St George at Constantinople 1453
The Eastern Roman Empire, known to history as the Byzantine Empire, had existed for over a thousand years. For all those years the Empires’ soldiers had fought against the barbarians that had come to the Empires’ borders. It had survived centuries of conflict with Muslims and Catholics, fellow Europeans, Arabs and Turks as well as many tragic civil wars. The Roman Emperors of the East had endeavoured to preserve and protect the ancient provinces of Greece and Asia Minor. For a millennium, the great Theodosian walls at the imperial capital of Constantinople had held against all enemies. For all those centuries the armies and fleets of Byzantium had defied their enemies and protected their ancient civilisation.
But now that civilisation was dying. The armies were gone, destroyed on the battlefield or starved to death by the politics of Constantinople. After centuries of wars the Roman Empire of the East was finally falling; year after year and decade after decade, the losses of land, wealth and blood had continued to mount. There had been chances for the Empires survival, even revival, great chances, but all had been lost. Squandered as a result of internal political squabbles or destroyed by civil wars; now all that was left was the ruins of the city of Constantinople itself. Outside the city walls the Emperors, once the mightiest men on earth, were mere vassals of the Turkish Ottoman Sultans.
Now, once again, it was on the Theodosian walls that the last hopes of a civilisation rested; it was here that the last Christian bulwark in the east struggled against the Muslim hordes of the Ottoman Empire.
It was here that the last living, breathing remnants of an empire must be defended, so it was to here that the last soldiers of that empire marched; to Constantinople.