Page images

the little neighbouring princes had taken advan- J-C-i+44.

... to 144.3.

tage of the circumstance to endeavour to aggran- H,=6- 848* dize themselves, whilst the Ottoman arms were *—.v—» engaged elsewhere. Constantine, despot os the Morea, had entered the Turkish dominions arid taken several places. Amurath, after having quieted the troubles at home, sent a hundred •and -twenty thousand men towards the Hexamilium, threatening to reduce it to ashes. It extended from one end to the other of the isthmus of Corinth. The father of the historian Calcondilus was sent as ambassador to -ask peace of the Turks; but his proposals were insufficient to satisfy Amuiath. This prince-sent him backto his master, bound hand and foot; and attacked with cannon the wall which defended the isthmus; This was the first time that the Turks employed these destructive arms. The Greeks were soon defenceless, and surrendered •every thing that they had usurped. ': ' \

• -'Thus far almost every thing had been prospe- TheWstorous.tb the emperor Amurath; but in his latter deibeg. years he had to fight against an enemy more formidable than any he had yet met with, and who had been brought up in his bosom. This was the famous Scanderbeg, so adored by the Christians,- and of whom the historians report prodigies. This warrior, called George Castriot, was the son of John Castriot, prince of Epirus, who, like all the Greek despots, had submitted to

P 2 the

j.c.1444, the conqueror. John Castriot had not only paid Heg. 848, a tribute to Amurath, but his four sons had also

to 851.

Cnr«J been conducted as hostages to the court of that prince. Three died in infancy. The youngest, called George, pleased the emperor by his fine figure, and by features which announced an elevated soul. Amurath, either through inclination or policy, had young Castriot circumcised, and educated in the Mahometan religion; but he always remained a Christian in the bottom of his heart. Amurath carried him to the war when he was very young. The courageous actions and bodily strength of young Castriot, got him the name of'Alexander, which in the Turkish language is Scander, to which they added the syllable beg, which signifies prince.. It was under this name of Scanderbeg, which George Castriot received from the Ottomans, ?that he signalized against them those martial talents, which he had received and cultivated in their school and army. When John Castriot, prince of Epirus, died, Amurath never once thought of rendering to hut ward, the dominions of which nature and the death of his brothers had made him sovereign. He established a bashaw there, and constantly employed young Scanderbeg in war. This injustice sensibly offended that warrior. An outrage which Scanderbeg's youth and beauty drew on him from Amurath, abandoned to every fpe.cies of debauchery, completed his abhorrence gf

. the the man, who pretended to be his benefactor, but J-c-H44.

1 - to 14.ÆS.

was only his tyrant. Hes- %&

Scanderbeg bore this in his heart when he '—.—» went to the first Hungarian war, in which the Amumh Turks were obliged to raise the siege of Bel- Fnto Albagrade, and to retreat before Hunniade, who pur- scandTrbej sued them. The bad success of that war had HmVan induced the Emperor to leave the command of geoafpost. his army to a bashaw, who had the misfortune to be made prisoner. Scanderbeg took advantage of this circumstance; he invited to his tent the reis effendi, a fort of secretary of state who guards the small seal of the empire, and, with his cimeter at his throat, forced him to sign and seal a letter to the bashaw of Epirus, commanding him to remit Croia the capital of that province, and all the countries its dependencies, to the said Scanderbeg, who was to govern them in the name of Amurath, instead of the bashaw deposed by this pretended order. As soon as the seal was affixed to it, Scanderbeg killed the reis effendi with his own hand, and interred him on the spot, in order to destroy every trace of the action. This done, he made his escape to Croia, and, by virtue of his false order, which no one suspected, took possession of the place. He had no difficulty to detach the Albanians from their obedience to the Turks. He endeavoured to supply his province with provisions, fortify the towns, raise national troops, and win the gar

[ocr errors]

J«c - i+44. risons which had formerly served Amurath. In

to 1448. *

Heg. 848. fine, he employed all his ability to maintain <—v—i himself in this sovereignty, which had been unjustly wrested from his family, and which he had so recently recovered by a perfidy. The Venetians, secret enemies of the Ottomans, without daring openly to oppose them, assisted Scanderbeg with a considerable sum qf money. This fugitive was already a redoubtable enemy, when the sultan undertook to reduce him. He began by besieging Fetigrade, Scanderbeg's frontier town $ he took it by assault, and unmercifully massacred all the men capable of carrying arms, because every one had contributed to the defence of! the place. This example, far from intimidating the Albanians, irritated them still more against the Turkish yoke. The prince of Epirus, with ten thousand men, undertook to make head against sixty thousand horse and forty thousand janissaries. Croia, his capital, was provisioned and fortified to sustain a long siege. Far from defending the narrow passes which led to it, Scanderbeg would not attempt it, 'till the enemy had. penetrated as far as a kind of bason formed by a chain of mountains circularly disposed, in which he flattered himself with finding great advantages, as his troops, encamped on these steep rocks, could batter all those, who should pass below, with the artillery which he had gotten half way up; and the Albanians, and


all the moutaineer soldiers, were used to climb J-c-1444,

to 1448.

these heights, to attack the enemy, and to escape Heg. 848, their pursuit. • \ i—y—*

The Christian prince could hope for success, siege of only from surprizes, and the superiority which he T cia,V,8. knew he possessed over the generals of Amurath. Hes* 85i# He permitted them to lay siege to Croia, which - nature and art had made one of the strongest places in the West. He had garrisoned it with six thousand men under the command of the count of Uruena his lieutenant general. As to himself he remained in the mountains at the head of his troops, which became every day more numerous, as the Venetians had disbanded nearly all the forces in the service of their republic, and furnished Scanderbeg with the money necessary to engage them. The Turks tempted in vain the fidelity of the count of Uruena; immense offers were insufficient to make him desert his prince, He cannonaded the besiegers' camp with a numerous and well served artillery. Whenever he made a sally, Scanderbeg attacked the same quarter on the opposite side. All the historians agree in reporting prodigies of this siege; never did the union of valour and ability better supply the want of number. The indefatigable Scanderbeg shewed himself day and night to the besiegers, and forced them to intrench themselves. He picked from his army soldiers like himself, for the night expeditions;


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »