Page images
PDF
EPUB

and insoleuco.

CHAP. abused, the dangerous license of surrounding Galata with a LXIII. strong wall, of introducing into the ditch the waters of the sea;

of erecting lofty turrets; and of mounting a train of military engines on the rampart. The narrow bounds in which they had been circumscribed, were insufficient for the growing colony; each day they acquired some addition of landed property; and the adjacent hills were covered with their villas and castles, which they joined and protected by new fortifications.44 The navigation and trade of the Euxine were the patrimony of the Greek emperors, who commanded the narrow entrance, the gates, as it were, of that inland sea. In the reign of Michael Palæologus, their prerogative was anknowledged by the sultan of Egypt, who solicited and obtained the liberty of sending an annual ship for the purchase of slaves in Circassia and the Lesser Tartary ; a liberty pregnant with mischief to the

Christian cause ; since these youths were transformed by eduDheir trade cation and discipline into the formidable Mamalukes.4. From

the colony of Pera, the Genoese engaged with superior advantage in the lucrative trade of the Black Sea ; and their industry supplied the Greeks with fish and corn ; two articles of food almost equally important to a superstitious people. The spontaneous bounty of nature appears to have bestowed the barveits of the Ukraine, the produce of a rude and savage husbandry; and the endless exportation of salt fish and caviar is annually renewed by the enormous sturgeons that are caught at the mouth of the Don or Tanais, in their last station of the rich mud and shallow water of the Mæotis. 46 The waters of the Oxus, the Caspian, the Volga, and the Don, opened a rare and laborious passage for the gems and spices of India ; and, after three months' march, the caravans of Carizme met the Italian vessels in the harbours of Crimæe.47 These various branches of trade were monopolized by the diligence and power of the Genoese. Their rivals of Venice and Pisa were forcibly expelled; the natives were awed by the castles and cities, which arose on the foundations of their humble factories; and their

44 The establishment and progress of the Genoese at Pera, or Galata, is described by Ducange (C. P. Christiana, I. 1. p. 68, 69,) from the Byzantine historians, Pachymer (l. ii. c. 35, l. v. 10. 30, 1. ix. 15, 1, xii, 6. 9.) Nicephorus Gregoras (l. v. c. 4, 1. vi. c. 11, l. ix. c. 5, l. xi. c. 1, 1. xv. c. 1. 6,) and Cantacuzene (1. i. c. xii. I. ij. c. 29, &c.)

45 Both Pachymer (1. iii. c. 3, 4, 5,) and Nic. Gregoras (1. iv. c. 7,) understand and deplore the efects of this dangerous indulgence. Bibars, sultan of Egypt, himself a Tartar, but a devout Mussulman, obtained from the children of Zingis the permission to build a stately mosque in the capital of Crimea. De Guignes, Hist. des Huns, tom. iii. p. 343.

46 Chardin (Voyages en Perse, tom. i. p. 43,) was assured at Caffa, that these fishes were sometimes twenty-four or twenty-six feet long, weighed eight or nine hundred pounds, and yielded three or four quintals of caviar. The corn of the Bosphorus bad supplied the Athenians in the time of Demosthenes.

47 De Guignes, Hist. des Huns, tom. iii. p. 343, 344. Viaggi di Ramusio, tom. i. fol. 400. But this land or water carriage could only be practicable when Tartary was united under a wise and powerful monarch.

Cantacuzene

principal establishment of Caffawas besieged without effect CHAP. by the Tartar powers. Destitute of a navy, the Greeks were, LXII. oppressed by these haughty merchants, who fed, or famished, Constantinople, according to their interest. They proceeded to usurp the customs, the fishery, and even the toll, of the Bosphorus; and while they derived from these objects a revenue of two hundred thousand pieces of gold, a remnant of thirty tbousand was reluctantly allowed to the emperor.49 The colony of Pera or Galata acted, in peace and war, as an independent state; and as it will happen in distant settlements, the Genoese podesta too often forgot that he was the servant of his own masters.

