1029 ROME-THE PALAEOLOGI.
the city, went together to the church of St.
Sophia, again ratified the Act of Union adopted
by the Council of Florence, and communed
at the same altar. But the great majority of
the Greeks took no part nor interest in this
During the month of April the siege of
the city was pressed with ever increasing severity. Still the walls seemed impregnable;
and the harbor could not be reached by the
assailants. The Greeks had stretched a chain
across the entrance, and the space beyond was
well defended by a well equipped squadron of nearly thirty sail.
Finally, however, Mohammed had these
vessels drawn over a sort of tramway along the
shore and thus delivered into the open waters
beyond the chain. The Turks thus gained
access to the weaker parts of the walls next
the harbor. The sultan ordered the construction of what in modern warfare would be
called floating batteries, which were sent with
their cannon1 to operate against the weaker
parts of the ramparts.
The chief defender of the doomed city
proved to be John Justiniani, the general of
the Genoese. He became the right arm of the
Emperor; and when at last he fell, pierced
by a bullet, a wail went up from soldier and
citizen. As he was borne away, the breaches
made in the walls by the Turkish artillery
were left undefended by the despairing garrison. The Ottomans swarmed on the walls and
in the towers. It was the day, the hour of
fate. The victorious Turks poured through
the gaps in the ramparts, and the brief work
of destruction began and ended in blood.
The city was in the hands of the infidel.
It is curiously noted by Gibbon that the siege
of Constantinople marks the epoch of the transformation of the old weaponry into the new.
Against the walls of the city the cannon, the battering ram and the catapult were used side by side,
and the smoke of gunpowder mingled with the
fumes of Greek fire.