By the mid 15th Century, the might Eastern Roman Empire had suffered under centuries of conquest by Arab and Turkish invaders, resulting in the empire stretching no father than the ancient capitol of Constantinople itself. The great city was no better off than the empire as a whole, its population reduced from a million inhabitants to less than 50,000, while the Byzantine Army could muster little more than 7,000 men. In contrast the Ottoman Empire completely surrounded the city, and was amassing a force of 50,000 - 80,000 men to complete the final conquest of Byzantium.
The last hope of the Byzantines were a series of large walls and fortresses which had successfully defended Constantinople since ancient times. The city walls had fended off many invaders in the past, and Constantinople was considered the most heavily fortified city in Europe at the time. Storming Constantinople would certainly not be easy, however the Ottomans had an ace up their sleeves.
In 1452 a Hungarian military engineer named Urban offered his services as a cannon maker to the Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI. The Emperor had neither the money to pay Urban, nor the resources to craft the cannon which Urban offered. As a result, Urban went to the Emperor’s rival, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, who certainly could pay Urban and had the technology and resources to produce his cannons.
To bring down the walls of Constantinople Urban directed the casting of several large bronze siege guns. The largest was a massive cannon that fired massive 25 inch stone balls. Weighing 19 tons, it took 2-3 hours to load and had to be transported by a team of 60 mules.
The Siege of Constantinople began on the 6th of April 1453. Over the next 53 days, the Ottomans pounded the city walls with Urban’s guns. After nearly two months of constant bombardment, the walls of Constantinople could no longer hold out against the attack resulting in several breeches. On May 28th, the Ottoman Army stormed the city, easily overwhelming the outnumbered Byzantine defenders.
With the exception of the short lived Empire of the Trebizond, the Ancient Roman State had fallen for good. Mehmed II made Constantinople the new capitol and quickly sought to take on the mantle as emperor of a new Roman Empire, declaring himself Kayser-i Rum (Caesar of Rome), and declaring the Ottoman Empire as the “Third Roman Empire”.
It was confirmed that in the first script of The Road To El Dorado Miguel and Tulio were supposed to be a long term couple. Both were written to be bisexual and they later both showed attraction to Chel. Their voice actors even recorded their lines together in the same studio room in order to make the dialogue between two characters feel more intimate. Though Dreamworks later scrapped the concept of having these two as a couple because at the time was too progressive for the american audiences, in the original subtitles, both are scene using pet names such as “darling”.
Used in battleships and coast defenses c.1870~1918. 274mm caliber 216kg shells, 434m/s muzzle velocity giving it an estimated 300mm of penetration in wrought iron armor at combat range, breech-loading single shot.
Picture taken c.1885 by Gustave Bourgain onboard a Colbert-class French ironclad, below the center battery.
Note the boarding weapons on racks on the left side of the picture, including cutlasses and Lefaucheux Mle1858 revolvers. The Colbert-class ironclads were also armed with, beside a variety of other naval guns, more than a dozen Hotchkiss 37mm revolving cannons, four 356mm torpedo tubes and a ram.
The double barrel cannon is not a new idea, going back at least to the mid 17th century. The idea behind a double barrel cannon was not a weapon to fire solid shot, but to fire chain shot, a pair of cannon balls connected together by a chain. Each cannon ball was loaded into a separate barrel, and when fired in theory the two balls should rotate around a central axis, mowing down anything in it’s path like a weedwacker mowing down grass. The trick was firing both barrels simultaneously. Any flaw in timing, uneven combustion of gunpowder, or flaws in the barrel could cause the chain shot to careen out of control. It was nigh impossible to fire a chain shot cannon with any semblance of accuracy, hence why chain shot cannon were relatively rare.
In 1862 during the American Civil War, a Georgia dentist named John Gilleland attempted to design and build his own double barrel chain shot cannon for used by the Confederate Army. Gilleland’s cannon was caste in one piece at a cost of $350, and featured two 6 inch caliber barrels. The barrels diverge three degrees so that when fired the cannonballs would diverge and the chain would be drawn taught.
On April 22nd, 1862 Gilleland’s cannon went through official ordnance testing. Testing consisted of firing at two poles in a field. On the first shot the cannonballs wildly struck the ground, tearing up over an acre of the field but nowhere near the intended target. On the second shot the chain shot flew over the poles, taking out a grove of trees far behind the target. On the third shot the chain broke, with one cannonball veering to the right and taking out a chimney on a nearby cabin, while the other flew to the left and killed a cow.
Despite the failure Gilleland continued to advertise his cannon for military use. The Confederate Army said “thanks but no thanks” and refused to adopt the cannon. Today the cannon is on display on the front lawn of the City Hall of Athens, Georgia.