Page 1029

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

superficial amalgamation.

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.