Constantine XI (Constantine Palaeologus), d. 1453, last Byzantine emperor (1449–53), brother and successor of John VIII. To secure Western aid against the Turkish assault on what remained of the empire, he proclaimed (1452) the union of the Western and Eastern Churches. No help came, however, and in 1453 Constantine, with some 8,000 Greeks, Venetians, and Genoese, faced 150,000 Turkish besiegers under Sultan Muhammad II. After almost two months of heroic defense, directed by the emperor, the city and the empire fell. Constantine died fighting with the last of his men.
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