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Title: The Destruction of the Greek Empire and the Story of the Capture of Constantinople by the Turks
Author: Pears, Edwin
Language: English
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  The Destruction of the Greek
  Empire and the Story of the
  Capture of Constantinople by
  the Turks



  Knight of the Greek Order of the Saviour and Commander of
  the Bulgarian Order of Merit
  Author of ‘The Fall of Constantinople: being the
  Story of the Fourth Crusade’



  All rights reserved


My object in writing this book is to give an account of the capture
of Constantinople and the destruction of the Greek empire. In order
to make the story intelligible and to explain its significance I
have given a summary of the history of the empire between the Latin
conquest in 1204 and the capture of the city in 1453, and have traced
the progress during the same period of the race which succeeded in
destroying the empire and in replacing the Greeks as the possessors of
New Rome.

It may be objected that the task which I have set before me has already
been accomplished by Gibbon, and that, as his chapter on the last siege
of the city is carefully compiled and written with a brilliancy of
style which he has nowhere surpassed, there is no need for any further
study of the subject. My answer is twofold: first, that an important
mass of new material is now at the disposal of any one who wishes to
retell the story, and second, that Gibbon told it with a bias which
makes it desirable that it should be retold.

The historian of the ‘Decline and Fall’ had less than half the material
before him which is now available, and the story of the siege deserves
telling with more accuracy and completeness than either the authorities
available to him or the scope of his monumental work permitted. It is
true that Professor J. B. Bury, the latest editor of Gibbon, has, by
the aid of scholarly notes and of careful research, enabled the reader
to become possessed of many of the details regarding the siege which
have recently become known, but he would be the first to admit that
there is ample room for a fuller history of the siege than that given
in the ‘Decline and Fall’ even with the aid of his valuable notes.[1]
Gibbon himself regretted the poverty of his materials and especially
that he had not been able to obtain any Turkish accounts of the
siege.[2] The only eye-witnesses whose narratives were before him were
Phrantzes, Archbishop Leonard, and Cardinal Isidore. If we add to their
narratives the accounts given by Ducas and Chalcondylas together with
what Gibbon himself calls ‘short hints of Cantemir and Leunclavius,’ we
have substantially all the sources of information which were available
when the ‘Decline and Fall’ was written.

The new sources of information regarding the siege brought to light
since Gibbon’s day enable us to gain a much more complete view of that
event and of the character of its principal actors than was possible
at the time when he wrote. Several Continental writers have taken
advantage of some at least of the new stores of information to rewrite
its story,[3] but I may be allowed to claim the good fortune of being
the first Englishman who has even attempted to write a narrative of
that event with the whole or even with any considerable portion of the
new material before him.

Before, however, proceeding to indicate what the new sources of
information are, I must say something regarding the second reason I
have assigned why those interested in the account of an event which
marks the end of an epoch of great traditions and of a civilisation on
ancient rather than on modern lines should not remain satisfied with
Gibbon’s account of it. Though he claimed to examine the authorities
before him with philosophical impartiality, the writers known to him
belonged to the Roman Church, and he was influenced unconsciously by
their representations. These writers wrote under the influence of the
most bitter theological controversies. They are imbued with a spirit
of rancour towards those Greeks (that is, towards the great majority
of the population) who had not accepted the Union with the Church of
Rome which had been decreed at Florence. Their testimony throughout
their narratives is for the most part that of violent partisans. But
even if Gibbon, when dealing with the disputes between the great
historical Churches, had been in possession of statements of the
Greek case, his contempt for both Churches was too great to allow him
to do justice to the questions which divided them, questions which
nevertheless, as they prevented the united action of Europe to resist
the Turkish invasion, were among the most important of the time. His
habit of thought as an eighteenth century theist did not allow him to
attach sufficient weight to the theological aspect of the struggle
between the East and the West. Everything that smelt of the cloister
was hateful. The theological questions themselves were not worth
discussion. The disputants were in his view narrow-minded, ignorant,
and superstitious. The refinements of the definitions of the Double
Procession were useless, trivial, or ridiculous. Religious zeal or
enthusiasm was a thing to be condemned--was the mark of fanaticism and
always mischievous. In this attitude of mind Gibbon was neither better
nor worse than the majority of his philosophical contemporaries. He
differed from them in being able to bequeath to future generations a
work of monumental learning, in which his and their reading of the
progress of Christianity in the Eastern empire was destined to have
a long and deservedly great reputation. His research and eloquence,
his keen sarcasm, his judicial manner, and the powerful influence of
the ‘Decline and Fall’ were employed to discredit Christianity rather
than to try to discover amid the fierce wranglings of theologians over
insoluble problems what was their signification for the history of the
time of which he was treating and in the development of the human mind.
He began with a period in which the emperor is worshipped as Divinity
and traced the establishment of Christianity as a national faith among
Pagan subjects until in a diversified form it became accepted by all;
but he did this without affording us any help to see how the human mind
could accept the first position or what were the movements of thought
which led to the evolution of the questions which agitated men’s minds
in the later period.

The century in which he and his contemporaries lived was for them
one of hostility to Christianity rather than of investigation, the
period of Voltaire, who could only see in Byzantine history ‘a
worthless repertory of declamation and miracles, disgraceful to
the human mind’ rather than of the Continental and English writers
of the modern historical school. Happily, in the twentieth century
those who look upon Christianity with an independence as complete
as that of Gibbon recognise that insight can only be obtained by
sympathetic investigation, that for the right understanding of history
it is essential to put oneself in the place of men who have attached
importance to a religious controversy, to consider their environment
and examine their conduct and motives from their point of view, if we
would comprehend either the causes which have led such controversy
to be regarded as important or the conduct of the controversialists
themselves. The absence in Gibbon of any sympathetic attempt to
understand the controversies which play so large a part in his great
drama of human history renders him as unsatisfactory a guide in regard
to them as a writer of English history during the period of Charles
the First would be who should merely treat with contempt the half
religious, half political questions which divided Englishmen. While the
objection I have suggested to Gibbon’s attitude would apply generally
to his treatment of religious questions, I have only to deal with it in
reference to the period of which I am treating. When writing of this
period Gibbon did not realise that the religious question was nearly
always a political one, and that union with Rome meant subjection
to Rome. But unless it be realised how completely the citizens of
Constantinople and the other great cities of the empire were engrossed
with semi-religious and semi-political questions, no true conception
of the life of the empire can be formed; for these questions were of
interest not merely to Churchmen but to all.

Among the documents brought to light during the last fifty or sixty
years which have contributed to our better knowledge of the siege the
most important are the ‘Diary’ of Nicolo Barbaro and the ‘Life of
Mahomet’ by Critobulus.

Barbaro belonged to a noble Venetian family. He was present in
Constantinople throughout the siege, kept a journal[4] of what he saw
and heard, and, though full of prejudices against Genoese, Greeks, and
Turks, contrives to tell his story in a manner which carries conviction
of its truthfulness. His narrative conveys the impression of an
independent observer who had no object in writing except to relate what
he knew about the siege. While probably written from day to day, the
diary bears internal evidence of having been revised after he had left
the city. Its language is old-fashioned colloquial Venetian and has
often puzzled Italians whom I have called in to my aid.

The original manuscript of the diary was preserved in Venice by members
of the Barbaro family until 1829. After various adventures it came in
1837 into the possession of the Imperial and Royal Marciana Library in
Venice. In 1854 it was entrusted to Enrico Cornet, and was published by
him for the first time in 1856.

Critobulus, the author of the ‘Life of Mahomet the Second,’ was a man
of a different type. Nothing is known of him beyond what is contained
in his Life of Mahomet.[5] He describes himself as ‘Critobulus the
Islander.’ After the capture of Constantinople, when the archons of
Imbros, Lemnos, and Thasos feared that the Turkish admiral would
shortly approach to annex these islands, messengers were sent to
the admiral and succeeded, by offering voluntary submission and by
paying him a large bribe, in avoiding the general pillage which
usually followed a Turkish conquest. Shortly afterwards, Critobulus
took service under the sultan and was made archon of Imbros. In this
capacity he received the submission of Lemnos and other places. He
continued to hold this office for at least four years. Book III. of his
history contains (_inter alia_) an account of what he himself did as
the servant of Mahomet. Probably he went to reside in Constantinople
in 1460. His history covers the first seventeen years of Mahomet’s
reign. It is dedicated to the sultan and is followed by an apology to
his fellow Greeks for having written it. While open to the charge of
not allowing himself an altogether free hand in revealing the faults
and cruelties of his master, Critobulus claims that he has taken great
pains to know the truth of what he relates. As he wrote a few years
after the siege and at leisure, his narrative does not show the signs
of haste which mark many of the shorter narratives of that event:
such, for example, as those of Leonard, of the Podestà of Pera, of
Cardinal Isidore in the ‘Lamentatio,’ and of others. As he continued to
belong to the Orthodox Church and to the Greek as opposed to the Roman
party in that Church, his history is free from the denunciations of his
fellow Christians for having refused the union agreed to at Florence.
The writer’s characteristics as a Greek, but also as a servant of the
sultan, show themselves in his work. He expresses sympathy with his
own people, extols their courage, and laments their misfortunes. But
in places his biography of the sultan reads like the report of an able
and courageous official. His training and experience in the work of
government, his service under Mahomet, and perhaps something in the
nature of the man, make his narrative sober and methodical and impress
the reader with the idea that the author felt a sense of responsibility
for the truthfulness of what he was writing. While the narratives of
Phrantzes, Chalcondylas, and Ducas recount some of the incidents of the
siege more fully than that of Critobulus, the latter gives more details
on others and supplies valuable information which none of them have
given. His Life of Mahomet is by far the most valuable of the recently
discovered documents, and, as will be seen, I have made use of it as
the nucleus of my narrative of the siege.

The manuscript of Critobulus was discovered by the late Dr. Dethier
less than forty years ago in the Seraglio Library at Constantinople. It
was transcribed by him and also by Herr Karl Müller and was published
by the latter in 1883 with valuable notes.[6]

Two other works of importance unknown to Gibbon were due respectively
to Tetaldi and Pusculus. Each of these authors took part in the defence
of the city. Tetaldi, who was a Florentine soldier, tells us of his
escape from the slaughter immediately following the capture, and of his
being picked up out of the water by a Venetian ship.[7]

Pusculus was a citizen of Brescia. Though his account of the siege is
given in Latin verse, it contains many details of value of what he
himself saw which are not to be found elsewhere. His poem was never
altogether lost sight of, but until its publication by Ellisen,[8] in
1857, with a useful introduction, its historical value had not been
recognised. The MS. from which Ellisen made his copy is dated 1470.

The late Dr. Dethier, who devoted much time and intelligent study
to the topography and archæology of Constantinople, compiled four
volumes of documents relating to the siege, many of which were
previously unknown. Two of them were printed about 1870, but they can
hardly be said to have been published, and are only to be procured
with difficulty. The remaining two contain, besides Critobulus,
the ‘Threnos,’ Hypsilantes, an Italian and a Latin version of the
‘Lamentatio’ by Cardinal Isidore, an Italian version of Leonard’s
report to the Pope, and other documents of interest to which I refer in
my pages. These volumes were printed by the Buda-Pest Academy but never
published. I am indebted, however, to that learned body for a copy.

I append a list of documents (other than the four principal which I
have described) relating to the siege now available to the historical
student which were unknown to Gibbon:

  1. Zorzo (or Zorsi) Dolphin (or Zorsi Dolfin), ‘Assedio e
  presa di Constantinopoli nell’ anno 1453.’ This is mainly a
  translation from Leonard, but the author claims to have added
  what he heard from other eye-witnesses of the siege. It was
  published by G. M. Thomas in the ‘Sitzungsberichte’ of the
  Bavarian Academy in 1868. Another version is given by Dethier
  in his collection of documents relating to the siege, a
  collection which I refer to simply as Dethier’s ‘Siege.’

  2. ‘Rapporto del Superiore dei Franciscani presente all’
  assedio e alla presa di Constantinopoli.’ This report was made
  immediately after the siege and has long been published, but
  apparently was not known to Gibbon. Dethier also published it
  in his ‘Siege.’

  3. ‘Epistola Ang. Johannis Zacchariae,’ Podestà of Pera,
  written within a month of the capture of the city, was first
  published in 1827. The version revised by Edward Hopf and Dr.
  Dethier is the one used by me.

  4. Montaldo’s ‘De Constantinopolitano excidio’ is reproduced
  in Dethier’s ‘Siege,’ and contains useful hints by an

  5. Christoforo Riccherio, ‘La Presa de Constantinopoli,’ first
  published in Sansovino’s ‘Dell’ Historia Universale,’ was
  republished with notes in Dethier’s ‘Siege,’ and is a valuable
  and brightly written narrative.

  6. Θρῆνος τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, was first published by
  Ellisen in ‘Analekten,’ Leipzig, 1857. If the author was in
  Constantinople during the siege, he has not given a single
  item of information which is of value to the historian. His
  long wail is curious and interesting, but otherwise useless.

  7. The Θρῆνος of Hierax the Grand Logothetes, or ‘History of
  the Turkish Empire,’ though only written near the end of
  the sixteenth century, has valuable topographical hints. It
  was translated by H. E. Aristarchi Bey, the present Grand
  Logothetes, from a MS. existing in the Monastery of the Holy
  Sepulchre at the Phanar, and edited by Dethier.

  8. ‘Libro d’ Andrea Cambini Florentino della Origine de’
  Turchi et Imperio delli Ottomanni.’ I am not aware whether
  this has been published at a later date than the copy in my
  possession, which was printed in Florence in 1529. It was
  then published by the son of the writer, and Book II., which
  treats of the siege, suggests that the author has gained his
  information from spectators of the siege. It contains many
  useful statements.

  9. ‘A Slavic Account of the Siege,’ published by Streznevski,
  is judged by Monsieur Mijatovich, on account of its peculiar
  idioms, to have been written by a Serbian or Bulgarian. He
  speaks of it as the ‘Slavonic Chronicle.’ A translation and
  a slightly different version was published by Dethier as the
  ‘Muscovite Chronicle.’ Though the narrative has been largely
  added to by subsequent hands, there is reason to believe that
  it was written by an eye-witness of the siege.

  10. Another Slavic version is conveniently spoken of as the
  ‘Memoirs of the Polish Janissary.’ Its author, after serving
  with the Turks and, according to his own statement, being
  present at the siege, withdrew to Poland. The original MS. was
  first published in 1828.

The Turkish authors available who speak of the siege are:

  11. Sad-ud-din, ‘The Capture of Constantinople from the
  Tajut-Tevarikh (1590),’ translated into English by E. J. W.
  Gibb (Glasgow, 1879). This work professes to be based on the
  accounts of earlier Turkish historians.

  12. ‘Tarich Muntechebati Evliya Chelibi,’ a translation of
  which is given in the elder Mordtmann’s ‘Eroberung.’

  13. Ahmed Muktar Pasha’s ‘Conquest of Constantinople and the
  Establishment of the Ottomans in Europe,’ brought out only in
  1902, on the anniversary of the present sultan’s accession.

  14. An Armenian ‘Mélodie Élégiaque,’ written by a monk named
  Philip, who was present at the siege. This was printed in
  Lebeau’s ‘Histoire du Bas-Empire.’ Dethier published the
  original version in Armenian.

I gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to Dr. Mordtmann’s studies of
the archæology and topography of Constantinople,[9] and to Professor A.
van Millingen’s ‘Byzantine Constantinople’[10] a work which is the most
careful study of the history of those parts of the walls and other
portions of the city treated of which has yet been published. I must
also tender him sincere thanks for many suggestions made in the course
of friendly intercourse and in the discussion of matters of mutual
archæological interest, and for permission to reproduce his map of
Constantinople. All future writers on the topography and archaeology of
Constantinople will be under obligations to Dr. Mordtmann and Professor
van Millingen, who have worthily continued the work of Gyllius and Du

A few words must be added as to the title of this book. Why, it may
be asked, should it be the ‘Destruction of the Greek Empire’? Why not
follow the example of the late Mr. Freeman, and of his distinguished
successor, Professor J. B. Bury, and speak of the ‘Later Roman Empire’?
My plea is one of confession and avoidance.

I admit that when Charles the Great, in 800, became Roman Emperor in
the West the imperial territory of which the capital was Constantinople
may correctly be spoken of as the Eastern Roman Empire. But I avoid
condemnation for not adopting this name and for not calling the empire
Roman by pleading that I am reverting to the practice of our fathers in
the West during many centuries, and by defending their practice. The
Empire has sometimes been described as Byzantine and sometimes as the
Lower Empire. But these names are undesirable, because the first has a
vague and doubtful meaning, since no two writers who employ it use it
to cover the same period; and the second has a derogatory signification
which the researches of Freeman and Professor Bury, Krumbacher,
Schlumberger, and other modern writers, have shown to be undeserved.
The name ‘Roman’ has more to recommend it. The Persians and the Arabs
knew the empire simply as Roman, and the overwhelming reputation of
Rome led them to speak even of Alexander the Great as ‘Iskender al
Roumy.’ The name of Rome, or Roum, given to Roumelia, and found in
other places as far east as Erzeroum, had been applied when the Latin
element dominated the empire. The tradition of Rome passed on to the
Turks, and the inhabitants of the empire were and are to them I-roum or
Romans. The Byzantine writers usually called themselves Romans. But the
term Roman can hardly be applied to the empire without distinguishing
it as Eastern, and while it is true that down to 1453 the empire was
Roman in name, there is some danger in employing the term of forgetting
how far the New Rome and its territory had become Hellenised, and that
a large portion of the population preferred the name Greek. There had
been a long struggle within the empire itself between those who wished
to adopt the latter designation and those who desired to call it Roman.
The inhabitants of Greece were indeed for centuries preceding and
during the Crusades disloyal subjects of Constantinople. Even during
the reign of Heraclius (610 to 641), they insisted upon being called
Hellenes rather than Romans. From that time onwards a contest was
continued as to whether the name of Greek or Roman should be applied to
the population. The influence of the Greeks henceforth was constantly
working to Hellenise the empire. In the reign of Irene, at the time
when the Western Roman Empire commenced to have a separate existence,
Greek influence was especially strong. Lascaris, four centuries later,
when he made his stand at Nicaea after the Latin conquest, spoke
of the empire as that of Hellas. On the recovery of the city under
Michael, the Church generally employed the term Roman, but declared
that Greek and Roman might be employed indifferently. Various writers
speak of the Latins as Romans and of the Byzantines as Hellenes.[11]
Manuel Bryennius represents the preacher in St. Sophia as calling upon
his hearers to remember their Greek ancestors and to defend their
country as they had done. At times the people were appealed to as the
descendants alike of Greeks and Romans.

As being a continuation of the Roman Empire whose capital was New
Rome, the empire is correctly called Roman, and the name has the
advantage of always keeping in view the continuity of Roman history.
It was the Eastern Roman Empire which declined and fell in 1453. But
if we admit that the empire continued to be Roman till 1453, it must
be remembered, not only that its characteristics had considerably
changed, but that to the men of the West it had come to be known as the
Greek Empire. Latin had been as completely forgotten as Norman French
was by English nobles in the time of Edward III. Greek had become the
official language, as did English in our own country. The inscriptions
on the coins since the time of Heraclius are in Greek. The Orthodox
Church, which aided as much as even law in binding the inhabitants of
the country together, employed Greek, and Greek almost exclusively, as
its language, and, although the great defenders of the term Roman as
applied to the population are found among its dignitaries, the Church
was essentially Greek as opposed to Roman, both in the character of its
thought and teaching and in the language it employed. Hence it is not
surprising that to the West during all the middle ages, the Empire was
the Greek Empire, just as the Orthodox Church was the Greek Church.[12]
The Empire and the Church were each alike called Greek to distinguish
them from the Empire and Church of the West. It is in this general use
of the word Greek that I find my justification for speaking of the
capture of Constantinople, and the events connected with it, as the
Destruction of the Greek Empire.[13]

I have only in conclusion to call the attention of the reader to one
or two matters connected with the authorities which I quote. I must
plead that my residence in Constantinople has not allowed me to refer
to the uniform series of Byzantine authors available in the great
public libraries of Western Europe. My edition of Phrantzes is that
published in the Bonn series; Pachymer, Cantacuzenus, Chalcondylas,
Ducas, and their contemporaries, are quoted from the Venetian edition
of the Byzantine writers edited by Du Cange. My references to
Archbishop Leonard are almost always to the version in the collection
of Lonicerus. Dr Dethier, however, published a contemporary Italian
version which has certain important variations, and to this I have
occasionally referred. The editors of other authorities are mentioned
in the notes to the text.

I have sometimes abstained from discussing the trustworthiness of
my authorities, but have said once for all that their statements,
especially in regard to the numbers they represent as engaged in
battle, of victims slaughtered or captured, and the like, can rarely
be regarded as satisfactory. The means of controlling them seldom
exist. Even in the case of Sir John Maundeville, I have quoted him
without hinting that a doubt of his very existence has been uttered.
Whether he lived and was or was not a traveller, or whether his book
was, as has been suggested, a kind of mediæval Murray’s Guide, does
not in the least affect the statements which I have reproduced from
it. The work of sifting the evidence, new and old, to ascertain its
value has been long and tedious, and I must leave to other students of
the same period to say whether I have succeeded in selecting what is
of use and in rejecting only what is valueless. To have attempted a
critical examination of every important statement which I quote would
have extended my book to an inordinate length, and in regard to most of
them the reader will not find much difficulty in arriving at his own
conclusions as to their trustworthiness.


  CONSTANTINOPLE, _February 1903_.



  The Latin empire (1204–1261) and its struggles with
  and final overthrow by the Greeks of Nicaea              1


  Condition of and difficulties in reconstructing the
  empire: difficulties arising (_a_) from attempts by
  Latins to recover the empire, (_b_) from Catalan
  Grand Company                                           22


  The Turks: their entry into Asia Minor: not at first
  exclusively Mahometan: their characteristics: Othman
  founds a dynasty: progress of Moslems in Europe and
  Asia Minor: capture of Brousa in 1326                   52


  Dynastic struggles in empire: appeals to Pope
  for aid; reigns of Andronicus the Second, John
  Cantacuzenus, and John; repeated failure of efforts
  by Popes to induce Western Powers to assist in
  checking Moslem advance                                 65


  Reign of Orchan: struggles with empire; its
  successes and reverses; invasions of Tartars. Reign
  of Murad: defeat of Serbians and Bulgarians by
  Turks; battle of Cossovo-Pol and assassination of
  Murad                                                   97


  Reign of Manuel: encroachments of Turks; Manuel
  visits West, Sultan Bajazed summoned by Timour;
  friendly relations between Manuel and Mahomet
  the First; John associated with Manuel. Siege of
  Constantinople by Murad; its failure. Efforts at
  union; misconceptions in West regarding Greek
  Church; constancy of attempts at union; negotiations
  for meeting of Council of Church. Internal struggles
  in Latin Church. Emperor invited by both parties;
  accepts Pope’s invitation; meeting of Council at
  Ferrara and Florence; union accomplished; John
  returns to capital; divisions in Greek Church          109


  Progress of Turks between 1391 and 1425: Sultan
  Bajazed’s reign: conquests in Europe: Bulgarian
  kingdom ended: Western armies defeated at Nicopolis:
  Anatolia-Hissar built: capital threatened: summons
  by Timour to Bajazed: Timour’s progress: reply
  of Bajazed: battle of Angora and crushing defeat
  of Turks: further progress of Timour: death of
  Bajazed, 1403: alarm in Western Europe: departure
  of Timour: struggle between the sons of Bajazed:
  ultimate success of Mahomet: his good understanding
  with Manuel: death of Mahomet, 1420: accession of
  Murad: war with empire: siege of Constantinople,
  1422: death of Manuel, 1425: triumphal progress of
  Murad: he besieges and takes Salonica: besieges
  Belgrade but fails: combined movement under Hunyadi
  against Murad: battle of Slivnitza, 1443, and
  defeat of Turks: Murad sues for peace: treaty made
  with Ladislaus: violated by Christians: battle of
  Varna, 1444: Murad ravages Morea: Iskender Bey, his
  origin: captures Croia: Hunyadi again attacks Murad:
  defeated at Cossovo-pol, 1448: reasons for failure
  of Christian attempts: John has to forego joining
  Western combination against Turks: death of Murad,
  1451: Mahomet the Second becomes Sultan                131


  Causes leading to decay of empire: not due to
  demoralisation of Court; internal and external
  causes; Latin conquest and form of government
  had produced internal dissensions and checked
  assimilation of hostile races; method of Turkish
  conquest and its fatal consequences; ravages of
  black death; population of capital in 1453; its
  commerce; relations of people with government;
  resemblance to Russia; difficulty of obtaining idea
  of domestic life                                       180


  Accession of Constantine Dragases; Patriarch Gregory
  deposed; renewed attempt to obtain aid from the
  West; emperor meets with little success; arrival of
  Cardinal Isidore; reconciliation service December
  12, 1452, in Hagia Sophia; dissensions regarding it    201


  Character of Mahomet the Second; receives
  deputation from city; returns to Adrianople from
  Asia Minor; his reforms; builds Roumelia-Hissar;
  rejects overtures from emperor; castle completed,
  August 1452; war declared; Mahomet returns to
  Adrianople; he discloses his designs for siege
  of city. Constantine’s preparations for defence;
  arrival of six Venetian ships; aid requested from
  Venice; Justiniani arrives, January 1453; boom
  across harbour placed in position. Turkish army,
  estimate of; notice of Janissaries; mobility of
  army; religious spirit of; casting of great cannon;
  Turkish fleet arrives in Bosporus; description of
  vessels composing it. Mahomet’s army marches to
  city; offer of peace                                   206


  Topography of Constantinople; disposition of
  Mahomet’s forces and cannon; estimate of fighting
  men under emperor; Venetians and Genoese: disparity
  in numbers: arms and equipment: attacks on Therapia
  and Prinkipo                                           237



  Investment by Turks; first assault fails; attempt to
  force boom; attempt to capture ships bringing aid;
  gallant fight and defeat of Turkish fleet; Turkish
  admiral degraded; transport of Turkish ships across
  Pera into the Golden Horn                              254


  Constantine alleged to have sued for peace; attempt
  to destroy Turkish ships in the Golden Horn;
  postponed; made and fails; murder of captives;
  reprisals; operations in Lycus valley; bridge built
  over Golden Horn; sending to seek Venetian fleet;
  proposal that emperor should leave city; attacks on
  boom; jealousy between Venetians and Genoese; new
  assaults fail both at walls and boom; attempts to
  undermine walls; construction of a turret; destroyed
  by besieged; failure of vessel sent to find Venetian
  fleet; unlucky omens                                   277


  Dissensions in city: between Greeks themselves;
  between Greeks and Italians; between Genoese and
  Venetians; charge of treachery against Genoese
  examined; failure of Serbia and Hungary to render
  aid; preparations for a general assault; damages
  done to the landward walls; construction of stockade   300


  Last days of empire: sultan again hesitates; message
  inviting surrender; Turkish council called; decides
  against raising siege; proclamation granting three
  days’ plunder; sultan’s final preparations; his
  address to the pashas and last orders to generals.
  Preparations in city: religious processions:
  Constantine’s address to leaders and to Venetians
  and Genoese; last Christian service in St. Sophia:
  defenders take up their final stations at walls, and
  close gates behind them: emperor’s last inspection
  of his forces                                          313


  General assault: commenced by Bashi-Bazouks; they
  are defeated; Anatolians attack--are also driven
  back; attacks in other places fail; Janissaries
  attack; Kerkoporta incident; Justiniani wounded
  and retires; emperor’s alarm; stockade captured;
  death of Constantine: his character; capture of
  Constantinople                                         334


  Attacks in other parts of the city: by Zagan and
  Caraja; by fleet; the brothers Bocchiardi hold
  their own; panic when entry of Turks became known;
  incident of Saint Theodosia’s church; massacre and
  subsequent pillage; crowd in Saint Sophia captured;
  horrors of sack; numbers killed or captured;
  endeavours to escape from city; panic in Galata;
  Mahomet’s entry; Saint Sophia becomes a mosque; fate
  of leading prisoners: attempts to repeople capital     358


  Capture of Constantinople a surprise to Europe;
  conquest of Trebizond; summary of its history.
  Character and conduct of Mahomet: as conqueror;
  he increases Turkish fleet; as administrator; as
  legislator; his recklessness of human life; as
  student; was he a religious fanatic? summary           386


  Dispersion of Greek scholars, and their influence
  upon revival of learning; Greek a bond of union
  among peoples of empire; disappearance of books
  after Latin conquest; departure of scholars to
  Italy begins after 1204; their presence stimulates
  revival of learning; enthusiasm aroused in Italy
  for study of Greek; students from Constantinople
  everywhere welcomed; increased numbers leave after
  Moslem conquest; Renaissance largely aided by Greek
  studies; movement passes into Northern Europe; MSS.
  taken from Constantinople                              399


  Conclusion; the capture epoch-marking; alarm
  in Europe; disastrous results; upon Christian
  subjects and on Eastern Churches; demoralisation
  of both; poverty the principal result; degradation
  of Churches: two great services rendered by the
  Churches; results on Turks: powerless to assimilate
  conquered peoples or their civilisation                414


  I. Note on Romanus Gate and chief place of final
  assault 429 II. Where did the sea-fight of April
  20, 1453, take place? 436 III. Note on transport of
  Mahomet’s ships. What was the route adopted? 443
  IV. The influence of religion on Greeks and Moslems
  respectively                                           447

  INDEX                                                  459


  SECOND MILITARY GATES                              }  _Between
                                                     }   pages_ 240–1
  WALLS                                              }
  _from photograph by M. Irenian of Constantinople_. }

  MAHOMET THE CONQUEROR                              }
  _from painting by Bellini_.                        }  _Between
                                                     }   pages_ 388–9
  MAHOMET THE CONQUEROR                              }
  _from medallion by Bellini in the British Museum_. }


  FOURTEENTH, AND FIFTEENTH CENTURIES                   _Facing p._ 1

  MAP OF BYZANTINE CONSTANTINOPLE                                 237

  DURING THE LAST DAYS OF SIEGE; MAY 1453                         335


  Map illustrating Progress of Turks during 13th., 14th.,
   & 15th. Centuries.]




The later Roman Empire and its capital Constantinople never recovered
from the blow inflicted by the Fourth Crusade in 1204. A huge
filibustering expedition had been gathered together at Venice under
pretext of making an attack upon the Saracens in Egypt. Under the
leadership of Boniface, Marquis of Montferrat, and Dandolo, the famous
doge of Venice, the expedition had been diverted from its purpose, and,
in spite of the strongest possible protests by Innocent the Third, had
attacked Constantinople. The strength of the empire had been weakened
by a hundred and fifty years’ resistance to the hordes of Asia, during
which it had served as the bulwark of Europe. Its reputation had been
lessened by thirty years of dynastic wars, during which the government
had allowed its fleet to decay so that it was unable to resist the
Venetians and Crusaders. The result was that, for the first time in
its long history, the city was captured. There then followed the
plunder and division of its enormous wealth--a large part of which
found its way to the West, while perhaps a still larger portion was
destroyed--the appointment of a Latin emperor in Constantinople, and
the partition of such portions of the empire as could be occupied among
the conquerors.

[Sidenote: Baldwin, 1204–1205.]

[Sidenote: Difficulties regarding division of empire.]

Baldwin, a Belgian, was elected emperor. An arrangement for the
division of the spoil had been made by the leaders before the attack on
the city, and this seems to have been fairly carried out. To Baldwin
were assigned the two imperial palaces in Constantinople and one fourth
of all that should be captured within the city and throughout the
empire. The remaining three fourths were to be divided equally between
the Crusaders and the Venetians. The difficulties of the conquerors
began with this further division of the spoil. The task of parcelling
out the empire was almost hopeless. It was next to impossible to
accomplish such a partition, even on paper, because of the ignorance
of the Western conquerors of the empire they had destroyed. Its extent
was so great, the difficulty of communication so extreme, and ignorance
of geography so profound, that the conquerors did not know what there
was to divide. They sent into the provinces to obtain information as to
the revenues and general condition of the country so that the partition
might be fairly made; but, without waiting for the information, they
proceeded to divide up the countries and provinces which they imagined
to be within the empire. In their happy ignorance they drew lots
for Alexandria and for the various countries along the north shore
of the Mediterranean as well as for Georgia, Persia, and Assyria.
They competed for the possession of Konia itself, the capital of the
Seljukian Turks.

It was still more difficult to make a partition which should
represent territory which could come at once into the occupation of
the Crusaders. The one system of land tenure with which they were
acquainted was the feudal. The lands of the empire must therefore
be divided into fiefs and the barons and persons of higher and of
lower degree must have grants according to their rank. But though
Constantinople was in the possession of the men of the West, they held
no more of the remainder of the empire than was within the actual
sight of the barons and the comparatively small bodies of retainers
who were under them. The Greeks--or, as the subjects of the later
empire still generally called themselves, the Romans--had no intention
of recognising either the lordship of the barons who had become their
feudal superiors or the overlordship of Baldwin. They knew nothing of a
feudal system, and recognised the representatives of the late empire as
having a first claim to their service. They were ready to follow almost
any leader against men whom they knew only as invaders, belonging to a
different race, speaking a different language, and professing a form of
Christianity which was hateful to them because the conquerors tried to
impose it upon them.

The difficulties of the Latin empire were both internal and external.

[Sidenote: Dissensions among leaders.]

The men from the West soon found that they were too few to hold the
country. Some of the Crusaders had insisted upon leaving the city in
order to proceed to the Holy Land in fulfilment of their vows and to
avoid the censure of Innocent. Others were anxious to return home with
their share of the spoils. ‘Never since the world was created,’ says
Villehardouin the historian, who took an active part in the capture of
the city, ‘was there so much booty gained in one city. Each man took
the house which pleased him, and there were enough for all. Those who
were poor found themselves suddenly rich.’ If they remained they had
hardships to face which as the possessors of newly obtained wealth
they would rather avoid. As soon as new dangers appeared the numbers
of those who wished to get away increased. During the very first year
of Baldwin’s reign, his army on its retreat from an expedition against
the Bulgarians found at Rodosto seven thousand men at arms who had
quitted the capital and were leaving the country. It was in vain that a
cardinal and the leaders sent by the army, among whom was Villehardouin
himself, implored them even with tears to remain, for ‘Never,’ said
these leaders, ‘would they be able to succour a country in so great a
need.’[14] The most favourable answer that they could obtain was that a
reply would be given on the morrow. The deserters set sail in the night
without even giving the promised response to the prayer made to them.

The internal difficulties were increased by the jealousy which existed
between the leaders of the Latins themselves. All through the journey
to Constantinople before the capture of the city, the Crusaders and
Venetians had mistrusted each other. Boniface, the leader of the
Crusade, considered himself ill treated because he had not been named
emperor. Though defeated, he had a large number of adherents. To him
had been assigned territory in Asia Minor. He applied to exchange
it for the kingdom of Salonica, alleging that as he had married the
widow of the Emperor Isaac, who was the sister of the King of Hungary,
he would be at Salonica in a better position to aid the emperor.
His request was granted. Baldwin, however, did not trust him, and,
apparently under the impression that it was the intention of Boniface
to establish an independent sovereignty, insisted on accompanying him
to his newly acquired capital. To this course Boniface objected so
strongly that when the emperor started for Salonica, Boniface not only
refused to accompany him but went off towards Adrianople, captured
Didymotica, and laid siege to the former city. The Greeks flocked to
his standard, possibly being induced to do so by the belief that as he
had married the widow of Isaac he was entitled to their allegiance.

As soon as Dandolo, Count Louis, and the other nobles who had remained
in Constantinople heard what Marquis Boniface was doing, they at
once took counsel in ‘parlement’ as to the measures to be adopted:
‘for,’ says Villehardouin, ‘they thought that they would lose all the
conquests they had made.’ They decided to send a knight to Boniface
without delay, and the historian was himself chosen for the mission. He
went at once to Adrianople and succeeded in persuading the marquis to
submit the questions between him and the emperor to the arbitration of
Dandolo and Count Louis, and for the present to cease hostilities.
Meantime the emperor had occupied Salonica. As soon as he heard of
the siege of Adrianople he at once hastened to its relief and ‘pour
faire tout le mal qu’il pourrait au marquis.’ On the way he met the
messengers from the city, who besought him to submit his case, as
Boniface had consented to do, to arbitration, at the same time plainly
telling him that Dandolo, Count Louis of Blois, and the other barons
would not tolerate war between him and Boniface. The emperor hesitated
and consulted his council. Some of the members urged that the message
was an outrage and advised resistance. Violent language (‘grosses
paroles’) was used, but the emperor, who was unwilling to risk the
hostility of so strong a combination as Dandolo and Louis, gave way to
the extent of stating that he would undertake not to attack Boniface
until he went to Constantinople, although he would not pledge himself
to refer the questions between them to arbitration. Shortly after, when
a peace was patched up between them, it was under conditions which show
that neither party trusted the other. Villehardouin undertook to hold
Didymotica until he knew by a trusted messenger that Salonica had been
handed over to Boniface.

Nor were the external differences which at once presented themselves
less serious. The history of Constantinople and the Latin empire
during the period between 1204 and 1260 is indeed that of a series of
struggles between Baldwin and his successors on the imperial throne,
on the one side, and the leaders of the Greek race who had refused to
recognise the authority of the invaders, on the other.

[Sidenote: Opposition of Greek population.]

The Western barons seemed to have thought that with the conquest of
the capital the whole empire would fall to their lot. They were soon
undeceived. In Macedonia and in Epirus Greek leaders appeared, who
rallied to them all who were indisposed to accept new rulers. At
Trebizond on the Black Sea, and at Nicaea, the once famous city of
the Creed, the Greeks flocked from the capital and its neighbourhood,
and soon there were rulers of these cities who assumed the title of

[Sidenote: Empire of Nicaea. Theodore Lascaris, 1204–1222.]

The most important of those who refused to accept the Latin rule was
Theodore Lascaris. He had been the last of the Greek nobles to leave
the city when the invaders captured it. He made his way to Nicaea, and
was followed by many Greeks. Able, courageous, and patriotic, he was
soon recognised by the notables as the fittest man to have rule among
them, and, though without hereditary claim to the imperial throne, he
aspired to be emperor and was accepted as best suited to receive that
dignity. Two years after the capture of Constantinople, a new patriarch
was elected, who consented to live at Nicaea and who amid as much
ceremony as if the coronation had taken place in St. Sophia placed the
crown on the head of Theodore in the church of the same name at Nicaea.
The prudence and judgment of the new emperor did much to rally the best
of his countrymen around him, and justified the choice made in electing
him to the imperial throne. The Greek priests flocked to the city from
all parts of Western Asia Minor as well as from Thrace.

Nevertheless, his task was beset with difficulties. He had enemies
on all sides, pretenders of his own race, the Latin emperor and the
sultan of the Seljukian Turks. The latter, whose capital was at Konia,
had no idea of allowing any neighbour to become formidable. A Greek
pretender held the country to the west of Nicaea. The Latin emperor
and barons chose to regard Theodore as a rebel because he would not
make submission. After unsuccessful attempts against him by Baldwin and
his successor, Theodore was allowed in 1207 to remain in possession of
Ismidt (the ancient Nicomedia) and Cyzicus for a period of two years.
He employed the period in strengthening and extending his empire. At
the end of it, Henry the brother of Baldwin, whom he succeeded as
emperor, made an alliance with the sultan of the Seljukian Turks: that
is to say, the Crusaders who had justified themselves to Innocent the
Third for attacking a Christian city on the ground that the Greek
emperors had allowed the Moslems to have a mosque within the city, now
found themselves under the necessity of joining forces with the infidel
to attack a Christian prince.

Upon the declaration of war by the sultan, Theodore pushed forward
into the valley of the Meander, and a battle was fought which, if the
Byzantine authorities are to be trusted, was decided in single combat
between the two sovereigns. The sultan was killed, and the empire of
Nicaea was saved. The Emperor Henry, however, when he heard of the
extent of the loss in Theodore’s army exclaimed, ‘The Greek is not
conqueror: he is ruined.’

So far from being ruined, his success caused many Greeks to flock into
his empire from Constantinople. When, in 1214, the Emperor Henry again
declared war, Theodore was ready for him; and as the Greeks in Epirus
had commenced a vigorous attack on the crusading barons in Macedonia,
Henry was glad to make a peace which left Theodore undisputed master
of a territory bounded on the west by a line from Heraclea on the
Black Sea to Ismidt, thence to Cyzicus and to the coast just north of
Pergamos. The fruitful valleys of the Meander, the Cayster, and the
Hermus marked his boundaries on the south-west.

Theodore died in 1222. The first duty of the Greeks when driven out of
Constantinople was to make themselves secure against the conquerors and
to prevent the progress of the crusading armies into Asia Minor. This
duty had been effectually done by Theodore. During the eighteen years
of his reign he had made his capital and its beautiful neighbourhood
the rallying-place of what was best in the Greek-speaking populations
of Asia Minor and of Thrace. He had checked the progress of the
crusaders into Asia Minor and had left to his successors the task of
working for the recovery of Constantinople.

[Sidenote: Henry succeeds Baldwin, 1205–1216.]

Meantime, the history of the Latin conquerors of Constantinople had
been one of almost continuous disaster. The first Emperor Baldwin had
been lost in an encounter with the Bulgarians near Adrianople in April
1205, and was probably killed. As his fate remained doubtful, his
brother Henry acted as regent for a year and was then crowned emperor.
Shortly after the commencement of his reign in 1207, Boniface, Marquis
of Montferrat and King of Salonica, was killed in a skirmish. Henry
seems to have realised that in a policy of conciliation towards the
Greeks lay the only hope of the continuance of his empire. He made
peace with the Bulgarians and concluded an arrangement with both the
emperor of Nicaea and the Greek prince who had made himself recognised
as despot in Epirus. He employed Greeks in the public service. He
refused to take part in the persecution of the Greeks who would not
obey the decrees of the pope’s legate. He allowed them to employ the
Greek language in their services, and restrained the pretensions of the
Roman priests. Unfortunately for the Latin empire, the reign of the
chivalrous Henry lasted only ten years.

[Sidenote: Peter succeeds, 1217–1219.]

He was succeeded by Peter of Courtenay, who was invited by the barons
to occupy the throne in the absence of male heirs of Baldwin and his
brother Henry. Peter left France with 140 knights and 5,500 men at
arms, whom he had obtained with the aid of his royal kinsman, Philip
Augustus. The reports of the rich plunder which had been obtained
in the capture of the city had already induced many French knights
to leave their native lands to take service in the empire, but the
detachment with which Peter crossed the Alps was the largest which had
left the West for such purpose.

The Venetians bargained to transport them across the Adriatic on
condition that they would assist in recovering Durazzo from Theodore,
the Greek despot of Epirus. After a useless assault on that city,
Peter started with his followers on a journey across the peninsula to
Salonica. He and his host were soon lost amid the mountains of Epirus.
Their provisions were exhausted. They found the passes fortified, and
their only chance of life was to surrender to Theodore, who had held
the country in defiance of the regent who was governing in the name of
the son of Boniface. Peter was detained in captivity, and his death is
as mysterious as that of the first Latin emperor. He probably perished
in prison in 1218.

[Sidenote: Robert, 1219–1228.]

Peter’s successor, Robert of Courtenay, succeeded in finding his way to
Constantinople, though not across Macedonia, accompanied by a number of
troops furnished at the request of Pope Honorius the Third. His reign
was a series of disasters. He made a treaty of peace with Theodore of
Nicaea in order that he might devote all his attention to the defeat
of the other Theodore, the despot of Epirus. The latter had been
denounced by the pope for his detention of Peter and of the legate who
accompanied him. Honorius indeed had invited the princes of the West to
undertake a crusade for their deliverance. When, however, the legate
was released, Peter seems to have been forgotten. The despot Theodore
made a well-concerted attack upon Salonica, captured it, and was
proclaimed emperor in 1222. Robert led all his forces against this new
claimant for the imperial title and was badly beaten. Theodore pushed
on to Adrianople and hoisted his standard on the walls of that city
almost without opposition.

There were thus in 1222 four persons claiming to be emperors, and
occupying separate portions of what had been twenty years earlier the
Roman Empire in the East. These were Robert at Constantinople, Theodore
at Nicaea, another Theodore at Salonica, and Alexis at Trebizond.

[Sidenote: Nicaea, success of John Ducas Vataces, 1222–1254.]

The history of the next forty years (1222–1261) is that of the
strengthening of the Greek empire at Nicaea and the decadence and
downfall of the other so-called empires, and especially of that of the
Latin Crusaders in Constantinople. The successor of Theodore Lascaris
was John Ducas Vataces, who during a reign of thirty-three years
fortified his position at Nicaea and increased the prosperity of his
empire. He restricted the boundaries of the Latin territory in Asia
Minor to the peninsula formed by a line parallel to the Bosporus from
Ismidt to the Black Sea. He rendered property and life safe, and in
consequence the Greek population continued to flock into his territory.
Even French soldiers in considerable numbers quietly slipped away
from Constantinople to take service with Vataces. At the commencement
of his reign he was attacked by the newly appointed emperor, Robert
of Courtenay, and in the combat which ensued not only was Vataces
successful, but the last of the knights who had taken part in the
capture of the city were left dead on the field. Until Robert’s death
in 1228, Nicaea had few troubles with the Latin empire.

[Sidenote: Latin empire. John of Brienne, 1228–1237. Baldwin II.,

Robert’s successor was a boy of eleven, who continued nominally emperor
under the title of Baldwin the Second for upwards of thirty years,
but the Latin knights wisely placed power in the hands of John de
Brienne. Indeed, the crusading leaders seem throughout the whole Latin
occupation to have assumed a large measure of the imperial authority.
The period is contemporary with that of the barons who resisted King
John in England, and who continued to assert their independence under
the reign of Henry the Third. The French barons in Constantinople had
much of the same spirit, with the additional incentive to independence
that, as the emperors were of recent creation, the glamour which had
already gathered about the kingly office in England and France was
absent. The emperor was indeed nothing more than _primus inter pares_,
and his own designs were often set aside for those of his associates.
No one can doubt that they acted wisely in appointing John de Brienne,
but even he, with all his experience and caution, failed as his
predecessor had done when he attacked Nicaea.

[Sidenote: Baldwin visits France,]

[Sidenote: and England.]

The courage and ability of the old Crusader, who was already eighty
years of age, hardly retarded the decay of the Latin empire. Its needs
were great, and accordingly Baldwin the Second was sent on a visit
to the pope and to the Western courts to obtain further supplies of
men and money. Indeed, the greater part of his reign was occupied by
three of such journeys. His first visit to France was in 1237. Hardly
had he arrived in Paris when he learned the death of John de Brienne.
The messenger who brought the tidings told a terrible story of the
distress in the imperial city. The barons and soldiers[15] dared not
venture outside the walls. The supply of food had run so short that
many of the gentlemen of France who were charged with its defence
disguised themselves and escaped by sea or, notwithstanding that the
country was full of dangers, endeavoured to make their way by land to
their own country. The peril was so great that Baldwin was assured
that if aid were not sent the city could not resist an attack. Upon
these tidings Baldwin did his utmost to obtain aid. He was received
with honour wherever he went, but he received little else. In 1238,
he paid a visit to England. On his landing at Dover he was asked
how he presumed to enter the country without the permission of its
independent sovereign, Henry the Third. Henry had had enough trouble
with Crusaders. John de Brienne, who had been in England, had obtained
aid from the king and had been honourably received. On his return to
France he had joined with Philip Augustus against England. Henry,
however, sent word to Baldwin that as he had arrived without troops
he might come on to London. After receiving this permission he paid a
visit to the king and finally left England with the miserable sum of
seven hundred marks.

[Sidenote: Pope supports Latin empire.]

The pope had taken Baldwin’s cause greatly to heart. He enjoined all
Christian princes to give him aid. He ordered the leading archbishops
of the West to publish a new Crusade against the Greek schismatics. He
directed part of the Peter’s pence to be given for the furtherance of
the Crusade and ordered that the money which St. Louis with pious zeal
had extorted from the Jews as obtained by usury should be employed for
the same purpose. He begged the king to direct that one third of the
revenues of the churches should be thus employed, and he wrote to the
king of England with a similar request. In 1238 John de Bethune started
from France with men and money. The expedition, however, came to grief.
Its leader died at Venice and the army melted away, very few ever
arriving at the Bosporus.

[Sidenote: Decay of Latin empire.]

[Sidenote: Sale of relics.]

The character of the news from Constantinople continued constantly to
be more and more distressing. The revenue was yearly decreasing. The
money obtained in Europe was already spent, and the knights were driven
to desperate expedients to obtain more. Copper was torn from the domes
of the churches and other public buildings to be converted into coin.
Empty houses were pulled down to supply fuel. The sacred relics, which
in the eyes of the Crusaders constituted not only the most valuable
treasures of the city but the talisman of its safety, were sold to meet
pressing needs. The Sacred Crown of Thorns had been pledged for a sum
of about seven thousand pounds, and when the time came for redeeming
it, the Latins were not able to find the money. A Venetian endeavoured
to obtain it in order to add to the prosperity of the Bride of the
Seas, but Baldwin, possibly out of gratitude to Saint Louis of France,
and with the object of obtaining a larger sum, preferred that it should
be sent to France. After considerable difficulty and many negotiations,
the sacred relic was redeemed and taken with solemn procession from
Venice to Paris, where the king himself, clothed in penitential
garments and barefoot, went out to meet it and to accompany it to its
temporary resting-place. This was in 1239. Baldwin received from Louis,
in recompense of his labour to obtain so valuable a prize, the sum of
ten thousand marks.

Nor was this the only relic which the crusading empire was obliged
to convert into money. A large portion of the true cross, the lance,
the sponge, and other objects, the parting with which must have cost
Baldwin and his barons many a regret, were also sent to France in order
to raise money.[16]

[Sidenote: Prosperity of Nicene empire.]

By July 1239 Baldwin had collected in the West all the money and forces
available and started for Constantinople. The number of his army was
greatly exaggerated by the rumours which preceded it and greatly
alarmed the Greeks at Nicaea. He arrived at Constantinople at the end
of December. John Vataces, in consequence of these rumours and as
a precaution, allied himself with the Bulgarians. The armies of the
two states attacked Constantinople. The Venetians saved the city by
arriving in time to make it necessary to raise the siege. Then the
Bulgarians made friends with the Latins and allowed a band of Comans
(or Tur-comans) who had been driven over the Danube by the Mongols to
pass through Bulgaria and take service with the Latins. The emperor of
Nicaea could, however, play a similar game, and he induced a band of
the same race, who formed excellent light cavalry, to settle on the
banks of the Meander and in Phrygia.

John Vataces succeeded, partly by force, partly by persuasion, in
inducing the despot of Salonica to abandon the title of emperor and to
recognise Nicaea as the true representative of the former empire of
Constantine. Vataces thereupon became acknowledged ruler of the kingdom
of Salonica from the Aegean to the Adriatic.

[Sidenote: Decay of Constantinople.]

Meantime the wealth and population of Constantinople were diminishing
every day. Its commerce had almost gone. What was left was in the hands
of the Venetians. No taxes could be levied on the poverty-stricken
population. The Greeks of the country around Constantinople, who had
been the food-producers and the source of revenue to the merchants of
the capital, fled from the constant harass of war and invasions, now by
Latins, now by Bulgarians, and now by Greeks, into Asia Minor, where
they could labour in the fields or trade in peace and quietness.

The population in other parts of the country were in like straits. The
continual money difficulties among the Latin knights and the Crusaders
generally caused a widespread spirit of lawlessness. Necessity
compelled them to live on the country they were passing through, and
wherever they were under the command of a weak ruler, pillage was
common and almost unchecked. Before men thus lawless, poor peasants
fled in alarm across the Marmora to be not only among their own people
but where life and property were secure.

As illustrating the lawlessness among the Latin nobles, a story told of
the Emperor Robert himself is significant. He was engaged to marry the
daughter of Vataces, a marriage which promised obvious advantages to
the Latin empire. He preferred, however, a lady who was affianced to a
knight of Burgundy. Her mother had acquiesced in her throwing over her
_fiancé_ in favour of the young emperor. The Burgundian and his friends
forced their way into the palace, threw the mother into the sea, and
brutally disfigured the face of the girl. The barons approved of the
deed, and the king went whining to the pope to condemn the wrong-doers,
since he himself was powerless to avenge the insult offered to him.

Under such conditions of lawlessness, capital fled the country. The
Latin government had once more to resort to every possible device for
raising money, and the ornaments of the churches and other public
buildings were sent to the melting-pot or to auction.

While disaster and decay marked the condition of things in
Constantinople, Nicaea continued to increase in prosperity. The city
itself, in a healthy situation on the beautiful lake of Ascanius, had
under the rule of John Vataces already become wealthy. Taxes were light
because the revenue was not squandered, and the emperor had carried
into the public expenditure the same habits of carefulness which he
displayed in the management of his own private estates. It is recorded
of him, as an illustration of his thrift, that on presenting the
empress with a coronet decked with jewels he explained to her that it
had been bought with money exclusively obtained from the sale of eggs
produced on his own estates. He paid especial attention to agriculture,
and, though distinguished as a warrior, set the example of attending
personally to his farm, his flocks and herds, the cultivation of his
fields, and the welfare of his labourers. We may excuse his sumptuary
laws for the reason that the object was to check the luxury of the
nobles and to encourage home manufactures. When he died, in 1254,
after a reign of thirty-three years, Nicaea had deservedly obtained
the reputation of being the chief city of all Greek-speaking people,
whether in Europe or in Asia, the city to which the people lifted up
their eyes in confidence of a speedy return to the queen city on the
shores of the Bosporus.

[Sidenote: Theodore II. of Nicaea, 1254–1258.]

The reign of Theodore Lascaris the Second, son of John Vataces, lasted
only four years, and though he lacked the ability of his father,
and was a sufferer from epilepsy, the empire of Nicaea continued to
prosper. His military administration was able and successful. He
continued the policy of Vataces in endeavouring to induce or to compel
all the Greeks in the Balkan peninsula to come under his rule. It may
be fairly said of him that on his death, in 1258, the position of
Nicaea was stronger than on his accession.

During these two prosperous reigns in the Greek empire that of the
Crusaders had continued to go from bad to worse. In spite of the
anathemas of the popes against those who should attack Constantinople,
the Bulgarians and the Greeks made war upon it whenever they thought
the opportunity favourable. In spite of the exhortation of the popes to
Western Europe to furnish men and money, and of the fact that both were
furnished, the empire grew weaker in men and its financial situation
became worse.

[Sidenote: Second visit of Baldwin to West.]

We have seen that Baldwin returned to Constantinople with an army
which is said to have numbered 30,000 men, and which in any case
was sufficiently large to alarm the Nicene emperor. But these
reinforcements seem to have been a burden rather than an advantage,
and the chief of the crusading empire had to shock Christian Europe
by consenting to give his niece in marriage to the sultan of Konia
in order to secure an alliance with him against the Greek emperor.
Baldwin’s necessities again compelled him to visit France. He was once
more received with honour, and at the Council of Lyons, in 1245, he was
given the position of supreme honour, and was placed on the right hand
of the pope. All, indeed, that the sovereign pontiff could accomplish
in favour of his guest in this Council was done. An alliance which
the Emperor Frederick had made with John Vataces was denounced, and
the head of the Holy Roman Empire was solemnly excommunicated. While
nothing was said about the alliance with the Seljukian Turk, Frederick
was condemned for allowing his daughter to be married to a schismatic
Greek. Large sums were ordered to be contributed by the dignitaries of
the Church and by the religious orders for the succour of the empire.
St. Louis again gave Baldwin a welcome, and entertained him at his
court during nearly two years while aid was being collected. The pope
gave power to absolve from sins those who should join the Crusade or
contribute to the support of the empire. But, as Matthew Paris says,
his empire nevertheless daily decayed. It was not till 1248 that
Baldwin returned to his impoverished capital. Perhaps the lowest depth
of degradation was attained by him when in 1259 his necessity was so
great that he was obliged to put his only son in pledge to certain
Venetian nobles as security for the payment of what he had borrowed.
The unfortunate lad was taken to Venice, and his father was unable to
redeem him until after the recapture of Constantinople.

[Sidenote: John Ducas Emperor of Nicaea, 1258–1260.]

[Sidenote: Michael Palaeologus.]

Before the death, in 1258, of Theodore Lascaris the Second, the ruler
of Nicaea was acknowledged emperor, not merely throughout the northern
part of Asia Minor, but in the kingdom of Macedonia, and even in a
considerable portion of Thrace. His successor, John, was a boy. John’s
guardian was Michael Palaeologus, who was proclaimed emperor in January
1259–60. Seeing that there was some disorder in Nicaea, occasioned by
the disputes between those in favour of the boy, who, in the ordinary
course of succession, would have been emperor, and those who had
recognised that the times were too critical to allow him to reign, and
had consequently followed Michael, the Latin emperor, Baldwin, judged
the moment opportune to stipulate for concessions. Accordingly he
sent a mission to Nicaea to learn what Michael would give in order to
avoid war. The historian Acropolitas, who was at Nicaea at the time,
records what passed. The emperor mocked the ambassadors. They asked
that he should surrender Salonica. The reply was that that city was
the emperor’s birthplace; how could he part with it? They suggested
Seres. The emperor responded that what they were asking was neither
just nor decent, since he had received it from his father. ‘Give us,
then, Bolero.’ But that was the emperor’s hunting-ground, and could not
be spared. ‘What, then, will you give us?’ ‘Nothing whatever,’ replied
the emperor. ‘But if you want peace with me, it is well, because you
know me, and that I can fight. Pay me part of the tribute collected at
Constantinople, and we shall be at peace.’ No better terms were to be
had, and the ambassadors left.

Michael probably understood that his refusal would be followed by war.
He therefore visited the fortifications already gained in Thrace by the
Greeks, strengthened them, and within a few months the Latin empire was
reduced to the occupation of Constantinople and a small strip around
it. In the following year, 1260, Michael’s general, Strategopulus, was
entrusted with the command in Thrace. He stormed Selymbria (the modern
Silivria), and tried but failed to capture Galata, which was already in
the occupation of the Genoese. Thereupon a truce was made for one year.

Seeing that the Venetians, whose great power in the Levant dates
from the fall of Constantinople in 1204, in which they had played so
important a part, still maintained their connection with the empire
on the Bosporus and, indeed, continued to be the principal source of
such strength as it possessed, Michael, to the great indignation of the
pope and the West, made an alliance with their rivals, the Genoese, an
alliance which was the foundation of their supremacy in trade in the
Black Sea.

[Sidenote: Capture of Constantinople by the Greeks.]

It is not impossible that Strategopulus had been sent into Thrace
in 1260 rather to form a judgment of the chances of capturing the
city than of making war. It is quite possible, as suggested even by
Pachymer, that the attempt on Galata was a mere feint in order that he
might get into communication with friends in the capital. In consenting
to give a year’s truce, however, Michael seems to have been sincere.
Accordingly, when, in 1261, he again sent Strategopulus into Thrace
it was with instructions that he was not to attack the city. He had
with him only 800 men, but as he passed through the country behind
Constantinople the Greek settlers (Volunteers, as they are called,
(Θεληματάριοι), who had friends in the city, flocked to him, and urged
that he would never have a better chance of capturing it than at that
time. The last detachment of troops which had come from France had left
the city, with the Venetian fleet, upon an expedition into the Black
Sea to capture Daphnusia. Constantinople might be surprised in their
absence. In spite of the imperial orders, the chance was too good to
be missed. He brought his men to the neighbourhood of the capital, and
hid them near the Holy Well of Baloukli, situated at about half a mile
from the Gate of the Fountain,[17] one of the important entrances into
the city through the landward walls. His volunteers had not deceived
him when they stated that they had friends in the city. Probably every
Greek was a secret sympathiser.

George Acropolitas, who died in 1282, and whose account, therefore,
must have been written while the events were fresh in his memory,
gives the most trustworthy version of what happened. He says: ‘But as
Strategopulus had some men near him who had come from the city and were
well acquainted with all that had passed there, from whom he learned
that there was a hole in the walls of the city through which an armed
man could easily pass, he lost no time and set to work. A man passed
through this hole; another followed, then others, until fifteen, and
perhaps more, had got into the city. But, as they found a man on the
walls on guard, some of them mounted the wall and, taking him by the
feet, threw him over. Others having axes in their hands broke the
locks and bolts of the gates, and thus rendered the entry easy for the
army. This is how the Cæsar Strategopulus, and all the men he had with
him, Romans and Scythians (for his army was composed of these two
peoples), made their entry into the city.’[18] Probably there were few
inhabitants in that quarter, and the advance to the principal part of
the city might be made in the dark. At dawn the invaders pushed on
boldly, met with a brave resistance from a few--a resistance which they
soon overcame--and the rest of the French[19] defenders were seized
with panic and fled. While the city was thus passing once more into
the hands of the Greeks, the French and Venetian ships were coming
straggling down the Bosporus, on their return from Daphnusia, which
they had failed to capture. Accordingly, the army of Strategopulus and
his volunteers set fire to the dwellings in the French and Venetian
quarters in the city and to their villas on the European shore of
the Bosporus near Galata. While the foreigners were occupied in
saving their own property and their women and children from the fire,
Strategopulus strengthened his position in the city.

[Sidenote: Flight of Baldwin II.]

The weak and incapable Baldwin was at the palace of Blachern when the
Greeks entered the city. Afraid to pass through the streets where the
fighting was going on, he entered a boat, made his way down the Golden
Horn, and took refuge among other fugitives with the Venetian fleet.

[Sidenote: End of Latin empire.]

His flight was on July 25, 1261, and with it ends the history of the
Latin empire in Constantinople. It had been established by perjured
Crusaders and filibustering Venetians who were justly anathematised by
Innocent the Third. It had always been a sickly plant in a foreign
and uncongenial soil, and, though popes and kings had made quite
remarkable exertions to make it grow, it never even gave a sign of
taking root. The empire had succeeded, as Innocent predicted that it
would, in making the Greeks loathe the members of the Latin Church
like dogs, and in rendering the union of the two Churches impossible.
The Crusaders, as Innocent had likewise foretold, had seized an empire
which they could not defend.[20] Their expedition had broken up the
great machine of Roman government which had been working steadily and,
in the main, well for nearly a thousand years. It had done irreparable
mischief unaccompanied by any compensatory good. In the course of
two generations, the barons who had taken part in the capture had
died, and though among those who, at the bidding of successive popes
and of St. Louis, replaced them there must have been many actuated
by worthy motives, none among them have left any evidence whatever
of statesmanship or of those qualities which have enabled nations to
conciliate or to assimilate the people whom they have conquered. In
sixty years the peasants might have become content to acknowledge a
change of rulers had they been allowed to till their fields in peace:
the traders might have forgotten the hostility of their fathers if they
had been permitted to exercise their industry in security; but the
continued and ever increasing exactions of their masters forbade them
to forget that they were under alien rulers. All that were worthy in
the city had sought refuge elsewhere: the priests, the students with
their priceless manuscripts, and the traders had escaped to Nicaea
or to Trebizond. The oppressors had seen themselves deserted and the
limits of the empire restricted almost to the boundaries of the city.
The Latin empire, which had never been formidable, had become an object
of contempt. When, however, its last emperor slunk away as a fugitive
from his imperial city, he was hardly more contemptible than when he
was present as a mendicant at the court of St. Louis or of Henry the
Third. His empire deserves only to be remembered as a gigantic failure,
a check to the progress of European civilisation, a mischievous
episode, an abortion among states, born in sin, shapen in iniquity, and
dying amid ignominy.



[Sidenote: Condition of capital on Baldwin’s flight.]

When Constantinople was captured by the Crusaders and Venetians it was
adorned with the accumulated wealth of centuries and decorated with
art treasures for which not only Greece but the whole Roman Empire
had been ransacked. When the city was recaptured by the Greeks it was
a desolation. Houses, churches, and monasteries were in ruins; whole
quarters were deserted. Heaps of rubbish marked where extensive fires
had consumed houses which no one cared to rebuild. The imperial palace
itself was in so disorderly and filthy a condition that it was some
time before it could be occupied. In place of a large population of the
most educated and highly civilised people in Europe, was a miserably
small number of Greeks who had been reduced to poverty with a number
of foreign and principally French colonists. While the foreign captors
had plundered the city and carried off the bronze horses of Lysippus
and innumerable other objects of art and value to Western Europe, they
and their successors during the fifty-eight years of occupation had,
in their contemptuous ignorance of the art of a conquered people,
destroyed probably more than had been taken away as plunder.

The Queen City, which during many centuries had preserved her
inviolability and had largely for that reason become the treasure-house
of the empire and even of a large part of the Western world, had lost
her reputation as a place of safety. Amid the devastation in Egypt, in
Syria, and in Asia Minor, marked and mainly caused by the advances of
the Saracens and Seljukian Turks, by the struggles of the Crusaders,
and the destruction of the ancient civilisations of Eastern Asia Minor
occasioned by the westward movements of Asiatic hordes, the merchant
had known only of one city where his merchandise was safe and where he
could trade in security.

[Sidenote: Loss of its commerce.]

The stream of commerce between the East and the West which had flowed
through the Bosporus had been diverted into other channels, and the
great _emboloi_ and warehouses were lying empty or in ruins. Tana or
the Azof, which had been the starting-point of a great caravan route
through Bokhara, Samarcand, and Balkh, now no longer contributed
largely to the commerce of Constantinople. Such of its trade as was
not sent overland to Western Europe was held by the Venetians, and at
a somewhat later period by the Genoese or other Italians, and scarcely
contributed at all to the wealth of the capital. The Danube became
during the thirteenth century the highway between the Black and the
North Seas. The city which had been the great centre for the collection
and distribution of the furs, the hides, the caviare and dried fish,
the honey, wax, and other produce which the Russian merchants collected
and stored for the use of the West, was now studiously avoided. The
Western traders who had met those from Novgorod, Tchernigov, and Kief
at Constantinople now found their way to the mouth of the Dnieper and
arranged for the transit of their goods so as to avoid the pirates
whom the Latin rulers of Constantinople were unable to suppress, or
the exactions levied upon their merchandise if they came within the
power of the ancient capital. Trade which had come to Constantinople
along the ancient roads through Asia Minor had either ceased to exist
or had been diverted into other channels. The confidence arising from
a sense of security which through a long series of years had attracted
commerce could not be restored and in fact was never regained. The
loss of her trade took from Constantinople the only external source
of revenue. The restored empire had thus to depend almost exclusively
upon the contributions which it could levy upon the long harassed and
impoverished peoples who recognised its rule.

The recapture of the capital, though an epoch-marking event, was
only one step towards the restoration of the empire. It never really
was restored. It never recovered the commanding position which it
had occupied during even the worst periods of its history since
Constantine. Its existence from 1261 to its capture by the Turks in
1453 is one long struggle.

[Sidenote: Difficulties of restored empire.]

The capital had been a centre which had kept well in touch with
even the remote corners of the empire. In it had been the seat of
government, the highest law courts presided over by the ablest jurists,
the continuators of the work of Justinian, whose labour had formulated
the law of all continental Europe. There also was the centre of the
theological and religious life of the empire and the seat of the
administration. Unhappily, during the sixty years of Latin rule the
whole framework of this administration had been broken up. A new plan
of government had to be devised. The new officials of the emperors were
called upon to govern without rules, without experience, and without
traditions. The forms of provincial and municipal government were
hardly remembered, and there were no men trained in affairs to breathe
life into them.

The influences at work in the capital had bound the empire together,
but they had been exercised through local administrations. The result
now was that the government became centralised: that is, that matters
which previously would have been dealt with in the provinces by men
with local knowledge had to be dealt with in the capital by men who
were necessarily under many disadvantages. The effort of its rulers
after the city was recaptured was not merely to restore to it the
territory which had acknowledged its sway, but to administer good
government directly from its capital.

Unfortunately, the desolation wrought in Constantinople was reproduced
throughout every portion of what had been the empire before the
Latin conquest. The country had been everywhere impoverished and the
population diminished by successive raids of Crusaders or pretenders.

[Sidenote: From foreign states.]

Nor were the external difficulties of the restored empire less
alarming. When Michael the Eighth entered the recaptured city he found
anarchy throughout his European territory and neighbouring states
eager to enlarge their boundaries at his expense. The Bulgarians were
a formidable power, whose dominions were not divided from his own by
any natural boundary. The Serbians had utilised the period of the
Latin occupation to gather strength and were rising once again to
importance. The crusading families who had obtained fiefs in Greece and
the southern portion of Macedonia still retained their independence.
Genoese and Venetians, while struggling against each other for the
favour of the emperor, were each on the alert to obtain territory as
well as trading privileges at his expense.

[Sidenote: From hostility towards Roman Church.]

One of the most serious evils inflicted on the empire by the Latin
occupation was the fierce antagonism it had created in the Orthodox
Church towards that of the elder Rome. We have seen that Innocent had
foreseen this result, but even he, great statesman though he was, could
hardly have anticipated that the hatred aroused would be of so long a
duration. When the city had been captured a Latin patriarch had been
appointed, the union of the Churches had been forced upon clergy and
people, and the Church, which had always considered itself the equal if
not the superior of Rome, was relegated to a position of inferiority.
All attempts at reunion were henceforward regarded not merely from
the point of view of religion, but from that of patriotism. Union was
part of the heritage of bondage. Union meant voluntary submission to
the foreign Church which had been able to impose its rule during two
generations. Union, therefore, in the minds of a majority of both
clergy and laity had to be resisted as a badge of slavery.

Though the Latin empire had perished, there still remained a Latin
emperor or pretender, and he and his descendants, with the support of
successive popes and aided by adventurers from France, Italy, and
Spain, made many and constant attempts to regain the position which
had been lost. For upwards of a century after the city’s recapture
there was a general scramble by the European neighbours of the empire
and Western powers for adjacent territory. The dominions of the
emperor were large and sparsely populated, and offered an irresistible
temptation to neighbouring states. More formidable, however, than all
other enemies were the Turks. Though they had been attacked in the rear
and were for a while rent by internal dissensions, they were steadily
increasing: adding constantly by conquests to the territory over which
their emirs ruled, and increasing in numbers by the never-failing
stream of immigrants and born warriors coming into Asia Minor from
Central Asia.

[Sidenote: From Michael’s usurpation.]

Among the first difficulties encountered in the reconstruction of the
empire must be noted that arising from the irregularity of Michael’s
own position. It is worthy of note, not merely as a difficulty, but as
showing the independent spirit of the Orthodox Church. The reader will
have ample evidence of the inflexibility of its resistance on questions
of dogma, but the very commencement of the reign of Michael illustrates
how it was prepared to make a vigorous stand even against the deliverer
of the empire on the simple ground of righteousness. We have seen that
Michael had no legal claim to the throne. The _de jure_ heir was John,
a child of eight years when his father, Theodore Lascaris, died. His
guardians were Michael, who had been made Grand Duke, and Arsenius the
Patriarch. When a year afterwards, in 1261, the city was recaptured,
it was expected by some persons of influence that Michael would either
simply act as regent or associate John with him as co-emperor as soon
as he became of age. Michael, however, in the same year, blinded
the boy, so as to render him incapable of ascending the throne.[21]
Arsenius the Patriarch, as soon as the cruel deed became known, called
a meeting of the bishops and boldly pronounced against the emperor
a formal sentence of excommunication. None of the bishops opposed.
They did not attempt to depose him. One can only conjecture why they
hesitated. Possibly it was because they considered it expedient that
he should remain on the throne, or it may be that they regarded such a
step as beyond their jurisdiction. The emperor was alarmed, feared the
consequences of excommunication among the troops, but feared probably
still more the spiritual penalties which would follow the sentence. He
preferred, says Pachymer,[22] to die rather than to live burdened with
the anathemas of the Church. He sought out friends of the patriarch and
begged them to use all their influence to have the penalties removed.
He urged that penance should be imposed, and professed himself ready to
undergo any which might be deemed necessary to atone for his fault. The
patriarch replied that, even if he were threatened with death, he would
never remove the excommunication. The emperor went himself to visit
Arsenius, and in the conversation asked whether it was his wish that
he should abdicate, unbuckling his sword as he did so. When, however,
the patriarch stretched out his hand to receive it, the emperor put it
back. The patriarch remained firm. The emperor complained bitterly to
his friends of the conduct of Arsenius, and threatened that, as his
own Church would not grant him absolution, he would have recourse to
the pope, who would be more conciliatory. Years passed and Arsenius
constantly refused to give way. Every means thought of by the emperor
of conciliating him had failed, and he at length determined to have
him deposed. But threats and promises were equally unavailable. He had
called together the bishops on several occasions and complained that
it was impossible for him to govern the country unless he was relieved
of so heavy a burden.[23] On the last of these occasions he claimed
that by the law of the Church every Christian had a right to absolution
on doing penance, and he asked whether such laws were to be construed
less favourably for princes than for other sinners. He submitted that
the patriarch had treated him not only unjustly but illegally, and
concluded by inviting the bishops to depose Arsenius.

Once more he sent to ask the patriarch whether or not he would grant
absolution, and once more Arsenius refused. Upon this, as the bishops
would not consent to declare that he was not justified in maintaining
the anathema, the emperor had Articles of Accusation drawn against him.
The charges were not altogether of a trivial character. He accused
him of having shortened the prayer for the emperor in matins; of
having ordered the omission of the Trisagion; of having conversed in
a friendly manner with the sultan of the Seljukian Turks; of having
allowed him and other Mahometan companions to bathe in a bath belonging
to the Church, where there were crosses; of having ordered a monk to
administer the Sacrament to the sultan’s children, although he was not
certain that they had been baptised.

An assembly of bishops was convoked to examine the charges. The
patriarch replied by objecting to the meeting of the court in the
palace, refused to appear, and promised to send his answer to the
charges in writing. Pachymer recounts in some detail how the emperor
endeavoured to obtain absolution by a trick, and how Arsenius on
discovering it asked him if he thought he could deceive God. The
emperor in reply insisted that some of the charges should be pressed
on to hearing and obtained a majority of votes condemning the

The patriarch was thereupon exiled.

His successor, Germanus, removed the anathema, but doubts arose in
the emperor’s mind whether the removal was valid. After a few months
Germanus was persuaded by the emperor to retire, and in his place the
nominee of Michael, a certain Joseph, was named. The new patriarch
was a courtier, and probably knew that the principal reason for his
election was that absolution might be effectively and publicly given.
The emperor allowed Joseph a month within which to consider the best
means of granting him absolution, and then all was arranged. On
the great feast of Candlemas, February 2, 1267, there was a notable
function in Hagia Sophia for the removal of the anathema. The
ceremony was a long and solemn one, the patriarch and the bishops,
and probably the emperor and his suite, having had to pass the whole
night in the church. The great church was crowded with worshippers or
spectators. When the liturgy was completed the emperor, who had thus
far remained standing surrounded by his guards and senators, drew near
the Holy Gates[25] behind which stood the bishops. Then, uncovered,
he prostrated himself to the ground at the feet of the patriarch,
publicly confessed his sin, and humbly demanded pardon. While he was
thus prostrate, the patriarch, and after him each of the bishops, read
the formula by which he was absolved from the crime committed against
the young emperor. When all had thus given absolution, the emperor
rose, was admitted to Holy Communion, and, says Pachymer, henceforward
treated John with every kindness. The point, however, to be noted is
that even the emperor, strong-willed usurper as he was, was not merely
afraid of the terrors of the Church, but found it extremely difficult
to bend it to his will so as to obtain the removal of its sentence for
an unjust act, although there were many obvious advantages to the state
in complying with the emperor’s wish.

[Sidenote: Difficulties arising from attempts by Latins to recover the

From the first year of his accession Michael the Eighth set himself
the task of diverting from the empire the attacks of Western states.
It was not to be expected that Baldwin and the statesmen of the West
would settle down resignedly to the loss of a Latin empire. During
many years their attempts to regain the city constituted the most
pressing danger to the empire and contributed more than any other
cause during Michael’s reign to render it unable to hold its own
against the encroachments of the Turks. To Michael, as to all other
statesmen in Europe, the representative of the West was the pope.
To satisfy the pope was to appease Western Europe, to divert attacks
from the empire, and to cause aid to be sent against the Moslems. But
the pope, on the accession of Michael, was doubly offended: first,
because the Latin empire had been overthrown, and second, because the
prospect of union between the two Churches was put back. Several years
had to pass and many struggles had to be borne before the pontiffs
reconciled themselves to the final disappearance of that Latin empire
the foundation of which the great statesman Pope Innocent the Third had

[Sidenote: Attempts at reconciliation with Roman Church.]

Michael, while resisting all attacks made or favoured by the pope, saw
the desirability of being reconciled with him so as, if possible, to
induce him not to lend his support to the efforts of Baldwin to recover
the city. With this object he never lost an opportunity, even at the
cost of alienating the sympathies of his own people and being denounced
by his own ecclesiastics, of endeavouring to gain the pontifical favour
by attempting to bring about the Union of the Churches.

It is remarkable that from his accession until the end of his reign
these attempts fill a part of all contemporary histories quite
disproportionate to what at first sight appears their importance. It is
even more remarkable that during the whole period between the capture
of the city by Michael and the Moslem siege in 1453 the dominant
question of interest was that of the Union of the Churches. The fact
that the representative of Western Europe was the sovereign pontiff
accounts to a great extent, though not altogether, for the prominent
part played by the religious question in nearly all the negotiations
between the later emperors and the West. Not even the constant and
almost unceasing struggle with the Turks occupies so much attention as
do the negotiations with Rome, the embassies, the Councils, and the
ever-varying tentatives to bring the two Churches into reconciliation.
No true conception of the life of the empire can be formed unless
it is realised how completely its citizens were occupied with these
semi-religious, semi-political questions. On one side the popes were
almost constant in their attempts, now to compel the Eastern Church to
come in, now to persuade it; on the other, the emperors, while fully
cognisant of the importance of diverting Western attacks and, at a
later period, of receiving aid against the common enemy of Christendom,
had constantly to meet with the dogged and unceasing opposition and
bitter hostility of the great mass of their subjects to purchasing help
at the price of union with the Latin Church.

A struggle began immediately on the accession of Michael and soon
became a curiously complicated strife. The pope in 1262 proclaimed
a Crusade against him and against the Genoese, who still remained
allied with him. The pontiff characterised Michael as a usurper and
a schismatic, and granted the same indulgences to those who took up
arms or contributed to the expenses of the expedition against him as
to those who fought for the deliverance of the Holy Land. He urged
St. Louis to collect tithes for the same purpose.[26] Michael, on the
other hand, while preparing to resist invasion and strengthening the
city walls, increasing his fleet, and raising new levies, yet sought
to satisfy the pope by offering to do his utmost to bring about the
Union of the Churches. Possibly owing to the emperor’s representations,
Urban the Fourth countermanded the proposed expedition, diverting it
against the Tartars who were then invading Palestine. He sent friars
to Constantinople to exhort the emperor to carry out his proposal for
reunion. His successor, Clement, was, however, a man of a different
spirit and replied to the promises of Michael that they were only fair
words intended to prevent him from aiding the dethroned Baldwin. While
Michael had undoubtedly this object in view, he seems to have been
sincere in his desire for Union. One of his objections to the patriarch
Arsenius was that he would have nothing to do with the Latins. The
Greek priests clamoured to such an extent against the patriarch who
succeeded Arsenius, because he was believed to be willing to follow
the emperor’s example in working for Union, that he was compelled to

As time went on, the Venetians, whose influence in the city had
fallen with the Latin empire, began to lose hope of seeing Baldwin
re-established on the throne, and in 1267 sent to make peace with
Michael. Gregory the Tenth threatened the doge with anathema if he even
made a truce with him. The emperor endeavoured, though in vain, to
appease the wrath of the pope by obtaining the intervention of Louis of
France. Gregory, whom Michael had congratulated on his accession upon
the death of Clement, was more conciliatory. He sent legates to the
capital to treat once more on Union. Pachymer gives a vivid account of
the negotiations which followed, an account from which it is difficult
to doubt the sincerity of the emperor’s wish for reconciliation or the
persistence of the opposition which he had to encounter. He states[27]
that the emperor followed the example of John Ducas of Nicaea, that he
sent many embassies to Rome, and that his real object was to obtain
from the popes protection for the Greeks. Gregory assured him that
no time was so favourable as the present for putting an end to the
Greek schism. The emperor on his side did his utmost to persuade the
patriarch and the bishops to aid him. The Latin delegates themselves
were men of piety who showed every possible respect for the Greek rite.
They were invited to discuss the differences between the dogmas of the
two Churches. In their interviews with the bishops they claimed that
the _Filioque_ clause which constituted the great point of discussion
was a divine mystery which was impenetrable, that while the difference
between the Latin formula which declared that the Holy Ghost proceeds
from the Father and the Son was not really at variance with the Greek
that He proceeded from the Father by the Son, they ought to be content
with the reasons which the Latins adduced for inserting it in the
Creed. The bishops met these observations with a rugged _non possumus_.
Their Creed was what had been consecrated by the usage of centuries.
It was dangerous for any one Church to add to the Symbols even words
which were not contrary to the Catholic faith. The bishops openly
declared that, whatever the threats of the emperor might be, they would
hold to the ancient formula.

News of an expedition to restore the Latin empire came pouring in, and
the emperor determined to have his own way and to conciliate the pope.
In an assembly in which the patriarch, bishops, and other ecclesiastics
took part he spoke at great length in favour of reconciliation.
The patriarch appointed Veccus, a man famous for his eloquence and
learning, to reply to him. His reply is summed up by Pachymer: ‘There
are heretics who are so called. There are some who are not heretics and
are not so called. There are some who are called but are not heretics,
and lastly there are others who are not called but are heretics, and it
is in this latter class that the Latins must be placed.’

The emperor dismissed the assembly and was violently angry against
Veccus, whom he accused of having acted with bad faith. Having failed
in substantiating a formal charge, he arbitrarily sent him prisoner to
the Tower of Anemas. While in prison, however, Michael furnished him
with books which favoured the Latin case, and, says Pachymer, as he
was a man of singular simplicity and of sincere love for the truth he
became disposed towards reconciliation. He was released. The emperor
pressed the patriarch and the bishops to find a _modus vivendi_ with
the Latins, and was now aided by Veccus, who had discovered that the
sole fault of the Western Church was that it had solely upon its own
authority added the obnoxious clause to the Creed. The patriarch
and the bishops, however, were obdurate. By dint of persecution,
by requiring them to pay arrears of rent for their monasteries and
houses, he sought to force them to come to an arrangement. He called
another assembly and finally succeeded in obtaining a declaration
from them with which for the time he was forced to be content. In
this very assembly, however, one of the aged bishops besought him
not to press the Union, assuring him that even if the dignitaries
signed no one else would accept it. The Arsenites and the Josephites,
as the followers of the two ex-patriarchs who would not comply with
the emperor’s wish were called, had with them the great mass of the
citizens, and the aged dignitary was probably right when he stated[28]
that if the emperor persisted, civil war would be the consequence.

Meantime the emperor, who could not or would not understand this bitter
opposition to his desires, was aware that negotiations were going on
between Charles of Anjou, king of Sicily (whose daughter had married
the son and heir of Baldwin, the ex-emperor), and the Venetians for an
attack upon his territories and the restoration of the Latin empire.
Michael sent costly presents to the pope, and once more declared his
determination to bring about Union, and asked his indulgence. Once
more he sent delegates to the pope, who in return ordered Charles
to facilitate their passage through his dominions and to postpone
hostilities. The emperor insisted on Union, and in the following
year, 1274, he and some of the bishops sent other delegates to Lyons
to complete a formal reconciliation. On their arrival in that city
they pronounced during the celebration of Mass the obnoxious clause.
Gregory the Tenth declared that they had come voluntarily to submit
themselves, to make the Roman confession of faith, and to recognise his
supremacy. After George Acropolitas had read the emperor’s profession,
and the envoy of the bishops theirs, a _Te Deum_ was sung and the Union
proclaimed. But whatever the pope or the emperor might wish or even do,
the Eastern Church was not prepared to ratify a reconciliation. The
patriarch still refused to yield. He had gone as far as he intended to
go and declared that he would abdicate if the Union were accomplished.
Thereupon he was deposed by the synod. Immediately afterwards the
pope’s name was introduced into the public prayers, but with the result
that the breach between those in favour of Union and those opposed to
it became wider. The emperor pertinaciously persevered, and with his
consent Veccus, who had now gone over to the emperor’s side, was named

On the return of the delegates from Lyons, preaching friars were sent
to Constantinople by Innocent the Fifth. On his death, in 1276, his
successor, John the Twenty-fifth, sent nuncios, who were received with
great honour, and Michael, in return, together with the patriarch sent
delegates to confirm the Union. They arrived, however, in Rome after
the death of John. In 1277 Michael and his son Andronicus, the heir to
the throne, who was now of full age, formally confirmed the Union of
the Churches. Thereupon there began a struggle with those who opposed
it. The patriarch Veccus excommunicated its adversaries, mentioning the
leaders by name. John the Bastard, the despot of Epirus, who was the
foremost, at once called a Council and submitted the question to its
decision. This Council anathematised alike the emperor, the pope, and
the patriarch. Some of the nobles and officers sent against John openly
declared for him as the defender of the ancient faith.

The new pope was convinced that the emperor was doing his utmost to
bring about Union, and in consequence refused permission to Charles
of Anjou to send an expedition against him. When his nuncios arrived,
in 1279, in the capital, they learned that, in spite of the emperor
and the patriarch, the clergy and people would not accept Union. The
nuncios were taken to the prisons and saw nobles, even of the emperor’s
own family, as well as many others, loaded with chains on account of
their opposition on this question to the imperial wish. They were
convinced of the emperor’s good faith, but no definite statement could
be obtained from the bishops. _Non possumus_ remained the expression of
their attitude.

When, however, Martin the Fourth learned from the nuncios what was
the position in Constantinople, he seems either to have lost all hope
of bringing about Union by persuasion, or possibly to have thought
that his predecessor had been deceived by Michael; for in 1281 he
excommunicated the emperor and all the Greeks as schismatics. By
so doing he became free to assist in organising the long-threatened
expedition for the restoration of the Latin empire. Michael in reply
simply contented himself with the omission of the pope’s name from the

Martin followed up his excommunication by joining in a league with
Charles of Anjou and the Venetians in order to replace Michael by
Philip, the son of Baldwin the Latin emperor. In the following year
the pope in renewing his excommunication gave the emperor until May 1,
1282, within which to submit himself under pain of being deposed.

Michael’s position was desperate. He had alienated his own subjects;
he had risked his throne, imprisoned his nearest relations, had tried
bribes, intrigues, flattery, and force. Worse than all, he had been
forced to allow the various hordes of Moslems in Asia Minor--Turks,
Kurds, and Tartars--to encroach on the territory of the empire at a
time when, if he had had a free hand, a serious check might have been
put to their progress. All was in vain. His failure with the popes was
now as complete as with his own people. The threat of an expedition
under Charles of Anjou was so serious that he sent thirty thousand
ounces of gold to Peter of Aragon to assist him in defeating Charles
and diverting his expedition from the Bosporus. He became irritable
and melancholy at the obstinacy of his subjects and punished them with
unreasonable severity and great cruelty.[29]

[Sidenote: Death of Michael VIII.]

The pope’s expedition was, however, put an end to by the Sicilian
Vespers in March 1282. The forces of Charles of Anjou found other
employment than an expedition to Constantinople. In December of the
same year Michael died.[30]

[Sidenote: Reign of Andronicus II., 1282–1328.]

During the long reign of Andronicus the Second (1282 to 1328), the
son and successor of Michael, the party which the latter had headed
in favour of Union with Rome fell to pieces. The older emperor’s
disappointment probably hastened his death. Veccus the patriarch within
a few months was forced to withdraw to a monastery. His writings in
favour of Union were burned. He was put upon his trial before a synod
and saved himself by signing a declaration against further attempts
at reconciliation with the Latin Church. The ex-patriarch Joseph was
brought back in triumph, and a persecution at once commenced of those
who had favoured the emperor’s plans.

This hostility to the Unionist party was contemporaneous with a short
period during which the fear of an attack to reestablish a Latin
empire had lessened. The attention of the pontiff was directed towards
sending aid to the king of Armenia, who had been for years making
a brave defence against his Moslem assailants. But the attempt at
Union and the re-establishment of a Latin empire was not forgotten.
In 1287 Nicholas the Fourth endeavoured to accomplish these objects
while allowing the Greek emperor to remain on the throne. He favoured,
and perhaps suggested, a marriage between Michael, the eldest son of
Andronicus, and Catherine of Courtenay, the granddaughter of Baldwin.
Her other grandfather, Charles of Anjou, king of Sicily, claimed the
imperial throne on her behalf.[31] The proposal of marriage had much
to recommend it to the emperor, because it appeared to be a means of
putting an end to the attempts to regain the imperial throne by the
deposed family. The arrangements were broken off because Andronicus
would not agree to recognise the pope’s supremacy, without which the
pontiff refused his consent. Considering the attitude of the Greek
ecclesiastics, there can be little doubt that if the emperor had
agreed to the pope’s demand the already strained relations between
the Orthodox and the Roman parties would have become dangerous to the
state, would have probably brought about civil war, and might have
cost Andronicus his throne. The question after long negotiations was
settled in 1295 by the marriage of Michael with the sister of the king
of Armenia.

[Sidenote: Popes favour project for reestablishing Latin empire.]

The popes thereupon took a bolder course. They had seen the futility of
the efforts to obtain Union by negotiation with the emperor, and now
supported a series of attempts to recapture Constantinople and to place
upon the throne a descendant of the last Latin emperor, Baldwin the
Second. If the recapture could be accomplished, the Union so dear to
Rome could be brought about by force.

In 1301 Catherine of Courtenay married Charles of Valois, brother of
the king of France.[32] The marriage was a political one, its object
being to give the hand of Catherine to a Western prince of sufficient
standing to arouse an enthusiasm in all the West in favour of the
restoration of the Latin empire. Charles at once entered into a treaty
with the Venetians for the conquest of Constantinople, and arranged
to recognise the assignment of certain portions of the empire which
had already been made to other descendants of Baldwin. A Venetian was
designated by the pope as Latin patriarch of Constantinople. Eighteen
Venetian ships went to the capital, and were sufficiently powerful to
force the emperor to grant trading concessions. Charles of Anjou and
Frederic of Aragon bound themselves to aid in the attempts to recapture

It was in presence of this threatened attack, which appeared to be
far the most serious which had been contemplated since the city’s
recapture, that the emperor invited a certain Roger de Flor and his
band of Spanish mercenaries, who came to be known as the Catalan Grand
Company, to come to his aid.

Within the city itself great efforts were made, in presence of the
common danger, to unite the theological factions. The patriarch, who
had pronounced an anathema against the emperor, consented to withdraw
it. The truce, however, between the ecclesiastics was unfortunately of
short duration. As time passed, and the much-vaunted expedition did not
present itself, the old rancours again showed themselves.

Indeed, the expedition to place Charles of Valois on the imperial
throne made slow progress. In 1305 his brother, the king of France,
gave it his support. Once more the pontiff invited the Venetians to
follow the example of Dandolo and aid in the conquest of the city.
It was not, however, till the end of 1306 that a treaty of alliance
was made between them and Charles. The result which might have been
anticipated followed when the news was received in the capital. The
Latin monks, who up to this time had been tolerated within the city,
were expelled, and the party in favour of Union almost entirely
disappeared. Meantime the preparations for the expedition continued.

In 1308 its titular head, Charles of Valois, allied himself with the
Servians. Charles himself was ready, but apparently not eager, for the
enterprise. The Venetians desired speedy action; but the Western nobles
only feebly responded to the pope’s demand, although it was supported
by the king of France. Charles of Anjou was not ready. In the course of
the next year Catherine of Courtenay died, and partly on account of her
death, and probably also because he despaired of leading a successful
enterprise, Charles of Valois abandoned the design of capturing
Constantinople. He, however, transferred what he considered his rights
to the throne to his son-in-law, Philip of Tarentum.

The Venetians resigned themselves to a position which would allow them
once more to trade with the empire, and in 1310 concluded a truce with
its ruler for ten years.

Philip now prepared to organise an attempt against Constantinople,
and once more the pope, in 1313, weakened the position of the Latin
party in Constantinople by calling upon Frederic, king of Sicily, to
aid the new pretender. The king of France undertook to furnish five
hundred men-at-arms, and money to pay them for a year, and called
upon Louis of Burgundy to furnish another hundred. The undertaking,
however, languished, and when Philip of France died, in 1314, no one,
except Philip of Tarentum, seemed to have any further interest in it.
He leagued himself with the king of Hungary in 1318, and two years
later purchased certain rights in the principality of Achaia and what
was still spoken of in the West as the kingdom of Thessalonica. But
no favourable opportunity came to him, and in 1324 the doge of Venice
notified the emperor that the princes of the West had no intention of
attacking the imperial city. The notification turned out correct, for,
until his dethronement, in 1328, Andronicus was no longer troubled with
tidings of expeditions against Constantinople from Western Europe.

[Sidenote: The Catalan Grand Company. Expedition Against

Meantime it is necessary to return to the invitation which Andronicus
had given to Robert de Flor to come to his aid. This aid was intended
nominally against the Turks, but really against the expedition which
Charles of Valois was preparing, with the sanction of the pope and the
help of the Venetians and of all men who would respond to the pope’s
exhortation, to assist in restoring a Latin emperor to Constantinople.
The invitation brought into the empire a band of auxiliaries from the
West which, in its weakened condition, was almost as mischievous and
ruinous to the empire as any expedition openly directed against its
existence could have been. The evil inflicted upon the empire by the
band of mercenaries invited for its defence was indeed so manifold that
the story deserves telling with considerable detail.

As already stated, Philip, the son of Baldwin, the last Latin emperor,
had married the daughter of Charles of Anjou, king of Sicily. Charles
promised, in 1278, to send an expedition to Constantinople, but the
pope, seeing the efforts which Michael continued to make for Union,
refused his sanction. Two years later, however, a new pope entered
into a treaty with Venice and Naples to attack the empire, and Charles
undertook to send eight hundred cavaliers to claim what he considered
the rights of his granddaughter. A body of troops was sent across
the Adriatic to assist the Albanians, who were fighting against the
emperor. The invaders were utterly defeated, and the empire was saved
from the attack of Charles by the disorganisation produced by the
Sicilian Vespers in 1283, a massacre in which 8,000 Frenchmen perished.

In the twenty years that followed, a body of Spanish mercenaries played
a prominent part in the Sicilian troubles. Spain had been engaged for
three hundred years in a long and almost continuous struggle against
the Moors. Fathers had dedicated their sons in successive generations
to the defence of Christianity and their country, and the result was
already to have formed a nation of brave and disciplined soldiers, such
as Western Europe had not seen since the best days of the Roman empire.
Peter of Aragon had supplied a band of such soldiers to fight against
France in Sicily and Calabria.

In 1301 the marriage of Catherine of Courtenay, daughter of Philip, and
granddaughter of Baldwin the Second, with Charles of Valois, son of
Philip the Second of France, and brother of the king, put an end to the
troubles in Sicily with the French.

Now that, in 1302, peace was concluded in Sicily, their employers
were anxious to be rid of the now useless mercenaries; for, though
their courage, their recklessness of danger, and their prowess were
indisputable, their lawlessness, their cruelty to the inhabitants of
the country where they were encamped, and their insubordination, even
to their own officers, were no less remarkable. Moreover, Frederic of
Sicily was unable to pay them, and they had already commenced to pay
themselves by general plunder. Unaccustomed to work, and used only to
a life of rapine, they were ready to take service under any leader who
appeared able to offer them good chances of pillage; but woe to the
country to which they were sent, and to the cause which they promised
to serve!

Among their leaders was a German named Robert Blum, whose name became
changed or translated to Roger de Flor. He was a typical instance of
the worst kind of soldier of fortune of the middle ages. He entered
the order of the Templars, but was degraded because he betrayed the
Christians in return for bribes from the Moslems. Then he turned
pirate, and sought foreign service. The French refused to have anything
to do with him. He had therefore gone over to the enemy, and the king
of Sicily made him vice-admiral. He robbed for his master wherever
he could find anything to steal. If he met an enemy, he took all he
could carry away, without acknowledgment; if a friend, he took what he
wanted, and gave acknowledgments of a very doubtful value, which were
to be paid by the king of Sicily at the end of the war.

When the Sicilian war was over, the Grand Master of the Temple urged
the pope to insist that Roger de Flor should be surrendered for
punishment. Roger learned that such a demand was about to be made[33]
and anticipated extradition by taking service with the Greek emperor,
nominally to fight against the Turks, promising to bring with him a
body of Spanish troops. The alarm of Andronicus at the report of the
expedition of Charles of Valois against him was great. It looked as
if all Western princes were about to enter upon a new crusade for the
recapture of Constantinople. Hence he was prepared to welcome aid from
any source.

In 1303 Roger de Flor arrived at Constantinople with a fleet of seven
ships and eight thousand men, who are described by Pachymer as Catalans
and Amogavares, the latter being adventurers from other parts of Spain
than Catalonia. This band was soon spoken of as the Catalan Grand

Roger was accompanied by Fernand Ximenes, who was also at the head of
a large body of retainers who were desirous of taking service under
the emperor. The reputation which Roger de Flor bore as the most
daring of soldiers caused him to be eagerly welcomed by the emperor,
who conferred upon him the title of Grand Duke and hoped much from his
services. His reckless followers knew only one virtue--that of courage.
Their first adventure showed, however, the spirit of lawlessness which
existed in his army. The emperor had borrowed a large sum of money
from the Genoese which Roger alleged that he had employed in raising
new troops. When the Genoese applied to Roger for payment it was
refused. The emperor sent a high official to arrange the difficulty,
and the Catalans cut him in pieces. The Grand Company were at this
time encamped outside the city walls in the neighbourhood of the
present Eyoub. They seized the monastery of St. Cosmas and held it as
a fortress. The Genoese erected barricades on the shore of the Golden
Horn, and a struggle took place between the two in which many were
killed on both sides.

Shortly afterwards the Spaniards were induced to cross the Marmora to
Cyzicus, and a quarrel ensued between them and the Alans, one of the
first of many Asiatic tribes who had pushed their way into the valley
of the Danube, and a band of whom had been taken into the imperial
service. The son of the leader of the Alans was killed, and his
soldiers vowed vengeance. Roger de Flor then pushed on to attack the
Turks. He was seen at his best when he met the enemy. He raised the
siege of Philadelphia and defeated the various armies sent against him,
killing, it is said, thirty thousand Turks and driving the rest of them
out of Lydia and Caria. But he was almost as terrible to the Christians
whom he had been sent to protect as he was to the Moslems. His progress
through Asia Minor was marked by constant plunder. Pachymer says that
those subjects of the emperor who fell into his hands after they had
escaped from the enemy had thrown themselves out of the smoke into
the fire. Those who gave up their property had difficulty in saving
their lives. The remark is made on the occasion of Roger’s visit to
Philadelphia, which he pillaged as if it had been an enemy’s city. He
treated Pergamos and Ephesus in the same way. His ships plundered the
islands of Chios, Lemnos, and Mytilene. The inhabitants of Magnesia
resisted his exactions, and he therefore laid siege to the city and did
his utmost to capture it. It was in vain that the emperor sent orders
to raise the siege and to attack Turks and not Christians. The Alans
who were with him urged obedience and withdrew when Roger refused. It
was only after a long siege that he recognised that he was unable to
capture the city and abandoned the attempt. In retreating he plundered
the Greeks as remorselessly as he did the Turks against whom he had
been sent. ‘Notwithstanding,’ says Pachymer, ‘that the emperor had
prepared all that was needed for the support of Roger and his army, the
peasants were robbed of everything they possessed and were left without
either seed-corn or oxen for ploughing. At the news of his coming many
abandoned their farms and took refuge in the islands. He appropriated
to his own use the tithes and other taxes which should have gone to the
emperor.’ Indeed there appears no reason to doubt the assertion that
this adventurer had now formed the intention of carving out a kingdom
for himself. It is possible indeed, and is in conformity with his
conduct, that from the first he had entertained such an intention. From
this time until his death he became the enemy of the emperor whom he
had come to aid.

When the Greek troops heard of the outrages on their countrymen they
asked the emperor to be led against the Catalans instead of against
the Turks. But the emperor himself was unwilling to break with Roger
and his army, or even that they should be distant from the city so
long as he expected the arrival of the great expedition intended for
its capture. He still also cherished the hope that the services of
the Grand Company might be employed against the Turks in case the
expedition from the West did not arrive. While he was hesitating,
Berenger of Catalonia arrived with new reinforcements in nine large
vessels, and soon he and Roger presented themselves at the imperial
court. Roger urged the emperor to subsidise Berenger, and in reply to
the question why the latter had come answered, because he had heard
of the liberality of the emperor’s payments. In a formal assembly
he reproached Roger with the lawlessness of his troops, with the
injury he had done to the Greeks, and especially with the burden of
expenses he had cast upon the empire. Finally, however, he consented to
receive Berenger and to assign to him a portion of the tithes for the
maintenance of the Catalan armies.

When, shortly after, a deputation of Catalans was sent to the emperor
demanding further pay, he replied by emptying in their presence sacks
full of letters complaining of exactions by the Spaniards. In spite
of these complaints and of the exactions and lawlessness of the Grand
Company, he appears to have been unwilling to lose their services. He
recounted the money payments he had made, but promised to give them
more than they had asked if only they would at once return to attack
the enemy in Asia. The deputation knew the emperor’s anxiety and
desire to keep his own troops for the defence of the city against the
expedition of Charles, and therefore refused to return without further
payment. All argument was useless. Berenger was dissatisfied with the
offers made to him personally and sailed away from the Golden Horn
during the night for Gallipoli, which city was held by his countrymen.
Roger pleaded in vain for more money to be paid at once. It was not
there to be given. The tension between the Spaniards and the emperor
became so great that the latter sent orders to his son Michael,
encamped near Apros, to be ready against an attack by the Catalans.

[Sidenote: Assassination of Roger de Flor.]

Some months later, in 1307, Roger went to Adrianople under pretence
that he wished to pay his respects to Michael at Apros and to take
leave of him, as he declared he was about to quit the country.
Pachymer, probably reflecting the popular belief, states that his real
object was to learn the number of men in the Greek army and what were
his chances in an attack upon it. Michael received him in a friendly
manner, but the Alans in his service had not forgotten the vengeance
they had vowed against him for having at Cyzicus killed the son of
George their leader, and as Roger was entering the audience chamber
he was stabbed by George himself. Upon news of the assassination, the
Catalans fled to Gallipoli, putting men, women, and children to the
sword during their flight. Michael followed them and laid siege to
the city, but Berenger persuaded the Emperor Andronicus to grant the
besieged time and so arranged matters that the Spaniards were able to
take ship and escape. They made their way once more across the Marmora
to Cyzicus, but the inhabitants stoutly resisted, and the besiegers
left for Perinthos, where they killed every man they could lay hands
on. When the news reached the capital the inhabitants demanded
vengeance on those of the Catalans who had remained there and, taking
the law into their own hands, burned their houses. The patriarch, who
had in vain attempted to check their fury, with difficulty saved his
own life.

