Chapter 7


IN 1452, SULTAN MEHMED II, the ruler of the rising Ottoman Empire, had a problem.1 While the Ottoman Sultanate had conquered most of the former Byzantine Empire’s territory, the walls of Constantinople, the crown jewel of Asia Minor, still held. Mehmed II worried that despite the enormous naval and land forces he had amassed, including Bashi-bazouks and Janissaries, he could not breach the walls and conquer the city. His advisers brought a Hungarian engineer named Urban before him; Urban purported to have the ability to build the largest gun ever constructed for the purposes of battering down the walls of Constantinople. While the Ottoman military already had cannons, its production capabilities were reportedly inferior ...

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