Constantine XI’s last moments in life, as he stood before the walls of Constantinople in 1453, have bestowed a heroic status on him. This book produces a more balanced portrait of an intriguing individual: the last emperor of Constantinople. To be sure, the last of the Greek Caesars was a fascinating figure, not so much because he was a great statesman, as he was not, and not because of his military prowess, as he was neither a notable tactician nor a soldier of exceptional merit. This monarch may have formulated grandiose plans but his hopes and ambitions were ultimately doomed, because he failed to inspire his own subjects, who did not rally to his cause. Constantine lacked the skills to create, restore, or maintain harmony in his troubled realm. In addition, he was ineffective on the diplomatic front, as he proved unable to stimulate Latin Christendom to mount an expedition and come to the aid of south-eastern Orthodox Europe. Yet in sharp contrast to his numerous shortcomings, his military defeats, and the various disappointments during his reign, posterity still fondly remembers the last Constantine.
Table of Contents
Preface;Abbreviations;1 Introduction: Res Dubiae;1 A romantic vision;2 The scholars;3 A playwright;2 Ex oriente lux: Imperial impotence;1 The emperor’s father and mother;2 The beggar emperor;3 The last imperial princes;3 Fortuna imperatrix mundi: The young Turks;1 Hope and survival;2 The green years;3 Education for a prince;4 The training fields;5 The changing of the guard;6 Return to reality;4 Nil sub sole novi: The Turkish offensive;1 Porte and court;2 The era of gunpowder;3 The troublemaker;5 Morea redivivus?: The prince’s offensive;;1 The boiling pot;2 The prince’s bride;3 Victory at Patras;4 Assertion of authority;5 The new map;6 Ecce homines: Emperor and regent;1 Southern intrigues;2 Northern intrigues;3 The emperor’s regent;4 A guest from the east;5 Second thoughts;7 Dux bellorum: Delusions of grandeur;1 Disgrace and inactivity;2 A state of siege;3 The warlord;4 The impregnable isle;5 Panic and horror;8 Animi cadunt: The end of an era;1 A scholar from the west;2 The revenge of the priests;3 The emperor makers;4 Emperor without crown;9 Dies irae: The crown of martyrdom;1 The emperor’s diplomatic activities;2 Imperial finances;3 A bride for the emperor;4 The fortress of doom;10 De mortuis nihil nisi bonum: Judgments;1 The emperor and the cardinal;2 The emperor and his allies;3 Heavenly wrath;4 Verdicts: The emperor under siege;11 Rex quondam rexque futurus: May 29, 1453;1 History and pseudo-history;2 Emperor and legend;3 The emperor’s grave;4 Resurrection and triumph;Bibliography;Index
Marios Philippides is Professor of Classics, Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA. He has authored numerous books and articles on the Palaeologan era and on the fall of Byzantium.