Giovanni Giustiniani: Genoese captain and soldier (15th century) (1418 - 1453) | Biography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Giovanni Giustiniani
Genoese captain and soldier

Giovanni Giustiniani

Giovanni Giustiniani
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Genoese captain and soldier
A.K.A. Giovanni Giustiniani Longo
Was Military personnel
From Italy Turkey
Field Military
Gender male
Birth 1418, Genoa, Italy
Death 1 June 1453, Chios, Greece (aged 35 years)
The details (from wikipedia)


Giovanni Giustiniani Longo (Greek: Ιωάννης Λόνγος Ιουστινιάνης, Iōánnēs Lóngos Ioustiniánēs; Latin: Ioannes Iustinianus Longus; 1418 – June 1, 1453) was a Genoese captain, a member of one of the greatest families of the Republic of Genoa, a kinsman to the powerful house of Doria in Genoa, and protostrator of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. He led 700 professional soldiers, both Genoese and Greeks from the island of Chios, which at the time was part of the Republic of Genoa, to the defense of Constantinople against the Ottoman army of Sultan Mehmed II in 1453. He personally financed, organized and led this expedition on his own initiative, and upon arriving was placed in command of the land defenses by Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos of the Byzantine Empire. Giustiniani was key in controlling the land forces and keeping the Greeks, Genoese and Venetians from quarrelling with each other, and instead kept focused on repairing the land walls after the Ottoman cannons had shot holes in them. It was at least partly because of Giustiniani's charisma that the Byzantine forces were able to hold out so long against overwhelming odds.

On May 29, 1453, during the final attack by Mehmed II, Giustiniani was wounded by an Ottoman cannon while defending the walls of Constantinople. Some sources say the wound was caused by a crossbow bolt. Sources disagree about whether the wound was to his arm, leg, or chest, but it forced him to withdraw from his station at the land wall. He exited through the locked gate into the city, which opened up the opportunity for the fearful to flee, and panic spread throughout the lines.

Seeing the loss of morale caused among the defenders by Giustiniani's retreat, Mehmed II ordered a renewed assault that eventually overwhelmed the Byzantine defenses and Constantinople was taken by the Turks. Although Giustiniani's men managed to escape with their general after its fall, Giustiniani died from his wounds on June 1, 1453.

His body was carried by his comrades to the then Genoese island of Chios. His tomb in the Church of San Domenico on Chios is lost (maybe in the earthquake of 1881), but several descriptions survive.


  • Commander Giustiniani was played by Kemal Ergünenç in Turkish film İstanbul'un Fethi (1951)
  • Cengiz Coşkun plays Knight Giustiniani in Turkish film Fetih 1453 (2012). In the film, he is killed by Ulubatlı Hasan (İbrahim Çelikkol) during the last day in the siege of Constantinople.
  • He appears as a major character in Mika Waltari's novel The Dark Angel
  • He appears as a major character in the historical novel Porphyry and Ash by Peter Sandham
  • He was played by Birkan Sokullu in the Turkish historical fiction docuseries Rise of Empires: Ottoman (2020)
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 08 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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