Cantiga 28 of the Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso X

The 717–718AD Siege of Constantinople by the Arabs of the Umayyad Caliphate


When Constantinople was in Christian hands, a pagan king laid siege to it. The Patriarch Germanos prayed to the Virgin to save the people from “that insolent Moor.”

He asked the women of Constantinople to burn candles before the statue of the Virgin.


The sultan had catapults erected and ordered his archers to shoot. The wall of the city was breached.



The Virgin descended with a company of saints and spread out her mantle to deflect the blows. God caused the Christian defenders to kill their opponents.



The sultan, believing his men were deserting, called on Mohammed. When he looked up to heaven he saw the Virgin with her mantle defending the city.


He ceased to attack and entered the city incognito. He told Germanos that he had been inspired by his vision of the Virgin and that he wished to become a Christian and to be baptised secretly.

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See also A Murabit Cavalryman by Ian Heath based on Cantiga 28
Andalusian Infantry by Ian Heath based on Cantiga 28