[Sidenote: Outrages by the Grand Company.]

The Spaniards were now at open war with the Greeks, and even Andronicus
would have been glad to get rid of them. They attacked the seafaring
population at Rhegium, now called Buyuk Chekmeji, burnt several men,
impaled their children, and massacred those whom they had employed to
carry off their booty. Their progress was checked for a while by the
arrival of sixteen Genoese ships. As the Genoese had had trouble with
the emperor, the Spaniards were in hopes of their aid, but the former
sent secretly into the city from their fleet to learn the truth about
the situation, heard the Greek version of the differences, and then
declared for the emperor. The Genoese and imperial fleets attacked the
Spaniards, who were led by Berenger, defeated them, captured their
leader, and subsequently sent him prisoner to Italy.

[Sidenote: Turkish auxiliaries enter Europe.]

Gallipoli was, however, still in the hands of the Catalans and an
attempt to buy the aid of the Genoese to relieve it failed. Michael
endeavoured to capture it. Both armies had secured Turkish allies. A
decisive battle was fought near Apros, in which the Spaniards were
successful. They followed up their victory by ravaging the neighbouring
country, and in this they were joined by a band of Turks who had been
invited to join them and by Alans who had quitted the imperial service.

The country between Constantinople and Adrianople was laid waste,
all the inhabitants abandoning their houses to save their lives. The
garrison of Catalans in Gallipoli in like manner ravaged the western
part of Thrace; men were killed, women and children, flocks and herds
were carried off. The women and children were taken to be sold to, or
to be held as slaves by, the Turks.

The emperor, unable either to employ or to defeat the Spaniards and
being hard pressed by the Turks in Asia Minor, endeavoured now to buy
them off. An embassy was sent to them, but the conditions demanded were
impossible, and thereupon the scenes of violence were renewed. Bands
of Spaniards and their Turkish allies made incursions in the country
behind Constantinople as far as Chorlou, laid siege to Rodosto, and
killed all whom they found outside the walls. Those who could escape
took refuge in Constantinople. Pachymer states that the Spaniards
claimed to have killed five thousand of these peasants. Adrianople was
besieged and, though it was not captured, the army of the Alans, who
had once more joined the Greeks, was defeated, the vineyards around the
city were rooted up and the fertile country converted for the time into
a desert. When the emperor again made an effort to buy the Spaniards
off he found their terms higher than ever, on account of their success.
They not only demanded heavy payments for services never performed, but
that the Emperor should pay ransom for the towns, the fortresses and
prisoners captured by them.

The two divisions of Spaniards, one under Rocafert, who had been
appointed to succeed Roger, and the other under Fernand Ximenes,
were now acting separately, and while the negotiations were going on
the former set out for Constantinople. They were, however, resisted
by the imperial troops and compelled to retire. They continued under
Rocafert to devastate Thrace. As they themselves received no food from
abroad nor tilled the ground in Thrace and had already devastated the
country, they were at length forced to retreat from want of provisions
to Gallipoli.

[Sidenote: Dissension in the Grand Company.]

Happily, serious divisions arose between the Spaniards themselves.
A large number of them refused to recognise Rocafert who had been
named leader with the consent of Ximenes. On the other hand, Rocafert
declared that as he had conquered the country he had no intention of
abandoning the leadership. The influence of Guy, the nephew of the
king of Sicily, who had brought with him another detachment of foreign
freebooters in seven large ships and who counted upon utilising the
Grand Company for the re-establishment of the Latin empire in his own
family, was unable to settle the differences between the two parties,
and they were soon at open war with each other. On one side was
Rocafert, on the other were Guy, Ximenes, and Berenger, who had been
released by the Genoese.

In view of an attack by the imperial troops and of the necessity of
finding provisions, a peace was patched up between the two Spanish
factions, and they started in a body to attack Salonica and plunder
Macedonia. The six thousand Spaniards were accompanied by three
thousand Turks. Rocafert’s division led. The van of the second
division reached the camping ground of the first before it had been
completely evacuated, and the two armies at once began fighting each
other. Berenger hastened to put an end to the quarrel and was killed
by Rocafert’s brother. Ximenes was captured. Rocafert was now the sole
leader. He attempted to capture Salonica but failed. He then retreated
in order to return to Thrace: but his position was growing weak. He
appealed to a French admiral, who had arrived in the northern Aegean as
the precursor of the expected great expedition from the West, for his
intervention with the Spaniards who distrusted him, but the admiral
seized and carried him off to the king of Naples, where he was thrown
into prison and starved to death.

[Sidenote: Its end, 1315.]

When the partisans of Rocafert in the Grand Company learned of what
they regarded as the treachery of the French admiral, they murdered
their officers under the belief that they were parties to the capture.
They elected new leaders, marched into Thessaly, and took service with
the descendants of the crusading barons who had carved out territories
for themselves in that province and in Greece. It is unnecessary to
follow them there. It is sufficient to say that the Greek army had
dogged their movements, had fought well, had defeated them in many
engagements, and that what may be regarded as the last struggle with
the Grand Company took place in 1315.

[Sidenote: Disastrous results from attempts to restore empire.]

The devastation caused by the attempts from the West to re-establish
the Latin empire culminating in the disorders caused by the Grand
Company was such that the empire’s chances of recovering its strength
were enormously diminished. The fall of the city in 1204 had been
followed by the destruction of the organisation in Asia Minor for
resisting the progress of Asiatic hordes towards Europe. One may
conjecture that the great statesman Innocent the Third, who had
foreseen some of the evil effects which would inevitably follow
from the success of Dandolo and Montferrat, would have realised
the necessity of aiding Constantinople in making such resistance.
Unfortunately, Innocent’s successors were less statesmanlike. Instead
of seeking to strengthen the Greeks in Constantinople by condemning the
wild lawlessness of the Spaniards, their dominating idea was to restore
the Latin empire, so as to force the members of the Orthodox Church to
enter into Union. The results of all their attempts were altogether
disastrous. The empire was weakened on every side. Its component parts
had always been loosely bound together. Long distances in ages of badly
constructed roads had prevented the development of loyalty as a bond
of union. The traditional attachment to the autocrat at Constantinople
had been shaken by the change of dynasties. Peasants living far away
from the capital, who had no other desire than to till their lands in
peace, were ready to accept the rule of a Serbian or a Bulgarian, of
a powerful rebel against the empire or even of the Turks themselves,
provided they were undisturbed. Those who were in the neighbourhood of
the capital were in worse plight. The development of trade and commerce
had been hindered. Thrace had become a desolation. During five years
the Spaniards had lived on the country and only deserted it when there
remained nothing further to plunder. The thriving communities extending
along all the northern shores of the Marmora from the city to Gallipoli
were impoverished or destroyed. Flourishing vineyards and oliveyards
were abandoned. The fishing and shipping communities ceased to find
occupation. Great numbers of the inhabitants were exterminated.

The richest city in Europe had become poverty-stricken. The coinage,
which for centuries had served as the standard for the whole Western
world, had been debased in order to find money to pay foreign
mercenaries. Worse than all, while the empire had been employed in
resisting these invaders from the West, the Bulgarians, Serbians, and,
far more important than either, the Turks had gained strength and had
enormously enlarged their territories.

To the Catalan Grand Company must be attributed the introduction of
the first body of Turks into Europe. It might have been expected that
the traditions of Spaniards would have influenced them sufficiently to
have refused Moslem aid, that Western Europe would have raised the cry
of treason to Christendom when it learned that bands of Turks had been
engaged to fight against a Christian though a schismatic emperor; but
the filibusters who had been invited into the empire for the defence
of Christendom thought only of plunder, and Western Europe was either
indifferent or thought there was little to choose between schismatics
and Moslems.

The attempts to restore the Latin empire had failed, but the emperor
and his people were in presence of a much more formidable enemy
than the West had furnished. The Asiatic hordes whom the city had
successfully resisted for a century and a half before its capture were
now constantly encroaching on imperial territory. As these hordes were
destined to be the destroyers of the Empire, I propose next briefly to
notice their origin and history.


  OF BROUSA IN 1326.

[Sidenote: Genghis Khan moves westward.]

The great central plains of Asia, stretching almost without an
interruption from the Caspian Sea to China, have during all historical
time produced hardy races of nomad warriors. On the three occasions
in their history when they have found skilful leaders, their progress
as conquerors has been epoch-marking. Twice their progress has been
westward. Mounted warriors and hordes of foot soldiers made their way
towards the Euxine, some going to the north and others to the south of
that sea. The first of these waves of population thus moving westward
was that led by Genghis Khan, a Mongol belonging to the smallest of
the four great divisions of the Tartar[34] race. His followers were,
however, mainly Turks, the most widely spread of these divisions.[35]
He had established his rule before 1227, the year in which he died,
from the Sea of Japan to the Dnieper. He and his immediate successors
ravaged a greater extent of territory than any other conqueror. Like
Alexander the Great, he and they advanced with regularly organised
armies, with apparently no other object than conquest and plunder.
Their victories facilitated the migration of his own subjects into
the newly conquered territories and hastened the departure of large
bodies of men, who fled before the terrible massacres which marked the
progress of their ever victorious armies.

A branch of the same great horde, under the leadership of Subutai,
destroyed Moscow and Kiev in a campaign conducted with striking
ability and ending in 1239, and settled in Russia. Poland, aided by
French Knights Templars and the Grand Master of the Teutonic order,
had put forward all her strength to resist the same division of the
all-devouring army, while another wing attacked the Hungarians with
half a million of men.

Their entry into Europe was in such numbers and the excesses of cruelty
committed by them were so alarming that their advance everywhere
created terror. The Tartars--coming from Tartarus, as some of the
Crusaders believed--were so little known, says Pachymer, that many
declared they had the heads of dogs and fed upon human flesh.[36] Seen
nearer, they were less formidable as individuals, though infernal,
terrible, and invincible as an army.

In 1258, the year before the recapture of Constantinople and the
destruction of the Latin empire by the Greeks, Houlagou, the grandson
of Genghis Khan, captured Bagdad, and deposed the last of the Bagdad
caliphs. He extended his conquests over Mesopotamia and Syria to the
Mediterranean. Damascus and Aleppo were sacked. Houlagou sought to ally
himself with the Crusaders in order to overthrow the Saracens and the
sultan of Egypt.

[Sidenote: The Seljukian Turks.]

When Houlagou turned his attention to Asia Minor, he found among the
Christian populations a division of the Turkish race known as Seljuks,
whose sultan resided at Konia, and called himself sultan of Roum.[37]
He attacked and inflicted injuries upon them from which they never
recovered. It is difficult to state precisely what were the boundaries
of the Seljuks and of other Moslem or partly Moslem peoples in Asia
Minor and Syria, during the thirteenth century, and this difficulty
arises from the fact that their boundaries were continually changing.
The Saracens held certain places in Syria, but there was a Christian
prince in Antioch; there were cities occupied by the western Knights
Templars, a Christian prince in Caramania and a king of Lesser
Armenia. There were Turcomans at Marash and in the hill country behind
Trebizond, and Kurds invaded Cilicia in 1278. A large tract of country
around Konia was ruled over by the Seljuks. No natural boundary marked
the extent of territory occupied by any of these peoples or in Asia
Minor by the Roman emperor.

It is certain, however, that the entry of the armies of the followers
of Genghis Khan, continually renewed by the arrival of new hordes from
Central Asia, changed the distribution of the peoples and spread terror
everywhere at their approach. Even at Nicaea, within sixty miles of
Constantinople, the rumour in 1267 of the arrival of a Tartar army
caused a terrible panic.[38] Two years later the Tartars attacked the
Saracens in Syria, whither they had been invited for such purpose by
the Christians, defeated them, and carried off a rich booty. For a
while they were a terror alike to Moslems and Christians. As from the
followers of Genghis Khan there ultimately came the race of Ottoman
Turks who conquered New Rome and its empire, it is desirable to
consider them somewhat carefully.

[Sidenote: Characteristics of Asiatic invaders.]

It is important to note that the first hordes who came in with the
great conqueror and those who followed for at least a century were
not Mahometan fanatics. Some of their leading generals were indeed
Christians. Genghis himself had married a Christian wife. Mango Khan
(1251–1259), one of his successors, is described by Maundeville, who
visited Palestine in 1322, as ‘a good Christian man, who was baptized
and gave letters of perpetual peace to all Christian men,’ and sent
to win the Holy Land to put it into the hands of the Christians and
destroy the law of Mahomet.[39] His great successor, Houlagou, was
the husband of the granddaughter of the famous Prester (or Presbyter)
John, the king of a Christian state in Central Asia, visited by Marco
Polo.[40] The army led by Houlagou contained Mahometans, but it
contained also Christians, Buddhists, and professors of other creeds.
Central Asiatics had up to the time which concerns us not developed any
violent religious animosity. Christians, Moslems, and Buddhists dwelt
together in harmony.

[Sidenote: Not fanatical.]

It is probably correct to say that the races of the great plains of
Asia have never been religiously disposed. Mr. Schuyler, who was a keen
observer, remarked, less than a generation ago, that the people which
had been recently conquered by Russia in Central Asia were classified
as to their religion with extreme difficulty. A few declared themselves
Christians. The remainder were indiscriminately inscribed as Moslems,
but very few among them really knew anything about the religion of
Islam and did not even consider themselves as Moslems.[41] The fierce
fanaticism which the early followers of Mahomet displayed and which
led them within a century after his death to make the most wonderful
and enduring series of conquests which have ever been accomplished by
a people whose sole bond of union was religion was not shown by the
followers of Genghis. They preferred to fight the Saracens and to aid
the Christians rather than to do the reverse. We shall see that when,
a century and a half later, another great invasion from Central Asia
took place, its leader Timour the Lame’s greatest activity was directed
against the Mahometans, and that he demanded from them the restoration
to the Christian emperor of the cities which they had captured.

It is true that in the interval between the two invasions under Genghis
Khan and Timour, the Turkish invaders, who had remained in Asia Minor,
caught much of the fanatical spirit. But there are many indications
which show that this spirit was of slow growth.[42] As their struggles
with neighbouring and Christian peoples compacted them into a warlike
nation, they all came to accept the religion of Mahomet, and as they
became better acquainted with the tenets of the most war-inspiring
religion in the world, they held to them tenaciously, and developed the
hostility towards Christians which the spiritual pride of believers who
consider themselves the elect of heaven, and their religion outside
the range of discussion, always engenders. But during the development
of their power in Asia Minor, many years passed before they isolated
themselves, and were isolated from the Christians, on account of their
religion. Their princes sought marriage with the princesses of the
imperial and other noble Christian families. We obtain light only
incidentally upon the relations between the professors of the two
creeds at the period shortly after the recapture of Constantinople
by the Greeks. But such as we do obtain confirms the statement that
the Asiatic settlers took their religion very easily. In 1267 certain
charges were brought, as we have seen,[43] by the Emperor Michael
against the patriarch, which give us a glimpse of interest. The
relation is made by Pachymer, who was himself one of the clerks of
the court. The patriarch was accused, not only of having conversed
familiarly with a Turkish sultan, of having allowed him and his
companions to use the bath attached to the church, around which were
the Christian symbols, but of having ordered a monk to administer the
Sacrament to the children of the sultan without having been assured
that they were baptized. He was charged, further, with having said
the Litanies with the sultan and his followers. The patriarch replied
to the two first with contempt; if the Turks had used the church
bath, no harm had been done. As to giving Communion, he declared that
he had been duly certified that the children had been baptized.[44]
Witnesses asserted that it was true that the accused had said the
Litanies with the sultan, and that he had allowed him to sit by his
side during celebration, but added that they did not know whether the
sultan was a Christian or not! Other persons were found who declared
that he was not a Christian. The sultan, hearing of the proceedings,
sent to ask, either in jest or seriously, that the emperor would give
him the sacred relics which he wore round his neck, and offered to eat
ham as a proof that he was not a Moslem. Pachymer adds that in thus
professing his readiness to worship the relics and to eat the forbidden
flesh, the sultan caused the proceedings against the patriarch to fail.
As it appeared that there were eminent ecclesiastics in the court
who really believed that the sultan of the Turks was a Christian,
those who desired the condemnation of the patriarch tried to turn the
question by suggesting that, whether he was Christian or not, it was
certain that members of his suite, who had been present when Communion
was administered, were unbelievers.[45] That the sultan should have
been present at a Christian service at all, that his children should
have been allowed by him or his Moslem followers to communicate, and
that his children were baptized, or believed to be baptized, show
that, whether they were Christians or not, the fanatical spirit which
animated the Moslems of an earlier period, or the Turks a century
later, was not present among these representatives of the Asiatics
who had entered the country as followers of Genghis or his immediate

[Sidenote: Permanent characteristics of Turkish race.]

The characteristics of the Turk have remained singularly like those
possessed by his ancestors. The Turkish soldiers who had come in with
Genghis, and the hordes of those who followed during a century, had
been for the most part wandering shepherds, and the nomadic instinct
still continued, and still continues, in the race, notwithstanding that
there has been a considerable admixture of other races. The tent of
their leader was larger than that of his followers, and its entrance
came, in the course of time, to be known as The Lofty Gate, or The
Sublime Porte. The shepherd warriors, who were destined to destroy the
empire of the New Rome, had few of the desires, habits, or aspirations
of civilisation. Commerce, except in its simplest form of barter, was
and has always been almost unknown to them. Among the Turks of a later
period the disinclination to change the traditional habits of the race
is to some extent due to the indifference or contempt felt for trading
communities by a race of conquerors; though, perhaps, incapacity to
hold their own as traders against the peoples they subdued has had a
larger share in producing their aversion to commerce. The furniture
of their huts is even yet only such as would have been found in their
felt tents. They have no desire to possess the ordinary utensils which
Europeans of every race consider either as the necessaries of life
or as adding largely to its comfort. They have never taken kindly
to agriculture. Surrounded by fertile land, the Turk will till only
enough to supply him with the barest necessaries of life, and the
traveller in the interior of Asia Minor is to-day, as he has been
for centuries, astonished to see that Turkish peasants who, as the
owners of large tracts of fertile land, capable of producing almost
any fruits or vegetables, and of supporting even a large number of
cattle, may be accounted wealthy, are yet content to live upon fare
and amid surroundings at which the ordinary European peasant, and even
the Turks’ own neighbours of different races, would express their

We get few glimpses of the domestic life and manners of the Turks
during the first two centuries of their emigration into Asia Minor.
But such as we gain show them, in peace and war, to possess the same
characteristics as distinguish their descendants at the present day.
When not under the influence of their religion they are peaceful,
kindly disposed, and truthful. In the hospitality of the tent or hut
they are irreproachable. They possess little, but that little is at
the disposal of the traveller. Judged by Western ideas, they are lazy,
and lacking in intelligence. In the ordinary business of life they are
singularly destitute of energy. They have learned, like their fathers,
to be content with the poverty amid which they were born. They have not
sufficient capacity to desire knowledge nor aspiration to make them
discontented. If, as I believe the evidence to indicate, the ancestors
of the present Moslems in Asia Minor were during the thirteenth and
half of the fourteenth century but little under the influence of
religious fanaticism, their easy-going, _dolce far niente_ character
may well be taken as sufficient explanation of the passing over into
Turkish territories of many Christians who desired to escape from the
heavy taxation under the rule of the Christian emperors.

[Sidenote: Constant stream of immigrants from Central Asia.]

[Sidenote: All conquests followed by settlement.]

In describing the movement of the Asiatic races into Asia Minor and
Europe, but especially of the advance of the Turkish hordes who came
after the death of Genghis, two facts ought never to be lost sight
of. The first and most important is that from a period even preceding
the recapture of the city in 1259 down to one within the memory of
living men there was a constant stream of immigrants from Central Asia
westward. The numbers of the immigrant settlers were thus steadily
being increased. Probably at no time has the Turkish race been as
prolific as the Christian races of Asia Minor, and the latter would
long ago have outnumbered the conquering race had the stream of
immigration been dammed. The second fact to be noted is that a constant
settlement of the conquered lands was being made, a settlement
which, although possibly as nomadic and uncertain as that of the
Kurds and Yuruks of to-day, was yet a real occupation of the country
at the expense of Christian populations, who were either massacred
or dispersed. It is in the nomadic character of the newcomers, in
the wasteful character of their occupation of the country, in the
substitution of sheep and cattle industry for agriculture, in their
want of intelligence, and in their expulsion and persecution of the
Christian population, that the explanation is to be found of the
destruction and, in some cases, complete abandonment of cities still
populous and flourishing when they were captured: cities like Ephesus,
Nicaea, and a hundred others, whose ruins meet the traveller everywhere
throughout Asia Minor. The Turk has at all times been a nomad and a
destroyer. He has never been a capable trader or even agriculturist.

When the armies led by Genghis Khan and his successors retired, armies
which were well disciplined and well led, many of his soldiers or their
followers remained and took service with the Seljukian Turks. Others
formed separate communities. One of the chiefs who thus settled in Asia
Minor was Ertogrul or Orthogrul, the father of Osman or Othman, the
founder of the Ottoman dynasty.

During Ertogrul’s life, the Seljuks had been greatly harassed by the
newer invaders. Pachymer states that on the arrival of the Tartars the
sultan of Konia (the ancient Iconium) was surrounded by enemies, and
that he had sought the protection of the emperor. He had invited also
the aid of the sultan of Egypt, known to the Crusaders as the sultan
of Babylon, against the Tartars, by whom he was hard pressed. Three
or four years after this sultan’s death in 1277, Ertogrul died. His
son Osman or Othman by his courage and ability gave his followers the
leading place among the Turks in Asia Minor and firmly established the
dynasty named after him. He began his career by coming to an agreement
with some of the other Moslem chiefs to divide the territory occupied
by the Seljuks and themselves in Asia Minor into eight portions.
Thereupon the combined forces of the old and new Turks commenced a
series of attacks upon neighbouring territory. During the next twenty
years, their success was almost unchecked. In 1282, they laid siege to
Tralles (the present Aidin), and, though opposed by the son of Michael
the Eighth, were able to capture and destroy the city.[47] A short time
afterwards they obtained a fleet and took into their service a large
number of sailors who had been discharged by the emperor from motives
of economy. Twelve years later, Othman and Ali, chief of another
Turkish band, pushed their raids northward and even crossed the river
Sangarius and spread desolation throughout the Asiatic provinces of the
Empire, before they could be driven back. Two years later, they laid
waste the country between the Black Sea and Rhodes.

[Sidenote: Othman, first Ottoman Sultan, 1299–1327.]

In 1299, Othman took the title of Sultan. In 1302, he and other Turkish
leaders inflicted a serious defeat upon the imperial troops and a band
of Alans on the river Sangarius near Sabanja. The defeat was shortly
afterwards turned into a rout and the subjects of the empire with the
Alans were driven to seek shelter in Ismidt, the ancient Nicomedia.
The confines of the empire were narrowed, and Othman established
himself near Brousa and the neighbouring city of Nicaea, and came to an
arrangement for division of the newly acquired territory with the other
Turkish chiefs.

Alarmed for a while at the news that the emperor was to receive help
from the West, the Turks soon renewed their attacks upon imperial
territory, and the Greek population almost everywhere fled before them.
They attacked the wealthy cities on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor and
occupied several of the islands of the Archipelago. Pachymer states[48]
that they had inundated the country north of Pergamus so completely
that no Roman dared entertain the hope of keeping his property, and all
fled before the flood of invaders: some to the city of Pergamus, others
to Adramyttium or Lampsacus, while others again crossed the Dardanelles
into Europe.

The reign of Othman is contemporaneous with one of the great periods
of immigration from Central Asia. The numbers of the Turks were yearly
augmented by such hordes that the Greek writers continually use
metaphors derived from the torrent, from floods and inundations, to
describe their overwhelming force.

[Sidenote: Entry of Turks into Europe, 1306–7.]

It was partly in order to resist this flood of invasion that the
Catalan Grand Company had been invited to aid the emperor, but after
having won several victories over the Turks, the lawlessness of the
Spaniards forced the emperor to recognise that his Western auxiliaries
were of no value for checking the progress of the enemy. The Christians
of Asia Minor flocked to the capital to avoid the Company almost as
much as to escape from the soldiers of Othman. Worse than all, to these
Christians of Spain must be ascribed the introduction of the Turks into
Europe. At the invitation of the Company, a band of them, as we have
seen, crossed the Dardanelles to aid in attacking the empire which
Roger and his Catalans had come to defend. About the same time, another
band of Turks landed in Greece for the purpose of pillage. These
invasions are epoch-marking, since from this time (1306–7), Europe was
never entirely free from the presence of Turks.

[Sidenote: Their progress in Asia Minor.]

Their great progress was, however, more marked in Asia Minor. In 1308,
one of the divisions of Turks not under Othman captured Ephesus, which
surrendered to avoid massacre. The city still retained something of
its ancient glory. Its famous church of St. John, from the ruins of
which the traveller may still gain an idea of its former magnificence,
was plundered, and its immense wealth in precious vessels and deposits
became the prey of the victors. Many of the inhabitants were cruelly
massacred, notwithstanding their submission, and the remainder were
driven away as fugitives to find the means of living where they could
or to starve. Other places under the rule of Constantinople were
attacked, and though many victories were gained--for the imperial
troops fought well--the Turks were constantly gaining cities and
territory from the Christians. It was in vain that the emperor entered
into league with bands of Tartars or with other Turks to attack the
armies of Othman, for the forces of this skilful leader were too
numerous to be subdued. Brousa had to purchase peace from him. Othman
failed, however, to capture Rhodes, which was bravely defended by the
military knights from the West, and a monk named Hilarion at the head
of the imperial troops gained some successes. The imperial troops
succeeded also in 1310 in defeating a certain Mahomet whose dominions
were in Caramania. But even with the aid of a band of Tartars who
had allied themselves with the emperor, who was in command of twenty
thousand of the imperial troops, little could be done to check Othman’s
steady progress.

Meantime in Europe, on the north shore of the Marmora, the band of
Turks who had been associated with the Grand Company, but who did not
acknowledge the rule of Othman, besieged Ganos and laid waste the
surrounding country. The troubles which arose a few years later between
the Emperor Andronicus the Second and young Andronicus, enabled the
Turks steadily to encroach on the empire in Asia Minor, and their
introduction as partisans in the civil war which went on in 1322
familiarised them and probably Othman himself with inroads into the
country between Constantinople and Gallipoli.[49]

So far we have been concerned almost exclusively with those portions
of the Asiatic army and the hordes which followed it which came
westward to the south of the Black Sea. But it must be noted that
the body of invaders of the same race who had come westward to the
north of that sea, and who had attacked Russia, Poland, and Hungary,
had constantly received additions to their numbers. This northern
division was possibly more numerous than the Turks in Asia Minor. As
early as 1265, a certain Timour, the ruler of Tartars who were in
occupation of territory on the Volga, had sent twenty thousand men to
aid the Bulgarians against the Empire. Bulgarians and Tartars together
had occupied all the passes into Thrace, and the emperor had saved
himself with difficulty. In 1284, ten thousand Tartars came southward
into Thrace from the great host which were in Hungary. In 1300, the
Turks who had entered the Crimea were driven out by another horde of
Tartars who had occupied South Russia. The number and strength of these
invaders continued constantly to increase. Their power indeed remained
firmly established in South Russia until long after the conquest of
Constantinople. They had no special sympathy with the Ottoman Turks,
and were ready, as were the Alans, to fight either for the emperor or
against him. Cantacuzenus mentions that in 1324 one hundred and twenty
thousand of them entered Thrace and were beaten in detail by his friend
the young Andronicus.

[Sidenote: Capture of Brousa, 1326.]

Weakened by having to meet this huge northern army, for huge it
must have been, although the number of the invaders is probably
exaggerated,[50] the young emperor was forbidden or was unable to go to
the relief of Brousa when, two years afterwards, Othman laid siege to
that city. Its surrender in 1326 is a convenient mark of the progress
made by the Ottoman Turks.

Their great leader, Othman, died in the following year.



When, in 1320, the Emperor Michael the Ninth died, the empire was
already threatened by large and ever-increasing armies of Asiatics,
both on the north and on the south. Those on the south were steadily
being incorporated into the group ruled over by Othman.

The sixty years which had passed since the expulsion of the Latins had
nevertheless done something, though not much, towards restoring the
empire. Territory had been recovered. The walls of the capital had been
repaired. The population had begun once again to look to the emperor at
Constantinople as their natural ruler.[51]

[Sidenote: Distressed condition of the empire.]

On the other hand the ravages of war had been terrible. The population
of those portions of the Balkan peninsula which were under the rule
of the empire had greatly diminished. Thousands had been murdered by
the Catalan Grand Company and their allies during their successive
devastations of the country. Land had gone out of cultivation. In Asia
Minor many of the Christian inhabitants had voluntarily submitted to
the Turks to save their lives or to obtain protection. The demand for
soldiers to serve the national cause against the many enemies who
attacked the empire, and the demands for money which was needed for
the conduct of the defence, induced the peasants both in Europe and
Asia to escape into neighbouring territories where such demands were
less rigorous. The wealth of the empire had largely diminished. The
great need of the country was peace. Peace and security for life and
property were absolutely essential if the empire were to be restored
to prosperity. The people were wearied of strife, and there are
indications which point to a general indifference as to what became of
the empire as a state. The peasant wanted to till his land and reap his
harvest in peace, the nobles to gather their revenues in peace. The
means of communication between the provinces and the capital were too
few to enable the mass of the people to take an interest in what was
passing in the capital. They had come to regard it not so much as their
protector but as the place from whence emanated new exactions, new
demands for military service, and general harassment.

Unfortunately, the dynastic struggles which were destined to come
strengthened this desire for peace, increased the indifference as to
who was their emperor, and still further weakened the empire.

The greatest misfortune which the struggle with the Spaniards had
brought about was the introduction of the Turk into Europe. We have
seen that each side, Orthodox emperors and Catholic invaders, had
allied themselves with bands of Turks and other barbarians, who had
overrun Thrace and Macedonia. The destruction of the population, the
raiding of their cattle, and the laying waste of fertile lands offered
at once a facility and an incentive to the Moslem invaders to remain in
Europe. Indeed, from the first entry of the Turks bands of nomads of
that race began to occupy portions of the desolated country.

For the next hundred and thirty years--that is, until the Moslem
conquest--the history of the empire is, so far as its rulers are
concerned, largely one of confused struggle during which no man of
conspicuous ability came to the front. To account for this confusion
it should be noted that there was no rule of succession to the throne
which was regarded as inviolable, and that, even among the nobles and
in the Church, public opinion had little force except upon religious
questions. A few men in the city took an interest in political
questions; the great mass of the peasants took none. Representative
institutions did not exist. The reigning emperor, though in theory
absolute, was largely controlled by irresponsible and unorganised
nobles. When a majority of them agreed to support a rival candidate
they were sufficiently powerful to have their own way. The result was
that dynastic struggles where each rival for the throne was supported
by a party of patricians were frequent, and these struggles contributed
very largely to weaken the empire.

[Sidenote: Quarrels between Andronicus the Second and his grandson.]

On the death of the co-Emperor Michael the Ninth, his father,
Andronicus the Second, still occupied the imperial throne. Being now
well advanced in years, he desired, on the death of his son, to break
through the engagement by which Andronicus, his grandson, the son of
Michael, should become with him joint occupant of the throne. The
relations between the two men were far from friendly. While insisting
that his grandson should present himself at the court, the old emperor
refused for four months to speak to him. The grandson, usually known
as Young Andronicus, was supported by a powerful party and had no
intention of abandoning what he considered to be his rights. In order
to get rid of him, the emperor formally brought a charge of treason
and sought to put him upon his trial, but Cantacuzenus, the most
distinguished noble, and his other friends rallied to the palace in
such force that the elder Andronicus was alarmed. In presence of the
patriarch and the nobles on whom he could rely, the emperor accused
his grandson of continual disobedience, and proceeded as if to pass
sentence. ‘This is why’ he began--but here Young Andronicus stopped
him, asking to be allowed to defend himself. The scene as described
by his great friend and most powerful supporter, Cantacuzenus, is a
striking one. The young man is seated on the chair and in the place
assigned to accused persons. He admits amid the silence of the court
that he has disobeyed his grandfather in such trivial matters as
going out hunting, attending races, and the like, but claimed that
he had done nothing against the emperor’s interest, and asked to be
sent before independent judges. The old man tried to shout him down,
and roared out that he believed he was not even a Christian. Young
Andronicus replied with spirit and claimed that he should be tried. ‘If
you have made up your mind to condemn me without hearing, do with me
what you like and at once. If not, judge me according to law.’ That was
a reply which still appealed to all men in the city of Justinian.

When the emperor had shouted at his grandson, the friends of Young
Andronicus, who had been near but in hiding, believing he was
condemned, came forward for his defence. A courtier warned the
emperor of their presence, telling him, says Cantacuzenus, that they
were ready to do all that was necessary for his grandson’s safety.
Thereupon the emperor retired and sent word that he would pardon him.
A reconciliation was patched up, but it was only temporary. After the
lapse of a few weeks grandfather and grandson were again openly hostile
to each other. The young man was forbidden to enter the capital, where
he had many supporters, and the two emperors remained enemies for
years. In 1326 two officers in command of the towers above the Romanus
Gate enabled him to effect a surprise. The gates were opened and the
elder Andronicus became virtually a prisoner until his death. The
contest between them had lasted upwards of six years.

In 1328 the elder emperor abdicated and entered a monastery, and two
years afterwards the burial of a monk named Anthony marked the end of
the life of Andronicus the Second. Andronicus the Third was now the
sole occupant of the throne, which he held until his death in 1341.

[Sidenote: Reign of Andronicus the Third, 1328–1341.]

During these thirteen years (1328–1341) war was constantly being
waged against the Turks. The emperor himself was always in delicate
health, and died at the age of forty-five. He continued his great
friendship until his death with Cantacuzenus, and invited him, even
as early as 1329, to occupy the throne as co-emperor, and the offer
was renewed.[52] Cantacuzenus, notwithstanding that he was pressed to
accept by the only noble near him in rank, Apocaukus, who afterwards
became his great enemy, refused. The emperor, however, continued to
treat him as a friend, and was constantly accompanied by him on his
various expeditions.

[Sidenote: Appeals for aid to the pope.]

Like every emperor from the recapture of Constantinople down to 1453,
Andronicus turned his attention to the West and sought to obtain aid
against the Turks, even at the price of coercing his people into a
Union with Rome. The Turks had invaded Macedonia and attacked Euboea
and Athens. As the southern portion of the Balkan peninsula was
still ruled in part by the descendants of the crusading barons and
by the remnant of the Catalans, there was reason to believe that the
pope would be ready to arouse the West against the common enemy of
Christendom. Accordingly the emperor took advantage of the passage of
Dominican missionaries through Constantinople from Tartary to convey to
Pope John the Twenty-second his desire for Union and his request for
aid. The pope replied by sending preachers and by urging the emperor
to do all he could to accomplish his part. His successor in 1335 grew
alarmed at the attacks made by the Turks by sea on various places in
the Mediterranean, and finding that the Catalans had seized Athens
from Gautier de Brienne, who held it as his duchy, he excommunicated
them. He invited Andronicus to join the king of France and Naples in
a Crusade against the Turks which the Venetians and the Genoese had
promised also to aid. The emperor gladly gave his consent and sent a
number of ships, but the needs of Cyprus, which was being attacked
by the Saracens, were decided to be more pressing than those of the
empire, and the Crusade was not proceeded with. Andronicus in 1339
sent Barlaam, the author of many controversial works, to the pope, at
that time in Avignon. On his arrival he pointed out that the Turks had
seized the seats of four metropolitan sees, and he suggested that as
a condition of the Union of the Churches the Turks should be expelled
from Asia Minor. The pope recognised the desirability of such an
attempt as keenly as many of his successors, but saw that the condition
was impossible.

[Sidenote: Death of Andronicus the Third. Reign of John (1341 to 1391),
Cantacuzenus (1342 to 1355.)]

Andronicus on his death, in 1341, left a son, John Palaeologus, who
was then nine years old. His mother, Anne of Savoy, was a woman of
ability and energy. Cantacuzenus was associated with her as regent. He
held the dignity of Grand Domestic, and in the later years of his life
wrote a clear and able statement of the history of his own times. He
had been, as we have seen, the intimate friend of Andronicus and his
great supporter when the grandfather of the same name endeavoured to
exclude him from the throne. He had been named by his friend and patron
as the guardian of John, but the widow of the emperor was from the
first jealous of her co-guardian and never worked sympathetically with
him. He tells us that from the death of Andronicus he was constantly
urged to occupy the imperial throne and that he as constantly refused.
He undoubtedly possessed the confidence of a large majority of the
nobles. There was a general recognition that, in the existing state of
the empire, it was unwise to leave the government in the hands of a boy
and of a foreign princess. Ducas expressly states that Cantacuzenus
ultimately allowed himself to be proclaimed emperor because his friends
urged him to take the reins of government from the hands of a woman and
a child and because the empress and the senate were unjust and unfair
to him.[53] In 1342 he was proclaimed joint emperor under the style of
John Cantacuzenus.

During the thirteen years of his reign, which lasted till 1355, the
history of the empire is in the main one of civil war and consequent
decadence. Distrusted by Anne, the mother of the boy emperor, his
difficulties were increased by the turbulent character of his ward,
whom his mother could not, or would not, restrain from wilfulness
which led him even in early youth into debauchery. The result was that
during the whole of Cantacuzenus’s reign there was a constant strain
between the elder emperor, on the one side, and the empress and her son
on the other. Cantacuzenus states that Apocaukus, the noble next to
himself in rank, had suggested to him that he should assume imperial
authority and that he had rejected the suggestion as treason to the
empress and her sons and to the memory of the emperor. But Apocaukus,
with the support of the patriarch, soon formed a party, nominally for
the empress and her son, really against Cantacuzenus. The patriarch
himself claimed to be the guardian of the infant John, excommunicated
those who abandoned him, and even Cantacuzenus himself.[54] The account
given by the emperor of his reluctance to accept the crown might be
regarded with distrust if Nicephorus Gregoras, who after he had become
a bitter enemy wrote his history of the events of the reign, were not
on this point in substantial accord with Cantacuzenus. Even before his
accession the troops, according to Gregoras, declared that they would
recognise no other regent than the Grand Domestic, and proposed to make
the oath of fidelity to the young emperor and his mother conditional
upon the recognition of Cantacuzenus as tutor of John and regent of the

In presence of the opposition of Anne, Cantacuzenus offered to resign,
but the empress desired that he should remain, probably fearing revolt
in case his resolution was carried into effect. Among much which is
doubtful, it is clear that he had the confidence of the army and that
the empress had not.

Civil war soon broke out between the new emperor and the partisans of
John and his mother. Apocaukus was named governor of Constantinople by
Anne and excited the population against Cantacuzenus apparently with
the intention of having himself elected emperor by a popular vote.

Meantime the rivalries of these two nobles allowed foreign enemies to
make progress. Two divisions of Turks were ravaging the empire in one
direction, while a band of Tartars who had crossed the Danube had
advanced as far as Didymotica. Stephen of Serbia had already marched
southwards and was rapidly consolidating the strength of his country.
In 1344 the discontent at the civil war had become so great that
the nobles insisted that the empress Anne and Apocaukus should send
an embassy to Cantacuzenus to make peace. When this attempt failed,
Apocaukus, according to Cantacuzenus, endeavoured on two occasions to
have him assassinated. Driven thus to extremities, the emperor promised
his daughter Theodora in marriage to the Turk Orchan, the son and
successor of Othman, who thereupon sent an army of five thousand men to
assist in the struggle against the partisans of John.

Apocaukus had thrown into the prisons of Constantinople the partisans
of his rival and had ordered them to be treated with unusual barbarity.
He was then incautious enough to venture into prison among them. They
fell upon him, slew him, stuck his head upon a spike, and showed it to
the citizens. Next day, however, at the instigation of his widow, the
prisoners were all killed.

[Sidenote: Marriage of Sultan Orchan and the daughter of the emperor.]

In 1346 Orchan was married to Theodora, the daughter of Cantacuzenus.
Her father had stipulated that she should be allowed to remain a
Christian, and the agreement was not violated. She was delivered at
Selymbria to the escort of Turkish cavalry which had been commissioned
to accompany her. Amid much pomp and ceremony, with music, torches, and
display of various kinds, the first imperial princess of the Orthodox
Church was handed over to the eunuchs of her barbarous lord. We may
pass over the father’s excuses for consenting to this marriage, which
doubtless appeared to many of his subjects a gross act of wickedness.
All that they amount to is that he believed the necessities of state
required him to obtain the aid of Orchan and that it could not be
obtained in any other way.

[Sidenote: Marriage of the emperor John to another daughter of

The next year, a much more promising marriage took place, namely
that of his daughter Helen with the young emperor John Palaeologus.
It had been brought about in the following manner. Cantacuzenus had
approached the capital, and though the empress had been warned that
he was in the neighbourhood, she had taken no precaution to prevent
his being admitted, believing, indeed, that the story of his being
near was an invention to gain time so as to prevent the condemnation
of a new patriarch who was known to be a partisan of Cantacuzenus and
was then on his trial before a Council of the Church. The friends of
Cantacuzenus were in possession of the Golden Gate and opened it to him
and his band of a thousand trusted followers. He marched in triumph to
the Palace of Porphyrogenitus. The empress, as soon as she heard of the
entry, shut herself up in the Palace at Blachern and called to her aid
the Genoese of Galata. When the latter saw that the population were on
the side of her rival, they refused to aid her. John advised his mother
to treat, and after considerable hesitation she consented and articles
of peace were agreed to. An amnesty was to be granted by both sides,
and John was during ten years to permit Cantacuzenus to be the dominant
ruler. Thereupon the latter proposed that his daughter Helen should
become engaged to John, and, though the young man was unwilling, his
mother accepted the arrangement. Helen was thirteen years old and her
proposed husband fifteen.

Peace and prosperity appear to have been anticipated from the cessation
of civil war which it was hoped this marriage would produce. Europe,
if not, as Gibbon asserts, ‘completely evacuated by the Moslems of
Asia,’[55] was yet at peace with the empire. Within its borders all
parties were supposed to be reconciled, and at the church of Blachern
(the _bema_ of Hagia Sophia having been destroyed by an earthquake)
a remarkable coronation service was held in May 1347. Two emperors,
namely the young John Palaeologus and John Cantacuzenus, and three
empresses--Helen, wife of the Palaeologus, Irene, wife of Cantacuzenus,
and Anne of Savoy, the dowager--were crowned with unusually elaborate
ceremonial. The bystanders, however, noted that the jewels were many of
them false and the trappings of far less value than had previously been
displayed on similar occasions.

Ducas notes that the young emperor, who had been forced to marry the
daughter of Cantacuzenus, instead of taking part in the manly exercises
of arms which were still practised by the youth of the empire, plunged
into debauchery and soon disgusted his adherents by his drunkenness
and by the depravity of his private life. The narrative of Gregoras
declares that John complained bitterly of having been insulted by his
father-in-law, and the statement is probably true that, seeing his
debauchery, Cantacuzenus urged him to lead a better life and devote
himself to duty.[56]

Pressed as he was for money in every direction, Cantacuzenus
endeavoured to obtain it by a popular vote. The notice of the incident
is almost unique in the later history of the empire and on that account
merits attention. Cantacuzenus himself tells its history. Finding that
the state had been greatly weakened by civil war, that the treasury
was empty, the cities reduced to poverty by domestic divisions or
by the invasions of the various foreign enemies who had ravaged the
country, and his own private fortune expended, he determined to summon
a meeting in Constantinople of the wealthy classes in order that they
should contribute to the public necessities. He expressly states that
he had no intention of making a levy by force. In the meeting thus
called together there were representatives of all ranks--soldiers,
shopkeepers, artisans, heads of monasteries, and priests. Cantacuzenus
in addressing it declared that he had no desire to act against the
Palaeologi but recognised that the civil war had exhausted the
treasury, and promised that the money collected would be employed and
his efforts directed against the attacks of Serbians, Bulgarians, and
Turks. He added that it was not he who had sought the alliance of the
Turks, though he had given his daughter in marriage to Orchan, but that
the aid of these barbarians had been forced upon him by his enemies
within the empire. The partisans of John had been the first to ask the
Turks for assistance. They had delivered cities to the Turks, had paid
them, and had made it necessary that he, in his own defence, should
ask for their alliance. He concluded by urging the great assembly
to consider in what manner means might be found of preserving the

The nobles returned answer that they recognised the necessity of
contributing for the safety of the state, and advised that every person
should give what was in his power. The emperor, believing that he had
accomplished his purpose, then dismissed the assembly.

Very little result appears to have been produced. Nor does the
voluntary taxation appear to have yielded any considerable sum. In
the meeting itself there were many who were opposed to Cantacuzenus
personally, and within a short period the animosity between the
partisans of the two emperors became as rancorous as ever. Among the
most violent of his own partisans was his son Matthew, who, under the
belief that Anne, the empress-dowager, was conspiring against his
father, boldly took possession of several cities.

Wearied out by constant struggle, Cantacuzenus states that he wished to
abdicate and retire to a monastery, and that his wife approved of his
design. His writings show that he felt great interest in the discussion
of theological questions. The part which he himself took in several
religious controversies, the anxiety that he underwent to have the
excommunication against him annulled, first by the Patriarch John and
afterwards, ‘for greater safety,’ by John’s successor,[58] Isidore, his
negotiations with the pope for Union, and many other circumstances,
show that the withdrawal to a monastery was a not unnatural development
of his life.

While he was making preparations to carry his design into execution,
news came of the progress of Stephen of Serbia, which forced him to
postpone it. Salonica, ‘one of the eyes of the empire,’ was in danger
of surrendering to Stephen. The partisans of the Palaeologi among the
population of that city were numerous. The neighbouring country was,
however, under the power of the great Serbian, and unless Stephen were
checked without delay the city would be given over to him. The old
emperor sent word to his followers to remain steadfast, promising that
he would come to their relief. In order to do so, he took a step which
is sometimes incorrectly treated as the first important introduction
of the Turks into Europe.[59] He induced his son-in-law, Orchan, to
send a body of twenty thousand cavalry, under his son Suliman, across
the Dardanelles to march against Stephen. The emperor left the capital
as soon as he had heard that the Turks had crossed the straits to
co-operate with them, and took his co-emperor John, who was obnoxious
to the Turks, with him. For some reason which is not clear, the Othman
or Ottoman Turks withdrew after they had crossed the Maritza, but the
two emperors with another body of Turks went to Salonica and put an end
to any design to surrender it. This was in 1349.

The history of the empire during the next six years is a medley of
incidents, due to the hostility between the two emperors. John refused
to address his elder colleague as emperor, and even proposed to
join Stephen of Serbia, whose power in the Balkan peninsula was now
greater than that of any other ruler. The Bulgarian king, appealed to
by Cantacuzenus to enter into alliance against Stephen, refused his
co-operation, and shortly after joined the Venetians to attack the

[Sidenote: Genoese and Venetians.]

Cantacuzenus asked for the aid of the Genoese, who joined him in order
to resist the Venetians. The rivalry during this reign between the two
republics of Venice and Genoa was great. Each was at the height of its
power, and the commerce and dominions of the empire were the principal
objects of their rivalry. A hundred and fifty years earlier there
had been colonies of Amalfians, Pisans, Anconans, Ragusans, and even
Germans, within the walls of the city. All these had disappeared,[60]
and Genoa the Superb and Venice, Queen of the Seas, were the sole
Italian competitors for domination in or a share of the empire. At the
period with which we are concerned they were about equally matched in
strength, and the two brave republics were constantly fighting the
battles of their great duel in the waters of the Greek empire. Within
a few months the Genoese were alternately the allies and the enemies
of Cantacuzenus. In 1350 a fleet of fourteen Venetian galleys, and
another of Catalans, prevented the Genoese from entering the Bosporus.
Two years later another formidable fleet of Venetian galleys joined
one of twenty-six Spaniards in order to attack the Genoese. After
Pisani, the Venetian admiral, had rested his men for two days on the
island of Prinkipo, he joined the imperial ships at Heptaskalion, and
with a fleet of sixty-eight vessels attacked the Genoese. The fleet
of the latter, numbering seventy ships, was at Chalcedon, and tried
to intercept the enemy when they endeavoured to make their way to the
Golden Horn. In a battle which was fought at the mouth of the Bosporus
while a strong south wind was blowing with a heavy sea--a battle
which continued all night--both sides lost heavily. Eighteen Genoese
ships were sunk. Pisani withdrew to Therapia, with a loss of sixteen
ships. Galata, held by the Genoese, was not attacked, on account of
the prevalence of Black Death,[61] or possibly because he heard that
seventy or eighty other galleys were on their way to aid the Genoese.

Immediately afterwards the Genoese joined with the Turks,
and transported across the Bosporus a body of them to attack
Constantinople. Cantacuzenus, in consequence, was obliged to make peace
with his rivals in Galata by allowing them to include a large portion
of additional territory within new walls,[62] as well as to take
possession of Selymbria and Heraclia in Thrace. The Genoese thereupon
once more became his allies. Orchan was ready to assist him, and again
promised to send twenty thousand Turks to resist the party of John.

Once more Cantacuzenus endeavoured to come to terms with his colleague.
The latter had also endeavoured to gain the aid of Orchan, but failed.
John’s reply to the overture of his father-in-law was again to refuse
to recognise that he had any right to the title of emperor. The
followers of the rival emperors, Cantacuzeni and Palaeologi, were more
bitter in their opposition than the leaders themselves, and the former
in 1353 proclaimed Matthew, the son of Cantacuzenus, co-emperor with
his father.

It is clear from the statement of Cantacuzenus himself that, as John
grew older, his own party became weaker. The hopes of the people and
of the nobles for a peaceful reign had been disappointed. Instead of
having peace, the country had been disturbed by civil war. Serbia and
Bulgaria had both recovered strength. The Turks had encroached on the
imperial territories.

The emperor’s greatest offence was rightly considered to have been the
employment of Turkish auxiliaries, and the permission granted to the
captors to sell the captured Christians as slaves, or the inability to
prevent them from doing so.[63] The patriarch Philotheus remonstrated
with him on this account, and Cantacuzenus declares that he received
the admonition as the voice of God, and promised to conform to it.[64]
Probably because he recognised that his own popularity was waning, he
had allowed his eldest son, Matthew, to be associated with him in the
government, but though the son displayed great activity, and gathered
round him a strong party, both he and his father were condemned by the
popular judgment.

The account given by Cantacuzenus is that he was asked by the nobles
to nominate his successor, that he deferred giving his answer, but
went to consult the patriarch, who retired to a monastery and after a
week sent word that he would not return to the court nor to his church
unless the emperor would swear never to proclaim his son Matthew.
Thereupon Cantacuzenus called together the senate, who declared for
Matthew. Cantacuzenus protests that in the struggle going on between
John, his son-in-law, and Matthew he was always neutral, but that as
the nobles wanted the latter he consented to name him as his colleague
and successor. Thereupon Matthew was allowed to wear the purple
buskin and the other imperial insignia. His name, as well as that of
his father and Anne, the mother of John, was mentioned in the public
prayers, while that of John was omitted.[65] The patriarch, however,
remained obdurate. Matthew had not yet been consecrated. An assembly
of bishops declared that, notwithstanding the patriarch’s opposition,
he ought to be asked to perform the ceremony. The answer of Philotheus
was to decree excommunication against any one who should attempt to lay
upon him such a duty. The patriarch was threatened with dismissal. He
replied that he would be glad of it, and was dismissed accordingly.[66]

The great anxiety of Cantacuzenus until, and even after, his abdication
was to see his son recognised as emperor. Matthew, however, fell into
the hands of John, who generously offered him his liberty on condition
that he would renounce all claim to the throne. Cantacuzenus states
that he counselled his son to accept this offer. After some hesitation
he took his father’s advice. Articles of peace were accepted, and among
the stipulations it was provided that Matthew might wear any buskin he
liked except in purple. It was a relief to both parties when John saved
himself from the reproaches of his father-in-law by leaving for Italy
and Germany. His party appears to have increased in strength during his

[Sidenote: Cantacuzenus submits and retires to Mount Athos, 1355.]

He remained abroad for two years. On his return he encountered at
Tenedos a Genoese adventurer, with a considerable number of followers,
who was on the look-out for an island which he might seize as the
Venetians had seized Chios. John proposed to employ the adventurer to
aid him in becoming sole emperor. They came together to Constantinople,
where the citizens had already risen in revolt against Cantacuzenus,
who had in consequence to shut himself up in the Blachern Palace
with a foreign guard. During the night John’s friends asked to be
admitted at the postern of Hodegetria, pretending that they were
merchants with a cargo of olive oil, and that the sea was rising and
dangerous. They promised the guardians that if they were admitted
half the cargo should be paid for the favour. They rushed the postern
as soon as it was open, and two thousand men entered the city, took
possession of the walls, and made a demonstration in favour of John.
When morning broke, the Hippodrome was crowded with citizens, and
the city in a tumult. Cantacuzenus apparently lost his head, entered
the monastery of Peribleptis, and assumed the habit of a monk. He at
once made submission to his young rival, asked and, after some weeks,
received permission to retire to Mount Athos, and there passed nearly
twenty-five years in the composition of his voluminous History. He died
in 1380.

Cantacuzenus, like his predecessors, looked to the West and especially
to the pope to aid him in checking the progress of the Turks.
Throughout the whole of his reign the attempts to obtain aid from the
West and to bring about the Union of the Churches, two objects which
had become inseparable, are constant. The zeal with which successive
popes sought to obtain the Union found a ready response in Cantacuzenus.

News travelled slowly from the Levant to Italy, but such as reached
the West made it known, not merely that Moslems were encroaching on
Christian territory; that the victories obtained in the great crusades
had largely become fruitless; that almost every inch of territory which
had been won in Syria at the sacrifice of so many lives and so much
treasure had been captured by the infidels, but that the Christian
populations had been everywhere treated with the barbarity that has
always followed Moslem conquest. The history indeed of Egypt, Syria,
and Asia Minor had been a long series of massacres, culminating perhaps
in that of Egypt where in 1354, when the Christians were ordered to
abjure their faith and to accept Mahometanism and refused, a hundred
thousand were put to death.[68]

[Sidenote: Attempts by pontiff (_a_) to resist Moslems, (_b_) to effect

Under such circumstances, Clement the Sixth was not less anxious than
his predecessors had been to check Moslem progress. Encompassed as he
was with a host of difficulties, and insecure even in his own position,
he constantly kept before him the desirability of attaining the two
results which for nearly three centuries were prominent objects of
papal policy: resistance to the Mahometans and the Union of the two
great Christian Churches. In 1343, the year after his appointment to
the pontifical throne, he persuaded the queens of Sicily and Naples
to send a fleet with one fitted out by himself against the Turks. Two
years later he urged all Christians to aid in the defence of Caifa and,
in return for their services in defending that city, permitted the
Genoese to trade with the infidels at Bagdad. When he learned that the
Christian expedition which he had authorised was massacred by the Turks
near Smyrna, he proclaimed a crusade and appealed to Edward the Third
of England not to prevent Philip of France from taking part in it by
making war against him, an appeal which was unsuccessful and which was
followed six months later by the victory of Crécy. In the same year
Clement sent two nuncios into Armenia to persuade the members of the
ancient Church of that people to enter into union with Rome. In 1347
he wrote to congratulate Stephen of Serbia on his having expressed the
desire to enter the Roman Communion.

During the early years of the reigns of John and Cantacuzenus, Clement
does not appear to have had direct communication with Constantinople.
He had apparently a dislike to or prejudice against the elder emperor,
for in 1345 he wrote to the dauphin of France not to treat with
Cantacuzenus but only with the Dowager Empress Anne.[69] He had seen
with indignation the employment of Turks by Cantacuzenus against his
enemies and considered him a usurper of the throne which ought to be
occupied only by John, the son of a mother whose predilections in
favour of Union were well known. His information, according to the
emperor’s narrative, was derived from an Italian lady who had lived
with the Empress Anne and whose sympathy would naturally be with the
cause of her mistress.

Cantacuzenus determined to explain to the pontiff his own position,
to justify his conduct and at the same time to offer his aid in any
expedition that might be formed for attacking the Mahometans and to
express his desire to accomplish the Union of the Churches.[70]

Accordingly he sent a deputation to Clement consisting of the
protovestarius and an Italian in his service who was known to the
pope. On their arrival they had long interviews with Clement and were
astonished at his detailed knowledge of the condition of the empire.
According to Cantacuzenus, the pope expressed great satisfaction at the
clemency shown by him to his enemies and especially at the marriage
between his daughter and John, in which he saw the prospect of a united
empire and one which would be able to aid in resisting the Moslems.
Clement sent the deputation back to Constantinople accompanied by two
bishops as nuncios distinguished alike by their piety and learning.
They arrived in the capital in 1347. After expressing the satisfaction
of the pope for the emperor’s moderation towards his enemies and his
kindness towards Anne, the nuncios declared that the pontiff was even
more zealous than any of his predecessors for an attack upon the Turks
and that he had already endeavoured to induce the Italian princes to
join in an expedition by promising them aid in men and money, but that
his zeal was still further increased by the offer of the emperor to
aid in such undertaking. If in addition to this he could procure the
reconciliation of the Churches, he would gain the approval not only of
the pope but of God and His angels.

Cantacuzenus in his reply expressed his thanks to the pontiff for his
promised aid against the infidels and in reference to the Union of
the Churches declared that he would willingly die if by his death he
could secure the object for which both ardently longed. He pointed out,
however, that the differences between the Churches related to doctrine,
and that Catholic teaching recognised that these could only be settled
by a Council of the whole Church. He himself could accept no new
dogmas nor force others to accept them before they had been definitely
accepted by a Council. He therefore suggested that one should be
called, being confident that its deliberations and its decisions would
receive divine guidance. As the pope could not come to Constantinople
and Cantacuzenus could not go to Rome, the emperor proposed that the
Council should be summoned to meet in some maritime city, midway
between the two capitals.

The nuncios found, or professed to find, the proposal of the emperor
reasonable, and returned to Rome. The pope expressed his satisfaction,
but declared that he could not suggest a place of meeting till he had
communicated with the princes of the West. After some time he sent word
that though he regarded the Union of the Churches as the most important
question with which Christendom had to deal, he was obliged to defer
fixing the time and the place for the Council until he had secured
peace among the Italian princes. The death of Clement, in 1352, delayed
the execution of this project.

[Sidenote: Character of Cantacuzenus.]

It is difficult to form an impartial judgment of the characters of
Cantacuzenus and John, whose reigns cover the period during which, if
it had been possible, the empire might have recovered its strength. The
history of the reign written by the former, as well as the narrative of
Ducas, places the conduct of the elder emperor in a favourable light.
The charge most commonly brought against him, of having introduced the
Turks into Europe, can only be accepted with considerable reserve.
As we have already seen, he was not the first to introduce them. The
Spaniards must bear the responsibility of this charge. Once it became
necessary to fight, whether against Serbians, Bulgarians, or internal
enemies, an emperor can hardly be blamed for obtaining auxiliaries.
The mercenaries most easily obtainable were the Turks. All contending
parties in the Balkan peninsula were ready to accept their aid. The
excuses of Cantacuzenus are evidence which proves that he realised
the danger of their obtaining a permanent foothold in Europe. A more
valid justification is furnished by the fact that, with the object
of preventing them crossing into Thrace without his permission, he
endeavoured to close the two passages which they had been accustomed
before his time to employ--namely, from Lampsacus and between Sestos
and Abydos.

When his own conduct during the time of their joint emperorship is
compared with that of John it is seen that in love of country, in
devotion to its interests, as well as in sagacity, he is greatly his
superior. The difficulties that arose between them were in fact largely
due to the jealousy, weakness, debauchery, and incompetence of John.
When a youth he was simply a drunken reprobate. That a young emperor,
who believed that he had been supplanted by another in his right to
the sole occupancy of the throne, should resent references to his
profligacy and his irregular life was natural enough, but Cantacuzenus
cannot justly be blamed because he refused to surrender the government
into his hands.

Our estimate of the character of Cantacuzenus has to be based mainly
on his own writings. But through them we know the man better perhaps
than any other emperor. When dealing with events illustrating his own
motives and conduct, he is an unconscious hypocrite. He gives us his
version of all the principal events of his reign. His despatches and
his speeches are reported at weary length, but they usually leave the
impression of having been revised and modified by the light of his
subsequent experience. His own narrative is confirmed to a considerable
extent by that of Ducas, who, however, is open to suspicion as a
partisan. His grandfather had belonged to the party of Cantacuzenus
and had escaped into Asia Minor to avoid the vengeance of Apocaukus.
Ducas describes Cantacuzenus as distinguished by the soundness of his
judgment and by his great courage.[71]

Cantacuzenus is great in accounting for his failures. Judged by his own
narrative, which may be described as an _apologia pro vita sua_, he
appears a respectable ecclesiastically minded man of mediocre talent,
seriously desirous of the good of the people whom he governed, but
anxious, above all, not only to become emperor but to found an imperial

The vanity of Cantacuzenus leads him seldom to lose an occasion of
reporting what friends or enemies say in his favour. When he sent
the embassy to Pope Clement the Sixth to explain why he had employed
Turks and to propose to render aid to the sovereigns of the West
in the expedition which Clement contemplated, he remarks that the
pontiff spoke in the highest terms of his moderation and kindness in
not having treated his ungrateful enemies with more severity.[72] In
his many negotiations with Rome he never fails to report expressions
complimentary to his own sagacity, character, and conduct. In like
manner he records the flattering expressions used regarding him by the
Ottoman sultan, expressions which then, as now, are nearly destitute of
all meaning, as if they were a serious representation of the sentiments
of the writer. He cannot resist pointing out that Nicephorus Gregoras,
whose History he declares to be false and malicious, had at one time
awarded him unbounded praise.[73]

When the chief of the Genoese forces which had captured Heraclia and
were flushed with victory proposed to attack the capital, Cantacuzenus
makes him abandon his design because he knew that it was defended
by the emperor, who was the equal in wisdom and experience of any
commander of the age.[74] It is in the same spirit of self-laudation
that he declares that in the struggle with the Serbians before Salonica
he had exterminated some by the simple terror of his name and others by
his army.[75]

[Sidenote: Reign of John after retirement of Cantacuzenus (1355 to

John occupied the throne after the retirement of Cantacuzenus for
upwards of thirty-five years. A youth largely spent in selfish
pleasures gave little promise that the young man of twenty-three would
be able to cope with the difficulties by which the empire was beset.
With the aid of his mother, Anne of Savoy, and of partisans whose only
hope was in the patronage of the new ruler, he had succeeded in ridding
himself of his elderly, respectable, and patriotic colleague. He had
now to face the difficulties with which the empire was beset. Of these
the dynastic struggle which still continued with Matthew, the son of
Cantacuzenus, was soon disposed of. An agreement had been arrived at
before the withdrawal of his father by which Matthew should retain the
title of emperor and remain in possession of certain districts of the
Rhodope mountains, and of the island of Lemnos. A few months later the
island was exchanged for a lordship in the Morea. Shortly afterwards
Matthew was made prisoner by the Serbians, delivered to John, and,
after he had been kept for a while prisoner in Tenedos, abdicated and
retired in 1358 to the Morea.

John had no liking for religious controversies within his own Church,
and although Cantacuzenus in his retirement wished that the most
important of them should be continued John forbade it. There was a
curious theological controversy, related by the writers of the time,
which is of value as showing that in the midst of the most grave
political difficulties the Byzantine people had not yet lost their
interest in religious questions. Barlaam, a Calabrian abbot of the
Greek Church--who, as we have seen, had been sent to Rome to negotiate
for Union and aid because, among other reasons, he was well acquainted
with Latin, ‘better indeed than with Greek’[76]--charged certain monks
at Mount Athos and their followers, known as Bogomils, with heresy,
called them Omphalopsychae, Messalians, men who believed that by
looking long at their navel they could see God with mortal eyes,[77]
or at least with the uncreated light of Mount Tabor. Barlaam’s great
opponent was Palamas, archbishop of Salonica. The party headed by
Palamas was favoured by Cantacuzenus, whose mother, indeed, was a
Bogomil. The controversy waxed fierce and bitter, but Barlaam was
unable to obtain the condemnation he desired. It raged for fifteen
years until forcibly put an end to by John on the withdrawal of his

By far the most important difficulty which John had to face was the
constantly increasing encroachments by the Turks. Their influence at
the beginning of his sole occupancy of the throne is shown by the
consent he was forced to give to the engagement of his infant daughter
to the son of Orchan, the great Turkish leader and successor of Othman.
Their influence at a later period, in 1374, is shown by his having been
forced into an alliance with Murad and, towards the end of his reign,
by his having to destroy a part of the walls of the capital at Murad’s

At no period of his life did the emperor show that he possessed ability
above the average. Neither he nor any of his ministers rose above
mediocrity. He nevertheless recognised the danger to his empire from
the advance of the Mahometans, the powerlessness of his own unaided
subjects to resist that advance, and the expediency of obtaining help
from the West. In dealing with some of the questions which disturbed
his subjects he possessed a certain aloofness which made him examine
them as a statesman. It is probably true, as Gibbon suggests,[79] that
in his appeals to Rome he was greatly influenced by his mother, Anne
of Savoy. She had been brought up as a member of the Latin Church and,
though compelled on her marriage to change her name and her religion,
she yet remained attached to the Church and country of her childhood.
Her struggles during the minority of her son had not tended to make
her look with favour on the Orthodox, and her influence upon her son’s
mind was probably sufficient to make him regard with as much favour the
Church to which his mother had belonged as that of which he was now the
temporal head. He had come to regard the differences between the two
Churches as matters rather for ecclesiastics than for statesmen. He
personally was ready to accept the Union of the Churches and even papal
supremacy in religious matters, provided that in return he could obtain
aid from the West against the enemies of the empire. But, whatever
were his own sentiments towards the Church of Rome, his conduct during
the long period of thirty-five years showed that he felt the need of
external aid if the empire were to be saved. His reign is one long
series of efforts to obtain it. He was ready to humiliate himself, to
use all his powers of persuasion for Union, provided that the pontiffs
would induce Western rulers to fight the Turks.

[Sidenote: Renewed efforts by popes against Moslems.]

Hope was probably stimulated in the empire by the fact that the pope
and the West generally seemed at last to recognise that, in their own
interest, measures should be taken to defend the empire. Moreover,
the danger was now so pressing, not only to the Greeks but to Europe,
that it appeared possible to obtain aid without submitting to the
humiliating conditions hitherto imposed. While John knew that to
persuade the Orthodox Church to acknowledge any of its doctrines as
heretical, and especially to induce the ecclesiastics to accept the
supremacy of the pope, was almost impossible, he professed himself
ready to make his own submission. The Union of the Churches could be
accomplished at a later day. There appeared reason to hope that the
pope regarded the danger from the Moslems mainly from the statesman’s
point of view and desired mutual action. John was so far justified in
this hope that it may be confidently asserted that had the counsels of
more than one of the popes during his reign been followed there would
have been a concerted action against the common enemy sufficient to
have delayed the Turkish progress, and possibly to have altogether
arrested it. We shall see, however, that, although all the states of
Western Europe still acknowledged the supremacy of the pope, their
interests and jealousies were as diverse as they have been in modern
times, and that the pontiff was able neither to induce nor to compel
the nations acknowledging his supremacy to act in concert.

Knowing from his own visit to Italy and from the negotiations carried
on by Cantacuzenus that Rome was predisposed to aid, John, immediately
he became sole ruler, sent an embassy to the pope. His delegates were
authorised to make the emperor’s submission to the papal authority in
exchange for the undertaking by the pope to furnish galleys against the

In the following year, 1356, John sent a golden bull to the pope
at Avignon containing the terms of his submission.[80] The pope
thereupon expressed his satisfaction by a reply to the emperor, and
while communicating the good news to the knights of Rhodes, the king
of Cyprus, and the doge of Venice, invited them to make preparations
to aid the Christian cause. So far, however, as the empire was
concerned, the series of efforts made at the pope’s instigation were
without any satisfactory result. Ill planned, inadequately supported,
unenergetically pursued, they were all almost useless. Six years
afterwards--namely, in 1362--John was invited to join the kings of
France and Denmark and Guy de Lusignan of Cyprus in a Crusade against
the Saracens, an expedition of quite secondary importance to the
empire. To the men of the West, Turks and Saracens were all the same.
The Greeks knew better. Two years passed and a new pope, Urban the
Fifth, was still organising a plan against the Saracens. In reply to
the pontiff’s invitation John promised all the aid possible to the new
Crusade, though pointing out that the benefit to the empire would be
slight. But the sovereigns of the West had had enough of Crusades and
would not respond to the call from Avignon. The companies of military
monks who were in France equally refused to take part in the proposed
undertaking, and the efforts of the pope only succeeded in inducing a
few English adventurers to join with Peter of Lusignan in a fruitless
attack upon Egypt.

At length, in 1366, a more hopeful Crusade, or at least one more likely
to result in advantage to the empire, was proclaimed. At the bidding
of the pope, Louis, king of Hungary, and Amadeo of Savoy proposed to
attack the Turks and to aid the emperor. Once more the condition was
attached that John should complete the Union of the Churches. But, once
again, the crusading army was weakened by the division of forces judged
necessary for an attempt at the same time upon the Saracens. Nor would
other states join. In vain the pope threatened the Genoese, Venetians,
and Spaniards with all the terrors of an interdict if they gave aid to
the enemy. They continued to trade with the Saracens as before. In vain
he exhorted the sovereigns of Western Europe to go to the aid of Cyprus
and Rhodes, and promised them indulgences if they would take part in
this war of the Cross. They turned deaf ears to his summons.

In 1367 Urban had entered Rome, and one of his first acts on taking
possession of the chair of St. Peter was to exhort the Genoese and
Venetians to facilitate the voyage of John to the imperial city. The
emperor was willing enough to go to Rome, provided that there was a
reasonable chance of obtaining substantial aid. He had made submission
once and was ready to do all that he could to complete the Union the
pope so greatly desired, but he knew much better than the pope how
difficult it would be to induce his people to accomplish the proposed
task. His needs, however, were great, and the summons of the pope was
urgent. Accordingly, in 1369, he ventured on the dangerous step of
leaving Constantinople. He was received with every honour in the elder
Rome, and made a profession of faith which satisfied the four cardinals
who had been deputed to receive it. An encyclical notified the great
news to all Christian princes. The pope allowed John to negotiate with
English mercenaries then in Italy for service, granted him religious
privileges, loaded him with presents, and requested the rulers of the
states through which he had to pass on his homeward journey to receive
him with the respect due to his rank. Urban at the same time addressed
a letter to the Greek clergy urging them to accept the Union.

John, however, found little or no material help. He left Rome in debt,
and on his return to Venice, where, on his Romeward journey, he had
been received in great state and promised four galleys, he was detained
until he paid his debts. The emperor urged his son Andronicus, who had
been appointed regent during the absence of his father, to find the
means of releasing him. The son declared that as the treasury was empty
and the clergy would not help, he was unable to obtain ransom. His
younger son, Manuel, contrived, however, to find in Salonica sufficient
money for his father’s release.

Both Urban and his successor, Gregory the Eleventh, displayed a great
desire to aid the empire to stem the tide of Moslem progress. Gregory
in 1371 urged the kings of France and England to join with the Genoese
to save the remnant of Christians in the Holy Land from the Saracens.
All their efforts were fruitless.

The Turkish invasion had meantime become more serious than the
Saracenic conquests, as the invaders had now penetrated by land and sea
respectively as far as Albania and Dalmatia. The pope once more urged
Louis of Hungary, the successors of the crusading nobles who still held
territory in Greece and along a portion of the coast of the Adriatic,
the knights of Rhodes, and the king of Sicily to combine in a great
movement with John against the common enemy. Once more he caused a new
Crusade to be preached and promised indulgences to those who took up
the Cross. He begged the Emperor Charles to make peace with Bavaria
so that the empire in the West might join the Crusade. On all sides,
however, there was a reluctance to enter upon it. In spite of the
pope’s influence and promise to arm twelve galleys for despatch against
the Turks, John’s ambassador returned from the West having completely
failed in obtaining aid.

Gregory the Eleventh was equally persevering in his efforts to bring
about the Union of the Churches. Franciscan and Dominican missionaries
were sent into the East to expose the wickedness of the schism caused
or persisted in by the Orthodox Church. Nuncios were despatched
to complete the reconciliation. The emperor was reproached, quite
unjustly, because he was unable to persuade or compel his subjects to
accept Union and to become reconciled with the Latin priests.

The pontiff, however, did not lose sight of his political object. Louis
of Hungary fell under his condemnation because he had neglected to
engage in the Crusade. But Louis had seen the great defeat of Bulgaria
and Southern Serbia on the Maritza in 1371 and was not prepared to make
war hastily against so formidable a foe as the Turk had then shown
himself to be.

In 1374 the pope returned to the charge and urged the king of Hungary
to be on watch against the incursions of the Turks into the empire
until the fleet prepared at the pontiff’s expense should arrive in the
Marmora. At the same time he invited John once more to visit Rome in
order to discuss measures for the accomplishment of Union.

In 1375 he again urged Louis of Hungary to do his duty as chief of the
Crusade. He sent five hundred knights of Rhodes and an equal number
of squires to defend the Greeks. He authorised the bishops in Western
lands to apply large sums from the Church revenues for the purpose of
resisting the enemy of Christendom. His influence fell far short of his
desire. The Hungarian king was reported to have misappropriated the
money he had been allowed to acquire from the Church, and the great
fleet which the Genoese had collected for the purpose of attacking the
Turks endeavoured to depose John in favour of his son Andronicus.

[Sidenote: Difficulties with Sultan Murad.]

John himself was in serious difficulties with the Ottoman sultan,
Murad. These two sovereigns were now, indeed, the two great actors on
the stage during several years, but the character of Murad dominated
over that of the commonplace John. To avoid possible treachery, the
Christian emperor, who was not trusted by Murad, was in 1374 compelled
with his son Manuel to follow the sultan in a campaign. During his
absence he entrusted the government to Andronicus, his eldest son.
Thereupon an accident occurred which seems greatly to have impressed
contemporaries. Andronicus entered into an arrangement with the son of
Murad by which the two swore to be friends and to act together, when
one should become emperor and the other sultan. A definite arrangement
may well be doubted and possibly all that passed was due to the
impulsiveness of boyish friendship without any likelihood of practical
result. Murad, however, when he heard of the agreement, blinded his
son, insisted that John should treat Andronicus in the same manner,
and threatened war if he did not comply. According to Ducas, John
blinded not only Andronicus, but also his infant son.[81] Probably the
sight of one eye only was destroyed. Andronicus was imprisoned in the
Tower of Anemas with his wife and son, and John’s younger son, Manuel,
was crowned as co-emperor. Two years afterwards Andronicus escaped
to the Genoese in Galata. With their aid he succeeded in entering
Constantinople, proclaimed himself emperor, and shut up his father
in the same prison in which he had himself been confined. Two years
afterwards the prisoner escaped to Scutari, and Andronicus had the
sense to avoid civil war by coming to an arrangement with his father
by which John was once more placed on the throne with his son Manuel.
Andronicus in compensation received certain of the towns on the north
side of the shore of the Marmora.

When Andronicus had succeeded in obtaining possession of the city
with the aid of the Genoese, almost his first act was to arrest all
the Venetians, with whom the Genoese were again at war. With their
aid, John endeavoured to take Tenedos from his enemies, but failed.
In the following year (1379) the Genoese united themselves with
Louis of Hungary and defeated the Venetians at sea. They were still
sufficiently influential in 1382 to compel the emperor to make peace
with Andronicus.[82] Constantly strengthening themselves, they entered
into a treaty in 1387 with the Bulgarian prince of the Dobrutcha.

During this time the Turks were making steady and almost unchecked
progress in Greece, on the eastern shore of the Aegean, and in Bulgaria
and Macedonia. The inhabitants were becoming weary of the constant
struggle and it is significant that in 1385 the patriarch Nilos wrote
to pope Urban the Sixth that the Turks left complete liberty to the
Church. Even Rome appears to have been in despair. Urban the Sixth like
his predecessors had so completely made his action against the Turks
conditional upon the renunciation by the Greeks of their heresies and
upon Union with Rome that all hope of aid from him or from Western
Europe had for a time died out.[83]

[Sidenote: Death of John.]

The last years of the reign of John Palaeologus were once more
disturbed by domestic troubles. His eldest son, Andronicus, had died in
1385, but his grandson, John, had many friends and was supported by the
Genoese. His party was sufficiently powerful to gain an entry into the
city by the Chariseus or Adrianople Gate and to compel the old Emperor
John to associate his grandson of the same name as emperor with Manuel,
his younger son, and himself. After a few months, however, Manuel, who
had never accepted the arrangement, entered by the Golden Gate and
his nephew fled. In 1391, the elder Emperor John died after a reign of
fifty-one years.

During his long occupancy of the throne the power of the Turks had
enormously increased and the empire had almost become a vassal of
Murad. In the last year of his reign there occurred an incident,
already alluded to, which illustrates at once the weakness of John
and his practical vassalage to the Turks. Wishing to strengthen the
landward walls and especially at and near the Golden Gate, where the
defences had fallen into decay, he gave out that he was about to clear
the city of its accumulated rubbish and to ornament that gate. Bajazed,
who was now the Ottoman sultan and successor of his father, Murad, when
he learned what had been done, insisted that the new defensive works
should be destroyed, threatening that if his wishes were not complied
with he would put out the eyes of John’s son Manuel, who had gone by
the Sultan’s orders to accompany the Turkish army on a campaign in
Pamphylia. John obeyed the orders he had received.[84]



The death of John, in 1391, is a convenient period to resume the
narrative of the progress of the Turks.

Othman had died the year after the capture of Brousa, in 1326. He had
succeeded in making his division of the Turks the most formidable
in Asia Minor, in conquering or absorbing the Seljukian Turks, in
destroying many flourishing cities and strongholds on the Black Sea, in
entirely preventing the reorganisation of the power of the empire in
the north-west portion of Asia Minor, and, above all, in organising a
fighting race into a formidable army.

[Sidenote: Reign of Sultan Orchan, 1326–1357.]

His successor was his son Orchan. Nicaea is only distant four or five
hours from Brousa, and had hitherto been able to resist all attacks by
the Turks. Its population was fairly secure within its extensive and
strong walls; the beautiful lake of Ascanius adjoins one side of it,
and furnished a constant supply of water and of fish. Once, indeed,
an emperor had sent up a fleet to assist a great army of Western
Crusaders, and to receive from their hands the city which they were
about to capture from the Seljuks.[85] Orchan laid siege to it, and
its citizens defended themselves with courage until relief came.
Cantacuzenus and his sovereign hastily gathered together an army, and
acting upon the advice of the imperial Grand Huntsman Godfrey, the
bearer of the illustrious name which had won its first renown in the
Crusade before this very place, successfully drove back the Turks.
Unfortunately, on the evening of the same day, a panic seized the
imperial troops, and the enemy, taking advantage of it, struck hard,
captured the baggage, changed the panic into a rout, and captured the
great and important city in the very hour of its triumph.

Master of the two cities, Brousa, a natural stronghold which had
been strengthened by successive emperors, and Nicaea, whose ancient
reputation and importance as the City of the Creed had been increased
by its having served during two generations as the rallying place of
the exiles from Constantinople during the Latin occupation, Orchan now
assumed the title of sultan, made Brousa his capital, and struck the
first Ottoman coins to replace those of the Seljukian sultans.

During his reign of thirty-two years he enlarged the territory occupied
by the Ottomans, and greatly improved their national organisation.
While constantly engaged in war, and though not less bent on conquest
than his father, he neglected no opportunity of inducing the Christian
subjects of the empire to come under his rule. He took care that the
taxes levied were less than those paid in the empire. Although by this
time Turkish armies were probably almost exclusively Moslem, Orchan
formed one of his best regiments out of Christians who had voluntarily
entered his service.

Orchan was far from obtaining uniform successes against the empire.
He was often and bravely opposed by the imperial troops. In 1329,
a large army, which had been transported into Thrace in a fleet of
seventy ships, was destroyed near Trajanopolis, and most of the Turks
were either killed or reduced to slavery. In 1330, a new invasion
into Thrace of Turkish cavalry was defeated, and fifteen thousand
Turks were slain. Orchan’s attempt in the following year to capture
Ismidt failed, and he was obliged to sue for peace. In spite of these
disasters, he was always able within a few months to assemble new
armies, and to renew the struggle. Already he had succeeded in exacting
tribute from nearly the whole of Bithynia. His troops, within two
years, invaded Macedonia, Euboea, and Athens, and while Cantacuzenus
was with difficulty holding his own against them, another army met
Andronicus the Third in Thrace, and took possession of Rodosto--an
army, however, which the emperor shortly afterwards destroyed.

New recruits were continually making their way across the Dardanelles
or the Marmora into Thrace, until, in 1336, the Turkish army in that
province met with disaster in an unexpected manner. A band of Tartars
from the north made a descent upon them when they heard that they
had been successful in a raid upon the Christian population and were
carrying off an enormous mass of booty.[86] Three months after the
departure of the Tartars a new descent into Thrace was attempted by the
Turks. Once again the Greeks were successful, and, in the same year, an
army which ravaged the environs of Constantinople was destroyed and the
Turkish fleet which brought them captured.

[Sidenote: Nicomedia taken (1337).]

The efforts of Orchan were more successful in Asia Minor. A division
of his army had laid siege again to Ismidt, and the inhabitants, in
order to avoid imminent starvation, surrendered. The acquisition, in
1337, of this city, the most important seaport on the Asiatic side of
the Marmora, and the head, then as now, of all the roads leading from
the capital to every part of Asia Minor, Persia, and Syria, was of the
utmost importance.

During the stormy joint reigns of John and Cantacuzenus (1342 to 1355),
the empire was attacked both by Tartars on the north, and by the Turks
in Asia Minor. The Bulgarian and Serbian kingdoms had both gained
strength during the Latin occupation at the expense of the empire, and
were ready to avail themselves of the aid alike of Turks and Tartars
in their endeavours to capture territory from the empire. When, in
1342, Cantacuzenus was attacked by the Bulgarians, a division of the
Turks, whose emir had taken the title of sultan of Lydia, was induced
to come to his aid. Twenty-nine thousand arrived at the mouth of the
Maritza, the ancient Hebrus, and with their aid a temporary relief was
afforded; but for some reason, possibly a severe winter, they withdrew
to Asia Minor. The Bulgarians on this occasion were not aided by the
Tartars, probably because the latter were occupied in the Crimea, and
throughout what is now southern Russia, in fighting the Genoese, who
had blockaded the northern coast of the Black Sea. Apocaukus, the rival
of Cantacuzenus, succeeded in the following year in hiring a Turkish
fleet and army. Both sides, indeed, in the civil war then going on, as
well as the Bulgarians and Serbians, never hesitated to increase their
armies by employing Turks or Tartars as auxiliaries.

When, in 1344, Cantacuzenus promised his daughter Theodora in marriage
to Orchan, he received at once the aid of a body of five thousand
Ottoman Turks, and this number was increased when the marriage took
place, two years later. But the young emperor John met him with another
body of Turkish auxiliaries. Orchan would have made short work of John;
for in an interview which took place with much ceremony and cordiality
at Scutari to congratulate his father-in-law on his second coronation,
he appears to have decided upon following the Turkish method of getting
rid of a rival to the throne of his father-in-law. Cantacuzenus,
however, would not sanction assassination. Orchan apparently could not
understand any such scruples, and shortly afterwards sent a number of
Turks to the capital on a pretended political mission, but really with
the object of aiding Cantacuzenus by murdering John. The elder emperor,
as soon as he learned the design, at once put his foot down, and
declared that he would not permit John to go outside the palace except
accompanied by him.[87]

In the attacks by Stephen, the kral of Serbia, who had taken the
title of emperor of the Serbians and the Greeks, or emperor of Serbia
and Romania--for both forms are used--Orchan once more sent troops to
aid his father-in-law. In the struggles which took place at this time
between the Genoese and the Venetians, Orchan aided the first. When the
emperor wished to employ both, he was obliged to concede to the Turks a
stronghold on the Thracian Chersonese. They, however, always proved to
be dangerous allies, and the inhabitants of the whole northern coast of
the Marmora were so harassed by them that great numbers deserted their
farms and fled to the capital or elsewhere.

[Sidenote: Angora taken (1354).]

It was in 1355 that Cantacuzenus left the government in the hands of
John. His policy and his influence had been directed towards coming to
an agreement with the leading group of Turks--that, namely, ruled over
by his son-in-law. Almost the last act before his withdrawal was to
persuade Orchan and his son, Suliman, to give up the cities in Thrace
which the Turks had occupied, on his behalf, during the struggle with
John.[88] Orchan, on his part, was to all appearances disposed, on the
retirement of Cantacuzenus, to be on friendly terms with John, and,
in consequence, each party assumed the attitude of an ally. It may be
suggested that if a policy of friendliness had been continued, the
Turks might have been content with their territory in Asia Minor. But
such a solution was not possible. The Turkish nomad warriors, to whom
the cultivation of the soil was distasteful, required new lands to roam
over, and wanted new territories to plunder. The arable lands, which
had supported large populations, were too small for nomad shepherds,
and the latter were always being pressed forward to the north and west
by a constant stream of immigrants behind them. Indeed, in the year
when Cantacuzenus abdicated, Suliman, the son of Orchan, had to lead
his armies and defend his territories against a newly arrived horde of
Tartars in the north-east of Asia Minor. His successful defence was, at
the same time, one more blow against the empire, for in this campaign
he succeeded in capturing the important stronghold of Angora, which
commanded the great highroad to Persia.

But Orchan and John, though nominally on friendly terms, distrusted
each other, and indeed Orchan’s character and conduct compare
favourably with John’s. When Halil, the son of Orchan and of John’s
sister-in-law Theodora, was captured by pirates from Phocaea, at the
head of the Gulf of Smyrna, and then in the occupation of the Genoese,
it was with difficulty that John could be induced to join in the siege
of that city in order to release his nephew. He endeavoured to make a
bargain with Orchan before he consented to co-operate. Finally Halil
was ransomed, Orchan and John each paying half of the amount. On his
release the two rulers met, and at Chalcedon, the present Kadikeuy,
John promised his infant daughter to Halil, and the two rulers swore to
establish a perpetual peace.

In 1359 Orchan died. During the thirty-two years of his reign, he had
planted the Ottoman state firmly in Asia Minor. The landmarks of its
progress were the important cities of Nicaea, Ismidt, and Angora, each
of which dominated a large tract of country. He had compacted the Turks
together, had attracted to his rule many of those who had previously
acknowledged other emirs, and every year of his reign had seen the
number of Ottoman Turks increasing by defections from his rivals and
by immigrants from the eastward. He was an able commander and an
exceptionally good administrator. While Othman is the founder of the
Turkish dynasty, Orchan is the sovereign who caused his people to be
recognised as forming a separate nationality, and was thus the maker of
the Turkish nation.

[Sidenote: Sultan Murad the First, 1359–1389.]

Orchan was succeeded by his son Amurath or, adopting the modern
orthography, Murad. He was the younger brother of Suliman, who died
two months before his father. The new sultan was not influenced by any
tie of relationship with the imperial family. Moreover, the influence
of Islam was now becoming much more serious than it had hitherto been.
Mahometanism had become the religion of most of the Turks, and Murad,
stimulated by a certain mufti, soon learned to become a fanatical
persecutor of even his own Christian subjects. He increased the amount
of taxes which they had to pay, and generally made their burdens heavy.
But by far the heaviest of those burdens was caused by the organisation
of the body of ‘New Troops’ established by Orchan and known as
Janissaries. He decreed a law, said to be founded upon the sacred text
of the Koran, that the Christians should be required to give to himself
absolutely one in five of their children. From the boys thus obtained,
he established the famous corps whose deeds were to make them for ever

At the commencement of his reign, Murad turned to conquest. The work of
Orchan had been to establish and compact Ottoman rule in Asia Minor.
That of his successor was mainly to carry out a similar policy in
Europe. After capturing Heraclia on the Black Sea, he crossed over into
Thrace and occupied Adrianople, seized Didymotica and Chorlou, overran
the whole country between Constantinople and Bulgaria, and sent his
ships to plunder the Greek islands. In return for the fanaticism with
which they had inspired him, he promised that one fifth of the spoil
captured by land and sea should be given to the mollahs. When the sale
of Christian captives took place, he took care, says Ducas,[90] that
the young, the well set-up, and the strong men should be bought at a
low price to be added to the Janissaries.

The few remaining Turkish emirs in Asia Minor whose territories had not
been gained by the Ottomans joined forces to resist the new sultan. At
the same time the Serbians, Bulgarians, and Hungarians, all of whom had
become alarmed at Murad’s progress, declared war upon him. Compelled
in 1363 to defend himself against the emirs to the east and south of
his territories in Asia Minor, he was sufficiently strong to force
the emperor to bind himself not merely to give aid to him in Asia but
not to attempt to recover any of the cities or territories which he
had conquered in Europe. When he had broken the strength of the rebel
emirs he crossed rapidly back into Thrace and near Adrianople defeated
a combined army of Hungarians, Serbians, and Bulgarians. Two years
afterwards, in 1366, an army of fifty thousand Serbians endeavoured in
vain to drive Murad out of Adrianople. The lowest degradation which the
empire had yet reached was when the miserable John consented to become
the tributary of Murad in order that he might enjoy his remaining
possessions in Europe. In 1373 he formally recognised the sultan as his
suzerain, bound himself to render him military service and to give his
son Manuel as a hostage.[91]

The only palliative which can be offered for John’s conduct is that he
felt resistance to be useless. The empire wanted peace. The cities and
towns had been devastated, not merely by successive wars, civil and
foreign, but by the terrible Black Death, a plague which since 1346 had
demanded everywhere its large quota of victims. He had seen Turkish
armies defeated, but everywhere and always reappearing in greater
numbers than ever. Asiatics were in overwhelming numbers on every
side. The Egyptian Moslems had captured Sis, the capital of the Lesser
Armenia, in 1369. Not only was every district in Asia Minor overrun
with Turks, but they had penetrated Europe at many points. Bands
of them had been left in the country when the armies, invited into
Macedonia or Thrace or crossing over for plunder, had withdrawn. ‘For
my part, I believe,’ says Ducas, ‘that there is a greater multitude of
them between the Dardanelles and the Danube than in Asia Minor,’ and
although Ducas wrote three quarters of a century later, his remarks
are applicable to the reign of John. He describes how Turks from
Cappadocia, Lycia, Cilicia, and Caria had sailed into Europe to pillage
and to ruin the lands of the Christians. A hundred thousand had laid
waste the country as far west as Dalmatia. The Albanians from being
a large nation had become a small one. The Wallachs, the Serbians,
and his own people, the Romans, had been completely ruined. Amid his
lamentations over the evils inflicted by the invaders, his saddest
thought and gravest source of complaint is that the victories gained
by the Turks had been won by men who were the offspring of Christian
parents, by Janissaries who were of Roman, Bulgarian, Serbian,
Wallachian, or Hungarian origin. It is in the hopelessness of further
resistance to such overwhelming forces that the only explanation of
John’s acceptance of the position of a tributary prince is to be found.

[Sidenote: Battle of Harmanli, 1371.]

The ruin of the South Serbians and Eastern Bulgarians of which Ducas
speaks had really taken place. They had each ventured to declare
themselves empires. With the indifference which characterises the
Greek writers in regard to the conduct of other nations, they allude
to rather than mention how that ruin had been brought about. In 1371,
a great battle took place on the plains of the river Maritza which
sealed the fate of the Eastern Bulgarians and of the Serbians who were
in Macedonia. The three sons of the kral took advantage of the absence
of Murad in Asia and, having collected an army of sixty thousand men,
marched almost as far as Adrianople without opposition. While they were
feasting in front of a bridge over the Maritza near Harmanli, fully
assured of their safety by reason of their superiority in numbers,
suddenly a night attack was made upon them by a small division of the
Turkish army. It was soon joined by the entire army of seventy thousand
Turks. Wild confusion was followed by a terrible slaughter. One of the
three sons of the kral was killed and the other two were drowned in the
Maritza. Hundreds of soldiers perished in attempting to cross it. The
army was simply annihilated.[92]

To assist him in his conquest of Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, and
Moldavia, Murad allied himself, in 1373, with the Tartars north of the
Danube, and both prepared to attack these states.

Meanwhile in the troubles which arose in 1374 between John and his
son Manuel on the one side and Andronicus the grandson of John by his
eldest son of the same name, Murad exercised his right as suzerain.
Shortly after Manuel was associated with his father, the two were
ordered to accompany their lord on an expedition. It was during their
absence that the eldest sons of the emperor and sultan, as already
mentioned, either swore friendship and common action, when each
succeeded to his father’s throne, or were considered by their fathers
to have done so. It may have been believed that they had entered into
a conspiracy to hasten such succession. Countouz, the obnoxious son
of Murad, raised a rebellion against his father when he heard of his
cruel resolve, but his troops passed over to the side of their sultan.
He fled to Didymotica and joined Andronicus, who was also a fugitive
from his father. Murad followed his son, and laid siege to that city.
The inhabitants, pressed by famine, opened the gates to him. Countouz
was blinded by his father, but Andronicus escaped; all the garrison
was drowned and a large number of the inhabitants had their throats
cut, Murad adding to his barbarity by compelling the fathers to be the
executioners of their sons.[93]

[Sidenote: Philadelphia surrendered, 1379.]

In 1379, as already mentioned, John and his son Manuel, who had been
captured and imprisoned by his grandson Andronicus, escaped to Scutari
and took refuge with Bajazed, the son of Murad. The sultan, after
assuring himself that the inhabitants of Constantinople preferred
Manuel to Andronicus, made a bargain with John and his son by which,
in return for aid in restoring them, the empire should pay a large
annual tribute, furnish a contingent of twelve thousand soldiers, and
surrender to him Philadelphia, the last remaining city in Asia Minor
which still acknowledged the rule of Constantinople. John and Manuel
entered Constantinople by the Adrianople Gate, and Andronicus escaped
across the Golden Horn to the Genoese in Galata. Much as the two
emperors may have regretted their bargain, Murad held them to it, and
they, Christian emperors, marched to Philadelphia, in order to compel
their own subjects to open its gates to the Turks.

Everywhere the Moslem flood was becoming irresistible. The sultan of
Bagdad, in 1376, invaded Armenia and took prisoners both its king and
queen; at the other extreme of the empire the Turks were in Epirus and
were holding their own in many parts of Morea. The Knights-Hospitallers
surrendered Patras to them in order to purchase the release of their
Grand Master. One of the few strongholds in Thrace which Murad had
not hitherto obtained was Apollonia, the present Sissipoli, which,
partly built on an island in the Black Sea and in an otherwise strong
position, had so far avoided capture. It was taken, however, by Murad
in 1383, and, as usual, its garrison was cruelly massacred. In 1385,
Murad captured Sofia, and then sent two armies, one to take possession
of Cavalla and other places on the north shore of the Aegean, and the
other to capture Monastir and various towns in Macedonia. In the same
year a Turkish army took Belgrade and pushed on to Scutari in Albania,
taking possession of it and of other strongholds. In 1387, after a
siege lasting four years, Salonica was captured.

The Serbians, by their defeat at Belgrade and elsewhere, were compelled
to become the vassals of Murad, and, following his usual custom, the
sultan compelled their kral in 1381 to send two thousand men to aid him
in subduing a revolt of his brother-in-law, the emir, in Caramania,
the ancient Cilicia. Many subjects of the empire had to render like
military service.

[Sidenote: First battle of Cossovo-pol, 1889.]

On the return of the Serbians, their discontent was so great that the
kral Lazarus, son of the famous Stephen, collected a large army and
made an effort for freedom. But, though his armies succeeded in killing
twenty thousand of the enemy, Ali Pasha compelled them again to submit
to the Turkish yoke. The brave Serbians soon, however, recovered, and
Lazarus succeeded in making alliances with his Christian neighbours
which promised success. In 1389, with a large army of his own subjects,
of Hungarians, Wallachs, Dalmatians, and Albanians, he once more
endeavoured to crush the common enemy. A decisive battle was fought
on the Plain of Black Birds or Cossovo-pol, in what is now called Old
Serbia.[94] Murad and his son Bajazed were in command. The Christians
broke the right wing of the Turks, but the issue of the battle was
turned by the daring of Bajazed. Lazarus and his suite were taken
prisoners, and the triumph of the enemy was complete. The latest
historian of Serbia observes that as the battle on the Maritza in
1371 sealed the fate of the Eastern Bulgarians and of the Serbians in
Macedonia, so did this battle of Cossovo-pol in 1389 determine that of
the Northern Serbians and the Western Bulgarians.[95]

[Sidenote: Assassination of Murad.]

During or immediately after the battle, there followed a dramatic
incident. A young Serb ran towards the Turkish army, and when they
would have stopped him declared that he wanted to see their sultan in
order that he might show him how he could profit by the fight. Murad
signed to him to come near, and the young fellow did so, drew a dagger
which he had hidden, and plunged it into the heart of the sultan. He
was at once cut down by the guards.[96] The Serbians, according to
Ducas, did not know of the sultan’s death for a considerable time,
and did not defend themselves with their usual courage. Lazarus was
captured, and was hewn in pieces.



Manuel was with the Turkish army at Brousa when he learned the death of
his father in 1391. He escaped secretly, hastened to Constantinople,
and succeeded in being proclaimed as the sole occupant of the imperial
throne. Bajazed, who had become sultan on the assassination of his
father, Murad, in 1389, taken by surprise at the escape of his hostage,
at once presented alarming demands. He asked that the Turks should have
a resident cadi within Constantinople itself and that Manuel should
declare himself to be the sultan’s vassal and pay tribute. After a year
of fruitless negotiations, which Manuel had protracted in order that
he might send to the West to implore aid, Bajazed attacked the empire
on every side. Within a few months Turks were pillaging the Adriatic
coast, were exterminating or carrying off prisoners from Thrace,
and were laying siege to the capital. Their leader before the city
urged the citizens to declare for Manuel’s nephew, John, the son of
Andronicus, who had, indeed, been compelled by Bajazed to come forward
as a pretender. In 1395 John joined the Turks in attacking the capital,
but was defeated. The Turkish leader returned across the Bosporus,
strengthened his position on the Gulf of Ismidt, by building a castle
or fortress, probably the one now seen at Guebseh, and another on the
Bosporus known as Guzel-hissar,[97] and then once more summoned Manuel
to surrender the city. Thereupon the emperor took a step which, if the
version of Ducas is correct, justifies his historian for attributing it
to wisdom and patriotism. He arranged to share the empire with John,
to leave the city himself, and to allow him to enter on condition that
he would not hand it over to the Turks. John, however, on his side
had agreed with Bajazed that Selymbria and the other places on the
north shore of the Marmora which he had held since the death of his
father should be delivered to the Turks, and, this arrangement being
concluded, the city was saved from attack.[98]

Meantime the spread of the Turks over new territories once more alarmed
the West, and in 1394 Boniface preached a Crusade and urged in what
is now Austria and the states of Venice that immediate action should
be taken against them. The danger was pressing and the pope’s call
to battle was this time responded to. Sigismund, the Hungarian king,
informed the emperor that he had fifty-two thousand armed men, and
invited his co-operation.

[Sidenote: Battle of Nicopolis, 1396.]

But the men of the West had not yet learned how formidable the Turks
could be. In 1396 at Nicopolis on the Danube the united Christian
army was met by Bajazed, who inflicted upon it a crushing defeat. How
that defeat was accomplished will be told when giving the story of
Bajazed’s life. Bajazed recaptured all the places in Hungary which he
had previously lost, threatened to besiege Buda, boasted that he would
annex Germany and Italy and feed his horse with oats on the altar of
St. Peter at Rome. So serious was the disaster of Nicopolis and the
impression it produced that at length the Venetian senate recognised
the necessity of joining their traditional enemies the Genoese in order
to send a powerful fleet against the common enemy. Boucicaut, a skilful
sailor who was named admiral, took command. He arrived at Gallipoli
with a fleet containing fourteen hundred knights. They met near the
Dardanelles seventeen well-armed Turkish galleys and defeated them.
Shortly afterwards Boucicaut was proclaimed by Venetians and Genoese
admiral-in-chief. He pushed on to the Bosporus and arrived just in time
to relieve Galata, which was being besieged by the Turks. Manuel named
him Grand Constable. Boucicaut next endeavoured to recapture Ismidt but
without success. Elsewhere, however, he succeeded in inflicting several
losses on the Turks and especially harassed their settlements on the
eastern shore of the Bosporus. Finding he was powerless without further
aid to inflict serious damage upon them, he urged Manuel to acknowledge
the king of France as his suzerain, in order that he might receive aid.
His project met with the approval of the Venetians, the Genoese, and
of Manuel himself. Boucicaut returned to France to obtain assistance
and to employ his own influence in favour of the project, but Charles
the Sixth, being unable or unwilling to protect his proposed vassal,
refused to receive his submission.

Manuel, at the end of 1399, decided to follow the example of his
predecessor and to see whether his own efforts would not be more
successful in obtaining aid from the West. He was received, as they had
been, with imperial honours in Venice and elsewhere, but neither from
that city nor from Florence, Ferrara, Genoa, or Milan did he secure any
assistance. His public entry into Paris was with a display that was
intended more to please the Parisians than to be of use to him, and he
soon learnt that there was as little to be hoped from France as from
Italy. Nor was he more successful on his visit to Henry the Fourth in
England. After an absence of two and a half years, Manuel returned
to his capital. He found that the Turks had employed the time with
energy and had made great progress in their raids on the empire. His
own people were almost in despair. The Turks were once more besieging
the capital and were securely established on the opposite shore of the
Bosporus. The population of Constantinople had decreased. Many of its
buildings had fallen out of repair, and its territory in Thrace was
almost limited by the walls of the city.

On the other hand, he arrived at a moment when if Christendom had
been united a great and possibly a fatal blow might have been struck
against the common enemy. The lieutenant of Boucicaut was defending
Constantinople against the third attempt by Bajazed to capture the
city, when the tidings from the great Timour or Tamarlane gave the
besieger pause. Bajazed withdrew. Timour, indeed, had summoned the
sultan to give up to the Greeks all territory that he had taken
from them and had asked the Genoese to co-operate and obtain the
co-operation of other Western powers against the Turks. Bajazed not
only refused to obey the summons but went forward to attack Timour and,
as we shall see when dealing with the life of Bajazed, was in the great
battle of Angora, on July 25, 1402, defeated and made prisoner. He died
in the following year. The defeat of the sultan gave a new lease of
life to the city, but no aid came from the Christians of the West. The
Venetians and Genoese were again at war with each other and Western
Europe was as divided and as powerless for concerted action against the
Turks as it has so often been since.

