Byzantium: A Tale of Three Cities

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Series 1 - Episode 2 Constantinople



Simon Sebag Montefiore turns his attention to one of the world’s greatest stories: the fall of Constantinople to Islam. The prophet Mohammed himself had envisaged that the great holy city of Christendom would fall to Islam, but only thanks to a very special Muslim.

While not disputing that the 19-year-old Ottoman sultan Mehmet II, who eventually conquered the Byzantine capital, was an extraordinary figure, Sebag Montefiore tells the back story of how the great schism between Eastern Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics weakened Constantinople. And how the Crusades practically brought the city to its knees.

He fills the tale with drama and juicy details: for centuries murderous orgies seemed the norm.


Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore explores modern Istanbul in search of evidence of the last centuries of Christian Constantinople, which produced a golden artistic renaissance. There's also a look at how, after the epic siege of 1453, the Ottomans seized control of the city, which became their imperial capital.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Simon Sebag Montefiore
Director Jack MacInnes
Executive Producer Mike Smith
Producer Jack MacInnes