into effect at Constantinople: G. Hofmann, Epistolae ponti¬ciae ad
Concilium Florentinum spectantes, vol. iii (Rome, 1946), no. 304.
151 Kritob.“Reinsch, I.18, p. 36. 152 Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. iii, no. 2896.
e
222 Constantinople
within the Senate, it demonstrates nonetheless that the skepticism of
Constantinopolitans about the readiness of foreign powers to furnish
assistance, which both Agallianos and Kritoboulos reiterate, was not
unfounded.
Contemporary sources provide a series of con¬‚icting ¬gures concerning
the population of Constantinople in 1453.153 Among them one in particular,
the information given by Sphrantzes on the number of available defenders,
which modern scholarship has accepted as the most accurate and reliable
piece of evidence, reveals the alarming shortage of manpower that put
the security of the city at high risk. Sphrantzes reports that early during
the siege Constantine XI ordered a census to be taken of all the people
who were capable of ¬ghting, including laymen as well as clergy, together
with a count of the weapons they had at their disposal. Individual lists of
each neighborhood collected by imperial agents (demarchoi) were handed
over to Sphrantzes, who calculated the totals from them. The ¬gures that
emerged from Sphrantzes™ ¬nal count were so unnerving that the Emperor
decided not to reveal them to anyone: the city contained a mere ¬ghting
population of 4,773 Greeks and about 200 foreigners.154
Despite the city™s considerably diminished population, food supplies
were in critical condition all through the siege. Like his predecessor Bayezid
I, Mehmed II hoped to achieve the surrender of Constantinople by forc-
ing its inhabitants into starvation.155 Accordingly, in preparation for the
anticipated siege, Constantine XI paid particular attention to supplying
the city with provisions. After gathering the wheat reserves and other food-
stuffs available within the city itself, he demanded additional provisions

153 Accordingly modern estimates of the city™s population in 1453 range widely from 15,000 to 140,000,
but the ¬gure on which scholarly consensus has been established is 40,000“50,000, ¬rst suggested
by A. M. Schneider, “Die Bev¨ lkerung Konstantinopels im XV. Jahrhundert,” Nachrichten der
o
Akademie der Wissenschaften in G¨ttingen, Philologisch-historische Klasse 9 (1949), 233“44, esp. 237;
o
cf. E. Franc`s, “Constantinople byzantine aux XIVe et XVe si`cles. Population, commerce, m´tiers,”
e e e
RESEE 7/2 (1969), 405“12, esp. 406; A. Andr´ad`s, “De la population de Constantinople sous les
ee
empereurs byzantins,” Metron 1/2 (1920), 106. See also D. Jacoby, “La population de Constantinople
a l™´poque byzantine: un probl`me de d´mographie urbaine,” B 31 (1961), 82. For comparison, at
`e e e
its peak level at the end of the twelfth century the city had a population of 400,000, as shown by
Jacoby (p. 107), who has modi¬ed the much higher estimates of previous scholars.
154 Sphrantzes“Grecu, XXXV.6“8, p. 96. Note that in the version of Makarios Melissenos, the number
of foreigners has been raised from 200 to 2,000: Pseudo-Phrantzes, Macarie Melissenos, ed. Grecu,
p. 386. Other contemporary sources give slightly higher yet comparable ¬gures, for which see
Bartusis, Late Byzantine Army, p. 130 and n. 28. See also M. Klopf, “The army in Constantinople
at the accession of Constantine XI,” B 40 (1970), 385“92.
155 Chalkok.“Dark´ , vol. ii, pp. 148“9; Kritob.“Reinsch, I.16.15, p. 34; D¨ stˆ rnˆ me-i Enverˆ, ed.
uu a ±
o
Ozt¨ rk, p. 49; cf. ™
¨u Inalc±k, Fatih Devri, pp. 121“2. On Bayezid I™s strategy of starvation, see above,
ch. 7, p. 149 and note 4.
223
Constantinople (1403“1453)
to be sent from the islands and from the Despotate of the Morea.156 In
order to encourage the transport of further food supplies and armaments
from abroad during the siege the Emperor exempted Genoese merchants
from all customs duties on merchandise they were to bring into Con-
stantinople. The exemption was effective in inducing at least three large
Genoese ships to sail to the besieged city in April 1453.157 This last mea-
sure marks a notable shift from the economic policy which Constantine
XI had pursued towards foreign merchants only a few years prior to the
siege. Desperately in need of funds for the depleted imperial treasury, in
1450 the Emperor had imposed new taxes on certain commodities that
Venetian merchants imported into Constantinople. As late as June 1451 he
still insisted on the new taxes, despite the threat of the displeased Vene-
tians to move their colony from the Byzantine capital to the Ottoman
port of Ere˜ li/Herakleia on the northern shore of the Sea of Marmara.158
g
During the same year Constantine also refused a request made by the
Republic of Ragusa regarding the complete exemption of its merchants
from customs duties in Constantinople, and asserted the Byzantine gov-
ernment™s right to a 2 percent tax.159 Certainly, in 1453 the need for extra

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