Siege of Constantinople (Pagan Reborn)

Siege of Constantinople

Thousand Years War

Date: December 1079 - September 1080

Location: Byzantine Empire, Constantinople.

Result: Pyrrhic/disputed Holy Alliance victory

  • End of First Byzantine Empire
  • Death of Emperor and his children
  • Massacre of most civilians in Constantinople
  • Massive casualties of invading army

(Un)Holy Alliance

  • Papal State
    • Lombardy
    • Papal Guard
  • Holy Roman Empire
    • Local Allies
  • Abbasid Caliphate

Byzantine Empire

  • Byzantine Imperial Army
  • Bulgarian Empire
  • Asiatic allies
  • Mercenaries armies

Supreme Commander of all Holy Armies, Emperor of Emperors, King of Kings, Ruler of World, Gregory VII

  • Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich IV
  • Lombardy Grand Duke Vittorio
  • Al-Muqtadir, Caliph of Baghdad

Emperor and supreme ruler Byzantine Empire, Constantinos the Great

  • Emperess Irena
  • Anti-Pope Hieronymus
  • Strategos Belisarius
  • Strategos Ioannes (defected)
  • 450,000
  • 500 war ships
  • 200,000
  • 200 war ships
Casualties and losses
  • Massive (250,000 killed or wounded, 326 war ships sunk)
  • 100,000 killed
  • 50,000 captured
  • 50,000 escaped
  • Whole fleet destroyed
  • Civilians massacred


Siege of Constantinople was direct consequence of Papal Proclamation from 1071, when power-hungry Pope Gregory VII proclaimed himself absolute ruler of all rulers and also declared Islam as branch of Christianity and Orthodox Christians as heretics and enemies of Christianity.

Emperor Constantinos, with support of many Roman Catholic priests, declared his own anti-Pope Hieronymus as leader of Roman Church and in response, Gregory declared alliance with caliph and called Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich IV to arms.

First Crusade

In 1071, Pope Gregory called for First Crusade against "infidels, traitors, heretics and pagans!" and called Islamic forces to arms.

Since December 1079 to September 1080, Crusader Armies besieged Constantinople. Roman Church armies and Holy Roman Empire army conquered Balkan, Bulgaria and besieged Constantinople from north, while Arabs armies besieged Constantinople from south and south east. United Arabic-HRE fleet cut Constantinople in two halves, while fifteen-year old Empress Irena and her husband were in the Emperor's Great Palace, and their children in small fort on southern coast.

Early stage

To annihilate Byzantine dynasty, Pope ordered Arabs soldiers to find and murder Irene and Constantino's children. Their newborn twins Julia and Justinian were murdered February 8, 1080 by unknown butchers and Irene promised to avenge them.

Greek fire was successfully used and repelled the first eight attacks on Theodosian Walls. Attempts of Holy Alliance fleet to land on Bosporus beaches ended with massacres of landing forces by defenders and destroying large number of invading ships were destroyed.

Traitors within defenders!

In April 1080, Holy Alliance finally reached first great victory in siege of Constantinople, when commander of southern garrison, strategos Ioannes defected to enemy side, opened gates and welcomed Holy Alliance as "liberators".

From that moment, Holy Alliance was finally able to gather enough forces, resources, supplies and reinforcements to final attack against northern half of Constantinople. Ioannes also revealed all weakness and strong points of Constantinople defense and was granted with incomes from Basra and Sevilla. Ioannes later died as rich and powerful landlord.

Empress escape.

In August 1080 was revealed that Empress is pregnant. Emperor Constantinos ordered his wife to use last clear way from northern Constantinople, to escape pass Black Sea coast and to find exile in Pagania. Empress did not want to leave her husband, but neither to fall in Arab captivity and to loss another child.

Empress escape was also last manifestation of Constantinople defenders. Under direct command of Constantinos, all remaining defenders of Constantinople opened the northern gates and in a great rage, to tie as many enemies as he could, attacked on Holy Roman Emperor forces. One large wave of defenders breakthrough siege lines, destroyed many siege weapons, plundered many camps and killed dozens thousands of siege troops, including seven enemy generals and Arab grand-admiral Mutazim.

Attacking wave was repelled after whole day of plundering and Emperor Constantinos fall in fight with Holy Roman Emperor personal guard. Last pockets of Constantinople defenders fall after three weeks, for whole time Empress Irene had time to escape and move to her destination.


Supporters of Holy Alliance claimed this siege as great victory. Emperor died, Empress was somewhere, garrison surrender, were killed or defected, Byzantine Empire was dismantle and anti-pope Hieronymus committed suicide.

However, heavy losses suffered during battle marked start of their final defeat in Battle of Five Emperors. Liberation of Constantinople in 1083 and total defeat of remaining Holy Alliance forces only supporting claim it was Pyrrhic victory.

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