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Title: Constantinople - The Story of the Old Capital of the Empire
Author: Hutton, William Holden, 1860-1930
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Note:

  Inconsistent hyphenation, spelling and use of diacritics in the
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  On page 38, "Theodore of Tyrone" should possibly be "Theodore of
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  On page 312, "Gül Kkâneh Kiosk" may be a typo.



_The Story of Constantinople_



_All rights reserved_

  [Illustration: Interior of S. Sophia.
   Showing the Sultan's pew and the stairs to the pulpit.]



     Constantinople

     _The Story of the old Capital
     of the Empire by William
     Holden Hutton, Fellow of
     S. John Baptist College, Oxford.
     Illustrated by Sydney Cooper_


     _London: J. M. Dent & Co.
     Aldine House, 29 and 30 Bedford Street
     Covent Garden, W.C. 1900_



               This superb successor
     Of the earth's mistress, as thou vainly speakest,
     Stands 'midst these ages as, on the wide ocean,
     The last spared fragment of a spacious land,
     That in some grand and awful ministration
     Of mighty nature has engulfed been,
     Doth lift aloft its dark and rocky cliffs
     O'er the wild waste around, and sadly frowns
     In lonely majesty.

       *       *       *       *       *

     I was the daughter of Imperial Rome,
     Crowned by her Empress of the mystic east:
     Most Holy Wisdom chose me for her home
     Sealed me Truth's regent, and High Beauty's priest.
     Lo! when fate struck with hideous flame and sword,
     Far o'er the new world's life my grace was poured.



PREFACE


A word of introduction is necessary to explain the nature of this
sketch of the history of Constantinople. It is the holiday-task, very
pleasant to him, of a College don, to whom there is no city in the
world so impressive and so fascinating as the ancient home of the
Cæsars of the East.

It is not intended to supersede the indispensable Murray. For a city
so great, in which there is so much to see, a guide-book full of
practical details is absolutely necessary. For this I can refer the
reader, with entire confidence, to Murray's _Hand-book_--and to
nothing else. But I think everyone who visits Constantinople feels the
need of some sketch of its long and wonderful history. I have myself
often felt the need as I wandered about the city, or spent a long
evening, during the cold spring, in the hotel. I have endeavoured, as
best I could, to supply what I have myself wanted. I do not pretend to
have written a history of the city "from the earliest times to the
present day" from the mass of original authorities of which I know
something. I have used the works of the best modern writers freely,
and I should like here, once for all, to express my obligations. I may
venture to say that the list of books I here insert will be found
useful by anyone who wishes to go further into the history than my
little book is able to take him. The ordinary standard books are
Professor Bury's edition of Gibbon; Mr Tozer's edition of Finlay's
_History of Greece_; Professor Bury's _History of the Later Empire_;
Von Hammer's _History of the Turks_; and the Vicomte de la Jonquière's
sketch of the same subject.

The authorities, in detail, for the history and topography of the city
are admirably summed up in Herr Eugen Oberhummer's contribution to the
Pauly-Wissowas _Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft_,
band iv., which can be purchased separately as a "Sonder-Abdruck."
Among the books which I have found especially useful I must mention
first Professor van Millingen's _Byzantine Constantinople, The
Walls, etc._; the _Broken Bits of Byzantium_, by Mrs Walker and the
late Rev. C. G. Curtis, to whose kindness I owe very much, a book
which is now very rarely to be met with, and ought certainly to be
republished; Bayet, _L'Art Byzantin_; Kraus, _Geschichte der
Christlichen Kunst_; Lethaby and Swainson, _S. Sophia_; Grosvenor,
_Constantinople_; Paspates, _The Great Palace of Constantinople_.
Among histories of particular periods there are none more useful than
Pears' _Conquest of Constantinople_, and Mijatovich, _Constantine the
last Emperor of the Greeks_. Among a mass of interesting and important
articles I should like to note that on _Les Débuts du Monachisme à
Constantinople_, by M. Pargoire in the _Revue des questions
historiques_, Jan. 1899.

The texts of the original authorities may be read in the Bonn edition,
and some of them, happily, in Professor Bury's admirable collection of
Byzantine texts, of which I have found the three volumes already
published most useful. I have referred in Chapter VII. to the work of
Gyllius, to whom we owe much of our knowledge of the mediæval city.

I have referred to a great number of books of travel, as may be seen;
it is impossible here to particularise them all.

The limits of the series have compelled me to confine myself chiefly
to the story of Constantinople as a mediæval town. Thus I have been
reluctantly compelled to leave out much that I should have liked to
say about Skutari, the Bosphorus and its palaces, and the present
social life and religious observances, the Dervishes, the "Sweet
Waters," and many familiar names.

For the same reason, I have dwelt very briefly on much that is of
great interest. I would gladly, for instance, have said more about
Iconoclasm, and something about that great theologian, S. Theodore of
the Studium.

Practically, I may add that the advice of Murray's Guide is always to
be taken; personally I have always found the Hotel Bristol most
comfortable in every way, and I have no occasion to commend any other
hotel, because I have never felt tempted to leave it. It has had
varied fortunes, but it is at its best, I think, as managed by Herr H.
Güllering. I have myself found a dragoman, except for the first day,
unnecessary; but I can strongly recommend Eustathios Livathinos as a
most pleasant companion. Jacob Moses has also much experience.

I should add that in my spelling of names I have usually adopted, for
simplicity, the common use; but I fear I have not even been uniform.

I owe very much to the kind offices of Lord Currie and of Sir Nicholas
O'Connor, Her Majesty's Ambassadors in 1896 and 1899, and to several
members of the Embassy, with a very special debt of gratitude to Mr
Fitzmaurice, C.M.G. I can never forget the kindness of the late Canon
C. G. Curtis, whose death in 1896 was so great a loss to the British
community in Constantinople, to archæology, and to religion.

In several instances photographs taken by my friend, Mr J. W.
Milligan, who was in Constantinople in 1896, have been of not a little
use to my friend, the Rev. Sydney Cooper, to whose illustrations this
book will owe very much more than half its interest.

     W. H. HUTTON.

     THE GREAT HOUSE, BURFORD, OXON,
     _S. Mark's Day, 1900_.



CONTENTS


                                                            PAGE

     CHAPTER I

     _The History of the City in ancient and mediæval
     times_                                                    1

     CHAPTER II

     _Constantinople under the Turks_                        154

     CHAPTER III

     _The Churches_                                          231

     CHAPTER IV

     _The Walls_                                             270

     CHAPTER V

     _The Mosques, Türbehs and Fountains_                    290

     CHAPTER VI

     _The Palaces_                                           310

     CHAPTER VII

     _Antiquities_                                           320



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                            PAGE

     _Interior of S. Sophia_                       _Frontispiece_

     _Seraglio Point after Sunset_                             2

     _Therapia_                                                4

     _The Hippodrome and Mosque of Ahmed_                      9

     _Yeri Batan Serai (Cistern)_                             28

     _The Imperial Quarter (Plan)_                            31

     _The Burnt Column_                                       35

     _S. Sophia and the Ministry of Justice from the Sea_     37

     _The Golden Gate_                                        42

     _The Golden Horn from Eyûb_                              53

     _The Aqueduct of Valens_                                 67

     _Roumeli Hissar_                                        139

     _In the Cemetery at Scutari_                            154

     _The Golden Horn from Pera, after Sunset_               173

     _Fountain in the Court of Mosque of Valideh_            186

     _Interior of Mosque of Ahmed I._                        191

     _Houses in the Phanar_                                  207

     _Street in Galata_                                      223

     _Capitals from S. Sophia_                               232

     _Courtyard of the Church of the Studium_                234

     _Plan of SS. Sergius and Bacchus_                       237

     _Plan of S. Sophia_                                     245

     _In the Gallery of S. Sophia_                           253

     _Ornament on the Brazen Lintel above the Principal
     Door of S. Sophia_                                      257

     _Bronze Door of Southern Entrance to the Narthex,
     S. Sophia_                                              258

     _Ancient Urn in S. Sophia_                              260

     _Church of the Pantokrator_                             267

     _Part of the Walls of Theodosius: the Seven Towers
     in the Background_                                      270

     _Kadikeui (Chalcedon) from Seraglio Point_              272

     _The Marble Tower at S.W. Corner of the Walls_          277

     _Walls near the Golden Gate: Roman Road in
     Foreground_                                             281

     _Mohammed, the Apostle of God. Embroidery from
     Curtain over the Door of S. Sophia_                     290

     _Mosque of Mohammed II. from English Embassy_           291

     _Mosque of Suleiman from the Golden Horn_               293

     _Court of the Mosque of Ahmed I._                       299

     _An Entrance to the Mosque of Ahmed_                    301

     _Mural Tiles from the Mosque of Valideh_                305

     _In a Türbeh_                                           306

     _Entrance to the Türbeh of Selim II. at S. Sophia_      307

     _Embroidery from Curtain over Entrance to S. Sophia_    309

     _Tower of Galata from Bridge_                           311

     _Approach to the Old Seraglio_                          313

     _A Corner of the Old Seraglio_                          315

     _Scutari Point and Leander's Isle_                      319

     _S. Sophia from the Hippodrome. Obelisk in the
     Foreground_                                             321

     _Bas-Relief from Base of the Obelisk in the
     Hippodrome, showing the Imperial Box during
     the Performance of a Ballet_                            324

     _The Palace of the Porphyrogenitus_                     331

     _Sarcophagus from the Royal Mausoleum at Sidon.
     The Carving is copied from the Frieze of the
     Parthenon_                                              336

     _Sketch Plan of the City_                 _facing last page_



TABLE OF EMPERORS


     Constantine I., the Great                     306-337
     Constantius II.                               337-361
     Julian                                        361-363
     Jovian                                        363-364
     Valens                                        364-378
     Theodosius I., the Great                      378-395
     Arcadius                                      395-408
     Theodosius II.                                408-450
     Marcian                                       450-457
     Leo I.                                        457-474
     Zeno                                          474-491
     Anastasius I.                                 491-518
     Justin I.                                     518-527
     Justinian I., the Great                       527-565
     Justin II.                                    565-578
     Tiberius II.                                  578-582
     Maurice                                       582-602
     Phocas                                        602-610
     Heraclius                                     610-641
     Heraclius Constantinus and Heracleonas        641-642
     Constans II.                                  642-668
     Constantine IV.                               668-685
     Justinian II.                                 685-695
     Leontius                                      695-697
     Tiberius III. Apsimarus                       697-705
     Justinian II. (restored)                      705-711
     Philippicus                                   711-713
     Anastasius II.                                713-715
     Theodosius III.                               715-717
     Leo III., the Isaurian                        717-740
     Constantine V. Copronymus                     740-775
     Leo IV.                                       775-779
     Constantine VI.                               779-797
     Irene                                         797-802
     Nicephorus I.                                 802-811
     Stauricius                                        811
     Michael I. Rhangabe                           811-813
     Leo V., the Armenian                          813-820
     Michael II., the Amorian                      820-829
     Theophilus                                    829-842
     Michael III.                                  842-867
     Basil I., the Macedonian                      867-886
     Leo VI., the Wise                             886-912
     Constantine VII. Porphyrogenitus              912-958
     Co-Emperors--
       Alexander                                   912-913
       Romanus I. Lecapenus                        919-945
       Constantine VIII. and Stephanus, sons of
         Romanus I., reigned five weeks                944
     Romanus II.                                   958-963
     Basil II. Bulgaroktonos                      963-1025
     Co-Emperors--
       Nicephorus II. Phocas                       963-969
       John I. Tzimisces                           969-976
       Constantine IX.                            976-1025
     Constantine IX.                             1025-1028
     Romanus III. Argyrus                        1028-1034
     Michael IV., the Paphlagonian               1034-1042
     Michael V.                                       1042
     Zoe and Theodora                                 1042
     Constantine X. Monomachus                   1042-1054
     Theodora (restored)                         1054-1056
     Michael VI. Stratioticus                    1056-1057
     Isaac I. Comnenus                           1057-1059
     Constantine XI. Ducas                       1059-1067
     Michael VII. Ducas                          1067-1078
     Co-Emperor--
       Romanus IV. Diogenes                      1067-1078
     Nicephorus III. Botoniates                  1078-1081
     Alexius I. Comnenus                         1081-1118
     John II. Comnenus                           1118-1143
     Manuel I. Comnenus                          1143-1180
     Alexius II. Comnenus                        1180-1183
     Andronicus I. Comnenus                      1183-1185
     Isaac II. Angelus                           1185-1195
     Alexius III. Angelus                        1195-1203
     Isaac II. (restored) }
     Alexius IV. Angelus  }                      1203-1204
     Alexius V. Ducas, Murtzuphlus                    1204


     _Latin Emperors_

     Baldwin I.                                  1204-1205
     Henry                                       1205-1216
     Peter                                       1217-1219
     Robert                                      1219-1228
     John of Brienne                             1228-1237
     Baldwin II.                                 1237-1261


     _Nicæan Emperors_

     Theodore I. Lascaris                        1204-1222
     John III. Ducas                             1222-1254
     Theodore II. Ducas                          1254-1259
     John IV. Ducas                              1259-1260


     _Empire Restored_

     Michael VIII. Palæologus                    1260-1282
     Andronicus II. Palæologus                   1282-1328
     Co-Emperor--
       Michael IX.                               1295-1320
     Andronicus III. Palæologus                  1328-1341
     John VI. Palæologus                         1341-1391
     Co-Emperors--
       John V. Cantacuzene                       1342-1355
       Andronicus IV. Palæologus (usurped
           throne)                               1376-1379
     Manuel II. Palæologus                       1391-1425
     John VII. Palæologus                        1425-1448
     Constantine XII. Palæologus                 1448-1453


     _Turkish Sultans_

     Mohammed II., "The Conqueror"               1451-1481
     Bayezid II., "The Mystic"                   1481-1512
     Selim I., "The Great"                       1512-1520
     Suleiman I., "The Magnificent"              1520-1566
     Selim II., "The Sot"                        1566-1574
     Murad III.                                  1574-1595
     Mohammed III.                               1595-1603
     Ahmed I.                                    1603-1617
     Mustafa I.  }                             1617-(1618)
     Osman II.   }                                    1623
     Murad IV.                                   1623-1640
     Ibrahim                                     1640-1649
     Mohammed IV.                                1649-1687
     Suleiman II.                                1687-1691
     Ahmed II.                                   1691-1695
     Mustafa II.                                 1695-1703
     Ahmed III.                                  1703-1730
     Mahmûd I.                                   1730-1754
     Osman III.                                  1754-1757
     Mustafa III.                                1757-1774
     Abdul Hamid I.                              1774-1789
     Selim III.                                  1789-1807
     Mustafa IV.                                 1807-1808
     Mahmûd II., "The Reformer"                  1808-1839
     Abdul Mejid                                 1839-1861
     Abdul Aziz                                  1861-1876
     Murad V.                                         1876
     Abdul Hamid II.                                  1876



Constantinople



CHAPTER I

_The History of the City in ancient and mediæval times_


1. BYZANTIUM BEFORE CONSTANTINE.

It is impossible to approach Constantinople without seeing the beauty
and the wonder of its site. Whether you pass rapidly down the
Bosphorus, between banks crowned with towers and houses and mosques,
that stretch away hither and thither to distant hills, now bleak, now
crowned with dark cypress groves; or up from the Sea of Marmora,
watching the dome of S. Sophia that glitters above the closely packed
houses, till you turn the point which brings you to the Golden Horn,
crowded with shipping and bright with the flags of many nations; or
even if you come overland by the sandy wastes along the shore, looking
across the deep blue of the sea to the islands and the snow-crowned
mountains of Asia, till you break through the crumbling wall within
sight of the Golden Gate, and find yourself at a step deep in the
relics of the middle ages; you cannot fail to wonder at the splendour
of the view which meets your eyes. Sea, sunlight, the quaint houses
that stand close upon the water's edge, the white palaces, the crowded
quays, and the crowning glory of the Eastern domes and the mediæval
walls--these are the elements that combine to impress, and the
impression is never lost. Often as you may see again the approach to
the imperial city, its splendour and dignity and the exquisite beauty
of colour and light will exert their old charm, and as you put foot in
the New Rome you will feel all the glamour of the days that are gone
by.

  [Illustration: SERAGLIO POINT AFTER SUNSET]

So of old the Greeks who founded the city dwelt lovingly on the
contrast of sea and land here meeting, and hymned the nymphs of wave
and spring, the garden by the shore.

     "Where ocean bathes earth's footstool these sea-bowers
       Bedeck its solid wavelets: wise was he
     Who blended shore with deep, with seaweed flowers,
       And Naiads' rivulets with Nereids' sea."

Strictly speaking the peninsula on which the city stands is of the
form of a trapezium. It juts out into the sea, beating back as it
were the fierce waves of the Bosphorus, and forcing them to turn aside
from their straight course and widen into the Sea of Marmora, which
the ancients called the Propontis, narrowing again as it forces its
way between the near banks of the Hellespont, which rise abrupt and
arid from the European side, and slope gently away in Asia to the foot
of Mount Ida. Northwards there is the little bay of the Golden Horn,
an arm as it were of the Bosphorus, into which run the streams which
the Turks call the Sweet Waters of Europe. The mouth of the harbour is
no more than five hundred yards across. The Greeks of the Empire
spanned it by a chain, supported here and there on wooden piles,
fragments of which still remain in the Armoury that was once the
church of S. Irene. Within is safe anchorage in one of the finest
harbours of the world.

South of the Golden Horn, on the narrow tongue of land--narrow it
seems as seen from the hills of the northern shore--is the city of
Constantine and his successors in empire, seated, like the old Rome,
on seven hills, and surrounded on three sides by sea, on the fourth by
the still splendid, though shattered, mediæval walls. Northwards are
the two towns, now linked together, of Pera and Galata, that look back
only to the trading settlements of the Middle Ages.

The single spot united, as Gibbon puts it, the prospects of beauty, of
safety, and of wealth: and in a masterly description that great
historian has collected the features which made the position, "formed
by Nature for the centre and capital of a great monarchy," attractive
to the first colonists, and evident to Constantine as the centre where
he could best combine and command the power of the Eastern half of his
mighty Empire.

  [Illustration: THERAPIA]

"Situated in the forty-first degree of latitude, the imperial city
commanded, from her seven hills, the opposite shores of Europe and
Asia; the climate was healthy and temperate, the soil fertile, the
harbour secure and capacious, and the approach on the side of the
continent was of small extent and easy defence. The Bosphorus and
Hellespont may be considered as the two gates of Constantinople, and
the prince who possessed those important passages could always shut
them against a naval enemy and open them to the fleets of commerce.
The preservation of the eastern provinces may, in some degree, be
ascribed to the policy of Constantine, as the barbarians of the
Euxine, who in the preceding age had poured their armaments into the
heart of the Mediterranean, soon desisted from the exercise of piracy,
and despaired of forcing this insurmountable barrier. When the gates
of the Hellespont and Bosphorus were shut, the capital still enjoyed,
within their spacious enclosure, every production which would supply
the wants, or gratify the luxury, of its numerous inhabitants. The
sea-coast of Thrace and Bithynia, which languish under the weight of
the Turkish oppression, still exhibits a rich prospect of vineyards,
of gardens, and of plentiful harvests; and the Propontis has ever been
renowned for an inexhaustible store of the most exquisite fish, that
are taken in their stated seasons without skill, and almost without
labour. But when the passages of the straits were thrown open for
trade, they alternately admitted the natural and artificial riches of
the north and south, of the Euxine, and of the Mediterranean. Whatever
rude commodities were collected in the forests of Germany and Scythia,
as far as the sources of the Tanais and the Borysthenes; whatsoever
was manufactured by the skill of Europe or Asia; the corn of Egypt,
and the gems and spices of the farthest India; were brought by the
varying winds into the port of Constantinople, which for many ages
attracted the commerce of the ancient world."

There is no wonder that legend should surround the beginnings of the
imperial city of the East. Men from Argos and Megara under the
navigator Byzas founded it about 657 B.C. But mythology made the
founder the son of Neptune the sea god, and said that Io, changed into
a heifer, swam across the narrow strait that divides Europe from Asia,
and so gave it the name of Bosphorus, which means literally Oxford.
The Delphic oracle told men to settle "opposite the land of the
blind," for blind were those men of Megara who some years before had
chosen Chalcedon on the Asiatic shore instead of the matchless site on
which rose the city of Byzantium.

The early history can be briefly told. Byzantium was the first of the
cities of Europe to fall into the hands of Darius. It was burned to
the ground by the Persians, rescued and rebuilt by Pausanias, was
threatened by the Ten Thousand on their retreat, and saved by the
eloquence of Xenophon. Two years it was besieged by Philip of Macedon,
and was saved by the Athenians. When Rome first showed her power in
those lands Byzantium was her ally; but her chequered fortunes ended
their first epoch with destruction at the hands of Septimius Severus
in 196 A.D. She waited then for a century till her real founder came.
Byzantine coins go back as far as the fifth century B.C., and there
were in the early Middle Ages many surviving memorials of
pre-Christian times; of these there are now left only the striking
Corinthian column standing on a high granite base in the garden of the
old Seraglio, which almost certainly commemorates a victory of the
Emperor Claudius Gothicus, some parts of the foundations of the
Hippodrome, an inscription in the Doric dialect which formerly stood
in the Stadium, and that wonderful serpent column, which only came, it
is true, to the city after Constantine rebuilt it, but which was
centuries before in the temple of Apollo at Delphi.


2. FROM CONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN.

The true history of the city begins with Constantine the Great. It is
said that he hesitated at first, like the men of Megara, between
Byzantium and Chalcedon, when he came to choose a spot from which to
rule the East. But when he chose aright he founded a city which has
endured to this day, and which it is inconceivable should ever be
deserted again. The site on which he built is about four miles long,
broadening from less than a mile where it fronts the Bosphorus to four
miles from where the Marble Tower now stands to the Golden Horn. Seven
hills and six valleys diversify the ground. The seven hills as we see
them now stretch thus from east to west. First is that irregular
elevation ending at Seraglio Point, on which stand the buildings of
the old Seraglio, S. Irene, S. Sophia, the great mosque of Sultan
Ahmed, and the Hippodrome. Second, and north-west of it, is the hill
on which stands the column of Constantine himself, now burned and
broken. On the third stands the great tower by the War Office
(Seraskierat), the mosques of Bayezid and Suleiman. A valley descends
northwards to the Golden Horn; and across it runs the Aqueduct of
Valens, and on the other side is the hill marked by the mosque of
Mohammed the Conqueror. The fifth hill stretches from the fourth
almost to the Golden Horn, and on it stands the mosque of Selim. The
sixth hill, divided from the fifth by a valley ascending from the
Golden Horn, has now the ruins of the palace called by the people "the
House of Belisarius," and the seventh extends from the south of the
Adrianople Gate to the Sea of Marmora. As the old foundation, so the
new planning of Constantine has its legend. It is said that he traced
the boundary of his city himself, walking spear in hand and marking
the line of the walls; and when his courtiers asked him how far he
could go he answered, as though he saw a sacred vision, "Until He
tarries Who now goes before." He ascribed in his laws the founding to
the command of God.

He did not cover the whole ground of the Seven Hills. It is difficult
to trace with certainty the line of the walls, but it would seem
probable that they extended from what is now the inner bridge across
the Golden Horn to a point on the Sea of Marmora about midway between
the gate of Daoud Pasha and the Psamatia Gate. This would exclude part
of the fifth, sixth, and seventh hills; but it is improbable that they
were left entirely unprotected or completely excluded from the city of
Constantine. By the sixth at any rate already stood the Blachernae,
later to be the famous palace of the Byzantine emperors. Sycae,
across the Golden Horn, was the name of what is now Galata. It was at
one time the quarter where the Galatian mercenaries dwelt, and quite
early in history it had another division named Pera, or "across the
water." The seaward walls remained as they had been in old Byzantium,
and they were repaired, and brought forward to the point whence the
new land walls started. Of the remains of Constantine's time there are
none that are not half destroyed or wholly altered, but the Church of
S. Irene still recalls the days of its first founder, and the serpent
column from Delphi still stands in the Hippodrome where he placed it.

The divisions of Constantine's city are not easy to recover. For
municipal government it had, like Rome, fourteen regions, two of which
were outside the walls, those (xiii.) of Sycae and (xiv.) of
Blachernae. From the Golden gate, which was not far from the Marmora
end of the land walls (the name Isa Kapou Mesjidi still recalls the
Holy Name of Jesus which it bore), a road led to the Augusteum. The
Forum of Constantine stood outside where the old Byzantine walls had
been, and west of the Hippodrome. The Hippodrome extended south-west
from the Forum of the Augusteum. North-east at some distance stood the
Church of S. Irene. The Augusteum which, as Mr Bury says, we may
translate _place impériale_, had the Church of S. Sophia, begun
probably by Constantius, on the north; on the east the Senate house,
and some buildings of the Palace; on the south the great Palace
itself, built eastwards of the Hippodrome and commanding the
magnificent view over the Marmora islands to the shores of Asia and
the snows of Olympus.

  [Illustration: THE HIPPODROME AND MOSQUE OF AHMED]

Of the splendour of the city of Constantine many hints of
description remain. Constantinople was enriched, says one writer, by
the spoils of all other cities: Rome and Athens, Sicily and Antioch,
were robbed of treasures. Of all these treasures the most wonderful,
almost if not quite alone, survives. For eight hundred years it had
already stood in the Sanctuary of Delphi, the serpent column with its
triple head, inscribed with the names of the Greek city states which
had triumphed on the field of Platæa. Through all the changes of the
sixteen centuries since Constantine lived the column has still
remained where he set it. Its heads are now broken off, and one may be
seen in the museum; but parts of the inscription on the coils might
still be traced fifteen years ago when rubbings were taken. The name
of the Tenians, whose trireme brought the news to the Greeks of the
Persian approach, may still be seen. "For this service," says
Herodotus, "the Tenians were inscribed in Delphi, on the tripod, among
those who had overthrown the barbarian." Thus for nearly two thousand
four hundred years this memorial has endured. Of all the wonders of
the city of Constantine there is none like it.

From Constantine to Justinian the history of the city may be rapidly
traversed, for no great builder came between them to rival their work.
It was on May 11, 330 A.D., that the city of Constantine was dedicated
and received the name of New or Second Rome. Throned in the
Hippodrome, ever after to be the centre of Byzantine life, Constantine
gave thanks to God for the birth of this fair city, the daughter (so
wrote S. Augustine), as it were, of Rome herself. Grandeur, riches,
dignity, he could give to his new city: but before he died it was
plain that he could not bequeath to her a legacy of peace.

The early history of Constantinople is largely concerned with the
defence of the true Christian faith, handed down from the Apostles,
against the errors of Arius. The Council of Nicæa (Isnik) in 325,
summoned by Constantine at a place not more than a day's journey from
Constantinople, defined the being of the Second Person of the Blessed
Trinity as Ὁμοούσιον, of one essence (substance), with that
of the Father, but centuries passed before the false teaching was
overcome. It was natural that at Constantinople, the seat of imperial
government, the strife should be concentrated. Thither the Arian
leaders went to denounce the great S. Athanasius of Alexandria to the
Emperor. It was there that Constantine gave his order to the aged
bishop Alexander that Arius should be admitted to communion. There the
bishop lay in prayer before the altar in the apse of S. Irene,
beseeching God to spare him the profanation. There that very day Arius
met his awfully sudden death.

Under the sons of Constantine the imperial city witnessed scenes of
disturbance and persecution. As soon as Constantius freed himself from
the danger of civil war, he threw himself warmly into the support of
Arianism, and "devoted the leisure of his winter quarters," says
Gibbon, "to the amusement or toils of controversy; the sword of the
magistrate, and even of the tyrant, was unsheathed to enforce the
reasons of the theologian"; and he refers to the happy passages in
which Ammianus Marcellinus records the results of his disastrous
activity, in language which loses nothing in Gibbon's English.

"The Christian religion, which in itself is plain and simple, he
confounded by the dotage of superstition. Instead of reconciling the
parties by the weight of his authority, he cherished and propagated by
verbal disputes the differences which his vain curiosity had excited.
The highways were covered with troops of bishops, galloping from
every side to the assemblies which they call synods; and, while they
laboured to reduce the whole body to their own particular opinions,
the public establishment of the posts was almost ruined by their hasty
and repeated journeys." The "opinions" indeed were far from original
to Constantius, but his support of Arianism rendered the position of
the Church in the imperial city dangerous and uncertain. Five times
was the bishop Paul banished from the city. The Catholics rose in
tumult, and the streets of Constantinople saw for the first time what
they have often since witnessed, a massacre in which not even the
churches preserved those who fled to them for refuge. Another fatal
precedent had already been set when Constantine died, by the murder of
many princes of his house. One of the few survivors ascended the
throne in 361, on the death of the last of Constantine's sons. This
new Emperor was Julian, whom later ages have named the Apostate.

Julian had been baptized and had "followed the way of the Christians"
till he was twenty. He had even, it seems, taken minor orders as a
reader. But he was greatly attracted by the old Greek ideals, and had
not patience to study the Christian religion perfectly. As Emperor he
set himself seriously to revive Paganism, which had received its
death-blow from Constantine.

The pagan Emperor was above all things a pedant and a doctrinaire. It
is impossible to study his life or his writings without a sense of his
extraordinary self-conceit. He was moral in life, sound and excellent
even to weariness in his platitudinarian sentiments; but he was
obstinate, and blind, and abnormally self-conscious, as men of his
mould always are. He was so convinced that he was right that he was
utterly blind to the good deeds of Christians and deaf to their
arguments, even from the clearest thinkers. We see in him not a trace
of intellectual progress, even on his own lines; we find him
throughout intensely superstitious and fond of dabbling in occult
arts. As a student, he somewhat hastily accepted certain conclusions,
and found himself a marked man in consequence. From that moment he
clung to his philosophy with the tenacity of a limited mind; and we
may be quite sure the story is legendary that such a man admitted on
his deathbed the triumph of a religious system which he had combated
all his life.

Julian was brought up probably in Constantinople. As Emperor he did
not a little to increase the pride and beauty of the city. Especially
interesting to him were the constitutional rules which Constantine had
set up in imitation of the old Rome, and he paid notable respect to
the office of the Consul, and enlarged the powers of the Senate. Art
and science he endeavoured to foster by endowments for teaching in the
schools of the city, and in this he was followed by his successors.
Julian died a disappointed man in 363, and his successors inclined to
the Catholic party; but still Arianism was strong, and its strength
was felt not least in Constantinople. Jovian proclaimed toleration,
Valentinian followed him, Valens professed Arianism. While religions
contended, the material prosperity of the city continued to grow. In
378, when the Goths drew near to besiege the imperial city, they
turned back, it is said, at the sight of its increased size. Already
people of every kindred and tongue poured into the great mart for
commerce and pleasure. At length, says Sozomen, it far surpassed Rome
both in population and riches, and Eunapius thus describes its
importance in his day:--"Constantinople, formerly called Byzantium,
allowed the ancient Athenians a liberty of importing corn in great
quantities; but now not all the ships of burden from Egypt, Asia,
Syria, Phœnicia, and many other nations can import a quantity
sufficient for the support of those people whom Constantine, by
unpeopling other cities, has transported thither." Already there began
the custom, which has lasted so many centuries, of building houses on
wooden piles thrust out into the sea. As the incursion of the
barbarians became more dangerous many took refuge in the capital; and
yearly the churches grew in importance, and the monasteries attracted
more religious.

"There were many structures which Constantine had only commenced; and
the completion of the fortifications of the city had been left to
Constantius; Julian found it necessary to construct a second harbour
on the side of the sea of Marmora;[1] Valens was obliged to improve
the waterworks of the city by the erection of the fine aqueduct which
spans the valley between the fourth and fifth hills. And how large a
number of hands such work required appears from the fact that when the
aqueduct was repaired, in the ninth century, 6000 labourers were
brought from the provinces to Constantinople for the purpose."[2]

But while the magnificent aqueduct of Valens (364-378) still towers
over the city, as one views it from the heights of Pera, no other
great building was added till the reign of Theodosius the Great
(378-395), which marks the triumph of Catholic Christianity and the
great increase in the splendour of the patriarchal and imperial abode.
A contemporary, Gregory of Nyssa, quaintly describes the results of
the theological interests which now surrounded the throne. Not only
did great preachers fill the churches with attentive crowds, but the
poor took up the tale. "The city is full of mechanics and slaves who
are all of them profound theologians, and preach in the shops and in
the streets. If you desire a man to change a piece of money for you he
informs you wherein the Son differs from the Father; if you ask the
price of a loaf you are told by way of reply that the Son is inferior
to the Father; and if you enquire whether the bath is ready, the
answer is that the Son was made out of nothing." This was in the time
of the Arian triumph. It was the work of great preachers, as well as
of the orthodox Emperor, to recover the Church from the blows she had
received in the house of her friends.

The three great saints of the Eastern Church in the fourth century
were in different ways associated with Constantinople. S. Basil of
Cæsarea in Cappadocia, (brother of S. Gregory of Nyssa) was a
fellow-student of the Emperor Julian, and died in 379. He knew very
little directly of the seat of empire; he probably only twice passed
through it; but his writings, full in every page of lucid order and
perspicuous exposition, did much to vindicate the position which the
orthodox in Constantinople were struggling to retain. Probably it was
before his death that the great preacher, S. Gregory of Nazianzus, was
pleading in the imperial city, and vindicated by his great oration the
worship of the Holy Trinity. The site of his first preaching was
commemorated by the building of the Church of Anastasia, a name given
to denote the rising again of the Catholic faith of Nicæa. The
sixteenth century mosque of Mehmed Pacha, south-west of the
Hippodrome, preserves the position of the church, which was destroyed
in 1458. At first the mission of S. Gregory was conducted amid scenes
of the greatest disturbance and at great danger to his own life. His
church was profaned, he himself was stoned. But when Theodosius
entered the city in triumph he gave to S. Gregory the great church of
the Twelve Apostles, and himself sought to seat him upon the episcopal
throne. Humble, and weakened by suffering, it was with reluctance that
the saint entered upon the heritage of the church; but he records that
when he entered the sanctuary the light that burst forth on the chill
November day cheered him to give thanks before all the people for the
benefits which the Blessed Trinity had bestowed. After a month of
reluctance he was at length installed as bishop. In May 381 the second
General Council of the Church was assembled by the order of the
Emperor Theodosius at Constantinople. It reasserted the creed of
Nicæa, emphasised the Catholic teaching of the Divinity of the Holy
Ghost, and condemned the heresy of Apollinaris. Its claim to be
ecumenical rests on its unanimous acceptance of "all the nations and
all the churches of the Christian world."

By this council the precedence of the bishop of Constantinople in the
Church was assigned as next after that of the Roman bishop, "because
it is the new Rome."

S. Gregory, attacked by critics for his acceptance of the see, which
he had so reluctantly received, withdrew to Nazianzus. "The title of a
saint had been added to his name, but the tendencies of his heart, and
the elegance of his genius, reflect a more pleasing lustre on the
memory of Gregory of Nazianzen," says Gibbon in his inimitable way.
The consecration of his successor, a senator named Nectarius, who when
elected had not yet been baptised, is described by the same classic as
"whimsical," but it served to bring peace to the Church of
Constantinople. The conquests of Theodosius confirmed the security of
the imperial throne, and under the rule of the orthodox Emperor the
Church in the East regained her peace. By his order all churches were
given up to the orthodox, and his edict condemned all those who
taught heretical doctrines, and "who, though possessing a sound faith,
form congregations separate from the canonical bishops." Under
Theodosius the security of life and property in the imperial city
tended to a great increase of wealth and population; and with that to
a considerable extension of the area occupied.

"Should the zeal of the Emperor to adorn the city continue," said the
orator Themistius, "a wider circuit will be required, and the question
will arise whether the city added to Constantinople by Theodosius is
not more splendid than the city which Constantine added to Byzantium."

"No longer is the vacant ground in the city more extensive than that
occupied by buildings; nor are we cultivating more territory within
our walls than we inhabit; the beauty of the city is not as heretofore
scattered over it in patches, but covers the whole area like a robe
woven to the very fringe. The city gleams with gold and porphyry. It
has a [new] Forum, named after the Emperor; it owns baths, porticos,
gymnasia; and its former extremity is now its centre. Were Constantine
to see the capital he founded, he would behold a glorious and splendid
scene, not a bare and empty void; he would find it fair, not with
apparent but with real beauty."[3]

The beginning of the fifth century witnessed the great extension of
the city which the orator so grandiloquently describes in
anticipation. Anthemius, who ruled during the earlier part of the
minority of Theodosius II., built the great wall, a mile or in parts a
mile and a half to the west of Constantine's wall, which still extends
from the Sea of Marmora to the so-called "palace of Belisarius." It
was within the city now rapidly growing, that the greatest preacher of
the early Church, began at the end of the fourth century to exercise
his marvellous influence over the crowds that thronged the great
church of the capital. Arcadius, the son and successor of Theodosius
I., having heard of the splendid eloquence of John, a preacher of
Antioch, whom men came to call Chrysostom (the golden-mouthed),
nominated him to the throne of Constantinople on the death of
Nectarius in 397.

He set an example, which the clergy sadly needed, of simplicity and
asceticism; he was not only a reformer but an organiser of missions,
and above all a preacher of righteousness. The Emperor and Empress,
Arcadius and Eudocia, were among his most ardent admirers. He owed his
nomination to the imperial minister Eutropius; yet he denounced his
vices at the height of his power, and when he fell preserved him in
sanctuary from the rage of the people. But the Empress and the
courtiers soon grew restless under his searching exposure of vice and
worldliness. He was a severe disciplinarian: bishops were ready to
turn against him, and the ladies of the court were determined to
avenge themselves on their censor. When he denounced the Empress
almost openly as Jezebel, it was clear that peace could not long be
maintained even in appearance. Charges of heresy, complicated by his
charitable succour of some Eastern monks whom the bishop of Alexandria
had ill-treated and banished, led to his condemnation by a council of
his enemies at Chalcedon, across the Bosphorus. When the citizens
heard this they surrounded the palace of their beloved bishop and kept
watch all night lest he should be seized, but he gave himself up and
was banished to Hieron (now Anadoli Kavak) at the mouth of the Black
Sea on the Asiatic side. The people assembled round the imperial
palace with threats; an earthquake shook the resolution of the
Empress, and Chrysostom was brought back in triumph to his throne.
His position seemed stronger than ever. Always ready to believe the
best, he accepted the Empress's assurance of friendship and repaid it
with courtierlike expressions of respect. But it was soon apparent
that the friendship could not be continued without a sacrifice of
principle. Eudocia envied, it would seem, the divine honours of the
pagan emperors; and the dedication of her statue in September 403 was
made the occasion of blasphemous and licentious revelry. From the ambo
of the great church S. John Chrysostom denounced the wickedness of the
festival, while the sound of the disturbance could be heard as he
spoke. Men declared that he compared the Empress to Herodias--"Again
Herodias dances: again she demands the head of John on a charger."

The Empress demanded the punishment of the bold preacher. Intrigues
won over the Emperor, time-serving bishops brought up ingenious
distortions of Church rules through which Chrysostom could be
punished. It was pretended that he was not legally bishop, and at last
the timid Emperor gave the order to arrest him, an act which was
accomplished, in a scene of brutal disorder and violence, in the great
church itself on Easter Eve 404, when the sacrament of baptism was
being ministered to three thousand catechumens.

Two months later he was sent into banishment, and his adherents
underwent a bitter persecution. They appealed to the churches of the
West for aid: Chrysostom himself wrote to Rome, Milan, and Aquileia.
But the Emperor was not to be moved. In his banishment at Cucusus, on
the borders of Cilicia and Armenia, the Saint exercised as wide an
influence as on his throne. Constant letters to Constantinople cheered
the loyal clergy, comforted penitents, aroused faint hearts to devoted
service of God. But his sufferings in exile were at length made fatal
by the brutality with which he was hurried from place to place, and he
gave up his soul on September 14, 407, a martyr to his zeal for
righteousness. Thirty years afterwards in 438 his body was translated
to the city where his memory was still cherished. It came in triumphal
procession down the Bosphorus followed by crowds of boats, and was
laid in a tomb by the altar in the Church of the Holy Apostles; the
Emperor, Theodosius II., praying for the pardon of God on the sins of
his parents.

Thus briefly the tale of Chrysostom may be told. It is characteristic
of the struggles through which the Church of Constantinople had to
pass during the years of unchecked imperial power, when it was
dependent on the arbitrary authority of a sovereign who might be weak
and led by evil counsellors, or wicked and resentful of any criticism
of his deeds, but who had always at his command a body of brutal
soldiery, often pagan and retaining of the old Roman tradition only
the implicit obedience to the commands of their ruler. The name of S.
John Chrysostom, loved and honoured by the people in his life, has
remained the chief glory of the Church of Constantinople. It is said
that his tomb was rifled by the Crusaders in 1204, and his head is
shown among the relics of the Cathedral of Pisa; but in countless ways
his memory is still preserved by the Church which he ruled. At the
Cathedral Church of the Patriarchate in the Phanar they point to-day
to a pulpit and a throne (of much later date) as his; and the ancient
liturgy of the East, used from time immemorial in the Church of
Constantinople, has been given his name, as that of the most famous of
the holy prelates who used it.

The troubles of the Church, which centred round the persecution and
martyrdom of S. Chrysostom, were followed by at least outward peace
in religious matters. The chief clergy of Constantinople became the
mere officers of the Court. But the dangers of the times, when again
and again the barbarian was at the gates, turned men's minds to the
repair of the fortifications and the completion of their circuit
around the now greatly extended city.

The work of Anthemius, regent during part of the minority of
Theodosius II., was eulogised by Chrysostom himself. The office of
Prætorian Præfect of the East which he held, was honoured, said the
great preacher, by his holding it. He restored the defences of the
Empire after the weakness of Arcadius, "and to crown the system of
defence he made Constantinople a mighty citadel. The enlargement and
refortification of the city was thus part of a comprehensive and far
seeing plan to equip the Roman State in the East for the impending
desperate struggle with barbarism; and of all the services which
Anthemius rendered, the most valuable and enduring was the addition he
made to the military importance of the capital. The bounds he assigned
to the city fixed, substantially, her permanent dimensions, and behind
the bulwarks he raised--improved and often repaired indeed by his
successors--Constantinople acted her great part in the history of the
world."[4]

The two greatest interests of Constantinople have always been the
military and the ecclesiastical. The Eastern churches have always
looked, and look to-day, on the New Rome as the centre of true
religion and sound learning. The theology of the Councils is the
theology of the great Church of Constantinople and its patriarchs; and
in the days of its bitterest persecution, in the times when the
infidel has ruled, the strongest sentiment of the Greek people, who
feel that the city is still truly their own, is that of loyalty to
the unalterable faith and the immemorial liturgies of the holy
Orthodox Church preserved by the successors of S. Chrysostom. But
while the intense intellectual keenness of the East and the chivalrous
conservatism of the ancient Greek families preserves undisputed the
dominion of religion, and the thronged churches witness to a devotion
which is perhaps more conspicuous than in any city which lives on to
our day from the centuries of the Middle Ages, the great city of
Constantine can never cease to be the home of a military power, where
military science is cultivated and the soldier's life is the most
prominent before the eyes of the people. Even at the lowest point of
the Empire, the great city of the Cæsars was always a military
stronghold of the first class. The streets have never ceased to be
thronged with soldiers, and the military pageants of to-day look back
for their origin and their necessity to the days of Constantine and
Theodosius and Anthemius the wall-builder. It is said that to-day the
city is more completely defended than any other in Europe. More than
sixteen centuries ago it was the strength of the walls of Anthemius
and the size of the army and the fleet that he gathered that turned
back the army of Attila. Just as the whole city was concerned in the
doings of the Church, its buildings, its festivals, its councils, so
were all the citizens bound to take part in its military defence. The
walls, like the churches, belonged to all. Strict laws, from which no
one was exempt, and the power of levying special taxes besides the due
proportion of the city land-tax, made every man liable to contribute.
Characteristically the Hippodrome had its share in directing the work.
The two factions of the Circus, the blues and the greens, were charged
with the direction; and it is said that in 447 they furnished no less
than sixteen thousand labourers for the work.

The reign of Theodosius II. was the great age of the construction of
defences. The walls of Anthemius were built in 413; in 439 the sea
walls were extended to include the part of the city now enclosed. In
447, an earthquake, always the greatest enemy of the fortifications
and responsible even now for more destruction than any other force,
overthrew much of what had been so lately built, with fifty-seven
towers. Attila was almost at the gates, and was dictating an
ignominious treaty of peace. But, as an inscription which may be read
to-day on the gate now called Yeni-Mevlevi Haneh Kapoussi tells--

     "In sixty days, by order of the sceptre loving Emperor,
     Konstantinos the Eparch added wall to wall."

A Latin inscription makes the same record almost in the words of the
contemporary chronicler Marcellinus Comes--

     "Theodosii jussis gemino nec mense peracto
     Constantinus ovans haec moenia firma locavit
     Tam cito quam stabilem Pallas vix conderet arcem."

This addition was a new wall, in front of that of Anthemius, with 192
towers, and a moat without, forming tiers of defence. It was this
magnificent series of bulwarks which, in the words of the historian of
the walls, "so long as ordinary courage survived and the modes of
ancient warfare were not superseded, made Constantinople impregnable,
and behind which civilisation defied the assaults of barbarism for a
thousand years."[5]

Theodosius II. reigned till 450. The later part of his reign was
disturbed by the Nestorian controversy, in which the bishop of
Constantinople himself involved the Church. The denial by this prelate
of the title Theotokos (Mother of God) to the Blessed Virgin Mary was
no obscure attack upon the reality of the Incarnation as the Church
had always received it; and the people of the city as well as the
clergy received the new teaching with disgust. Eastern and Western
bishops united against the heresy, and in 431 the third General
Council of the Church at Ephesus condemned it and its author, and
again defined the Catholic faith. The party of Nestorius was not
suppressed, though he was himself deposed, and in the sixth century it
became the great agent of Christian missions in the East.

Hardly was this false teaching rejected before a new heresy arose.
Eutyches, a monk of Constantinople, denied the existence of two
natures in Christ, and after a dispute which shook the Church for
twenty years his teaching was at last condemned by the fourth General
Council, which met at Chalcedon, just across the Bosphorus. The
Council also emphasised the importance of the position now held by the
New Rome by enacting that it should be "magnified in ecclesiastical
matters even like the elder imperial Rome, as being next to it." This
rule was accepted by the Emperor Marcian, and the power it gave to
consecrate the metropolitans of Thrace, Asia, and Pontus was supported
by the State as a badge of supremacy. The emperors who followed
Marcian were all more or less concerned in the theological strife
which the opinions of Eutyches had raised. The Monophysites, as the
party which rejected the decisions of Chalcedon came to be called, was
constantly rising into power in the Court. The imperial crown was worn
in turn by four adventurers, who deposed prelates and attempted to
reconcile parties at their will. In 482 the Emperor Zeno, with the
advice of the patriarch Acacius, put forth the _Henoticon_ (form of
union), which was intended to reconcile the Monophysites to the
Catholic Church. The controversy was far from stilled by this inept
document; and when in 484, Felix, the pope of Rome, with other Western
bishops, wrote to the patriarch Acacius, declaring him deposed from
his office, and separated from the communion of the faithful, a schism
was caused in Constantinople itself. While the majority of the clergy
and people treated the Roman decree with contempt, some of the monks,
and especially the Akoimetai (an order which kept up perpetual worship
by succession of worshippers, and thus received the name of
"sleepless"), refused communion with their own patriarch. The
Henoticon had divided the Church. The patriarchates of Antioch and
Alexandria were Monophysite; Jerusalem and Constantinople were
orthodox.

The reign of Anastasius, the son-in-law of Leo, whose wife was the
widow of his predecessor Zeno, was regarded by the orthodox as an era
of persecution. Himself a man of piety and virtue, he was greeted by
the people in the Circus on his accession with the cry, "Reign as you
have lived!" He added to the defences of the city a great wall
stretching from the Marmora to the Euxine, some thirty-five miles from
Constantinople; but he unhappily turned to theology, and widened the
gulf which the Henoticon had made between the Emperors and the Church.
In November 512, the streets again ran with blood shed by the people
for the cause of religious truth. Amid these years stained by crime
and folly, the imperial city was again and again in danger from
external as well as internal foes. At the beginning of the reign of
Anastasius the Isaurians who had been driven from the city rebelled,
and for five years there was war, ended only when, in 498, Isaurian
captives were led in triumph through the streets. Eleven years before,
Theodoric the Goth had stood before the gates, but turned back from
the massive strength which he could not overthrow. He was now ruler of
Italy. And even in the East, Huns, Romans and Goths again and again
threatened the capital. Anastasius dabbled in theology to the end,
made overtures to Pope Hormisdas which came to nothing, and died at
the age of eighty-eight, regretted by none.

He was succeeded by an illiterate but honest Thracian soldier, Justin.
Orthodox and straightforward, he was welcomed by the people as a
saviour and a second Constantine. Under his rule peace was made with
the orthodox West, and the Church again had rest.

With the death of Justin, 527, we reach the second great epoch of the
history of the imperial city. Constantinople before the days of
Justinian, when Theodoric, about 461, was sent as a hostage to the
Imperial Court, _et quia puerulus elegans erat meruit gratiam
imperialem habere_, was the most glorious city of Europe. Jordanes,
the historian of the Goths, tells how he marvelled at the wondrous
sight. "Lo! now I behold," said he, "what I have often heard, but have
never believed, the glory of so great a city!" Then turning his eyes
this way and that, beholding the situation of the city and the
concourse of ships, how he marvels at the long perspective of lofty
walls. Then he sees the multitude of various nations like the stream
flowing forth from one fountain which has been fed by many springs;
then he beholds the soldiers in ordered ranks. "A god," said he,
"without doubt a god upon earth is the Emperor of this realm, and
whoso lifts his hand against him, that man's blood be on his own
head." Thus the barbarian may well have spoken when he had his first
sight of the majesty of the Empire and its civilization in its Eastern
home.

  [Illustration: YERI BATAN SERAI (CISTERN)]

Within a few years there was a great change. Earthquakes, rebellions,
fires, compelled the rebuilding of a great part of Constantinople, and
Justinian the Great, lawyer, theologian and organiser of victory, left
monuments as enduring in architecture as in the other spheres of his
activity. With the exception of the churches of S. John of the Studium
and S. Irene, and the walls of Theodosius, there are to-day no great
works of the Christian period, save a very few of the later Emperors,
remaining in Constantinople except those which Justinian built. His
architects created the Byzantine style which reached its magnificent
completion in S. Sophia. The finest of the cisterns which astonish the
traveller to-day are the work of his age; and as we walk by the
splendid walls that extend from the Marmora to the Golden Horn, it is
along his triumphal way that we tread. The first book of the
"Aedifices" of Procopius, written to commemorate his achievements in
building, is even now a handbook in little to the glories of
Constantinople.

Leaving to our description of the city the still standing work of the
great Emperor, we must here shortly sketch the reign which was for
nine centuries the most glorious memory of the Eastern Empire. Born in
482 or 483, Justinian was the son of a Dardanian peasant, and was born
at Scupi (Üsküp), "at the crossing-point of great natural routes
across the western part of the Illyrian peninsula." When his uncle
Justin raised himself to the throne in 518 he was sent for and trained
to succeed to, if not already to exercise, supreme power. So long as
Justin lived Justinian was his chief adviser. When Vitalian, the
orthodox Goth, whose troops in the neighbourhood of the city seemed to
threaten the new dynasty, was murdered in the palace, it was
Justinian, for whose concern in the crime no valid evidence has been
produced, who rose to the highest place in military as well as civil
affairs. In 523 he married the beautiful Theodora, whose earlier life
has been covered with shame by historians whose veracity is open at
least to suspicion. She is described by the bitter Procopius as
everything that is vile; it is probably true that her youth was
disreputable; but it is certain that she made the noblest atonement
for the past by the charity and piety of her later life and by the
courage and wisdom which were of profit even to the Empire.[6] Of her
beauty there is no doubt. Small, pale as marble, but with brilliant
eyes, the bitterest of her enemies describes her; and when he uses
the language of compliment he declares of the statue erected in her
honour by the baths of Arcadius that "the face is beautiful but falls
short of the beauty of the Empress, since it is utterly impossible for
any mere human workmen to express her loveliness." Four years after
the marriage, which was one of unbroken affection till the Empress
died in 548, Justinian was associated with his uncle on the imperial
throne. On April 1, 527, he became sole Emperor, and he reigned till
565.

Constantinople under Justinian became again the centre of Christian
Europe. But before his power was fully established it was threatened
by the gravest of the great insurrections with which the populace
showed its independence and its fickle levity. The sedition arose in
the Circus, and it was long the fashion to believe that Constantinople
was ruled entirely under the sway of the factions of the Hippodrome. A
more critical investigation has shown that the demes (δῆμοι)
or parties were organised bodies intimately connected with the court
and the municipality. The demes had two parts, military under
democrats, and civil, or political, under demarchs. The heads of each
faction were officers of the court and the army, and the demes were
fully organised for military purposes. Not only were they, as we have
seen, intrusted with the building of the wall, but they provided,
under the Emperor Maurice, troops for the guarding of the long walls;
and Justinian himself, at the end of his reign, used them in a similar
way. It was to the demes, one writer seems to show, that Justin owed
his throne. But while their military and political importance is now
fully recognised, we are still without an explanation of how they
became connected with the parties and colours of the Circus.

However that may be, we find in the reign of Justinian two large
Circus parties, the Blues and the Greens, with whom were merged as
sub-divisions the Reds and the Whites, who organised the races and had
so much liberty allowed them by the laws, that they were able to defy
emperors and set public order at defiance. But the madness of their
riot was not without a method. To the demes or factions were allowed
privileges which seemed the last relics of the ancient freedom of the
Greek cities. "In the sixth century," says Professor Bury, "the
outbreaks of the demes represent a last struggle for municipal
independence, on which it is the policy of imperial absolutism to
encroach. The power of the demarchs had to give way to the control of
the præfects of the city."

  [Illustration: THE IMPERIAL QUARTER]

On January 13, 532, there began an insurrection called ever after the
"Nika" (conquer), from the watchwords of the insurgents, which
threatened the imperial throne, and went nigh to destroy the whole
city. The præfect of the city led to execution some criminals
belonging to both parties, three days before. The Greens, during the
celebration of public games in the Hippodrome on Sunday, January 11,
appealed to the Emperor against Calapodius, the imperial minister, and
the most extraordinary dialogue occurred. "Be silent, Jews, Samaritans
and Manichæans," cried Justinian's _mandator_, uttering imperial
commands, but they renewed their complaints, and finally passed into
insults, calling the Emperor tyrant and murderer. Justinian determined
to show his indifference to the mob by the execution that night of
criminals of both factions. Two were rescued, and the two factions
determined to procure their pardon, and on the 13th, when the great
games took place, they appealed to Justinian, but in vain. The two
demes then declared themselves united, and having no answer from the
præfect whose house they surrounded, they set fire to the prætorium,
and then in the night spread the fire over the imperial quarter. The
portico of the Palace, the Baths of Xeuxippus, the Senate-house, and
the wooden church of S. Sophia were set on fire. Next morning they
marched to the Palace and demanded the dismissal of the unpopular
ministers. Justinian was about to yield, and indeed had given the
order, when the insurgents determined to depose him. Anastasius had
left three nephews, Probus, Hypatius and Pompeius. Failing to find the
first the mob burned his house. The two other brothers remained in
safety in the palace. Next day the greatest general of the age,
Belisarius, who had but recently returned from a victorious campaign
against the Persians, sallied forth from the palace with a body of
barbarian troops, Goths and Heruls--for the garrison of the city could
not be trusted--and fierce fighting occurred for two days in the
streets. The clergy did their utmost to restore peace, but were
utterly unheeded, and in the evening of the 16th the Church of S.
Irene, built by Constantine, was burnt, though not to the ground, and
the Hospice of Samson, which stood between it and S. Sophia, were also
destroyed. On the 17th, Saturday, the fire spread still further, and
almost all the centre of the city was reduced to ashes. At night
Justinian determined to give up Hypatius and Pompeius to the mob,
hoping no doubt that if they were conspiring against him they would be
less dangerous outside than within the palace. In spite of their
reluctance he drove them forth to their own houses. Next day, early on
the Sunday morning, the Emperor himself went down to the Hippodrome
and made what was little better than an abject submission. He swore on
the gospels to forgive all that had been done, if order were now
restored. "The blame is not yours but all mine. For the punishment of
my sins I did not grant your requests when first you spoke to me in
this place." Some cried out that he swore falsely, and no heed was
taken of his words. A few hours later Hypatius was proclaimed Emperor,
and as the mob surrounded the palace it seemed that there was nothing
for the Emperor but flight. It was then, when Justinian was ready to
yield and cross the Bosphorus to the safety of Chalcedon, that
Theodora showed herself worthy of the purple. "No time is this," she
cried, "to ask whether a woman should be bold before men or valiant
when men are afraid. They who are in extremest peril must think of
nothing but how best to meet what lies before them. To fly, if ever it
be expedient, would now not be so, I declare, even if it preserved us.
For a man born into this light not to die is impossible; but for one
who has been Emperor to become an exile is not to be endured. Let me
never come to be without this purple robe nor live that day when men
shall cease to call me their sovereign Lady. If you, Emperor, wish to
escape, it is no hard matter. Here is the sea, and there lie the
ships. But consider whether you may not one day wish that you had
exchanged your mean safety for a glorious death. For me I love the
ancient saying, 'How brave a sepulchre a kingdom is!'"

Thus Theodora proved herself fit mate for a Cæsar, and worthy of her
crown; and those who had counselled flight now found courage to
resist. While Justinian's men planned an attack, the followers of
Hypatius agreed upon delay, and he himself sent, it would seem, to
make peace with the Emperor. As his messenger went, he was told that
the Cæsar had fled, and then the unhappy pretender took upon him the
dignity of Emperor. In a few hours Belisarius led his troops upon the
multitude assembled in the Hippodrome, and before nightfall they
forced their way in with fire and sword, and of all the citizens
gathered in the Circus not one left it alive. Justinian was not told
till too late that Hypatius had been willing to submit. The two
brothers were dragged out with contumely, and the next morning before
daylight they fell under the swords of the barbarian soldiers. The
Emperor, it is said, would have spared them, but Theodora, "swearing
by God and by him, urged him to have them killed." Zachariah of
Mitylene says that more than 80,000 persons perished in the riot.