These usurpations were encouraged by the weakness of the Their war elder 'Andronicus, and by the civil wars that afflicted his age emperor and the minority of his grandson. The talents of Cantacuzene were employed to the ruin, rather than to the restoration, of the A. D. 1343. empire, and after his domestic victory, he was condemned to an ignominious trial, whether the Greeks or the Genoese should reign in Constantinople. The merchants of Pera were offended by his refusal of some contiguous lands, some commanding heights, which they proposed to cover with new fortifications, and in the absence of the emperor, who was detained at Demotica by sickness, they ventured to brave the debility of a female reign. A Byzantine vessel, which had presumed to fish at the mouth of the harbour, was sunk by these audacious strangers; the fishermen were murdered. Instead of sueing for pardon, the Genoese demanded satisface tion ; required in a haughty strain, that the Greeks should renounce the exercise of navigation, and encountered with regular arms the first sallies of the popular indignation. They instantly occupied the debatable land; and by the labour of a whole people, of either sex and of every age, the wall was raised, and the ditch was sunk, with incredible speed. At the same time, they attacked and burnt two Byzantine galleys; while the three others, the remainder of the imperial navy, escaped from their hands : the habitations without the gates, or along the shores, were pillaged and destroyed; and the care of the regent, of the empress Irene, was confined to the preservation of the city. The return of Cantacuzene dispelled the public consternation; the emperor inclined to peaceful counsels; but he yielded to the obstinacy of his enemies, who rejected all reasonable terms, and to the ardour of his subjects, wbo threatened in the style of scripture, to break them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Yet they reluctantly paid the

48 Nic. Gregoras (l. xiii. c. 12,) is judicious and well-informed on the trade and colonies of the Black Sea. "Chardin describes the present ruins of Caffa, where, in forty days, he saw above 400 sail employed in the corn and fish trade (Voyages en Perse, tom. I. p. 46–48.)

4 See Nic. Gregoras, l. xvii. c. 1.

Destruction of his fleet,

CHAP. taxes, that he imposed for the construction of ships, and the LXII. expenses of the war: and as the two nations were masters, the

one of the land, the other of the sea, Constantinople and Pera were pressed by the evils of a mutual siege. The merchants of the colony, who had believed that a few days would termi. nate the war, already murmured at their losses ; the succours from their mother country were delayed by the factions of Genoa ; and the most cautious embraced the opportunity of a Rhodian vessel to remove their families and effects from the

scene of hostility. In the spring, the Byzantine fleet, seven A. D. 1349. galleys and a train of smaller vessels, issued from the mouth of

the barbour, and steered in a single line along the shore of Pera; unskilfully presenting their sides to the beaks of the adverse squadron.' The crews were composed of peasants and mechanics ; nor was their ignorance compensated by the native courage of barbarians: the wind was strong; the waves were rough, and no sooner did the Greeks perceive a distant and inactive enemy, than they leaped headlong into the sea, from a doubtful, to an inevitable peril. The troops that marched to the attack of the lines of Pera were struck at the same moment with a similar panic; and the Genoese were astonished, and almost ashamed, at their double victory. Their triumphant vessels, crowned rith flowers, and dragging after them the captive galleys, repeatedly passed and repassed before the palace; the only virtue of the emperor was patience; and the hope of revenge his sole consolation. Yet the distress of both parties interposid a temporary agreement; and the shame of the empire was disguised by a thin veil of dignity and power. Summoning the chiefs of the colony, Cantacuzene affected to despise the trivial object of the debate; and, after a mild reproof, most liberally granted the lands, which had been previously resigned to the seeming custody of his offi

But the emperor was soon solicited to violate the treaty, and

to join his arms with the Venetians, the perpetual enemies of tjans and Genoa and her colonies. While he compared the reasons of A.D. 1352, peace and war, his moderation was provoked by a wanton in

sult of the inbabitants of Pera, who discharged from their rampart a large stone that fell in the midst of Constantinople.

On his just complaint, they coldly blamed the imprudence of their engineer; but the next day the insult was repeated, and they exulted in a second proof that the royal city was not beyond the reach of their artillery. Cantacuzene instantly signed his treaty with the Venetians ; but the weight of the Roman empire was scarcely felt in the balance of these opu

50 The events of this war are related by Cantacuzene (1. iv. c. 11,) with ob- 1 scurity and confusion, and by Nic. Gregoras (l. xvii. c. 17,) in a clear and honest narrative. The priest was less responsible tban the prince for the defeat of the Ocet.

50 cers.

Victory of
the Geno-
ese over
the Vene-

Feb. 13.

