« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
CHAP. an heir to the empire. Constantine listened to the advice LXVII. which was transmitted in the first ship that sailed from Trebiwzond; but the factions of the court opposed his marriage;
and it was finally prevented by the pious vow of the sultana, who ended her days in the monastic profession. Reduced to the first alternative, the choice of Phranza was decided in favour of a Georgian princess; and the vanity of her father was dazzled by the glorious alliance. Instead of demanding, according to the primitive and national custom, a price for his daughter, 53 he offered a portion of fifty-six thousand, with an annual pension of five thousand ducats; and the services of the ambassador were repaid by an assurance, that, as his son had been adopted in baptism by the emperor, the establishment of his daughter should be the peculiar care of the empress of Constantinople. On the return of Phranza, the treaty was ratified by the Greek monarch, who with his own hand impressed three vermilion crosses on the golden bull, and as. sured the Georgian envoy, that in the spring bis galleys should conduct the bride to her imperial palace. But Constantine embraced his faithful servant, not with the cold approbation of a sovereign, but with the warm confidence of a friend, who
after a long absence, is impatient to pour his secrets into the State of the bosom of his friend. “ Since the death of my mother and of Buwantine Cantacuzene, who alone advised me without interest or pas
sion, 54 I am surrounded," said the emperor, “by men whom I can neither love, nor trust, nor esteem. You are not a stranger to Lucas Notaras, the great admiral ; obstinately at tached to bis own sentiments, he declares, both in private and public, that his sentiments are the absolute measure of my thoughts and actions. The rest of the courtiers are swayed by their personal or factious views; and how can I consult the monks on questions of policy and marriage? I have yet much employment for your diligence and fidelity. In the spring you shall engage one of my brothers to solicit the succour of the Western powers; from the Morea you shall sail to Cyprus on a particular commission ; and from thence proceed to Georgia to receive and conduct the future empress.” * Your commands,” replied Phranza, "are irresistible ; but deign, great sir,” he added, with a serious smile,“ to consider that if I ain thus perpetually absent from my family, my wife may be tempted either to seek another husband, or to throw herself into a monastery.” After laughing at his apprehensions, the emperor more gravely consoled him by the pleasing
53 The classical reader will recollect the offers of Agamemnon (Iliad, 1. v. 144,) and the general practice of antiquity.
54 Cantacuzene (I am ignorant of his relation to the emperor of that namel was great domestic, a firm asserter of the Greek creed, and a brother of the queen of Servia, whom he visited with the character of ambassador (Syropulos, p. 37, 38. 45.)
assurance that this should be his last service abroad, and that be destined for his son a wealthy and noble heiress; for himself the important office of great logothete, or principal minister of state. The marriage was immediately stipulated ; but the office, however incompatible with his own, had been'usurped by the ambition of the admiral. Some delay was requisite to negotiate a consent and an equivalent; and the nomination of Phranza was half declared, and half suppressed, lest it might be displeasing to an insolent and powerful favourite. The winter was spent in the preparations of his embassy; and Phranza had resolved that the youth his son should embrace this opportunity of foreign travel, and be left, on the appearance of danger, with his maternal kindred of the Morea. Such were the private and public designs, which were interrupted by a Turkish war, and finally buried in the ruins of the empire.
Reign and Character of Mahomet the Second-Siege, Assault,
and final Conquest, of Constantinople by the Turks-Death of Constantine Palæologus—Servitude of the Greeks, Extinction of the Roman Empire in the East-Consternation of Europe-Conquests and Death of Mahomet the Second.
THE siege of Constantinople by the Turks attracts our first chap. attention to the person and character of the great destroyer. LxvII. Mabomet the Second' was the son of the second Amurath ; and though his mother has been decorated with the titles of Character Christian and princess, she is more probably confounded with met II. the numerous concubines who peopled from every climate the baram of the sultan. His first education and sentiments were thuse of a devout Mussulman ; and as often as he conversed with an infidel, he purified his hands and face by the legal rights of ablution. Age and empire appear to have relaxed this narrow bigotry: his aspiring genius disdained to acknowledge a power above his own; and in his looser hours be presumed (it is said) to brand the prophet of Mecca as a robber and impostor. Yet the sultan persevered in a decent reverence for the doctrine and discipline of the Koran: his pri
1 For the character of Mahomet II. it is dangerous to trust either the Turks or the Christians. The most moderate picture appears to be drawn by Pbranza (I. i. c. 32,) whose resentment had cooled in age and solitude ; see likewise Spondanus (A. D. 1451, No. 11,) and the continuator of Fleury (tom. xxii. p. 552,) the Elogia of Paulus Jovius (1. iii. p. 164–166,) and the Dictionnaire de Bayle (tom. iii. p. 272. 279.)