The Turks in less than a generation after the withdrawal of Timour
recovered all their influence and territory. Manuel was compelled
even as early as 1403 to recognise Bajazed’s successor, Suliman (to
whom, indeed, he gave his granddaughter in marriage), as lord of a
large portion of Thrace. Suliman, however, proved himself a weak
and worthless leader of the Turks, and in 1409 the Janissaries,
preferring his brother Mousa, arrested and killed him. He was succeeded
by Mahomet, the first of that name in the Ottoman dynasty, who had
been aided by Manuel and who in return gave back to the emperor the
fortified places on the Marmora and Black Sea which had been in the
occupation of the Turks: an almost solitary instance of this kind of
generosity on the part of the Turks, who hold as a religious principle
that they must only surrender territory to force. Mahomet had, however,
given his promise to Manuel and, says Ducas, he faithfully kept it.[99]

During the next few years and until the death of the sultan, Manuel’s
relations with him were friendly. In 1415 the two sovereigns had
an interview at Gallipoli. Although the Turks were pursuing their
encroachments in Hungary and Dalmatia, Mahomet abstained from attacking
the empire. When they carried off nearly two thousand captives into
slavery from Euboea, its Venetian rulers were compelled to seek the
mediation of Manuel in order to obtain peace. Five years afterwards,
Mahomet in passing to his dominions in Asia Minor went by way of the
capital, and Phrantzes testifies that, in spite of suggestions to seize
him, Manuel refused to violate the right of hospitality. So great was
the sultan’s trust in the emperor that Mahomet named Manuel as the
guardian of his two younger sons.

Murad, the eldest son and successor of Mahomet, who became sultan
in 1420, proposed a renewal of the alliance with Manuel. The latter
would probably have consented. He was overruled, however, by the
senate, which was in favour of a policy of war and decided that John
should be associated with his father. A demand was made to Murad to
send his two younger brothers to Constantinople, and the grand vizier
returned the answer which might have been expected, that the education
of two Mussulmans could not be entrusted to the enemies of their
faith--believers to be educated by infidels.[100] War followed, and
the Greeks supported a pretender to the Turkish throne, who was soon
defeated and hanged by Murad.

[Sidenote: Siege of Constantinople by Murad, 1422.]

Thereupon, in 1422, siege was laid to Constantinople. The walls had
largely fallen out of repair and the three thousand men who were sent
as a first detachment sat down before it in hope of an easy capture. A
few days later Murad himself appeared, bringing with him in chains the
Greek ambassadors who had been sent to treat of peace. A large army of
two hundred thousand men, together with a great crowd of bashi-bazouks,
encamped before the landward walls and built an earthwork for their
protection from the Golden Gate to the Xyloporta at the end of the
walls on the Golden Horn. Among them, or arriving shortly afterwards,
was a certain Mersaite, a Madhi, a half-mad fanatic at the head of
five hundred dervishes. He claimed to be of the blood of Mahomet and
to possess prophetic powers. He foretold that the capture of the city
would happen when he gave the signal, for which all were to be ready.
The sultan had sat down before the walls in the middle of June, but his
primitive bombs, his wooden towers, and his attempts to undermine the
walls were of no avail. Mersaite prophesied a capture on August 24. On
that day the defenders of the foss were rained upon with showers of
arrows and a general assault was made, but the two Theodosian walls,
which were defended by crowds of citizens, were far too strong to be
captured by the simple fanatical onslaught of dervishes. The Greeks
fought valiantly, the young Emperor John being at their head and on
horseback, in the peribolos outside the Romanus Military Gate, formerly
knowm as the Pempton. Upon the failure of the attack by the dervishes,
Murad suddenly raised the siege and the Greeks pursued the retreating
army and captured some of their rude guns.[101] The immediate cause of
the raising of the siege of Constantinople is variously stated. Manuel
had sent aid to the adherents of Mustafa, the younger brother of Murad,
aged only six years, and had thus strengthened the revolt which had
been raised in his favour in Asia Minor. It was of more importance
to Murad to put an end to this Turkish rising than to persist in his
attempt to capture the city.[102]

[Sidenote: Death of Manuel, 1425.]

In 1425 Manuel, whom Ducas describes not incorrectly as a wise and
moderate prince, died, after a reign of thirty-four years.

[Sidenote: John, 1425–1448.]

John, sometimes called the Fifth and sometimes the Seventh of that
name, now became sole emperor, and reigned from 1425 to 1448. The two
features of his reign which make all incidents in it that are not
connected with them of comparative insignificance, are, first, the
steady almost unchecked progress of the Turks in south-eastern Europe
and in Asia Minor: the encroachment of an overwhelming flood, now
apparently receding in one direction, but again sweeping over every
obstacle in another, and in reality always steadily advancing and
submerging all the Christian populations in the Balkan peninsula: and,
second, the efforts of the emperor and those about him to save the
remnant of the empire by obtaining the help of Europe.

John’s reign was spent in one continuous effort to obtain assistance
from the West to save the city and to check the progress of the Turks.
Like his predecessors, he addressed himself to successive popes.
Perhaps nothing brings more vividly before the reader of European
history the power of the occupants of the pontifical chair than the
fact that it was taken for granted that from the pope, and the pope
alone, that Western aid could be obtained. We have seen that former
emperors had looked to the kings of France and England and to other
princes, but their aid was sought only on the advice and with the
support of Rome. In justice also it must be admitted that no princes
recognised so completely as did a long series of popes the expediency
and duty of defending Constantinople as the first outwork of the
defences of Europe against the forces of Asia, and of aiding its
emperors in their efforts to check the Turkish invasion. They were
the prime ministers of Western Europe and almost the only persons who
regarded the Eastern question as statesmen.

Unfortunately, while the popes saw the necessity of preventing the
progress of the barbarians, they attached conditions to their offers
of help which made them unacceptable and which indeed were impossible:
namely, that the Greeks should accept the Union of the Churches, with
which Union was associated the supremacy of the pope.

A succession of pontiffs during the two hundred years preceding
the Moslem conquest of the city worked for Union with marvellous
persistency. The same passionate desire for reunion is not less
manifest now in the occupant of the chair of St. Peter; but modern
efforts are made with this essential difference, that while in the
period which concerns us it was believed that reunion could be imposed,
every one now recognises that if it is to be brought about, it must be
by voluntary and full consent.

[Sidenote: Errors in West regarding Orthodox Church.]

In the fourteenth century it never seems to have occurred either to
popes or emperors that people cannot be compelled to change their
religious opinions. The idea was that the great mass of people
were ready to accept any opinion sanctioned by the ordinary civil
authorities. The early negotiations leave the impression that the
Churchmen of the West thought that the emperor and the patriarch could
bring about a Union by their simple decree, could change the profession
of belief and obtain the admission of papal supremacy without the
voluntary consent of even the Greek ecclesiastics. It never appears
to have dawned upon Roman Churchmen that the members of the Orthodox
Church might refuse to accept Union and a change in belief when these
had been accepted by the civil and religious chiefs. Such a view showed
ignorance at once of the character, always intensely conservative,
and of the history of the Orthodox Church. Without entering into a
discussion of how far the population of the capital and the empire was
Greek by race, it is sufficient to recall that Greek was the language
of the people, that all that they knew of history and philosophy, all
their methods of thought, their theology and literature, had come
to them in Greek forms. They thought and spoke as Greeks. Most of
them gloried in being Greek. In matters of philosophic and religious
speculation the Greek mind was more acute, and more subtle, than the
Western mind. In theological questions, probably all classes were
more interested than the corresponding classes in the West. If in
the course of centuries the common people had ceased to take that
keen interest in matters of theological speculation which caused the
artisan or tradesman to neglect his immediate occupation in order to
ask his customer’s opinion on the merits of the latest heresy, it was
largely because the great formulas of Christian belief had, as it
was believed, received their final adjustment. If any questions were
unsolved--as, for example, that of the Inner Light--the population was
always ready to take an interest in them; but it deeply resented any
attempt to dogmatise without full discussion. It especially resented
the determination of such questions by a foreign authority. The Greek
Churchmen considered themselves, and probably rightly, as better
versed in theology than those of Rome. They had the tradition of being
admittedly superior in learning to their brethren in the West, and,
though ready at all times to discuss, would not consent to be dictated
to by the bishop of Rome.

The Catholic Church not only made the mistake of disregarding the
traditional susceptibilities of the Eastern people, who invariably,
after 1204, associated the rule of Rome with the abominations of
the Latin occupation; of disregarding also the universal interest
felt in the Orthodox Church on theological questions, but it greatly
underrated the authority and influence of the Orthodox clergy when
such authority and influence were in conflict with the emperor or even
with the emperor and patriarch combined. Much has been written of what
is called Caesaropapism: that is, of the combination of the secular
and ecclesiastical powers which were supposed to be vested in the
emperors. At various times the autocrat undoubtedly assumed much of
the power which in the Holy Roman Empire in the West was left to the
popes. At other times, however, and in some matters at all times, the
patriarch of Constantinople exercised a jurisdiction independent of
the emperor. The religious sanctions possessed by the Church were not
to be set aside even by or for him. We have seen, for example, that
when the Emperor Michael the Eighth had usurped the crown and blinded
the infant John so as to prevent him coming to the throne, though the
ecclesiastics seemed to have considered it expedient that he should
retain the office he had usurped, the patriarch Arsenius and the
prelates associated with him could not be either coaxed or frightened
into granting him absolution, and that it was not until Arsenius and
his successor, Germanus, had ceased to occupy the patriarchal throne
that the emperor could succeed in having the anathema removed.[103]

Many other examples could be given which show that it is an error to
suppose that the patriarchs were merely or even usually the creatures
of the emperors. When questions of dogma arose the head of the Orthodox
Church supported by his clergy was jealous of the secular power. The
history of Constantinople during the time between the Latin and the
Moslem conquests of the city abounds in illustrations showing that the
Church would not consent to dictation from the emperors, and that the
clergy would not blindly follow the patriarch. But, when dictation was
supposed to come from Rome, the great mass of clergy and people were,
as they had been from the time of Photius, on the side of their Church
and, if need be, against the emperor.

It must be remembered also that the Eastern Church had steadily refused
to admit the supremacy of the Western. It had never regarded the
phrase ‘under one fold and one shepherd’ as indicating that the whole
Church of Christ should be under the government of one bishop. It had
never admitted that the ‘One Shepherd’ should be other than Christ,
and had therefore constantly denied the supremacy of the pope. One
Empire, one Church, one Head of the Church was a Western theory which
had never made much way in the later Roman empire. The movements in
the West which placed the imperial power in commission, giving to the
emperor the supreme secular, and to the bishop of Rome the supreme
ecclesiastical, authority had no corresponding movement in the East.
The emperors were only heads of the Church in the same sense as the
king of England is in all matters ecclesiastical supreme. The emperors
and ecclesiastics were usually agreed in not allowing the supremacy of
the bishop of the elder Rome.

To the popes, however, the Union of the Churches was indissolubly
associated with the admission of papal supremacy. It would be going too
far to say that they desired Union exclusively to obtain recognition of
such supremacy, but it may safely be said that they never lost sight
in all their negotiations for Union of the necessity of obtaining
its recognition, and that, in the opinion of many ecclesiastics both
Western and Eastern, such supremacy was the most important object aimed

Murad’s unsuccessful attempt, in 1422, to capture Constantinople made
it evident to the emperor that aid from Western nations was absolutely
necessary if the empire or even the city was to be saved. The pope also
recognised both the importance of saving the empire and its extreme
danger, and held out hopes of aid if Union were accepted. The imminence
of the danger was patent to all. When John became sole occupant of the
throne, in 1425, the empire was surrounded by Turkish armies. Nearly
the whole of Asia Minor was in their hands. Large armies had invaded
Hungary; Bulgaria had ceased to exist; Serbia was a vassal of the
sultan. In Macedonia and even in Thrace the Turks had made a desolation
and held many cities. If the city of Paris were worth a Mass, the
empire was worth a tenfold acknowledgment of the pope’s supremacy.

The emperor, the nobles, and a considerable part of the clergy came to
believe that they must purchase aid on any conditions or see the city
captured. Questions of dogma, the addition of the _Filioque_ clause,
the use of unleavened bread, the condition of souls in purgatory, were
to them matters of secondary importance when the very existence of
their country was at stake. Even papal supremacy appeared to John and
many laymen worth accepting in return for the despatch of soldiers who
would resist the Turkish invasion.

We have seen that many attempts at Union had been made by all the
emperors since the recapture of the city, but that they had all failed,
that the traditional conservatism of the Orthodox Church, its stubborn
resistance to the slightest change of dogma or ritual, all intensified
by the traditions of the Latin occupation, had been more powerful than
the energy and influence of popes and emperors combined.[104]

[Sidenote: The great attempt at Reunion.]

The last and greatest attempt to bring about a Union was now about to
be made, and deserves fuller notice than has been given to any which
preceded it.

In 1429, in the fourth year of his reign, John sent to request the pope
to despatch a messenger to Constantinople to treat of Union. Eugenius
gladly complied and sent a friar to arrange conditions with the emperor
and patriarch. It was agreed that the canonical method of arriving at a
binding conclusion on matters of dogma should be adopted. The matters
in dispute were to be submitted to a Council of the Church at which
John and the patriarch were to be present.

Meantime Eugenius employed his influence during the next three or
four years to induce the Venetians and Genoese to unite against the
common enemy, to give aid to the knights in their defence of Rhodes,
and to prevent any attacks upon the empire from the West. So far all
looked promising. Unfortunately, however, at this time the Latin Church
itself was divided. Rival popes, one in Italy, the other at Avignon,
had denounced each other as pretenders. A Council of the Church opened
at Bâle in March 1431 was by a papal Bull ordered to be transferred
to Bologna after the expiry of eight months. The principal reason
assigned for the transfer was the greater convenience of John and the
imperial party. Eugenius had taken this step without consultation
with the cardinals, and the change of place was at once strenuously
opposed. A majority of the Council refused to obey and replied that
as the Bohemians, the followers of John Huss, had been formally cited
to appear at Bâle, the place of meeting could not be changed. As to
the convenience of the representatives of the Greek Church, ‘the peace
of Germany is not to be sacrificed for the old song which has rung
in the ears of Europe for three centuries and ended in nothing, the
reconciliation of the Greek and Latin Churches.’[105]

The Council was supported in its opposition to Eugenius by the Emperor
Sigismund, by the duke of Milan, and by many kings, princes, bishops,
universities, and cities. Only four cardinals remained on his side.
Nevertheless he fearlessly denounced the Council as a Synagogue of
Satan. For a while the more he threatened the more the dignitaries of
the Church flocked to Bâle. Eugenius in vain endeavoured to extort
from the Emperor Sigismund the dissolution of the Council as the price
of his consent to place the imperial crown on his head. Sigismund
would not yield, and Eugenius had to crown him. With the exception
of Venice and Florence, all Western Europe was against Eugenius. An
insurrection in Rome forced him to leave the city, and he escaped in a
mean disguise. He was driven for a while to withdraw his denunciations
and to admit the legality of the Council and of its acts.

A temporary reconciliation was of short duration. The claims of the
rival parties were incapable of reconciliation. The Council was
determined to limit the power of the pope; the pope would endure no

Two years were lost in useless negotiations. John strongly urged that
the Council should consider the question of Union without delay, and
sent a representative to Bâle in October 1433. When the members refused
by a two-thirds vote to remove to Italy the emperor’s representative
suggested that the meeting-place should be Constantinople. The Council
in 1434 declared against this proposal, but offered to pay the expenses
of the Greeks if they would come to Bâle. The latter, possibly from
their ignorance of the geographical situation of the city, refused to
go thither. Other places were suggested and the pope again gave his
approbation for Bologna or some other place in Italy.

Representatives arrived in Constantinople from both the Synod at
Bâle and the pope, who were again in opposition to each other. To
such an extent had these hostilities grown that the Council declared
Eugenius guilty of perjury and schism and incapable of holding any
ecclesiastical office. Eugenius retorted by calling them an assembly of

The deputies from Bâle brought with them to Constantinople a
comminatory decree of the Council against the pope. The emperor and
patriarch had therefore to choose between the Council and Eugenius.
Each had invited them, had offered to bear the expenses and menaced
them in case of refusal. The deputies from Bâle were heard at a public
session of the Synod and threatened that if the Council were not
recognised, the nations of the West would make war upon the empire, and
this notwithstanding the aid of the pope, whose decrees they insisted
were null and void. The ambassadors from Eugenius, who had arrived with
a band of three thousand crossbowmen, offered terms as to transport and
convoy similar to those which the messengers from Bâle had proposed,
and suggested that the proclamation calling the meeting of the Council
might be issued in the emperor’s name. They were also heard in a public
sitting of the Synod in September 1437, a few days after the audience
of the deputies from Bâle. John and the patriarch decided to accept the
proposal of Eugenius.[106]

When the news reached the pope he at once issued a Bull fixing Ferrara
as the meeting-place of the Council. In November 1437, the emperor,
with a large suite, embarked. The imperial party arrived at Venice in
the following February. The Venetians had been excommunicated by the
Council of Bâle as adherents of Eugenius, who was their fellow-citizen,
and, probably with a desire to induce the Greeks to throw in their
lot entirely on the side of the pope, received John and the patriarch
with unwonted honour. The doge and the senate in the ‘Bucentaur,’ with
the galleys belonging to the republic and a crowd of gondolas, went
out to receive them. Lodging was found for their followers on the
Lido. Syropulus, who attended the patriarch and whose history from
the Greek point of view is the most trustworthy narrative of these
proceedings, was amazed at the display on the reception in Venice. ‘You
could as easily number the leaves on the trees or the sands of the sea
as the gondolas and galleys of the Venetians.’ Phrantzes is not less
enthusiastic. He speaks of ‘Venice the marvellous, the most marvellous:
Venice the wise, the most wise; the city predicted in the psalm, “God
has founded her upon the waters.”’[107]

The Greeks were shown the treasures of St. Mark, but Syropulus remarks
that as they gazed upon them arose the thought, ‘These were once our
own. They are the plunder of Hagia Sophia and our holy monasteries.’

Their departure for Ferrara was with a like magnificence. Twelve noble
galleys and an innumerable number of gondolas, whose occupants and
sailors were bright with silks of various colours, attended them. The
imperial eagles were mingled with the gonfalons of St. Mark, and the
city which more than any other lends itself to display has seldom
presented a more brilliant spectacle.

Meantime the pope had threatened excommunication against the fathers
of the Church who should continue to sit at Bâle, and had given them
four months within which to present themselves at Ferrara. Their reply
was a formal deposition of Eugenius.

[Sidenote: First meeting of Council.]

Upon the arrival of the imperial party at Ferrara and after long
negotiations regarding questions of precedence, it was decided that
the first meeting of the Council should be held on March 9, 1438, and
it was so held, the business being merely formal. Four cardinals,
twenty-five bishops, and other nobles had previously received the
patriarch and conducted him to the pope, who rose from his throne,
embraced him, and led him to a seat near him similar to those occupied
by the cardinals. No decision could be taken during the four months’
delay. As the recalcitrants did not come in at the appointed time, a
further postponement of two months was granted, probably for the reason
that the pope knew that the princes of the West were still disposed
rather to sympathise with the Council than with him. All this delay
was in the highest degree irksome to the Greeks. Many of them had
left their homes without much hope of arriving at a reconciliation,
but when on reaching Ferrara they realised the discord which existed
in the Roman Church itself not a few concluded that before anything
could be done to complete the Union a reconciliation must take place
among the Catholic factions themselves. During their long wait the
restrictions imposed upon their movements aroused their suspicions.
They complained that they were treated as prisoners. They could not
leave the city without a permit. Three of the leading men who escaped
to Venice were ignominiously brought back. They again escaped and this
time found their way back to Constantinople. Nor was the treatment
of the ecclesiastics such as might have been expected from hosts to
guests. The bishop of Ferrara refused to allow the Greeks to celebrate
in one of his great churches, declaring that he would not permit it to
be polluted. The emperor and patriarch, for political reasons among
others, were impatient to return, and did their utmost to urge on the
work for which they had left their homes.

[Sidenote: Business of Council commences.]

In October the second meeting of the Council was held. By this time a
considerable number of the fathers of the Church had made submission
to Eugenius and had arrived in Ferrara. Gibbon’s remark that ‘the
violence of the fathers of Basil rather promoted than injured the cause
of Eugenius’[108] is just. The delay had undoubtedly strengthened
the papal authority. Hence at the second meeting of the Council its
business began at once to progress. Six Latin and six Greek theologians
were selected to formulate the questions in difference. These related
to the Procession of the Holy Ghost; the nature of the penalties of
purgatory; the condition of souls before the last judgment; the use of
unleavened bread in communion, and lastly, the supremacy of the pope.

Meantime plague had broken out in Ferrara. Five only out of the eleven
cardinals remained, and all that had been done was to formulate the
points of difference. For some reason which is not quite clear, the
Council was transferred to Florence. The unhealthiness of the city was
alleged, but Syropulus says that the plague had ended. The Greeks were
extremely reluctant to go to so remote a place as Florence, but they
finally consented, in the hope of speedily concluding their mission.

At Florence the Council got fairly to work. Cardinal Julian Cesarini,
who had been president of the Council at Bâle, and John, the head of
the Dominicans in Italy, were the champions on the Latin, and Isidore
of Russia, Bessarion, and Mark, bishop of Ephesus, on the Greek side.
Long, weary, and profitless discussions took place on the subject of
the Double Procession. Two questions were involved: first, was the
doctrine itself orthodox--that is, did the Holy Ghost proceed from
the Father alone or from the Father and the Son; second, assuming the
Double Procession to be orthodox, by what authority had the Latin
Church, claiming to speak as the Universal Church, presumed to add to
the Nicene Creed the words _Filioque_, which proclaimed the disputed
dogma, before the decision of a General Council had been pronounced.
After many meetings among the Greeks alone, it was decided that as the
Latin Church held that the Procession was not from two ‘principles’ but
from one, and this by one operation, its teaching was in accord with
that of the Orthodox Church, which acknowledged that the Procession is
from the Father but through the Son. The scholars who brought about
this agreement were Bessarion and George Scholarius, the latter of whom
was destined afterwards to play an important part during the siege of
Constantinople. The declaration of the Greeks was approved at a meeting
of the Council.

Greater difficulty arose on the second point, of the conduct of the
Latin Church in adding the clause to the Creed. The emperor was at
length convinced, or professed to be, that the clause had formerly
existed in the Creed at the time of the Seventh Council,[109] but it
required all his influence to persuade some of the Greek ecclesiastics
who were not convinced of this fact to avoid an open rupture. The
debates were obstinate and angry. But emperor and pope were determined
on Union, and each used all his influence and authority to convince or
compel the more refractory to obedience. Finally, it was decided that
the words _Filioque_ had been lawfully and with good reason inserted in
the Creed.

The question of purgatory and the condition of souls in the
intermediate state occasioned little or no difficulty. On the use of
unleavened bread, however, the controversy became so violent that
on five different occasions the Greek bishops were with difficulty
prevented from leaving the Council. It was at length decided that each
Church might maintain its usage in regard thereto.

The most dangerous question, after that of the Double Procession,
regarded the pope’s supremacy, and was apparently not made the subject
of a public discussion.

[Sidenote: Union accomplished, July 14, 1439.]

In July 1439, after twenty-six sittings of the Council, the Union was
signed and all was ready for its formal proclamation. Earth and heaven
were called upon to rejoice that the dividing wall between the Churches
of the West and East had been broken down. In August, the Act of Union
was published with imposing solemnity in the cathedral and a _Te Deum_
was sung in Greek.

The embassy from Constantinople had been greatly impressed by the
dissensions among the Latins. No French or German bishops had taken
part in the meetings at Ferrara or Florence. Fifty out of the sixty-two
bishops who were present were Italians, the remainder Spaniards or
Burgundians. When the latter were admitted to the Council they saluted
only the pope, doing this with the manifest intention of slighting the
emperor. The adherents of Bâle were, indeed, openly hostile, and as
they were known to have great influence among the princes of the West,
the Greeks lost the illusion that if they came to an agreement with the
pope, aid would gladly be sent from the great Catholic states.

It had been with difficulty that the emperor and the court party in
Constantinople had persuaded the Churchmen to go to the West. While the
former were willing to make many sacrifices, even perhaps to accept
the pope’s supremacy, in the hope of obtaining aid against the Turks,
when they recognised that the influence of Eugenius was not what they
had believed it to be, they were less urgent, and certainly less able,
to coerce the distinguished ecclesiastics who had been persuaded
to accompany them. All were, indeed, miserably disappointed and
disillusionised. Though the emperor never wavered in his determination
to come to an agreement which would aid in the preservation of his
empire, his own brother, Demetrius, refused to sign the Act of Union.
Mark of Ephesus would not attend at the solemn proclamation, nor were
George Scholarius or Gemistes or any of the bishops from Georgia
present. The bishop of Heraclia, on his return to Venice, was required
to recite the Creed in St. Mark’s, but he did so with the omission
of the _Filioque_ clause. The same bishop declared on his return to
Constantinople, that he would rather his right hand had been cut off
than that it should have subscribed the Union. In order to avoid the
scandal of an open rupture, the four copies of the decree did not
mention the supremacy of the pope. Other copies signed only by the
Latin bishops were not recognised as authentic by the Greeks.[110]

The patriarch, a man of eighty, died just before the decree of the
Union was signed, and was buried in the Baptistery of Florence.
Religious animosity dogmatised over his grave about his opinions. Some
of the Greeks subsequently pretended that his death was one of the
several causes which rendered the Council illegal. Some of the Latins
maintained that he had left a declaration of his acceptance of the
Roman doctrine, and even of the supremacy of the pope.

[Sidenote: John returns to Constantinople, August 1439.]

The two persons who had shown themselves sincerely desirous of
accomplishing a Union were the pope and the emperor. The former, who
had paid the expenses of the Greek mission, now urged foreign states to
prepare and send forth armies in aid of the Greeks. On the departure of
John, in August 1439, for his capital, the pontiff not merely promised
all the aid he could furnish, but undertook to maintain, at his own
expense as long as he lived, three hundred men in the imperial service.
He at once sent two well-armed galleys, and declared that he would
furnish twenty ships of war during a period of six months. Eugenius and
John had loyally stood by each other, and so far as depended upon them
the Union had been accomplished.

With the object of giving effect to the decisions arrived at, the pope
retained Bessarion and Isidore, both of whom he made cardinals. The
latter, we shall see, was present at Constantinople during the final
siege. He was metropolitan of Russia, and on his return to Moscow
proclaimed the Union. He gave dire offence by naming the emperor
before the grand duke, and the pope before the patriarch.

In 1442, the pope once again summoned certain princes, and especially
Ladislaus, king of Poland and Hungary, to aid Constantinople, Cyprus,
and Rhodes against the Turks. He, however, was at war in Italy, and
consequently unable to furnish the aid which he had promised. Ladislaus
was permitted to retain the Peter’s pence on condition that he would
employ it in raising troops against the infidels. The pope persuaded
Alphonse of Aragon to furnish armed galleys, and granted indulgences
to all who sided in the struggle against unbelievers. But all attempts
to arouse a general crusading spirit failed. With a few exceptions,
those who went to fight the battles of Christendom against Murad
belonged to nations whose vital interests were at stake. Many causes
contributed to this result, and among them the awakening to new life
in Italy. The Renaissance which was now in progress substituted the
classic spirit for the Hebraic. Paganism itself, among scholars and
statesmen, was in competition with Christianity, and the great movement
which was destined to give birth to modern Europe and which was greatly
assisted, as we shall see, by the Greek scholars from Constantinople,
was antagonistic to the crusading spirit. A common Christianity was no
longer a bond of union to those who were dreaming of a classic revival
and of a return to pagan ideals. Except to men who were outside the
influence of the new movement, the pope and churchmen appealed in vain.

News of the accomplishment of the Union was received in Constantinople
with mingled feelings. Hopes had been damped. The advantages to be
gained by sacrificing their Orthodox Faith were found to be doubtful.
The conservative party, led by Mark of Ephesus, gained greatly in
strength. Finding that the emperor had consented to the appointment of
a new patriarch who accepted the Union, Mark resumed his denunciations
both of it and of the Latin Church. The patriarchs of Syria and Egypt
refused to recognise the decisions of Florence and threatened with
excommunication the priests ordained by the patriarch of Constantinople.

[Sidenote: Death of John, October 1448.]

John lived nearly eight years after his return to Constantinople from
Florence and died in October 1448. The events which happened during
this interval relate principally to the marvellous success of the Turks
over the armies of Central Europe, and will be better told in the
story of their progress. It is sufficient to say that these disasters
hastened his death.

During his reign the condition of the empire had undergone little
change. Though when first associated with his father he had headed the
war party, he recognised after the siege of the city in 1422 that his
father’s dying counsel to keep on friendly terms with the Turks was
wise. This policy, as we have seen, did not prevent him from doing all
he could to obtain aid from the Western powers. He had paid the price
which Rome exacted and never lost hope that such aid would come. At the
same time he was ready to join with the Hungarians and other Christian
nations, even at considerable risk of precipitating an attack upon
the city. His power, however, was too small to make any co-operation
outside the capital and the Straits of much value. He did what he
could. He repaired and strengthened the city walls.[111] He kept the
fleet in at least as good a condition as he had found it. He was
probably justified in believing that his wisest course was to obtain
all the aid possible from the West, to be ready to co-operate, and in
the meantime to keep quiet. His pliant policy delayed the siege of the
city and thus for a while averted the final calamity.



It is convenient to halt here and to retrace the steps of the Ottoman
conquerors from the accession of Manuel, in 1391, with more care than
was necessary in describing their direct attacks upon the empire. The
number of Turks in Asia Minor and in Europe had now so much increased
that their leaders began to dream, perhaps were already planning, the
conquest of as wide a territory as had fallen before the immediate
successors of the prophet. They had already almost succeeded in
completing a ring of conquered states round Constantinople itself. The
defeat of the Bulgarians and South Serbians on the Maritza, the great
victory over the Serbians at Cossovo-pol, in 1389, enabled them to
join forces with the Turks in the Morea and at isolated places on the
eastern shore of the Adriatic. Nearly all Asia Minor acknowledged the
rule of the Ottomans, and it was to the European portion of the empire
that the attention of the Turk would now be turned.[112]

An observer looking back upon all that was going on in Eastern Europe
during the first half of the fifteenth century can now see that all
the great events were part of a gigantic struggle against the hordes
of Asia, represented by the Turks on the south of the Danube and in
Asia Minor and the races whom it is convenient to call Tartars to the
north of that river. The humiliation of the emperors to obtain aid from
the West, the proceedings at Florence, the repeated calls upon Hungary
and other Christian nations, were all incidents of that struggle. The
statesmen of the West were gradually learning that the Ottomans had
developed into a nation of fighters, and that it was not merely the
remnant of the Greek empire which was threatened, but Christendom

[Sidenote: Reign of Sultan Bajazed, 1389–1403.]

Upon the assassination of Murad at Cossovo-pol, his son Bajazed
became sultan. He had already acquired, or acquired shortly after his
accession, the nickname of _Ilderim_ or the Thunderbolt.

He commenced his reign by strangling his elder brother, Jacoub. Ducas
declares that he was an irreconcilable enemy of the Christian name and
a passionate follower of Mahomet. During the reign of his predecessor,
the struggle between the empire and the Turks had taken a theological
character, and it is beyond reasonable doubt that religious animosity
of a kind which had not shown itself among the first armies of the
Turks had now diffused its baneful influence among the Ottoman armies.
Under Bajazed, this fanaticism was intensified to such an extent that
it led to cruelties of which it may be said that it is hardly possible
to believe that even Mongol barbarity was ever greater than that
exercised by the followers of the successor of Murad against Christians.

The commencement of his reign was marked by a series of rapid movements
which were crowned with success. He stands out in Turkish history as
the maker of swift marches and as the striker of sudden and effective
blows. It was on this account that he received the name of ‘Ilderim.’
He forced Stephen of Serbia, the son of Lazarus (whom he had caused
to be hewn in pieces upon the assassination of Murad), to become his
vassal and to give him his sister in marriage. Bulgaria, Wallachia,
Albania, and Macedonia with Salonica as its capital acknowledged his
rule. His fleet plundered the islands of the Archipelago and burnt the
town of Chios.[113]

[Sidenote: Reign of Manuel.]

The last message the emperor John had received before his death, in
1391, from Murad was that unless he destroyed the work he had executed
in repairing the towers of the Golden Gate, he would put out the eyes
of his son Manuel, who was then at Brousa. Happily, his threat came
to naught. On learning of the death of his father, Manuel, as we have
seen, escaped to the capital. Thereupon Bajazed, upon the rejection of
his impossible demands, commenced a series of attacks upon the empire.

[Sidenote: End of Bulgarian kingdom.]

Bajazed carried war into every part of the Balkan peninsula. Durazzo
was threatened by a Turkish army, and the Venetian senate was
compelled to send aid to the relief of its signor. His armies employed
themselves in Thrace in raiding cattle and in capturing the Christian
inhabitants, thousands of whom were either killed or sold into slavery.
Tirnovo was taken, and Shishman, the king of Bulgaria, made prisoner in
1393. With his death, in the same year, the kingdom of Bulgaria came
to an end. Ali Pasha, the grand vizier of Bajazed, blockaded Manuel in
Constantinople, and urged the citizens to dethrone him and declare for
John, the son of Andronicus, the elder son of the late emperor John.
But after the Turks had continued near the capital for upwards of a
year, Manuel attacked and defeated both them and his nephew John.

The greater part of the Morea was still under the rule of the empire.
Bajazed organised a great expedition of fifty thousand men for its
conquest. He captured Argos, plundered the country nearly as far as
Coronea and Methone, in the Morea, and exterminated or brought away
thirty thousand captives.

[Sidenote: Battle of Nicopolis 1396.]

In consequence of the success of these various expeditions, the
pope and the other princes of the West became thoroughly alive to
the necessity of putting forward all their strength to check the
Thunderbolt’s progress. Their hopes centred in the leadership of
Sigismund, king of Hungary and brother of the emperor in the West. The
Venetian senate decided to treat with him for an alliance. The pope
and the chief of the Holy Roman Empire did their best to engage the
Christian powers to place themselves under his leadership. In 1393,
Sigismund had beaten the Turks at Little Nicopolis, and hope rose high
of greater successes. In the spring of 1396, the duke of Burgundy, at
the head of a thousand knights and nine thousand soldiers--French,
English, and Italians--arrived in Hungary and joined his forces.
German knights also came in considerable numbers. The Christian
armies defeated the Turks in Hungary, and gained victory in several
engagements. The emperor Manuel was secretly preparing to join them.
Then the allies prepared to strike a decisive blow. They gathered on
the banks of the Danube an army of at least fifty-two thousand--and
possibly a hundred thousand--men, and encamped at Nicopolis. The
_élite_ of several nations were present, but those of the highest rank
were the French knights. When they heard of the approach of the enemy,
they refused to listen to the prudent counsels of the Hungarians and,
with the contempt which so often characterised the Western knights for
the Turkish foe, they joined battle confident of success.

Bajazed, as soon as he had learned the presence of the combined
Christian armies, marched through Philippopolis, crossed the Balkans,
made for the Danube, and then waited for attack. In the battle which
ensued (1396), Europe received its first lesson on the prowess of the
Turks, and especially of the Janissaries. The Christian army, with
rash daring, broke through the line of its enemies, cut down all who
resisted them, and rushed on irresistible to the very rearguard of the
Turks, many of whom either retreated or sought refuge in flight. When
the French knights saw that the Turks ran, they followed, and filled
the battlefield with dead and dying. But they made the old military
blunder, and it led to the same old result. The archers, who always
constituted the most effective Turkish arm, employed the stratagem of
running away in order to throw their pursuers into disorder. Then they
turned and made a stand. As they did so, the Janissaries, ‘Christians
of origin, from many Christian nations,’ as Ducas bewails, came out
of the place where they had been concealed, surprised and cut to
pieces Frenchmen, Italians, and Hungarians. The pursuers were soon the
pursued. The Turks chased them to the Danube, into which many of the
fugitives threw themselves. The defeat was complete. Sigismund saved
himself in a small boat, with which he crossed the river, and found his
way, after long wandering, to Constantinople. The duke of Burgundy and
twenty-four noblemen who were captured were sent to Brousa to be held
for ransom. The remaining Burgundians, to the number of three hundred,
who escaped massacre, and refused to save their lives by abjuring
Christianity, had their throats cut by order of the sultan.[114]

The battle at Nicopolis gave back to Bajazed almost at once all that
the allies had been able to take from him. The defeat of Sigismund,
with his band of French, German, and Italian knights, sent dismay to
their countrymen and the princes of the West.

In the same year, Bajazed gained successes over the Moslem prince
of Caramania and a Turkish pretender at Sinope, rebels who had been
induced to rise in the hope that they might take advantage of the
attack of Sigismund and his allies.

The sultan’s great object, however, was to complete his triumphs by
the capture of Constantinople. His grand vizier had, in 1396, while
blockading the city, urged the inhabitants to declare for the young
Prince John, who was the Turkish _protégé_. On refusal, Bajazed sat
down to besiege the city, and only abandoned the idea of an assault
when it was pointed out that to do so would make enemies of all the
Christian powers.

In 1396, apparently immediately after the battle of Nicopolis, and as
an essential step towards the capture of the city, he built on the
Bosporus the castle still remaining at Anatolia-Hissar, about six
miles from the city. It served at once, and continued to serve until
1453, as a useful base of operations. After having completed it, says
Chalcondylas, he went to besiege Byzance, and summoned Manuel to
surrender the city.[115] The emperor, who had just welcomed six hundred
French knights, sent by Charles the Sixth of France, did not deign to
reply. Two years later, in 1398, in order to avoid an attack by the
Turks, who were drawing near the capital with an army numbering ten
thousand, nominally to support John, Manuel consented, as we have seen,
to share the throne with his nephew, and thereupon went to Western
Europe to endeavour to secure help.

The aid sent to Sigismund from the West and that now sent to the
Bosporus under Boucicaut show that many statesmen had awakened to the
need of checking Turkish progress. The empire was able for a while to
hold its own against the attacks made by the sultan.

Bajazed, whose life was alternately one of great activity in warfare
and of indescribable debauchery in the intervals between his campaigns,
had kept the capital under terror of sieges during six weary years. In
1402, he summoned John to surrender the city, and swore by God and the
Prophet that if he refused he would not leave in it a soul alive. John
gave a refusal. Chateaumorand, the lieutenant of Boucicaut, who, as we
have seen, had gone west to endeavour to obtain aid, took charge of the
defence, and waited for an attack.

At this time, remarks Ducas, the empire was circumscribed by the
walls of Constantinople, for even Silivria was in the hands of the
Turks.[116] Bajazed had gained a firm hold of Gallipoli and thus
commanded the Dardanelles. The long tradition of the Roman empire
in the East, save for the capture of the city itself, seemed on the
eve of coming to an end. No soldier of conspicuous ability had been
produced by the empire for upwards of half a century: none who was
capable of inflicting a sufficient defeat, or series of defeats, on the
Turks to break or seriously check their power. The empire had fought
on for three generations against an ever increasing number of Turks,
but without confidence and almost without hope. It was now lacking in
sufficiency of men and money. The often promised aid from the West
had so far proved of little avail. The armies defeated by the empire,
either alone or aided by Italians, were renewed by the constant stream
of immigrants from Asia. The power of Serbia had been almost destroyed.
Bulgaria had perished. The two states had been alternately at the
mercy of hordes of infidels from the north or those under the Turkish
sultan. From Dalmatia to the Morea the enemy was triumphant. The men of
Macedonia had everywhere fallen before Bajazed’s armies. Constantinople
was between the hammer and anvil: Asia Minor, on the one side, was
nearly all under Turkish rule; the European part of the empire, on the
other, contained as many Turks as there were in Asia Minor itself.
The insolent tyrant passed in safety between his two capitals--one at
Brousa, the other at Adrianople--and repeated his proud boasts of what
he would do beyond the limits of the empire. It seemed as if, with
his overwhelming force, he had only to succeed once more in a task
which, in comparison with what he and his predecessors had done, was
easy, and his success would be complete. He would occupy the throne of
Constantine, would achieve that which had been the desire of the Arab
followers of Mahomet, and for which they had sacrificed hundreds of
thousands of lives, and would win for himself and his followers the
reward of heaven promised to those who should take part in the capture
of New Rome. The road to the Elder Rome would be open, and he would yet
feed his horse on the altar of St. Peter.

We have seen what was the insolent message he sent in his arrogance, in
1402, to John. The answer given would have completed a dramatic story
if it had seemed well to the gods. ‘Tell your master we are weak, but
that in our weakness we trust in God, who can give us strength and can
put down the mightiest from their seats. Let your master do what he
likes.’ Thereupon Bajazed had laid siege to Constantinople.

Suddenly, in the blackness of darkness with which the fortunes of
the city were surrounded, there came a ray of light. Had there been
an interpreter there as of old time, Bajazed might have learned the
significance of the handwriting on the wall. All thought of the siege
was abandoned for the time, and Constantinople breathed again freely.

What had happened was that Timour the Lame had challenged, or rather
ordered, Bajazed to return to the Greeks all the cities and territories
he had captured. The order was categorical and, given to a ferocious
barbarian like Bajazed, drove him to fury. The man who gave it was,
however, accustomed to be obeyed.

Timour[117] or Tamarlane was a Mahometan and a Turk, though he claimed
to be of the same race as Genghis, who was a Mongol. Under him the
warrior shepherds of the south plains of Asia came westward in even
greater numbers than they had done under his famous predecessor. They
advanced in well-organised armies, under generals who seem to have
had intelligence everywhere of the enemy’s country and great military
skill. After having annexed Kharizon and Persia to Transoxiana and
reduced Turkestan to obedience, Timour turned westward. In 1386, he
appeared at Tiflis, which he subsequently captured at the head of an
enormous host estimated at eight hundred thousand men. At Erzingan he
put all the Turks sent there by the sultan to the sword.

Bajazed seems from the first to have been alarmed and went himself to
Erzingan in 1394, but returned to Europe without making any attempt to
resist the invader, probably believing that Timour had no intention
of coming further west.[118] He soon learned his mistake. Timour was
not merely as great and cruel a barbarian but as ambitious as Bajazed
himself. In 1395, while the emperor was in the Balkan peninsula,
Timour summoned the large and populous city of Sivas to surrender. The
inhabitants twice refused. Meantime, he had undermined the wall. On
their second refusal, his host stormed and captured the city. A hundred
and twenty thousand captives were massacred. Bajazed’s son was made
prisoner and put to death. A large number of the prisoners were buried
alive, being covered over in a pit with planks instead of earth so as
to prolong their torture. Bajazed was relieved when he learned that
from Sivas, which had been the strongest place in his empire, the ever
victorious army had gone towards Syria.

Timour directed his huge host towards the frontier city of the sultan
of Egypt--namely, Aleppo--his object being to punish the sultan for
his breach of faith in imprisoning his ambassador and loading him with
irons. On his march to that city, he spread desolation everywhere,
capturing or receiving the submission of Malatia, Aintab, and other
important towns. At Aleppo, the army of the Egyptian sultan resisted. A
terrible battle followed, but the Egyptians were beaten, and every man,
woman, and child in the city was murdered.

After the capture of Aleppo, Hama and Baalbek were occupied. The
latter, which, like so many other once famous cities, has become under
Turkish rule a desolation with only a few miserable huts amid its
superb ruins, was still a populous city, and contained large stores of
provisions. Thence he went to Damascus and in January 1401 defeated the
remainder of the Egyptian army in a battle which was hardly less bloody
than that before Aleppo. The garrison, composed mostly of Circassian
mamelukes and negroes, capitulated, but the chief was put to death for
having been so slow in surrendering. Possibly by accident, the whole
city was burned.

Timour was stopped from advancing to Jerusalem by a plague of locusts,
which ate up every green thing. The same cause rendered it impossible
to attack Egypt, whose sultan had refused to surrender Syria.[119]

From Damascus, Timour went to Bagdad, which was held by contemporaries
to be impregnable. Amid the heat of a July day, when the defenders had
everywhere sought shade, Timour ordered a general assault, and in a few
minutes the standard of one of his sheiks, with its horsetail and its
golden crescent, was raised upon the walls.[120] Then followed the
usual carnage attending Timour’s captures. The mosques, schools, and
convents with their occupiers were spared: so also were the _imaums_
and the professors. All the remainder of the population between the
ages of eight and eighty were slaughtered. Every soldier of Timour, of
whom there were ninety thousand, as the price of his own safety, had to
produce a head. The bloody trophies were, as was customary in Timour’s
army, piled up in pyramids before the gates of the city.

It was on his return northwards from Damascus that, in 1402, Timour
sent the message to Bajazed which at once forced him to raise the
siege of Constantinople. Contemporaneously with this message, Timour
requested the Genoese in Galata and at Genoa to obtain aid from the
West and to co-operate with him to crush the Turkish sultan.

[Sidenote: Bajazed’s reply to Timour’s summons.]

Timour organised or sent a large army on the Don and around the Sea of
Azof on the Cimmerian Bosporus, connecting that sea with the Euxine,
in order that, in case of need, it might act with his huge host now
advancing towards the Black Sea from the south. His main body passed
across the plain of Erzingan, and at Sivas Timour received the answer
of Bajazed. The response was as insulting as a Turkish barbarian could
make it. Bajazed summoned Timour to appear before him and declared
that if he did not obey, the women of his harem should be divorced
from him, putting his threat in what to a Mahometan was a specially
indecent manner. All the usual civilities in written communications
between sovereigns were omitted, though the Asiatic conqueror himself
had carefully observed them. Timour’s remark when he saw the sultan’s
letter contained the name of Timour in black writing under that of
Bajazed which was in gold, was ‘The son of Murad is mad!’ When he read
the insulting threat as to his harem, Timour kept himself well in hand,
but, turning to the ambassador who had brought the letter, told him
that he would have cut off his head and those of the members of his
suite if it were not the rule among sovereigns to respect the lives of
ambassadors. The representative of Bajazed was, however, compelled to
be present at a review of the whole of his troops and was requested to
return to his master and relate what he had seen.

Meantime, Bajazed had determined to strike quickly and heavily against
Timour and by the rapidity of his movements justified the name of
Ilderim. His opponent’s forces, however, were hardly less mobile.
Timour’s huge army marched in twelve days from Sivas to Angora. The
officer in command of that city refused to surrender. Timour made
his arrangements for the siege in such a manner as to compel or
induce Bajazed to occupy a position where he would have to fight at a
disadvantage. He undermined the walls and diverted the small stream
which supplied it with water. Hardly had these works been commenced
before he learned that Ilderim was within nine miles of the city.
Timour raised the siege and transferred his camp to the opposite side
of the stream, which thus protected one side of his army while a ditch
and a strong palisade guarded the other. Then in an exceptionally
strong position he waited to be attacked.

Disaffection existed in Bajazed’s army, occasioned by his parsimony,
and possibly nursed by emissaries from Timour. Bajazed’s own
licentiousness had been copied by his followers, and discipline among
his troops was noted as far less strict than among those of his
predecessor. In leading them on what all understood to be the most
serious enterprise which he had undertaken, his generals advised him to
spend his reserves of money freely so as to satisfy his followers; but
the capricious and self-willed Ilderim refused. They counselled him,
in presence of an army many times more numerous than his own, to act
on the defensive and to avoid a general attack. But Bajazed, blinded
by his long series of successes, would listen to no advice and would
take no precautions. In order to show his contempt for his enemy, he
ostentatiously took up a position to the north of Timour and organised
a hunting party on the highlands in the neighbourhood, as if time to
him were of no consequence. Many men of his army died from thirst under
the burning sun of the waterless plains, and when, after three days’
hunting, Bajazed returned to his camping ground, he found that Timour
had taken possession of it. The enemy had almost altogether cut off his
supply of drinking water and had fouled what still remained.

Under these circumstances, Bajazed had no choice but to force on a
fight without further delay. The ensuing battle was between two great
Turkish leaders filled with the arrogance of barbaric conquerors,
each of whom had been almost uniformly successful. Nor were pomp and
circumstance wanting to impress the soldiers of each side with the
importance of the issue. Each of the two leaders was accompanied by
his sons. Four sons and five grandsons commanded the nine divisions
of Timour’s host. In front of its leader floated the standard of the
Red Horse-tail surmounted by the Golden Crescent. On the other side,
Bajazed took up his position in the centre of his army with his sons
Isa, Mousa, and Mustafa, while his eldest son Suliman was in command of
the Asiatic troops who formed the right wing. Lazarus of Serbia was in
command of his own subjects, who had been forced to accompany Bajazed
and formed the left wing of the army. The Serbians gazed in wonder and
alarm upon a number of elephants opposite to them, which Timour had
brought from India.

At six o’clock in the morning of July 28, 1402, the two armies joined
battle. The left wing of Bajazed’s host was the first to be attacked,
but the Serbians held their ground and even drove back the Tartars. The
right wing fought with less vigour, and when the troops from Aidin saw
their former prince among the enemy, they deserted Bajazed and went
over to him. Their example was speedily followed by many others, and
especially by the Tartars in the Ottoman army, who are asserted by the
Turkish writers to have been tampered with by agents of Timour.[121]

[Sidenote: Defeat of Bajazed.]

The Serbians were soon detached from the centre of the army, but
Lazarus, their leader, at the head of his cavalry, cut his way through
the enemy, though at great loss, winning the approval of Timour
himself, who exclaimed, ‘These poor fellows are beaten, though they
are fighting like lions.’ Lazarus had advised Bajazed to endeavour,
like himself, to break through, and awaited him for some time. But
the sultan expressed his scorn at the advice. Surrounded by his
ten thousand trustworthy Janissaries, separated from the Serbians,
abandoned by a large part of his Anatolian troops and many of his
leading generals, he fought on obstinately during the whole of the
day. But the pitiless heat of a July sun exhausted the strength of his
soldiers, and no water was to be had. His Janissaries fell in great
numbers around him, some overcome by the heat and fighting, others
struck down by the ever pressing crowd of the enemy. It was not till
night came on that Bajazed consented to withdraw. He attempted flight,
but was pursued. His horse fell, and he was made prisoner, together
with his son Mousa and several of the chiefs of his household and of
the Janissaries. His other three sons managed to escape. The Serbians
covered the retreat of the eldest, Suliman, whom the grand vizier and
the Aga of the Janissaries had dragged out of the fight.

The Persian, Turkish, and most of the Greek historians say that Timour
received his great captive with every mark of respect, assured him
that his life would be spared, and assigned to him and his suite three
splendid tents. When, however, he was found attempting to escape, he
was more rigorously guarded and every night put in chains and confined
in a room with grilled windows. When he was conveyed from one place to
another, he travelled much as Indian ladies now do, in a palanquin with
curtained windows. Out of a misinterpretation of the Turkish word which
designated at once a cage and a grilled room, grew the error into which
Gibbon and historians of less repute have fallen that the great Ilderim
was carried about in an iron cage.[122] Until his death, in 1403, he
was an unwilling follower of his captor.

After the battle of Angora, Suliman (the eldest son of Bajazed), who
had fled towards Brousa, was pursued by a detachment of Timour’s
army. He managed to cross into Europe and thus escaped. But Brousa,
the Turkish capital, fell before Timour’s attack, and its inhabitants
suffered the same brutal horrors as almost invariably marked either
Tartar or Turkish captures. The city, after a carefully organised
pillage, was burned. The wives and the daughters of Bajazed and his
treasure became the property of Timour. Nicaea and Ghemlik were also
sacked and their inhabitants taken as slaves. From the Marmora to
Caramania, many towns which had been captured by the Turks were taken
from them. Asia Minor was in confusion. Bajazed’s empire appeared to
be dropping away in every part east of the Aegean. Suliman, however,
established himself on the Bosporus at Anatolia-Hissar, and about the
same time both he and the emperor at Constantinople received a summons
from Timour to pay tribute. The emperor had already sent messengers
to anticipate such a demand. Timour learned with satisfaction that the
sons of Bajazed were disputing with each other as to the possession of
such parts of their father’s empire as still remained uncaptured by him.

[Sidenote: Timour captures Smyrna.]

In 1402, the conqueror left Kutahia for Smyrna, which was held, as
it had been for upwards of half a century, by the Knights of Rhodes.
In accordance with the stipulation of Moslem sacred law, he summoned
them either to pay tribute or become Mahometans, threatening them at
the same time that if they refused to accept one or other of these
conditions all should be killed. No sooner were the proposals rejected
than Timour gave the order to attack the city. With his enormous
army, he was able to surround Smyrna on three sides, and to block the
entrance to it from the sea. The ships belonging to the knights were
at the time absent. All kinds of machines then known for attack upon
walled towns were constructed with almost incredible speed and placed
in position. The houses within the city were burned by means of arrows
carrying flaming materials steeped in naphtha or possibly petroleum,
though, of course, not known under its modern name.

After fourteen days’ vigorous siege, a general assault was ordered, and
the city was taken. The knights fought like heroes, but were driven
back into the citadel. Seeing that they could no longer hold out, and
their ships having returned, the grand master placed himself at their
head, and he and his knights cut their way shoulder to shoulder through
the crowd of their enemies to the sea, where they were received into
their own ships. The inhabitants who could not escape were taken before
Timour and, without distinction of age or sex, were butchered.

The Western settlers hastened to come to terms with Timour, who, like
his great predecessor, was not opposed to any Christians on account of
their religion. The Genoese in Phocaea, in the islands of Mitylene and
Scios, sent to make submission, and became tributaries of the conqueror.

Smyrna was the last of Timour’s conquests in western Asia Minor. He
went to Ephesus, and during the thirty days he passed in that city his
army ravaged the whole of the fertile country in its neighbourhood and
in the valley of the Cayster. The cruelties committed by his horde
would be incredible if they were not continually repeated during the
course of Tartar and Turkish history. In fairness, it must also be said
that the Ottoman Turks, although their history has been a long series
of massacres, have rarely been guilty of the wantonness of cruelty
which Greek and Turkish authors agree in attributing to the Tartar
army. One example must suffice. The children of a town on which Timour
was marching were sent out by their parents reciting verses from the
Koran to ask for the generosity of their conqueror but co-religionist.
On asking what the children were whining for, and being told that they
were begging him to spare the town, he ordered his cavalry to ride
through them and trample them out: an order that was forthwith obeyed.

[Sidenote: Death of Timour.]

Timour, wearied with victories in the west, now determined to leave
Asia Minor and return to Samarcand. This resolution he carried out.
He contemplated the invasion of China, but in the midst of his
preparations died, in 1405, after a reign of thirty-six years.

Bajazed the Thunderbolt died at Aksheir two years earlier, and his son
Mousa was permitted to transport his body to Brousa.[123]

The battle of Angora gave the greatest check to the Ottoman power
which it had yet received. Considering the number of men engaged and
the complete victory obtained by Timour, one might have expected it
to have been fruitful in more enduring consequences than it produced.
But its immediate results, though not far-reaching, were important.
The fourteen years’ victorious career of the Thunderbolt was brought
suddenly to an end. The empire of the Ottoman Turks which he had
largely increased, and especially by the addition to it of the
north-west portion of Asia Minor, was for a time shattered to pieces.
The sons of the vanquished sultan, after the departure of Timour and
his host, were quarrelling over the possession of what remained. Three
of them gained territories in Asia Minor, while the eldest, Suliman,
retook possession of the lands held by his father in Europe. Most of
the leaders of the Ottoman host, the viziers, governors, and scheiks,
had been either captured or slain, and in consequence the sons of
Bajazed fighting in Asia Minor found themselves destitute of efficient
servants for the organisation of government in the territories which
they seized on the departure of Timour.

The progress of the great Asiatic horde created a profound impression
in Western Europe. The eagerness of the Genoese to acknowledge the
suzerainty of Timour gives an indication of their sense of the danger
of resistance. The stories of the terrible cruelties of the Tartars
lost nothing in their telling. When the news reached the neighbouring
nations of Hungary and Serbia and the republics of Italy of the defeat
of Bajazed, the capture of Brousa, of Smyrna, of every other town
before which the Asiatic army had sat down, and of the powerlessness
of the military knights, it appeared as if the West were about to be
submerged by a new flood from Asia. No terror so great had threatened
Europe since the time when Charles Martel defeated the Moslem hordes
on the plains around Tours, or since the even more threatening attack
upon Christendom when the main body of the Arab armies sat down for
successive years before Constantinople and were signally defeated by
the obstinacy of its defenders.

Then, when news came of the sudden departure of the Asiatics and of
the breaking up of the Ottoman power, hope once more revived, and it
appeared possible to the pope and Christian peoples to complete the
work which Timour had begun by now offering a united opposition to the
restoration of an Ottoman empire. Constantinople itself when Bajazed
passed it on his way to Angora was almost the last remnant of the
ancient empire, and seemed as if it required only one more attempt, and
that not needing that the sultan should put forth all his strength, to
secure its capture. The battle of Angora saved it and gave it half a
century more of life.

A struggle which lasted for six years began between the sons of
Bajazed. Suliman, in 1405, sought to ally himself with the emperor,
and his proposals show how low the battle of Angora had brought the
Turkish pretensions. He offered to cede Salonica and all country in the
Balkan peninsula to the south-west of that city as well as the towns
on the Marmora to Manuel and his son John, now associated as emperor,
and to send his brother and sister as hostages to Constantinople. The
arrangement was accepted.

Suliman, having thus made himself secure, attacked his brother Isa in
1405, defeated and killed him.[124] Another brother, Mousa, in the
following year, attacked the combined troops of Suliman and Manuel in
Thrace, but the Serbians and Bulgarians deserted the younger brother,
and thereupon Suliman occupied Adrianople. Manuel consented to give
his granddaughter in marriage to Suliman, who in return gave up not
merely Salonica but many seaports in Asia Minor: a gift which was
rather in the nature of a promise than a delivery, since they were
not in his possession. Unhappily, Suliman, like many of his race,
had alternate fits of great energy and great lethargy, and was given
over to drunkenness and to debauchery. This caused disaffection among
the Turks; and Mousa, taking advantage of it, led an army in 1409,
composed of Turks and Wallachs, against him. The Janissaries, who
were dissatisfied with the lack of energy displayed by their sultan,
deserted and went over to the side of Mousa. Suliman fled with the
intention of escaping to Constantinople, but was captured while
sleeping off a drinking bout and killed.

Then Mousa determined to attack Manuel, who had been faithful to his
alliance with Suliman. He denounced him as the cause of the fall of
Bajazed and set himself to arouse all the religious fanaticism possible
against the Christian population under the emperor’s rule. According to
Ducas, Mousa put forward the statements that it was the emperor who had
invited Timour and his hordes, that his own brother Suliman had been
punished by Allah because he had become a giaour, and that he, Mousa,
had been entrusted with the sword of Mahomet in order to overthrow
the infidel. He therefore called upon the faithful to go with him to
recapture Salonica and the other Greek cities which had belonged to his
father, and to change their churches into mosques for the worship of
God and Mahomet.[125]

In 1412, he devastated Serbia for having supported his brother, and
this in as brutal a manner as Timour had devastated the cities and
countries in Asia Minor. Then he attacked Salonica. Orchan, the son
of Suliman, aided the Christians in the defence of the city, which,
however, was forced to surrender, and Orchan was blinded by his uncle.

While successful on land Mousa was defeated at sea, and the inhabitants
of the capital, in 1411, saw the destruction of his fleet off the
island of Plataea in the Marmora. In revenge for this defeat he laid
siege to the city. Manuel and his subjects stoutly defended its
landward walls, and before Mousa could capture it news came of the
revolt of his younger brother, Mahomet, who appeared as the avenger
of Suliman. The siege of Constantinople had to be raised. Mahomet
had taken the lordship of the Turks in Caramania shortly after the
defeat of his father at Angora, and had been unattacked by Timour. The
emperor proposed an alliance with him, which was gladly accepted and
the conditions agreed to were honourably kept by both parties. Mahomet
came to Scutari where he had an interview with the emperor. An army
formed of Turks and Greeks was led by Mahomet to attack his brother.
But Mousa defeated him in two engagements. Then Manuel, after a short
time, having been joined by a Serbian army, attempted battle against
him, and with success. The Janissaries deserted Mousa and went over to
Mahomet and Manuel, and his army was defeated. He was himself captured
and by order of Mahomet was bowstrung.[126]

[Sidenote: Sultan Mahomet the First, 1413–1420.]

Mahomet was now the only survivor of the six sons of Bajazed, with the
exception of Isa, the youngest, who was still living with Manuel as a
hostage. Three of his brothers had been the victims of fratricide. In
1413, Mahomet proclaimed himself Grand Sultan of the Ottomans.

He had been loyally aided by Manuel and the Serbians, and in return
loyally respected the agreements he had made with both. He gave up,
as we have seen, Salonica and the fortified towns on the Euxine, the
Marmora and in Thessaly which had been taken from the Greeks.

In 1415, the Turks, who had remained nearly undisturbed on the
western side of the Balkans, entered Bosnia. The inhabitants were
mostly Bogomils, who had been constantly persecuted by their Catholic
neighbours in order to force them to Union with the Church of Rome,
were menaced, on account of their refusal, by the king of Hungary, and
in reply threatened that they would coalesce with the Turks. Upon such
an intimation, the Turks entered the country.[127]

The two rulers, Manuel and Mahomet, continued on friendly terms. It was
probably due to the emperor’s influence that the sultan consented, in
1415, to allow the Knights of Rhodes to build a strong fortification on
the boundaries of Caria and Lycia as a place of refuge for Christians
who should escape from the hands of the Moslems. Ducas gives an
account of the interview which took place between the grand master
and Manuel and adds that the emperor went so far towards conciliating
the Christians that he contented the rulers of Chios, Mitylene, and
Phocaea. In returning from the Morea in 1416, Manuel met Mahomet at
Gallipoli, the sultan going on board Manuel’s galley and eating with

[Sidenote: Death of Mahomet.]

Two years later, the good understanding between Mahomet and the emperor
was interrupted by an incident which is creditable to Manuel. A Turkish
pretender who claimed to be Mustafa, the elder brother of the sultan,
who is supposed to have been killed at Angora, aided by a body of
Wallachs, attempted to dethrone Mahomet. They were attacked and beaten
back and then took refuge in Salonica. Manuel declined to give them up,
but promised that he would prevent the pretender and the leader of the
Wallachs from making further attacks upon Mahomet. To accomplish this,
he sent the pretender Mustafa to the island of Lemnos and imprisoned
the chief of the Wallachs in the monastery of Pammacaristos in
Constantinople. But Mahomet would not be satisfied with any punishment
less than the death of the pretender, and from this time ceased to
trust Manuel. Nevertheless, when, in 1420, the sultan was in passage
through Constantinople towards his Asiatic possessions, Manuel behaved
loyally. All the members of his council, says Phrantzes,[128] advised
the emperor to seize him. Manuel refused and declared that, though the
sultan might violate his oath of friendship, he would rather trust
to God and respect his own. On Mahomet’s return to Europe through
Gallipoli, the council again urged the emperor to capture him. Again,
however, he refused, and sent a trusty general to escort him from the
Dardanelles to Adrianople. A short time after his arrival, in 1420,
Mahomet died.

[Sidenote: Reign of Murad, 1420–1451.]

His death was kept secret for forty days, in order to give time for the
arrival of his son, Murad, who was then at Amasia. Murad was proclaimed
at Brousa and began his reign by proposing to Manuel the renewal of the
alliance which had existed with his father. We have already seen that
this proposal was rejected, and that, after fruitless negotiations for
the surrender of two of Murad’s sons, war was declared. The emperor
thereupon sent to Mustafa the pretender, who still remained prisoner
at Lemnos, and, giving him assistance, recognised or appointed him
governor of Thrace and of all the places in that province held by the
Turks which he could occupy. In return, Mustafa swore to deliver
Gallipoli, which had been taken by the Turks in the reign of Bajazed,
to the emperor as soon as he had captured it, as well as certain towns
on the Black Sea. Mustafa succeeded for a while and with the aid of
the imperial troops captured Gallipoli (1420). A number of its Turkish
garrison joined his army. Manuel’s general now claimed the fulfilment
of his promise to deliver this important town, but Mustafa stated what
has often been advanced in our own time as a generally recognised rule
in Islam, that a true believer could not surrender to unbelievers
territory held by Moslems except by force, that his religion bound him
to build a city on the ruins of the Christian city, and that he would
rather break his oath than violate the duty imposed by his religion.
It was in vain that the emperor’s representative reminded him of his
past history: how he had sought refuge at Salonica, how the emperor
had risked the anger of Mahomet by insisting upon his refusal to give
him up; how at Lemnos he had still been protected. The pretender was

When Manuel heard of the bad faith of Mustafa, he endeavoured
to re-establish the same friendly relation with Murad which had
existed with his father. He offered to assist the sultan to recover
all that his father possessed, provided he would send his sons to
Constantinople. According to Phrantzes (who from this time takes an
active part in many of the incidents he relates), the sultan was
equally ready to be friendly, provided that no further aid should be
given to Mustafa,[130] but no understanding could be arrived at.

The perjured Mustafa was probably a very poor creature. He soon lost
the confidence of his followers, and shut himself in Gallipoli, giving
himself up to pleasures and paying little attention to the measures
which Murad was taking against him. The latter passed over into Asia,
made arrangements with the Genoese at Phocaea to send him a fleet and a
number of Italian and French soldiers, and, when they arrived, crossed
the Dardanelles from Lampsacus to Gallipoli.[131]

The troops who remained faithful to the pretender attempted to prevent
the landing of Murad and his native and foreign troops, but failed.
Thereupon Mustafa fled. Murad took possession of Gallipoli and then
followed the pretender to Adrianople with all possible speed. Mustafa
hastened towards Wallachia on the approach of the sultan. A band of
young soldiers followed and captured him. He was brought before the
sultan, condemned, and hanged like an ordinary malefactor.

Then the sultan thought himself strong enough to take up the task which
Bajazed had undertaken when summoned by Timour. He decided at once
to attempt the capture of Constantinople. He laid siege to it in the
second week of June 1422 and ended in failure, as we have already seen,
at the end of August in the same year.

One at least of the reasons why the siege in 1422 had been abandoned
was a rising against Murad on behalf of his younger brother named
Mustafa. One of his two brothers, had been strangled by his orders,
but Mustafa was saved by Elias Pasha. Murad had ordered Elias to bring
the boy to Brousa. Elias, however, succeeded in having him recognised
in that city and at Nicaea as sultan. The rebellion, therefore, had
assumed alarming proportions. Murad with a trusty band of followers
went to Nicaea, gained access to the city, and the boy Mustafa, who
was only six years old, was bowstrung, possibly without the consent of
his brother. Then Murad in great haste crossed again to Europe,[132]
occupied Adrianople, and made it his European capital.

We have now arrived at the period when many of those who were
destined to be great actors in the tragedy of the Moslem conquest of
Constantinople appear on the scene. The young emperor John, who had
become co-emperor with his father in 1420 and who now alone possessed
power, owing to the debility of his father, went, in 1423, to Hungary
to seek help against the common enemy. He left his brother Constantine,
who was destined to be the last Christian emperor of the city, in
charge of the capital with the title of Despot. A few months later,
Phrantzes, the historian of the conquest, and Lucas Notaras, afterwards
made Grand Duke, who also took a prominent part in the events of 1453,
were sent by Constantine to Murad and arranged terms of peace, subject
to ratification by John, when he returned from Hungary. The associated
emperor came back by sea to his capital in October and terms of peace
were ratified by which the empire had to pay a heavy tribute and to
surrender many towns on the Black Sea.

In July 1425, Manuel died. He was seventy-seven years old and had
reigned thirty-four years--or, counting the eighteen years when he
was co-emperor with his father, fifty-two years. In his old age, he
had become hopeless of saving the empire, or even the capital. He
counselled John to make the best of the situation, to try to live on
good terms with the sultan, and to be content to remain the vassal of

The Turks had now largely recovered from the disorganization produced
by the invasion of Timour. Everywhere they were regaining territory,
and their internal divisions were disappearing. Those occupying the
south and south-west of Asia Minor were the first to recover from
the blow of the Tartars. As early as 1415, Manuel had to resist them
in the Morea. They had defeated the Venetians, had plundered Euboea
and carried off thousands of Christian captives. Others had invaded
Dalmatia and the Adriatic coast. Their numbers in Hungary and south
Russia had been enormously increased by the conquests of Timour, the
Turks of south Russia fleeing before his host. In 1419, the Hungarians
had defeated an army of three hundred thousand who entered the great
plain north of the Danube. Most of the Turks in Asia Minor, if not all
willing subjects of Murad, still rendered him at the time of the death
of Manuel, in 1425, a nominal submission. The prince of Caramania was,
however, always a troublesome feudatory.

Murad’s reputation may be judged by the fact that in the year in which
Manuel died he made a triumphal progress. Having traversed Thrace, he
went to Brousa, to Pergamos, Magnesia, Smyrna, and Ephesus. While at
the last-mentioned city, homage was done to him by the ambassadors
of the emperor John, of Lazarus, king of Serbia, Dan, prince of the
Wallachs, and the signors of Mitylene, Chios, and Rhodes. He was, in
fact, the almost undisputed lord of Asia Minor and of all places in
the Balkan peninsula, with the exception of a few fiefs in Greece,
and of Constantinople, with a small territory behind it. With the
exception of the Venetians and the Hungarians, he was at peace with
all the world. But the Venetians were still holding their own. They
had supported the insurrection in Caramania. Their fleet had been sent
to prevent Murad from crossing into Asia, and they were masters of
Salonica. But even in that city Murad had still a triumph to achieve.
Pressed by famine when the inhabitants were besieged by the Turks,
shortly before Murad’s siege of the capital, the population had offered
the city to the Venetians, who gladly accepted it and sent a fleet
to its relief. But the Turks had constantly claimed that they had
been improperly deprived of their intended prey, and the answer given
by Murad to proposals of peace made by the republic were: Surrender
Salonica first. In 1428, Murad determined to fight for it. While
he went south-west into Macedonia, the whole population, including
the southern Serbs and southern Bulgarians, submitting to his rule,
one of his leading generals laid siege to Salonica. Ducas says that
the besiegers were a hundred to one, and there can be no doubt that
there was a fatal discrepancy in numbers. On the arrival of Murad,
the Janissaries were promised permission to pillage the city. In a
general assault, they captured it without much difficulty, and the
brutalities, the atrocities, the wanton and useless cruelties inflicted
upon the population made a profound impression upon Western Christians.
Probably they learned more of the nature of these cruelties, owing to
the presence of Italians and the comparative proximity of Salonica
to Western Europe, than ever before. But though women were violated,
houses pillaged, churches profaned, and seven thousand of the captives
sold into slavery, Europe did not yet understand that these were the
ordinary incidents of Turkish conquest. Upon the capture of the city,
in 1430, Murad and the Venetians made peace.[133]

Great efforts, however, were yet to be made to check the progress of
Murad, and if in the course of his triumphal progress to Ephesus he
was under the illusion that the European nations were content to allow
Moslem invasion to remain unchecked, he was soon undeceived. Hungary,
Serbia, and Poland now formed the great line of defence against a
Turkish advance, and when, in 1428, the first two states were invaded
by the Turks, it became evident to the West that Catholic as well as
Orthodox nations would have to resist the progress of Turkish arms.
Before the nations attacked were ready, Murad struck swiftly and
heavily, and Sigismund, king of Hungary, not having received the aid he
expected from Ladislaus, king of Poland, suffered a serious disaster on
the Danube.

[Sidenote: Preparations to resist Murad.]

On receiving news of the Turkish advance, the pope once more preached
a new Crusade and called upon all Christians to go to the aid of the
Poles and Hungarians. But messengers travelled slowly, and preparations
were long. Four years afterwards, in 1433, Murad again invaded Hungary,
but was stoutly resisted by Elizabeth, mother of the infant Ladislaus,
and had to retire. In withdrawing he attempted to annex Serbia, on
the pretext that Bajazed having married the sister of Stephen, the
former sovereign, the crown belonged to him as the heir of Ilderim.
In 1435, he laid siege to Belgrade, and put out the eyes of two sons
of the kral, under the pretext that they had attempted to escape to
their father. The siege lasted six months, but the attempt failed. The
Serbians defended the city bravely. The Turkish army suffered from
malarial fever, and a relieving army under a Polish general compelled
them to raise the siege.

It is worthy of note that during the absence of the emperor at Ferrara
and Florence in order to treat of the Union of the Churches--an absence
from his capital of two years and two months (November 1437 to February
1440)--Murad proposed to attack the city and was advised to do so by
all his council with the exception of Halil pasha,[134] who pointed
out that as John had gone to confer with the representatives of the
Christian powers on questions of religion, at the request of the pope,
they would feel bound to come to his aid, if advantage were taken of
his absence to attack the capital. Halil’s advice was taken.[135]

[Sidenote: Hunyadi leader of Christian armies.]

Immediately on John’s return, he and other European Christian rulers
began to make more or less combined movements against Murad. The
influence of the pope was energetically used to make an alliance
successful. The question was no longer one merely of defending a
schismatic though Christian emperor, but of preserving the existence
of great Catholic states. Nor were the means for offering a strong
resistance to Turkish advance wanting. The crown of Hungary was worn by
Ladislaus, the young king of Poland, who was crowned in 1440. Almost
immediately after his accession, his army succeeded in defeating a
Turkish detachment in Hungary. In the same year Scanderbeg--that is,
Alexander Bey--at the head of a large body of Albanians, declared war
on Murad. Though John on his return from Florence sent an embassy to
the sultan to protest that he was a loyal vassal, he was only waiting
for the ships and aid promised by the pope and by Western princes
in order to join in a combined attack. Although the ships promised
were long in arriving, the West was known to be full of anxiety, and
preparations were being hurried forward. On New Year’s Day 1442, the
pope again preached a Crusade and called on all Christian princes, and
especially on Ladislaus, king of Poland and Hungary, to help in the
defence of the three bulwarks of Christendom--Constantinople, Cyprus,
and Rhodes.[136] Cardinal Julian was commissioned to advise Ladislaus,
and the king was ordered to render every aid possible to him as the
legate of Eugenius. George Brancovich of Serbia bound himself to aid
the Hungarian king and for this purpose to send twenty-five thousand
men and large sums of money, the produce of the Serbian mines. The
combined army of Hungarians and Serbs, with the co-operation also of
Scanderbeg, was placed in June under the command of John Corvinus
Hunyadi, the waywode of Transylvania. Hunyadi had already distinguished
himself as a brave and skilful leader against the Turks. In a short
campaign of less than half a year, he had captured five strongholds
north of the Danube, won as many battles, and had returned laden with
booty and trophies of victory. In 1442, at the head of twelve thousand
chosen cavalry, he chased the Turks out of Serbia and defeated in
succession several armies. Christians from France, Italy, and Germany
hastened to enrol themselves under his leadership. Not even before the
terrible disaster at Nicopolis in 1396 had so powerful an army been
gathered together to attack the common enemy as was now collected under
Hunyadi. It represented all the force that the pope and Western Europe
could muster, and the presence of Cardinal Julian gave it the sanction
of an international army representing Christendom. Seldom have soldiers
had more confidence in their leader, and apparently that confidence was
well bestowed.

[Sidenote: His victories.]

Near Nisch the army of twelve thousand chosen cavalry under Hunyadi
was joined by that of Ladislaus, consisting of twenty thousand men,
with whom were the king and the cardinal. The first and most important
battle of the campaign with the united army was fought between Sofia
and Nisch, probably near Slivnitza on November 3, 1443. The Turks
were completely defeated, and thirty thousand of them are said to
have been left on the field. Four thousand were made prisoners and
nine standards captured. Thereupon the Christian army advanced to
Sofia, which it captured, and then pushed on towards Philippopolis.
At Isladi near Ikhtiman, the beginning of the pass about midway
between Sofia and Philippopolis, Hunyadi found that Murad had arranged
for making a stand. The natural strength of the pass, the principal
entrance to which is the Gate of Trajan, and the measures taken on
the high tableland at the head of this pass to make the frozen
ground impassable to cavalry, made Hunyadi hesitate. A second pass
appeared more practicable. On Christmas Eve, the Christian army forced
a passage, triumphing over the Turks and over the equally serious
obstacles of rocks and ice. Murad’s strong entrenchments were carried
by brilliant and persistent attacks, the Christians having to make
their way through snowdrifts, while the enemy rolled rocks and masses
of ice from the heights. The Turks were driven from their stronghold
and the Christian army followed them down the slopes of the Balkans
into the plain. Once more the Turks stood, and again they were
beaten.[137] Upon this, the triumphant Christian army halted and waited
for reinforcements before further advance.

It was probably immediately after this campaign, or possibly during
the halt in Roumelia, that Murad hastened into Asia, where the prince
of Caramania had engaged in a conspiracy with others of the emirs
of Anatolia to rise against the sultan and to attack his territory
simultaneously with the attacks made by Christians in Europe. Konia and
many other cities had been sacked and desolation carried far and wide
even among the Turks wherever they had stood for Murad.[138] The sultan
suppressed the rising with his usual cruelty, treating the Turks as he
had done the Christians.

[Sidenote: Peace solemnly accepted.]

The successes of Hunyadi compelled Murad, and this for several
reasons, to sue for peace. He sent an embassy to the Hungarian, but
as the latter was awaiting new troops to pursue his campaign, he at
first declined to treat, and sent Murad’s delegates to Szegedin, then
occupied by the king and the cardinal. Finding, however, that his
reinforcements did not arrive, Hunyadi consented to retire and take
part in the negotiations. The Turks on their side agreed to terms.
Murad was to give up to George Brankovitch all the places in Serbia
which he had captured, to allow Wallachia to be added to Hungary, to
leave Scanderbeg in possession of Albania and Macedonia, and to give up
the two lads whom he had blinded and the other hostages. Ladislaus and
Hunyadi on the return of the latter to Hungary made a triumphal entry
into Buda. Thirteen pashas, nine Turkish standards, and four thousand
prisoners bore testimony to the success of the campaign. The mission
from Murad had gone forward into Hungarian territory to complete the
formalities of peace which had been agreed to at Szegedin. A formal
truce for ten years was concluded in June 1444 between Murad and the
king of Poland and Hungary and his allies. The treaty was not, however,
signed by Hunyadi, who declared that he was only a subject. Each party
swore that the army of his nation would not cross the Danube to attack
the other. Ladislaus took the oath to this effect solemnly on the
Gospels and Murad on the Koran.[139]

[Sidenote: Treaty violated by Christians.]

The treaty of June 1444 thus solemnly ratified was almost immediately
broken.[140] To the eternal disgrace of Ladislaus and of the cardinal
legate, Julian Cesarini, who had accompanied Hunyadi on the campaign
just described, and who figures as the evil genius of Ladislaus until
his death, it was broken by the Christians. History furnishes few
examples of equally bad faith.

All the evidence goes to prove that the Turks intended to respect the
treaty. The sultan, indeed, had taken the opportunity of abdicating
and of formally handing over the government to his son, Mahomet, a
boy fourteen years old, and had already retired to Brousa with the
intention of going on to Magnesia, to live in peace and quietness.
Murad wanted rest. Even when he was seen by La Brocquière, probably in
1436, he was ‘already very fat.’ A short, thick-set man with a broad
brown face, high cheekbones, a large and hooked nose, he looked, says
the same writer, like a Tartar--that is, like a Mongol. Voluptuous in
the worst Turkish sense of the word, he also loved wine and banished
a believer who dared to reprove him for drinking it. ‘He is thought,’
adds La Brocquière, ‘not to love war, and this opinion seems to me
well founded.’[141] Just about this time also he lost his eldest son,
Aladdin, to whom he was much attached, and was overcome with grief.
Hence his determination to get rid of the cares of government.

The opportunity to the Christians seemed tempting. News had arrived
that a powerful fleet of seventy ships had appeared in the Bosporus,
ten triremes having been sent by the pope and ten others at his request
by Latin princes. The duke of Burgundy and a French cardinal had
arrived at Constantinople to urge John to join in a Christian league.
The cities of Thrace were undefended by the Turks, and the fleets, it
was believed, could prevent Murad with his army from crossing into
Europe. The only obstacle to vigorous and successful action was the
newly signed treaty.

Pretexts were found that Ladislaus had had no right to agree to a
truce without the consent of the pope, and that Murad had not executed
his part of the treaty. Ladislaus hesitated to break his oath, but
Cardinal Julian urged that his league with the Christian princes of
the West was better worth respecting than his oath to the miscreant.
According to more than one author, he maintained the proposition that
no faith need be kept with infidels.[142] Finally, the cardinal called
down upon his own head all punishment due to the sin, if sin there
were, in violating the oath. But in the name of the pope, the vicar of
God on earth, he formally released the king from the obligations to
which he had sworn.[143]

The action of Ladislaus was in reality not merely wicked and immoral,
but ill-advised and hasty. Even in the short interval between the
conclusion of peace and the declaration of war, the French, Italian,
and German volunteers had gone home. John was not ready to aid him.
Phrantzes had been sent to Ladislaus, to the cardinal, and even to
the sultan, to temporise and to prevent an outbreak of war before a
coalition could be formed. Hunyadi very reluctantly gave his consent
to the violation of the truce, and then only on condition that the
declaration of war should be postponed until September 1. George of
Serbia not only refused to violate the engagement into which he had
solemnly entered with Murad but refused to permit Scanderbeg to join
Ladislaus. The whole business was ill-considered and ill-managed, and
the fault lies mainly with the cardinal.

When Murad’s dream of quiet days at Brousa was disturbed by the news
that the treaty solemnly accepted a few weeks earlier had been violated
by the faithless Christians, who in this case are justly characterised
by the Turks as infidels, he at once resumed the duties of a ruler
and prepared to go to the aid of his son, young Mahomet. With the aid
of the Genoese he crossed the Bosporus, probably at the extreme north
end below the Giant’s Mountain, where the entrance into the Black Sea
was, and long continued to be, known, from the number of temples which
had existed there from pre-Christian times, as the Sacred Mouth. The
Italian and Greek fleets near the capital were unable successfully to
resist the passage, the ascent of the Bosporus being almost impossible
for sailing vessels during the continuance of the prevailing north
winds. From thence Murad hastened to meet the army of Ladislaus.[144]

[Sidenote: Battle of Varna, Nov. 11, 1444.]

The place of rendezvous for the Christian armies was Varna. Ladislaus
took the field in the autumn, with only ten thousand fighting men.
He marched along the valley of the Danube, and was joined by Drakul,
prince of Wallachia, with five thousand of his subjects. The total of
the two armies probably never exceeded twenty thousand men.

The Wallachian prince advised prudence and delay. He pointed out that
even a hunting party of the sultan contained as many men as were now
collected to oppose him. Hunyadi, however reluctant he had been to
enter on the campaign, seems to have thought that, once the armies had
started, their only hope of safety lay in expedition and in being able
to obtain a strong position for fighting. The discussion between the
two brave leaders led to a quarrel, in which Drakul drew his sword, but
was immediately overpowered and compelled to purchase safety by the
promise of a further reinforcement of four thousand men.[145] Drakul
then retired, and his place was taken by his son. Many of the towns
and villages passed through on their march were held by Turks, but the
Christian armies, in most cases, easily overcame all opposition, and in
their course plundered the schismatic Bulgarians and their churches as
if they had been enemies.

At Varna the army proposed to rest. Further advance, if desirable, was
difficult, on account of the illness of Ladislaus.[146] Hunyadi took up
a strong position.

Varna is at the head of a bay. On the south side was situated,
at a distance of about four miles from the town, a village named
Galata. Between the two stretched a long line of marsh, which is the
termination of a lagoon, bounded on the south side by a steep range of
hills.[147] Between the end of the marsh and the bay the Christian army
encamped with the hill on its rear. Hardly had it taken up its position
when scouts brought the startling news that Murad’s army was encamped
at a distance of four thousand paces. The night was bright and clear,
and by ascending the hill they could see the fires, and make even an
estimate of the number of their enemies. Their astonishment at the
rapidity with which Murad had advanced added to their alarm. They found
that he was at the head of an army of at least sixty thousand men--a
hundred thousand men are said to have crossed into Europe--while their
own consisted only of eighteen or twenty thousand. Guards were doubled,
and a council at once held, to decide upon what was to be done.
Cardinal Julian’s advice was that they should entrench themselves,
make a barrier around them of their carts, and await attack. Their
machines, or guns, the alarming effect of which had already been seen
at Belgrade, would be of value for their defence. He also urged that
probably a fleet would soon come to their aid. The bishops with the
army, and a few others, agreed with him.

On the other hand, Hunyadi and the leader of the Wallachs declared the
proposal to be absurd. The great Hungarian urged that the enemy was
only to be conquered by daring and dash. Every sign of hesitation,
especially at the beginning of a campaign, was fatal. Suppose the Turks
also chose to play the waiting game, were the Christians ready to stand
a siege? Their only salvation lay in audacity. He characterised what
was said about the coming of a fleet as ridiculous. Ships would be of
no more use in their present position than cavalry at sea. Even if the
sailors landed, what could they do against horsemen?

The advice of the experienced soldier carried the day. The young king,
though he was suffering great bodily pain, supported Hunyadi, and
declared against delay.

Hardly was the council of war over before the scouts announced that the
Turks had settled the question for them and were preparing to attack.
Though the alarm was false, or at least premature, Hunyadi at once made
all arrangements for defence, and strengthened his position. His army
had its back to a hill; on one side was the marsh, and on the other
he placed his baggage and other wagons, so as to make a rampart. He
blocked up the passes through the marsh as well as he could with carts
and chariots. He placed four companies of Wallachians on the left,
where the marshes afforded protection, while the Hungarians formed the
right wing, of which he himself took command. This was the position
of greatest danger, as being least protected. Ladislaus was placed in
the safest place in the centre, surrounded by Hungarians and Poles.
The great black standard of Hungary floated over Hunyadi, while the
flag of St. George marked the place near the king occupied by the
cardinal and the Wallachian chief. A reserve of Wallachs was stationed
to act wherever there was necessity. Murad, however, did not begin his
attack as soon as the Christians expected. He took four days before
he completed his preparations. He came down further into the plain,
and carefully formed his plan of battle. The invincible Janissaries
occupied the centre, with the sultan in their midst. They formed what
may be called a zariba. Around them was a ditch or trench. Behind that
stood the camels, while behind them was a breastwork formed of shields
fixed to the ground immediately in front of the Janissaries surrounding
the sultan. The Anatolian troops, some of whom were armed with
arquebuses, were on the Sultan’s left, and the European or Rumelian
troops on his right. In front of the sultan, hoisted on a long spear,
was placed the violated treaty.

The Turks sent forward six thousand of their cavalry, who occupied the
hill near the Christian army. Their purpose was to examine the ground,
and to take note of the numbers of the enemy, and of their position.
Nevertheless, they discharged showers of arrows against the Christians,
their archers being, as usual, their best troops.[148] When Franco, one
of the standard-bearers of Ladislaus, prevented his men from attacking
them, the Turks, believing that the Christians were overawed by their
superior numbers and dared not leave their entrenchments, came down
into the plain and began the battle. Then Franco let his troops go, and
with such effect that the Turkish cavalry were soon in full retreat.
Murad thereupon brought forward the main body of his army, and the
fight became general. Hunyadi sustained successfully the shock of the
Anatolian division, drove it back and put it to rout. The remainder of
the Christian army in the plain were attacked at the same time, but the
Turkish horsemen were hard pressed, and fled. One of the bishops
who, says Callimachus, was more skilful in ecclesiastical than in
military matters, seeing the Turks retreating, hastened after them
with a band of soldiers, and, arriving at the densely packed host, was
soon floundering in the marsh, and he and his men were of no further
use in the fight. But the Turks were pursuing their usual method of
fighting; ‘for,’ remarked La Brocquière only half a dozen years before
this battle, ‘it is in their flight that they are most formidable,
and it has been almost always then that they have defeated the

Meantime, Hunyadi, who knew their tactics well, on returning from his
fight with the Asiatic division, strictly charged the young king not
to allow the troops around him to move, to remain with them, and to
wait for his return after attacking the European division, or at least
until he knew the issue of the fight, because, if successful, he would
then have to deal with the Janissaries.[150] The Christians of the
left wing and even around the standard of Ladislaus were hard pressed.
The cardinal and Franco, with the son of Drakul, had to fall back to
the barricade of wagons. A fierce struggle took place near and among
the wagons, and the Turks for a while gained ground. Hunyadi hastened
to the aid of the Christians, and his arrival changed for a while the
tide of battle. The Turks retreated from the wagons and were driven
back two thousand paces. Hunyadi and his men were fighting splendidly
and manifestly succeeding. In their attack, Caradja, the leader of the
European division of the Turks, was killed.

At this moment occurred an incident which in all probability influenced
and perhaps altogether changed the fortunes of the day. According to
Chalcondylas, some who were near the king and were jealous of the fame
of Hunyadi persuaded Ladislaus not to leave the glory of the day to
the Hungarian, as if he were the only leader. ‘His would be the sole
renown; ours the ignominy of having remained idle.’ Influenced by
these taunts, the king led his followers into the fight while Hunyadi
was attacking Murad’s right, and made direct for the sultan himself in
the midst of his entrenchments. Hunyadi, who during the day was always
at the point of greatest danger, on galloping back after the retreat of
the Turks before the troops forming the left wing, found that the brave
but too impulsive young king had left his post. Hunyadi immediately
went to his aid. He found that Ladislaus and his followers had broken
through the entrenchments, the line of camels and the shields, and were
among the Janissaries. Struggling desperately, he had laid low many of
the enemy, but had become separated from his own men.

His absence caused many of the Christians to believe that he had been
either captured or killed and, in consequence, many of them began
to give way. The fortune of the day was at this time doubtful. Many
among the Turks and Christians were in flight, neither party being
able to judge how the battle was going. The unconquerable Janissaries,
however, remained firm and resisted the young king’s attack vigorously.
In the crisis of the battle, according to the Turkish annals, Murad
prayed, ‘O Christ, if Thou art God, as Thy followers say, punish their

Hunyadi was in despair. He saw his men deserting and that his army had
already been greatly reduced in numbers, but he managed to reach the
king. Ladislaus was still fighting when his general drew near, but his
horse fell forward with him, in consequence of a great blow from an
axe. As the king fell, says Callimachus, he was instantly, not merely
pierced, but simply buried beneath the weapons of the Janissaries. His
head was taken to Murad, who had it at once hoisted upon a lance.[152]

The issue of the battle had been at various stages doubtful. Two
divisions of the Turks had been beaten and fled, but both had rallied
and returned. At one moment the sultan himself contemplated flight,
but was stopped by a Turk who cursed him as a coward and prevented him
from leaving the field. Hunyadi attempted to recover the king’s body,
but when he saw one after another of the small number of Wallachs who
were with him struck down, he looked to his own safety and made good
his escape. The battle was lost. He, Julian, Franco, and as many as
could, when darkness came on, retreated across the hills into the great
neighbouring forest.

The fortune of battle had so often changed that it was not until the
following day that the Turks recognised how great was the success they
had gained. The slaughter in the small army of the Christians had been
heavy. Many, too, had perished in the marsh or had been drowned in the
lagoon. Others, among whom was Julian, were afterwards caught in the
forest. The remnant of Huns and Wallachs had the utmost difficulty
in making their way across the Danube. On his way home, Hunyadi was
taken prisoner by his old enemy, Drakul, prince of Wallachia, but was
set free when the Hungarians threatened war, as they immediately did,
unless he was at once released.

The great effort from which the emperor and the West had hoped so much
had proved futile. The fleets had been powerless. The struggle was
over before aid was received from the emperor or the Western princes.
The remark of a careful traveller is justified, that the bad faith
of the Christians did much to intensify among the Moslems dislike
and distrust, and led to reprisals commonly justified by the Turkish
teaching that ‘no faith is to be kept with infidels.’[153]

The part which the emperor John played, if he took any, in this
campaign, is doubtful. Chalcondylas states that he had declared war
against the sultan, but he is the only contemporary who makes this
assertion. Probably he was ready, though unable, to aid the Western
ships in preventing Murad from crossing the Bosporus.

Murad had inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Christians, was weary of
fighting, and readily promised the emperor that, if he abandoned all
concerted action with the Western powers, he should not be attacked.
He once more abdicated the throne in favour of his son Mahomet, and
withdrew to his beautiful gardens and palace at Magnesia, hoping once
more for peace in retirement.[154]

The same year--always 1444--he was forced by the Janissaries, who
were already beginning to claim a share in the government, and who
had marked their discontent by burning a large part of Adrianople, to
resume the guidance of the state.

After reducing them to complete submission, he turned his attention to
Greece, which on the death of the previous emperor had been divided
between three of his seven sons.

Constantine, brother of John, and afterwards the last emperor, had
shown energy in the Morea. He was in possession of a large part of the
Peloponnesus, and had chased the Turks out of Boeotia, Pindus, and part
of Thessaly. This weakening of their hold compelled Murad to bestir
himself. In November, 1446, he started for Greece at the head of an
army of sixty thousand men. Constantine sent an ambassador, the
historian Chalcondylas, to propose terms, which were, however,
rejected. Murad then advanced and attacked Constantine, who held a
strong position behind the famous rampart of the Hexamilion, extending
across the Isthmus of Corinth. Murad carried it by assault, and killed
all the garrison. His principal general then ravaged the Morea, and
carried off sixty thousand Christians into slavery. Patras was captured
and burnt, and Constantine, who had fought well but whose army was
much smaller than the Turkish, had to pay tribute and surrender all
territory that he had conquered from the Turks beyond the Isthmus of
Corinth. He was still, however, able to retain possession of a large
part of the Morea.

[Sidenote: Iskender Bey and the Albanians.]

After the campaign in Greece, Murad marched northwards to attack the
Albanians, and endeavoured to capture Kroya,[155] the capital of the
country. But it was held by the Albanian leader, George Castriotes,
whom we have already met under the name of Iskender (or Alexander) Bey,
a man who was a military genius, and who in some respects recalls the
adventures and characteristics of Garibaldi. But he was unscrupulous
as well as energetic. Devoting himself like a new Hannibal to the
salvation of his country, he held and continued to hold absolute, but
willingly rendered, sway during twenty-five years over the Albanian
mountaineers. Christian by birth, but given over with his brothers to
the Turks as hostages, and forcibly converted to Mahometanism, he had
become a favourite of Murad for his handsome appearance, his strength
of body, and his courage. He had gained power over his countrymen in
the first instance by a ruse as bold as it was relentless. Scimitar
in hand, he offered as an alternative to the reis-effendi, or
commander-in-chief, either immediate death or the affixing of his
signature and seal to a document ordering the governor of Kroya to hand
over to him the fortress and the adjacent country. Having obtained the
document in due form, he then killed the reis-effendi. At this time
Iskender Bey was only nineteen years old. Gathering a small band of
Albanians about him, he hastened across the peninsula and obtained
possession of Kroya by a stratagem even more desperate and dangerous
than that by which he had obtained the order for his appointment
as Turkish governor. Leaving his followers outside the city and in
hiding, he presented his credentials and obtained the keys of the
fortress. During the night, he personally admitted his followers, and
the Turkish garrison were murdered while they slept. Then he rapidly
made his preparations for defence against the attack of Murad which he
knew would follow. It is sufficient for our purpose to say that he was
successful, and that at the approach of the winter of 1447–8, Murad’s
attempt to recapture Kroya entirely failed, and the great sultan
withdrew to Adrianople.

Meantime the Christians north of the Danube were preparing to make a
greater effort than ever to strike at the power of the sultan. The new
pope, Nicholas the Fifth, urged the duty of aiding the Hungarians and
the Poles as vigorously as his predecessor. But his appeals to other
states were of little avail. Hunyadi, notwithstanding the defeat at
Varna, was named lieutenant-general of the kingdom almost immediately
on his return, and at once set himself to reconstruct an army. In less
than four years he possessed the best-disciplined host which Hungary
had yet seen. But it was far too small for the purpose on hand. Among
its twenty-four thousand men were two thousand German arquebusers and
eight thousand Wallachians. With this force Hunyadi crossed the Danube
near Turn-severin and invaded Serbia, because its ruler, whose sister
was married to the sultan, refused to break the engagement with Murad.

When the sultan, who was preparing for another attempt to defeat
Iskender Bey and the Albanians, heard that George of Serbia was on
the point of being attacked, he at once made all haste to go to his
assistance. Hunyadi encamped near Cossovo, on the same Plain of
Blackbirds where, in 1389, Murad the First had been assassinated after
his victory. The Turkish army, probably numbering a hundred and fifty
thousand men,[156] occupied three days in crossing the Sitnitza, a
small river which runs through the plain into the Vardar. Hunyadi, for
some reason which is not evident, left his entrenchment and crossed the
stream, apparently with no other object than of forcing on the fight.
Why he should have done so, since he was hourly expecting the arrival
of a detachment of Albanians under Iskender Bey, it is impossible to

[Sidenote: Second battle of Cossovo-pol, 1448.]

The battle commenced on October 18, 1448. The Turks were drawn up in
the same order as at Varna, the Janissaries in the centre surrounded by
a trench, behind which were ranged the camels, and behind them again a
belt of shields or bucklers fixed in the ground. To the right of the
Janissaries was the European, and to the left the Asiatic, division of
Murad’s army. On the other side, the centre of the Christian army was
occupied by the German and Bohemian arquebusers and some of the best
troops of Transylvania. The right wing was formed of Hungarians with a
few Sicilian auxiliaries, while the Wallachs were on the left.

The first day’s fight was not general. But at noon on the second, the
whole lines on both sides were engaged, and continued till sunset,
when, in spite of the superiority in numbers on the Turkish side,
no advantage had been gained. Hunyadi, indeed, believed that during
the night his enemy intended to break up his camp and commence a
retreat. For this reason, he determined upon a night attack--one of the
measures, as General Skobeleff testified after fighting in Central Asia
under somewhat similar circumstances, in which the best-disciplined
army almost necessarily wins. All the valour of the Hungarian army
was powerless to break through the line of the Janissaries, and the
attack consequently failed. On the morning of the third day, the fight
was again renewed, and victory appeared doubtful. But the Wallachs
turned traitors, and in the midst of the fight, their leader having
obtained terms from Murad, passed over to the Turkish side. The army
of Hunyadi was now attacked in front and rear, but contrived to reach
its entrenchments. Judging that its condition was hopeless, Hunyadi
made his escape in the evening, leaving the Germans and Bohemians
to hold the central position of his encampment. This they did with
magnificent courage, but the battle was already lost. Out of the army
of twenty-four thousand, seventeen thousand men, including the flower
of the Hungarian nobility, are said to have been left dead on the
field.[157] But the victory had been dearly bought by Murad. During the
three days’ fight, forty thousand Turks had fallen.[158]

The Christians had lost the battle through the rash courage and
confidence of their leader. Hunyadi had refused to wait for Iskender
Bey and his Albanians, had abandoned a strong position in order to
attack an enemy largely superior in numbers, and his desertion of the
best of his auxiliaries is inexplicable or unjustifiable. The defeat at
Cossovo-pol, following that at Varna, made men forget for a time the
series of brilliant victories which the great Hungarian had gained over
the Turks in Transylvania and elsewhere. But in the glorious defence of
Belgrade against Mahomet after the capture of Constantinople, Hunyadi
recovered greater reputation than ever, and the West recognised in that
city the first bulwark of Christendom, and in its defender the greatest
soldier of the age.[159]

The effect in Hungary and Constantinople of these victories of Murad
was appalling. The sultan and his successors for many years had nothing
to fear from the enemy north of the Danube.

[Sidenote: Reasons for failure of Western attempts against Turks.]

The great combined efforts of the West to break the Ottoman power and,
incidentally, to save Constantinople had failed disastrously. Nor are
the reasons for such failure difficult to understand. They are mainly
two: underestimating the power of the enemy, and dividing their own
forces. First and above all, neither the pope nor the statesmen of
Europe had realised the enormous number of fighting men which the Turk
could bring into the field. They knew that the empire of Constantinople
had been dismembered by Turkish armies, but they attributed this loss
to secondary causes, and do not appear to have realised that Turkish
armies beaten again and again constantly reappeared. The empire’s loss,
in their opinion, was due to the incapacity of some of its emperors, to
civil war, to the pressure of Serbia and Bulgaria, and to the judgment
of Heaven upon the Greeks for having refused to come within the one
Christian fold, and to acknowledge the one shepherd. The Turks were
the instruments of divine justice to punish schismatics, but, having
done their work against the empire, they would, now that they ventured
to attack Catholic states, no longer be permitted to make further

The failure of the men of the West was largely due to the fact that
they despised the common enemy. They were under the curious delusion
that the Turk was not a fighting man; that, though he had been
successful in beating Greeks, Serbs, and Bulgarians, he was no warrior,
and that he had thus far succeeded because he had never encountered
European soldiers. This delusion lasted for at least two centuries
after the capture of the city. Almost every Western writer who visited
Constantinople spoke of the defeat of the Turks as a task well within
the power of a European state. That such a blunder influenced the men
of the West before the capture of the city, may be illustrated by the
statement of two contemporaries. In an oration by Aeneas Sylvius, who
afterwards became Pope Pius the Second, delivered at Rome in 1452,
before Pope Nicholas, King Ladislaus, and a number of cardinals,
the orator appealed to the knowledge of his audience to recognise
that the Turks were ‘unwarlike, weak, effeminate, neither martial in
spirit nor in counsel; what they have taken may be recovered without
difficulty.’[160] A like testimony is given by La Brocquière in 1438,
but with much more caution, since he had been through Asia Minor and
had seen the Turks. Nevertheless, this Western traveller states that,
though he would not depreciate them, he is ‘convinced that it would
be no difficult matter for troops well mounted and well led to defeat
them,’ and, in regard to himself, he adds, ‘I declare that with one
half of their numbers I should never hesitate to attack them.’[161] He
fully realised, as he explains again and again, that their victories
had been gained by their enormous superiority in numbers, but though
he was very far from despising them as soldiers, he regards them
individually as greatly inferior to the soldiers of Western states. His
estimate of the inferiority of the Turk was shared by his countrymen
and Western statesmen generally,[162] but they did not recognise to the
same extent as he did how great and ever increasing was the host which
had to be fought. Nor did they recognise, as did he, the wonderful
mobility of the Turkish army. It was the same error of forgetting
their mobility which brought disaster upon Hunyadi at Varna and at

While the first mistake was in underrating the might of the enemy in
regard to numbers, warlike spirit, and mobility, the Western powers
blundered also in dividing their forces. The sermon before the pope
already referred to, on New Year’s Day 1452, called for international
concerted action to defend Constantinople, Cyprus, and Rhodes. The
mistake was in trying to do too much. On many occasions, as we have
seen, the forces sent against the Turk were divided, and an army which
might have been sufficiently strong to strike an effective blow against
one of the Turkish divisions was defeated in detail when split into two
or three, to be sent against Saracens, or to the aid of the military
knights, as well as against the Turks.

