The Bombard

The Bombard

My wife recently forwarded me a video from good old YouTube, a video about castles throughout the ages. Part way through this video, we encounter Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, leader of the Muslim forces attacking Constantinople in 1453. His forces were outside the great walls of Constantinople, which had withstood attacks for a thousand years.

walls of constant

But for this siege, there was a new force at play – the Bombard. This piece of artillery, built by Orban, an engineer, was based on the design of the Dardenelles Gun.


As you can see, it was huge. The video states that it took 400 men and 60 oxen to move it into place. It was capable of firing cannonballs that were 63 cm/25 inches in diameter. This was a force that even the walls of Constantinople could not withstand. (You can read more about the cannon here.)

So what, you ask? What does this have to do with noise?

Remember back to the NC post on Joshua and the battle of Jericho? Where the blowing of horns made the walls collapse? Well, take a minute to imagine how loud this Bombard might have been? In a time and place where no one had ever heard such noise before?

Apparently the Bombard was VERY loud. In the video, they read a quote from a witness of the siege, the historian Doukas:

 “Public announcements were made to advise everyone of the loud and thunderous noise it would make, so that no one would be struck dumb by hearing the noise unexpectedly, or any pregnant women miscarry.” (italics added)

Although he was not at the siege, the Greek historian Kritovolous wrote this about the firing of the Bombard:

“There was a fearful roar at first, and a shaking of the earth beneath and for a long way off, and a noise arose such as was never heard before.”

Here is a link to the video. If you skip along to the 28 minute mark, you can see the part about Constantinople, its walls, and impact of the Bombard. You can see the size of it, the power of it, and you can hear the noise it makes. Living in the 21st century, you have probably heard louder noises. But just try to imagine the impact on people around Constantinople in 1453, people who had never heard anything louder than thunder.

So next time you feel bombarded by noise, be grateful that you were not in Constantinople in 1453. Although, except for the Bombard going off every hour or two, it was probably a pretty quiet place – no lawnmowers, no cars, no outside concerts like the one I can hear from across the river, celebrating local beer here in my little town!

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