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This article is about the medieval inventor Orban (Urban). For people named Orbán, see Orbán.

Orban, also known as Urban (died 1453), was an iron founder and engineer from Brassó, Kingdom of Hungary (today Braşov, Romania), who cast superguns for the Ottoman siege of Constantinople in 1453.

The Dardanelles Gun, cast in 1464 and based on the Orban bombard that was used for the Ottoman besiegers of Constantinople in 1453; British Royal Armouries collection.

Orban was Hungarian[1][2][3][4][5] according to the majority of sources, while some scholars also mention his potential German[6] ancestry. Alternative theories suggest his Wallachian[7][8] roots and he was described by Laonikos Chalkokondyles with the unclear term "Dacian".[9][10]

In 1452 he originally offered his services to the Byzantines, but emperor Constantine XI could not afford his high salary nor did he possess the materials necessary for constructing such a large siege cannon. Orban then left Constantinople and approached the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II who was preparing to besiege the city, claiming that his weapon could blast 'the walls of Babylon itself'. Given abundant funds and materials, the engineer built the gun within three months at Adrianople, from which it was dragged by sixty oxen to Constantinople. In the meantime, Orban also produced other cannon used by the Turkish siege forces.[11]

The bombard technology, which mainly German technicians[12] designed at first for the Hungarian Army, had been established between 1400 and 1450 all over western Europe, transforming siege warfare,[13][14] with some pieces like the Faule Mette, Dulle Griet, Mons Meg and the Pumhart von Steyr which are still extant from the period. Orban, along with an entire crew, was probably killed during the siege when one of his superguns exploded, then not an unusual occurrence.[15]

In popular media[edit]


  1. ^ Hans-Henning Kortüm: Transcultural Wars from the Middle Ages to the 21st century, Akedemie Verlag, Berlin, 2006 [1]
  2. ^ Gábor Ágoston: Guns for the Sultan: Military Power and the Weapons Industry in the Ottoman Empire, Cambridge University Press, 2005 [2]
  3. ^ Kelly DeVries, Robert Douglas Smith: Medieval Weapons: An Illustrated History of Their Impact, ABC CLIO, 2007 [3]
  4. ^ David Nicolle, Christa Hook: Constantinople 1453: The End of Byzantium, Osprey Publishing, 2000 [4]
  5. ^ Arthur Cotterel: Asia: A Concise History, John Wiley and Sons, 2011
  6. ^ Clifford Rogers: The Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare and Military Technology, Volume 1, Oxford University Press, 2010 [5]
  7. ^ [6]
  8. ^ [7]
  9. ^ [8]
  10. ^ [9]
  11. ^ Runciman 1990, pp. 77–78
  12. ^ The heirs of Archimedes: science and the art of war through the Age of Enlightenment, Brett D. Steele & Tamera Dorland, The MIT Press, 2005, p.128 & Roger Crowley, on In Our Time: Constantinople Siege & Fall, broadcast 2006
  13. ^ Schmidtchen 1977a, pp. 153–157
  14. ^ Schmidtchen 1977b, p. 226
  15. ^ Schmidtchen 1977b, p. 237, Fn. 121


  • Nicolle, David (2000), Constantinople 1453: The End of Byzantium, Osprey Publishing, p. 13, ISBN 1-84176-091-9 
  • Runciman, Steven (1990), The Fall of Constantinople: 1453, London: Cambridge University Press, pp. 77–78, ISBN 978-0-521-39832-9 
  • Schmidtchen, Volker (1977a), "Riesengeschütze des 15. Jahrhunderts. Technische Höchstleistungen ihrer Zeit", Technikgeschichte 44 (2): 153–173 
  • Schmidtchen, Volker (1977b), "Riesengeschütze des 15. Jahrhunderts. Technische Höchstleistungen ihrer Zeit", Technikgeschichte 44 (3): 213–237 
  • Crowley, Roger (2006), In Our Time: Constantinople Siege and Fall