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the eyes of the Christians, the rebellion of Scanderbeg is justi- CHAP. fied by his father's wrongs, the ambiguous death of his three lxvi. brothers, his own degradation, and the slavery of his country; and they adore the generous, though tardy, zeal, with which he asserted the faith and independence of his ancestors. But he had imbibed from his ninth year the doctrines of the Koran: he was ignorant of the Gospel; the religion of a soldier is determined by authority and habit ; nor is it easy to conceive what new illumination at the age of fortys8 could be poured into his soul. His motives would be less exposed to the suspicion of interest or revenge, had he broken his chain from the moment that he was sensible of its weight: but a long oblivion had surely impaired his original right; and every year of obedience and reward had cemented the mutual bond of the sultan and his subject. If Scanderbeg had long harboured the belief of Christianity and the intention of revolt, a worthy mind must condemn the base dissimulation, that could serve only to betray, that could promise only to be forsworn, that could actively join in the temporal and spiritual perdition of so inany thousands of his unhappy brethren. Shall we praise a secret His revolt correspondence with Huniades, while he commanded the van-Turks, guard of the Turkish army? shall we excuse a desertion of his standard, a treacherous desertion which abandoned the victory to the enemies of his benefactor? In the confusion of a defeat, the eye of Scanderbeg was fixed on the Reis Effendi or principal secretary: with a dagger at his breast, he extorted a firman or patent for the government of Albania ; and the murder of the guiltless scribe and his train, prevented the consequences of an immediate discovery. With some bold companions, to whom he had revealed his design, he escaped in the night, by rapid marches from the field of battle to his paternal mountains. The gates of Croya were opened to the royal mandate ; and no sooner did he cominand the fortress, than George Castriot dropped the mask of dissimulation; abjured the prophet and the sultan, and proclaimed himself the avenger of his family and country. The names of religion and liberty provoked a general revolt; the Albanians, a martial race, were unanimous to live and die with their hereditary prince; and the Ottoman garrisons were indulged in the choice of mariyrdom or baptism. In the assembly of the states of Epirus, Scanderbeg was elected general of the Turkish war; and each of the allies engaged to furnish his respective proportion of men and money. From these contributions,
A D, 1443, Nov. 28.
38 Since Scanderbeg died A. D. 1466, in the sixty-third year of his age (Marinus, l. xiii. p. 370,) he was born in 1403 ; since he was torn from his parents by the Turks, when he was novenes (Marinus, I. i. p. 1. 6,) that event must have happened in 1412, nine years before the accession of Amurath II. who must have inherited, not acquired, the Albanian slave. Spundanus has remarked this inconsistency, A. D. 1431, No. 31, 1443, No. 14.
CHAP. from his patrimonial estate, and from the valuable salt-pits of LXVII. Selina, he drew an annual revenue of two hundred thousand
ducats ;39 and the entire sum, exempt from the demands of luxury, was strictly appropriated to the public use. His man. ners were popular ; but his discipline was severe ; and every superflous vice was banished from his camp : his example strengthened his command; and under his conduct, the Alba
nians were invincible in their own opinion and that of their His valour, enemies. The bravest adventurers of France and Germany
were allured by his fame and retained in his service ; his standing militia consisted of eight thousand horse and seven thousand foot; the horses were small, the men were active; but he viewed with a discerning eye the difficulties and rescources of the mountains; and, at the blaze of the beacons, the whole nation was distributed in the strongest posts. With such unequal arms, Scanderbeg resisted twenty-three years the powers of the Ottoman empire; and two conquerors, Amurath the Second, and his greater son, were repeatedly baffled by a rebel, whom they pursued with seeming contempt and implacable resentment. At the head of sixty thousand horse and forty thousand Janizaries, Amurath entered Albania ; he might ravage the open country, occupy the defenceless towns, convert the churches into mosques,
circumcise the Christian youths, and punish with death his adult and obstinate captives: but the conquests of the sultan were confined to the petty fortress of Sfetigrade ; and the garrison, invincible to his arms, was oppressed by a paltry artifice and a superstitious scruple.40 Amurath retired with shaine and loss from the walls of Croya, the castle and residence of the Castriots; the march, the siege, the retreat, were harassed by a vexatious, and almost invisible, adversary ;41 and the disappointment might tend to embitter, perhaps to shorten, the last days of the sultan. 42 In the fulness of conquest, Mahomet the Second still felt at his bosom this domestic thorn ; his lieutenants were permitted to negotiate a truce; and the Albanian prince may justly be praised as a firm and able champion of bis national independence. The enthusiasm of chivalry and religion has ranked him with the names of Alexander and Pyrrhus; nor would they blush to
39 His revenue and forces are luckily given by Marinus (1. ii. p. 44.)
40 There were two Dibras, the upper and lower, the Bulgarian and Albanian ; the former seventy miles from Croya (I. i. p. 17,) was contiguous to the fortress of Sfetigrade, whose inhabitants refused to drink from a well into which a dead dog had traitorously been cast (I. v. p. 139, 140.) We want a good map or Epirus.
