In 1451, Mehmed II ascended to the Ottoman throne and planned to sack Constantinople, the Byzantine capital and one of the most heavily fortified cities in the world. He cut off supplies and raised an army of 80,000–100,000 men, along with 90 ships and 70 cannons. The 50-day siege began in April when Ottoman forces attacked the city’s walls but soon retreated. The first army entered the city after a canon blasted through the wall, only to face massacre by waiting Christians inside. Arrows, missiles, stones and javelins were launched, leading to hand-to-hand combat, and Mehmed’s men stormed a city gate. Ships in the Golden Horn, despite being hampered by a huge chain, provided more troops who flooded into the city and took down the harbour walls. The city fell to the Ottoman Turks and was renamed Istanbul. It marked both the end of the Byzantine Empire and the Middle Ages; the Renaissance had begun.
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