2 Cantemir (p. 115,) and the mosques which he founded, attest his public regard for religion. Mahomet freely disputed with the patriarch Gennadius on the two religions (Spond. A. D. 1453, NO. 22.)
CHAP. vate indiscretion must have been sacred from the vulgar ear ; LXVIII. and we should suspect the credulity of strangers and sectaries
, so prone to believe that a mind which is hardened against truth, must be armed with superior contempt for absurdity and error.
Under the tuition of the most skilful masters, Ma. homet advanced with an early and rapid progress in the paths of knowledge ; and besides his native tongue, it is affirmed that he spoke or understood five languages, the Arabic, the Persian, the Chaldæan or Hebrew, the Latin, and the Greek. The Persian might indeed contribute to his amusement, and the Arabic to his edification ; and such studies are familiar to the Oriental youth. In the intercourse of the Greeks and Turks, a conqueror might wish to converse with the people over whom he was ambitious to reign: his own praises in Latin poetry or prosemight find a passage to the royal ear; but what use or merit could recomiend to the statesman or the scholar the uncouth dialect of bis Hebrew slaves? The history and geography of the world were familiar to his memory: the lives of the heroes of the East, perhaps of the West, excited his emulation : his skill in astrology is excused by the folly of the times, and supposes some rudiments of mathematical sci. ence; and a profane taste for the arts is betrayed in his liberal invitation and reward of the painters of Italy. But the influ. ence of religion and learning were employed without effect on his savage and licentious nature. I will not transcribe, nor do I firmly, believe, the stories of his fourteen pages, whose bellies were ripped open in search of a stolen melon; or of the beauteous slave, whose head he severed from her body, to convince the Janizaries that their master was not the votary of love. His sobriety is attested by the silence of the Turkish annals, which accuse three, and three only, of the Ottoman
3 Quinque linguas præter suam noverat ; Græcam, Latinam, Chaldaicam, Persicam. The Latin translator of Phranza has dropt the Arabic which the Koran must recommend to every Mussulman.
4 Philelphus, by a Latin ode, «equested and obtained the liberty of bis wife's mother and sisters from ibe conqueror of Constantinople. It was delivered into the sultan's hands by the envoys of the duke of Milan. Pbilelphus himself was suspected of a design of retiring to Constantinople ; yet the orator often sounded ihe trumpet of holy war (see his life by M. Launcelot, in the Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. x. p. 718. 724, & :-)
5 Robert Valturio published at Verona, in 1483, bis xii. books de Re Militari, in which be first mentions the use of bombs. By bis patron Sigismond Malatesta, prince of Rimini, it had been addressed with a Latin epistle to Mabomet II.
6 According to Pbranza, he assiduously studied the lives and actions of Ales. ander, Augustus, Constantine, and Theodosius. I bave read somewhere, that Plutarch's Lives were translated by his orders into the Turkish language. If the sultan bimself understood Greek, it must have been for the benefit of bis subjects. Yet these lives are a school of freedom as well as of valour.
7 The famous Gentile Bellino, whom he had invited from Venice, was dismiss ed with a chain and collar of gold, and a purse of 3000 ducats. With Voltaire ! laugh at the foolish story of a slave purposely beheaded to instruct the painter in the action of the muscles.
line of the vice of drunkenness. But it cannot be denied that CHAP. his passions were at once furious and inexorable ; that on the LXVIII. palace, as in the field, a torrent of blood was spilt on the slight- w est provocation, and that the noblest of the captive youth were often dishonoured by bis unnatural lust In the Albanian war, he studied the lessons, and soon surpassed the example, of his father, and the conquest of two empires, twelve kingdoms, and two hundred cities, a vain and flattering account, is ascribed to his invincible sword. He wa, doubtless a soldier, and possibly a general; Constantinople has sealed his glory; but if we compare the ineans, the obstacles, and the achievements, Mahomet the Second must blush to sustain a parallel with Alexander or Timour. Under his command, the Ottoman forces were always more numerous than their enemies; yet their progress was bounded by the Euphrates and the Adriatic; and his arms were checked by Huniades and Scanderbeg, by the Rhodian knights and by the Persian king.
