Friday, April 11, 2014

Constantinopolis by James Shipman @jshipman_author #HistFic #AmReading #GoodReads

“What do we know?” asked Constantine finally.

Loukas Notaras, as military commander and essentially Constantine’s second in command, began.

“I’m sure Sphrantzes informed you of the sinking of this ship and of the rumors regarding the army massing near Edirne?”

“Yes, he gave me a brief summary of both issues. Do you know anything else?”

“I can confirm through spies that there were survivors from the Venetian galley, including the captain. They are apparently being marched to Edirne under heavy guard. I don’t think there is any chance we could intercept and free them.

I don’t know anything more at this point about this mysterious army at Edirne. I do know they have had summer camps in that location many times, and they didn’t necessarily move on the city. It is a little more unusual that they are doing so in the fall. I think we have to take the threat very seriously.”
“We’ve been expecting this for some time, although I was hopeful that Halil and the others could keep this young monster in check.” The Emperor turned to Sphrantzes. “Do we have any inside information about what is going on with Mehmet?”

“I don’t have anyone close on the inside my Lord. Our best spies were moved out of the Sultan’s household when Murad died. I haven’t been able to get anyone close enough to find out what’s going on in Mehmet’s council meetings.”

“So we’re blind here.” Constantine paused. “Loukas, how are we set to deal with this?”

“My Lord, as you are aware, our city walls have fallen into some disrepair. There are cracks and even holes in some of walls. Many of the towers have not been used in years. Perhaps even more alarming, the great ditch, the Foss in front of the outer wall, has been largely filled in over time. We haven’t had the resources to dig out the ditch or maintain it, nor to repair the walls. In addition, we don’t have enough soldiers, even with volunteers, to adequately man the land walls, let alone the sea walls.”

“What resources do we have in the city?”

“We can ask for all of the churches to contribute everything they can, gold, plate, silver, donated coin. We also can ask the same of our citizens. As you know My Lord, over the past hundred years or more, we have had to make these requests again and again. There simply aren’t sufficient resources remaining in the city to gather significant wealth. However, we can make the request and it will certainly result in some new treasure to pay for soldiers and food.”

“But where will the soldiers and food come from?” asked the Emperor.

“That’s just the problem My Lord. The Sultan has effectively cut off the Black Sea. We are not able to easily receive aid from our remaining colonies in that area or from the Georgians or Trebizonds. We could sneak some ships past those forts but this recent sinking will certainly make captains hesitant to run the strait, and I doubt the Ottomans would let soldiers, arms or grain past, even if the captain paid the fee.”

“What about the ambassadors we sent out to the West, to the Venetians, Genoese, and to Naples? Any word from them?” Constantine had not waited for a crisis to try to prepare the city. He had worked tirelessly since his ascension to prepare Constantinople for a siege. One of the key components was aid from the west, and he had recently sent a new round of ambassadors out to beg assistance from various cities and kingdoms.
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG
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