Second Siege of Constantinople Fails Hot

Second Siege of Constantinople: After thirteen months, the Arab armies of the Umayyad Caliphate give up their siege of the Byzantine capital and leave. It is estimated that of the 200,000 soldiers who besieged Constantinople, only around 30,000 make it home.

The Arabs had blocked the city with a double wall, completely cutting off Constantinople on land; yet their navy was decimated, so the Byzantines were able to resupply by sea.

The Arabs, in contrast, couldn't feed themselves because their force was so large. There was mass starvation and serious epidemics over the past year — even some reported cannibalism.

This siege of Constantinople was such a failure that it represents a serious blow to the Umayyad Caliphate, both in reputation and in raw numbers. Their large fleet has been mostly destroyed and tens of thousands of soldiers have died, all without accomplishing anything. Their failure here leads to the weakening of the Umayyad government, in part because of the heavy losses.

In fact, Caliph Umar decides to start withdrawing garrisons from the frontiers in order to have enough military forces at home for defense, which allows the Byzantines to reconquer some territory they had lost recently.

Although the Byzantine Empire also sustains heavy casualties and loses most its territory south of the Taurus Mountains, by holding the line here they prevent a disorganized and militarily inferior Europe from having to confront a Muslim invasion along the shortest possible route.

Instead, the Arabic invasion of Europe must proceed along the longer path across northern Africa and into Spain, a route which prevents quick reinforcement and ultimately proves ineffective.

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History's Turning Points: The Siege of Constantinople

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