In the reign of Amurath, he twice tasted of royalty, and Histoire twice descended from the throne : his tender age was incapa- Feb. 9. ble of opposing his father's restoration, but never could he july2 forgive the vizirs who had recommended that salutary measure. His nuptials were celebrated with the daughter of a Turkman emir: and after a festival of two months, he departed from Adrianople with his bride to reside in the government of Magnesia. Before the end of six weeks, he was recalled by a sudden message from the divan, which announced the decease of Amurath, and the mutinous spirit of the Janizaries. His speed and vigour commanded their obedience ; he passed the Hellespont with a chosen guard ; and at the distance of a mile from Adrianople, the vizirs and emirs, the imams and cadis, the soldiers and the people, fell prostrate before the new sultan. They affected to weep, they affected to rejoice; he ascended the throne at the age of twenty-one years, and removed the cause of sedition by the death, the inevitable death of his infant brothers.9 The ambassadors of Europe and Asia soon appeared to congratulate his accession and solicit his friendship; and to all he spoke the language of moderation and peace. The confidence of the Greek emperor was revived by the solemn oaths and fair assurances, with which be sealed the ratification of the treaty; and a rich domain on the banks of the Strymon was assigned for the annual payment of three hun
8 These Imperial drunkards were Soliman I. Selim II. and Amurath IV. (Cantemir, p. 61.) The Sophis of Persia can produce a more regular succession ; and in ihe last age, our European travellers were the witnesses and companions of their revels.
9 Calapin, one of these royal infants, was saved from his cruel brother, and baptized at Rome under the name of Callistus Othomannus. The emperor Fre: deric III. presented him with an estate in Austria, where he ended his life ; and Cuspinian, who in bis youth conversed with the aged prince at Vicnna, applauds mis piety and wisdom (de Cæsaribus, p. 672, 673.)
Hostile intentions of
CHAP. dred thousand aspers, the pension of an Ottoman prince, who EXVIII. was detained at his request in the Byzantine court. Yet the mneighbours of Mahomet might tremble at the severity with
which a youthful monarch reformed the pomp of his father's household : the expenses of luxury were applied to those of ambition, and an useless train of seven thousand falconers was either dismissed from his service or enlisted in his troops. In the first summer of his reign, he visited with an army the Asiatic provinces ; but after humbling the pride, Mahomet accepted the submission, of the Caramanian, that he might not be diverted by the smallest obstacle from the execution of his great design.io
The Mahometan, and more especially the Turkish casuists, Mahomet, have pronounced that no promise can bind the faithful against
the interest and duty of their religion; aud that the sultan may abrogate his own treaties and those of his predecessors. The justice and magnanimity of Amurath had scorned this immoral privilege ; but his son, though the proudest of men, could stoop from ambition to the basest arts of dissimulation and deceit. Peace was on his lips, while war was in his heart: he incessantly sighed for the possession of Constantinople; and the Greeks, by their own indiscretion, afforded the first pretence of the fatal rupture." Instead of labouring to be forgotten, their ambassadors pursued his camp, to demand the payment, and even the increase, of their annual stipend : the divan was importuned by their complaints, and the vizir, a secret friend of the Christians, was constrained to deliver the sense of his brethren. “ Ye foolish and miserable Ro. mans,” said Calil, “we know your devices, and ye are is, norant of your own danger! the scrupulous Amurath is no more ; his throne is occupied by a young conqueror, whom no laws can bind and no obstacles can resist : and if you escape from his hands give praise to the divine clemency, which yet
10 See the accession of Mahomet II. in Ducas (c. 33,) Phranza (l. i. c. 33, 9 1. iii. c. 2,) Chalcocondyles (1. vii. p. 199,) and Cantemir (p. 96.)
11 Before I enter on the siege of Constantinople, I shall observe, that except the short hints of Cantemir and Leunclavius, I have not been able to obtain any Turkish account of this conquest : such an account as we possess of the siege of Rhodes by Soliman II. (Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxvi. f. 723—769.) I must therefore depend on the Greeks, whose prejudices, in some degree, are subdued by their distress. Our standard texts are those of Ducas (c. 34–42,) Phranza (1.° iii. c. 7—20,; Chalcocondyles (l. viii. 201—214,) and Leonardus Chiensis (Historia C. P.'a Turco expugnatæ. Norimberghæ, 1544
, in 4to., 20 leaves.) The last of these narratives is the earliest in date, since it was composed in the isle of Chios, the 16th of August, 1453, only seventy-nine days after the loss of the city, and in the first confusion of ideas and passions. Some hints may be added from an epistle of cardinal Isidore (in Farragine Reo rum Turcicarum, ad calcem Chalcocondyl. Clauseri, Basil, 1556) to Pope Ni-! cholas V. and a tract of Theodosius Zygomala, which he addressed in the year 1581 to Martin Crusius (Turco Græcia, 1. i. p. 14–98. Basil, 1584.) The rious facts and materials are briefly, though critically, reviewed by Spondanus (A. D. 1453, No. 1—27.) The hearsay relations of Monstrelet and the distant Latins, I shall take leave to disregard.