41 Compare the Turkish narrative of Cantemir (p. 92,) with the pompous and prolix declamation in the fourth, fifth, and sixth books of the Albanian priest, who has been copied by the tribe of strangers and moderns.
42 In honour of his hero, Barletius (l. vi. p. 188—192,) kills the sultan, by disease indeed, under the walls of Croya. But this audacious fiction is disprored by the Greeks and Turks, who agree in the time and manner of Amurath's death at Adrianople.
acknowledge their intrepid countrymen; but his narrow do- CHAP. minion, and slender powers, must leave him at an humble dis- LXVII. tance below the heroes of antiquity, who triumphed over the w East and the Roman legions. His splendid achievements, the bashaws whom he encountered, the arınies that he disconfited, and the three thousand Turks who were slain by his single hand, must be weighed in the scales of suspicious criticism. Against an illiterate enemy, and in the dark solitude of Epirus, his partial biographers may safely indulge the latitude of romance : but their fictions are exposed by the light of Italian history ; and they afford a strong presumption against their own truth, by a fabulous tale of his exploits, when he passed the Adriatic with eight hundred horse to the succour of the king of Naples. Without disparagement to his fame, they might have owned that he was finally oppressed by the Ottoman powers : in his extreme danger, he applied to pope Pius the Second for a refuge in the ecclesiastical state ; and his resources were almost exhausted, since Scanderbeg died a fugitive at Lissus on the Venetian territory." His sepulchre was soon violated by and death , the Turkish conquerors; but the Janizaries, who wore his bones Jan. 17 enchased in a bracelet, declared by this superstitious amulet their voluntary reverence for his valour. The instant ruin of his country may redound to the hero's glory; yet, had he balanced the consequences of submission and resistance, a patriot perhaps would have declined the unequal contest which must depend on the life and genius of one man. Scanderbeg might indeed be supported by the rational, though fallacious, hope, that the pope, the king of Naples, and the Venetian republic, would join in the defence of a free and Christian people, who guarded the seacoast of the Adriatic, and the narrow passage from Greece to Italy. His infant son was saved from the national shipwreck ; the Castriots 45 were invested with a Neapolitan dukedom, and their blood continues to flow in the noblest families of the realm. A colony of Albanian fugitives obtained a settlement in Calabria, and they preserve at this day the language and manners of their ancestors.
49 See the marvels of his Calabrian expedition in the ninth and tonth books of Marious Barletius, which may be rectified by the testimony kingdorfe of Muralori (Annali d'Italia, tom. xiii. p. 291,) and his original aut' (the forinica Indietta de Rebus Francisci Sfortiæ, in Muratori, Script. Rerum. ital. tom.uertowy et alios.) The Albanian cavalry, under the name of Stradivt., soon wecane famous in the wars of Italy (Memoires de Comines, I. viii. c. 5.)
44 Spondanus, from the best evidence and the most rational criticism, has reduced ibe giant Scanderbeg to the human size (A. D. 1461, No. 20, 1463, No: 9, 1465, No. 12, 13, 1467, No. 1.) His own letter to the pope, and the testimony of Phranza (1. iii. c. 23,) a refugee in the neighbouring isle of Corfu, demonstrate his last distress, which is awkwardly concealed by Marinus Barletius, (l. x.)
45 See the family of the Castriots, in Ducange (Fam. Dalmaticæ, &e. xviii. p. 348–350.)
46 This colony of Albanese is mentioned by Mr. Swinburne (Travels into the Tipo Sicilies, vol. I. p. 350-354,
In the long career of the decline and fall of the Roman LxvII. empire, I have reached at length the last reign of the princes
of Constantinople, who so feebly sustained the name and maConstan- jesty of the Cesars. On the decease of John Palæologus, 287 of the who survived about four years the Hungarian crusade, 47 the
royal family, by the death of Andronicus and the monastie campo. 1948, profession of Isidore, was reduced to three princes, ConstanNov. 8, tine, Demetrius, and Thomas, the surviving sons of the empe4. D. 1453, May 23.