The one chance of safety for Constantinople now lay in the inhabitants
themselves, with such forces as, at the instigation of the pope,
should be sent to the aid of the emperor. But to add to the chagrin
and difficulties of the aged John at seeing the Christian armies
defeated, he had once more formally to promise the sultan that he
would not assist any of the enterprises set on foot from the West.
Nor did the influence of the disasters upon the emperor and people of
Constantinople stop here. A formidable party in the city, headed by the
bishop of Ephesus, which was opposed to the Union, and which strongly
resented the proceedings at the Council of Florence, was greatly
strengthened. Its members pointed to the victories of Murad, and asked,
with scorn, what had been gained by the abandonment of their faith.
They knew that they had the support of Murad in their opposition to
the Unionists, and the fact that they were not forcibly suppressed by
the Court party during the reign of John’s successor can probably be
best accounted for on the ground that any strong steps taken against
their members would be represented to the sultan as a violation of the
engagement to have no further intrigues with the West.

[Sidenote: Death of John, October 1448.]

The disaster of Cossovo-pol hastened the death of John, which took
place on the last day of October 1448, within a few days after he had
heard the news.[163]

[Sidenote: Of Murad, February 1451.]

In February 1451, his great contemporary, Murad, died at Adrianople. He
had been a successful warrior, and, with the exception of his failure
to capture Belgrade, had succeeded in most of his enterprises. Gibbon
is perhaps justified in speaking of him as a philosopher in matters
of religion, but he was relentless in imposing his creed. Cantemir,
his eulogist, relates that in Epirus he converted all the churches
into mosques, and ordered every male Epirot, under penalty of death,
to be forcibly made a Mahometan. He deserves the praises of Turkish
writers. Chalcondylas and Ducas recognise in him certain good traits of
character. The first says that he was a just and equitable man, and
Ducas gives him credit not undeserved for having scrupulously respected
the treaties which he made with Mahometans or Christians. His son
Mahomet, who now becomes the second sultan of that name in the Ottoman
dynasty, was at Magnesia when he heard the news of his father’s death.



As the later Roman empire is now drawing to a close, it is worth while
endeavouring to realise what were the immediate causes of its weakness,
and what was its actual condition immediately preceding the final siege.

The empire to which Constantine Dragases succeeded on the death of his
brother John was over the city and a strip of land behind it which may
be estimated roughly at about a hundred miles in length from its walls
towards the north and west. To this and about half of the Peloponnesus
still held by his brother had the realm of Theodosius been reduced.

[Sidenote: How far was population demoralised?]

It has often been stated that the fall of the Empire was due to, or
at least largely contributed to by, the demoralisation of the Court,
the nobles, and the citizens. This view had its origin largely, though
not exclusively, in the religious animosity of Latin Churchmen. The
Court has been described as given over to gorgeous displays, to
meaningless ceremonies, to luxury, and to effeminacy; the nobles as
partakers in such displays and themselves effeminate; the citizens as
idle, delighting in spectacular shows, and asking only to be amused.
I know of no evidence which supports any such conclusion and believe
that, on the contrary, such evidence as exists is against it. The
population of the city, nobles and people alike, were religious--given
over to superstition, according to our modern view--but they were not
luxurious or mere pleasure-seekers. Their superstition corresponded
with that of their fellow Christians in the West. ‘I believe,’ says
La Brocquière, who visited Constantinople in 1433, ‘that God has
spared the city more for the holy relics it contains than anything
else.’[164] But the same writer adds the qualification that ‘the Greeks
have not the like devotion that we have for relics.’ Nor is this
religious or superstitious spirit the necessary companion of either
luxury or effeminacy. The effeminacy and the luxury associated with
Constantinople, in so far as they existed, belong to the period before
the Latin conquest. When any displays are recorded after the recapture
of the city--as, for example, at coronations--they are merely the
traditional ceremonies which survived as such observances do in the
coronation of our own sovereigns or at great historical courts like
the Austrian and papal. The trials and sufferings, the long struggles
against external and internal enemies which had gone on for nearly
two centuries, had divested nobles and people alike of any love for
idle ceremonies or mere diversions. The miracle plays which the people
crowded to see in Hagia Sophia do not show that they had degenerated.
The writer just quoted saw a representation of the three youths cast by
Nebuchadnezzar into the burning fiery furnace,[165] which, while it may
have served to increase the congregation’s trust in God, can hardly be
regarded as a frivolous amusement.

The hippodrome was no longer used by the people for the shows which
had pleased their ancestors at an early period. La Brocquière, indeed,
records that he saw the emperor’s brother and a score of nobles amusing
themselves on horseback within its walls, but they were training
themselves for war by practising archery, and endeavouring to make
themselves masters in it.[166] He records also that he was present at
a tournament which the emperor and empress witnessed. Neither in his
account nor in that of any contemporary with which I am acquainted
is there anything to show that the diminished population of the city
were other than an industrious and sober people, to whom a question of
religious dogma was of greater interest than any other, except perhaps
those relating to the progress of their great enemy.

But though the demoralisation of the Court and people in the usual
sense of the term ought not to be counted among the reasons for the
decay of the empire, the attitude of mind in the Court, in the Church,
and among the masses is indicative of decay. In any country, but
especially in one under absolute monarchy, the poorer classes of the
people know and care little about politics. Among them there was under
the empire a general indifference as to what was likely to happen.
They were heavily taxed, were called upon to send their sons to the
wars, and if there were to be a change of masters, it did not much
matter. Their attitude was, indeed, not unlike that which exists to-day
among the poorer Turks. A change of rulers would be welcomed by many,
perhaps by most, though at the last moment religious sentiment might
and probably would come in to rouse opposition. Present evils are so
burdensome that the hope of a change of rulers is constantly expressed.

There was also among the subjects of the empire, as among those of the
sultan, an underlying sentiment that the inevitable was happening.
Ἀνάγκη ἦν was the belief among the Greeks almost as firmly as the Turks
of to-day hold that it is their _kismet_ to be driven out of Europe.

The poorer classes may be disregarded when we are considering the
public opinion of the empire. Such opinions as existed among them were
a reflection of those of the nobles, and especially of the Churchmen.
Both clergy and nobles were intensely conservative, and had become by
habit averse to any change. The energy had gone out of the Church.
There was no fervour of belief. The missionary spirit was absolutely
extinct. No instances are recorded of abandonment of self-interest for
the common good. The great body of idle monks contrast unfavourably
with those of the West of the same period. The patriotism of the priest
Hilarion and his small following had not been imitated. A dead level
of contented mediocrity characterised the clergy. An enthusiasm for
Christianity, if it could not have saved the empire, might at least
have prolonged its existence. But enthusiasm was dead. It would be
a relief to read of wild enthusiasts leading crowds into hopelessly
impracticable schemes, for such things would at least indicate life.
Nothing of the kind exists. The life of the Church was suspended, and
it could only arouse itself to resist change. Even in the greatest
religious question of the two centuries preceding 1453, that of the
Union of the Churches, the Orthodox Church had to be stimulated into
action by the emperors and nobles.

The nobles themselves were, however, hardly less conservative than
the Churchmen. A lack of energy, an absence of vital force, is the
distinguishing characteristic of both. Until the Latin conquest,
their conservatism was that of a civilised and wealthy class, who had
enjoyed for centuries the advantages of peace and of security. In the
two centuries after the recovery of the city the nobles had regained
much of their old influence, and up to the final conquest felt, in
Constantinople, much of the same security as before and the contentment
of acquired or inherited wealth. Commerce had largely passed into the
hands of the Genoese and Venetians, but the loss hardly affected the
nobles. To all appearance they remained as contented as ever. Even in
presence of the enemy which had constantly been lessening their incomes
and drawing an iron circle around the empire, they appear to have been
hardly conscious of the life and death character of the struggle.

So long as the emperor and nobles could employ their own peasantry or
could hire auxiliaries, they had resisted the Turks with a certain
amount of success. From Dalmatia to Matapan, from Durazzo to the
capital, as well as in Asia Minor, the progress of the enemy had been
contested. The Greek armies were destroyed by overwhelming numbers
rather than defeated by superior courage. When the capital was cut off
from its supply of soldiers from the provinces, it was in grievous
straits, and to this condition it had come on the accession of the last

Priests and nobles appear to have gradually drifted into the belief
that resistance was hopeless. Their acquiescence in what they believed
to be the inevitable suggests the mediocrity of their leaders. Their
merits and faults were alike negative. They were not given over to vice
and profligacy; they were not cruel tyrants; they were not wanting
in courage; but they were without ability or energy, incapable of
initiating or executing any successful plan of campaign against the
enemy or of making arrangements for securing efficient foreign aid.

It is, of course, easy to suggest after the event that the empire
might have been saved, but it is difficult to believe that among the
governing class there was not a lack of vitality which contributed to
its fall. Looking across the centuries, we may, perhaps, conclude that
the empire followed the natural course of evolution under despotic
rule: struggle for existence, success, wealth, contentment to the point
of stagnation, a general slackness and loss of energy and a reluctance
to struggle of any kind. But whether such conclusion be justified
or not, it cannot be doubted that weariness of strife and general
enervation characterised all classes of society. In remembering this,
it may be said that the morale of the empire was destroyed and its
population demoralised.[167]

[Sidenote: Causes of decay of empire.]

Three causes mainly contributed to the diminution and ultimate
downfall of the empire: first, the establishment of the Latin
empire, with which must be associated (_a_) the internal dissensions
among the Greeks themselves, and (_b_) the increased difficulty in
assimilating the races occupying the Balkan peninsula; second, the
attacks, literally from every side, by hordes of Turkish invaders,
who usually, beginning by raids upon their cattle, ended by expelling
or exterminating the conquered people and taking possession of their
lands; and, third, the depopulation of the Balkan peninsula and of the
cities in Asia Minor held by the empire caused by Black Death or Plague.

[Sidenote: Latin conquest.]

The history of the empire subsequent to the Latin occupation bears
evidence of the weakness which that occupation had caused. The whole
framework of government administration had been broken up. The imperial
system was in ruins. The ancient forms of administrative organisation
were restored, but there never existed sufficient strength in the
capital to put new life into them, and the old traditional spirit of
municipal life and to a certain limited extent of self-government had
during two generations of hostile rule and the subsequent series of
attempts at the restoration of Latin rule been forgotten. The empire
was, indeed, kept together by obedience to law, but it was rather a
traditional obedience than one due to a strong administration. When
a man defied law it was public opinion which he had to face rather
than dread of the emperor. The Latin conquest and the growth of
neighbouring states consequent upon such conquest made it impossible
for the emperors ever to obtain a strong and sufficient hold over the
territories which they recaptured.

[Sidenote: Internal divisions.]

The divisions among the Greeks themselves, especially those regarding
the occupancy of the throne, led to civil wars and gave the Turks
opportunities of entering the country and occupying it. They were due
in the first place to the change in the succession when Michael the
Eighth seized the imperial throne, and were therefore also directly
caused or contributed to by the Latin conquest. Though the rules of
succession had never been so strictly observed as in the West, his
usurpation weakened the office of emperor and manifestly increased the
power--not of a regularly constituted body like our House of Lords,
or the American Senate, but--of an irresponsible body of nobles. In
the next place, the dissensions may be attributed to the existing and
traditional form of government.

It is a commonplace to say that uncontrolled autocracy is the
best government if a succession of able men can be assured. The
difficulty is that, if the ordinary rules of succession are observed,
the successor of a Justinian or a Julius Caesar may be a fool. In
Constantinople effective control over the appointment of an emperor
was wanting. The senate or council of an absolute ruler, be he called
emperor or sultan, is usually weak in proportion to the strength of the
ruler, and if, in the customary order of succession, the heir to the
throne is unsuited to the office, the ring of creatures, by whatever
name it is called, which his predecessor has gathered round him is
pretty sure to support the heir, irrespective of his merit or ability.
Others acquiesce for the sake of peace, or are drawn to support a
pretender. The nobles usually gained strength during the reign of a
weak prince, and in the support they gave to rival claimants the empire

Democratic government in the modern sense of the term had not yet been
born. Sir Henry Maine claims that the modern doctrines of popular
government based on democracy are essentially of late English origin.
It is certain that nothing like them had existed in the Roman empire,
either in the East or West. Any traditions of self-government which
the Greeks had retained--a form of self-government which was never
upon modern democratic lines--had been entirely overshadowed, not
merely by the autocratic government of the emperors, but by that of the
Church. The government was that of an absolute sovereign moderated by
irresponsible nobles.

Without, however, seeking further to discover the reasons for the
internal divisions and the consequent civil wars, their existence and
baneful effects are the most manifest, though not the most important,
of the evils which weakened the Empire.

[Sidenote: Divisions of race in Balkan peninsula.]

The second fact associated with the mischief caused by the Latin
conquest, which contributed to the decay of the empire, is that such
conquest prevented the assimilation of the various peoples occupying
the Balkan peninsula. Even at the best period of the empire that
population had always been strangely diversified. Albanians and Slavs
had been there from very early times, side by side with Greeks and
the race known as Wallachs, each of the four races having a distinct

The influence of good administration and the strong hand of the
central power kept these races in order. They had the usual tendency
to hostility one towards the other, but until the Latin conquest
good government and the Greek language, that of the Church and
administration, were always a force tending to break down the
boundaries between them and to incorporate isolated sections in the
Greek-speaking community. But at all times their mutual jealousies
constituted, as indeed they do now, the most difficult factor in the
problem of the government of the Balkan peninsula.[168]

This difficulty had been enormously increased by the Latin conquest.
The populations were harassed everywhere by native rebellions and
by foreign invaders: Greek pretenders to the empire who refused to
recognise the crusading kings: crusading knights who settled in Greece
after the expulsion of Baldwin: adventurous soldiers of fortune from
Italy: freebooters from the Catalan Grand Company: Venetians and Turks:
and lastly by dissensions between the emperors themselves, the most
hurtful of which were between Cantacuzenus and John.

The various invaders found their task easier from the hostility which
existed between the various groups. Racial animosity was fostered by
inducements held out by the newcomers to one group to join them in
attacking another. These troubles destroyed the work of assimilation
which had been going on for centuries. Communities now of Greeks, now
of Slavs, were driven from the localities they had occupied for long
periods, and the constant movement left the Balkan peninsula with its
various races intermingled in strange confusion. To adopt chemical
nomenclature, hundreds of villages were mechanically mixed with those
of other races but never chemically combined. There were Slav villages
in the neighbourhood of Athens itself, Albanians in Macedonia: Greeks,
Serbians, and Bulgarians largely replaced the Latin race of that
province, which in the times of the Crusades was known as Wallachia
Proper. Language and race had taken the place of subjection to the
empire as a bond of union, and as the Turks gradually pressed forward
their advances into the interior, literally from every side, they
found the conquest of these isolated and generally hostile communities
greatly facilitated by the disunion existing among them.

Throughout Macedonia, Thessaly, Epirus, and Greece the boundaries were
changed oftener even than allegiance, and though the Greek element
predominated in the south and along the coast as far as Salonica and
around the coasts of the Aegean and the Marmora, other communities were
interspersed among them in great numbers.

The subjugation of the Macedonian Serbs and the South Bulgarians can
be roughly stated as having been accomplished at the battle on the
Maritza. The defeat of the Serbians and Bulgarians was a harder task.
But Serbia and Bulgaria were the two portions of the Balkan peninsula
where the people were almost all of the same race and could organise
themselves for defence. No such organisation was possible south of
their territory.

[Sidenote: System of Turkish conquests.]

The second cause which had contributed to the diminution of the empire
and of its population was the system of Turkish conquests. Large
numbers of the Christian population were killed; larger numbers were
driven away to wander houseless and homeless and either to die of
starvation or find their way into the towns.

Conquest of a territory or capture of a city, forcible expulsion of the
inhabitants or massacre of most of them and occupation of the captured
places followed each other with wearisome regularity. The military
occupation was that of nomads who replaced agriculturists. Everywhere
the cattle of the Christians were raided. Arable lands became the
wasteful sheep-walks of nomad Turks.[169]

[Sidenote: Black Death.]

Lastly, the depopulation caused by the terrible diseases which visited
Europe in the century preceding the Moslem conquest aided greatly
in destroying the empire. The prevalence of Black Death or Plague
killed in the Balkan peninsula and especially in the towns hundreds
of thousands and possibly millions of the population. In 1347 this
scourge, probably the most deadly form of epidemic that has ever
afflicted humanity, made its appearance in Eastern Europe. The cities
of the empire contained large populations crowded together, and their
normal population was increased by many fugitives. These crowded
cities, with their defective sanitary arrangements and poverty-stricken
inhabitants, offered a favourable soil for a rich harvest of death.
The disease had followed the coasts from the Black Sea, where, says
Cantacuzenus, it had carried off nearly all the inhabitants. At
Constantinople it raged during two years, one of its first victims
being the eldest son of Cantacuzenus himself.[170] Rich as well as poor
succumbed to it. What proportion of the inhabitants of the city died
it is impossible to say, but, judging by what is known of its effect
elsewhere, we should probably not be wrong in suggesting that half the
people perished. But its ravages were not confined to the towns, and
from one end of the Balkan peninsula to the other it swept the country
in repeated visitations and probably carried off nearly the same
proportion of inhabitants.[171] Cantacuzenus, in a vivid description of
the disease, adds that the saddest feature about it was the feeling of
hopelessness and despair which it left behind.

The first visitation of the disease continued during two years in the
capital. In 1348 it spread throughout the empire. We have seen that
in 1352 the victorious Venetian and Spanish fleets dared not venture
to attack Galata for fear that their crews would be attacked by the
malady. It raged in Asia Minor as fiercely as in Europe. Trebizond
was ruined. The Turks themselves suffered severely. Between its
entrance into Europe and 1364 the Morea had three visitations, and
what remained of the Greek population became panic-stricken. Further
north, at Yanina its ravages were equally terrible. In 1368 so many men
died that Thomas, governor of the city, forced their widows to marry
Serbians whom he had induced or compelled to enter the city for that
purpose. A further outbreak seven years later took place in the same
city, and among its victims was Thomas’s own daughter. During the same
period Arta, which adjoins the ancient Cyzicus, suffered severely. It
is useless for our purpose to inquire whether Black Death and Plague
were identical, but one or the other continued to depopulate town
and country. We have seen it at Ferrara in 1438, but in the interval
since it first made its appearance it had visited the capital on seven
different occasions, the latest being in 1431 when the whole country
from Constantinople to Cape Matapan suffered severely.[172]

It may safely be assumed that the Turks, who lived in the open air,
and in the country rather than in towns, suffered less than the
Christians. Though they are reported to have lost severely, the process
of depopulation scarcely told against them. The places of those who
died were taken by the ever-crowding press of immigrants flocking
westward. The successors of the Greeks who perished were not Christians
but Turks. In other words, while the Christians died out of the land,
there were always at hand Turkish nomads to take their place.

It is when contemplating the devastation produced by successive attacks
of disease, one of which was sufficient to kill half the population
of England, when remembering the weakening of the empire by the Latin
occupation and the subsequent attempts to recapture the city, and when
recognizing that the empire was the bulwark against a great westward
movement of the central Asiatic races which forced forward the Turk
to find new pastures in Christian lands, that we can understand how
the diminution of the Empire and of its population and its ultimate
downfall came to be inevitable.

[Sidenote: Desolation on accession of last empire and now.]

Those who have travelled most in the Balkan peninsula and in Asia Minor
recognise most completely how densely populated and flourishing these
countries once were, and how completely they have become a desolation.
Everywhere the traveller is even now surprised at the sight of deserted
and fertile plains and of ruined cities, of some of which the very
names have been forgotten. From Baalbek to Nicomedia the ancient roads
pass through or near places whose names recall populous and civilised
towns which are but the ghastly shadows of their former prosperity.
Ephesus, which when visited by Sir John Maundeville in 1322, after
it had been captured by the Turks, was still ‘a fair city,’ is now
absolutely deserted. Nicaea, the city which has given its name to the
Creed of Christendom, was also at the time of the Turkish occupation
populous and flourishing. It now contains a hundred miserable houses
within its still standing walls. Hierapolis and Laodicea are heaps
of uninhabited ruins. A scholarly English traveller remarks that
his search has been in vain for the sites of many cities once well
known, and that he met ruins of many cities which he was unable to
identify.[173] The same story of depopulation and of destruction was
and is told by the condition of the Balkan peninsula. The observant
traveller La Brocquière, who made his journey through Asia Minor to
Constantinople and thence to Budapest, noted that desolation was
everywhere. In the district between the capital and Adrianople he adds
that ‘the country is completely ruined, has but poor villages, and,
though good and well watered, is thinly peopled.’ He found Chorlou
‘destroyed by the Turks.’ He visited Trajanopolis and describes it
as once ‘very large, but now nothing is seen but ruins with a few
inhabitants.’ He found Vyra, to whose church three hundred canons had
been formerly attached, a poor place with the choir of the church only
remaining and used as a Turkish mosque.[174] All contemporaries bear
witness to the depopulation and ruin of the country. From pestilence
and the results of the Latin conquest it might have recovered, but when
to these disasters was added that of conquest by successive hordes of
barbarians whose work was always destructive, its ruin was complete.

[Sidenote: Population of Constantinople on accession of Constantine.]

It is impossible to arrive at an accurate estimate of the population
of the city on the accession of the last Constantine. La Brocquière,
in 1433, describes Constantinople as formed of separate parts and
containing open spaces of a greater extent than those built on.[175]
This is one of many intimations that the population had largely
decreased.[176] Some of the nobles as well as the common people had
left the city as soon as they saw that a siege was probable.[177]
To make an estimate we must anticipate our narrative of the siege.
Critobulus makes Mahomet appeal to the knowledge of his hearers in
proposing to besiege the city when he states that the greater number of
the inhabitants have abandoned it; that it is now only a city in name
and contains tilled lands, trees, vineyards, and enclosures as well
as ruined and destroyed houses, as they have all seen for themselves.
As his hearers could see as well as he whether this statement was
correct, there can be little doubt of its accuracy. He further declared
that there were few men in the city and that these for the most part
were without arms and unused to fighting, and that he had learned
from deserters that there were only two or three men to defend each
tower, so that each man had to guard three or four crenellations.
Tetaldi states that there were in the city from twenty-five thousand
to thirty thousand men[178] and six to seven thousand combatants and
not more.[179] The actual census taken at the request of the emperor
and recorded by Phrantzes gives under five thousand fighting men,
exclusive of foreigners. Assuming the statement of the French soldier
and eye-witness Tetaldi to be substantially correct, there would
apparently be something like eighteen thousand monks and old men
incapable of bearing arms. The only other indications which assist in
forming an estimate of the population are furnished by the number of
prisoners. These are probably exaggerated. Archbishop Leonard estimates
them at above sixty thousand. Critobulus gives the number of slaves of
all kinds, men, women, and children, as fifty thousand citizens and
five hundred soldiers, estimating that during the siege and capture
four thousand were killed.[180] Probably all captives are included as
having been reduced to slavery. The complete desolation of the city
and the strenuous efforts made by the sultan to repeople it after the
capture raise a strong presumption in favour of the existence of a
comparatively small population at the time of the siege. Gibbon judged
that ‘in her last decay Constantinople was still peopled with more than
a hundred thousand inhabitants,’ forming his estimate mainly upon the
declaration of the archbishop as to prisoners. I am myself disposed to
think that this number is rather over- than under-estimated. Taking
the prisoners to be fifty thousand, and allowing for the escape of ten
thousand persons and another ten thousand for old men and women who
were not worth reducing to slavery, probably eighty thousand would be
about right.

Within the narrow limits of what had been possible, the citizens over
whom the new emperor was called to rule had done their duty to the city
itself. They had kept fourteen miles of walls the most formidable in
Europe in good repair and they had preserved the wonderful aqueducts,
the cisterns, the great baths and churches.

[Sidenote: Its commerce.]

Commerce still continued to be the principal support of the
inhabitants. This was now largely shared by the Genoese in Galata and
by the Venetians who occupied a quarter in Constantinople itself. The
familiarity of the Italian colonists with Western lands and their
superiority in shipping, in which indeed at this time they led the
world, enabled them to achieve a success in what was then long-voyage
travelling which was denied to the Greeks; but the latter collected
merchandise from the Black Sea ports and from the Azof which was either
sold to the Frank merchants in Constantinople or transhipped on board
their vessels.

[Sidenote: Emperor and nobles.]

It is difficult to realise what were the relations between the
government and the governed during the two centuries before the last
catastrophe. The empire was the continuator of the autocratic--or
rather the aristocratic--form of government which had been derived from
the elder Rome. Emperor and nobles governed the country. The nobles
formed the senate. Like our own Privy Council, it met rarely and had
ill-defined functions, but upon occasions of emergency it had to be
consulted. Its co-operation gave to any measures edicted by the emperor
an important sanction. When the decision of the senate was acquiesced
in by or coincided with that of the Patriarch and his ecclesiastical
council, the emperor may be said to have possessed all the approval
that could be derived from public opinion.

Though the senate met rarely, its support was never altogether
dispensed with. The emperors did not claim to reign by divine
right, nor was any such pretext put forward on their behalf. The
succession passed in the usual manner and the emperor reigned with
almost autocratic powers so long as the nobles and the patriarch and
ecclesiastics were content. In the period with which we are concerned
the nobles sometimes preferred to associate a younger man with the
occupant of the throne. Such association was usually, though not
always, in accordance with the desire of the reigning emperor, and had
the conspicuous advantage of allowing the elder to train his younger
associate in statecraft. In some cases, as in those of young Andronicus
and of John during the reign of his father, Manuel, it was imposed upon
the emperor in order to bring about a change of policy.

No form of popular representation existed. The mass of the people had
nothing to do with the laws except to obey them. So long as their lives
and their property were protected and the laws fairly administered they
were content.

[Sidenote: Administration of law.]

So far as can be judged from the silence as well as from the writings
of the Byzantine writers, there was little fault to find with the
administration of law. When cases of the miscarriage of justice are
mentioned they are generally brought forward to show the scandal
they had produced or in some other connection which suggests that
such cases were exceptional. It was not only that the keen subtlety
of a long succession of Greek-speaking lawyers had preserved the
traditions of their great ancestors of the time of Justinian and
had guarded law in admirable forms, but the still better traditions
of an honest administration of law had continued, and this with the
result--simple as it may appear to Western readers; strange as it
would have sounded to a Turkish subject at any time since the capture
of Constantinople--that people believed that the decisions of the law
courts were fairly given.

[Sidenote: Interest in religious questions.]

The inhabitants of the capital retained until the last days of its
history as a Christian city their intense interest in religious
questions. It is of less importance to qualify such interest as
superstitious or fanatical than to try to understand it. That
theological questions possessed a dominating influence over the people
of Constantinople is one of the facts of history, and represents an
important element in the education of the modern Western world.

An able modern writer says with justice that ‘religious sentiment was
down to the fall of the empire as deep as it was powerful. It took
the place of everything else.’[181] Probably the exclusion of the
great bulk of the inhabitants from all participation in government
and the consequent want of general interest in political questions or
those regarding social legislation helped to concentrate attention
upon those relating to religion. The Greek intellect--and, though
there were large sections of the population which were not Greek, the
Greek element as well as the Greek language gave its tone to all the
rest--was essentially active and philosophical. The investigation of
theological questions was not conducted lightly. The same spirit which
made scholars of Constantinople espouse the study of Plato as they
had done for two centuries before 1453--a study which caused Pletho,
on his visit with John at the Council of Florence, to be regarded as
an authority to be eagerly sought after by those awakening to the new
learning in Italy--had been applied to many questions of philosophy
and theology. The examination of such questions was more speculative,
thorough, and scientific than in the West.[182]

While it is true that Constantinople had for centuries produced few
ideas and little of original value in literature, it had rendered
great service to humanity by preserving the Greek classics. Its
methods of thought, its civilisation as well as its literature, were
on the model of classical antiquity, but these were all modified by
Christianity. Part of the mission of the empire had been to save during
upwards of a thousand years, amid the irruptions of Goths, Huns and
Vandals, Persians and Arabs, Slavs and Turks, the traditions and the
literary works of Greece. It had done this part of its work well.
Amid the obscurity of the Middle Ages in the West, Constantinople
had always possessed writers who threw light on the history of the
empire in the East. No European people, remarks a recent writer,
possesses an historical literature as rich as do the Greeks. From
Herodotus to Chalcondylas the chain is not broken.[183] The Greek
historians of the period with which the present work is concerned,
Pachymer, Cantacuzenus, Gregoras, Ducas, Critobulus, and Phrantzes
are in literary merit far superior to the contemporary chroniclers
of the West. Though their works are written in a style which aims at
reproducing classical Greek and imitating classical models, they were
not intended merely for Churchmen. Nor was Constantinople rich only in

[Sidenote: Civilisation not modern.]

Though intellectual life was never wanting in the city, many of whose
people possessed the quick, ingenious, and piercing intellect of
the Greek race, the reader of the later historians feels that the
civilisation amid which they lived was not that of modern times. It is
difficult to realise what it was like. It has often been compared with
that of Russia, and writers of reputation have spoken of that empire
as preserving the succession of the political and religious systems
of Byzantium as well as of its mission to the non-civilised nations
of Asia.[184] Allowing for the difference between the Greek and the
Slav intellect, the analogy in a general sense holds fairly good, and
is especially noticeable in two points, the religious spirit of both
peoples and their contented exclusion from all active participation in
the government.

It is, however, difficult to determine how far the conditions of
existence in the first half of the fifteenth century among the citizens
of the capital resembled those found in Russia. The difficulty arises,
not merely from distance of time, but from the fact that in the empire
manners, usages, the conception of life, and the influence of religion
were neither Western nor modern. The people were governed much as
Russia is governed now: but there were important differences due to
race, tradition, and environment. Nevertheless, the condition of the
empire reminds one of the Russia of fifty years ago. There were the
same great distances between the capital and the provinces and the same
difficulty of communication. News travelled slowly; public opinion
hardly existed. There were in the country a mass of ignorant peasants
tilling the ground and caring little for anything else, peasants who
were in a condition of serfdom, thinking of the emperor as a demi-god
and rendering unquestioning obedience to his representatives; thinking
of the Church as a divine institution entrusted with miraculous
powers to confer a life after death, but far too ignorant to trouble
themselves about heresies or dogmas. Among these peasants probably
only the priests and monks were able to read, although among a people
naturally intelligent this would not necessarily imply a want of
interest in what was going on around them. The analogy to Russia
must not be pushed too far. Religion and language, a common form of
Christianity and the traditional duty of submission to the rule of
Constantinople were the bonds which held the empire together, but the
Greek tendency to individualism and the political development of the
empire which destroyed the belief that allegiance was necessarily due
to the ruler in the capital had been for two centuries a disintegrating
element which prevented the growth of the apathy on political and
social questions, and the deadly contentment which has been a
characteristic of the great Slavic race.

In the cities there was intellectual life: Salonica, Nicaea, Smyrna,
and other centres of population had in times past vied with the capital
in general culture and still retained something of their attachment to
it. To the last hour of the empire there was, as we have seen, general
and absorbing interest in the question of the Union of the Churches.
But interest in other questions which had once kept religious thought
from stagnation had largely died out. The more pressing questions of
life interested the citizens. Moreover, the people believed that all
questions of Christian belief had been settled. The Creed was final
and had no more need of revision than the style of the Parthenon. The
practices adopted from Paganism had become so generally accepted as to
pass without dispute. Iconoclasts and Paulicians can hardly be said to
have left any representatives. A Pagan Christianity with a Pantheism
accepting holy springs, miraculous pictures, miracle-working relics,
had become the accepted form of faith, a form which we of the twentieth
century find it as difficult to understand as the earlier belief which
had regarded the emperor as divinity.

One of the difficulties of the student of political and social history
of the thirteenth and two following centuries is that of being
unable to get glimpses of personal characteristics or domestic life.
The men who figure in contemporary writings are too often little
better than dummies who move and turn, but do not suggest vitality.
An historical novel of the period written upon the lines of Scott
or Dumas, of Kingsley or Charles Reade, or better still, anything
corresponding to Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales,’ would be of priceless
value in giving indications not merely of what was the environment of a
Constantinopolitan but of the characteristics of an individual of the
period. The writers on whom we have to depend are mostly Churchmen,
who describe the persons of whom they write as if they felt bound to
make them correspond with one of half a dozen approved models.

The absence of better indications may be accounted for. The subjects
of the empire during the century and a half preceding 1453 lived in
the midst of alarms. Its boundaries had been constantly changing
and continually narrowing. Disaster followed disaster; usurpations,
dynastic struggles, inroads of Genoese and Venetians; struggles with
them and between them; ever encroaching Turks, battles, triumphs,
defeats, hopes of final success, but territory still decreasing; hope
of aid from the West or from Tamerlane; illusions all: finally the last
siege and extinction. The writers in the midst of such times thought
they had more important matter to deal with than the depiction of
scenes of domestic character or delineations of prominent persons.



The emperor John left no son, and the succession had therefore to pass
to one of his three brothers, Constantine, Demetrius, and Thomas.
Constantine, the eldest, was at the time of the emperor’s death at
Sparta, but Demetrius claimed that as his elder brother was not born
in the purple, while he had inherited that honour, the crown ought to
be placed on his head. The dowager empress, the widow of Manuel, the
clergy, senate, the troops and people generally, declared in favour of

While the matter was still under debate, Thomas, who had learned
at Gallipoli the death of his brother, arrived in the capital and
immediately supported the nomination of Constantine. An embassy
was sent to the Morea and on January 6, 1449, placed the crown on
the head of Constantine Dragases, the last Christian emperor of

On March 12, he arrived in the capital and his brother Thomas, who had
been appointed despot, went after some days to the Morea. There he was
shortly afterwards joined by Demetrius who had withdrawn his opposition
and accepted the situation.

The party opposed to the Union had now become sufficiently strong to
call together a Synod, which met in the autumn of 1450. The three
patriarchs of the East were present, and under their guidance the
assembly declared the patriarch Gregory to be an enemy of the Orthodox
Church and deposed him. In his stead they appointed Athanasius.

During the interval between the death of John and that of Murad,
on February 3, 1451, the Christian cause looked more hopeful.
Scanderbeg had maintained himself successfully in the field, Murad
had been compelled a second time to raise the siege of Croya. In four
separate battles the Turkish armies had been defeated. In the siege
of Sventigrad they lost thirty thousand men, and, though the brave
Albanian failed in capturing the city and had to raise the siege, his
campaign was a triumph.

It seems to have been generally recognised that young Mahomet, the
successor of Murad, had even before his accession determined to
lay siege to the city. The emperor, therefore, once more renewed
the efforts of his predecessors to obtain foreign aid. Once more
the insuperable obstacle to the Union of the Churches, the rigid
refusal of clergy and people, came to the fore. Constantine, like his
predecessors, tried and failed to coerce the Church. Athanasius, the
new patriarch, declared himself ready to maintain the Orthodox faith
and declined to recognise the acts of the Council of Florence. When
Constantine asked aid from Rome, he found that the deposed Gregory
had taken refuge there, and while the patriotism of the latter led
him to seek the pontiff’s help against the Turks, his Catholicism
compelled the pope to espouse his cause. Nicholas the Fifth summoned
the emperor, as the price of his support, to replace Gregory and to
take the measures necessary for formally completing the Union agreed
to at Florence. Constantine was willing to do what he could, but knew
the temper of his subjects. He knew himself to be distrusted by them
for what they regarded as his Romanising tendencies. When Mahomet was
at Magnesia, where the news of the death of his father reached him,
the Christians around regarded the new emperor unfavourably on account
of his predilection for the Union, and spoke of him as a usurper.
Constantine, who was on the look out for a wife[187] and had employed
Phrantzes on various expeditions to find one, had been compelled, on
account of the opposition of his subjects to any further relationship
with the Latins, to abandon his intention of marrying the daughter of
Foscari, the doge of Venice. He had thus given offence to a powerful
state, and, though he had offered all sorts of concessions, Venice
would only promise to send ten galleys to the help of the city.

The emperor temporised. He begged the pope to send ships and also
learned and capable ecclesiastics who could aid him to make the Union
acceptable to the clergy. In reply Nicholas promised to send a fleet,
although he was powerless to persuade other Christian princes to follow
his example. In answer to his second request he deputed Cardinal
Isidore, Metropolitan of Russia, whom we have seen at the Council of
Florence, to be his legate.

In November 1452, a great Genoese ship with the cardinal accompanied
by Leonard, archbishop of Chios, arrived at the city and was received
by the emperor with every honour. Isidore at once pressed for a formal
recognition of Union. The emperor and some of the nobles assented, but
the majority of the priests, monks, and nuns refused. Ducas says that
no nun consented and that the emperor only pretended to do so. It is
not unlikely that he is right. Mahomet had declared war. Preparations
for the siege of Constantinople were already being made, and not only
the emperor but many priests, deacons, and laymen of high rank were
ready to accept everything that Isidore proposed, provided only that
the city could obtain additional defenders. It was in this spirit
that they consented to be present on December 12, 1452, in the Great
Church in order to celebrate the Union and by so doing obtain aid
in their time of mortal anguish.[188] The service was destined to be
memorable. The party which would not accept the Union took offence at
the reconciliation service. While the emperor and a host of dignitaries
were present in Hagia Sophia a crowd went to the monk Gennadius, better
known as George Scholarius, and asked what they should do.

The man whom they went to consult was not a mere monk who had won the
popular ear. He was a scholar with a European reputation, the most
distinguished advocate in the long contest between the rival systems of
Aristotle and Plato which marks the transition from mediaeval to modern
thought. He was the last of the great polemical writers of the Orthodox
Church whose works were studied in the West as well as in the East.
His great rival in the controversy was Pletho, a celebrated Platonic
scholar. Both these writers had accompanied John Palaeologus to the
Councils of Ferrara and Florence.[189]

The reply of Gennadius, who was now a monk in the monastery of
Pantocrator (a little over a mile distant from the Great Church),
whither they had gone to consult him, was distinct enough. He handed
from his cell a paper asking why they put their trust in Italians
instead of in God. In losing their faith he declared that they would
lose their city. In embracing the new religion they would have to
submit to be slaves.

Something like a riot followed, and drunken zealots ran through the
streets declaring that they would have no Union with the Azymites--that
is, with those who celebrate with unleavened bread.

Meantime the congregation in the Great Church, after listening to a
sermon from the cardinal, formally gave their consent to the Union on
condition that the decrees of Florence should be again examined and,
if need be, revised. A Mass was celebrated in which Roman and Greek
priests took part; the names of Nicholas the Fifth and the restored
Patriarch Gregory were joined in the prayers, and both the cardinal and
the patriarch shared in the celebration in token that the old schism
was at an end and that the great reconciliation had been accomplished.

The reconciliation was, however, a delusion and a sham. Many who
accepted it, says Ducas, gave utterance to the thought, ‘Wait until we
have got rid of Mahomet, and then it will be seen whether we are really
united with these Azymites.’ Notaras, the grand duke and subject of
highest rank in the city, was reported to have declared that he would
rather see the phakiola of the Turk than the veil of the Latin priest.
Those who conformed did so under compulsion. They agreed with the mob
in regarding the Latin priests as the representatives of a foreign
tyranny. The most devout among the citizens were the most opposed to
a change of belief in order to obtain a temporal advantage. Without
going so far as Lamartine, who says ‘L’Église avait tué la patrie,’ we
may safely admit that it had greatly divided the people in presence of
their great enemy.

We have now arrived at a period within a few months of the final siege
of the city and have to limit our attention to the struggle which is
about to take place over against its walls, to the incidents of this
epoch-marking event, and to the _dramatis personae_ of the contest.



[Sidenote: Character of Mahomet.]

As Mahomet plays the principal part in the great tragedy of the Capture
of Constantinople, we may turn aside from the narrative in order to
form a general estimate of the young man, leaving until after the
conquest of the city the attempt to make a more complete sketch of his

As he was only twenty-one years old when he became sultan, the events
of his subsequent life inevitably colour any attempt to delineate him
in his youth. There exist many notices in regard to his character
drawn by contemporary writers, and though Gibbon’s remark, that it is
dangerous to trust either Turkish or Christian authors when describing
Mahomet, is useful as a warning, these notices and especially the Life
of Mahomet by Critobulus[190] enable us to get a fair view of the man.
He was well-formed and handsome, about the middle height, with piercing
eyes and arched eyebrows. His most conspicuous feature was his long
aquiline nose, which seemed to overhang his thick red lips and made
the Turks describe him in after years as having the beak of a parrot
surmounting cherries.

The dream of his boyhood was to capture Constantinople. He would
succeed where Bajazed and Murad had failed. Ducas gives a striking
picture of his sleeplessness and anxiety while at Adrianople before the
siege of the city commenced. His one thought was how he might obtain
his object. He passed his days in active preparations. He went in
disguise among his men accompanied by two soldiers to hear what they
had to say of him and of his enterprise, and is said to have killed
any man who ventured to recognise and salute him. He passed his nights
arranging the plan of his attack--where he should place his cannon;
where he would endeavour to undermine the walls; where the attack with
scaling ladders should commence. The anxiety he displayed when on the
eve of this and many subsequent undertakings; his desire to learn the
opinion formed of him by his own men and by foreigners; his many hasty
acts and the many legends which grew up during his lifetime and after
his death representing him as a rash and impulsive ruler, all indicate
that he was of a highly strung and nervous temperament.

There are two sides to his character, each well marked and distinct;
the man lived a double life, whereof one aspect would almost seem to be
irreconcilable with the other. In one he presents himself as a student,
sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, doubting of everything
and anxious to learn what answers the best men of his time and of
former ages, philosophers and theologians, had to give to the greatest
problems of life. In the other aspect he is a bloodthirsty tyrant,
a _hunkiar_ or drinker of blood; one who recked nothing of human
slaughter and who seems even to have delighted in human suffering. Yet
the two lives are inseparably blended. He would turn from study to
slaughter, and after slaughter and torture would show himself to be
full of pity for the sufferings of his victims.

Nature had endowed him with intelligence far above the average of
that possessed by men of his race. He was the son of a slave, and
probably of a Christian, and like so many of the sultans before his
time and until the middle of the eighteenth century probably owed his
intelligence to the non-Turkish blood in his veins. His early struggles
while yet a lad, and the great responsibilities he had to assume in
order to protect his very life, had quickened his faculties and had
made him both suspicious and self-reliant. His environment, among men
who were simply soldiers of the original Turkish type; the tradition
of his house and race, in accordance with which any slaughter or any
cruelties might be committed; the religion to which he belonged, which
regarded all non-Mussulmans as enemies of the true faith, who were
to be subdued: all tended to make him regardless of human life. But
amid his cruelties his better nature and his more thoughtful side
occasionally asserted itself.

In one respect his characteristics are those of his race. No man can
show himself more cruel and relentless in slaughter than the Turk
whenever his religious sentiment comes into play. The unbeliever is
an enemy of God and of Mahomet, and it is a sacred duty when he is
fighting against the Moslem to slay him. Those who are at war against
Islam must be utterly destroyed, root and branch, unless indeed they
will accept the faith. Men, women, and children must alike suffer the
penalty. But when no religious sentiment obscures the natural feelings
of humanity, the same Turk is goodnatured and kindly. Probably no race
is more charitable towards its own poor or treats animals with more
kindness. Mahomet the Second both in his cruelty towards his enemies
and in his spasmodic kindness was a not unfair representative of his

But in another respect the characteristics of Mahomet are quite
un-Turk-like. His interest in questions of philosophy and theology, in
science and even in art, recall the names of Western rather than of
Turkish rulers. It was indeed his interest in theological questions
that led to various reports that he was an atheist,[191] that he was an
unbeliever in the dogmas of his own religion and that he contemplated
embracing Christianity. That he felt an interest in such questions
separates him at once from the mass of his race: for, probably more
completely than the professors of any other religion, Moslems accept
their creed without question.[192]

Phrantzes notes that when as a mere boy he had been entrusted with
kingly power, some of the old viziers had warned Sultan Murad that it
was not prudent to leave the government to his son.[193] Their warning
was not altogether disregarded, and the viziers who gave it paid dearly
for their counsels.

[Sidenote: Mahomet’s accession.]

His father, Murad the Second, had died in February 1451 at Adrianople.
When Mahomet learned the news he was in Magnesia. Calling upon all who
loved him to follow, he hastened as rapidly as possible to Gallipoli.
During the two days he remained there a great crowd flocked to his
standard. Then he pushed on to Adrianople. On the day after his arrival
he was proclaimed sultan. Halil Pasha the grand vizier and Isaac Pasha
were in attendance, but as they were the advisers who prevented the
young sultan from retaining supreme power, they were doubtful of their
reception and kept themselves in the background. Mahomet, however,
ordered Halil to take his place as grand vizier and appointed Isaac
Pasha governor of Anatolia or Asia Minor.

Mahomet commenced his reign by one of those acts of cruelty which at
once proclaimed the brutal and the treacherous side of his character.
Being himself the son of a slave mother and having a younger brother,
named Ahmed, an infant still at the breast, who was the son of Murad by
his marriage with the sister of the Serbian kral, he ordered a certain
Ali to drown the young Ahmed in his bath. His predecessors had killed
their brothers, but the latter, as we have seen, were in open revolt.
Von Hammer states that there are Turkish historians who praise Mahomet
the Second for this act of cruelty, and this for the reason that it
is easier to kill a babe than a boy who is grown up.[194] Fearing
apparently the effect so wanton an act of cruelty would have upon his
followers, Mahomet disclaimed all participation in it and put Ali to

Mahomet is entitled to be classed among the men who at an early age
showed exceptional military skill. This skill was developed during
almost continual warfare to the end of his reign. His industry, his
boundless desire for conquest, his careful attention to every detail
that was necessary to secure success, and his confidence in his own
judgment, recall the names of Alexander and Napoleon. From his first
and most important enterprise against Constantinople itself down to
the last expedition of his reign he was not merely the nominal but the
actual commander of the Turkish troops. He would brook no interference.
He allowed no council or other body of his subjects to thwart his
designs. The New Troops or Janissaries, flushed with victory and
already conscious of that solidarity which in later years made them the
terror of sultans, exacted from him a donative on his accession, but
they paid dearly for their temerity and soon learned that their new
master would neither be dictated to nor divide his sovereignty.

For the present we must be content to note that the young sultan was a
man of unusual intelligence, who as a boy had accepted responsibility
with eagerness; that he still had in 1452 the alternate confidence and
hesitancy of youth; that he was of great energy, of studious habits, of
nervous temperament, painstaking in the formation of his designs, ready
to obtain the judgment of others, but otherwise quick in arriving at
a decision. His maxim in later years was that in warfare secrecy and
rapidity are the main elements of success. In reply to an officer of
high rank who asked why great warlike preparations were being made he
answered, ‘If a hair of my beard knew, I would pluck it out and burn
it.’[196] His ambition was great. He proposed to attack Naples, dreamed
of leading his armies to the elder Rome, and regarded his conquests as
stages in a great design of conquering the world.[197] These objects
were however in the future. The immediate one before him was the
capture of the city, and to its accomplishment he directed all his
thoughts and all his energy without wavering until he had attained it.

[Sidenote: Conciliating embassies.]

Within a few weeks of Mahomet’s arrival in Europe from Magnesia
ambassadors were sent to his court at Adrianople from Constantine and
other rulers in Europe and Asia Minor who were under his suzerainty to
congratulate him on his accession. As his first care was to make sure
of his own position and to gain time, Mahomet received them all with
apparent cordiality and promised to observe the treaties made by his
father. At the request of the representatives of the emperor he not
merely confirmed the existing treaties, but declared his willingness to
pay an annual sum of three hundred thousand aspers chargeable upon the
produce of the Strymon Valley for the maintenance of Orchan.[198]

Then he returned to Caramania, where Ibrahim Bey, who had already
shown himself ready to join Hunyadi and other enemies of the Turks, was
in revolt.[199] There must be no repetition of the incident which had
made Murad’s attempt to capture the city a failure. No sooner had the
sultan left Europe than, with an indiscretion which Ducas condemns,
ambassadors from the emperor were sent to ask that the pension promised
for the support of Orchan should be doubled and at the same time to
demand leave, if the request were refused, that Constantine might be at
liberty to set him free. The messengers insinuated that in such case
Orchan would be an acceptable candidate for the Ottoman throne. The
request was of course a threat, and was so treated by Halil Pasha--who
had been friendly to the late emperor and who continued his friendship
to Constantine--and by Mahomet himself. When Halil heard their demand
he bluntly asked them if they were mad. He told them that they had a
very different man to deal with from the easy-going Murad; the ink on
the treaty was not yet dry, and yet they came as if they were in a
position to demand better conditions than had been already granted.
‘If you think,’ said Halil, ‘you can do anything against us, do it:
proclaim Orchan prince; bring the Hungarians across the Danube and
take from us, if you can, the lands we have captured; but I warn you
that you will fail and that if you try you will lose everything.’[200]
The account given by Ducas has every appearance of truthfulness. Halil
felt that his own attempts to save the city were being thwarted by the
emperor himself. He, however, promised to report to Mahomet what they
had said and kept his word.

His master dealt with the ambassadors much more diplomatically. He was
outside Europe, and it would be inconvenient if any attempt should be
made to prevent him returning to Adrianople. Besides, he must have time
to come to terms with Caramania. He therefore represented that he was
quite disposed to accede to the demands submitted to him, but that, as
he was going to Adrianople in a short time, it would be better that
they should submit to him there that which was judged best for the
empire and the citizens.

[Sidenote: Returns to Adrianople, and begins his active preparations.]

Thereupon the sultan with all haste made terms with Ibrahim Bey of
Caramania and returned to his European capital. When there he at once
gave orders that the pension to Orchan should no longer be paid, and
sent to arrest all the tax-gatherers in the Strymon Valley who were
collecting the money to pay it.

He had quieted one possible ally of the empire. He addressed himself
next to another opponent who had shown that he could be terribly
formidable. He made a truce with John Hunyadi for three years and
concluded arrangements with the rulers of other states. He strengthened
his army. He amassed stores of arms, arrows, and cannon-balls. He
superintended the thorough reform of the administration of the revenue,
and in the course of a year he accumulated a third of the taxes which
would otherwise have been squandered.

[Sidenote: Purposes building fort on Bosporus.]

Then he determined to carry into execution a plan which would give
him a strong base for operations against the city he was resolved to
capture. He was already master of the Asiatic side of the Bosporus.
At what is now Anatolia-Hissar he possessed the strong fortification
built by Bajazed. It is at the place where Darius crossed from Asia
into Europe and where the Bosporus is narrowest, being indeed only
half a mile broad. Mahomet already possessed by treaty, made with
his father, the right to cross the straits and to march through the
peninsula behind Constantinople to his capital at Adrianople. He now,
however, proposed to build another fortification at some point on
the opposite--that is the European--shore. It would serve the double
purpose of enabling him to command the straits and of giving him a base
for obtaining his supplies from Asia and for the attack by sea upon
the city. With a fleet already large at the Dardanelles and with the
command of the Bosporus, he hoped to isolate Constantinople so far as
to prevent it from receiving any aid in men or supplies of food. The
command of the Bosporus would be a blow to the trade of Venice and
Genoa as well as to the emperor. Ships would be prevented from trading
freely with, and bringing supplies from, the Black Sea. It might have
been expected that the emperor would have put forth all his strength to
oppose the execution of such a design. The all-sufficient explanation
is, that, even if his naval strength had been sufficient to delay the
crossing of Mahomet’s crowd of builders, the army was too hopelessly
insignificant to hold the shore against that which could soon arrive
from Adrianople on its rear.

[Sidenote: Remonstrances against project.]

When the emperor and citizens learned, in the spring of 1452, the
preparations which were being made by the collection of building
materials and the bringing together of crowds of workmen, they
recognised all the importance of the project and its danger to the
city. Ambassadors were sent to the sultan at Adrianople to learn
whether it was possible in any way to divert Mahomet from his purpose.
They urged the existence of treaties with the grandfather, the
father, and even with Mahomet himself: treaties which had expressly
stipulated that no fortification or other building should be erected
on the European side of the Bosporus.[201] They claimed that these
stipulations had hitherto been scrupulously observed, that armies had
been allowed to pass, but Mahomet’s predecessors had prevented any
of their subjects putting up fortifications or other buildings. The
messengers urged upon the sultan that to break the treaties was to
commit an act of injustice to the emperor.

[Sidenote: Mahomet’s reply.]

In reply, the sultan, who was determined to avoid war till he was
ready, declared to the messengers that he had no intention of breaking
treaties: a statement which was, of course, in flagrant violation of
the truth. He pointed out, however, that in the time of his father the
Italians had tried to hinder the passage of his troops when it had
become necessary to fight the Hungarians, and urged that it had become
essential for the protection of his European possessions that he should
be in a position to prevent such detention in future. He claimed that
the land on which he proposed to build his fortress belonged to him,
and professed to think it strange that the emperor should wish to place
any difficulties in the way of the execution of so necessary a project.
If indeed, he significantly added, the emperor was not peaceably
disposed, that would be a different matter.[202]

When the messengers reported their interview, the emperor’s first idea
was to fight, and he was only prevented by the entreaties of the clergy
and people from sending a detachment of his troops to destroy the
builders and their work. Some indeed of the inhabitants were in favour
of such action, but the emperor[203] had to come to the miserable
conclusion that it was impossible to prevent the young sultan from
carrying out his project except by war in the open country, and that
for such war he was not prepared.

[Sidenote: Selects a site at Roumelia-Hissar.]

When the spring of 1452 was further advanced the sultan himself
took the lead in the execution of his project. He assembled thirty
well-armed triremes and a large number of transports and sent them from
Gallipoli to the Bosporus. At the same time he himself marched at the
head of a large army towards its European shore.

On his arrival he selected, with the aid of his engineers, the most
advantageous position for his proposed fortifications. This was found
immediately opposite Anatolia Hissar.[204]

[Sidenote: Building begins.]

Once the plan had been decided upon, every available man seems to
have been set at work to aid in its speedy execution. Mahomet himself
superintended the construction of the new fortification and pushed
on the works with the energy that characterised all his military

At the beginning of the operations Constantine with the object of
saving the crops of the peasants around the city, and of appearing
to be reconciled to the project which he could not prevent, sent
provisions to the workmen. Mahomet in reply, and probably with the
intention of forcing on war in the open, permitted his men to scour the
country and gather or destroy the crops. All the neighbouring churches
and houses, including the famous church of the Asomatoi at Arnoutkeui,
were destroyed to furnish material.[205]

The land enclosed, says Critobulus, was rather a fortified town than a
fort. The walls and towers still remain and form the most picturesque
object which the traveller sees on his passage through the Bosporus.
Each of two peaks is crowned with a strong tower. These are connected
by a long high wall interrupted with smaller towers, and from the two
largest towers similar walls at right angles to the long wall connect
them with great towers on the shore at the end of another line of walls
parallel to the channel. Small guns or bombards enabled the enclosure
to be defended against any attack by land. On the sea shore and under
the protection of the walls were stationed large cannon which threw
heavy stone balls and commanded the passage.

[Sidenote: Completed middle of August 1452.]

[Sidenote: War declared.]

The work had been commenced in March 1452. It was completed by the
middle of August of the same year. The city had hoped to maintain
peace and Turks had entered and left it apparently without difficulty.
When the fortification was finished and Mahomet’s army had robbed the
peasants of their crops, this hope vanished. Constantine closed the
gates, making the few Turks within its walls prisoners. They were,
however, a few days afterwards sent to the sultan. Upon the closing
of the gates, Mahomet formally declared war and followed up his
declaration by appearing with an army of fifty thousand men before the
walls. But his preparations for a siege were far from ready. After
remaining three days he withdrew on September 6 to Adrianople and at
the same time the fleet returned to the Dardanelles.[206]

[Sidenote: Capture of ships at Roumelia-Hissar.]

Within the next few weeks the city as well as the Venetian and Genoese
colonies learned how greatly the new fortification of Roumelia-Hissar
had strengthened Mahomet’s position. On November 10, two large
Venetian galleys under the command of Morosini were fired at as they
were passing and captured. A fortnight later, on November 26, another
Venetian ship was fired at and also captured. Some of the crew were
sawn in halves. These captures, says Barbaro, led to the beginning of
the war with the Venetians. For the first time the Turks commanded the

[Sidenote: Mahomet’s address to the pashas.]

Now that he had provided himself with a safe base of operations against
the city and withdrawn to Adrianople, Mahomet threw off all disguise,
and calling together the principal officers of the army announced to
them the object of his preparations, which, in accordance with his
habitual practice, he had hitherto kept secret. Critobulus gives us
an address which he represents Mahomet as making to his leaders. He
describes the progress made by his ancestors in Asia Minor, how they
had established themselves at Brousa and had taken possession of the
Hellespont; had conquered part of Thrace and Macedonia, Bulgaria,
Serbia, and even Selymbria, and had overcome nearly every obstacle.
The great barrier to their progress was the city and the army of
the Romans. Whatever the sons of Othman wanted to do was opposed at
Constantinople. The citizens had fought them everywhere pertinaciously
and continually. This opposition must be ended; this barrier removed.
It was for his hearers, said Mahomet, to complete the work of their
fathers. They had now against them a single city, one which could not
resist their attacks; a city whose population was greatly reduced
and whose former wealth had been diminished by Turkish sieges and by
the continual incursions made by his ancestors upon its territory,
a city which was now only one in name, for in reality it contained
cultivated lands, orchards, and vineyards. Its buildings were useless
and its walls abandoned and for the greater part in ruins. Even from
its weakness, however, they knew that from its favourable situation,
commanding both land and sea, it had greatly hindered their progress
and could still hinder it, upsetting their plans, and being always
ready to attack them. Openly or secretly it had done all it could
against them. It was the city which had brought about the attack by
Tamerlane and the suffering which followed. It had instigated Hunyadi
to cross the Danube and on every occasion had been in every possible
manner their great enemy. The time had now come when in his opinion
it should be captured or wiped off the face of the earth. One of two
things: he would either have it within his empire, or he would lose
both. With Constantinople in his possession the territories already
gained could be safely held and more would be obtained; without it, no
territory that they possessed was safe.

Critobulus professes that the sultan claimed to have information that
the Italians in Constantinople would not give any aid to the emperor,
and were indeed his enemies, and that on account of the difference of
religion there was bitter strife between them and the Greeks. Mahomet
concluded by urging that there was great risk in delay and that the
city should be attacked before any aid could be sent to its relief.
He gave his vote for war, and nearly all the assembly followed his

Mahomet now pushed on his preparations for the siege with the utmost
activity. The general commanding the European troops was ordered to
take a portion of them into the neighbourhood of Constantinople and
clear the country. This he did, and attacked in the usual Turkish
fashion all the villages on the route which still remained under the
rule of the emperor. Selymbria, Perinthos, and other places on the
north shore of the Marmora were sacked.

[Sidenote: Hopes that siege could be avoided.]

The inhabitants of Constantinople seem at first to have hoped
against hope, notwithstanding the construction of the fortress at
Roumelia-Hissar, that the sultan would have remained content with his
position on the Bosporus thus strengthened. They soon realised that
an attempt was about to be made to capture the city far more serious
than any that had been made within living memory. They knew their
weakness and the strength of their foe. They knew that in a siege they
would be under greater disadvantages than ever before; that conquest
would mean falling into the hands of implacable enemies, the slaughter
of their young men, the loss of all their property, the plunder of
their churches, and the enslaving of their women. The statement of
Critobulus is probable enough that the inhabitants remarked to each
other that in former sieges the position of the city was better,
because it had command of the sea and the inhabitants had therefore
only need to defend the walls on the landward side. We may dismiss, as
being merely curious and characteristic of the period, the stories of
supernatural events which increased the tribulation of the inhabitants,
of earthquakes, and strange unearthly groanings, of lightning and
shooting stars, of hurricanes, torrential rains and floods, and of
other signs which indicated the wrath of God against the city. Those of
the inhabitants who did not believe in omens had something more serious
to think about than perspiring pictures, men and women possessed of
the devil, and mad enthusiasts who prophesied misfortune to the city,
and helped to depress the spirits of the fighters. Those who kept
their heads, with the emperor as their leader, behaved like men and
met the danger bravely. They set themselves in the first place to
strengthen the defences. Their first task was to repair the walls, for
which purpose tombstones and all other materials available were freely
employed. Arrows and all other kinds of arms were collected.

[Sidenote: Arrival of Isidore with 200 soldiers; of Venetian ships; of

During the whole of the winter the emperor and his people pushed
on their preparations. In November 1452, as we have seen, Cardinal
Isidore had arrived with two hundred soldiers sent by the pope.
Six Venetian vessels--not, indeed, intended for war but capable of
being adapted to such purpose--came to the city, and their captains
together with those of three large ships from Crete yielded to the
request and promises of the emperor and consented to render help. The
leading Venetian commander was Gabriel Trevisano, who, in reply to the
imperial request, consented to give his services ‘per honor de Dio et
per honor de tuta la Christianitade.’[208] When the Venetian ships
coming from the Black Sea were destroyed by the Turks at Hissar, the
emperor and leading nobles, the cardinal and Leonard, with the ‘bailey’
of the Venetian colony and its leading members, held a council to
arrange conditions on which Venice should be asked to send aid. Their
deliberations took place on December 13, the day after the famous
service of reconciliation in Hagia Sophia, and on several following
days. Trevisano and Diedo, the most important sea captains, were
also present. An agreement was concluded and messengers were sent to
Venice to ask that immediate aid should be sent to the city. Finally
the council decided that no Venetian vessel should leave the harbour
without express permission.[209]

[Sidenote: Arrival of Justiniani.]

On January 29 the city received the most important of all its
acquisitions; for on that day arrived John Justiniani. A Genoese of
noble family, he was well skilled in the art of war and had gained
great reputation as a soldier. On board his two vessels were four
hundred cuirassiers, whom he had brought from Genoa, and others whom
he had hired at Chios and Rhodes, making together with his crew in
all seven hundred men.[210] A soldier of fortune, he had come on his
own accord to offer his sword when he heard of the straits in which
the emperor found himself, and had received a promise that in case
of success he should receive the island of Lesbos. He was cordially
welcomed by the emperor and nobles and was shortly afterwards, by
the consent of all, named commander-in-chief, with the powers of a
dictator in everything that regarded the war. He at once took charge
of the work already begun of strengthening the defences. He distributed
small guns upon the walls where they could throw their stone balls to
greatest advantage. He classified the defenders and appointed to each
his station.

In the last days of March Trevisano with his crew, aided also by
Alexis (or Aloysius) Diedo, whose three galleys had come from Tana
on the Azof, reopened a foss from the Golden Horn in front of the
landward walls as far as the ground remained level, and at the same
time repaired the walls in the neighbourhood.[211] A few days later
the Italians were assigned to the most important positions on the
landward walls. Barbaro, with the enthusiasm of a Crusader, gives a
list of Venetian nobles who took part in the defences, and this ‘for a
perpetual memorial’ of his brave countrymen.

Justiniani appears at first to have chosen to defend the walls at

[Sidenote: Closing the harbour.]

On April 2 the chain or boom which defended the entrance to the Golden
Horn was either closed for the first time or strengthened.[212] It
extended from the Tower of Eugenius near Seraglio Point to the Tower of
Galata,[213] within the Galata Walls, and near the present Moumhana,
and was supported on logs. Ten large ships, of which five were Genoese,
three from Crete, one from Ancona, and an imperial ship, were stationed
at the boom, bows towards it, and with long triremes near them for
support. The guardianship of the boom was entrusted to the Genoese.[214]

By the end of March Mahomet’s preparations were nearly complete. He
had already summoned all available cavalry and infantry from Asia and
the parts of Europe under his control. As they arrived he drilled,
classified, and formed them into bodies of cuirassiers (or men with
breastplates), slingers, archers, and lancers.

[Sidenote: The Turkish army.]

While it is impossible to state with anything like certainty what was
the number of fighting men whom Mahomet was shortly to bring before the
walls of the city, the materials for forming a general computation are
not wanting. The Turkish army was composed of regulars and irregulars.
The first and most important division of regulars were the Janissaries.
After them came a great horde of Turks from those who had occupied
Asia Minor and Europe. Every Turk was bound to serve, and a call had
been made on all. The Turkish nation was the Turkish army. Among
them were many men who represented the class subsequently known as
Derrybeys, chieftains who held their lands from the sultan on condition
of bringing a number of retainers into the field during war. The
irregulars, or, as they may be conveniently called, the Bashi-Bazouks,
consisted partly of the poorest class of Turks, who did not possess a
horse, and partly of Christians attracted by the hope of plunder.

Amid the estimates of the number of men in Mahomet’s army, that of
Barbaro may be taken as safe and substantially correct. He takes note
of both regulars and irregulars--that is, of all the combatants--while
he disregards the camp-followers as non-combatants. He states, when
speaking of the siege, that there were a hundred and fifty thousand men
stationed between the Golden Horn and the Marmora. As, excluding the
men on the fleet, all Mahomet’s followers took part in it, the number
mentioned may be taken as Barbaro’s estimate of the whole Turkish army.
Cheirullah, a Turkish chronicler, affirms that there were not more than
eighty thousand effective fighting men, excluding in this estimate
apparently the Bashi-Bazouks.[215]

Barbaro’s estimate of one hundred and fifty thousand fighting men
is substantially confirmed by Tetaldi, who states that there were
two hundred thousand men under Mahomet, of whom a hundred and forty
thousand were effective soldiers including thirty thousand to forty
thousand cavalry, the rest ‘being thieves, plunderers, hawkers, and
others following the siege for gain and booty.’[216] Taking the
estimate of Cheirullah and Tetaldi, we may perhaps safely say that in
the army of one hundred and fifty thousand men there were at least
twenty thousand cavalry.

In this great army the Janissaries played the most important part and
formed beyond all doubt the most efficient division. These were at
least twelve thousand in number.[217] The name Janissaries signifies
‘New Troops,’ and was given by a famous dervish and saint, Hadji
Bektash, when they were formed, in 1326, into a new infantry by Sultan
Orchan. From their institution they constituted a fraternity governed
in religious matters by the rules of Hadji Bektash.[218] Under the
care of the first Murad, the son of Orchan, their organisation had
been developed, and by the time of Mahomet the Second they had already
acquired high repute for discipline and daring.

The part they played in the capture of the city and their subsequent
renown deserve a somewhat complete notice. The order took its origin
in a long recognised Moslem rule, that when a people at war with
Mahometans is summoned to make submission and refuses it may be
enslaved, and that in such a case one fifth of the property captured
should belong to the sultan. Christian captives fell within the limit
of this rule. In practice, however, the sultans by no means considered
themselves bound to restrict themselves to the prescribed one fifth.
They held that as many of the children as the conqueror thought
fit should be given over to him to be trained for the public, and
especially for military, services. Accordingly, without regard to the
fact that the parents had already surrendered one or more sons to the
ruler, they were often called upon to furnish others. The demand for
Christian children to be given up absolutely to the sultan was regular
and methodic. No tithe or other tax required for the service of the
Church was ever claimed with more regularity and insistence than this
blood tax for the service of Islam. A formal examination of Christian
children available for service was made every five years, when a
Turkish inspector, at the head of a troop of soldiers and bearing an
imperial firman of authorisation, visited the portions of the empire
assigned to him. The registers of the churches were carefully examined
to see how many children ought to be brought forward for inspection,
and the priests, under the penalty of death, were bound to show a
correct list. The boys selected were usually between the ages of ten
and twelve years. Those were preferred who were distinguished either by
their strength, intelligence, or beauty. In addition to these regular
and legal contributions to the services of the state, it was the custom
of the pashas, on returning from the provinces to bring presents of
Christian children to their imperial master.

The boys thus taken away from their parents and their homes were
forcibly converted to Mahometanism. From the day of their reception
into Islam they were kept under strict surveillance and instructed
with the object of making them useful servants of the sultan. After
a while they were divided according to their aptitudes and told off
for special training for different branches of civil and military
service. It is with the latter that we are most concerned, though it
may be mentioned that many of those who had been Christian slaves rose
to the highest positions in the civil service and greatly increased
the efficiency of Turkish rule. All were thoroughly drilled in the
observances and taught the precepts of the Moslem religion. All were
subjected to a severe discipline, were trained to practise self-denial,
to endure hardships cheerfully and not to repine at scantiness of
food or loss of sleep. Day and night they were under supervision. The
obedience exacted from them towards their superiors was absolute,
prompt, and, in appearance at least, willing. All were taught to be
expert in archery, and to ride well.

After a probation lasting usually six years, those who were drafted
into the military service were still subject to severe restraints.
Bertrandon de la Brocquière bears witness to the excellence of their
discipline, and the same testimony is borne by a series of other
witnesses for two centuries later. What may be called the Articles of
War to which they were subject, besides prescribing absolute obedience
to every command of their chief, required abstinence from every kind of
luxury and the strict performance of the many rules of devotion laid
down by Hadji Bektash.[219] All men who were not within barracks at
the hour fixed were detained for punishment. No Janissary was allowed,
until long after the conquest, to marry.[220]

On the other hand, the same Articles contained regulations which enable
us to understand how in time service among the Janissaries came even
to be coveted. Though discipline was strict, punishment could only
be inflicted upon a Janissary by one of his own officers. It is true
that, after receiving the bastinado, the offender had to rise, bend
low, and salute the officer who had superintended the punishment, but
no disgrace was attached to this act of discipline. The boy who was
admitted into the brotherhood of the Janissaries was provided for as
completely as if he had become a monk. When by reason of age or wounds
he became weak, he was retired from active service and received a
pension of three aspers daily more than he had received when on service.

In times of warfare the sternest features of the barracks were relaxed.
Camp life was the recreation, and furnished the joy and hope, of the
Janissary. War was for him a delight. His regiment marched to battle
with every sign of rejoicing and of military display compatible with

The effect of the long training, with its strictness on the one hand
and its relaxations on the other, was to develop an _esprit de corps_
among them such as has rarely existed in any other army. Everything
was done that could be done to cultivate this spirit. Every means was
employed to make the Janissary live his life in and look only to the
interests of his regiment. He was forbidden to exercise any trade
or occupation whatever, lest he should possess an interest outside
his regiment. In the time of Suliman the sultan ordered the aga of
a regiment of Janissaries to be beheaded because one of his men was
found mending his clothes. The officer was spared at the request of
his comrades, but the private soldier was dismissed from the service.
The regiment was to be everything to the Janissary; the outside world
nothing. No man was allowed to accumulate wealth, although his regiment
could do so. Each man followed the good or ill fortune of the powerful
body of which he was a member.

The result was that the regiment represented to the Janissary
everything that he held dear. He became jealous of its honour, and
the regiment in its turn became exclusive towards outsiders. The
Janissary came before long to think of his position as privileged and
to regard entrance into his corps as only to be allowed under severe
restrictions. So careful indeed did he become of the rights of his
regiment that before long no person born of Mahometan parents was
admitted, even though his father had been one of themselves. As a
consequence of this cultivation of regimental rights, the popularity
of the New Troops became so great that many young Christians of
adventurous spirit voluntarily sought to join their ranks.

The Janissaries developed into a species of _imperium in imperio_.
Perhaps the body in Western Europe to which they may most aptly be
compared is the Order of Knights Templars. Each was a partly religious,
partly military Order. Each was jealous of its own privileges and
constituted a fraternity largely isolated from the rest of the
community. But the isolation of the Janissary was more complete than
that of the Templar at any time. The Moslem had been cut off from
his own family and had forgotten all the Christians he had known as
a child, and his regiment had taken the place of father and mother,
wife and home. His individual rights had been merged in those of his
regiment. The resemblance between the Janissaries and the Templars
might be noted in one other respect--namely, that their religion sat
lightly upon them. Though the former were bound by the precepts of
Hadji Bektash, these precepts were, from the Mahometan point of view,
extremely latitudinarian.[221]

All their discipline and training tended to make them devoted to the
sultan as commander-in-chief. The Janissary had nothing to gain and
nothing to fear from any person except his military superiors. Each
man’s promotion depended on the arbitrary will of his commanding
officer, or ultimately of the sovereign. Each man saw before him a
career in which he could rise to the command of an army or to other
high office, provided he won the approval of his sultan.

Such a military organisation had never been seen in the world’s
history, and furnished to the early sultans a force which was almost
irresistible. Wholly Christian and largely European in origin, it was
yet completely Mahometan in spirit and in action. It was indeed an army
which would have satisfied Frederick the Great or any other ruler who
has desired to model a force according to preconceived ideas. Take a
number of children from the most intelligent portion of the community;
choose them for their strength and intelligence; instruct them
carefully in the art of fighting; bring them up under strict military
discipline; teach them to forget the home of their childhood, their
parents and friends; give them a new religion of a specially military
type; saturate them with the knowledge that all their hope in life
depends upon their position in the regiment; make peace irksome and war
a delight, with the hope of promotion and relaxation from the hardships
and restraints of the barracks: the result will be a weapon in the
hands of a leader such as the world has rarely seen. Such a weapon was
the army of the Janissaries.

The success of Mahomet’s predecessors in the Balkan peninsula had been
largely due to the New Troops. Though their numbers appear to have
been limited to twelve thousand, they had already proved their value.
We have seen that when John Hunyadi had put the Turks under Murad the
Second to rout, it was the Janissaries who saved the day and turned the
disaster of Varna into a great victory. Their discipline and strength
were even more triumphant in the defeat of the great Hungarian on the
plain of Cossovo in 1448. Black John, as the Turks named him from the
colour of his banner, succeeded in putting to flight the Anatolian and
the Rumelian divisions of his enemy. But the attack on the Janissaries
failed utterly. They stood like a wall of brass until the moment came
for them to become the attacking force, and through their efforts the
triumph of the sultan was complete.

The force which had thus shown its quality only five years previously
was by far the most important division under Mahomet’s command. The
ablest, bravest, most terrible portion of the army of the arch-enemy of
Christendom was composed exclusively from Christian families. The most
formidable instrument employed by the Turks for the conquest of the
Christians of South-eastern Europe and for attacking the nations of the
West was formed of boys born of Christian parents, enslaved, forcibly
converted to a hostile religion, who yet became devotedly attached to
the slavery to which they had been condemned. It was their boast in
after years that they had never fled from an enemy, and the boast was
not an idle one.

The remainder of the Turkish forces which may be classed among regular
troops came from all parts occupied by the Turks but mainly from
Anatolia. Their organisation, discipline, and powers of endurance
probably made them as formidable an army as any which a European power
of the period could have put into the field.

The Bashi Bazouks constituted an undisciplined mob who were good enough
to be employed where numbers and wild courage were of use in annoying
or weakening the enemy. La Brocquière states that the ‘innumerable
host’ of these irregulars took the field with no other weapon than
their curved swords or scimitars. ‘Being,’ says Philelphus, ‘under no
restraint, they proved the most cruel scourge of a Turkish invasion.’

In speaking of the Turkish host it must not be forgotten that in 1453
hardly any European power can be said to have possessed a standing
army. It is with no surprise, therefore, that we note that contemporary
European writers from the West speak with astonishment of the
discipline which prevailed. ‘Their obedience to superiors,’ says La
Brocquière, ‘is boundless; none dare disobey even when their lives are
at hazard, and it is chiefly owing to their steady submission that such
great exploits have been performed and such conquests gained.’ The same
writer bears testimony to the great mobility of the Turkish army. ‘Ten
thousand Turks on the march will make less noise than a hundred men in
our Christian armies. In their ordinary marches they only walk, but
in forced marches they always gallop, and, as they are lightly armed,
they will thus advance further from evening to daybreak than others in
three days. It is by these forced marches that they have succeeded in
surprising and completely defeating the Christians in their different

The army which Mahomet commanded was not merely endued with the
fatalism and confidence of an ordinary army of Islam; it was engaged
upon a work in which many generations of Moslems had longed to take
a part. The prophet himself was represented in the Sacred Traditions
as holding converse with Allah respecting the capture of New Rome,
and was told that the Great Day of Judgment would not come before
Constantinople had been captured by the sons of Isaac. On another
occasion Mahomet declared that ‘the best prince is he who shall capture
Constantinople, and his the best army.’ The inspired words had filled
his immediate followers with the determination to capture the city. The
Arabs attempted the task no less than seven times. At the third, in
672, they were accompanied by the aged Eyoub, who in his youth had been
the standard-bearer and favourite of the Prophet. The huge army had
sat down before the city during seven years, sowing the fields on the
neighbouring coasts and gathering in the harvest, but determined to win
the reward which Mahomet had promised to those who should capture the
New Rome. Eyoub’s death before its walls and the failure in these Arab
attempts of the largest and most powerful army and fleet which Islam
could ever collect had not rendered the words of the Prophet void. The
sacred promise still held good and served to stimulate every soldier to
increased exertion. Seven centuries had passed since the long struggle
against the Arabs, in which the Queen City saved European civilisation,
and now, once again in the fulness of time, that which the early
Moslems had desired to see was within the reach of those who fought
under a leader who bore the same name as the Prophet. Among those who
in the army were under the influence of religious ideas or traditions
the coming attempt to capture the city was looked forward to hopefully
and joyfully. To the ignorant and thoughtless among his barbarous
followers the promise of unlimited plunder which Mahomet the Second
held out was a stronger inducement; but to the better informed and more
religious, and to some extent to all, the hope of winning paradise
furnished a powerful allurement to battle or at least a compensatory
consolation at the prospect of death.

After this digression I return to the preparations which Mahomet was
making at Adrianople for the execution of his great design, and to
those which the emperor had in hand for the defence of the city.

[Sidenote: Urban’s great bombard.]

In the first weeks of January, the fame reached Constantinople of a
monster bombard or gun which was being cast in Adrianople. Ducas gives
interesting information of its history and describes it as the largest
possessed by the Turks.

In the autumn of 1452, while Mahomet was finishing the castle on the
Bosporus, a Hungarian or Wallachian cannon founder named Urban, who
had offered his services to the emperor and had been engaged by him,
was induced by higher pay to go over to the enemy. He would have
been content, says Ducas, with a quarter of the pay he received from
Mahomet.[223] After learning from him what he could do, the Turks
commissioned him to make as powerful a gun as he could cast. Urban
declared that if the walls were as strong as those of Babylon he could
destroy them. At the end of three months he had succeeded in making a
cannon which remained for many years the wonder of the city and even
of Europe, and marks an epoch in the continually increasing power of
guns. The casting was completed at Adrianople.[224]

In January it was started on its journey to the capital. Sixty oxen
were employed to drag it, while two hundred men marched alongside
the wagon on which it was placed to keep it in position. Two hundred
labourers preceded it to level the roads and to strengthen the bridges.
By the end of March[225] it was brought within five miles of the city.
But, though the fame of this monster gun has overshadowed all the rest,
we shall see that it was only one amongst many.[226]

[Sidenote: Turkish fleet.]

Above all, says Critobulus, Mahomet had given special attention to his
fleet, ‘because he considered that for the siege the fleet would be
of more use than even his army.’[227] He built many new triremes and
repaired his old ones. A number of long boats, some of them decked
over, and swift vessels propelled by from twenty to fifty oarsmen were
also ready. No expense had been spared. The crews of his fleet were
gathered from all the shores of Asia Minor and the Archipelago. He
selected with great care the pilots, the men who should give the time
to the oarsmen and the captains.

At the beginning of April, his fleet was ready to leave Gallipoli,
which had been the place of rendezvous. Baltoglu, a Bulgarian renegade,
was placed in command. A flotilla of a hundred and forty sailing ships
started for the Bosporus.[228] Of these, twelve were fully armed
galleys, seventy or eighty were _fustae_, and twenty to twenty-five
were _parandaria_. Amid shouts from one ship to another, the beating
of drums, and the sound of fifes, all marking the delight of the Turks
that their period of inactivity was at an end, the fleet made its way
through the Marmora. The sight carried dismay to the remnant of the
inhabitants of the Christian villages along the shores, for within
the memory of none had such a fleet been seen. Within the city itself
the news of the enormous number of vessels on their way was not less

The fleet arrived in the Bosporus on April 12 and anchored at the
Double Columns or Diplokionion just below the present Palace of Dolma

At the Double Columns the detachment of the fleet which had come from
the Dardanelles was joined by other vessels which had been swept in
from the Black Sea and the Marmora. Phrantzes gives the total number at
four hundred and eighty.[230] Many of the vessels from the Black Sea
were laden with wood or with stone balls.

The Turkish fleet under Baltoglu’s command thus consisted of a number
of vessels from all the shores of the Marmora, the Bosporus, and the
Black Sea. Among them were triremes, biremes, _fustae_, _parandaria_,
and galleys. As we shall find these terms recurring, it will be well
to realise what they signified. The trireme of the fifteenth century
was a long and fast vessel which had usually two masts, was very low
in the water and, though employing sails, was mainly dependent for
propulsion on her oars. The arrangement of oars from which she derived
her name was not in tiers one above the other and thus requiring oars
of different length. The ‘banks’ or benches, unlike those in ancient
ships, were all on the same level. The oars were short and all of the
same length: but three oars projected through one rowlock port, each
oar working on a tholepin. ‘One man one oar’ was the invariable rule.
Three men occupied one bench or seat. Down the middle of the trireme
ran a central gangway called the _histodokè_, primarily intended as
a rest for the mast, but upon which the officer passed to and fro to
keep time for the oarsmen. There were thus three upon each side of him,
or six men nearly abreast throughout the length of the trireme. The
arrangement upon a bireme was of a similar character, except that two
men instead of three occupied one bench. There was also but one mast.
The _fusta_ resembled the bireme in having two oarsmen on each bench on
each side of the _histodokè_ from the stern to the one central mast,
but only one on each side from the mast forward.[231]

The _fusta_ was a lighter boat than the trireme, and could thus be
propelled more rapidly. The _parandaria_ were heavy boats, probably
not differing much from the sailing barges or _mahoons_ still used in
the harbour of Constantinople, the Bosporus, and Marmora. The name
‘galley’ was in the fifteenth century applied to war vessels propelled
by a single bank of long oars on each side. Leonard employs the term
_dromon_, not, as it had been used in earlier days from about 500
A.D., as a generic term for war ships,[232] but to indicate the large
_caiques_, usually of twelve oars, which could not be classed as
triremes, biremes, or fustæ.

Probably the majority of the vessels in Mahomet’s fleet were not larger
than the ordinary bazaar caiques which ply between Constantinople and
distant villages on the Bosporus or the Marmora or are employed in
deep-sea fishing.[233]

[Sidenote: Turkish army arrives before the walls, April 5.]

Mahomet, leaving Adrianople in the early days of April with the whole
of his army, overspread and ravaged the country which had not already
been swept by the vanguard of his force and arrived on the 5th of
that month before the city. He encamped at about a mile and a half’s
distance from the landward walls.

Apparently, before the arrival of the main body of Mahomet’s army,
a sortie was made by the Greeks and Italians against those who had
arrived, and this was possibly led by Justiniani.[234] They met at
first with success, wounded many and killed a few Turks, but when
Mahomet arrived the advantage of the besiegers in numbers was so
overwhelming that no further sorties were attempted. The bridges
leading across the foss to the Gates were broken down; the Gates were
closed and were not again opened so long as the siege lasted.

The Turkish army on April 6 advanced three quarters of a mile nearer
to the walls, and on the following day again approached still closer.
The imperial guard extended from the height crowned by Top Capou[235]
to the Adrianople Gate, and thus occupied the valley of the Lycus. This
district was known as the Mesoteichion. Their camp was so near to the
walls as only to be just out of range of missiles discharged by the

[Sidenote: Formal offer of peace.]

The law of the Koran requires, or is believed to require, that before
war is definitely declared there shall be a formal offer of peace, and
accordingly before the siege commenced Mahomet made such a proposal.
To men who knew their own weakness and the tremendous odds against
them any such offer must have been tempting. He sent messengers to
declare that if the city were given up to him he would consent to allow
the citizens to remain; he would not deprive them of their property,
their wives or their children, but take all under his protection. As
the inhabitants knew well the fate of a population when conquered by a
Turkish army, they might possibly have accepted the proposal, if they
had had any confidence in the oath of the proposer. The answer sent was
that they would consent to other conditions, but never to the surrender
of the city.[237]

Upon this refusal Mahomet at once made his dispositions for a regular


Drawn by F. R. von Hubner for and under the direction of Professor A.
van Millingen.

  _Walker & Boutall sc._

Reproduced by kind permission of Prof. A. van Millingen from ‘Byzantine
Constantinople’ (John Murray).

The indications in red ink are inserted by Mr. Pears. The bridges shown
on the Golden Horn are modern. The red line at its mouth indicates the



[Sidenote: Topography of Constantinople.]

In order to understand these dispositions and the operations of the
siege which had now begun it is necessary to take account of the
topography of the city. Constantinople in modern times comprises not
only Stamboul but the large and even more populous district situated
on the northern shore of the Golden Horn. This district was known in
mediaeval times as Pera.[238] On the slope of Pera hill towards the
Horn the Genoese were in possession of a walled city called Galata.
Sometimes this city is described as Galata of Pera. In modern times,
however, Pera is the name of the city on the north of the Golden Horn,
exclusive of Galata. In 1453 what is now known as Stamboul was the
only portion of the present city to which the name Constantinople was

The city about to be besieged is situated on a peninsula at the
south-west extremity of the Bosporus. It is, roughly speaking, an
isosceles triangle with its base to landward. One of the sides is
bounded by the Marmora and the other by the Golden Horn. It was
surrounded by walls, which, with a few short intervals, still remain.
On the two sides bounded by the sea they were built close to the
water’s edge. In the course of centuries the Golden Horn had silted
up a deposit of mud which even before 1453 formed a foreshore outside
the north walls of a sufficient extent to have allowed Cantacuzenus
to open a foss from Seraglio Point to Aivan Serai, formerly known as
Cynegion. The side of the triangle most open to attack was that which
faced the land and extended from the Horn to the Marmora. The walls on
this landward side, constructed mainly during the reign of Theodosius
the Second, had proved themselves during a period of a thousand years
sufficiently strong to have enabled the citizens successfully to resist
upwards of twenty sieges, and previous to the introduction of cannon
were justly regarded as invulnerable.[240]

The landward walls are four miles long. From the Marmora to a point
where the land has a steep slope for about half a mile down to the
Golden Horn, they are triple. The inner and loftiest is about forty
feet high and is strengthened by towers sixty feet high along its whole
length and distant from each other usually about one hundred and eighty
feet. Outside this wall is a second, about twenty-five feet high, with
towers similar to though smaller than those along the inner wall. This
wall alone is of a strength that in any other mediaeval city would have
been considered efficient.

Between these two walls was the Peribolos or enclosure, which, though
of varying width, is usually between fifty and sixty feet broad.
Outside the second was yet another wall, which was a continuation in
height of the scarp or inner wall of the ditch or foss and which may
conveniently be called a breastwork. This breastwork, like the other
two, was crenellated. Though, from the fact that it has been easier
of access than either of the others, the summit has mostly perished,
some portions of it are still complete. It is important, however, to
note that the third wall or breastwork is disregarded by contemporary
writers, and that they speak of the second as the Outer Wall. A second
enclosure, called by the Greeks the Parateichion to distinguish it from
the Peribolos, exists between the second and the third walls. The foss
or ditch, which has withstood four and a half centuries of exposure
since it last served as the first line of defence, is still in good
condition. It has a width of about sixty feet.

The landward wall contained a number of gates which are conveniently
described as Civil Gates and which during times of peace gave access
to the city over bridges which were destroyed when it was besieged.
The most important of these for our present purpose are the Chariseus,
the modern Adrianople Gate; Top Capou or Cannon Gate, known in earlier
times as the St. Romanus Gate, and the Pegè or Gate of the Springs, now
called Silivria Gate. Besides these there were Military Gates leading
from the city through the inner wall into the enclosures which were
known in earlier times by their numbers (counting from the Marmora end
of the walls) or from the division of the army stationed near them.
The most noteworthy of these were the Third or Triton and the Fifth or
Pempton. The latter is in the Lycus valley, about halfway between Top
Capou and the Gate of Adrianople, and was spoken of during the siege as
the St. Romanus Gate.[241]

As the most important military events in the history of the siege of
Constantinople took place in the valley of the Lycus, between the
Top Capou on the south and the Adrianople Gate on the north of the
valley, it is desirable that the configuration of the locality should
be noted carefully. Each of these gates is upon the summit of a hill,
the Adrianople Gate indeed being the highest point in the city and, as
such, having had near it, as is the almost invariable rule in lands
occupied by Greeks, a church dedicated to St. George, who took the
place of Apollo when the empire became Christian.[242] Between the
two gates exists a valley, about a hundred feet below their level,
which is drained by a small stream called the Lycus. The distance
between the two gates is seven eighths of a mile. The double walls
of Theodosius connect them, while in front of the Outer Wall was an
enclosure with the usual breastwork forming the side of the foss. The
Lycus enters below these walls through a well-constructed passage still
in existence, and flows through the city until it empties itself into
the Marmora at Vlanga Bostan. The tower beneath which it has been led
is halfway between the Adrianople Gate and Top Capou. About two hundred
yards to the north of this tower is the Fifth Military Gate or Pempton,
spoken of sometimes by the Byzantines as the Gate of St. Kyriakè, from
a church within the city which was close to it, called the Romanus
Gate by the writers on the siege, and on old Turkish maps described as
Hedjoum Capou or the Gate of the Assault.[243] The foss has a number of
dams at irregular distances down each side of the valley. In its lowest
part no dams were necessary.[244]

The walls between Top Capou and the Adrianople Gate were known as
the Mesoteichion, and the name seems to have been applied also to
the whole of the valley. The portion of the walls on either side of
the Adrianople Gate, or perhaps those only on the high ground to the
north of it, was known as the Myriandrion--a name which was applied
occasionally to the Gate itself. From a tower to which Leonard gives
the name Bactatinian, near where the Lycus entered the city, to Top
Capou, the walls were described as the Bachaturean.


[Illustration: This photograph shows the present condition of a
portion of the Landward Walls. They remain for the most part in an
equally good state of preservation. The Inner and the Second, usually
called the Outer, Wall and the Foss (now without water) are clearly
shown. The Third Wall or Breastwork has lost its upper portion and its
crenelations, except in a few places. The photograph is reproduced from
one by M. Irenian, of Constantinople.]

Though the two magnificent Theodosian walls were as well constructed
as elsewhere, and to the eye of an ordinary observer the city was
as strongly protected in the Lycus valley as anywhere, yet this
place appears to have been considered by many of the enemies of the
city as its weakest point. Here, says Dethier, with whom Professor
Van Millingen agrees, was the Heel of Achilles.[245] Many previous
invaders, ending with Murad in 1422, had encamped in the Mesoteichion
as the most suitable position for an attack upon the city.[246]

The accompanying sketch of the walls will show their general plan.

Under normal conditions a large detachment of the defenders of such
high lines of walls ought to have been on the city side of the great
Inner Wall. So few, however, were the besieged, that all had to pass
into the enclosures to meet the enemy at the second or Outer Wall.
Partly because of the small number of men, but partly also because it
had been allowed to get out of repair,[247] the Inner Wall, which,
as the highest and strongest, ought to have been the most serious
obstacle, was hardly relied upon as a means of defence. Chalcondylas
says[248] that the emperor and the leading Greeks deliberated as to
where the enemy was to be resisted, and that they decided that they
should defend the Outer Wall, which was strengthened by the foss
in front of it, as had been done when Murad had attacked the city
thirty-one years before. Leonard expressly states that the imperial
troops were sufficient to guard only the Outer Wall, and the stockade
which, at a late period of the siege, replaced a portion of it. As
his own countrymen took part in this task, his testimony is entirely
credible.[249] He adds, however, that in his opinion this plan of
defence was a blunder; that he was always persuaded that the lofty
Inner Wall ought to have been kept ready as a refuge in case of
retreat; that those walls which, through neglect or hard weather, had
become broken or useless for operations against the enemy, might have
been repaired even within the time which elapsed between the proposal
for war and the commencement of the siege. Had they been repaired and
guarded, they would have provided a reserve of safety to the city. It
is when regretting that these repairs were not undertaken that, while
excusing the emperor, Leonard breaks out into indignation, justifiable
if his belief was well founded[250] against two persons in particular,
Jagarus and a monk named Neophytus who had embezzled the moneys which
had been bequeathed for the repair of the walls, and declares that
the city was lost through the rascality of public robbers. Through
their dishonesty, the besieged were driven to place all their hope in
the Outer Wall and the foss. The Jews, he adds, were more prudent who
when, at the siege of Jerusalem, they were defeated at the first wall,
retreated to the second, and then to the third, by which they prolonged
the siege of Vespasian and Titus for four years.

Probably the opinion of the soldiers on such a question was worth more
than that of the archbishop.[251]

Under these circumstances, the defenders of the city took up their
position in the Peribolos or enclosure. The broken Inner Wall was
behind them, the strong Outer Wall was in front. The Military Gates
from the city into the enclosure were few and far between, there being
only one usually in the long distance between the Civil Gates. The only
other entrances into the enclosures were at the ends terminating at the
Civil Gates.

[Sidenote: Disposition of Mahomet’s army.]

With this explanation we may now understand the disposition of his
troops and cannon made by Mahomet. He placed Zagan Pasha at the head
of an army which was charged to guard the whole of Pera, to watch the
Genoese in Galata and the whole of the northern shore of the Golden
Horn, together with a part of the southern shore as far as the Woodgate
or Xyloporta, which was at the extremity of the landward walls. He was
ordered to build a bridge over the upper portion of the Horn, so that
his troops might take part in the attack upon the city.

The attack upon the landward walls between the Woodgate and up the hill
in front of the palaces of Blachern and Porphyrogenitus, and as far as
the Chariseus or Adrianople Gate, was entrusted to Caraja Pasha, the
head of the European division. Certain of the guns were given to him
in order that he might attack the wall at one of its weakest parts,
probably where it runs at right angles to the end of the foss.

Isaac Pasha, the head of the Asiatic troops, and Mahmoud, both men who
had had great experience in war, commanded the Asiatic division, which
covered the ground between Top Capou and the Marmora.

The most important position, however, was that which existed between
the Adrianople Gate and Top Capou known as the Mesoteichion. This was
the place which Mahomet chose as the principal point of attack. There,
he considered, was the Achilles’ heel of the city. There, with Halil
Pasha under him, were his head-quarters. His lofty tent of red and
gold[252] was pitched about a quarter of a mile from the walls on a
small knoll, which is described as opposite the Adrianople Gate and
also as opposite that of Romanus. His tent was surrounded by those of
the invincible Janissaries who, with other chosen troops, constituted
his bodyguard and occupied the same valley.

The Turkish army extended in front of the entire length of the landward
walls. The Turks had dug a trench for their own defence in front of the
whole of their line, and had placed a wooden palisade upon the earth
thus dug out. This was quite near the edge of the foss itself and was
pierced at intervals, so that, while it protected the besiegers, it
also allowed them to keep up a constant fire on the besieged.[253]

On the Marmora the walls were to be watched by the fleet under Baltoglu
from the southern end of the landward walls, round the present Seraglio
Point as far as Neorion, which was near the end of the boom. The main
object of the fleet was, however, to force an entry into the harbour,
and for this purpose to capture or destroy the ships at the boom, an
object which Baltoglu attempted to attain from the very commencement of
the siege.[254]

The city was thus under attack on two sides, the third--namely, that
looking over the Golden Horn--protected by the boom, was for the
present inaccessible to the Turkish fleet.

The difficulty of determining the number and disposition of Mahomet’s
cannon opposite the landward walls arises from the fact that the
position of several of them was changed and that their numbers
possibly varied. Phrantzes mentions fourteen batteries along the
length of the wall, each containing four guns. Barbaro speaks of nine
batteries. Montaldo says that the Turks had in all two hundred guns or
‘torments.’[255] Each of the nine batteries was strengthened by the
addition of a heavy gun. Critobulus represents Mahomet as stating
after his guns had done their work that he had opened a way into the
city at three places, and this declaration affords a safe guide to
the general disposition of the cannon. These were, first, between
the present Tekfour Serai and the Adrianople Gate; second, opposite
or near the Pempton or Gate of the Assault (usually spoken of by
contemporaries as the Romanus Gate[256]) in the Lycus valley, and the
last near the Third Military Gate between the Pegè or Silivria Gate,
and the Rhegium Gate, now called Mevlevihana Capou. Here were the three
principal stations of Mahomet’s cannon. At these three places the
ruined condition of the wall bears testimony to the vigorous attack of
cannon. At them and nowhere else is it possible to pass over the foss,
the breastwork and Outer Wall, and to see that the Inner Wall has been
so broken down that a passage into the city was possible.[257]

Three cannon are especially remembered on account of their great size.
According to Leonard, the largest--that, namely, cast by Urban, which
threw a ball of twelve hundred pounds weight--was first placed at
Caligaria[258] which then, as now, was ‘protected neither by a foss nor
by a front wall.’ It was destroyed either by the besieged or through
an accident by which Urban was killed, after it had done considerable
damage to the walls.[259] It was, however, recast and transferred to
the Lycus valley, where it demolished the Bactatinean tower.[260] The
statement of Chalcondylas is that of these three large guns one was
stationed opposite the Imperial Palace, probably at Caligaria, the
second opposite the Romanus Gate, where the sultan had fixed his camp,
and the third between them.[261]

The largest and most powerful gun remained during the siege at the
Mesoteichion, in front of the imperial tent.[262]

These cannon are variously described as bombards, machines, skeves,
helepoles (or ‘takers of cities’), torments, heleboles, and teleboles.
They threw stone balls of great size. The balls had been brought from
the Black Sea. The largest, says Chalcondylas, was fired seven times
a day and once each night. Archbishop Leonard states that he measured
one which had been fired over the wall, and found it to be eleven spans
(or eighty-eight inches) in circumference. Nor is such measurement
exaggerated. Some of the stone balls have been preserved. They were
probably fired over the wall, did not break, and remain nearly in the
position where they fell. I have measured two of them, and they are
exactly eighty-eight inches in circumference.[263] Tetaldi states that
there were ten thousand culverins, and the same number is given by
Montaldo. The number is possibly exaggerated. Yet Leonard speaks of
‘innumerable machines’ being advanced towards the wall, and afterwards
of a great number of small guns being employed to batter the walls
along all their lines. None of the cannon, I think, were mounted on
wheels: the Great Cannon certainly was not, for Critobulus describes
how it was first carefully pointed towards the object intended to
be struck, and then embedded in its position with blocks of wood
preparatory to firing.

Contemporaneously with the disposal of the large cannon, orders were
given to fill up the ditch in front of them.

[Sidenote: Constantine’s army.]

When we turn from the preparations made by Mahomet to besiege the city
to those which the emperor and the citizens had made or were making,
the first point which strikes us is the enormous disparity in numbers
which the respective leaders had under them. To meet the mighty host
of trained warriors under Mahomet, the emperor had only about eight
thousand men. This is the estimate in which nearly all writers concur.
Phrantzes had exceptional means of forming a judgment on this point. He
states[264] that Constantine ordered a census to be made of all men,
including monks, capable of bearing arms, and that when the lists were
sent in he was charged with making the summary. This showed that there
were four thousand nine hundred and eighty-three available Greeks and
scarcely two thousand foreigners. The result was so appalling that he
was charged by the emperor not to let it be known. The estimate made
by Phrantzes, though almost incredible, is substantially confirmed by
other writers. Tetaldi says that there were between six thousand and
seven thousand combatants within the city ‘and not more.’[265] Leonard
makes the number a little higher and gives as an estimate six thousand
Greeks and three thousand foreigners. Dolfin, probably following
Leonard, arrives at a like conclusion. Ducas says that ‘there were not
more than eight thousand.’

The powerful contingent of three thousand Italians is worthy of
separate notice. Nearly all were of Venetian or Genoese origin. In them
the city had the aid of men belonging to the most virile communities
in the Mediterranean. The story of the trading establishments in the
Levant, the Archipelago, and the Black Sea belonging to the citizens
of Venice and Genoa is a brilliant record of daring, of adventure,
and of energy. The expansion of the two states began about the time
of the Latin conquest. Everywhere along these shores are the remains
of castles built by Genoese or Venetians during the two centuries
preceding the Moslem conquest. Dandolo had played the most important
part in the capture of the city in 1204, and the capture gave Venice
the sovereignty of the seas. The Genoese had aided the Greeks to
recapture the city. Each republic had gained territory in Eastern
lands. Each owned certain islands in the Aegean. The Genoese had
succeeded in forming a large and important colony in Galata, which
was now a fortified city. To check Turkish progress was almost as
important to the republics as to the Greeks. Venetians and Genoese
recognised that once Constantinople was in the hands of the sultan,
there would be an end of their development eastward of Cape Matapan.
They were, therefore, both fighting for their own interests. They had
much to lose and nothing to gain by the success of Mahomet. Nor were
the soldiers of the republics destitute of chivalrous spirit. The
rough sailor-surgeon, Barbaro, notes that other Venetians as well as
Trevisano were willing to fight for the honour of God and the benefit
of Christendom. Leonard and other writers testify to equally lofty
sentiment on the part of the Genoese Justiniani. In their character
and conduct, not less than in their mixed motives, derived from
self-interest and chivalry, these foreign adventurers remind English
readers of the Drakes, Frobishers, Raleighs, and other heroes of our
own Elizabethan period. Unhappily for the city and for civilisation,
Venice was unable to send more men before the final catastrophe. But
to the eternal glory of the Venetians within the city, whose names are
duly recorded by Barbaro ‘for a perpetual memorial,’ and of the Genoese
who aided them, the conduct of the combatants from both republics was
worthy of the compatriots of Marco Polo and of Columbus.

On the one side was an army of one hundred and fifty thousand men,
containing at least twelve thousand of the best trained troops in the
world; on the other, a miserable number of eight thousand fighting men
to defend a length of between twelve and thirteen miles of walls.

