The Emperor's Winding Sheet

The Emperor’s Winding Sheet

Jill Paton Walsh

A young boy at the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Famished, terrified, exhausted, a boy drops from the tree in which he has hidden just as Constantine, last Emperor of the Romans, is about to receive his crown in a monastery garden. By this accident, Piers Barber, a shipwrecked young seaman from Bristol, England, now renamed Vrethiki (“lucky find”), becomes an unwilling talisman to the Emperor, for it has been prophesied that if even one person who is at his side when he takes the crown stays with him always, the City will not perish. This is the story of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and of the siege that marked the end of the proud, ancient Byzantine Empire. Corrupt, riven by bigotries, jealousies, and national vanities, the City nevertheless commanded such bravery and loyalty as the world has seldom seen. Through the darkening months, Vrethiki is brought out of his sullen despair as he lives in the midst of heroism and treachery, dogged endurance and blazing faith. And in time he comes to see the City as a vision worth dying for and the Emperor as his own true lord.


  • Ages: 14 - 17
  • Grades: 9 -12
  • Pages: 264

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Recent Reviews

Constantinople in the 15th century is the setting for this evocative tale of a boy's fortuitous involvement with a mighty power. Setting this saga in seventh-century India, the author brings to life a faraway place and time with a glittering panoply of detail.

—Publishers Weekly


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