'ror Manuel. Of these the first and the last were far distant in the Morea; but Demetrius, who possessed the domain of Selybria, was in the suburbs, at the head of a party : his ambition was not chilled by the public distress; and his conspiracy with the Turks and the schismatics had already disturbed the peace of bis country. The funeral of the late emperor was accelerated with singular, and even suspicious, haste; the claim of Demetrius to the vacant throne was justified by a trite and flimsy sophism, that he was born in the purple, the eldest son of his father's reign. But the empress-mother, the senate and soldiers, the clergy and people, were unanimous in the cause of the lawful successor; and the despot Thomas, who ignorant of the change, accidentally returned to the capital, asserted with becoming zeal the interest of his absent brother. An ambassador, the historian Phranza, was immediately despatched to the court of Adrianople. Amurath received him with honour and dismissed him with gifts; but the gracious approbation of the Turkish sultan announced his supremacy, and the approaching downfal of the Eastern empire. By the hands of two illustrious deputies, the imperial crown was placed at Sparta on the head of Constantine. In the spring he sailed from the Morea, 'escaped the encounter of a Turkish squadron, enjoyed the acclamations of his subjects, celebrated the festival of a new reign, and exhausted by his donatives tbe treasure, or ratber the indigence, of the sate. The emperor immediately resigned to his brothers the possession of the Morea : and the brittle friendship of the two princes, Demetrius and Thomas, was confirmed in their mother's presence by the frail security of oaths and embraces. His next occupation was the of haige of a consort. A daughter of the doge of Yeni
proposed; but the Bezantine nobles objectea tao atstance between a hereditary monarch and an elective magistrate ; and in their subsequent distress, the chief of that powerful republic was not unmindful of the affront. Constantine afterward hesitated between the royal families of Trebizond and Georgia; and the embassy of Phranza represents
47 The chronology of Phranza is clear and authentic ; but instead of four years and seven months, Spondanus (A. D. 1445, No. 7,) assigns seven or eight years to the reign of the last Constantine, which he deduces from a spurious epistle of Eugenius IV. to the king of Ethiopia.
in his public and private life the last days of the Byzantine CHAP. empire. 8
LXVII. The protovestiare, or great chamberlain, Phranza, sailed from Constantinople as minister of a bridegroom ; and the Emberian relics of wealth and luxury were applied to his pompous ap-1.252.480 pearance. His numerous retinue consisted of nobles and guards, of physicians and monks; he was attended by a band of music; and the terın of his costly embassy was protracted above two years. On his arrival in Georgia or Iberia, the natives from the towns and villages flocked around the strangers ; and such was their simplicity, that they were delighted with the effects, without understanding the cause, of musical har. mony. Among the crowd was an old man, above a hundred years of age, who had formerly been carried away a captive by the barbarians, 49 and who amused his hearers with a tale of the wonders of India, 50 from whence he had returned to Portugal by an unknown sea.si From this hospitable land Phranza proceeded to the court of Trebizond, where he was informed by the Greek prince, of the recent decease of Amurath. Instead of rejoicing in the deliverance, the experienced statesman expressed his apprehension, that an ambitious youth would not long adhere to the sage and pacific system of his father. After the sultan's decease, his Christian wife Maria, 52 the daughter of the Servian despot, had been honourably restored to ber parents : on the fame of her beauty and merit, she was recommended by the ambassador as the most worthy object of the royal choice; and Phranza recapitulates and refutes the specious objections that might be raised against the proposal. The majesty of the purple would ennoble an unequal alliance ; the bar of affinity might be removed by liberal alms and the dispensation of the church ; the disgrace of Turkish nuptials had been repeatedly overlooked; and, though the fair Maria was near fifty years of age, she might yet hope to give
48 Phranza, l. ii. c. 1-6,) deserves credit and esteem. 49 Suppose him to bave been captured in 1394, in Timour's first war in Georgia (Sherefeddin, I. iii. c. 50 ;) he might follow his Tartar master into Hindostan in 1398, and from thence sail to the spice islands.
5) The happy and pious Indians lived a hundred and fifty years, and enjoy. ed the most perfect productions of the vegetable and mineral kingdoms. The animals were on a large scale ; dragons seventy cubits, ants (the formica Indica) nine inches long, sheep like elephants, elephants like sheep. Quidlibet auden di, &c.
51 He sailed in a country vessel from the spice islands to one of the ports of the exteria India ; inventique navem grandem Ibericam, quâ in Portugalliam est delatus. This passage composed in 1477 (Phranza, I. iii. c. 30,) twenty years before the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope, is spurious or wonderful. But this new geogrophy is sullied by the old and incompatible error which places the source of the Nile in India.
52 Cantemir (p. 93,) who styles her the daughter of Lazarus Ogli, and the Helen of the Servians, places her marriage with Amurath in the year 1424. It will not easily be believed, that in six and twenty years cohabitation, the sultan corpus ejus non tetiget. After the taking of Constantinople, she led to Mahomet II. (Phranza, l. iii. c. 22.)