At midday on Monday, January 19, Constantinople was at peace; but it
was in ruins. Three distinct conflagrations had reduced the grandest
monuments of the city of Constantine to ashes. On the first two days
of the riot all the buildings of the Augusteum were destroyed, and
with them S. Sophia, the "Great Church," only its baptistery, it
would seem, being saved. Two days later the buildings north-west of S.
Sophia were in flames, and among them the Hospice for poor and sick
folk, "founded in ancient times by a holy man whose name was Samson,"
and Constantine's Church of S. Irene. On the 17th the buildings round
the Mesê, the street which connected the forum of Constantine with the
Augusteum, and the "great porticoes leading up to the agora named from
Constantine, and many houses of rich men, and large property, were
burned." Thus, a great part of what had been the first Byzantium,
which was adorned with the finest buildings of Constantine, was
utterly destroyed. To one who saw the blackened ruins, they seemed
like the masses of molten lava round the crater of a volcano. To
Justinian, already a great law-giver, came the task of building anew
the imperial city.

  [Illustration: THE BURNT COLUMN]

The Emperor began at once with the rebuilding of the Great Church of
the Divine Wisdom. On the 23rd of February the work was begun: on
December 26, 537, the new church was dedicated. "The procession," says
Theophanes, who wrote from older materials in the eighth century,
"started from the church of the Anastasia," where S. Gregory of
Nazianzus had long preached to the men of Byzantium, "Menas, the
patriarch, sitting in the royal chariot, and the King walking with the
people." In 558 the eastern part of the dome with the apse was
destroyed by an earthquake and was rebuilt. Agathias, a contemporary
historian, thus describes the building and the restoration:

"Now the former church having been burnt by the angry mob, Justinian
built it up again from the foundations, as great, and more beautiful
and wonderful, and this most beautiful design was adorned with much
precious metal. He built it in a round form, with burnt brick and
lime. It was bound together here and there with iron; but they avoided
the use of wood, so that it should no more be easily burnt. Now
Anthemius was the man who devised and worked at every part. And when
by the earthquake the middle part of the roof and the higher parts had
been destroyed, the Emperor made it stronger, and raised it to a great
height. Anthemius was then dead, but the young man Isidorus and the
other craftsmen, turning over in their minds the earlier design, and
comparing what had fallen with what remained, estimated where the
error lay, and of what kind it was. They determined to leave the
eastern and western arches as they were. But of the northern and
southern they brought towards the inside that portion of the building
which was upon the curve. And they made these arches wider, so as to
be more in harmony with the others, thus making the equilateral
symmetry more perfect. In this way they were able to cover the
measurelessness of the empty space, and to take off some of its extent
to form an oblong design. And again, they wrought that which rose up
above it in the middle, whether cycle or hemisphere or whatever other
name it may be called. And this also became more straightforward and
of a better curve, in every part agreeing with the line; and at the
same time not so wide but higher, so that it did not affright the
spectators as before, but was set much more strong and safe."

  [Illustration: S. SOPHIA AND THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE FROM THE SEA]

A more minute account of the work must be reserved till we pass from
history to description. Here we have only to summarise and
characterise the work of the great architects whom Justinian employed
to rebuild his city. The opportunity was a great one. Constantinople
was now the centre of the civilised world. Thither came in the sixth
century a crowd as motley as those gathered together on the day of
Pentecost, or as may be seen now on the bridge of Galata. Men of
Mesopotamia and Syria, Persians, Greeks from the islands and the
Peloponnese, men of Sicily and Africa, Alexandrines and Palestinian
Jews, met with the Roman and with the barbarian subjects of the now
again undivided empire.

Of this vast gathering of the nations Byzantine art was the result and
the reflexion. But adaptive as it was of every influence that came
before the eyes of its great masters, it was, above all, like the city
where it reached its highest glory, pre-eminently religious and
Christian. The new style has been called "historical-dogmatic," and
indeed it combined in a marvellous manner the traditions of different
races under the uniting power of the Catholic faith.

The genius which gave to the Byzantine architecture its completed
glory was that of Anthemius of Tralles, of whose skill contemporary
writers write in enthusiastic applause. His works, says Agathias,
"even if nothing were said about them, would suffice of themselves to
win for him an everlasting glory in the memory of man as long as they
stand and endure."

The characteristics of the art of Anthemius at its highest development
may be seen to-day in Constantinople. There are few churches earlier
than his time still standing. Among these may be the semi-basilican S.
Thekla and S. Theodore of Tyrone, and certainly are S. John of the
Studium and S. Irene. The last was rebuilt by Justinian immediately
after the Nika insurrection in 532, but it belongs to the earlier
style. Similar to it was the church of S. Peter and S. Paul, now
destroyed, but of which some beautiful marble capitals lie in the sea
close to the palace of Hormisdas. Later came the still standing church
of S. Sergius and S. Bacchus, called by the people "little S. Sophia,"
built about 527 by Justinian himself. This prepares the way for
almost every feature which appears developed and completed in the
great S. Sophia itself. The two most striking characteristics of the
new style are the impost capital and the merging of subsidiary spaces
in one central building.

The impost capital is probably first seen in the great cistern, also
of Justinian's day. I may here repeat what I have said elsewhere.[7]

"Strygowski[8] regards this impost-capital as the work of the builder
of the great cistern, who he thinks may have been Anthemius, here
proving his fitness for the great work of S. Sophia. It was, he shows,
an architectural revolution. The capital, with undercut volutes, was
suitable for a straight architrave, but not for the arch. Hence a
piece was inserted to transfer the weight from the angles to the
centre. The Theodosian age used an inserted impost. The constructive
activity of the age of Justinian produced the impost-capital.

As to design, the capitals lying neglected about the city, together
with those _in situ_ in the churches and cisterns, furnish a perfect
museum of the types with which others, dispersed over the whole area
of the empire, agree in the minutest particulars of design and
workmanship. The acanthus leaves, so familiar through all the work of
the centuries--from the Golden Gate (388) onward, and the portico to
S. John of the Studium a century later--assume the beautiful
"windblown" design in the ruins near the "Rose Mosque."[9]

The second feature is the arrangement which unites the longitudinal
with the central building and makes the whole effect of the interior
of one piece by relating every piece of work, pillar, arch, semi-dome,
to the one vast central dome which crowns the whole. From without, but
more clearly from within, the architecture of S. Sophia is seen to
form one entire and perfect whole. It is impossible to conceive it
deprived of a single feature without the sacrifice of the whole. To
mutilate would be to destroy.

Seen then in its grandeur at S. Sophia the work of Justinian changed
the appearance of the whole city. Procopius in his _Aedifices_ records
what was when he wrote in 558, a complete list of what had been built
in the reign. Everywhere there were arising, as though by an
enchanter's wand, palaces, churches, baths, aqueducts, great cisterns
supported on exquisitely carved columns, new markets, houses for the
great nobles, barracks, hospitals, convents. The splendour and beauty
of the new city, its richness of decoration, marbles, statuary,
mosaics, struck all beholders with amaze. The chroniclers, who in
other times would have been satisfied to tell of military successes
and court intrigues, now tell of measurements and designs, and collect
lists of gems and splendours of decoration. The reign of Justinian, in
spite of many foreign dangers, and oppression at home, is the most
magnificent period of early Byzantine history; and the magnificence
seemed to be expressed in the buildings of Constantinople.

When Procopius in his _Ædifices_ has told of the glories of S. Sophia,
he goes on to speak of the Augusteum and its statues. Chiefest among
them, one of Justinian himself as Achilles. Then S. Irene, then the
churches of the Blessed Virgin at the Blachernae and at Balukli beyond
the triumphal way. Church after church follows in his tale, and chief
among them those which the mariner sees as he sails up the Golden
Horn. "As to the other buildings, it would be hard to name them all."
The Hospice of Samson rose again from its ruins, probably close by
where the gate of the old Seraglio now stands. The baths of Xeuxippus,
which lasted down to the time of Mohammed the Conqueror, with the
other buildings near the Augusteum and the forum of Constantine, were
restored. "In addition to this he rebuilt and added great magnificence
to the house named after Hormisdas, which stands close to the palace,
to which he joined it,"--that pathetic ruin whose broken wall hangs
over the Marmora to-day. When the eulogist comes to the palace itself,
words fail him to repeat its glories, the pictures, mosaics, marbles,
that combine to make the walls glitter as with life. After works of
beauty come those of use, and the cisterns receive as much praise as
works more brilliant yet hardly more beautiful.

It is buildings such as these that enable us to see what Justinian was
to the capital of his Empire. Every year it seemed that new victories
and new conversions were increasing the power of the Empire and the
Church. While Belisarius reconquered Italy and made the name of the
Cæsar again honoured at Rome and Ravenna, ended the cruel rule of the
Vandals in Africa and Sicily, crushed the Goths of Spain, and kept the
strong Persian prince at bay on the eastern frontier of the empire,
Christian missions spread the faith of the orthodox Church to the
Caucasus and the Sudan. Again and again did processions of returning
warriors pass along the triumphal way, but the Emperor alone entered
by the Golden Gate. It was in the Hippodrome that Belisarius
celebrated his triumph over the Vandals. It was nigh six hundred
years, Procopius thought, since any had had the same. But Belisarius
walked with a proud humility from his own house to the Hippodrome,
and thence from his own tent to the imperial throne. The rich spoils
that were spread out were the treasures of all the years of Vandal
conquest, and among them some of the vessels that Titus had brought
from the temple at Jerusalem and Generic the Vandal conqueror had
taken from Rome. These Justinian gave to churches in the Holy City. As
the captives were led up to the imperial throne all eyes were fixed on
the Vandal chief, Gelimer, wearing the purple, as in mockery, with his
kindred about him, "himself the tallest and most beautiful of the
Vandals." As he walked up to the throne he looked up, and uttering no
lament for his fallen state, said with the poet's simple feeling,
"Vanity of vanities." They stripped him of his robe and made him fall
on his face before the Emperor. Beside him knelt his conqueror, and
supplicated for his pardon, and the day was crowned by generosity such
as the Emperor loved to show and the people to applaud.

  [Illustration: THE GOLDEN GATE]

Such scenes became familiar to the people as the years of victory
rolled on. They saw, too, Belisarius, drawn through the streets in his
chariot by the captives of his wars, when he received the dignity of
Patrician. The empire of Justinian, based upon the old laws which he
collected and enlarged, cherishing the traditions of old Rome, was
eager to revive every glory of former days. "And then," says
Procopius, who himself the bitterest of satirists of the present,
looked not unkindly on the past, "men saw things long forgotten thus
renewed by time." But the picture, brilliant though it was, was not
unclouded. The city of the Cæsars was again and again threatened by
barbarians and struck by the visitation of God. In 542 Constantinople
was devastated by a terrible pestilence, the bubonic plague, that has
lost none of its terrors in fifteen hundred years. For four months it
raged, and at its height Procopius declares that as many as ten
thousand perished in a day. It spared no constitution and no age, and
God alone could be the cause of it. Justinian, who was one of the few
who recovered, was assiduous in charitable aid; but the loss to the
city could hardly be conceived--no trades, no shops, says the recorder
of many horrors, remained, and "many for fear leaving their bad
courses, consecrated themselves to God, and many when the danger was
passed fell to their old despising of God again."

After plagues came famines and earthquakes, and in the last year of
the reign, the dread army of the Huns, under Zabergan, drew nigh even
to the walls of Constantinople, murdering and ravaging as they came.
Hastily the treasures of the church northwards of the city were
brought for safety within the walls, and Belisarius in old age again
came forward to save the empire. It was his last victory, and seven
years later he passed away, honoured and beloved. The Emperor himself
died but a few weeks later in November 565. The glories of the reign
had passed away before the aged ruler laid down his power; but he left
a reconquered Empire and a capital that was the wonder of the world.

He left too a memory as a theologian, which the church for some
centuries continued specially to honour in her most solemn service.
Justinian, the legislator, the builder and the organizer of victory,
seemed to the vision of Dante to dwell like the sun in perpetual
light.

     _Sì come'l sol, che si cela egli stessi
     Per troppa luce, quando il caldo ha rose
     Le temperanze de' vapori spessi;
     Per più letizia sì mi si nascose
     Dento al suo raggio la figura santa._

To this aspect of his life we can give here but little attention; but
it is not to be doubted that it was as a theologian that the men of
his Constantinople heard most of their ruler's doings. Far into the
dark hours, says the chronicler of his reign, he sat writing the
theological treatises which expressed the teaching of the Church;
night after night he would study in his library the writings of the
Fathers, and the Sacred Scriptures, with some learned prelates or
monks at hand, that he might discuss with them the questions as they
rose before his mind. From the time of his predecessor he had been
engaged in corresponding with Popes on theological points, and when he
became sole ruler he determined once for all to settle the side issues
which depended on the great Monophysite contest. Edict after edict,
letter after letter, treatises closely argued and tightly packed with
patristic and scriptural learning, and even hymns, showed the restless
activity of the imperial theologian. When in 535 Anthemius of
Trebizond was made Patriarch of Constantinople, and when Pope Agapetus
came on a mission from the Gothic King Theodahad, the discussion of
articles of the faith brought the deposition of the patriarch as a
monophysite, and the succession of Mennas, head of the hospice of
Samson. Then came the conflict with the Origenists, which led
indirectly to the controversy of "the Three Chapters" and the session
of the Fifth General Council. Of this it were here a weariness to
tell. Let it suffice to say that on May 5, 553, the Council met in the
southern gallery of the great Church of the Divine Wisdom. The Pope
himself was at Constantinople but he would not attend the sessions. He
was lodged at first in the royal palace of Placidia at the eastern end
of the promontory, beyond S. Irene, looking over the sea to Asia and
the churches of Chalcedon. Then he fled by night to cross the
Bosphorus and took refuge in the Church of S. Euphemia at Chalcedon
where a hundred years before the council had sat. Embassies crossed
and recrossed the sea; even the great general Belisarius was an envoy,
but Vigilius, when the Council met, refused to join it, to speak, or
to vote: and the Council made short work of the foolish, bombastic,
hesitating pontiff. It condemned those who refused to receive its
decisions and struck Vigilius out of the diptychs on which were
inscribed the names of those prayed for at the Eucharist.

But if there was no Roman patriarch present, there was the new
patriarch of Constantinople, Eutychius, and the patriarchs of
Alexandria and Antioch, while he of Jerusalem sent proxies. To the
decisions of the council a hundred and sixty-four signatures were
affixed. Theologians still contest as to whether it was a free and
open council; but it was accepted beyond question, though after some
years, by the whole Church. It did its work: it safeguarded the
Catholic faith by stripping bare the meaning of statements which
indirectly attacked the Divine and Human Natures of the Incarnate
Son. It condemned these subtle suggestions, and it preserved to the
Church the real Christ of Whom she had learned.

These theological questions stand out, it may seem to some to-day, too
boldly in the history of the New Rome: but they know little of the
capital of the East who do not know how close to its life lie these
matters of dogma and definition. The very tradesmen at their work
talked of them, as they talked in the time of Gregory; and there was
nothing which the crowds who thronged the markets and the basilicas in
the days of Justinian more readily or more constantly discussed.
Constantinople in these first centuries of her life had the
theological interest closest to her heart; as the years went on the
needs of defence brought the military interest to the top.

The city in Justinian's days was rich and full of bread. All the glory
of the world seemed there to be gathered together, and with it the
vice, which stern laws and the charitable institutions, founded by the
imperial sovereigns, endeavoured as best they could to conquer or to
heal. The thronged markets sold every kind of goods, for commerce or
luxury. The monks who brought the silkworm from China to the Emperor's
court enabled him to found an industry which added greatly to
resources of his empire and the prosperity of his people. The mosaics,
which glittered on the walls of the churches, were made by skilled
artists in the city itself--carved work, images (the icons which the
Greek Church has never ceased to love), jewellery, beautifully
wrought, were among the manufactures of the great trading centre of
the East; and the military engines for which the Eastern army was
renowned were made within the walls of the capital itself. The pages
of Procopius and Agathias, of Lydus and John of Ephesus, show a busy
hurrying life, elaborate administrative arrangements, official
classes greedy and exclusive, popular agitations hasty and fickle, an
accumulating luxury with all its accompaniments of oppression,
avarice, and vulgar show. The millionaires of the sixth century, with
their gout, their costly equipages, and their summer palaces on the
Bosphorus or at Chalcedon, were a prominent feature in the life of the
great city. Beside them were the dusky traders from the far East, the
hordes of bearded monks ever ready to join in the logical squabbles or
take part in popular riots, and the silent barbarian soldiers, opening
wondering eyes on the disputes and the splendours of the imperial
city, and prompt at the word of command to dethrone emperors or
massacre their foes. In such a city it would have been strange if
there were order or peace; and indeed the constant complaint of the
chroniclers is of nobles, clerics and artizans, whom it was impossible
to restrain. Yet amid this scene of confusion at any moment the
imperial power might show itself with arbitrary and brutal abruptness.
When a servant maid by mischance spat on the robe of the dead Empress
Eudocia as it was carried to the tomb she was executed immediately and
without protest.


3. FROM JUSTIN II. TO THE LATIN CONQUEST.

In 565 Justinian died, and the glory of his reign set in a dull glow
that heralded storms. Justin II., his nephew, was a tyrant and a
madman, but it was power which brought out his tyranny and his
madness. When he came to the throne he spoke mildly and well. He made
profession of orthodoxy in S. Sophia; he was raised on the imperial
shield in the palace; he promised in the Hippodrome to pay the debts
of the dead Emperor. They were strange scenes, such as the people of
Byzantium often saw, and strangest of all to our minds is that which
shows the citizens in the place of public games clamouring before the
imperial throne for the payment of debts of Justinian.

Constantinople is still the same. Even when it looks cowed, it has
still its impudence and its determination to criticise. Justin's
doings were watched and mocked at, as if he had been the humblest
tradesman, by the city jesters. He built a golden chamber in the
palace by the sea: he set up a pillar to record his virtues, and then
some one affixed a tablet on it:

     Build, build aloft thy pillar,
       And raise it vast and high;
     Then mount and stand upon it,
       Soar proudly in the sky;
     East, south and north, and westward,
       Wherever thou shalt gaze,
     Nought shalt thou see but ruins,
       The work of thine own days.

Meanwhile the barbarians were coming nearer to the Empire. The Avars
demanded tribute, and the Turks, a name that was so soon to be a
familiar terror, sent envoys to the Cæsar's court. The enemies, it
might seem, were already closing in when Justin became a lunatic,
bursting into mad fits of rage, and drawn about the palace in a toy
cart, while the "whole senate and city" knew of the sad fate of their
Emperor. Sophia, his wife, had all the masterful genius of her aunt
Theodora. It was she who gave the rule to Tiberius II., under whom the
empire steadily decayed. Maurice, his successor, was a severe ruler,
whom the people learned to hate. When at last his reign ended in a
revolution and a flight, it was the people of Constantinople, the
demes and the factions of the Circus, who gave him to death, and
placed the imperial crown on the head of Phocas, his successor.

While Constantinople thus dethroned and set up the civil rulers of the
Empire, it was claiming for its patriarch the highest position in the
Church. When at the beginning of the sixth century the patriarch John
had signed the formula drawn up by Pope Hormisdas, he repudiated any
claim to superiority on the part of the old Rome: the two cities and
the two Sees he declared were one. As early as 518 the patriarch of
Constantinople called himself "universal bishop": in 595 the great
Pope Gregory, who had himself, as a papal envoy, seen the greatness of
the Eastern See, vigorously protested, to the Emperor Maurice, against
the assumption to the title. But while the patriarchs used the title
in no exclusive sense, they were determined, as they are determined
to-day, to assert the independence of their See and its equality with
that of Rome.

Ecclesiastical independence did not preserve the Empire from political
weakness. Phocas was soon seen to be worse than Maurice, and one
conspiracy after another was begun in the Hippodrome and ended by a
massacre in the streets. The Green faction in the Circus called the
Emperor a drunkard and a madman to his face. Famine and pestilence
ravaged the crowded city, and when Heraclius, already a renowned
general, brought his fleet up the Hellespont and anchored at the
Golden Horn the collapse of the power of Phocas was immediate, and a
new Emperor was crowned in the great church of the "Capital of the
World." The reign of Heraclius, gallant man though he was, began in
almost unbroken disaster, and when in 615 Jerusalem fell into the
hands of the Persians it seemed that the end was at hand. In the next
year, as had already happened under Phocas, a Persian army encamped at
Chalcedon. When negotiations were in vain, when Heraclius had even
formed the idea of transferring the seat of Empire from Constantinople
to Carthage, and had only abandoned it after his preparations were
far advanced, when the terror and indignation of the people forced him
to take oath before the patriarch in S. Sophia that he would never
leave "the Queen of Cities," at length the courage of the empire
awoke, the nobles sacrificed their wealth and the churches their
treasures, the fleet utterly destroyed that of the Persians, and
Heraclius delivered the city and the empire by a march as brilliant as
it was daring. Leading five thousand veterans across Asia Minor and
through the mountains he "penetrated into the heart of Persia and
recalled the armies of the great king to the defence of their bleeding
country." After three campaigns he returned in triumph and entered, as
no Emperor since Theodosius the Great had done, by the Golden Gate.

In his absence thirty thousand Avars, who had swept over the Balkan
provinces like a devouring flame, broke through the great wall and
encamped under the very walls of the city itself. Churches in the
suburbs were burnt to the ground and the famous Church of the
Theotokos in Blachernae was on the point of being destroyed, when some
panic caused the Avar horsemen to retire. The danger was too obvious
for the warning to be neglected, and the Senate, which had refused
with contumely the offers of the barbarian leaders, allies of the
Persian King, drove back the enemy and immediately increased the
fortifications by a new wall. This splendid barrier, magnificent
to-day in its ruins, stretched from the enclosure outside the palace
of Blachernae, at the foot of the sixth hill, to the Golden Horn. It
is flanked by three hexagonal towers.

A year later, in 627, the Emperor, who dreaded even the sight of the
sea, crossed the Bosphorus by a bridge of boats, decked with branches
of trees to imitate a forest. Landing north of the city he marched
inland and crossed the valley at the head of the Golden Horn--below
the "Sweet Waters of Europe"--by a bridge made by Justinian nearly
opposite the end of the walls. So along the triumphal way he went,
past the new walls that have ever since borne his name, and entered by
the Golden Gate, the Emperor who had vanquished the Persians, saved
his empire, and brought back the greatest of all relics, the sacred
wood of the true Cross, which S. Helena, the mother of Constantine,
had found on Calvary.

But Heraclius was not to triumph unchecked. The fatal temptation of
theological strife conquered even the conqueror of the Persians, and
the beginning of the Monothelite controversy dates from the _Ekthesis_
of Sergius the patriarch, a document which, if it were intended to
make peace, certainly provoked, war that was not ended, though its
area was defined, by the decision of the Fourth General Council, which
met at Constantinople in 680, and condemned those who denied that
Christ had two wills, human and divine.

The dreary years of the latter half of the seventh century may be
rapidly summarised. Constantinople saw the settlement of barbarians,
Slaves and Balgars, almost at its gates. Emperor succeeded emperor
without anyone appearing who was worthy to be the heir of Heraclius.
At length in 672 the Saracens, who had long devastated Asia, brought a
fleet up the Hellespont and besieged the city. Their total defeat by
Constantine IV., whom his people nicknamed Pogonatus (the bearded),
was the greatest triumph of the Christian powers against the infidel;
it was won, it is said, by the newly-discovered "Greek fire," so long
to be the terror of the foes of the Empire. Constantinople proved
herself the bulwark of Europe against the infidel. The nations of the
West sent their envoys to applaud. Six hundred years later another
Constantine was to fall, when his city was at length captured by the
followers of Mohammed.

Justinian II., the son of Constantine Pogonatus, was a great builder
like his namesake, whom probably he sought to imitate; but in
character he was far from resembling the builder of S. Sophia. In the
inimitable phrases of Gibbon, "The name of a triumphant law-giver was
dishonoured by the vices of a boy.... His passions were strong; his
understanding was feeble; and he was intoxicated with a foolish pride
that his birth had given him the command of millions, of whom the
smallest community would not have chosen him for their local
magistrate. His favourite ministers were two beings the least
susceptible of human sympathy, an eunuch and a monk; to the one he
abandoned a palace, to the other the finances; the former corrected
the Emperor's mother with a scourge, the latter suspended the
insolvent tributaries, with their heads downwards, over a slow and
smoky fire. Since the days of Commodus and Caracalla, the cruelty of
the Roman princes had most commonly been the effect of their fear; but
Justinian, who possessed some vigour of character, enjoyed the
sufferings and braved the revenge of his subjects about ten years,
till the measure was full of his crimes and of their patience."

The attempt to banish a popular general whom he had long imprisoned
was the occasion of a revolt which cast the Emperor from the throne;
and the hippodrome saw again an act of tragic vengeance, when the
tongue and nose of the fallen Cæsar were slit in the presence of the
people who had borne with him too long.

  [Illustration: THE GOLDEN HORN FROM EYÛB]

Let Professor Bury's summary continue the tale:--"The twenty years
which intervened between the banishment of Justinian in 695 and the
accession of Leo the Isaurian in 717 witnessed a rapid succession of
monarchs, all of whom were violently deposed. Isaurian Leontius was
succeeded by Apsimar, who adopted the name Tiberius, and these two
reigns occupied the first ten years. Then Justinian returned from
exile, recovered the throne, and 'furiously raged' for six years
(705-711). He was overthrown by Bardanes, who called himself
Philippicus; then came Artemius, whose imperial name was Anastasius;
and finally the years 716 and 717 saw the fall of Anastasius, the
reign and fall of Theodosius, and the accession of Isaurian Leo, whose
strong arm guided the Empire from ways of anarchy into a new
path."[10]

In the tragedies of these years Constantinople bore its full share,
and no more strange contrast to the scene of his barbarous mutilation
could be imagined than that when Justinian II. sat again, ten years
later (705) in the hippodrome, with his feet on the necks of the two
monarchs who had filled his throne in the meantime. As the fickle
people saw the "slit-nose," as they called him, triumphant over
Leontius and Apsimar they called out in the words of the psalms, which
came so readily to their lips, "Thou hast trodden upon the _lion_ and
the _asp_: the young lion and the dragon hast thou trodden under thy
feet."

Six years later (711) there was a more terrible tragedy. Justinian was
justly dethroned and slain, and his little boy Tiberius, the child of
his exile, was torn from the church of the Theotokos at Blachernae and
cruelly butchered outside the palace wall. The next years were stained
by crimes and follies hardly less revolting than those that had gone
before; there could be no more bitter irony than the single word which
the humble tax-gatherer, who was elevated against his will to the
imperial throne under the name of Theodosius II., inscribed upon his
tomb--ὑγίεια--health was to be found nowhere for the empire in his
day.

His successor, Leo the Isaurian, whom the Senate and the patriarch of
Constantinople chose in 718 to be their lord, had seen an adventurous
life, and was already the general and imperator of the great eastern
army.

His first task was to defend the city against the Saracens. The great
siege of 718, lasting twelve months, failed chiefly through his skill
and patience. The invaders encamped before the city in August 717; the
name of their Suleiman was one which was later to be very familiar to
the Byzantines. When winter came it was one of those bitter seasons to
which Constantinople is often subject. For many weeks snow lay on the
ground, and the besiegers suffered far more than the garrison. Leo
defended the city with extraordinary skill, and at length, at the
right moment, by a well planned sortie he scattered the infidels, and
of the great host of a hundred and eighty thousand men the Mohammedan
historians say that only thirty thousand escaped back to the East. No
greater feat was ever performed by the great empire, the bulwark of
Christendom, than this heroic defence and splendid repulse.

It was not wholly the work of Leo, for the Bulgarians came from the
north to his aid, and a pestilence, even before the storms of the
Dardanelles destroyed their fleet, caused the withdrawal of the
Saracen host. Then as an administrator he reformed the government, as
a legist he reissued and revised the laws. The great earthquake of 739
caused the institution of a new tax, if not a new financial system.

"Some of the oldest monuments in the city were thrown down by the
shock, the statue of Constantine the Great, at the gate of Attalus;
the statue and sculptured column of Arcadius; the statue of
Theodosius I., over the Golden Gate, and the church of Irene, close to
S. Sophia. The land walls of the city were also subverted; and in
order to repair the fortifications Leo increased the taxes by
one-twelfth, or a miliarision in a nomisma."

Thus Professor Bury.[11] But to such acts, important though they were,
Leo the Isaurian does not owe the fact that his name will never be
forgotten in the history of the Empire which he ruled. It was he who
began the attack upon the ancient custom of the Eastern churches which
gave rise to the long and bitter iconoclastic controversy. It were
idle for a Western accustomed to the severity and restraint of English
worship to pretend to judge without partiality the conflict which
arose in the eighth century among the Easterns. To Englishmen it comes
with a shock of surprise to learn that they are regarded as Romanists,
as has recently happened, because they do not use incense in every
public service of the Church, according to the immemorial usage of the
East. Similarly it is with diffidence that we learn to recognise the
reverence paid to icons, pictures of sacred things, as a true and
helpful part of Oriental devotion. It tends, we think, to
superstition; as much perhaps as our grandfathers' pride in the black
gown of the preacher, or the curious customs which led in England to
the "plethoric Sunday afternoon." Leo the Isaurian, and after him his
son, Constantine V. (nicknamed Copronymus by his people, probably
"from his devotion to the stables"), of whom the latter certainly had
no sense of the reality of religion, embarked on an ill-omened attempt
to purge from the Church, and to destroy in the sacred buildings
themselves, all the brilliant pictures and mosaics which commemorated
the saints and received the homage, bordering no doubt on
superstition, of the faithful. They objected that it was a sin to
represent Christ in art at all; and that the representation of His
Mother tended to the exaltation of her name into that of a Divinity.
"Apostles of rationalism" these Emperors have strangely been called,
who fought against an ineradicable passion of their people. As dear to
the hearts of the Greek Christians as their subtle questionings into
the deep meanings of divine things, their determination to be
satisfied with nothing less than a precise and logical definition of
the faith once for all given to the saints, was their craving for
outward and visible signs to represent the gifts of God at once in the
Divine Life and in the lives of the saintly followers of the Lord, and
their own reverence and consecration of all that was beautiful in the
work of man. The force of Mohammedanism had lain in its austere
rejection of any outward image of Divine things; heretics, Judaising
or Monophysite, had from time to time taken up the cry against these
innocent representations of the saints. If the "worship" of images
tended to obscure the spiritual truth of religion, the destruction of
all visible memorials of the saints, emblems of the divine attributes,
or representations of the passion of Christ, was even more certain to
tell against the real belief of a race at once ignorant and dramatic,
to whom the eye was the constant teacher of the mind. However strange
and unedifying the reverence paid to icons may seem to the modern
Western mind, it is but the shallowest ignorance which would call it
idolatry, and it is plain that any hasty attempt to interfere with the
popular expression of religious ideas must tend, if hastily and
unskilfully conducted, to impair the faith of the people itself. Led
by men who were believed by the enthusiastic and conservative
Byzantines to be influenced by Monophysites, Jews and Mohammedans, it
was certain to provoke a desperate resistance, and that the more
widespread because the issue was not an intricate matter of scholastic
teaching, but a plain issue of practice in which every day passions
were deeply concerned.

In 726, almost, it would seem, without warning, the Emperor Leo issued
an edict that all images in churches should be utterly abolished. The
patriarch, rather than consent to the action, resigned his office. The
story of what followed may be given in the words of Mr Tozer.[12]

"The work of destruction now commenced in earnest; the statues were
everywhere removed, and the pictures on the walls were whitewashed
over, and though numerous outbreaks occurred, and some executions took
place before it was accomplished, yet on the whole the opposition was
not formidable. The act which caused the greatest indignation was the
removal of the magnificent image of Christ which surmounted the bronze
gateway of the imperial palace, and was the object of great reverence.
In order to take down this statue and burn it, a soldier of the guard
had mounted a ladder, when a number of women assembled at the spot to
beg that it might be spared; but, instead of listening to them, the
soldier struck his axe into the face of the image. Infuriated by this,
which appeared to them to be an insult offered to the Saviour Himself,
they dragged the ladder from under his feet and killed him. The
Emperor avenged his agent by executing some, and exiling others, of
the offenders, and set up in the place of the statue a plain cross,
with an inscription explaining the significance of the change.

"In the defence of images there stood forth two champions, the one in
the West, the other in the East; and the points of view from which
they respectively regarded them illustrate the different feelings of
the two churches on the subject. The former of these was Pope Gregory
II., who at first strongly remonstrated with the Emperor on his edict,
and afterwards, when he endeavoured to enforce its observance in
Italy, encouraged his people to disregard the order, and defied his
nominal sovereign in violent and even insulting language. At last he
excommunicated his nominee, the patriarch Anastasius. But he advocated
the retention of images on the practical ground of their utility in
instructing the young and ignorant, and as being an incentive to
devotion. Far more exalted and more subtly defined was the position
attributed to them by the other advocate, who spoke from the distant
East. This was John of Damascus, otherwise known as S. John Damascene,
the last of the Fathers of the Greek Church. This learned and acute
theologian, who in many ways was superior to the age in which he
lived, at one time filled a civil post of some importance under the
Caliphs, who now ruled in Syria, but afterwards retired to the
monastery of S. Saba, in the wilderness of Engedi, the strange
position of which, overhanging a deep gorge that leads down to the
Dead Sea, is still the wonder of the traveller. As he lived in the
dominion of the Saracens he was beyond the reach of the Emperor's arm,
and now undertook the cause of his suffering co-religionists. In three
powerful addresses he set forth his arguments for image worship. Some
of them follow the familiar lines of defence, that these objects were
memorials of the mysteries of the faith; and that in the adoration of
them the spiritual was reached through the medium of the material. But
beyond this he made it plain that, to his mind, and the minds of those
who thought with him, the worship of images was closely connected with
the doctrine of the Incarnation, the earthly material having been
once for all sanctified when the Son of God took human flesh, and
being thenceforth worthy of all honour. From this we may learn both
how it came to pass that the most religious men of the age became
enthusiasts for what was in itself superstitious, and also what was
the cardinal point of difference between them and their opponents.
For, while the one side regarded figures of Christ as a degradation of
a heavenly being, to the other they were a practical confession of His
true humanity, and any disregard of them appeared in the light of a
denial of the Incarnation. At last, when it was found that the Emperor
persevered in his attack, the iconoclasts were anathematised by the
orthodox congregations in all the Mahometan countries outside the
Empire. Both John and Gregory protested throughout against the
interference of the State with the Church in this matter as being
beyond its province; and, owing to the close connection which existed
between the clergy and the people, they were generally regarded as the
assertors of liberty and of the right of private judgment in
opposition to despotism."

The indirect effects of Leo's action were even more important than the
obvious ones. The division which ensued between Italy, resisting
iconoclasm under the Pope's authority, and the imperial power made the
Emperor decide to transfer to the patriarch of Constantinople the
jurisdiction over Sicily and Calabria, leaving to the Pope that over
the exarchate of Ravenna which still nominally obeyed the Cæsar. The
meaning of this is thus expressed by Professor Bury.

"The effect of this act of Leo, which went far to decide the mediæval
history of Southern Italy, was to bring the boundary between the
ecclesiastical dominions of New Rome and Old Rome into coincidence
with the boundary between the Greek and the Latin nationalities. In
other words, it laid the basis of the distinction between the Greek
and the Latin Churches. The only part of the Empire in which the Pope
now possessed authority was the exarchate, including Rome, Ravenna and
Venice. The geographical position of Naples, intermediate between Rome
and the extremities of Italy, determined that its sympathies should be
drawn in two directions; in religious matters it inclined towards Old
Rome, in political matters it was tenacious of its loyalty to New
Rome."[13]

But this was not all. An immense immigration of persecuted monks and
priests as well as lay folk practically recolonised much of Southern
Italy.

Constantine Copronymus was far more eager than his father to push the
iconoclastic campaign. In 761 he began a deliberate and bitter
persecution of those who opposed him. Already, under Leo the Isaurian,
the virgin Theodosia had been martyred. Her festival is still kept on
May 29, and the church raised to her memory still stands transformed
into a mosque just within the Aya Kapou, on the Golden Horn. Many whom
the Greek Church still commemorates were now slain and others
tortured. Constantine was equally hostile to monks, and he was as
bitter against his creatures whom he suspected as against those who
openly disputed his will. The patriarch whom he had set up fell into
disgrace in spite of his support of iconoclasm. He was degraded in S.
Sophia, carried round the Hippodrome sitting backwards on an ass, and
at last beheaded as a traitor.

The successor of Constantine, Leo IV., was significant only in that he
followed his policy of persecution. He left the crown in 780 to his
son Constantine and his widow Irene. Conspiracies, real or alleged, of
his brothers were bitterly punished. The Empress Irene was satisfied
so long as her son was still a boy to allow him a nominal share in the
government; but when he grew up and showed an independent spirit, she
used the growing unpopularity which came upon him after his
repudiation of his wife to raise a party against him, and hired troops
to take his life. He escaped death only to lose his eyes, and his
wicked mother, surrounded by degraded favourites, reigned alone. It
was she whom the great Teutonic King Charles was ready to wed, and the
failure of the negotiations led, with other more notable causes, to
the creation of the new empire of the West, so long held by German
Cæsars, but professing still to be--as that of Constantinople
historically was--the heir of the ancient empire of the Roman world.

Wicked as Irene was, it was given to her to restore peace to the
Church, and to reunite though only for a time the Catholic Church
throughout the world. So completely was the popular feeling against
the iconoclasts that it needed little of the intrigue or violence
which Irene was so ready to use to secure the result she desired. In
786, when her worst passions had not been revealed and she still lived
in union with her son, the seventh General Council met at Nicaea. It
was attended by representatives from Italy as well as from the East,
and as its decisions represent the use and teaching of the Eastern
Church to-day, they may here be summarised in Professor Bury's words.

"At the seventh sitting (5th or 6th October), the definition (ὅρος)
of doctrine was drawn up; after a summary repetition of the chief
points of theology established by previous Universal Councils, it
is laid down that the figure of the holy cross and holy images,
whether coloured or plain, whether consisting of stone or of any other
material, may be represented on vessels, garment, walls or tables, in
houses or on public roads; especially figures of Christ, the Virgin,
angels, or holy men: such representations, it is observed, stimulate
spectators to think of the originals, and, while they must not be
adored with that worship which is only for God (λατρεία) deserve
adoration (προσκύνησις)."[14]

But Irene's services to the Church were not allowed then, any more
than we should allow them now, to preserve her in power. The stars in
their courses seemed to the superstitious to fight against her, and,
though she held the crown she had so ill-won for five years, the end
came at last by the treachery of those she had raised to highest
place. "For five years," says Gibbon, "the Roman world bowed to the
government of a female; and, as she moved through the streets of
Constantinople, the reins of four milk-white steeds were held by as
many patricians, who marched on foot before the golden chariot of
their queen." But among the patricians whom she had chosen was the
treasurer Nicephorus, who on October 31, 802, having captured his
benefactress, and with some spark of generosity, undestroyed by his
ambition and his avarice, sent her to banishment rather than to death,
ascended the throne of the Cæsars.

With him began a new dynasty, a new century, and in some ways a new
era for the imperial city.

During the eighth century Constantinople, as a city, underwent a great
change. This was not merely due to the incessant ebb and flow of
population, the coming and going of different detachments of the
imperial army, the founding of new monasteries by men from all parts
of the Christian world, the opening of new commercial establishments,
the coming of new trading embassies, but to one great and
irremediable disaster. From 745 to 747 the city was devastated by the
plague, that bubonic distemper, so familiar already but now more
terribly destructive than ever before. The words of Theophanes, who
lived when the remembrance of it was still fresh, though they have
been often quoted, may be quoted again. They stand side by side with
the modern records of the still powerful pestilence.

"And in the spring of the first indiction (747) the pestilence spread
to a greater extent, and in summer its flame culminated to such a
height that whole houses were entirely shut up, and those on whom the
office devolved could not bury their dead. In the embarrassment of the
circumstances, the plan was conceived of carrying out the dead on
saddled animals, on whose backs were placed frameworks of planks. In
the same way they placed the corpses above one another in waggons. And
when all the burying-grounds in the city and suburbs had been filled,
and also the dry cisterns and tanks, and very many vineyards had been
dug up, the gardens too within the old walls were used for the purpose
of burying human bodies, and even thus the need was hardly met."

  [Illustration: THE AQUEDUCT OF VALENS]

The effect of the great loss of life which ensued was felt at once. At
the very time when multitudes were seeking refuge in Italy from the
iconoclastic persecution, came this new depopulation, and Constantine
found himself obliged to encourage, and even enforce, immigration from
every part of his dominions. Chiefly he brought Greeks from the
mainland, and their places were filled by Slaves from the North.
Greece and the Balkan States as they appear to-day, and even to some
degree Constantinople itself took a new and marked departure in the
middle of the eighth century. Constantinople received a new Greek
population and, while its official classes still preserved the pomp
and dignity of Roman traditions, began to feel itself more than ever
Greek. None the less it was still actively and obviously cosmopolitan.
Scholars from all parts of the world came to the university where
ancient classics were still read and where Greek was still a living
tongue. Constantine actually made Nicetas, a man of Slavonic race,
patriarch, and it is said that his clergy mocked at his pronunciation
of the Greek of the Gospel. Armenians had already become almost as
prominent in the city as they are to-day; at the beginning of the
ninth century one of them actually became Emperor. As early as the
reign of Justin II. a large colony of traders from Central Asia was
established in the city. When communication became easier and the
power of the Roman State, reviving under Heraclius, more wide spread,
the riches of the city increased. It is noted that the influence of
the Church was steadily directed against luxury, and that nothing at
all like the scenes described by Juvenal or Petronius marked the
Byzantium of the days of the iconoclasts. Constantine himself was a
man who lived freely, and the monks whom he attacked commented
severely on his life. But the rich men of Constantinople, as a rule,
though they delighted in the outward adorning of gold and precious
stones, and loved entertainments, the circus and excursions on the
Bosphorus, lived on the whole simply. Though the churches, as well as
the houses, glittered with mosaics and gems, the asceticism which the
many monasteries kept always visibly before the eyes of the people,
had its influence among the rich as well as the poor. Rich though the
imperial city was it was rich most of all in its churches and its
relics. And indeed the constant danger from without, and the pressing
needs of a large population, both gave employment to great numbers and
gave to the government always some practical work which kept up the
taxes. The laws, it has been observed, recognised the duty of the
State to provide work for the people, and to see that they did it.
Idleness was regarded as a crime as well as a sin: the State declared
that for this reason it must actively discourage it, and no less
because "it is unfair that strong men should live by the consumption
of the superfluity of the labour of others, because that superfluity
is owed to the weak." It is noted also that "besides the inevitable
staff of public workmen, who, in a city like Byzantium, where fires
were frequent and earthquakes not uncommon, had much to do beyond the
repairs necessitated by the wear and tear of time, the State also
supported multitudes of bakers"--for the State still followed the
Roman rule and provided the poor with bread as well as public
games--"and we are taught that the gardens, to which we sometimes meet
casual references in the historians, were not the property of private
citizens, but were parks for the people, kept up at the State's
expense." Already we see that some of the features most prominent in
the city to-day belonged to it in the early Middle Age. The great Dome
of S. Sophia glittered upon the wayfarer as he sailed up towards the
mouth of the Golden Horn, and the city as the soldier looked at it
from the tower of Heraclius was a city set in bowers of perpetual
green. Another feature as prominent, which the foreigner sees from the
heights of Pera, owes its preservation to Constantine Copronymus. The
aqueduct of Valens had been destroyed by the Avars in the reign of
Heraclius, Constantine brought thousands of workmen together and
repaired it, and the water flowed as of old into the capacious
cisterns which were the work of the greatest of eastern architects.

The ninth century began with the new and short-lived dynasty of
Nicephorus. "His character," says Gibbon, "was stained with the three
odious vices of hypocrisy, ingratitude and avarice; his want of virtue
was not redeemed by any superior talents nor his want of talents by
any pleasing qualifications." The historians, being ecclesiastics,
resented his attempt to assert the most extreme claims of the
iconoclastic emperors to rule the Church, and the people despised him
for his treachery and his failures in war. He fell in 811 in battle
against the Bulgarians. In six months his son, Stauricius, followed
him to the tomb. Michael Rhangabe, who had married Procopia, the
daughter of Nicephorus, then reigned for two years, but his weakness
caused his deposition, and the people of Constantinople found a new
sovereign, Leo the Armenian, forced upon them by the army. During his
reign the imperial city was again besieged. Hadrianople was lost, and
but for the death of the Bulgarian king it seems unlikely that Leo
would have been able to drive back the forces which overran the
peninsula. Yet Leo, conqueror though he was, was able to hold the
crown but little longer than his predecessors. In 820 a conspiracy of
his generals, which his own generosity had made possible, attacked him
as he sang matins on Christmas Day, and slew him at the foot of the
altar in the chapel. He did not reign without leaving a memorial of
his rule which lasts to this day. The wall of Heraclius was not
thought fully to defend the quarter of Blachernae. Leo determined to
build another wall and dig a broad moat in front of the Heraclian
wall. "The wall of Leo," says Professor Van Millingen, "stands 77 feet
to the west of the wall of Heraclius, running parallel to it for some
260 feet, after which it turns to join the walls along the Golden
Horn." It is a strong fortification, and the number of attacks
afterwards delivered on that quarter show how necessary it was that it
should be strong. "Its parapet-walk was supported upon arches, which
served at the same time to buttress the wall itself, a comparatively
slight structure about 8 feet thick. With a view of increasing the
wall's capacity for defence, it was flanked by four small towers,
while its lower portion was pierced by numerous loopholes. Two of the
towers were on the side facing the Golden Horn, and the other two
guarded the extremities of the side looking towards the country on the
west. The latter towers projected inwards from the rear of the wall,
and between them was a gateway corresponding to the Heraclian gate of
Blachernae."[15]

Michael II., called the Stammerer, who was then brought from the
dungeon to the throne, and on whose legs,--such was the haste of the
revolution,--the fetters actually remained for some hours after he was
Emperor, was twice besieged in Constantinople by a rival general, but
was relieved by the Bulgarians, and showed to the captured leader,
Thomas the Slavonian, none of the mercy that had been shown to
himself. He died in 829, and his son Theophilus reigned in his stead.
Of his character and reign the most contradictory reports are given;
but it is interesting to recall the scene of his choice of a wife, as
Theophanes tells it. He determined to choose a bride from among the
beauties of Constantinople, and when they were assembled he walked
between two lines of lovely damsels. When he came to the poetess
Kasia, he addressed her in verse:

     διὰ γυναικὸς εἰσερρύη τὰ φαῦλα.

She replied, more happily,

     ἀλλὰ καὶ διὰ γυναικὸς τὰ κρείττονα πηγάζει.

It was in the style of the old Greek poets: the leaders of each
semichorus championing the cause of their sex in the immortal
question: "Through woman evil things entered"; "but also through woman
better things well forth." The lady was too witty to be empress, and
Theodora, who was chosen instead, became not only a happy wife but a
wise regent after the death of Theophilus. He died in 842, and
Theodora was regent for her son Michael till 856. Her husband had been
Iconoclast, and he scourged those who would not receive his edict. His
widow declared that he had repented on his death-bed, and procured his
absolution after death. Before the year of his death was out Theodora
had replaced the images and a synod had reiterated the right and
benefit of image-"worship." But the independence of the Eastern Church
was none the less fully secured; and the indignant protests of Popes
showed that they were becoming, as their own pretensions grew, more
and more estranged from Constantinople.

The wisdom of the mother was not rewarded in the life of her son.
Michael III. was perhaps the most contemptible sovereign who ever sat
on the imperial throne of the East. He gave himself up to pleasure and
in particular to the Circus. He was a drunkard and buffoon, and he
delighted to mock in public processions the most sacred ordinances of
the Christian religion. In 867 he was murdered by one whom he had
raised almost to the purple. The years of his reign were diversified
by sieges--notably the first attack of some hitherto unknown
barbarians from the North-East.

Between the ninth and the eleventh centuries Constantinople was
attacked four times by the Russians. The traders told of the riches of
the city, and the barbarians were eager to carry them away. In June
860 they actually anchored in the Bosphorus and attacked the walls,
but the return of Michael III. drove them off, and they were
afterwards completely defeated. A second attempt is said to have taken
place in 907, when the rough barks of the pirates were drawn over the
isthmus; a third in 941 was as completely defeated; and again in 1048
the Greek fire proved effective.

But these later sieges were still in the far future when Michael, with
the aid, men said, of the Blessed Virgin of the Blachernae, scattered
the invaders, and passed again into the seclusion of his corrupt
court, from whose recesses no news but that of murders and
debaucheries seems ever to have penetrated without. "The state of
society at the Court of Constantinople," says Finlay, "was not
amenable to public opinion, for few knew much of what passed within
the walls of the great palace; but yet the immense machinery of the
imperial administration gave the Emperor's power a solid basis, always
opposed to the temporary vices of the courtiers. The order which
rendered property secure, and enabled the industrious classes to
prosper, through the equitable administration of the Roman law,
nourished the vitality of the Empire, when the madness of a Nero and
the drunkenness of a Michael appeared to threaten political order with
ruin. The people, carefully secluded from public business, and almost
without any knowledge of the proceedings of their government, were in
all probability little better acquainted with the intrigues and crimes
of their day than we are at present. They acted, therefore, only when
some real suffering or imaginary grievance brought oppression directly
home to their interests or their feelings. Court murders were to them
no more than a tragedy or a scene in the amphitheatre, at which they
were not present."[16]

Thus, when Cæsar followed Cæsar, with no change for the city over
which they were supposed to rule, the intrigues and scandals which
disgraced the reign of Michael III. raised scarce a stir among the
people; and when he died by the hands of one who had taken--it was
said--a base part in some of the most degraded of his acts, men hardly
wondered and certainly did not condemn.

Basil the Macedonian, had had a romantic life. As a boy he had
wandered penniless to Constantinople, and slept on the steps of the
church of S. Diomed. The kindness shown to the wayfarer by the abbat
of the monastery attached to the church was rewarded, when Basil
became Emperor, by the erection of a new church and monastery, some
pillars of which still lie neglected upon the beach of the Sea of
Marmora, not far from Yedi Koulé station. His immense strength,
personal beauty, and acute intelligence, soon made their way, and he
completed his ascent to power it is said by marrying a mistress of
Michael III.

As sovereign and the founder of a dynasty, Basil the Macedonian was
amongst the greatest of the Emperors. He was a successful warrior, an
able administrator of finance, a great builder of churches, and a
repairer of the walls. But his greatest glory is that of restorer of
the ancient Roman law. He returned, as has been shown by Professor
Bury,[17] to the principles of Justinian, in the Basilica, which were
the most important reconstruction of Roman law in the Middle Ages, and
the last it received.

We must hurry over these years, in which Constantinople itself
underwent but few changes. Leo VI., the "philosopher," who has been
more happily called a pedant, left no trace on the history of the
city, save his name as a repairer on one of the towers of the
sea-walls by Koum Kapou. His son, Constantine VII., called
Porphyrogenitus, because he was "born in the purple," (_i.e._ not when
his father was Emperor, but because of the porphyry lined chamber
reserved for his mother at his birth), was at first under the charge
of his uncle Alexander and then of his mother Zoe, and lastly of a
successful general Romanus, who surrounded himself with a galaxy of
imperial sons, allowing Constantine VII. also still to retain the
title of Emperor.

"The studious temper and retirement of Constantine," says Gibbon,
"disarmed the jealousy of power; his books and music, his pen and his
pencil, were a constant source of amusement; and, if he could improve
a scanty allowance by the sale of his pictures, if their price was not
enhanced by the name of the artist, he was endowed with a personal
talent which few princes could employ in the hour of adversity."
Constantine was much more than a student. A plot against Romanus and
the other Cæsars enabled him to resume power, which he held with
credit for seventeen years. As a writer he is one of the most
important of all the Byzantine historians.

The chief feature indeed of this age is its literary interest. Two
Emperors ruled whose pride it was to be men of letters. Leo the wise,
and Constantine born in the purple, were both men who wrote of war
and government as they knew them, and left to their successors
remarkable pictures of their times. Leo describes the military forces
which had still a magnificent organisation and a record of victory and
valour but little tarnished. The nobles of Constantinople could fight
as well as intrigue. Rich, brave and popular, the ancient families
which lingered so long after the Mohammedan conquest in the ancient
houses of the Phanar could always be relied upon to furnish gallant
officers for the troops. Constantine wrote of the Themes, of the
Imperial administration, and of the court ceremonial--the last an
extraordinary work describing the dignity and state of the emperors,
and regulating the minutest detail of the pomp with which their daily
life was surrounded.

The Court of the Eastern Empire indeed was by far the most brilliant
of the Middle Ages, and the Empire itself, weak and corrupt though it
may seem, was much the strongest government of the time, and the one
under which life and property were most secure. The commerce of
Constantinople was still greater probably than that of any other city
of the world. East and West poured their treasures into the city.

The reign of Constantine Porphyrogenitus was diversified, like those
of so many of his predecessors, as has already been said, by
revolutions, which placed many Cæsars on at least the steps of the
throne. Romanus and his sons Constantine (called the Eighth) and
Stephen, came to an end in 945, and from that time till his death in
958 Constantine VII. reigned alone. His son, Romanus II., succeeded
him, and to him came a time of war, in which his arms were victorious
over the Mohammedans through the genius of his general, Nicephorus
Phocas. In 963 Romanus died, and Nicephorus, marrying his widow
Theophano, became joint Emperor with the young Basil.

Nicephorus was above all things a warrior. He recovered for the Empire
the lands of Cilicia, North Syria, and Cyprus. His triumph in 966,
celebrated in the Hippodrome and in the great street of the city, was
the prelude to many another great military display; yet not being sole
Emperor, he never entered in triumph through the Golden gate, though
it was at that gate that he was received in 963 when he began his
joint reign.[18] But his life as Emperor was an unhappy one. So
unpopular was he in the city, owing to his opposition to the lavish
generosity of his predecessors and to his debasement of the coinage,
that he was often stoned in the streets and had to fortify the great
Palace; and his portrait has been limned for posterity by his enemies.
Chief among the pictures of mediæval Constantinople is that drawn by
Liudprand, bishop of Cremona, who came on behalf of the Emperor Otto
I. to treat of a marriage between Theophano, the daughter of the
Emperor Romanus, and the future Otto II.

Liudprand had visited Constantinople in 948. Then he spoke of the
great palace to which he was admitted to audience with Constantine
Porphyrogenitus, of its golden tree in which golden birds of divers
kinds sang sweetly, of the golden lions that guarded the throne,
shaking the earth with the beat of their tails, and roaring at the
approach of the envoys--marvellous features of the Eastern Court which
the Emperor had not forgotten to record in his account of the
ceremonial. Then he saw, too, the Emperor recline at dinner after the
ancient fashion, he saw the games of the Hippodrome, and he marvelled
at the size of the fruit and at the extraordinary acrobatic strength
of the boys of the circus. Then he was treated with great distinction.
Now, in 968, his reception was very different. In his letter to the
two Ottos he declared that he even lodged in a roofless house, exposed
to heat and cold, and constantly under guard, and that he suffered
agonies from the resinous Greek wine. First he saw Basil, the
Emperor's brother, and then he was admitted to the presence of
Nicephorus himself, whom he describes as more a monster than a man,
black as an Ethiop, and small as a pigmy. A pretty argument took place
between envoy and Emperor; the Greek refusing the imperial title to
the German Cæsars of the West, while the Western bishop would not
allow any rights of the East to the Italian lands of old Rome. Their
converse was interrupted by the hour of prayer, and Liudprand joined
the procession to S. Sophia. Tradesmen and low-born folk, says the
contemptuous bishop, lined the streets, many of them barefoot, because
of the holiness of the procession. Nicephorus alone wore gold and
jewels.

When they entered the great church the choir sang "Lo there cometh the
morning star. The dawn riseth. He reflects the rays of the sun.
Nicephorus our ruler, the pale death of the Saracens."[19] The famous
phrase, "pallida mors Saracenorum," which Liudprand uses, was to be
terribly avenged; but then it was a triumphant expression of the
safety which the city owed to the wise Emperor. As he went, says
Liudprand, "his lords the Emperors" (Basil and Constantine, the sons
of Romanus) bowed before him. After the Eucharist the bishop dined
with the Emperor, and was again, he says, subject to his taunts. "You
are not Romans but Lombards," was the Eastern mockery of the German
imperialism; and the reply was that to the Westerns there was no name
more contemptible than that of Roman. Such abrupt witticisms naturally
consigned Liudprand again to his "hated dwelling, or more truly,
prison." He wrote to Basil the curopalates (a post of honour second
only to that of Cæsar) and John Tzimisces the Logothete, beseeching
that if his mission was not favourably received, he might return at
once; and then in an interview with Nicephorus, in the presence of
Basil the chamberlain (_parakinomenos_) he pressed the proposal of
Otto for a marriage. The Emperor replied that it was unheard of that a
princess born in the purple, the child of an Emperor born in the
purple, should be given in marriage to a "gentile" or "barbarian." So
day by day the meetings were renewed and the proud Italian thought
that he was treated each time with new indignity, being even set below
a Bulgarian envoy--to whose master the Greeks would even allow the
title of "Vasileus" (βασιλεύς) which they would not give to Otto,
and towards whose people alone it seemed that the Eastern Empire
at this time had any kindly feeling. Theology as well as politics were
often in question, and the Italian bishop was mocked at for the
modernism of his doctrines, as the Greeks mock the Latins to-day. He
was kept, he says, in company with five lions; and the women, as he
passed through the streets, called out in pity at his woe-worn
appearance. Sometimes he visited the Emperor in the camp at Balukli
(εἰς πήγας, he says, in one of his snatches of Greek) and quoted
Plato to him; sometimes he had to listen to homilies of S. John
Chrysostom read aloud; more often he had to hear what seemed to him
the grossest insults of the Germans and the Latins, insults which he
gladly returned in his report to the Ottos upon "the wild ass
Nicephorus," and which he even ventured, he says, to write on the
wall of his prison in verses none too easily to be understood. At
length he was allowed to leave the city, "once most opulent and
flourishing, now half-starved, perjured, lying, cunning, greedy,
rapacious, avaricious, boastful." His report, as we have it, breaks
off in a torrent of denunciations of the Greeks and their ways. His
mission was a failure, but Theophano, refused by Nicephorus, was
afterwards given by John Tzimisces, to be bride to Otto II.

