Engineer, Inventor

– 1453


Who was Orban?

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

Orban was Hungarian according to the majority of sources, while some scholars also mention his potential German ancestry. Alternative theories suggest his Wallachian roots and he was described by Laonikos Chalkokondyles with the unclear term "Dacian".

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 in preparations to siege 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 instrumental for the Turkish siege forces.

The bombard technology which mostly German technicians drew at first for the Hungarian Army had been established between 1400 and 1450 all over western Europe, transforming the siege warfare, with some pieces like the Faule Mette, Dulle Griet, Mons Meg and the Pumhart von Steyr still extant from the period. Urban, along with an entire crew, was probably killed during the siege when one of his superguns exploded, then not an unusual occurrence. A modern author speculated that "he could have been German too" based on other gun founders serving in the Royal Hungarian Court.

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Also known as
  • Urban
  • Hungary

on July 23, 2013


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