The Ottoman cannon


 Weapons Artillery Basilica Bombard Cannon Constantinople War Turkish

In the 15th century, a time when artillery was still incipient, the cannon became one of the most feared weapons of the Ottoman empire. Actually, the taking over of Constantinople by the Turkish in 1453 was only possible thanks to the intense use of cannons that destroyed the invincible walls. But the Turkish Ottoman didn't have traditions in the use of artillery and, if it weren't for an ironic, apparently insignificant, happening, History might have taken a different path...

The cannon that became known as the Great Turkish Bombard, the Basilic, the The Royal Gun or as Muhammed's Great Gun was actually brought from Hungary. Its inventor, an engineer by the name of Orban, presented it to the sultan Mehmed II after a failed attempt at selling it to the emperor of the Byzantine Empire, Constantine XI, who refused it. And herein lies a true irony in History.

Unlike his opponent, the sultan saw, in this device, great potential and was willing to finance the construction of a prototype. It should be made clear that the project was extremely complex and burdensome. The latter was the reason why Constantine wasn't interested in it, in the first place. For months, in the city of Edirne, an army of workers slaved away under the guidance of Orban, consuming huge amounts of bronze and other materials necessary to the foundry of the two pieces that created the cannon. When it was ready, though, the sultan was finally able to contemplate the huge monster he had ordered...

 Weapons Artillery Basilica Bombard Cannon Constantinople War Turkish

Once connected, the two pieces created a cylinder 5.2 metres wide - a colossal size, at the time! The set weighed about 19 tons and had a 75 cm calibre, which means it could project rocks with that diametre, weighing around 600 Kg, at a distance of over 2 Km. They had to test it and, first of all, take it out from where it was built, though.

With the help of 60 oxen and 400 men, half of which prepared a floor able to support such an immense weight, the cannon was moved to a testing area. There, it was loaded with gunpowder and a huge spherical rock that was projected over 1500 metres away and buried almost 2 metres deep! Not very precise, but hugely devastating, nonetheless. Several of these cannons were then assembled and placed in front of the wall of Constantinople. A few hours of attack were enough to ravish the defenses and take over the mythical capital of the Byzantine Empire.


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