This curious survival of tenth century opinion illustrates the almost
total severance which had now come about between the East and the
West, and shows how natural was the destruction which was soon to come
upon the city of the Cæsars. The West had ceased to feel for the
Eastern survival of empire anything of brotherhood or Christian
fellowship. First it would seek to conquer the bulwark of Christendom
for itself; then it would let it fall before the conquering infidels.

Nicephorus did not long retain the throne he had so well defended.
John Tzimisces (or Tchemchkik), an Armenian, who won the favour of the
Empress Theophano, joined in a plot to overthrow his benefactor, and
Nicephorus was murdered in the palace. John Tzimisces reigned in his
stead. He made treaty with the patriarch Polyeuctus, by which he gave
up the claim that Nicephorus had asserted, that all episcopal
nominations should only be valid by the Emperor's consent. He gave
high promotion to the dignified and imposing Basil, the chamberlain
whom Psellus the historian describes as so impressive a person. He
banished the wicked Empress Theophano to the Princes' islands. Then he
reigned as joint Emperor with the young Emperors Basil and
Constantine, whose rights he was scrupulous to preserve.

John Tzimisces was famous as a gallant defender of the empire. The
people of Constantinople knew him chiefly for the imposing ceremonies
of his accession, of his second marriage with Theodora, daughter of
Constantine VII., and of his departure for war against the barbarian
invaders, when the clergy led him in pomp to his embarkation on the
Golden Horn, and blessed his ships, and the citizens watched a naval
sham fight from the walls. Domestic rebellions--those of Bardas,
Sclerus, and of the family of Phocas--as well as the dangerous Russian
invasions--distracted his reign: but Tzimisces was a successful
general, and by his conquest over the Russians under Swiatoslaf he
preserved the Empire, and began that association of teaching and
Christian influence which is returned to-day by the orthodox Russians
to the Church of Constantinople, which is their mother, and which now,
in her time-honoured conservatism, weak though she is, she is inclined
rather to resent than to welcome. From his conquest John Tzimisces
returned in triumph to Constantinople through the Golden gate,
followed by his soldiers and his captives, greeted by the Church and
by the officers of his court, and watched by the vast population of
the imperial city. It was one of the greatest of the triumphs, as it
was one of the last. The ancient usages were retained in all their
pomp. The senate met the Emperor at the gate with the conqueror's
chaplet and with the golden chariot drawn by four white horses, in
which they besought him to drive through the streets. Dramatically he
showed his sympathy with the religious feeling of his people; the
chariot should carry the Ikon of the Blessed Virgin which he had taken
in Bulgaria and to which he attributed his victories: he would ride
behind, clothed as an emperor and a general, and would offer in S.
Sophia the crown of the conquered Bulgarian kings. Then in the palace
the young Bulgarian chieftain Boris, who had followed his triumph on
foot, was despoiled of the insignia of sovereignty, yet ranked among
the officers of the imperial court.

It was not the last of the victories of John Tzimisces. He returned
more than once a conqueror from Armenia and Mesopotamia. He died in
976, in the midst of his victories; and since the young Emperors whom
he had guarded were now grown to man's estate, men spoke of his death
as mysterious and as probably due to poison.

In Basil II. the Empire again had a warrior Emperor, but one who added
to the delights of war the devotion of an almost monastic religion.
While his brother, Constantine IX., confined himself to the court and
its pleasures, Basil in many hard-won fights achieved the title of
Bulgaroktonos, the slayer of the Bulgarians. For thirty-four years he
fought the great King Samuel, who had built up a power in the Balkans,
till at last he utterly broke up the Slavs, captured all their
fortresses, and extended the frontier of the Empire to Belgrade, and
so down the Danube to the Black Sea. It was, as Gibbon says, "since
the time of Belisarius, the most important triumph of the Roman arms."
Victories also he won in the East, but they served only to break down
the kingdom of Armenia, and thus to destroy what might have been a
bulwark against the infidel. Basil, who reigned from 963 to 1025, when
he died at the age of sixty-eight, and who for more than fifty years
was practically the sole ruler of the Empire, was a stern, vigorous
man, sharp in speech, often cruel in victory, serious and restrained
in life, but fond of mirth in his moments of ease. He was a complete
contrast to his idle brother, who lived it seemed only for the
Hippodrome and the society of the ladies of his court. Basil was never
married. Constantine, who survived him three years, left three
daughters.[20] During his long reign Basil had swept away all rivals
from his path: the great chamberlain Basil had early been banished,
and there was no dynasty to compete with the Macedonians in the last
days of their power.

Basil taught the people that the Emperor could rule without the
intervention of courtiers, and thus when he died the imperial city
looked for a man to be at its head. If they had feared rather than
loved the great conqueror of the Bulgarians, they respected him
because he had kept up the power of the Church and had patronised the
learning which still had its home in the East. He left to his
successors the alliance of the patriarchal See and a school of
literature founded on classic models, which, with all its
affectations, gave to the eleventh century an important group of
historical writers. In no age, too, was Byzantine art, the art of
working in ivory, of miniature, of mosaic, more vigorous. With the
death of Basil, however long it might be disguised, the decay began.

When Constantine died his three daughters survived him, Eudocia who
preferred a convent to a throne, and Zoe and Theodora, ladies of more
ambitious temper. Zoe before her father died was wedded--she was
forty-eight--to Romanus Argyrus, an elderly noble already married,
whose wife was banished to a convent. Romanus III. was for six years
(1028-1034) the nominal ruler of the Empire. He thought himself a
philosopher and a warrior; but, says Psellus, "he thought he knew far
more than he did." Some of his acts were useful--as his repair of the
walls after the earthquakes of 1032 and 1033, commemorated by an
inscription on the fourth tower from the Sea of Marmora, shows. But
the historian mocks at his long drawn-out building of the monastery of
S. Mary Peribleptos and says that a "whole mountain was excavated" to
supply the stones. It was his most enduring memorial, and, several
times rebuilt, it still survives in the possession of the Armenians as
the monastery of S. George, not far from the Psamatia station.

But the Emperor's dreams of war, philosophy and building, were rudely
disturbed by the intrigue of his wife with a young Paphlagonian
soldier, Michael. He professed to disbelieve it, though it was
notorious to the court. His complaisance perhaps allowed him to die in
peace, though some said he was killed by a slow poison. On the very
day of his death Zoe elevated Michael to the throne, and before the
burial of Romanus the senate kissed the right hand of his successor.

Michael appears before us in the pages of the rhetorical Psellus as
almost a hero and a saint. He reclaimed sinners after the manner of
Justinian, he reformed the administration, he daily worshipped God in
the services of the Church, and nightly walked the streets to watch
and to prevent crime. One of the strangest pictures of mediæval
Constantinople is that which Psellus gives us of the unwearied
Emperor, disguised in monkish dress, passing swiftly "like lightning"
through the streets at night, watching that his people might be
preserved from crime. Yet with all his virtues he was a drunkard, and
the epileptic fits to which he became more and more subject were
probably due to his vices. So terribly did his affliction increase
upon him that when he gave audience it was necessary to surround him
with curtains which could in a moment be drawn to hide his paroxysms,
and when he rode his guards formed a circle about him. His greedy
relations surrounded him and urged him to provide for them, and when
he had signalised his reign by a heroic defence of the Empire against
a rising of the Bulgarians he returned in triumph only to retire to a
monastery and to die.

Zoe emerged from the seclusion in which she had passed the last years
of her young husband's life, and was induced by her family to make his
nephew, Michael Kalaphates Emperor. Raised to the throne by his family
he set himself at once to reduce it to the lowest depths. "The names
of kinship, the common tie of kindred blood, appeared to him mere
childishness, and it would have been nothing to him if one wave had
engulfed all his kin." The same measure he meted to the nobles and the
officials; but he courted popularity with the traders and the populace
more than any of his predecessors had done, and when he showed himself
in the streets silk carpets were strewn before him and he was greeted
as the noblest of the Cæsars. Yet he relied too much upon the fickle
mob. When the senate consented to his banishment of Zoe, shorn as a
nun, to Prince's Island, he proclaimed his act in the forum of
Constantine for the acceptance of the people.

But Constantinople again showed that, favoured as it had been like a
petted child, it could show its power. The people assembled in knots
at street corners and protested against the banishment of the heiress
of the Macedonian warrior. The conclaves became a riot and the riot a
revolution. Women ran through the streets tearing their hair and
beating their breasts. Officers of State joined the mob, and they
rushed to destroy the houses of the Emperor's family. Zoe was hastily
recalled from Prinkipo, and shown in purple robes to the people in the
Hippodrome. But it was too late. The mob broke open the monastery of
the Petrion (by the Phanar) where her sister Theodora had long lived
in retirement, and forced her to go with them to S. Sophia and there
the patriarch Alexius and the vast crowd hailed her as Empress. The
Emperor and his uncle took refuge in the church of the Studium. They
were dragged from the altar and their eyes were put out; and Zoe and
Theodora, who hated each other, became joint Empresses.

Their rule was extravagant and reckless; and while the State was
advancing rapidly towards bankruptcy, the aged Zoe took a third
husband, after two attempts at choice, wedding Constantine Monomachus,
who reigned from 1042 to 1054 as Constantine X. The old Empress and
her young husband gave themselves entirely to pleasure, to luxury and
buffoonery. The Emperor, generous in giving and knowing how to confer
benefits after the manner of an Emperor, beautified the city by the
building of the magnificent monastery of S. George at the Mangana
(near Deirmen Kapou on the Mamora), and amused the citizens by showing
them an elephant and a camelopard. The court which Constantine and Zoe
gathered round them was a strange assembly; its chief personage was
the Emperor's mistress Skleraina, whom the Empress treated as a
friend. The people resented the conjunction and cried "we will not
have Skleraina to reign over us, nor on her account shall our
purple-born mothers, Zoe and Theodora, die." The aged Zoe herself
appeased them. It was an extraordinary state of society, reminding us
of the eighteenth century in France: the intrigues that Psellus tells
are indeed hardly credible. But the social corruption coexisted with a
real revival of learning. Constantinople became the centre of a new
study of literature, which had decayed since the iconoclastic emperors
set themselves to destroy culture and Leo III. abolished the
University. Constantine refounded the University, endowing two
chairs--philosophy and law--which were held by Psellus and his
friend, John Xiphilinos. A revival of the study of the classics
followed this institution: Psellus considered himself a Platonist, and
he thought himself worthy to represent as well as to revive the best
traditions of Greek literature. In the hands of Anna Comnena and her
contemporaries, the purism which the writers affected became little
more than an Attic euphuism.

While the Emperor and his friends were thus busy with trifles, and the
government was in the hands sometimes of wise ministers such as
Leichudes, sometimes of mere thieves, the throne was constantly
threatened by revolts (of which the most famous was that of George
Maniakes) and by direct attacks on the city, such as that of the
Russians, and in 1047 of Leo Tornikos. This latter was nearly
successful. Many of the citizens were ready to join him, and but for
the military skill shown by Constantine (if we rightly read the
rhetorical description of Psellus) Leo would probably have entered and
found himself welcomed as Emperor.

In 1054 Constantine X. died, and the aged Theodora, the last survivor
of the Macedonian house, came forth again from her convent and reigned
with the aid of ministers who were at least capable and honest. On her
death, after two years as sole ruler, the throne passed, by her wish,
to an able but aged soldier, Michael Stratioticus.

Psellus shows that the accession of this sovereign marked a crisis in
the history of the Empire. Constantine X. had reformed the Senate,
opening it to all men of merit apart from their birth. Michael VI.
thought he could rely entirely on the civil functionaries, but the
army was still strong enough to dictate to the Emperor, and his unwise
acts led to an alliance between the generals and the energetic
patriarch Michael Cerularius. Michael attempted to negotiate with
Isaac Comnenus, whom the army had chosen as their leader, and who was
encamped at Nicæa (Isnik); but before the envoys, among whom was
Psellus, had completed their mission, a rising in the city, led by
some discontented senators, had dethroned and slain Michael, and the
whole city was waiting to welcome Isaac as Emperor.

Constantinople in this revolution decisively chose her own Emperor.
The Senate and the chiefs of certain "clubs" (the successors of the
factions of the Circus so prominent four centuries before) guided, as
seems probable, by the patriarch, carried the city with them. Isaac
they summoned from Skutari: Michael departed to a monastery with the
patriarch's kiss of peace.

The scene when Isaac was about to cross the Bosphorus to receive his
crown was a dramatic one. He called Psellus, the envoy of his deposed
rival, to him, and said, when the philosopher spoke of the enthusiasm
of the people, "I liked thy tongue better when it reviled me than now
when it speaks smooth words." But he began his reign by an amnesty,
for he made Psellus president of the Senate, and Michael the
patriarch--however much he may have distrusted him--he treated with
the fullest confidence and honour.

While these political and dynastic changes had supplied the Empire
with a new ruler almost every year, the growing alienation between
East and West had been marked decisively by the separation of the
Churches. Two great names embody in the East the final protest against
Roman assumption. The Church of Constantinople had never abandoned its
claim to equality with that of Rome, though it allowed to the ancient
city the primacy of honour. Photius, who became patriarch in 858, and
died in 891, owed his throne to an election which was not canonical,
and though a council in 861 at Constantinople, at which papal legates
were present, confirmed him in his office, Pope Nicholas I. declared
that its decisions were illegal, and that Photius was deposed and
excommunicated, while the Emperor himself was attacked in language of
peculiar vehemence. The papal claim to decide between two claimants to
the patriarchate was fiercely resented. Photius declared the equality
of his see with that of Rome. To the Roman claim of jurisdiction,
complicated also by assertions of supremacy over the Bulgarian Church,
were added points of theological contention which the churches debated
with as much eagerness, and it would seem, as little desire, to arrive
at a reasonable solution. The addition of the words _Filioque_ to the
Nicene Creed, asserting the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the
Father and the Son, was, and is, resented by the Greeks as an addition
to "the faith once for all delivered to the Saints." The use of
unleavened bread in the Holy Eucharist was regarded in the East as an
heretical innovation. There were, and are, other points of dispute;
but none, it is probable, but for the strong national feeling of Italy
and of Greece, would have caused a final breach.

The position which Photius defended with skill and vigour in the ninth
century was reasserted by Michael Cerularius in the eleventh. He
regarded the teaching of the West on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity,
says Psellus, as an intolerable heresy; and he was prompt to reassert
jurisdiction over the churches of Apulia, now conquered by the Normans
and made subject to Rome. The final breach came from Rome itself. On
July 16, 1054, two legates of the Pope laid on the altar of S. Sophia
the act of excommunication which severed the patriarch from the
communion of the West, and condemned what were asserted to be seven
deadly heresies of the Eastern Church.

But to return to the imperial revolution.

Isaac Comnenus, who was called to the throne in 1057, had been brought
up in the palace, but he was none the less a warrior and a man of
determination, who had served the Empire well. He reigned only for two
years, and then retired to end his days in religion, in the famous and
beautiful monastery of the Studium, which looks from a slight
elevation over the Sea of Marmora, some half mile away, and whose half
ruined walls are to-day among the most striking of the memorials of
the past that Constantinople can show.

With the beginning of the dynasty of the Comneni the causes which
brought about the fall of the Empire can clearly be traced. The
imperial power, concentrated more and more in the imperial household,
and finally in the Emperor himself, had come to be devoted chiefly, in
the hands of feeble or self-indulgent emperors, to the maintenance of
imperial dignity and pride in the city itself. The magnificent
administration which had presented a coherent and effective government
while the rest of Europe was in "the dark ages," was beginning to sink
into a mere machine for the support of a luxurious Court. The Empire
was neglected. The aristocracy of Byzantium was treated with severity
or contempt. The officials of the State were the mere nominees of the
Emperor. For their interest and for the pursuit of popularity among
the people it was that government seemed to exist. Every year, as the
defences of the Empire grew weaker, the shows of the Hippodrome, the
festivals of the Church, the entertainments of the palace, grew more
splendid. When the other States of Europe were yet in their cradle,
when England as a Power had hardly begun to exist, the long history
of the Empire was verging irresistibly towards decay.

"The domestics of the Basilian dynasty carried on the work of
political change," says Finlay,[21] "by filling the public offices
with their own creatures, and thereby destroying the power of that
body of State officials, whose admirable organisation had repeatedly
saved the Empire from falling into anarchy under tyrants or from being
ruined by peculation under aristocratic influence. In this manner the
scientific fabric of the imperial power, founded by Augustus, was at
last ruined in the East as it had been destroyed in the West. The
Emperors broke the government to pieces before strangers destroyed the
Empire.

"The revolution which undermined the systematic administration was
already consummated before the rebellion of the aristocracy placed the
imperial crown on the head of Isaac Comnenus. No organised body of
trained officials any longer existed to resist the egoistical
pretensions of the new intruders into ministerial authority. The
Emperor could now make his household steward prime minister, and the
governor of a province could appoint his butler prefect of the police.
The Church and the law alone preserved some degree of systematic
organisation and independent character. It was not in the power of an
emperor to make a man a lawyer or a priest with the same ease with
which he could appoint him a chamberlain or a minister of State."

The decay of which the general causes are thus sketched can clearly be
traced in the series of historians who give us the records of the
years from the accession of John Comnenus to the conquest of
Constantinople by the Crusaders, from the year 1057, that is, to the
year 1204. Psellus, monk, secretary of State, philosopher, statesman,
gives, as we have already seen, a close account of the intrigues of
the court. Michael Altaleiates records the years 1034-1079. Nicephorus
Bryennius and his wife, Anna Comnena, wrote from within the story of
the politics of Alexius Comnenus, the former to some extent, the
latter very greatly, influenced by the classic revival, and
endeavouring to form their work on classic models. John Cinnamus,
Nicetas Acominatos, John Scylitzes, John Zonaras, are all chroniclers
who have special sources of information; and the result is that for
the century of decay which culminated in the collapse of the Empire
before the Latins, we have information almost complete.

The Emperor Isaac was assisted at the first by the able patriarch
Michael Cerularius, who put into exercise all the claims of his
predecessors to power and independence, to equality with Rome, and to
superiority over the churches related to the patriarchate. Strife soon
broke out between Emperor and patriarch. Michael appeared in the red
boots which marked the imperial dignity, declaring that he was the
equal of the Emperor; and of the Emperor himself he said, in what
seems to have been a popular proverb, "Oven, I built you, and I can
knock you down." He was seized and banished to Proconnesus.

After the retirement of Isaac, Constantine Ducas, like the Comneni a
Cappadocian, and a friend of their own, reigned for eight years,
1059-1067, and left the reputation of a man anxious only to save
money, and thus unable to protect the frontiers of the Empire. Under
him we learn the importance of the Emperor's personal guard of
Varangians--a body of barbarian warriors founded early in the eleventh
century, and consisting at first of Russians, whom the wars of
Nicephorus Phocas, John Tzimisces and Basil Bulgaroktonos had taught
the Empire to respect; and of Scandinavians, and later of Danes, and
after the Norman Conquest of fugitive Englishmen, who, rather than
serve the foreign conquerors of their own land, gladly came to win
fame and wealth as the guardians of the Cæsar's throne. Constantine
XI. paid the Varangians while he neglected the rest of his army. The
Empire paid the penalty in the ravaging of Armenia by the Seljuk
Turks, and of Bulgaria by the Tartars. When he died in 1067, already
the name of Alp-Arslan, the Sultan of the Seljuks, struck terror into
the Asiatic provinces of the Empire, and the sceptre of the Cæsars
fell to Michael VII., a child who could not protect what his father
had not cared to defend. The mother of the young Emperor, Eudocia,
married a gallant general, Romanus Diogenes, who, with the title of
joint Emperor, won but little power in the palace, but was readily
allowed to lead the armies in the field. Of his campaigns it is only
needful to say that, while for a time he held back the Seljuks, in
1071, at Manzikert, on the Armenian frontier, his troops were
scattered by the overwhelming hordes of the barbarians, and when night
fell Alp-Arslan placed his foot upon the neck of the prostrate Cæsar,
his captive.

In Constantinople a new revolution followed the news of the Emperor's
defeat. John Ducas, brother of Constantine XI., for a time held the
post of Regent for his nephew. When Romanus was released from
captivity he was seized and his eyes were put out, a crime which
resulted in his death. The scenes of blood and treachery which marked
these years, when the Court still kept up its splendours in the
presence of pestilence, famine, and decay, are almost incredible; but
the vengeance that was surely coming shows the weakness that resulted
from the reign of corruption and crime. Michael VII. was called
Parapinakes, "the peck-stealer," a name "given him because in a year
of famine he sold the measure of wheat to his subjects a fourth short
of its proper contents." He was overthrown by an adventurer named
Nicephorus Botoniates, whose reign of three years was a period of vice
and waste which brought the Empire rapidly nearer to its fall. Michael
VII. retired, like Romanus, to the Monastery of the Studium, where as
titular bishop of Ephesus, he passed the last years of his life in
peace. Three years exhausted the patience of the nobles with the aged
and debauched Nicephorus. Maria, once wife of Michael VII. and now
wife of his successor, formed a plot against him, and from a number of
conspirators, Alexius Comnenus, son of the Emperor Isaac, was chosen
to lead the troops who determined to give a new Cæsar to the exhausted
Empire. In 1081 the friends of the conspirators escaped through the
gate of Blachernae with horses they had stolen from the Imperial
stables. They returned with an army: the German guards who held the
gate of Charisius (Edirnè Kapou) were bribed, and the adherents of
Comnenus poured into the heart of the city. A battle at first seemed
certain, for the Varangians stood boldly across the forum of
Constantine to defend the approaches to the great palace. But when
George Palaeologus, a gallant officer connected by marriage with the
Comneni, secured the fleet, the heart of the aged Nicephorus failed
him, and he fled to S. Sophia, whence he was removed like so many of
his predecessors to a monastery.

Alexius Comnenus was not strong enough to restrain the motley rabble
who had entered in his train. The city was given over to pillage. The
very palaces and monasteries were spoiled by the barbarians from the
Balkans. It was from this date that the ruin of the city began. If the
churches still maintained their relics and their jewels, the
commercial prosperity, which all through these years of imperial
corruption and weakness it had struggled to maintain, now began to
slip from its grasp. It was clear that property was no more safe than
life; and as the Italian cities began to secure the commerce of the
Levant, the merchants of Constantinople fell behind in the race for
wealth, and saw the trade that had been theirs taken by the Venetians,
the Pisans and the Genoese, who now settled at their very gates.

Alexius Comnenus was at first not sole Emperor. Constantine Ducas, the
son of Michael VII., was also called Emperor, but he soon died.
Alexius then reigned alone, but not without many plots against him.
Within, the city managed to suppress the conspirators; without, he
suffered defeat from the Normans at Durazzo, and preserved with
difficulty the Thessalian province. He won fame among his people as a
persecutor of Paulicians and Bogomils; and Basil, a monk, was
entrapped by Alexius into a confession of his heretical opinions and
then burnt as a heretic in the Hippodrome, to the delight of the
people of Constantinople. He kept off the Turks, though they were now
(1092) settled so near as to have Smyrna for their capital. But his
chief danger came from the Crusades.

In spite of the breach between the Churches it was impossible for the
Eastern Emperor openly to do otherwise than welcome the hosts who in
response to the preaching of Peter the Hermit and the call of Urban
II. marched through Hungary and Bulgaria and arrived outside the land
walls in a ragged and disordered condition. Hugh of Vermandois had
landed near Durazzo, but had been treated almost as a foreigner, and
having been made to do homage to Alexius, awaited in the imperial
city the arrival of the rest of the hosts. His treatment was resented
by Godfrey of Bouillon; but the skill and tact of Alexius triumphed.
In the palace of the Blachernae, while the hosts were encamped outside
the walls, the Emperor received the leaders, among them Godfrey,
Bohemond, and Peter the Hermit himself, and by cajoling some, bribing
others, threatening those who seemed weakest, he procured that they
all should do him homage and promise to convey to him all of his
Empire that they should recover from the Turks.

To the people of Constantinople the warriors of the West seemed like
ignorant and half-brutal children, ever gabbling, boasting, and
changeable. The warlike garb of the Latin priests and bishops
disgusted the Greeks and widened the breach between the Churches. The
climax seemed to come on the day when the chiefs did homage to the
Emperor. Thus the story is told by Anna Comnena, who was herself then
fourteen years old, and may not improbably have witnessed the scene.

"As soon as they approached the great city, they occupied the place
appointed for them by the Emperor, near to the monastery of the
Cosmidion.[22] But this multitude was not, like the Hellenic one of
old, to be restrained and governed by the loud voices of nine heralds.
They required the constant superintendence of chosen and valiant
soldiers to keep them from violating the commands of the Emperor. He,
meantime, laboured to obtain from the other leaders that
acknowledgment of his supreme authority which had already been drawn
from Godfrey himself. But notwithstanding the willingness of some to
accede to this proposal, and their assistance in working on the minds
of their associates, the Emperor's endeavours had little success, as
the majority were looking for the arrival of Bohemond, in whom they
placed their chief confidence, and resorted to every art with the view
of gaining time. The Emperor, whom it was not easy to deceive,
penetrated their motives; and by granting to one powerful person
demands which had been supposed out of all bounds of expectation, and
by resorting to a variety of other devices, he at length prevailed,
and won general assent to the following of the example of Godfrey, who
also was sent for in person to assist in this business.

"All, therefore, being assembled, and Godfrey among them, the oath was
taken; but when all was finished, a certain noble among these counts
had the audacity to seat himself on the throne of the Emperor. The
Emperor restrained himself and said nothing, for he was well
acquainted of old with the nature of the Latins.

"But the Count Baldwin stepping forth, and seizing him by the hand,
dragged him thence, and with many reproaches said, 'It becomes thee
not to do such things here, especially after having taken the oath of
fealty. It is not the custom of the Roman Emperors to permit any of
their inferiors to sit beside them, not even of such as are born
subjects of their empire; and it is necessary to respect the customs
of the country.' But he, answering nothing to Baldwin, stared yet more
fixedly upon the Emperor, and muttered to himself something in his own
dialect, which, being interpreted, was to this effect--'Behold, what
rustic fellow is this, to be seated alone while such leaders stand
around him!' The movement of his lips did not escape the Emperor, who
called to him one that understood the Latin dialect, and inquired what
words the man had spoken. When he heard them the Emperor said nothing
to the other Latins, but kept the thing to himself. When, however, the
business was all over, he called near to him by himself that swelling
and shameless Latin, and asked of him, who he was, of what lineage,
and from what region he had come. 'I am a Frank,' said he, 'of pure
blood, of the nobles. One thing I know, that where three roads meet in
the place from which I came, there is an ancient church, in which
whosoever has the desire to measure himself against another in single
combat, prays God to help him therein, and afterwards abides the
coming of one willing to encounter him. At that spot a long time did I
remain, but the man bold enough to stand against me I found not.'
Hearing these words the Emperor said, 'If hitherto thou hast sought
battles in vain the time is at hand which will furnish thee with
abundance of them. And I advise thee to place thyself neither before
the phalanx, nor in its rear, but to stand fast in the midst of thy
fellow-soldiers; for of old time I am well acquainted with the warfare
of the Turks.' With such advice he dismissed not only this man, but
the rest of those who were about to depart on that expedition."

A scene such as this made the Greeks regard the Westerns simply as
barbarians, and they rejoiced when the host at last passed over the
Bosphorus to fight the Turks. For the first year Alexius remained with
the army; but as they became divided among themselves, and refused to
give up to him the territory they conquered in the East, he returned
to Constantinople, satisfied with the conquest which had driven back
the Turks in Asia for more than 200 miles.

While the Empire gained by its most dangerous enemy being thus driven
back, it lost seriously in other ways. "Between 1098 and 1099 a
continual stream of armed pilgrims traversed the Byzantine Empire,"
everywhere bringing ruin and devastation with them. One detachment of
Lombards actually attempted to storm the Blachernae quarter and were
only with great difficulty taken over to Asia, where they slaughtered
Christians as readily as Turks. Open war broke out between Bohemond
and Alexius, and it was the last success of Alexius that he was able
to beat off the attacks of the Christians of the West. He died in
1118, his last hours disturbed by a plot in which his wife Irene and
his daughter Anna were engaged to compel his son John to yield the
Empire to Anna's husband, Nicephorus Bryennius.

Alexius may have seemed to leave the Empire stronger than he found it;
but in truth, though its military power was greater, its commercial
greatness was passing away. The development of trade in the Levant
through the establishment of Christian kingdoms in the East by the
Crusaders reduced the trade of Constantinople, it has been estimated,
by "a third or even a half in the fifty years that followed the first
crusade." A system of financial extortion and a debased coinage
brought the merchants of the city still nearer to ruin, and that ruin
seemed consummated when they found the Genoese and Pisans settled with
special privileges in their midst. But the new Emperor at least kept
up appearances. He was a conqueror, and he was popular among his
subjects, called at first Maurojoannes (Black John), from his dark
complexion, he soon became called Kalojoannes, for his goodness rather
than his beauty. At the first he was met by conspiracy. His sister
Anna was ready to have him murdered that she and her husband might
ascend the throne. He discovered the plot, and after a few weeks
restored her to all her possessions. His brother Isaac fled from
Constantinople to the Turks, and though he returned, his son
afterwards became a Mohammedan. For chief minister the Emperor had a
Turkish slave who had been captured by his father at Nicaea and
brought up with him. These instances show how closely the Empire, in
spite of its Christianity, was drawing nigh to the Turks, a state of
affairs paralleled by the relations between Christians and Moors in
Spain in the days of El Cid Campeador, and which made the conquest,
when it came, less abrupt and terrible than it seems to-day.

The reign of John Comnenus (1118-1143) was perhaps the brightest in
the later years of the Empire. "Feared by his nobles, beloved by his
people," says Gibbon, "he was never reduced to the painful necessity
of punishing, or even of pardoning, his enemies. During his government
of twenty-five years[23] the penalty of death was abolished in the
Roman Empire, a law of mercy most delightful to the human theorist,
but of which the practice, in a large and vicious community, is seldom
consistent with the public safety. Severe to himself, indulgent to
others, the philosophic Marcus would not have disdained the artless
virtues of his successor, derived from his heart and not borrowed from
the schools. He despised and moderated the stately magnificence of the
Byzantine Court, so oppressive to the people, so contemptible to the
eye of reason. Under such a prince innocence had nothing to fear and
merit had everything to hope; and without assuming the tyrannic office
of a censor he introduced a gradual though visible reformation in the
public and private manners of Constantinople."

Manuel I., his youngest son, whom he chose for his military daring in
preference to his brother Isaac, was "a mere knight errant, who loved
fighting for fighting's sake, and allowed his passion for excitement
and adventure to be his only guide." It is said that he made a special
payment to secure the good will of the clergy on his accession; but he
was vicious as well as passionate, and the crimes of his court
received a licence from his own acts. Buffoonery as well as vice seems
to have marked the life of Constantinople, for the popular minister,
John Kameratos, was renowned as the greatest drinker of his time, as
being able to swallow a vast quantity of raw beans and drink "the
water contained in an immense porphyry vase at two draughts," and he
was favoured by the Emperor chiefly for his powers as a singer and
dancer. Manuel himself was skilled in surgery and was a theologian as
well as a warrior, but his abilities were of no service to the Empire.
The citizens saw the Italians encroaching upon them at every point.
Heavy taxation was continued, but the army and navy alike decayed in
his time. Only the public games were kept up, and outwardly
Constantinople was as gay and wealthy as ever. Benjamin of Tudela, a
Jew who visited the city in 1161, wrote of the magnificence that he
saw everywhere, and the riches of the traders and nobles, and in the
Hippodrome he said that "lions, bears and leopards were shown, and all
nations of the world were represented, together with surprising feats
of jugglery." With all this, and especially after the war with Venice,
which was ended in 1174, the city was really becoming poor, and it
might almost seem defenceless. Manuel did much for the defences; a
large part of the land walls, defending the palace of Blachernae, was
added by him; an inscription on the tower close to Narli Kapoussi
records his repair of part of the sea wall; and he built many other
gates and additional fortifications. It was indeed time.

The eleventh century saw the position of the Empire and the safety of
the imperial city continually threatened not only by active attacks
but by internal dissensions; dissensions which, it has been well said,
would have settled themselves a century before, but which now both
weakened the city and made its weakness apparent to the world.

How weak the city was, was seen in 1146, when a Norman fleet sailed up
the Hellespont, and the admiral robbed the imperial gardens of fruit.
Bulgars, Serbians, Turks, had all at different times threatened the
city, and without success, but its internal weakness was made the more
evident as the century went on by the division which was arising
between the Emperor and his people. Manuel I. was believed to be at
heart a Latin; his campaigns of the West, his marriages to Western
wives, his neglect of the fleet, his encouragement of foreign settlers
in the capital, all increased his unpopularity. Matters were not
improved under the boy, Alexius II., when the struggle between his
mother and the minister she favoured, and his sister, took place in
the streets of the city, and in S. Sophia itself. The dynastic dispute
was complicated, like all the disputes in Constantinople, by
ecclesiastical interests, and the return of a patriarch who had been
driven out was one of those picturesque scenes in which the people
delighted, which showed their independence of the government, but
revealed also, only too plainly, that there was now no union in Church
or State.

A few words may suffice to explain and date the events of the latter
part of the twelfth century.

Manuel up to his death in 1180 retained all the appearance of a
victorious Emperor, though he suffered a severe defeat in 1176, at
Myriokephalon in Phrygia, from the Seljukian Turks. Crusading princes,
the Turkish Sultan Kilidji Arslan, and the Christian King, Amaury of
Jerusalem, visited him at Constantinople, and were received with
ostentatious splendour. Alexius II., his son and successor, was a boy
of thirteen, and in two years the streets of the imperial city
witnessed a desperate encounter between his supporters and those of
his sister Maria, which swept up to the walls of S. Sophia. Then
Andronicus, the cousin of the Emperor Manuel, was recalled from
banishment, and he signalised his acquisition of power by a massacre
of the Latins in the city. From this he proceeded to slay every one
who stood in his way, till, in 1183, having murdered the young
Alexius, he seated himself on the throne. For two years he continued a
course of crimes greater than those that any sovereign ever committed,
till a popular insurrection crowned a descendant of the great Alexius.
Andronicus, though the vilest of men, had made a serious effort to
reform the administration and reduce the influence of the nobles. His
fall left the Empire to its fate.

The miserable end of the wickedest of the Emperors, as it is told by a
recent writer from the pages of Nicetas, may well serve to illustrate
the horrors with which the Empire in its fall was only too familiar.

He was confined in the prison called after the Cretan Anemas, who was
first imprisoned there by Alexius Comnenus. "He quitted it only to die
at the hands of his infuriated subjects. On the eve of his execution
he was bound with chains about the neck and feet, like some wild
animal, and dragged into the presence of his successor, Isaac Angelus,
to be subjected to every indignity. He was reviled, beaten, struck on
the mouth; he had his hair and beard plucked, his teeth knocked out,
his right hand struck off with an axe, and then was sent back to his
cell, and left there without food or water or attention of any kind
for several days. When brought forth for execution, he was dressed
like a slave, blinded of one eye, mounted upon a mangy camel, and led
in mock triumph through the streets of the city to the Hippodrome,
amidst a storm of hatred and insult, seldom, if ever, witnessed under
similar circumstances in a civilised community. At the Hippodrome he
was hung by the feet on the architrave of two short columns which
stood beside the figures of a wolf and a hyena, his natural
associates. But neither his pitiable condition, nor his quiet
endurance of pain, nor his pathetic cry, "Kyrie eleison, why dost Thou
break the bruised reed?" excited the slightest commiseration.
Additional and indescribable insults were heaped upon the fallen
tyrant, until his agony was brought to an end by three men who plunged
their swords into his body, to exhibit their dexterity in the use of
arms."[24]

Isaac Angelus was little more worthy of his position than the man whom
he displaced. He gave himself to enjoyment, to building, to luxury of
every kind. He lost Bulgaria and Cyprus, and when his own general,
Alexis Branas, turned against him and led his troops to besiege
Constantinople, it was saved only by Conrad of Montferrat, the husband
of the Emperor's sister Theodora, who was then in the city on his way
to the East.

The troops of Branas assembled outside the walls and attacked, but
were driven back from the gate of Charisius (Edirnè Kapoussi): the
famous icon of the Blessed Virgin, believed to have been painted by S.
Luke, was carried round the walls: then a sortie led by Conrad
scattered the rebels and brought the revolt to an end. But Isaac was
incapable of ruling. He retained his throne with difficulty for ten
years. At length in 1195, when he was on the way to the Bulgarian
war, he was betrayed by his brother Alexius. He was not, as would have
happened two centuries before, made a monk: he was imprisoned in a
monastery, blinded, and left to die in peace. No one foresaw his
restoration.

Alexius III., called also Angelus Comnenus, was no wit better than his
brother, but he had a clever wife, Euphrosyne, in whom the worst
characteristics of the Eastern Empresses were reproduced. Her
profligacy and extravagance completed the ruin of the Empire, and when
the fourth crusade turned its arms against the city it fell an easy
prey.

It has been well said of the rule of the early Byzantines--during the
period, that is, that extended from the foundation of the city by
Constantine down to the death of Michael VI. and the end of the
Macedonian dynasty--that no other government has ever existed in
Europe which has secured for so long a time the same advantages to the
people. There was a general security for life and property; there was
a magnificent system of law; there was a genuine and commanding
influence of religion; and municipal government was, for the age, well
developed. But this can only be accepted with considerable
qualifications. If the government itself did not change, the dynasties
often did; if there was a good code of laws, there were terrible and
barbarous punishments, and there were often periods of mob-rule; if
there was a sound system of municipal government, it was far from a
complete check on the excesses of imperial power.

But the most striking characteristic of these centuries, when all
deductions have been made, is the stability of the government. As the
city and the Empire were ruled under Isaac Comnenus, so, save for
changes more superficial than real, had it been ruled under
Justinian. The new families of merchant princes that had grown up and
lined the Bosphorus with their houses, were as much in touch with the
old system as the old families had been. Trading interests had become
stronger and stronger with each century, and trading interests are in
the main conservative. But the century and a half that followed the
accession of the Comneni told inevitably in favour of further changes.
First there was the slow and terrible advance of the Turks, cutting
away strip by strip the outskirts of the Empire. Then there was the
exhaustion proceeding from the constant passage through the Empire of
crusaders, often pillaging, always contending, a continual drain upon
the material resources of the land. More important still was the great
and rapid increase of dynastic contentions. As ever, internal
dissension was the real cause of the self-betrayal which gave up
Constantinople in 1204 to the robbers of the West.

The condition of Constantinople at the beginning of the thirteenth
century has been the subject of more than one exhaustive examination.
We must briefly summarise what is known of the capital at this period
of its greatest riches, and perhaps its greatest weakness. First and
most prominently, it was a great commercial centre. Subordinate to its
commerce were its art, rich and wonderful though that was, its
military power, even its popular and all-embracing religious spirit.
Commerce influenced all these. It gathered together all the nations of
the earth, and it inspired them with greed for its treasures.
Constantinople was, as it still is to some extent, in spite of the
revolutions wrought by railways and by steamships, the most important
outlet of commerce in the world. All the traffic of Asia naturally
came that way; the great caravans of Central Asia, the trade of
Palestine, Asia Minor, Persia, even Egypt, journeyed naturally to the
New Rome. So naturally was Constantinople the centre of trade that she
acted as a sort of universal banker. Her coins were in use in India
and in distant England.

And the merchants who made their living in Constantinople had, like
those of the Hansa in London, their own permanent settlements. You may
see to-day the great khans or caravanserais where the merchants and
pilgrims congregate, the walls strong to resist attacks, the gates
closed at nightfall, the arrangements for common meals and common
ablutions; and as you pass by you see the dark figures clustering in
the doorways, or sitting on the marble steps, in their picturesque
colours, and with that strange far-away look on their faces that you
learn to know so well in the land where there is never any more
pressing need than repose, or any delight more sweet. The custom of
these great common lodgings, and very often the buildings themselves,
go back far into the Middle Ages. In the thirteenth century they held
great colonies of merchants strong for mutual combination and defence.
Many of them were near to the wharves, as close within the walls as
might be, and some without. No visitor to-day can fail to be struck by
the great khan hard by the Mosque of Validè Sultan, which he passes
when he has crossed the Galata Bridge on his way to S. Sophia.

The traders of the thirteenth century were by no means all Christians.
Jews and even Mohammedans were allowed to settle in the imperial city,
and Geoffrey of Vinsauf bitterly says "it would have been right even
to have rased the city to the ground, for, if we believe report, it
was polluted by new mosques, which its perfidious Emperor allowed to
be built that he might strengthen the league with the Turks." It
seemed strange to the Western that such toleration should be allowed.
The Jews and the Albigenses were the only "dissenters" he had met; but
in the East there were not only the Romanists, but the Monophysite
Armenians and the Nestorian Chaldeans; Jews and Mohammedans made no
such very great addition to the parliament of religions. And they all,
infidels and heretics alike, brought their riches to the great mart.
As the Turks advanced over Asia, scattering ruin and blight before
their path, the riches of the devastated cities fled to shelter behind
the Byzantine walls. No city it seemed to a Jewish observer of the
time was so rich or so full of business save Baghdad. Gold was nothing
accounted of; it covered the walls and pillars of the palace, it made
the throne of the Emperor, the lamps of S. Sophia, the vessels of many
an almost forgotten church. "The whole Empire had been put under
contribution for the adornment of the capital. The temples and public
buildings of Greece, of Asia Minor, and of the islands of the
Archipelago, had been ransacked to embellish what its inhabitants
spoke of as the Queen City, and even Egypt had contributed an obelisk
and many other monuments." All who saw the city were amazed at its
riches, at the magnificence of its buildings, of its churches,
palaces, houses of nobles and merchants. Marble and stone houses
filled the chief streets; the splendid marble from the quarries of the
Proconnesus, the stone which still stands firm in the massive
dwellings of the Phanar. There were of course then as now many houses
of wood, and fires were constant, but those who noted the fine houses
destroyed as more than in the three largest cities of France, noted
also that of those that remained as of the treasures of the churches
there was "neither end nor measure." And with all this there was a
profound sense of security, so often and so unwarrantably
contemporaneous with a marked development of luxurious life.
Constantinople had never been captured, men easily believed that it
never would be. Its walls, so magnificent in their decay, had proved
and were thought still to be impregnable. The subtle influence of
Oriental habits had eaten, it seemed, into the life that had been so
strong and fierce under Justinian or Heraclius. Men, as they had
ceased to contend earnestly for faith or morals, had sunk down into a
luxurious pleasure-loving life, almost like that of old Rome or modern
London. Some of the worst features of Asiatic life had already been
introduced; the _entourage_ of the Sultan that is now so conspicuous
at the Selamlik had its counterpart in the court of the Comneni. The
Emperor's favourites were coming to be the administrators of the
Empire: so bitterly complains the chronicler Nicetas--"these creatures
who guard the mountains and the forests for the Emperors' hunting with
as great care as the old pagans guarded the groves sacred to the gods,
or with a fidelity like that with which the destroying angel guards
the gates of Paradise, threatened to kill any one who attempted to cut
timber for the fleet": it was at the crisis of the Empire. And while
the Empire was ruled by eunuchs and the court by mistresses the
Emperors of the twelfth century lived in luxury, effeminacy, and
indolence. It had come to be thought--what a contrast from the days of
the sleepless Justinian!--that work was impossible for a Cæsar of the
East. And the example spread, as such examples always do, downwards.
It was easy for there to be a general who could not lead, soldiers who
could not fight, sailors who could not navigate beyond the Bosphorus.
And there was no hope of regeneration from a strong Church preaching
righteousness. The Emperors in the time of their power had reduced
the patriarchs to impotence: and now there was no one in the Church to
resist, as there was no one in the State to lead. Yet still the
immemorial protest of the Church was not altogether silenced.
Historians show that there were many priests and monks who preached
and lived according to a high standard of morality and religion.
Learning still survived, and piety, without ostentation but never
wholly without influence.

It is not necessary to detail the causes which led to the diversion of
the fourth Crusade upon Constantinople. Venice, it is enough to say,
betrayed the Christian cause by a secret treaty with the infidel, and
then formed a plot for the capture of the city. Alexius III. had
deposed Isaac Angelus in 1195; his son Alexius was allowed to escape
and secretly took ship for Italy and eventually threw himself upon the
charity of his brother-in-law, Philip of Swabia, the claimant of the
imperial crown of the West. He was assisted; and by a series of
complicated intrigues the Crusaders were induced to undertake the
capture of Constantinople and the restoration of the Empire to the
supposed rightful heir, as a step towards the accomplishment of the
duty to which they were pledged, the recovery of the Holy Land. The
Pope's wishes were set aside, the honest leaders were hoodwinked, and
Dandolo won the day.

On the 23rd of June 1204 the crusading fleet anchored at San Stefano.
Thence they saw the magnificent city that lay before them. "Be sure,"
says Villehardouin, "there was not a man who did not tremble, because
never was so great an enterprise undertaken by so small a number of
men." Next day they sailed up to the Bosphorus, past the walls,
crowded with spectators, to the anchorage of Chalcedon. The Emperor
sent to know their intentions: they ordered him to surrender the crown
to the young Alexius. Then came another of those picturesque scenes
of which the mediæval history of the New Rome is so full. It was
determined to show the young prince to the people whom he came to
recover to their allegiance. The splendid Venetian galleys sailed up
to the walls of the Sea of Marmora, and stopped where the crowds that
thronged them could see. Then loud voices proclaimed the presence of
the young Alexius, and demanded the loyal assent of the people to the
restoration of his father. Only mocking laughter came back from the
walls.

Then the Crusaders prepared for the attack. First it was necessary to
break the chain which crossed the Golden Horn from Galata, near what
is now Tophané, to near the point of the peninsula of Byzantium. A
fierce attack was made on the watch-tower at Galata, from which the
chain began. It was captured, the chain was loosed, and the fleet
sailed up the Golden Horn. The army was then landed beyond the walls,
where is now Eyoub, and took up a position opposite the Blachernae
quarter, which had so long been felt to be the weakest point. They
were opposed then by the wall of Manuel Comnenus which extended
southward of the wall of Heraclius, and considerably in advance of the
old Theodosian fortification. Moats, walls, towers, stood before them,
a defence hitherto unbroken, and which even before the last
fortification was erected it had been found impossible to overthrow.

And so it proved again. When the attack on July 17, 1203, was directed
against the northern point of the wall of the Blachernae quarter, near
the Xylo-porta, it was utterly defeated. And so again when Dandolo,
the old blind Doge, dauntless in bravery as adept in cunning, led the
attack from his galleys, their success was but temporary. The old
sea-dog had his galley drawn up close to the walls, threw himself on
shore, on the narrow strip of land that stood between the water and
the walls, and planted the gonfalon of S. Mark on one of the towers.
The ends of the flying bridges were thrust from the vessels on to the
towers and thus twenty-five were captured. But the Venetians could not
maintain their position, and when the Greeks were reported to have
made a sortie from the gate of S. Romanus, south of the Blachernae
quarter, they withdrew to help these other Crusaders who were
attacked.

Meanwhile within the walls disaffection with the government of Alexius
III. was growing into readiness to accept the new sovereign to be set
up by the Crusaders rather than to risk the chances of capture.
Alexius himself would do nothing to protect the city: and when he
brought out his troops to the sortie, he retired with them before any
fighting took place. Before the next day he himself fled across the
sea, deserting his wife and children and the city. The imprisoned
Isaac was at once released and placed upon the throne.

This was far from satisfying the greed of the Crusaders. It took away
from them every honest cause for attack. So they demanded through
Villehardouin, who has himself written us the account of it, that
Isaac should consent to the hard terms which Alexius his son had
agreed to--that the Empire should be placed under the Roman Pope; that
200,000 marks of silver should be given to the army, and that they
should be supported for a year; that 10,000 of them should be taken to
Egypt in Greek vessels at the Emperor's expense, and supported there
for a year; and that Isaac should agree, during the whole of his life,
to keep five hundred knights for the defence of the Holy Land. The
Emperor, though from the first he said that he thought it would be
impossible to carry it out, felt bound to give his consent to the
convention. Alexius was crowned in S. Sophia as joint occupant of his
father's throne, and it seemed as if the danger was at an end.

But it was only just begun. Some of the Crusaders wanted to push on at
once to the Holy Land or to Egypt; but they had not enough money, and
no ships. And the Venetians who held the ships delayed: they cared for
nothing but that the army should be divided. Within the city the
fiercest opposition was aroused when it was known that Alexius had
promised to subordinate the Church to Rome. He was making large
exactions too, to pay the men who had brought him back to his country.
Feeling against him rose rapidly in the capital. He left with Boniface
of Montferrat to pursue the fugitive Emperor to Adrianople.

During his absence the populace, eager to vent their rage upon the
foreigners, attacked the Pisan quarter: a sort of retaliatory measure
was the attack of the Crusaders on a Saracen mosque between S. Irene
and the sea. The Saracens had legal rights of toleration, and the
Christians of Constantinople defended them. The riot ended, as riots
so often do in the East, in a fire--and before it was over a great
strip of the most thickly populated part of the city, running right
across from the Golden Horn to the Mamora, was utterly destroyed.
Confusion soon reigned within the city. The old Emperor, so long
imprisoned, was weak and foolish; but young Alexius was equally weak
and enjoyed his new sovereignty without the slightest dignity. He
drank and gambled in the Crusaders' tents, took off his imperial
circlet, and wore the woollen caps of his boon companions. And he
could not find money to pay the incessant demands of the greedy host.
As new taxes were levied the citizens resisted, and eventually the
Western troops became really in need. They had not enough provisions:
why were they waiting: why were the ships not ready to carry them on
their quest?

At length all the allies agreed to demand formally of the Emperor the
payment of the money that was promised; if he refused they would defy
him to his face. The scene was another of those dramatic audacities
which so often flash across the history of the city. Villehardouin and
five others stood before the Emperors on their thrones in the palace
of Blachernae, and their spokesman, Conan de Bethune, spoke thus:

"We come to summon you in the presence of your barons to fulfil the
agreement made between you and us. If you fulfil it, well; if not,
take note that the barons will hold you neither for lord nor friend,
but they will deem themselves free to take what belongs to them as
they can get it. They give you warning that till they have defied you
they will do you no harm. They will not betray you; that is not the
custom of their land. Now you have heard what we have said, and you
will take counsel on the matter how you will."

No such speech, men said, had ever been made to a Roman Emperor; and
Villehardouin wonders that the envoys were allowed to depart in peace.
But for a week or two nothing happened. Yet the city was slowly rising
to fever point. Attacks were made on the Venetian fleet; the people
assembled in the great Church of S. Sophia and debated how they could
drive out the foreigner, and replace the dastard Emperors. Then it
seemed to Alexius that he must protect himself. He called on Boniface
of Montferrat to protect the palace with Frenchmen and Italians. That
sealed his fate.

Alexius Ducas, a kinsman of the Emperors and _protovestiarios_ of the
household, whom the people called "Mourtozouphlos" on account of his
thick overhanging eyebrows, determined to dethrone the Cæsars and
replace them. He prevailed on Alexius to leave the palace for safety,
and at once placed him in chains. In a few days both he and his father
were dead, and Alexius V. was crowned in S. Sophia.

The new Emperor set himself at once to defend the city, and at once he
drew down on him the vengeance of the Crusaders. They were, of course,
the defenders of Isaac Angelus and his son. "Never was so horrible a
treason committed by any people as deposing and imprisoning young
Alexius," says Villehardouin, who had a few days before taken part in
insulting him to his face. When a little later they heard that he was
dead, they paused for a while as though in dismay: their difficulties
grew on them: the storms of a January at Constantinople made them
reluctant to embark: and yet what could they do?

Henry Dandolo met the new Emperor in conference within the walls, and
demanded the submission of the Church to Rome and an immediate payment
of money. It is said that there was a treacherous attempt to capture
the Emperor. At any rate no compromise was arrived at, and the
divergent parties among the Crusaders agreed to besiege the city. Long
was the debate before the final step was taken. They talked, says
Villehardouin in his quaint way, before and behind. At last it was
agreed how to divide the spoil, how a new Emperor and a new patriarch
should be chosen.

On April 9, 1204, the first attack was delivered, on the Petrion or
Phanar, and the gate now called Petri Kapoussi at the east of the
church of the Patriarchate was first attacked. The invaders were
repulsed. A second attack, on the 12th, was more successful. "The
flying bridge of the _Pélerine_ lodged itself on a tower and allowed
a bold French knight, André d'Urboise, to rush across, seize the
tower, and clear a way for their comrades to follow. Here ladders were
then landed, the walls scaled, three gates forced, and the city thrown
open to the whole host of the invaders." In vain did Mourtozouphlos
try to rally his troops; he was forced to take refuge in the palace of
the Bucoleon. In the night he fled through the Golden Gate, through
which before Emperors had entered only in triumphal procession. Next
day the Crusaders entered; the palaces were occupied; the troops
marched through the streets; and then the horrible work of plunder and
ravage began.

Nicetas, the Grand Logothete, whose own house was burnt earlier in the
siege, and who now had to escape with his family as best he might,
tells piteous tales of the horrors that ensued. Of the destruction of
precious things it seems impossible to draw an adequate picture. S.
Sophia, then the richest as well as the finest church in the world,
was utterly despoiled; and what had been "an earthly heaven, a throne
of divine magnificence, an image of the firmament created by the
Almighty," became like a bare barn, and was defiled by the most
disgraceful scenes of profanity and horror.

When the church had been stripped of everything it contained, the
altars of precious metals broken up to be melted down, the vestments
and carpets and hangings carried off, the sacred vessels packed up
with the other plunder as if they were common things, the sacred icons
torn down from the splendid iconostasis; when the tombs of the
emperors had been rifled, and the body of Justinian cast out like that
of a criminal in the search for treasure, it might be thought that the
worst was over. It was not so. Then began the hunt for relics which
made not the least degrading part of the work of these soldiers of
Christ. Well was it said by a contemporary that if these soldiers had
when they besieged the city the shield of the Lord, now when they had
taken the city they threw away His shield and took the shield of the
devil. Bitter, and well deserved, were the words of Nicetas. "You have
taken up the Cross, and have sworn on it and on the Holy Gospels to us
that you would pass over the territory of Christians without shedding
blood and without turning to the right hand or to the left. You told
us that you had taken up arms against the Saracens only, and that you
would steep them in their blood alone. You promised to keep yourselves
chaste while you bore the Cross, as became soldiers enrolled under the
banner of Christ. Instead of defending His tomb, you have outraged the
faithful who are members of Him. You have used Christians worse than
the Arabs used the Latins, for they at least respected women."

Of the extraordinary quantity of ecclesiastical plunder taken by the
Crusaders we have the records collected by Comte Riant in his
monumental (and delightful) volumes of _Exuviæ Sacræ Constantinopolitanæ_.
It may be observed, to begin with, that he collects no less than a
hundred and forty-four letters relating to the reception in the West
of these stolen relics. To these are added endless references in the
chroniclers of the time, who were enchanted with the riches that
poured upon their religious houses, and displayed all the passion of a
collector of antiquities combined with the business instincts of a
dealer in curiosities and the piety of a hagiologist. In spite of all
this evidence--and there is more of it, in inscription, later lives of
the saints, and the like--it is impossible to discover exactly all
that was stolen, because the lists of the relics preserved in the
churches of Constantinople at the actual time of the siege have
disappeared. But it is possible of course, from earlier lists, as
well as from the sources already named, to discover what were the
greater part of the relics taken.

The riches of Constantinople were well known to the Crusaders when
they turned to besiege it. The stories of the earlier crusades were
well known, when the Greeks had loved to show the treasures of the
imperial city, the riches of S. Sophia, and even of the imperial
palace. In the East were almost all the most sacred survivals, nearly
all that remained in fact, or was believed to remain, of the relics of
the Saviour, His Mother, and most of His Apostles. In the West, till
the thirteenth century, there was practically nothing but the relics
of Western, and, therefore, comparatively modern, saints, and the few
more sacred treasures that had been given by Eastern sovereigns to
those of the West.

For three days the pillage went on. Churches escaped no more than
palaces or private houses. Indeed they were more greedily ransacked:
and after the days of direct pillage there came weeks, months, of
deliberate search for relics which had been concealed. The result was,
as M. Riant says, to rob Constantinople of two distinct sorts of
sacred objects; of relics, with or without their reliquaries, and of
ecclesiastical furniture. It seems that the treasures taken were
supposed to be placed in a common fund and divided proportionately
among the nations concerned; but there was a great deal of chicanery
and jobbery as well as of direct spoliation; ecclesiastical furniture
certainly was supposed to be divided like the other booty, but the
relics were regarded as too sacred for anything but direct robbery. It
should be added, also, that much that was not taken at first was
acquired during the period of the Latin Empire in ways more or less
legitimate. The robbery went on for forty years.

Time would fail to tell of the wonderful things that were discovered
and stolen. Almost every country in Europe received some fragments of
the True Cross, found by S. Helena. Besides this there were drops of
the Saviour's Blood, one of His teeth, some of His hair, the purple
robe, some of the bread blessed at the Last Supper, and countless
relics of the Blessed Virgin and the Apostles. The heads of S. John
Baptist and of many of the Apostles found their way to the West.
Venice was incomparably the largest gainer, but even the little church
of Bromholm in Norfolk, by a gift which was the result of a double
robbery, became the possessor of a fragment of the true Cross. The
Crusaders were not content with taking relics of the primitive Church,
but must needs take also the mortal remains of the Greek Fathers; you
may see the head of S. Chrysostom to-day in the cathedral of Pisa.

The reliquaries, the exquisite examples of Byzantine art, that were
scattered about the West, remain very often even now to witness to the
completeness of the spoliation. But artistically the things that were
destroyed, broken up or melted down, were far more precious than those
that survived. If S. Mark's still possesses the horses that once stood
in the Hippodrome of Constantinople, we know that magnificent statues
of Juno, of Paris, of Bellerophon, an exquisite figure of Helen, of
which Nicetas pathetically deplores that "she who had formerly led all
spectators captive could not soften the heart of the barbarians," and
many ancient works, statues, medallions, vases, were destroyed in the
furnace. There are remains of ancient art in Constantinople to-day;
but when we think of the pillage of 1204 and the Mohammedan Conquest
we marvel that there is anything more ancient than the sixteenth
century, or more valuable than a kettle or a candlestick of old time,
to be found in the whole city.

The capture of the city was followed by the election, by twelve
electors representing the Crusaders, of an Emperor for the throne of
the Cæsars. Baldwin Count of Flanders, by what process of intrigue we
do not know, was chosen. He was "heaved" upon the shield, as the
ancient custom was; he received the reverence of those who had been
his equals in the campaign; he was led in triumph to S. Sophia, and in
a strange mixture of Latin and Greek rites was consecrated, crowned
and enthroned a week after his election, as Cæsar and Augustus.

But this was not all. It is possible that in time the citizens, weary
of their decadent rulers, might have come to accept without active
discontent the rule of a gallant and chivalrous Christian knight such
as Baldwin. But the Crusaders, and most of all the Pope, would not be
content with this. If they were justified at all in the havoc they had
made it was only because the Easterns were heretics and idolaters and
schismatics. The Church of Constantinople was "rebellious and odious"
to that of Rome. It must be brought to submission. So a century later
the case is summed up, "God delivered the city into the hands of the
Latins because the Greeks declared that the Holy Ghost proceeded only
from the Father, and celebrated the mass with leavened bread." Such
was the feeling,--though the expression of it is somewhat of an
anachronism,--that animated now the leaders of the hosts, which, sated
with their debauchery, began to feel something of an inevitable
remorse.

But Innocent III. was of too pure a soul to countenance the iniquity
that had been committed. Among all the shameless hypocrisies of the
time his words of denunciation ring out true. Even the union of the
Churches on which he had set his heart seemed to him now to be
impossible. "Disappointment, shame, and anxiety weaken us when we ask
whether the Greek Church can enter into union with the Apostolic see
when that Church had seen among the Latins only the works of
darkness."

Meanwhile the Venetians set canons in the Church of S. Sophia, and
elected Morosini to be patriarch. It was an empty honour. In
fifty-seven years a Greek again was seated on the throne of Justinian,
and the Liturgy of S. Chrysostom was again sung in S. Sophia; but long
before that revolts had made the Latin hold on the East more and more
precarious, and the city more and more able to reassert its ancient
independence.


4. FROM THE LATIN CONQUEST TO THE CONQUEST BY THE TURKS.

It is unnecessary to tell of the division of the Empire among the
conquerors, or of how a daughter of Alexius III. wedded the heroic
Greek who still fought on, Theodore Lascaris, and was the ancestress
of one who eventually brought back the old Empire; of how
Mourtozouphlos was caught by the Latins and cast down from the top of
the column of Arcadius, or of how Greek states sprang into existence
on every side; how Baldwin the Emperor was captured by the Bulgarians
and died a horrible death. These events all happened within two years.
Henry, the brother of Baldwin, reigned in his stead. Henry Dandolo the
old doge died "in the fulness of years and glory" and was buried, it
would seem, in S. Sophia, where the great slab that covered his grave
is still to be seen. Ten years later Henry the Emperor passed away,
and Peter of Courtenay, husband of his sister Yolande reigned in his
stead. He reigned though crowned in Rome, only to be captured on his
way to Constantinople, and to pass away from history to an unknown
fate. Robert, his son, was crowned in S. Sophia in 1221. His fate was
hardly less ignominious. His successors, the child Baldwin II.
(Courtenay) and John of Brienne, were besieged in Constantinople by
the Greek so-called Emperor of Nicæa and John Asen, the Bulgarian
king, but the aged joint-Emperor successfully defended the city. The
young Baldwin went as a beggar to the chief courts of Europe, was the
pensioner of S. Louis, seated himself with difficulty on the throne,
descended to an ignoble marriage treaty with a Mohammedan Sultan and
sold the Crown of Thorns to the king of the Franks.

In the weakness into which they had fallen, it is not to be wondered
that the survivors of the Latin conquerors were easily vanquished by
the advancing power of the Greeks, and on July 25th, 1261, John Ducas
and Michael Palæologus were welcomed back by the exultant Greeks to
the throne of the Cæsars.

It was Alexius Strategopoulos, General and Cæsar, who captured the
city. By night he led his men to the gate of the Pegè (πύλη τῆς
πηγῆς)--the gate which led out to the spring of Balukli, now
called the gate of Selivria. The Latins had built up the entrance, but
some of the soldiers scaled the walls, and aided by friends within,
killed the guards, broke down the barricade, and opened the gate. A
few days later the Emperor, Michael Palæologus, entered in triumph. He
walked as far as the church of S. John of the Studium. Then he mounted
his horse and rode on to S. Sophia. So the Greeks had won back their
city. But the results of the Latin conquest and the years of strife
that followed it were not undone. The historian of that conquest has
thus summed them up.

"The results of the Fourth Crusade upon European civilisation were
altogether disastrous. The light of Greek civilisation, which
Byzantium had kept burning for nearly nine centuries after Constantine
had chosen it as his capital, was suddenly extinguished. The hardness,
the narrowness and the Hebraicism of western civilisation were left to
develop themselves with little admixture from the joyousness and the
beauty of Greek life. Every one knows that the Turkish conquest of
Constantinople dispersed throughout the West a knowledge of Greek
literature, and that such knowledge contributed largely to the
bringing about of the Reformation and of modern ways of thought. One
cannot but regret that the knowledge of Greek literature was so dearly
bought. If the dispersion of a few Greeks, members of a conquered and
therefore despised race, but yet carrying their precious manuscripts
and knowledge among hostile peoples, could produce so important a
result, what effect might not reasonably have been hoped for if the
great crime against which Innocent protested had not been committed?
Western Europe saw the sparks of learning dispersed among its people.
The light which had been continuously burning in a never forgotten
and, among the literary class, a scarcely changed language, had been
put out. The crime of the Fourth Crusade handed over Constantinople
and the Balkan peninsula to six centuries of barbarism, and rendered
futile the attempts of Innocent and subsequent statesmen to recover
Syria and Asia Minor to Christendom and civilisation. If we would
understand the full significance of the Latin conquest of
Constantinople, we must try to realise what might now be the
civilisation of Western Europe if the Romania of six centuries ago had
not been destroyed. One may picture not only the Black Sea, the
Bosphorus, and the Marmora surrounded by progressive and civilised
nations, but even the eastern and southern shores of the Mediterranean
given back again to good government and a religion which is not a
barrier to civilisation."[25]

The restored Empire of the Greeks was ruled for some years with wisdom
and enthusiasm. Michael Palæologus was of an ancient family already
allied with the imperial house, and "in his person the splendour of
birth was dignified by the merit of the soldier and statesman." He was
admitted as the guardian, and then as the colleague, of the
child-Emperor John. The gallant Varangians, the northern soldiers
whose force had been replenished by fresh blood from year to year, and
had never deserted the imperial house, had raised him to the throne,
and he ruled with a severity and determination that bore down all
opposition.

It was his first task to cleanse and restore the palace of Blachernae,
left filthy and dilapidated by Baldwin II. Then he set about the
restoration of the walls. His chief attention was paid to the sea
walls, which he raised seven feet by means of wooden erections covered
with hide; and later he began to make a double line of walls to
protect the sea side of the city as the land side was protected. He
took the harbour of the Kontoscalion (in front of what is now Koum
Kapoussi) for a dockyard, had it dredged and deepened, protected by an
iron mole and "surrounded with immense blocks, closed with iron
gates." But he was determined to rule alone, and before the end of the
year he had blinded his young colleague and banished him. He was
excommunicated by the patriarch Arsenius, and a schism was caused by
his banishment of the prelate, which was not healed for nearly fifty
years.

Fearing a renewed invasion by the Latins he did his utmost to make
alliances to protect himself. He established the Genoese in a settled
concession at Galata, hoping to make them a firm support against their
rivals of Venice. But this act only made the commercial rivalries
stronger, and planted a power which soon became hostile on the very
shores of the capital and in command of the Golden Horn. "The Roman
Empire," says Gibbon, "might soon have sunk into a province of Genoa,
if the Republic had not been checked by the ruin of her freedom and
naval power." No less disastrous was the attempt of Michael to unite
with the Roman Church. Urban IV. had taken up the cause of the young
Baldwin and called on the powers to make Crusade. Michael endeavoured
to meet him by diplomacy if not by submission. His envoys attended the
council held at Lyons in 1274 by the Pope Gregory X. Veccus, who had
long opposed the union of the churches, underwent a sharp imprisonment
in the prison of Anemas, but being convinced of the error of his
opinions was released to mount the patriarchal throne. But all these
measures were in vain. On questions of faith it should not have been
impossible for candid men, as the history of Veccus shows, to bring
the churches into essential union, but the claim of the Popes to
supremacy, which they emphasised by the mission of legates, was one
which the Church of Constantinople has never admitted. Michael died in
1282. Already his attempt had failed, and he died excommunicated by
pope and patriarch. The restorer of the Empire was unworthy to rank
among its heroes, and the historian of the Greek people has described
him in language of severity that is well deserved. "He was selfish,
hypocritical, able and accomplished, an inborn liar, vain, meddling,
ambitious, cruel and rapacious. He has gained renown as the restorer
of the Eastern Empire; he ought to be execrated as the corrupter of
the Greek race, for his reign affords a signal example of the extent
to which a nation may be degraded by the misconduct of its sovereign
when he is entrusted with despotic power."

Of his intrigues, the most important of which was his encouragement of
the revolt of John of Procida against the French in Sicily, ever
memorable as the Sicilian Vespers, it can only be said that they may
have saved him from attack. Catalan mercenaries, who after the
expulsion of the French from Sicily came into the service of the
Empire, overwhelmed its fairest provinces with rapine and disaster. It
is a history which makes Gibbon for once ascend the pulpit of the
preacher of righteousness. "I shall not, I trust, be accused of
superstition; but I must remark that, even in this world, the natural
order of events will sometimes assume the strong appearances of moral
retribution. The first Palæologus had saved his Empire by involving
the kingdoms of the West in rebellion and blood; and from these seeds
of discord uprose a generation of iron men, who assaulted and
endangered the Empire of his son."

Andronicus II., indeed, had a long but disastrous reign. He continued
his father's works at the harbour of the Kontoscalion. He repaired the
sea walls, and in 1317, when his wife, Irene, died and left him some
money, the impoverished Cæsar was able to undertake a general repair
of the whole of the fortifications. Otherwise he is known in the
history of the city only for his disputes with the patriarch, his
abject submissions, and his misfortunes. His son, Michael IX., was
from 1295 to 1320 the associate of his throne, and won universal
praise. His grandson, Andronicus III., sank to the pleasures which had
disgraced so many of his predecessors, but when his iniquities were
too flagrant to be concealed, when his brother Manuel was murdered, it
was believed, through his orders, and his father, Michael IX., died of
grief, he took up arms against his grandfather, secured his own
coronation, and then the absolute submission of the aged Emperor.
Andronicus lived in 1332 in the great palace, but in absolute penury.
He took monastic vows and died, no longer as Emperor, but as the poor
monk Antony.

Andronicus the younger (III.), though he married princesses of Western
houses, did not add to the dignity of the Eastern Empire. He died in
1341, and left behind him a child of eight, the son of his second
wife, Agnes of Savoy. He was protected by John Cantacuzene, who had
protected his father, and finally won him the crown, and who himself
bore a character that was high among the best of the Byzantine
statesmen and generals. But palace intrigues and attacks of interested
politicians against him, at last obliged him, as he declares--for he
is his own historian--to assume the Imperial title. In the war that
ensued it seems that while the people supported the Palæologi, the
officials supported the new claimant. It gave the opportunity to the
Servian king, Stephen Dashan, to extend his territories and threaten
to replace the Emperors as leaders of the Greek peoples. Strip by
strip the territory of the Empire was shorn away, and Serbians, Turks,
and Albanians left little to be conquered by Cantacuzene. At last,
after previous failures, he advanced to the walls again in 1347 and
was admitted secretly by his friends through the Golden Gate. For
once, what was practically a change of dynasty was accomplished
without bloodshed. John Cantacuzene became Emperor and gave his
daughter in marriage to John Palæologus. It is said by a contemporary
that so poor were even the imperial houses that at the wedding feast
the illustrious personages had to be served in earthenware and pewter:
strange change from the time when the very walls of the palace
glittered with gold. In seven years the balance of power changed
completely. War, first joint against the Serbians, then hostile
against each other, was ended, it seemed, in favour of Cantacuzene by
the assistance--a woeful precedent--of the Turks, now settled in
Europe and the masters of Adrianople. But when the successful Emperor
tried to associate his son Matthew on the throne, the feeling of
Constantinople turned strongly against him. In 1358, John Palæologus
whose seat of government had been fixed at Thessalonica, arrived, with
but two galleys and two thousand men, on a dark night at the gate of
the Hodegetria on the Sea of Marmora. Bringing their vessels quite
close to the gate, they made every sign of distress, throwing out
oil-jars and uttering cries for help. The stratagem succeeded; the
guards opened the gate and came to their assistance. They were
overpowered, and the troops rushed in and captured the adjoining
tower. The city rose in favour of the young Palæologus, and John
Cantacuzene with great willingness, if he is to be believed in his own
case, retired from the throne and entered a monastery, where he died
in 1383.

Each change of Emperor marked the more clearly the coming end of the
Empire. John VI. Palæologus "carelessly watched the decline of the
Empire for thirty-six years," from the day when he became sole ruler.
He saw the growth of the Turkish power, and he sought the aid of Urban
V. for the final contest that he saw must come. In 1361 he was
decisively defeated before Adrianople, and in later years he was
little better than the vassal of the Sultan. He himself went to Rome
in 1369, and submitted to the Latin Church, on the points of the
Procession of the Holy Spirit, the use of unleavened bread and the
supremacy of the Roman See. So poor was he that he was arrested at
Venice, on his return, for debt. The Cæsar of the East had indeed sunk
low.

He was compelled to aid Sultan Murad with troops, and during his
absence in Asia, apparently in 1374, his eldest son, Andronicus,
secured Constantinople, in alliance with the Turkish Sultan's son,
also a rebel against his father. By the aid of Murad, Andronicus was
seized. He was imprisoned in the tower of Anemas with his wife and his
son John, then only five years old. He was to have been blinded, but
perhaps in mercy the sight of one eye was not harmed. After two years
he was released, and he at once made alliance with the Genoese and
with the Sultan Bayezid, and marched to the capital. He caught his
father and his brother Manuel, who were at the palace of the Pegé, now
the village of Balukli, and sent them with his younger brother
Theodore to the prison in which he himself had been confined, "as
Zeus," says the historian Ducas, with a classic touch such as the
Greeks always delighted to use, "cast his father Kronos and his
brothers Pluto and Poseidon into Tartarus." Andronicus entered the
city by the Selivri Kapoussi (gate of the Pege), and held the throne
for two years and a half. Bayezid urged him to kill his father and
brothers, but he would not; and within two years, in some way, as to
which the historians--none of whom are strictly contemporary--differ,
they escaped, and with the aid of Murad, or Bayezid (for again the
dates are doubtful), attacked the city, entered by the gate of S.
Romanus, and defeated Andronicus, who was allowed to retire to
Selivria as ruler of the adjacent lands. In 1384 Manuel was recognised
as heir to his father. These changes were all effected by the aid of
the Turks, and of the cities of Genoa and Venice, who, it might seem,
gave the city to whom they would; and when John VI. began to repair
the walls which thirty-six years before he had himself despoiled, he
was stopped by order of Bayezid and compelled to destroy what he had
done.

In his time decay visibly laid its hand on the still splendid city.
Many of the streets, it is said, were almost in ruins, the palaces
empty, and the costliest and most beautiful treasures of the ancient
Byzantine art had been sold to the Genoese and the Venetians. But for
the defeat of Bayezid by Timur, the prize would have fallen into the
hands of the Turks half a century before it was theirs at last.

Manuel II. had an unquiet reign. Forced to yield on every side to the
demands of the Sultan, blockaded in Constantinople, he was at last
forced to admit his cousin John, the son of Andronicus, as joint
Emperor, in 1399, a title which he seems to have borne but a short
time.

For a while it seemed that the distractions and defeats of the Turks
might give opportunity for a revival of the Empire. In 1411 a Turkish
attack on Constantinople was driven off; but the Greeks were incapable
of using their own victories or the weakness of their enemies; and
though Manuel made some reforms in the administration the members of
his household thwarted him on every side. The years of peace were
wasted, and in 1422 Murad II. appeared before the walls of the
imperial city.

The defeat of the Turks--their last--was soon followed by the death of
Manuel (1425). John VII. set himself to repair the walls, but he could
not rebuild or repopulate the city. The decay, in spite of the outward
splendour, the disgraceful subjection of the Emperor to the Turks, and
the hatred of the Greeks for the Westerns, all struck the keen
observer Bertrandon de la Brocquière, a Burgundian knight, who visited
the city in 1433. The despairing effort of the Emperor was to win the
help of a new crusade by union with the Latin Church.

Those who have stood in admiration before the frescoes of Benozzo
Gozzoli in the Riccardi Palace at Florence will remember the solemn
impressive figure of John Palæologus, in his gorgeous robes, as he
rides in the procession of the Magi, a stately personage contrasting
markedly with the bourgeois Medici who follow him. Italians knew the
Eastern Emperor, for in 1438 he stood with the patriarch before the
Council of Ferrara, and in the next year, in Florence itself accepted,
with his bishops (save the bishop of Ephesus), the doctrines of the
Latins, and joined on July 6, 1439, in the proclamation beneath the
dome of Brunelleschi, then only three years completed, of the unity of
the Catholic Church of East and West.

When he returned to Constantinople the people refused to accept the
union, and even the bishops who had signed the decrees of Florence now
repudiated their act as a sin. No help came from the West; and John
died in 1448, having preserved his throne even by temporising with the
Turks.

Constantine Palæologus was the eldest surviving son of the Emperor
Manuel. He could only ascend the throne by the consent of the Sultan,
and when that was obtained he was crowned in Sparta, where he had
ruled. On the 12th of March 1449 he entered Constantinople. The city
was receiving its new lord with exultation and joy, says his friend
and chronicler Phrantzes. So long as Murad still reigned they were
indeed safe, but when Mohammed II. became Sultan it was clear that
there would be war.

Constantine turned--it was his only hope--to the West for aid. He
sent an embassy to Rome begging for help, and showing willingness to
renew the union of the Churches. The Pope, Nicholas V., sent back
Cardinal Isidore, who had once been a Russian bishop, but, having
accepted the decrees of Florence, had remained loyal to them, and was
an exile from his country in consequence. He arrived at Constantinople
in November 1452, bringing some money and a few troops. On December
12, 1452, the union was ratified in S. Sophia, and Cardinal Isidore
said mass according to the Latin rite. From that day the people
regarded the church as desecrated. In the church and monastery of the
Pantokrator the monk Gennadios preached against the crime and folly of
the union. Many of the great nobles cried out against it; one even
declared that the Sultan would be a far better lord than the Pope. As
Constantine rode through the streets daily the mob mocked and reviled
him; and some cried out "rather than that we should be Latins would we
be Turks." The holy sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ they
rejected, declaring that it was polluted. Even if an angel from heaven
had descended and declared that he would save the city if only the
people would unite with the Roman Church the people would have
refused. So the chroniclers describe the disunion within. Without, the
preparations were complete.

The conquerors of Constantinople had had a romantic history. A horde
of barbarians, coming from the far East, and a branch of the race
known to Chinese historians as the Hiung-no, they emerge into history
in the sixth century, then assuming the name of Turk, which they were
to make famous. In the latter half of that century they became known
to the rulers of Constantinople. In 568 embassies came to the Emperor
from the Northern Turks. Eight years later an embassy was sent to the
Southern Turks. At the very end of the century an embassy came to the
Emperor Maurice in 598 from the Khan of the Turks, now claiming to be
a great sovereign. But it was more than six centuries before the
Empire came face to face with the actual tribe which should found the
power that was to take its place. Pressed hard by the Seljuks, with
territories limited to the Bithynian province, it was not till the
beginning of the fourteenth century that Osman, the founder of the
Osmanlis, came forward as a leader who should begin a line of mighty
sovereigns.

Legends surround the life of Osman; his dream of a great tree which
should overshadow the world, of Constantinople won by clashing swords,
of the ring of universal Empire, his romantic love suit, belong
perhaps to history, but only as it appears magnified by an imagination
fired by the wonderful successes of later years. More certain are the
capture of Nicaea and of Brusa, accomplished by his son,--the latter
still the picture of a Turkish city, with its innumerable mosques, its
trees and gardens, its population half-military, but now wholly
languid and quiescent. The sword of Osman is still the sign of power
among his descendants. It rests in the türbeh of Eyûb, the companion
of Mohammed himself, who fell not by the sword but by disease during
the first Moslem attack on Constantinople in 672, and over whose grave
Mohammed the Conqueror built a tomb, to the Moslems the most sacred of
all in the city they had made their own. Osman was brought to Brusa
only to be buried. His son Orchan carried fire and sword nearer and
nearer to the goal. It was he who founded the terrible corps of the
Janissaries, Christian child captives trained by the sternest methods
to be the fiercest champions of Islam. In 1326 Orchan captured
Nicomedia; in 1330 he defeated the imperial host led against him by
the Emperor himself, and Nicaea fell into his hands. He showed the
wisdom and restraint which, combined with the daring and ferocity of
his men, served to strengthen the Turkish power step by step in the
districts it won. Nicaea was not pillaged. Its citizens were allowed
to live on in peace under Moslem laws, and Orchan himself by every act
of charity and of devotion to his religion sought, and won, the
respect of the people whom he had conquered. Then for twenty years he
rested and prepared. Brusa was enriched with mosques and hospitals,
tombs of soldiers and prophets, fountains, baths, colleges of students
of the Koran. There rest to-day the first six Sultans, among "some
five hundred tombs of famous men, pashas, scheiks, professors,
orators, physicians, poets, musicians."

The years of waiting ended when in 1346 the power of Orchan was so
great, and was recognised to be so dangerous, that John Cantacuzene,
the Christian Cæsar, did not hesitate to purchase his friendship by
the gift of his daughter Theodora, in a marriage performed with all
the pomp of a State ceremonial, but without even the form of a
Christian blessing. The friendship thus bought was never yielded. The
Osmanlis crossed to Europe in freebooting bands, and ravaged up to the
very walls of Constantinople; and when the Genoese whom Cantacuzene
had settled at Galata fought with him and destroyed his fleet, it was
with the aid of Orchan that they fought against their benefactor. In
1356 Orchan's son, Suleiman, inspired like his grandfather by a dream
or a vision which he took as a supernatural summons, crossed to Europe
with but thirty-nine companions, and took the fort of Tzympe near
Gallipoli. In three days there were three thousand Turks settled in
Europe. It was the beginning of an Empire which lasts to this day. The
occupation of Gallipoli followed, and when Orchan died in 1359, the
Turks had settled down to wait, for a hundred years, till the Queen
city herself should fall into their hands.

Before him his son Suleiman had passed away; and his tomb at the
northern entrance to the Hellespont seemed to mark the country for the
possession of the Turks. "For a hundred years he was the only Ottoman
prince who lay buried in European earth; and his tomb continually
incited the races of Asia to perform their pilgrimage to it with the
sword of conquest. Of all the hero-tombs," says Von Hammer, "which
have hitherto been mentioned in connection with Ottoman history, there
is none more renowned, or more visited, than that of the second Vizier
of the Empire, the fortunate crosser of the Hellespont, who laid the
foundation of the Ottoman power in Europe."

Already the military organisation was founded, and the system which
had made in the brother of Orchan as Vizier the civil ruler of the
people. Now the settlement in Europe was begun. Murad (or Amurath, as
our forefathers called the name), the younger brother of Suleiman,
succeeded his father. In less than thirty years he had transformed the
face of Southern Europe, and made the Emperor of Rome but a dependent
of his power. He landed and established his armies in Thrace. He
defeated the Hungarians and Serbians and captured Nisch; he pressed
southwards and Adrianople fell into his hands; and then when the
circle of Turkish territory was drawn closely round Constantinople, he
turned northwards and became the conqueror of the northern lands ruled
by princes Christian yet still barbarian, who had long before this
conquered them from the Empire. In 1389 Murad was slain, after a great
victory, by Milosch Kobilovitsch, the hero of Serbian legend. Bayezid,
his son, reigned in his stead; and he began the fatal custom which
still further consolidated the monarchy. On the very day of his
accession he had his brother murdered, and so wise was the precedent
considered that by the time of Mohammed the Conqueror it became a law
that every brother of the Sultan should be slain. He began, too, it is
asserted, the hideous vices which have stained the Empire of his
successors, and which degraded the courts of the Sultan with the guilt
of the rulers and the shame of their captives.

The battle of Kossova, the last fight of Murad, was followed before
long by that of Nicopolis, in which the choicest chivalry of Europe
went down before the fierce onslaught of the Turkish squadrons. The
captives, all but twenty-four knights, who were spared, were butchered
in cold blood in the presence of their comrades, before the tent of
Bayezid.

Then Bayezid led his hosts to the conquest of Greece; and in 1397
Athens fell before his arms. The Cæsars bowed before him, suffered a
mosque to be built within the walls of Constantinople, and actually
joined their arms to his for the capture of the one Greek city which
remained free in the midst of the European conquests of the Turks.
When at last the insolent Sultan demanded that the crown of the
Emperors should be yielded to him, and threatened to exterminate the
inhabitants of the capital if he were not obeyed, it is said that the
nobles replied: "We know our weakness, but we trust in the God of
justice, who protects the weak and lowly, and puts down the mighty
from on high." It was an answer that befitted the ancient city.

Before the attack was made that seemed certain to prove fatal to the
last stronghold, the capital of the Christian Empire, Bayezid was
called away to meet the onslaught of the greatest of conquerors, Timur
the Tartar. The great battle of Angora shattered the Turkish power,
destroyed the Janissaries and left Bayezid himself a prisoner in the
hands of Timur. Before a year was over, the proud Sultan died, and the
power which he had made so great was utterly crushed beneath the feet
of the Tartars.

Brusa itself was left in ruins, and not only the son of Bayezid, who
was safe in Adrianople, made submission, but even the Emperor paid
tribute to Timur. Then the conquering horde swept back again to the
Far East, and the Turks set to work to rebuild again the power that
had been shattered.

Domestic warfare succeeded the destruction at the hands of foreign
foes, and Mohammed I., the youngest son of Bayezid, established his
authority over his brothers as ruler of the Osmanlis by the aid of the
Emperor Manuel Palæologus. His brother Musa laid siege to
Constantinople, and the troops of Mohammed actually joined with those
of Manuel in the successful defence of the city. Mohammed was the
ally, almost the subject, of the Emperor, and when he died he sought
to commend his children to Manuel's care.

Mohammed died in 1421 at Adrianople. His son Murad II. had to fight
for his throne against a pretender whom the Emperor had set free, and
whom he overcame only by the help of the Genoese galleys which carried
him from Asia to Europe. In 1422 he was ready to revenge himself on
the Greeks. His army encamped before the walls of Constantinople, and
his own tent was set up in the garden of the Church of the Blessed
Virgin of the Fountain (Balukli). He brought his cannon to bear upon
the walls that cross the valley of the Lycus, but without success. The
walls of Theodosius were still too strong, and the fierce attack on
the gate of S. Romanus was a failure now, as it would not be thirty
years later.

The city was stoutly defended. John Palæologus, the Emperor's son,
commanded a garrison inspired by the fullest religious enthusiasm: and
when a vision of the Blessed Virgin, the Panhagia, was seen on the
walls, both by assailants and defenders, the siege was given up; and
the Sultan did not attempt to renew it. Still, a tribute was paid by
the Emperor, and it must have been clear to the Osmanlis that the
capture was but for a short time deferred. But Murad had to undergo
defeats at the hands of the Hungarians, which he amply avenged: and
his two abdications showed that he was weary of power, if not
incapable of wielding it. The end of his reign saw him repeatedly
over-matched by the Albanian hero, Scanderbeg, whom he himself had
trained among the Janissaries. In 1451 he died; and then the greatest
triumph of the Osmanlis was at hand.

The early history of Mohammed II. has been thus summed up, in the
clear-cut eloquence of Dean Church.

"Three times did Mohammed the Conqueror ascend the Ottoman throne.
Twice he had resigned it, a sullen and reluctant boy of fourteen, whom
it was necessary to inveigle out of the way, lest he should resist his
father to the face, when, to save the State, he appeared to resume his
abdicated power. The third time, seven years older, he sprang on the
great prize with the eagerness and ferocity of a beast of prey. He
never drew bridle from Magnesia, when he heard of his father's death,
till on the second day he reached Gallipoli, on his way to Adrianople.
To smother his infant brother in the bath was his first act of power;
and then he turned, with all the force of his relentless and insatiate
nature to where the inheritor of what remained of the greatness of the
Cæsars--leisurely arranging marriages and embassies--still detained
from the Moslems the first city of the East;--little knowing the
savage eye that was fixed upon him, little suspecting the nearness of
a doom which had so often threatened and had been so often averted."

It did not need the half-defiant attitudes of Constantine XII. to
arouse the young Sultan: as soon as he had concluded a truce with his
northern foes he began to make those elaborate preparations which
should ensure success in the great conquest. His first act was to
secure the isolation of the capital. Already he held the passage of
the Dardanelles; now he would secure that of the Bosphorus. In 1393
Bayezid had built on the Asiatic shore, some five miles above
Constantinople, the fortress which was the first distinct menace to
the imperial city. Anadoli Hissar, the "Asiatic Castle," still stands
overhanging the water's edge, a splendid mediæval building of four
square towers with one great central keep. In 1452 a corresponding
tower was begun on the other side of the sea, at the point where the
passage is narrowest. The first stone was laid by Mohammed himself on
March 26, 1452, and by the middle of August the castle was completed.
The design of this Roumeli Hissar represented the name of the Prophet
and the Sultan, the consonants standing out as towers. Protests were
unheeded and the two envoys sent by the Emperor to remonstrate were
butchered at once. A Venetian galley was sunk as it passed, to prove
the range of the guns. Its crew were slain when they swam ashore. A
Hungarian engineer was employed to direct a cannon foundry, and a vast
store of materials of war was accumulated for the siege. After another
winter's preparation all was ready, and early in the spring of 1453 a
vast Turkish host[26] was ranged from the Golden Horn to the Marmora.
The sea was covered by three hundred vessels and it seemed as if
succour was cut off on every side.

On April 6, 1453, the siege began.

The last message of the Roman Emperor to the Turkish Sultan had been
somewhat in these words: "As it is plain thou desirest war more than
peace, as I cannot satisfy thee by my vows of sincerity or by my
readiness to swear allegiance, so let it be according to thy will. I
turn now and look above to God. If it be His will that the city should
become thine, where is he who can oppose His will? If He should
inspire thee with a wish for peace, I shall indeed be happy.
Nevertheless I release thee from all thy oaths and treaties to me, I
close the gates of my city, I will defend my people to the last drop
of my blood. And so, reign in happiness till the Righteous and Supreme
Judge shall call us both before the seat of His judgment."

It was in this spirit that Constantinople stood to meet the foe.
Mohammed when he came in sight of the walls, spread his carpet on the
ground and turning towards Mecca prayed for the success of his
enterprise. Everywhere throughout the camp the Ulemas promised victory
and the delights of Paradise.

On April 7, the Turkish lines were drawn opposite the walls. The tent
of the Sultan himself was placed opposite the gate of S. Romanus (Top
Kapoussi). Thence to his right the Asiatic troops stretched down to
the sea, to his left past the gate of Charisius (Edirnè Kapoussi), the
European levies extended northwards to the Golden Horn. Within four
days sixty-nine cannon were set in position against the walls, and
with them ancient engines, such as catapults and balistae, discharging
stones. On the heights about Galata also a strong body of troops was
placed.

  [Illustration: ROUMELI HISSAR]

Within, measures had been taken to repair the walls, but it is said
that the money had been embezzled by the two monks, skilled in
engineering, to whom it had been given, and in some places the
fortifications were not strong enough to support cannon. Constantine
sought help from every side. On April 20, four ships laden with grain
forced their way through the Turkish fleet, but they added few if any
to the defenders. The Venetian aid that had been promised did not
arrive even at Euboea till two days after the Turks had captured the
city. Of troops within, Phrantzes, who himself had charge of the
search, states that there were hardly seven thousand in all, of whom
two thousand were foreigners. Others give higher numbers, but there is
no reason to doubt the accuracy of the Emperor's most trusted friend.
Strange it seems that outside, in the Sultan's army, some thirty
thousand Christians were fighting for the infidels. Phrantzes says
that when he heard that some of the Byzantine nobles had left the
city, the Emperor only heaved a deep sigh.

Of the arrangements for defence, the fullest accounts can be found in
the writings of Phrantzes and Ducas, the letters of Archbishop
Leonardo of Mitylene and of Cardinal Isidore, the report of the
Florentine Tedardi, two poems, and a Slavonic MS. quoted by M.
Mijatovich.[27]

Here it is needless to tell how each wall was manned. It may suffice
to say that during the few weeks that passed, while the Christians
still kept their foes at bay, there was no rest for the besieged.
Sometimes when the Emperor went on his rounds to inspect the defences
he found the weary soldiers asleep at their posts. He seemed himself
to be sleepless; every hour that he did not devote to the defences he
seemed to spend at prayer.

He visited every post himself; he even crossed the Golden Horn in a
small boat to be sure of the security of the great chain which
stretched from the tower of Galata to what is now called Seraglio
Point. Every hour he had to contend with new difficulties, with monks
declaring that defence was hopeless because of the union with the
Latins, with Italian mercenaries clamouring for pay. He was compelled
to take the furniture of the churches when the treasures of the palace
were quite exhausted, but he promised if God should free the city to
restore to Him fourfold.

After nearly a week in which the heavy Turkish cannon thundered
against the walls, the gunners learned at last from the Hungarian
envoys to their camp how to direct their fire. At length, on April 18,
at the hour of vespers, a great attack was made. The people rushed out
from the churches, and the air was filled with the cries of the
combatants, the ringing of the bells, the clash of arms. The attack
was strongest against the weak walls by the Blachernae quarter, and by
the gate of S. Romanus. After hours of hard fighting it was repulsed,
and Te Deum was sung in all the churches for the victory.

The victory of the 18th, followed by that of the 20th, when the ships
broke up the whole Turkish fleet and rode triumphantly into the Golden
Horn, inspirited the besieged. But on the 21st the cannonade brought
down one of the towers that defended the gate of S. Romanus. The
Sultan was not on the spot, and the Turks were not ready to make
assault, so the opportunity passed. After these victories the Emperor
hoped that it was possible to induce the Sultan to retire. He offered
to surrender everything but the city, and there were some in the
infidel camp who would have been ready to make terms, but Mohammed
would offer only that the whole Peloponnesus should be Constantine's
in undisturbed possession, if he would yield the city. The terms were
rejected, and the Emperor prepared for the worst.

But still the Turks were far from the end of their task. Long though
the extent of land walls was that had to be manned, it was not
difficult to protect it with a comparatively small force. A low
counter-scarp enclosed a moat, over which rose the scarp surmounted by
breastworks. Above this was the line of the outworks, with towers
advanced here and there from their surface. Behind, and also protected
by high towers, was the inner or great wall, with breast work and
rampart. It was "the most perfect of Eastern fortresses,"[28] and
might indeed seem impregnable. Every wall had its "military engines
capable of playing on the siege-works of the beleaguering army." And
as the walls "were loopholed at a stage below the battlements," the
"garrison could fire not merely from the parapets but from a well
protected second line of openings." While therefore it was quite
possible to defend the land walls, the besieged relied for ultimate
safety on being able to leave without risk the walls of the Golden
Horn and the sea practically undefended. The Turkish fleet would not
venture to draw near to the Marmora walls. The Golden Horn was safe
with Galata on the other side--though the Genoese held aloof, through
treaty probably with Mohammed--and the chain across. The Sultan had
already tried to force the chain but failed. So it seemed safe:--

     "Till Birnam wood shall come to Dunsinane."

But the genius of the Sultan, or as one authority says, a Christian in
his army, devised a scheme which at once made him the master of the
city. He determined to transport his fleet overland into the Golden
Horn from the Bosphorus. An extraordinary feat it was, but it was
splendidly performed. A narrow canal was dug, paved, and set with
rollers. The point of starting was between Top Haneh and Beshiktash,
out of the range of the fort at Galata. Thence between two and three
miles up the valley of Dolma Bagtché the seventy or eighty ships were
drawn by night up the hill of Pera to the point where now the gardens
stand just below the Hotel Bristol, and thence down the hill to the
bay of Kassim Pasha where now stands the great Arsenal.[29] When the
watchers on the towers of Galata and the Kentatarion by the Gate of
Eugenius could see through the fogs of dawn on the morning of April
22, the great fleet was no longer before them in the Bosphorus, but
behind in the Golden Horn there rode the gallant vessels with their
flags flying in the breeze. The north-east wall must be reinforced.
How could it be done?

The Venetian ships in the harbour determined to attack the Turks
before they could complete the great pontoon which they were preparing
to bring up. For some days, however, nothing was done. The attacks on
the land walls continued and were beaten back, often with heavy loss.
But each day provisions were growing less and the defenders were
growing weaker. On the morning of April 28th two Venetian galleys,
three smaller ships, and two stored with fire, advanced upon the
Turks. They were received with the fire of four cannon. The great
galley of Gabrielo Trevisani sank, and one of the smaller ships. Only
one of the Turkish ships caught fire. The Venetians who swam to shore
when their ships sank were beheaded next day in sight of the defenders
of the walls. A bitter revenge was taken. Over two hundred and fifty
Turks had at some time or other been captured and lay in the prisons
of Constantinople. They were now all beheaded on the walls in sight of
their kindred. The horrible act made certain what would be the fate of
the city if it fell.

And internal dissensions made the fall seem imminent. The Venetians
accused the Genoese and the Genoese the Venetians for the failure of
their attack on the Turkish fleet, till Constantine himself called
their leaders before him and besought them to be at peace. "The war
without," he said, "is enough; by the mercy of God seek not war among
ourselves." "So," says Phrantzes, "with much speech at length he
pacified them."

Next day and on the first of May the Turkish cannon did some damage;
but in some parts the fire was utterly unable to penetrate or dislodge
the splendid masonry, and one tower near the Lycus, it is said, was
struck by over seventy balls without suffering in the slightest; and
the great gun built by the Hungarian mercenary Ourban was dismounted
by the fire of the cannon directed by the gallant Genoese engineer
Giustiniani, who, with four hundred of his countrymen, manned the
walls near the gate of S. Romanus. Mohammed himself was standing by
the gun at the moment, and in rage called his troops at once to the
assault. They crossed the counter-scarp and began to pull down the
scarp where it had been repaired; but again the defenders drove them
back.

It was said when the attack began the walls were but half manned, as
some of the soldiers had actually left their posts to go home to
dine. This laxity, as soon as it was discovered, was of course
stopped; but it shows how utterly the people, safe for centuries
behind their defences, had forgotten the meaning of war.

The Emperor on the 3rd of May sent out a ship which penetrated through
the Turkish fleet, being disguised with Turkish colours, to beg aid.
It was plain that if it were much delayed it would be too late. A
council of war, indeed, advised the Emperor to escape while it was
still possible. The Patriarch and the Senators urged him to go,
assuring him that he could then easily gather an army to relieve the
city. "The emperor," we are told, "listened to all this quietly and
patiently. At last, after having been for some time in deep thought,
he began to speak: 'I thank you all for the advice which you have
given me. I know that my going out of the city might be of some
benefit to me, inasmuch as all that you foresee might really happen.
But it is impossible for me to go away: how could I leave the churches
of our Lord, and His servants the clergy, and the throne, and my
people in such a plight? What would the world say of me? I pray you,
my friends, in future do not say to me anything else but, 'Nay, sire,
do not leave us.' Never, never, will I leave you. I am resolved to die
here with you.' And saying this, the Emperor turned his head aside,
because tears filled his eyes; and with him wept the Patriarch and all
who were there."[30]

In the next two days a ship was sunk, and the other Christian vessels
were compelled to withdraw outside the chain. A Genoese merchant ship
was also sunk, and when the merchants of Galata protested, declaring
that they were entirely neutral, the Grand Vizier promised to
compensate them, when the city was taken.

During the next week the breach by the gate of S. Romanus was daily
widened, and on the 7th of May a desperate attack was made upon the
walls. But again with splendid courage the Turks were beaten back,
though some of the bravest of the defenders fell.

On the 12th of May a breach was made in the walls north of the palace
of the Porphyrogenitus, and thousands of Turks poured in. It was only
the arrival of Constantine himself, summoned hastily from a council of
war, that drove forth the hosts after hot fighting. The Emperor would
have pushed through and fought hand to hand in the ditch, we are told,
if he had not been held back by his nobles.

From this date every effort was concentrated upon the gate of S.
Romanus. There more cannon were directed; and in return men were
brought from the fleet, now felt to be useless, to man the walls. One
of the towers fell; and new engines were constantly being brought,
with clever shelters for the archers. A great erection covered with
bulls' hide was destroyed by a gallant attack from the walls, to the
surprise of the Turks, who thought the feat impossible. Mines and
countermines every day were discovered; every day the defenders were
becoming weaker.

On the 23rd an envoy from the Sultan was admitted to the city. Again,
and for the last time, Constantine was offered a sovereignty in the
Peloponnese, freedom for all who chose to depart, and security for the
persons and possessions of all who should choose to remain after the
surrender. Again he rejected the offer. No doubt he thought that it
was impossible to trust it; nor could the Roman Emperor endure to
yield the city that had been but once captured in its age-long
history. "We are prepared to die." The last hope failed just after
the last bold defiance was returned: the ship sent out returned, to
say that nowhere had it found the vessels of the relieving force.

The people began to see portents in the sky, when the great bonfires
in the Turkish camp were reflected on the great dome of S. Sophia. The
Emperor stood on the walls watching the enemy keeping festival, it
seemed, with sounds of music, and shrill cries and the beating of
drums. As he watched, says one who saw him, the tears coursed down his
cheeks. He knew what must come, but he was ready to fight to the last.
Again he was urged to fly, the Patriarch declaring that the city now
must fall. Again, and for the last time he refused. "How many
Emperors, great and glorious, before me have suffered and died for
their country? Shall I be the one to fly? No, I will die with you!"

The ladies of the imperial household, the sister-in-law of the Emperor
and her attendants, were sent away in a ship of Giustiniani's; and
everything was prepared for the worst. By gigantic efforts the walls
were repaired, and so well was the work done that even the Sultan was
for a moment half dismayed.

Already there were many in the Turkish camp who thought the enterprise
too hazardous to continue. It was known that a Venetian fleet was on
the way, and that a league was being formed by the Pope. After long
debate it was decided to make one last assault, and, if that failed,
to raise the siege. On the night of the 28th, Mohammed visited all the
posts, and promised to his soldiers all the pillage of the city,
encouraging them by every hope for this world and the next. In the
city priests bearing the sacred icons went through the streets. It was
for the last time. For the last time Constantine called his officers
together and spoke to them in brave words which burnt themselves into
the memory of the faithful Phrantzes.

"Brothers and fellow-soldiers, be ready for the morn. If God gives us
grace and valour, and the Holy Trinity help us, in Whom alone we
trust, we will do such deeds that the foe shall fall back with shame
before our arms." Then, says the chronicler, the wretched Romans
strengthened their hearts like lions, sought and gave pardon, and with
tears embraced each other as though mindful no more of wife or
children or earthly goods, but only of death, which, for the safety of
their country, they were glad to undergo. Constantine for the last
time went to the great church, and there, before all the bishops,
asked the pardon of all whom he had wronged. Then he received his last
communion. For the last time the Holy Sacrifice was offered in S.
Sophia, and then the last of the Cæsars and his nobles went forth to
die.

Before cock-crow he was again at his post; and with the first streak
of dawn the Turkish troops poured forth to the attack. Again and again
they were forced back, and again forced forward by the troops behind
them. The moat had been filled with earth and stones; but a great
palisade of stones covered with hides had been set up below the inner
wall. The Janissaries at length rushed up to the breach, but even they
were driven back. The critical moment came when a wound compelled
Giustiniani to retire, and a few minutes after the Turks discovered a
gate in the outer wall that had been newly opened, near to the gate of
Charisius, and below the palace of the Porphyrogenitus, found it
unprotected, and entering through it turned upon the defenders from
within. Already the Genoese had left their posts when their leader
withdrew. The Janissaries again advanced; they stormed the barricade,
and at the moment when some discovered the Kerko-porta,[31] others
forced their way through the gate of Charisius, and others through the
great breach near where the great Cæsar had stood. When the city was
entered he was in the street calling his men around him. He rode
forward, cutting his way through the foe, with some of the bravest of
his nobles round him. At length he fell, near the gate of S. Romanus,
by an unknown hand, and the conquering Turks swept over his body.

The age-long fight which the Imperial East had waged against barbarism
was over. The city of the Cæsars and the Church was in the hands of
the infidel. The land where the scholarship of the ancient world and
the law of the pioneers of equal justice had been preserved unbroken,
was now trodden under foot of those whose life was formed on quite
other models. Europe had stood by for centuries and watched the
gallant battle waged by the Christians who manned the bulwarks of her
civilisation. She had now to learn what was meant by the substitution
of the Koran for the Bible, of Mohammed for Christ.

Within a few hours of the capture of the gate of S. Romanus the whole
city was overrun by the victorious troops. At first they slew all whom
they saw, but when it was plain that all opposition was over they
began to make captives, tying them together with ropes and dragging
them on as they advanced further into the city. In the last hours of
the siege thousands had gathered in the great church of S. Sophia.
There many still thought that they must find safety. God, they
fancied, could not allow the infidel to desecrate the fairest church
in all the world. An angel, it had been prophesied, would descend at
the last moment and strike the enemies of Christ to the dust.

The great doors were shut, and the hushed thousands stood in prayer.
The cries of the victors came nearer and nearer, and at last the doors
of the narthex were beaten in and the savage soldiery rushed in,
slaying at first, then seizing captives, tearing down every Christian
symbol, and shattering with their axes the magnificent iconostasis,
before which, twelve hours before, Constantine and his gallant men had
bent in reverent devotion.[32]

At noon Mohammed himself entered the city by the gate of S. Romanus.
He rode straight down the wide street which leads to S. Sophia,
followed by the greatest of his officers and the holy men of the
Mussulman faith. At the great door he dismounted, and taking earth
from the ground he poured it on his head, as mindful of the end of all
earthly conquests. Then he entered, and when he saw that wonderful
sight which still strikes dumb with awe the greatest and the meanest
of mankind, he stayed. Then, after some minutes' silence, he passed up
to the altar. As he went he saw a soldier wantonly breaking up the
beautiful pavement with his axe, and sternly forbade him, with a blow.
As the priests stood before him he assured them of his protection, and
he bade those Christians who still stood unfettered in the church to
go to their homes in peace.

Then the Sultan ordered one of the Ulemas to mount the pulpit and read
forth to the conquerors from the Koran, and he himself mounted upon
the marble altar and prayed. Two legends have grown up round these
first moments of the Mussulman triumph in the great church. It is said
that as the first infidel entered a priest was celebrating the
Eucharist, and that he passed into the wall, which mysteriously opened
for him and closed when he had passed, bearing the Body and Blood of
the Lord. He will return, they say, when the Christians again have S.
Sophia for their own. The other legend points to a pillar at the
south-east where a mark like a blood-stained hand stands out on the
white marble. There it declared, Mohammed riding his horse over heaps
of dead, made an impress of blood and victory, and ordered the
slaughter to be stayed.

As the day went on it became known that some of the most notable of
the defenders had escaped. Tedardi the Florentine, whose record of the
siege is one of the most valuable we possess, when at last he saw that
the fight was hopeless, fled to the harbour and with many others swam
out to the Venetian ships some of which put out to sea and escaped.
Giustiniani's wound had proved mortal. Cardinal Isidore, in disguise,
was taken captive, but a Genoese of Galata bought his freedom. Many
escaped to Galata. Some paid large ransoms: some were slaughtered,
whether Latins or Greeks, in spite of the money they gave. Most of the
Greeks were made captive. The duke Notaras and his family were at
first spared, but when Mohammed demanded that the duke's son, a boy of
fourteen, should be sent to him in the palace, he refused, and he and
all his sons were put to death.

The usual fate of the Greek nobles however was that the fathers were
slain, the boys taken to the barracks of the Janissaries, and the
women and girls to the harems of the sultan and his chief favourites.
Some forty thousand Greeks perished during the siege, fifty thousand
it is supposed became captives, ten thousand, it is possible, some
few rich, most the very poor, retained their freedom if not their
homes.[33]

The body of Constantine, recognised by the purple buskins, was found
in a heap of dead. His head was cut off and borne to the Sultan. It
was exposed on a column in front of the palace. The body was buried
with respect, and over its grave, not far from where the mosque of
Suleiman now stands, a lamp has always been kept burning, but the
Ottoman government has sternly repressed the attempt of the faithful
Greeks to turn it into a place of pilgrimage and prayer.

So ended the Roman empire of the East. Its fall was an undying
disgrace to Christendom, which stood by and would not help. But it
fell chiefly through its own weakness. Military power and religion had
been the strength of the Empire; corruption had eaten away the first,
and the luxury and vice of the imperial court had shown that the
Christian faith had failed to hold its own. In the hour of their
despair the Emperors turned again to Christ, but it was too late to
save the Empire which their defiance of His laws had brought to
desolation. The Church of Constantinople must pass through the fires
of persecution, and recover in its isolation, if it might be, the
strength of the first days.

When Mohammed passed from the great church, he rode along the
Hippodrome, and when he came to the serpent column from Delphi he
struck off one of the three heads. He had done, he might have said,
with the old world. It was the day of the new peoples: a day which
began with the destruction of the old. As he walked through the
deserted halls of the great palace he repeated the words of Firdusi:

     Now the spider draws the curtain in the Cæsar's palace hall,
     And the owl is made the sentinel on Afrasiab's tower of watch.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] This was close to where is now the Kutchuk Aya Sofia (church of S.
Sergius and S. Bacchus).

[2] Van Millingen, "Walls of Constantinople," p. 41.

[3] Themistius, _Oratio_ xviii., quoted by Van Millingen, p. 42.

[4] Van Millingen, pp. 44, 45.

[5] Van Millingen, p. 46.

[6] The very interesting little book of M. Antonin Debidour,
_L'Impératrice Théodora_ (1885), should be read by all who are
attracted by the wonderful career of this extraordinary Empress.

[7] _Church of the Sixth Century_, pp. 259, 260.

[8] _Byzant. Zeitschrift_, i. 69.

[9] See Curtis, _Broken Bits of Byzantium_, ii. 54, 56.

[10] _Later Roman Empire_, ii. 352.

[11] Vol. ii., p. 423.

[12] _The Church and the Eastern Empire_, pp. 106-108.

[13] Vol. ii., p. 446.

[14] Vol. ii., pp. 497-498.

[15] Van Millingen, p. 168.

[16] _History of Greece_, vol. ii., p. 191.

[17] Gibbon, vol. v., pp. 525, appendix II., a most important and
thorough investigation of a very interesting period of legal history.

[18] On Nicephorus Phocas see the brilliant book of M. Schlumberger,
"Un Empereur Byzantin au Xième Siècle."

[19] In modern times the greeting of a bishop at his entrance by a
special anthem is still retained in the Greek Church; as also the
greeting of cardinals when they enter S. Peter's--"Ecce sacerdos" etc.

[20] The first part of the reign of these sovereigns, and the reign of
John Tzimisces, are described with abundance of illustrative detail in
M. Schlumberger's charming book, "L'Epopée byzantine à la fin du
dixième siècle."

[21] "History of Greece," vol. iii., p. 4.

[22] This was the suburb named after the church of SS. Cosmas and
Damian. The monastery was fortified, and stood on the top of the hill
overlooking the Golden Horn. It was granted by Alexius to Bohemond.

[23] His reign was really only a little over twenty-four years and a
half.

[24] Van Millingen, _Walls of Constantinople_, p. 157.

[25] Pean, _Conquest of Constantinople_, p. 403.

[26] There are many different estimates given by the different
writers. La Jonquière, perhaps the latest, decides on 200,000 (p.
158).

[27] M. Mijatovich in his "Constantine the last Emperor of the
Greeks," gives a vivid account of the siege, but he is far from
accurate in dealing with the topography.

[28] Mr Oman, _History of the Art of War, Middle Ages_, pp. 526-7,
speaks of three walls; but the scarp was quite low, and there were
only two walls behind it.

[29] There is much dispute as to the route taken by the ships and as
to almost every point connected with the passage. I would only say
that it seems to me that the view of Professor Van Millingen, which I
have followed in the text, is the most satisfactory.

[30] Quoted by M. Chedomil Mijatovich, from a Slavonic MS.

[31] See Van Millingen, pp. 89 and 99.

[32] The icons were hewn down, the ornaments everywhere torn off, the
altar stripped of its coverings, the lamps and sacred vessels stolen;
everything, says Ducas, of silver and gold or other precious substance
was taken away, and the church was left naked and desolate.

[33] These are Finlay's figures.



CHAPTER II

_Constantinople under the Turks_


Constantinople soon became Stambûl in the mouth of the Turks, a
corruption it may be of the εἰς τὴν πόλιν which they had often heard
in the mouth of the Greeks. The crescent of Byzantium became the
symbol of the Ottoman power. A new city began to be raised on the
ruins of the old.

  [Illustration: IN THE CEMETERY AT SCUTARI]

Some privileges were left to the Christians. Galata and Pera were from
the first confirmed in their independence and freedom of trade; yet
step by step the Turkish sway was established over them, and though
the foreign liberties still exist, and are reinforced by the
privileges, from time to time increased, of the ambassadors and their
households and the colonies they protect, the Sultan's rule is
complete on both sides of the Golden Horn. After three days of
plunder, Mohammed set himself to make order. He declared that he would
protect the Greek Church. A new patriarch, George Scholarios or
Gennadios, was installed: his ecclesiastical jurisdiction was
recognized. He was allowed to hallow new churches, and one little
humble oratory remained undefiled by the infidel. On the hill above
the Phanar, hidden away in a side street, by a high wall, stands the
little white-washed sanctuary round which on the fatal day the fight
had surged. The Turks still call it Kan Klissé, the church of blood.
The Greeks know it as S. Mary Mouchliotissa (the Mongolian), in
memory, not only of the B. V. M., but of Mary the daughter of Manuel
Palæologus, who had married the Khan of the Mongols, and after his
death returned to Constantinople and built or restored the little
church. Mohammed gave it to the architect Christodoulos, and by
special firman, preserved it to the Christians.

The patriarchal throne was moved first to the Church of the Apostles,
soon destroyed to make the mosque of the conqueror; thence to the
Pammakaristos (Fetîyeh Djami); thence to the Church of the Wallachian
palace in the Phanar, now the monastery of the Jerusalem patriarchate.
At last, in 1601, it was moved to the ancient Petrion, where it
remains. The palace of the patriarch is close by: the walls still show
remains of the ancient fortifications, and of the stones of the
monastery where the Empress Theodora lived so long in retirement. The
church has a beautiful iconostasis of dark olive wood, and a
patriarchal throne and pulpit, all probably of the seventeenth
century, but which the faithful delight to ascribe to much earlier
days. The throne is called the throne of S. John Chrysostom, the
pulpit his pulpit; but their only claim to the title is that they
belong to his successors, in an unbroken line. In this sheltered spot,
and in the district of Phanar, stretching between the inner bridge
over the Golden Horn and the ultra-Moslem suburb of Eyûb, remain the
last links of Constantinople with the ancient Christian city. Round
the patriarchal church, with the Christian schools and colleges, in
the houses that are still half fortresses, cluster ancient memories
that survive to-day. Gautier wrote fancifully, "Hither ancient
Byzantium has fled. Here in obscurity dwell the descendants of the
Comneni, the Dukai, the Palaiologoi, princes with no lands, but whose
ancestors wore the purple and in whose veins flows imperial blood."
Still in these dark houses, dusty and begrimed without, there survives
some of the ancient Greek society, that has passed through so many
changes, and hopes at least to witness one more.

The conquest of Constantinople had less effect than might have been
expected upon the position of the Greek Church. Gennadios whom
Mohammed made Patriarch, had been the bitter opponent of the reunion
of the churches, and he had even declared that the destruction of the
Empire would be the certain result of the concessions to the Latins.
Mohammed desired that the Church should retain its power. If he
protected it there might grow up some general feeling of acceptance of
the Moslem rule. Thus synods were still allowed to meet, the patriarch
was allowed to hold courts Christian, and to enforce his sentences
with excommunication. But none the less the Church had no means of
resisting the absolute power of the Sultan. At any moment patriarch,
bishop or priest could be deposed, banished, executed, by his sole
will. The Church has never ceased to live in a position of danger, at
the mercy of an alien lord, and amid an infidel people; and at any
moment she is liable to an active persecution, and her members to
martyrdom.

The earlier patriarchs after the conquest seem to have been disturbed
in their office by scandals, intrigues, difficulties of every kind.
Before long the Sultan demanded payment on each new election, and it
is represented that it was only by bribes that the election proceeded
at all. Simony appears to have been rife. It was but slowly and under
persecution that the Church was purged from these sins and became
again fully worthy of the reverence of the whole Greek people. The
encouragement of learning in the present century, the high character
of the patriarchs, the times of danger through which they have passed,
have left the Church the true centre of the national life which still
remains. Nor has the widespread influence of the patriarchate failed
to preserve some relics of the power of the ancient Empire. During the
seventeenth century, while the Morea was in the hands of the
Venetians, the Patriarch of Constantinople still nominated the
bishops, revenues still reached him from the monasteries; and his
excommunications were still valid in the lands which did not own the
Sultan as lord. The Patriarch still claims ecclesiastical jurisdiction
over the Balkan lands, though the Porte has appointed a Bulgarian
exarch, in accord with the wishes of the government, to act as head of
the Orthodox in that principality, and Roumania has also freed
herself; Serbia still struggles to be free: but it can hardly be
doubted that should the lands ever be reunited, they would all gladly
return to the obedience of the Patriarchate.

But this by anticipation: Mohammed set himself to found a new city.
Land was freely granted to rich families from other cities: it is
said that five thousand families, Greeks and Turks, were soon induced
to settle in what had been the richest city in the world. Four
thousand Servians were planted outside the walls to recolonize the
villages that the war had destroyed. As the conquest spread Greeks and
Albanians were forcibly deported to the capital. The Christians of
Constantinople alone were freed from the tribute of their children.
Before he died Mohammed saw the city again populous and in prosperity.
He founded a new city on the ruins of the old: the new population,
half Christians, but predominantly Turks, gave new life; and the new
life was made to centre round the new buildings which Christian art
inspired the Moslems to build. Gradually the city became not only
Oriental, but Mohammedan. It is thus we see it to-day. Of the
buildings let us speak later. Now let us see the work that was done by
Mohammed the Conqueror and his successors.

The Turkish power depended upon the characteristic institution of the
Janissaries. From the time of Orchan it was the law of the Turks to
require from all the Christian subjects of their power a tribute of
their children. These were at once made Mussulmans, brought up very
strictly in their faith, skilfully taught, and trained to hardness. As
time showed their capacity, they were divided into two classes; those
who had no special physical strength were set to work in the offices
of State; the others underwent the strict discipline which produced the
finest military corps in Europe, the Janissaries. Unmarried, without
family ties, connected neither among themselves nor with the people,
these soldiers, it was said by their founder, Khalil-Djendereli, would
belong solely to their sovereign, from whom they would have their sole
reward. It was an original and daring thought, to make each conquest
the basis of future victories. "Let the Christians support the war;
let themselves furnish the soldiers by whose means we shall fight."

The first batch of Christian captives thus set apart in 1328 were
brought before a renowned dervish, Hadji Bektash. Thus he blessed
them. "Let them be called Yeni-Tscheri (new soldiers): they shall be
conquerors in every fight; let their countenance be ever white and
shining, their arm strong, their sword sharp, their arrow swift."

No troops ever more powerfully affected the imagination of friends and
foes. Among the Turks they were always the leaders, the forlorn hope.
Among Christians the terror of their name spread over Europe. In every
war they gained new laurels, and from the moment when they stormed the
walls of Constantinople they began to be, slowly but certainly, the
sole strength of the Ottoman power. At first the absolute servants of
the Sultan, before two centuries were over they became his masters.
Their numbers increased rapidly. Within a few years their numbers
reached twelve thousand, and in the seventeenth century they were more
than three times as numerous. The description of the English traveller
Sandys shows perhaps better than any other record what impression they
made upon Christians at the height of their power.

"The Janissaries," he says,[34] "are those that bear great sway in
Constantinople: in so much that the Sultans themselves have been
sometimes subject to their insolencies. They are divided into severall
companies under severall Captaines; but all commanded by their Aga: a
place of high trust, and the third in repute through the Empire:
howbeit, their too much love is to him an assured destruction. These
are the flower of the Turkish infantery, by whom such wonderfull
victories have been atchieved. They call the Emperour father (for none
other is there for them to depend on), to whose valour and faith in
the time of warre he committeth his person: they having their stations
about the royal pavillion. They serve with harquebushes, armed besides
with cymiters and hatchets. They weare on their heads a bonnet of
white felt, with a flap hanging downe behind to their shoulders;
adorned about the browes with a wreathe of metall, gilt, and set with
stones of small value; having a kind of sheathe or rocket of the same
erected before, wherein such are suffered to sticke plumes of feathers
as have behaved themselves extraordinarie bravely. They tucke up the
skirts of their coates when they fight, or march: and carry certaine
dayes provision of victuals about with them. Nor is it a cumber: it
being no more than a small portion of rice, and a little sugar and
hony. When the Emperor is not in the field, the most of them reside
with him in the Citie: ever at hand upon any occasion to secure his
person, and are as were the Pretorian cohorts with the Romanes. They
are in number about forty thousand: whereof the greater part (I meane
of those that attend on the Court) have their being in three large
Serraglios; where the juniors do reverence their seniors, and all obey
their severall commanders (as they their Aga) with much silence and
humility. Many of them that are married (a breach of their first
institution) have their private dwellings: and those that are busied
in forreine employments, are for the most part placed in such garrison
townes as do greatly concerne the safetie of the Empire. Some are
appointed to attend on Embassadors; others to guard such particular
Christians as will be at the charge, both about the City, and in
their travels, from incivilities and violences, to whom they are in
themselves most faithfull: wary and cruell, in preventing and
revenging their dangers and injuries; and so patient in bearing
abuses, that one of them of late being strucken by an Englishman
(whose humorous swaggering would permit him never to review his
countrey) as they travelled along through Morea, did not onely not
revenge it, nor abandon him to the pillage and outrages of others, in
so unknowne and savage a country; but conducted him unto Zant in
safety, saying, God forbid that the villany of another should make him
betray the charge that was committed to his trust. They are al of one
trade or other. The pay that they have from the Grand Signior is but
five aspers a day: yet their eldest sons as soone as borne are
inrolled, and received into pension; but his bounty extendeth no
further unto his progeny (the rest reputed as natural Turks), nor is a
Janizary capable of other preferments than the command of ten, of
twenty, or of an hundred. They have yeerly given them two gowns
apiece, the one of violet cloth, and the other of stanmell, which they
weare in the City: carrying in their hands a great tough reede, some
seven feet long, and tipped with silver; the weight whereof is not
seldome felt by such as displease them. Who are indeed so awefull,
that Justice dare not proceed publikely against them (they being only
to be judged by their Aga), but being privately attached, are as
privately throwne into the sea in the night time. But then are they
most tumultuous (whereto they do give the name of affection) upon the
dangerous sicknesses of their Emperours; and upon their deaths commit
many outrages. Which is the cause that the great Bassas as well as
they can, do conceale it from them, untill all things be provided for
the presentment of the next for them to salute. Whereupon (besides
the present larges) they have an Asper a day increase of pension: so
that the longer they live, and the more Emperours they outlive, the
greater is their allowance. But it is to be considered, that all these
beforenamed, are not onely of that tribute of children. For not a few
of them are captives taken in their child-hood; with divers Renegados,
that have most wickedly quitted their religion and countrey, to fight
against both: who are to the Christians the most terrible adversaries.
And withall they have of late infringed their ancient customes, by the
admitting of those into these orders, that are neither the sons nor
grandsons of Christians; a naturall Turke borne in Constantinople,
before never knowne, being now a Barsa of the Port."

To the English traveller's record may be added information of the
Venetian ambassador's _relazioni_, which speak of the severe military
training which the lads underwent, the strict asceticism in food,
drill, garb, and tell that at night they all lay in a long room,
lighted, and patrolled all night by a watchman, who walked up and down
that they might learn thus to sleep in the midst of alarms.

Children of every nation, Poles, Bohemians, Russians, Italians,
Germans, as well as tribute slaves from Greece and the Balkan lands,
they knew no home but that narrow court in the Seraglio, no master but
the Sultan, no hope but the hope of plunder and the paradise of Islam.
So great was the power of the training, the comradeship, the
fanaticism, that but one of all the Christians forcibly made Moslem
and brought up among the Janissaries is known to have taken the
opportunity to escape and return to Christendom. The single hero was
Scanderbeg, who alone arrested the triumphant progress of Mohammed II.

One of the most curious memorials of the old Turkish State is that
which is preserved to-day in the museum at the end of the At-meidan.
There a hundred and thirty-six figures, huge painted dolls, represent
the terrible troops in their habits as they lived. On the stairs are
figures in chain armour, in the hall above the representations of the
different ranks, and the officers named after the kitchen duties they
were supposed to perform. It was one great family, in idea, with the
Sultan as father. He gave the food, and their great kettles in which
it was cooked were also their drums, with spoons for drumsticks. A
strange grotesque sight are these bright figures in their long robes,
with here and there, for contrast, an example of the new uniform
introduced by Mohammed II. The museum is almost deserted; but there is
no more characteristic memorial of the great days of the Turks. Let
the visitor not imagine that he may sketch or take notes or look at
the book of drawings which he may find in the room. He will hear the
familiar Turkish word _Yasak!_ and the book will be snatched from his
hands.

But this by the way. When Mohammed II. took Constantinople and settled
the Janissaries in the outer court of the Seraglio, once the
Acropolis, they were only beginning to be the centre of power. Yet
even then they were the most characteristic institution of the
Osmanlis. While Constantinople was assuming the aspect which it was to
bear for centuries, of an entirely eastern town, with minarets
everywhere, khans, shrouded women, the strange solemn social life of
the East, Mohammed the Conqueror was adding everywhere to his empire.
Servia and Bosnia were annexed, Albania and Cyprus subdued; the whole
of Asia Minor was under his rule. He died on May 2, 1481, and left the
name of the greatest of the Turkish rulers. His laws, his organisation
of the judicial and religious class of the Ulemas, the teachers of
the people, were more permanent than his victories. But when he died
the power that he had founded rested securely on the great maxim which
his successors were, from his practice, to develop till it became a
fixed theory of government--that the children of Christians were alone
those who should enjoy the highest dignities of the empire.

The visitor to Constantinople remembers Mohammed most of all by the
magnificent mosque which towers over the city and is seen in such
striking effects of light from the heights of Pera. With the name of
his successor is associated a mosque as beautiful and as famous.
Bayezid succeeded his father in spite of a plot of the Grand Vizier to
give the throne to his younger brother Djem, whose romantic adventures
fill so large a space in the French and papal diplomacy of the end of
the fifteenth century. His reign (1481-1512) was marked like his
father's by great victories, and the once famous Turkish fleet owes
its origin to him. In him first appears the contemplative lethargic
character which was to become marked in some of the later Sultans.
Eastern writers called him a philosopher; and when he had ceased even
to pretend to be a warrior his troops insisted on his giving up the
throne to his son Selim.

Three weeks after his resignation he died. Rarely has he who has once
been Sultan lived long in retirement. Selim, with ferocious zest,
carried out, though he did not inaugurate, another custom of the
Ottoman monarchy. He swept away all possible claimants to his throne,
strangling his two brothers and five of his nephews. He followed the
victorious course of his predecessors; he fought in Persia, he seized
Egypt and occupied Jerusalem, and Mecca, the centre of Mohammedan
reverence, passed under his power. Savage and relentless as he
was--it became a proverb of hatred, "Would that thou wast the Vizier
of Sultan Selim"--he was yet, like so many of his race, a poet, and
the friend and patron of learned men. He died near Adrianople on the
22nd of September 1520, and left the throne to his son Suleiman, one
of the greatest of the Sultans.

Suleiman began with mercy. Justice and benevolence, he declared that
he took for the principles of his government. He freed prisoners, he
declared that he would rule in accordance with the precepts of the
Koran. From the first his reign was a succession of victories. In 1521
Belgrade surrendered; in 1522 he conquered the isle of Rhodes, so long
the gallantly defended outpost of Christendom in the Mediterranean.
For a time after these great successes he turned to pleasure, but
threatened insubordination among the Janissaries awoke the barbarity
which was never far below the surface in the great Turkish Sovereigns,
and Mustafa the aga with several of the officers paid for their
independence with their lives.

It was necessary, Suleiman saw, to continue war, to find employment
for his turbulent force; and in 1526 he marched against Hungary with a
force of a hundred thousand men. At Mohacz the Christian army was
utterly defeated after a gallant fight, in which Suleiman himself was
for a time in great danger, and in which at the end the flower of
Hungarian chivalry with their King at their head perished by the sword
or in the river through which they tried to escape. Buda Pesth fell
into the hands of the conqueror. All the prisoners taken at Mohacz
were massacred, and over a hundred thousand slaves were led back to
Turkey. The spoils were enormous. The library of the old Seraglio and
the treasury still hold some of the choicest manuscripts of the famous
library of Mathias Corvinus. Suleiman returned in triumph to
Constantinople.

To the passage of armies on their way to victory the people of the
great city had now become familiar as in the greatest days of the
Empire. Thirteen times, it is said, did Suleiman pass through the
gates on warlike expeditions and thirteen times did he return a
conqueror. He led his forces to the walls of Vienna, and though he was
at length compelled to withdraw, he inflicted a blow on the Empire
which it took long to recover, and he showed to Europe that a new and
terrible power had come to take part in the affairs of the West. In
Persia, if he was not entirely successful, yet he added new
territories to the Empire. A pirate fleet under his sanction swept the
seas. He defeated the combined fleets of Spain, Italy, and Venice.
During a reign of forty-six years he kept Europe and Asia at war. But
his greatest triumphs were not those of the battlefield. He made the
great Sovereigns of Christendom count him as their equal. Every prince
of the time was anxious to enter into negotiation with him. Their
envoys came to Constantinople, and were treated as suppliants. To
every indignity they submitted for the sake of winning the alliance of
"the grand Turk," the Sultan whom Europe came to call "the
magnificent."

France was the first to make alliance with the infidel; and in spite
of the papal curse the Mohammedan power was introduced as a prominent
actor in the politics of Europe by the most Christian King, Francis I.
The Sultan of sultans, King of kings, giver of crowns to the kings of
the world, the shadow of God upon the earth, Suleiman, the ever
victorious, assured the prostrate King of France that he need not
fear, for that every hour his horse was saddled, his sword girt on,
and he was ready to defend and to overthrow. A solemn treaty in
February 1535 united France and Turkey in bonds of perpetual amity. It
was renewed in 1553; and the alliance remained an important fact in
the politics of Europe for more than two hundred years.

Renowned for his victories in diplomacy and war, Suleiman's fame was
even greater as a patron of art and letters. It was through him first
that the Christendom of the sixteenth century heard of the glories of
Eastern literature, and that Europe began to imitate Asia. It was the
great age of Turkish poets. The court of Suleiman was thronged by
poets who vied with each other in celebrating the glories of their
master. Every bazaar of the East rang with his praises: in far distant
lands the ingenious verse-makers made his victories, his pleasures,
his magnificence, the theme of their elaborate compositions. Trade
poured into Stambûl. All the riches of the East, the wonderful carpets
and embroideries, the exquisite metal-work, the dignified designs of
the pen and the brush, fixed their natural home in the court of the
magnificent Suleiman. Under him the architecture of the Moslems
reached its culmination: the splendid mosque named after him, with the
türbehs around it, represent the great work of his age, worthy of
commemoration as lengthy as that which Procopius gave to the edifices
of his sovereign. Great as conqueror, as builder, and as restorer of
ancient work, Suleiman may well be called, in yet another aspect, the
Turkish Justinian. He was great also as a legislator, and his work
completed that of Mohammed II. He laid down the limits of the
privileges of the Ulemas, the powers of the Sheikh-ul-Islam and the
Grand Vizier. Financial organisation, so essential to the security of
his conquests, was made under his rule into an elaborate system. The
penal code was revised, simplified, and, on the whole, rendered less
severe. Every change, every reform, showed the guiding genius of the
great Sultan; arbitrary as the worst of his race, unrestrained always
in the exercise of his authority, he yet showed an Eastern despotism
at its best, animated by a zeal for justice, for regularity, for the
welfare of the people.

Suleiman, whose name exercised so great a fascination over the
imagination of the West, was the hero, Christian romancers thought, of
a grand passion. The name of Roxelana became famous in the drama and
poetry of Europe. Her story was indeed a striking one. Khurrem, "the
joyous one," was a Russian captive, who, in the later years of the
mighty Sultan, obtained an absolute control over him. From a slave,
placed among hundreds of other captives in the harem, she rose to be
herself Sultan,[35] the wife of the Commander of the Faithful.

It was contrary to all precedent that Suleiman deposed the mother of
his eldest son from her rank and made Roxelana Sultan. The French
Ambassador accounts for the elevation in this way. "Roxelana wished to
found a mosque for the weal of her soul, but the mufti told her that
the pious works of a slave turned only to the advantage of her lord:
upon this special ground Suleiman declared her free. This was
immediately followed by the second step. The free woman would no
longer comply with those desires of Suleiman which the bondswoman had
obeyed, for the fetwa of the mufti declared that this could not be
without sin. Passion on the one side and obstinacy on the other at
last brought it about that Suleiman made her his wife. A treaty of
marriage was ratified, and Roxelana was secured an income of 5000
sultanins."[36]

The extraordinary influence which this remarkable woman exercised over
the great Sultan was new, it seemed, to the Empire; it was not only
new, but destructive to the military system of the Turks that any
special attachment should be formed which should attract the Sultan to
the home rather than the camp. The Sultans, with all their gross
pleasures, had been ever warriors ready to desert everything for their
military duties, and had ruled their Empire as well as their army
solely by their own will. Suleiman seemed to open the way to
influences which would be destructive to the Turkish power; and one of
the greatest of the Viziers a century later said that all his
successors were fools or tyrants.

Be this so or not, Suleiman and Roxelana were unique in Turkish
history. Their devotion to each other appeared to be complete: and the
passionate love which grew rather than diminished with years, marked
the history of the court with the stains of sacrifice and crime.
Mustafa, the Sultan's eldest son, stood in the way of the children of
Khurrem. The Vizier Rustem Pacha was her devoted slave, owing to her
his elevation to the dignity of the Sultan's vicegerent. He brought to
Suleiman reports that Mustafa was allying with the Shah of Persia to
dethrone him, and was winning the Janissaries to his side, a charge to
which his valour and ability, and his great popularity with the
soldiers, might seem to give some colour. Suleiman himself, on his
Syrian campaign, ordered his son to appear before him. On September
21, 1553--the day was long remembered--the gallant Mustafa was brought
with great pomp and ceremony to the tent of the Sultan. When he
entered he found only the seven mutes armed with the fatal bowstring.
He was seized, and before he could utter more than one cry, he was
murdered. The thick tapestry at the back of the tent was drawn aside
and Suleiman entered to gaze upon the body of his son.

Even then the vengeance was not complete. The child of the murdered
Mustafa was stabbed at Brusa in his mother's arms. The horror that was
felt at these crimes became evident when the Janissaries demanded the
punishment of Rustem, and when Djihanghir, the son of Suleiman and
Roxelana, died of grief for the brother to whom he was devoted. The
new grand Vizier was sacrificed also: and not long afterwards the
beautiful Roxelana, Khurrem, passed away. The great Sultan gave her
the most beautiful of tombs. The art of the Mussulmans was centered in
that last home which the love of Suleiman could bestow.

     "Without, the scented roses twine,
       The Suleymanieh tow'rs o'erhead,
     The flagstones, flecked with shade and shine,
       Re-echo to the pilgrim's tread,
       And soft grey doves their wings outspread
     In the blue vault above the shrine."

If Roxelana was the evil genius of Suleiman, his reign was not more
happy after her death. Her two elder sons, Selim and Bayezid broke
into open war. Bayezid attacked Selim, and, betrayed, it would seem by
the basest of intrigues, he was defeated, and fled to Persia. Every
letter that he wrote to his father was suppressed, and the Persians
sold him to his brother by whom he and his four sons were put to
death. A few months later his fifth son, a child of three, was
strangled at Brusa by the Sultan's orders.

To the last, Suleiman led his troops to the field. He died on August
30, 1566, while he was conducting the siege of Szigeth, a small
fortress in Hungary. The grand Vizier concealed his death from the
army and sent messengers at once to Selim, who hastened to
Constantinople.

Suleiman left behind him a name more famous than any of his
predecessors save Mohammed the Conqueror. His lofty and enterprising
genius, his heroic courage, his strict observance of the laws of Islam
tempered at times by a wise tolerance, the order and economy which
were combined with his magnificence and grandeur, his love of
knowledge and the protection he extended to learned men, all mark him
out, says the historian of the Ottomans, among the noblest of his
race.

Selim II. began ill by not paying the largesse which the Janissaries
expected from a new sovereign. They mutinied, and he was obliged to
yield. His father had altered the ancient rule which required the
Janissaries only to go to the war when the Sultan himself took the
field. The Janissaries now compelled him to allow the enrolment of
their children in their ranks. Selim was no warrior, and he was glad
to send his troops without him. He preferred, the ambassadors say,
"the society of eunuchs and of women, and the habits of the serai to
the camp:" he "wore away his days in sensual enjoyments, in
drunkenness and indolence." "Whoever beheld him and saw his face
inflamed with Cyprus wine, and his short figure rendered corpulent by
slothful indulgence, expected in him neither the warrior nor the
leader of warriors. In fact, nature and habit unfitted him to be the
supreme head, that is the life and soul, of that warlike State."[37]

He was the first of the Turkish Sovereigns who was unworthy of the
throne that had been won by hard and incessant work. "I think not of
the future," he himself said, "I live only to enjoy the pleasure of
each day as it passes." A drunkard ruling over the Mussulmans, sworn
to total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks, was a grotesque and
disgusting anomaly. The people mocked while they followed the example.
"Where shall we get our wine to-day," they said, "from the Mufti
(priest) or from the Kadi (judge)?"

But whatever might be the character of the Sultan, it had become a
fixed policy with the Turks that the Empire could only be carried on
by aggressive war. Under Selim, though without his personal
intervention, war was made with Russia, but without success: the
conquests of Suleiman in Arabia were made complete, and Yemen fell
into the hands of the Turks. Then it was determined to complete the
conquest of the Mediterranean: war was declared against Venice, and
Cyprus was captured in August 1571. But this capture, which Selim
described to Barbaro as "cutting off one of the arms of the Republic"
was avenged by the famous naval league against the Turks. On October
7, 1571, Don John of Austria utterly destroyed the Turkish fleet at
Lepanto, capturing 130 galleys, 30,000 prisoners, and 15,000 Christian
slaves. It was the first sign of the long decline of the Ottoman
power. Europe awoke to the belief that the Turks were not invincible.

  [Illustration: THE GOLDEN HORN FROM PERA, AFTER SUNSET]

The news was received with consternation in Constantinople. An
outbreak of Mohammedan fanaticism, as so often since, found its
expression in the ferocity of the Sultan. Selim issued orders for the
massacre of all the Christians in the city: happily his Vizier
deferred the execution of the command, and it was revoked. The
incident is characteristic. From 1453 the Christian inhabitants of the
capital have held their lives simply at the pleasure of the Commander
of the Faithful. At any moment the word may be spoken which the loyal
Turk must obey

     "For an order has come from the Padishah
     I must go and kill the Giaour."

The butchery was countermanded in 1571, but little more than twenty
years later it was again seriously proposed. When the Spaniards in
1595 sacked Patras, the extermination of the Christians in
Constantinople "was discussed in the divan, but the result was
confined to the publication of an order for the expulsion of all
unmarried Greeks from Constantinople within three days."[38] This was
in the reign of Murad III., and when he died, in the same year, "the
Janissaries, in their wonted manner, fell to spoiling Christians and
Jews, and were proceeding to further outrages, when their aga, to
restrain their insolence, hung up a Janissary taken in the act of
murdering a rayah."

The alarm of Mussulman Constantinople was ended by the speedy
reconstruction of a fleet, and by the capture of Tunis. But with none
of these triumphs was it possible to associate the name of Selim. He
died on December 12, 1574, "the victim," in the phrase of the Vicomte
A. de la Jonquière, "de sa passion pour le vin."

Murad III. his son and successor was not without good instincts. He
was a striking contrast to his father. He loved study, he was
temperate, he was a soldier. But the terrible custom, now become
almost a law of state, laid its frightful burden of crime upon him at
the moment of his succession. For eighteen hours he refused to be
proclaimed, he argued with the Muftis and the Ministers, to save the
lives of his brothers. But he yielded, willingly or unwillingly, and
the chief of the mutes was summoned to his presence, shown the body of
the dead Sultan, and given nine handkerchiefs for the nine princes in
the Seraglio. Weeping, Murad gave the order, says the Venetian
ambassador: and men thought when he began his reign that he would be
sober, wise, and just. He did not long retain the reputation. He began
a war with Persia and his troops were engaged on the Hungarian
frontier. But he followed the example of his father. He did not
himself lead his armies in the field. He rarely left the seraglio,
where he gave himself up entirely to the pleasures which appealed so
powerfully to the Moslem. The harem and the treasury became his sole
delights. The ambassadors tell stories that sound fabulous of his
insane desire for gold. He stripped ornaments from ancient works of
art and coined them into money; he collected from every quarter; he
pinched and starved everything but his private pleasures, and year
after year he cast into the great marble well which he had made
beneath his bed "two and a half millions of gold, all in sequins and
sultanins." Under him the sale of offices, which was begun by Rustem,
the vizier to whom Roxelana induced Suleiman to give his favour,
became a settled and almost fundamental rule of the state. Even
judicial and military offices were given for bribes, and the money was
caressed by the insane Murad and cast into the pit over which he
slept. The ambassadors describe in ludicrous language the impression
which Murad made upon them. He sat in state to receive them, he
received their presents, he listened to them with a stupid stare; then
he "went back to his garden, where in deep sequestered spots his women
played before him, danced and sang, or his dwarfs made sport for him,
or his mutes, awkward and mounted on as awkward horses, engaged with
him in ludicrous combats, in which he struck now at the rider now at
the horse, or where certain Jews performed lascivious comedies before
him." In fact the Sultans were becoming ridiculous, without ceasing to
be terrible. As for government, Murad left it to his vizier, a
Bosnian, Mohammed, who held his office in three reigns and far
surpassed any European minister in riches and power. It was he who
peacefully arranged the succession of both Selim and Murad, and so
long as he lived there was order and firmness in the government. But
after his death the chief office was passed from hand to hand,
according to the Sultan's fancy, and always a large sum found its way,
at each change of viziers, into the pit of gold. The elevation of
Ferhat reads like a tale in the Arabian Nights. Murad would wander
like Haroun al-Raschid through the bazaars. One day he heard a cook
bewailing the misgovernment of the city. He questioned him, approved
his replies, and next day summoned him to the palace and appointed him
to the office whose holder he had criticised, from which he rose to be
vizier. It was a perilous rise. Ferhat did not long retain his
position, but at least he escaped with his life. It was different with
others, and the precedent of handing over officers to the vengeance of
the Janissaries was set in 1590, when the soldiers attacked the
Seraglio and demanded the execution of the Beyler bey of Roumelia and
another. The plane tree of the Janissaries began its deadly history.

Murad died on January 6, 1596. His eldest son and successor, whose
mother was a Venetian, marked his accession by the most bloody of all
the murders which inaugurated the reign of the Sultans. He had his
nineteen brothers strangled in his presence, and then proceeded to
govern as though he had no objects but those of the most exalted
virtue. After a few weeks he left all the work to his ministers, and
was himself ruled entirely by his mother. In 1596, however, the
disasters of his army induced him to go himself to the war in
Wallachia. The sacred standard of the Prophet, preserved at Eyûb, was
unfurled, and on the field of Kereskte, Mohammed won a great victory
over the Austrians. He returned in triumph to Constantinople, where
the rest of his reign was marked by rebellions and misfortunes on all
sides. The plague made fearful ravages in the crowded streets of
Stambûl. It penetrated into the Seraglio, and it is said that
seventeen princesses, sisters of Mohammed, died. The sipahis rose and
demanded the heads of the eunuchs who ruled under favour of the
Valideh Sultan. They were given up and strangled. But then the Sultan
determined to take vengeance, he entrusted its execution to the
Janissaries. The sipahis were ordered to lay down their arms; if they
failed to do so they were threatened with the penalties of treason.
The soldiers thereupon delivered up their officers, who were put to
death. The Sultan himself died in 1603. His son Ahmed succeeded him,
an elder son having been put to death on pretence of having shown
independence of character which threatened the throne.

Ahmed I. was but fourteen when he came to the throne. Well served by a
wise Grand Vizier, his reign was marked by some signs of activity,
and, strange to say, by two years of peace. But the treaty of
Sitvakorok (1606) with Austria was another step in the decline of the
Ottomans.

Ahmed did something to redress the corruption that had infected the
government. He administered justice like the chieftains of old; he
received petitions, and saw that grievances were redressed. He began,
as he grew up, to read of the exploits of Suleiman, and to promise
himself that he would surpass them; but he had no stability of
purpose, and his reign passed away in disasters, with the murder of
the one eminent man, Nousouh Pacha, who might have saved the State,
and with the introduction of usages which seemed to the Ulemas to
strike at the very heart of Moslem law. Constantinople was almost
abandoned to mob-rule because the muftis forbade the use of tobacco,
which was introduced by the Dutch. It is impossible now to conceive a
Turk without this solace; and it is strange that it needed the most
ingenious arguments and the most stubborn defiance to procure the
withdrawal of the edict which forbade it to the Moslem. The poets, we
are told, called tobacco, coffee, opium, and wine the four elements in
the world of happiness; the Ulemas replied that they were the four
chief servants of the devil. The people settled the question for
themselves.

With Ahmed the custom of butchering the brothers of the new Sultan had
ceased. He not only spared the life of his brother Mustafa, but left
directions that he should succeed him on the throne. But the custom
which he began was even more fatal to the power of the Turks than that
which he ended. The succession of the oldest male of the royal house
might not itself have been a misfortune. But from the time when the
princes ceased to be strangled they were kept in the Seraglio, with no
knowledge of the work of government, trained only to a voluptuous and
effeminate life. Mustafa had almost lost his wits when he became
Sultan; he had been a prisoner for nearly forty years. Within three
months his violence, his promotion of two pages to be Pashas of Cairo
and of Damascus, his dislike of the female sex, convinced the
ministers that he was incapable of governing; he was again removed to
the Seraglio, and Osman II., the son of his brother Ahmed, was
elevated to the throne.

Of the troubles which beset the ambassadors and how they were
redressed more shall be said hereafter. Osman's six years of rule were
disturbed by sterner men. The Janissaries again showed that their
power was greater than that of the Sultan. Osman decimated them in
war, and executed many who drank wine; but they were too strong for
him, dragged the unhappy Mustafa again from prison, and again declared
him to be the ruling Sultan. The Kafess (cage), the splendid building
in the grounds of the old Seraglio, which even now may not be
approached, which had so long held him prisoner, has memories of no
stranger history than his. When he was dragged forth he trembled
before his nephew, and threw himself at his feet. Osman taunted the
Janissaries with the weakness of the ruler they preferred to himself;
but it was not weakness that the Janissaries feared. Osman was dragged
to the Seven Towers, and there, after a desperate struggle, he was
strangled in a dungeon. Within a few months the idiot Mustafa was
again deposed and sent back to the Kafess, where soon afterwards the
bowstring ended his miserable life. For the few months of his nominal
reign he was entirely in the hands of the soldiery; minister after
minister was given up to them, and ended his life by the bowstring or
on the fatal tree. The Janissaries held Constantinople in terror, and
raised and deposed a Sultan as easily as a minister.

Murad IV., still a child, the surviving son of Ahmed, was made Sultan
in 1623. In him the Turks had again a masterful and determined ruler.
His mother the Valideh, and his Vizier Hafiz, made the first years of
his reign distinguished if not glorious. Till 1632 he trained himself
in all military exercises; he rode, he drew the bow with the best of
the Janissaries. Then came the revolt of the Sipahis and Janissaries,
which gave him his opportunity. Constantinople was for many days in
the hands of the military mob, reinforced by disaffected troops who
had returned from Persia. They assembled in the Atmeidan (the old
Hippodrome); thence they went to the Seraglio and demanded the
"seventeen heads" of the Sultan's chief advisers and friends. For some
days Murad held out. He summoned the Vizier, Hafiz, who rode through
the crowd, past the barracks of the Janissaries, in at the Orta Kapou,
after dismounting, the stones of the mob falling round him as he
disappeared. Murad ordered him to escape to Juntan. Within a few hours
the Sultan was compelled to come forth to the people and hold Divan.
They demanded the seventeen--the "vizier, the aga of the Janissaries,
the deftarder, and even a boy, because he was liked by the Sultan."
"Give us the heads," they cried. "Give the men up to us, or it shall
be the worse for thee."

Murad summoned Hafiz to return to die. The Vizier came back, made the
ablution of the Moslem law before death, went forth calmly to the mob,
and was hewn in pieces outside the gate of the Seraglio. "Infamous
assassins," cried Murad, "who fear neither Allah nor his prophet, some
day if God wills you shall find your victims terribly avenged." "The
sole remedy against abuses is the sword," one said to the Sultan; and
the rest of his life showed how well he understood the lesson. One by
one the leaders of the revolt were secretly assassinated; their bodies
were found floating on the Bosporus. The Janissaries and the sipahis
were ostensibly received into favour again, justice was promised, and
the strict rule of law. But it was a reign of terror that Murad
inaugurated. His first execution had given him a passion for blood.
Sometimes he gratified it in the chase, when he slaughtered thousands
of head, driven together by an army of beaters. More often it was
displayed in the slaughter of men. In the year 1637 it was declared
that he had executed 25,000 men, many of them with his own hand. "He
was now terrific to behold. His savage black eyes glared threateningly
in a countenance half hidden by his dark brown hair and long beard;
but never was its aspect more peculiar than when it showed the
wrinkles between the eyebrows. His skill with the javelin and the bow
was then sure to deal death to some one. He was served with trembling
awe. His mutes were no longer to be distinguished from the other
slaves of the Serai, for all conversed by signs. While the plague was
daily carrying off fifteen hundred victims in Constantinople, he had
the largest cups brought from Pera, and drank half the night through,
while the artillery was discharged by his orders."[39]

Drunken and brutal as he was he had still much of the terrible force
of the early Ottomans. He led his own troops to battle, and when they
flinched--for the old spirit seemed to have deserted even the
Janissaries--he drove them forward with his own sword. He appears in
history as the Conqueror of Bagdad (1638) a conquest marked, it is
said, by a massacre of 25,000 people. He was the last Sultan whom the
people of Constantinople saw return in triumph from a war of which he
himself had been the leader.

He died on February 9, 1640, leaving behind him no child. Only his
mother's craft had prevented the murder of his only brother, the last
of the race of Osman. He left behind him an empire which seemed
entirely subdued to the Sultan's will. But the terror which he had
inspired could not endure; and while it lasted it could only paralyse
the forces which should have given strength and permanence to the
empire. Greedy, avaricious to an extent as enormous but not so
ridiculous as Murad III., the supreme passion of his life was the lust
of blood. It became an insanity; at night he would rush through the
streets, cutting down all whom he met. Yet he died in his bed; the
time had not come when Sultans were murdered as easily as Viziers.
Ibrahim, his successor, had been imprisoned in the Kafess since he was
a child of two. He had lived through the reigns of Mustafa, Osman and
Murad. He had been allowed no offspring. He was utterly ignorant of
politics and war. He cared for nothing but the pleasures of the harem.
When the soldiers went in to announce his accession he would not
believe that they desired anything but his death. He would not be
convinced till the corpse of his brother was brought before him. Then
he screamed with insane delight, "The empire is at last delivered from
its butcher."

His reign of nine years was a horrible mixture of tragedy and farce.
In licentiousness he outdid the worst of his predecessors, in folly
the silliest of them. The capture of the child of a favourite slave
led to the war of Candia: the marriage by his orders of his baby
daughter to a rich Pacha was used as an occasion to strangle the
bridegroom and seize his treasures. At length the shameful crimes of
the sovereign, of which murder seemed the least, caused an organised
insurrection in the city. The chief Mufti, whose daughter had been
shamefully used by the Sultan, assembled all the mollahs, and the
officers of the Janissaries and the sipahis in the Orta djami (a
mosque on the Etmeidan, the old quarter of the Janissaries, now
destroyed). They first demanded the execution of the Vizier. When that
was refused, the Janissaries secured the gates, surrounded the
Seraglio, caught and slew the Vizier. In S. Sophia, the Mufti, the
Sheik-ul-Islam, proclaimed to a vast multitude the iniquities of the
Sultan, and demanded his deposition. Solemnly the Osmanlis declared
Ibrahim, the padishah, the king of kings, the commander of the
faithful, unworthy to reign. His little child, Mohammed, only seven
years old, was fetched from the charge of his mother, the famous
Valideh Sultan, and invested with the ensigns of sovereignty. Ibrahim
was again carried to the Kafess. Ten days later appeared the mutes,
with the Vizier and the Sheik-ul-Islam; and the bowstring ended the
life of Ibrahim.

Mohammed IV. reigned for nearly forty years, 1649-1687, and he filled
a great space in the history of his time. Foreign observers--notably
that most entertaining writer Paul Ricaut, Esquire, "late secretary to
his Excellency the Earl of Winchelsea, Embassador Extraordinary for
His Majesty Charles II., to Sultan Mahomet Han the Fourth Emperor of
the Turks, now Consul of Smyrna, and Fellow of the Royal Society," in
his "History of the present state of the Ottoman Empire," and a
certain escaped slave (unless indeed it be an ingenious gentleman of
Grub Street) who wrote in 1663 "A new survey of the Turkish Empire and
Government"--made Europe well acquainted with the customs of the
Turks, and the manners, especially the least pleasing manners, of
their rulers. The Turk become better known, yet hardly less terrible;
and our knowledge of the revolutions of Constantinople now comes to
us, for the first time, largely from English observers. The story must
be briefly sketched. In the first year of the child-Sultan's reign
tragedies of the palace succeeded each other with fearful rapidity.

There was a contest between the Valideh, the mother, and Kiosem (as
Ricaut calls her), the grandmother of Mohammed. The aga of the
Janissaries took part against Sinan the Vizier, who, with the old
queen, determined to put a young child, Suleiman, on the throne. Sinan
took prompt measures. He entered the Seraglio, had the Valideh aroused
and sent to the bedside of her son. The household was armed. Suspected
traitors were slain before Mohammed's eyes, and their blood
bespattered his dress as he sat on his throne. While within the
Seraglio there was this confusion, without the whole city was in
disturbance, and the people were all aroused to defend their Sultan.

Ricaut's description is worth quoting. He derived his knowledge from
some persons intimately concerned, and the way he tells the tale, from
which a short passage is here given, shows how Eastern doings struck
the Westerns of his day.

"These preparations," he says,[40] "were not only in the Seraglio, but
likewise without; for the Visier had given order to all the Pashaws
and Beglerbegs, and other his Friends, that without delay they should
repair to the Seraglio with all the force they could make, bringing
with them three days Provision, obliging them under pain of Death to
this Duty. In a short space so great was this concourse, that all the
Gardens of the Seraglio, the outward Courts and all the adjoining
Streets were filled with armed Men: from Galata and Tophana came boats
and barges loaden with Powder and Ammunition and other necessaries; so
that in the morning by break of day appeared such an Army of Horse and
Foot in the Streets, and Ships and Gallies on the Sea, as administered
no small terrour to the Janizaries; of which being advised, and seeing
the concourse of the people run to the assistance of the King, they
thought it high time to bestir themselves; and therefore armed a great
company of Albaneses, Greeks and other Christians to whom they offered
Money, and the Title and Priviledges of Janizaries, promising to free
them from Harach, or Impositions paid by the Christians; which
Arguments were so prevalent, that most taking Arms, you might see the
Court and City divided, and ready to enter into a most dread confusion
of a Civil War."

  [Illustration: FOUNTAIN IN THE COURT OF THE MOSQUE OF VALIDEH]

The end of the matter was that "the old queen" was dragged naked from
the Seraglio, a horror unknown in Turkish history, and bowstrung
outside the Orta Kapou. The banner of the Prophet was unfurled. The
Janissaries rallied to it. Their aga was deserted and slain, with his
accomplices, and (by retributive justice) the Vizier was stabbed in
the streets. Tranquillity was re-established, and the government was
carried on from the harem. From 1649 to 1656 six Viziers were deposed
or strangled, Pacha after Pacha broke into open revolt, the
Janissaries and sipahis fought against each other as if there had been
no Christians to conquer, and in turn demanded from the Sultan the
heads of those whom they chose to proscribe. The Valideh Sultan was
wisely and carefully educating her son. In 1656 she gave him the best
of teachers and viziers in Kuprili Mohammed. With him began the age of
the great Viziers who for a time revived the glory of the Turks. He
showed with severity that he intended to rule; and the Turks have
always submitted to one who knows how to command. The sipahis were
sent away from Constantinople and settled in the provinces. A rising
was sternly checked, and four thousand corpses were thrown into the
sea. Thus began the rule of the Kuprilian Viziers, which lasted from
1659 to 1702, a half century of varying fortunes, but never
wholly unfavourable to the Turks. The interminable war with
Candia went on, and the Austrian and Hungarian campaigns succeeded
each other with undeviating regularity. The Turks met Montecuculi, and
Sobieski, in the field; and when they were defeated they were at least
not disgraced. In 1683 Kara Mustafa, the Vizier, was defeated before
Vienna and the Turks were driven back to Belgrade. Though he was the
Sultan's son-in-law an order was sent to the camp for him to die; he
placed the cord with his own hands round his neck. In the year of
continuous warfare, when the forces of the empire bore the Turkish
banners against Venice, as well as the Empire, the vices and neglect
of the Sultan passed for a time almost unheeded. But in 1687 the
defeat of the army led to a demand for the punishment of the general,
Suleiman Pacha. Mohammed saw that this was but a step towards his own
deposition. He sacrificed his minister, and ordered the execution of
his own brother Suleiman, that there might be no one to replace him.
But it was too late. The army, in rebellion, marched on
Constantinople, released Suleiman and invested him as Sultan. Mohammed
was imprisoned till his death in 1693.

Suleiman II. reigned but four years, but he showed an unexpected
ability. His accession was marked by what had now become a custom, an
insurrection of the Janissaries. The house of the Grand Vizier was
sacked, his harem was violated, and the most shameful atrocities were
committed in the streets. Constantinople seemed to be given over to
pillage; the bazaars were attacked, and some private houses were
pillaged. The Sheik-ul-Islam was obliged to arouse the Ulemas and
display the standard of the Prophet over the gate of the Seraglio, and
when the Janissaries, like spoilt children, returned to their
allegiance, their leaders were executed and peace was restored. In
Suleiman the people had again a sovereign who lived according to the
precepts of the Koran. His wisdom and impartiality, extended even to
allowing the Christians of Constantinople to rebuild some of their
ancient churches, were recognised even by fanatics and he was counted
a saint. His wars were carried on by Kuprili Mustafa, to whom also his
brother Ahmed II. (1691-1695) abandoned all the power of government,
at the death of that wise statesman at the head of the defeated army
of the Turks at Salankanem. Mustafa II. (1695-1703) was the son of
Mohammed IV. His first proclamation to his people was a strange
document to issue from the arbitrary sovereign of the Osmanlis. He
attributed all the defeats and misfortunes of the last reigns to the
vices of the Sultans. "While the Padishahs who have ruled since our
sublime father Mohammed have heeded nought but their fondness for
pleasure and for ease, the unbelievers, the unclean beings, have
invaded with their armies the four quarters of Islam." In any other
monarchy it would have been dangerous indeed to criticise after this
fashion. At Constantinople neither the pen nor the voice was of much
importance. It was the sword that ruled.

And the sword of the Sultan had ceased to be victorious. In 1697
Mustafa was utterly defeated by Prince Eugene at Zenta. Again a
Kuprili was called to command, but by the treaty of Carlowitz, 1699,
by which Hungary and Transylvania were given up, the dismemberment of
the Empire had begun.

For the last two years of his reign Mustafa abandoned his capital and
lived in a palace at Adrianople. An intrigue deposed him in 1703, and
his brother Ahmed reigned in his stead. He began his reign by
executing all those who had taken part in his elevation, an act which
he followed by appointing another Kuprili Vizier. The next year was
marked by the beginning of serious wars with Russia, the bizarre
sojourn of Charles XII. at Bender, and the treaty of Passarowitz
(1718). The wars in which Turkey was now year by year involved
continued the slow process of the dismemberment of Turkey; but
Constantinople hardly felt the blows which struck the Empire at its
extremities. The description which English travellers give of the city
shows that strangers passed freely about in it, and that in many
respects it was superior to other European capitals as they were then,
and particularly in the condition of its streets, to what it became a
hundred years later, and remains to-day. A passage from Pococke's
travels (published in 1745) is worth quoting here. His description of
the four "royal" mosques he saw, those of Ahmed, Suleiman, Selim, and
Mohammed the Conqueror, shows that they were much as they are to-day,
but on the other hand S. Sophia and the Church of the Studium are
manifestly worse now than then; the latter indeed, now a mere ruin,
was then "the finest mosque next after Saint Sophia." Of the city he
writes thus[41]:--

"Great part of the houses of Constantinople are built with wooden
frames, mostly filled up with unburnt brick; and a great number of
houses are made only of such frames covered with boards. They have
notwithstanding very good rooms in them; and the streets are
tolerable, with a raised footway on each side. The street of
Adrianople is broad, and adorned with many public buildings; to the
south of it there is a vale which is to the north of the seventh hill.
The bazestans or shops of rich goods are such as have been described
in other places; and many of the shops for other trades are adorned
with pillars, and the streets in which they are, covered over in order
to shelter from the sun and rain. There are also several large kanes,
where many merchants live, and most of these have apartments in them,
where they spend the day, and retire at night to their families in
their houses. The bagnios also are to be reckoned another part of the
magnificence of Constantinople, some of them being very finely adorned
within. The fountains, likewise, are extremely magnificent, being
buildings about twenty feet square, with pipes of water on every side;
and within at each corner there is an apartment, with an iron gate
before it, where cups of water are always ready for the people to
drink, a person attending to fill them; these buildings are of marble,
the fronts are carved with bas-reliefs of trees and flowers and the
eaves projecting six or seven feet; the soffit of them is finely
adorned with carved works of flowers, in alto relievo, gilt with gold
in a very good taste, so that these buildings make a very fine
appearance."

Dr Pococke was certainly a somewhat dull person, and as certainly a
thorough Englishman. One feels that he never quite got over his
surprise that S. Sophia was not like Westminster Abbey or the Golden
Gate like Temple Bar. Happily we have a contrast to him in the
literature of his time.

Certainly the most charming, perhaps the most characteristic, account
of the city of the Sultan that the eighteenth century has left us, is
that of the Lady Mary Wortley Montague.

  [Illustration: INTERIOR OF MOSQUE OF AHMED I.]

Her husband was appointed ambassador to the Sublime Porte in 1716, and
she accompanied him. The letters which form the records of her journey
out, of her life in Constantinople and of her return, serve to show,
as the "Lady" who wrote a preface to them when they were published
says she is 'malicious enough to desire,' "to how much better
purpose the ladies travel than their lords." The skill and point with
which she tells the most ordinary incidents of her travels, no less
than fixes on the contrasts that are so striking between what she sees
and what her correspondents are accustomed to, gives the letter an
imperishable charm. But not a little also is due to the position of
the writer. Merchants, and ordinary travellers, as she says, had told
the world long before a great deal about the marvels of the Turkish
Empire; but Lady Mary was a woman, a very clever woman, and an
ambassador's wife. She had the entrée where few others could go, and
she knew as very few others did how to describe what she had seen.

The position of an European ambassador's household in Pera in the
eighteenth century, was by no means entirely pleasant, and indeed it
was not wholly without risks, even for an ambassador's wife. Lady
Mary, however, went everywhere and saw everything, and, in the midst
of a good deal of domestic discomfort, accommodated herself amazingly
to the cosmopolitan and polyglot life which she came to delight in. "I
live," she wrote, "in a place that very well represents the tower of
Babel, in Pera they speak Turkish, Greek, Hebrew, Armenian, Arabic,
Persian, Russian, Slavonian, Wallachian, German, Dutch, French,
English, Italian, Hungarian, and what is worse, there are ten of these
languages spoken in my own family." Children of three years old often
speak five languages, she says, a statement that would be as nearly
true now as it was then. This she professes to find annoying, it was
really delightful, other things were not so pleasant.

Constantinople in earlier times had not been a pleasant resort for
ambassadors. The _Mémoires sur l'ambassade de France en Turquie_,
written by M. le Comte de Saint-Priest, at the end of the eighteenth
century, show how difficult and dangerous had been the position of the
envoys. They are a brilliant sketch of the work of the able French
ambassadors who had endeavoured from the time of Francis I. and
Suleiman the Magnificent, to confirm an alliance which should secure
to France a flourishing trade in the Levant, and a powerful ally
against the House of Hapsburg. Their success was considerable, but it
was not infrequently interfered with by their own eccentricities.
Savari de Lancosme (1585) was so rash that his cousin Savari de Brèves
was sent out to supersede him, and he promptly induced the Turks to
imprison him in the Seven Towers.

Achille de Harlay Sanay (1611-17) procured the escape of an imprisoned
Pole, and was in consequence himself "outragé en sa personne et celle
de ses gens" and made to pay 20,000 piastres. The Comte de Marcheville
in 1639, found "le logis de l'ambassadeur si infâme, qu'on ne se
pouvait imaginer qu'un ambassadeur effectif pût y demeurer." He built,
among other additions, two chapels, "one public, the other interior."
The Turks were furiously enraged, and after a good deal of acrimonious
complaints, in which the people of Galata shared, the unhappy
ambassador was expelled the country. De la Haye, a few years later,
spent three months in the Seven Towers, and M. de Vautelec also had
unpleasant experiences. M. de Ferriol, illuminating his house on the
occasion of the birth of a French prince, found himself in danger of
expulsion. As late as 1798, a French ambassador, on the declaration of
war, was imprisoned as usual in the Seven Towers.

Lady Mary's friend the French ambassadress might tell her of some of
these catastrophes, but she shows no fear that they would happen to
herself. Her descriptions were evidently written with perfect freedom,
day by day, and it is that which preserves their freshness after
nearly two centuries. A passage or two will bring vividly before us
what English folk then thought of the Turkish power, and of the sights
of the capital.

Here she speaks of the Constitution, just as an orthodox English
politician would wish to speak.

"The Grand Signior, with all his absolute power, is as much a slave as
any of his subjects, and trembles at a Janizary's frown. Here is,
indeed, a much greater appearance of subjection than amongst us; a
minister of state is not spoke to, but upon the knee; should a
reflection on his conduct be dropt in a coffee-house (for they have
spies everywhere) the house would be raz'd to the ground, and perhaps
the whole company put to torture. No huzzaing mobs, senseless
pamphlets, and tavern disputes about politics;

     A consequential ill that freedom draws;
     A bad effect,--but from a noble cause.

None of our harmless calling names! but when a minister here
displeases the people, in three hours time he is dragged even from his
master's arms. They cut off his hands, head, and feet, and throw them
before the palace gate, with all the respect in the world; while the
Sultan (to whom they all profess an unlimited adoration) sits
trembling in his apartment, and dares neither defend nor revenge his
favourite. This is the blessed condition of the most absolute monarch
upon earth, who owns no law but his will."

To live close to such scenes was an education in Oriental politics.
Lady Mary lived still nearer to the outward show and pomp of the
Oriental despots. The state of the Sultans was reflected on the
ambassadors of powers with whom they desired to be friendly. When she
travelled from Selivria, along the shore of the Marmora, Lady Mary
and her husband had from the "Grand Signior" "thirty covered waggons
for our baggage, and five coaches for the country for my women." Of
the Sultan's own state she was most impressed, as travellers are
to-day, by the Selamlik. Thus she describes it:

"I went yesterday, along with the French ambassadress, to see the
Grand Signior in his passage to the mosque. He was preceded by a
numerous guard of Janizaries, with vast white feathers on their heads,
as also by the spahis and bostangees (these are foot and horse guards)
and the royal gardeners, which are a very considerable body of men,
dressed in different habits of fine lively colours, so that, at a
distance, they appeared like a parterre of tulips. After them the Aga
of the Janizaries, in a robe of purple velvet, lined with silver
tissue, his horse led by two slaves richly dressed. Next him the
kyzlier-aga (your ladyship knows this is the chief guardian of the
Seraglio ladies) in a deep yellow cloth (which suited very well to his
black face) lined with sables. Last came his Sublimity himself,
arrayed in green, lined with the fur of a black Muscovite fox, which
is supposed worth a thousand pounds sterling, and mounted on a fine
horse, with furniture embroidered with jewels. Six more horses, richly
caparisoned were led after him; and two of his principal courtiers
bore, one his gold, and the other his silver coffee-pot, on a staff;
another carried a silver stool on his head for him to sit on."

Her skill certainly lay chiefly in describing social functions or
eccentricities, and her description of S. Sophia--indeed she makes an
apology for her ignorance of architecture--shows a characteristic
absence of feeling or artistic knowledge. What she says of the mosque
of Suleiman however, is worth quoting.

"That of Sultan Solyman, is an exact square, with four fine towers in
the angles; in the midst is a noble cupola, supported with beautiful
marble pillars; two lesser at the ends, supported in the same manner;
the pavement and gallery round the mosque, of marble; under the great
cupola, is a fountain, adorned with such fine coloured pillars, that I
can hardly think them natural marble; on one side is the pulpit of
white marble, and on the other the little gallery for the Grand
Signior. A fine stair-case leads to it, and it is built up with gilded
latrices. At the upper end is a sort of altar, where the name of God
is written; and, before it, stand two candlesticks, as high as a man,
with wax candles as thick as three flambeaux. The pavement is spread
with fine carpets, and the mosque illuminated with a vast number of
lamps. The court leading to it, is very spacious, with galleries of
marble, of green columns, covered with twenty-eight leaded cupolas on
two sides, and a fine fountain of basons in the midst of it."

The liberality which allowed Christian ladies to see the mosques, and
even permitted Lady Mary, in spite of the horror of her friends and
the terrified protests of the French ambassadress, to go about in
Stambûl much as she would have walked in S. James's, was especially
the characteristic of the reign of Suleiman II., himself something of
a _savant_, and of Ahmed II., who actually allowed a printing press to
be established in the city. But none the less society and government
were essentially barbarous. Ahmed III. was himself deposed in 1730 by
an insurrection of the Janissaries. His nephew Mahmûd I., son of
Mustafa II., was his successor. Again within three weeks the leaders
of the revolution were executed before his face. "These executions," it
is quaintly said, "when they became known, instead of exciting the
slightest sedition, gave the greatest joy to the inhabitants of the
capital." Step by step the Turks lost ground, by treaties with Persia
(1732) and with Austria and Russia, by the mediation of France
(Belgrade, 1739); and the new policy of governing the lands of
Wallachia and Moldavia by "Fanariotes" (Greeks of the ancient families
who still dwelt in the Phanar), was far from successful. In
Constantinople itself there were _émeutes_ if not insurrections, and
incendiary fires which gave occasion for them. They were the usual
means of expressing dissatisfaction with the government, and the usual
means were taken to meet them, by the execution of the Sultan's
ministers. Mahmûd died in 1754. He was thought at least to have done
no harm; and his successor, Osman III., was regarded as equally
blameless.

Mustafa III. (1757-1774) had been many years in the Kafess. He was the
son of Ahmed III. His reign was a succession of misfortunes. The
astute policy of Catherine II. and her agents in Serbia and Croatia,
arousing the religious enthusiasm of the Christians against the
Moslems, the utter neglect of the Turkish army and ordnance, the
ignorance of the ministers, and the superstition of the people, seemed
to invite a certain and immediate destruction of the Empire. Disaster
after disaster at last awoke the Sultan and his ministers to the
necessity of employing European aid, and the French ambassador
Saint-Priest with the Baron de Tott was successful in reforming the
army, introducing the bayonet, founding a school of mathematics, and
infusing a new spirit into the Turks.

Mustafa died in 1774, at a time of unexpected success. He had seen at
least the necessity of reform. Abdul Hamed I., his brother, who
succeeded him, had been forty-four years a captive. He was not the
prince to restore the power of his Empire: the treaty of
Kutchuk-Kainardji (1774) further reduced its territory, and gave the
cause for war eighty years afterwards by the clause allowing to Russia
a right to represent to the Porte the grievances of the Christians in
European Turkey. In 1788 the Crimea was captured by Russia; in 1789
Abdul Hamed died. His nephew Selim III. (1789-1807) had to deal with
all the difficulties introduced into the East by the partition of
Poland, the schemes of Napoleon, and the Mediterranean policy of Pitt.
To follow these wars which resulted from the new political situation
would be impossible. It need only be said that the French occupation
of Egypt, and the decisive entrance of England into the Eastern
question created as great a revolution in the position of Turkey as
had occurred in any Monarchy of the West. The old alliance with France
was broken. It became the interest of England to preserve the
tottering power of Turkey as a counterpoise to Russia, and as a
security for her own interests in the East.

Internally Turkey, under the energetic Selim, made a new start. A
cannon foundry was begun at Galata, the Top-haneh so familiar to-day:
new troops, drilled and armed after the European fashion were
embodied; new taxes were levied, and a financial administration was
organized which made some pretence of following Western ideas.

After what has been said so often, it may almost go without saying
that there was an insurrection of the Janissaries to express the
orthodox opinion of these reforms. The separation of the artillery
from the Janissaries, and the creation of new regiments of infantry
for Constantinople, to act as a counterpoise to the Janissaries,
caused a serious revolt which was entirely successful, and the Sultan
was obliged to receive the Aga as his chief minister. In the very
midst of these troubles occurred the famous mission of Colonel
Sébastiani, which led to the forcing of the Dardanelles by the English
fleet under Admiral Duckworth. The fleet destroyed a small Turkish
flotilla in the Marmora and cast anchor before the city. It was
centuries since the people of Constantinople had seen a hostile fleet
threatening their city. They worked night and day to repair the
fortifications, to mount cannon, and to man the walls with an
efficient force. In five days nine hundred cannon were placed upon the
walls, and the English fleet had to retire. The Sultan was forced to
declare war against Great Britain.

Within a few weeks he was deposed by another insurrection of the
Janissaries, encouraged by the Sheik-ul-Islam. Again they assembled in
the Atmeidan, again they overturned their kettles, their picturesque
method of declaring that they would no longer eat the food of the
Sultan,--attacked the Seraglio, murdered all the ministers, and
deposed the Sultan. The ministers had gladly died that they might save
their master. It was not sufficient. Can a Padishah, who by his
conduct and his laws attacks the principles of the Koran, be allowed
to reign? Impossible. And Selim retired to the Kafess.

Mustafa IV. was a mere name under which the rule of the successful
revolutionaries was legitimated. Assassination and execution
proceeded. The Grand Vizier, in command of the army in Bulgaria, was
beheaded. He was the most conspicuous of a hundred victims.

The Pasha of Rustchuk, Mustafa Baraicktar, led 40,000 men to
Constantinople, to restore Selim. He had with him the standard of the
Prophet, which had accompanied the late Grand Vizier to the field.
Encamped outside the walls, he allowed Mustafa still to hold the
palace: a few murders and a few depositions were all that marked the
suspense. On July 28, 1808, Mustafa Baraicktar entered the city,
declared the Sultan deposed, and advanced to the Seraglio to restore
Selim III. While the troops were kept back at the gates, the Sultan
determined to secure himself. Selim, after a desperate struggle, was
murdered in the Kafess. "Take Sultan Selim to the Pasha of Rustchuk,
since he demands him," said Mustafa, and the body wrapped in a carpet
was thrown out. Mahmûd, the last surviving prince of the house of
Osman, but narrowly escaped: the murderers sought him everywhere, but
he was concealed under a heap of rugs. The avengers of blood burst in;
he was rescued: Mustafa IV. was thrust into the Kafess, and Mahmûd II.
at the age of twenty-three ascended the throne.

The reign of Mahmûd (1808-1839) witnessed the first real introduction
of Turkey into the atmosphere of the West. He had been trained by the
deposed Selim, to hate the Janissaries, to play the part, strange
indeed, of a reforming Sultan. Baraicktar was at his side.

It seemed at first that only a new and more blood-thirsty tyrant had
begun to reign. On the day of his accession, thirty-three heads were
exposed on the outer gate of the Seraglio, the Bâb-i-Humayoun: many of
the leaders of the Janissaries were strangled and thrown into the
Bosporus: even the women who had shown joy at Selim's murder were sewn
up in sacks and drowned at Seraglio point. Within a few months the
government of the new Sultan and his Vizier was in danger of ending
like those that had preceded it. On November 14, 1808, a new revolt of
the Janissaries broke out. They surrounded the palace of the Porte and
set fire to it. Baraicktar the Vizier escaped, but only a few days
later to meet death by exploding a powder magazine rather than fall
into the hands of his enemies. For four days the streets were
abandoned to carnage, and to the horrors of blood were added those of
fire. M. de Jucherau, a Frenchman then at Pera, has left a vivid
description, which is supplemented by that of an English traveller.

"No one," says that eloquent author, "attempted to stay the
conflagration, which in a short time made terrible progress. Soon the
most populous quarter of Constantinople was covered with a sheet of
fire. The cries, the groans of women, and old men and children,
attracted no attention and excited no pity. In vain they raised their
suppliant hands, in vain they begged for beams or planks to save
themselves from their burning houses by their roofs: their
supplications were vain: they were seen with indifference to fall and
to disappear among the flames. The desire of destruction was the only
feeling that then prevailed! Sultan Mahmood beheld the awful spectacle
from one of the lofty towers of the Seraglio, but not 'like another
Nero,' as some have unjustly asserted--the flames were not of his
lighting, and he was anxious that they should cease. He ordered
Cadi-Pasha to stop his carriage, and to retire with his troops within
the walls of the Seraglio, and despatched a hatti-sheriff to the
Janissary-agha, commanding him, as he valued his head, to exert
himself to stay the conflagration. As Mahmood was Sultan, and from the
pledge he had in his hands, was likely to continue so, even when the
revolt should end, the Janissary-agha trembled at the imperial mandate
and obeyed; but the fire was too intense and active to be subdued or
arrested, even by throwing to the ground whole stacks of houses: it
vaulted over the chasms thus made, and only found 'sufficient
obstacles in the public squares and in the mosques, whose vast cupolas
and massy stone walls have frequently preserved Constantinople from
entire destruction.'"[42]

The fire raged from the Seraglio to the aqueduct of Valens, and a
man-of-war in the harbour directed its cannon on the barracks of the
Janissaries in the At Meidan. The troops of the barracks on the other
side of the Horn, at the Arsenal and at Top-haneh, threw in their lot
with the Janissaries. Mahmûd within the Seraglio took the precaution
which he had so long refrained from: he ordered the murder of his
brother Mustafa IV., and the body was thrown out to the Janissaries.
In a few hours Mahmûd outwardly submitted. The new troops were
disbanded; the barracks were destroyed; the military schools, the
mathematical institution, the printing press, every sign of the
dangerous introduction of Western ideas, entirely disappeared. Even
the ladies of the Seraglio ceased to learn French, and Mahmûd
abandoned the enervating amusements of the opera and the ballet. For
sixteen years a curtain fell, raised only to show an occasional
massacre. Constantinople returned to its condition as the most
orthodox of Moslem cities. It was at this time that the greatest of
all European ambassadors at Constantinople first made acquaintance
with the power in whose fortunes he was to become so powerful a
factor. Stratford Canning came to Stambûl in 1808, as secretary to a
special mission. These were his first impressions of Turkey.

"The state[43] of Turkey itself was anything but satisfactory in view
of those powers who did not wish the Porte to become the prey either
of Russia or of France. The throne of the empire was filled by a
young Sultan, who had recently succeeded to his brother Mustafa, whose
immediate predecessor, their cousin Selim, had fallen a sacrifice to
the mutinous spirit of the Janissaries. Mahmûd, the reigning
sovereign, was for some time the last of his race. Young, ignorant,
and inexperienced, he had everything to apprehend from the
circumstances in which he was placed. Both morally and materially his
empire was bordering on decrepitude. The old political system of
Turkey had worn itself out. The population was not yet prepared for a
new order of things. A depreciated currency, a disordered revenue, a
mutinous militia, dilapidated fortresses, a decreasing population, a
stagnant industry, and general misrule, were the monuments which time
had left of Ottoman domination in the second capital of the Roman
empire and throughout those extensive regions which had been the
successive seats of civilisation, ever varying, generally advancing,
from the earliest periods of social settlement and historical
tradition. A continual and often a sanguinary antagonism of creeds, of
races, of districts and authorities within the frontier, and frequent
wars of little glory and much loss with the neighbouring powers, had
formed of late the normal condition of the Porte's dominions."

Most European observers thought that the Ottoman power was doomed to
almost immediate extinction; and the next few years increased the
illusion. The Mussulman population was everywhere declining; a new
Greek power was rising; and Ali Pasha at Janina seemed likely to
establish a new Mussulman domination which should destroy the Turkish
rule. Within a few years Greece secured her independence by rebellion.
But Canning saw plainly enough that Turkey was still strong. As early
as 1809 he wrote thus:--

"Very false notions are entertained in England of the Turkish nation.
You know much better than I do the mighty resources and native wealth
which this enormous empire possesses. I am myself a daily witness of
the personal qualities of the inhabitants, qualities which if properly
directed are capable of sustaining them against a world of enemies.
But the government is radically bad, and its members, who are all
alive to its defects, have neither the wisdom nor the courage to
reform it. The few who have courage equal to the task know not how to
reconcile reformation with the prejudices of the people. And without
this nothing can be effected."[44]

From 1821 the tide turned. The defects of the Turkish government did
not avail against the valour of the Sultan's army, and the dimensions
of Europe. The tragedies of those days passed far from Constantinople.
Missolonghi, Navarino, Athens, Janina, Adrianople, are names that
bring each its memory; but within the city of the Cæsars and the
Sultans a different tale was told. It was the great era of reform,
when at last Mahmûd was able to use his strength, and re-establish the
power of the Padishah.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the authority of the
Commander of the Faithful had sunk, decade by decade, till the murder
of a Sultan who showed an independent policy was as certain as the
sunrise. The Janissaries were the real masters of the city, and of the
Empire. The force which had been raised to carry out the absolute will
of the Sultan had now entirely superseded him. Anarchy was substituted
for the rule of an irresponsible despot. But Mahmûd had a character of
strength unknown in any Sultan for two centuries. He had matured his
plans, and in 1826 he was able to carry them into execution. But for
an utterly unforeseen disaster he would doubtless have been able to
secure his triumph earlier than he did. In 1823 the arsenal and cannon
foundry at Top-haneh were entirely destroyed by fire. A vast quantity
of military stores and ammunition was destroyed. Pera and Galata
suffered severely. It is said that fifty mosques and six thousand
houses were destroyed. Mahmûd attributed the fire to the Janissaries;
and he became the more determined to destroy them.

Already he had dealt with another enemy. In 1821 the plots of the
Hetairists, working for the liberation of Greece, became known. Mahmûd
immediately ordered all Greeks not engaged in trade to be deported
from Constantinople. Then he ordered the patriarch and Synod of
Constantinople to excommunicate the leaders who had engaged in the
massacre of Moslems. The act was issued; nor can the Church be
regarded as having done anything but what was demanded by Christian
charity.

Hardly was the excommunication issued before a number of rich Greeks
escaped from the city, evidently with the intention of joining the
revolutionary armies. On March 26 the city was filled with troops, and
arms were issued to the citizens. Several Hetairists were executed;
and when the news came of the murder of Moslems in Greece, Mahmûd, who
had already imprisoned seven Greek bishops, ordered the public
execution of a number of prominent Greeks, who were entirely innocent,
solely for the purpose of alarming their compatriots. But this was not
sufficient. On Easter Day, April 22, 1821, the Patriarch of
Constantinople, Gregorios, was summoned, at dawn, when he had finished
the offering of the Holy Eucharist in his Cathedral Church, into the
hall of the Synod at the Phanar, by the officers of the Sultan.
There, before the clergy and the heads of the chief Greek families, he
was declared deposed by the authority of the State, and the trembling
priests were required to elect a new Patriarch in his stead.

  [Illustration: HOUSES IN THE PHANAR]

Within a few hours Gregorios was hung from the gate of the
patriarchate, with a document pinned to his breast, declaring him a
traitor in that he knew of the Hetairist conspiracy, and did not
reveal it. Of the charge there is no known proof; and the Greeks have
always regarded him as a martyr. If he knew the details of the
conspiracy at all it is more than probable that he knew them only in
confession; nor is it at all probable that he knew anything but that
the Greeks intended to strike for their freedom.

Three bishops were executed on the same day. It was not a day to be
forgotten. When the body of the martyred Gregorios was taken down it
was given to the Jews to be dragged through the streets and cast into
the sea. It was recovered by night and taken by ship to Odessa, where
it was interred with solemn ceremonial as the remains of a saint and
martyr.

This horrible deed was followed by the outbreak of anarchy in
Constantinople. The Janissaries called for a massacre of the
Christians in the city to avenge the Moslems who had been killed in
Greece. The Christian quarters were attacked, the Christian villages
on the Bosphorus were robbed, and the patriarchate was sacked. Greek
clergy and nobles were executed daily, and four bishops were among the
slain. No Christians were allowed to leave the city without a passport
or vengeance was exacted upon the family. The massacres that occurred
in Constantinople were tolerated if they were not organised by the
authorities; several subjects of Western nations were murdered. All
that was done by Christian Europe was to protest. The Russian
ambassador left Constantinople, having demanded that the massacres
should cease and the churches be rebuilt that had been destroyed.
Mahmûd replied that only traitors were ill-treated. But the massacres
ended, at least for a time.

While all danger of a Christian rising in Constantinople was thus
prevented, Mahmûd was maturing the plans which in 1825 made him at
last an absolute ruler, at least in his own city.

For seventeen years Mahmûd prepared for this great stroke. First by
gifts and offices he detached many of the supporters of the
Janissaries and the Ulemas from the party which supported them. Some
less important members of the body were arrested for infraction of the
laws and were publicly executed. Others were secretly made away with.
The Sultan was surrounding himself with an elaborate spy system and
with agents who were capable of dealing in detail with those whom he
wished to be put out of the way. Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, in his
"Memoirs," says: "I remember that in crossing the Golden Horn from
time to time I had observed loose mats floating here and there upon
the water, and that in answer to my enquiries I had been told in a
mysterious manner that they had served for covering the bodies thrown
after private executions into the harbour." All this was done slowly;
the power of the Janissaries was gradually undermined; "almost
unparalleled craft and cruelty," some observers called the process,
but to Mahmûd it seemed absolutely necessary.

In 1826 the Sultan perceived that the time limit had come. A meeting
of all the chief functionaries of the Empire and chief officers of the
Janissaries was held. They agreed to submit to the new military
discipline and organisation which the Sultan designed. All signed
their names. On June 12 the first exercises of the new order were
begun. On the 16th the inferior officers and the soldiers declared
that they would not submit. The revolt was proclaimed in the ancient
manner. The kettles were overturned, and the whole force was called to
arms. Mahmûd crossed from Bekistasch to the Seraglio; the standard of
the Prophet was displayed; the city was filled with the troops upon
whom the Sultan could rely; the Moslem population rallied round the
green flag. The people assembled in the Atmeidan (the Hippodrome);
Mahmûd went to the mosque of Ahmed. The Janissaries were summoned to
submit to the new order. They in return demanded the destruction of
the "subverters of the ancient usages of the Empire." Then their fate
was sealed. They had advanced to the mosque of Bayezid; they were
rapidly driven back and hemmed in in their quarters in the Etmeidan.
Then from every side artillery was directed upon them. From his house
in Pera Stratford Canning, at dinner, saw "two slender columns of
smoke rising above the opposite horizon." What did they mean? The
Sultan, he was answered, had fired the barracks of the Janissaries.
The rest of the tragedy may best be told in Canning's own words:[45]

"The Sultan was determined to make the most of his victory. From the
time of his cousin Selim's death he had lived in dread of the
Janissaries. A strong impression must have been made upon his mind by
the personal danger which he had encountered. It was said that he had
escaped with his life by getting into an oven when the search for him
was hottest. His duty as sovereign gave strength as well as dignity to
his private resentment. That celebrated militia, which in earlier
times had extended the bounds of the empire, and given the title of
conqueror to so many of the Sultans, which had opened the walls of
Constantinople itself to their triumphant leader, the second Mohammed,
were now to be swept away with an unsparing hand and to make room for
a new order of things, for a disciplined army and a charter of reform.
From their high claims to honour and confidence they had sadly
declined. They had become the masters of the government, the butchers
of their sovereigns, and a source of terror to all but the enemies of
their country. Whatever compassion might be felt for individual
sufferers, including as they did the innocent with the guilty, it
could hardly be said that their punishment as a body was untimely or
undeserved.

The complaints of those who were doomed to destruction found no echo
in the bosoms of their conquerors. They were mostly citizens having
their wives, their children, or their parents, to witness the calamity
which they had brought in thunder on their necks. Many had fallen
under the Sultan's artillery; many were fugitives and outlaws. The
mere name of Janissary, compromised or not by an overt act, operated
like a sentence of death. A special commission sat for the trial, or
rather for the condemnation of crowds. Every victim passed at once
from the tribunal into the hands of the executioner. The bowstring and
the scimitar were constantly in play. People could not stir from their
houses without the risk of falling in with some terrible sight. The
Sea of Marmora was mottled with dead bodies. Nor was the tragedy
confined to Constantinople and its neighbourhood. Messengers were sent
in haste to every provincial city where any considerable number of
Janissaries existed, and the slightest tendency to insurrection was so
promptly and effectually repressed, that no disquieting reports were
conveyed to us from any quarter of the Empire. Not a day passed
without my receiving a requisition from the Porte, calling upon me to
send thither immediately the officer and soldiers comprising my
official guard. I had no reason to suppose that any of them had been
concerned in the revolt, and I was pretty sure that they could not
repair to the Porte without imminent danger of being sacrificed. I
ventured, therefore, to detain them day after day, first on one
pretext, then on another, until, at the end of a week, the fever at
headquarters had so far subsided as to open a door for reflection and
mercy. Relying on this abatement of wrath, I complied, and the
interpreter whom I directed to accompany them, gave every assurance on
their behalf which I was entitled to offer. The men were banished from
the capital, but their lives were spared, and many years later I was
much pleased by a visit from their officer, who displayed his
gratitude by coming from a distance on foot to regale me with a bunch
of dried grapes and a pitcher of choice water. Let me add that this
instance of good feeling on the part of a Turk towards a Christian is
only one of many which have come to my knowledge."

On June 17, 1826, the Janissaries ceased to exist. The Sheik-ul-Islam
formally proclaimed the extinction of the corps. A solemn divan was
held within the Seraglio, and the victory of Mahmûd was ratified by
the council. Then Canning writing on the 20th records the end of the
revolution which re-established the authority of the Sultan in a
position as absolute and despotic as it had been in the days of
Mohammed II.

"The Sultan's ministers are still encamped in the outer court of the
Seraglio, and I grieve to add that frequent executions continue to
take place under their very eyes. This afternoon, when the person, to
whom I have already alluded, was standing near the Reis Efendi's tent,
his attention was suddenly caught by the sound of drums and fifes, and
on turning round he saw, to his utter astonishment, a body of Turks in
various dresses, but armed with muskets and bayonets, arranged in
European order, and going through the new form of exercise. He
supposes the number to have been about two thousand, but never before
having seen troops in line he may have been deceived in this
particular. He says that the men acted by word of command, both in
marching and in handling their arms. The Sultan, who was at first
stationed at the window within sight, descended after a time, and
passed the men in review. His Highness was dressed in Egyptian
fashion, armed with pistols and sabre, and on his head in place of the
Imperial turban was a sort of Egyptian bonnet.

"Rank, poverty, age, and numbers are alike impotent to shelter those
who are known as culprits or marked as victims. It is confidently
asserted that a register has been kept of all persons who, since the
accession of the Sultan, have in any way shown a disposition to favour
the designs of the Janissaries, and that all such individuals are
diligently sought out and cut off as soon as discovered. Respectable
persons are seized in the street and hurried before the Seraskier or
Grand Vizier for immediate judgment. There are instances of elderly
men having pleaded a total ignorance of the late conspiracy, and being
reminded of some petty incident which happened twenty years ago, in
proof of their deserving condign punishment as abettors of the
Janissaries. Whole companies of labouring men are seized and either
executed or forcibly obliged to quit Constantinople.

"The entrance to the Seraglio, the shore under the Sultan's windows,
and the sea itself, are crowded with dead bodies--many of them torn
and in part devoured by the dogs."[46]

Théophile Gautier adds even more gruesome details. To the destruction
of the Janissaries was added that of the Becktash derviches. Then the
new army was formed, organized, drilled. For the rest of his reign,
Mahmûd's chief thought was to perfect the reforms which he had
inaugurated in blood. When in 1834 he struck coins bearing his own
portrait, so grave a breach of the rules of the Koran caused another
insurrection. It was suppressed with fearful severity, and added four
thousand victims to the tale. But the coinage had to be called in.
Fanatics, whom the people regarded as saints, coveted martyrdom by
seizing the Sultan's bridle as he rode over the new bridge which he
had made from Galata to Stambûl, calling him "Giaour Padishah" and
paying Heaven's vengeance on his head. Nothing moved Mahmûd. Without,
misfortunes befell his power on every side. He held steadfastly on,
and when he died in 1839, he left behind him a strong government, and
an appearance--it may have been little more--of approximation to the
ways of Western Europe. The aim of Mahmûd, indeed, was not unlike that
of Peter the Great: he wished to make his State an integral part of
the European system. Hitherto, admitted though she was into European
politics, coveted as ally and dreaded as a foe, Turkey had occupied no
place among the permanent factors of European politics. Mahmûd thought
to make Turkey, really and essentially, a European power. It was
impossible.

The external events of the reign, the revolt of Mohammed Ali, the
treaty of Adrianople, the creation of Greece as an independent State,
important as they were in the history of the Ottoman power, hardly
affected Constantinople.

In 1832, Stratford Canning returned on a special mission to
Constantinople. He found the outer change extraordinary. Mahmûd
received him as an European sovereign would receive. He began to think
a real reform of Turkey possible. He secured the concession that he
sought on behalf of Greece: "The new Hellas was lifted up to that
great mountain ridge whence the eye of the traveller may range
unchecked over the pastures of Thessaly." Canning, after renewed
experience of the delays and intrigues of the Turkish ministers, bade
farewell to the Sultan for the last time. His character of Mahmûd is
too important to be omitted from our view. It may well conclude what
we have to say of the most important reign in recent Turkish history.

"Resolution and energy were the foremost qualities of his mind. His
natural abilities would hardly have distinguished him in private life.
In personal courage, if not deficient, he was by no means superior.
His morality, measured by the rules of the Koran, was anything but
exemplary. He had no scruple of taking life at pleasure from motives
of policy or interest. He was not inattentive to changes of
circumstance, or insensible to the requirements of time. There was
even from early days a vein of liberality in his views, but either
from want of foresight, or owing to a certain rigidity of mind, he
missed at critical times the precious opportunity and incurred thereby
an aggravated loss. His reign of more than thirty years was marked by
disastrous wars and compulsory cessions. Greece, Egypt, and Algiers
escaped successively from his rule. He had to lament the destruction
of his fleet at Navarino. On the other hand, he gathered up the reins
of sovereign power, which had fallen from the hands of his immediate
predecessors; he repressed rebellion in more than one of the
provinces, and his just resentment crushed the mutinous Janissaries
once and for ever. Checked no longer by them, he introduced a system
of reforms which has tended greatly to renovate the Ottoman Empire,
and to bring it into friendly communion with the Powers of
Christendom. To him, moreover, is due the formation of a regular and
disciplined army in place of a factious fanatical militia, more
dangerous to the country than to its foes. Unfortunately his habits of
self-indulgence kept pace with the revival of his authority, and the
premature close of his life superseded for a while the progress of
improvement. Mahmûd when young had rather an imposing countenance; his
dark beard set off the paleness of his face, but time added to its
expression. His stature was slightly below the average standard, his
countenance was healthy, he wrote well, he rode well, and acquired a
reputation for skill in archery. It may be said with truth that
whatever merit he possessed was his own, and that much of what was
wrong in his character and conduct resulted from circumstances beyond
his control. Peace to his memory!"[47]

Abdul-Mejid (1839-1861), the son of Mahmûd II., had been brought up in
the harem. He was only sixteen at his accession, and was utterly
ignorant of politics. But he had some wise ministers, and the defeats
of the earlier part of his reign were wisely utilised. In 1841 came
the practical separation of Egypt, the family of Mohammed Ali being
established there as perpetual pashas or deputies of the Sultan,
paying tribute, but otherwise free and guaranteed in their position by
the Powers.

Unquestionably the great figure in Constantinople during the reign of
Abdul Mejid was Stratford Canning, who came in 1842 as British
ambassador. He remained till 1852. He returned in 1853, and he left
finally in 1858. During these years he devoted himself to the
preservation of Turkey as a Power, but only with the hope, and on the
condition, that she should become civilized. It may have been a
hopeless task, but in the endeavour it is astounding to observe the
high measure of success which came to the noble Englishman who gave
the best years of his life to it. Kinglake has immortalised him as
"the great Elchi." No greater ambassador ever lived; and his greatness
lay in the fact that he passed entirely beyond the range of ordinary
diplomatic functions, and made himself as really a part of the Empire
to which he was accredited as he was essentially the representative of
the British nation. Needless to tell again the tale that has been so
well told, of his diplomatic triumphs, of his supreme honesty and
loyalty, of his ceaseless energy, of his magnificent services to
humanity and religion.

Throughout the whole of his life in Turkey he kept his one aim
steadily before his eyes, and never deviated from it. If Turkey could
be saved he would save her; but it could only be done by carrying out
what had been the real intention of Mahmûd the reformer, and making an
Oriental despotism resemble an European government with constitutional
guarantees for personal and religious freedom. That in the long-run he
utterly failed is now quite plain. What he wrote more than fifty years
ago, in spite of superficial outward changes is really true to-day.
"There is no such thing as system in Turkey. Every man according to
his means and opportunities gets what he can, commands when he dares,
and submits when he must." None the less Canning won real victories.
He procured a declaration that the punishment of death should no
longer be inflicted on those who gave up Islam for Christianity. "It
was the first dagger," he wrote himself, "thrust into the side of the
false prophet and his creed." And indeed so long as Lord Stratford de
Redcliffe remained at Constantinople justice, toleration, good
government made progress such as could hardly have been conceived
before.

It is needless here to inquire how far the success of Turkey in the
Crimean War led to the casting aside of all reforms, or whether the
war was justified or how it was caused. Russia's declaration of her
protectorate over the Orthodox Church; the belief of England and
France that they were bound to protect Turkey against wanton
aggression; the earnest desire of "the great Elchi" to avoid war:
these things may be read in the Blue Books[48] and in Kinglake's great
History. Constantinople saw the encampment of British troops at
Gallipoli and at Skutari; and then came the sad days of the hospitals
on the Asiatic shore and the English cemetery where sleep so many
English dead. The Hatti-Humayun of February 21, 1856, seemed to embody
all that the best friends of Turkey could have wished, in its
abolition of all distinctions telling unfavourably against the
exercise of any religion, its fine declarations of freedom and
equality among all subjects of the Porte. But who could enforce it?
The story is pitiful, and it shall not here be told. Rather let it be
remembered when we sail into the harbour of Constantinople that the
Crimean Memorial Church which stands boldly on the heights of Pera was
the sign of the noble work for religion and freedom that had been done
by the great Englishman whose last public act in the city it was to
lay the foundation-stone, and whose noble life is simply commemorated
on a tablet within its walls.

It was in 1858 that this great embassy ended. Three years later Abdul
Mejid died; and his brother Abdul Aziz was girt with the sword in the
mosque of Eyûb. Under his rule outward reforms progressed gaily, but
the reckless extravagance of the Sultan brought the country to
financial ruin. Reforms, insurrections, the creation of Roumania, the
insurrection of Crete, how did these affect Constantinople? Not at
all. Only daily the financial disorder became more apparent. On May
10, 1876, the city witnessed a scene which might have seemed proof
that Turkey was regenerated. The Sultan's son was stopped in the
streets by crowds who demanded the dismissal of the Grand Vizier and
the Sheik-ul-Islam. From the gorgeous new palace which he had built on
the Bosporus came the reply of Abdul Aziz--"His Majesty is deeply
touched with the proof of confidence you place in him. It is his
pleasure in no way to resist the will of his faithful people." But it
was merely one of those delusive pictures which remind one of the
tricks of the genii in the Arabian Nights. There was no real change;
and on May 29, again resort was had as in the old days to the
Sheik-ul-Islam. A reformer, who had been but a few days elevated to
the post, he declared the lawfulness of deposing a Sultan whose
conduct was insensate, who had no political judgment, who spent on
himself sums which the Empire could not afford. At dawn on May 30 the
palace of Dolma Bagtché was surrounded by troops, the Sultan was
declared a prisoner, and then was hurried across to the old Seraglio.
A few days later he returned to the gorgeous palace of Tcheragan. On
June 4, he was found dead. It was certified that he had opened his
veins with a pair of scissors. Few Sultans have long survived
deposition.

Murad V. the eldest son of Abdul Mejid was received at the Seraskierat
with enthusiasm. Announcements were made which declared him a
reformer. He was Sultan for only three months. Within the first few
days a number of the ministers were murdered, as they sat in Council,
by the brother of the wife of Abdul Aziz. A few weeks later it was
declared that the Sultan was incapable of Government. He was deposed
with as much ease as his predecessor, no one knows to-day whether he
is alive or not, and Abdul Hamed II., his brother, reigned in his
stead. Of his reign little need be said. It has seen the Bulgarian
atrocities, the defeat of Turkey by Russia, the encampment of the
Russian troops at San Stefano, the proclamation of a Constitution, a
parliament with two houses opened by the Sultan himself. It has seen
also the suppression of that Constitution; it has seen the liberty of
Bulgaria, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Cyprus and Crete.

And Constantinople, what may be told here in brief is what cannot be
forgotten. The Sultan no longer lives, like his predecessors, within
earshot of his people. Yildiz-Kiosk high on the hills above the
Bosphorus secludes him from the world. No longer does the Commander of
the Faithful visit the mosques of Stambûl or ride through the streets
with a gorgeous military display. The massacres for which precedent
was set centuries ago have again given the city a ghastly fame. In
October 1895 crowds of Softas--religious students--assembled in the
Atmeidan and a massacre of Armenians began. The riots lasted for three
days. The authorities declared that the cause was the revolutionary
plots of the Armenians themselves, that they did their utmost to
preserve order, and that they would punish all who were responsible.
Ten months passed. Constantinople in the spring of 1896 was outwardly
at peace, but arrests were constantly being made, and there was a
general feeling of insecurity. On August 28, 1896, a band of Armenians
seized the Ottoman Bank at Galata, killing the guard and imprisoning
the officials. After some hours they were allowed to depart under a
safe conduct. But for nearly two days the city was given up to
massacre. Bands of Moslems rose simultaneously at different parts
before the police or the military appeared, led or accompanied by
Softas, by soldiers, by police officers. When the troops appeared they
looked on. The scenes in the streets beggar description. Christians
were butchered wherever they appeared, were chased into houses and
over roofs, were shot in their houses by men who took the tiles from
the roofs across the street, broke the windows, and then fired into
the rooms where Armenians had crowded for refuge. The churches were
filled with people who sought sanctuary, who had lost everything they
possessed and dared not leave the security of the sacred walls. The
churches of Pera and Galata, the buildings of the Patriarchate in the
Psamatia quarter seemed the only safe places. Of the numbers killed no
count can be given; two thousand certainly perished, but five thousand
has been declared to have been the total of the victims. For days the
dead-cart passed through the streets and the murdered Christians were
carried off with indescribable brutality to be cast into huge pits or
into the sea. It is impossible as yet to tell the full story. It seems
still like a horrible dream, a reminiscence of the worst terrors of
the Middle Age.

  [Illustration: STREET IN GALATA]

The two acts of tragedy by which it has been attempted to destroy a
large, and that perhaps the richest and most progressive, part of the
population of Constantinople, emphasise an important historical
fact. Not only by the importations of Mohammed II., but gradually
during the four centuries and a half that have elapsed since the
Conquest, the population of Constantinople has changed its character.
Pera and Galata are the home of a mixed race, of whom every writer
says hard words, and of many nationalities still striving to preserve
their separate life. Greeks, Italians, Germans, French, English,
immigrants from the Balkan lands, are the most prominent, after the
Jews and the wealthy Armenians. The divisions that are to be seen in
the Orthodox Church, perpetuated by politicians for their own
purposes, are the reflection of the national and political divisions
that we pass through on our way to Constantinople and find there in
full force. Every league nearer to the city walls, as the railway
drags its tedious length, is a step nearer to barbarism; and Pera is
indeed but a poor outpost of civilisation. It has over it a veneer of
the West. As you walk through the streets you might think yourself in
an inferior Italian city; when you descend to Galata, down steep
streets, half stairways, you pass through the gate of the Middle Ages
into a town like any cosmopolitan seaport, crowded with sailors and
travellers of all nations.

The Galata bridge, the most wonderful pathway in Europe, with its
thousands of passengers in every strange garb, its Parisian carriages,
its Arab steeds bearing alert officers, its beggars, mollahs, white
turbaned and white coated toll-takers, its ceaseless stream of life
all day long, brings you to the harbour, the historic anchorage of
great ships for fifteen hundred years or more. "Eothen" has said once
for all what comes to mind as we gaze at that magnificent sight, life,
ships, walls, domes, minarets.

"Even if we don't take a part in the chaunt about 'Mosques and
Minarets,' we can still yield praises to Stamboul. We can chaunt
about the harbour; we can say and sing that nowhere else does the sea
come so home to a city; there are no pebble shores--no sand bars--no
slimy river beds--no black canals--no locks nor docks to divide the
very heart of the place from the deep waters; if being in the noisiest
part of Stamboul, you would stroll to the quiet side of the way amidst
those cypresses opposite, you will cross the fathomless Bosphorus; if
you would go from your hotel to the Bazaars, you must pass by the
bright blue pathway of the Golden Horn, that can carry a thousand sail
of the line. You are accustomed to the gondolas that glide among the
palaces of St Mark, but here at Stamboul it is a hundred-and-twenty-gun
ship that meets you in the street. Venice strains out from the
steadfast land, and in old times would send forth the chief of the
state to woo and wed the reluctant sea; but the stormy bride of the
Doge is the bowing slave of the Sultan--she comes to his feet with the
treasures of the world--she bears him from palace to palace--by some
unfailing witchcraft, she entices the breezes to follow her, and fan
the pale cheek of her lord--she lifts his armed navies to the very
gates of his garden--she watches the walls of his serail--she stifles
the intrigues of his Ministers--she quiets the scandals of his
Court--she extinguishes his rivals, and hushes his naughty wives all
one by one, so vast are the wonders of the deep!"[49]

But you cross the bridge, or you take a caique, and land under the old
walls; you pass through some gateway, scarcely recognisable; and in a
moment you are in a new life. It is the East. The hundreds of solemn
figures climbing the hill to the daily afternoon prayers at the mosque
of Mohammed the Conqueror; the busy market that goes on outside the
walls, the stalls displaying everything that man needs to buy, the
carpets, the great earthenware vessels, marked in white wax with
delicate arabesques, the fresh fruits, the strange liquors, the
stranger cates. A few yards off and you are among the streets that
belong to particular trades, the workers in brass, the cobblers, the
blacksmiths, the horse-dealers, the sellers of every conceivable
object under the sun, all in their windowless shops, laughing,
talking, selling, with that stately mien which makes a ceremonial of
the simplest act. There is no vulgar European haste here, no
chattering impatience to serve or to bargain; the ages as they have
passed over the place seem to have left their solemn impress on the
people. Let the story-teller come and amuse them; for themselves they
will not hurry or fret or speed. All is dignified, stately,
restrained. This is a Turkish quarter, but the Turks are rarely indeed
of pure blood. Almost every Asiatic race, and many European
nationalities, have gone to make the Turks of Stambûl--pilgrims from
the far East, Christian slaves, converts to Islam from every quarter
of the globe. Negroes are constantly to be met with, eunuchs, slaves,
and free trading folk. Pass further on and you are among the Jews, who
remain as large a proportion of the population as in the fifteenth
century, when some forty thousand of them were to be found in Stambûl.
It was they who first opened regular shops for the sale of
manufactured goods, and the greatest shops in the Bazaar to-day are
the property of Jews. In the great Bazaar with its intricate streets
and quarters, a great desolation reigns. The Jews and the Europeans
have invaded its recesses, and the pictures that the old books draw of
the haggling and the humour and the riches, have no meaning to-day. In
the enclosure of the Ahmediyeh you may see characteristic Eastern
sights. There a man sits being shaved. There are stalls heaped with
fruit. There are sellers pressing rich stuffs and linen on Turkish
ladies as they pass. And indeed it is not all stateliness even among
the Turks. Desert the streets of the leather-sellers and the
brass-workers, come down to the markets by the mosques, and there is
enough vigorous and vivacious life. In the harbour among the shipping,
where the rowers of caiques clamour for employment, in the Greek
quarter, or in the Psamatia among the poorer Armenians, there is
plenty of stir and movement. For a succession of pictures, there is no
city like Constantinople. Pilgrims from the far East, Mongolians,
Persians, men of Bokhara and Khiva, negroes from the heart of Africa,
armed many of them to the teeth, most with the strange wistful half
frightened look of strangers and foreigners in a civilisation of which
they have not dreamed; the groups at the fountains, the staid ancients
smoking solemnly at the doors, the closed windows with the wooden
lattices, through which sometimes comes a sound of soft music, the
tramp of armed men, the clatter of cavalry as they trot up the street,
the endless processions of donkeys and draught horses, and sometimes
camels,--these sights and sounds are, in the sunlight by the old
walls, in the narrow streets, or by the great domed mosques, never to
be forgotten or to be rivalled in Europe to-day.

Constantinople remains, with all its changes, a city of the dark ages.
At any moment the curtain may be lifted on a scene of tragic horror,
and meanwhile there is the grotesque mimicry of Western civilisation,
the parade of meaningless forms, justice, government, finance, which
in a moment may be destroyed, which never have, it is hardly an
exaggeration to say, any real meaning. How does the city fare? Even
now, interviews with officials, walks through the streets of Stambûl,
the sights of each day, remind one irresistibly of "a chapter in
Gibbon or some tale of wonder in the Arabian Nights." Soberly and
solemnly the Turks go about their business. Before the horrors of the
last decade an observer who knew well the people and the history wrote
these words.

"I have been present in the city during the deposition of two Sultans.
The most striking characteristic in the circumstances attending these
depositions was the utter indifference of the great body of the
native, and especially of the Moslem, population to the change which
was being made. There was a small but active party which took action,
but beyond this there was comparatively very little excitement; no
resistance, no rioting, no expression of dissatisfaction. When
newspaper correspondents and foreigners generally were aware that a
revolution was in preparation, it is impossible to believe that
thousands of Turks and rayahs were in ignorance of the fact. The
general feeling among the Sultan's subjects was one of indifference.
If the conspirators failed it would go hardly with them. If they
succeeded it would go hardly with the Sultan. That business only
regarded the parties concerned. Beyond a vague belief that any change
could hardly be followed by a worse condition of things than had
existed, there was no public sentiment on the matter."[50]

The words would be as true to-day. Save only at moments of sudden and
fanatic excitement, organised there can be no doubt at least under the
impression that there is a religious duty, and a command which may not
be disobeyed, the calm of the city is unbroken. We seem to be standing
with Candide when he heard the news that "two viziers of the bench and
the mufti had just been strangled at Constantinople, and several of
their friends impaled," and when he heard the instructive comments of
the old Turk who never knew the name of any vizier or mufti. "I
presume," said that sage, "that in general such as are concerned in
public affairs come to a miserable end, and that they deserve it; but
I never enquire what is doing at Constantinople. I am content with
sending thither the produce of my garden, which I cultivate with my
own hands." To-day it would seem that the people of Constantinople are
of the same mind with this philosopher. "Our country is rich, capable
of prosperity, and of supporting in comfort twenty times its present
population; but alas a gang of robbers has seized it," are the
published words of a Turkish prince. Vice and luxury and despotism
triumph. _Eh bien! je sais qu'il faut cultiver notre jardin._

This at any rate may be said. It is idle to prophecy the future of the
Ottoman power in Europe. Has the last Greek war really strengthened
it? Does the approach of Russia foreshadow an occupation of
Constantinople and the longed for return of S. Sophia to the worship
of the Orthodox Church? Of all people the English are the least fitted
to foresee the future. Nothing can be more ludicrous than the letters
of Tom Hughes, an observer acute enough, written from Constantinople
in 1862, in which he says that Islam is all but dead, and that what
the Turks want is the English public-school system. The Turk hears
such things with a smile; _il faut cultiver notre jardin_.

FOOTNOTES:

[34] Sandys' _Travels_, pp. 48, 49, ed. 1627.

[35] The form "Sultana" is only a Western one. The Turks use the word
Sultan for both sexes, placing it after the name in the case of a
female.

[36] Quoted by Ranke, _Ottoman and Spanish monarchies_ [Eng. trans.],
p. 12.

[37] Ranke, quoting Barbaro, the Venetian ambassador.

[38] Finlay, vol. v. p. 92. See Von Hammer, viii. 134, 317.

[39] Ranke, p. 25.

[40] Pp. 31-32.

[41] _Travels_, vol. ii., pp. 127-128.

[42] _Constantinople in 1828_, by C. MacFarlane, p. 306.

[43] _Life of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe_, by Stanley Lane Poole, 1
volume edition, p. 18.

[44] "Life of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe," by Stanley Lane Poole, 1
volume edition, p. 19.

[45] Life, pp. 137-138.

[46] Life, p. 139.

[47] Life, pp. 164-165.

[48] See the correspondence respecting the rights and privileges of
the Latin and Greek Churches in Turkey, presented to Parliament 1854.

[49] _Eothen_, pp. 30, 31.

[50] Pears, _Conquest of Constantinople_.



CHAPTER III

_The Churches_


Though as it has already been said there is but one church which has
survived the Turkish conquest without ever ceasing to be used for its
divine purpose, there are very many buildings in Constantinople still
remaining, with more or less change, that were once hallowed to the
worship of the Church of Christ.

Very many have perished, the most notable among them that Church of
the Holy Apostles, which was destroyed by Mohammed the Conqueror to
build the great mosque which bears his name. But those which still
remain were among the chiefest wonders of the City of the Emperors,
and there is not one of them which does not deserve an extensive
study.

The volumes that have been written on Byzantine architecture cannot be
compressed into a few pages. It must suffice to recall what are the
chief characteristics of the style which may still be seen in its
perfection at Constantinople, as at Salonica. The origin of what had
so wide an extension over the East, of the art which made a new
departure under Constantine, and a still more important one under
Justinian, is simply the basilica, the law court of ancient Rome. A
long nave and aisles separated by rows of pillars, surmounted by a
flat roof and ending in an apse: that is the familiar type of which a
splendid example built under Byzantine influence is to be found in the
church of S. Apollinare Nuovo at Ravenna. To this simple design the
East added the development of the dome. In the sixth century the
domical style decisively replaced the basilican; and nowhere can the
transition be more clearly traced than in Constantinople.

  [Illustration: CAPITAL FROM RAVENNA
   SHOWING EARLY FORM OF IMPOST

   _Metal Socket_

   CAPITALS FROM S. SOPHIA (IMPOST ABSORBED)]

We have then, in our examination of the still remaining specimens of
Byzantine art, to observe first the basilicas, then the combination of
basilica with dome, then the examples of the completed domical style.
But this is by no means all. Byzantine art, in the carving of
capitals, in the creation of the impost-capital, in its achievement of
"teaching the column to support the arch," in sculpture, in bronze
work, in the detail of inscriptions, and above all, in mosaic, is
worth the most attentive study, and happily in spite of time, war and
barbarism, Constantinople still furnishes a fruitful field for the
student.

Of the basilicas which existed before the time of Justinian, there are
two impressive examples remaining. The first is the church of S. John
Baptist, once attached to the monastery called the Studium. It was
originally built in 463, and was attached to the monastery founded by
one of the early emigrants from the old Rome, Studius. This monastery
became the most important centre of the Akoimetai, the "sleepless
ones," an order which kept up perpetual intercession for the sins of
the world, and whose importance from the fifth century to the time of
the Latin Conquest was very great.[51] It was in this church that many
of the icons were preserved during the first fury of iconoclasm: in
the monastery, Isaac Comnenus and Michael VII. assumed the monastic
habit.

The church has undergone several restorations, but is now in a ruinous
state. It was turned into a mosque under Bayezid II.--it is called Mir
Achor Djami--but its structural arrangements have not been altered. It
is a basilica with two aisles and apse, narthex and atrium. On each
side the aisles are divided from the nave by seven marble pillars, the
capitals Corinthian, the work below Byzantine. The design on the
capitals is that of the double acanthus, "one leaf lying over and
within another." Outside in the atrium the columns are Corinthian, and
so also below in the great crypt or cistern. The door of the narthex
is inserted between the two columns. Of the many memorials that the
church once contained only one may now be seen. In a wall marking a
small enclosure behind the apse, at the north-east, is a tombstone
upside down on which may be traced the Greek inscription to the
memory of Dionysios, a Russian monk, who fell asleep on September 6,
1387.

  [Illustration: COURTYARD OF THE CHURCH OF THE STUDIUM]

Beautiful in its ruin, with the creepers hiding many of the great gaps
in the Western entrance, the church of S. John Baptist does not differ
essentially from the common Western type of basilica. The galleries
(now without floors) mark, it has been said, the advent of organised
monasticism earlier than in the West; but there is, save for some of
the work on the pillars, nothing of an especially Byzantine style
about the church. It seems certain to perish in a few years if nothing
is done. Meanwhile it should be visited by every student of history or
art.

S. Irene, now within the grounds of the Seraglio, is of more
importance. It owes its original foundation to Constantine, but it
suffered severely in the Nika riot and was rebuilt by Justinian in
532. It was again restored in 740. Little if anything has been done to
it since the Turkish Conquest, and it may be taken as certain that
its original structure remains practically unaltered. For the
historical interest of its contents as well as for its architectural
importance, it is well worth a visit; but it is rarely that permission
is accorded to view it.[52] It has been used since the Turkish
Conquest as an armoury, and an irardé from the Sultan himself is
necessary to authorise the Minister of Ordnance to permit any one to
see it.

Its form is basilican, a nave with two aisles and an apse. The dome
rests upon a drum lighted by twenty windows. It is probable that this
was built by Justinian. In the apse is a characteristic feature which
shows what must have been the arrangement at S. Sophia. There are five
rows of seats for the clergy, facing west--an unusual number of seats
I think, for at Ravenna there is but one row. Under the seats there is
a passage round the apse.

There were originally a narthex and an atrium. The narthex seems to
have been thrown into the church, as is shown by the heavy pier
supporting the gallery, with its counterpart in the outer walls ending
abruptly at the wall plate. It seems probable that this was done in
order to make room for the second dome, the original structure being
that of the ordinary Roman basilica. The atrium seems to have
undergone many changes: possibly it is entirely of Mohammedan work, as
it has pointed arches. The interior of the church is solemn and
impressive, an effect due to the great dignity of the general lines.
Originally no doubt the walls and domes were covered with mosaics.
Part of the apse still bears its decoration uncovered with the wash
which is over all the rest of the surface. A gigantic cross of black
tesseræ stretches up the vault, and large inscriptions remain over
the arch. The apse is lighted by three great windows, a feature never
seen in Roman basilicas till much later. The columns which support the
galleries are plain, the arch resting on simple uncarved blocks. It
may be seen, even from this brief description, how interesting the
church is as a representation in Constantinople of the style brought
to the East by the Christian architects of the Empire, and exposed to
many foreign influences, but as yet showing no important signs of
departure from the original type.

But the church is interesting not only architecturally, but
historically. It has never been used for the worship of Islam. It
could be restored in a few hours to the worship of the Christian
Church. Its incongruous contents, too, have an interest. There are
weapons of the Crusaders, chainmail, great swords; the curious
machines of Alexius Comnenus; keys of conquered cities, bags of earth
in token of conquest. There are five fine bells, two with dates 1600
and 1658, one dedicated "Vero Deo Patri Filio Spiritui Sancto." There
are swords of the Janissaries, and their curiously shaped helmets, and
their famous kettle drums, differing in size according to the number
of companies that were assembled. Most interesting of all, perhaps,
are the fragments of the great chain which stretched across the Golden
Horn. In the court are two fine sarcophagi, which are called those of
Constantine and Irene.

  [Illustration: COMPARATIVE SIZES OF GREAT AND LITTLE S. SOPHIA.]

  [Illustration: PLAN OF SS. SERGIUS AND BACCHUS.]

These two examples of the basilican style are clear and distinct.
There are other churches which have basilican features, but do not
belong to the period before Justinian, and are worthy of detailed
examination. S. Thekla stands back from the walls on the Golden Horn
not far from the gate now called Aivan Serai Kapoussi, which was once
the Porta Kiliomené. The foundation of this is not earlier than the
ninth century, and Anna Comnena mentions its restoration in the
eleventh. It is a curious survival of an early style, for it has no
dome, and is simply a basilica about forty feet long and twenty broad,
with an apse. It was gaily restored a few years ago, and bears as a
mosque the name of Toklou Ibrahim Dedeh Mesjid.

S. Theodore Tyrone (Killisé Djami) stands not far to the west of the
mosque of Suleiman. It was built about 450, but much of the present
building is of the twelfth century. It is not improbable that in its
chief features it may be older than any church in Constantinople. The
central dome has ten arches, perhaps originally windows, now closed.
All the domes are small, and the columns are without ornament. There
are narthex and exo-narthex, and in the latter is a mysterious
opening, full of stones and fragments of mortar, leading, it is said,
to a long passage which the Turks fancy once led to S. Sophia.

But more interesting than either of these is that unique building
which the Turks have happily named "Kutchuk Aya Sofia," little S.
Sophia, the Church of S. Sergius and S. Bacchus.[53] It stands not far
from Koum Kapoussi in the Marmora Walls, and quite close to the
railway. Originally it was connected with the Church of S. Peter and
S. Paul. Procopius describes the churches as standing obliquely
towards each other, "joined together, and vieing one with another.
They have," he says, "a common entrance, are equal to one another in
all respects, are surrounded by a boundary wall, and neither of them
exceeds the other or falls short of it, either in beauty, size, or any
other respect; for each alike reflects the rays of the sun from its
polished marble, and is alike covered with rich gold and adorned with
offerings. In one respect alone they differ, that the one is built
longitudinally, whereas the columns of the other for the most part
stand in a semi-circle. The portico at their entrance is common to
both, and from its great length is called narthex (_i.e._ a reed). The
whole propylea, the atrium, and the doors from the atrium, and the
entrance to the palace, are common to both." A door now closed at the
south of the narthex shows where was the entrance to the Church of S.
Peter and S. Paul. S. Sergius and S. Bacchus has happily suffered but
little. It has, as has been said, a structural narthex. The atrium can
still be traced in the arrangement of the Turkish houses and garden
separated now from the church by a narrow pathway.

The Church of S. Sergius and S. Bacchus is a square with a dome.
Columned exedras fill out the angles of the square under the domed
vaults, and the piers supporting the dome form an octagon. A small
apse is added at the east end. The ground plan of the church almost
exactly repeats that of S. Vitale at Ravenna, which was probably begun
a year before its companion in Constantinople. The resemblance is most
marked in the six windows of the apse, the galleries and the columns
on which they rest. The details also of the work closely resemble each
other. We have the simplest form of the impost capital and the
eight-lobed melon-formed capital. Vine-leaves form part of the
decoration of some of the capitals and of the frieze: some say that
this is a fanciful allusion to the associations of the name of one of
the saints to whom the church is dedicated. Many crosses are cut in
the marble of the west gallery; and on the south side over the
imperial entrance from the palace are the monograms of Justinian and
Theodora.

Justinian built the Church in 527, and dedicated it to the soldier
saints who were martyred under Maximianus, to commemorate his
preservation when he was charged with treason during the reign of
Anastasius. An inscription commemorates the Emperor "inspired by
pity," and his wife Theodora, "the divinely crowned." Its historic
associations are interesting. It was there that representatives of the
Latin Church on a visit to Constantinople were generally allowed to
worship according to their own rite. It is probable that Gregory the
Great, who was so long the Papal representative at the Byzantine
court, often said mass there. It suffered severely during the Latin
conquest, and it was repaired by Michael VIII.

Interesting, and in spite of whitewash and colouring, even beautiful
in itself, it is important architecturally as illustrating the process
which developed the design of S. Irene into that of S. Sophia. Closely
resembling S. Vitale at Ravenna, it is yet, in little, a very distinct
anticipation of the great church of the Divine Wisdom of which we have
now to speak.

Something has been said already (above, pp. 35-39) of the historic
circumstances under which this, "the fairest church in all the world,"
as our Sir John Mandeville hath it, was built. Hardly a month after
the burning of the first church of the Divine Wisdom in 532, the new
building was begun. On S. Stephen's Day 537, it was consecrated. In
558 much of it was seriously damaged by an earthquake, the eastern
part of the dome, with the apse, being thrown down, "destroying in its
fall the holy table, the ciborium, and the ambo." At their
restoration, the dome was raised twenty feet.

From the first, it was recognised as the greatest work that had ever
been completed by architects. Not only the eulogists of Justinian, but
every chronicler of the age, and for some centuries after, bear
testimony to the fascination which its splendour and dignity exercised
upon the imagination of beholders. It was the great outward expression
of the power of a world-empire consecrated to the religion of Christ.
It was the symbol of the offering of all beautiful things, all art,
now conquered from the corruptions of paganism, all riches, all human
skill and thought, to God the Creator. The Divine Wisdom which made
the world and designed all things so great and so fair, was to hallow
all, now that man offered them up in continual sacrifice to God from
Whom alone their use and blessing came. S. Sophia's was the highest
outward expression which man had given to the idea of God's
omnipotence and omnipresence, and to the absolute dependence of man
upon the Divine ordering of life. "Anima naturaliter Christiana" was
the noble saying of Tertullian. The Church of S. Sophia was the
expression of that thought by the genius of Anthemius of Tralles under
the direction of Justinian, Cæsar and Augustus.

We can hardly see the great church better than with the words of
Procopius, the first to describe it, before us.

In his _Ædifices_, a glorification perhaps too glorious of the great
Emperor's wisdom in his buildings, the strange historian, half
soldier, half philosopher, who followed the greatest captain of the
age in his campaigns, who lived in the close presence of the splendid
works which made the men of the sixth century famous in the history of
the world, and yet had a mind utterly sceptical as to real goodness,
entirely credulous of evil, perhaps for once threw aside his sardonic
humour when he wrote of the great church. Here at least, in all those
high-wrought pages, he is sincere.

Justinian, he says, is highly to be regarded for his wisdom and his
good fortune that he found architects and workmen so skilful, and was
"able to choose the most suitable of mankind to execute the noblest of
his works."

It was this, he says, which caused the matchless achievement. Cost was
not spared, workmen were brought from every land.

"The church[54] consequently presents a most glorious spectacle,
extraordinary to those who behold it, and altogether incredible to
those who are told of it. In height it rises to the very heavens, and
overtops the neighbouring buildings like a ship anchored among them,
appearing above the rest of the city, which it adorns and forms a part
of it. One of its beauties is that being a part of and growing out of
the city, it rises so high that the whole city can be seen as from a
watch-tower. The length and breadth are so judiciously arranged that
it appears to be both long and wide without being disproportionate.

"It is distinguished by indescribable beauty, excelling both in its
size, and in the harmony of its measures, having no part excessive and
none deficient; being more magnificent than ordinary buildings, and
much more elegant than those which are not of so just a proportion.
The church is singularly full of light and sunshine; you would declare
that the place is not lighted by the sun from without, but that the
rays are produced within itself, such an abundance of light is poured
into this church. _The Apse._--Now the head (πρόσωπον) of the church
(that is to say the part towards the rising sun, where the sacred
mysteries are performed in honour of God) is built as follows. The
building rises from the ground not in a straight line, but setting
back somewhat obliquely, it retreats in the middle into a rounded form
which those who are learned in these matters call semi-cylindrical,
rising perpendicularly. _Apsoid and Semidome._--The upper part of this
work ends in the fourth part of a sphere, and above it another
crescent-shaped (μηνοειδές) structure is raised upon the adjacent
parts of the building, admirable for its beauty, but causing terror by
the apparent weakness of its construction; for it appears not to rest
upon a secure foundation, but to hang dangerously over the heads of
those below, although it is really supported with especial firmness
and safety. _Exedras._--On each side of these parts are columns
standing upon the floor, which are not placed in a straight line, but
arranged with an inward curve of semicircular shape, one beyond
another like the dancers in a chorus. These columns support above them
a crescent-shaped structure. Opposite the east wall is built another
wall, containing the entrances, and upon either side of it also stand
columns, with stonework above them, in a half-circle exactly like
those previously described. _Great Piers and Arches._--In the midst of
the church are four masses of stone called piers (πεσσούς), two on the
north and two on the south sides, opposite and alike, having four
columns in the space between each pair. These piers are formed of
large stones fitted together, the stones being carefully selected, and
cleverly jointed into one another by the masons, and reaching to a
great height. Looking at them, you would compare them to perpendicular
cliffs. Upon them, four arches (ἀψῖδες) arise over a quadrilateral
space. The extremities of these arches join one another in pairs,
their ends resting upon the piers, while the other parts of them rise
to a great height, suspended in the air. Two of these arches, that is
those towards the rising and the setting of the sun, are constructed
over the empty air, but the others have under them some stonework and
small columns. _Dome and Pendentives._--Now above these arches is
raised a circular building of a curved form through which the light of
day first shines; for the building, which I imagine overtops the whole
country, has small openings left on purpose, so that the places where
these intervals occur may serve for the light to come through. Thus
far I imagine the building is not incapable of being described, even
by a weak and feeble tongue. As the arches are arranged in
quadrangular figure, the stonework between them takes the shape of a
triangle, the lower angle of each triangle, being compressed where the
arches unite, is slender, while the upper part becomes wider as it
rises in the space between them, and ends against the circle which
rests upon them, forming there its remaining angles. A spherical-shaped
dome (θόλος) standing upon this circle makes it exceedingly beautiful;
from the lightness of the building, it does not appear to rest upon a
solid foundation, but to cover the place beneath as though it were
suspended from heaven by the fabled golden chain. All these parts
surprisingly joined to one another in the air, suspended one from
another, and resting only on that which is next to them, form the work
into one admirably harmonious whole, which spectators do not dwell
upon for long in the mass, as each individual part attracts the eye to
itself. The sight causes men constantly to change their point of view,
and the spectator can nowhere point to any part which he admires more
than the rest. Seeing the art which appears everywhere, men contract
their eyebrows as they look at each part, and are unable to comprehend
such workmanship, but always depart thence, stupefied, through their
incapacity. So much for this.

  [Illustration: SKETCH PLAN OF S. SOPHIA

     AA. Outer Porch (Exo-narthex)        a. Altar, now destroyed
     BB. Porch (narthex)                 bb. Seats for clergy
     CC. Space covered by central Dome   cc. Iconostasis, or Screen
     DD.   "       "    " Semi-domes      d. Ambo or pulpit
     EE.   "       "    " Supplementary semi-domes.]

"The Emperor Justinian and the architects Anthemius and Isidorus used
many devices to construct so lofty a church with security. One of
these I will now explain, by which a man may form some opinion of the
strength of the whole work; as for the others I am not able to
discover them all, and find it impossible to describe them in words.
It is as follows: The piers, of which I just now spoke, are not
constructed in the same manner as the rest of the building, but in
this fashion; they consist of quadrangular courses of stone, rough by
nature, and made smooth by art; of these stones, those which make the
projecting angles of the pier are cut angularly (ἐγγωνίων),
while those which go in the middle parts of the sides are cut square
(ἐν τετραπλεύρῳ).

"They are fastened together not with lime (τίτανος), called
'unslaked' (ἄσβεστον), not with ashphaltum, the boast of
Semiramis at Babylon, nor anything of the kind, but with lead, which,
poured into the interstices, has sunk into the joints of the stones,
and binds them together; this is how they are built.

"Let us now proceed to describe the remaining parts of the church. The
entire ceiling is covered with pure gold, which adds to its glory,
though the reflections of the gold upon the marble surpass it in
beauty. There are two aisles one above another on each side, which do
not in any way lessen the size of the church, but add to its width. In
length they reach quite to the ends of the building, but in height
they fall short of it; these also have domed ceilings adorned with
gold. Of these two porticoes one (ground floor) is set apart for male
and the other (upper floor) for female worshippers; there is no
variety in them, nor do they differ in any respect from one another,
but their very equality and similarity add to the beauty of the
church. Who could describe these gynaeceum galleries, or the numerous
porticoes (στοάς) and cloistered courts (περιστόλους αὐλάς) with which
the church is surrounded? Who could tell of the beauty of the columns
and marbles with which the church is adorned? One would think that one
had come upon a meadow full of flowers in bloom! Who would not admire
the purple tints of some and the green of others, the glowing red and
the glittering white, and those too, which nature, painter-like, has
marked with the strongest contrasts of colour? Whoever enters there to
worship perceives at once that it is not by any human strength or
skill, but by favour of God, that this work has been perfected; the
mind rises sublime to commune with God, feeling that He cannot be far
off, but must especially love to dwell in the place which He has
chosen; and this is felt not only when a man sees it for the first
time, but it always makes the same impression upon him, as though he
had never beheld it before. No one ever became weary of this
spectacle, but those who are in the church delight in what they see,
and, when they leave, magnify it in their talk. Moreover, it is
impossible accurately to describe the gold and silver and gems
presented by the Emperor Justinian; but by the description of one
part, I leave the rest to be inferred. That part of the church which
is especially sacred, and where the priests alone are allowed to
enter, which is called the sanctuary (θυσιαστήριον), contains forty
thousand pounds' weight of silver.

"The above is an account, written in the most abridged and cursory
manner, describing in the fewest possible words the most admirable
structure of the church at Constantinople, which is called the Great
Church, built by the Emperor Justinian, who did not merely supply the
funds for it but assisted at its building by the labour and powers of
his mind, as I will now explain. Of the two arches (τῶν ἀψίδων) which
I lately mentioned--the architects (μηχανοποιοί) call them loroi--that
one which stands towards the east had been built up on each side, but
had not altogether been completed in the middle, where it was still
imperfect; when the piers (πεσσοί) upon which the building rested,
unable to support the weight which was put upon them, somehow all at
once split open, and seemed as though before long they would fall to
pieces. Upon this, Anthemius and Isidorus, terrified at what had taken
place, referred the matter to the Emperor, losing all confidence in
their own skill. He at once, I know not by what impulse, but probably
inspired by Heaven, for he is not an architect, ordered them to
complete this arch; for it, said he, resting upon itself will no
longer need the piers below (τῶν ἔνερθεν πεσσῶν). Now if this story
were unsupported by witnesses, I am well assured that it would seem to
be written in order to flatter, and would be quite incredible; but as
there are many witnesses now alive of what then took place I shall not
hesitate to finish it. The workmen performed his bidding, the arch was
safely suspended, and proved by experiment the truth of his
conception. So much then for this part of the building; now with
regard to the other arches, those looking to the south and to the
north, the following incidents took place. When the (arches) called
loroi (λῶροι) were raised aloft during the building of the church
everything below them laboured under their weight, and the columns
which are placed there shed little scales, as though they had been
planed.

"Alarmed at this, the architects (μηχανικοί) again referred the matter
to the Emperor, who devised the following scheme. He ordered the upper
part of the work that was giving way to be taken down where it touched
the arches for the present, and to be replaced afterwards when the
damp had thoroughly left the fabric. This was done, and the building
has stood safely ever since, so that the structure, as it were, bears
witness to the Emperor's skill."

The description of Procopius is for us no mere antiquarian record. It
is still a guide which may direct us what to look for and how to
explain what we see. S. Sophia is unique in the fact of its survival
in continued use, and in its preservation from the horrors of
"restoration," which have robbed us, all over the civilised world, of
the true work of the greatest Christian architects. The Turks, it must
be honestly said, deserve the thanks of Europe for their preservation
of their greatest work of sacred art. In 1847 Abdul Mejid undertook
the reparation of the damage done by time. He employed the Italian
architect Fossali, who was probably the first to do any important work
at the main part of the building since the time of John VI.
Palæologus. The work on the whole was well done; and it is plain that
it must have been absolutely necessary. The wonder is that his work
was so conservative as it was. It is impossible not to echo the
gratitude of the experts that "far from being a ruin, the church is
one of the best preserved of so ancient monuments, and in regard to
its treatment by the Turks we can only be grateful that S. Sophia has
not been situated in the more learned cities of Europe, such as Rome,
Aachen, or Oxford, during 'the period of revived interest in
ecclesiastical antiquities.'"

Evagrius, who may also be regarded as practically a contemporary of
the original building, has also left a description which is worth
quoting, of this "great and incomparable work, hitherto unparalleled
in history, the Church's greatest temple, fair and surpassing, and
beyond the power of words to describe."[55]

"The nave," he says, "of the temple is a dome, lifted on four arches,
and rising to so great a height that from below it is difficult for
the observers to reach with their eyes the apex of the hemisphere;
while from above none who might get there, howsoever hardy he might
be, would for a moment attempt to lean over and cast his eyes to the
bottom. And the arches spring clear from the floor up to the covering
which forms the roof; and on the right and left columns, wrought of
Thessalian stone, are ranged with (_i.e._ are in line with) the piers
of the arches and support upper chambers [enclosed] with other similar
columns, so enabling them that wish to lean forward and see the rites
that are being performed: and it is here that the Empress also when
she is present on the festivals assists at the celebration of the
mysteries. But the arches to the east and the west are left clear
without anything to intercept the marvellous impression of the huge
dimensions. And there are colonnades under the upper chambers already
mentioned, finishing off the vast structure with small columns and
arches." It may be noted here that the figures that Evagrius gives are
inaccurate. The church is 250 feet long from east to west, not
including the narthex or the apse; and it is 235 feet across.

  [Illustration: IN THE GALLERY OF S. SOPHIA]

These descriptions are in comparatively sober prose; but besides them
we have the ecstatic eloquence of Paul the Silentiary, a court
official of highest rank, whose poem was probably recited in 563. This
is perhaps the most exact of all the descriptions, but it is far too
long for transcription.[56]

A passage, which certainly loses nothing of its poetry in Mr
Swainson's flowing translation, is of especial interest for its
description of the marble which formed the great glory of the church,
next at least to the mosaics, if not surpassing them.

"Yet who, even in the measures of Homer, shall sing the marble
pastures gathered on the lofty walls and spreading pavement of the
mighty church? These the iron with its metal tooth has gnawed--the
fresh green from Carystus, and many-coloured marble from the Phrygian
range, in which a rosy blush mingles with white, or it shines bright
with flowers of deep red and silver. There is a wealth of porphyry
too, powdered with bright stars, that has once laden the river boat on
the broad Nile. You would see an emerald green from Sparta, and the
glittering marble with wavy veins, which the tool has worked in the
deep bosom of the Iassian hills, showing slanting streaks blood-red
and livid white. From the Lydian creek came the bright stone mingled
with streaks of red. Stone too there is that the Lybian sun, warming
with his golden light, has nurtured in the deep-bosomed clefts of the
hills of the Moors, of crocus colour glittering like gold; and the
product of the Celtic crags, a wealth of crystals, like milk poured
here and there on a flesh of glittering black. There is the precious
onyx, as if gold were shining through it; and the marble that the land
of Atrax yields, not from some upland glen, but from the level plains;
in parts fresh green as the sea or emerald stone, or again like blue
corn-flowers in grass, with here and there a drift of fallen snow,--a
sweet mingled contrast on the dark shining surface."[57]

I think ancient words such as these speak best of this ancient church.
Yet something must be added of what we see with modern eyes. S. Sophia
strikes the modern at once as unlike the domical churches with which
he is familiar. The dome in S. Sophia is the one essential feature of
the whole building. Every thing leads to it or from it: every thing is
subordinate to it. The effect of immense space is conveyed by this
subordination, very different from the Western use where the dome is
merely part of the general design, usually at the centre of a
cruciform building.

The problem which Anthemius of Tralles set himself to solve was that
of "uniting the longitudinal with the central building"; to this is
added "the appropriate disposition of space, the grouping of
subsidiary chambers and the costliness of mosaic splendours."[58]

Originally the church was approached at the west through an atrium, an
outer narthex and a narthex. The atrium cannot now be traced: the
exo-narthex and narthex still remain, but it seems probable that the
former is not now as it was originally built. The walls and ceiling of
the exo-narthex are quite plain. Five doors give entrance into the
much larger narthex, the walls of which are covered with marble, and
the ceiling has mosaics which have been but little touched.

  [Illustration: ORNAMENT ON THE BRAZEN LINTEL ABOVE THE PRINCIPAL DOOR
   OF S. SOPHIA

   Translation of Inscription:

   "The Lord said, 'I am the door of the sheep: by Me if any man enter in,
    he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture.'"]

The Christian must enter the church by the north porch, which leads
down a flight of steps into the narthex. He walks forward till he
faces the midst of the church, and there over the great central door,
the largest of the nine which open eastwards from the narthex into
the nave, the mosaic can still be traced, for the paint is almost worn
off. It shows our Lord on His throne with the gospel in His hand, open
at the words "I am the Light of the World." An Emperor kneels at His
feet. It is the Imperial door-way, and by it the sovereign always
entered the church. Immediately above the door and below the mosaic,
is a brass lintel on which may be clearly read the text of the book
represented open upon a throne with a dove spreading its wings above.
"The Lord said, I am the door of the sheep: by Me if any man enter in,
he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture." A heavy
curtain falls over the doorway. It is moved aside and we stand in a
space that seems enormous. The eye looks forward to find itself
carried upward to the great dome. The great arches on the floor
support the smaller arches of the galleries, which extend north, south
and west. From these again the eye is carried to the smaller
semi-domes, thence to the great semi-domes east and west, and so to
the great dome which is the centre of all. The scheme seems at once
amazingly intricate and exceedingly simple. There is an infinity of
detail, but it is never irrelevant to the main idea, and in an
extraordinary manner the feeling of unity is dominant at every point.
It is impossible to rest content with any part: the architect compels
you to see the part only in its relation to the whole.

How should S. Sophia be seen? Every one will have his own preference.
Perhaps it is best first to take the great impression that you obtain
as you look eastward, and then to go slowly round the aisles, looking
again and again towards the centre. The wonderful columns supporting
the galleries, four of dark green marble which came from Ephesus--it
may be from the temple of Artemis--eight of dark red porphyry which
came from the Temple of the Sun at Baalbek and were given by a Roman
lady, Marcia, to Justinian "for the safety of her soul"--have a
magnificent air of strength as well as splendour. Then the details
begin to attract the eye, the brass bases to the columns, the capitals
elaborately carved with designs most beautiful and delicate, the
monograms, still undefaced, of Justinian and Theodora. Here the
elaboration, the extraordinary wealth of detail, on the minute
examination of which hours may be spent delightedly, the endless
variety of the finest work, enchains the attention. For the moment you
forget the splendour of the whole in the beauty of the details. But at
every point, as you look up from the carving of capitals, or the
inscriptions (as on the bronze doors of the narthex, whose Christian
emblems may still clearly be traced), you are brought again to the
central thought. It is a great church for worship. From every side,
from aisles and galleries as from all the length of the great nave,
the eye would turn in the old days towards the iconostasis, and to the
magnificent ambo, of which writers from the contemporaries of
Justinian to the latest Christian pilgrims speak in such glowing
words. As a Christian church, S. Sophia must have been unsurpassed in
its power to solemnise the worshipper.

  [Illustration: BRONZE DOOR OF SOUTHERN ENTRANCE TO THE NARTHEX, ST
   SOPHIA]

The brightness of the great church, when all the splendid lamps made
the mosaics glitter as the heavens with stars, finds record again and
again in poem and history. That glory is departed, though when the
thousands of lamps are lighted on the nights of Ramazan (the
twenty-eight days fast), something of what it must have been may
perhaps be guessed. The mosaics are covered, not everywhere indeed,
but over a great part of the vast space, with paint and whitewash. The
head of Christ may be dimly traced over the sanctuary. The four
gigantic seraphs on the pendentives remain as of old, save that their
faces are painted over.

Next to the decoration the point of chiefest interest is the mass of
historical memorials that may here and there be discovered. In the
south gallery the Second Council of Constantinople, the sixth General
Council of the Church, was held. The "place of the most noble lady
Theodora" may still be seen in the north gallery. A slab now let into
the floor of the south gallery has the words "Henricus Dandolo." It
once rested over the body of the blind Doge who stormed the city in
1204. The ciphers and monograms are worth attentive study.[59] The
curious water-vessel at the north-west may have stood in the church in
the Christian days. But the multiplication of instances would be
endless. Anyone who wants really to know S. Sophia, must have with him
the noble book of Mr Lethaby and Mr Swainson.

The outside of S. Sophia is comparatively uninteresting, and is
impressive only for the vast size. Seen from the corner of the street
leading to the "Burnt Column," its immense extent, and the height of
the great dome, dwarf every other building within sight. Seen again
from the Bosphorus at the entrance to the Golden Horn, or as a vessel
sails up the Marmora, it stands, as the old writers said of it,
dominating the city. But closer it is almost ugly, and the stripes of
red paint with which Fossati bedecked it do not add to its attraction.

  [Illustration: ANCIENT URN IN S. SOPHIA (TOP MODERN)]

Round the great church are some smaller buildings which should not be
forgotten. "Every evidence of the atrium has entirely disappeared": it
was finally destroyed in 1873. At south side are five türbehs, four of
which are of Turkish building, those of Sultans Selim II., Murad III.,
each with his children, Mohammed III., and the sons of Murad III.
Among these that of Selim II. is notable for the beautiful tiles at
the doorway. At the south-west is Justinian's baptistery, now the
türbeh of Mustafa I. (1622). It is a rectangle externally, but within,
an octagon with a low dome, covered with twelfth-century mosaics,
which, when I saw it in 1896, were being covered anew with paint. At
the north-east of the church is a circular building which may very
probably be the earlier baptistery, built by Constantine.[60]

Throughout I have spoken of S. Sophia as a church. Such indeed to the
Christian eye it remains. A few hours would restore its fitness for
its original purpose. The Mihrab, showing the direction of Mecca, the
minber, or pulpit, the Sultan's seat, the immense shields with the
names of the four companions of the prophet, the four minarets,
belong, one feels, but to transitory things. The dedication of S.
Sophia is eternal. S. Sophia is the greatest and most splendid example
of what has been truly called "the last great gift of Hellenic genius,
mediæval Greek architecture"--the last great work of the Greek people.
But it is more. It is the most perfect representation that art has
ever devised in visible outward form of the theology of the Christian
Church. A multitude of detail, all beautiful, all important when
understood, has its true significance solely from its relation to the
central idea, to the whole which is so much more than the parts of
which it is composed. "The Catholic faith is this, that we worship one
God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity," says the magnificent hymn of
faith which we call the Creed of Saint Athanasius. From that central
doctrine, that dome of theology, shade off other thoughts and facts
which have their importance in exact proportion to their nearness to
the central fact. They all contribute to its support; they are all
really part of it; but they can only be seen in their real meaning
when the one Unifying Truth is seen to be over and above them all.

Is this the narrow view of a Christian priest? Will art critics say
that S. Sophia means quite other things, and draws forth quite other
memories? Not truly, as I think. For S. Sophia is certainly a supreme
expression of Christian faith, and only in relation to that faith can
it be fully understood. "We worship one God": S. Sophia expresses that
thought, and it expresses the myriad reflections of that truth, and
how that worship is visibly presented.

To some art critics, and notably to Jesuit writers, whose sympathy
with the genuine expression of artistic ideas has never been profound,
S. Sophia seems to mark not only the culmination of Byzantine art but
a distinct step in its decadence. Supreme indeed it is, but it is
difficult for any one who knows Constantinople to doubt that the work
which is at its greatest in S. Sophia was continued centuries after
Anthemius had passed away. The same dignity, and sincerity, and
splendour, are striven for, and if they are never attained it is only
because the greatest genius is never repeated.

There are many later churches which carry us back to the vigorous age
of Byzantine art. First must be placed the μονὴ τῆς χώρας,
the Church of S. Saviour "in the country," now called Kahriyeh
Djamissi. It stands on an open space of broken ground near the gate of
Charisius, Edirnè Kapoussi. It is shown to-day, most courteously and
sympathetically, by an imâm with whom it is a pleasure to converse.
The Christian feels almost at home, though the Moslem has long
worshipped where for so many centuries the Holy Sacrifice was offered.

The Church of the Chora was rebuilt, or refounded, by Justinian. The
site had been chosen by Constantine for a monastery which he erected
outside the walls, "in the country." When Justinian built it, it was
within the walls which Theodosius had made. It fell into decay, and
Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Alexius Comnenus, restored it.
Finally Theodore the Logothete, in 1381, completed the work. Of recent
years it has been thoroughly repaired. It has an inner and an outer
narthex, a central church and two side chapels.

No church, save S. Sophia, has more touching memories. Crispus, the
son-in-law of the Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, redecorated it, and found
in it his resting-place as a monk. Patriarchs have retired there.
Theodore, who beautified it, had to seek refuge there when Andronicus
II. was deposed, and he ended his days as a monk within its walls.
Under the sovereigns of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it was
famous. Near to the palace of Blachernae the Emperors often worshipped
there. It kept for part of the year the sacred picture of the Blessed
Virgin which was believed to have been the work of S. Luke, and was
there yearly shown on Easter Monday for the veneration of the people.
When the Turks broke in, the Janissaries seized the picture and cut it
into fragments, for charms. The church was turned into a mosque very
soon after the conquest. Petrus Gyllius rediscovered it, for it seems
soon to have had its history forgotten; and he noted the beauty of the
capitals.

Architecturally the complication of the style, the many independent
domes, and the practical separation of the chapels from the central
church, illustrate the development of Byzantine architecture in its
later stages. In detail the beautiful acanthus carved in white marble
and carved right through is noticeable. There are also the fragments
of a splendid door, now used as jamb linings, the panels of which were
originally filled with sculpture. The Church of the Chora as we now
have it belongs to a veritable renaissance of Byzantine art, and that
most notably in its mosaics. The apse has a great picture of Christ
with the open Gospel in His hand. It is whitewashed over. The mural
paintings of the side chapels are of little interest; but the mosaics
in the narthex and outer narthex are by far the finest remaining
examples of the art now visible in Constantinople. Those in the outer
narthex represent the history of the B. V. Mary, a wonderful series of
glowing pictures in gold and colours. They are well worth minute study
of the designs, the dresses, and the colours.[61] But the most
striking of all is the splendid figure of Christ enthroned, with
Theodore kneeling to present to Him the renovated church. Theodore
wears the great cap conferred on him as a sign of dignity by
Andronicus II. The Lord, with the Gospel in His left hand, blesses
with the right hand, the thumb and two fingers joined, after the Greek
manner of benediction. It is a noble figure, restrained and solemn. No
longer, as in the earlier representations, is He represented as young
and beardless, but as a Man of middle life, the features and hair
approximating at least to the traditional portrait. But still, and
seemingly to the last in Constantinople, the early reticence which
prevented a representation of the Crucifixion remains. All through the
incidents of His earthly life He is followed by the artistic reverence
of the Byzantines; but His death remains unpictured. The other
separate representation of the Lord in this church shows Him blessing,
as the giver of life.

There are many other churches which should be visited. Of the mediæval
example the most interesting are the church of S. Thekla, S. Mary
Pammakaristos, S. Theodosia (mentioned above, p. 62), the
Pantokrator, SS. Peter and Mark, and the little village church of S.
Mary at the Fountain. Of this last more hereafter. S. Mary
Pammakaristos was built by the sister of Alexius Comnenus early in the
twelfth century. It stands on the hill overlooking the Phanar. Its
design is unlike any other building in the city. The main dome rests
on a drum supported by four arches, these again on another drum and
other arches. There are narthex and outer narthex and a number of
subsidiary chapels, divided from the central chapel by columns of
different sizes and shapes. In the south-east chapel there is still a
splendid mosaic of Christ blessing the apostles. The tomb of Alexius
Comnenus and his famous daughter Anna were here, but they were
destroyed when Murad III. turned the church into a mosque. From 1456
to 1586 it was the patriarchal church. A legend attaches to it which
declares that the patriarch Jeremiah I. preserved it, and all other
churches then remaining, by producing Moslem witnesses before
Suleiman, that the city was really surrendered by capitulation, and
that the churches were guaranteed to the Christians. Two aged Moslems
were brought from Adrianople and their oath was accepted, a strange
story of lying in which neither faith seems to be established by the
truthfulness of its believers.

S. Theodosia, called "the rose mosque" for the horrible tragedy which
marked its last day as a Christian church, is within the Aya Kapou,
the Porta Divae Theodosiæ which was named after it. S. Theodosia was
the first martyr, under Leo the Isaurian, of the iconoclastic
persecutions, and her name was held in special veneration by the
ladies of Constantinople. Her festival is on May 29; and in 1453 when
the city was captured the church was crowded with worshippers, many of
whom had spent the whole night there in prayer. Before midday the
doors were broken down and the sipahis poured in. Over the walls
clustered roses then in bloom, and, within, the columns were wreathed
with them. The picture of the ladies seized and carried off into
slavery lingered in the verses of Turkish poets, and when the church
became a mosque its name was that of the rose, Güil Djami.

The Church of the Pantokrator stands high above the inner bridge, a
little below, and eastwards of, the mosque of Mohammed II. It is a
triple church, separated by columns and all entered from the narthex.
It is probable that it was founded by John Comnenus and his wife
Irene, who died in 1124. The exterior of the apses have much fine
work; and the door and windows of the narthex are well worth careful
examination. Outside in the rough square westwards of the church is a
fine tomb of _verde antico_ which is said to have been the tomb of the
Empress Irene, on which the crosses still remain. Of the three
churches the northern was monastic and the central was the mausoleum
of the Comneni. There slept Irene and her husband John I., Manuel I.
and his wife Irene, a third Irene, the wife of Andronicus II., and
Manuel II. who drove back the Turks from the walls. During the Latin
occupation this church was the patriarchal cathedral; there Morosini
had his throne; and there the holy picture of the B. V. M. (see above
p. 263) was kept by them. When Michael VIII. returned it was brought
forth and borne before him through the Golden Gate. Here in 1453 dwelt
Gennadios who prophecied incessantly against the union of the
churches, and hence he was brought when after the capture of the city
he was chosen patriarch. It is a church of many memories, now almost
deserted. Near it is the ancient library of the monastery, a quaint
disfigured octagonal building that peers over a high wall in a narrow
by-street.

  [Illustration: CHURCH OF THE PANTOKRATOR]

These churches--and there are many more--now mosques, yet retain some
of their old dignity; and if they should ever come again into
Christian hands it is very likely that many mosaics and much early
work in them would be rediscovered.

There is another which I cannot forbear to mention, though it hardly
repays the search for it. For many hours in April 1896 did I wander
and inquire and grope through filthy streets, followed by filthier
Turks, whose attentions became embarrassing, till I relieved myself of
them by means of a stern gaze, a threatening forefinger, and a
solemnly delivered passage from Euclid, in English. It is not far from
Aivan Serai, and is approached through the wall now broken down. It is
now called Atik Mustapha Pasha Djamissi, but was consecrated in 451 as
the Church of SS. Peter and Mark, having been built by two patricians,
Gallius and Candidus, "on the shore of the Golden Horn, in the quarter
of Blachernae." It is a sordid, decrepit hovel to-day; but outside it
stands its ancient font, made of a single block of marble, and with
three steps descending to the bottom. It belongs probably to the
earliest years of the reign of Justinian. A pathetic memory, it is
forgotten and uncared for save by a few faithful Greeks who cleanse it
secretly from time to time. Is it ever used secretly now?

These may stand for examples of the many churches which still remain
from Byzantine days. But there are others which should not be
forgotten. The Church of the Patriarchate and the little S. Mary
Mouchliotissa have been mentioned already (above, p. 155). The
Armenian patriarch has his throne in the Church of S. George in the
Psamatia. The churches in Pera and Galata are worth a visit, and
notably S. Georgio a Monte, near the Ottoman bank, and the Armenian
church of S. Gregory, built in 1436, and buried in a back street above
the wharfs not far from Top-haneh. This last contains some fine MSS.
and a sacred picture of Christ, of great antiquity. It witnessed
fearful tragedies in 1876. The open apse of the Armenian churches,
with its altar covered with candles, contrasts with the hidden holy
table of the orthodox church, plain, and concealed behind the high
iconostasis with its closed gates.

The Christianity of Pera and Galata is a strange contrast to the
solemn Mohammedanism of Stambûl. But it is impossible to attend the
offering of the Holy Eucharist in the orthodox churches of Pera and of
the Phanar without feeling how firm and enthusiastic is the faith of
the worshippers. They stand indeed, hardly less than the Armenians,
always on the verge of the undiscovered country.

     Ἕως πότε ὁ Δεσπότης.

FOOTNOTES:

[51] See especially "Les Débuts du Monachisme à Constantinople"
(Pargoire) in _Revue des questions historiques_, Jan. 1899, pp. 133,
_sqq._

[52] In 1896 and 1899 application was made on my behalf by the British
Ambassador; on the last occasion the Sultan granted an irardé.

[53] This can be reached from the Hippodrome by a road going
southwards, and easy to find.

[54] _Aedif._ I. i.--The translation here used is that of Mr Aubrey
Stewart, published by the Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society, with
alterations by the late Mr Harold Swainson, as published in the
admirable work of Mr W. R. Lethaby and himself, _Sancta Sophia,
Constantinople, a Study of Byzantine Building_, 1894 (pp. 24-29).
Messrs Lethaby and Swainson insert explanatory divisions of the
description, thus '_The Apse_,' etc. I have inserted the Greek words
where they have transliterated them, and made an occasional slight
alteration. The value of Messrs Lethaby and Swainson's work as an
architectural translation is great.

[55] Evagrius, _Hist. Eccl._, iv. 31.

[56] It may be read in Migne's Patrologia Græca, lxxxvi. (2), and in
the translation in Messrs Lethaby and Swainson's book.

[57] Quoted from Lethaby and Swainson, p. 45.

[58] Kraus, _Geschichte der Christlichen Kunst_, i. 361, 362.

[59] See Lethaby and Swainson, pp. 21 and _sqq._

[60] See Lethaby and Swainson.

[61] Murray's "Guide" gives a complete list of the subjects.



  [Illustration: PART OF THE WALLS OF THEODOSIUS: THE SEVEN TOWERS IN
   THE BACKGROUND]

CHAPTER IV

_The Walls_


The history of Constantinople--it is proclaimed at every epoch in her
life--has ever its two abiding interests, the Church and the military
spirit. The one is represented for all time in S. Sophia. The other
finds its memorial in the walls.

For centuries, whose heroic story we have so baldly told, the city of
the Cæsars preserved for Europe the justice of Rome, the learning of
Greece. She taught to the barbarians the meaning of _civilitas_, she
led many of the nations into the truest brotherhood of the Catholic
Church. And all through she was fighting a war which never ceased,
often driven back upon her own defences, but again and again issuing
forth a conqueror. By her age-long resistance Constantinople saved
Europe from a new barbarian deluge, from a second Dark Age. And
Constantinople herself was saved by her walls. There is no historic
monument in Europe which has a memory more glorious or more heroic.

To the student of history there is nothing of all he sees in the
"Queen of Cities" that is so full of perpetual and varied interest.
The whole story of Constantinople might be told in commentary on the
great walls that once protected her from the foe. Here it shall only
be pointed how two or three days may be spent--or two or three hours
if it must be so--in learning something of these magnificent ruins
which have so great a history written on their face. The writer has
spent many happy hours in tracing them at every point. Within a few
days of his last visit the knowledge, such as it was, which he had
gained, was a hundredfold increased by the superb work of devotion and
research in which Professor van Millingen has summed up the studies of
many years, which will be, once for all, the classical authority on
the walls and adjoining sites of Byzantine Constantinople. It has
often already been referred to in these pages. Here let it be said
that every word that is written on the walls is revised in the light
of what Professor van Millingen has published, and that no one who
wishes seriously to study the history of the fortifications, or indeed
of the city itself, can now do so with any success without the help of
this almost faultless book.

The simplest method for the traveller is probably first to take the
less interesting and more ruinous walls on the Golden Horn and the Sea
of Marmora--which indeed will probably only be visited in detail by
those who have a special historical interest, and then to turn to the
Land walls, which no one ever visits the city without seeing at least
in superficial view.

  [Illustration: KADIKEUI (CHALCEDON), FROM SERAGLIO POINT]

Constantinople, though it has ceased to be the capital city of a
maritime power, has never lost the advantages of its unique maritime
position. The sea, with its currents and its storms, has always been
its first natural protector. Only once has the city been captured
from the sea. But this has not meant that defence was necessary only
for the landward approach. Byzantium had its sea-walls: they were
enlarged by Constantine, and in 439 Theodosius II. completed them by
carrying them on to meet the land-walls, which ended then at
Blachernae northwards and by the Golden Gate on the south. During the
middle ages they constantly needed repair, notably after the arctic
winter of 763-4, when huge ice-floes thronged the Bosphorus and the
Golden Horn, and even broke over the wall at the point of the
Acropolis (Seraglio point). In the ninth century again Theophilus made
a thorough restoration, which is recorded in many inscriptions still
to be seen on the wall by the Dierman Kapoussi at the foot of the
Seraglio gardens. Among later restorations are those of Leo the Wise
and his brother Alexander: a tower, near Koum Kapoussi, bears the
inscription:

     + ΠΥΡΓΟΣ ΛΕΟΝΤΟΣ Κ ΑΛΕΞΑΝ +

and it is here, it has been suggested, that the Cretans held out in
1453 till Mohammed gave them special terms and allowed them to depart
with all the honours of war. Michael Palæologus, after the recovery of
the city from the Latins, began an inner sea-wall, but no traces of
it, Professor van Millingen says, have survived. In 1351 again all the
seaward walls were repaired, and all the houses that had been built
between them and the sea were destroyed. It appears that the strip of
ground originally outside the walls was smaller than at present,
considerable silting having taken place during the last five
centuries. The Venetian fleet in 1203 drew near enough to the walls to
throw a flying bridge from the ships to the ramparts.

The last gate of the land walls is the Xylo-porta. The first on the
Golden Horn is Aivan-Serai. Near it is a landing-stage, at which the
Emperors used formally to be received by the Senate when they came by
water to Blachernae. Close to this gate are the churches of S. Thekla
and SS. Peter and Mark, and the church (on an ancient site) of S.
Demetrius. From an archway near the next gate comes the splendid
_Nike_ now in the museum. The walls here are now some way from the
Golden Horn, generally at the opposite side of the narrow street, and
can be seen only in fragments, sometimes set into a house, or in a
garden. Balat Kapoussi, gate of the Kynegos (Hunter), protected a
harbour: the name is thought to be connected with the imperial
hunting. The other gates going eastwards that are of interest are the
Porta Phani, the gate of Phanar, where was once a lighthouse, now the
nearest entrance to the patriarchal church and to the little church
of the Mouchliotissa; Petri Kapoussi, the gate of the Petrion, near
the famous convent where so many imperial ladies ended their days, and
where the Venetians cast their bridges on to the walls in 1203,
recovering the city for Isaac Angelus, and in 1204, capturing it for
the Latins. The desperate Turkish attack on this point in 1453 was
repulsed; Aya Kapoussi, the gate of S. Theodosia, comes next. After
the inner bridge are the old Venetian quarter and the great timber
yards. By the outer bridge is the Baluk Bazâr Kapoussi, the gate of
the fish market, where now as in the fifteenth century the fish market
is held. It was the Gate of the Perama (the old ferry was across here,
where is now the bridge) and it was also called Porta Hebraica, for
the Jews early settled there, and held their property till they were
dispossessed to build the Yeni Valideh Djamissi. Beyond it were the
settlements of the merchants of Pisa and Amalfi. Beyond it again is
the Bagtché Kapoussi, the Πόρτα τοῦ Νεωρίου, the harbour in which the
imperial fleet was moored when it came in for repairs. From here
eastwards was the home of the first Genoese colony, and by it is the
pier at which a new Grand Vizier lands in state when he first comes to
take possession of the office of his department. Further still (after
the Porta Veteris Rectoris) is the Yali Kiosk Kapoussi, at the point
where the walls which now separate the Seraglio from the rest of the
city join the ancient fortifications. It was the Porta Eugenii, and
from it the chain was stretched across to Galata. Here the brides of
the Emperors landed when they came by sea, and were "invested with the
imperial buskins and other insignia of their rank."

From this point there is difficulty for the student to trace the
course of the walls. Part can be identified at the beginning of the
Seraglio enclosure; but part cannot be seen at all except from the
sea. Approach is forbidden by the harsh "Yasak, Yasak" of the
sentries. The walls from the Acropolis, now Seraglio point, to the
marble tower at the end of the Land walls, had 188 towers, and were
above five miles in length. Unlike those on the Golden Horn they were
built close to the sea, and the line of their course "was extremely
irregular, turning in and out with every bend of the shore, to present
always as short and sharp a front as possible to the waves that dashed
against them." At least thirteen gates are known. The first is the
Cannon gate, Top Kapoussi, "a short distance to the south of the apex
of the promontory," called by the Greeks the gate of S. Barbara, from
the church which stood near it. Close to it was the Mangana, or
arsenal of the city. The next gate is Deirmen Kapoussi (gate of the
mill), of which the Greek name is unknown. It was near here that the
great ice-floes broke over the wall; and a number of inscriptions
westwards from this point mark the restorations of Theophilus. Near it
"a hollow now occupied by market gardens indicates the site of the
Kynegion, the amphitheatre erected by Severus when he restored
Byzantium," where in later times Justinian II. set his feet on
Leontius and Apsimarus (see above, p. 55).

The next gate is the Demir Kapoussi, with a small opening through
which it is said that the Sultanas sewn in sacks were thrown, and near
it large chambers possibly used as prisons. A little further on there
are arched buttresses through which water used to be brought from the
holy spring of the ancient Church of S. Saviour, and on which was
built the famous Indjili Kiosk, from which the Sultans would view the
splendid panorama of hill and sea which stretches before it. Here,
too, was the palace of Mangana, and not far off the atrium of
Justinian mentioned by Procopius, where stood the splendid statue of
Theodora. Further south was the Church of the Theotokos Hodegetria,
where originally the icon of the B. V. M. attributed to S. Luke (see
p. 263) was kept. The place of the small gate named after the church
is shown by two slabs, built into the inner side of the gateway now
walled up, bearing the inscription "Open me the gates of righteousness
that I may go in and praise the Lord." It was through this gate that
John VI. Palæologus entered in 1355, having tricked the guards by
pretending that his ships were wrecked. Beyond Ahour Kapoussi is the
ruined wall of the palace of Hormisdas, where once was the Bucoleon,
and then comes the small bay which formed the imperial port of the
Bucoleon. A little further one sees clearly the Church of SS. Sergius
and Bacchus above the ruined wall, and here was the gate on which was
an inscription which commemorated the famous Nika insurrection. Beyond
this were two harbours, the Harbour of Julian or S. Sophia, and that
of the Kontoscolion, where the gate is now called Koum Kapoussi.
Within this is the Armenian quarter with its patriarchate. Next comes
Yeni Kapoussi, the new gate, where began the ancient harbour now
silted up, called the harbour of Eleutherius (Vlanga Bostan).

The next gate was called that of S. Æmilianus, now Daoud Pasha
Kapoussi, which ended the walls of Constantine along the shore. The
next is the πόρτα τοῦ Ψαμαθᾶ, Psamathia Kapoussi, named, as is the
quarter, after the sand thrown up on the beach. The next, Narli
Kapoussi, the Pomegranate gate, is that which gave admission to the
monastery of the Studium. Here on the Decollation of S. John Baptist,
August 29, the Emperor was received by the abbat and conducted in
state to the church to attend the Eucharist of the day. On the tower
close by is an inscription recording its reparation by Manuel
Comnenus. Beyond was the church and monastery of Diomed, on whose
steps Basil the Macedonian slept when he first came to Constantinople
a homeless wanderer. The wall ends with the famous Mermer Kuleh.
Perhaps this was at one time the prison of S. Diomed, where Pope
Martin I. was placed in 654, and Maria Comnena, mother of Alexius II.,
was imprisoned by Andronicus Comnenus. Traces of a two-storeyed
building still exist behind this magnificent tower which so splendidly
ends the sea-walls.

       *       *       *       *       *

  [Illustration: THE MARBLE TOWER AT S.W. CORNER OF THE WALLS]

So we turn northwards and enter upon the famous defences, so long the
bulwarks of the Empire.

Something has already been said about the building of the Theodosian
walls. It has been seen that Anthemius who ruled as Prætorian prefect
during the minority of the Emperor Theodosius II. enlarged and
refortified the city, and that "the bounds he assigned to the
city, fixed substantially her permanent dimensions, and behind the
bulwarks he raised--improved and often repaired, indeed, by his
successors--Constantinople acted her great part in the history of the
world." Repaired by Constantine, then holding the office that had been
held by Anthemius, thirty-four years after the first construction,
"this was a wall, indeed, τὸ καὶ τεῖχος ὄντως[62]--a wall which, so
long as ordinary courage survived, and the modes of ancient warfare
were not superseded, made Constantinople impregnable, and behind which
civilization defied the assaults of barbarism for a thousand years."

The walls stretch now from the marble tower to a short distance beyond
the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus. Originally they went further, but,
as will be seen, they were superseded by newer fortifications beyond
that point.

The walls, as may be traced to-day, were thus divided. First, within
was the great inner wall from 13½ to 15½ feet thick, which historians
call τὸ κάστρον τὸ μέγα, τὸ μέγα τεῖχος. It rose probably about 50
feet above the ground, with a battlement of 4 feet 8 inches. It was
guarded by ninety-six towers, standing about 180 feet apart, about 60
feet high, and projecting from the wall from 18 to 34 feet. These
towers were distinct buildings from the wall, though connected with
it. The capture of a tower would not necessarily involve the capture
of the wall. From the roof of the tower the engineer discharged stones
and Greek fire, and there, says Nicephorus Gregoras, the sentinels
looked westward day and night, keeping themselves awake at night by
shouting to one another along the line.

Between the inner and outer walls was the inner terrace, ὁ περίβολος,
in which were sheltered the troops for the defence of the outer walls.
It was a space of from 50 to 64 feet. Above it rising now 10 feet, but
probably of old nearly twice as far, was the outer wall, the "little
wall." It is "from 2 to 6½ feet thick, rising some 10 feet above the
present level of the peribolos, and about 27½ feet above the present
level of the terrace between the outer wall and the moat."[63] The
upper part is built above a lower solid portion, "for the most part in
arches, faced on the outer side with hewn blocks of stone," and
supported behind by arches which carried a parapet-wall. This wall was
also protected by towers with small windows. Behind this outer wall
the troops on which fell the brunt of the fighting, as in 1422 and
1453, were sheltered.

Beyond the outer wall was an embankment or terrace, τὸ ἔξω
παρατείχιον, some 60 feet broad. Then came the moat, of at least the
same breadth as the terrace. This is now to a great extent filled up
and used for market gardens, but in front of the Golden Gate it is
still 22 feet deep. It had scarp and counter-scarp, each 5 feet thick,
and the scarp was surmounted by a breast-work with battlements 5 feet
high. Across the moat are walls, which were probably aqueducts. It
seems probable that the moat itself was rarely if ever filled with
water.

To the gates which went through both walls belongs the greatest
historic interest. Some of the ten great gates were merely used to
give entrance to the fortifications; others, connected with bridges
thrown over the moat, formed the public gates of the city. These
latter were specially guarded by towers. Besides these there were a
few posterns, most of which led only into the inner terrace. Starting
from the marble tower we come across a series of inscriptions, one of
Basil and Constantine (975-1025), over the first inner tower, and
after that a number commemorating the restoration by John Palæologus,
1433-44. The first gate is the most renowned of all, the Porta Aurea,
the Golden Gate, built of marble with two beautifully carved capitals.
It is flanked by two great marble towers. It was built between 389 and
391 to commemorate the victory of Theodosius the Great over Maximus.
Through it he entered in triumph in 391, and like the column of
Arcadius and the obelisk in the Hippodrome, it is the still surviving
memorial of his greatness. Above it at one time stood a statue of
Theodosius, and many groups of statuary. An inscription recorded its
foundation:

     HAEC LOCA THEVDOSIVS DECORAT POST FATA TYRANNI.
     AVREA SAECLA GERIT QVI PORTAM CONSTRVIT AVRO.

Probably, as Professor Bury has suggested, the second line was
inscribed under Theodosius II. when the archway became part of the new
wall. "At the south-western angle of the northern tower the Roman
eagle still spreads its wings; the laureated monogram 'XP' appears
above the central archway on the city side of the gateway, and several
crosses are scattered over the building." Traces of frescoes may still
be seen on the inner walls of the southern arch, which Professor Van
Millingen thinks may have been used as a chapel. It had three
archways, the centre of which was the imperial entrance. Through this
gate passed new sovereigns from the Hebdomon (which Professor Van
Millingen has conclusively proved to have been situated at the
village, now Makrikeui, some three miles westwards of the city) when
they came to be crowned or to take formal possession. Such were
Marcian in 450, Leo I. in 457, Basiliscus in 476, Phocas in 602, Leo
the Armenian in 813, and Nicephorus Phocas in 963. Here too envoys
from the Pope were sometimes met.

  [Illustration: WALLS NEAR THE GOLDEN GATE: ROMAN ROAD IN FOREGROUND]

Through it came the imperial triumphs of Heraclius, Constantine
Copronymus, Theophilus, Basil I., Tzimisces, Basil II. The last to
enter in triumph was Michael Palæologus when the Empire was restored
to the Greeks in 1261, and the Emperor walked humbly on foot through
the gate till he reached the church of the Studium.

It was long one of the strongest defences of the city, an almost
impregnable acropolis, as Cantacuzene calls it. When the city was
captured by the Turks, Mohammed II. increased the defences by building
here, in 1457, behind the gate, the great enclosure now called the
Seven Towers, which became the state prison. In it foreign ambassadors
were placed when their countries were at war with Turkey, and there as
late as the war with Revolutionary France a French ambassador was
confined. Mohammed II. built up all the entrances of the Golden Gate;
and the legend still survives that through it a victorious Christian
army shall enter when the city is captured from the Turks.

The gate nearest to it, now called Yedi Koulé Kapoussi, may probably
have existed in Byzantine times, as a public gate called by the same
name as the greater gate. Through it doubtless Basil the Macedonian
came when he turned aside and lay down to sleep on the steps of the
monastery of S. Diomed.

Next to this as we walk northwards comes the second military gate,
and, after walls which have several inscriptions, the second public
gate, the Selivri Kapoussi (gate leading to the Selivria road). This
was originally the πύλη τῆς πηγῆς, gate of the Holy Spring,
which is at the village now called Balukli. After we have looked on
it, with its old towers and dark narrow entrance through which Alexius
the general of Michael Palæologus entered in 1261, it is delightful to
turn aside and follow the shady road half a mile to the little
Christian village, best of all if it is _en fête_ in the week of the
Greek Easter, when you can buy icons and sacred medals, and join the
crowds who throng the church and descend the steps by the baptistery
to the sacred well. The legend of its sacredness goes far back. As
early as Justinian's time there was a church there, as Procopius says,
"in the place which is called the Fountain, where there is a thick
grove of cypress trees, a meadow whose rich earth blooms with flowers,
a garden abounding with fruit, a fountain which noiselessly pours
forth a quiet and sweet stream of water--in short, where all the
surroundings befit a sacred place." There was also for many centuries
a palace and park of the Emperors. The last tale of the sacred well
belongs to the time of the Turkish conquest. On the fatal 29th of May
the village priest was sitting in his garden beside the well frying
his fish, when a messenger rushed up with the news that the Turks had
broken through the wall and were entering the city. The holy man
refused to believe it. "But run to the top of your garden," said his
friend, "and see for yourself." "No. I would as soon believe that
these fish should leap out of the frying-pan into the spring." And
they did; and there are their descendants, as any one may see for
himself, to this day.

Back, after a pleasant rest at Balukli, to the third military gate,
only a short space from that of the πήγη; then to the Porta
Rhegion, the gate of Rhegium Yeni Mevlevi Haneh Kapoussi, which led to
Rhegium on the Marmora twelve miles away. On it are no less than five
inscriptions on the gateway itself, and two on the southern tower. Of
the latter, one reads--

     + ΝΙΚΑ Η ΤΥΧΗ
     ΚωΝϹΤΑΝΤΙΝΟΥ ΤΟΥ ΘΕΟ
     ΦΥΛΑΚΤΟΥ ΗΜωΝ ΔΕϹΠΟΤΟΥ
     +                    +

     "The fortune of Constantine our God-protected Emperor
     conquers."

The last line has been effaced.

After the fourth military gate comes the gate of S. Romanus, now Top
Kapoussi, near which the last Emperor fell, and through which Mohammed
entered in triumph. Opposite this point the Sultan's tent was placed,
as Phrantzes tells us.

The next military gate is that of the Pempton. To this the road
descends into the valley of the Lycus, and we pass the great breach
made by the Turkish cannon in 1453, through which the troops forced
their entrance. In the Lycus valley it was that Theodosius II. fell
from his horse in 450, an accident from the effects of which he died.
The next public gate is that called Edirnè Kapoussi, the Adrianople
gate, which was of old the gate of Charisius. Within, the road led to
the Imperial cemetery by the Church of the Holy Apostles, where
Theodora, the wife of the great Justinian, was buried. Here was the
part of the walls which was called Μεσοτείχον: and here was
generally the chief point of attack against the city. "Here stood the
gates opening upon the streets which commanded the hills of the city;
here was the weakest part of the fortifications, the channel of the
Lycus rendering a deep moat impossible, while the dip in the line of
the walls as they descended and ascended the slopes of the valley put
the defenders below the level occupied by the besiegers."

This was shown in the very first siege, 626, as well as in the last;
and it was here that the first cannonade was directed against the
walls, in 1422. In the last siege two towers of the inner wall and a
large part of the outer wall were battered to pieces, and the moat was
filled ready for an assault. Giustiniani erected a palisade covered
with hides and supported with earthworks; and it was not till the
gallant Genoese fell mortally wounded that the Turks succeeded in
forcing their way in.

It is through the Edirnè Kapoussi that one naturally enters to see
both the Church of the Chora and the Tekfour Serai, the palace of the
Porphyrogenitus. The large mosque within the gate is that built by
Suleiman in memory of one of his daughters.

Continuing northwards, with the striking view of the ruined palace
rising above the walls, we reach the sixth military gate, and beyond
this the lines of the walls, which have turned eastwards, are much
broken. The sixth military gate is the Kerko-Porta (see above p. 150).

Beyond this the wall of Theodosius comes to an end abruptly. From this
point the fortifications have a different character. "Along the
greater portion of their course these bulwarks consisted of a single
wall, without a moat; but at a short distance from the water, where
they stand on level ground, they formed a double wall, which was at
one time protected by a moat and constituted a citadel at the
north-west angle of the city." They belong, Professor van Millingen
has also clearly proved, to at least three periods, to the days of
Heraclius, of Leo, and of Manuel Comnenus. After the Kerko-Porta the
Theodosian walls turned eastwards; when the palace of Blachernae was
defended it was probably by the erection, after the fifth century, of
a new wall. The wall of Manuel Comnenus, built to give additional
protection, left the earlier wall on an inner line of defence.

The wall of Manuel is stronger than that of Theodosius, but it has no
moat; it resisted all the efforts of the Turkish artillery in 1453.
The public gate in it was that of the Kaligaria (the district where
military shoes were made), and from a tower beside it the last
Emperor and Phrantzes reconnoitred early in the morning of the last
day of the siege. North of this, from the tower which stands at the
point where the wall turns eastwards, the fortifications seem to have
been entirely rebuilt during the repairs of the fourteenth and
fifteenth century. In this piece stands the gate of Gyrolimnè, through
which probably the leaders of the Crusaders in 1203, who were encamped
on the hill just outside, entered to negotiate with Isaac Angelus.
Behind it stood the palace of Blachernae, the site of which may be
expected to reveal much when it is excavated.

Beyond this, from the great tower, unbattlemented, which has on it an
inscription in honour of Isaac Angelus, who reconstructed it in 1188,
the greatest difficulties surround the identification of the different
portions. The first part of the wall is of great height--sometimes
sixty-eight feet--and of thickness varying from over thirty to over
sixty feet. Three towers protect this part: two "twin towers" rising
to a great height above the walls. The special character of the walls
is determined by the fact that, within, the palace of Blachernae stood
upon a terraced hill. The second tower, much higher than that with the
inscription, may be identified with the tower of Isaac Angelus,
described by Nicetas Choniates as built by the Emperor both for the
defence of Blachernae, and for a residence for himself. Beyond it is a
third tower, which has been generally considered to be the tower of
Anemas, mentioned first by Anna Comnena, as the place in which Anemas,
who had conspired against her father, was confined.

All these identifications are difficult; and it is also difficult to
feel sure that a more satisfactory solution of the many problems which
arise would not be to consider that the tower of Isaac Angelus is the
comparatively small one that still bears his inscription, and that
the two others, and northern tower, combine to form the "prison of
Anemas."

Within these towers was certainly the Palace of Blachernae, and the
chambers now so grim and foul, that may sometimes be inspected, are
very likely the prisons built by Alexius Comnenus and connected with
his palace.

Beyond these towers a new series of walls begins. These are "in two
parallel lines, connected by transverse walls, so as to form a citadel
beside the Golden Horn. The inner wall belongs to the reign of
Heraclius; the outer is an erection of Leo V. the Armenian." A
splendid view of these magnificent walls, and of the Golden Horn
below, is obtained from the hill westwards, on which the Crusaders
encamped in 1203. The wall of Heraclius, with its three hexagonal
towers, was built to protect the suburb of Blachernae after the attack
of the Avars in 627: that of Leo was built in 813 when the city was in
danger from the Bulgarians. A citadel was formed between the two
walls, within which was the chapel and sacred well of S. Nicholas. The
gate is the gate of Blachernae, and beyond it is a tower with an
inscription stating that it was reconstructed by "Romanus, the
Christ-loving sovereign." From this point a wall led to the
water's-edge, and in it was the Wooden Gate (Ξυλόπορτα, see
above, p. 273).

We have thus completed the circuit of the most interesting mediæval
defences in Europe. At every point they have memories that go back to
great historic days, memories of treachery as well as heroism, but
above all of a long and gallant defence of all that made the
civilization of Europe enduring and worthy to endure.

To-day as one goes along the great triumphal way, still retaining
fragments at least of its solid pavement that was laid by Justinian,
the way along which countless armies of emperors and of invaders have
passed on their march of triumph or retreat, we are reminded of the
past not only by shattered walls, and by the goats that feed and
scramble where once the soldiers of the empire kept watch, but by the
immemorial cemetery, with its groups of cypress, which stands beside
us as we walk.

It is a perpetual memorial of the vanity of human power. There, where
thousands of Turks are now laid to rest, where the stones gape above
the coffins placed a few feet below, and the strange lozenge-shapes
with their gaudy inscriptions lean and totter on every side; there
once crusading armies camped to sack a Christian city; and there the
soldiers of Mohammed mustered for the last fight which was to give
them the crown of their centuries of war. Huns, Avars, Bulgars, Goths,
men of Italy and Russia and Greece, all have passed; and the men who
have conquered where they fought and failed lie buried where once they
camped. On one side of the great imperial way stretches this vast
gloomy silent graveyard; on the other stand is the shattered wall.

In that long, broken, deserted wall the history of the great city
seems summed up. "Débris colossal du passé, elle nous diminue et nous
écrase, nous et nos existences courtes, et nos souffrances d'une
heure, et tout le rien instable que nous sommes."

FOOTNOTES:

[62] Inscription formerly on the outer wall between the fourth and
fifth towers south of the Golden Gate.

[63] These figures, and all the others, came from Professor Van
Millingen's exhaustive book.



CHAPTER V

_The Mosques, Türbehs and Fountains_


The mosques of Constantinople, as has already been shown, are very
largely buildings which had been churches in past days. The
inspiration felt so overpoweringly in the Church of the Divine Wisdom
still abides in the buildings erected by the Emperors of past days.
More open and evident still is the fact that the architects of the
mosques, built for Mohammedan worship since the Turks have ruled in
the city of the Cæsars, have done little more than copy the people
whom they have conquered. In most of the great mosques of Stambûl, S.
Sophia is simply and directly imitated. In others the leading idea is
developed with a variation or two. Of genuine originality the Turkish
architects have shown not a trace.

  [Illustration: "MOHAMMED, THE APOSTLE OF GOD." EMBROIDERY FROM CURTAIN
   OVER THE DOOR OF S. SOPHIA.]

The innumerable mosques of Constantinople are of two kinds, those
founded by members of the reigning dynasty, and those built by humbler
persons. Most of the mosques have a court with a fountain in the
midst. Many have houses, round kitchens, schools for children and for
students of the Koran, hospitals, and the dwelling of the imam. Nearly
all have türbehs, tombs of the royal family and of persons of great
distinction. All have of course the minaret, which to the traveller is
the most characteristic feature of the vast city. The ordinary mosques
have but one minaret, from which five times a day the voice of the
muezzin calls the faithful to pray. The royal mosques have more than
one minaret, S. Sophia and the mosque of Suleiman have four, the
mosque of Ahmed has six.

  [Illustration: MOSQUE OF MOHAMMED II. FROM ENGLISH EMBASSY]

The first and most sacred of the mosques is that of Eyûb, with the
türbeh of that great warrior by its side. It is the one mosque which
no Christian may enter or even approach. On the accession of each new
sultan he "must be girded with the sabre of the great Osman by the
hands of the general of the Mevlevi Dervishes, who comes across Asia
Minor from distant Konieh for the proud purpose. Only two Sultans
since Mohammed II. have omitted the ceremonial, or have performed it
elsewhere, and the reign of each was brief and calamitous."

Both mosque and türbeh, the most sacred buildings in all Stambûl to
the Moslem, are kept, it is said, with ceaseless care, and redecorated
again and again with increased splendour. Near them is a great street
of tombs, where sleep the long line of sheikhs-ul-Islam.

In that crowded suburb, still fanatically Mohammedan, the stranger
lingers but few moments. He seeks the characteristic expression of
Moslem reverence in the great buildings that crown the hills. In the
heat of the afternoon he climbs the hill to where once the great
church of the Holy Apostles stood. Lingering on the terrace he looks
over the Golden Horn and the vast city, a city of gardens and
minarets, stretching as far as the eye can see. As the hour for prayer
draws near, men pour from every street, across through the market, or
by the open arid space that extends westwards till the narrow streets
close round, stretching down to the harbour. Hundreds and hundreds
they seem, of all ages, in every kind of attire, of every race, some
light-haired and fresh-coloured, as of more than half European blood;
some, negroes from Africa, but all males and all Moslems. They enter
the great mosque; the Christian must stand back, even from the court;
a few minutes and the stream pours out again and leaves but a few
pious lingerers still at their prayers or some children sitting before
their teacher and reciting to him the Koran.

It is the great mosque of Mohammed II., built in 1463-69 for the
Conqueror by a Greek Christian, Christodoulos. It covers a great
extent of ground, with its schools, its türbehs, and its great court.
The court is cloistered, and it has eighteen splendid columns, which
came, there can be little doubt, from the Church of the Apostles. Six
are of red granite, twelve of verde antico; the simple carving of the
capitals belongs to a period when Byzantine art was at its best. In
the midst of the court is a fountain shaded by cypresses. It is almost
always deserted, save for a few children here and there at play.

  [Illustration: MOSQUE OF SULEIMAN FROM THE GOLDEN HORN]

We enter the mosque itself by the great door at the south. Its size is
its most impressive feature. The decoration is simple; great black
arabesques on a white ground: dignified, but, in the full sunlight
which pours through the great windows, too dazzling. At the right
above the entrance is the blue tablet on which is inscribed that
traditional prophecy of the prophet: "They shall conquer
Constantinople; happy the prince, happy the army, which shall achieve
the conquest."

Outside, to the East, is the plain octagon in which is laid, alone,
the Conqueror Mohammed. The great turban hangs over the head, a heavy
velvet pall over the chest which contains the coffin. Two big brass
candlesticks, a Koran copied by the hand of the Conqueror himself, in
a reliquary a tooth of the prophet: that is all the türbeh contains.
But the simplicity is, for this generation at least, spoilt by the
"thorough restoration" the whole has received, and its brightness of
new paint. Mohammed, of all the sultans, remains alone in his glory.
There are other türbehs round his, his mother, his wife, the wife of
Abdul Hamid I., who is said to have been a Creole from Martinique, and
the schoolfellow of the Empress Josephine--she was the mother of
Mahmûd II.--these and others throng the enclosure. But the memory of
Mohammed is still unchallenged among all his successors, and still
pilgrims, hour by hour, stand on the broad marble step and look
reverently within on his last resting-place.

If Mohammed's mosque has the greatest historic interest, by far the
most splendid of all in Stambûl is the great Suleimaniyeh, the mosque
of Suleiman the Magnificent. It crowns the third hill as Mohammed's
crowns the fourth. It was built by Sinan; but it would seem that he
was throughout ordered to copy S. Sophia. Justinian, when he entered
his great church, had said, "Solomon, I have surpassed thee": Suleiman
was determined that he would surpass the Christian Emperor.

His mosque owes not only its design but its details to Christian
sources. Much of the marble, and most notably the great marble
pillars, came from the Church of S. Euphemia at Chalcedon.

Westwards is the large fore-court, surrounded by cloisters, covered by
twenty-four small domes. It is much larger than most of the
mosque-courts. In the midst is a fountain, with a dome above. There
are four minarets at the corners of the cloisters. The mosque itself,
like S. Sophia, is nearly square--225 by 205 feet. The central dome
rests on four piers, and four great shafts support the side arches of
the dome. The great dome is not so large as that of S. Sophia; but the
effect from the outside is far more beautiful owing to the skilful
grouping of the masses of smaller domes, with the four minarets rising
from among the trees. Architects have praised the exquisite adjustment
of all the parts of the building; and, indeed, its combination of
grace with vastness is apparent to the dullest eye. But its general
effect is spoilt, like that of all the greater mosques, by paint. The
colour confuses; the four tints are a meaningless disturbance; the eye
finds it hard to distinguish the real splendour of marble, in mihrab,
minber, and the Sultan's chamber. The brightness of the windows, fine
though the glass is, distracts. Most of all the endless wires and
cords stretched across and from above prevent any clear view of the
whole. But, none the less, it is a splendid building, very solemn and
noble, expressive of the best that Islam can give, in its consecration
of strength and riches to the highest ends.

Outside are the two splendid türbehs of the most dramatic figures in
Turkish history since the Conquest. Suleiman himself lies in a
beautiful domed octagon, the walls covered with intricate arabesques,
the roof, especially, beautiful in brown. A blue inscription on the
white tiles that run round the walls is in exquisite taste. At the
head of his catafalque is Suleiman's white turban with double tufts of
heron's feathers. Over it are splendid and elaborate shawls, which he
once wore.

The same türbeh contains the tombs of Suleiman II. and Ahmed II. But a
stone's throw from it is the beautiful tomb of Roxelana, in which a
Western poet of our time has found inspiration.

     Where rarely sunbeam of the morn,
       Or ev'ning moonbeam ever stray'd,
     Above the ground she trod in scorn,
       Here, draped in samite and brocade,
       Behold the great Sultana laid,
     Of all her fleeting greatness shorn!

The walls are covered with exquisite blue tiles, with beautiful
designs of almond and tulip. Happily this türbeh has not been restored
as have so many of them. It remains a gem of the best Moslem art. The
group of buildings seen as one descends from the hill on which the
Seraskierat stands, or from the tower, has a charming effect. The
cypresses mingling with the domes and minarets make the most peaceful
scene that Stambûl can show. In the city of trees and gardens, of
domes and minarets, this seems the picture typical of the whole as the
Moslems have made it. Here is, one feels, the true poetic East, the
home of the poets we have read. We might be in the Arabian Nights,

     Whilst there o'er mosque and minaret
       That rise against the sunset glow,

broods the great calm of a nation of fatalists. It is not the "purple
East" we see, but the soft, somnolent, sensuous splendour of a great
repose, or may be a great decay.

Third of the great mosques I should place that of Ahmed, which, with
its large enclosures, encroaches on the old Hippodrome. It may well be
considered the most truly oriental of them all. "The masterpiece of
Asiatic art" some call it, the highest achievement of Mussulman
architecture. Something it owes to its position, fronted by the long,
broad, open space; something, certainly, to those who know, to its
historic associations. But undoubtedly in its general plan and in the
detail of its decoration it is more clearly than the others a work of
the genius of the East.

  [Illustration: COURT OF THE MOSQUE OF AHMED I.]

  [Illustration: AN ENTRANCE TO THE MOSQUE OF AHMED]

It covers a vast space. The great court which surrounds it seems
constantly to be filled with a great market. It is in the heart of
life: crowds are constantly passing through, pilgrims from S. Sophia,
travellers who have turned in from the Hippodrome. The air of the
buyers and sellers is more _dilettante_ than that of the serious folk
who make their homely purchases among the stalls outside the great
mosque of Mohammed II. This seems an oriental scene decked out for
your amusement. But the place has a long and tragic history. Part of
the area covered by the buildings of the mosque was once occupied by
the great palace of the Emperors; part was the Hippodrome; here too,
probably, was the Augustæum. It was not for more than a hundred years
after the conquest that the Turks built upon this site. Then (1608-14)
Ahmed I. determined to raise a memorial of his piety finer than any of
his predecessors had achieved, and if it might be, by a propitiatory
offering, to stay the decline which had already begun to fall upon the
Empire. He worked himself at the building, it is said, and paid the
workmen with his own hands. The fore-court has a beautiful fountain.
The interior of the mosque itself is larger than the Suleimaniyeh. Its
fault is sameness. Fergusson, whose judgment is not always to be
quoted, may here speak without contradiction. "If the plan were
divided into quarters, each of the four quarters would be found to be
identical, and the effect is consequently painfully mechanical and
prosaic. The design of each wall is also nearly the same; they have
the same number of windows spaced in the same manner, and the side of
the Kibleh[64] is scarcely more richly decorated than the others." The
prevailing blue of the whole becomes oppressive. There are some
exquisite tiles; but the effect of the whole mosque is spoilt, like
that of Suleiman, by the paint. Yet with all its defects the size
makes the mosque magnificent. "A hall nearly two hundred feet square,
with a stone roof supported by only four great fluted piers, is a
grand and imposing object." Fergusson's judgment must be accepted.

At the same time there are many points that no one who has seen them
will ever forget. One is the view as you stand under the great columns
of the arched court and look up at the almost innumerable domes,
rising dome upon dome to the great central cupola that dominates them
all, the one minaret that you see breaking the monotonous gradation of
the domes by its sheer, sharp ascent into the sky. Another is the
colossal strength of the four great piers from which spring the arches
of the central cupola, immense in their solidity, yet hardly so clumsy
as you think at first when you gaze from under them at the more
graceful pillars of the outer arcade.

Of details that repay attention, the chief door into the mosque,
typically eastern, stands out. The six minarets, seen from far, are
the most graceful of all in the city. Ahmed in building six encroached
on the unique dignity of Mecca. The sherif protested, and the Sultan
added a seventh to the sacred shrine. His own mosque remains the only
one with six.

Within, the later history of the Turks invests the scene with a new
interest. It was from the splendid marble pulpit that the _fetva_
decreeing the abolition of the Janissaries was read, while Mahmûd
stood in his box. It was round the mosque that much of the fiercest
fighting took place that day. Bodies were heaped up before the gate of
the court, and from the great sycamore, still standing, and called
"the tree of groans," hung corpses "like the black fruit of a tree in
hell."

These three are the most splendid of the mosques. Next to them ranks
the mosque of Bayezid II. It was built between 1489 and 1497, and the
architect was the son of Christodoulos, who built the mosque named
after the Conqueror, Bayezid's father. The two sons designed to
surpass their father. It cannot be said that they succeeded. The
mosque itself has little interest. The fountain in the court does not
equal those of Ahmed and Suleiman. But the place will always be
visited for the name, which the travellers give it, of the Pigeons'
Mosque. A poor widow, says the legend, offered a pair of pigeons to
Bayezid for the mosque. These hundreds are their offspring, and they
have always been held sacred. They fly about, settle everywhere on the
roofs, walk over the floor, and surround in an instant everyone who
takes up a handful of grain. They divide the honours of the court with
the sellers of trivial ornaments, and the professional letter-writers,
whom one may spend a merry half hour in watching, as they formally
express the feelings which the lover, or the applicant for a post
under government, is rightly supposed to possess, and is anxious to
have set forth for him.

The mosque of Bayezid owes something of its attraction to its
position, looking on two sides upon a wide open space, with the wall
and gate of the Seraskierat only a few yards away. To the east is the
great garden, which contains the türbeh of Bayezid himself, with a
catafalque thirteen feet long.

Of the hundreds of mosques, each with its own characteristic design or
adornment or history, stand out for a word of admiration, those of the
Shahzadeh, of Selim I., of the Yeni Valideh, and that called the Tulip
Mosque.

The mosque of the Shahzadeh, built like that of Suleiman, by the
Moslem architect Sinan, was erected by the Sultan and Roxelana,
between 1543 and 1547, to commemorate their eldest son, whose türbeh
stands beside it, decorated with the most exquisite Persian tiles. The
mosque is on the great central street that runs through Stambûl. Four
semi-domes culminate in a great central dome, and four great
octagonal pillars support it. It is one of the most beautiful of the
Ottoman mosques. It may be added that the mosque which the sorrowing
parents built to their youngest son Djanghir (see above p. 170), at
Galata, above Top-haneh, was burnt in 1764, and as it now stands is
the result of "restoration" by the present Sultan. It is the most
prominent object on the shore as one draws near to landing at the
Galata bridge.

On the fifth hill, and perhaps the most prominent object in the view
from the hill of Pera, above the _petit champ des morts_, is the
mosque of Selim I. The style is simple, one vast dome resting on a
drum lighted by many windows, and supported by flying buttresses.

The Tulip Mosque, Laleli Djami, stands in a prominent position in a
crowded street, the Koska Sokaki. It is an example of the more modern
style. It was built by Mustapha III. in 1760-63, and shows the Turkish
expression of the Strawberry-Hill interest in antiquity. It contains
columns from the palace of Boucoleon and the forum of Theodosius.
Beside it is the türbeh of Mustafa III. and of Selim III. Perhaps the
most pleasant part of a visit here is to stand on the terrace and look
over the houses on to the Sea of Marmora and the distant snow-covered
hills.

The last mosque I shall mention is that which the traveller probably
first visits. It attracts him as soon as he has crossed the Galata
bridge, and most likely turns him aside from his way to S. Sophia. It
is the mosque of Yeni Valideh Sultan, the wife of Ahmed I. Begun by
her orders in 1615, it was completed by the mother of Mohammed IV. in
1665.

  [Illustration: MURAL TILES FROM THE MOSQUE OF VALIDEH]

This, of all others, aroused the admiration of Lady Mary Wortley
Montagu. "The most prodigious, and I think, the most imposing,
structure I ever saw," she called it; perhaps because she regarded it
as a tribute to her sex. Unhappily, as in most of the other mosques,
paint and whitewash have done their disfiguring work; but the beauty
of its tiles, most of them blue and white, is perhaps superior to any
other collection in the city. The exquisite carving of the doorways,
too, enriched with mother-of-pearl, attracts one as one passes
through. In no other mosque can the excellence of the minute Turkish
work be better studied. The delicacy of the lattice work at the
fountain, too, is admirable.

So much may I say of the mosques. But a word more is needed for their
inseparable attendants. By the Valideh mosque, begun by one sultan's
mother, after whose murder it was completed by her rival, is the great
türbeh which contains, in two chambers, a host of princes and
princesses, and five sultans--Mohammed IV., deposed in 1687, who died
in 1693; Mustafa II., deposed in 1703; Ahmed III., deposed in 1730;
Mahmûd I., 1754; and Osman III., 1757. Of these, the last two alone
died peaceably in possession of the throne.

One other türbeh besides those I have named claims especial mention.
It is that of Mahmûd II., the Reformer, and it stands by itself near
the Column of Constantine. It is the most modern in date and style, a
domed octagon of white marble lighted by seven windows, an atrocious
example of the style which our grandfathers thought rich and
dignified. At the right as one enters lies the mother of Mahmûd. In
the midst is the Reformer himself, a black pall, elaborately worked,
thrown over the catafalque. At the head is, for the first time, the
fez, the symbol of the reform, but it has attached, as of old, the
great tuft of heron's feathers. At the left is the resting-place of
Abdul Aziz, again with a splendid covering, and at the head a simple
fez. The last of the dead sultans--for Murad cannot be counted--who
entered as none of his predecessors had done into the social life as
well as the politics of European courts, yet was deposed and died a
violent death, fitly ends the list. As you stand by his coffin you see
the lesson of Turkish history for to-day. Outwardly, save for the fez,
all is as with the sultans five centuries ago: and the spirit of
Turkish life has not changed, and will not change.

  [Illustration: IN A TÜRBEH]

  [Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE TÜRBEH OF SELIM II. AT S. SOPHIA]

Its worst expression is recalled in the blood and luxury which are
linked with the names of these two sultans. Its best is attached to
the one other architectural feature of the city which I must mention
in this place. One of the most beautiful and most characteristic
sights that strikes the western traveller as he wanders through
Stambûl is the fountain outside every mosque and at almost every
street corner. Hundreds of them are worth lingering over. Here I will
only mention one. Outside the Bâb-i-Humayûn, the gate upon which the
heads of so many disgraced officials have been placed, and under the
shadow of S. Sophia, is the most beautiful of all, designed by Ahmed
I. himself. White marble it is, with beautiful arabesques and
elaborate inscriptions in those graceful elaborations of kaligraphy in
which the Turks have always excelled. It is the most elaborate of all
the fountains, but the little ones at the street corners, with an
arched or domical pent-house above them and some small decorative
inscription above the marble founts, have a simple charm of their own.

As one turns away from the Turkish buildings and tries to sum up the
impressions which the architecture represented by the mosques of
Constantinople leaves on the student of other styles, there are
criticisms which are natural and inevitable. How little variety, we
say; how tiresome, this similarity of design! The Turks indeed have
felt it themselves, but they have been unable to set themselves free.
For indeed the lack is the hopeless one, the sheer absence of
originality, in every feature. We may call one mosque more eastern
than another, but it would puzzle us to find a single feature in any
of them, except the Mihrab, which is not ultimately Christian. The
feeling, it is true, differs; but that will be felt, by Westerns at
least, to be a conspicuous defect. There is no sense of the mystery
that lies behind all life, the solemn awe in which alone man may fitly
draw nigh to God. All is clear, complete, satisfied, protestant of its
completeness and satisfaction. Is there anything, one feels, beyond
man and this world? Certainly here there is nothing to raise thought
to heaven, to help to pierce behind the veil. Is it fanciful to say
that something of this it is that makes the difference between the
windows of a Christian church and those of a mosque? The mosques have
windows of the plainest, ugliest, most staring. Can anything be more
pitiable than the windows of Ahmed's, the characteristic Turkish
mosque? No tracery, no stained glass, nothing that uplifts or
separates from the outer world.

Yet to all this there must be a corresponding gain. From this
absorption in the things of the present, this satisfaction with the
work of men's hands, comes often a real perfection of detail. How
often the fore-court is an admirable piece of building, worth
examination and imitation at every point! Yet even here there is the
exception that detracts from the merit of all Southern "pointed" work:
the arches will not remain firm of themselves, they must needs be tied
together with cross beams. How sordid and untidy this looks one sees
in a moment as one stands in the court of the Valideh mosque. But the
detail, we must insist, is often good, the niches notably so in the
"stalactite pattern," which also appears in the capitals of late date
of sixteenth and seventeenth century building, as in the courts of
Ahmed and Valideh. Yet when all this is said, the chief glory of the
mosques, the best and most original feature of the Moslem art as we
see it in Constantinople, is the exquisite tile-work everywhere and of
every date. It brings us back again, as we end this chapter, to the
magnificent Sultan and his proud wife. The choicest art surrounds the
tomb of the Circassian, and there

     The walls that shut thee from the sun,
       The potter's art made bright with blue,
     Where leaf and tendril overrun
       The Persian porcelain's ivory hue,
     And blazon'd letters, twisting thro'
       Proclaim there is no God but One.

  [Illustration: EMBROIDERY FROM CURTAIN OVER ENTRANCE TO S. SOPHIA]

FOOTNOTES:

[64] _I.e._ where the Mihrab shows the direction of Mecca.



CHAPTER VI

_The Palaces_


No features in the Sultan's city are more prominent than the
cloud-capped towers and the gorgeous palaces. The two towers of Galata
and of the Seraskerat have a very practical meaning. Perpetual watch
is kept in them, and warning sent when the fires which have so often
devastated both Pera and Stambûl are seen to have begun. The great
tower of the Seraskerat, built by Mohammed II., standing in the large
open space in front of the War Office, gives the best detailed view of
Stambûl, and one sees how truly it is not only a city of gardens but a
thoroughly Oriental city. The bazaars, the khans, the mosques, and
here and there an old Byzantine house can be clearly distinguished;
and the seven hills, so puzzling to the traveller on foot, stand out
plainly in the forest of building.

The tower of Galata dates back, in foundation at least, to the fifth
century; and when the Genoese made their settlement in the suburb it
became their chief fortress. It was rebuilt and increased in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The roof has been often burnt, and
the present arrangement of four circular chambers, diminishing as they
ascend, is that of Abdul Mejid. Seen from the street below the Petit
Champ des Morts, it is picturesque and imposing. From it is the
splendid view over the whole city and far into Asia and the range of
Olympus.

Between these towers, so plain and practical, and the luxurious
palaces of the Sultans, the public offices form a convenient link.
Some are modern of the modern, comfortable, and even comparatively
clean, like the great building of the Ottoman Debt, on the finest site
in Stambûl, with magnificent views of the city and the harbour. Some,
like the Sublime Porte, have a certain leisurely dignity, as of the
eighteenth century in Italy, but tawdry and decaying. Some, like the
Ef-kaf--the ministry of religious foundations, close to S. Sophia--are
mere collections of rooms, half ruined, the abode of countless
officials and petitioners, of squalor and dirt.

  [Illustration: TOWER OF GALATA FROM BRIDGE]

How long will it be before the group of buildings now called the Old
Seraglio follow in the same way? Already the outer court, with the
tree of the Janissaries, and the Church of S. Irene, bear a desolate
unkempt appearance, such as one soon learns to associate with
everything that belongs to Turkish officialdom. There are few spots in
Europe that have a longer or more tragic history. This once was the
Akropolis of Byzantium. When first the Turks took the city the Sultan
lived in the Eski Seraï, the "old palace," which was on the site now
occupied by the Seraskierat. But in 1468 Mohammed began to build here
a summer palace, which after much enlargement became under Suleiman I.
the chief palace of the Sultans, and was occupied by them till in 1839
Abdul Mejid finally removed to Dolma bagtché.

The outer court can be freely visited; though during the last year
entrance has been several times refused to me at the most convenient
approach, the Bâb-i-Humayûn, a tiresome restriction which is no more
than an inconvenience, as one may walk freely through the lower gate.
In niches on each side of the Bâb-i-Humayûn were often placed the
heads of viziers whom the Sultans had sacrificed to their own jealousy
or to the demands of the Janissaries. Above is a small square room
where Mahmûd waited all day on the fateful 16th of June 1826, for news
of the fight raging in the streets against the Janissaries. Above the
gate is an inscription placed by Mohammed the Conqueror: "God shall
make eternal the glory of its builder. God shall strengthen his work.
God shall support his foundations." In the bare space between the
outer and inner gates there is nothing to notice except the fateful
tree, and the splendid sarcophagi outside S. Irene, which are said to
have come from the Church of the Holy Apostles. Thence we go through
an avenue up to the Middle Gate, Orta Kapou.

Coming the other way, through the lower gate, Teheshmeh Kapou, we
leave the Museum Chinili Kiosk to the left. To the right of the
Bâb-i-Humayûn is the Gül Kkâneh Kiosk, where Abdul Mejid issued his
great _hatti sherif_ in the presence of representatives of all the
religions of the empire (see above, p. 219).

Beyond the Orta Kapou no one may pass except by special irardé from
the Sultan. This can only be obtained through the Embassy. Of recent
years it is rarely refused; but it is usual to make a party, for the
expense is large. Some five pounds or so must be given in presents.
The visitors are treated as the Sultan's guests, are placed under
charge of an imperial aide-de-camp, are refreshed with coffee and
roseleaf jam in one of the kiosks, and taken on, usually, to the
modern palaces of Dolma bagtché and Beylerbey. The Orta Kapou is
strictly guarded. Here one must walk, for only a Sultan may enter on
horseback. On the right was the room in which the Christian envoys
waited till the Sultan pleased to send out clothes in which alone they
might appear before him. As they came forth the Janissaries, ranged in
military order, "darted like arrows" at the food placed before them in
their kettles, a quaint custom intended to impress the foreigner with
the feeling that he was in the power of a still savage people. At the
left was the room where Viziers were beheaded.

  [Illustration: APPROACH TO THE OLD SERAGLIO]

The court of the divan, now neglected, is the place where the
ministers discussed, and the Sultans, when they would, listened from a
latticed window. To the right were the vast kitchens. Then comes the
Bâb-i-s'âddet, Gate of Felicity, which leads to what was once the
Serai, the royal palace with its harem, which the Italians called
Seraglio. It was through this gate that Murad IV. in 1632 walked alone
to face the rebels, and hushed them to obedience, and that in 1808 the
dead body of Selim III. was thrown out to the Pacha Baraicktar (see
p. 201), and that a few days later the corpse of his murderer, Mustafa
IV., was carried forth to burial.

Within, we are among a maze of small buildings, without dignity but
not altogether without beauty. They represent the caprice of sultan
after sultan, and of their ladies. First we see the Arz Odassi, the
throne room, built by Suleiman I., where on a large couch, like a
great bed, the Sultans reposing on cushions received their ministers
and the foreign envoys. Here the first French ambassadors were
received by Suleiman, and here in 1568 Elizabeth's envoy sought
assistance against Spain. Here again is a lattice behind which the
Sultan could sit, if he would assume the state of the unapproachable
Oriental.

  [Illustration: A CORNER OF THE OLD SERAGLIO]

Next we cross a deserted garden, and pass through neglected courts
till we reach the library, a single room, built by Mustafa III., with
a beautiful bronze door, in which are many unknown MSS. treasures.
Next is the Khazna, the treasury, which is opened only by the second
in authority of the imperial eunuchs, while a crowd of black-coated
and fezzed officials stand on each side. It were idle to enumerate
the treasures. The visitor rarely has time properly to examine them.
But one cannot fail to note the Persian throne of gold, set with
hundreds of precious stones, and the beautiful Turkish divan which
belonged to Ahmed I. On the staircase leading to the gallery which
contains this last treasure are medallion portraits of the Sultans,
interesting enough but perhaps of the same historic value as, though
of far superior artistic excellence to, the portraits of the Scots
Kings at Holyrood. Of similar interest and closer authenticity are the
fine state costumes of the Sultans from Mohammed II. to Mahmûd the
Reformer. The robes are exquisite examples of the richest eastern work
in brocade and silk, and the weapons are of the finest design. Cases
on the walls contain splendid collections of jewels, and some
magnificent armour, notably that worn by Murad IV. at the capture of
Belgrade in 1638.

There are three buildings within this part of the grounds which no one
may approach. The one contains the relics of the prophet. We see the
entrance with its massive door and elaborate tiles. We know that
inside are the mantle, the sacred standard, the beard and a tooth of
the prophet, and an impression in limestone of his foot. Beyond this
again is the old harem, now unused. And not far off is the Kafess, the
luxurious retreat of dethroned sultans, which has often been mentioned
in these pages--the scene perhaps of the worst and vilest crimes of
the Ottomans.

It is with kindlier associations that we approach the beautiful kiosk
of Bagdad, whose walls, with their beautiful tiles, doors of the
finest inlaid work, and carpets of the richest design, place us in an
ideal Eastern scene. It is a copy, they say, of a kiosk Murad IV. saw
at Bagdad. Pity that it is now only a show. Here or in the Mejidiyeh
kiosk looking on the Marmora and up the Golden Horn, comes the
refection, and we fancy ourselves again, but for the officials in
their to us most inappropriate costume,[65] in the Arabian Nights.

So back again and we drive round at break-neck pace, the driver
shouting and cracking his whip all the way, across the Galata Bridge,
along that wretched dirty lane called the "grande rue de Galata," past
Top-haneh and the modern Valideh Mosque, to the palace of Dolma
bagtché. It is the work of Abdul Mejid. It is vast, white, elaborate:
it has aroused enthusiasm among personages who might have been
expected to know better: it was from this gorgeous abode that Abdul
Aziz was hurried across to the old Seraglio at his deposition: some
state functions are still performed here. That is really all that one
would like to say. The bewildering, dazzling, costly decorations, the
pictures that Abdul Aziz so much admired, the mirrors and candelabra,
the abundance of everything that is ugly and expensive, represent
nothing in the world but a taste which has tried to graft on
orientalism the worst ideas of the early Victorian age and the Second
Empire.

Of Cheragan, where Abdul Aziz died and perhaps the last Sultan still
lingers, I cannot speak. No one is now admitted. Let the enthusiastic
de Amicis express, in his account of it, what we feel as we leave
Dolma bagtché.

"Nothing of all the splendour remains in my memory except the Sultan's
bath, made of whitest marble, sculptured with pendent flowers and
stalactites, and decorated with fringes and delicate embroideries that
one feared to touch, so fragile did they seem. The disposition of the
rooms reminded me vaguely of the Alhambra. Our steps made no sound
upon the rich carpets spread everywhere. Now and then an eunuch
pulled a cord, and a green curtain rose and displayed the Bosphorus,
Asia, a thousand ships, a great light; and then all vanished again, as
in a flash of lightning. The rooms seemed endless, and as each door
appeared we hastened our steps; but a profound silence reigned in
every part, and there was no vestige of any living being, nor rustle
of garment save the sound made by the silken door-curtains as they
fell behind. At last we were weary of that endless journey from one
splendid empty room to another, seeing ourselves reflected in great
mirrors, with the black faces of our guides and the group of silent
servants, and were thankful to find ourselves again in the free air,
in the midst of the ragged, noisy denizens of Tophane."

The present Sultan, as all the world knows, lives in Yildiz Kiosk, a
building erected by himself, on the hills above the Bosphorus. He has
gradually restricted his public appearances within the narrowest
limits possible to a Sultan. Only once a year does he now cross to
Stambûl, to pay, on the 15th of Ramazan, homage to the Prophet's
mantle in its chamber in the old Seraglio. Once a week, on Friday, he
goes to the mosque he has built just outside his palace grounds. A
card from the Embassy admits to a house provided by the Sultan which
gives a good view of his ceremonial procession to his official
prayers. As a survival, or as the modern expression of the power and
obligation of the Khalif, the Commander of the Faithful, it is a sight
not to be missed. The massed thousands of splendid troops, as fine a
body of men as any soldiers in the world, the pilgrims from the far
East, the holy men of the Mohammedan faith, admitted to the best
positions and treated with the most profound reverence, the gathering
of ladies from the harem in closed carriages surrounded by eunuchs,
and of little princes in gay uniforms, at last the coming of the
Sultan himself, in the most prosaic of European costumes, surmounted
by a fez, with his officials preceding and following his
carriage--that is the ceremony to-day which centuries ago foreigners
watched rarely and with awe, if not with terror. The times have
changed; and the man.

  [Illustration: SCUTARI POINT AND LEANDER'S ISLE]

FOOTNOTES:

[65] It is simply that of an English clergyman with high waistcoat and
straight collar--and a fez!



CHAPTER VII

_Antiquities_


Needless to say, the antiquities of Constantinople would take for
their description not one but many books. Archæologists will read as
well as see for themselves. Let me merely call attention to some of
the prominent archæological remains which no one will wish to miss.
They are the living memorials of the great past.

And first the Hippodrome. So much has already been said of it that
here I shall only give the barest description of what we see to-day.
And first be it noted that the space now open is probably no more than
two-fifths of the original Hippodrome. The mosque of Sultan Ahmed
encroached on the east; other buildings on the west. The area of the
ancient Hippodrome has been estimated at 25,280 square yards. The
present space is not more than 216 yards in length and 44 across.
Secondly, it must not be forgotten that the present level is about 10
feet above the original pavement. Some indication of this is given by
the fact that the bases of the columns, excavated by British officers
during the Crimean war, are still considerably below the ground
outside the railings.

  [Illustration: S. SOPHIA FROM THE HIPPODROME. OBELISK IN THE
   FOREGROUND]

Gyllius gives a long account of the Hippodrome as it was in his day, a
century or so after the Turkish Conquest. The Egyptian obelisk, the
Colossus, and the serpent column stood then as they stand now; but
there then remained also seventeen white pillars at the north-east,
the iron rings still fixed to the tops from which awnings were hung.
Columns, pillars, benches, remained here and there; but desolation and
ruin had already fallen upon the scene. "The Hippodrome," he wrote,
"is desolate, stripped of all its ornaments; and they have lately
begun to build upon it. At the sight of it I was filled with grief."
The Crusaders in 1204 destroyed a vast number of precious works of
ancient art which adorned the site: the destruction was completed by
the Turks. The famous bronze horses of Lysippus, which stood as
ornaments of the imperial seat, were taken to Venice after the Latin
Conquest, and stand to-day outside S. Mark's.

We see now only a great open space, thick in dust, from which rise
three striking monuments. At the north-east, whence we enter from S.
Sophia, is the Egyptian obelisk. This was brought from Heliopolis by
Theodosius, and was erected in the position which it has ever since
retained. He placed it upon a pedestal of marble and granite, upon
which are elaborate reliefs of the fourth century, representing scenes
in the Hippodrome. On the north are the bringing the obelisk to the
Hippodrome and the placing it in position, and above it a
representation of the imperial family watching the games, Theodosius
in the midst, with Honorius and Arcadius and attendants, with the
Labarum, the ensign of the Eastern Empire, above. On the west is a
Greek inscription recording the difficulty of the erection; a
corresponding Latin one is on the east. It may be worth while to give
the verse translation of the old translator of Gyllius:

     "To raise this four square pillar to its height,
     And fix it steady on its solid base,
     Great Theodosius tried, but tried in vain.
     In two and thirty days, by Proclus' skill
     The toilsome work, with great applause, was done."

Above the Greek inscription on the west side are other representations
of the spectators at the games, including the Empress. The south side
gives a chariot race round the low wall (spina), which divided the
Hippodrome in the midst and on which the monuments stood. Above is
another representation of the imperial family in their Kathisma. On
the east, above the Latin inscription, are shown two rows of
spectators, the Emperor in the upper, with a wreath for the winner of
the race. The sculptures are worth the closest attention, as they are
among the finest remains of the fourth century that we possess. The
minuteness of the detail, in the representation of the persons with
their official garb, is of the greatest historical interest.

A few paces further on is the famous Serpent column (see above, p.
11). Nothing in Constantinople, perhaps in the world, has such a
history. The three heads have long disappeared: one is in the Museum.
When they were taken away is doubtful. Tradition makes Mohammed cut
off one on the day of the conquest; but Gyllius certainly speaks as if
they were still intact in his day. "Made of brass, not fluted," he
says of the pillar, "but wreathed around with the foldings of three
serpents like those we see in great ropes. The heads of these serpents
are placed in a triangular form and rise very high upon the shaft of
the pillar." The column removed from Delphi by Constantine bore, at
its first making, the golden tripod which the Greeks consecrated to
Apollo after the victory over Xerxes at Plataea. The names of the
cities inscribed on the coils may still be traced in fragments. Canon
Curtis, in "Broken Bits of Byzantium," part ii., gives tracings of
five of them.

  [Illustration: BAS-RELIEF FROM BASE OF THE OBELISK IN THE HIPPODROME,
   SHOWING THE IMPERIAL BOX DURING THE PERFORMANCE OF A BALLET]

Further on, and nearest to the Museum of the Janissaries, is the
Colossus, which is more than half as high again as the obelisk. It
rests upon a base with three steps. It was once covered with brazen
plates riveted with iron pins. In the time of Gyllius it was already
"despoiled of its outward beauteous appearance, and discovers only the
workmanship of its inside, as having felt the effects of the avarice
and rapine of the barbarians." All the columns were, during the days
of the Empire, regarded as great treasures. The obelisk was restored
by Constantine Porphyrogenitus.

These are the most important of the monuments. But four others need
mention. The Column of Constantine, of porphyry bound together by
bronze rings, stands in a prominent position at the summit of the
second hill, a short distance from the Hippodrome. It was
Constantine's own special memorial of his foundation of the city, and
it was yearly the scene of a solemn service of thanksgiving conducted
by the patriarch in the presence of the emperor. It was in the main
street of Byzantium, and every public ceremonial was in some way
connected with it. Damaged in the eleventh century, it was restored by
Manuel Comnenus (1143-1180), whose inscription marks the marble which
he placed at the top of the column. It has constantly suffered from
fire, and well deserves its common name of the burnt column.

While the column of Constantine is one of the prominent monuments in
the city, there are three others much more rarely seen. The column of
Theodosius is, happily safe in the Seraglio garden. Its inscription

     FORTUNAE
     REDUCI OB
     DEVICTOS GOTHOS

may refer to victories of Theodosius in 381, but more probably carries
us back as far as the time of Claudius Gothicus and the battle of
Nissa, 269. It is fifty feet high, and is said to have supported a
golden statue of Theodosius. According to legend a pillar-saint lived
on it for twenty years. Certainly it was used for a grimmer purpose,
for the Latins in 1204 dashed from its summit the usurper Alexius
Mourtozouphlos.

The column of Marcian, not far from the Etmeidan, where the
Janissaries were destroyed, is hard to find; it is in a garden
belonging to a Turkish private house. It is of granite with a marble
capital. The column of Arcadius, of which only the base remains, is at
Avret Bazar on the seventh hill.

Next to the columns the most interesting antiquities are the aqueducts
and cisterns. The aqueduct of Valens, built in 366 of stone from the
walls of Chalcedon, is a conspicuous object in the view from the hill
of Pera. It has been constantly repaired and restored, and it still
carries water. It now extends from near the east of the mosque of
Mohammed II. very nearly to the Seraskerat. The way from the mosque
back to the bridge passes under it, and gives a good view of its
construction and its picturesque, overgrown, half-ruined state. This
and the other aqueducts (one of which may be seen near Edirnè
Kapoussi) brought water from the distant hills, which was stored in
vast cisterns, many of which still remain. Three at least are worth a
visit. The most beautiful are the work of Philoxenus; and chief is
that which the Turks call Yeri Batan Serai--the underground
cistern--but more generally known is that fancifully called Bin Bir
Derek, cistern of 1001 columns. I may repeat what I have said of them
elsewhere.[66]

"The latter is now empty, and the sixteen rows of fourteen columns
each can be closely examined. It has been considered as exhibiting
'the highest development of the art of cistern building,' and thus 'in
its particular sphere' resembling S. Sophia; 'like it the boldness of
the construction was never again equalled by the Byzantines.'[67] The
capitals are not as a rule highly ornamented, but some have monograms
which are repeated in S. Sophia. Impressive though this great building
is, it is not nearly so striking as the awful gloom of the Yeri Batan
Serai (the Underground Palace)--the Basilike. There seems little doubt
that this is the cistern alluded to by Procopius,[68] as made by
Justinian under the Portico of the Basilica. 'It is still in perfect
preservation, with the entire roof intact; its three hundred and
thirty-six columns, twelve feet apart, arranged in twenty-eight
symmetric rows, stand each in place, crowned by a finely wrought
capital; it still serves its original purpose, supplying water from
the aqueduct of Valens in as copious measure as of old.'[69] The
capitals here are elaborately carved, in endless variety, and in the
very finest style of the age. Darkness, immensity, and the colossal
size of the columns seen in the flickering torchlight, make this one
of the most impressive memorials of the sixth century. It is below
ground what S. Sophia is above."

They both belong, as Forchheimer and Strygowski have incontestably
shown, to the age of Justinian. The capitals of the columns of the Bin
Bir Derek are much plainer than those of the Yeri Batan Serai.
Strygowski thinks that there the new impost capital was first used.

"It is of the widest significance for the history of Byzantine art
that here throughout the new 'impost capital' is employed in its
plainest constructive form. It seems not improbable that the daring
builder of the cistern was the first to make use of this form of
capital, which completely broke with classical tradition, and is in
such perfect accord with the exigencies of arch-architecture." But the
analysis of the varieties of capital made by Lethaby and Swainson
shows that the impost capital had probably been in use some years
before the building of the Bin Bir Derek.

The descent through a trap door and some worn steps from the
stableyard of a Turkish house into the Yeri Batan Serai, lighted by a
torch extemporised of sacking steeped in naptha, and wrapped round a
pole, is an exciting experience. As you look out into the darkness you
do not wonder that weird stories have grown up around its recesses, or
that Gyllius who discovered it has a strange experience to record.[70]

"Through the Carelesness and Contempt of everything that is curious in
the Inhabitants, it was never discover'd, but by me, who was a
Stranger among them, after a long and diligent Search after it. The
whole Ground was built upon, which made it less suspected there was a
Cistern there. The People had not the least Suspicion of it, although
they daily drew their Water out of the Wells which were sunk into it.
I went by Chance into a House, where there was a Descent into it, and
went aboard a little Skiff. The Master of the House, after having
lighted some Torches, rowing me here and there a-cross, through the
Pillars, which lay very deep in Water, I made a Discovery of it. He
was very intent upon catching his Fish, with which the Cistern
abounds, and spear'd some of them by the Light of the Torches. There
is also a small Light which descends from the Mouth of the Well, and
reflects upon the Water, where the Fish usually come for Air. This
Cistern is three hundred and thirty six Foot long, a hundred and
eighty two Foot broad, and two hundred and twenty four Roman Paces in
Compass. The Roof, and Arches, and Sides, are all Brickwork, and
cover'd with Terrass, which is not the least impair'd by Time. The
Roof is supported with three hundred and thirty six Marble Pillars.
The Space of Intercolumniation is twelve Foot. Each Pillar is above
forty Foot nine Inches high. They stand lengthways in twelve Ranges,
broadways in twenty-eight. The Capitals of them are partly finish'd
after the Corinthian Model, and part of them not finish'd. Over the
Abacus of every Pillar is placed a large Stone, which seems to be
another Abacus, and supports four Arches. There are abundance of Wells
which fall into the Cistern. I have seen, when it was filling in the
Winter-time, a large Stream of Water falling from a great Pipe with a
mighty Noise, till the Pillars, up to the Middle of the Capitals, have
been cover'd with Water. This Cistern stands Westward of the Church of
St. Sophia, at the Distance of eighty Roman Paces from it."

One other cistern at least is worth a visit. It is that which is
approached from the outside of the Church of the Studium at its east
end. It was originally the cistern of the monastery. It is now dry and
filled with hay. It has a splendid vaulted roof and twenty-five
columns with beautifully carved Corinthian capitals.

As one wanders through the streets many remains of Byzantine building,
even in the parts that have been almost entirely rebuilt by the Turks,
are to be seen. There is one especially notable in the long street
that leads to Top Kapoussi (the gate of S. Romanus). The great
Imperial Palace about which antiquaries have waged so fierce a fight,
has left not one stone upon another; so I will not rashly utter my own
opinion of the evidence as to its site. Remains of only two of the
Byzantine palaces are now to be found. The first is the surely falling
wall which arrests attention as the traveller by the sea of Marmora
follows the course of the sea walls before rounding the point. It is
close to the Church of S. Sergius and S. Bacchus, and the
identification of it with the house of Hormisdas purchased by
Justinian, and afterwards enlarged by him, may be regarded as certain.
It is the "palace of the King, which was formerly called by the name
of Hormisdas," of which Procopius says that it was once Justinian's
private house, "and when he became Emperor he made it look worthy of a
palace by the magnificence of its buildings, and joined it to the
other imperial apartments."[71]

It was here that Justinian was living when he had determined to fly,
crossing the sea to Chalcedon, and that Theodora made her heroic and
historic speech (see p. 33). Now but a single wall remains. Some
capitals are strewn in the sea near it. A water gate, with an
inscription evidently referring to the Nika sedition, was still
standing a few years ago. Canon Curtis told me of its interest in
1896: I searched for it, but it had absolutely disappeared. The
solitary wall will probably soon follow it.

  [Illustration: THE PALACE OF THE PORPHYROGENITUS]

The other palace is one about which the most extraordinary mistakes
have been made. It is that which the Greeks call the house of
Belisarius and the Turks Tekfûr Serai. It is an oblong building of
three stories, facing north and south, and placed between the two
walls which descend from the Xylokerkon Gate (Kerko-Porta), at which
the Theodosian walls end, towards the Golden Horn. Gyllius believed
this to be the famous palace of the Hebdomon, and nearly all the
antiquaries have followed him. Professor Bury, among historians, had
shown the impossibility of this identification; but it has remained
for Professor van Millingen conclusively to show it to be the palace
of the Porphyrogenitus. It was here that Andronicus III. resided in
1326 when Andronicus II. was at Blachernae. It was here that John
Cantacuzene was in 1347 when he negotiated with the Empress.
Architectural authorities differ as to its date. Some have placed it
as early as Theodosius II., but it much more probably belongs to the
tenth century and to the work of Constantine Porphyrogenitus. It is
clearly later than the sixth century work of the palace of Hormisdas,
being much more elaborate both in design and in decoration. The
evidence for the identification is thus given by Professor van
Millingen.[72]

"The evidence for the proper Byzantine name of Tekfûr Serai, occurs in
the passage in which Critobolus describes the positions occupied by
the various divisions of the Turkish army during the siege of 1453.
According to that authority, the Turkish left wing extended from the
Xylo-Porta (beside the Golden Horn) to the Palace of the
Porphyrogenitus, which was situated upon a slope, and thence to the
Gate of Charisius (Edirnè Kapoussi). The site thus assigned to the
Palace of the Porphyrogenitus corresponds exactly to that of Tekfûr
Serai, which stands on the steep ascent leading from Egri Kapou to the
Gate of Adrianople."

Of the other palaces practically no remains exist. A few stones of
Blachernae may be built into houses or walls on its site. Two lions
from the Boukoleon, of which Anna Comnena speaks, stand in the
gardens of the old Seraglio not far from Chinili Kiosk.[73] I know
nothing else which belongs to any house of the Christian Emperors.

All these treasures of antiquity are still exposed to the sky; but
those preserved in the Museum make it one of the finest in the world.
The Turks have awoke to the fact that the lands most fruitful in
archæological remains are now in their hands, and Hamdy Bey, the
director of the imperial museum, has with indefatigable industry and
admirable judgment made a magnificent collection of antiquities in the
two buildings under his charge.

In the _annexe_, which is first visited on the upper floor, there are
several collections--a magnificent series of old Oriental carpets said
to have belonged to Ahmed I., two chairs, of Selim I. and Ahmed I.,
some exquisite Turkish and Persian pottery of various dates, and some
extremely fine glass. In the other room (right, first floor) are cases
containing Assyrian and Babylonian cones and Hittite inscriptions,
including the famous record of Sennacherib's expedition against
Hezekiah. There is also a less interesting collection of Egyptian
antiquities, and, of course, several mummies. The ground floor
contains the splendid collection of sarcophagi, superior to any in the
world. They form an uninterrupted series from the Ionic art to that of
the Byzantines. The most ancient are the three sarcophagi of
terra-cotta from Clazomene, near Smyrna, which with the two at the
Louvre are the only complete monuments of the archaic period. Greek
art of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. is represented by the
famous sarcophagi found at Sidon, known as the Satrap, the Mourners,
Alexander's and the Lycian. To the same centuries and the third
belong a considerable number of sarcophagi. The Greco-Roman style is
represented by two sarcophagi which represent the story of Hippolytus.
Of the many Byzantine sarcophagi--to which ought certainly to be added
those now outside S. Irene--the most beautiful, besides those called
after Constantine and S. Helena his mother, is the No. 100 with the
monogram of Christ.

The most splendid part of the collection is that which was unearthed
in Phœnicia and chiefly near Sidon by Hamdy Bey from 1887 onwards.
The Satrap--representing an oriental potentate in life and in
death--is of Parian marble, and was originally painted, and is in the
Ionian style. Close by it was found the beautiful Mourners, an
exquisite series of weeping women, which belongs to Attic art. The
glorious "sarcophagus of Alexander," which represents the Macedonian
fighting with the Persians, and hunting, is alone worth a visit to
Constantinople to see. It is the work of a contemporary of Lysippus,
fourth century B.C., and is one of the very finest examples we possess
of ancient art. There is another sarcophagus which evidently copies
the frieze of the Parthenon.

Then there is the Egyptian-like tomb of Tabnith, King of Sidon. But it
would be absurd to try and describe, or still more to criticise, these
splendid examples of ancient art in a little book like mine. The
excellent catalogues sold at the museum are well worth buying. Here
and in Chinili Kiosk, the oldest piece of Turkish house-building in
Constantinople, which contains the rest of the collection, are
treasures of every period of art. Among the inscriptions are the
famous _stele_ from the temple of Jerusalem, and the Siloam
inscription. There are exquisite examples of ancient glass and pottery
and bronzes, among them the head of one of the serpents from the
column. Among the statues are the great Hadrian from Crete, and the
head and torso of Apollo, and the Nero, both from Tralles. There are
two curious pieces of mosaic, but otherwise very little that is of
late Byzantine work.

The museum, with its treasures scattered about the rooms and in the
gardens, as yet hardly half known and studied as they deserve, may not
unfitly serve to represent the endless interests of the great city,
its associations with every phase of the historic life of East and
West. But the fascination of the imperial city which lies "betwixt two
seas" lies in something besides her history. And the poets have known
it.

     "Dans un baiser, l'onde au rivage
         Dit ses douleurs;
     Pour consoler la fleur sauvage,
         L'aube a des pleurs;
     Le vent du soir conte sa plainte
         Au vieux cyprès,
     La tourterelle au térébinthe
         Ses longs regrets.

     "Aux flots dormants, quand tout repose,
         Hors la douleur,
     La lune parle, et dit la cause
         De sa pâleur.
     Ton dôme blanc, Sainte-Sophie,
         Parle au ciel bleu,
     Et, tout rêveur, le ciel confie
         Son rêve à Dieu.

     "Arbre ou tombeau, colombe ou rose,
         Onde ou rocher,
     Tout, ici-bas, a quelque chose
         Pour s'épancher ...
     Moi, je suis seule, et rien au monde
         Ne me répond,
     Rien que ta voix morne et profonde,
         Sombre Hellespont!"

  [Illustration: SARCOPHAGUS FROM THE ROYAL MAUSOLEUM AT SIDON
  _The Carving is copied from the Frieze of the Parthenon_]

FOOTNOTES:

[66] _Church of the Sixth Century_, pp. 298-301.

[67] Forchheimer and Strygowski (quoted by Lethaby and Swainson, p.
248).

[68] _De Ædif._, i. 11.

[69] Grosvenor, _Constantinople_, vol. i., p. 399.

[70] Ball's _Translations_, 1729, pp. 147-8.

[71] _De Aedif._, i. 4.

[72] _Walls of Constantinople_, pp. 109, 110.

[73] I must here admit that in the _Church of the Sixth Century_ I
wrongly suggested that these lions came from outside S. Sophia.
Further study convinced me of my error.



INDEX


     A

     AGATHIAS, 36, 37, 38, 46.

     AKOIMETAI, the, 26, 233.

     AMBASSADORS, 193-197, 283.

     ANEMAS, 101, 287, 288.

     ANNA COMNENA, 85, 90, 94-96, 97, 265, 287.

     ANTHEMIUS, the wall-builder, 18, 22, 23, 277, 278.

     ANTHEMIUS of Tralles, 36, 38, 39, 242, 248, 256.

     AQUEDUCTS, 15, 67, 326.

     ATMEIDAN, the, 180, 181, 211, 320-325.


     B

     BALUKLI, 40, 77, 127, 283, 284.

     BAPTISTERIES of S. Sophia, 261.

     BELISARIUS, 7, 32, 33, 41, 45.

     BLACHERNAE Palace and Quarter, 7, 8, 55, 69, 71, 94, 97, 99, 109,
       122, 142, 288, 331.

     BUCOLEON Palace, 331.

     BURY, Professor, 31, 52, 57, 61, 62, 63, 64, 73, 200.

     BYZANTIUM, 3, 4, 325.


     C

     CHURCH of S. Anastasia, 16.

     ---- The Chora, 262-264, 286.

     ---- S. George (Armenian), 268.

     ---- The Holy Apostles, 231, 285, 292.

     ---- S. Irene, 7, 8, 12, 28, 33, 35, 38, 57, 111, 234-236, 241,
       311, 312.

     ---- S. John of the Studium, 28, 38, 39, 120, 189, 233-249, 276,
       280.

     ---- S. Mary at Balukli, 40, 265.

     ---- S. Mary Mouchliotissa, 155, 268, 274.

     ---- S. Mary Pammakaristos, 155, 264, 265.

     ---- S. Peter and S. Mark, 265, 268, 273.

     ---- S. Saviour Pantokrator, 130, 264, 266, 267.

     ---- S. Sergius and S. Bacchus, 38, 239-241, 276.

     ---- S. Sophia, 1, 7, 8, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 40, 45, 47,
       57, 67, 76, 84, 87, 93, 111, 112, 114, 116, 118, 119, 120, 130,
       148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 185, 189, 190, 230, 235, 241-262, 270,
       291, 327.

     ---- S. Thekla, 38, 236, 264, 273.

     ---- S. Theodore Tyrone, 38, 239.

     ---- S. Theodosia, 62, 264, 265, 266.

     CISTERNS, 326-329.

     COLOSSUS, the, 320, 325.

     COLUMN of Arcadius, 326.

     ---- of Claudius Gothicus, 6, 325, 326.

     ---- of the Colossus, 320, 325.

     ---- of Constantine, 325.

     ---- of Marcian, 326.

     ---- of the Serpent, 6, 8, 11, 153, 320, 324.

     ---- of Theodosius, 323, 324.

     COUNCILS of the Church, 12, 17, 22, 25, 45, 46, 51, 63, 64, 87,
       123, 129, 259.

     CURTIS, Rev. C. G., 39, 324.


     D

     DANDOLO, Henry, 108, 109, 110, 119, 259.

     DOLMA BAGTCHÉ, 144, 220, 313, 317, 318.

     DUCAS (historian), 141, 151.


     E

     EMPERORS (_only the more important
     are here given, as the
     rest will be found mentioned
     in their chronological order_).

     ---- Alexius I. Comnenus, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 236, 265, 287, 288.

     ---- Alexius II. Comnenus, 100, 101, 277.

     ---- Alexius III. Angelus, 103, 104, 108, 110, 119.

     ---- Alexius IV. Angelus, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113.

     ---- Alexius V. Mourtozouphlos, 112, 113, 114, 119.

     ---- Arcadius, 19, 22.

     ---- Anastasius I., 26, 27.

     ---- Andronicus I. Comnenus, 101, 277.

     ---- Andronicus II. Palæologus, 122, 123.

     ---- Basil I., the Macedonian, 72, 277, 280, 283.

     ---- Basil II. Bulgaroktonos, 80, 81, 279, 280.

     ---- Baldwin I., 118, 119.

     ---- Baldwin II., 120, 122.

     ---- Constantine I., 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.

     ---- Constantine IV., 51, 52.

     ---- Constantine V. Copronymus, 57, 62, 65, 280.

     ---- Constantine VII. Porphyrogenitus, 73, 74, 75, 79, 325.

     ---- Constantine IX., 80, 279.

     ---- Constantine XI., 91.

     ---- Constantine XII., Palæologus, 52, 129, 130, 137-153, 287.

     ---- Heraclius, 49, 50, 51, 66, 67, 107, 280, 286, 288.

     ---- Isaac I. Comnenus, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 103, 233.

     ---- Isaac II. Angelus, 101, 102, 103, 104, 108, 110, 111, 113, 287.

     ---- John I. Tzimisces, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 280.

     ---- John II. Comnenus, 89, 90, 266.

     ---- John V. Cantacuzene, 125, 126, 132.

     ---- John VI. Palæologus, 126, 127, 128, 251, 276.

     ---- John VII. Palæologus, 128, 129.

     ---- Jovian, 14.

     ---- Julian, 13, 14, 16.

     ---- Justin I., 27, 28.

     ---- Justin II., 47, 48, 66.

     ---- Justinian I., 11, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40,
       41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 107, 114, 231, 233, 240, 241,
       275, 284, 289, 327, 330.

     ---- Justinian II., 52, 55, 275.

     ---- Leo I., 280.

     ---- Leo III., the Isaurian, 52, 55, 56, 57, 59, 61, 265.

     ---- Leo V., the Armenian, 68, 69, 280, 286, 288.

     ---- Leo VI., the Wise, 73, 272.

     ---- Manuel I. Comnenus, 98, 99, 100, 286, 325.

     ---- Manuel II. Palæologus, 127, 128.

     ---- Marcian, 25, 280.

     ---- Maurice, 30, 48, 49, 131.

     ---- Michael I. Rhangabe, 68.

     ---- Michael II., 69.

     ---- Michael III., 69, 70.

     ---- Michael IV., 82.

     ---- Michael VII. Palæologus, 121, 122, 123, 266, 273, 280.

     ---- Nicephorus I., 68.

     ---- Nicephorus II. Phocas, 74, 75, 76, 90, 280.

     ---- Phocas, 48, 49, 280.

     ---- Stauricius, 68.

     ---- Theodosius I., 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 50.

     ---- Theodosius II., 18, 21, 22, 23, 24.

     ---- Theophilus, 68, 280.

     ---- Theodore I. Lascaris, 119.

     ---- Valens, 14, 15, 68, 327.

     ---- Zeno, 25.

     EMPRESS Eudocia, 19, 20.

     ---- Irene, 63, 64.

     ---- Theodora, 81, 83, 84, 85, 155.

     ---- Theodora (wife of Justinian), 29, 33, 34, 240, 241, 259, 285,
       330.

     ---- Zoe, 81, 82, 83, 84.

     "EOTHEN," 225, 226.

     ETMEIDAN, the, 180, 211, 326.

     EVAGRIUS, 251, 252.


     F

     FOUNTAINS, 306-308.


     G

     GALATA, 3, 109, 138, 143, 144, 154, 186, 222, 225, 268, 269, 274.

     ---- Bridge of, 225, 317.

     GATES, Adrianople, 7.

     ---- Aivan Serai, 236, 273.

     ---- Aya Kapou, 62, 265, 274.

     ---- Bâb-i-Humayûn, 201, 307, 312, 313.

     ---- Balat Kapoussi, 273.

     ---- S. Barbara, 275.

     ---- Charisius (Edirnè), 92, 102, 138, 149, 286, 326.

     ---- Golden Gate (Porta Aurea), 1, 39, 50, 51, 78, 79, 114, 125,
       266, 272, 278.

     ---- Hodegetria, 126.

     ---- Kerko-Porta, 150, 286.

     ---- Kiliomené, 236, 265.

     ---- Kontoscalion (Koum Kapoussi), 73, 122, 239, 276.

     ---- Narli Kapoussi, 99, 276.

     ---- Orta Kapou, 186, 312, 313.

     ---- Pegé (Selivria), 120, 127, 283.

     ---- Phanar, 113, 273.

     ---- Psamatia, 7.

     ---- Rhegium (Yeni Mevlevi Haneh), 284.

     ---- S. Romanus (Top Kapoussi), 110, 127, 135, 138, 142, 145, 147,
       150, 151, 285, 329-330.

     ---- Xylo-porta, 109, 273, 288.

     ---- Yali Kiosk (Gate of Eugenius), 274.

     GAUTIER, Theóphile, 156, 215, 336.

     GENNADIOS (patriarch), 155, 156.

     GIBBON, 3, 4, 5, 12, 17, 52, 64, 73, 145, 148, 149, 285.

     GIUSTINIANI, 80, 98, 122, 124.

     GOTHS, the, 23, 289.

     GOZZOLI, Benozzo, 129.

     GREGORIOS (patriarch), 206, 209.


     H

     HEBDOMON, 280, 331.

     HILLS, the seven, 6, 7.

     HIPPODROME (or Circus), its history, 6, 8, 23, 24, 30, 31, 33, 34,
       42, 47, 48, 75, 91, 99, 102, 117, 153.

     ---- its present condition, 320-324.

     HUNS, the, 43, 289.


     I

     ICONOCLASM, 57-64.

     INSCRIPTIONS, 24, 99, 273, 279, 280, 284, 288, 324, 325.


     J

     JANISSARIES, the, 131, 135, 149, 158-164, 171, 180, 181, 186, 196,
       199-205, 209, 302, 311, 312.


     K

     KUPRILI, Viziers, the, 186-188.


     L

     LETHABY and SWAINSON, _Sancta Sophia_, 243, 255, 256, 259, 261, 327.

     LIUDPRAND, 75, 76, 77, 78.


     M

     MARBLE TOWER, 6, 277.

     MICHAEL CERULARIUS, patriarch, 85, 86, 87, 90.

     MOSAICS (_see_ S. Sophia, S. Irene, the Chora, etc.).

     MOSQUES (_see_ also under churches).

     ---- Ahmediyeh, 7, 189, 291, 298, 301, 302, 303, 309, 320.

     ---- Bayezidiyeh, 7, 302, 303.

     ---- Gül (Rose), 39, 266.

     ---- Laleli (Tulip), 303, 304.

     ---- of Mohammed II., 7, 189, 226, 231, 292, 295, 298.

     ---- Shahzadeh, 303, 304.

     ---- Suleimaniyeh, 7, 153, 170, 180, 196, 197, 291, 295, 296, 298,
       303.

     ---- Yeni Valideh, 105, 274, 303, 304, 305, 309.

     MUSEUM, 332-336.


     N

     NIKA insurrection, 31, 32, 276.


     O

     OBELISK of Theodosius, 323, 324.

     OMAN, Mr C. W., 143.


     P

     PALACE of Justinian (House of Hormisdas), 41, 276, 330.

     PALACE of the Porphyrogenitus ("House of Belisarius") Tekfûr
       Serai, 7, 18, 41, 149, 286, 330-332.

     PALACES, the Turkish, 310-319.

     PAUL the Silentiary, 255, 256.

     PAUSANIAS, 3.

     PERA, 3, 8, 54, 203, 222, 225, 268, 269.

     PHOTIUS, patriarch, 86, 87.

     PHRANTZES, 129, 141, 145, 149, 285, 287.

     PROCOPIUS, 29, 40, 41, 43, 46, 167, 239, 240, 242-251, 276, 284,
       327, 330.

     PSELLUS, 78, 81, 82, 85, 86, 87, 89.


     R

     RIANT, Count, 115, 116.

     ROXELANA, 168, 169, 170, 176, 297, 303.

     RYCAUT, Sir Paul, 184-186.


     S

     S. ATHANASIUS, 12.

     S. BASIL, 16.

     S. GREGORY the Great, 49, 241.

     S. GREGORY of Nazianzus, 16, 17, 36, 46.

     S. GREGORY of Nyssa, 15, 16.

     S. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 119.

     S. THEODOSIA, 62.

     SANDYS, _Travels_, 159-162.

     SARACENS, the, 51, 56, 76, 111, 115.

     SELAMLIK, the, 107, 318, 319.

     SERAGLIO, the old (_see_ palaces).

     SERAGLIO Point, 6, 272, 275.

     SIEGES, 51, 56, 71, 92, 100, 108-118, 126, 127, 128, 135.

     STRATFORD DE REDCLIFFE, Lord, 203, 205, 211-213, 216-220.

     SULTANS, Abdul Hamed I., 198, 199.

     ---- Abdul Hamed II., 221, 318, 319.

     ---- Abdul Aziz, 220, 221, 306, 317.

     ---- Abdul-Mejid, 217-220, 251, 310, 312, 317.

     ---- Ahmed I., 178, 179, 307, 308, 316, 320.

     ---- Ahmed II., 188.

     ---- Ahmed III., 188, 197.

     ---- Bayezid I., 127, 134, 137.

     ---- Bayezid II., 164, 302.

     ---- Ibrahim, 183, 184.

     ---- Mahmûd I., 197, 305.

     ---- Mahmûd II., 199-218, 295, 302, 305, 306, 316.

     ---- Mohammed I., 135.

     ---- Mohammed II., 129, 131, 134, 136-138, 141-157, 163, 164, 167,
       231, 273, 283, 285, 289, 291, 292, 295, 310, 316.

     ---- Murad I., 127, 129, 133.

     ---- Murad II., 135, 136, 260.

     ---- Murad III., 175, 176, 177, 260, 265.

     ---- Murad IV., 180, 181, 314, 316.

     ---- Murad V., 221.

     ---- Mustafa I., 179, 261.

     ---- Mustafa II., 188-197, 305.

     ---- Orchan, 131-133.

     ---- Osman I., 131.

     ---- Osman II., 179.

     ---- Selim I., 164, 165, 303, 304.

     ---- Selim II., 171, 172, 175, 260.

     ---- Selim III., 199, 201, 304, 314.

     ---- Suleiman I., 165-171, 178, 197, 265, 303. (_See_ also
       Suleimaniyeh.)

     ---- Suleiman II., 187.


     T

     TOP-HANEH, 109, 144, 185, 304, 317, 318.

     TÜRBEH at Eyûb, 289.

     ---- of Mahmûd the Reformer, 305, 306.

     ---- of Mohammed the Conqueror, 295.

     ---- of Roxelana, 170, 297.

     ---- of Selim II., 307.

     ---- of Suleiman, 296, 297.

     TURKS, first appearance in history, 130.


     V

     VARANGIANS, 90, 91.


     W

     WALLS of Constantine, 7, 8.

     ---- Heraclius, 50, 109, 286, 288.

     ---- Leo the Armenian, 68, 69, 288.

     ---- Manuel Comnenus, 99, 109, 286.

     ---- Theodosius II., 18, 109, 135, 272, 277, 286.

     WORTLEY-MONTAGUE, Lady Mary, 190, 193-197, 305.


     Y

     YILDIZ-Kiosk, 221, 318.


     Z

     ZACHARIAH of Mitylene, 34.



  [Illustration: SKETCH PLAN OF THE CITY]



     PRINTED BY
     TURNBULL AND SPEARS,
     EDINBURGH





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