Islam's Greatest Victory: The Fall of Constantinople
On May 29, around 2 a.m., Muhammad unleashed all hell against Constantinople: to blasting sounds of trumpets, cymbals, and Islamic war-cries, cannon fire lit the horizon as ball after ball came careening into the wall. After the initial bombardment, wave after wave of hordes came, all desirous of booty or paradise -- or merely of evading impalement. With ladders and hooks, they fought, clawed, and clambered onto the wall. "Who could narrate the voices, the cries of the wounded, and the lamentation that arose on both sides?" recollected an eyewitness. "The shouts and din went beyond the boundaries of heaven."
By holding out against Islam for as long as it did -- eight centuries -- Constantinople had saved the West. As Byzantine historian John Julius Norwich explains, "Had the Saracens captured Constantinople in the seventh century rather than the fifteenth, all Europe -- and America -- might be Muslim today."