lent and powerful republics.51 From the straits of Gibraltar char. to to the mouth of the Tanais, their fleets encountered each other LXIII. t with various success; and a memorable battle was fought in

the narrow sea, under the walls of Constantinople. It would not I be an easy task to reconcile the accounts of the Greeks, the Ve

netians, and the Genoese ;52 and while I depend on the narrative of an impartial historian, 53 I shall borrow from each nation the facts that redound to their own disgrace, and the honour of their foes. The Venetians, with their allies the Catalans, had the advantage of number; and their fleet, with the poor addition of eight Byzantine galleys, amounted to seventy-five sail ; the Genoese did not exceed sixty-four; but in those times their ships of war were distinguished by the superiority of their size and strength. The names and families of their naval commanders, Pisani and Doria, are illustrious in the annals of their country; but the personal merit of the former was eclipsed by the fame and abilities of his rival. They engaged in tempestuous weather; and the tumultuary conflict was continued from the dawn to the extinction of light. The enemies of the Genoese applaud their prowess : the friends of the Venetians are dissatisfied with their behaviour ; but all parties agree in praising the skill and bold. ness of the Catalans, who, with many wounds sustained the brunt of the action. On the separation of the fleets, the event might appear doubtful ; but the thirteen Genoese galleys, that bad been sunk or taken, were compensated by a double loss of the allies, of fourteen Venetians, ten Catalans, and two Greeks; and even the grief of the conquerors expressed the assurance and habit of more decisive victories.

Pisani confessed his defeat, by retiring into a fortified harbour, from whence, under the pretext of the orders of the senate, he steered with a broken and flying squadron for the isle of Candia, and abandoned to his rivals the sovereignty of the sea. In a public epistle, 54 addressed to the doge and senate, Petrarch employs his eloquence to reconcile the maritime powers, the two luminaries of Italy. The orator celebrates the valour and victory of the Genoese, the first of men in the exercise of naval war; he drops a tear on the misfortunes of their Vene

51 The second war is darkly told by Cantacuzene (l. iv. c. 18, p. 24, 25. 2832,) who wishes to disguise what he dares not deny. I regret this part of Nic. Gregoras, which is still in MS. at Paris,

62 Muratori (Annali d'Italia, tom. xii. p. 144,) refers to the most ancient Chronicles of Venice (Caresinus, the continuator of Andrew Dandulus, tom. xii. p. 421, 422,) and Genoa (George Stella, Annales Genuenses, tom. xvii. p. 1091, 1092 ;) both which I have diligently consulted in his great Collection of the Historians of Italy.

63 See the Chronicles of Matteo Villani of Florence, I. ii. c. 59, 60, p. 145-147, c. 74, 75, p. 156, 157, in Muratori's Collection, tom. xiv,

5* The abbé de Sade (Memoires sur la Vie de Petraque, tom. iii. p. 257—263,) translates this letter, which he had copied from a MS. in the king of France's library. Though a servant of the duke of Milan, Petrarch pours forth his astonishment and grief at the defeat and despair of the Genoese in the following Jear (p. 323–332.)

Their

treaty with May 6.

tian brethren ; but he exhorts them to pursue with fire and sword the base and perfidious Greeks; to purge the metropolis of the East from the heresy with which it was infected.

Deserted by their friends, the Greeks were incapable of resistthe empire, ance; and three months after the battle, the emperor Canta

cuzene solicited and subscribed a treaty, which for ever banished the Venetians and Catalans, and granted to the Genoese a monopoly of trade, and almost a right of dominion. The Roman empire (I smile in transcribing the name) might soon have sunk into a province of Genoa, if the ambition of the republic had not been checked by the ruin of her freedom and naval power. A long contest of one hundred and thirty years was determined by the triumph of Venice; and the factions of the Genoese compelled them to seek for domestic peace under the protection of a foreign lord, the duke of Milan, or the French king. Yet the spirit of commerce survived that of conquest; and the colony of Pera still awed the capital and navigated the Euxine, till it was involved by the Turks in the final servitude of Constantinople itself.

CHAPTER LXIV.

Conquests of Zingis Khan and the Moguls from China to Poland

Escape of Constantinople and the Greeks - Origin of the Ottoman Turks in Bithynia--Reigns and Victories of Othman, Orchan, Amurath the First, and Bajazet the Firsi~Foundation and Progress of the Turkish Monarchy in Asia and Eu

rope-Danger of Constantinople and the Greek Empire. CHAP. FROM the petty quarrels of a city and her suburbs, from the LxIv. cowardice and discord of the falling Greeks, I shall now ascend ~ to the victorious Turks, whose domestic slavery was ennobled

by martial discipline, religious enthusiasm, and the energy of the national character. The rise and progress of the Ottomans, the present sovereigns of Constantinople, are connected with the most important scenes of modern history : but they are founded on a previous knowledge of the great eruption of the Moguls and Tartars; whose rapid conquests may be compared with the primitive convulsions of nature, which have agitated and altered the surface of the globe. I have long since asserted my claim to introduce the nations, the immediate or remote authors of the fall of the Roman empire : nor can I refuse myself to those events, which, from their uncommon magnitude, will interest a philosophic mind in the history of blood,

1 The reader is invited to review the chapters of the third and fourth volumes;

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »