Page images
PDF
EPUB

His regency

s attacked,

char. brood mares, two hundred camels, three hundred mules, five LXI. hundred asses, five thousand horned cattle, fifty thousand hogs,

and seventy thousand sheep ; 24 a precious record of rural opulence, in the last period of the empire, and in a land, most probably in Thrace, so repeatedly wasted by foreign and domestic hostility. The favour of Cantacuzene was above his fortune. In the moments of familiarity, in the hour of sickness,

the emperor was desirous to level the distance between them, He is left and pressed his friend to accept the diadem and purple. The the empire. virtue of the great domestic, which is attested by his own

pen, resisted the dangerous proposal ; but the last testament of Andronicus the younger named him the guardian of his son, and the regent of the empire.

Had the regent found a suitable return of obedience and A.D. 1341. gratitude, perhaps he would have acted with pure and zealous

fidelity in the service of his pupil. A guard of five hundred soldiers watched over his person and the palace; the funeral of the late emperor was decently performed; the capital was silent and submissive ; and five hundred letters, which Cantacuzene despatched in the first month, informed the provinces

of their loss and their duty. The prospect of a tranquil miby Apo

nority was blasted by the great duke or admiral Apocaucus ; and to exaggerate his perfidy, the Imperial historian is pleased to magnify his own imprudence, in raising him to that office against the advice of his more sagacious sovereign. Bold and subtle, rapacious and profuse, the avarice and ambition of Apocaucus were by turns subservient to each other; and his talents were applied to the ruin of his country. His arrogance was heightened by the command of a naval force and an im

pregnable castle, and under the mask of oaths and flattery he by the em- secretly conspired against his benefactor. The female court of Savoy;"' of the empress was bribed and directed; he encouraged Anne

of Savoy to assert, by the law of nature, the tutelage of her son; the love of power was disguised by the anxiety of maternal tenderness; and the founder of the Palæologi had instructed his posterity to dread the example of a perfidious guardian.

The patriarch John of Apri, was a proud and feeble old man, patriarch.

encompassed by a numerous and hungry kindred. He produced an obsolete epistle of Andronicus, which bequeathed the prince and people to his pious care ; the fate of his predecessor Arsenius prompted him to prevent, rather than pu

caucus ;

by the

21 In this enumeration (1. iii. c. 30,) the French translation of the president Cousin is blotted with three palpable and essential errors. 1. He omits the 1000 yoke of working oxen. 2. He interprets the πεντακόσιαι προς δισχιλιαις, by the number of tisteen hundred. 3. He confounds myriads with chiliads, and gives Cantacuzene no more than 5000 hogs. Put not your trust in translations !

25 See the regency and reign of John Cantacuzenus, and the whole progress of the civil war, in his own history (I. iii. c. 1--100, p. 348—700,) and in that of Nicepborus Gregoras (1, xii. c. I. 1. xv. c. 9, p. 353— 192.)

nish, the crimes of a usurper; and Apocaucus smiled at the CAP. success of his own flattery, when he beheld the Byzantine LXIII. priest assuming the state and temporal claims of the Roman pontiff. Between three persons so different in their situation and character, private league was concluded : a shadow of authority was restored to the senate ; and the people were tempted by the name of freedom. By this powerful confederacy, the great domestic was assaulted, at first with clandestine, at length with open, arms. His prerogatives were disputed; his opinions slighted; his friends persecuted ; and his safety was threatened both in the camp and city. In his absence on the public service, he was accused of treason; proscribed as an enemy of the church and state ; and delivered, with all his adherents, to the sword of justice, the vengeance of the people, and the power of the devil : his fortunes were confiscated ; his aged mother was cast into prison; all his past services were buried in oblivion; and he was driven by injustice to perpetrate the criine of which he was accused. From the review of his preceding conduct, Cantacuzene appears to have been guiltless of any treasonable designs; and the only suspicion of his innocence must arise from the vehemence of his protestations, and the sublime purity which he ascribes to his own virtue. While the empress and the patriarch still affected the appearances of harmony, he repeatedly solicited the permission of retiring to a private, and even a monastic, life. After he had been declared a public enemy, it was his fervent wish to throw himself at the feet of the young emperor, and to receive without a murmur the stroke of the executioner : it was not without reluctance that he listened to the voice of reason, which inculcated the sacred duty of saving his family and friends, and proved that he could only save them by drawing the sword and assuming the Imperial title.

