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diers, who kept up a brisk fire with small arms, J;c- W3«

/-..*.' tr 'jjeg. 857.

and discharged showers of darts at those of the *—.—* garrison who ran to attempt to dismount these terrible machines. . This fact, attested by all the historians, will appear perhaps incredible, but difficulties, reputed insurmountable, have often yielded to perseverance and industry. , „ , .••..?1

. What soldiers there were in Constantinople, animated, by religion and the fear of falling into the hands of Mahomet, fought with a courage . '.! approaching despair. The emperor was always atthe. head of his troops;; but, as; the attack* multiplied every moment, he appointed a noble Genoese, well experienced in the defence of places, for his lieutenant. The garrison was not sufficiently numerous, in proportion to the besiegers, to make sallies; this Genoese lieutenant, called J[ustiniani, confined the defence to repairing, during the night, the breaches made by the machines or batteries in the day. The promptitude of his operations astonished the besiegers, and always presented new fortifications to the.ra. Their batteries were often dismounted by those in the place. The wild fire and floods of boiling oil, which the besieged threw from the walls, set on fire these wooden towers, in which, as we have said, soldiers were put, in order to approach the rampart pn the side next the sea.



j.c. Hi?. This fleet, arrived as by a miracle in the port, «—r^-» disquieted the besieged infinitely more than all the other efforts of the Turks. The emperor.s fleet had attempted to engage it, but had been less fortunate in attacking than in defending; the Turks had funk two vessels, which had kept AVenetian tne others in awe. A brave Venetian, called

mainly en

ieavoursto Cop, undertook to burn the fleet in the night;

burn these * . ."

T.esleis,and he communicated his design to Constantine^

periihes in v

ihett- demanding only three barks and forty determined men for the execution. This courageous enterprise would have perhaps saved Constantinople, but it was discovered by a Genoese, the enemy of Cop, who, through animosity and the hope of a reward, informed the Turks of all the Venetian's proceedings. He conveyed his letter at the end of an arrow into one of the Turkish galleys, which was soon carried to Mahomet, who kept upon his guard. The three barks were purposely permitted to approach, when they were attacked in the moment of execution; this was perfectly unexpected to the Venetian, who had no other arms than the com^ bustibles intended for the enemy's fleet, and which were soon turned against himself. They discharged a shower of arrows at him, each of which carried a lighted match: the three barks were in flames in an instant. They were not sufficiently near the Turkish fleet to communicate the fire. Cop and his companions threw themselves into


the sea, rather than be burnt alive. The Turks h0-1^-
saved them all; but this was only to butcher «—v—»
them the next day in sight of the besieged, who,
by way of retaliation, hanged two hundred and
sixty Turkish prisoners on the ramparts. The
Genoese, who had accompanied those whom he
betrayed, abjured his religion, and received a
considerable recompense. . .

... The miscarriage of this enterprise terrified the P^e°"
besieged. The consequences were near being Vhebf'Th
more fatal than the execution had been. The Greekem-

peror buys

Venetians bitterly reproached the Genoese with inteiu

'gence in

the perfidy of their countryman. The great Mahom«t'»
duke or admiral, the first officer of the empire,
was jealous of the authority which Constantine
had given Justiniani, the chief of the Genoese,
who commanded next to the emperor, and pos-
sessed all his confidence. These intestine divi-
sions increased to such a degree in a few days,
that the two opposite parties were like to slaugh-
ter one another within the walls. Constantine
prevented the disaster which menaced him, by
mixing authority with prayers, a/id by conjuring
his subjects and the soldiers come to defend
him, not to do him more .mischief than his
greatest enemies. This prince, who possessed by
nature both talents and courage, was deserving
of a better fate; but he was unable to stop the
destiny of the empire, or the torrent which was-
hurrying it away. Constantine seemed to be born

S »


jÆ.1453. t0 t-^g throne, only to experience at once all the
*—v—> misfortunes which menace sovereigns. He kept
off for some weeks the blow which he was una-
ble to avoid, by procuring intelligence with the
enemy. The treasures accumulated by his pre-
decessors amidst the miseries of the empire,
were employed in corrupting Mahomet's minis-
ters. Ali, grand vizier to that prince, promised,
for a sum of money, to traverse the operations
of the siege. The confidence which his master
had always placed in him, enabled him to defeat
his designs. It is impossible to accouht otherwise
for the length of the siege of Constantinople,
defended against three hundred thousand men,
solely by eight thousand, particularly after Ma-
homet had found means to batter the place on
the side next the sea, and to multiply his attacks.
The breaches were open on every side, and the
be*sieged, who had already lost a great number of
men, were insufficient to repair them. The dif-
ferent works of the Turks menaced the place
more and more* the ditches were half filled up,
courage failed a people who were strangers to
toil, who, as we shall fee presently, were abused>
by superstitions, and whom the prospect of an
approaching famine filled with despair.
The ram- Constantine made a last effort; he sent an em-
forcedfand bassy to the Turk to offer him any tribute that
ro;iSiedV he should demand, and to represent to him the
injustice of invading a country which consented


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to submit. But Mahomet wished to efface every J,c-1Jm

'Heg. 85-7.

trace of the Greek dominion. He replied, that »—v—^ Constantinople was already his "conquest; that, if Constantino would surrender it to him without resistance, he would spare much blood: he even offered him the enjoyment during his life of that part of the Morea which yet belonged to the Greek empire, in order that the last emperor might not entirely lose the state of sovereign. Whatever the Turkish historians may have said, whose recitals, copied from each other, are beyond all credibility, Constantine resolved to defend to the last moment this precious remnant of the Roman empire, and to die with it. This was what Mahomet had expected; he had disposed every thing for a general assault; he surrounded the place on every side that was open, and promised the pillage to the soldiers, abandoning to them, without reserve, all the effects and all the inhabitants, solely reserving to himself the territory and buildings. Mahomet distributed at each breach his worst troops, composed of soldiers collected in haste, and who knew not how to fight; they were sustained or rather constrained by the janissaries, who, with sticks or swords in their hands, forced these wretches to place ladders and mount the first to the assault. Mahomet calculated men in the chances of war with more exactness than humanity; numerous as were these troops, he considered them

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