The emperor, with Justiniani, completed the arrangements for the
defence of the city. Justiniani with the seven hundred men he had
brought with him to Constantinople, consisting of his crew and four
hundred men in armour,[266] was at first placed in charge of the walls
between the Blachern Palace and the Adrianople Gate, but was soon
transferred with his men and some of the bravest Greeks to the Lycus
valley as the position of greatest importance, honour, and danger. The
emperor himself fixed his headquarters in the same position. In this
valley the choicest troops of the city and those of the sultan were
thus face to face. Between the Adrianople Gate and Tekfour Serai was a
contingent of Italians under three brothers, Paul, Antony, and Troilus
Bocchiardo. They were stationed, says Phrantzes, at the Myriandrion,
because there the city was in great jeopardy;[267] Leonard says, ‘in
loco arduo Myriandri;’ Dolfin, speaking of the same place under a
somewhat different name, says ‘in loco arduo Miliadro, dove pareva
la cita piu debole.’[268] This contingent had been provided by the
Bocchiardi at their own cost. The men were furnished with spingards
and balistas for hurling stones at the enemy. The Caligaria--that is,
the gate of that name, now called Egri Capou or Crooked Gate--and the
walls thence as far as Tekfour Serai were defended by Caristo, an old
Venetian, and by a German named John Grant, who had taken service with
the emperor. Over the imperial palace at Blachern waved the flag of the
Lion of St. Mark side by side with the banner of the emperor, to denote
that Minotto, the Venetian bailey, was in command in that district.
Archbishop Leonard and other Genoese, together with Hieronymus, were
with him to assist in defending the walls as far as the Xyloporta on
the edge of the Golden Horn.

On the emperor’s left the walls were guarded by Cataneo and Theophilus
Palaeologus at the Silivria Gate, while Contarini, the most renowned
member of the Venetian colony, and Andronicus Cantacuzenus defended the
walls around the Golden Gate and to the sea.[269] Under these leaders,
along the whole length of the landward wall, Genoese, Venetians, and
Greeks fought side by side.

Between a tower in the current off Seraglio Point and the Imperial
Gate--that is, at the Acropolis, and thus guarding the entrance to
the harbour[270]--Gabriel Trevisano, already mentioned as the Venetian
noble who was serving ‘per honor de Dio et per honor di tuta la
Christianitade’ was in command.[271] There, says Leonard, he did his
duty as a shepherd and not as a hireling.

Near him for the present were the captains and the crews of the two
Cretan ships who kept the Horaia Gate. Cardinal Isidore was at Seraglio
Point with a body of two hundred men guarding the walls commencing at
the Great Tower of St. Demetrius. James Contarini was stationed at
Psamatia and guarded the western portion of the Marmora walls. The
Caloyers or Greek monks were also in this part of the city, and near
them was a small band of Turkish mercenaries under the command of
Orchan.[272] The Grand Duke Notaras with a small reserve of men was
near the church of the Apostles, now occupied by the Mahmoudieh Mosque,
to render aid wherever it might be required.[273] Lastly, Diedo, who
had been made admiral of the fleet, was stationed near the end of the

The cannon possessed by the besieged seem to have been few and of
little value. Leonard relates that they were short of powder and of
arms, and that it was impossible to use the cannon on account of
the damage they were found to do to their own walls. Zorzo Dolfin
confirms these statements and adds that the Venetians were short of

The emperor and Justiniani had collected arms and various kinds of
missiles, shot and arrows, and all sorts of machines.[276]

Each army was equipped in much the same manner. Modern, mediaeval
and ancient arms and equipment were employed side by side with each
other. We read of dolabras, of wooden turrets, and of the Turks raising
their shields above their heads and making a testudo.[277] Stone shot
are thrown by the great slings, or catapults, known as mangonels or
trebuchets, as well as by cannon. While each side relied largely on the
bow, each side also discharged missiles at the other from arquebuses
and culverins. Long-bows were so numerous in the Turkish army that the
discharge of arrows from them is described by more than one author as
darkening the sky. Cross-bows appear also in the description of the
siege under the names of balistae and spingards. ‘The archers,’ says
La Brocquière, ‘were the best troops the Turks possessed.’[278] The
ordinary soldier in the Turkish army was armed with a wooden shield
and a scimitar. A few, among both the besiegers and the besieged, were
armed with lances.

Uniformity in equipment or dress was not even attempted. Tetaldi says
that in the Turkish army less than a fourth were armed with hauberks
and wore jacques--that is, quilted tunics of cotton or leather, well
padded;[279] that some were well armed in French, some in Hungarian,
fashion, some in other modes; some had iron helmets, and others
long-bows or cross-bows.

The Janissaries were trained to act either as cavalry or infantry. They
carried bows and small wooden shields, and were further armed with a
long lance or with a scimitar. The Anatolian division was composed
mostly of cavalry. Leonard, however, points out that though the
cavalry were numerous they fought as infantry. Philelphus, who was a
contemporary envoy at the Porte, states that the Anatolian troops were
armed with scimitars, maces, and small shields.

The great superiority of the Turks as regards arms was in the cannon.
While, as we have seen, the besieged could not use such cannon as they
had for fear of destroying the walls from which they were fired, the
Turk was under no such disadvantage, and was entirely up to date with
the very latest improvements in heavy guns. The siege of Constantinople
in fact marks an era in the employment of large cannon and gave to
the world the first noteworthy intimation that the stone walls of the
Middle Ages constituted no longer a secure defence. Cannon had, indeed,
been known a century and a half earlier in Western Europe, and had
been employed both by and against the Turks on the Danube;[280] but
the astonishment which the introduction of large cannon caused at the
siege of Constantinople shows that while the invention itself was new
to the people of the East, its development was hardly less surprising
to those of the West. Critobulus remarks upon the siege that ‘it was
the cannon which did everything.’ So novel was the invention that
he gives a detailed account of the casting of one of the big guns,
and explains how the powder was made, how the gun was mounted and
loaded, and how it fired its stone ball. ‘When fire is applied to the
touch-hole, the powder lights quicker than thought. The discharge makes
the earth around it to tremble, and sends forth an incredible roar. The
stone ball passes out with irresistible force and energy, strikes the
wall at which it has been aimed, overthrows it, and is itself dashed
into a thousand pieces.’ No wall was so hard or had such power of
resistance that it could withstand the shock. Such is the incredible
and unthinkable nature of the machine to which, as the ancient tongue
had no name for it, he suggests that of helepolis or ‘Taker of Cities.’

In the early days of the siege, or possibly just before it began,
Mahomet attacked all the Greek villages which had escaped the
savagery of the troops in their march to the capital. Some kind of
fortification existed at Therapia on the Bosporus. This was attacked
by the Janissaries. Many of its defenders were slain, and the
remainder, consisting of forty men, seeing that resistance was useless,
surrendered. They were all impaled. Another fortification, known as
Studium, was similarly attacked. Its thirty-six survivors were taken
to a spot near the wall, so that they might be seen by the citizens,
and were there impaled. At the island of Prinkipo the round tower still
exists which had been a place of refuge for the protection of the
inmates of the adjacent monastery. The monastery itself had been used
as a place of retreat for the princely members of the imperial family,
and had thus given its name to the Princes Islands. Baltoglu was sent
with a portion of the fleet to attack it. Although he had cannon with
him, he was unable to destroy its solid Byzantine masonry, and the
thirty well-armed defenders refused to surrender. His crews thereupon
cut down the neighbouring brushwood, and with this, with straw, and
with sulphur, he smoked out the garrison. While some perished in the
flames, others broke through the burning materials and surrendered. The
admiral killed those who were armed, and sold into slavery the other
inhabitants of the island.[281]




We have now arrived at the last act of the tragedy of Constantinople.
The Queen City is cut off from the outside world. Its small fleet dare
not attempt to pass outside the boom which excludes the Turkish fleet.
An overwhelming force of ships had been collected to keep out supplies
of men or provisions. Before its landward walls is an army of one
hundred and fifty thousand fighting men and a crowd perhaps equally
numerous awaiting their chance of plundering the remnant of that wealth
which had once been contained in the great storehouse of the Western

[Sidenote: Mahomet’s army before the walls on April 7, 1453.]

On April 7 Mahomet’s army had taken up its position along the whole
four miles length of the landward walls from the Marmora to the Golden
Horn, and with the aid of the fleet prevented all access to or egress
from the city. But the men in it had made up their minds to hold it or
to die. They began on the first day of the siege to make the best show
they could. At the emperor’s request, but also at their own desire, the
crews of the galleys under Trevisano and of two others, numbering in
all a thousand men, landed and marched along the whole length of the
landward walls in presence of the enemy with the object of proving to
the Turks that they would have to fight Venetians as well as Greeks.

On the 9th the ships in the harbour were drawn up in battle array, ten
being at the boom and seventeen in reserve further within the harbour.

The Turkish army on the 11th placed its guns in position before the

[Sidenote: Cannonading commences April 12.]

On the 12th the batteries began playing against the walls and, with
ceaseless monotony, day and night the discharge of these new machines
was heard throughout the city during the next six days. Their immediate
effect soon showed that the walls, solid as they had proved themselves
in a score of former sieges, were not sufficiently strong to resist
the new invention. The huge balls, fired from a short distance amid a
cloud of the blackest smoke, making a terrible roar and breaking into
a thousand pieces as they struck the walls, so damaged them that they
required daily and constant repair. The narratives of those present
agree in representing the defenders from the very commencement of the
bombardment as being constantly engaged in repairing the injury done by
these ‘takers of cities.’ Large and unwieldy as they were, unmounted
and half buried amid the stones and beams by which they were kept in
position, they were yet engines of destruction such as the world had
never seen. Planted on the very edge of the foss and requiring such
management and care that the largest could only be fired seven times
a day, they gave proof within a week of their employment that they
could destroy slowly but surely the walls which had stood since the
reign of the younger Theodosius. The defenders in vain suspended bales
of wool and tried other means of lessening the damage. All they could
accomplish was to repair and strengthen the damaged portions as rapidly
as possible.

[Sidenote: Damage done by cannon by April 18.]

Already by April 18 a part of the Outer Wall and even two great towers
of the Inner had been broken down in the Lycus valley.[282] Justiniani
had been compelled to take in hand the construction of a stockade for
their defence ‘where the attack was the fiercest and the damage to the
walls the greatest.’ The walls of the foss, including the breastwork,
had been broken down, the foss itself in this place partly filled.
The wonderful success already achieved by his great guns led Mahomet
to believe that he could already capture the city. Accordingly, at two
hours after sunset on April 18 he gave orders for the first time to
attempt the city by assault.

[Sidenote: Attempt to capture city by assault on April 18 fails.]

Infantry, cuirassiers, archers, and lancers joined in this night
attack. They crossed the foss and vigorously attempted to break through
or destroy the Outer Wall. They had observed that in the repairs the
besieged had been driven to employ beams, smaller timber, crates of
vine cuttings, and other inflammable materials. These they attempted
to set on fire; but the attempt failed. The defenders extinguished the
fires before they could get well hold. The Turks with hooks at the
end of lances or poles then tried to pull down the barrels of earth
which had been placed so as to form a crenellation and in this way to
expose the defenders to the attacks of the archers and slingers. Others
endeavoured to scale the hastily repaired and partially destroyed wall.
During four hours Justiniani led his Italians and Greeks in the defence
of the damaged part, and after a hard conflict the Turks were driven
across the foss with a loss in killed and wounded estimated by Barbaro
at two hundred.

The attack was local and not general, though Barbaro remarks that
the emperor began to be in doubt whether general battle would not be
given on this night, and ‘we Christians were not yet ready for it.’
The failure of this the first attack stimulated Greeks and Italians to
press on the repairs to the Outer Wall. Every day, however, there were
new assaults made at one place or another, but especially in the Lycus

[Sidenote: Attempt to force boom.]

A few days after the return of Baltoglu with the fleet from Prinkipo,
and probably contemporaneously with the attack in the Lycus valley on
the 18th, the admiral was ordered to force a passage into the Golden

His fleet, counting vessels of all kinds, probably now numbered not
less than three hundred and fifty ships. By their aid Mahomet hoped
to gain possession of the harbour by destroying or forcing the boom.
Accordingly, Baltoglu sailed down from the Double Columns, towards the
ships stationed for its defence, and endeavoured to force an entry.
The Turkish crews came on with the battle-cry of ‘Allah, Allah!’ and
when within gun- and arrow-shot of their enemies closed bravely for
the attack. The cuirassiers tried to burn the vessels at the boom
with torches; others discharged arrows bearing burning cotton, while
others again endeavoured to cut the cables of some of the ships so that
they might be free to destroy the boom. In other parts they sought to
grapple with the defending vessels and if possible to capture them.
Both sides fought fiercely, but the Greeks and Italians, under the
leadership of the Grand Duke Notaras, had provided against all the
Turkish means of attack. The defending ships were higher out of the
water than those of the Turks, and this gave them an advantage in
throwing stones and discharging darts and javelins. Stones tied to
ropes had been taken aloft on the yards and bowsprits, and the dropping
of these into vessels alongside caused great damage. Barrels and other
vessels full of water were at hand to extinguish fire. After a short
but fierce fight the assailants judged that for the present at least
the attempt to capture the boom and thus obtain an entrance into the
harbour was hopeless, and amid taunts and shouts of joy from the
Christians withdrew to the Double Columns.

On April 20 we come to an incident at once interesting and suggestive.

[Sidenote: Attempt to capture ships bringing aid.]

In the midst of a story which is necessarily depressing from the
consciousness that it is that of a lost cause, one incident is related
by all Christian contemporary writers, whether eye-witnesses or not,
with satisfaction or delight. This is the incident of a naval battle
under the walls of the city itself. Spectators and writers dependent on
the testimony of others who had seen the fight differ among themselves
as to details but agree as to the main facts.

Three large Genoese ships on their way to Constantinople had been
delayed at Chios[283] by northerly winds during the month of March and
part of April. Accounts differ as to the object of their voyage. One
would like to believe the statement of Critobulus that they were sent
by the pope to bring provisions and help to the city and as an earnest
of the aid he was about to furnish, and that thirty triremes and
other great vessels were in preparation.[284] But Barbaro, who, as a
Venetian, seldom loses an opportunity of depreciating the Genoese, says
that they had been induced to sail for the city by the imperial order
allowing all Genoese ships bringing provisions to enter their goods
duty free. The statement of Leonard, archbishop of Chios, that they had
on board soldiers, arms, and coin for Constantinople would appear to
confirm that of Critobulus.

The arrival of a fleet from Italy was expected and anxiously looked for
by all the inhabitants from the emperor downwards. They had accepted,
though they heartily disliked, the Union, and they consoled themselves
with the belief that in return the pope and other Western rulers
would at once send a fleet with soldiers and munitions of war. It was
generally believed in the city that the ships were sent by the pope.
Even where it was doubted, all agreed that the arrival of additional
fighting men for the defence of the walls was of supreme importance.
Nor were the Turks less interested. They, too, expected and feared the
arrival of ships from the West, and, in addition to their objection
to Italian ships, they had already learned the value of Genoese and
Venetian soldiers for the defence.

[Sidenote: Ships arrive at mouth of Bosporus.]

When, about April 15, a south wind blew, the Genoese weighed their
anchors and made sail for the Dardanelles. On their way they fell in
with an imperial transport under Flatanelas which had come from Sicily
laden with corn.[285] On the second day the wind became stronger and
carried the four ships through the straits and into the Marmora. At
about ten o’clock on the morning of April 20, their crews saw in the
distance the dome of Hagia Sophia.

When the Genoese ships were first seen, most of the vessels of the
Turkish fleet were anchored in the bay of Dolmabagshe at the Double
Columns. But the Turkish ships on the look-out at the entrance of the
Bosporus appear to have observed the approaching vessels as soon as the
watchmen in the city itself. They would also be seen by a portion of
the Turkish army encamped outside the landward walls.

Upon the report of their coming the sultan himself galloped at once to
his fleet, about two miles distant from his camp, and gave orders to
the renegade Baltoglu to proceed with his vessels to meet the ships, to
capture them if possible, but at any cost to prevent them passing the
boom and entering the harbour of the Golden Horn. If he could not do
that, he was told not to come back alive.[286]

[Sidenote: Turkish fleet resists.]

The four ships desired to pass the boom; the object of the Turkish
fleet was to prevent them. Taking the lowest estimate of the number
of the Turkish vessels sent against them, it was apparently hopeless
that four ships dependent on the wind should be able to hold their
own against a fleet of not less than a hundred and forty-five vessels
so completely under control as that of Baltoglu, which contained
triremes, biremes, and galleys. These Turkish ships, triremes, galleys,
and even transports, were crowded with the best-equipped men of the
army, including a body of archers and men heavily clad with helmets
and breastplates: in short, with as many of the sultan’s best men as
could be placed on board. Shields and bucklers were arranged around the
larger galleys so as to form a breastwork of armour against arrows and
javelins; while on some of the boats the rude culverins of the period
were ranged so as to bring them to bear against the four ships.

Then, after these hasty preparations, the Turkish fleet proceeded in
battle array down the Bosporus to Seraglio Point and the Marmora.
Captains and crews went out with confidence of an easy victory. The
fight was to be against only four ships, and, with such overpowering
superiority in numbers of skilled fighters, who could doubt of success?
The admiral, says Critobulus, believed that he had the Genoese already
in his hand. Barbaro notes the shouts of delight with which the enemy
came forward to the attack, the noise of their many oars, and the sound
of their trumpets. ‘They came on,’ he says, ‘like men who intended to

The archbishop, another spectator, notes also that the Turkish fleet
advanced with every sign of joy, with the beating of drums, and the
clanging of trumpets. Phrantzes, a third eye-witness, was specially
impressed with the confidence with which the Turkish flotilla
approached. They went on to meet the Genoese ships, he says, with drums
and horns, believing that they could intercept them without difficulty.
The wind being against them, sails were dispensed with, but as their
progress was independent of wind the whole fleet advanced steadily to
capture the foe.

Meantime the four ships kept on a direct course, steering for and
striving to pass the tower of ‘Megademetrius’ at the Acropolis and
to enter the Golden Horn.[288] As they sail along with a stiff south
breeze behind them and keeping, as vessels usually keep on making for
the Golden Horn with a southerly wind, well out from the land until
they reach the Point, their progress is easily seen by the citizens.
Many of them crowd the walls or climb the roofs of houses near the
seashore, while others hasten to the Sphendone of the Hippodrome,[289]
where they have a wide view of the Marmora and the entrance of the

[Sidenote: Fight commences.]

Meantime the strong southerly wind has brought the four ships abreast
of the city. Their short but sturdy hulls with high bows and loftier
poops are driven steadily through the water by the big swelling
mainsails of the period. As they approach the Straits, when they are
well in view from the Sphendone, they are met by the Turkish admiral
who from the poop of his trireme commands them peremptorily to lower
their sails. On their refusal he gives orders for attack. The leading
boats pull for the ships, but both the advantages of wind and a
considerable sea were with the larger vessels, while their greater
height from the water made boarding under the circumstances extremely
difficult. The Italians with axes and boathooks make short work of
any who attempt it. The skirmish became a running fight in which the
attackers shot their arrows and fire-bearing darts and threw their
lances with little effect.

[Sidenote: Wind drops.]

The south wind continuing to blow, the ships held on their course until
they entered the Bosporus and came near Seraglio Point. Then, all of a
sudden, the wind fell,[290] and in a few minutes the sails flap idly
under the very walls of the Acropolis.[291]

The sudden fall of the wind had shifted the advantage of the position
from the ships to the Turkish fleet. Then, indeed, says Pusculus, the
real fight commenced. The Turkish admiral had apparently now complete
justification for the belief that he would have an easy capture. The
four ships were powerless to move, while Baltoglu could choose his
own mode of attack by his hundred and fifty fighting vessels. When,
while the ships were under the walls of the Acropolis, the wind fell,
they would nevertheless drift over towards the Galata shore of the
Bosporus by the current which after a south wind invariably sets in
that direction. Probably they would be influenced also by the last
puffs which usually follow the sudden dropping of the south wind near
Constantinople. The remainder of the combat is therefore to be fought
at the mouth of the Golden Horn, between Seraglio Point and the shore
east of Galata near Tophana, and just outside the walls of that city.

Thousands of spectators had gathered to witness this second portion
of the fight. The walls at Seraglio Point were crowded with soldiers
and citizens fearing for the result but unable to render assistance.
Nor could any aid be given by the crews of the ships of the imperial
fleet which were near at hand on guard at the boom, though of course on
the harbour side. At one time, says Phrantzes, the ships were within
a stone’s-throw of the land. On the opposite shore of the Golden Horn
outside the walls of Galata, to which attackers and attacked were
slowly drifting as they fought, the sultan and his suite watched the
fight with interest not less keen than that of the Christians on the
walls of Constantinople, but with the same confidence of success as was
felt by the admiral.

[Sidenote: Attack at mouth of Golden Horn.]

A general attack was preceded by the order of Baltoglu to surround
the becalmed ships. After the fleet had been disposed so as to act
simultaneously, the order was given to begin the fight but, apparently,
not to close in on the ships. Stone cannon-balls were discharged by
the Turks and lances with lighted material were thrown so as to set
fire to the sails or cordage. But the crews of the vessels attacked
knew their business thoroughly. They easily extinguished the fire.
From their turrets on the masts and their poops and lofty bows they
threw their lances, shot their arrows, and hurled stones on the Turks
unceasingly, and Baltoglu soon found that this method of attack was
useless. Thereupon he shouted the order at the top of his voice for
all the vessels to advance and board. The admiral himself selected
for his special task the imperial transport as the largest of the
four ships. He ran his trireme’s bow against her poop and tried to
board her. For between two and three hours--that is, so long as the
fight endured--he stuck to her like the stubborn Bulgarian he was, and
never let go. The crews of the other Turkish vessels hooked on to the
anchors, seized on everything by which they could hold, and attempted
on all sides to reach the decks of the ships. While some tried to climb
on board, others endeavoured to cut the ropes with their axes, and
set the ships on fire. Showers of arrows and javelins were directed
against the Christian crews. The Genoese fighters were in armour and
were proof against the small missiles. Everything had been anticipated
by them. Their tuns of water extinguished the burning brands, and
their heavy stones and even small barrels of water dropped from above
sank or disabled the boats of their assailants. The axe-men on board
‘our ships’ chopped off the hands or broke the heads of all men who
succeeded in getting near the deck. Meanwhile, as amid shouts and yells
and blasphemies one boat’s crew after another was defeated, others
pressed near to replace them, and the Genoese had to recommence their
struggle against fresh and vigorous men.

While the fight was going on, the vessels were always drifting across
to the Galata shore.[292] Five triremes attacked one of the Genoese
ships; thirty large caiques or fustae tackled a second, and the
remaining Genoese was surrounded by forty transports or parandaria
filled with well-armed soldiers. The fight continued with great fury.
The sea seemed covered with struggling ships. An enormous number of
darts, arrows, and other missiles were thrown. The quantity of the
latter, says Ducas, with pardonable exaggeration, was so great that
after a while the oars could not be properly worked. The sea, says
Barbaro, could hardly be seen, on account of the great number of the
Turkish boats.

All this time the imperial ship commanded by Flatanelas, with the
Turkish admiral’s ship always holding on to her, was defending herself
bravely. Though Baltoglu would not let go, the other attacking vessels
which passed under her bow were driven off with earthen pots full of
Greek fire and with stones.[293] The slaughter around her was great.
For a time, indeed, the aim of the admiral and the energy of the
attack seem to have been concentrated on the capture of the imperial
ship. Chalcondylas declares that she would have been taken had it not
been for the help which the Genoese were able to give her; and Leonard
also says that she was protected by ‘ours’--that is, by the Genoese
ships. Probably it was in consequence of the risk which the imperial
ship had run of being captured that presently the whole four lashed
themselves together, so that, in the words of Pusculus, they appeared
to move like four towers.[294] Each of the four ships, however,
remained during the protracted battle a centre of attack in which the
triremes took the most important positions, grappling them and being
themselves supported by the smaller boats.

The fight was seen and every incident noted by the friends alike of
attackers and attacked from the opposite sides of the Golden Horn.
‘We, watching from the walls what passed, raised our prayers to God
that He would have mercy upon us.’[295] Flatanelas, the captain of the
imperial ship, was observed on his deck fighting like a lion and urging
his men to follow his example. It was followed both by his officers
and by those on board the Genoese ships. Nothing whatever occurred to
show that they lost courage for an instant. The attack on the ships
was apparently no nearer success than when it began. The spectators on
both sides had seen ships and fleet drifting towards the Galata shore,
and the citizens were aware that Mahomet with his staff was watching
the fierce struggle. This shore contains a wide strip of level ground
which has been silted up during the last few centuries and is now built
upon, but which, like the corresponding low-lying ground outside the
walls of Constantinople on the opposite side of the Golden Horn, either
did not exist four centuries ago or was in part covered with shallow
water.[296] Into the shallow water the sultan urged his horse in his
excitement until his long robe trailed in it. He went out as far as
was possible towards his vessels, in order to make himself seen and
heard. When he saw his large fleet and thousands of chosen men unable
to capture the four ships and again and again repulsed, his anger
knew no bounds. Roused to fury, he shouted and gnashed his teeth. He
hurled curses at the admiral and his crews at the top of his voice.
He declared they were women, were fools and cowards, and no doubt let
loose a number not only of curses and blasphemies, as the archbishop
says, but of those opprobrious expressions in which the Turkish
language is exceptionally rich. The sultan’s followers were not less
disappointed and indignant than Mahomet. They, too, cursed those in the
fleet, and many of them followed him into the water and rode towards
the ships.[297]

[Sidenote: Turkish ships defeated and retreat.]

Urged by the presence and reproaches of their great leader, the
Turkish captains made one more desperate effort. For very shame,
says Phrantzes, they turned their bows against our ships and fought
fiercely. Pusculus says that Mahomet, watching from the shore, inflamed
their fury. But all was in vain. The Genoese and the imperial ship held
their own, repelled every attempt to board them, and did such slaughter
among the Turks that it was with difficulty the latter could withdraw
some of their galleys.

The later portion of the fight had lasted upwards of two hours; the
sun was already setting, and the four ships had been powerless to move
on account of the calm. But the fight was unequal, and they must have
been destroyed, says Critobulus, plausibly enough, if the battle had
continued under such conditions. In this extremity suddenly there came
a strong puff of wind. The sails filled, and the ships once more had
the advantage of being able to move. They crashed triumphantly through
the oars of the galleys and the boats, shook off their assailants, and
cleared themselves a path. If at that time the whole fleet of the
barbarians, says Ducas, had barred the way, the Genoese ships were
capable of driving through and defeating it. Thus, at the moment when
the fight was the most critical, they were able to sail away and take
refuge under the walls of the city. The wind had saved them. _Deus
afflavit, et dissipati sunt._

The battle was lost, but the sultan once again shouted out orders
to the admiral. Ducas suggests that Baltoglu pretended not to hear,
because Mahomet, being ignorant of ships and sailing, gave absurd
orders. There was, however, no longer any hope of success, and night
coming on, the command was again given, and this time heard by
Baltoglu, to withdraw to the Double Columns.

[Sidenote: Genoese ships brought inside harbour.]

Barbaro, who was in the city, describes how he himself took part in
bringing the four gallant vessels inside the boom. When it became dark,
he accompanied Gabriel Trevisano with the latter’s two galleys, and
Zacharia Grione with his one, and with them went outside the boom.
Fearing that they would be attacked, they did their utmost to make it
appear that their fleet was large. They had three trumpets for each of
the two galleys, and with these they made as much noise as if they had
at least twenty galleys.

In the darkness of the night the Turks thought their fleet was about to
be attacked, and remained at anchor on the defensive. The four ships
were safely towed within the boom and into the port of Constantinople,
to the indescribable delight of Greeks and Italians alike.

The Turks were possibly hindered in the fight by their numerical
superiority. The oars of their galleys were broken; one boat got into
the way of others, while in the confusion every bolt or arrow shot from
the ships told upon the crowded masses of men in the enemy’s vessels
below them. Many in the triremes were suffocated or trampled under
foot. Every attempt to board either of the ships had failed. The losses
suffered by the Turks were undoubtedly severe, though exaggerated by
the victors. A few of their boats were captured or destroyed. The
archbishop declares that he learned from the spies that nearly ten
thousand had been killed; Phrantzes, that he heard from the Turks
themselves that more than twelve thousand of these ‘Sons of Hagar’
perished in the sea alone. The version of Critobulus is the most likely
to be correct. He gives the killed as upwards of a hundred, and the
wounded as above three hundred.[298] The losses on board the four ships
were not altogether slight. Phrantzes declares that no Christians were
killed in the battle, though two or three who were wounded ‘departed
after some days to the Lord;’ while Critobulus gives a much more
probable story of twenty-two killed, and half the crews wounded.

All writers agree that the fight was manfully sustained on both sides.
The ships lay on the water without a breath of wind, though there was
probably a slight swell. It was a small but brilliant sea fight of the
old type between skilled sailors and skilled soldiers, in which the
latter were unable to gain any advantage over their opponents fighting
on their own element, and had to withdraw humbled and defeated.

The disappointment and rage of the sultan were great and not unnatural.

[Sidenote: Turkish admiral degraded.]

The unfortunate admiral was brought next day before him and reproached
as a traitor. Mahomet asked him how he could expect to capture the
fleet in the harbour since he could not even take four ships, upbraided
him for his inactivity and cowardice, and declared that he was ready
himself to behead him.[299] The admiral pleaded that from the beginning
to the end of the fight his own ship had never quitted its hold upon
the poop of the largest vessel, and that he and his crew had fought on
uninterruptedly until recalled. The Turkish officers also spoke on his
behalf, testified to his courage and tenacity, and called attention to
the severe wound on his eye accidentally inflicted by one of his men.
The sultan, after some hesitation, consented to spare his life, but
ordered him to be bastinadoed.[300] As a further punishment, he was
deprived of all his honours, and whatever he possessed was given to the

The success raised the hopes of the besieged, because they now firmly
believed that these ships were only the forerunners of many others
which were on their way to save the city. They had not yielded to Rome
for nothing, and aid would come, and the city would yet be saved. In
truth, a new crusade was not necessary to secure its deliverance. A
few more vessels sent by the Christian states, with an army one tenth
or even one twentieth of the number of the soldiers of the cross who
had passed by Constantinople under Godfrey, would have been enough to
prevent the conquest of the city by Mahomet. No further aid, however,
came. All the hopes based upon re-union proved illusory, and Hungarians
as well as Italians failed to render the assistance which might have
been of first importance to their own interests.[302]

[Sidenote: Attack contemporaneously made in Lycus valley.]

The fight with the four ships was on April 20. During that day the
great bombards had been hard at work along the landward walls, and
especially near the Romanus Gate. The sultan himself was absent on the
following day at the Double Columns, superintending one of the most
interesting operations connected with the siege, but the bombardment
went on as if he had been present. An important tower known as the
Bactatinian, near the Romanus Gate,[303] was destroyed on the 21st,
with a portion of the adjacent Outer Wall, and, says Barbaro, it was
only through the mercy of Jesus Christ that the Turks did not give
general battle, or they would have got into the city. He adds that
if they had attacked with even ten thousand men, no one could have
hindered their entry. The Moscovite, speaking of the same incident,
states that the Turks were so infuriated by a successful shot from
the small cannon of Justiniani that Mahomet gave the order for an
assault, raised the cry of ‘_Jagma, jagma!_’ ‘Pillage, pillage!’ but
they were repulsed. One of the balls, according to the same author,
knocked away five of the battlements and buried itself in the walls of
a church.[304] The defenders, among whom, notes Barbaro, were some ‘of
our Venetian gentlemen,’ set themselves at once to make stout repairs
where the wall had been broken down. Barrels full of stones, beams,
logs, anything that would help to make a barricade, were hastily got
together and worked with clay and earth, so as to form a substitute for
the Outer Wall. When completed, the new work formed a stockade, made
largely of wood and built up with earth and stones.[305] The ‘accursed
Turk,’ says Barbaro, did not cease day and night to fire his greatest
bombard against the walls near which the repairs were being made.
Arrows and stones innumerable were thrown, and there were discharges
also from firelocks or fusils[306] which threw leaden balls. He adds
that during these days the enemy were in such numbers that it was
hardly possible to see the ground or anything else except the white
head dress of the Janissaries, and the red fezes of the rest of the

Meantime the sultan was bent upon carrying into execution a plan for
obtaining access to the harbour.

[Sidenote: Transport of Turkish ships overland.]

All accounts agree that the defeat of the Turkish fleet on April 20 had
roused Mahomet to fury. More than one contemporary states that it was
the immediate cause of Mahomet’s decision to attempt to gain possession
of the Golden Horn by the transport of his ships over land across the
peninsula of Galata. The statement may well be doubted, but the failure
to capture the four ships probably hastened the execution of a project
already formed, and, like all his plans, carefully concealed until the
moment for action.

[Sidenote: Reasons for such project.]

The reasons which urged Mahomet to try to gain entrance to the
Golden Horn were principally three: to weaken the defence at the
landward walls, to exercise control over the Genoese of Galata, and
to facilitate the communications with his base at Roumelia-Hissar.
So long as he was excluded, the enemy had only two sides of the
triangular-shaped city to defend; whereas if the Turkish ships could
range up alongside the walls on the side of the Horn the army within
the city, already wretchedly inadequate for the defence on the landward
and Marmora sides, would have to be weakened by the withdrawal of men
necessary to guard the newly attacked position.

The possession of the Horn would enable Mahomet to exercise a dominant
influence over Galata. This was a matter of great importance, because
at any time the hostility of the Genoese might have enormously
increased the difficulties of the siege and probably have compelled him
to raise it. There were, indeed, already signs that Genoese sentiment
was unfriendly to him.

The position of the Genoese in Galata was a singular one. The city was
entirely theirs and under their government. It was surrounded by strong
walls which were built on the slope of the steep hill and with those
on the side of the Golden Horn formed a large but irregular triangle.
The highest position in the city was crowned by the noble tower still
existing, and then known as the Tower of Christ. Constantinople and
Galata were each interested in keeping the splendid natural harbour
closed. Behind Galata--that is, immediately behind the walls of the
city--the heights and all the back country were held by the Turks.

Like most neutrals, the people of Galata were accused by each of the
combatants of giving aid to the other side. The archbishop, himself a
Genoese by origin, is loud in his complaints against his countrymen
for having preferred their interests to their duty as Christians. But
it is abundantly clear that the Genoese continued to trade with their
neighbours across the Golden Horn. Whether the balance of services
rendered to the combatants was in favour of the Greeks or of Mahomet
may be doubtful, but there was no doubt in Mahomet’s mind, or probably
in that of any one else, that the sympathy of the Genoese, as shown by
their conduct, was with their fellow Christians. The Genoese ships with
which the fight had just taken place were safe once they had passed
the boom and had come under the protection of the Genoese on one side
and the Greeks on the other. The Golden Horn was thus a refuge for all
ships hostile to the Turks.

It was necessary to give the Podestà and the Council of Galata a
lesson. But Mahomet had tried and failed to force the boom. Nor
could he obtain possession of the end which was within boundaries of
Galata.[308] To have made the attempt would have been to make war on
the Genoese. But their walls were strong, their defenders brave, and
the first rumour of an attack upon the city would be the signal for
the despatch of the whole Genoese fleet and of all the forces that the
suzerain lord of Galata, the duke of Milan, could muster for their aid.
Moreover, within the harbour there were between twenty and thirty large
fighting ships, and the sea fight had now shown clearly how very much
his difficulties would be increased if he forced the Genoese into open
hostilities against him.

The third reason why Mahomet wanted command of the harbour was to
secure his own communications. His important division of troops
under Zagan Pasha occupied the northern shore of the Golden Horn
beyond Galata, together with the heights above the city. While it was
necessary to hold this position so as to keep in touch with his fleet
at the Double Columns and his fortresses at Roumelia-Hissar, the only
means of communication between the main body of his troops encamped
before the walls and those under Zagan was the distant and dangerous
ford over the upper portion of the Golden Horn at Kiat-Hana, then
called Cydaris. Once Mahomet obtained possession of the harbour he
could without interruption build a bridge over the upper end of the
Golden Horn by which communications between the two divisions of his
army would be greatly facilitated.

To accomplish these three objects Mahomet judged that his wisest
course was to let the Genoese severely alone and to attempt to
obtain possession of the harbour by a method which should not force
the neutrals to become open enemies. He resolved to accomplish the
difficult feat of transporting a fleet overland from the Bosporus to
the Horn. This feat may have been suggested to him by a Venetian who,
fourteen years earlier, had seen one of a similar kind performed, in
which his fellow citizens had transported a number of ships from the
Adige to Lake Garda.[309]

The sultan’s entire command of the country behind Galata would enable
him to make his preparations possibly without even the knowledge of the
Genoese. The ridge of hills now occupied by Pera was covered partly
with vineyards and partly with bushes. The western slope, from the
ridge along which runs the Grande Rue de Péra, down to the ‘Valley
of the Springs,’ now known as Cassim Pasha, was used as a Genoese
graveyard, and is still covered by the cypress trees that mark the
Turkish cemetery which took its place. There existed a path from a
place on the Bosporus near the present Tophana to The Springs at right
angles to the road on the ridge of Pera Hill, the two roads forming a
cross and thus giving to Pera its modern Greek name of Stavrodromion.
This path followed the natural valley, now forming the street by the
side of which is erected the church which is a memorial to British
soldiers and sailors who perished in the Crimean war, and then crossing
the ridge on a flat tableland over a few hundred yards descended in
almost a straight line by another valley which is also preserved by
a street to The Springs and the waters of the Golden Horn. It was
probably along this route that the sultan had determined to haul his

[Sidenote: Project not formed hastily.]

It is impossible to believe that Mahomet had arrived hastily at his
decision to accomplish this serious engineering feat. In accordance
with his usual habit, he would guard his design with the utmost
secrecy. At the same time, he would push on his preparations with his
customary energy. The timber needed for making a species of tramway,
for rollers and for ship cradles, had been carefully and secretly
amassed and everything was ready for execution when the leader gave
the word. The plan and execution was a great surprise, not only to
the Greeks, but even to the people of Galata. That the plan and
preparations were conceived and completed in a single day or night is

[Sidenote: Mahomet diverts attention from project.]

If this conjecture is correct, Zagan, who was in command of the Turks
behind Galata and at the head of the Golden Horn, would have been able
to prevent the preparations from becoming known. Possibly it was in
order to conceal the final arrangements that the sultan, a few days
previously, had brought his guns or bombards to bear on the ships
which were moored to the boom, while Baltoglu, as we have seen, was
attacking them from the sea. These guns were stationed on the hill of
St. Theodore, northward of the eastern wall of Galata.[311] At daylight
on April 21, one of them opened fire. The discharge of cannon was
continued and would divert attention from what was going on behind the
Galata walls. The first shot caused great alarm. The ball, followed
by dense black smoke, went over the houses of the Genoese and made
them fear that the city itself was about to be attacked. The second
shot rose to a great distance, fell upon one of the ships at the
boom, smashed a hole in it and sank it, killing some of the crew. The
effect upon the crews of the other ships was for the moment to cause
consternation. They, however, soon placed themselves out of range. The
Turks continued to fire, though the balls fell short, and, according to
Leonard, this fire was continued during the day. A hundred cannon-balls
were discharged; many houses in Galata were struck and a woman was
killed. The Genoese were thus decoyed into paying no attention
to what was going on behind their city. During all the same day,
Barbaro records that the bombardment against the San Romano walls was
exceptionally heavy, and even during the night, according to Michael
the Janissary, all the batteries directed against the Constantinople
landward walls were kept hard at work. This, too, was probably intended
to divert attention from the preparations for the immediate transport
of the fleet.

These measures for diverting attention account for the passage of the
ships not being generally known, if, indeed, it was known at all by
any of the enemy, until it was accomplished.[312] For this reason no
attempt was made to destroy them either before they were placed on land
or as they reached the water. At the same time, Mahomet, who seldom
neglected a precaution, had made preparations to repel any attempt made
to oppose the transit.[313]

In the evening of the 21st or on the morning of the 22nd everything
appears to have been prepared for the remarkable overland voyage
of the sultan’s fleet. Between seventy and eighty vessels had been
selected from those anchored in the Bosporus.[314]

A road had been carefully levelled, probably following the route
already indicated, from a spot near the present Tophana to the valley
of The Springs. Stout planks or logs had been laid upon it. A great
number of rollers had been prepared of six pikes, or about thirteen or
fourteen feet, long.[315] Logs and rollers were thoroughly greased and
made ready for their burdens. The ships’ cradles, to the side of which
poles were fixed so as to enable the ships to be securely fastened,
were lowered into the water to receive the vessels which were then
floated upon them, and by means of long cables were pulled ashore and
started on their voyage.

[Sidenote: Transport of eighty ships overland.]

A preliminary trial was made with a small fusta, and this having been
successfully handled, the Turks began to transport others. Some were
hauled by mere hand power, others required the assistance of pulleys,
while buffaloes served to haul the remainder. The multitude of men at
the sultan’s disposal enabled the ships to start on their voyage in
rapid succession.

The strangeness and the oddity of the spectacle, the paradox of ships
journeying over land, seems to have impressed the Turks, who always
have a keen relish for fun, as much as did the ingenuity of the plan.
The whole business had indeed its ludicrous aspect. The men took their
accustomed places in the vessel. The sails were unfurled as if the
ships were putting out to sea. The oarsmen got out their oars and
pulled as if they were on the water. The leaders ran backwards and
forwards on the central gangway or _histodokè_ where the mast when not
hoisted usually rested, to see that they all kept stroke together. The
helmsmen were at their posts, while fifes and drums sounded as if the
boats were in the water. The display thus made, accompanied as it was
by cheering and music, may probably be attributed rather to the desire
of keeping every one in good humour than to the belief that such a
disposal of the men could facilitate the transport of the vessels.[316]

The vessels followed each other up the hill in rapid succession, and
amid shouting and singing and martial music were hauled up the steep
ridge to the level portion which is now the Grande Rue de Pera, a
height of two hundred and fifty feet from the level of the Bosporus. A
short haul of about a furlong upon level ground enabled them to begin
the descent to the Golden Horn, and so rapidly was this performed that
before the last ship had reached the ridge the first was afloat in the
harbour. The distance is described by Critobulus as not less than eight
stadia. Taking the stadium as a furlong or slightly less, this is a
correct estimate of the distance over which these ships travelled, if
the ships started, as I have suggested, from the present Tophana. Nor
is there reason to doubt the statement that the traject was made, as
many contemporaries assert, in one night.[317]



[Sidenote: Constantine alleged to have asked for peace.]

Ducas relates that about this time, when the emperor found that the
walls which had resisted the Arabs and other invaders were not strong
enough to support the attack of Mahomet’s cannon, he sent an offer to
pay any amount of tribute which might be imposed on condition that the
siege should be abandoned.

His narrative would imply that the offer was made immediately after the
transport of the fleet overland.[318]

Mahomet replied to the emperor that it was too late: that he meant to
obtain the city or die in the attempt. He, however, made a counter
proposal. If the emperor would leave it, he would give him the
Morea, would appoint his brother to rule over other provinces, and
thus sultan and emperor might live at peace with each other. If this
counter proposal were rejected, he declared his intention of putting
the emperor and all his nobles to the sword, of allowing his soldiers
to take captive the people and to pillage their houses. He himself
would be content with the deserted city. Ducas adds that of course the
offer of Mahomet was refused, because in what place could the emperor
have appeared without meeting the scorn, not only of all Christians,
but of Jews and even of the Turks themselves? This proposal is not
mentioned by Phrantzes. Gibbon suggests that he is silent regarding it
because he wished to spare his prince even the thought of a surrender.
Ducas, however, is constantly inaccurate, and it may well be that he
was merely relating an unfounded report which was current after the
capture of the city, when he himself was but a boy. It is difficult
to believe that if any proposal of the kind had been made at the time
indicated it would not have been known to Leonard, Barbaro, Pusculus,
Tetaldi, or others who were present at the siege, and if known that it
would not have been mentioned. Phrantzes, writing in defence of the
emperor, says that it is certain that he could have fled from the city
if he had so desired and that he deliberately preferred the fate of the
Good Shepherd who is ready to lay down his life for his sheep.[319]
The same testimony is borne by Critobulus,[320] who says that although
Constantine realised the peril which threatened the city, and although
he could have saved his own life as many counselled him to do, yet he
refused, and preferred to die rather than see the city captured.

[Sidenote: Attempts to destroy Turkish ships in harbour.]

The sudden appearance of the seventy or eighty ships in the inner
harbour of the Golden Horn caused consternation in the city. Every one
could understand that if this fleet were not destroyed, the number
of men available for the defence of the landward walls must be very
greatly lessened. Moreover, the walls now for the first time requiring
defence were low and required constant watching. A bridge or pontoon
was already in course of construction in the upper part of the Horn
beyond the city walls, the use of which was now evident as a means of
attacking the harbour walls.

[Sidenote: Plan decided upon.]

A meeting was hastily called with the consent of the Venetian bailey,
and perhaps by him, at which twelve men who had trust in each other
were present. Among them was John Justiniani, who had already acquired
the confidence not merely of his countrymen and of the emperor but of
the Venetians. They met in the church of St. Mary, probably in the
Venetian quarter near the present Rustem Pasha mosque, to decide upon
the best measures for the destruction of the Turkish ships which had
been so strangely carried over Pera Hill.[321] Various proposals were
made. It was suggested that the Christian ships in the harbour should
make a combined attack upon the Turkish vessels. It was objected that
the consent of the Genoese at Galata would be required, and they were
known to be unwilling to declare open war against Mahomet. In any case,
precious time would be lost in obtaining their consent. The second
proposal was to destroy the Turkish guns which had been placed on the
western side of Galata to protect the ships, and then to attempt to
burn the vessels. This was evidently a dangerous operation, because
Zagan Pasha had a detachment of troops in the neighbourhood and the
Venetians and Greeks were not sufficiently numerous to risk the loss
of a body of men upon such an expedition. The third proposal was the
one which finally commended itself to the meeting. If not made it was
at least strongly supported by James Coco, the captain of a Trebizond
galley, a man whom Phrantzes describes as more capable of action than
of speech.[322] His project was, without delay, without consulting the
Genoese, to make a dash and burn the Turkish ships in Cassim Pasha Bay.
He himself offered to undertake the task.

The meeting had been quietly called, and no time had been lost in
arriving at a decision. It was of the very essence of Coco’s proposal
that it should be executed immediately and that it should be kept
secret. His preparations were forthwith put in hand. He chose two
transports of five hundred tons each and placed bales of cotton and of
wool upon them as armour to prevent damage from cannon-balls. Two large
galleys and two of the lighter and swifter kinds of biremes or fustae
were to accompany them. Each fusta had twenty-four banks or thwarts
and contained seventy-two oarsmen, forty-eight abaft the mast and
twenty-four ahead of it. Accompanying each ship was a large boat.[323]
Coco’s plan was to employ the two large ships as a screen for the
galleys and fustae, so that at the last moment these swift vessels
might pull rapidly forward and cut out or burn the Turkish ships.

[Sidenote: Execution postponed till April 28.]

It was agreed that the vessels should be brought together that same
night of April 24, at an hour after sunset, the Eastern method of
computing the hours making this a fixed and precise time, and the
attack was to be made at midnight. The Genoese heard of the proposed
attack and pressed the Venetians hard to postpone the execution of the
project, in order that they might take part in it. Unluckily, they
consented. The preparations of the Genoese took four days. During that
period the sultan became aware of what was proposed, added two big guns
to those already stationed on the shore at Cassim Pasha to cover his
ships, and waited in confidence for the attack.

Contemporary writers charge the Genoese with having betrayed the
project to the sultan. Even Leonard evidently believed in the
existence of this treachery and hints that he knows more than he
cares to tell. Ducas states bluntly that the Genoese told the sultan.
Critobulus and Pusculus each affirm that Mahomet had information from
Galata.[324] Barbaro adds the further detail that the Podestà, as the
mayor of Galata was called, on learning what was proposed to be done,
immediately sent word to the sultan at St. Romanus Gate, and speaks of
the ‘accursed Genoese’ as ‘enemies of the faith and treacherous dogs’
for so doing.

While it is difficult to reject all these statements, it must be
remembered that the cry of treachery is usually raised in similar cases
when things go wrong, and, as the preparations must have been known to
a great many people, it would have been wonderful indeed if Mahomet had
not learned what so many knew.

In whatever manner the information was acquired, it cannot be doubted
that the Turks had knowledge of the project, and that the Greeks and
Venetians were not aware that it was known to the common enemy.

[Sidenote: Attempt made to destroy Turkish ships.]

By April 28 everything was ready. Two hours before dawn the two ships
with their bales of cotton and wool left the harbour of Galata--that
is, the north-eastern portion of the Golden Horn. They were accompanied
by the galleys, one under Trevisano and the other under Zacharia
Grione. Both captains were experienced and brave men. Trevisano was
the captain who had placed himself at the service of the emperor ‘per
honor de Dio et per honor di tuta la Christianitade.’ Three swift
fustae, each with well-armed and picked men and materials for burning
the Turkish fleet, accompanied them. The leading one was commanded by
Coco, who had chosen the crew from his own galley. A number of small
boats carrying gunpowder and combustibles were to follow. The order was
given, as previously arranged, that the ships should go first and the
galleys and biremes follow under their shelter. When the expedition
started, some at least were surprised to see a bright light flare up
from the top of Galata Tower, which was probably rightly judged to be
a signal to the Turks that the ships were leaving.[325] Everything was
still in profound darkness and no sign or sound came from the Turkish
ships to indicate that they were on the alert. While the Christian
ships were pulled slowly and silently along, Coco, in his swift fusta,
grew impatient at their slow progress. Naturally, says Barbaro, the
ships with only forty rowers could not go so fast as did his fusta,
which had seventy-two; and, greedy of glory, he drew ahead of them in
order that he might have the satisfaction of being first to attack and
of being the destroyer of the Turkish fleet. Then suddenly the silence
was broken and the Turks showed they were prepared. Their cannon opened
fire and Coco’s fusta was struck, but without being much damaged. A
minute or two afterwards, however, a better aimed shot hit his vessel,
going in at one side, and out at the other.

Before you could have said ten paternosters she had sunk.[326] The
survivors of his crew were swimming with their light armour and in the
darkness for their lives. Many perished, and among them Coco himself.
Meantime the guns were directed against the ships. The enemy fired
from a short distance and Barbaro tells us that though they could hear
the mocking laughter of their foes, they were unable, on account of
the darkness and the smoke arising from the cannon and the smouldering
cotton and wool of their own ships, to render any assistance. By the
time, indeed, the other vessels had come up, the Turks had all their
guns in full play and the vessels had enough to do to look after their
own safety. Trevisano’s ship, as probably the largest of the galleys,
was signalled for attack. Two shots struck and went through her. She
half filled with water and had to be deserted, Trevisano and most of
his men taking to the water to save their lives.

[Sidenote: Attempt fails.]

Then the whole Turkish fleet of seventy or eighty vessels put out to
attack the other two ships. The Italians and Greeks fought valiantly,
probably expecting to be supported by the rest of the Christian
fleet, which, however, did not arrive in time to give any aid. The
fight was ‘terrible et forte:’ there was, says Barbaro, ‘a veritable
hell;’ missiles and blows were countless, cannonading continual. The
contest raged furiously for a full hour and a half and neither of the
combatants could overcome the other. Thereupon both retired. The two
ships were not captured, and their crews had once more maintained the
superiority of the Christian ships over a more numerous foe in smaller

[Sidenote: Murder of captives.]

[Sidenote: Reprisals.]

But the expedition had nevertheless failed. Eighty or ninety of the
best men, including many Venetians, had been lost. Only one Turkish
vessel had been destroyed. The misfortune caused bitter grief to the
Greeks and Latins. The success of the Christian ships when attacked
by the Turks a few days earlier had led to the belief that on the
water at least they were invincible. The consternation and even panic
caused in the fleet by the failure was such that if the Turks on that
day had joined battle and taken the offensive ‘we should all,’ says
Barbaro, ‘without a doubt have been captured, and even those who were
on shore.’ The depression in the city was increased and turned to rage
by the conduct of Mahomet. Some of the sailors had swum to the northern
shore and were captured by the Turks. Forty of them were ostentatiously
killed so that those who a short while before had been their companions
witnessed their execution. Though one may blame the inhumanity of
reprisals, one cannot, in the event which followed, be surprised at
them. A large number of Turkish prisoners in the city were brought
bound from prison and were hanged on the highest part of the city walls
opposite Cassim Pasha, where the Christian prisoners had suffered.[328]

[Sidenote: Operations in Lycus Valley.]

During these days the city walls on the landward side had been the
scene of constant attacks. The failure of the first attempt, on the
18th, to pass the walls was followed by steady firing day and night to
destroy them. Probably on April 23 the great cannon was removed to a
position opposite the Romanus Military gate, the place where Justiniani
was stationed, ‘because there the walls were the least solid and very
low.’[329] From this time it commenced and never ceased to batter them.

The disadvantages resulting from the transport of the Turkish ships
into the harbour were at once felt. While continual pounding from the
great cannon and other machines was going on at the landward walls and
while feints were being made which kept the defenders always on the
alert, to resist attacks or effect repairs, a portion of their forces
had to be told off to defend the north-western walls facing the Golden
Horn. Many attempts were made from these walls on the Horn, and from
the Christian ships to destroy the Turkish vessels. Nearly every day as
long as the siege lasted, some of the Greek or Venetian ships were told
off to watch or attack them. Sometimes the Turks were chased to the
shore: at other times the pursuers became the pursued.[330]

[Sidenote: Building of bridge over Upper Horn.]

To enable his troops to pass readily across the Golden Horn, Mahomet
commenced and carried through with his usual energy the construction
of a bridge over the upper part of it, near the place where the
landward walls join those on the side of the Horn. This district was
then known as Cynegion, and now as Aivan Serai.[331] The bridge was
formed of upwards of a thousand wine barrels, all securely fastened
together with ropes. Two of the barrels placed lengthways made the
width of the bridge. Upon them beams were fixed, and over the beams
a planking sufficiently wide to enable five soldiers to walk abreast
with ease.[332] The object in placing the bridge so near the walls was,
not merely to facilitate communications between the troops behind Pera
and the army before the walls, but to attach to it pontoons upon which
cannon could be placed for attacking the harbour walls.

The paucity of the number of the defenders greatly alarmed the
emperor and those around him who had gathered in council to meet the
new dangers. They were compelled to recognise that this new point of
attack, in the very place where, and where alone, the city had formerly
been captured, required especial care, and accordingly they decided
to send a strong detachment of Greeks and Italians to the north-west
corner of the walls at Aivan Serai.[333]

From the moment the Turks had gained entrance into the inner harbour
they never ceased to harass the city on every side.

During the next few days the cannonading against the walls was constant
and the efforts to repair the damage equally persistent.

[Sidenote: Provisions running short at commencement of May.]

Barbaro mentions that on May 1 or 2 it was found that provisions were
running short. The organisation for the supply of food to the soldiers
was defective, and many complained that they had to leave the walls
in order to earn bread for their wives and families. This led to the
formation of what we may call a relief committee charged with the
distribution of provisions.

[Sidenote: Skirmishes between ships and besieged.]

On May 3, the besieged placed two of their largest guns on the walls
opposite the Turkish ships in the harbour. The Turks replied by placing
the two large cannons with which Coco’s bireme had been attacked on the
opposite shore to attack the walls. The besieged persisted in their
endeavours to destroy the fleet. For a time they did more damage than
the Turks were able to effect, but the latter brought other cannon
and kept up their firing night and day. For ten days, says Barbaro,
Greeks and Turks fired at each other, but without much result, ‘because
our cannons were inside the walls and theirs were well protected, and
moreover the distance between them was half an Italian mile, and beyond
the range of guns on either side.’

[Sidenote: May 3: sending out of brigantine to find Venetian fleet.]

Now that the siege had run into May the emperor and the leaders
were becoming alarmed at the non-arrival of the Venetian fleet. The
agreement with the Venetian bailey, in conformity with which a fleet
was to be sent at once to the aid of the city, had been concluded
on January 26, and no tidings had yet been heard of it. Its admiral,
Loredano, was known to be a brave man ‘who held strongly to the
Christian cause,’ but the fear was that he had not been informed of
the agreement. Accordingly, on May 3, the emperor called together the
notables of the Venetian colony and his chief officers, and suggested
that one of their swiftest ships should be sent into the Archipelago
and, if need be, as far as Euboea to seek for the fleet and to press
Loredano to hasten to the relief of the city. Every one approved of
the suggestion, and the same day a swift-sailing brigantine, manned
only with twelve men, was made ready to sail. The crew were disguised
to make them look as much as possible like Turks. At midnight the boom
was opened. The ship hoisted the Turkish flag and sailed away, passing
safely through the Marmora and the Dardanelles into the Archipelago.

[Sidenote: Proposal that Constantine should leave the city.]

The author of the Moscovite chronicle, who was probably present at the
siege, declares that Constantine during these days was urged by the
patriarch and the nobles to leave the city, that Justiniani himself
recommended this course and placed his ships at the emperor’s disposal
for such purpose. It was probably urged that he would be more likely
to defeat the Turks from outside than within the city; that, though
the number of men for the defence of the walls was insufficient, the
withdrawal of the emperor and a small retinue would be of little
consequence, but that, once outside, his brother and other subjects
would flock to his banner and he could arrange with Iskender Bey for
the despatch of an Albanian army. In this manner time would be gained
during which the long looked-for ships and soldiers from the West which
the Venetians and the pope had promised, and to which other princes
were ready to contribute, could arrive at Constantinople. Probably the
presence of the emperor, with even a small band, elsewhere threatening
the Turkish position would cause Mahomet to raise the siege.

The emperor, says the same writer, listened quietly, was touched by
the proposal and shed tears; thanked the chiefs for their advice, but
declared that, while he recognised that his departure might be of
advantage to himself, he would never consent to abandon the people,
the clergy, the churches, and his throne in such a moment of danger.
‘What,’ he adds, ‘would the world say of me? Ask me to remain with you.
I am ready to die with you.’ It was probably on this occasion that the
emperor declared, as already mentioned, that he preferred ‘to follow
the example of the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.’

[Sidenote: New attack on ships at boom, May 5.]

Determined if possible to destroy the Christian fleet and apparently
caring very little about resistance from Galata, the Turks placed two
of their guns on the slope of Pera Hill and on May 5 commenced once
more to fire over the corner of Galata at the ships lying at the boom.
They took care, however, according to Barbaro, to aim at the Venetian
vessels. Firing went on all day. A ball of two hundred pounds weight
struck a Genoese merchant ship of three hundred tons burden, which was
laden with a valuable cargo of silk and other merchandise, and sank
her. The Turks continued firing all day long, and in consequence ships
left the boom and retired to the shelter of the Galata walls.[334] The
Genoese went to complain to the Turkish vizier of the unfriendly act
of firing on and sinking one of their vessels. They reminded him that
they were neutrals and were most anxious to preserve peace. According
to Ducas, they declared that if they had not been friendly, the Turks
would never have succeeded in transporting their ships overland, as
they, the Genoese, could have burnt them. There are two versions of the
reply given by the Turkish leaders. According to Ducas, they pleaded
that they did not know that the owner of the sunken ship was a Genoese,
and believed it to belong to the enemy. They urged the Genoese to wish
them success in their efforts to capture the city and promised, in such
case, full compensation to the owner of the sunken ship and cargo.
According to Phrantzes, the sultan himself answered that the ships were
not merchant vessels but pirates. They had come to help the enemy and
must be treated as enemies. It is difficult to decide which answer was
given, but that recorded by Ducas appears more in accord with the young
sultan’s crafty policy. Whichever is the correct version, the Genoese
had to profess their satisfaction with it.

The failure to destroy the Turkish ships, the increased labour thrown
on the Venetians within the city, and the doubtful conduct of the
Genoese, led to ill-feeling between the citizens of the two republics
which caused a disturbance amounting to a serious riot within the city

[Sidenote: Jealousy between Venetians and Genoese.]

The traditional jealousy between Venetians and Genoese was still
formidable. In the present instance each accused the other of not
loyally defending Constantinople and of being ready to send away their
ships whenever they could do so in safety. The Venetians replied to
this accusation by pointing out that they had unshipped the rudders
from many of their vessels and had deposited both them and the sails
within the city. The Genoese retorted that, though they kept their
rudders and sails on board ready for use at any moment, they had their
wives and children in Galata and had not the slightest intention of
abandoning so excellent a situation. If they had advocated peace with
the Turks, it was at the desire of the emperor, with whom they had
a common interest. The reply was difficult to answer, but carried
no conviction to their rivals, because the Venetians believed that,
in spite of it, the Genoese were acting solely to further their own
interests. To the most serious charge--that of giving notice to the
Turks of the attempt to burn their ships--the Genoese answered that
the plan had failed through the bad management of Coco, who, with the
object of gaining for himself alone the credit of having destroyed
the hostile fleet, had neglected necessary precautions. Recrimination
ran high and led to blows. Phrantzes gives us a pathetic picture of
the emperor appearing among the rioters and imploring them to make
friends. War against the enemy was surely bad enough; he begged them
for the sake of God not to make war on each other. His influence was
sufficient to restore order, but while the hostile feeling was so far
temporarily allayed as to make Genoese and Venetians content during the
siege to lay aside their differences, it endured until the end.

[Sidenote: Attempt to capture city by assault on May 7 fails.]

On May 7, an assault was commenced which the besieged believed would
be general by land and sea. On the previous days the monotonous firing
against the walls had been constantly going on, and preparations had
been noted as being made in the fleet for some new movement. Four hours
after sunset thirty thousand Turks with scaling ladders and everything
necessary endeavoured to force an entrance over the walls. The attempt
lasted for three hours, but the besieged resisted bravely and the Turks
had to retreat, having suffered, says Barbaro, much damage and, ‘I
should say, with a great many killed.’ The sailors on their side were
ready: the ships left the protection of the Galata walls and moved once
more to take up their positions in defence of the boom, but the Turks
did not come to the attack, possibly, as Barbaro suggests, because they
were afraid of the Venetian ships.

The Moscovite mentions an encounter during this attack between a
Greek strategos or general named Rangebè and a Turk named Amer Bey,
the standard-bearer of the sultan. The Greek made a sortie, put the
followers of Amer to flight, and then attacked Amer himself, whom he
cut in two. The Turks, furious at the loss, surrounded Rangebè and
killed him.[335]

The next day the Venetian Council of Twelve decided that Trevisano with
his four hundred men should leave the entrance to the harbour and take
up the defence of the newly threatened walls at Aivan Serai. There
appears, however, to have been considerable opposition on the part of
his crews, who preferred to remain afloat. Finally this was overcome,
and on the 13th they went to their positions at the place mentioned,
where the defenders had been occupied in constantly repairing the
breaches made by the guns. Trevisano’s galleys were left in the
imperial harbour of Neorion near the end of the chain. His place was
taken by Diedo, captain of the Tana galleys, who was now appointed to
the chief command of the fleet.

[Sidenote: A new assault on May 12.]

At midnight of the 12th fifty thousand Turks made an attack near
Tekfour Serai, the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus, between Adrianople
Gate and Caligaria, where a battery of guns had been planted from the
commencement of the siege and had greatly damaged the breastwork and
the Outer Wall. The attack was made with such force, and the shouting
of the invaders was so loud, that Barbaro says ‘most of us believed
that they would capture the city.’ Once more the attack failed. On the
14th, Mahomet removed the guns which he had placed on the slope of
Pera Hill and had them taken to Aivan Serai and placed so as to attack
the gate of the imperial palace of Blachern. It was found, however,
that the guns in this position did no great harm, and they were once
more removed, taken to the Lycus valley, and placed near the others to
batter the walls near the Romanus Gate. From this time onward this was
the principal place against which Mahomet concentrated his attack.

The entries in the diaries of the siege, showing that, while other
parts of the wall were often attacked, the bombardment in the Lycus
valley was unceasing day and night, occur during many days with
monotonous regularity. Equally constant were the efforts for the
defence: ‘We, on our side, were working day and night to repair the
walls with logs and earth and other materials.’

[Sidenote: New attempts to force the boom, on May 16 and 17.]

On the 16th, Mahomet, probably because he had learnt of the landing
of Trevisano’s men from the fleet, ordered his ships at the Double
Columns to make another attack upon the boom. One would have expected
that the seventy or eighty ships that were in the Inner Horn would have
co-operated in this attack but they did not move. Neither Turk nor
Genoese cared to risk open war with the other. The Turkish fleet came
down the Bosporus, and the Greek and Venetian ships prepared to receive
them. As the Turkish ships came up to the attack, Diedo brought his
vessels from the shelter of the walls of Galata to the boom. Thereupon
the Turks retired, and using their oars returned to the Columns. A
similar incident occurred on the 17th, but the Turks, again finding
that the ships at the boom were prepared for a fight, went back.

[Sidenote: Renewed attempt on May 21.]

Mahomet, however unwilling to break with the Genoese, was not
content to have communication between the two divisions of his fleet
interrupted. Accordingly, once more he renewed his attempt to destroy
the boom. Barbaro appears to have been on one of the ships defending
it. On May 21 at two hours before daylight, the whole fleet moved out
from the Double Columns and with great noise of drums and trumpets came
down the Bosporus. All on board the Christian vessels were greatly
alarmed, but dispositions for the defence were taken, and, as it was
feared that contemporaneously a general attack upon the city was about
to be made, the alarm bells rang out and every one took his allotted
station either on shore or on the ships. Once more the Turks decided
that it was hopeless to attempt the destruction of the boom, and
therefore returned to their moorings. It is impossible to say whether
the Turks really believed that they might destroy it or whether the
three attempts just mentioned were merely feints to tire out the
besieged and alarm them by a display of overwhelming force. It is
certain, however, that the Venetian and Greek sailors were always ready
to resist, and that, after this attempt on May 21, Mahomet’s fleet made
no further attempt to force its way into the harbour.

[Sidenote: Attempts to undermine the walls.]

Already, on May 16, the besieged had discovered that the Turks were
attempting to undermine the walls and thus enter into the city. Zagan
Pasha, the renegade Albanian, in command of Mahomet’s army in Pera and
opposite the walls from Caligaria to the Horn, had under him a number
of miners, who had been brought from Novo Brodo in Serbia and who
possibly were Saxons brought to that country to work in the silver
mines. These men took in hand the task of undermining. They commenced
their work at a distance sufficiently far removed not to be observed
by the besieged. Probably the first place attacked was between the
Adrianople Gate and Tekfour Serai. They endeavoured to undermine the
foss and the Outer Wall.[336] When this failed a second attempt was
made against the walls of the quarter called Caligaria, and this, says
Barbaro, because in that place there were no enclosures or, as he calls
them, ‘barbicans,’ the wall being single and unprotected even by a
ditch. This description enables us to identify the place as the wall
running at right angles to the northern end of the foss. An Austrian
named John Grant, who acted under the Grand Duke, took charge of the
counterminers and succeeded in finding and entering the Turkish mine,
where he and his men burnt the props. The works fell in and suffocated
a number of Turkish workmen. The incident greatly alarmed the citizens,
who feared that on future occasions Grant might not be fortunate enough
to discover the mine before the Turks had entered by it or had blown
up a part of the walls. Fortunately, the rocky character of the ground
prevented the miners from meeting with any notable success. Phrantzes
states that the only damage done by the Turks in mining was to destroy
part of an old tower, which was soon repaired by the defenders.[337]

[Sidenote: Construction of a turret, May 18.]

At daylight on May 18, the citizens were astonished to see a wooden
turret or ‘bastion,’ which had been built during the night.[338] The
turret had been constructed with the same secrecy and celerity that
Mahomet invariably adopted in the execution of his plans. Barbaro
declares that all the Christians in the city could not have made it
under a month. It was a huge structure. It was only in the morning,
when they saw it complete in a place where no preparations had been
observed on the previous evening, that they realised what had been
done. This ancient form of the ‘Taker of Cities’ was stationed near
the Romanus Gate. It consisted of a strong framework of long beams
so high as to overlook the Outer Wall.[339] It had been partly
filled with earth, faced with a threefold covering of camels’ or
bullocks’ hides, and was built on wheels or rollers. Steps led to
its upper platform. These and the road which led to the camp, which
was sufficiently distant to be out of range, were also covered for
protection. Scaling-ladders could be raised and thrown from the summit
of the turret to that of the wall. If the huge machine was, as Barbaro
states, within ten paces of the wall, it must have been built in the
foss itself. It dominated the outer barbican or enclosure and would
have allowed the enemy under cover of its protection to fill the ditch
from three openings which were in the side presented to the walls and
to undermine them in safety. The latter probably was the principal
object for which it was intended. It would also have enabled the Turks
to prevent the besieged from repairing the damages to the Outer Wall
caused by the cannon. For this reason we can understand the statement
of Barbaro, that while it gave increased hope to the Turks, it filled
the besieged with alarm. It was built, according to Tetaldi, opposite
the place defended by Justinian.[340] Its dangerous character was soon
shown. The cannon having destroyed one of the towers near the Romanus
Gate, the turret was moved and stood overhanging the ditch. A fierce
fight took place between the Turks inside it and the Greeks and
Italians under Justiniani. The Turks flung earth, wood, and all kinds
of material available into the foss, employing mainly the stone from
the ruined tower, so as to form a level pathway across. The besieged
fought hard from daylight till after sunset to prevent the Turks from
making use of the turret, and the emperor and Justiniani assisted all
the night at the repair of the tower.

It was probably the fact that the ditch had been largely filled with
brushwood which brought about the destruction of the machine. The
besieged managed to place barrels of powder in the ditch, set fire
to the brushwood, and blew up the whole structure. Several of its
occupants perished in the explosion. At daylight the sultan found that
his huge turret was reduced to ashes, that the foss had been cleared
out, and that the ruined tower had been in great part repaired. He
swore that the thirty-seven thousand prophets could not have persuaded
him that the besieged could have compassed its destruction in so short
a time.[341]

A similar turret was erected opposite the Pegè Gate, or, what is more
probable, opposite the Third Military Gate, and possibly there were
others near the Golden Gate and elsewhere.[342]

[Sidenote: Further attempts to undermine.]

Undeterred by the discovery and failure of the attempt to undermine
the walls at Caligaria, the Turks made other trials in the same
neighbourhood. But Grant was always ready, countermined and destroyed
the enemies’ work before they could use it. On three successive days
mines were found in this place, ‘where there were no barbicans,’ but
they also were destroyed, and a number of Turks, who could not escape
in time, either lost their lives or were captured.

On the 24th, a mine was found which had apparently been more carefully
concealed. A wooden turret had been built near the walls, which
was intended to serve the double purpose of deceiving the besieged
into supposing that its object was to facilitate the actual scaling
of the walls, while at the same time it rested on a bridge of logs
beneath which excavation was being made. It contained the earth and
stones which were taken out. The ruse was, however, suspected, and the
counterminers found and destroyed the mine.

The last mine dug by the Turks was found on May 25. This, says Barbaro,
was the most dangerous of all, because the miners got under the wall,
and if powder had been employed, it would have brought down a portion,
and have made an opening into the city.[343]

Altogether, says Tetaldi, the Turks had made fourteen attempts to
undermine the walls, but the Christians had listened, had heard and
detected them, and had either smoked out the Turks, destroyed them
with stink pots, let in water on them, or had fought them hand to hand
underground.[344] In all cases they had succeeded in preventing any
dangerous explosion. The attempt to gain an entrance by mining had
failed. In the words of Critobulus, Mahomet was now convinced that
mining was vain and useless labour and expense, and that it was the
cannon which would do everything.[345]

On the 23rd bad news reached the city. The small brigantine which had
been sent out on May 3 returned. Once more, flying the Turkish flag,
she ran the blockade of the Dardanelles and the entry of the Bosporus,
her crew disguised as Turkish sailors. The Turks, however, near the
city recognised and tried to catch her, but before they could bring
their vessels to the boom, it was opened, and the brave little ship was
once more safely in the Golden Horn.

[Sidenote: Return of brigantine. Failure to find Venetian fleet.]

Unfortunately, her crew had to report their failure to find the
Venetian fleet. They had, nevertheless, done their work gallantly. Like
the men, forty years later, under Columbus, the sailors appear to have
had a voice in determining what their ship should do. Having completed
their task and decided that it was useless to search any longer for
Loredano, a proposal was made to return to Constantinople. To this some
of the crew objected. They professed to believe, perhaps did believe,
that the city, if not already captured, would be taken to a certainty
before they could reach it. They had done their best; why should they
run the gauntlet again and return to the doomed city, since they could
do no good? The greater number, however, were true to their engagement,
and their answer has the best quality of seaman-like loyalty about it:
‘Whether the city be taken or not; whether it is to life or to death,
our duty is to return,’ and in consequence the brigantine made sail
once more for the Golden Horn.[346]

[Sidenote: Supernatural omens.]

During these days--that is, somewhere between May 22 and 26--certain
events occurred of which mention is made by several writers.

Though we may regard the narrative of these events mainly as evidence
of the superstition of the age, they have to be taken into account,
inasmuch as they affected the spirit both of besiegers and besieged.
The narratives are vague and not altogether reconcilable, but
Critobulus, a man writing with exemplary carefulness long after the
siege, probably gives the most accurate summary of what happened,
though his account, like all others, is tinctured by the superstition
of the time. He states that three or four days before the general
assault, when all available citizens, men and women, were going in
solemn procession through the city carrying with them a statue of the
Virgin, the image fell from the hands of the bearers. It fell as if it
had been lead. It was nearly impossible to raise it, and the task was
only accomplished by the aid of the fervent prayers of priests and of
all present. The fall itself created fear, and was taken to be an omen
of the fall of the city. But this impression was deepened when, as
the procession continued on its way, there happened a violent storm
of thunder and lightning, followed by torrential rain. The priests
could not make headway against the flood. The incident was manifestly
supernatural. On the following day the impression was still further
accentuated by the very unusual occurrence in Constantinople at the
end of May of a thick fog, which lasted till evening. The cloud of fog
gave complete confirmation of the impression that God had abandoned the
city, because, as Critobulus remarks, the Divinity hides His presence
in the clouds when He descends upon the earth.[347]

But the phenomenon of a light which appeared to settle over Hagia
Sophia alarmed both sides. The sultan himself appears to have
considered it an unfavourable omen, until the braver or more sceptical
of his followers, without denying the evident fact that it was a
heaven-sent omen, turned the difficulty by declaring that it was
unfavourable to the Greeks. Within the city the besieged were even more
alarmed than the Turks.

It is difficult to say what the phenomenon was. Men in that age
expected omens and signs in the heavens and expressed their
disappointment if none were vouchsafed to them. Writing, as all the
narrators did, after the siege, they would look back to recall what
were the signs of the divine displeasure, and they did not fail to
find them. Around the story of some atmospheric phenomenon there grew
a large myth, until we find The Moscovite recording that the light of
heaven illuminated all the city; that the inhabitants, believing it to
be the reflection of a fire caused by the Turks, ran towards Hagia
Sophia and found flames bursting out of its upper windows. These flames
englobed the dome and met in a single blaze which rose towards heaven
and there disappeared. The patriarch and the chief dignitaries of the
Church and members of the senate were so impressed with the tidings
of these wonderful signs that they went next day in a body to the
emperor to advise him to leave with the empress. The patriarch reminded
Constantine of well-known and ancient predictions regarding the fall of
the empire, and named witnesses of the miracle. This new and terrible
augury meant that the grace and goodness of God had abandoned the city,
and that it was decreed to be delivered to the enemy. When the emperor
learned the terrible news he fell to the ground in a faint. He was
revived with aromatic water, and when he was pressed to leave the city
gave the answer, ‘If it is the will of God, whither can we fly before
His anger?’ He would die with his people.

The growth of the myth is evident. An imaginary empress[348] is
brought in and a light is introduced, which, if it had been visible
as described, would have been recorded by every contemporary writer.
The unfortunate part of the story is that it is difficult to say which
parts are mythical and which are true.[349]

Up to May 24, the city had been besieged for upwards of six weeks.
The failure of the brigantine to find the Venetian fleet was a
terrible disappointment to all within the walls. If aid were coming
from Western Europe, it must be speedy. The besieged could do nothing
but fight on. During the whole six weeks the guns had been pounding
against the walls day and night with ceaseless monotony, and Greeks
and Italians alike, while worn out by frequent attacks and alarms,
were continually occupied in the repair of the damaged walls. Men and
women, girls, old men and priests, all, says Barbaro, were engaged in
this wearisome work. The breaching of the walls was steadily going on
at three places, but the damages were greatest in the Lycus valley.
There, indeed, all the force of the enemy seemed now to have been
concentrated. There, especially, was the big bombard, throwing its ball
of twelve hundred pounds weight which, when it struck the wall, shook
it and sent a tremor through the whole city, so that even on the ships
in the harbour it could be felt.[350]



[Sidenote: Dissensions among the besieged.]

It is convenient to halt here in the narrative of the siege in
order to call attention to certain dissensions within the city.
These dissensions are made much of by the Latin writers and are
probably exaggerated. They arose in great measure from a traditional
ill-feeling, due to history, to difference of race and language,
diversity of interest, and to the hostility between the Eastern and
Western Churches. It is especially to the differences on the religious
question that the Western writers call attention. In reference to the
dissensions among the Greeks themselves, it must be remembered that
the majority of them, priests and laity, either openly repudiated
the arrangement made at Florence or conformed under something very
near compulsion. The Greeks, says Leonard, the Catholic archbishop,
celebrate the Union with their voice but deny it in fact.[351] He
points out that the emperor, for whose orthodoxy he has nothing but
praise, accepted it with heart and soul. But he was an exception.
The majority still followed the lead of Gennadius and the Grand Duke
Notaras. If it be true that the Grand Duke declared that he would
prefer to see the head-dress of the Turk rather than that of the
Latin priests, his prejudice furnishes evidence of the intensity of
his dislike for the Latins, and is confirmatory of other statements
made by Leonard. When the pope’s name was pronounced in the liturgy,
the congregation shouted their disapprobation. Most of the citizens
had shunned the Great Church since the reconciliation service of
December 12 as if it were a Jewish synagogue. Many who were present on
a feast day when Mass was celebrated left the church as soon as the
consecration commenced.

But in addition to the dissensions between the Greeks themselves was
the hostility of both the Latin and Greek parties towards the Italians.
Underlying the animosity arising from the difference on religious
questions was a traditional sentiment of hostility. They were rivals in
trade. Genoese and Venetians alike were interlopers, who were taking
the bread out of the mouths of the citizens. The old bitterness arising
from the occupation of the city by the Latins had never been forgotten.
The largest colony, the Genoese, had taken advantage of the weakness of
the empire they had helped to restore, in order to fortify and enlarge
their city of Galata. The Venetians, who had taken the leading part in
the conquest of 1204, had been allowed to settle within Constantinople,
not because they were liked but because they were the rivals and the
enemies of the Genoese. The exigencies of the situation which led to
their having to be tolerated rankled among the Greeks as sorely as did
the memory of the Latin occupation in which the Constantinopolitans
felt the bitterness of a conquered people towards masters who held what
to them was a hostile creed.

At the commencement of the siege, doubts had arisen among the citizens
regarding the loyalty of the Venetians. Five of their ships which had
been paid to remain for the defence of the city were discharging cargo,
and the rumour spread that such cargo was for the use of the Turks.
An imperial order stopped the discharge, and the Venetians saw in it
a violation of their privileges under the capitulations. The emperor,
however, convinced them that he had no such design, and they promised,
and faithfully kept their promise, to defend the city until the end of
the war.[352]

But although ultimately these various differences were sufficiently
overcome to prevent any considerable number of men withdrawing from
the defence of the city, discord always smouldered and occasionally
burst into flame. Leonard mentions an incident which illustrates the
bitterness of feeling which existed between the leaders respectively of
Latins and Greeks. In the very last days of the siege, when a general
attack was daily expected, Justiniani asked from Notaras the Grand
Duke, who was the noble highest in rank, that such cannon as the city
possessed should be given to him for use in the Lycus valley. The
demand was haughtily refused. ‘You traitor!’ said Justiniani; ‘why
should I not cut you down?’ The quarrel went no further, but Notaras
is said to have been less zealous in his work for the defence of the
city. The Greeks, according to Leonard, resented the insult and became
sullen at the treatment of the Grand Duke, because they believed that
the glory of saving the city would be gained by the Latins alone.[353]

On the day preceding the final assault the old jealousy again
showed itself. Barbaro relates that he and the other Venetians made
‘mantles’--some kind of wooden contrivance for giving cover to the
soldiers on the wall. They were made at the Plateia, possibly near the
end of the present Inner Bridge. The Venetian bailey gave orders to the
Greeks to carry them to the landward walls. The Greeks refused unless
they were paid. Ultimately the difficulty of payment was got over, but
when the mantles reached the wall it was already night; and thus, says
Barbaro, on account of the greediness of the Greeks we had to stand at
the defence without them.[354]

The dissensions were further increased by discord between the Italian
colonists themselves. We have already seen that the emperor had been
compelled to intervene to prevent dangerous recriminations between the
Venetians and the Genoese. The former affected to despise the Genoese,
while the latter, as the possessors of a walled city on the opposite
side of the Golden Horn and as the more numerous, considered themselves
the superiors of their rivals. The Venetians, on account of their
position within the city, were compelled in their own interest either
to help the Greeks or to get away. The Genoese claimed to be in an
independent position. Each accused the other of the wish to desert the

[Sidenote: Charge of treachery against the Genoese.]

The most common charge, and one persisted in by the Venetians, was that
the Genoese were traitors to the city and to Christianity, and it is
difficult to say whether the charge is well founded or not. Barbaro,
himself a Venetian, seldom loses an opportunity of speaking ill of the
Genoese; but the coarseness and recklessness of his attacks lessen
their value. If the charges of treachery depended on his evidence
alone, they might be dismissed. But other evidence is at hand. We have
seen that the Genoese are alleged to have claimed that they could have
burnt the sultan’s ships when they made their passage overland and
would have done so if they had not been his friends. Leonard, who was a
Genoese, evidently believed that they were traitors to Christianity and
were playing a double game. ‘They ought to have prevented the building
of the fortress at Roumelia-Hissar. But,’ he concludes, ‘I will keep
silence, lest I should speak ill of my own people, whom foreigners may
justly condemn.’ They are nevertheless condemned by him because they
‘did not lend help to the Lord against the mighty.’

The evidence in their favour is, however, not weak. First and foremost,
John Justiniani was a Genoese. His loyalty and the bravery and labours
day and night of the Genoese soldiers were beyond cavil. Ducas himself
states that the Genoese sent men from Galata who fought valiantly under
Justiniani; that many of them acted as spies, sold provisions to the
Turks, and secretly during the night brought to the Greeks the news
they had gathered. The Podestà of Galata, writing shortly after the
capture of the city, declares that every available man had been sent
across the Horn to the defence of the walls. He protests that he had
done his best, because he knew that if Constantinople were lost, the
loss of Pera would follow.[355]

The truth appears to be that the sympathy of the Podestà and the
leading men was with their fellow Christians, but that the hostility of
the Greeks and trade rivalry caused many of the Genoese too often to
regard them as enemies. The Podestà is probably correctly expressing
his own opinion and that of the better Genoese in stating that he
foresaw that if Mahomet captured Constantinople, Galata would become an
easy prey. But the certainty of making a good profit by dealing with
the enemy was too great a temptation to be resisted by the ordinary
merchant. Under cover of night he passed safely across the harbour and
sold his goods to the citizens. He was equally ready during the day
to deal with the Turks. The statement of Pusculus that the Genoese
informed Mahomet by signal of the departure of the ships upon their
night attack to burn the Turkish vessels which had been transported
overland may be accepted as true, but the signal was probably the act
of a private individual, for which the colony ought not to be held
responsible. The boast reported by Ducas as having been made by the
notables to Mahomet that they could have prevented the transport of
the ships showed at least that they endeavoured to persuade him that
they were neutral. It is by no means certain that had the Genoese
desired to destroy the ships during the transit they could have made
the attempt with a reasonable hope of success. They were far too few
to meet the Turks outside the walls. However this may have been, they
remained faithful to the conditions of the treaty which had existed
before the time of Mahomet and which had been confirmed while he was
at Adrianople on the express condition that they should not give aid
to Constantinople. Even the complaint of Leonard that they could have
saved the city if they had endeavoured to prevent Mahomet from securing
a base of operations by building the fortifications at Hissar is a
complaint against the policy of neutrality. It would no doubt have
been not only more in accordance with the crusading spirit but possibly
wiser and better in the interest of Europe and of civilisation if the
Genoese, as Leonard suggests that they ought to have done, had violated
their treaty and had made common cause openly with the emperor from
the first; but to have done so would have been to risk the capture of
Galata. Their policy was not a lofty one. Looked at by the light of
subsequent events, it was not merely selfish but fatal; but it was no
more treacherous than the policy of neutrals generally is.

It is not improbable that the various dissensions between the citizens
and the foreigners and between the latter themselves tended to make
some of the Greeks lukewarm in their defence of the city. They were
not going to fight for papists and heretics, or even for an emperor
who had gone over to the papists. Leonard asserts that there were
many defections; that during the siege men who ought to have been at
the walls tried to desert the city, pretended that they could not
fight, that they wanted to attend to their fields and vineyards; that
others with whom he spoke urged that they must earn their bread, and
that, in answer to his urging them to fight not only because of their
duty to aid all Christians but because their own fate was at stake,
they replied, ‘What does the capture of the city matter to us if our
families die of starvation?’[356] His statement that many men left the
city is not sufficiently supported by other evidence to cause it to be
accepted without hesitation.

[Sidenote: Witnesses against Greeks are nearly all Latins.]

In reading the charges brought against the Greek citizens by
Leonard, it must be noted that he himself was a Genoese and a Latin
archbishop. Unfortunately, almost all our accounts of the siege come
either from Western writers or from Greek converts who are imbued
with the usual bitterness against the professors of the faith which
they have abandoned. Barbaro and Pusculus were Latins. Phrantzes and
Ducas belonged to the Catholic party. The reports of the Podestà of
Galata, of Cardinal Isidore, and other documents emanating from Latin
sources all help to give a version unfavourable to the Greeks. Indeed
Critobulus almost stands alone as the representative of the larger
party in the Orthodox Church. When, however, we get the account of an
independent Western soldier, as in the case of Tetaldi, the charges
against the Greek population disappear. In the whole of his clear and
concise narrative, as well as in his estimate of how Europe might
defeat the Turks, he has not a word to say against the conduct of the
besieged. While praising the courage of the Turks highly as that of
men who in the perils and hazards of war attach hardly any value to
their lives, he yet judges that the Greeks with European help could
defeat them.[357] These and other facts are at least sufficient to
cause us to regard with suspicion attacks upon the loyalty towards the
city and the emperor of the members of the Orthodox Church. Gibbon,
influenced by the writers of the Latin Church--the only ones available
to him--remarks ‘that the Greeks were animated only by the spirit
of religion, and that spirit was productive only of animosity and
discord.’ The observation or charge would hardly have been made if he
had remembered the _ex parte_ character of all the evidence before
him. While there is truth in the statement that the spirit of religion
produced animosity and discord, it is far from true either that it was
the only spirit which actuated the Greeks or that it was productive
only of animosity and discord. The Greeks were actuated by their own
worldly interest, by their desire to preserve their own lives and
property, their own city and their own government. Nor in admitting
that they were even deeply animated with the religious spirit, can it
successfully be maintained that this spirit only produced animosity. It
was the religious spirit which animated Greeks as well as Italians to
fight for the honour of God and the benefit of Christianity and thus
tended to suppress discord and animosity. Even theological differences
did not make the Greeks less eager to prevent a Moslem from taking
the place of a Christian emperor. The Greeks differed from and even
quarrelled with the Italians and their Romanised fellow citizens, but
they regarded Genoese and Italians not merely as fighting for the
interests of Venice and Genoa, but as helping them to keep their own,
and the evidence is certainly insufficient to show that such animosity
and discord as existed prevented Greeks and Italians alike from doing
their utmost to keep the common enemy of Christendom out of the city.

My reading of the contemporary narratives leads me to conclude that,
in spite of the isolated examples of dissensions mentioned by Leonard,
of deep differences of opinion on the great religious question, and of
constant jealousies between Greeks and Italians and between Venetians
and Genoese, the unity of sentiment among the besieged for the defence
of the city was well maintained. They might quarrel on minor questions,
but on the duty and the desirability of keeping Mahomet out they were
united. I doubt the statement as to many defections and, remembering
how many and grave the reasons for dissensions were, consider that if
they could be shown to have taken place in any considerable numbers it
would not be a matter for wonder.

[Sidenote: Preparations for a general assault.]

We have seen that during the seven weeks in which Mahomet’s army
had been encamped before the triple walls of the Queen City he had
attempted to capture it by attacks directed almost exclusively against
the landward walls. He was now preparing to make one directed upon all
parts of the city together. Hitherto, notwithstanding his balistas,
mangonels, and spingards, his turrets, his cannon and his mining
operations, he had failed. But his preparations had all rendered the
general assault which he contemplated more formidable in character and
easier of accomplishment. He had collected together all the various
appliances known to mediaeval engineers for attacking a walled city;
two thousand scaling-ladders were ready for the assault, hooks for
pulling down stones, destroying the walls, and forcing an entry.
But the amassing of all his paraphernalia, and even all his mining
operations, sink into insignificance as preparations for a general
attack when compared with the work done by his great cannon. Primitive
as they were in construction when measured with the guns of our own
days, the Turks had employed them effectively.

[Sidenote: Breaches made by Turks in three places.]

They had concentrated their fire mainly in three places. Five cannon
had discharged their balls against the walls between the Palace of
Porphyrogenitus and the Adrianople Gate; four, among which was the
largest, against those in the Lycus valley near the Romanus Gate, and
three against the walls near the Third Military Gate.

[Sidenote: Lycus valley chief point of attack.]

The evidence presented to-day by the ruined condition of the walls in
these places corroborates the statements made by contemporaries, that
these were the principal places bombarded. Mahomet was already able to
claim with some justice that he had opened three entrances for his army
into the city.[358] Several of the towers between the Adrianople Gate
and Caligaria had been destroyed. The Anatolian division had greatly
weakened those in the neighbourhood of the Third Military Gate. But
the most extensive destruction had been wrought by the Janissaries
with the aid of the great cannon of Urban. While in each of the three
places mentioned the Outer Wall is even now in an exceptionally
dilapidated condition, the ruins in the valley of the Lycus show that
this was the place where the cannon had been steadily pounding day
and night. Along almost the whole length of the foss, extending for
upwards of three miles, its side walls and a great portion of the
breastwork still remain, mostly, to all appearances, as solid as when
they were new. But in the lower part of the Lycus valley hardly more
than a trace of either is to be distinguished. The breastwork had been
entirely destroyed and had helped to raise the foss to the level of
the adjoining ground. A large portion of the Outer Wall and some of
its towers had been broken down. The ruins of the Bactatinean tower
had helped to fill the ditch; two towers of the great Inner Wall had
fallen. A breach of twelve hundred feet long according to Tetaldi had
been made opposite the place where Mahomet had his tent.[359] Here,
where the largest cannon was placed, the struggles had been keenest.
Here was the station of John Justiniani with his two thousand men,
among whom were his own four hundred Genoese cuirassiers with their
arms glittering in the sun to the delight, says Leonard, of their Greek
fellow fighters. While the cannon had greatly damaged the walls in the
other two places mentioned, here, says Critobulus, they had entirely
destroyed them. There was a wall no longer, nor did there in this part
exist any longer a ditch, for it had been filled up by the Turkish

Hence it was that in this part Justiniani and those under him had been
constantly occupied in repairs. Day after day the diarists recount that
the principal occupation of the besieged was to repair during the night
the part of the walls destroyed during the day by the cannon. Without
experience of the power of great guns even in their then early stage
of development, the besieged tried to lessen the force of the balls by
suspending from the summit of the walls a sheathing of bales of wool.
This and other expedients had failed.

[Sidenote: Construction of stockade.]

As the best substitute for the broken-down Outer Wall Justiniani had
gradually, as it was destroyed, constructed a Stockade, called by the
Latin writers a Vallum and by the Greeks a _Stauroma_. On the ruined
wall a new one was thus built almost as rapidly as the old one was
destroyed. It was made with such materials as were at hand, of stones
from the broken wall, of baulks of timber, of trees and branches,
and even of crates filled with straw and vine cuttings, of ladders
and fascines, all cemented hastily together with earth and clay. The
whole was faced with hides and skins so as to prevent the materials
being burnt by ‘fire-bearing arrows.’ In employing earth and clay the
defenders intended that the stone cannon-balls should bury themselves
in the yielding mass and thus do less damage than when striking against
stone. Within the stockade was a second ditch from which probably the
clay had been removed to cement the materials of the stockade, while
above it were placed barrels or vats filled with earth so as to form a
crenellation and a defence to the fighters against the missiles of the

The stockade was probably about four hundred yards long and occupied
only the lower part of the valley, shutting in the portion of the Inner
Enclosure and being thus a substitute for the Outer Wall. The usual
entrance to this enclosure or Peribolos was by the Military Gate of
St. Romanus--formerly known as the Pempton--which, indeed, had been
constructed solely for this purpose, and by two small gates or posterns
at its respective ends, one at the Adrianople Gate, the other at Top
Capou. Another postern had, however, says Critobulus, been opened by
Justiniani to give easier access to the stockade from the city.

The construction of the stockade had been commenced immediately after
the destruction of the tower near the Romanus Gate, on April 21.[361]
As the attention of the enemy had been principally directed to the
attack on the walls in this part of the city, so the stockade which
replaced the Outer Wall continued to the end to be the focus on which
was concentrated nearly the entire strength of his attack. No one could
say what would be Mahomet’s plan of battle, but no one doubted that
the stockade covering the St. Romanus Gate--or, as it is called in old
Turkish maps, the ‘Gate of the Assault’--would at least be one of the
chief places against which he would direct an assault. Behind it and
between it and the great Inner Wall was the flower of the defending
army. The emperor himself had his camp quite near, though within the
city, while Justiniani, standing for all time as the most conspicuous
figure on the Christian side, was in command within the stockade. His
energy and his courage had called forth the unqualified admiration of
friend and foe. The jealousy of the Venetians at his appointment had
long since been overcome. While Barbaro launches his recriminations
against the Genoese generally, and even sometimes against Justiniani
himself, even he is constrained to repeat that the presence of the
great Genoese captain was _per benefitio de la Christianitade et per
honor de lo mundo_. His example communicated itself to his troops,
and he thus became the hero of all who were fighting. All the city,
says the Florentine soldier Tetaldi, had great hopes in him and in his
valour. Mahomet himself was reported to have expressed admiration of
the courage and ability, the fertility of resource and the activity of
Justiniani, and to have regretted that he was not in the Turkish army.
In front of the stockade was the sultan, surrounded by his white-capped
Janissaries and the red-fezzed other members of his chosen bodyguard.
Everything indeed pointed to a great fight at the stockade, where the
great leaders and the flower of each army stood opposite each other.

About the beginning of the last week in May the Turks were alarmed by
the rumour of an approaching fleet and of an army of Hungarians under
John Hunyadi, both of which were reported to be on their way to the
relief of the city.[362] The alarm, however, proved to be false. As
Phrantzes laments, no Christian prince sent a man or a penny to the
aid of the city.[363] At first sight it is somewhat surprising that no
aid came either from the Serbians or Hungarians. During the early days
of the siege assistance had been hoped for from both of these peoples.
Phrantzes states that the despot of Serbia, George Brancovich, treated
the sultan in such a manner as to make Mahomet taunt the Christians
with his hostility to Constantine.[364] With the recollection of the
Turkish victories at Varna and at Cossovo-pol, and especially of the
fact that he had himself been attacked because he would not join in
violating the peace between Ladislaus and Murad, it is probable enough
that Brancovich was not unfriendly towards Mahomet. Indeed, at the
request of the young sultan, he had used his influence to bring about a
three years’ armistice between the Turks and the Hungarians. It is not,
therefore, surprising that no aid came from him.

More success might have been anticipated from negotiations with
Hungary. Here, however, the three years’ agreement (made eighteen
months before the siege) for an armistice stood in the way. The
Hungarians had received a terrible lesson--at Varna--on the breaking
of treaties, and they hesitated before violating the new arrangement.
Ducas and Phrantzes agree in stating that the agents of Hunyadi had
come to the city in the early days of the siege and had requested the
sultan, on behalf of their principal, to give back the copy of the
armistice signed by him in return for that signed by Mahomet. They gave
as a pretext that Hunyadi was no longer viceroy of the king of Hungary.
The design was too transparent to be accepted by the Turks.[365] The
idea was to suggest to the sultan that the Hungarians were coming
to the aid of the city; that they had compunctions about breaking
the treaty, but that, as it was not signed by the prince, they had a
valid excuse for so doing. To this extent what was done indicated a
spirit friendly to the besieged. The sultan and his council promised
to consider the proposition, and put the agents of Hunyadi off with a
civil and banal reply.[366]

Ducas tells a story regarding the visits of the agents of Hunyadi which
may be noticed, though he is careful to give it as hearsay. He says
that the officers in their suite showed the gunners how they might use
their great bombard more effectually to destroy the walls by directing
their fire in succession against two points instead of one, so as to
form a triangle, and that the device succeeded to such an extent that
the tower near the Romanus Gate and a part of the wall on each side of
it was so broken down that the besiegers and besieged could see each



[Sidenote: Last days.]

By May 25 it was well understood both by besiegers and besieged that
the crisis of the struggle had come and that a general attack by
land and sea and by all the forces which the sultan possessed was at
hand and would result in a contest which would probably decide the
fate of the city. Mahomet was able to choose his own time and make
characteristic preparations. The differences in the final preparations
of besiegers and besieged arose from two causes: first, from the
disparity in numbers between the huge host of the besiegers and the
small army defending the city; second, from the fact that the Turkish
army consisted exclusively of men, while the population of the city was
largely composed of women and children, of priests, monks, and nuns. On
one side was a large host without non-combatants; on the other a small
but valiant army worn out by wearisome work, unrelieved, and encumbered
with a great number of useless non-combatants. While the descriptions
of what was done during the last days by the besiegers give us mainly
military preparations with a day devoted to fasting and rest, those
of the besieged are crowded with accounts of religious processions,
of sensuous ceremonies, of penitents, of churches filled with people
endeavouring to appease the wrath of an offended God and beseeching the
aid of the Virgin and saints. But notwithstanding this colouring of the
conduct of the defenders--and it must always be remembered that the
descriptions are written by Churchmen--the soldiers were not unmindful
of their duty. Constantine and the leaders neglected no precautions for
defence, carefully noted that their orders were obeyed, and were now
engaged in making a final disposition of their small force. All had
their allotted task: even the women and children were called upon day
and night to aid in repairing the damage done by the guns; natives and
foreigners vied with each other in zeal for the defence.

Whether the leaders realised that their struggles were hopeless may
be doubted, though it is difficult to believe that they could feel
confidence in the result. It is certain that they all recognised
that the final struggle would be for life or death. The population
generally were buoyed up with the knowledge of the failure of the Turks
to capture the city in 1422, within the recollection of many of the
citizens, and possibly--though not, I think, to any great extent--by
the hope of miraculous intervention on their behalf. The faith which
accepted the legend of an advance being permitted as far as St. Sophia
and of an angel who would then descend and hand over the government of
the city to the emperor may have existed among the women and monks, but
it is not of the kind which soldiers, and still less even religious
military commanders, possess. The leaders, from the emperor downwards,
knew the weakness of the city, the insufficiency of men to defend
fourteen miles of walls, and the overwhelming superiority in numbers of
the Turkish army. The bad news brought on the 23rd by the brigantine
sent to search for the Venetian fleet had almost dispelled hope of
timely aid from the West, though many still clung to the belief that
they might welcome a few more Italians who were reported to have been
seen at Chios on their way to the capital.[368]

On Thursday, May 24, Barbaro notes that there were music and feasting
and other signs of rejoicing among the Turks because they had learned
that they were about to make a general attack.[369]

On the 25th and the 26th the great guns were constantly at work in the
Lycus valley and at the two other places already described. On the
evening, however, of the 26th, at one hour after sunset, the Turks made
a great illumination along the whole length of their line. Every tent
in the enemy’s camp could be seen. The fires were so great as to show
everything as clearly as if it were day. They lasted till midnight. The
shouts from the Turks rent the heavens. The archbishop states that a
Turkish edict or _Iradè_ had given notice that for three days praise
should be offered to God, but that on one day there should be fasting.
The illuminations in which the Turks indulged and the nightly feasting
are what take place usually during the month of Ramazan. But as this
was not Ramazan, every one rightly conjectured that they indicated that
the Turks had received the welcome news of a general and immediate

[Sidenote: Sultan hesitates to attack.]

Even, however, in these last days of the siege the sultan appears
to have seriously hesitated whether to make the attack or abandon
the attempt to capture the city. Many of the Turks really appear
to have lost heart. They had been seven weeks before the city and
had accomplished nothing. The pashas themselves were divided in
opinion. Various rumours were current in the camp which increased
their hesitation. Western Europe would not allow Constantinople to
be captured. The princes of the West were leagued together to drive
the Turks out of Europe. John Hunyadi, with a large force of infantry
and cavalry, was on his way to relieve the city.[370] A great fleet
prepared at the request and with the aid of the pope, the head of
Christendom, was on its way out, and its van had already been heard of
at Chios.[371] There were not wanting many in Mahomet’s camp who were
opposed to a continuation of the siege and who urged him to abandon it.
The sultan, according to Phrantzes, was influenced and depressed by the
rumours of the interference of Western Europe, especially by the news
of the arrival of a fleet at Chios,[372] by the want of success which
had so far attended his efforts to enter the city, by the stubbornness
of the defence and the strength of the walls, and, lastly, by omens
deduced from flashes of lightning which had played over the city, or
from some atmospheric effect which had lighted up the dome of St.
Sophia--omens which, at first interpreted as a sign of God’s vengeance
on the Constantinopolitans, were a little later construed by some of
the Turks to be a token that it was taken under Divine protection.[373]

[Sidenote: Sends Ismail to inquire as to possibility of surrender.]

It was probably in consequence of this depression that even at this
late stage Mahomet made one more effort to induce the Greeks to
surrender the city. A certain Ismail, the son of Alexander who had
obtained the rule over Sinope by accepting the suzerainty of the Turks,
came into the city at the request of the sultan and endeavoured to
persuade the Greeks to make terms. He spoke of his own influence with
Mahomet and promised, if they would appoint a messenger, to use it to
procure for him a favourable hearing. He declared that unless terms
were made the city would certainly be captured, the men killed, and
their wives and daughters sold as slaves.