In the strong city of Demotica, his peculiar domain, the Cantacuze emperor John Cantacuzenus was invested with the purple the purple, buskins: his right leg was clothed by his noble kinsmen, the Oct 2€. left by the Latin chiefs, on whom he conferred the order of knighthood. But even in this act of revolt, he was studious of loyalty; and the titles of John Palæologus and Anne of Sa-, voy were proclaimed before his own name and that of his wife Irene. Such vain ceremony is a thin disguise of rebellion, nor are there perhaps any personal wrongs that can authorize

26. He assumed the royal privilege of red shoes or buskins ; placed on his head a mitre of silk and gold; subscribed his epistles with hyacinth or green ink, and claimed for the new, whatever Constantine had given to the ancient, Rome (Cantacuzen. I. iii. c. 36. Nic. Gregoras, l. xiv. c. 3.) 37 Nic. Gregoras (1. xii. c. 5,)

confesses thefinnocence and virtues of Cantacuzenus, the guilt and flagitious vices of Apocaucus ; nor does be dissemble the motive of his personal and religious enmity to the former; vun de di2 KRMILY ANA.COM αντιος πραοτατος της ταν όλω εδοξεν είναι φθορας.

CHAP. à subject to take arms against his sovereign : but the want of LXIII. preparation and success may confirm the assurance of the

usurper, that this decisive step was the effect of necessity rather than of choice. Constantinople adhered to the young emperor; the king of Bulgaria was invited to the relief of Adrianople: the principal cities of Thrace and Macedonia, after some hesitation, renounced their obedience to the great domestic; and the leaders of the troops and the provinces were induced, by their private interest, to prefer the loose dominion of a woman and a priest. The army of Cantacuzene, in sixteen divisions, was stationed on the banks of the Melas te tempt or intimidate the capital : it was dispersed by treachery or fear; and the officers, more especially the mercenary Latins, accepted the bribes, and embraced the service, of the Byzantine court. After this loss, the rebel emperor (he fluctuated between the two characters) took the road of Thessalonica with a chosen remnant; but he failed in his enterprise on that important place; and he was closely pursued by the great duke, his enemy Apocaucus, at the head of a superior power by sea and land. Driven from the coast, in his march, or rather flight, into the mountains of Servia, Cantacuzene assembled his troops to scrutinize those who were worthy and willing to accompany his broken fortunes. A base majority bowed and retired; and his trusty band was diminished to two thousand, and at last to five hundred, volunteers. The Cral, or despot of the Servians, received him with generous hospitality ; but the ally was insensibly degraded to a suppliant, a hostage, a captive; and, in this miserable dependence, he waited at the door of the barbarian, who could dispose of the life and liberty of a Roman emperor. The most tempting offers could not persuade the cral to violate his trust; but he soon inclined to the stronger side; and his friend was dismissed without injury to a new vicissitude of hopes and

perils. Near six years the flame of discord burnt with various 4134-1341 success and unabated rage : the cities were distracted by the

faction of the nobles and the plebeians : the Cantacuzeni and Palæologi ; and the Bulgarians, the Servians, and the Turks, were invoked on both sides as the instruments of private ambition and the common ruin. The regent deplored the calamities, of which he was the author and victim: and his own experience might dictate a just and lively remark on the dif

The civil war

28 The princes of Servia (Ducange, Famil. Dalmaticæ, &c. c. 2, 3, 4. 9,) were styled Despots in Greek, and Cral, in their native idiom (Ducange, Gloss. Græc. p. 751.) That titie, the equivalent of king, appears to be of Sclavonic origio, from whence it has been borrowed by the Hungarians, the modern Greeks, and even by the Turks (Leunclavius, Pandect. Turc. p. 422,) who reserve the name of Padishah for the emperor. To obtain the latter instead of the former, is the ambition of the French at Constantinople (Avertissement à l'Histoire de Timur Bec, p. 39.)

