Sunday, October 21, 2012
The Italian Defender of Constantinople
The courage of Giustiniani and his skill at the art of siege warfare was instrumental in Constantinople holding out as long as it did against the hopelessly large odds against them. When the final attack came on May 29, 1453 Giustiniani was wounded while fighting on the wall to repel the invaders. The exact circumstances remain unknown and sources differ as to whether he was wounded by a crossbow bolt or debris from a cannon shot as well as whether his wound was in the arm, leg or torso but whatever the case may be it was sufficient to put him out of action. This caused morale to drop among the hard-pressed soldiers on the wall and eventually panic began to set in. Giustiniani was helped out of the combat area and as the men began to waver following his absence, Sultan Mehmed II took notice and ordered an all-out assault. The defenders were finally overwhelmed, Emperor Constantine XI falling in the attack as he rushed headlong into the Turkish column pouring into the city. Cardinal Isidore of Kiev was able to escape only by dressing a dead man in red robes and he watched as the Turks decapitated the corpse and carried the severed head through the streets thinking they had killed the Churchman.
*Note - I have been unable to find an actual picture of Giovanni Giustiniani. Those above are simply pictures of Condottieri of the same general period.