Upon Ismail’s suggestion a messenger, but a man of no particular name
or family, went with Ismail to Mahomet. According to Chalcondylas, the
answer sent to the Greeks was that they should pay an annual tribute
of ten myriads or one hundred thousand gold bezants, and if this
condition were not accepted Mahomet would permit as an alternative that
all the inhabitants should leave the city, taking with them their own
property, with leave to go whither they wished. He would be content to
receive the deserted city. The Greeks, though with some difference of
opinion, decided that they could not and would not accept either of the
conditions offered. Possibly not a few of them were of the opinion of
Chalcondylas, that the offer was not serious on the sultan’s part--that
is, that he did not believe that there was any chance of its being
accepted--but that it was rather an attempt to learn what the feeling
was among the Greeks in regard to their chance of success. Mahomet had
nothing to lose by his offer. He knew that the inhabitants could not
pay the amount of tribute demanded. If, on the other hand, they had
been willing to desert the city in order to save their lives, he would
have gained an easy victory without bloodshed--a victory which he was
by no means certain he could gain after a general assault. If the story
of Chalcondylas is to be believed, then additional doubt is thrown on
the statement of Ducas that the emperor on a previous occasion had
voluntarily offered to pay any tribute which might be demanded. I
am disposed to give credence to Chalcondylas.[374] Ismail was a very
likely man to be employed by Mahomet. The sultan rightly judged that
the besieged would be willing to accept conditions, and would desire to
learn what his conditions were. The answer convinced him, however, that
his only chance of gaining the city was by fighting for it.[375]

On Friday, May 25, and Saturday the Turks continued their cannonading
against ‘our poor walls’ even harder than ever. Greeks and Italians
busied themselves in repairing the damages as fast as they were made,
and this in such good fashion, says Barbaro, that even after all that
the great guns could do ‘we made them as strong as they were at first.’

[Sidenote: Sultan calls council to consider desirability of raising

Meantime it was necessary for the sultan to put an end to all
hesitation as to the commencement of the general attack. A council was
held for this purpose on Saturday the 26th or Sunday the 27th, in which
the arguments in favour of and against the siege were fully discussed.
Halil Pasha, the grand vizier and the man of greatest reputation,
declared himself in favour of abandoning it. He reminded his master
that he had always been opposed to it and had foretold failure from
the outset. The strong position of the city made it invincible, now
that the Latins were aiding the citizens. He urged that sooner or later
Christian kings and people would be provoked by its capture and would
intervene. The Genoese and Venetians, against their wish, would become
enemies of the Turks if the war went on. He therefore advised retreat
while this could be done in safety.[376] Halil Pasha’s rival and enemy
was the Albanian Zagan Pasha, who was next him in rank. While Halil
was always favourable to the Christians,[377] Zagan was their enemy.
Zagan, seeing the Sultan downcast at having to raise the siege, boldily
advocated an attack. He urged that the appearance of the light over
Hagia Sophia, which had been taken by some of the Turks to indicate
that the city was under divine protection, really meant that it would
be delivered into the sultan’s hands. He reminded his young master that
Alexander the Great had conquered the world with a much smaller army
than was now before the city. As to the coming of fleets from the West,
he neither believed nor feared it. The division among its princes would
bring anarchy into any fleet they might get together. There was and
could be no concert among them. Besides, even if such a fleet arrived,
there were three or four times as many Turks as any fleet could
bring. He recommended, therefore, that the attack should be pushed on
vigorously: that the cannons should be kept constantly going, so as to
make new breaches or widen those already made in the walls, and that
all thought of retreat should be abandoned. The younger members of
the council agreed with him, as did also the leader of the Thracian
troops--that is, the Bashi-bazouks--and strongly urged an attack. This
advice stiffened the sultan’s own determination. Mahomet ordered Zagan
Pasha to go himself that very night among the troops and learn what
was their mind on the subject.[378] Zagan obeyed the order, returned,
and reported that he had visited the army, which desired orders for
an immediate attack. He assured the sultan that he could fight with
confidence and be certain of victory.[379]

[Sidenote: Decides upon attack.]

Upon this report the sultan announced his intention to make a general
assault forthwith, and from this time devoted himself solely to
completing his final preparations.[380] He ordered that during the
following nights fires should be lighted and torches burned, that the
soldiers should fast during the following day, should go through their
ceremonial ablutions seven times and ask God’s aid in capturing the

[Sidenote: Makes final arrangements for general attack.]

The sultan rose early on the morning of Sunday the 27th. He called
those in charge of the guns and ordered them to concentrate the fire
of their cannon against the walls of the stockade. He disposed his
bodyguard, according to the arms they carried, into regiments--some
of which contained upwards of a thousand men--and directed that when
the order was given they should be sent forward in succession; that
after one division had fought it should retire and rest while another
took its place. In so doing he intended that the general attack should
continue until it ended in victory without giving the besieged any time
for rest. It was perhaps the best way to take advantage of his enormous
superiority in numbers.

Then he visited the other troops from sea to sea, repeating his orders
to the leaders, encouraging all by his presence, and seeing that all
arrangements had been made as he had directed.

Mahomet sent a message to Galata insisting that the Genoese should
prevent help being sent clandestinely to the city.

[Sidenote: Proclaims three days of plunder.]

He caused his heralds to proclaim through the camp that his soldiers
would be allowed to sack the city during three days: to announce that
the sultan swore by the everlasting God, by the four thousand prophets,
by Mahomet, by the soul of his father, and by his children, that the
whole population, men, women, and children, all the treasure and
whatever was found in the city should be given up freely by him to his
warriors. The proclamation was received with tumultuous expressions of
triumph.[381] ‘If you had heard the shouts raised to heaven with the
cry, ‘There is one God, and Mahomet is his prophet,’ you would indeed
have marvelled,’ adds Leonard.

No attempt was made on the Saturday, Sunday, or Monday to capture the
city, but the guns were steadily pounding away during all these three

On Sunday the great cannon fired three times at the stockade, and at
the third shot a portion of it came down. According to the Muscovite,
Justiniani was wounded by a splinter from the ball and had to be led
or carried into the city. He, however, recovered during the night and
superintended once more the repairs of the walls.[382]

On the Sunday also every Turk was busy in completing preparations for
the final attack.[383] Every man had been ordered under pain of death
to be at his post.

The Turks were observed to be fetching earth, crates of vine-cuttings
and other materials to level a passage across the foss, making
scaling-ladders, and generally to be bringing forward all the engines
for assault. When the sun set, fires and torches were lighted as on the
previous night. The illuminations were accompanied by such terrible
shouts that Barbaro, with not unnatural exaggeration, asserts that they
were heard across the Bosporus. The soldiers, in high spirits at the
thought of the coming attack, were once more feasting, after their
day’s fast. The besieged, hearing the shouts, the sound of the trumpets
and guitars, of pipes, fifes, and drums, and the usual din, ran to the
walls, for the illumination was so great that they were in hopes that
the fires were devouring tents and provisions; but, says Ducas, when
they recognised that there was no alarm among their enemies, they could
only pray to be delivered from the imminent danger. The illuminations
continued until midnight, and then, more suddenly than they had
appeared, the fires were extinguished and the camp was left in complete

The leaders on both sides had now but few final arrangements to
make for attack or for defence. The sultan, as usual, personally
superintended the making of those on the Turkish side.

On Monday morning Mahomet accompanied by a large following of horsemen,
which Barbaro estimates at about ten thousand, rode over to the
Double Columns and arranged for the co-operation of the fleet while
the general bombardment and attack were being made by the rest of his
forces.[384] Admiral Hamoud, the successor of Baltoglu, was to spread
out his ships on the Marmora side from St. Eugenius Gate to that of
Psamatia, to prepare to enter the city by scaling-ladders from the
ships, if entrance were possible, and at all events by his preparations
and feigned attacks to draw off as many men as possible from the
defence of the landward walls.[385]

Mahomet returned in the afternoon from the Double Columns. On the same
day, and possibly on his return, the sultan summoned to him the heads
of the Genoese community in Galata and confirmed the strict injunction
he had already given them that on no account were they to render aid to
the Greeks.[386]

[Sidenote: Mahomet addresses the pashas,]

After crossing the Golden Horn he once more rode along the whole line
of the walls from the Horn to the Marmora, to inspect his troops and
see that all was ready. He passed before his three great divisions:
Europeans, under Caraja; the select troops, including the Janissaries,
before the Myriandrion and the Mesoteichion, and the Asiatic division,
between Top Capou and the sea, each of about fifty thousand men, and
saw that all was ready. After having thus inspected his fleet and his
army, he summoned the pashas and chief military and naval officers once
more to his tent. Critobulus gives us an account of what was said which
probably represents fairly what passed. The decision was taken. The
city was to be attacked. Before the assault began it was necessary for
Mahomet to explain his plan of assault, give his final orders, and hold
out to his followers every possible inducement to fight bravely.

The sultan began by recalling to his hearers that in the city there
was an infinite amount and variety of wealth of all kinds--treasure
in the palaces and private houses, churches abounding in furniture of
silver, gold, and precious stones. All were to be theirs. There were
men of high rank and in great numbers who could be captured and sold as
slaves; there were great numbers of ladies of noble families, young and
beautiful, and a host of other women, who could either be sold or taken
into their harems. There were boys of good family. There were houses
and beautiful gardens. ‘I give you to-day,’ said Mahomet, ‘a grand and
populous city, the capital of the ancient Romans, the very summit of
splendour and of glory, which has become, so to say, the centre of the
world. I give it over for you to pillage, to seize its incalculable
treasures of men, women, and boys, and everything that adorns it. You
will henceforward live in great happiness and leave great wealth to
your children.’ The chief gain for all the sons of Othman would be the
conquest of a city whose fame was great throughout the whole world.
The greater its renown, the greater would be the glory of taking it
by assault. A great city which had always been their enemy, which had
always looked upon them with a hostile eye, which in every way had
sought to destroy the Turkish power, would come into their possession.
The door would be open to them by its capture to conquer the whole of
the Greek empire.

To this promise recorded by Critobulus may be added what is said by
the Turkish historian, that Mahomet urged that the capture would be
an augmentation of the glory of their faith, and that it was clearly
predicted in the ‘Sacred Traditions.’[387]

The sultan further urged them not to believe that capture was
impossible. You see, he remarked, that the foss is filled and that the
walls have been so destroyed by the guns in three places that they
may be crossed not only by infantry, but even by cavalry. They form
no longer an impregnable barrier, for the way has been made almost as
level as a race course.

He declared that he knew the defenders to be so weak that he believed
the reports of deserters who stated that there were only two or three
men to garrison each tower, so that a single man would have to defend
three or four crenellations; and the men themselves were ill-armed and
unskilled in warfare. They had been harassed day and night and were
worn out, were short of provisions, and could not maintain resistance
against a continuous attack. He had decided to employ the great number
of his followers in making a continuous assault, day and night,
sending up fresh detachments one after the other, until the enemy from
sheer weariness would be forced to yield or be incapable of further

Mahomet pretended once more to be uncertain what the conduct of the
Italians would be during the coming assault. The cause was not theirs.
They would not sacrifice their lives where there was nothing to gain.
The mixed crowd, gathered from many places, had no intention of dying
for the city, and when they saw the waves of his men succeeding each
other at the attack they would throw down their arms and turn their
backs. Even if, from any cause, they did not run away, they were too
few to resist his army. The city, both by land and sea, was surrounded
as in a net and could not escape.

Mahomet concluded by urging all to fight valiantly, assuring his
hearers that he would be at their head and would see all that passed.
He finished his address by charging his hearers to return to their
posts, to order all under their commands to take food, and then to lie
down for a few hours’ rest. Silence was everywhere to be observed. They
were enjoined to draw up their men in battle array at an early hour in
the morning, and when they heard the sound of the trumpet summoning
them to battle and saw the standard unfurled, then ‘to the work in

[Sidenote: and the leaders of divisions.]

The leaders of divisions remained, after the departure of the larger
assembly, in order to receive their final orders. Hamoud, with
his fleet, was to keep near the seaward walls and the archers and
fusiliers[388] should be so ready to shoot, that no man dare show his
head at the battlements. Zagan was to cross the bridge, and with the
ships in the harbour to attack the walls on the Golden Horn. Caraja was
to cross the foss--probably between Tekfour Serai and the Adrianople
Gate, where was one of the three roads that Mahomet had opened into the
city--and to try to capture the wall. Isaac and Mahmoud, at the head of
the Asiatic division, were charged to attempt the walls near the Third
Military Gate. Halil and Saraja, who were in command of the troops
encamped around the sultan, opposite the third and most important
breach--that, namely, at the Romanus Gate, defended by Justiniani--were
to follow the lead which the sultan would himself give them.

Having thus made his final dispositions, Mahomet dismissed his inner
council, and each leader went away to his own tent to sleep and await
the signal for attack.

The speech to his leaders, which I have summarised in the preceding
paragraphs from the report given by Critobulus,[389] is also recorded
by Phrantzes, though at much less length. He describes it as having
been made at sunset of the 28th,[390] and makes the sultan remind his
leaders, with the usual voluptuous details, of the glories of paradise
promised to the true believer who dies in battle.[391]

[Sidenote: Preparations within the city.]

Meanwhile, within the city preparation of a different kind had been
made. After the meeting of the council of Turkish nobles, the besieged,
who seem always to have been well informed of what went on in the
enemy’s camp, learned at once that it had been decided to make a
general assault forthwith. All day long during the last day of agony
the alarm bell was ringing to call men, women, and children to their
posts. Each man had his duty allotted to him for the morrow, while
even women and children were employed to carry up stones to the walls
to be hurled down upon the Turks.[392] The bailey of the Venetian
colony issued a final appeal, calling upon all his people to aid in
the defence, and urging them to fight and be ready to die for the
love of God, the defence of the country, and ‘per honor de tuta la
Christianitade.’ All honest men, says the Venetian diarist, obeyed the
bailey’s command, and the Venetians, besides aiding in the defence of
the walls, took charge of the ships in the harbour and were guardians
of the boom. Barbaro and his fellow citizens occupied the day in making
mantles for the protection of the soldiers upon the walls.

The silence during the Monday before the landward walls was more
impressive than the noise of previous warlike preparations. The Turks
were keeping their fast. Probably during the afternoon they were
allowed to sleep in order that they might be fresh for the attack on
the following morning, for, says Critobulus, the Romans were surprised
at the quietness in the camp. Various conclusions were drawn from the
silence. Some thought that the enemy was getting ready to go away;
others that preparations were being completed which were less noisy
than usual.[393]

The reader of the original narratives gets weary of the constant lament
of their authors over the sins of the people, the principal one, if the
writer is a Catholic, being the refusal to be sincerely reconciled with
Rome; if Orthodox, it is the neglect to give due honour to the saints.
The deprecation of ‘the just anger’ of God was on every one’s lips,
and priests of both Churches speak confidently as to the cause of this
anger. But assuredly, if the invocation of the celestial hierarchy were
ever desirable, it was so on this last evening of the existence of the
city as the Christian capital of the East.

[Sidenote: Last religious procession in city.]

A special solemn procession took place in the afternoon through the
streets of the city. Orthodox and Catholics, bishops and priests,
ordinary laymen, monks, women, children, and indeed every person whose
presence was not required at the walls, took part in it, joined in
every _Kyrie Eleeson_, and responded with the sincerity of despair to
prayers imploring God not to allow them to fall into the hands of the
enemy. The sacred eikons and relics were brought from the churches,
were taken to the neighbourhoods where the walls were most injured, and
paraded with the procession in the hope--to people of Northern climes
and the present century inexplicable and almost unthinkable--that their
display would avert the threatening danger.

It would be a mistake, however, to think that, because these
processions and the veneration of the sacred relics are alien to modern
modes of thought, they were not marked with true religious sentiment,
or even that they were useless. They encouraged the fighters to go more
bravely forth to battle against tremendous odds, and they comforted
both them and non-combatants with the assurance that God was on their
side. The archbishop concludes his account of this last religious
procession in the Christian city, on the eve of the great struggle, by
declaring that ‘we prayed that the Lord would not allow His inheritance
to be destroyed, that He would deign in this contest to stretch forth
His right hand to deliver His faithful people, that He would show that
He alone is God and that there is none else beside Him [no Allah of the
Moslems] and that He would fight for the Christians. And thus, placing
our sole hope in Him, comforted regarding what should happen on the day
appointed for battle, we waited for it with good courage.’

[Sidenote: Funeral oration of empire.]

When the procession had completed its journey, the emperor addressed a
gathering of the nobles and military leaders, Greeks and foreigners.
Phrantzes gives at considerable length the speech delivered by
Constantine. Gibbon, while describing it as ‘the funeral oration of
the Roman empire,’ suggests that the fullest version which exists of
it, that namely of Phrantzes, ‘smells so grossly of the sermon and the
convent’ as to make him doubt whether it was pronounced by the emperor.
We have, however, the other summary given by Archbishop Leonard, who
also was probably present. Each account is given in the pedantic form
which is characteristic of mediaeval churchmen, Greeks or Latins. The
reporter always seems to think it necessary to introduce classical
allusions, to enlarge on the religious aspect of the coming struggle,
and to report in the first person. But, bearing in mind this fashion
of the time, and recalling the fact that the accounts of Phrantzes and
the archbishop are independent, their records of the funeral oration
are substantially identical and do not vary more than would do two
independent reports written some months after the delivery of a speech
in our own time.

The emperor called attention to the impending assault, reminded his
hearers that it had always been held the duty of a citizen to be ready
to die either for his faith, his country, his sovereign, or his wife
and children, and pleaded that all these incentives to heroic sacrifice
were now combined. He dwelt upon the importance of the city and their
attachment to it. It was the city of refuge for all Christians, the
pride and joy of every Greek and of all who lived in Eastern lands. It
was the Queen of Cities, the city which in happier times had subdued
nearly all the lands under the sun. The enemy coveted it as his chief
prize. He had provoked the war. He had violated all his engagements in
order to obtain it. He wished to put the citizens under his yoke, to
take them as slaves, to convert the holy churches, where the divine
Trinity was adored and the most holy Godhead worshipped, into shrines
for his blasphemy, and to put the false prophet in the place of Christ.
He urged them as brothers and fellow soldiers to fight bravely in the
defence of all that was dear to them, to remember that they were the
descendants of the heroes of ancient Greece and Rome, and so to conduct
themselves that their memory should be as fragrant in the future as
that of their ancestors. He entrusted the city with confidence to their
care. For himself he was determined to die in its defence. He recalled
to them that he and they put their trust in God and not, as did their
enemy, in the multitude of his horsemen and his hordes.

Both the reporters of this speech state that Constantine concluded by
addressing the Venetians and Genoese separately, and, indeed, give the
substance of what he said. He recalled to each group their valiant
services and the aid they had rendered in times past and expressed his
confidence in their assistance on the morrow.

The emperor endeavoured to infuse hope and confidence into all the
leaders by pointing out that hitherto the defenders had been able to
hold the walls, that the invaders were like wild animals and fought
without intelligence, that the shouts, the fires, and the great noise
were a barbarous attempt to frighten them, but that, protected by
the walls, he and his people with their brave Italian allies would
be more than a match for the invaders. ‘Do not lose heart,’ said he,
‘but comfort yourselves with bright hopes, because, though few in
number, you are skilled in warfare; strong, brave and noble, and proved
in valour.’ He concluded by urging them once more to be daring and
steadfast, and promised that in such a cause, by the grace of God, they
would win.[394]

We have nothing to enable us to judge whether the emperor possessed the
power of utterance which at various periods in the world’s history has
enabled great soldiers to kindle the enthusiasm of their followers. If
ever occasion demanded such power, beyond doubt it was the present. One
advantage at least the orator possessed: he had an audience entirely in
sympathy with him. Whether he succeeded or not in inspiring them with
a confidence which he can hardly have himself felt may be doubted. But
that all were determined to follow the emperor and to sacrifice ‘wives
and children and their own lives’ in defence of him and their ancient
city is attested by both reporters. The leaders, after the fashion
still prevalent in Eastern Europe, embraced and asked forgiveness
of each other, as men who were ready to die, and, solemnly devoting
themselves to the cause of the emperor, repaired to the great church of
Hagia Sophia, ‘to strengthen themselves by prayer and the reception of
the Holy Mysteries, to confirm their vows to fight, and, if need be,
unmindful of all worldly interests, to die for the honour of God and of

[Sidenote: Last Christian service in Hagia Sophia.]

The great ceremony of the evening and one that must always stand out
among the world’s historic spectacles was the last Christian service
held in the church of Holy Wisdom. The great church had not been
regularly used since the meeting of December 12, which had led to so
much heart-burning and ill-will. Now, at the moment of supreme danger
for Constantinople, the fairest monument of Eastern Christendom was
again opened. The emperor and such of the leaders as could be spared
were present and the building was once more and for the last time
crowded with Christian worshippers. It requires no great effort of
imagination to picture the scene. The interior of the church was the
most beautiful which Christian art had produced, and its beauty was
enhanced by its still gorgeous fittings. Patriarch and cardinal,
the crowd of ecclesiastics representing both the Eastern and Western
Churches; emperor and nobles, the last remnant of the once gorgeous
and brave Byzantine aristocracy; priests and soldiers intermingled,
Constantinopolitans, Venetians and Genoese, all were present, all
realising the peril before them, and feeling that in view of the
impending danger the rivalries which had occupied them for years were
too small to be worthy of thought. The emperor and his followers
partook together of ‘the undefiled and divine mysteries,’ and said
farewell to the patriarch. The ceremony was in reality a liturgy of
death. The empire was in its agony and it was fitting that the service
for its departing spirit should be thus publicly said in its most
beautiful church and before its last brave emperor. If the scene so
vividly described by Mr. Bryce of the coronation of Charles the Great
and the birth of an empire is among the most picturesque in history,
that of the last Christian service in St. Sophia is surely among the
most tragic.[395]

The solemn ceremony concluded, all went to take up their respective
stations. The Greeks, says Leonard, who is by no means a witness
partial to them, went to their posts strengthened in their manly
resolve to put aside all private interests and acted together for the
common safety steadily and cheerfully.

[Sidenote: Defenders close gates behind them.]

Italians and Greeks returned to their stations at the landward walls
for the defence of the Outer Wall and with the Inner Wall behind them.
In order to prevent any of their number withdrawing from the fight the
gates leading from the city into the Peribolos, where they stood, were
closed and locked. They thus voluntarily cut themselves off from all
chance of retreat. It was done, says Cambini the Florentine, writing
while the siege was within the memory of persons still living, so that
in taking from the defenders any means of retreat they should resolve
to conquer or die.[396]

During the night the defenders, and especially those between the
stockade and the Inner Wall, heard the noise of great preparations
among the enemy.

The emperor rode from Hagia Sophia to the palace of Blachern, which
he had occupied during all the time of the siege. Phrantzes, who was
in company with him, asks who could remain unmoved while the emperor
during his last and short stay in the palace demanded pardon of all
there present. ‘If a man had been made of wood or stone he must have
wept over the scene.’

Depression is naturally the constant note of all the narratives of
those present in the city during May 28. The Venetian closes the day’s
entry by recording in a quaint passage that the fasting and rejoicing
among the Turkish army went on until midnight, and that then the fires
were extinguished, but that these pagans all day and night continued
to beseech Mahomet that he would grant them victory and help them to
capture this city of Constantinople; ‘while we Christians all day
and night prayed God and St. Mary and all the saints in heaven and
with many tears devoutly besought them that they would not grant such
victory, that the besieged should not become victims of this accursed
pagan,’ and thus ‘each side having prayed to its God, we to ours and
they to theirs, the Lord Almighty with his mother in heaven decided
that they must be avenged in this battle of the morrow for all the sins

[Sidenote: Emperor’s last inspection of defenders.]

Shortly after midnight of the 28th-29th the emperor, accompanied by
Phrantzes, left the palace of Blachern on horseback to inspect the
various stations and to see that all were on the watch. The walls and
towers were occupied; the gates from the city into the Peribolos were
safely closed, so that none might enter or leave.[397]

When they came to Caligaria,[398] probably on their return, they
dismounted. They went up together into a tower from which, assuming it
to be the one at the corner where the wall begins to descend towards
the Golden Horn, which would be that most suitable for their purpose,
they would have an uninterrupted view of the road and a considerable
stretch of ground on both sides of it leading to the Adrianople or
Chariseus Gate, while, looking in the other direction, they could see
the outside of a large portion of the walls towards the Golden Horn and
of the hill in front where the Crusaders had encamped in 1203 and near
or upon which Caraja was at the head of the Bashi-bazouks. They heard
the murmur of many voices and the noise of many preparations and were
told by the guards that these sounds had continued during all the night
and were caused by the transport of guns and other machines nearer to
the ditch.[399] It was probably between one and two of the morning of
the 29th when Phrantzes and his imperial master separated; and in all
likelihood they never met again.



[Sidenote: General assault commences early morning, May 29, 1453.]

The general assault commenced between one and two hours after midnight
on the morning of Tuesday May 29.[400]

[Illustration: Sketch Map showing the disposition of Turkish Troops
during the last days of Siege; May 1453.

  Walker & Cockerell sc.

When the signal was given, the city was attacked simultaneously on
all three sides. The orders given by Mahomet on the previous day had
been strictly obeyed. The ships during the night had taken up the
positions assigned to them on the sides of the Marmora and on the
Golden Horn. The armies on the landward side began simultaneously to
attempt the walls at several points.[401]

The principal assault was in the Lycus valley and against the stockade:
where, says Tetaldi, twelve hundred feet of barbican had been destroyed
by the cannon; where, adds Chalcondylas,[402] four of the strongest
towers had been destroyed; where, says Ducas, the Outer Wall had been
so completely broken down that the besiegers and besieged could see
each other, and where, explains Critobulus, the Outer Wall had been so
entirely overthrown by the cannon that it was no longer a wall but only
a stockade built up with beams, fascines, branches and the like, and
barrels of earth.[403]

The defenders were between the stockade and the Inner Wall. Here they
had to defeat the enemy in front of them or die. Mahomet’s intention
was to concentrate his attack on the stockade and on the walls
between the Adrianople Gate and Tekfour Serai and to deal blow after
blow against them with the whole of his available force while making
sufficient show of attack elsewhere to draw away the defenders.

[Sidenote: Assault begun by Bashi-bazouks.]

The assault was commenced by the Bashi-bazouks, the most worthless
portion of Mahomet’s army, who came up for this purpose from the
northern end of the landward walls. Many among them were Moslems, but
there were so many Christians and foreigners that Barbaro calls them
all Christians.[404] Leonard declares that among them were Germans,
Hungarians, and other foreigners of various kinds.[405] Mahomet’s
object in sending forward these men to make the first attack was
mainly that they might exhaust the strength and the ammunition of the
besieged. This, indeed, was his method of utilising his superiority in
numbers.[406] Moreover, says Barbaro, he preferred that these
Christians should be killed rather than his Mussulmans. The
Bashi-bazouks advanced bearing all the scaling-ladders within shooting
distance of the walls and probably extended themselves from Tekfour
Serai to the stockade and beyond to Top Capou. They began the fight
with a general discharge of arrows, of stones from slings, and iron and
leaden balls. Then, with a wild disorderly dash, they rushed across
the ditch and endeavoured to capture the Outer Wall and especially
the stockade. They were armed in ways as numerous and varied as the
races and creeds to which they belonged: some with bows, others with
slings, with arquebuses or with muskets,[407] but most of them simply
with scimitars and shields. Hundreds of ladders were placed against
the walls and the bravest hastened to climb them. Others, mounted on
the shoulders of their comrades, endeavoured to reach the summit or
to strike at the defenders. In the darkness of this night attack,
made by fifty thousand men, there was soon wild confusion everywhere,
but especially in the valley to which for the present the action in
my story is confined. At every point the invaders met with a brave
resistance. While among the attacking party there were many who had no
heart for the fight,[408] there were others who were not deficient in
courage, but they had to meet the best soldiers in the emperor’s army,
a band of two thousand Greeks and Italians all under the leadership
of Justiniani, ‘the incomparable captain, the mighty man and genuine

The defenders threw the ladders down, discharged their arrows, fired
their muskets and culverins,[409] and hurled down a prodigious quantity
of stones. The assailants were so numerous and so crowded together that
the missiles of the besieged told heavily against them. The bravest
who succeeded in climbing within striking distance were struck down.
The resistance was so stubborn that many began to give way. But they
had not yet sufficiently served their purpose. Until their strength
was exhausted, Mahomet would not consent that they should cease to
exhaust that of the defenders. Those who attempted to withdraw found
themselves between the devil and the deep sea. A body of Turkish
chaouses had been told off with iron maces and loaded whips to drive
back any endeavouring to retreat, and behind them again were stationed
Janissaries ready with their scimitars to cut down any who should
succeed in escaping through the line of chaouses. In this manner the
fight was prolonged for between one and two hours.

[Sidenote: They are beaten back.]

But in spite of all that could be done, in spite of numbers and of
courage, Mahomet’s first division was beaten back with many killed and
wounded. Having served its purpose in exhausting the strength of the
small body of the defenders, it was allowed to withdraw. Some of the
besieged appear to have considered the attack rather as an attempt to
surprise the city by a night alarm than as part of the expected general
assault. They were indeed weary with hard fighting and hard work. For
forty days they had hardly known a single hour of rest,[410] and they
hoped for it, at least until the morning. They were soon undeceived.

[Sidenote: Anatolian division next attack.]

Amid the darkness of the early summer morning a division of Anatolian
Turks could be distinguished pouring over the ridge on which stands
Top Capou. It was the advance of disciplined men, distinguishable by
their breastplates, and their arrival made the situation much more
serious. Here, indeed, was the general assault which all expected at
daylight. The bells throughout the city again sounded everywhere an
alarm; all the inhabitants were at their posts. As the Anatolians came
across the ditch up to the stockade the struggle began once more in
deadly earnest. Trumpets, fifes, and drums sounded their loudest to
encourage the assailants. Besiegers and besieged shouted and roared
at each other. Prayers for help, imprecations, clang of bells within
the city, roar of guns and small cannon within and without made up
the pandemonium of a storming party. Ladders were once more placed
against the walls and were hurled back; men scrambled on each other’s
shoulders trying hard to reach the summit of the stockade. ‘Our men’
are continually throwing down stones and are resisting hand to hand
all who attempt to scale or destroy it. ‘More Turks were killed,’ says
Barbaro, ‘than you would have thought possible.’

Now the great cannon, which during the night had been advanced as near
the wall as possible, is brought into play. An hour before daylight a
well-directed shot from the monster was aimed at the stockade, struck
it and brought a portion of it down. Under cover of the dust from the
falling stones and barrels of earth, but especially of the dense black
smoke of the powder, a band of Turks rushed forward and, before they
could be prevented, three hundred had entered the enclosure. The Greeks
and Italians resisted manfully, fought fiercely to expel them, killed
many and drove the remainder out.[411] The besieged raised shouts of
triumph. The emperor was with his soldiers, always showing himself in
the thick of the fighting, urging men by voice and cheering them by
his example. This second attack was more systematic, fiercer, more
desperate than the first. The Turks had no need of men behind them to
prevent their retreat or to urge them forward. Shouting their wild
battle-cry of Allah! Allah! they rushed on in the darkness as men who,
if they do not court death, at least do not fear it; as men who believe
they are fighting for God, and that in case of death they will be at
once transported to a combined heavenly and earthly paradise.

[Sidenote: They, too, are driven back.]

In spite of the discipline and daring of the Anatolian troops, of
the stimulus derived from their fanatical creed and from the special
promise of reward here and hereafter to those who should succeed in
entering the Queen City or should perish in the attempt, the assault
by them failed as completely as had that of the Bashi-bazouks.
The stubborn bravery of a comparatively small number of Greeks
and Italians behind the hastily formed stockade and the battered,
thousand-year-old walls were so far more than a match for the invaders.

[Sidenote: Assaults in other places also fail.]

The success of the attackers was up to the present not more complete
in other parts of the city. Zagan Pasha had made desperate attempts to
scale the walls near the west end of the Horn under cover of showers
of arrows and other missiles from the ships and from large pontoons
drawn up as near as possible to the walls, but had been defeated by
Trevisano. Caraja Pasha, north of the Adrianople Gate, had crossed
the foss and made a vigorous attempt against the walls broken down
by the cannon between that Gate and the Palace of Porphyrogenitus,
now known as Tekfour Serai.[412] But that district, ‘the high part of
the Myriandrion,’[413] was held by the three brothers Bocchiardi, who
had borne the cost of their men at their own charge, and who covered
themselves, says Leonard, with eternal glory, fighting like Horatius
Cocles and his companions who kept the bridge of old. Their neighbours
at Tekfour Serai and around the southern portion of Caligaria under
the Venetian bailey Minotto,[414] had been equally successful. All
the invaders’ attempts had been defeated. Critobulus is justified
in commenting with pride on the defeat of this second attack. ‘The
Romans, indeed, proved themselves very valiant; for nothing could shake
them, neither hunger nor want of rest, nor weariness from continuous
fighting, nor wounds, nor the thought of the slaughter of their
families which menaced them. Nothing could alter their determination to
be faithful to their trust.’

[Sidenote: Assault by Janissaries.]

There remained but one more chance--on May 29 at least--of capturing
the city by general assault. Two divisions had failed. But Mahomet
noted that his plan of attack by successive divisions had greatly
weakened the defenders at the stockade. He therefore decided to put
forth all his strength and to send forward his reserves. These
consisted of the _élite_ of his army, the veteran warriors of his
bodyguard, infantry bearing shields and pikes, a body of archers,
another of lancers, and, more skilled and more trustworthy than all,
his body of twelve thousand Janissaries.[415] These reserves were now
to attempt the assault at the stockade under the immediate leadership
of their great commander, while the remainder of the army made a
simultaneous attack against other portions of the landward walls.

Mahomet began the new assault with the utmost care. Dawn was now
supplying sufficient light[416] to enable him to superintend a more
elaborate plan. The assault was not to be a mere wild rush and
scramble. Having urged his guards to show their valour, Mahomet put
himself at their head and led them as far as the foss.[417]

At the moment, says Barbaro, when the defenders were rejoicing at
having driven out the three hundred from the barbicans, the pagans
again fired their big gun and under cover of the smoke and dust the
besiegers advanced. A huge but orderly crowd of archers, slingers,
and musketeers discharged their arrows and other missiles. Successive
volleys were steadily fired upon the Greeks and Italians defending
the whole length of the stockade, so that they could hardly show a
head over the battlements without being struck. The missiles fell
in numbers, says Critobulus, like rain. They darkened the sky, says
Leonard. When the defenders had been thrown into some confusion by
this long hail of missiles, Mahomet gave the signal for advance to
his ‘fresh, vigorous, and invincible’ Janissaries. They rushed across
the foss and attempted as their predecessors had done, to carry the
stockade by storm.

Ten thousand of these ‘grand masters and valiant men,’ says Barbaro,
with admiration for a brave enemy, ‘ran to the walls, not like Turks,
but like lions.’ Fighting in presence of their sovereign, says
Critobulus, they never lost their dash, but fought like men possessed
and as if life were of no value. They tried to tear down the stockade;
to break or pull down the great barrels of earth which crowned it;
to drag out the beams and thus break down or make a passage through
into the Enclosure; to climb over it on the scaling-ladders which once
placed against the wall were immediately crowded with assailants.
Their shouts and yells, their calls upon Allah, the noise of their
drums, fifes, and trumpets, the roar of the culverins and cannon once
more struck terror into the affrighted citizens and were heard, says
Barbaro, across the Bosporus. For a while all was mad confusion.

We do not need the confirmation of Barbaro and Critobulus of the
statement that the Greeks and Italians were worn out with their long
defence before the attack by the Janissaries commenced. They had been
hewing and hacking, throwing down stones and hurling back ladders for
nearly, or perhaps quite, three hours and were unequal to contend
with many times their numbers of men ardent and fresh for battle. But
they knew, as indeed did every one within the city, that the crisis
of the attack was at hand, and they manfully fought on. The church
bells added to the din: the alarm bells on the walls were calling for
every available help. Women and children, monks and nuns, were either
assisting to bring stones to their friends on the walls or were on
their knees praying that their great city should not fall into the
hands of the pagans. Justiniani and his little band met the attack
with lances, axes, pikes, and swords, and cut down the foremost of
their assailants. For a short time the fight became a hard hand-to-hand
encounter, neither party gaining any advantage over the other.

[Sidenote: The Kerkoporta incident.]

Contemporaneously with this latter portion of the struggle in the Lycus
valley, an incident, possibly of supreme importance, was taking place
about half a mile to the northward.

Of the three ways into the city which Mahomet declared he had opened
for his troops, one was to the north of the Adrianople Gate. The
walls between this gate and the Palace of Porphyrogenitus were, in
construction, like those in the Lycus valley, but the inner Theodosian
wall, instead of extending as far as that palace (now known as Tekfour
Serai), stopped short about a hundred yards from it. There a short
wall at right angles connected it with the second or Outer Wall. In
this transverse wall was a postern giving access from the city to
the Inner Enclosure or Peribolos. The short Outer Wall north of the
transverse wall, having to do duty for the two city walls, had been
made exceptionally strong. A small postern gate, partly below the level
of the ground and underneath the extremity of the palace,[418] led
directly from the city to the Outer Enclosure. This gate was known as
the Kerkoporta or Circus Gate.[419] It had been built up and almost
forgotten for many years previous to the siege, but when easy access
to the Outer Enclosure was deemed necessary, certain old men recalled
its existence and it was reopened. As its position caused it to be
concealed from persons who were not close to the tower, it may easily
have been left undefended for a while during the night under the
impression that it would not be noticed.[420]

The Outer Wall between the Kerkoporta and the Adrianople Gate had been
largely damaged and a breach made which had been stormed unsuccessfully
during the night. The Turks had here also, as well as near the Romanus
Gate, been able to pass the ditch and take possession of the Outer

As daylight approached, some of the enemy noticed that the Kerkoporta
had been left open. A number of Janissaries (stated by Ducas to be
fifty) hastened through and took possession of it. They were soon
followed by others, who gained access to the Inner Enclosure first
through the Kerkoporta and then through the neighbouring postern
already mentioned in the transverse wall, the distance between the
two posterns being about thirty yards. They surprised and attacked
those who were occupied in resisting the attempts of Caraja’s main
division to storm the breach or scale the Outer Wall. Every foot they
captured allowed their numbers to be increased by comrades who could
now climb the Outer Wall without opposition or who crowded in through
the Kerkoporta and the postern in the transverse wall. The besieged,
overwhelmed by numbers, and having their retreat into the city through
the postern cut off, fled towards the Adrianople Gate, the postern of
which was soon blocked by the crowd, the stronger trampling upon the
weaker, so that presently all egress from the Enclosure was impossible.
A slaughter took place and a few Turks entered the city, while others
mounted the walls, pulled down the emperor’s flags and those of St.
Mark and replaced them by the Turkish standards.

The entry of the Turks by the Kerkoporta is only related by Ducas, but
it is incidentally confirmed by the fact mentioned by Phrantzes and
other writers, that while the struggle in the Lycus valley was going
on, the Turkish standards were raised on the towers to the north of
the Adrianople Gate before an entry had been effected elsewhere.[421]
Critobulus’s statement that Caraja’s men crossed the foss, made a
vigorous assault, and sought to pass within the broken-down (Outer)
wall, but were repulsed, probably refers to the same incident.[422]
Ducas is careful to state that the emperor and the Romans did not
know what had happened, because they were at some distance and were
too much occupied in defending themselves in a different place, which
he explains to be where the wall had been broken down: that is, at
the stockade in the Lycus valley. While they were thus fighting, he
says, to resist the entry through the ruined wall, God willed that the
enemy should enter the city by this other way. Leonard mentions that
the arrangements for sending messengers from one part of the wall to
another were defective. The emperor, however, was probably informed
of the entry by the Kerkoporta and of the capture of at least part
of the enclosure between that postern and the Adrianople Gate, and
hastened thither before his army under Justiniani learned that the
Turkish standards had been hoisted on the towers near the Adrianople
Gate.[423] The few Turks who had entered the city, bent upon plunder,
made for the rich monasteries of Choras and St. John in Petra and the
Blachern palace; but it would appear that the brothers Bocchiardi
were able to regain possession of the Enclosure and to prevent any
considerable number of the enemy from following those who had entered
the Kerkoporta. Possibly even they were strong enough to close it. The
fact that the entry at the Kerkoporta is not mentioned by Critobulus
may be taken to confirm the view that, if he knew of it at all, he only
regarded it as a somewhat unimportant incident.

Meantime in the Enclosure in the Lycus valley the struggle was
being bravely fought out with pikes, axes, javelins, long lances and
swords, for now, as Critobulus is careful to inform us, ‘the fight was
hand-to-hand.’[424] The obstinate resistance of the little band of
Greeks and Italians appears to have met with some success. The attack
by the Janissaries and the rest of the sultan’s own division had so far
failed and was weakening.

[Sidenote: John Justiniani wounded.]

It was at this moment that one of those fateful accidents occurred
which have at times decided the destiny of nations. John Justiniani,
who under the emperor was in supreme command, was severely wounded. He
bled profusely, and determined to leave his command in order to obtain
medical aid. The wound was so severe that it proved mortal within a
few days. But those present did not recognise its gravity. Some of
his contemporaries deny that it was sufficiently grave to justify his
leaving the field, but Critobulus, writing some years afterwards,
states that he had to be carried away.[425] Leonard and Phrantzes say
that when the emperor was informed of his determination to enter the
city, Constantine besought and implored him not to do so but to return
to his post, endeavouring to persuade him that the wound was slight and
pointing out that his departure would demoralise not only his own men
but the Greeks, and strongly urged that the fate of the city depended
on his remaining. Justiniani, however, pleaded the pain of his wound,
demanded that the key of the gate leading into the city should be given
to his men,[426] and insisted upon leaving the Peribolos or Enclosure,
promising to return when his wound had been attended to. The keys of a
small gate which Justiniani had caused to be opened in the Inner Wall
to give easier access to the Enclosure behind the stockade were brought
and he entered the city.[427]

The story told by Chalcondylas is that in reply to the emperor’s
question whither he was going, Justiniani said that he was going where
God Himself had opened a way for the Turks. It may well be doubted.
He was accompanied, say Critobulus and others, by his own men, a
statement, however, which can hardly apply to the whole four hundred.
The unlocking of the gate proved at once to be a dangerous temptation
to soldiers who had been fighting continuously for hours and who had
seen the departure of their leader. Justiniani made his way to his
ship, which was stationed at the boom, and escaped to Chios, where he
died within a few days--or possibly on the way thither.[428]

[Sidenote: Justiniani’s departure creates a panic.]

His departure was calamitous and at once created a panic. He was a
commander who had the full confidence of those under him, and his
absence struck dismay into their hearts. Barbaro says that it was
through his flight that the shout was then raised, ‘The Turks have got
in;’ that everybody then cried in alarm to God for mercy, and that
men wept like women. It was through him, and ‘he lied in his throat,
because they had not yet got in.’[429] Leonard, himself a Genoese, who
speaks of Justiniani with warm admiration, is hardly less severe upon
him in regard to his manner of leaving the fight. He declares that, as
he had at first shown courage, now he displayed cowardice. He ought
to have borne the pain and remained, or at least to have appointed
some one in his place. The spirit of his followers was broken by his
desertion. The Podestà of Pera, also a Genoese, seems himself to have
condemned his departure. He says the enemy was opposed right manfully,
but Justiniani deserted his gate, and withdrew to the sea, and by that
gate the Turks entered without resistance. Remembering that this is
the testimony of the chief Genoese official against the great Genoese
captain, it may be regarded as reflecting the general opinion of the
time.[430] We, however, may well remember that Justiniani had remained
in the city with his men, had worked day and night at the repairs of
the walls, had, by the testimony of all, been the great organiser of
the defence, and, knowing that he died of his wounds, may be charitable
enough to believe that he did not desert his post except under the
pressure of pain too great to be endured.

It is beyond doubt that his departure demoralised both the foreigners
who remained and the brave little band of Greeks who had borne
with them the brunt of the fighting. Leonard asserts that when his
countrymen saw themselves without a leader, they began to abandon their

[Sidenote: Emperor tries to rally defenders of stockade.]

Meanwhile the emperor, behind the stockade, was endeavouring to rally
his men, and fighting with a courage worthy of his great name. He
himself took the post of Justiniani and led the defending party. He had
no other men to replace those who had left, but he rallied the Greeks
and the remainder of the Genoese and Venetians, and with his own small
bodyguard rushed to the stockade.

[Sidenote: Final charge of Janissaries.]

Mahomet witnessed, from the opposite side of the foss, the
demoralisation caused by the departure of Justiniani. He noted that
the stockade and broken walls had fewer defenders, that many of them
were secretly slipping away, and that those who remained were fighting
less vigorously. He saw that the opportune moment for him had come and,
calling out to his men, ‘We have the city: it is ours already; the wall
is undefended,’ urged his Janissaries to fear nothing, but follow him,
and the city would be captured.[431] At his bidding and under his lead,
the Janissaries hastened once more to rush the stockade and to climb
upon the _débris_ of the wall destroyed by the gun.[432]

The sultan had promised great rewards to the first who should gain a
position on the wall. A stalwart Janissary named Hassan gained this
honour. A man of gigantic stature, he was able, while holding his
shield in his left hand, to fight his way to the top of the broken
wall, and was followed by some thirty others. The Greeks resisted
their entry and killed eighteen. But Hassan maintained his position
long enough to enable some of his followers to climb up and get over
the wall. A fierce skirmish took place, and many were killed on both
sides. Hassan himself was wounded by a stone, slipped and fell, fought
bravely on his knees, but was overpowered and killed.[433] But the
discrepancy in numbers was too great. Once a few were able to maintain
their position on the wall, the Turks mounted and got over to the
inner side of the stockade in crowds. The remnant of the defending
army stood their ground for a while, but the invaders drove a number
of them back and into the deep ditch which had been dug between the
great wall and the stockade and out of which it was difficult to
escape.[434] Many were thus killed within the Peribolos, of which for
the first time the Turks were now the masters. Some of the invaders
climbed the great wall behind the defenders to hurl down stones on
them, and a fierce fight went on along the length of the stockade in
the Lycus valley, and possibly indeed along the whole length of the
walls in the Mesoteichion. Suddenly, in this the supreme moment of the
struggle, shouts were heard both within and without the walls and from
the direction of the harbour, shouts which were taken up by the Greeks,
Ἑάλω ἡ πόλις: ‘the city is taken; the Turkish flags are flying on the

We have already seen what had happened to cause this cry to be raised.
The detachment of Turks who had gained entrance through the Kerkoporta
had captured some of the lofty towers between it and the Adrianople
Gate, and had there raised the Turkish standards.

‘“The city is captured!” the cry sent dismay into the hearts of our
men, but encouraged the enemy.’[435] It was not true, says Barbaro.
The city was not then taken. But meantime the Turks were now up and
over the walls in crowds. Within a quarter of an hour, says Barbaro, of
their first obtaining possession of the stockade there must have been
thirty thousand of them within the Peribolos.

[Sidenote: Stockade captured.]

The success of the Janissaries in overcoming the first serious line of
defence[436] was followed up instantly by the other Turkish troops.
The news of the entry across the stockade seems to have spread like
wildfire, and though it is difficult to believe the statement of
Barbaro that the Enclosure was filled from one end of the walls to the
other with seventy thousand of the hostile army, it is possible that
the vigour which follows success enabled the Janissaries and other
portions of the army to obtain entry at once into the Enclosure at
various other places. Some of the defenders fled in panic and made
for the small gate through which Justiniani had retired, the only one
behind them which was open. They rushed on in such haste as to trample
each other down.

[Sidenote: Death of Constantine.]

At this moment the emperor, who had been called off to the northern
end of the valley to learn the meaning of the display of the Turkish
flags and to resist the inrush of the invaders who had entered by
the Kerkoporta, returned. Spurring his horse, he galloped down the
Enclosure to the stockade where the Turks were crowding in,[437] and
tried to rally the remainder of the defenders. Calling upon his men
to follow him, he threw off his imperial insignia, drew his sword,
sprang into the thick of the fight, and attempted to drive the invaders
back.[438] With Don Francisco of Toledo on his right, Theophilus
Palaeologus and John Dalmata on his left, his own sword broken, he
endeavoured to check the advancing crowd. Theophilus shouted that he
would rather die than live. The four checked for a moment the inrush
of the Turks, slew some of them, and cut their way to the wall where
the Turks were pouring in. But they were hopelessly outnumbered. The
emperor was lost sight of amid the crowd. He and his companions fell
fighting, and the enemy continued to pour through the breaches.[439]

[Sidenote: City captured May 29.]

Once the enemy had obtained entrance into the Enclosure the defenders
were in a trap. The only exit into the city open to them was by the
small gate through which Justiniani had passed. The Military Gate
of St. Romanus, the Gate of the Assault, remained locked. A heap of
slain, Genoese and Greeks,[440] near it made escape impossible. The
defeat of the survivors of the gallant band which Justiniani had led
was forthwith completed by a body of the Janissaries who entered the
Enclosure across the broken stockade, formed themselves in regular
order, and swept everything before them.[441] Their overwhelming
numbers soon enabled them to kill all opponents who had not escaped
into the city. The great wall being partly broken down and without
defenders, and the Gate of St. Romanus being forced or opened, access
to the city was easy. A band made their way to the Adrianople Gate,
which they opened from the inside, and the city was from that moment in
the power of the enemy.[442]

As the sun rose Mahomet saw that his great effort had succeeded. Where
Arabs, with even greater numbers than he commanded, in the first flush
of the victorious career of Islam, with the presence of the great
Eyoub, the companion of the Prophet, to encourage them and to speak
of the wondrous rewards which Paradise had in store for the believers
who should enter New Rome or die in the attempt; where Murad thirty
years before; and where twenty other besieging armies had been unable
to capture the world’s capital, he had succeeded. Seated on horseback
beneath his great standard and insignia, he watched with the legitimate
pride of a conqueror the entry of his hordes into the city.[443] The
morning sun shed its rays upon him and his standard as his soldiers
thronged through the Gate of the Assault or hastened towards that of
Adrianople. The entry was not long after sunrise and probably between
five and six o’clock.[444]

[Sidenote: Capture of city due to two accidents.]

If credit is to be given to the story of the entry of the Turks at the
Kerkoporta as related by Ducas, then it may be said that the capture of
the city was due to two accidents: the leaving open of that gate and
the wound of Justiniani. It is beyond doubt that the immediate cause
of the capture was the withdrawal of John Justiniani, followed by the
flight of a considerable number of his men.

In the words of Cambini, a contemporary of the siege, but writing at a
sufficiently remote period to look calmly upon the events he narrates,
Justiniani had so conducted himself that, until he was wounded, every
one looked to him for the salvation of the city, and upon his quitting
the battlefield the courage of those whom he led failed them.

Whatever hypothesis as to the character of his wound be accepted,
whether when urged by the emperor he could have remained or not, his
departure was an irretrievable misfortune. Few as were the defenders
when compared with the great host attacking, they had never altogether
lost hope. The Podestà of Galata, writing within a month of the capture
of the city, declares that he and the Genoese longed for the general
attack, because victory for the Christians appeared certain.[445] On
the other hand, there is reason to believe that the besiegers were
far from confident of being able to capture it. There was, as we have
seen, a strong peace party in Mahomet’s camp headed by Halil Pasha. The
reports were well founded of a fleet in the Archipelago on its way to
the city. Thirty ships sent by the pope had arrived at Chios and were
awaiting favourable winds at the time they heard of the success of

There were rumours of a Hungarian army coming to attack them in the
rear. The emperor had promised to give Selymbria to Hunyadi in return
for his aid. Some inkling of the arrangement may have reached the
sultan. The king of Catalonia had made an agreement with Constantine
in return for the island of Lemnos.[447] It is in the highest degree
probable that Mahomet believed that if any of these forces should
arrive before Constantinople either by land or by sea, he would have to
abandon the siege. With these possible dangers threatening him, it is
not unreasonable to conclude that if the besieged could have succeeded
in repulsing the Turks in their greatest attack, and have held the
city for even one day longer, Mahomet himself would have considered
it necessary to withdraw his army, and Constantinople might possibly
have been saved for Europe. Hence the withdrawal of Justiniani was an
event of supreme importance. It led to the capture and decided the fate
of the city, and gave the death-blow to the Eastern Empire. The ships
bringing help, which were on their way, were too late. One is almost
driven to the belief of Pusculus, ‘Auxilium Deus ipse negavit.’[448]

[Sidenote: Death of Constantine.]

In the struggle which took place, the emperor bore a part worthy of his
name and of his position. He perished among his own subjects and the
remnant of the Latins who were aiding him. Whether the story related
by Ducas and Leonard, that the emperor asked if there was no Christian
willing to kill him, be true or not, there can be no doubt that he met
his death like a brave man. All accounts attest his courage. Critobulus
states that when he saw that the enemy had succeeded and were pouring
through the breaches in the walls, he shouted, ‘The city is taken and I
am still alive,’ and thereupon dashed into the midst of the enemy and
was killed.[449]

[Sidenote: Manner of his death.]

The manner of his death is, however, doubtful. No contemporary writer
was present. Phrantzes, who had attended him at and after midnight,
expressly tells us that he had been sent on duty elsewhere. Critobulus
states that the emperor fell near the postern which Justiniani had
opened from the city to the stockade;[450] Leonard, that he was struck
down by a Janissary, recovered himself, was again struck down and
killed.[451] Ducas declares that two Turks claimed to have killed the
emperor and to have taken his head, which was recognised by Notaras,
and that it was placed on a column in the Augusteum, then stuffed and
sent to be shown in Persia, Arabia, and Asia Minor.[452] The story of
Ducas is to a certain extent confirmed by the Moscovite, who states
that a scribe brought the head of the emperor to Mahomet, who, when
he was assured that it was genuine, kissed it and then sent it to the
patriarch. It was then encased in a silver vase and buried under the
altar of St. Sophia. He adds that the body was carried in the night to
Galata and there buried.[453] To some extent their story is confirmed
by Pusculus, who says that in struggling with the Janissaries ‘at the
mound,’ where he killed three Turks, he was slain by the mighty stroke
of a sword; that his head was cut off from his shoulders by one who
knew him, and taken to Mahomet, who paid the promised reward.[454]
None of these stories as to the manner of death can be regarded as
altogether trustworthy. Barbaro, with the sailor-like bluntness which
usually characterises his matter-of-fact statements when not attacking
the Genoese, says, ‘No news was received of his fate, whether he was
living or dead, but some say that his body was seen among the number
of the dead, while others asserted that he was trampled to death at
the entry which the Turks made at the gate of St. Romanus.’ Phrantzes,
who, like Barbaro, was in the city at the time, records that, after
the capture, the sultan caused diligent search to be made to learn
whether the emperor was alive or dead; that men were sent to seek among
the heaps of the slain; that many heads were washed, but no one could
recognise that of the emperor; but that a body was found which had the
imperial eagles embroidered on the socks and greaves, and that this
body was given over to the Christians to be buried with due honours.
Phrantzes[455] does not profess to have seen the body, and makes no
mention of the head having been brought to the sultan and recognised
by Notaras the Grand Duke, as stated by Ducas. Tetaldi confirms the
statement that the emperor died at the time of the assault. He adds,
‘Some say that he had his head sliced off; others that he died at the
gate _en s’en cuidant yssir_. Either story may be true. He died in the
throng, and the Turks would have cut off his head.’

Against the version of Phrantzes is to be placed the fact that his tomb
is unknown and that no contemporary--or, indeed, subsequent--writer
mentions where it was. Had it existed, it is not likely to have been
forgotten by the Greeks. Had the body been purposely buried in a secret
place, there would probably have grown up a legend about it which would
have kept its memory green.[456]

[Sidenote: Character of Constantine.]

Constantine Palaeologus Dragases in the fiftieth year of his age
disappears amid the final charge of the Turkish Janissaries. Although
there were rumours of his escape, his death within the Inner Enclosure
of the Lycus valley cannot reasonably be doubted. His conduct during
the whole of the siege had earned respect. He had done his best to
encourage his subjects to fight bravely, had stimulated them by his
speech and by his example. He had spared no exertion day and night to
organise the defence, had tried to reconcile hostile parties and to
unite all for the common safety. When the long-standing jealousies
and rivalries between his own subjects and the citizens of the two
republics threatened to weaken the force available for the defence of
the city, it was he who by his personal influence and the respect
and even affection which he had acquired and inspired persuaded them
to postpone their quarrels. Fanatical Greeks and equally fanatical
Catholics had almost forgotten for the time their animosities and
had joined forces for the honour of God and for the defence of
Christianity. At his instigation, Roman cardinal and Orthodox bishops
had thrown themselves energetically into the common labour of resisting
the Moslem hordes. At his entreaty the task of completing the Union of
the Churches was by common accord allowed to stand over. The example
of the religious chiefs was followed by their flocks. Whenever we are
able to get a glimpse of the emperor’s personality we see him as a
man without conspicuous ability but whose devotion to his country was
complete, whose sympathy made friends of all who were brought into
contact with him, and won for him the admiration of his own troops and
of the brave Italians who fought under him. His refusal to leave the
city when urged to do so by the patriarch and other leaders both of
the Church and people was the more praiseworthy when it is remembered
that the arguments in favour of departure were at least plausible, and
that he had apparently come to the conclusion that, in spite of all his
exertions, Mahomet would succeed in capturing it.

He was holding the last great stronghold of Eastern Christianity
against the attempt of Islam to capture that which in the eyes of all
Moslems represented the capital of Christendom. The steadfastness and
tenacity with which the imperial city had maintained its lordship
for upwards of a thousand years and had during the whole of that
period served as a bulwark against the invasion of Europe by Asiatic
hordes were worthily represented in its last emperor. Various
causes, for which he can in no way be held responsible, had sapped
the strength of the city and made its capture possible, but with
a Roman obstinacy that would have done honour to the best of his
predecessors he deliberately chose not to abandon it but to die in
its defence. To his eternal honour it must be said that, despairing
of or not considering the question of ultimate success, he never
wavered, never omitted any precaution to deserve victory, but fought on
heroically to the end and finally sacrificed his life for his people,
his country and Christendom. The exact spot where he lies buried is
unknown, but, in the bold metaphor, quoted as already old by the great
consort of Justinian, he judged that ‘the empire was an excellent
winding-sheet.’[457] His death was a fitting and honourable end of the
Eastern Roman Empire.



[Sidenote: Entry of Turkish army.]

The author of the Turkish Taj-ut-Tavarikh or ‘Crown of History,’
written by Khodja Sad-ud-din, states that after the sultan’s troops had
forced a way into the city--not, as he is careful to explain, through
any of the gates, but across the broken wall between Top Capou and the
Adrianople Gate--they went round and opened the neighbouring gates from
the inside, and that the first so opened was the Adrianople Gate. Then
the army entered through these gates in regular order, division by

While the principal assault was that made under the sultan’s own
eyes in the Lycus valley, the city had been elsewhere simultaneously
attacked. Though all other attacks sink into insignificance beside
this, yet they are deserving of notice. The most important were those
made by Zagan Pasha from one or more large and specially constructed
pontoons which had been brought as close as possible to the walls at
the western end of the Golden Horn and by Caraja Pasha between the
Adrianople Gate and Tekfour Serai.

[Sidenote: Attacks by Zagan and Caraja fail.]

Zagan had brought all his division across the bridge near Aivan Serai,
and his soldiers, during the early morning, had made a continuous
series of attempts to scale the walls from the narrow strip of land
between them and the water, while his archers and fusiliers attempted
to cover the attacking parties from the pontoons. His efforts
were aided by the crews on board the seventy ships which had been
transported across Pera Hill and which were now stationed at intervals
extending from the pontoons to the Phanar. They were stoutly and
successfully opposed by Gabriel Trevisano, who had charge of the walls
upon the Horn as far as the Phanar.[459]

Caraja’s vigorous assault, as has been already mentioned, was at one
of the three places where Mahomet boasted that his cannon had made a
way into the city. It was probably a part of his division which had
followed the discoverers of the open Kerkoporta into the city. Zagan
and Caraja were, however, defeated.[460]

[Sidenote: By fleet also.]

The Turkish fleet under Hamoud had done its part elsewhere. During the
night it had come in force to the boom and had taken up a position
parallel to it. When, however, the admiral saw that there were against
him ten great and other smaller ships, all ready for the defence, he
carried out the orders which had been given on the previous evening,
passed round Seraglio Point, and took up a position opposite the walls
on the side of the Marmora, where the caloyers or monks were among
the defenders. But all the efforts of the Turks in the fleet on the
side of the Marmora failed to effect an entrance. Small as was the
number of the men dispersed along the walls, they held their own and
repulsed all attempts to scale them. It was only when they saw the
Turks in their rear that they recognised that their struggle had been
in vain. Then, indeed, some flung themselves in despair from the
walls; others surrendered in hope of saving their lives. The walls were
abandoned.[461] Once the Turks had succeeded in effecting their entry
through the stockade in the Lycus valley, followed as such entry was
by the marching in of the divisions through the ordinary gates, the
defence of the city was hopeless.

Probably among the earliest from the fleet to effect an entry were men
who appear to have landed at the Jews’ quarter, which was near the
Horaia Gate on the side of the Golden Horn.[462]

The two brothers Paul and Troilus Bocchiardi in the highest part of the
Myriandrion, near the Adrianople Gate, maintained their resistance for
some time after they had observed that the Turks were pouring in on
their left. Seeing that further resistance was useless, they determined
to look after their own safety and to make for the ships. In doing
so they were surrounded, but fought their way through the enemy and
escaped to Galata.[463] Greeks and Latins alike, who were defending the
walls on the Marmora and Golden Horn, judged that it was now impossible
to hold them. From the latter position they could see that the Venetian
and imperial flags which had waved over the towers from the Adrianople
Gate down to the sea had been replaced by the Turkish ensigns. They
were, indeed, soon attacked in the rear. The crews of the Turkish
ships, likewise learning from the hoisting of the Turkish flags in lieu
of those of St. Mark and the empire that their comrades were already
within the city, made more strenuous efforts than before to scale the
walls, and in doing so met with little resistance when the defenders
saw the Turks on their rear.[464]

The church of St. Theodosia--now known as Gul Jami, or the Mosque of
the Bose, still a prominent building a short distance to the west of
the present inner bridge--was crowded with worshippers who had passed
the night in prayers to the Saint for the safety of the city. The 29th
of May was her feast, and a procession of worshippers was met and
attacked by a band of Turks, who had made their way to the Plateia,
probably the present Vefa. Those who took part in the procession,
mostly women, were apparently among the first victims after the capture
of the city.

[Sidenote: General panic throughout city.]

The Greek and Italian ships had for some time, with the aid of the
defenders, prevented the men from the Turkish vessels from scaling
the walls. When, however, the Turkish sailors succeeded in making
their entry into the city, the Christian ships began to take measures
for their own safety. The neighbouring gates had been thrown open,
and the Turkish sailors joined their countrymen in the plunder and
slaughter. Their ships both in the Horn and on the side of the Marmora
were, according to Barbaro, absolutely deserted by their crews in
their eagerness after loot. The defenders fled to their homes, and
Ducas regretfully observes that in so doing some were captured; others
found neither wife, child, nor possessions, but were themselves made
prisoners and marched off. The old men and women who could not walk
with the other captives were killed and their babes thrown into the
streets. From the moment it was known that the Turkish troops had
entered there was a general and well-founded panic. The Moscovite says
that there was fighting in the streets, that the people threw down upon
the invaders tiles and any available missiles, and that the opposition
was so severe that the pashas became afraid and persuaded the sultan
to issue an amnesty. But the story is improbable. There were few men
within the city capable of fighting except those who had been at the
walls. When there became a ‘Sauve qui peut!’ these men hastened, as
Ducas reports, to their homes. That many of the fugitives, even old
men and women, knowing the fate before them and their children, may
have fought in desperation, willing to die rather than be captured
by an enemy who spared neither men in his cruelty nor women in his
lust, is likely enough, but that there was anything like an organised
resistance in the streets is incredible.[465]

[Sidenote: General slaughter during half the day.]

The Turks seem, indeed, to have anticipated greater resistance than
they met with. They could not believe that the city was without more
defenders than those who had been at the walls. This, indeed, is
their sole excuse for beginning what several writers describe as a
general slaughter. From the entry of the army and camp-followers until
midday this slaughter went on. The Turks, says Critobulus,[466] had
been taunted by the besieged with their powerlessness to capture the
city and were enraged at the sufferings they had undergone. During
the forenoon all whom they encountered were put to the sword, women
and men, old and young, of every condition.[467] The Turks slew all
throughout the city whom they met in their first onslaught.[468]

The statements made by the spectators of such scenes as they themselves
witnessed are apt to be exaggerations, but a Turkish massacre without
elements of the grossest brutality has never taken place. The
declaration of Phrantzes that in some places the earth could no longer
be seen on account of the multitude of dead bodies is sufficiently
rhetorical to convey its own corrective.[469] So, too, is the account
by Barbaro of the numbers of heads of dead Christians and Turks in
the Golden Horn and the Marmora being so great as to remind him of
melons floating in his own Venetian canals, and of the waters being
coloured with blood.[470] That many nuns and other women preferred to
throw themselves into the wells rather than fall into the hands of
the Turks may be true. Their glorious successors in the Greek War of
Independence, and many Armenian women during the massacres in 1895–6,
chose a similar fate in preference to surrendering to Turkish captors.

Probably the truth is that an indiscriminate slaughter went on only
till midday. For the love of slaughter was tempered by the desire for
gain. The young of both sexes, and especially the strong and beautiful,
could be held as slaves or sold or ransomed. The statement of Leonard
is therefore probably correct, that all who resisted were killed, that
the Turks slew the weak, the decrepit and sick persons generally, but
that they spared the lives of others who surrendered.

The Turkish historian Sad-ud-din says, ‘Having received permission to
loot, they thronged into the city with joyous heart, and there, seizing
their possessions and families, they made the wretched misbelievers
weep. They acted in accordance with the precept, “Slaughter their aged
and capture their youth.”’[471]

The brave Cretan sailors, who were defending the walls near the Horaia
Gate, took refuge in certain towers named Basil, Leo, and Alexis. They
could not be captured, and would not surrender. In the afternoon,
however, their stubborn resistance being reported to the sultan, he
consented to allow them to leave the city with all their belongings, an
offer which they reluctantly accepted.[472] The Cretans seem to have
been the last Christians who quitted their posts as defenders of the

[Sidenote: Flight towards ships.]

The panic caused by the morning’s massacre was general. Men, women,
and children sought to get outside the city, to escape into the
neighbouring country, or to reach the ships in the harbour. Some were
struck down on their way; others were drowned before they could get on
board. The foreigners naturally made for their own ships. Some of them
have placed on record the manner of their escape. Tetaldi says that
‘the great galleys of Romania remained[473] till midday trying to save
what Christians they could, and receiving four hundred on board,’ among
whom was one named Tetaldi, who had been on guard very far from the
place where the Turks entered.’ He stripped himself and swam to one of
these vessels, where he was taken on board. Barbaro relates that when
the cry was raised that the Turks had entered the city everybody took
to flight and ran to the sea in order to seek refuge in the Greek and
foreign ships.

[Sidenote: Plunder organised.]

It was a pitiable sight, says Ducas, to see the shore outside the walls
all full of men and women, monks and nuns, shouting to the ships and
praying to be taken on board. The ships took as many as they could,
but the greater number had to be left behind. The wretched inhabitants
expected no mercy, nor was any shown to them. Happily, the Turks had
now become keener after plunder than after blood. When they found
that there was no organised force to resist them, they turned their
attention solely to loot. They set about the pillage of the city with
something like system. One body devoted its attention to the wealthy
mansions, dividing themselves for this purpose into companies; another
undertook the plunder of the churches; a third robbed the smaller
houses and shops. These various bands overran the city, killing in
case of resistance, and taking as slaves men, women and children,
priests and laymen, regardless of age or condition. No tragedy, says
Critobulus, could equal it in horror. Women, young and well educated;
beautiful maidens of noble family, who had never been exposed to the
eye of man, were torn from their chaste chambers with brutal violence
and publicly treated in horrible fashion. Virgins consecrated to God
were dragged by their hair from the churches and were ruthlessly
stripped of every ornament they possessed. A horde of savage brutes
committed unnameable atrocities, and hell was let loose.[474]

The conquering horde had spread themselves all over the city. For,
while the regular troops had probably been kept in hand on the chance
of resistance, there were others who could not be restrained from
going in search of loot. Some even among the first who had entered
by the Kerkoporta had rushed to plunder the famous monastery of the
Virgin, the small chapel of which, known as the Kahriè mosque, still
attests by its exquisite mosaics the wealth and artistic appreciation
of its former occupants. The famous picture attributed to St. Luke
was cut into strips. Others among them rushed off towards the many
churches in Petra. These were, however, only a small number. It was
in the afternoon of the day when the horde had entered across the
broken walls and through the gates that they swept like a torrent over
the city. Soon the organised bands, which had divided the city among
them in order to capture the population and to seize all the gold and
silver ornaments which they could lay hands on, began to amass their
treasures. Old men and women, children, young men and maidens were tied
together in order to mark to whom they belonged.

The loot from private houses and churches was put on one side for
subsequent division and the partition was made with considerable
method. Small flags were hoisted to indicate to other companies the
houses plundered, and everywhere throughout the city these signals were
waving, sometimes a single house having as many as ten.[475]

[Sidenote: St. Sophia crowded with refugees.]

A body of troops more amenable to discipline than we may suppose the
Bashi-bazouks to have been hastened across the city towards Saint
Sophia. Many inhabitants took refuge in the churches, some probably
with the idea that the Turks would recognise that the sacred buildings
should afford sanctuary; others in the hope or possible belief of some
kind of miraculous interference on their behalf. Ducas relates that a
crowd of affrighted citizens ran to the great church of Holy Wisdom
because they believed in a prophecy that the Turks would be allowed to
enter the city and slaughter the Romans until they reached the column
of Constantine--the present Burnt Column--but that then an angel would
descend from heaven with a sword and place it and the government of
the city in the hands of one whom he would select, calling upon him to
avenge the people of the Lord, and that thereupon the Turks would be
driven from the West. It was on this account, he declares, that the
Great Church was, within an hour from the tidings of the entry of the
Turks becoming known, filled with a great crowd who believed themselves
to be safe. By so doing they had only rendered their capture more easy.

The first detachment of Turks who arrived and found the doors closed
soon succeeded in breaking in. The great crowd were taken as in a
drag-net, says Critobulus. The miserable refugees thus made prisoners
were tied or chained together and any resistance offered was at once
overcome. Some were taken to the Turkish ships, others to the camp, and
the loot collected was dealt with in the same manner. The scene was
terrible, but, unhappily, one which was destined to be reproduced with
many even worse features in Turkish history, because, while the chief
object of the Turkish hordes in 1453 was mainly to capture slaves and
other plunder, the attacks on many congregations in later years, down
to the time of the holocaust of Armenians at Ourfa on December 28 and
29, 1895, were mainly for the sake of slaughter. In the Great Church
itself the Turks struggled with each other for the possession of the
most beautiful women. Damsels who had been brought up in luxury among
the remnants of Byzantine nobility, nuns who had been shut off from
the world, became the subjects of violence among their captors. Their
garments were torn from them by men who would not relinquish their
prizes to others. Masters and mistresses were tied to their servants;
dignitaries of the Church with the lowest menials. The captors drove
their flocks of victims before them in order to lodge them in safety
under charge of their comrades and to return as quickly as possible
to take a new batch. Ropes, ribbons, handkerchiefs were requisitioned
to bind them. The sacred eikons were torn down and burnt, the altar
cloths, chandeliers, chalices, carpets, ornaments--indeed everything
that was valuable and portable--were carried off. The greatest
misfortune of all, says Phrantzes, was to see the Temple of the Holy
Wisdom, the Earthly Heaven, the Throne of the Glory of God, defiled
by these miscreants. One would hope that his story of its defilement
and of the scenes of open profligacy is exaggerated.[476] The other
churches were plundered in like manner. They furnished a plentiful
harvest. The richly embroidered robes, chasubles woven with gold and
ornamented with pearls and precious stones, and church furniture, were
greedily seized, the ornaments being torn from many of the objects and
the rest thrown aside. A crucifix was carried in mock solemnity in
procession surmounted by a Janissary’s cap.

[Sidenote: Wanton destruction of books.]

While we can understand the indignation of the devout believers at the
contemptuous destruction of sacred relics for the sake of the caskets
in which they were contained, we can hardly regret the disappearance
of the so-called sacred objects themselves. But it is otherwise with
the destruction of books. The professors of Islam, whatever may have
been their conduct in regard to particular libraries, have usually
held the all-sufficiency of the Koran. That which contradicts its
teaching ought to be destroyed; that which is in accordance with it is
superfluous. The libraries of the churches, whatever Mahomet himself
may have believed, were to the ignorant fanatical masses which followed
him anti-Islamic. The only value of books was the amount for which they
could be sold. Critobulus says that not only the holy and religious
books, but also those treating of profane sciences and of philosophy,
were either thrown into the fire or trampled irreverently under foot,
but that the greater part were sold--not for the sake of the price but
in mockery--for two or three pence or even farthings.[477]

The ships of the Turkish fleet had among their cargo, says Ducas, an
innumerable quantity of books.[478] In the booty collected by the Turks
they were so plentiful and cheap, that for a nummus--probably worth
sixpence--ten volumes were sold containing the works of Plato and
Aristotle, treatises on theology and other sciences.

Christian and Moslem writers agree in stating that the sack of the
city continued, as Mahomet had promised, for three days. Khodja
Sad-ud-din, after affirming that the soldiers of Islam ‘acted in
accordance with the precept, “Slaughter their aged and capture their
youth,”’ adds, with the Oriental imagery of Turkish historians: ‘For
three days and nights there was, with the imperial permission, a
general sack, and the victorious troops, through the richness of the
spoil, entwined the arm of possession round the neck of their desires,
and by binding the lustre of their hearts to the locks of the damsels,
beautiful as houris, and by the sight of the sweetly smiling fair
ones, they made the eye of their hopes the participator in their good

It must, however, not be forgotten that although those who took the
principal part in the sack were Mahometans, yet there were also no
small numbers of Christian renegades.[480]

[Sidenote: Numbers killed or captured.]

As to the number of persons captured or killed, the estimates do not
greatly differ.

Leonard states that sixty thousand captives were bound together
preparatory to their final distribution. In such circumstances
exaggeration is usual and almost unavoidable. But Critobulus, writing
some years afterwards, estimates that the number of Greeks and Italians
killed during the siege and after the capture was four thousand, that
five hundred of the army and upwards of fifty thousand of the rest of
the population were reduced to slavery.[481]

Such of the Genoese and Venetians as had succeeded in escaping from
the city were preparing to get away to sea with all haste. Happily the
Turkish ships had been deserted by their crews, who were busy looking
after their share of plunder on shore.[482] In their absence a large
number of combatants, mostly foreigners, contrived to take refuge
either on board some of the various ships in the harbour or in Galata.
The Venetian Diedo, who had been appointed captain of the harbour, when
he saw that the city was taken, went over to the podestà of Galata,
says Barbaro, to consult whether he should get his ships away or give
battle. The advice of the podestà was that he should remain until he
received an answer from Mahomet by which they would learn whether the
conqueror wanted war or peace with Venice and Genoa.

[Sidenote: Panic among foreigners.]

Meantime, the gates of Galata were closed, much to the disgust of
Barbaro himself, who was one of the Venetians thus locked in.[483]
When, however, the Genoese saw that the galleys were preparing to make
sail, Diedo and his men were allowed to leave. They went on board the
captain’s galley and pulled out to the boom, which had not yet been
opened. Two strong sailors leapt upon it with their axes and cut or
broke the chain in two.

The boom was apparently very strong, for, according to Barbaro, the
Turkish captains and crews, when they went ashore to plunder, believed
that the Christian vessels within the harbour could not escape, because
they would not be able to pass through it.[484] The ships passed
outside and went to the Double Columns, where the Turkish fleet had
been anchored, but which was now deserted. There they waited until
noon to see whether the Venetian merchant vessels would join them.
They had, however, been captured by the Turks.[485] Diedo, on learning
this, left with his galleys. Other Venetians hastened to follow. Some
of the vessels had lost a great part of their crews, and one regrets to
read that the brave Trevisano was left a prisoner in the hands of the
Turks. Happily for those who had reached the ships, there was a strong
north wind blowing; for, says Barbaro, ‘if there had been a head wind
we should have all been made prisoners.’ Seven Genoese galleys also got
outside the boom and escaped.[486] The remaining fifteen ships, which
belonged to Genoa, and four galleys of the emperor, were taken by the

[Sidenote: In Galata.]

The alarm had spread to Galata, and many of its inhabitants crowded to
the shore, praying to be taken on board the Genoese ships. They were
ready to barter all they possessed for a passage. Some were captured
on their way to the ships: among them, mothers who had deserted their
children, children who had been left behind by their parents. Household
goods, and even jewels, were abandoned in the mad haste to escape from
the terror. The number of fugitives was far in excess of the carrying
capacity of the vessels which were hastily preparing to put to sea.

Mahomet, according to Ducas, knew of the preparations and flight of
many, and ground his teeth with rage because he could do nothing to
prevent their escape. Zagan Pasha, to whom the Genoese, when they saw
that Constantinople was captured, opened the gates of Galata,[487]
seeing the struggling crowd of men, women, and children attempting to
get away, and probably fearing that their flight would bring war not
only with Genoa but with other Western powers, went among the fugitives
and begged them to remain. He swore by the head of the Prophet that
they were safe, that Galata would not be attacked, and that they had
nothing to fear, since they had been friendly to Mahomet. If they went
away, he declared the sultan would be dangerous in his anger; whereas
if they remained their capitulations would be renewed on even more
favourable conditions than they had received from the emperors.

In spite of these promises, as many left the city as could. They were
hardly in time, because Hamoud, the Turkish admiral, had by this time
got his sailors in hand again and, the boom being already opened,
entered the harbour and destroyed the Greek ships which remained.[488]

The podestà and his council went to Mahomet and presented him with
the keys of Galata. He received them graciously and gave them specious
promises. The report of the podestà himself, written less than a month
after the capture of the city, confirms in its essential features
the accounts given by Ducas, Leonard, and others of the panic which
seized the population under his rule. The Turks, he says, captured
many of the burgesses who had been sent to fight at the stockade. A
few managed to escape across the water and returned to their families,
while others got on board the ships and left the country. He himself
was disposed to sacrifice his life rather than abandon his charge. If
he also had left, Galata would have been sacked, and he remained to
secure its safety. ‘I therefore sent ambassadors to my lord Mahomet,
making submission and asking for the conditions of peace.’ No answer
was sent on the first day to this request, during which the ships were
getting away as fast as possible. The podestà begged their captains for
the love of God and their kindred to remain at least another day, as
he felt confident that he would be able to make peace. They, however,
refused, and sailed during the night. The statement regarding the
sultan’s anger was confirmed, for the podestà relates that Mahomet
told his ambassadors, when he learned the news of the general flight,
that he wanted to be rid of them all. Thereupon the podestà himself
went to Mahomet, who either on the same day or shortly afterwards came
into Galata and insisted that the fortifications should be so changed
that the city would be at his mercy. The walls on the sea front were
to be in great part destroyed: so also was the Tower of Galata--called
sometimes the Tower of the Holy Cross--to which one end of the boom
had been attached, and other strong portions of the defences.[489] All
the cannon were taken away from Galata and the arms and ammunition
belonging to the burgesses who had fled. Mahomet promised that these
should be returned to those who came back. Accordingly, the podestà
sent word to Chios to the merchants and other refugees that if they
returned they would receive their property.[490] Mahomet, as a pledge
of his sincerity and as the best means of convincing the Genoese
of his desire to be at peace with them, granted ‘capitulations’ by
which they were to retain most of the customs and privileges which
they had previously obtained from the empire. They were to retain the
fortress of Galata and their own laws and government; to elect their
own podestà; to have freedom of trade throughout the empire, and
keep their own churches and accustomed worship--but subject to the
prohibition of bells--and their private property and churches were to
be respected.[491]

[Sidenote: Mahomet’s entry into Constantinople.]

The massacre had been limited to the first day. The permission to
pillage had been granted for three days. On the afternoon of the day
of the capture, or possibly on the following day, Mahomet made his
triumphal entry into the city. He was surrounded by his viziers and
pashas and by a detachment of Janissaries. He came into the city
through the gate now called Top Capou, rode on horseback to the Great
Church, descended and entered. As he passed up the church he observed
a Turk who was forcing out a morsel of marble from the pavement, and
asked why he was thus damaging the building. The Turk pleaded that it
was only a building of the infidels and that he was a believer. Mahomet
had a sufficiently high opinion of the value of St. Sophia to be angry
with him. He drew his sword and struck the man, telling him at the same
time that, while he had given the prisoners and the plunder of the city
to his followers, he had reserved the buildings for himself.

[Sidenote: Hagia Sophia becomes a mosque.]

Mahomet called for an imaum, who by his orders ascended the pulpit
and made the declaration of Mahometan faith. From that time to the
present, the Temple of the Holy Wisdom of the Incarnate Word has been a
Mahometan mosque.

On the same day[492] Mahomet entered the Imperial Palace, and it is
said that as he passed through the deserted rooms in all the desolation
resulting from the plunder of a barbarous army, he quoted a Persian
couplet on the vicissitudes of mortal greatness: ‘The spider has become
watchman in the imperial palace, and has woven a curtain before the
doorway; the owl makes the royal tombs of Efrasaib re-echo with its
mournful song.’[493] The statement rests on the authority of Cantemir,
and, whether historically correct or not, such a reflection under the
circumstances is not in disaccord with what we know of the character of
the young sovereign.

[Sidenote: Fate of defenders after capture. Venetian bailey and other
leading Venetians beheaded.]

[Sidenote: Cardinal Isidore.]

The fate of the men of most eminence among the defenders of
Constantinople is illustrative of Mahomet’s methods. The bailey of the
Venetians, with his son and seven of his countrymen, was beheaded.
Among them was Contarino, the most distinguished among the Venetian
nobles, who had already been ransomed and who in breach of faith was
killed because his friends were unable to find the enormous sum of
seven thousand gold pieces for his second ransom. The consul of Spain
or the Catalans, with five or six of his companions, met with the same
fate.[494] Cardinal Isidore in his flight abandoned his clerical
robes, and, after having been captured in the disguise of a beggar and
sold into slavery, was ransomed for a few aspers.[495]

[Sidenote: Phrantzes.]

Phrantzes, the friend of the emperor and the historian of his reign,
had an even less happy experience. He suffered the hard lot of slavery
during a period of fifteen months. His wife and children were captured
and sold to the Master of the Sultan’s Horse, who had bought many other
ladies belonging to the Greek nobility. A year later he was able to
redeem his wife. But the sultan hearing of the beauty of his daughter
Thamar took her into his seraglio. She was then but fourteen years old,
and died in 1454, shortly after her captivity.[496] In December of 1453
his son John, in the fifteenth year of his age, preferring death to
infamy, was killed by the sultan’s own hand.[497]

[Sidenote: Notaras.]

Most unhappy of all was the Grand Duke Notaras. He was the most
illustrious prisoner, and was indeed next in rank to the emperor
himself. He may be taken as a type of the old Byzantine nobility. We
have seen that he had been the leader of the party which had resisted
union with Rome. On account of this opposition Notaras had incurred
the hostility of those who had accepted it, and as our sources of
information come almost exclusively from men of the Roman faith or from
those who had accepted the Union, he is not usually spoken of with
favour. Phrantzes was his rival and enemy. Ducas gives two reports
regarding his treatment by Mahomet. According to one, he was betrayed
by a captive who purchased his own liberty by the betrayal of the Grand
Duke and Orchan. At first the illustrious captive was looked upon
favourably by the sultan, who condoled with him and ordered a search
for his wife and daughters. When they were found, the sultan made them
presents and sent them to their house, declaring to the Grand Duke
that it was his intention to make him governor of the city and allow
him the same rank that he had held under the emperor. This version
is confirmed by Critobulus,[498] who adds that Mahomet was dissuaded
from appointing him governor of the city by the remonstrances of the
leading Turks, who represented that it would be dangerous. According
to the other report, Mahomet charged him with not having surrendered
the city. Notaras is represented as replying that it was neither in his
power nor in that of the emperor to do so, and to have made some remark
which increased the suspicion and hatred which the sultan felt for
his grand vizier, Halil Pasha. Whichever of these reports is correct,
no hesitation is expressed by Ducas as to what followed. On the day
following the interview, the sultan, after a drinking bout, sent for
the youngest of the sons of the Grand Duke. Notaras replied that the
Christian religion forbade a father to comply with such a request. When
the answer was reported, Mahomet ordered the eunuch to return, to take
the executioner with him, and to bring the youngest son together with
the Grand Duke and his other son. The order was obeyed and was followed
by another to put all three to death. The father asked the headsman to
allow the execution of his sons to precede his own. His reason for this
request, says Critobulus, was, lest his lads, being perhaps afraid to
die, might be tempted to save their lives by renouncing their faith.
Drawing himself up to his full height, firmly and unflinchingly, with
the stateliness of an ancient aristocrat, the old noble witnessed the
beheading of his two sons without shedding a tear or moving a muscle.
Then, having given thanks to God that he had seen them die in the faith
of Christ, Notaras bent his head to the executioner’s sword and died
like a worthy representative of the proud Roman nobility. ‘For this
man,’ says the same writer, ‘was pious and renowned for his knowledge
of spiritual things, for the loftiness of his soul and the nobility of
his life.’[499]

Including Notaras and his two sons, nine nobles of high rank were put
to death, all invincible in their faith. The heads were taken by the
executioner into the hall to show says Ducas, to the beast greedy of
blood that his commands had been obeyed.[500]

Phrantzes tells the story somewhat differently. He begins his version
by stating that the sultan, though elated with the great victory,
nevertheless showed himself to be merciless. He makes the Grand Duke
offer his wealth of pearls, precious stones, and other valuables to
Mahomet, begging him to accept them and pretending that he had kept
them to offer to his captor. In reply to the sultan’s question, Who had
given to Notaras his wealth and to the sultan the city? the captive
answered that each was the gift of God. To this the sultan retorted,
‘Then, why do you pretend that you have kept your wealth for me? Why
did you not send it to me, so that I might have rewarded you? Notaras
was thrown into prison, but was sent for next day and reproached for
not having persuaded the emperor to accept the conditions of peace
which had been submitted. Thereupon, the sultan gave the order that
on the following day he and his two sons should be put to death. They
were taken to the forum of the Xerolophon and the order was carried
out.[501] Gibbon justly remarks that neither time nor death nor his
own retreat to a monastery could extort a feeling of sympathy or
forgiveness from Phrantzes towards his personal enemy the Grand Duke.

The version given by Leonard is marked with the same personal hostility
towards Notaras which characterises that of Phrantzes. Leonard
accuses his old rival of having thrown blame both on Halil Pasha,
who had always been friendly towards the emperor, and on the Genoese
and Venetians. In the account given by both these writers they were
reporting a version spread and probably believed by the Unionist party,
as to which it is improbable that they could have had direct evidence.
What is important in the narrative of Leonard is that he confirms
the ghastly story of Ducas as to the demand for the youngest son by
the sultan.[502] The fate of the Grand Duke and his family was that
which befell all the nobles and the chief officers of the empire.
Their wives and children were generally saved, Mahomet himself taking
possession for his own harem of the fairest and distributing the rest
among his followers.[503]

[Sidenote: Orchan.]

The end of Orchan was attended by fewer circumstances of ignominy.
He had defended a part of the walls near Seraglio Point. Orchan must
always have anticipated death if he were captured. It was believed
that the sultan had determined to kill him, as an elderly member of
the reigning house, in accordance with the custom that was common in
the governing family of the Turks, not only at the time in question
but for at least three centuries later. Orchan, who was either the
son or the grandson of Suliman the brother of Mahomet the First, had
fled for safety to the emperor, who had refused to give him up and had
treated him with kindness. When it was no longer possible to hold the
towers which had been placed under his charge, he and the rest of their
defenders surrendered. Among them was a monk, with whom Orchan changed
clothes. He joined the Grand Duke, and the two lowered themselves
outside the walls, but were caught by the Turks and taken on shipboard.
Unfortunately, the rest of the defenders of the towers, who had been
taken prisoners, were brought on board the same Turkish ship. A Greek
offered to reveal Orchan and the Grand Duke if he were promised his
liberty, and, having received the assurance, pointed to the man dressed
as a monk and to Notaras. Orchan was at once beheaded and his head
taken to Mahomet.[504]

The city was made a desolation. The followers of Mahomet, soldiers and
sailors, left nothing of value except the buildings. Constantinople,
says Critobulus, was as if it had been visited by a hurricane or
had been burnt. It was as silent as a tomb. The sailors especially
were active in destruction. The churches, crypts, coffins, cellars,
every place and every thing was ransacked or broken into in search of
plunder.[505] Mahomet, according to the same writer, wept as he saw the
ravages his soldiers had wrought, and expressed his amazement at the
ruins of the city which had been given over to plunder and had been
made a desert.[506]

All the Turks who first entered the city became rich, says the Superior
of the Franciscans.[507] Captives were sent in great numbers to Asia
Minor either for sale or to the homes of the armed population who
had taken part in the siege. Only a miserable remnant remained in

[Sidenote: Affection of Constantinopolitans for their city.]

The reader of the accounts of the siege, and indeed of its history
generally before 1453, cannot but be struck with the attachment shown
by its inhabitants towards their city. For them it is the Queen of
Cities, the most beautiful, the most wealthy, the most orderly, and
the most civilised in the world. There the merchant could find all the
produce of the East, and could trade with buyers from all countries.
There the student had access to the great libraries of philosophy, law,
and theology, the rich storehouse of the writings of the Christian
Fathers, and of the great classics of ancient Greece. In quietness and
security, generations of monks had copied the manuscripts of earlier
days free from the alarms which in Western and Eastern countries
alike disturbed the scholar. The Church, the lawyers and scholars had
kept alive a knowledge of the ancient language in a form in all its
essential features like that which existed in the days of Pericles.
Priests and laymen were proud to be inheritors and guardians of the
writings of classical times and to consider themselves of the same
blood as their authors. Though often almost as intolerant towards
heretics as the great sister Church of the West, they did not and could
not regard Aristotle and Plato, Leonidas and Pericles, and the rest
of their glorious predecessors as eternally lost because they had not
known Christ, and their sense of relationship with them helped to
develop a conviction of the continuity of their history, not only with
Constantine and the Roman empire, but with the more remote peoples who
had given them their language. The New Rome had for a thousand years
been towards all Eastern Christians all that the Elder Rome was to
those in the West, and their pride in its stability and security was
great. Once, and once alone, had it been captured. But the unfortunate
attack made by the West in 1204, the results of which had been so
correctly foreseen and foretold by Innocent the Third, had been in
part overcome. This new capture was infinitely more serious. The
essential difference between the two is commented on by Critobulus. By
the first the city sustained a foreign domination for sixty years and
lost much of its wealth. A great number of beautiful statues and other
works of art, coveted by the whole world, were taken away and many
more destroyed. But there the mischief stopped. The city did not lose
all its inhabitants. Wives and children were not taken away. When the
tyranny was past, the city recovered and once more it figured as the
renowned capital of an empire, though only a simulacrum of what it had
once been. It was still in the eyes of all Greek-speaking people the
leader and example of all that was good, the home of philosophy and of
every kind of learning, of science, of virtue, and in truth of all that
is best.[508] Now, all was changed: the new conquerors were Asiatics. A
false religion replaced Christianity. The capital was a desert.

The city’s situation of picturesque beauty, as well as its Christian
and historical associations, increased the love for it of its
inhabitants and made them as proud of Constantinople as ever were the
Italian citizens of Florence or Venice. It is therefore not surprising
to find that, on its conquest, the grief and the rage of those who had
lived in it are almost too great for words. She, says Critobulus, who
had formerly reigned over many people with honour, glory, and renown,
is now ruled by others and has sunk into poverty, ignominy, dishonour,
and shameful slavery. The lamentations of Ducas are as sincere as
those of Jeremiah. Its inhabitants gone; its womanhood destined to
dishonourable servitude; its nobles massacred; the very babes at the
breast butchered; the temples of God defiled: all present a spectacle
on which he enlarges with the expression of a hope that the anger
of God will be appeased and that His people will yet find favour.
Unhappily, the Greek race had entered upon the darkness of the blackest
night, and nearly four centuries had to pass before the dawn of their
new day was at hand.

[Sidenote: Mahomet’s attempts to repeople the capital.]

At a later date Mahomet himself recognised that it was necessary to
do something towards the repeopling of Constantinople. He gave orders
that five thousand families should be sent from the provinces to the
capital, and commanded the repair of the walls.[509] It does not
appear, however, that they were repaired in an efficient manner. It
is generally easy to distinguish between Turkish repairs and those
effected at an earlier date. Critobulus states that Mahomet ordered
the renewal of those parts which had been overthrown by the cannon and
of both the sea and the landward walls, which had suffered by time
and weather.[510] The sea walls were probably thoroughly repaired; of
those on the landward side probably only the Inner Wall. Experience
had shown that more than one strong wall was a disadvantage rather
than otherwise. Ducas states that the five thousand families sent to
Constantinople by Mahomet from Trebizond, Sinope, and Asprocastron
under pain of death included masons and lime-burners for repairing the

[Sidenote: Attempts to induce Greeks to settle in capital.]

In order to attract population to the capital, Mahomet recognised
that it was necessary to conciliate the Greeks. It may be, as
Critobulus asserts, that he felt a genuine pity for the sufferings
of the captives. As a young man, with, for a Turk, quite exceptional
knowledge of the literary possessions of the old world, it is easy to
believe that he was desirous of satisfying the Christians, while his
general intelligence must have convinced him that trade and commerce,
from which a revenue was to be derived, would be much more likely to
flourish with them than with men of his own race. Critobulus insists
that his first intention was to employ Notaras and others of the
leading Greeks in the public service, and that he recognised when it
was too late that he had been misled into the blunder of putting them
to death, and sent away from his court some of those who had counselled
their executions, and even condemned some others to death.[512] A few
days after the conquest, he ordered the captives who formed part of his
own share in the booty to be established in houses on the slope towards
the Golden Horn. From among the noble families he selected the young
men for himself. Some of these he placed in the corps of Janissaries;
others, who were distinguished by their education, he kept near him as

It was during these days that Critobulus the historian sent envoys to
the city, who took with them the submission of the islands of Imbros,
where he was living, of Lemnos and Thasos. The archons had learned
of the capture of the city. Most of them fled, fearing that admiral
Hamoud, who had returned with the fleet to Gallipoli, would attack
the inhabitants of the islands and treat them as he had done those of
Prinkipo. Critobulus, however, sent a large bakshish to Hamoud and
arranged that if the inhabitants submitted there should be no attack.
Thereupon Critobulus had sent the envoys to Constantinople, with rich
presents for the sultan, to make submission. The islanders were ordered
to pay the same taxes to the sultan as they had formerly paid to the
emperor, and thus, says the historian, were preserved from the great
danger which threatened them.[514]

Mahomet published an edict within a few weeks of the capture of the
city, that all of the former inhabitants who had paid ransom, or who
were ready to enter into an agreement with their masters to pay it
within a fixed period, should be considered free, be allowed to live
in the city, and should for a time be exempt from taxes. Phrantzes
states[515] that even on the third day after the capture an order was
issued allowing those to return who had fled from the city and who
were in hiding, promising that they should not be molested. Upon the
question whether on such return they would, as Critobulus relates, have
to pay ransom Phrantzes is silent. A few weeks later, after his visit
to Adrianople, Mahomet sent orders to various parts of his empire to
despatch families of Christians, Jews, and Turks to repeople the city.
He endeavoured to allure Greeks and other workmen by employing them
on public works, notably in the construction of a palace--for which,
Critobulus rightly says, he had chosen the most beautiful site in the
city, namely, at Seraglio Point--on the construction of the fortress
of the Seven Towers around the Golden Gate, and at the repairs of the
Inner Wall. He ordered the Turks to allow their slaves to take part in
this work, so that they might earn money not only to live but to save
enough for their ransom.[516]

[Sidenote: Toleration of Christianity decreed.]

Mahomet’s most important step towards conciliation was to decree the
toleration of Christian worship and to allow the Church to retain its
organisation. As George Scholarius had been the favourite of the Greeks
who had refused to accept the Union with Rome, Mahomet ordered search
for him. After much difficulty, he was found at Adrianople, a slave in
the house of a pasha, kept under confinement as a prisoner, but treated
with distinction. His master had recognised, or had learned, that his
captive was a man of exceptional talent. He was sent to the sultan,
who was already well disposed towards him on account of his renown in
philosophy. Scholarius made a favourable impression in the interview
by his intelligence and manners. Mahomet ordered that he should have
access to the palace when he wished, begged him always to speak freely
in their intercourse, and sent him away with valuable presents.[517]

A Record of the ecclesiastical affairs of the Orthodox Church, written
within ten years after the capture, states that Mahomet, desiring to
increase the number of the inhabitants of Constantinople, gave to the
Christians permission to follow the customs of their Churches, and,
having learned that they had no patriarch, ordered them to choose whom
they would. He promised to accept their choice and that the patriarch
should enjoy very nearly the same privileges as his predecessors. A
local synod having been called, George Scholarius was elected, and
became known as Gennadius. The sultan received him at his seraglio,
and with his own hands presented him with a valuable pastoral cross of
silver and gold, saying to him, ‘Be patriarch and be at peace. Count
upon our friendship as long as thou desirest it, and thou shalt enjoy
all the privileges of thy predecessors.’

After the interview the sultan caused him to be mounted upon a richly
caparisoned horse and conducted to the Church of the Holy Apostles,
which he presented to him as the church of the patriarchate as it had
formerly been.[518]

After the election of Gennadius, the sultan, according to Critobulus,
continued his intercourse with the new patriarch and discussed with
him questions relating to Christianity, urging him to speak his mind
freely. Mahomet even paid him visits and took with him the most learned
men whom he had persuaded to be present at his court.[519]

[Sidenote: Later attempts to repeople capital.]

During the long reign of Mahomet his attention was again and again
directed to the repeopling of his capital, In addition to the attempts
already mentioned, Critobulus recounts many other efforts made with the
same object. But the sultan’s inducements mostly failed. The Christians
mistrusted his promises, and experience showed that they were justified
in so doing. Mahomet addressed himself to the Greek noble families
and endeavoured to persuade them to return to the city. He publicly
promised that all who came back and could prove their nobility and
descent should be treated with even more distinction than had been
shown to them under the emperor and should continue to enjoy the same
rank as before. Relying on this promise, a number of them returned, on
the feast of St. Peter. They, however, paid dearly for their credulity.
Either the promise which had been given was of the hasty, spasmodic
kind which has often characterised the orders of most of the Ottoman
sultans and was repented of, or it had been given treacherously with no
idea of its being kept. The heads of the nobles soon sullied the steps
of Mahomet’s court.[520] The repeopling which could not be done by
persuasion was attempted more successfully by force.

In 1458, while Mahomet was attacking Corinth his army made a raid
in the neighbouring country and brought in more than three thousand
prisoners, men, women and children. These were sent to settle outside
the walls of Constantinople, on the lands which had been devastated
before the siege. In the following year the sultan returned from the
Peloponnesus. The artisans whom he had captured were settled in the
capital; the remainder in the neighbourhood. In the same year he
ordered that the most well-to-do inhabitants of Amastris on the Black
Sea, including all the Armenian merchants, should be sent to the
capital. It was partly to employ the workmen thus brought together that
he ordered the construction of the mosque which bears his name.

In 1460 he published an Iradè inviting all who had ever lived in the
capital to return. There were many fugitives, says Critobulus, at
Adrianople, Philippopolis, Brousa, and elsewhere, who had been sold
as slaves or had left the city before the siege: learned, noble, and
industrious men who by their ability had already gained positions of
comfort and even of wealth. All these, therefore, he transported to
the capital, giving some of them honour, others permission to build
where they liked, and to others again all that was needed to establish
themselves. He transported to the capital all the inhabitants of the
two Phocaeas. He sent his admiral in chief with forty ships into
the Archipelago for the same purpose. The people of Thasos and of
Samothracia were carried _en masse_ to the capital.[521]



The capture of Constantinople sent an electric shock throughout
Europe. The great achievement of the young sultan came as an almost
incredible surprise. During the whole subsequent course of his reign
the greatest question of interest in the West was, What progress is
Mahomet making? Menaces of what he intended to do, reports of what he
had done, occupied the attention of all. As with the capture of the
Queen City the Greek empire came to an end, it is not my purpose to
endeavour to tell the story of his subsequent life and conquests. But
as he figured so largely on the European stage, and as his exploits and
administration firmly established the Turks in Europe, it is desirable
to indicate some of the principal events of his reign and to sketch the
leading features of his character.

[Sidenote: Conquest of Trebizond.]

His successes as a soldier were many and important. One of the first
of his conquests was to put an end to the empire of Trebizond. As its
history and decay played an unimportant part in the destruction of
the Greek empire, it has been unnecessary to give an account of this
pretentiously named State. It had occupied a narrow strip of land along
the southern shore of the Black Sea, of varying length, from a point
near Batoum towards the west, on one occasion stretching to within
sight of the Bosporus, but never including either Amassus or Sinope.
Its population, though Greek-speaking, was mostly composed of Lazes.

[Sidenote: Summary of its history.]

When the Latin invaders were on the point of capturing Constantinople,
two young Greek princes had escaped to Trebizond, defeated the
Byzantine governor, and one of them, named Alexis, was acclaimed
emperor. He took the title of Grand Comnenus and Emperor of the
Faithful Romans. It seemed for a short while as if he, instead of
Theodore Lascaris at Nicaea, might take the lead of the Greek peoples,
and indeed Theodore had to arrange with the sultan of Konia--or, as
he called himself, of Roum, that is, of the Romans--to prevent Alexis
from attempting to extend his territory to Nicaea. But the power of
the Trebizond empire did not increase, although the city from which it
took its name became large, wealthy, and populous. Even before 1228 it
had become tributary to the Seljuk sultan and so continued till 1280.
A series of more or less uninteresting and incompetent emperors and
empresses continued to hold a semi-independent position, amid alternate
intrigues and struggles with Turkoman and Turkish tribes, and fierce
fights with the Genoese, until the advent of Timour. The emperor of
Trebizond, as in later years he called himself, consented to become the
vassal of this great leader, and agreed to send twenty ships to join a
like number which the Greek emperor was to prepare at Constantinople
to attack Bajazed. The defeat of the Ilderim at Angora rendered such
joint action unnecessary. When Timour retired, Trebizond languished
until its territory was little more than a small district around the
capital. It was first attacked by the Ottoman Turks in 1442, and made
a successful defence. After the capture of Constantinople, the emperor
John consented to become a tributary prince of Mahomet, but shortly
afterwards attempted to unite the emirs of Sinope and Caramania and the
Christian kings of Georgia and Lesser Armenia in a league to attack his
suzerain. Before anything could be done, John died, and when Mahomet,
in 1461, having subjugated the Greeks in Morea, turned his attention
to Trebizond, no allies were ready to aid David, the new emperor. A
great expedition of sixty thousand cavalry and eighty thousand infantry
was led by Mahomet himself to David’s capital, while a large fleet
co-operated with the army. The alternative was given of massacre or
submission. The emperor surrendered and Trebizond became part of the
Ottoman empire. A large party of the population was subsequently sent
to repeople Constantinople.[522]

[Sidenote: Mahomet as conqueror.]

Mahomet’s biographers claim that he conquered two empires and seven
kingdoms: those of Serbia, Bosnia, Albania, Moldavia, Morea, Caramania,
and Kastemouni. The two empires may be admitted; the seven kingdoms can
only be said--even where they are entitled to take rank as kingdoms--to
have been conquered by Mahomet, with the reserve that he reaped
where his ancestors had sown. But with this proviso the statement is
sufficiently near the truth to be accepted.

If his successes had been equal to his ambition or to his designs he
might fairly be classed with the world’s great military leaders. He
fought, however, with far less success than Alexander, who was his
great exemplar, and almost always with the advantage of overwhelming
numbers. His progress was checked by the courage of John Hunyadi
and the Hungarians. Scanderbeg continued for twenty years, with
comparatively few followers and small resources, to wage guerilla
warfare against him, and the knights of St. John triumphantly repelled
his attacks upon Rhodes. Nor was he able to defeat the power of Persia.


From a painting formerly in the Sultan’s palace at Top Capou at
Constantinople, and attributed to Gentile Bellini. I am unaware by whom
the photograph was taken or where the original picture now is.]

[Illustration: MAHOMET II.

From a medallion in the British Museum, which, according to Sir A. H.
Layard, was probably executed by Gentile Bellini from the portrait
painted in 1480 by Bellini himself. The portrait is in the possession
of Lady Layard, and an engraving of it is given in Sir A. H. Layard’s
edition of Kugler’s ‘Italian Schools of Painting’ (vol. i. p. 304).

Though the two portraits are surrounded with very similar and beautiful
arabesque arches and evidently are of the same person, that of Sir
Henry Layard differs from the one reproduced on the opposite page
in showing a more receding chin and a thinner beard than even the
medallion. The name of Gentile Bellini appears on both paintings.]

Mahomet’s wars were essentially those of conquest. He required no
pretext for making war. It was sufficient that he wished to extend his
own territory. His warlike nation during the first years after
the conquest of the city was always ready to aid in the execution of
his designs against other states. His energy and ambition allowed him
little time for rest and as the years went by wore out the strength and
even the patience of his followers. He kept his army--which included
almost every available man of the Turkish race under his sway--occupied
almost continually for nearly twelve years after 1453, until at
length, worn out with long marches, weakened by constant labour, and
having sacrificed their goods, their horses, and their health for
their master, his soldiers, including the very Janissaries themselves,
became discontented and clamoured for rest. Critobulus, who makes this
statement, records that an expedition into Illyria was reluctantly
postponed because Mahomet was compelled to recognise at last that rest
was absolutely necessary for troops who had not known it for years.

[Sidenote: He improves Turkish fleet.]

From the moment of his conquest of the city he saw the importance of
keeping up a strong fleet. He maintained and enlarged that which he
had prepared for the blockade of the city, and was at all times able,
upon any sign of revolt, to send a sufficient force by sea to maintain
his rule. Indeed, it may be said that once he had imposed his peace
upon all the districts round the Marmora and the Aegean, his fleet
enabled him to preserve it. With its aid, too, he succeeded in exacting
tribute from Egypt and Syria. Critobulus notes that his master, having
observed that the Venetians and Genoese had gained their success in
the Mediterranean by means of large ships, constructed a number of new
vessels which were able to cope with them, and raised a sufficient
number of oarsmen to resist their attacks on the Turkish coasts.

[Sidenote: Mahomet as reformer of the administration.]

Nor was Mahomet less active in improving the civil organisation of
his government. We have already seen that before his conquest of
the city, he commenced reforms in the collection of the taxes. He
dismissed incompetent pashas and replaced them by others distinguished
by their intelligence, their honesty, and their military capacity,
for it must always be remembered that militarism was and is the
vital part of Turkish administration. Critobulus claims that the aim
he had most completely at heart was to secure the best and the most
just administration possible. The finances of the country he found in
the utmost disorder. One third of the revenue was wasted, and this
in a short time he made available for his own purposes. He continued
his reform in the system of tax-collecting and, while thus increasing
the revenue, took care to strike terror into the farmers of the taxes
and all those whose duty it was to see that money entered the public
treasury and that it was not plundered when it got there. Both in the
government of the army and in the civil administration Mahomet bestowed
the utmost care upon details, and trusted nothing to his subordinates
until he had seen every preparation made for a satisfactory control.

[Sidenote: Mahomet as law-giver.]

The Turks speak of Mahomet as the Canouni or Lawgiver, and the epithet
is deserved. But while his edicts in aid of better organisation and
less corrupt administration are deservedly praised by them, it is
as the lawgiver that we come upon one of the darkest sides of his
character. Von Hammer points out that the Turkish histories of many
centuries furnish examples of political fratricides, but that it was
reserved to the law of Mahomet the Second to legitimise the slaughter
of younger brothers by the Ottoman sultans.[523] His predecessors had
practised the crime. Mahomet not only followed their example but made
the practice legal.

[Sidenote: His recklessness of human life.]

Connected with all his achievements there is the stain of blood. Many
contemporary writers speak of him as a monster of cruelty. We may
discredit the statement that he caused Christians to be put to death
while he feasted, as insufficiently proved. But even Critobulus, who
is usually an apologist, has, as a faithful historian, to speak of his
cruel deeds. When Castrion surrendered, he killed every man in the
garrison and sent the women and children into slavery. When Gardikion
submitted, its defenders were treated in a similar manner.[524] Von
Hammer dismisses as unfounded the story of Mahomet having the bodies
of fourteen pages ripped open to find who had eaten a poor woman’s
cucumbers, and the singularly dramatic story of the slaughter of
Irene in order to demonstrate to his troops that though he loved the
most beautiful woman in the world he was yet master of himself, justly
remarking that the massacre of garrisons faithful to their trust, the
execution of the members of the imperial family of Trebizond and of the
king of Bosnia, cry sufficiently aloud without need of exaggeration.
Resistance to his lusts or even to his lawful desires was punished
relentlessly by death.[525] He executed his grand vizier Mahmoud
because of his independence. He tortured and then put to death his old
tutor and vizier Halil Pasha. He sawed five hundred prisoners in halves
whom he had captured in Achaia. ‘He was more cruel than Nero, and
delighted in bloodshed,’ says Tetaldi. Probably it would be impossible
to find a contemporary writer who does not employ similar language.
Many of his acts are without the shadow of excuse. They are the result
of wild impulse which had never been under control, and deserve to be
classed as wanton cruelties inflicted by a man who was reckless of
human suffering. There are others which may be put down to what he
probably regarded as the exigencies of his position. If in his opinion
the assassination of a brother, the slaughter of a great number of his
enemies in war, and the murder of those of his subjects who opposed
him were necessary to the accomplishment of his objects, he never
hesitated. Like other great military rulers, Caesar yesterday, Napoleon
to-day, Mahomet regarded men as so many counters, to be kept so long as
they were useful in his game, to be cast aside when no longer wanted.
Belonging to a family accustomed to absolute rule of the Eastern type,
to a race which has never valued life as against military success, and
having been reared amid dangers where his struggle for power and even
for life was almost daily, he swept away every man who opposed him.
His enemies would have dealt hardly with him, and he never appeared
to doubt that he was justified in dealing hardly with or getting rid
of them. It was part of the game of war. _Vae victis!_ And yet this
man seems occasionally to have sympathised with the suffering he had
caused, and even to have exercised rigorous justice. Critobulus, after
recounting many cruel deeds, adds that Mahomet showed special kindness
towards prisoners of war, and whenever in his rides through the city
he encountered them would stop his horse and give generously to all.
According to Cantemir and other Turkish historians, this monster of
cruelty and legaliser of fratricide bowstrung his eldest son for having
violated the wife of another.

[Sidenote: Mahomet as student.]

It is a welcome change to turn from Mahomet the blood-drinker, the
lawgiver who first made the horrible practice legal which was to
shock Europe during nearly four centuries, to Mahomet the student,
the patron and companion of scholars and artists, and the man who
was interested in questions of religion. He was a linguist and knew,
says Phrantzes,[526] five languages besides his own--Greek, Latin,
Arabic, Chaldean, and Persian. His favourite study was history. The
achievements of Alexander the Great had filled the world from India
westward with his fame, had been the subject of romance, and had
caused his name to be regarded throughout the East as that of an
almost supernatural hero. Alexander figures constantly in the lives
of the Turkish sultans as a fascinating historical figure. As late
as 1621 a French writer notes that the then reigning sultan while at
dinner had the history of his predecessors read over to him or the
Life of Alexander the Great.[527] But upon none had the memory of the
Macedonian made so great an impression as upon Mahomet. Alexander was
the leader whose career was to be imitated and whose conquests were to
be rivalled. His contemporaries frequently compare the two men. ‘It
was,’ says Critobulus, ‘the Alexanders and the Pompeys, Caesar and
the like rulers, whom Mahomet proposed to himself as models.’ ‘This
young Alexander,’ says Ducas, referring to the transport of part of
Mahomet’s fleet over land, ‘has surpassed the former one, and has led
his ships over the hills as over the waves.’ ‘He wished,’ says Tetaldi,
‘to conquer the whole world, to see more than Alexander and Caesar or
any other valiant man who has ever lived.’ Phrantzes describes him as
a careful reader of the Lives of Alexander, of Octavius Caesar, of the
Great Constantine, and of Theodosius.

Mahomet had continued from his boyhood to show his interest in studies,
not only by his own reading but by welcoming other students, ‘for
he was constantly striving to acquire those arts by which he should
excel his predecessors and extend the bounds of his kingdom as far as
possible.’ ‘He gathered to himself virtuous and learned men,’ says
Phrantzes. He was, says Lonicerus,[528] an admirer of intellect and
of the arts. He caused learned men and skilled artists to be brought
to him at great expense. He employed Bellini,[529] a Venetian, and
other artists, and loaded them with gifts. Virtue strove with vice
within him. He had read all the history, says Critobulus, that was
accessible to him in Arabic and Persian, and such Greek literature
as had been translated into either of these languages, including
Aristotle and the writings of the Stoics, and was skilled in astrology
and in mathematics. A few years after he became sultan a certain
George Ameroukes is found attached to his suite, a man described
by Critobulus[530] as learned in philosophy, natural science, and
mathematics. Mahomet made much of him, and called him often to discuss
philosophical questions. Not a day passed without interviews with him
or with other learned men attached to the court. In matters relating
to foreign countries he was especially curious. Having met with the
geographical writings of Ptolemy, he not only had them translated
into Arabic, but charged George to make a map of the world with all
the indications that he could give of the various countries, rivers,
lakes, mountains, cities, and distances; for, says Critobulus, ‘the
science of geography appeared to him necessary and most useful.’[531]
In the course of his expedition to reduce Mitylene and Lemnos he
visited the ruins of Troy and the traditional tombs of Achilles and
Ajax and admired the good fortune of the heroes who had a poet like
Homer to commemorate their deeds. ‘It is said,’ cautiously remarks
his biographer, ‘that he believed that God had charged him to be the
avenger of the ancient city.’[532] He frequently called the patriarch,
the learned Gennadius, and discussed with him questions of theology.

[Sidenote: Was Mahomet a religious fanatic?]

Mahomet cannot justly be represented as a religious fanatic. He of
course conformed to the practices of Islam, built many mosques, and
did nothing to show irreverence for the teaching of the Prophet. He
was possibly in his youth a devout believer in the tenets of Islam.
But it is difficult to believe that a man who conversed freely with
Gennadius on the difference between Christianity and his own religion,
and who had paid as much attention as he had paid to Greek and Arabian
philosophy, should be a fanatic. Mahomet’s most recent Turkish
biographer claims that he was tolerant and alleges as a reason for this
statement that he did not follow the example of the Arab conquerors
and put all to the sword who did not accept Islam. The more fanatical
Mahometans probably urged him to take this course.[533] The hope of
plunder and the value of captives as slaves probably furnished a more
effective argument against general extermination.

Moreover, Mahomet had need of an industrious population, not only for
the repeopling of the capital but to furnish a revenue.

His subjects, even of both religions, regarded him as a Gallio, or as
a man of no religion.[534] The statements that in private he branded
the Prophet as a robber and impostor, or that he was half converted
to Christianity by Gennadius and that shortly before his death he
became a great worshipper of relics and burned candles before them,
may be dismissed as not supported by trustworthy evidence.[535] The
sovereign’s readiness even to discuss Christianity and speak with
unbelievers upon questions of philosophy and religion would be certain
to obtain for him the reputation of atheist from the ignorant among
his own people; for to the faithful Mahometan no other religions need
be discussed: they exist only for condemnation; to study them is
to express a doubt upon the all-sufficiency of the teaching of the
Koran, and a doubt on such a subject is treason to the faith. But at
least such accusations do not point towards fanaticism. The man who
by one party is claimed as almost persuaded to be a Christian and is
regarded by the other as an atheist or at least a disloyal believer
in Islam can hardly have been a religious persecutor. It may be true
that after conversing with the patriarch or with any other unbeliever
he went through the prescribed forms of washing, but if he wished
to preserve the loyalty of his subjects it was necessary for him to
observe such formalities of purification. He was at the head of the
Turkish nation, that is, of an armed camp, a nation in the field whose
chief if not sole bond of unity was, as it still remains, the belief
in the prophet-hood of the founder of Islam. Nearly all his soldiers
held the one great creed and went into battle with shouts of ‘Allah!’
and ‘Mahomet!’ They believed, as the followers of the Prophet have
always fervently believed, that death on the battle-field fighting for
Islam is the shortest road to Paradise and the Houris. The Turks were
ready to obey and endure unto death for the sake of the sovereign whom
Allah had placed at their head. Some of them were as full of religious
enthusiasm as crusaders, as confident that they were working for God as
Cromwell’s Ironsides, and as fanatic as a grossly ignorant army can be
which believes itself to be immeasurably superior to the enemy because,
on the one hand, it possesses the true faith, while, on the other, the
enemy, more learned in the world’s despicable science and philosophy
falsely so called, is in the abysmal darkness of unbelief. The support
of such men was not to be risked by any nonconformity with the rites
which are the outward signs of Islam. Mahomet would have been of all
rulers the most blind to his own interest if he had derided their

But though Mahomet was the leader of a nation containing many
fanatics, there is nothing to show that he shared their fanaticism.
If he appealed to it, it was because it gave force to his army. He
was no more inclined to be a fanatic himself than was Napoleon to be
a democrat when he called upon his troops to fulfil their mission of
carrying democratic principles to England and other countries assumed
to be suffering under despotic rule. In a different age and under
different circumstances Mahomet might have been a thoughtful student,
or an excellent civil administrator, but it is difficult to conceive
that he could ever have been a religious persecutor.

He remained all his life a student, desirous of learning, but he was
at the same time a man of energy, a successful general, and a good
administrator. He was without high ideals of life, but capable of
spasmodic kindness, a man not given to sensual pleasures--in his later
years at least--sober, intolerant of drunkenness, seeking his pleasure
in glory.[536] He appears to me essentially a lonely man; one who took
each man’s censure but reserved his judgment; one who, in his own
phrase, would pluck out a hair from his beard if he believed that it
knew his designs. He was too suspicious and too highly placed to have
friends. He was supremely selfish and only considered himself bound to
respect his promise when it suited his purpose to do so. Circumstances
compelled him to be a soldier, and his great natural abilities made
him a successful one, but his ambition, which was spasmodically
great--which meditated the conquest of Naples, an expedition against
Rome, and other conquests, as stages in his great design of conquering
the world[537]--wanted pertinacity and was joined to an emotional,
almost a sentimental, nature. He relieved his loneliness and
friendlessness by hard work, study, and the companionship of artists
and learned men.

Cantemir calls him the most glorious prince who ever occupied the
Ottoman throne, but adds that he did not listen to the voice of
conscience, and that he broke his word without any hesitation when
it seemed politic so to do. Chalcondylas speaks of him as great in
intellect, in conquest, and in cruelty. Halil Ganem says, with truth,
that by his military exploits Mahomet occupies the first place in the
Ottoman annals. He impartially states also that he shed abundance
of blood to secure peaceful possession of the throne, and for his
pleasure. ‘To shed blood became for this grand monarch a function which
he exercised with an incredible _maestria_.’[538] His long series of
victorious conquests and especially his success in the capture of the
city have caused him to be known in Ottoman history as the Fetieh or

In forming a judgment upon the character of a ruler whose reign marks
an epoch of importance in the world’s history, it is needful to take
account of his life and his acts in their entirety: to ask what the
man accomplished and with what means; what were his ideals and how far
he realised them. We may recognise that Cromwell was a great ruler
notwithstanding Drogheda, and that William the Third was a great
statesman in spite of Glencoe, even supposing that he fully approved
of that massacre. Taking a broad view of the character of Mahomet,
we may observe that his conquests were made by means of overwhelming
numbers, that his army from its composition was the most mobile in
existence, and that its greatest success was but the final act in a
series which had been gained by his predecessors. But while giving
due importance to these considerations, it yet remains true that his
reign marks an epoch, not only of Turkish history, where its influence
is the most conspicuous, but in that of Europe generally. To him more
than to any other ruler the organisation of the Turks as a governing
power is due. To him must also be credited the creation of Turkey as a
European State. Subsequent sultans built on the foundations which he
had laid. It is also not too much to say that none of his successors
have done so much to give orderly government to the Turkish race as
Mahomet. But for the fact that the influence of Moslemism strangles the
moral and intellectual growth of the Turkish people, the rule of a few
more sultans possessed of the like capacity and determination to secure
strong, orderly, and even just government might possibly have placed
Turkey among the civilised nations.



Against the manifold evils resulting from the destruction of the
empire by the Turks must be set off the dispersion of Greek scholars
throughout Italy and the consequent spread of a knowledge of Greek
literature throughout Europe.

[Sidenote: Influence of Hellenism upon empire.]

The Greeks of Athens and others belonging to the Hellenic race
continued during the whole period of the existence of the empire to
exercise a powerful influence upon the thought of the empire, upon its
government, and upon the Church. At all times there were two influences
striving against each other for leadership, one Asiatic and the other
Hellenic. Without entering upon the interesting question how far these
different and often hostile tendencies left their trace upon the
Church and government, it is sufficient for my present purpose to note
that the Greek influence prevailed for centuries and, aided by the
commercial spirit of the Greek race, which had given them the leading
part in the trade of the empire and hellenised every port on the Aegean
and the Marmora, succeeded in causing Greek speech to become the
general language of the Church and empire.

[Sidenote: Greek, a bond of union.]

The Greeks who were of Hellenic blood had never forgotten their own
language or their classical writers. Others who had adopted their
language came in time to consider themselves of Greek descent and
gloried in the writings of ancient Greece, as if they were the works of
their ancestors. Language and literature led to the belief in a common
origin. Just as Shakespeare and the English Bible are a bond of union
among English-speaking people, so the possession of the Greek classics,
of the New Testament, and the Liturgies of the Church knit together
the various Greek-speaking peoples under the empire. The common people
learned to love the old Greek stories, to treasure the beautiful half
religious, half mythical tales, the exploits recorded by Homer, no
less than the simple mixture of inspiriting and patriotic historical
narrative with the garrulous and ever pleasant stories of Herodotus. A
long series of successive generations were nursed upon them, as they
have indeed continued to be down to the present day.[539]

There thus arose a traditional, historic, and patriotic feeling
which bound together all Greek-speaking peoples, whether actually
descendants from the Hellenic race or not. It existed in all sections
of the community and led to a pride of race which has rarely been
equalled. One curious illustration of the affection which existed for
their reputed ancestors is noted by Dean Stanley and other writers. In
mediaeval pictures still remaining in the monasteries of Mount Athos
and elsewhere, the originals of which were painted many centuries ago,
Pericles and Leonidas and other great men of their race are introduced
among the occupants of heaven.

The wealthier classes, the scholars, the nobles and their wives, down
to the last period of the existence of the empire aimed at speaking and
writing Greek with elegance and purity. They recognised that they were
the heirs of literary treasures which were greater than those possessed
by any other European people. They realised that in the long series of
Greek authors from classical times down through nearly two thousand
years to the period in which they were living they had an historical
literature longer and more complete than any race known to them.

[Sidenote: Disappearance of books after 1204.]

There had been indeed dark periods in the literary history of the
empire as in that of other countries. In Constantinople during the
four centuries which preceded the Turkish conquest, though to a less
extent than in Western Europe, learning and literature had been largely
neglected. After the time of the great scholar Photius (patriarch
of Constantinople between 877 and 885) few works of importance had
been produced. The students of Constantinople had come to take but
small interest in any study which did not concern theology, law,
or history. Possibly they ceased even to guard the treasures they
possessed with the like care which their predecessors had shown. Many
valuable manuscripts disappeared. The Latin conquerors are admittedly
responsible for the destruction of a large number of books. In the
_Myriobiblion_ of Photius, an abridgment of two hundred and eighty
authors which is rich in extracts from historians, he gives us all we
possess of certain writers. But two thirds of the works he enumerates
have been lost since the time of the Fourth Crusade and will probably
never be recovered.[540] No writer quotes any of the lost authors after

[Sidenote: Service rendered by empire in preserving Greek language and

But beneath the cloud of ignorance which had descended during the
Middle Ages not only upon the empire but upon all Europe, there
were always in Constantinople a considerable number of scholars and
students. These men kept alive the love of Greek learning. While none
of them produced any work which deserves to be classed as literature of
a high order, they rendered immense service by preserving that which
existed. The lawyers and clergy had greatly assisted in maintaining the
vigour and clearness of Greek speech. The knowledge and practice of
law in a form not materially different from that in which it had been
left by the great jurists of the sixth and seventh centuries furnished
a field for the exercise of the most acute intellects, and trained men
in precision of thought and exactitude of expression. The legal maxims
of the lawyers of the New Rome in their Latin form had given a set
of principles of law for all Europe, and still claim the admiration
of those who take pleasure in lucidity and epigram. The dissensions
and heresies in the Church in like manner contributed to the use of
Greek in a correct form. Exact definition in matters of dogma was a
necessity, and incidentally helped to preserve Greek in its ancient
form. The writings of theologians were judged by a well-educated caste
which required that they should approximate to the language which to
them was accepted as a model.

The Histories of Nicetas, of Anna Comnena, of George Acropolitas, of
Pachymer, and of others down to Critobulus, which help to fill up the
period between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries, are all written in
respectable Greek and show a feeling for literary effect which recalls,
though it too often seeks to imitate, the writings of the Greek
classical historians. The education of the higher clergy was in Greek
philosophy and theology; and schools for the study of these subjects
continued in existence down to the final conquest. The remark of Gibbon
is probably true that ‘more books and more knowledge were included
within the walls of Constantinople than could be found dispersed over
the extensive countries of the West.’[542]

[Sidenote: Departure of Greek scholars for Italy]

While not losing sight of the fact that the Greek Church from the time
of Justinian had exercised influence in Venice and Calabria, it may
yet be stated that the departure of Greek scholars from Constantinople
for the West began with the Latin conquest. Italy, on account of her
commerce with the East and the intimate relations which had existed
between Venice and other cities and the New Rome before the Latin
occupation, was the country to which most of the fugitives turned their
steps. Venice, owing to the part she took in the Latin conquest of the
city, had become Queen of the Seas, and naturally received at first
the largest contingent. But the supremacy of Venice was now shared by
various rivals, and Greek students found their way to other cities.

Greek was still spoken in Calabria, where the liturgy was said in that
language and where, indeed, the language is still spoken,[543] but
with this exception nowhere else in Italy had any knowledge of Greek
been preserved, Boccaccio asserts that even the Greek characters were
unknown.[544] In the troubles which existed during the century and a
half preceding the Moslem conquest the number of exiles increased.
Many priests and monks were glad to escape from the disorders in their
native land by seeking refuge in Italy.

[Sidenote: aids revival of learning in Italy.]

While these voluntary exiles contributed largely to awaken an interest
in the study of Greek, it must be noted that their arrival in Italy
was at an opportune period. Gibbon remarks that in ‘the resurrection
of science Italy was the first that cast away her shroud.’ The study
of the Latin classical authors had already been recommenced. There had
been a gradual awakening from the stupor, the indifference, and, in
spite of a few individual exceptions, the deep contented ignorance
of the Middle Ages. Antiquity as represented by its architecture, its
sculpture, and its literature, was now to furnish the ideal of the
Renaissance. A great movement arose for the reproduction of classical
architecture. But contemporary with it came the study of Latin
classics. Virgil had never been altogether neglected and had, indeed,
been regarded with a superstitious reverence. He was now glorified
and imitated. Other Latin authors were diligently studied, and then
the natural result followed. The students of Cicero and Virgil began
to look for their models to the authors whom the Romans had admired
and had imitated. The study of the great Latin classics inevitably
called for a knowledge of those written in Greek. The leaders in the
revival of the study of the Latin authors were those who led the way
also in the study of Greek. Petrarch and Boccaccio shared with Dante
not merely the honour of forming Italian as a modern language but
that also of leading the way to the appreciation of Greek learning by
the scholars of Western Europe. Greek scholars were welcomed. We have
seen that Barlaam, a Calabrian by birth, the short, eager, stammering
controversialist, whose bitter tongue, learning, and subtilty made him
the leader in the angry controversy in Constantinople regarding the
Inner Light in the time of Cantacuzenus, was sent on an embassy to
Italy by the emperor. Cantacuzenus, though favouring the other side,
attests the learning and ability of Barlaam and his acquaintance with
Plato and Aristotle. At Avignon, he was persuaded by Petrarch to act
as instructor in Greek, and with him the poet[545] read the works of
Plato. Petrarch, though his acquaintance with Greek did not enable
him to read the manuscript of Homer with which he had been presented,
yet speaks of the gift in terms which show his admiration of Greek
literature to have been profound and enthusiastic. It is recorded of
him that he was able to select the greatest of the Greek poets by
listening to the reading of their works although he was unacquainted
with their language.

A few years afterwards, in 1360, Boccaccio, for twenty years the
friend of Petrarch, persuaded a certain Leontius of Salonica, a pupil
of Barlaam, to give public lectures upon Homer at Florence. Leontius
lodged in the house of Boccaccio, was paid by the republic of Florence,
and was probably the first professor of Greek in Italy or any Western
country. His appearance was against him, for he was ill clad, had an
ugly face, with long unkempt hair and beard, and a sullen manner. But
all was excused on account of his knowledge of the Greek language and
his delight in its literature. His public reading of Homer pleased
the Florentines, and Boccaccio obtained a prose translation of the
Iliad and Odyssey made by his _protégé_. At the end of three years
the lecturer resigned his post and went to Constantinople. Boccaccio
himself not only learned Greek but became a lecturer throughout Italy
upon its literature and helped to create an enthusiasm for its study.

[Sidenote: Enthusiasm in Italy for study of Greek.]

Manuel Chrysoloras, about 1366 or the following year, after he had
failed in his mission from the Emperor Manuel to France and England to
obtain aid against the Turks, returned to Florence, the centre of the
new intellectual movement in Italy, to teach the Greek language and
explain its literature. His lectures were followed with delight. Boys
and old men were among his audience. The study of Greek became the
fashion. One of his pupils, Leonard Aretinus, who subsequently became
the secretary of four successive Popes, tells how his soul was inflamed
with the love of letters and how on hearing Chrysoloras it was a hard
struggle to decide whether he should continue the study of law or be
introduced to Homer, Plato, Demosthenes, and those poets, philosophers,
and orators who are celebrated by every age as the great masters of
human science. He gave himself up to Chrysoloras, and so strong,
he declares, was his passion for the new studies that the lessons
he imbibed during the day were the constant subject of his nightly

The school of Chrysoloras was transferred from Florence to Pavia,
thence to Venice, and finally to Rome, and everywhere was well
attended. Aroused by his teaching, some of his pupils went to
Constantinople to increase their knowledge of Greek and to acquire
books and manuscripts. In that city, between 1400 and 1453, the
libraries and monasteries were freely opened to the Italian students.
The libraries were still stocked with the treasures of Greek learning
and literature, and every effort was made by Italian scholars to draw
upon their stores. The trading agents of the Medici and other great
Florentine houses were instructed to buy manuscripts without regard to
cost and to send them to Florence. The best credentials that a young
Greek could bring from Constantinople was a manuscript. The discovery
of an unknown manuscript, says Tiraboschi, was regarded almost as the
conquest of a kingdom. Aurispa, one of the pupils of Chrysoloras,
returned to Venice in 1423, with two hundred and thirty-eight volumes.

The Florentines had led the way in the acquisition of Greek and the
collection of manuscripts. The chiefs of the political factions were
also the leaders of intellectual progress and vied with each other in
the noble rivalry of encouraging the new studies as much as they did
in building libraries. Cosimo, the head of the Medici, carried out a
well-organised plan for encouraging the revived learning. The leaders
of his school in Florence were Niccolo di Nicolo and Lionardo Bruni,
the latter of whom died in 1443. The chief ecclesiastics were hardly
less eager than other scholars. The popes themselves threw their
influence into the new movement. In 1434 Eugenius the Fourth took up
his residence in Florence when he was expelled from Rome. Amid his
own serious troubles, with refractory Councils, a hostile capital,
the Bogomil and Hussian heresies, and the ever vexed question of the
reunion of the Churches, Eugenius found time to encourage the study
of Greek and to give a welcome to all Greek priests and students who
brought with them their precious manuscripts. He appreciated the
profound learning of Bessarion, archbishop of Nicaea, who had come
to take part in the council at Ferrara and afterwards, in 1438, at
Florence, retained him, as we have seen, after the Council, and made
him in the following year cardinal. His patronage of Bessarion is the
more remarkable since the Greek was an adherent and exponent of the
philosophy of Plato as opposed to that of Aristotle. The other Greek
Church dignitaries who were present at the Council, and who were hardly
less distinguished, were welcomed as scholars even by those who treated
them with scant courtesy as priests of the Orthodox Church. George
Gemistos, who adopted the name of Plethon, the founder of a school of
Neoplatonism, was one of them, and was popular generally except with
the priests. George Scholarius, whom we have seen as the leader of the
anti-unionist party in Constantinople, and afterwards as patriarch,
Theodore Gaza, Andronicus, Philelphus, and others of repute, were
also present. Cosimo de’ Medici, through the influence of Gemistos,
undertook the task of translating Plato. When Gemistos died, in 1450,
in the Morea, his body was taken to Florence as a mark of respect for
his services in teaching Greek. The patronage of Eugenius was continued
by his successor Nicholas the Fifth, the first ‘humanist’ who was made
pope and the founder of the Vatican library.

The succession of scholars was kept up by constant new arrivals from
Constantinople. Philelphus (or, in its Italianised form, Filelfo), who
had married a daughter of Chrysoloras, was for a while secretary to
the Venetian bailey in Constantinople, and had gone thither in 1420
mainly in order to study Greek. He was sent as envoy to Murad. He
states that, though when in Constantinople he found the Greek of the
common people much corrupted, yet that the persons attached to the
imperial court spoke the language of Aristophanes and Euripides and
of the historians and philosophers of Athens, and that the style of
their writing continued to be elaborate and correct. It is especially
interesting to note that the most elegant and purest Greek was spoken
by the noble matrons.[547] He gained, upon his return to Italy, by
his knowledge of Greek and his great learning, a wide reputation and
came to be regarded as the most universal scholar of the age. On his
visit to Naples, in 1453, he was treated as an equal by princes.[548]
Many other distinguished teachers also during the same period visited
Constantinople in pursuit of learning or manuscripts.

But while I have mentioned some of the leading Greeks who contributed
before the Moslem conquest to the revival of the study of Greek
literature in Italy, it should be noted that there were a host of
others less known to fame who sought refuge from the disorders of the
empire and found profitable employment in their new homes. Between the
death of Petrarch, in 1374, and the conquest of Constantinople, in
1453, Italy had recovered the Greek classics. The intellectual movement
caused a great increase in the reproduction of manuscripts. Among the
professional copyists, those who could write Greek were specially
esteemed and received very large pay.[549] They did their work so
admirably that the new invention of printing with moveable types which
came in just about the time of the Moslem conquest of Constantinople
was regarded as unsuitable for, or unworthy of, important books. The
envoys of Cardinal Bessarion when they saw for the first time a printed
book in the house of Constantine Lascaris laughed at the discovery
‘made among the barbarians in some German city,’ and Ferdinand of
Urbino declared that he would have been ashamed to own a printed
book.[550] Notwithstanding this prejudice, Greek books were soon
printed in Italy--though, for several years, only in Italy.

[Sidenote: Increased number of fugitives after 1453.]

The impulse given to the study of Greek by exiles during the
half-century, preceding the conquest of Constantinople and by the
enthusiasm of a series of scholars from Petrarch and Boccaccio down to
1453, was greatly stimulated by the increase of fugitives consequent
on the capture of the city. Among the scholars who made their way
westward the best known are Lascaris, who rose to high distinction as
a statesman, Callistos, Argyropulos, Gaza, and Chalcondylas. Between
1453 and the end of the century, Greek was studied with avidity. Youths
learned to speak as well as to write it.

[Sidenote: Renaissance _in excelsis_.]

The arrival of numbers of scholars in Italy shortly before and shortly
after 1453 is contemporaneous with the full springtime of the great
revival of learning. A series of remarkable efforts had been made
to restore ancient Roman and Greek glory as seen in literature and
architecture. Learning was regarded as a new and improved evangel.
The learning of the ancients was compared with the ignorance of the
Churchmen. The new movement marked a great reaction and went to
unjustifiable extremes. Some of the advocates for classical influence
went to the extent of discarding Christian in favour of Pagan morality.
A curious passionate enthusiasm for the classic and venerated past took
possession of the most enlightened men in Italy. Paganism, because
it was contemporaneous with the classical period, invaded the Church
itself. All the architecture, art, and literature of Christianity was
bad except in so far as it approximated to Pagan models. The late J. A.
Symonds gives a striking illustration of the distance this enthusiasm
carried men, in suggesting that Faust may be taken as the symbol of
the desire during the Renaissance for classical learning. Faust is
content to sell his soul to the devil, but in return he sees Homer
and Alexander and obtains Helen as his bride and is satisfied.[551]
The careful study of the Latin classics, the marvellous development
of painting, architecture, and sculpture, but, above all, the keen
interest felt in the newly developed study of Greek with its Platonic
philosophy and its new vision of life, were all to produce wonderful
fruit within a generation after 1453 and to culminate in Italy in an
age of singular intellectual brilliancy.

[Sidenote: Study of Greek taken up in Northern Europe.]

The study of Greek, at first almost confined to Florence, gradually
spread over the whole of the peninsula and finally passed north of
the Alps into Germany, where it was taken up with great earnestness.
Opposed by the ignorant monks everywhere, and by others who feared
that the authority and repute of Latin authors would be terminated,
it gradually won its way. In 1458 a Greek professor was appointed in
Paris, and one in Rome. Similar professorships were established in most
of the Italian universities, following in this respect the example
of Florence. In the reign of Henry the Seventh, Oxford consented to
receive Grocyn and Linacre as teachers of Greek.[552]

As the zeal for a knowledge of Greek died out in Italy it took deeper
root in Germany. Chrysoloras and George of Trebizond were followed by
a succession of students, until we meet with the names of Germans and
Dutchmen who had gone to Italy to make themselves acquainted with the
recovered language and literature. Among them that of Erasmus holds the
foremost place.

The movement known as ‘The Revival of Learning’ was accomplished before
the end of the fifteenth century, and all investigators are agreed that
it had been very largely contributed to by Greek exiles during the
half-century preceding and following the Moslem conquest.

Its paganisation of Christianity proved temporary. But the critical
examination of the text of the Greek New Testament and of the Greek
Fathers had more durable results. It called attention to the contents
of a book which had hitherto been taken as outside controversy. When
the study of Greek passed north of the Alps, the examination of the
sacred writings was no longer in the hands of _dilettanti_ who
looked upon the text with the contempt of scholars disposed to accept
paganism as the complement of a higher form of civilisation, and who
had no patience with what they regarded as trivialities, but in those
of religious and earnest German students, with results, in Erasmus,
Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, and others, the end of which is not yet

[Sidenote: MSS. destroyed or carried away.]

The manuscripts which were taken to Italy were the seed destined to
yield a rich literary harvest, and their removal from Constantinople
was an advantage. It is otherwise with the manuscripts which perished.
In 1204 the rude Venetians and Crusaders destroyed great numbers for
the sake of their covers.[553] A manuscript which had cost many months
of labour, which was written and perhaps illuminated with great skill,
was worthy of a costly covering. Some of the bindings were enriched
with jewels or with silver or gold clasps and other decorations. The
covers rather than the interior were the objects then coveted. There
is reason to believe that in the two subsequent centuries thousands
of manuscripts disappeared, many possibly stolen or sold for their
bindings. But as learning in Constantinople made little progress after
the Latin occupation, it is probably to the ignorance of the monks
that the disappearance of many of them ought to be attributed. Yet all
the evidence which exists shows that an enormous number of manuscripts
remained in Constantinople until 1453. We have seen that Ducas declares
that during the days following the sack of the city ten volumes on
theology and other studies, including Aristotle and Plato, were sold
for a small silver coin, and that an incredible number of manuscripts
of the Gospels after they had been stripped of their gold and silver
bindings were either sold or given away.[554] Critobulus adds that
while a very great number of books were burnt or ignominiously trampled
to pieces, the larger number were sold at ridiculous sums, not for the
sake of their price, but in contemptuous wantonness.[555] I am unaware
what authority Hody has for stating[556] that after the capture of the
city a hundred and twenty thousand books were destroyed, but that the
destruction was great cannot reasonably be doubted.[557]

After the conquest the treasures guarded by the Greek monks rapidly
began to disappear, and especially from the capital. The octagonal
libraries, one of which formed usually an adjunct to every church,
were taken from the Christians by the victorious Turk and applied to
other uses,[558] and the contents were for the most part dispersed or
destroyed. Successive travellers for two centuries found rich gleanings
among them, and the number of manuscripts taken or sent away suggests
that the original stores in Constantinople had been enormous. Janus
Lascaris returned to Italy with two hundred books, eighty of which were
as yet unknown in the libraries of Europe. Even as late as the time
of Busbeck, who was ambassador of the Holy Roman Emperor to Suliman
in 1555, he was able to conclude the announcement of his return home
by saying: ‘I have whole wagon-loads, if not ship-loads, of Greek
manuscripts, and about two hundred and forty books which I sent by sea
to Venice. I intend them for Caesar’s library. I rummaged every corner
to provide such kind of merchandise as my final gleaning.’[559]

While it is beyond doubt that the dispersion of students from
Constantinople aided the intellectual movement in Western Europe
by introducing new ideals of poetry, of history, and of philosophy,
as well as by modifying the conceptions of classical art and
architecture,[560] there is no ground for the belief that, if the city
had not been captured, Greek influence would not have made itself
felt in the Renaissance. The dispersion hastened the development of a
movement which had already begun, awakened a spirit of inquiry, and
conducted scholars into new fields of thought earlier than they would
have arrived if not thus aided. In this sense, and to this extent, it
may be claimed as a beneficial result of the capture of Constantinople.



The capture of Constantinople marked an epoch in the world’s history.
The dispersion of its scholars and its treasures of learning leavened
Western thought; the lessons gained from Turkish warfare, from the
discipline of the Janissaries and the mobility of the army were learned
by European states. These results entitle the event to be regarded
as of importance, but another, the conviction, namely, brought home
to Europe of the significance of the capture, helps still further to
entitle it to be regarded as epoch-marking. The Slavic and Teutonic as
well as the Greek and Latin races had been developing for centuries,
unchecked by any external influence, in the direction of human progress
which we understand by the word ‘civilisation.’ From Ireland to
Constantinople and even to the banks of the Euphrates all the peoples
had accepted Christianity, a religion which had not been substantially
changed either in dogma or discipline by any of the various races
included in the above area, a religion which had aided them to develop
the morality, the habits and customs, the thoughts and ideals, which
are comprehended in the modern conception of civilisation. The capture
of Constantinople was the intrusion into this Christian area of a
foreign force, with a different morality, and with a tendency hostile
to the habits, customs, and aspirations which it encountered. The
capture was the latest step in a series of successful efforts to detach
a large mass of territory from the area of European civilisation. As
large sections of the empire had during successive centuries been lost,
Constantinople came to stand in her loneliness as the representative
of European ideals of Christianity. When the city was taken, Western
statesmen were compelled to recognise that the remaining European area
of civilisation was face to face with an Asiatic, a non-Christian, and
a necessarily hostile movement. The European peoples, for the first
time during centuries, were awakened from their dream of security and
saw the possibility of the advance of races professing the creed which
had been held by those who in the early days of Islam had utterly
rooted out the civilisation and Christianity of North Africa. The shock
and alarm were universal.

[Sidenote: Alarm created in Europe.]

The military reputation of the Turk was enormously increased by the
capture of Constantinople. Hallam justly observes that though the fate
of the city had been protracted beyond all reasonable expectation,
the actual intelligence operated like that of a sudden calamity. ‘A
sentiment of consternation, perhaps of self-reproach, thrilled to the
heart of Christendom.’[561] Those who knew what the progress of the
Turks had been and how numerous and mobile were the hordes at the
disposal of the sultan were the most anxious regarding their further
progress. The podestà of Pera, writing within a month after the
capture, declares that Mahomet intended to become lord of the whole
earth and that before two years were over he would go to Rome and ‘By
God, unless the Christians take care, or there are miracles worked, the
destruction of Constantinople will be repeated in Rome.’[562] Other
contemporary writers express the like dismay. Aeneas Sylvius, in the
presence of the diet of Frankfort, pointed out that by the capture of
Constantinople Hungary lay open to the conqueror, and declared that if
that country were subdued Italy and Germany would be open to invasion.

The rapid extension of their power by sea as well as by land was soon
a constant source of anxiety to the nations whose territory bordered
on the Mediterranean. Piratical expeditions upon their shores with
the object of carrying off slaves kept them in perpetual alarm. When
Don John of Austria, in 1571, defeated the Turkish fleet at Lepanto,
the dread of the victorious Turk was so acute and the relief at the
completeness of his victory so great that the Venetians congratulated
each other with the cry that the Devil was dead, and the pope
commemorated the great triumph by preaching from the text ‘There was a
man sent from God whose name was John.’

From the capture in 1453 until John Sobieski relieved Vienna, upwards
of two centuries later, the universal topic of European politics,
quiescent for a few years but constantly becoming paramount, was the
progress made by the Grand Turk. During the whole of this period he had
continued to be the terror of Europe.

La Brocquière, who had noted the traffic in Christian slaves by the
Turks and the oppression of their Christian subjects, remarked that it
was a shame and scandal to Europe to allow herself to be terrorised by
such a race. A succession of travellers from the West, who, one after
another, observed the sufferings of the Christians, the misgovernment
of the Turkish empire, its rapid increase, and the widespread terror
of the Turkish name, vainly endeavoured to show how the Turks might be
defeated; but their victorious progress was unchecked until 1683.[563]

The results of the destruction of the empire were of a uniformly
disastrous character. Constantinople, which had been the heart of the
empire and for centuries the great bulwark of European civilisation,
became the stronghold of the professors of a hostile creed. After
aiding Europe by resisting the long encroachments of the Turks, it
had first become an isolated outpost of Christianity surrounded by
hostile hordes, and then, after a century of struggle, not altogether
inglorious, had been overwhelmed by them. By its capture Europe lost
all that its citizens might have contributed to civilisation. The
philosophy, art, theology, and jurisprudence which had emanated from
its schools had, happily, leavened Western lands--happily, because
after the conquest the city ceased to exercise any influence on
European thought. Under the rule of its new masters it was destined
to become the most degraded capital in Europe, and became incapable
of contributing anything whatever of value to the progress of the
human race. No art, no literature, no handicraft even, nothing that
the world would gladly keep, has come since 1453 from the Queen City.
Its capture, so far as human eyes can see, has been for the world a
misfortune almost without any compensatory advantage.

[Sidenote: Results upon Christian subjects.]

The disastrous results of the conquest fell with greatest force upon
the conquered subjects of the empire. The great cry which went up from
the Christians who had fallen under Turkish rule, and which has never
ceased to be justified among their descendants to the present hour,
was that the new rulers failed in the primary duty of government--to
render life and property secure. Tried by a higher standard of good
government, as an institution which should secure to its subjects
justice, the rule of the Turk fell immeasurably short. The Christians
became _rayahs_ or cattle, and as such were legally incapable of
possessing the same rights as Moslems. While an analogy to such
inequality might be found in other countries, in Turkey the Christians
found that the rights which even the law of the conquerors accorded
them were denied. Their property was arbitrarily seized. They were
constantly harassed and pillaged by their Mahometan neighbours and no
redress could be obtained in the law courts, for Christian testimony
was not admissible against the word of a Moslem. The effects of
this legal inequality were soon apparent and have continued to the
present day. The Christians were tillers of the ground, artificers,
or merchants. Their earnings exposed them to the envy of their Moslem
neighbours, who, being less experienced in agriculture or less skilful
in trade, less energetic and less intelligent, were unable, as they
are still, to compete with them successfully. Their superior power
of creating wealth, rather than the fanaticism of a hostile creed,
has from the time of the conquest led to fierce outrages upon the
Christians and to raids upon their property, and when combined with
such fanaticism has produced the periodical massacres which have
occurred during nearly every decade in Turkish history.

The difficulties of the Christian traders and agriculturists were
greatly increased by the conduct of the conquerors in allowing the
great roads and bridges to get out of repair. Turkish ignorance,
contempt for industry and commerce, belief that such matters were only
of interest to unbelievers, led even the governing class to allow the
public works which they had found in the country to fall into ruin. The
traveller in Asia Minor and in European Turkey finds everywhere the
remains of roads once well constructed and well preserved, which the
Turks have made few or no efforts to maintain, reconstruct, or replace.
The destruction or decay of the means of communication coupled with the
want of security soon made it useless for the Christian tiller of the
soil to engage in agriculture or even increase his flocks and herds.
The surplus over what was necessary to supply his own wants could not
be taken to market. Abundance of evidence shows that the Christians
in almost every part of the empire had possessed large flocks and
herds of cattle. These, indeed, formed a special temptation to the
Turks, who at all times since their entry into Asia Minor and Europe
were given to making raids on neighbouring Christian lands. After
the conquest it soon became useless for the Christians to attempt to
keep a form of property which was so easily carried off. Those who in
spite of all obstacles contrived to save a few hundred aspers became
objects of envy to their Moslem neighbours and carefully hid their
little savings. The want of security and the absence of roads were
evils which the Christian shared, though to a less extent, with the
Turk. All inducements to the accumulation of wealth, but especially
for Christians, were removed, till at length all alike ceased to save
or do more work than was necessary to keep body and soul together.
Nor can it be said that the condition of the population under Turkish
rule has in this respect greatly improved at the present day. In the
interior of the empire the man who has acquired a little wealth is
careful not to appear better off than his neighbours. In the capital
and a few seaports, Christians had a somewhat better chance, but even
there the practice of squeezing a wealthy Greek or Armenian merchant
and stripping him of his property lingered into the last century and is
even yet not altogether extinct.

[Sidenote: Population impoverished,]

Poverty as the consequence of misgovernment is the most conspicuous
result of the conquest affecting the population of the empire. Lands
were allowed to go out of cultivation. Industries were lost. Mines
were forgotten. Trade and commerce almost ceased to exist. Population
decreased. The wealthiest state in Europe became the poorest; the most
civilised became the most barbarous.

[Sidenote: and demoralised.]

The demoralisation of the conquered people and of their churches
resulting from the conquest and especially from the poverty it produced
were not less disastrous than the injury to their material interests.
The Christians lost heart. Their physical courage lessened. In remote
districts, and especially in mountainous regions, where the advantage
of natural position counterbalanced the enormously superior numbers of
the enemy, the Christians continued to resist. The Greeks in Epirus
gave a good account of themselves during centuries, while the Armenians
round about Zeitoun and the inhabitants of Montenegro even continued
to keep something like independence. But the Greek, Bulgarian, and
Armenian populations, all of whom had fought well in resisting the
Turks, became less virile. Grinding poverty and constant, though
usually petty, oppression even more than the periodical massacres took
away from them much of their manliness.

[Sidenote: Degradation of Church.]

The influence of the conquest upon the Orthodox Church was purely
mischievous. The ecclesiastical revenues were seized. The priests had
to eke out a living on the miserable pittances they could obtain from
performing the services of the Church for an impoverished people,
and soon came to be chosen from the peasant class. Poverty of the
flock meant poverty throughout the hierarchy. Learning declined and
disappeared. The parish priest knew his office by heart, but in course
of time hundreds of priests were unable to understand the classic
words and phrases with which the liturgy of Chrysostom and others
employed in the Eastern Church abound. The most commodious churches
were transformed into mosques. The libraries perished. Thousands of
precious manuscripts were destroyed. The means of obtaining an educated
clergy no longer existed. The voice of the preacher was regarded with
suspicion, and the Orthodox Church as a power for the education of
its congregations became almost valueless. There were no longer any
heresies or dissensions which invited discussion, for people and clergy
were alike sunk in ignorance. The art of preaching was forgotten.
Religious teaching or expression of thought in or out of the Church
almost ceased to exist. The Church of Chrysostom was condemned to
silence. To all appearances, there was little or no consciousness of
lofty ideals or aspirations towards them. Piety, as understood in the
West, seemed for centuries to be unknown. A book like the ‘Imitatio’ or
even the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ would have been unintelligible. Churches
as well as people had become sordid and destitute of aspiration.
Ignorance and other causes, due to the conquest, reduced the Churches
to a stagnant level of uniformity, superstition, and spiritual death.

With the substitution of an ignorant for a learned priesthood the
influence of the Church upon Western Europe ceased. Down to the
conquest it had not only claimed an equality with the Latin Church,
but its learning was respected by popes, cardinals, and scholars, who
recognised that it merited gratitude for its guardianship of Christian
learning and for the succession of scholars who had expounded the
treasures of its literature.

[Sidenote: Benefits conferred by Church.]

Yet amid all the meanness and debasement of the Christian Churches
it should ever be remembered that they rendered to their people two
inestimable services. They helped to preserve family life and to keep
the great mass of their members from abandonment of the Christian
profession. However abject the Church, however subservient at times its
leaders became to the Ottoman rulers, and however we of the twentieth
century may despise priestly pretensions and the claims of any body of
men to have a supernatural commission, it is a duty to recognise that
the service rendered by the Churches to the Christian subjects of the
sultan, and indeed to humanity, in preserving the habits of family
life was immeasurably great. One may fully admit that the priests were
ignorant, and that the Church became more than ever saturated with
pagan superstition; but it safeguarded the idea of Christian marriage
based upon the union of the husband for life with one wife. Children
were reared in the companionship of a father and mother to each of whom
chastity and the necessity of forsaking all others was not merely a
tradition and an ideal, but a duty enjoined by the universal teaching
of the Church. The results of the education of children amid such
teaching, tradition, and environment can only be appreciated when
they are compared with those which are produced among their Moslem
neighbours, where, under a system fatal to family life, the mother
holds a position immeasurably inferior to that of the father.

[Sidenote: Inducements to renounce Christianity.]

The Church also helped to prevent the Christian population from
abandoning their religious belief, and, to the philosophical student
of religions hardly less than to Christians, this result should be
regarded as pure gain. The Christians were permitted to have their own
religious services, and the attempt was seldom made forcibly to convert
them to Mahometanism. The teaching of Mahomet that the ‘People of
the Books’ were not to be molested so long as they submitted and paid
tribute, usually secured a contemptuous toleration of their worship.
There was little formal interference with their religious practices.
Their processions, rites, and ceremonies only encountered opposition
from the fanatical brutality of individuals, though Christian
worshippers were constantly exposed to petty persecutions from persons
in authority who expressed their dislike and loathing of Christianity
in a thousand different ways. But it must always be remembered to the
credit of the Christians that abandonment of their faith would at any
time have saved them from all persecution and have placed them on an
equality with their conquerors. The singularly democratic creed and
practice of Islam at once open every preferment to the convert. The
negro, the Central Asiatic, no less than the Christian rayah, once
he has pronounced the _Esh-had_, is on an equality in theory and in
practice with the descendant of the Prophet. Turkish history abounds
with instances of renegades or their sons rising to the highest
positions in the state. A Christian who accepted Islam had every
career open to him. The Christian subjects of the empire have always
been aware of their own superiority in intellectual capacity to their
Turkish neighbours. This superiority is manifest in every country where
Moslems and Christians live side by side. It is mainly due to the
inferior position assigned in practice in every Mahometan country to
woman, a position illustrated by the custom of repudiation--which the
husband may exercise in lieu of divorce--by the lack of family life in
which children are nurtured in the companionship of both parents, and
even by the absence of a family name.[564]

It would indeed have been remarkable if with the unspeakable advantages
of family life on their side the Christians had not been superior
in capacity to their neighbours. But, in spite of their lively
consciousness of such superiority and of the advantages to be gained by
perversion, few Christians became renegades.

[Sidenote: Degradation of people.]

But, notwithstanding the fact that their refusal to abandon a
higher for a lower form of religion must be accounted to them for
righteousness, the Christians passed into a Slough of Despond. Disarmed
and oppressed, they became demoralised and lost self-respect. Their
progress and development, material, intellectual, and moral, was
arrested. They fell back upon deceit and cunning and the other vices
with which a subjugated people seeks to defend itself against its
oppressors and which are the usual characteristics of a people held in
bondage. The most disastrous result of the conquest upon the people was
to create a low standard of morality, and, as in the course of time
habits form character, this result endured and continues to the present
day. Dishonesty, unfair dealing, bribery, and untruthfulness came to be
regarded among all the Christian races of the Ottoman Empire as venial
offences or as pardonable blunders. This deterioration of character was
not, and is not, confined to laymen. The environment of all classes has
been powerful for evil, and the standards in particular of commercial
honesty generally prevalent in Christian nations have neither been
preserved nor attained.

Under Turkish rule punishment often failed to follow detection. In some
cases--notably, for example, bigamy--the conquering race recognises
no offence and therefore awards no punishment. The Christians had
and have so little confidence in their chance of obtaining justice
that it is the exception to prosecute an offender. A man will rather
suffer loss than waste his time in appealing to a court where he
knows that he will certainly incur expense and inconvenience and that
the offender, provided he can pay, can escape condemnation. It is to
this impossibility of obtaining justice that must be ascribed more
perhaps than to any other cause the lowering of the morals of Eastern
Christians. Those who know them best, from Arab Christians in Syria to
the Greeks and others in Constantinople and the Balkan Peninsula, and
whose sympathies are entirely with them in the persecution they have
undergone, and in their desire to shake off the oppressor’s yoke, have
regretfully to confess that the reputation which they have acquired
in Western Europe for untrustworthiness and untruthfulness is not
undeserved. Happily, in Greece and other countries which have been
freed from Turkish misrule there are abundant signs of an awakening to
the necessity of regarding offences from a loftier standpoint and of
presenting in the Churches a higher ideal of morality; signs, too, of
the public opinion which is bringing these countries into line with
Western states.[565]

[Sidenote: Effect of conquest on Turks.]

The conquest of Constantinople had but little effect on the mass of the
Turkish population. The Turks ceased to be mainly a nomadic people,
and great numbers of them took possession of the arable lands of the
conquered races. But in other respects their habits and characteristics
remained unchanged. They had and have their virtues. They are brave and
hardy, and, except when under the influence of religious fanaticism,
are hospitable and kindly. Their religion inculcates cleanliness
and sobriety. While its teaching must stand condemned in regard to
the treatment of non-Islamic peoples and, judging by the universal
experience of Moslem countries, in regard to the position, fatal to
all progress, which it assigns to woman, it has nevertheless helped
to diffuse courtesy and self-respect among its adherents. Unhappily,
the Turkish race has never had sufficient continuous energy to be
industrious nor enough intelligence to desire knowledge.

Fortunately for the populations under the rule of the Turk, his
religious intolerance has only become virulent at intervals; for
when his fanaticism is awakened, corruption and cruelty in the
administration of government show themselves at their worst. It is so
in Morocco now, where the fiercest Moslem intolerance and perhaps the
most cruel and corrupt government in the world co-exist. It has been so
at various periods under Turkish rule. Sultans have alternated in their
government between periods of lethargy, sloth, and sensuality and those
of spasmodic activity. But the periods of fanaticism have been those
not only of massacre and exceptional cruelty but of want of patriotism,
and the worst corruption in the administration of government.

In Greece and Italy more vigorous physical races in earlier times
had triumphed over peoples further advanced in civilisation. But the
conquerors profited by the civilisation of the vanquished and the
latter became more virile. The two races coalesced and formed a united
people. No such results followed 1453. The Turkish nation was unable to
assimilate the civilisation of the peoples it subdued, and its work has
been simply to destroy what it could not take to itself. It has fallen
so far short of reconciling the conquered races and welding them to
itself so as to form one people that the assertion may safely be made
that every century since 1453 has widened the gulf between it and the

In one respect only has the Turk been able to appreciate the progress
made by his neighbours and, in part at least, to appropriate their
development--namely, in the art of war. He knows and cares nothing
about art, science, or literature. He has made a miserable failure of
government. His civil administration is probably more corrupt than it
was four centuries ago. He admits that, since his defeat at Lepanto in
1571, Allah has given the dominion of the seas to the Giaours. But as a
soldier he has always been ready to learn from European nations.

That the heavy weight of misrule has hindered and still continues to
hinder the progress of the Christian races is attested by all who are
acquainted with Turkey. Condemned to constant persecution and a sordid
poverty which leaves on travellers an overpowering sense of human
misery, and living amid a hopeless and dispiriting environment, they
passed into the blackest night which ever overshadowed a Christian
people. It is true that they were not utterly destroyed, as other
Christian nations have been, but, except for the feeling of solidarity
arising from community of race and of religious belief and for the hope
which the Churches aided them to keep alive, their night was without
a single ray of light. They and their countrymen who had escaped into
foreign lands looked in despair and in vain for the signs that the
night would pass. It is barely a century ago since the keener-sighted
watchmen observed indications of dawn. The daylight has arisen upon
Roumania, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, and other countries once under
Turkish rule, and signs of dawn are visible, though with indications of
blood-red, in Macedonia and Armenia. Sooner or later, but as surely as
light overcomes darkness, the Christian and progressive elements in the
Turkish empire will see the day and rejoice in it.

The friends of the liberated territories have often complained of
the vagaries, the inconstancy, and the slow rate of progress of the
re-established states. They are apt to forget that to shake off
the effects of centuries of bondage is a task which has never been
accomplished in a single generation. All historical precedents, from
the time when Moses led the children of Israel into the desert, teach
the same lesson. But it is satisfactory to note that while each of
the states that have obtained emancipation was, a century ago, far
behind the civilisation even of Constantinople, it is now far ahead of
it. If the traveller who eighty years ago spoke contemptuously of the
collection of mud huts which fanatics are pleased to call Athens, while
they refer to their barbarian occupants as Greeks, could now be placed
on the Acropolis, he would see the well-built and prosperous capital
of a country which, in spite of financial difficulties, is flourishing
in agriculture, trade, and commerce; the chief city of a people which
has recovered its self-respect, is full of patriotism, of zeal for
education, and of intellectual life, and whose Church has awakened
to the necessity of an educated priesthood and a higher standard of
morality. A like prosperity could be noted in every other land which
has escaped from Turkish bondage. Wherever, indeed, the dead weight of
Turkish misrule has been removed, the young Christian states have been
fairly started on the path of civilisation and justify the reasonable
expectations of the statesmen, historians, and scholars of the West who
have sympathised with and aided them in their aspirations for freedom.




Some doubt exists as to the position of the Romanus Gate mentioned by
the historians of the siege, and as this position determines those of
the great gun, of the stockade, and of the principal place of the final
assault, it is desirable to endeavour to set such doubt at rest.

What I desire to show may be summed up in the following propositions.

(1) That contemporary writers agree in stating that the principal place
of attack and the final assault was at or near the Gate of St. Romanus.

(2) That the present Top Capou had long been known as the Gate of St.

(3) That there is evidence to demonstrate that the final assault was
not at or near Top Capou but in the Lycus valley.

(4) That the Pempton is the Gate referred to by contemporary writers as
the Romanus Gate.

Among the evidence showing that the principal place of attack was at or
near the Romanus Gate is the following:

Barbaro (p. 21) states that four great guns were ‘alla porta de San
Romano dove che sun la piu debel porta de tuta la tera. Una de queste
quatro bombarde che sun a la porta da San Romano’ was the big gun cast
by Orban. On p. 16 he speaks of an attack as being against ‘le mure da
tera de la banda de San Romano.’ On p. 26 he mentions the destruction
of a tower, presumably the Bactatinean, spoken of by Leonard. This
tower was ‘de la banda de San Romano.’ It was destroyed by the big gun
with a portion also of the wall (‘con parechi passa de muro’). On p.
27 he describes the repair of the walls going on at the Gate called San
Romano. On p. 40 he again says that the weakest place in the landward
walls was at San Romano, ‘dove che iera roto le mure.’ On p. 53 he adds
that the Turks fought furiously ‘da la banda da tera, da la banda de
San Romano dove che iera el pavion’ of the emperor. On the same page
he describes them again as still fighting ‘da la banda de San Romano.’
On p. 55 he describes the entry of the Turks into the city as being
‘da la banda de San Romano,’ and on p. 57 he states that the emperor
was killed at the entry which the Turks had made ‘a la porta de San
Romano.’ According, therefore, to Barbaro, the Romanus Gate is the
central place of attack and of capture.

But Barbaro was a Venetian, and probably did not know the city well.
Phrantzes and Ducas, however, were citizens. The first, on p. 254,
says that Justiniani took charge of the defence ἐν τοῖς μέρεσι τῆς
πύλης τοῦ ἁγίου Ῥωμανοῦ, which the Bonn editor translates correctly
by saying that he defended the ‘regionem ad portam Sancti Romani.’
Phrantzes further identifies the place by saying it was where the Turks
had stationed their largest gun because the walls were convenient for
attack and because the sultan’s tent was pitched opposite. As to the
position of the sultan’s tent Phrantzes and others say that it was
opposite the Romanus Gate. Ducas, however, states that it was opposite
the Chariseus or Adrianople Gate. Phrantzes, p. 287, says further that
the emperor and many soldiers fell ἐν τῷ τόπῳ ἐκείνῳ πλησίον τῆς πύλης
τοῦ ἁγίου Ῥωμανοῦ where the Turks had built their wooden tower and
stationed their largest gun. Ducas says that the Turks placed this big
gun near (πλησίον) the Romanus Gate. He further describes the
destruction of the tower (presumably the Bactatinean mentioned by
Leonard) which was near the Romanus Gate. Other authors could be cited
who use similar expressions.

In fact, all the evidence is in favour of my first proposition, that
the principal place of attack was at or near the Romanus Gate.

(2) It is undisputed that Top Capou (that is, Cannon Gate) was known
in early times as the Gate of St. Romanus. It is mentioned under that
name, for example, in the ‘Paschal Chronicle’ in the time of Heraclius,
and again in the reign of Andronicus the First by Nicephorus Gregoras
(ix. ch. 6), and as late as the middle of the fourteenth century by
Cantacuzenus (p. 142, Ven. ed.).

(3 & 4) The evidence to show that the final assault was not at or near
Top Capou is abundant.

Owing, however, to the constant mention of St. Romanus and the
undoubted association of that name with Top Capou, it has been
naturally assumed that the chief place of attack was at or near the
latter Gate. Even Paspates was driven to disregard the evidence of his
own eyes and to fix the assault on the steep part of the slope near Top
Capou (Πολιορκία, p. 186).

But all observers who have studied the question on the spot, with the
exception of Paspates, are now agreed that the chief place of assault
was in the Lycus valley. In such case it necessarily follows that the
name Romanus was given during the siege to some other gate than Top

The late Dr. Dethier was the first to suggest that the Gate spoken of
by the contemporaries of the siege as St. Romanus was the Pempton. Let
us examine the evidence. It is worthy of note that Phrantzes places
Justiniani in the ‘region’ or district of the Romanus Gate. The Italian
writers, knowing less of the city, say ‘at’ such Gate.

Now what was the Pempton? Each of the two Civil Gates on the
landward side which we need here regard--namely, Top Capou and the
Adrianople Gate--crowned a hill on one side of the Lycus valley and
was exceptionally strong. They formed, in fact, with their towers and
barbicans two of the strongest positions in the landward walls. The
bridges across the foss opposite these and the other Civil Gates were
intended to be broken down during a siege, and in fact were broken down
when Mahomet’s siege commenced.[566] The Military Gates which led from
the city to the Peribolos were then opened, though they were generally
walled up in times of peace. The Pempton or Fifth Military Gate or Gate
of the Fifth (for both forms of names are found) was the one which gave
access to the Enclosure in the Lycus valley. It was known also in early
times as the Gate of St. Kyriakè, from a neighbouring church, and as
the Gate of Puseus from a Latin inscription still existing upon it,
dating probably from the time of Leo the First, recording that Puseus
had strengthened it.[567]

It is a remarkable fact that no writer who was either a witness of the
siege or subsequently wrote upon it mentions the Pempton either under
that name or by those of Kyriakè or Puseus. It is impossible to believe
that it was not used. It was built for the express purpose of giving
access to the troops into the Peribolos within which, beyond all doubt,
the most important fighting took place. To admit that Justiniani and
the soldiers under him were stationed between the Outer and the Inner
Walls in this part and yet to suggest that the Pempton was not used
is altogether unreasonable. Dethier’s suggestion is, that when the
Civil Gates were closed people gave to the Military Gate the name of
the nearest Civil Gate. Probably the earlier names given on account of
their numbers were generally unknown. The latest instance I have found
of the use of Pempton is in the ‘Paschal Chronicle.’

In support of this view it is important to note that many
contemporaries speak of another place where the cannonading was
severe as at the Pegè Gate (as, for example, Barbaro and Philelphus),
whereas no one doubts that the present condition of the walls affords
conclusive evidence that the writers intended to indicate Triton--that
is, the Third Military Gate between the Pegè and the Rhegium Civil

The suggestion that the Pempton was commonly called the Romanus Gate
explains various statements which are otherwise irreconcilable. We
have seen that Ducas says that the sultan was encamped opposite the
Chariseus Gate, while Phrantzes places him opposite the Romanus. Dr.
Mordtmann urges[568] that from the small knoll where, according to
Ducas and Critobulus, Mahomet’s tent was pitched, an observer might
fairly describe its position as opposite either, but if the Pempton
were called Romanus, such a suggestion would be much more plausible.
Again, Barbaro, as already quoted, places the great gun opposite the
San Romano Gate because this was the weakest gate of all the city.
But on p. 18 he uses the same phrase in stating that the ‘Cressu’ or
Chariseus was the weakest gate in all the city, the explanation being,
I think, that as the Pempton was about midway between the Romanus
and the Chariseus Civil Gates he heard it called indifferently by
either name. Tetaldi, the Florentine soldier who was present at the
siege, states that two hundred fathoms of Outer Wall were broken down
during the last days. Now, although the Inner Wall was repaired by
Mahomet[569] and continued fairly complete, no attempt appears to
have been made to rebuild the Outer.[570] The spectator has little
difficulty in distinguishing where the twelve hundred feet of Outer
Wall of which Tetaldi speaks was destroyed. It was opposite the Pempton
and, judging from the condition of the walls, certainly not opposite
the present Top Capou. But the same writer says that it was ‘à la
porte de Sainct Romain.’[571] The Moscovite or Slavic chronicler says
that the great cannon were placed opposite the station of Justiniani
‘because the walls there were less solid and very low,’[572] a
description which would not apply to those near Top Capou, but which,
like all the descriptions given, does apply to the lower part of the
Lycus valley. Here, in the phrase of Professor van Millingen, was the
heel of Achilles, the Valley of Decision.[573] The weakness of this
portion of the walls is illustrated by the fact that when Baldwin the
Second expected an attack by Michael he walled up all the landward
gates ‘except the single one near the streamlet where one sees the
church of St. Kyriakè’--that is, except the Pempton.[574] In other
words, the walls being there the weakest, it was anticipated that there
would be the attack, and the entry into the Peribolos must be kept open
to defend the Outer Wall. In the ‘Threnos’ the siege is described as
being at the ‘Chariseus Gate,’ now St. Romanus, which is called Top
Capou.[575] Apparently the confusion in this description is hopeless,
but if the Pempton were called indifferently, as by Barbaro, Romanus
and Chariseus, it becomes intelligible.[576]

A statement by the ‘Moscovite’ (ch. vii.) also points to the Pempton as
the chief point of attack. He mentions that on April 24 a ball from the
great cannon knocked away five of the battlements and buried itself in
the walls of a church. The only church in the neighbourhood either of
Top Capou or the Pempton was one dedicated to St. Kyriakè, which was in
the Lycus valley near the Pempton. But the attack is always stated to
be against the Romanus Gate.

Near the Pempton the Peribolos is now about twenty feet higher than the
level of the ground on the city side of the Great Wall. Beyond doubt
this is largely due to the accumulation of refuse and broken portions
of the wall, but, allowing for this, an observer will probably conclude
that the Peribolos was at the time of the siege several feet higher
than the level on the city side. This same discrepancy of level did
not exist--if, indeed, any existed--at Top Capou. Hence when the small
gate was opened from the city by Justiniani to give easier access to
the stockade, men had to ascend to it. This is what Critobulus implies
they had to do. The gate was opened to lead ἐπὶ τὸ σταύρωμα (lx. 2).

Critobulus states that Mahomet drew up his camp ‘before the _Gates_ of
Romanus.’[577] The argument Dethier draws from the plural, ‘gates,’
is not perhaps worth much, but it is remarkable that in speaking of
other gates Critobulus usually employs the singular: as, for example,
in ch. xxvii. 3, ‘The Wood-Gate, as far as the gate called Chariseus.’
Gregoras also employs the plural: παρὰ τὰς πύλας τοῦ Ῥωμανοῦ (Book ix.
ch. vi.).

The Turkish writers throw very valuable light on the question and show
clearly that the assault was not at Top Capou, but rather nearer the
Adrianople Gate.

The imaum Zade Essad-Effendi says that in the final assault Hassan
mounted the broken wall where the Franks were defending it, ‘which wall
was to the south of Edirne Capou’--that is, of the Adrianople Gate. The
Turkish writer Sad-ud-din, who died in 1599, gives similar testimony.
He states that Constantine ‘entrusted to the Frank soldiers the defence
of those breaches which were on the south side of the Adrianople Gate.’
And again: ‘The Turks in the final assault did not rush to the gates
but to the breaches that were made in the broken wall between Top
Capou and the Adrianople Gate, and, after the capture, went round and
opened the gates from the inside, the first to be opened being the
Adrianople Gate.’[578] If the Venetian and Genoese soldiers had been
near Top Capou the writer would not have described their position as he
does. Probably he was ignorant of any name for the gate in the valley
where the assault occurred, and therefore describes the breaches with
sufficient accuracy as south of the Adrianople or Edirne Gate.

Lastly, Dr. Mordtmann calls attention to the fact that on old
Turkish maps the Pempton is marked as Hedjoum Capou or Gate of the
Assault.[579] If it were the Gate of the Assault, as I also believe,
it was the gate spoken of by contemporaries as Saint Romanus, and all
difficulties as to the place of the general assault, the position of
the stockade defended by Justiniani, and the station of the great guns

Thereupon the description of Critobulus makes the arrangement
of Mahomet’s army clear. His guards were encamped opposite the
Mesoteichion and the Myriandrion--that is, opposite the whole length
of walls between Top Capou and the Palace of Porphyrogenitus (ch.
xxvi.). His three largest guns were stationed opposite the Pempton or
Military Gate of Romanus, and his imperial tent was pitched in a place,
and at a distance from the walls, where it could properly be described
indifferently as opposite either the Chariseus or Romanus Gate.

In conclusion, I would suggest that the name Top Capou was given or
transferred by the Turks, after the siege and when the Pempton was
walled up, to the Civil Gate of St. Romanus. There was no need for a
name among ordinary people for an unused gate, and the Turks, instead
of using the name of a Christian saint, spoke of it as that near which
the great cannon was placed, or shortly as Top Capou--that is, Cannon
Gate. It is remarkable that Gyllius, though mentioning that there was a
gate at the situation of Top Capou, calls it neither by that name nor
by that of St. Romanus.[580]



The late Dr. A. D. Mordtmann,[581] and Dr. Paspates,[582] followed by
M. Mijatovich,[583] and M. E. A. Vlasto,[584] answer, that it was to
the west of the Marmora end of the landward walls: that is, off Zeitin
Bournou. In favour of this view they give the following reasons:

(1) Because during the fight the sultan rode into the water, and he
could not have done so if the fight had been on the north shore of the
Golden Horn, as the shore there is too steep. The answer to this is,
that the Galata shore four centuries ago was like that of the Golden
Horn outside the walls of Constantinople now, and consisted of a low
flat of mud, now built upon. The present Grande Rue de Galata is really
the ‘Strand’ of Galata, and is all land reclaimed from the sea. This is
even now obvious; but Gyllius observed the growth of this flat land and
gives a curious description of it.[585] This argument therefore fails.

(2) Because Barbaro mentions that the wind dropped when the ships were
‘per mezo la citade,’ which Dr. Mordtmann considered to mean halfway
along the length of the city between the end of the landward walls and
Seraglio Point, or, as he puts it definitely, at Vlanga Bostan. But
‘per mezo’ means here simply alongside or opposite or abreast of the
city. It is used as meaning ‘through the midst’ in the same paragraph,
when Barbaro states that he is going from the city on board certain
galleys ‘per mezo la citade.’

It is undisputed that a southerly wind had been blowing four days:
a strong wind which had brought the ships from Chios. There would
therefore be a current running northwards. Consequently if the wind had
suddenly dropped opposite Vlanga Bostan the ships would have drifted
toward the Bosporus and not backwards to Zeitin Bournou.

(3) Because Pusculus says that the townsfolk crowded to the Hippodrome
to see the fight, and they would not have done so (because buildings
intercepted the view) if the fight had been at the mouth of the Golden

The Hippodrome is four miles as the crow flies from the sea opposite
Zeitin Bournou, and the spectators would not have crowded to such a
place when they could have seen so much better from a hill behind
Psamatia and elsewhere. If, however, the fight, or any part of it,
took place opposite Seraglio Point, spectators on the Sphendone of
the Hippodrome would have had an excellent view of the ships as they
approached and as they passed, and of an attack made in the Bosporus
before the ships passed the Acropolis. I have tested this on several

(4) Because Phrantzes says the fight took place about a stone’s-throw
from the land where the sultan was and that he and his friends watched
it from the walls,[586] and that the only place where these two
requirements can be satisfied is Zeitin Bournou.

The mouth of the Horn satisfies both requirements equally well. Dr.
Paspates observes that ships coming to Constantinople with a south
wind do not keep near the walls, but keep well out; and the remark is
just. They take this course to avoid the eddy current, which if they
kept near the walls would be against them. If the ships were about a
stone’s-throw distant from the land, they would not only be out of
their usual course but taking another where their progress would be

(5) Because Ducas (who was not a witness of what he relates) says that
the Turkish fleet set out to wait for the fleet off the harbour of the
Golden Gate.[587]

There probably never was a harbour of the Aurea Porta. Paspates says
there was a _scala_ near the Golden Gate, which, indeed is shown in
Bondelmonte’s map, but the ships could not discharge at an open _scala_
in the Marmora with a south wind blowing, even if there had been depth
enough of water where it existed, which, at the present day at least,
there is not.

The statement of Ducas is improbable, because, as the object of the
ships was to get past the boom from St. Eugenius to Galata, the ships
with the wind which was blowing would have simply passed the fleet or
gone triumphantly through them, if they had been waiting off the Golden
Gate, and have made for Seraglio Point and the harbour.

I suggest that the words of Ducas (Χρύση Πύλη) are either an error in
the copying or are a mistake made by Ducas. They may be a transcriber’s
mistake for Horaia Porta--that is, the gate near Seraglio Point, on the
Golden Horn. Horaia Porta and Aurea Porta are almost undistinguishable
in sound, the aspirate being unpronounced. The similarity in sound had
led at an early period to confusion.[588]

It may nevertheless be true that the fleet set out to await the ships
off the end of the landward walls. There is not, however, the slightest
evidence that it ever got there. On the contrary, as we shall see, the
evidence shows that it did not. Once it is established that it never
got so far, the contention that the fight was off Zeitin Bournou falls.

These are all the arguments which, so far as I know, have been urged
in favour of the Zeitin Bournou position. Some of them are destructive
of the others, and, with the exception of the statement of Ducas as to
the Turkish fleet setting off for the Harbour of the Golden Gate, are
all deductions from the evidence of the authorities rather than direct
evidence. Moreover, as will be seen, important statements of witnesses
testifying to what they themselves saw are either entirely overlooked
or set aside without any sufficient reason.

My contention in the text is that the fight commenced at the mouth of
the Bosporus off Seraglio Point; that the wind suddenly dropped while
the ships were under the walls of the Acropolis at that Point; that
the ships drifted towards the Galata or Pera shore, and that the most
serious part of the fight took place off such shore, where it was
watched by the sultan and into the waters of which shore the sultan
rode. The evidence in support of this view is the following:

(1) It is agreed on all sides that the Turkish fleet was stationed at
the Double Columns (Diplokionion).

(2) Leonard the archbishop says that he was a spectator from the city,
and that the sultan was on the slope of the Pera hill. Leonard is
a witness deserving of confidence. He was present during the whole
siege. He had much to do with the people of Galata, who were, like
himself, of the Latin Church. In describing this particular incident,
he speaks of himself as a spectator of the fight.[589] His letter is
an official report addressed to the pope within three months after the
event, and therefore while its details were fresh in his memory and not
like the account of Ducas, who was not present at the siege and only
wrote years afterwards. His testimony, if he is to be believed--and I
know no reason why he should even be doubted--is decisive. ‘The King
of the Trojans’ (as he calls the Turks throughout) looked on from Pera

Le Beau, who took the view which I adopt, relied no doubt upon
Leonard’s narrative in describing the battle. Dr. Mordtmann remarks
upon Le Beau’s statement that no one standing upon the hillside at Pera
could see a fight at sea beyond Seraglio Point. The observation is
correct, and my deduction is that, when the ships were first attacked,
they were abreast of Seraglio Point and not beyond or behind it. Dr.
Mordtmann’s is that the sultan could not have been at Pera, and this
notwithstanding that the archbishop says that he was there and implies
that he saw him there. The archbishop further mentioned that when the
sultan ‘blasphemed,’ as he rode into the water and witnessed the loss
his men were suffering, it was from a hill.[591] But the archbishop
does not leave his readers in doubt as to what hill he means. A few
sentences later in his narrative we are told that the sultan had
concluded that he would be able from the eastern shore of the Galata
hill either to sink the ships with his stone cannon-balls, or at least
drive them back from the chain.[592] The rest of the passage shows
unmistakably that the sultan, in Leonard’s belief, was on the shore
outside the Galata walls: that is, exactly where a spectator might be
supposed to be who, having come from Diplokionion, wanted to see the
most of a fight in or near the mouth of the Horn. Unless, therefore,
within a short period after the capture of the city, the archbishop had
become hopelessly muddled as to what he himself saw, we must conclude
that the fight did not take place off Zeitin Bournou but in or near the
mouth of the Golden Horn.

Pusculus, another spectator, says the ships entered the Bosporus and
that the wind dropped while they were under the walls of the Acropolis.
The account given by this writer is clear and precise. He was in the
city and relates what he witnessed, and although he wrote his poem some
years afterwards, when safe in his native city of Brescia, he had the
broad outlines of the siege well in his recollection. His narrative
is the following, and is in complete accord with that of every other
eye-witness. The ships are seen approaching on the Marmora; some of
the townsfolk flock to the Hippodrome where (from the Sphendone) they
have a view far and wide over the sea, and can observe them taking the
usual course for ships coming from the Dardanelles to the capital with
a southerly wind. The Turkish admiral with his fleet has gone to meet
them, and orders them to lower their sails. The south wind still blows
full astern, and with bellying sails they hold on their course. The
wind continues until they are carried to a position where the Bosporus
strains against the shore of either land.[593] That is, as I understand
the phrase, until they are at least well past the present lighthouse.
‘There the wind fails them; the sails flap idly _under the walls of
the citadel_.[594] Then, indeed, began the fight; the spirits of the
Turks are aroused by the fall of the wind; Mahomet, watching from
the shore not far off, arouses their rage.’ My only doubt as to this
interpretation arises as to the question whether the writer did not
mean that the wind dropped, not merely off Seraglio Point, but within
the mouth of the Horn.

Ducas says the sultan, when the ships came in sight of the city,
‘hastened’ to his fleet, and gave orders to capture them or, failing
that, to hinder them from getting inside the harbour. This hastening of
the sultan meant a journey of between two and three miles from his camp
in the Mesoteichion to Diplokionion. Once he was there, his natural
course would be to follow on shore the movements of his fleet, until he
reached the eastern walls of Galata, which is exactly the place where
the archbishop stations him. If it should be objected that Mahomet’s
hastening to his triremes implies that they were stationed near Zeitin
Bournou, the answer is twofold: first, that there would be no haste
necessary, and secondly, that even Ducas implies that the fleet was in
the Bosporus, as indeed Barbaro and others say that it was.

The two statements of Phrantzes--first, that the fight was about a
stone’s-throw from the land where the sultan was on horseback and
rode into the sea to revile his men, and, second, that he (Phrantzes)
and his friends watched the fight from the walls[595]--are both
reconcilable with the contention that the fight was where I have placed
it. I conclude that the balance of evidence is in favour of the opinion
that the fight commenced in the open Bosporus off Seraglio Point, and,
the wind continuing, the ships rounded the Point, and that then the
wind dropped, the general attack took place, and the ships drifted to
the Galata shore.

When the question is considered ‘What position accords with all the
accounts of the eye-witnesses?’ there can be only one answer. The
people watch from the Hippodrome, says Pusculus, and would have a good
view until the ships had rounded the point. The vessels were aiming for
Megademetrius, says Ducas: which was the usual landmark for vessels to
steer for when coming to the Golden Horn from the Marmora with a south
wind. ‘We being spectators’ from the walls and the sultan being on the
Pera slope watching the fight, says Leonard; and the vessels being
about a stone’s-throw from the shore, says Phrantzes. Pusculus answers
the question ‘Where were Leonard and the other spectators?’ by telling
us that the wind dropped under the walls of the citadel.

There is yet another test which may be applied and which ought almost
of itself to settle the question. Upon considering the position without
reference to authorities upon matters of detail and upon _a priori_
grounds, an unbiassed local investigator would discard the Zeitin
Bournou position and accept that of the Bosporus-Galata. Four large
ships want to enter the Golden Horn, since there is no harbour on the
Marmora side of the city sufficiently large into which they could
enter. They are approaching with a southerly wind. The Turkish fleet
consists of large and small sailing boats which are stationed nearly
two miles from the Horn in the Bosporus. The object of the fleet is to
capture or sink the ships, or at least to prevent them from entering
the harbour. What, under these circumstances, would the commander of
the fleet do? He would keep his boats well together near the mouth of
the Horn and attempt to bar the passage. He would recognise that he had
little chance of capturing comparatively large sailing vessels on open
sea so long as they were coming on with a wind. So long as the ships
were sailing, they would be attacked at a great disadvantage. Wait for
them near the Horaia Porta, when they would have to stop, and they
could then be fought at an advantage. If the wind suddenly dropped,
the Turkish admiral would naturally give orders to attack. This is
what, as I contend, actually happened. The fight would then be seen
by Greeks from the walls and by Mahomet and his suite from the Galata
or Pera shore. What would happen when the wind became calm, would be
that the vessels would drift. I repeat what I have said in the text,
that it may be taken as beyond doubt that after a strong southerly
wind has been blowing in the Marmora for four or five days--and it was
such a wind which had brought the ships from Chios--there would be
in the Marmora and the Bosporus near Seraglio Point a strong current
setting in the same direction, and the ships would drift toward the
Galata shore. It would then be quite possible to have got within a
stone’s-throw, as Phrantzes relates, and for their crews to have heard
the reproaches of the sultan.



In commenting on the story of the transport of Mahomet’s ships overland
from the Bosporus into Cassim Pasha bay, Gibbon says ‘I could wish
to contract the distance of ten miles and to prolong the term of one
night.’[596] I have sufficiently remarked in the text upon the time
occupied in the transit. The distances given by the various authors who
describe the incident are confusing, but ten miles is beyond a doubt

In order to learn what the distance was, it is necessary to determine
what was the route adopted by Mahomet. Two routes have been suggested:
the first is from Dolma Bagshe, across the ridge where the Taxim Public
Gardens now exist and down the valley leading to Cassim Pasha; the
second, from Tophana along the valley which the Rue Koumbaraji now
occupies, across the Grande Rue, and down the valley commencing at the
street between the Pera Palace Hotel and the Club to Cassim Pasha. It
is convenient to speak of these routes as those of Dolma Bagshe and
Tophana respectively. No writer who saw the transport of the ships has
described the route. We may gather evidence, however, on several points
which will aid us to determine it.

The evidence as to the distance traversed is the following. The
archbishop speaks of it as being seventy stadia. I should agree with
Karl Müller, the editor of Critobulus, that the _seventy_ stadia of
Leonard is a clerical error, the figure being intended to apply to the
number of ships, but for the fact that a little later Leonard speaks of
the bridge built over the upper Horn as thirty stadia long and gives
the distance of the Turkish fleet from the Propontis to its anchorage
at the Double Columns as a hundred stadia. As both these distances are
about nine or ten times too long, it is evident that by ‘stadium’ he
means some other measure than the ordinary stadium, which is 625 feet
long, or rather less than a furlong.[597] I therefore suggest that when
Leonard speaks of seventy stadia he makes the difference traversed
about eight stadia as the word is understood by his contemporaries.
Critobulus in describing the overland passage of the boats says they
travelled ‘certainly eight stadia’ (στάδιοι μάλιστα ὀκτώ). Probably
Critobulus, writing a few years afterwards and mixing with Turks,
Greeks, and Genoese in Pera itself, would have the best chance of
learning the truth as to the actual road taken. ‘Certainly eight
stadia’ is what an observer who did not wish to exaggerate might
estimate the distance between the present Tophana and Cassim Pasha to
be, and if my suggestion as to Leonard’s measure be accepted, then the
two writers are substantially in accord. Barbaro gives the distance
traversed as three Italian--equal to two English--miles. The evidence
as to distance, therefore, is somewhere between eight stadia and two

The evidence as to the place from which the ships started is important
also. Barbaro states that they left the water at Diplokionion, a place
which he describes as two miles from the city (say, one and a third
English mile), and therefore not so far as the Double Columns; Ducas,
from a place ‘below Diplokionion;’ Pusculus:[598] Columnis haud longe
a geminis;’ Phrantzes, ἐκ τοῦ ὄπισθεν μέρους τοῦ Γάλατα: a phrase which
certainly does not imply that the route travelled was so far from the
walls of Galata as Dolma Bagshe is. Chalcondylas and Philelphus[599]
say, ‘behind the hill which overhangs Galata.’

It is interesting to determine where Diplokionion or the Double Column
was. It has usually been considered to be Beshiktash, and Cantemir
so translates it. Professor van Millingen places it rather in Dolma
Bagshe bay--say, half a mile south of Beshiktash.[600] The late Dr.
Dethier says[601] that the present Cabatash and Tophana were formerly
called Diplokionion and that, as he expresses it, ‘Columnae et
incolae emigrarunt post adventum Turcorum in suburbium Beshiktash.’
I am unaware of his authority for this statement. It appears to me
certain that the Columns were at Dolma Bagshe, which may be called the
southern extremity of Beshiktash. They are so marked in Bondelmonte’s
map made in 1422. It is worth nothing that none of the authors place
the starting-point at the Columns except Barbaro, and that even he
qualifies his statement by explaining that it was two Italian miles
from the city.

Having thus seen the evidence (1) as to the distance travelled and (2)
as to the starting-point, we may ask What was the probable route? Dr.
Paspates in his ‘Poliorkia’[602] discusses the question, and sensibly
remarks that the shortest route would be preferred, unless there were
exceptional difficulties. Now the difficulties by the Tophana route are
decidedly less than by the other. The distance is less by half than
that of the Dolma Bagshe route and the height to be surmounted is 250
feet against 350. Paspates suggests the route I have adopted--namely,
from Tophana. Dr. Mordtmann adopts the Dolma Bagshe route and objects
to that of Tophana because the Turkish ships could have been seen by
the Christian ships at the chain and that these were strong enough to
hinder the undertaking, especially as the sultan had no batteries on
the eastern side to oppose the fleet.[603]

To this view--and anything suggested by so careful an observer as Dr.
Mordtmann is deserving of attention--is to be opposed (1) that the
point of departure adopted by him at Dolma Bagshe could also be seen
from the chain, though of course not so distinctly as at Tophana; (2)
that though there was no battery above Tophana, there was one above
the eastern end of Galata walls, and probably, as Dethier suggests,
very nearly on the site now occupied by the Crimean Memorial Church;
(3) that the height to be surmounted is lower by nearly a hundred feet
than by the Dolma Bagshe route; (4) that the distance to be traversed
is less than half by the Tophana route than that from Dolma Bagshe;
(5) that it is not by any means clear that the Christian ships could
have hindered the execution of the project, since the Genoese were
absolutely powerless on land outside their own walls. It may, however,
be true, as Ducas asserts, that the Genoese alleged that they could
have stopped the transit if they had wished. But the allegation, if
true, at least implies that they knew what was going on, and, as
mentioned in my text, Mahomet was ready for opposition.

The shortest distance ought to furnish one indication of the route.
The evidence as to what that distance is stated to be should furnish
another, and the starting-point of the expedition a third. I claim that
the eight stadia of Critobulus and the eight or nine given by Leonard
are not greatly at variance with the three Italian or two English miles
of Barbaro, and that from the evidence of these three witnesses we may
say that the distance travelled was about a mile or a little over. Now
the actual distance by the Tophana route is a little over a mile and
‘certainly eight stadia.’

The indication gathered from the starting-point is that the ships left
the water well below the Double Columns. But I submit that there is
no place suitable for such an undertaking as that under consideration
between Dolma Bagshe and Tophana. The indications, therefore, drawn
from the place of departure, if they do not point to the Tophana route,
are not at variance with it.

As to the precise place at which the ships arrived on the Golden Horn
Critobulus is probably again the safest guide. They came to the shore
τῶν ψυχρῶν ὑδάτων--that is, to the Cool Waters, otherwise called the
Springs and now known as Cassim Pasha. There they were launched into
the Golden Horn. The statement is confirmed incidentally by several
authors who mention that the fleet was opposite a portion of the
walls where stands the Spigas Gate--that is, the gate leading to the
passage across.[604] Cassim Pasha itself was sometimes spoken of as
Spigae.[605] Andreossi (in 1828) suggests that the ships started
from Baltaliman or rather the bay of Stenia, but the only evidence
in favour of this route is the statement of Ducas--who more than any
other contemporary is constantly inaccurate--that they started from
the Sacred Mouth (a name usually employed to designate the north
end of the Bosporus but used by Ducas for the part between Roumelia
and Anatolia-Hissar) and that they reached the harbour opposite the
monastery of St. Cosmas which was outside the landward walls.

Dr. Mordtmann and Professor van Millingen think that the balance of
evidence is in favour of the route from Dolma Bagshe. The route which
Dr. Paspates and Dr. Dethier approved is that which appears to me also
not only the most probable but to have the balance of evidence in its
favour. The tract along which the ships were hauled formed the short
arm of a cross, the long one of which was the road along the ridge now
known as the Grande Rue de Péra: the two giving the modern Greek name
to the city, of Stavrodromion.



In reading the contemporary authors of the period between the Latin and
the Moslem conquests the following questions suggest themselves: What
was the influence of the Orthodox Church upon the people of the capital
and of the empire? What was its value as a national ethical force? and
how did its influence as such a force compare with that of Islam?

Before attempting a reply to these questions certain facts must be
noted. It must be remembered that the empire was composed of many
races and languages. In the Balkan peninsula alone there were always
at least half a dozen races with as many different forms of speech. In
Asia Minor the component elements of the population were even still
more numerous. The Church largely aided the State in the endeavour to
keep these divergent elements under the rule of the empire. Her special
task was to change the various races into Christians. But even when
this task was completed to the extent of causing them all to profess
Christianity they retained their racial characteristics and traditions.
These characteristics, though widely various, may be classified in
two categories. In other words, it may be said that among all the
different populations of the empire there were two streams of tendency:
the Hellenic and the Asiatic. The tendency and influence of each were
markedly present in the church from the first days of the empire
and continued until 1453. Greek influence left an indelible impress
upon the Orthodox Church. But while it influenced the other races
of the empire, the Greeks themselves fell to some extent under the
Asiatic influence. Greek tendency was always to make of Christianity a
philosophy rather than a religion. The opposite tendency, which I have
called Asiatic and which corresponds fairly well to what Matthew Arnold
called Hebraic, had less enduring results upon the population but was
nevertheless constantly present. The two tendencies were constantly
striving one against the other within the Church.

Greek influence (1) largely aided in the formation of a philosophical
body of theology, (2) helped to perpetuate paganism and develop a
paganistic tendency, and (3) deprived the Church of the religious
enthusiasm which the Asiatic tendency might have provided and has often
inspired. The service of the Greeks in reference to the formation of a
body of theological philosophy is too completely recognised to require
any notice. Greek influence helped to perpetuate paganism in various
ways. It was naturally always most powerful in the Balkan peninsula,
its chief centres being Athens and Salonica, but had great weight also
in the western cities of Asia Minor. Greek polytheists in pre-Christian
times were not opposed to the recognition of other gods than those
worshipped by themselves. How this rational toleration, which was as
utterly opposed to the exclusive spirit of Asiatic Christianity as
to that of Islam itself, tended to perpetuate paganism will be best
understood by recalling the early history of the later Roman empire.
The population under the rule of New Rome had for the most part
adopted the profession of Christianity because it was the religion of
the State. Most people found little difficulty in conforming to the
demands of the emperor and became Christians. Under such circumstances
Christianity did not conquer paganism: it absorbed without destroying
it. Just as in Central Asia many tribes who have come under the power
of Russia have been ordered to elect whether they would declare
themselves Christians or Moslems, so in the days of the early Christian
emperors, and especially under the laws of Theodosius the choice was
between a profession of the Court creed or remaining in some form of
paganism where its professors would be subject to various disabilities
and persecutions. The conformity which resulted was curious. The people
became nominally Christians, but they brought with them into the
Church most of their old superstitions. Their ancient deities were not
discarded but were either secretly worshipped or came to be regarded as
Christian saints: their festal days became the commemoration days of
Christian events. I do not forget that something of the same kind went
on in the Western Church and that the missionaries, finding themselves
unable to persuade their converts to abandon their old observances,
deftly adopted them into the Christian Church. But all that was done in
this direction in the West was small in comparison with what went on in
the East. St. George took the place of Apollo. St. Nicholas replaced
Poseidon. The highest hill in every neighbourhood on the mainland
and in every island of the Marmora and the Aegean had fittingly
been crowned with a temple dedicated to the God of Day. The great
dragon, Night, had been overcome by Helios. To this day it is almost
universally true that all the peaks in question have an Orthodox church
which has taken the place of the temple of Apollo and is dedicated to
his successor, St. George.[606] In like manner the temples built in
fishing villages to Poseidon have almost invariably been dedicated
to St. Nicholas. The episcopal staff of a Greek bishop has the two
serpents’ heads associated with Aesculapius. The distribution of holy
bread at funerals, the processions to shrines, to sacred groves, to
Hagiasmas or holy wells, and numerous other customs of the Orthodox
Church, are survivals or rudimentary forms of paganism.[607]

Asiatic influence was more powerful in Constantinople than in Greece.
The explanation of this fact is to be found in the remoteness of Athens
from the capital; in the greater intellectual life of Constantinople;
in the presence of many leaders of thought from the cities in Asia
Minor under Asiatic influence, and in the traditional Roman sentiment
derived from the influence of Latin rulers, literature, and tradition.
The iconoclastic movement towards the end of the eighth century was
a genuine attempt to get rid of pagan practices. It failed because
of the base character of some of its imperial supporters, because of
the opposition of the less cultured western church, and because the
Empress Irene, a native of Athens and brought up among the traditions
of paganism which still lived on in what was then a remote part of the
empire, placed herself at the head of the Hellenic party and with her
strong will was able to prevent any reformation being accomplished.

But paganism in Greece and Asia Minor lived on long after the time of
Irene. The Hellenistic influence struggled hard against the Asiatic or
what was not unfitly called the Roman party. When we come to the last
century of the empire’s history, we find its influence triumphant,
and this to such an extent that we see Plethon and his school, as
the representatives of a phase of Greek thought, dreaming of the
restoration of paganism. I conclude, therefore, that Greek influence
helped to perpetuate paganism or at least a paganistic tendency.

Greek influence deprived the Church of the religious enthusiasm which
the study of the Old Testament has often inspired. It must always
be remembered that the Greeks had the New Testament in a language
they could understand. Every one recognises that a large part of the
intellectual movement in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries was due to the translation of the sacred Scriptures into the
vernacular. But there has been no period in the history of the Greek
race since the compilation of the Christian record in which the Greeks
have not had the advantage of a familiarity with the Gospels and the
writings of St. Paul. They knew the New Testament well. Its Greek
was colloquial. But they were less familiar with the Old Testament.
Although frequent allusions are made to the stories in the older book
by many writers during the later centuries of the Church’s history,
the Septuagint was written in a language less understood by the
people. Indications that the Old Testament influenced men’s conduct
are lacking, and point either to a want of familiarity with it, or to
some other cause which made its influence less than that which it has
had on other peoples. The passionate zeal of our own Puritans, with
their application of Jewish history to English politics; the political
principles of the defenders of civil liberty in America; the fierce
enthusiasm of the Scotch Covenanters, of the Dutch Protestants, and
of the Boers, were all derived from the Old rather than from the New
Testament. The influence of the more ancient book might have been great
upon the Asiatic party if its writings had been as familiar as those
of the New Testament. As it was, though its influence was undoubtedly
felt, that derived from the New Testament became more powerful as the
centuries went on, ultimately triumphed, and led to results which
assist us to furnish an answer to the questions under examination.

What, then, was the general effect of the double stream of influence
on the members of the Orthodox Church? The familiarity of the subjects
of the empire with the text of the New Testament combined with the
intellectual genius of the Greek race led them to take a delight in
the study of the philosophical questions which the New Testament, and
especially the writings of St. Paul, suggest. To take a keen interest
in any metaphysical study is for any people a gain, and it is none
the less so when the subject is theology. Now the interest of the
population in theological questions was at all times absorbing.

When these questions were settled by the Church, the Asiatic influence
made itself felt and produced a conservatism, a stubborn refusal
to change or abandon any position, which the more fickle-minded or
philosophical Greek could never have displayed. Each of the two
tendencies exerted its influence upon the conduct of the Orthodox
Church. Speaking generally, we may say that all its members were
devotedly attached to their faith--or perhaps it would be more exact
to say, to their creeds. Of political questions in the modern sense
they knew little. In their ignorance of foreign nations, questions of
external policy hardly interested them, but the intellectual life of
the country--mostly confined to the great cities, to Nicaea, Salonica,
Smyrna, and above all the capital--was fully awake to theological
questions. While ready to discuss, they maintained every dogma and
every article with a persistence which increased as the years rolled
on. They took a keen interest in any question whenever any heretic
appeared who attempted to throw doubt on what the Church had decided.
They were ready to die for their faith.

The writers of the Greek Church show by abundant examples that they and
the people believed in the existence of a God who lives and rules the
world and the conduct of individuals. Their very superstitions afford
sufficient evidence of such a belief. He was an avenging God. Black
Death and Plague are described as the instruments of His vengeance.
Omens and signs in a variety of forms were the means by which He, or
some of the Hierarchy of Heaven, intimated to the faithful what was
about to happen. The absence of omens was a sign of His displeasure or
His abandonment of their cause.

The men who discussed the religious questions which arose during the
later as well as the earlier centuries of the empire regarded them
as tremendous realities. The discussions were not mere exchange of
opinions or formulating of phrases: not mere academical disputations,
among the learned of the time, of metaphysical abstractions, but were
often careful attempts to solve the insoluble. The results were of
supreme importance. If you believed aright, you would be saved. If you
disbelieved or believed wrongfully, you would be damned in the next
world and, as far as the believers could accomplish it, in this also.
Unless the eagerness, the passion, the deadly Asiatic earnestness
of the religious discussions or wranglings be realised, no true
conception can be formed of fourteenth and fifteenth century life in

Contemporary writers supply abundant and indisputable evidence that,
from the patriarch downwards, the members of the Greek Church attached
overwhelming importance to the correctness of their orthodoxy. The
utmost care about correct definitions was taken by the Church to
check paganism. The miscreant was a worse offender than the man who
disregarded the ordinary laws of morality. Souls were to be saved by
right belief. As in the Western Church, whosoever would be saved,
it was necessary before all things that he should accept the right
formulas. But the Eastern gave greater prominence to the formulas than
even the Western. While the Roman Church attached most importance to
its Catholicity and to the necessity of propagating the faith, the
Greek Church always prided itself rather on its Orthodoxy. If the
question were whether the empire was Christian, and if the test of
being a Christian nation were the jealous guardianship of every dogma
in the precise manner that it had been formulated by the Councils of
the Church, then the Orthodox Church, to which the inhabitants of
the capital and empire belonged, would take a very high rank among
Christian nations.

It is not possible to doubt that the keen interest taken in the
discussion of religious questions quickened the intellectual
development of the population, and in this respect the influence of the
Church was purely beneficial. To suggest, as did the historians of the
eighteenth century, that the Greeks were at once profoundly theological
and profoundly vile is not only to ask that an indictment should be
framed against a whole people, but is contrary to general experience
and to fact. In spite of the occasional conjunction of theology and
immorality in the same individual, the nation which takes a lively
interest in the former is not likely to be addicted to the latter.

A strong and, I think, an unanswerable case might be made out to show
that the religion of the Orthodox Church beneficially influenced
the conduct of men and women in their individual capacity and in
their relations one with another. All believed in the doctrine of
eternal punishment and in the divine gifts granted to the Church
by which punishment might be avoided. In their constant efforts to
take advantage of the graces at the disposal of the Church, and in
their endeavours to attain the ideal of Christian philosophy, men
and women were led by their religion to be more moral, more honest,
and more kindly one to another, than they would otherwise have been.
The denunciations of those who had been guilty of unclean conduct,
and the constant praise of almsgiving, lead to the conclusion that
the Church had so far exercised influence for good. It had given the
citizens of the empire a higher standard of family and social life.
The very stubbornness which the Asiatic tendency supplied, and which
led all to resist every attempt to change the formulas of the faith,
came in itself to stand the population in good stead after 1453. Their
wranglings on religious questions helped to form a public opinion which
prevented any considerable number of Christians from abandoning their
religion. We may safely conclude, therefore, that the Orthodox Church
had aided in developing intellectual life, in raising and maintaining
a high tone of morality, and in so attaching its members to their
religion that when the time of trial came they remained faithful. It
had done more. While accomplishing these objects it had raised a whole
series of heterogeneous races to a higher level of civilisation and had
largely contributed to make the empire the foremost and best educated
state in Europe. It had checked the Greek tendency to attachment merely
to the city or province and had made patriotism and brotherhood words
of wider signification than they possessed in Greece.

It is when we pass from the influence of the Church on the conduct
of the individual, to ask what was the value of its ethical teaching
in regard to national life, whether it ever set before the nation a
lofty national ideal, or whether it ever caused a wave of religious
enthusiasm which influenced the nation as a whole, that we find the
Orthodox Church during the later centuries of its history greatly
lacking. Religion was to guide the conduct of the individual and to
save him from eternal punishment. There was little or no conception
of it as an aid to national righteousness. There was no inspiration
for national action, such as a study of the Old Testament has often
supplied. There was never any great religious fervour for the
accomplishment of an object because it was believed to be the divine
will. I am not thinking of such religious enthusiasm as led to the
abolition of the slave trade or of slavery, to the temperance movement
or to that for the diminution of crime and the reform of criminals
or for the bettering the condition of the labouring classes and the
like. These are social developments belonging to later years, which
may be credited, in part at least, to the account of Christianity. It
is in the contemporary religious movements of other portions of the
Christian world that the measure of the national religious life of
the empire must be taken. The series of Crusades enables a comparison
of this kind to be fairly made, though other standards of comparison
suggest themselves. The empire under the rule of Constantinople had
a greater interest in checking the progress of the Moslems in Syria,
Egypt, and Asia Minor than had the Western nations. But in the whole
course of Byzantine history, though the empire steadily resisted the
Mahometan armies, there was no display of religious enthusiasm to lend
its aid at any time comparable with that which was shown in the West.
An Eastern Peter the Hermit could not have aroused the members of the
Orthodox Church. No Godfrey de Bouillon could have found statesmen in
the East to have espoused his cause. If leaders had been forthcoming,
followers would have been wanting. Though the statesmen of the West
were influenced by many motives to join in the Crusades, they, too,
were largely under the sway of religious fervour. The nations of which
they were the leaders did display such fervour for the accomplishment
of objects which were believed to be in conformity with the divine
will. As for the great mass of crusaders, it cannot be doubted that
they took the cross mainly because they believed that they were doing
the will of God. Absence of precaution, deficiency of organisation,
unreasoning fanatical zeal, unreasonable and senseless haste to come
into conflict with the infidel, the army of child crusaders, the
sacrifices men made of their property, most of the incidents, indeed,
which make up the narratives of the Crusades, show that the Soldiers of
the Cross were steeped in religious fervour, and were in a condition of
pious exaltation. They were, as they called themselves, an army of God.
They were willing to face any danger, and to go to certain death for
their Master’s cause.

The Greek was always ready to defend a dogma. He entertained a profound
dislike and contempt for Christian heretics who were usually less well
informed than he and were generally fanatically in earnest, but he was
more tolerant of heresy than the men of the West, who in the Middle
Ages bestowed on heretics a fanatical hatred and contempt greater even
than that felt towards the infidel, and like that entertained in the
present day towards anarchists as enemies of the human race.

No cause ever presented itself to the Greek as capable of arousing
such fervour as the soldiers of the West displayed. Religion having
become a New Testament philosophy, and the Old Testament inspiration
in national life having been lost, there was little care for its
propagation. The missionary age of the Orthodox Church in the
empire, as soon as the Hellenic influence triumphed over the Asiatic,
had passed away. Since the days of Cyril and Methodius, the great
apostles of the ninth century, the Church could show few conversions
and few serious attempts at conversion. That the Church should be
orthodox was apparently enough. There was no attempt to enlarge its
area. Christianity appeared to be regarded by one party as the best
system of philosophy, and by the other, much as the Jew regarded his
religion, as a sacred treasure to be kept for his own use and not to
be offered to outside unbelievers. His religion in the later centuries
never really moved the Greek to engage in missions. Except in regard
to personal conduct, to almsgiving, kindness to his fellow-members
of the Orthodox Church, and personal and commercial morality, he was
incapable of religious sentiment. Something due to his race, something
to his traditions, and something to his theological training, made
Christianity, except as a philosophical system, sit lightly upon him
and failed to make it a powerful national force. Then, as now, the
Greek members of the Orthodox Church could not sympathise with or even
comprehend the religious sentiment which has led the men of the West,
whether acknowledging the jurisdiction of Rome or not, to undertake
great movements, or even war, in defence of an object whose only
recommendation was that it had right on its side.

In spite of the fact that in the empire and throughout Asia Minor
nationality and religion were, as indeed they are to this day, always
confounded or regarded as synonymous terms, Orthodox Christianity
was unable to add a powerful religious sentiment to the defence of
the empire. As a force inducing them to resist the encroachments of
Islam, like that which influenced our fathers against Spain or the
Ironsides against Charles, I doubt whether it was ever of much value.
We have seen a patriarch writing apparently with great satisfaction
that the Church was allowed to retain its liberty under Turkish rule.
Throughout the long centuries of struggle against Islam, there were
many Christians who transferred themselves to the jurisdiction of the
sultans in order that they might live in peace. The individual aspect
of Christianity was regarded, not the national.

It is when the influence of the Church upon the spirit of the
population of the empire is compared with that of Mahometanism upon
the Turkish hordes that its weakness as a dynamic force is most
plainly seen. Mahometanism, like Christianity in Western lands and in
Russia, is a missionary faith. Islam as a fighter’s religion, with its
fatalism, its rewards of the most sensual pleasures that a barbarian
is capable of conceiving, and its ennobling teaching that fighting
the battles of the faith is fighting for God, has produced the most
terrible armies that have ever come out from among any of the races
among which its converts have been made. Islam in the twentieth century
has spent much of its original force, because doubt as to its divine
origin has entered into the hearts of its ablest members. Those among
them who have seen or have otherwise learned the results of Christian
civilisation instinctively and almost unconsciously judge the two
religions by their fruits. Such men either become entirely neglectful
of the ceremonious duties which their religion imposes, or, if they
profess to have become more intent in their religious convictions than
before, perform their ceremonies with a sub-consciousness that their
religion is not better than that of the unbelievers. In whichever
category they fall they lose their belief in the exclusively divine
character of their creed. Nor do the studies in astronomy, medicine,
geology, and other modern sciences fail to implant a similar and even
a greater amount of scepticism in the Mahometan than they have done in
the Christian mind. While visits to foreign countries and scientific
studies are undertaken by few, their influence as a leaven is great.

In the centuries preceding the Moslem conquest of Constantinople
scepticism was absent among both the Christian and Mahometan masses.
The Ottoman Turks in the fifteenth century, more perhaps than at any
other time, were full of the zeal of new converts. They were in a
period of conquest which stimulated them. Many, perhaps most of them,
believed in their divine mission. They were the chosen people, whose
duty it was to give idolaters the choice of conversion to the one true
faith or of death, to subdue all nations who accepted either the Old or
the New Testament but refused to accept the prophethood of Mahomet, and
to treat them as rayahs or cattle. Their spiritual pride caused them to
think of those who professed any form of Christianity as being inferior
and divinely predestined to occupy a hopelessly lower plane, as having
only the privilege that their lives should be spared so long as they
paid tribute and accepted subjection. Their central, overpowering
belief was that they had a mission from God and the Prophet, and the
result of such belief was fearlessness of danger. It was their duty to
kill idolaters and subjugate Christians. Whatever happened to them in
the fulfilment of this duty was not their business but God’s. He would
bring about the predestined victory or the temporary defeat; but in
either case it was well with them. If they lived, the plunder of their
enemies was their reward; if they died, then heaven and the houris.

When this attitude of mind is compared with that which existed among
the members of the Orthodox Church, we see at once great divergences
between the two forms of faith as national ethical forces. On the one
hand, the student of comparative religions must give that Church credit
for having aided the growth of the population in the Christian virtues,
for having given them an inspiration enabling them to suffer and to
hope, for having preserved learning, developed national intelligence,
cultivated exact thought, for having promoted philosophical studies and
in various ways guarded the treasures of classic times until the rest
of Europe was ready to receive them. On the other hand, such student,
while recognising that Mahometanism prevents progress by assigning an
inferior position to woman, by inculcating a spirit of fatalism which
mischievously affects almost every act of the believer’s life and
keeps the Turkish race in poverty, and by presenting a lower ideal of
life, will have to admit that its influence as a religious force, with
its ever-present sense of a Supreme Power, omnipotent to save or to
destroy, was far greater than that of the Orthodox Church, and that
the Church failed to supply the stimulus of a national inspiration
comparable with that of the hostile creed, or with that furnished by
Christianity to the men of the West.


[1] _Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_, edited by J. B. Bury,
M.A. Whenever Gibbon is quoted in the text of this volume it is from
Professor Bury’s edition.

[2] Vol. vii. p. 163, Gibbon’s note.

[3] The principal of these works are:

  1. ‘Belagerung und Eroberung Constantinopels im Jahre 1453.’
  Von Dr. A. D. Mordtmann (Stuttgart, 1858).

  2. ‘Die Eroberungen von Constantinopel im dreizehnten und
  fünfzehnten Jahrhundert.’ Von Dr. Johann Heinrich Krause
  (Halle, 1870).

  3. ‘Les Derniers Jours de Constantinople.’ Par E. A. Vlasto
  (Paris, 1883).

  4. Πολιορκία καὶ Ἁλωσις τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως. By A. G.
  Paspates (Athens, 1890).

  5. ‘Constantine, the last Emperor of the Greeks.’ By Chedomil
  Mijatovich, formerly Servian Minister at the Court of St.
  James (London, 1892).

  6. Two valuable papers by Dr. A. Mordtmann (the son of Dr.
  A. D. Mordtmann) entitled _Die letzten Tage von Byzanz_,
  in the ‘Mitteilungen des deutschen Exkursions-Klubs in
  Konstantinopel,’ 1895.

[4] _Giornale dell’ Assedio di Constantinopoli_, di Nicolo Barbaro,
P.V., corredato di note e documenti per Enrico Cornet (Vienna, 1856).

[5] Βίος τοῦ Μωαμὲθ βʹ.

[6] Herr Müller’s preface is dated 1869, but I am not aware that it was
published before it appeared in _Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum_,
vol. v. The dedicatory epistle to Mahomet was published from another
and a somewhat longer version by Tischendorf in 1870 in his _Notitia
Codicis Bibliorum Sinaitici_ (Leipzig).

[7] ‘Informacion envoyée (en 1453) tant par Francisco de Franco au
très révérend père en Dieu Monsgr le Cardinal d’Avignon que par Jehan
Blanchin et Jacques Tetaldi marchand Florentin sur la prinse de
Constantinoble à laquelle le dit Jacques estoit personellement.’ One
version is published in _Chroniques de Charles VII roi de France, par
Jean Chartier_, vol. iii., edited by Vallet de Virivalle (Paris, 1858).
Another, published by Dethier with several important differences, is
stated to be taken from _Thesaurus novus Anecdotorum_ (Paris, 1717).
Though his narrative was printed in France early in the eighteenth
century, it appears to have been generally unknown and is not alluded
to by Gibbon.

[8] _Ubertini Pusculi Brixiensis Constantinopoleos_: in _Analekten der
mittel- und neugriechischen Literatur_, by J. A. Ellisen (Leipzig).

[9] _Esquisse Topographique de Constantinople_ (Lille, 1892).

[10] _Byzantine Constantinople: the Walls of the City and adjoining
Historical Sites_ (published by John Murray, 1899).

[11] See authorities quoted in Sathas, _Documents Inédits_, i. p. xii.

[12] For example, Sir John Maundeville speaks of ‘Constantinople, where
the Emperor of Greece usually dwells,’ _Early Travels in Palestine_, p.
130 (Bohn’s edition).

[13] See valuable remarks on the name of the empire in the Preface
to Professor Bury’s _Later Roman Empire_, and in the Introduction to
_Documents Inédits relatifs à l’Histoire de la Grèce_, by Sathas.

[14] Villehardouin, ch. lxxxvi.

[15] The soldiers are those who received the _soldi_ or pay, as
distinguished from the Crusaders, who were supposed to fight only for
the cause of the Cross.

[16] La Sainte Chapelle in Paris was built to receive these treasures.

[17] Πύλη τῆς πηγῆς, so called because it led to the Holy Well, is
better known as the Silivria Gate. See Professor Van Millingen’s
_Byzantine Constantinople_, p. 75.

[18] P. 191. Pachymer, writing fifty years afterwards, adds that they
placed ladders against the walls; and Nicephorus Gregoras, writing a
century afterwards, speaks of a secret entry by an old subterranean
passage for water, through which fifty men passed. Gibbon makes the
mistake of saying that the entry was at the Golden Gate. Strategopulus
had the Gate of the Fountain--that is, the Silivria Gate--opened for
his troops. The Emperor Michael subsequently entered by the Golden
Gate; possibly, as Dethier suggests (iii. 605), by the ancient gate of
that name in the Constantine Walls, which was still used for ceremonial

[19] It is unlikely that at this time there were any foreigners among
the fighting men other than Frenchmen. The pope’s demands for the
defence of the empire do not appear to have been responded to outside

[20] _Epist. Inn._ viii. 133.

[21] Pachymer, iii. 10. Greg. iv. 4.

[22] Pach. iii. 19.

[23] Ibid. iv. 1.

[24] Pach. iv. 6. Pachymer took part in these proceedings, and was in
fact one of the clerks of the court.

[25] The Holy Gates are in the middle of the Iconostasis or screen
which separates the bema or chancel from the nave.

[26] Raynoldus and Vadingus.

[27] Ch. v. 9. It should be remembered that Pachymer had himself joined
the Latin Church.

[28] Pach. v. 18.

[29] Pach. vi. 24 and 25.

[30] I have relied mostly for this account of the attempt at Union on
Pachymer (I agree with Krumbacher’s high estimate of the value of this
author’s history):

‘Pachymeres ragt durch seine Bildung und litterarische Thätigkeit
über seine Zeitgenossen empor und kann als der grösste byzantinische
Polyhistor des 13. Jahrhunderts bezeichnet werden. In ihm erblickt man
deutlich die Licht- und Schattenseiten des Zeitalters der Paläologen.
Es fehlt dem Pachymeres nicht an Gelehrsamkeit, Originalität und
Witz.’ _Geschichte der Byzantinischen Litteratur_, p. 289. Pachymer
was himself a Greek, born in Nicaea but a member of the Latin Church.
He deals with the doings of the emperor and the Greek ecclesiastics in
a fair spirit. His History is essentially that of his own times and
covers the period from 1261 to 1308.

[31] Pach. part 2, ii. 18.

[32] The following table of descent will illustrate the text:

  Baldwin II., emperor of Constantinople, fled the city 1261, died 1272.
  Philip, married Beatrice, daughter of Charles of Anjou, king of Sicily,
      |      died 1288.
  Catherine, married in 1301 Charles of Valois, son of Philip III. of France;
      |      Charles died 1308.
  |                 |                                   |          |
  John,         Catherine married Philip of Tarentum,  Joanna  Elizabeth
  died without    son of Charles of Sicily. Philip
  issue.          died 1322: Catherine in 1346.

[33] Pachymer indeed states that the Pope ordered Roger to be given up.

[34] Dr. Koëlle has in my opinion satisfactorily demonstrated that
‘Tatar’ is an incorrect spelling, due mainly to the fact that this form
of the word comes to us from the Chinese, who cannot pronounce the
letter _r_.

[35] _The Mahommedans_, by J. D. Rees, C.I.E., 1894.

[36] Pach. ii. 25.

[37] ‘Roum’ is still the Turkish form of ‘Rome,’ and exists in the
names Erzeroum, Roumelia, &c.

[38] Pach. iv. 27.

[39] _Early Travels in Palestine_, Bohn’s edition, p. 241.

[40] Maundeville in Syria met Christians from Prester John’s country,
p. 189. See Col. Yule’s _Marco Polo_, i. 275, a book which is a model
of good editing.

[41] When, therefore, Mr. Billinski speaks of the Turks of to-day
having ‘millions of confederates in the heart of Russia’ ready to obey
the commands of the Mussulman pontiff, he is, I believe, entirely
mistaken. The Mahometans under Russian rule are a comparatively
insignificant part of her population, and there is no reason to believe
that any but a very small portion of them would think it a religious
duty to fight against the Czar at the bidding of the Sultan. It should
also not be forgotten that the majority of them are Shiahs, who have
never shown any disposition to aid the Sunnis, who acknowledge the
caliphate of Constantinople. _Nineteenth Century_, Nov. 1891, p. 731.

[42] Maundeville in 1322, or a year or two later, discussed
Mahometanism with many of its professors, and goes so far as to say,
‘Because they go so nigh our faith, they are easily converted to
Christian law.’ _Early Travels in Palestine_, p. 196.

[43] See _ante_, p. 28.

[44] Pach. iv. 3.

[45] _Ibid._ iv. 6.

[46] That this aversion to agriculture, and contentment amid poverty,
of the Turkish peasant are not merely the result of Mahometanism, is
evidenced by the fact that the Pomaks--that is, the Bulgarians who
have accepted Islam--and the Mahometans of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who
have emigrated into Asia Minor since the Russo-Turkish War of 1878,
are noticed everywhere to be distinguished by their comparative energy
and by the success they are achieving in various forms of agricultural

[47] Pach. vi. 21.

[48] iv. 21.

[49] Gregoras states that the Turkish ships employed by Andronicus
plundered all the coasts and the islands (viii. 10). Chalcondylas
claims that Othman with eight thousand Turks who occupied the Thracian
Chersonesus was entirely defeated.

[50] It is usually impossible to arrive at the correct estimate of
the numbers of the invaders, but it may be said once for all that,
while they were undoubtedly very large, the figures given by the Greek
authors are seldom trustworthy.

[51] Sir John Maundeville, who visited Constantinople in 1322, remarks
on the diminution of the empire: ‘For he was emperor of Romania and of
Greece, of all Asia the Less, and of the land of Syria, of the land of
Persia and Arabia, but he hath lost all but Greece’ (_Early Travels in
Palestine_, p. 130).

[52] Cant. ii. 9, 14, 15; Greg. ix. 10, xiii. 3; Ducas, vi.

[53] Ducas, i. 6.

[54] Cant. iv. 3.

[55] Vol. vii. p. 30, edition of Dr. J. B. Bury. The Tartars were
still in the Balkan peninsula, and Orchan in 1347, probably just after
the marriage of John, sent six thousand Turks to aid Matthew, son of
Cantacuzenus, in fighting against the kral of Serbia.

[56] Greg. xxvii. 49.

[57] Cant. iv. 5 and 6.

[58] ἕνεκα ἀσφαλείας πράττειν, iv. 3.

[59] Even Gibbon (vii. 30) says, ‘It was in the last quarrel with his
pupil that Cantacuzenus inflicted the deep and deadly wound which could
never be healed by his successors and which is poorly expiated by his
theological dialogue against the prophet Mahomet.’ But the Moslems,
both from the north and south, had been fighting in Europe fifty years
earlier, sometimes on the side of the Greeks, oftener, as with the
Catalans, against them.

[60] Heyd’s _History of Commerce in the Levant_.

[61] The Black Death (πανούκλα) was the terrible disease which
spread throughout Europe and depopulated most of its large cities
between 1346 and 1370. Cantacuzenus, whose son Andronicus fell a
victim, gives a vivid and terrible picture of its symptoms, and of its
effect upon the population (iv. 8). Dr. Mordtmann, who is not merely
distinguished as an archæologist well acquainted with the Byzantine
writers, but as a physician of great experience, believes it to have
been a black form of smallpox, and not what is usually known as plague,
and a well-known specialist in plague, to whose attention I have
submitted the account of Cantacuzenus, is disposed to accept the same

[62] The walls of Galata, both before and after this enlargement, which
doubled the area of the city, may still be traced.

[63] The demand for slaves, and especially for girls for the harems,
was always great. Slaves, indeed, usually formed the most valuable part
of the booty in a raiding expedition.

[64] Cant. iv. 39.

[65] _Ibid._ iv. 37.

[66] _Ibid._ iv. 37.

[67] The statement that he visited Italy and Germany is made by Ducas
(i. 11), but it is remarkable that Cantacuzenus makes no mention of it.
Muralt (p. 640) suggests that he left Tenedos in the spring of 1352.
But Cantacuzenus, writing of the events of 1254, represents John as
having passed a whole year in Tenedos. Possibly this would be a year
terminating in January 1355.

[68] Gregoras, xxix. 25.

[69] Rayn. iv. lxiii.

[70] iv. 9.

[71] The History of Nicephorus Gregoras, as written by an enemy, is a
useful corrective. Krumbacher in his account of Byzantine literature
speaks of Gregoras as ‘die Hauptperson des 14. Jahrhunderts’ (p. 19).
His narrative is described by Cantacuzenus as stamped with ignorance,
partiality, and falsehood. Its chief accusation against him is not
merely false but improbable (iv. 24). In his own History Cantacuzenus
declares that he has never departed from the truth either on account of
hatred or the desire to say pleasant things (iv. concluding chapter).
What he finds most fault with in Gregoras is the statement that, even
during the lifetime of Andronicus, Cantacuzenus had become possessed of
a burning desire to become emperor, and that he had consulted certain
monks at Mount Athos who were supposed to have the power of divination,
in order to learn whether he would accomplish his desire. The story, he
declares, is absolutely false. It is brought up because he as emperor
protected Palamas in his religious controversies where Gregoras took
the opposite side.

[72] iv. 9.

[73] iv. 24.

[74] iv. 28.

[75] iv. 17.

[76] Greg. xi. 10.

[77] _Ibid._

[78] The Bogomils still exist in Eastern Rumelia. One may be sceptical
as to the doctrines in which, according to their enemies, they
believed. Apparently they were quietists, searchers after the Inner
Light, who would have nothing to do with the worship of Eikons, were
possibly Unitarians, and had a tendency in many directions towards
what may be called reformation principles. Their teaching was imbued
with the Slavic mysticism which is characteristic to-day of Russian

The Bogomils became first noticeable in Bulgaria in the days of King
Peter (927–968). Even a few years earlier they are alluded to as
certain ‘Pagan Slavs and Manichaeans.’ Later on the Bogomils are spoken
of as Paulicians. In Bosnia they became so powerful that the whole
country was described as Bogomil. The pope in 1407 promised help to
Sigismund against the ‘Manichaeans and Arians’ in Bosnia, and they were
beaten and the kingdom dismembered in 1410–11. The Council of Bâle
received a deputation from the Bogomils in 1435 and dealt at the same
time with them and with the Hussites. In 1443 they lent valuable aid to
Hunyadi against the Turks. Persecuted by both the Catholic and Orthodox
Churches, many of the magnates who had been forced to become Catholics
in order to retain their lands turned Mahometans, and their example
was largely followed by the smaller landholders. Among the Mahometans
of Bosnia there still exist many customs of Christian origin. Mr.
Evans, in _Through Bosnia and Herzegovina_, states that there are still
many thousands of Bogomils in these countries. Herr Asboth, who has
been over the country, declares the statement to be too general, and
says that he was never able to find any, although he admits that they
recently existed. Subject in Bulgaria to persecution from the Orthodox
Church, many of them sought escape about a century ago by joining the
Church of Rome. Bogomilism spread from Bosnia into Europe, where it
gave rise to the Cathari or Albigenses, who acknowledged the Church of
Dragovitza in Macedonia as their mother Church. The best account I know
of the Bogomils in Bosnia is in J. de Asboth’s _Official Tour through
Bosnia and Herzegovina_, London, 1900.

[79] Vol. vii. p. 87.

[80] Raynaldus, N. xxxii., professes to give the text of his
submission. If his text is genuine it shows that John was under the
same delusion as Michael had been: namely, that he could force the
Orthodox Church to accept what he wanted.

[81] Ducas, xii. Chalcondylas makes a similar statement (i. 45); Canale
says that a Genoese doctor restored sight to Andronicus.

[82] Sauli, _Colonia dei Genovesi in Galata_, ii. 260.

[83] Urban the Sixth died in 1389.

[84] Ducas, xiii.

[85] This was in 1097, when, on the invitation of Godfrey de Bouillon,
Alexis had reached the city on its water side by taking his boats, in
part at least, overland from the Gulf of Moudania to the lake. The
object of Godfrey was to prevent the Crusaders being exposed to the
demoralisation of plundering a hostile city.

[86] Greg. ix. 2 says the Turks had carried off three hundred thousand
Christian captives. The Turks fought well, but were exterminated.

[87] Cant. iv. 16.

[88] Cant. iv. 39.

[89] I reserve my description of the Janissaries for a later chapter.

[90] Ch. xxiii.

[91] Chalc. i. 51, and Phrantzes, i. 11.

[92] Du Cange, _Familiae Dalmaticae_, 230, Venetian edition. The
story of this battle is fully described in _Die Serben und Türken im
XIV. und XV. Jahrhundert_ of S. Novakovich (Semlin, 1897) and also in
Ireček’s _History of the Bulgarians_ (p. 430). Ireček states that
as late as the seventeenth century the stone monument of the despot
Uglisha’s tomb still existed. Uglisha was one of the three brothers.

[93] Chalc. i. 44 says that the sultan immediately beheaded his son;
Ducas, that Countouz was blinded (xii.).

[94] Cossovo-pol, the Plain of Blackbirds, is between Pristina and
Prisrend, to the north-east of Uskub. The town of Cossovo is due south
of Prisrend, and about thirty miles distant.

[95] Novacovich, p. 335. ‘Gleichwie durch den Krieg an der Maritza das
Schicksal Ost-Bulgariens und der serbischen Staaten in Macedonien,
ebenso ist durch die Schlacht aus Kossovopolje, den 15. Juni 1389, das
Schicksal der nördlichen serbischen Länder und des westlichen Bulgarien
entschieden worden, namentlich der Länder des Fürsten Lazar und Buk

[96] Sad-ud-din. See also Halil Ganem’s _Les Sultans Ottomans_, Paris,
1901. Upon the assassination of Murad the custom grew up, which
continued till about 1820, of not allowing any Christian belonging
to a foreign state to enter the presence of the sultan except with
Janissaries holding each arm.

[97] Now called Anatolia-hissar. The word _hissar_ means castle.

[98] The version of Ducas differs from those of Chalcondylas and
Phrantzes, the first of whom knows nothing of the arrangement
suggested, but states that Manuel left the city for Italy, while
Phrantzes declares that John, having lost the favour of Bajazed, fled
to his uncle, who entrusted the city to him during his absence (Phr.
pp. 61–3.)

[99] Ducas, xx.; Chalc. iv. p. 183. Phrantzes, p. 89, praises Mahomet
very highly.

[100] Ducas, xxiii.

[101] Mersaite declared he failed because of the presence of a noble
lady, evidently the Holy Virgin, walking upon and guarding the walls.

[102] According to another version he withdrew on account of the
famine and plague which prevailed in his army. It is, however, certain
that the Turkish revolt in favour of Mustafa took place, and in the
following year, 1423, Murad captured the leader, Elias Pasha, and
bowstrung both him and the young Mustafa at Nicaea. Before the end of
the year he returned to Thrace and took possession of Adrianople.

[103] See _ante_; and also Pachymer, iii. 10 to iv. 25.

[104] ‘The Greek Church has had a fossilised aversion to change;
boasting that it follows the doctrines and practices of the Apostolic
Church, it believes that it has no need of reform.’ _Eighteen Centuries
of the Orthodox Greek Church_, by Rev. A. H. Hore, p. 553 (Jas. Parker
& Co.: London, 1899).

The expression ‘fossilised aversion’ is perhaps too strong, though I
should be prepared to admit that the Eastern _non possumus_ was at
least as obstinate as the Western. The Orthodox Church in countries
where it is free, as in Greece and Russia, shows signs of growth, and
therefore hardly deserves the adjective ‘fossilised.’ Since 1453 in
Turkey it has been comatose.

[105] Milman, _History of Latin Christianity_, 3rd edition, vol. viii.
p. 348.

[106] While the rival representatives were in Constantinople Murad
suggested to John that his friendship under the circumstances would
be of greater value than that of the pope. Chalc., Syropulus, and

[107] Phrantzes, pp. 181–6.

[108] Vol. vii. p. 108.

[109] Second Council of Nicaea, in 787.

[110] The copies sent to London and Karlsruhe, as well as the diptych
of Rome (the official record) consulted by Niches, signed by the
emperor of Constantinople and by thirty-six Latin prelates, contain
on this point only the following: ἔτι ὁρίζομεν τὴν ἁγίαν ἀποστολικὴν
καθέδραν καὶ τὸν ῥομαϊκὸν διάδοχον εἶναι τοῦ μακαρίου Πέτρου. The pope
and forty-two Latin prelates, on the other hand, signed the following:
_Item definimus S. Ap. sedem et romanum pontificem in universum orbem
tenere primatum et ipsum pontificem romanum successorem esse S. Petri_.

[111] Many of the towers near the Golden Gate bear inscriptions showing
that they were repaired during John’s reign. For the inscriptions see
Paspates’ Βυζαντιναὶ Μελέται.

[112] Caramania was the Turkish state which remained longest outside
Ottoman dominion. At one period it extended from the river Sangarius
to Adana. Ordinarily its boundaries did not extend further north than
Konia. See Stanley Lane-Poole’s _Mohammedan Dynasties_, p. 134.

[113] The island of Chios had for several years been held by a
Commercial Company, mostly if not exclusively of Genoese, each of whose
members was, apparently, known by the name of Justiniani.

[114] Gibbon suggests, on the authority of the _Hist. Anonyme de
St-Denys_, that the French had murdered their Turkish prisoners on
the eve of the engagement, and that the sultan was merely retaliating
(Gibbon, vii. 37).

[115] Chalc. ii. 807.

[116] Chap. xv.

[117] The word _timour_ is the same as the ordinary Turkish word for
iron, _demir_.

[118] Leunclavius, 250.

[119] Leunclavius, pp. 250–1, Ven. edition, makes the conquest of
Damascus in 1399; Chalcondylas and others, in 1402; the Turkish authors
quoted by Von Hammer, in 1401. The statement of the hindrance due to
locusts I take from Muralt, 772, who quotes as his authority ‘Bizar,’ a
name unknown to me.

[120] The Crescent, which Gibbon and other writers assert to have only
been employed by the Turks after the capture of Constantinople, had
probably been used by them for many centuries previously. It is true
that it had been made use of in Constantinople at an early period, and
figures on several coins of Constantine, but I doubt whether it was
used as the symbol of Constantinople in the later centuries of its
history. The Crusades are not incorrectly described as wars between
the Cross and the Crescent. The symbol is an ancient one and figures
with the star on several coins belonging to about 200 B.C. The Abassid
dynasty so used it. Professor Hilprecht considers it a remnant of
moon-worship and connects it with the subsequent cult of Ashtaroth,
Astarte, or Aphrodite.

[121] Though the Turks were a branch of the Tartar race, the Greek
authors by this time had acquired the habit of calling the nation which
Othman had formed Turks, and all others from Central Asia Tartars, and
it is convenient to follow this nomenclature.

[122] Von Hammer has shown conclusively that the story of an iron cage
is a mistake. It arises from the misinterpretation of the Turkish word
_Kafés_, which has the two significations given above. Two contemporary
authors made the blunder, Phrantzes and Arab Schah. A Bavarian, who
was made prisoner at the battle of Nicopolis, named Schildberger, and
who was present at the battle of Angora, has given a detailed account
of the massacre of the Christians, but he does not mention the cage.
(His travels between 1394 and 1427 have been translated and published
by the Hakluyt Society, 1879.) Neither do Ducas, Chalcondylas, or
Boucicaut, though they state that Bajazed died in irons, which he had
to wear every night after his attempt at escape. Six Persian authors
who wrote the history of Timour are silent about the cage. The oldest
Turkish historian recounts, upon the evidence of an eye-witness, that
Bajazed was carried about in a palanquin ‘like a Kafés,’ or in the
usual kind of grilled palanquin in which ladies of the harem travelled.
Sad-ud-din, one of the most exact of Turkish historians, states that
the story of the iron cage given by many Turkish writers is a pure

[123] I have relied for the account of the battle of Angora and the
subsequent progress of Timour, mainly upon Von Hammer (vol. ii.),
who is at his best in describing this period of Turkish history. The
authorities are carefully given by him. Zinkeisen, in his _History of
the Turks_, calls attention to the deterioration of the Ottoman armies
during the reign of Bajazed, and attributes it to the profligacy of the

[124] Chalc. iv. p. 170. Ducas says he disappeared in Caramania; Phr.
p. 86, that he was bowstrung. There was, according to Chalcondylas,
another son of Bajazed, the youngest, also named Isa, who was baptised
and died in Constantinople in 1417. This was probably the son given
over as hostage to Manuel.

[125] Ducas, xix.

[126] Chalc. iv.; Phr. i. 29; Ducas, 19.

[127] _Official Tour in Bosnia and Herzegovina_, by J. de Asboth.

[128] i. 37.

[129] Ducas, xxiv.

[130] Phr. i. 38.

[131] In reference to this passage across the Dardanelles, Ducas (ch.
xxvii.) gives an interesting piece of information as to the size of
the Genoese vessels. There were seven large ships. Murad was in the
largest, which contained 1,300 Turkish and Frank soldiers. These ships
‘covered the sea like floating cities or islands.’

[132] Ducas mentions expressly that in the same year three Mustafas
died, first, the pretender, who claimed to be the son of Bajazed;
second, his brother, and, third, the grandson of Atin (ch. xxviii.).

[133] De la Brocquière, whose narrative was finished in 1438,
states that, when in Galata, the ambassador of the duke of Milan,
the protector of the Genoese, told him that ‘to do mischief to the
Venetians he had contributed to make them lose Salonica taken from them
by the Turks;’ and he adds, ‘Certainly in this he acted so much the
worse, for I have seen the inhabitants of that town deny Jesus Christ
and embrace the Mahometan religion.’ _Early Travels_, pp. 335–6.

[134] Halil was the one Turkish leader in 1453 friendly to the Greeks.
Even at this early date he showed a similar spirit. Chalc. 136,
Venetian edition.

[135] Phr. ii. 13, p. 180.

[136] Possibly Hungary was not mentioned, with the object of leading
the Turks to believe that the place of attack would not be nearer than

[137] Callimachus, who describes the battle, took part and was wounded
in it.

[138] I have followed here the version of Ducas (xxxii.). It is
doubtful, however, whether this expedition into Caramania ought not to
be placed a year earlier. See the authorities quoted by Muralt, p. 856.

[139] Chal. vi.; Ducas, xxxii. The latter states that Hunyadi refused
either to sign or to swear.

[140] The treaty was made in June. According to Muralt, it was broken
in the same month. If so, the account of Ducas is incorrect. Murad was
informed by George of Serbia of the renewal of war and again took the
government into his own hands ‘at the beginning of summer, when the
dog-days were commencing.’ Ducas, xxxii.

[141] _Early Travels_, pp. 346–347.

[142] Lonicerus, p. 18, speaking of the cardinal, does not go so far.
He says, ‘qui Pontifici licere juramenta praesertim hostibus Christiani
nominis praestata rescindere contendebat.’ Thurocz (quoted by Von
Hammer, p. 307, vol. ii.) and Cambini, p. 13, make similar statements.

[143] _Liber Jurium_, xxii. 57, xxvi. 24, 26. Chalc. vi. Aeneas Silvius
states that Eugenius, when he was informed of the treaty, wrote to
Cardinal Julian that it was null as having been signed without the
papal sanction; that he ordered Ladislaus to disregard it, and that
he gave him absolution for so doing. At the same time, he directed
the cardinal to do his best to renew the war, in order that the great
preparations he had taken in hand might not be fruitless. The statement
may be true, but it is difficult to believe that the report of the
signature could have reached Rome and that his answer could have
arrived to the cardinal before war was declared.

[144] The Turkish accounts agree that the crossing was at the Bosporus.
Barletius, Book II. p. 38, with whom Leunclavius agrees, says: ‘Si vera
est fama,’ merchant vessels transported the army over the Bosporus,
receiving a gold coin per man. Bonfinius likewise gives this story
of payment and says it was made to the Genoese. Lonicerus, p. 18,
says the fleet crossed the Dardanelles. Ducas, whose account I have
adopted, states that the fleet only crossed with great difficulty and
against the will of the emperor. Chalcondylas makes the transit take
place at Hieron, near the Dardanelles (Chalc. 135); one writer, at
Asomaton. There is a church of the Asomatoi (the Bodiless, _i.e._ of
Angels) at Arnaoutkeui still existing. See _The Constantiade_, where
the Patriarch gives an account of it. Phrantzes identifies the position
on the Bosporus (namely, opposite Anatolia-Hissar) by saying that it
was near the narrow part of the Bosporus above the village of Asomaton
or Arnaoutkeui: κατὰ τὸ στενὸν ἐγγὺς τοῦ ἀνωτέρου μέρους τῆς τῶν
Ἀσωμάτων κώμης (Ph. ch. II. p. 223), which is conclusive as to the
locality he wishes to indicate. Ducas also in several places gives the
name of Hieron to the straits between Anatolia and Roumelia-Hissar.
It is therefore clear that two places on the Bosporus were known as
Hieron. The safest passage would be at the Hieron below the Giant’s

[145] Callimachus.

[146] ‘Morbo detentus,’ Lonicerus, 18. Chalc. and others also mention
his illness. He was suffering from an abscess in the thigh.

[147] On the opposite shore of the lagoon now runs the railway from
Varna to Rustchuk.

[148] _Early Travels_, 361.

[149] _Early Travels_, 366.

[150] Chalc. p. 138. The account by Phrantzes, p. 198, of the interview
between Hunyadi and the king is very well given.

[151] Bonfinius states that it was at this moment also that he unfurled
the treaty of Szegedin.

[152] Leunclavius, 256.

[153] Eton’s _Travels_, p. 332.

[154] Gibbon adopts the statement of Chalcondylas (145) that Murad
joined the dervishes after Varna, though on other matters regarding
his life he relies upon Cantemir, who by implication discredits the
story. Chalcondylas states that in the crisis of the battle of Varna,
the sultan had vowed that if he were successful he would abdicate and
join one of these religious orders. Von Hammer knows nothing of the
story, and the whole course of Murad’s life is against the belief
that ‘the lord of nations submitted to fast and pray and turn round
in endless rotations with the fanatics who mistook the giddiness of
the head for the illumination of the Spirit’ (Gibbon, VII. p. 140).
Neither Phrantzes nor Ducas mentions his having become a dervish, as
they probably would have done if the fact had been known to them.
Indeed, the one point in favour of the story was unknown to Gibbon:
namely, that some of the dervish sects are liberal or philosophical.
They are all religious or pietistic, but many claim that their tenets
are independent of Islam. Their explanation of the turning or dancing
is that they first look towards Mecca and reflect, God is there;
then they make a turn and reflect, He is there also; and so in the
complete circle. It should be noted also that there are many dervishes
who neither turn nor dance in their devotions. On the subject of the
dervishes in Turkey, two useful books are _The Dervishes_, by J. P.
Brown (London, 1868), and, better still, _Les Confréries Musulmanes_
par le R. P. Louis Petit, supérieur des Augustins de l’Assomption à
Kadikeuy (Constantinople, 1899).

[155] Kroya or Croia, now called Ak-Hissar or the White Castle, is
a few miles to the north of Durazzo and a short distance from the

[156] Aeneas Sylvius gives the number at 200,000; Chalcondylas at
15,000, which Von Hammer reasonably suggests is an error for 150,000.

[157] Bonfinius makes Murad state in a letter to Corinth that eight
thousand Hungarians were left dead on the plain: a much more likely

[158] Von Hammer gives the numbers I have adopted.

[159] For the siege of Belgrade see a paper in the _English Historical
Review_, 1892, by Mr. R. N. Bain.

[160] ‘Novit majestas imperatoria, Turcorum, Assyriorum, Aegyptiorum
gentem: imbelles, inermes, effaeminati sunt, neque animo neque consilio
martiales; sumenda erunt spolia sine sudore et sanguine.’ Oratio Romae
habita anno 1452 de passagio Cruce signatorum contra Mahometanos
suscipiendo. Edita apud Reynaldum [by Dr. Dethier].

[161] La Brocquière, 366.

[162] Θρῆνος, line 720.

[163] According to Scholarius and Manuel the Rhetorician, John shortly
before his death declared against the Union. In such a matter, however,
both these witnesses are suspect.

[164] La Brocquière, p. 341.

[165] _Ibid._ p. 340.

[166] La Brocquière, p. 339.

[167] Perhaps it could be contended successfully that the relaxing
climate of Constantinople had much to do with the enervation of its
population, and that every race which has possessed the city has
suffered from the same cause.

[168] Mr. D. G. Hogarth in _The Nearer East_ (London, 1902), on
pp. 280–1, speaks of the country as a ‘Debateable Land distracted
internally by a ceaseless war of influences, and only too anxious to
lean in one part or another on external aid.’... ‘Macedonia has been
torn this way and that for half a century.’ The whole chapter on ‘World
Relation’ is valuable and suggestive. The same diversity of interests
and hostility arising from differences in race and religion is well
brought out in the best recent book on _Turkey in Europe_, by Odysseus.

[169] The Turkish system of occupying conquered territories by military
colonies and driving away the original inhabitants excited great
opposition among the Serbians and led, says Von Ranke, to the struggle
which ended in 1389 on the plains of Cossovo. (_History of Serbia_,
Bohn’s edition, p. 16.)

[170] Cantacuzenus, iv. 8.

[171] The tradition of its destructiveness even in England, which it
reached in 1348, and the panic-struck words of the Statutes which
followed it, have, says J. R. Green, ‘been more than justified by
modern researches. Of the three or four millions who then formed the
population of England more than half were swept away by its repeated
visitations’ (Green’s _Short History of the English People_), p. 241.

[172] According to one contemporary writer, Murad had to relinquish
the siege of Constantinople in 1422 on account of the appearance of
plague in his army (_Historia Epirotica_). Mahomet the Second, however,
according to Critobulus, attributed the necessity of raising the siege
to hostility within his own family, doubtless alluding to the rising
already mentioned in Asia Minor. He says, in substance, ‘The city was
almost in the hands of my father, and he would certainly have taken it
by assault, if those of his own family in whom he had confidence had
not worked secretly against him.’ Crit. xxv.

[173] _Travels and Researches in Asia Minor_, by Sir Charles Fellows.
Professor Ramsay has also the same story to tell, though his own
success in identifying lost cities has been exceptionally great.

[174] La Brocquière, 340–7.

[175] _Ibid._ 337.

[176] Compare this with Villehardouin’s statement that in 1204
Constantinople had ten times as many people as there were in Paris.

[177] Phrantzes, 241.

[178] Another version says from 30,000 to 36,000 men.

[179] P. 23. The ‘not more’ is from the edition of Dethier, p. 896. The
version published in the _Chronique de Charles VII_ gives 25,000 to
30,000 armed men. Dethier’s omits ‘armed.’

[180] The Superior of the Franciscans says that 3,000 were killed on
May 29 (Dethier’s _Documents relating to the Siege_, p. 940).

[181] Bikelas, _La Grèce Byzantine et Moderne_, p. 153. His essays
express this opinion in many other places.

[182] ‘Les schismes sont chez eux [the Greeks] la conséquence du même
esprit de tous les temps; c’est la théologie soumise au contrôle
de l’intelligence pure, le dogme éprouvé par le mécanisme de leur
logique brillante et rapide. Ces discussions théologiques, appliquées
uniquement à la recherche de l’essence divine, à l’explication du
fait divin, du mystère, prennent chez eux un caractère exclusivement
scientifique.’ Montreuil, _Histoire du droit byzantin_, i. 418.

[183] Krumbacher, _Geschichte der Byzantinischen Litteratur_, p. 219,
says: ‘Kein Volk, die Chinesen vielleicht ausgenommen, besitzt eine so
reiche historische Litteratur wie die Griechen. In ununterbrochener
Reihenfolge geht die Überlieferung von Herodot bis auf Laonikos
Chalkondylas. Die Griechen und Byzantiner haben die Chronik des Ostens
über zwei Jahrtausende mit gewissenhafter Treue fortgeführt.’

[184] Rambaud, _L’empire de Grèce_, p. 367. Bikelas and Finlay make the
same comparison.

[185] Constantine is usually called the Eleventh. Gibbon, however,
counts the son of Romanus the First as Constantine the Eighth, and thus
makes the last Emperor Constantine the Twelfth. He is often spoken
of as Constantine Dragases, because his mother, Irene, belonged to a
family of that name. She was a South Serbian princess.

[186] Phrantzes, p. 205, represents Constantine as crowned. Apparently
this ceremony was not regarded as a definite coronation, and hence
Ducas calls John the last Emperor.

[187] Constantine’s wife, Catherine Catalusio, died in 1442, after
being married about ten months.

[188] Ducas, xxxv.

[189] As they were opposed in philosophy, so also were they on the
great question before these Councils. Pletho insisted that the Union
should be effected by the submission of the Greek Church to the Latin
formula, while Scholarius endeavoured to frame a form of words which
could be accepted by both parties. Had his advice been acted upon,
it is possible that he and his companions would on their return to
the capital have been able to persuade their countrymen to accept the
Union in sincerity. For the life and writings of George Scholarius,
afterwards the Patriarch Gennadius, see Krumbacher’s _Geschichte des
Byzantinischen Litteratur_, p. 119, and works there quoted.

[190] The MS. of Critobulus was found in the Seraglio Library about
thirty-five years ago by Dr. Dethier. It was published by Karl Müller
with excellent notes. Dr. Dethier also prepared an edition with notes
and documents relating to the siege, which were printed by the Academy
of Buda-Pest but never published. Through the courtesy of the Council
and of Dr. Arminius Vambéry I have been presented with copies. They are
especially valuable for their topographical criticisms.

[191] Lonicerus, p. 22.

[192] M. Léon Cahun, in his introduction to the _History of the Turks
and Mongols_, says: ‘L’Islamisme est une règle qu’on respecte et qu’on
défend, mais qu’on ne se permettrait pas de discuter. Les Turcs ont
toujours été trop inaccessibles au sentiment religieux pour jamais
devenir hérétiques; ils sont les derniers des hommes capables de
comprendre _Oportet haereses esse_. Ils ne demandent pas mieux que de
croire, mais ils ne tiennent pas du tout à comprendre.’

[193] Phrantzes, i. 30.

[194] Von Hammer, note iii. p. 429.

[195] Ducas, p. 129; Chalcondylas says, ‘Peremit, cum, aqua infusa,
spiritum ejus interclusisset;’ Montaldo, ‘fratre obtruncato.’

[196] Von Hammer, iii. 68.

[197] Zorzo Dolfin, p. 986.

[198] Orchan was the Turkish member of the house of Othman who still
remained in Constantinople and was either the son or grandson of
Suliman, brother of Mahomet I.

[199] Chal. vii.; Ducas, xxxiv.

[200] Ducas, xxxiv.

[201] Crit. vii.

[202] Crit. viii. The account given by Ducas represents the reply of
the sultan as much more brutal. He dismissed the ambassadors with the
remark that he would not have the question reopened; he was within his
rights, and if they returned he would have them flayed alive.

[203] Phrantzes, p. 233; Ducas, xxxiv.; Crit. ix.

[204] Critobulus gives the width at seven stadia. It is really half a
nautical mile. Probably it is unwise to suppose that Critobulus had
any means of measuring it with any degree of accuracy, or the distance
given by him would be very valuable as indicating what contemporary
writers meant by a stadium. It is important, however, in reference to
other statements of distance given by Critobulus which will be noted

[205] Ducas, xxxiv.

[206] Phrantzes, 234, and Barbaro, p. 2. Barbaro was a Venetian ship’s
doctor who was in the city before and during the siege and who kept a
diary which is simply invaluable, though for the part written day by
day, internal evidence shows that it was subsequently revised after the
siege. It was published in 1856.

[207] The speech of Mahomet, of which I have given the substance,
can of course only be taken as a reproduction of what Critobulus had
heard or possibly of what an intelligent writer who knew the Turks
well thought it probable Mahomet would say. As such it is valuable.
It is of course formed by Critobulus, following the example of the
Greek Byzantine historians generally, on the model of those given by
Thucydides and other classical authors.

[208] Barb. p. 14.

[209] Barb. p. 11.

[210] Barb., and Crit. ch. xxv.

[211] La Brocquière says this foss, on his visit, was two hundred paces

[212] Barbaro says that the emperor employed an Italian to place the
boom in position.

[213] The present Tower of Galata was called the Tower of Christ. See
Paspates, _Meletai_, p. 180.

[214] Barb. p. 25. Tetaldi states that there were nine galleys and
thirty other ships (p. 25). The fact that the Turks soon found that it
was impossible to take possession of the chain or to drive away the
defending fleet tends to show that the Greek fleet was respectable
in number of ships. On the other hand, when it became of extreme
importance to send ships outside the chain to aid ships from Genoa
coming to the relief of the city, the fact that none were sent out is
evidence to show that no ships could be spared from the defence of
the chain or that no sufficient number of galleys, triremes, or other
vessels independent of wind for propulsion were at hand to take the
offensive. There were probably many smaller merchant ships and boats of
which no account was taken.

[215] The elder Mordtmann makes the suggestion that the Bashi-Bazouks
are in this estimate excluded, and I agree with him. The same remark
applies also to Philelphus who gives 60,000 foot and 20,000 horse.
Other writers include all those who were present with Mahomet and thus
make the number of the besiegers very much higher. Ducas’s estimate is
250,000; Montaldo’s, 240,000 (of whom 30,000 were cavalry, ch. xxvii.).
Phrantzes states that 258,000 were present; Leonard the archbishop,
with whom Critobulus and Thysellius agree, gives 300,000 men, while
Chalcondylas increases this to 400,000.

[216] Tetaldi’s _Information de la prinse de Constantinoble_, p. 21.

[217] Leonard and others say 15,000, but the smaller estimate is in
accord with many Turkish statements that the number of Janissaries was,
until the time of Suliman, limited to 12,000.

[218] The connection between the Dervish order of Bektashis and the
Janissaries endured as long as the Janissaries themselves, and when the
latter were massacred, in June 1826, with the cry of ‘Hadji Bektash’ on
their lips, the order of Bektashis was also suppressed. _Etat militaire
Ottoman_, par Djavid Bey (Constantinople, 1881), and Walsh’s _Two Years
in Constantinople_ (1828).

[219] Djevad, p. 55.

[220] Permission to marry was not granted to Janissaries till the time
of Suliman, a century later.

[221] When, contemporaneously with the murder of the Janissaries in
1826, the Order of Bektashis was suppressed, Sultan Mahmoud assigned as
a reason that jars of wine were found in the cellars of their convents
stoppered with leaves of the Koran. The statement was probably false,
but was intended to create the worst possible impression against the

[222] _Early Travels in Palestine_, p. 365. La Brocquière made a
careful study of the Turkish methods of fighting and of how they might
be defeated by a combination of European troops among which he would
have placed from England a thousand men at arms and ten thousand
archers. As his visit was in 1433, it is not improbable that Agincourt
was in his mind.

[223] The Turks have rarely failed in obtaining able European soldiers.
Moltke was in the Turkish service. The first Napoleon narrowly escaped
taking a like service. (See Von Hammer.) More recently they have had in
General Von der Golz one of the ablest German soldiers.

[224] Dethier suggests that the casting of the largest gun was done at
Rhegium, the present Chemejie, about twelve miles from Constantinople,
and that the transport spoken of by Ducas was either of smaller ones or
of the brass required for the large one (p. 991; Dethier’s notes on Z.

[225] Phrantzes, p. 237, gives the arrival on April 2.

[226] Critobulus, xxix., gives the description of the construction
of a cannon the barrel of which was forty spans or twenty-six feet
eight inches long. The bronze of which it was cast was eight inches in
thickness in the barrel. Throughout half the length its bore was of a
diameter of thirty inches. Throughout the other half, which contained
powder, the bore was only one third of that width. The σπιθαμὴ or
_palmus_ or span was in the Middle Ages, says Du Cange, eight inches
long. Two stone balls still existing at Top-Hana (that is, the Cannon
Khan) are forty-six inches in diameter. These would answer the
description of Tetaldi, that the ball reached to his waist. A great
Turkish cannon which is now in the Artillery Museum at Woolwich weighs
about nineteen tons. It was cast fifteen years after the siege of
Constantinople and is an excellent specimen of the great cannon of the
period (_Artillery; its Progress and Present Stage_, by Commander Lloyd
and A. G. Hadcock, R.E., p. 19).

[227] Crit. xxi.

[228] Barbaro.

[229] Barbaro gives the arrival on April 12. Dr. Dethier maintains that
Diplokionion was at Cabatash and that subsequently to the Conquest
the people and the name were transferred to Beshiktash. Barbaro says
it was two Italian miles, equal to one and a third English mile, from
the city, which is in accord with Dethier’s view, but in presence of
Bondelmonti’s map, drawn in 1422 and given in Banduri, showing the Two
Columns, and of other evidence, it is difficult to credit Dethier’s

[230] Phrantzes, p. 241; Ducas gives the total number as 300, Leonard
as 250, Critobulus as 350. The independent accounts of two men who had
been at sea, like the French soldier Tetaldi and the Venetian Barbaro,
are not far apart. The first says there were 16 to 18 galleys, the
second 12. The estimate of the long boats is 60 to 80 by Tetaldi, as
against 70 to 80 by Barbaro; while the transport barges or parandaria
are described by one as from 16 to 20, by the other as from 20 to 25.
Chalcondylas (p. 158) states that 30 triremes and 200 smaller vessels
arrived from Gallipoli. Leonard says that there were 6 triremes and 10

[231] The following illustration shows the arrangement of the boats.


A.A.A.A. represent four rowlock ports, through each of which three oars
pass, in the case of a trireme, pulled by three men on the seat marked
with circles. It will be noticed that the second man sits a little
forward of the first, and the third of the second.

[232] _Ancient Ships_, by Mr. Cecil Torr.

[233] I have been indebted to Yule’s valuable notes on Marco Polo for
his researches on the construction of ships. Unfortunately, Mr. Cecil
Torr’s monograph on _Ancient Ships_ (Cambridge, 1896) does not bring
their history so late down as the fifteenth century. For the period of
which it treats it is simply perfect.

[234] Crit. xxv.

[235] As may be seen from the note in the Appendix on the position
of the St. Romanus Gate, I believe that when Top Capou, which beyond
doubt had been known as the Gate of Saint Romanus, was closed, the
Pempton was generally spoken of as the St. Romanus Gate. The Italians,
who had the largest share in the defence in the Lycus valley, probably
ignorant of any name for the Military Gate which led from the city
into the peribolos, called it by the name of the nearest Civil Gate.
Hence I propose to speak of the Pempton as the Romanus Gate and of the
Civil Gate crowning the seventh hill by its present Turkish name of
Top Capou--that is, Cannon Gate--a name which it probably acquired by
a reversal of the process which had led the Italians to speak of the
Pempton as St. Romanus.

[236] Crit. xxvi.

[237] Crit. xxvi.

[238] The Greek πέρα = _trans_, over or beyond.

[239] It is usually stated that Stamboul or Istamboul is a corruption
of εἰς τὴν πόλιν, though Dr. Koelle disputes this derivation and
considers that it is a mere shortening of the name Constantinople by
the Turks, analogous to Skender or Iskender from Alexander. Koelle’s
_Tartar and Turk_.

[240] In 1204 the Venetians and Crusaders under Dandolo and Monferrat
entered the city by capturing the western portion of the walls on the
side of the Horn.

[241] The position of the walls and gates is fully and admirably
described in Professor Van Millingen’s _Byzantine Constantinople_, who,
however, does not suggest that the Pempton was the Romanus Gate of the
chroniclers of the siege.

[242] This was destroyed in the time of Suliman and replaced by a
mosque which is called after his daughter Miramah, though the Greeks
were allowed to build a church of St. George almost alongside it.

[243] Dr. Mordtmann is my authority for this statement. See note in the
Appendix on the position of the Romanus Gate.

[244] Paspates claims that there was always water in the foss during a
siege, though it was of no great depth. See p. 42 of his Παλιορκία τῆς
Κωνσταντινουπόλεως. It is remarkable, however, that no mention is made
of water by the contemporary writers on the last siege.

[245] _Byzantine Constantinople_, p. 86.

[246] Barbaro describes it as the place ‘dove che sun la più debel
porta de tuta la tera,’ p. 21. The weakest gate he calls ‘San Romano.’

[247] Quite a considerable number of towers in the Outer Wall bear
inscriptions showing that they were repaired after the Turkish siege of

[248] P. 159.

[249] ‘Antemurale solum urbis vallumque sat videbatur tutari posse,’ p.
93. ‘Operosa autem protegendi vallum et antemurale nostris fuit cura,’
p. 95.

[250] Dethier argues that it was not. The Italians who were present in
the city complain that the Greeks showed a want of patriotism in not
being ready to give all their wealth for the defence of the empire. But
the complaint is supported by very slight evidence. The Superior of the
Franciscans (Dethier’s _Siege of Constantinople_, p. 490) says that the
city was lost through the avarice of the Greeks, because they would not
consent to pay its defenders. He instances the case of a woman who had
jewels and money of the value of 150,000 ducats, and of a man whose
wealth in moveables amounted to 80,000 ducats. Jagarus and Neophytus,
who are mentioned by Leonard, had been charged with the repairs of the
walls, for which money had been given them, but, according to him, had
misappropriated it. When the city was captured, 70,000 gold pieces were
discovered by the Turks. But it is noteworthy that Phrantzes, who was
in a better condition to know the truth in such a matter, has nothing
but praise for Jagarus (p. 225). The statement of Leonard regarding
them is examined by Dethier, who suggests that the sentence regarding
the finding of the coin is due to the incorporation of a marginal note.
Zorzo Dolfin, whose narrative is largely copied from Leonard, gives a
somewhat different version.

As stated on the preceding page, the inscriptions on the Outer Wall
still show that many towers had been repaired in the interval between
Murad’s siege and that of Mahomet, and two inscriptions at least,
which may perhaps be taken as intended to apply to all the towers so
repaired, bear the name of Jagarus himself. (Professor Van Millingen,
p. 108, and Dethier’s notes on Leonard, 593–5.)

[251] Riccherio (often quoted as Sansovino, who was the editor of
Riccherio and has written a bright account of the conquest) says, ‘La
speranza della difesa era tutta nel antimuro.’ (Dethier’s _Siege_, p.

[252] Chalcondylas, p. 95, Ven. edition.

[253] _Ibid._ p. 159.

[254] Crit. xxviii., and Barbaro.

[255] Ch. xxvii.

[256] See Note in Appendix claiming that during the siege the Pempton
was usually called the Gate of St. Romanus.

[257] Pusculus also gives these three places, but with the difference
that he mistakes the Second Military Gate for the Third.

[258] Barb. p. 21.

[259] Phr. 242–47.

[260] Dolfin, p. 994.

[261] παρὰ τὰ πλάγια.

[262] See Prof. Van Millingen, 85–92. Barbaro states that the cannon
were stationed at four places: opposite the Pegè Gate, by which he
means the Third Military Gate (Triton); opposite the Palace, by which
he probably means in the angle now occupied by the Greek cemetery
opposite the Palace of Porphyrogenitus or Tekfour Serai; opposite the
Cresu Gate, probably the Chariseus or Adrianople Gate, and opposite
the Romanus Gate. Philelphus also mentions the Pegè Gate as one of the
chief places of attack (ii. 809).

[263] Pusculus gives fourteen palms as the circumference; Phrantzes and
Critobulus, twelve; while Barbaro gives thirteen to fourteen.

[264] P. 241, κοσμικούς τε καὶ μοναχούς.

[265] See _ante_, p. 193.

[266] Crit. xxv.

[267] ὅπου καὶ ἐν ἐκείνοις τοῖς μέρεσιν ἡ πόλις ἦν ἐπικίνδυνος.
Phrantzes, p. 253.

[268] P. 1013. The _locus arduus_ of the Myriandrion is the highest
site of the city walls. Professor Van Millingen makes it identical with
the Mesoteichion (p. 85), but Critobulus distinguishes between the two
places (ch. xxvi.).

[269] Leonard; but Phrantzes says, p. 253, that Manuel, a Genoese, was
in command at the Golden Gate.

[270] See Professor Van Millingen as to position of this gate, pp.
230–234. There were probably two Imperial Gates on the Golden Horn.

[271] According to Pusculus, Trevisano was from the first at Aivan
Serai, the extreme west of the walls on the Horn and close to the

[272] Barbaro, p. 19.

[273] Phrantzes states that the reserve was under Cantacuzenus and
Nicephorus Palaeologus, and that the Grand Duke was in charge of the
region from the Petrion to the Gate of St. Theodosia.

[274] Leonard’s account hardly varies from that of Phrantzes and
others, except that, with his strong religious prejudices, he prefers
to name foreigners rather than Greeks. The distributions of the
defenders of the city given by Zorzi Dolfin and Pusculus do vary,
however, from those given by Phrantzes and Barbaro. These differences
are set out in Dr. Mordtman’s _Esquisse Topographique_, p. 23. See also
Krause’s _Eroberungen von Constantinopel_, p. 169.

[275] Dethier’s _Siege_, p. 110. Chalcondylas says that it was found
that the big gun of the Greeks did more damage to them by its recoil
than to the enemy.

[276] Crit. xvii. The word _machine_ is usually used by contemporary
writers to designate a cannon, though here, as elsewhere, it may be
employed in a general sense. What is certain is that such cannon as the
Greeks possessed were few in number and of small value.

[277] _Isidori Lamentatio_, p. 676; also Christoforo Riccherio,
Sansovin, p. 957: both in Dethier’s _Siege_.

[278] P. 369.

[279] P. 145. Boutell’s _Arms and Armour_.

[280] La Brocquière, p. 361, where five forts on the Save are described
as well furnished with artillery. He particularly notices three brass

[281] There are still the remains of two towers in Prinkipo. I fix upon
the one near the ruined monastery opposite the island of Antirobithos
as the place of attack, with some hesitation. The account is given by
Critobulus, xxxiii.

[282] Crit. xxxiv.

[283] Ducas says four, but he is at variance with Leonard, Barbaro, and
Phrantzes, and wrote his account from hearsay years afterwards.

[284] Crit. xxxix.

[285] Phrantzes; though Ducas says from Morea.

[286] Ducas, p. 121, and Crit. xxxix.

[287] ‘Come homini volonteroxi de aver victoria contra el suo inimigod’
(p. 28).

[288] Ducas, p. 121, says, to pass τὸν Μεγαδημήτριον τὸν ἀκρόπολιν. The
tower stood near Seraglio Point; Dr. Mordtmann places it on the Golden
Horn side, while Paspates, in Τὰ Βυζαντινὰ Ἀνάκτορα, p. 37, thought
he had identified the foundations just beyond the bridge crossing the
railway line to the Imperial Treasury. To have been a conspicuous
landmark for ships steering from the Marmora to the harbour, as it is
represented to have been, the church must have been very lofty if in
the position adopted by Dr. Mordtmann.

[289] Pusculus, 385, Book iv.

[290] Barbaro says, ‘Quando queste quatro naves fo per mezo la zitade
de Constantinopli subito el vento i bonazò’ (p. 23).

[291] Pusculus iv. v. 415: ‘Deserit illic ventus eas; cecidere sinus
sub moenibus arcis.’

[292] Barbaro, p. 24.

[293] I doubt whether Greek fire was so much used as it is usually
asserted to have been. It was always dangerous to those who used it.
When employed by the Byzantine ships it caused great damage and still
greater alarm. I agree with Krause that it was very rarely employed.
See _Die Byzantiner des Mittelalters_, by J. H. Krause; Halle, 1869.

[294] Pusculus, iv. 340.

[295] Phrantzes.

[296] Gyllius mentions this foreshore as existing in his time, gives
its width, and vividly describes how it was utilised and increased
by the inhabitants of Galata (book iv. ch. 10). In digging for the
foundations of the British post office in Galata in 1895, on a site
that is now upwards of a hundred yards from the water, remains of an
old wooden jetty were discovered. Indeed, I think it highly probable
that in 1453 the whole of what is now the main street of Galata from
the bridge to Tophana was under water.

[297] Pusculus, 247.

[298] Crit. xli.

[299] Barbaro, p. 24, and Phrantzes.

[300] According to Ducas, Mahomet himself inflicted the blows: an
absurd statement.

[301] Ducas, 121; Leonard, Phrantzes, and Nicolo Barbaro.

[302] Hunyadi, according to Phrantzes (p. 327), asked that Silivria or
Mesembria, on the bay of Bourgas, should be given to him as the price
of his aid, and Phrantzes declares that the emperor ceded the latter
place, he himself having written the Golden Bull making the cession. He
adds also that the king of Catalonia stipulated for Lemnos as the price
of his aid. But no aid came from either.

[303] Barbaro, under April 21; Phrantzes, 246. The tower is called by
Leonard Bactatanea. He afterwards writes of the breach near it as being
in the Murus Bacchatureus. See, as to its situation, Professor van
Millingen’s _Byzantine Constantinople_, pp. 86, 87.

[304] As the only church in the neighbourhood of the place defended by
Justiniani was that of St Kyriakè near the Pempton, the information
is valuable as helping to fix the locality where the great gun was
stationed. The Moscovite, ch. vii.

[305] The Moscovite, ch. vii., in Dethier’s _Siege_; Barbaro, p. 27;

[306] _Zarabotane._

[307] Barbaro, p. 27. The account of the fight given by Pusculus is
very full and spirited. See note in Appendix as to the question where
the naval fight took place.

[308] In 1203 the Crusaders and Venetians had forced
the boom tower on the Galata side and loosed the chain; but it was then
outside the city walls. In the time of Cantacuzenus, Galata had been
enlarged so that the end of the chain was quite safe unless Galata were
taken. The walls terminated, as may still be seen by the remaining
towers, near Tophana.

[309] Leonard, and Sauli’s _Colonia dei Genovesi in Galata_, p. 158.
Other similar instances are cited by contemporaries, but it is not
necessary to suppose that Mahomet had ever heard either of the fable of
Caesar’s attack upon Antony and Cleopatra or of a like feat performed
by Xerxes. The Avars had made a crossing similar to that contemplated
by Mahomet. The transport of the imperial fleet into Lake Ascanius in
order to take possession of Nicaea in 1097 might possibly have been
known to him.

[310] Λοιπὸν ὁ ἀμερᾶς τὰς τριήρεις φέρας ἐν μίᾳ νυκτί, ἐν τῷ λιμένι τῷ
πρωῒ ηὑρέθησαν: Phrantzes, 251.

[311] Dethier places them on a small plateau now occupied by the
English Memorial Church. [_Note on_ Pusculus, book iv. line 482.
Professor van Millingen (p. 231), in discussing the question of the
position of St. Theodore, suggests that the sultan’s battery stood
nearer the Bosporus than the present Italian Hospital. This suggestion
is not necessarily at variance with the position indicated by Dethier.]

[312] Philelphus, book ii. line 976: ‘Genuae tunc clara juventus
obstupuit.’ Ducas, however, states that the Genoese claimed to
have known of the proposed transport and to have allowed it out of
friendship to Mahomet.

[313] ‘Et hic quidem in superiori parte per montem navigia
transportavit ... in litore stabant milites parati propulsare hostes
bombardis, si accederent prohibituri deducere naves.’ Chalcondylas,
book viii.

[314] Crit. says 68; Barbaro, 72; Tetaldi, between 70 and 80;
Chalcondylas, 70; and Ducas, 80; Heirullah says there were only 20; the
Janissary Michael, 30; the _Anon. Expugnatio_, edited by Thyselius,
sect. 12, says not less than 80.

[315] ‘Lacertus’ is the word Leonard ingeniously uses for the Greek

[316] Crit. book iv. ch. 42. It is difficult to determine the size
of the boat selected for this overland transit. Barbaro says, ‘le
qual fusti si iera de banchi quindexe fina banchi vinti et anchi
vintido’ (page 28). This would agree fairly well with the statement
of Chalcondylas, that some had thirty and some fifty oars. Mr. Cecil
Torr calculates that a thirty-oared ship would be about seventy feet
long, a statement which appears probable (_Ancient Ships_, p. 21). The
mediaeval galleys and other large vessels propelled by oars differed
essentially from those of the sixteenth century, which were worked with
long oars. See note on p. 234. I am myself not entirely satisfied that
among the boats were not biremes and possibly triremes in the sense
of boats which had two or three tiers of oars, one above the other.
Fashions change slowly in Turkey, and I have seen a bireme with two
such tiers of oars on the Bosporus. No writer mentions the length of
the vessels which were carried across Pera Hill. A large modern fishing
caique in the Marmora, probably not differing much in shape from the
fustae then transported, and containing twelve oars, measures about
fifty feet long. When the boats are longer, two men take one oar, but
this is very unusual. Leonard speaks of the seventy vessels as biremes.
Barbaro calls them fustae. The former was probably the best Latin
word to signify the new form of vessel. Many of the ships were large,
though it may be taken as certain that none were of the length of the
two galleys recently raised in lake Nemi, near Rome, which belonged to
Caligula, each of which is 225 feet long and 60 feet beam.

[317] See note in Appendix on transport of Mahomet’s ships.

[318] Ducas, xxviii.

[319] Phrantzes, p. 327.

[320] Crit. lxxii.

[321] Barbaro says that the meeting was in St. Mary’s; but Pusculus
(iv. 578) says, in St. Peter Claviger, which Dethier places near St.

[322] Phrantzes, 256.

[323] Barbaro, under April 24 and 25.

[324] Pusculus, lines 585 et seq.

[325] Pusculus, iv. 610.

[326] Barbaro, 31.

[327] The account of this attempt to destroy the Turkish ships in the
harbour is best given by Barbaro, but Phrantzes and Pusculus are in
substantial agreement with him.

[328] Phrantzes (p. 248) says 260 Turkish prisoners were executed.

[329] The Moscovite, ch. vii.

[330] Crit. xliv.

[331] Dr. Mordtmann places the bridge between Cumberhana and Defterdar

[332] Ducas gives the above dimensions. Assuming the width from centre
of each barrel, including a space between them, to be four feet, this
would give the length of the bridge as 2,000 feet, which is about the
width of the Horn at the place mentioned. Phrantzes gives its length
at a hundred fathoms and the breadth fifty fathoms. These dimensions
are clearly wrong if applied to the bridge, since the length falls far
short of the width of the gulf. Leonard says it was thirty stadia long.
Here, as elsewhere, I suspect that he uses stadium for some measure
about one ninth of a furlong in length. If this conjecture is right,
his estimate of the length of the bridge is about 2,000 feet.

[333] Phrantzes, 252.

[334] Barbaro, 36; Phrantzes, 250.

[335] The Moscovite, xv. While there are useful hints in this anonymous
author, he is generally untrustworthy. This fight, for example, is
represented as being outside the walls. It is incredible that the
Greeks should have made a sortie at this period of the siege. As an
illustration of the untrustworthy character of the writer, it may be
noted that the number of Turks killed during the siege totals up to

[336] Leonard, the _Vallum_ and the _Antemurale_.

[337] Phrantzes, p. 244.

[338] ‘Bastion’ is the word used for a wooden tower or castle by
Barbaro and by the translator of the Moscovite. Chalcondylas calls
it _helepolis_, distinguishing it from the cannon which he names
_teleboles_. Ducas speaks of cannon usually by the word χωνείαν,
sometimes as τὰς πετροβολιμαίους χώνας or σκευαὶ πετροβόλοι or simply
as τὸ σκεῦος; Phrantzes employs the word _helepolis_ for a wooden
turret (pp. 237, 244). The latter word is used by Critobulus for a
cannon. It was an epithet applied to Helen, ‘the Taker of Cities.’ In
the Bonn edition of Phrantzes it is also employed, both in the text
and the Latin translation, for cannon; but a reference to the readings
of the Paris MS. suggests that it is an error. Phrantzes’s words for
cannons are _teleboles_ and _petroboles_.

[339] The ‘Chastel de bois’ was ‘si haut, si grand et si fort qu’il
maistrisoit le mur et dominait par-dessus’ (Tetaldi, p. 25).

[340] Barbaro states that it occupied a place called the ‘Cresca,’
possibly a copyist’s error for Cressus (= Chariseus), the name which I
believe he gave indifferently with San Romano to the Pempton. Elsewhere
he uses Cresca for the Golden Gate (_e.g._ p. 18). Possibly, however,
he is referring to another turret, which was at the Golden Gate.
Barbaro’s knowledge of places and names is not accurate. If Barbaro’s
‘bastion’ is the ‘helepole’ of which Phrantzes speaks (p. 245), then
the three writers agree that the principal turret was at the Romanus

[341] The Moscovite, 1087; Phrantzes, 247.

[342] Leonard, p. 93: ‘Mauritius Cataneus ... inter portam Pighi, id
est fontis, usque ad Auream contra ligneum castrum, pellibus boum
contectum, oppositum accurate decertat.’ Cardinal Isidore, in the
_Lamentatio_, says, p. 676: ‘Admoventur urbi ligneae turres.’

[343] Barbaro, under dates of May 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25.

[344] As to the question whether there was water in the foss, see
Professor Van Millingen’s _Byz. Constantinople_, pp. 57–8.

[345] Crit. xxxi. Ἀλλὰ τοῦτο μὲν ὕστερον περιττὸν ἔδοξε, καὶ ματαία
δαπάνη, τῶν μηχανῶν τὸ πᾶν κατεργασαμένων.

[346] The return, as mentioned, was on May 23, but is given by Barbaro
under the 3rd. This is one of the passages which show that his diary
was revised and added to after the siege.

[347] Crit. xlvi.; Pusculus, iv. 889, says:

  Candida completo cum Phoebe surgeret orbe
  Moesta prodit, fati miseri cladisque propinquae
  Nuntia; nam tristis faciem velamine nubis
  Tecta atrae, mediaque latens plus parte sereno
  Incedit coelo.

Barbaro seems to describe an eclipse of the moon on May 22. The elder
Dr. Mordtmann states that there was no full moon and consequently no
eclipse on the 22nd, but that there was on the 24th. Dethier’s note on
The Moscovite, p. 1100. Phrantzes, p. 264, speaks of a light flashing
from the sky settling over the city, and remaining during the whole
night. See note, _post_ p. 316.

[348] Constantine was a widower, his wife, Catherine, having died in
1442, a year after her marriage. Phrantzes, 195–8.

[349] The same remark applies to The Moscovite generally. There are so
many manifest fringes to what ought to have been the correct narrative
of an eye-witness that it is impossible to distinguish truth from

[350] Barbaro, under May 20.

[351] Leonard, _Opere_, p. 94.

[352] Leonard, p. 92.

[353] _Ibid._ p. 95.

[354] Barbaro, under May 28.

[355] _Ep. Ang. Johannis Zacchariae Potestatis Perae_, Sec. 2, edition
revised by Edward Hopf and Dethier.

[356] Leonard, p. 94, and also Italian version given by Dethier, p. 644.

[357] Tetaldi, pp. 32–35.

[358] Crit. xlviii.

[359] See also the Moscovite, xx.

[360] Crit. lx.

[361] Barbaro, Pusculus, and Leonard agree with Critobulus in their
description of the stockade.

[362] Phrantzes, 263.

[363] _Ibid._ 326. M. Mijatovich, in his pleasant and valuable
_Constantine, last Emperor of the Greeks_, states that Mahomet received
an ambassador from Ladislaus on May 26 (p. 198); but I do not know on
what authority.

[364] Phrantzes, 325.

[365] M. Mitjatovich’s suggestion that the negotiations had probably
emanated from the wily cardinal who had been the evil spirit of
Ladislaus, or possibly from the crafty, but unpractical, mind of George
Brancovich, appears plausible.

[366] Phrantzes, 326; Ducas, xxxviii.

[367] Ducas, xxxviii.

[368] Tetaldi says: ‘Se l’armée de Venise que menoit et conduisoit
Messire Jean le Rendoul [Loredano] fut arrivé à Constantinople ung seul
jour avant que cette cité fust prinse, certes il n’y avoit aucun doute
qu’ils eussent fort secouru et fussent venus bien à point’ (p. 30).

[369] ‘Per el campo del Turco in questo zorno se fexe asai feste, de
soni, e de altra condition de alegreze, e questo perche i sentiva che
tosto i volea dare la bataia zeneral’ (p. 48, under May 24).

[370] Phrantzes, 263.

[371] Leonard, p. 95; Phrantzes, 263; Crit. xlvi.

[372] Crit. xlvii.

[373] The accounts of this light (or darkness), which alarmed both
sides, are somewhat conflicting. Perhaps here also Critobulus is the
safest guide. In chapter xlvi. he mentions the religious procession
already described, where the statue of the Virgin falls, and says it
was ‘three or four days before the attack.’ Immediately after came
torrential rains with vivid flashes of lightning. Then, ‘the next
day,’ there was a thick fog lasting till evening. Barbaro speaks of
a darkness, due, judging from his description, to an eclipse of the
moon, lasting from the first to the sixth hour after sunset, as being
on the 22nd. This alarmed the Greeks, he says, because of an ancient
prophecy which declared that Constantinople should not be lost until
the moon should give a sign in the heavens. Phrantzes (page 264) says:
φῶς ἀστράπτον καταβαῖνον ἐξ οὐρανῶν καὶ δι’ ὅλης τῆς νυκτὸς ἄνωθεν τῆς
πόλεως ἑστὸς διέσκεπεν αὐτήν. Possibly both Phrantzes and Barbaro have
the same atmospheric night effects in view: that is, that there were
frequent flashes of lightning during the night so long as the eclipse
lasted. The statement of Pusculus, who was in the city at the time,
has already been quoted. See p. 297, _ante_. The account of Critobulus
appears clear, but it does not eliminate the miraculous, for he
declares that many persons, both Romans and foreigners, declared that
they had seen the Divinity hiding Himself in the clouds.

[374] Ducas also mentions the attempt recorded by Chalcondylas,
but without mentioning the name of Ismail. Ducas thus mentions two
negotiations for peace, the first (if it ever existed) being towards
the end of April and the second nearly a month after.

[375] The Turkish historian Sad-ud-din, (p. 20) represents the emperor
as offering to surrender everything except Constantinople; to which
Mahomet’s reply was, ‘Either the city, the sword, or El-Islam.’

[376] Leonard.

[377] Leonard, Phrantzes, and Tetaldi all speak of him as friendly to
the Christians. He was, however, disliked by Mahomet, because he had
persuaded Murad to send his son to Magnesia. Tetaldi says that the
Christians in the Turkish army shot letters into the city to let the
besieged know all that went on in the council.

[378] According to Leonard, the sultan ordered Zagan to fix a day for a
general assault.

[379] Phrantzes, 623–8, and also Leonard.

[380] The narrative of Phrantzes relating the decision of the meeting
of the Turkish council concludes by stating that this was on the
27th--that is, Sunday (p. 269). It may have been, but it is difficult
to believe that the council meeting, the sending of Zagan to learn the
opinion of the soldiers, his return and the decision, together with
the subsequent proclamation, were all crowded into one day. Barbaro
gives the proclamation as being made on Monday the 28th. Leonard says
that, as a result of the meeting, a proclamation was issued for the
attack to be on Tuesday and for the three preceding days to be devoted
to prayer and one of them to fasting. If he is correct, the council
could not have been on the 27th. Tetaldi states that the council lasted
during four days. The statement appears possible, and perhaps gives the
explanation of the apparent discrepancies in the narratives.

[381] Leonard, 96, Phrant. 269; Barbaro adds that the Turks believed
that on the morrow they would have so many Christians in hand that two
slaves could be bought for a ducat: such riches that everything would
be of gold, and they could have enough hair from the heads of Christian
priests to make ropes with which to tie up their dogs.

[382] The Moscovite, xxii. This first wound is only mentioned by the

[383] Phrantzes, 269.

[384] Barbaro, p. 50.

[385] Barbaro. Ducas says, from St. Eugenius to Hodegetria and as far
as Vlanga (p. 282–3), which is substantially the same position as that
given by Critobulus.

[386] Zorso Dolfin, p. 78.

[387] Sad-ud-din, p. 16. Translation by E. J. W. Gibb.

[388] τούφακας; in modern Greek the name for sporting guns is τουφέκια.
The Turks call them _Toufeng_. Ducas uses the word μολυβδοβόλοι.

[389] Crit. xlvii. to lii.

[390] According to Critobulus, the meeting of the Council was on the

[391] Phrantzes, 269–70. Was the speech as recorded by Critobulus
ever delivered? The answer I am disposed to give is that a speech
was delivered which was substantially that reported by Phrantzes and
Critobulus. The fashion followed by the Byzantine writers, and their
desire to imitate classical models, by putting all speeches in the
first person, made it necessary to invent a speech if the substance
of what was said were known. Critobulus, writing some years after the
capture and having had many opportunities of meeting with the Turkish
leaders, was in a position to learn what was said and done by them, and
hence his report, wherever it can be tested, almost invariably proves

[392] Barbaro, May 28.

[393] Crit. liv.

[394] Phrantzes, 271–8; Leonard, 97.

[395] Phrantzes, 279; The Moscovite, p. 1113. The ceremony is also
mentioned in the Georgian Chronicle.

[396] _Libro d’Andrea Cambini Florentino della Origine de Turchi et
imperio delli Ottomanni._ Edition of 1529, p. 25.

[397] Phrantzes, p. 280. The closing of the gates behind the soldiers
is mentioned also by other writers.

[398] The Caligaria Gate was the present Egri Capou. For a description
of Caligaria and the neighbouring palace of Blachern see Professor
van Millingen’s _Byzantine Constantinople_, p. 128. Caligaria was the
name of a district which was in the corner made by the wall running at
right angles to the foss, where it terminates on the north just beyond
Tekfour Serai, and that which leads down the steep slope to the Golden

[399] Phrantzes, p. 280.

[400] The question when the general attack began is very much one of
appreciation. According to Ducas, Mahomet commenced on the Sunday
evening to make a general attack and during the night the besieged
were not permitted to sleep but were harassed all night and, though in
a less active manner, until between four and five of the afternoon of
Monday. Phrantzes declares the capture to have been made on the third
day of the attack and would thus make it begin on Sunday, but his
narrative shows that the general attack began after midnight of the
28–9th. Barbaro’s statement substantially agrees with that of Phrantzes
and is that during the whole of the 27th the cannons were discharging
their stone balls: _tuto el zorno non feze mai altro che bombardar in
le puovere mure_; but on p. 51 he says that Mahomet came before the
walls to begin the general attack at three hours before day on the
29th. Critobulus makes the general attack begin on the afternoon of the
28th, when the sultan raised his great standard (Crit. lii. and lv.).
Karl Müller, in his excellent notes to Critobulus, justly remarks that
as Barbaro and Phrantzes were in the city their evidence ought to be
preferred to that of Critobulus. They both represent the final assault
as beginning very early in the morning of the 29th. The statements are
reconcilable by supposing that the dispositions for a general attack
began on the Sunday, but that the actual general assault did not take
place until the Tuesday morning. Sad-ud-din says, on the authority of
two Turkish contemporaries, that ‘the great victory was on Tuesday, the
fifty-first day from the commencement of the war’ (p. 34).

[401] Cambini, 24.

[402] P. 160.

[403] Ch. lv.

[404] P. 52.

[405] Leonard, p. 86: ‘Testis sum quod Graeci, quod Latini, quod
Germani, Panones, Boetes, ex omnium christianorum regionibus Teucris
commixti opera eorum fidemque didicerunt.’

[406] Riccherio, 958: ‘Percioche Maometh pensava, ricreando gli
stracchi col rimetter nuove genti nella zuffa, verrebbe a non dar punto
di spatio per riposarsi a Greci, di maniera che, non potendo sostener
tanta fatica per lo continuo combattimento, si sarebbono agevolmente
potuti vincere.’

[407] Crit. liv.

[408] Michael Constantinovich, a Servian who was with a contingent of
his countrymen in the Turkish army, says, ‘As far as our help went, the
Turks would never have taken the city’ (quoted by Mijatovich, p. 234).

[409] τούφακας, Crit. li.

[410] Chalc. p. 160.

[411] Barbaro (54) says, Greeks and Venetians, omitting all mention of
the Genoese.

[412] Crit. lvi.

[413] Leonard: ‘in loco arduo Myriandri.’

[414] Pusculus, iv. 173, and Zorzo Dolfin, 55.

[415] Crit. lvii.

[416] Leonard, p. 98: ‘Tenebrosa nox in lucem trahitur, nostris
vincentibus. Et dum astra cedunt, dum Phoebi praecedit Lucifer ortum,
Illalla, Illalla in martem conclamans, conglobatus in gyrum consurgit

[417] Crit. lvii.

[418] Παραπόρτιον ἓν πρὸ πολλῶν χρόνων ἀσφαλῶς πεφραγμένον, ὑπόγαιον,
πρὸς τὸ κάτωθεν μέρος τοῦ παλατίου.

[419] Its complete name was Porta Xylokerkou, because it led to a
wooden circus outside the city. See the subject fully discussed by
Professor van Millingen, _Byzantine Constantinople_, pp. 89–94.

[420] I am not satisfied that the Kerkoporta was the one indicated by
Professor van Millingen. On the map published by the Greek Syllogos, as
well as in Canon Curtis’s _Broken Bits of Byzantium_, a small postern
is shown in the wall immediately south of the tower adjoining Tekfour
Serai, and my own recollection is that I saw this walled-up postern
with Dr. Paspates in 1875. The wall itself was pulled down on the
outbreak of the last Turko-Russian war and replaced by a slighter one.
Whichever view be correct, the statement in the text is not affected.

Professor van Millingen contends that the Kerkoporta strictly so
called was the small gate in the corner between Tekfour Serai and the
adjoining tower on the south. But he maintains also that the postern
to which Ducas refers was in the transverse wall, giving access from
the city to the Inner Enclosure. He remarks that if the Turks entered
by the Kerkoporta they could have mounted the great Inner Wall from
the city. As to the latter objection, it must be remembered that the
fighters were within the Enclosure defending the Outer Wall, and if the
Turks entered through the postern in the transverse wall they would
take the fighters in the rear. It would have been a better position for
attack than on the Inner Wall.

[421] Phrantzes, p. 285.

[422] Crit. lvi.

[423] Sad-ud-din gives an interesting variant of the story of Ducas.
He states that while ‘the blind-hearted emperor’ was busy resisting
the besiegers of the city at his palace to the north of the Adrianople
Gate,’ ‘suddenly he became aware that the upraisers of the most
glorious standard of “The Word of God” had found a path to within the
walls’ (Sad-ud-din, p. 30). The statement that the emperor was present
at Tekfour Serai agrees with that of Ducas; but the latter’s account
of the events immediately following the entry by the Kerkoporta varies
so much from that given by others that I suspect some sentences have
dropped out of his narrative.

[424] Crit. lviii.

[425] _Ibid._

[426] Leonard, p. 37.

[427] It is difficult to identify the gate described as having been
opened on to the stockade. Critobulus gives no further indication of
its position than that here mentioned (ch. lx.). Paspates thinks it
was a temporary postern, walled up after the siege when the Inner Wall
was repaired to prevent smuggling, but would place it not far from Top
Capou, a position which cannot be accepted if the stockade were, as I
have placed it, near the Military Gate of St. Romanus. The Podestà of
Pera, however, says that Justiniani went ‘per ipsam portam per quam
Teucri intraverunt’ (p. 648), which would indicate St. Romanus. Andrea
Cambini, the Florentine already quoted, in his _Libro della Origine de
Turchi_, published by the sons of the writer, says that Justiniani,
who had behaved so well that the salvation of the city was largely
attributed to him, was seriously wounded, and, seeing that the blood
flowed ‘in great quantity’ and being unwilling that they should fetch
a doctor, withdrew secretly from the fight ... all the gates which led
from the Antimuro [i.e. the Outer Wall] being closed, because thus the
fighters had to conquer or die (p. 25).

[428] His monument still exists in the church of S. Domenico at Chios
with an epitaph which contains the phrase ‘lethale vulnere ictus
interiit.’ Phrantzes says that Justiniani was wounded in the right
foot by an arrow; Leonard, by an arrow in the armpit; Chalcondylas,
in the hand, by a ball; Critobulus, by a ball in the chest or throat
which pierced through his breastplate. The latter statement would be
consistent with Tetaldi’s which speaks of the wound inflicted by a
culverin. Riccherio says Justiniani was wounded by one of his own men.
Barbaro (who, it must always be remembered where he is speaking of the
Genoese, was a Venetian and incapable of doing justice to a citizen of
the rival republic) does not mention any wound, but states roundly that
Justiniani decided to abandon his post and hasten to his ship, which
was stationed at the boom.

[429] Barbaro, p. 55.

[430] Philip the Armenian, who was probably present in the city, states
that Justiniani and his men deserted their stations and that thus the
city was lost (pp. 675–6). Riccherio, while speaking of the wound as
severe, declares that Justiniani promised to return, and attributes
the departure of many of his followers to the fact that the postern
gate, which he had required to be opened for his departure, suggested
the idea of flight to his men. In other words it created a panic (p.
960). The contemporaries who excuse Justiniani are Cardinal Isidore
(_Lamentatio_, p. 677: ‘Ne caeteros deterreret, remedium quaerens
clam sese pugnae subduxit’) and Leonard, who both state that he went
away secretly so as not to discourage his followers. Tetaldi further
declares that he left his command to two Genoese. Leonard and the
Podestà wrote while the impression of the fall and the sack of the city
were too recent to enable them to give a cool judgment on Justiniani’s
conduct: the latter dating his letter June 23, and the archbishop
August 16.

[431] Crit. lx.; also Leonard, 99.

[432] Cambini, p. 25.

[433] Phrantzes, 285.

[434] Crit. lx.

[435] Phrantzes, p. 285.

[436] ‘La prima sbara di barbacan,’ p. 54.

[437] Phrantzes, p. 285.

[438] Montaldo, xxiii.: ‘insigniis positis.’

[439] Montaldo (ch. xxiii.) incidentally confirms the version of Ducas.
He states that the emperor determined on death only after he had
learned that the enemy had entered the city and had occupied the palace
and other places.

[440] Leonard, p. 99. In Dethier’s edition a note states that one of
the MSS. reads eighty Latins ‘sine Graecis,’ p. 608.

[441] Leonard, 99, says that they formed a _cuneus_ or _phalanx_.

[442] Crit. lxi.; Chalc. p. 164. Ahmed Muktar Pasha’s _Conquest of

[443] Crit. lxi.; Tetaldi, p. 23, speaks of ‘deux banniers.’

[444] Crit. lxi.; Tetaldi, p. 29, ‘à l’aube du jour;’ Barbaro (p. 55)
at sunrise. Phrantzes says that possession of the city was obtained at
half past two, which by the then and present prevalent mode in the East
of reckoning time would correspond to about ten. Possession of the city
would probably be about three or four hours after the entry through
the landward walls. Leonard says: ‘Necdum Phoebus orbis perlustrat
hemisphaerium et tota urbs a paganis in praedam occupatur.’

[445] P. 647; ‘on the 29th of last month,’ ‘Qua die expectabamus cum
desiderio quia videbatur nobis habere certam victoriam.’

[446] Crit. ch. lxx. Pusculus gives a somewhat different account (iv.

              Auxilium Deus ipse negavit;
  In Tenedi portu nam tempestatibus actae
  Stabant bis denae naves, quas Gnosia tellus,
  Quae Venetum imperium Rhadamanti legibus audit
  Omissis, plenas frumento et frugibus, inde
  Bis quinas Veneti mittebant Marte triremes
  Instructas, urbi auxilio Danaisque; sed omnes
  Mensem unum adverso tenuerunt sidere portum;
  Nec prius inde datum est se de statione movere
  Quam Teucri capiant urbem regemque trucident.

[447] Phrantzes, p. 327.

[448] Pusc. iv. 1025.

[449] Crit. lxxii.

[450] Crit. lx.

[451] Leonard, p. 99; Polish Janissary, 332; Montaldo notes one report,
that he was trampled down in the throng, and another, that his head was
cut off. Philelphus (book ii. v. 990) says, ‘Enseque perstricto nunc
hos, nunc enecat illos, Donec vita suo dispersa est alma cruore.’

[452] See also ch. xxvii. of Montaldo, who adds that the head was sent
to the pasha of Babylon accompanied by forty youths and forty virgins,
a procession intended to make known the sultan’s great victory.

[453] The Turks show a place in the bema of St. Sophia which they
pretend to be the tomb of Constantine.

[454] Sad-ud-din also makes a Turkish soldier strike off the emperor’s
head (p. 31).

[455] Phrantzes, p. 291.

[456] Until about ten years ago a tomb was shown by local guides to
travellers at Vefa Meidan as the burial-place of Constantine. It bore
no inscription. M. Mijatovich is mistaken in stating (in _Constantine,
last Emperor of the Greeks_, p. 229), on the authority of the elder
Dr. Mordtman, that the Turkish government provides oil for the lamp
over his grave. Alongside the alleged grave of Constantine is that of
some one else, probably a dervish, and a lamp was burnt there some
years ago. Similar lamps are burnt nightly in many other places in
Constantinople. It is now entirely neglected. Dr. Paspates suggests,
and probably with truth, that the whole story grew out of the desire
for custom by the owner of a neighbouring coffee-house.

[457] ὡς καλὸν ἐντάφιον ἡ βασιλεία ἐστί. The conclusion of Theodora’s
speech as recorded by Procopius.

[458] My authority for this statement is on p. 228 of a remarkable book
in Turkish, published only in September 1902, describing the ‘Conquest
of Constantinople and the establishment of the Turks in Europe.’ Its
author is Achmed Muktar Pasha. It is especially valuable as containing
many quotations from Turkish authors who are inaccessible to Europeans.

[459] Barbaro, p. 56.

[460] Crit. lvi.

[461] Crit. lxiii.

[462] The Horaia Gate occupied the site of the present Stamboul Custom
House. The Validé Mosque, at the end of the present outer bridge, is
built on part of the Jewish quarter. See the subject fully discussed by
Professor van Millingen, p. 221 and elsewhere.

[463] Leonard, 99; Phrantzes, 287.

[464] Barbaro, pp. 55, 56.

[465] The Moscovite, xxv. The whole chapter is full of improbable

[466] Ch. lxi.

[467] Barbaro, p. 55.

[468] _Thyselii Expugnatio_, ch. xxvi.

[469] Phrantzes, p. 291.

[470] P. 57.

[471] _The Capture of Constantinople_, from the Taj-ut-Tavarikh by
Khodja Sad-ud-din. Translated by E. J. W. Gibb, p. 29.

[472] Phrantzes, 287. Professor van Millingen (p. 189) believes that
these towers were a little to the south of the present Seraglio
Lighthouse. One of them had an interesting inscription, stating that it
was built by the emperor Basil in 1024.

[473] Another version of Tetaldi’s _Informacion_ calls the galleys in
question Venetian (Dethier, p. 905).

[474] Crit. ch. lxiii.

[475] Barbaro, p. 57.

[476] οὗ ἔσωθεν τῶν ἀδύτων καὶ ἄνωθεν τῶν θυσιαστηρίων καὶ τραπέζων
ἤσθιον καὶ ἔπινον καὶ τὰς ἀσελγεῖς γνώμας καὶ ὀρέξεις αὐτῶν μετὰ
γυναικῶν καὶ παρθένων καὶ παίδων ἐπάνωθεν ἐποίουν καὶ ἔπραττον.
Phrantzes, p. 290.

[477] Crit. xlii.

[478] Ducas, xlii.: βιβλία ὑπὲρ ἀριθμόν.

[479] P. 31. Khodja Sad-ud-din, translated by E. J. W. Gibb.

[480] Report of Superior of Franciscans. He was present at the siege
and arrived at Bologna July 4, 1453.

[481] Crit. lxvii. The Superior of the Franciscans reported that three
thousand men were killed on both sides on May 29. Probably we shall not
be far wrong in saying that between three and four thousand were killed
on May 29 on the Christian side and fifty thousand made prisoners.

[482] Barbaro and Ducas.

[483] Barbaro pretends, indeed, that they were the victims of a trick
on the part of the Genoese, who wished to secure their own safety by
seizing their ships and delivering them to Mahomet. His story, like
everything else he says about the Genoese, may well be doubted.

[484] A portion of the chain which formed part of the boom is now in
the narthex of St. Irene. Its links average about eighteen inches long.

[485] Tetaldi states that the Turks captured a Genoese ship and from
thirteen to sixteen others.

[486] Ducas says five.

[487] Crit. lxvii.

[488] _Ibid._ lxiii.

[489] About three fourths of the sea-walls were taken down. The
remaining fourth was spared, and a portion of them near Azap Capou
still remains.

[490] _Angeli Johannis Zachariae Potestatis Perae Epistola._ Leonard,
p. 100. Ducas says that Mahomet had an inventory made of the property
of those who had fled, and gave the owners three months within which to
return, failing which, it would be confiscated.

[491] Zorzo Dolfin, p. 1040. See also Sauli’s _Colonia dei Genovesi in
Galata_, vol. ii. p. 172, and Von Hammer, vol. ii., where the treaty
is given in full in the appendix. Usually Dolfin’s narrative is taken
from Leonard, but the paragraphs relating to the capitulations are an
exception. Dolfin uses the word _Privilegio_. The capitulations are
called at different times by different names: grants, concessions,
privileges, capitulations, or treaties. I have already pointed out, in
the _Fall of Constantinople_, that the system of ex-territoriality,
under which, in virtue of capitulations, foreigners resident in Turkey
are always under the protection of their own laws, is the survival of
the system once general in the Roman empire. Of course it is ridiculous
to speak of the capitulations as having been wrongfully wrung from the
Turks by Western nations, and equally absurd to claim that their grant
shows the far-reaching policy of the Turks in their desire to attract
foreign trade. The Turks found the system of ex-territoriality in full
force and maintained it, being unwilling, as they still are, to allow
Christians, whether their own subjects or foreigners, to rank on an
equality with Moslems.

[492] Ducas makes the entry to Hagia Sophia on the 30th. Phrantzes and
Chalcondylas, on the 29th.

[493] Cantemir, vol. ii. p. 45 (ed. Paris, 1743). He gives the Persian

[494] Report of podestà; Philip the Armenian, p. 680; also Leonard, 101.

[495] Riccherio (p. 967), whose narrative is singularly clear and
readable. See also the report of the Superior of the Franciscans.

[496] Phrantzes, 385.

[497] _Ibid._ p. 383: ἐν ᾧ δὴ χρόνῳ καὶ μηνὶ ἀνεῖλεν αὐτοχειρίᾳ τὸν
φίλτατόν μου υἱὸν Ἰωάννην ὁ ἀσεβέστατος καὶ ἀπηνέστατος ἀμηρᾶς, ὃς
δῆθεν ἐβούλετο τὴν ἀθέμιτον σοδομίαν πρᾶξαι κατὰ τοῦ παιδός.

[498] Crit. lxxiii.

[499] _Ibid._

[500] Ducas, p. 137: ἐμφάνισας αὐτὰς τῷ αἱμοβόρῳ θηρίῳ.

[501] Phrantzes, 291.

[502] Pusculus also is violently hostile to Notaras, and probably for
the same reason: because he would not accept the Union.

[503] Ducas, 137.

[504] Crit. (lxiii.) gives a different version. He states that he tried
to pass as a Turk, in which his knowledge of the Turkish language aided
him: but that he was recognised and flung himself from the walls. His
head was cut off and carried to the sultan, who had offered a great
reward for his capture dead or alive.

[505] Crit. lxiii and lxvii.

[506] _Ibid._ lxvii.

[507] Report, p. 940. The houses were empty and bore the marks of the
reckless ravages of a savage horde.

[508] Crit. lxix.

[509] Ducas, 142.

[510] Crit. bk. ii. ch. i.

[511] Von Hammer states that the walls were completely repaired in
1477, but gives no authority (_Histoire de l’empire ottoman_, iii.
209). A valuable hint is obtained from Knolles, who, writing his
history of the Turks in 1610, says that ‘the two utter walls with
the whole space between them are now but slenderly maintained by the
Turks, lying full of earth and other rubbish’ (Knolles’s _History_, p.
341, 3rd ed. 1621). The lowest of the three walls has almost entirely
disappeared except as to the lower portion, which forms one of the
sides of the foss. In the Lycus valley, and even throughout the whole
length of the landward walls, I think it is manifest to an observer
that only the Inner Wall has been repaired.

[512] Crit. lxxiii.

[513] _Ibid._ lxxiv.

[514] Crit. lxxv.

[515] Phrantzes, 304.

[516] Crit. bk. ii. ch. i.

[517] Crit. bk. ii. ch. ii.

[518] _Ecclesiastical and Civil Affairs after the Conquest_, by
Athanasius Comnenos Hypsilantes, pp. 1, 2. The version of Phrantzes
agrees with that given above. He gives a full account of the usual
procedure on the appointment of a patriarch and confirms the statement
that the Church of the Apostles was assigned to Gennadius as an
official residence. Subsequently it was taken from the Greeks, was
destroyed and replaced by a mosque built in honour of the conqueror and
known as the Mahmoudieh. The former patriarch, says Phrantzes, was dead.

[519] Crit. bk. iii. ch. v.

[520] _Commentari di Theo. Spandugino Cantacusino._

[521] All these illustrations are from book ii. of Critobulus.

[522] Fallmerayer’s _Geschichte des Kaiserthums von Trapezunt_. Not
only is this work the great authority for the history of Trebizond,
but Fallmerayer himself brought to light the most valuable materials
for its history. He was the discoverer in Venice of the chronicles
of Panaretos in the library of Cardinal Bessarion. Since Fallmerayer
wrote, the MS. of Critobulus has been discovered. In book iv. a full
account is given of the capture of Trebizond and the treatment of its
emperors. Finlay’s _History of Trebizond_ is very good, but he wrote
without seeing the account of Critobulus.

[523] iii. 302.

[524] Crit. bk. iii. ch. xxi. and xxii.

[525] Von Hammer, iii. 282.

[526] i. 32.

[527] _Voyage au Levant par ordre du roy_, 1630.

[528] _Turcorum Origo_, p. 22.

[529] This was Gentile Bellini, who arrived in Constantinople in 1479
and left at the end of 1480. He was sent, at the request of the sultan,
by the Doge of Venice.

[530] Crit. bk. iv. ch. ix.

[531] _Ibid._ bk. v. ch. x.

[532] Crit. bk. v. ch. xi. It is possible that as some of the Latin
writers spoke of the Turks as Teucri, in the belief that they were
the descendants of the Trojans, Mahomet may have been under the same

[533] _Les Sultans Ottomans_, par Halil Ganem, p. 129 (Pa