ferent nature of foreign and civil war. “ The former," said chap. he is the external warmth of summer, always tolerable, LXII. and often beneficial; the latter is the deadly heat of a fever, which consumes without a remedy the vitals of the constitu

tion.9529

Cantacu

The introduction of barbarians and savages into the contests Victory of of civilized nations, is a measure pregnant with shame and mis-zene. chief; which the interest of the moment may compel, but which is reprobated by the best principles of humanity and reason. It is the practice of both sides to accuse their enemies of the guilt of the first alliances; and those who fail in their negotiations, are loudest in their censare of the example which they envy, and would gladly imitate. The Turks of Asia were less barbarous perhaps than the shepherds of Bulgaria and Servia; but their religion rendered them the implacable foes of Rome and Christianity. To acquire the friendship of their emirs, the two factions vied with each other in baseness and profusion: the dexterity of Cantacuzene obtained the preference: but the succour and victory were dearly purchased by the marriage of his daughter with an infidel, the captivity of many thousand Christians, and the passage of the Ottomans into Europe, the last and fatal stroke in the fall of the Roman empire." The inclining scale was decided in his favour by the death of Apocaucus, the just, though singular, retribution of his crimes. A crowd of nobles or plebeians, whom he feared or hated, had been seized by his orders in the capital and the provinces; and the old palace of Constantine was assigned for the place of their confinement. Some alterations in raising the walls, and narrowing the cells, had been ingeniously contrived to prevent their escape, and aggravate their misery; and the work was incessantly pressed by the daily visits of the tyrant. His guards watched at the gate, and as he stood in the inner court to overlook the architects, without fear or suspicion, he was assaulted and laid breathless on the ground, by two resolute prisoners of the Palæologian race, who were armed with sticks, and animated by despair. On the rumour of revenge and liberty, the captive multitude broke their fetters, fortified their prison, and exposed from the battlements the tyrant's head, presuming on the favour of the people, and the clemency of the empress. Anne of Savoy might rejoice in the fall of a haughty and ambitious minister, but while she delayed to resolve or to act, the populace, more especially the mariners, were excited by the widow of the

30

29 Nie. Gregoras, l. xii. c. 14. It is surprising, that Cantacuzene has not inserted this just and lively image in his own writings.

So The two avengers were both Palæologi, who might resent, with royal irdignation, the shame of their chains. The tragedy of Apocaucus may deserve a peculiar reference to Cantacuzene (1. iii. c. 86,) and Nic. Gregoras (l. xiv. C. 10.) VOL. VI.

14

CHAP. great duke to a sedition, an assault, and a massacre. The LXI. prisoners (of whom the far greater part were guiltless or inglo

rious of the deed) escaped to a neighbouring church: they were slaughtered at the foot of the altar; and in his death the monster was not less bloody and venemous than in his life. Yet his talents alone upbeld the cause of the young emperor; and his surviving associates, suspicious of each other, abandoned the conduct of the war, and rejected the fairest terms of accommodation. In the beginning of the dispute, the empress felt and complained, that she was deceived by the enemies of Cantacuzene: the patriarch was employed to preach against the forgiveness of injuries; and her promise of immortal hatred was sealed by an oath, under the penalty of excommunication.31 But Anne soon learned to hate without a teacher; she beheld the misfortunes of the empire with the indifference of a stranger; ber jealousy was exasperated by the competition of a rival empress; and on the first symptoms of a more yielding temper, she threatened the patriarch to convene a synod, and degrade him from his office. Their incapacity and discord would have afforded the most decisive advantage; but the civil war was protracted by the weakness of both parties; and the moderation of Cantacuzene has not escaped the reproach of timidity and indolence. He successively recovered the provinces and cities; and the realm of his pupil was measured by the walls of Constantinople ; but the metropolis alone counterbalanced the rest of the empire; nor could he

attempt that important conquest till he had secured in his fa. Ho re-en-vour the public voice and a private correspondence. Ltantinople, Italian, of the name of Facciolati, 92 had succeeded to the office D. 1347 of great duke; the ships, the guards, and the golden gate,

were subject to his command; but his humble ambition was bribed to become the instrument of treachery; and the revolution was accomplished without danger or bloodshed. Destitute of the powers of resistance, or the hope of relief, the inflexible Anne would have still defended the palace, and have smiled to behold the capital in flames, rather than in the possession of a rival. She yielded to the prayers of her friends and enemies; and the treaty was dictated by the conqueror who professed a loyal and zealous attachinent to the son of his benefactor. The marriage of his daughter with John Palæologus was at length consummated; the hereditary right of the pupil was acknowledged; but the sole administration

Jan. 3.

31 Cantacuzene accuses the patriarch, and spares the empress, the mother of his sovereign (1. iii. 33, 34,) against whom Nic. Gregoras expresses a particular animosity (l. xiv. 10, 11, xv. 5.) It is true, that they do not speak exactly of the same time.

32 The traitor and treason arc revealed by Nic. Gregoras (l. xv. c. 8:) but the name is more discreetly surprcsscd by his great accomplice (Cantacuzen. I. üi. c. 99.)

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »