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The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

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Byzantium, and 360 to the north of a ridge of promontory of Mount
Haemus, which advances into the sea.]

Chapter LXVII: Schism Of The Greeks And Latins.

Part II.

It was on this fatal spot, that, instead of finding a
confederate fleet to second their operations, they were alarmed
by the approach of Amurath himself, who had issued from his
Magnesian solitude, and transported the forces of Asia to the
defence of Europe. According to some writers, the Greek emperor
had been awed, or seduced, to grant the passage of the Bosphorus;
and an indelible stain of corruption is fixed on the Genoese, or
the pope's nephew, the Catholic admiral, whose mercenary
connivance betrayed the guard of the Hellespont. From
Adrianople, the sultan advanced by hasty marches, at the head of
sixty thousand men; and when the cardinal, and Huniades, had
taken a nearer survey of the numbers and order of the Turks,
these ardent warriors proposed the tardy and impracticable
measure of a retreat. The king alone was resolved to conquer or
die; and his resolution had almost been crowned with a glorious
and salutary victory. The princes were opposite to each other in
the centre; and the Beglerbegs, or generals of Anatolia and
Romania, commanded on the right and left, against the adverse
divisions of the despot and Huniades. The Turkish wings were
broken on the first onset: but the advantage was fatal; and the
rash victors, in the heat of the pursuit, were carried away far
from the annoyance of the enemy, or the support of their friends.

When Amurath beheld the flight of his squadrons, he despaired of
his fortune and that of the empire: a veteran Janizary seized his
horse's bridle; and he had magnanimity to pardon and reward the
soldier who dared to perceive the terror, and arrest the flight,
of his sovereign. A copy of the treaty, the monument of Christian
perfidy, had been displayed in the front of battle; and it is
said, that the sultan in his distress, lifting his eyes and his
hands to heaven, implored the protection of the God of truth; and
called on the prophet Jesus himself to avenge the impious mockery
of his name and religion. ^26 With inferior numbers and
disordered ranks, the king of Hungary rushed forward in the
confidence of victory, till his career was stopped by the
impenetrable phalanx of the Janizaries. If we may credit the
Ottoman annals, his horse was pierced by the javelin of Amurath;
^27 he fell among the spears of the infantry; and a Turkish
soldier proclaimed with a loud voice, "Hungarians, behold the
head of your king!" The death of Ladislaus was the signal of
their defeat. On his return from an intemperate pursuit,
Huniades deplored his error, and the public loss; he strove to
rescue the royal body, till he was overwhelmed by the tumultuous
crowd of the victors and vanquished; and the last efforts of his
courage and conduct were exerted to save the remnant of his
Walachian cavalry. Ten thousand Christians were slain in the
disastrous battle of Warna: the loss of the Turks, more
considerable in numbers, bore a smaller proportion to their total
strength; yet the philosophic sultan was not ashamed to confess,
that his ruin must be the consequence of a second and similar
victory. ^* At his command a column was erected on the spot where
Ladislaus had fallen; but the modest inscription, instead of
accusing the rashness, recorded the valor, and bewailed the
misfortune, of the Hungarian youth. ^28

[Footnote 26: Some Christian writers affirm, that he drew from
his bosom the host or wafer on which the treaty had not been
sworn. The Moslems suppose, with more simplicity, an appeal to
God and his prophet Jesus, which is likewise insinuated by
Callimachus, (l. iii. p. 516. Spondan. A.D. 1444, No. 8.)]

[Footnote 27: A critic will always distrust these spolia opima of
a victorious general, so difficult for valor to obtain, so easy
for flattery to invent, (Cantemir, p. 90, 91.) Callimachus (l.
iii. p. 517) more simply and probably affirms, supervenitibus
Janizaris, telorum multitudine, non jam confossus est, quam

[Footnote *: Compare Von Hammer, p. 463. - M.]

[Footnote 28: Besides some valuable hints from Aeneas Sylvius,
which are diligently collected by Spondanus, our best authorities
are three historians of the xvth century, Philippus Callimachus,
(de Rebus a Vladislao Polonorum atque Hungarorum Rege gestis,
libri iii. in Bel. Script. Rerum Hungaricarum, tom. i. p. 433 -
518,) Bonfinius, (decad. iii. l. v. p. 460 - 467,) and
Chalcondyles, (l. vii. p. 165 - 179.) The two first were
Italians, but they passed their lives in Poland and Hungary,
(Fabric. Bibliot. Latin. Med. et Infimae Aetatis, tom. i. p. 324.

Vossius, de Hist. Latin. l. iii. c. 8, 11. Bayle, Dictionnaire,
Bonfinius.) A small tract of Faelix Petancius, chancellor of
Segnia, (ad calcem Cuspinian. de Caesaribus, p. 716 - 722,)
represents the theatre of the war in the xvth century.]

Before I lose sight of the field of Warna, I am tempted to
pause on the character and story of two principal actors, the
cardinal Julian and John Huniades. Julian ^29 Caesarini was born
of a noble family of Rome: his studies had embraced both the
Latin and Greek learning, both the sciences of divinity and law;
and his versatile genius was equally adapted to the schools, the
camp, and the court. No sooner had he been invested with the
Roman purple, than he was sent into Germany to arm the empire
against the rebels and heretics of Bohemia. The spirit of
persecution is unworthy of a Christian; the military profession
ill becomes a priest; but the former is excused by the times; and
the latter was ennobled by the courage of Julian, who stood
dauntless and alone in the disgraceful flight of the German host.
As the pope's legate, he opened the council of Basil; but the
president soon appeared the most strenuous champion of
ecclesiastical freedom; and an opposition of seven years was
conducted by his ability and zeal. After promoting the strongest
measures against the authority and person of Eugenius, some
secret motive of interest or conscience engaged him to desert on
a sudden the popular party. The cardinal withdrew himself from
Basil to Ferrara; and, in the debates of the Greeks and Latins,
the two nations admired the dexterity of his arguments and the
depth of his theological erudition. ^30 In his Hungarian embassy,
we have already seen the mischievous effects of his sophistry and
eloquence, of which Julian himself was the first victim. The
cardinal, who performed the duties of a priest and a soldier, was
lost in the defeat of Warna. The circumstances of his death are
variously related; but it is believed, that a weighty encumbrance
of gold impeded his flight, and tempted the cruel avarice of some
Christian fugitives.

[Footnote 29: M. Lenfant has described the origin (Hist. du
Concile de Basle, tom. i. p. 247, &c.) and Bohemian campaign (p.
315, &c.) of Cardinal Julian. His services at Basil and Ferrara,
and his unfortunate end, are occasionally related by Spondanus,
and the continuator of Fleury]

[Footnote 30: Syropulus honorably praises the talent of an enemy,
(p. 117:).]
From an humble, or at least a doubtful origin, the merit of
John Huniades promoted him to the command of the Hungarian
armies. His father was a Walachian, his mother a Greek: her
unknown race might possibly ascend to the emperors of
Constantinople; and the claims of the Walachians, with the
surname of Corvinus, from the place of his nativity, might
suggest a thin pretence for mingling his blood with the
patricians of ancient Rome. ^31 In his youth he served in the
wars of Italy, and was retained, with twelve horsemen, by the
bishop of Zagrab: the valor of the white knight ^32 was soon
conspicuous; he increased his fortunes by a noble and wealthy
marriage; and in the defence of the Hungarian borders he won in
the same year three battles against the Turks. By his influence,
Ladislaus of Poland obtained the crown of Hungary; and the
important service was rewarded by the title and office of Waivod
of Transylvania. The first of Julian's crusades added two
Turkish laurels on his brow; and in the public distress the fatal
errors of Warna were forgotten. During the absence and minority
of Ladislaus of Austria, the titular king, Huniades was elected
supreme captain and governor of Hungary; and if envy at first was
silenced by terror, a reign of twelve years supposes the arts of
policy as well as of war. Yet the idea of a consummate general
is not delineated in his campaigns; the white knight fought with
the hand rather than the head, as the chief of desultory
Barbarians, who attack without fear and fly without shame; and
his military life is composed of a romantic alternative of
victories and escapes. By the Turks, who employed his name to
frighten their perverse children, he was corruptly denominated
Jancus Lain, or the Wicked: their hatred is the proof of their
esteem; the kingdom which he guarded was inaccessible to their
arms; and they felt him most daring and formidable, when they
fondly believed the captain and his country irrecoverably lost.
Instead of confining himself to a defensive war, four years after
the defeat of Warna he again penetrated into the heart of
Bulgaria, and in the plain of Cossova, sustained, till the third
day, the shock of the Ottoman army, four times more numerous than
his own. As he fled alone through the woods of Walachia, the
hero was surprised by two robbers; but while they disputed a gold
chain that hung at his neck, he recovered his sword, slew the
one, terrified the other, and, after new perils of captivity or
death, consoled by his presence an afflicted kingdom. But the
last and most glorious action of his life was the defence of
Belgrade against the powers of Mahomet the Second in person.
After a siege of forty days, the Turks, who had already entered
the town, were compelled to retreat; and the joyful nations
celebrated Huniades and Belgrade as the bulwarks of Christendom.
^33 About a month after this great deliverance, the champion
expired; and his most splendid epitaph is the regret of the
Ottoman prince, who sighed that he could no longer hope for
revenge against the single antagonist who had triumphed over his
arms. On the first vacancy of the throne, Matthias Corvinus, a
youth of eighteen years of age, was elected and crowned by the
grateful Hungarians. His reign was prosperous and long: Matthias
aspired to the glory of a conqueror and a saint: but his purest
merit is the encouragement of learning; and the Latin orators and
historians, who were invited from Italy by the son, have shed the
iustre of their eloquence on the father's character. ^34

[Footnote 31: See Bonfinius, decad. iii. l. iv. p. 423. Could
the Italian historian pronounce, or the king of Hungary hear,
without a blush, the absurd flattery which confounded the name of
a Walachian village with the casual, though glorious, epithet of
a single branch of the Valerian family at Rome?]
[Footnote 32: Philip de Comines, (Memoires, l. vi. c. 13,) from
the tradition of the times, mentions him with high encomiums, but
under the whimsical name of the Chevalier Blanc de Valaigne,
(Valachia.) The Greek Chalcondyles, and the Turkish annals of
Leunclavius, presume to accuse his fidelity or valor.]
[Footnote 33: See Bonfinius (decad. iii. l. viii. p. 492) and
Spondanus, (A.D. 456, No. 1 - 7.) Huniades shared the glory of
the defence of Belgrade with Capistran, a Franciscan friar; and
in their respective narratives, neither the saint nor the hero
condescend to take notice of his rival's merit.]
[Footnote 34: See Bonfinius, decad. iii. l. viii. - decad. iv. l.
viii. The observations of Spondanus on the life and character of
Matthias Corvinus are curious and critical, (A.D. 1464, No. 1,
1475, No. 6, 1476, No. 14 - 16, 1490, No. 4, 5.) Italian fame was
the object of his vanity. His actions are celebrated in the
Epitome Rerum Hungaricarum (p. 322 - 412) of Peter Ranzanus, a
Sicilian. His wise and facetious sayings are registered by
Galestus Martius of Narni, (528 - 568,) and we have a particular
narrative of his wedding and coronation. These three tracts are
all contained in the first vol. of Bel's Scriptores Rerum

In the list of heroes, John Huniades and Scanderbeg are
commonly associated; ^35 and they are both entitled to our
notice, since their occupation of the Ottoman arms delayed the
ruin of the Greek empire. John Castriot, the father of
Scanderbeg, ^36 was the hereditary prince of a small district of
Epirus or Albania, between the mountains and the Adriatic Sea.
Unable to contend with the sultan's power, Castriot submitted to
the hard conditions of peace and tribute: he delivered his four
sons as the pledges of his fidelity; and the Christian youths,
after receiving the mark of circumcision, were instructed in the
Mahometan religion, and trained in the arms and arts of Turkish
policy. ^37 The three elder brothers were confounded in the crowd
of slaves; and the poison to which their deaths are ascribed
cannot be verified or disproved by any positive evidence. Yet
the suspicion is in a great measure removed by the kind and
paternal treatment of George Castriot, the fourth brother, who,
from his tender youth, displayed the strength and spirit of a
soldier. The successive overthrow of a Tartar and two Persians,
who carried a proud defiance to the Turkish court, recommended
him to the favor of Amurath, and his Turkish appellation of
Scanderbeg, (Iskender beg,) or the lord Alexander, is an
indelible memorial of his glory and servitude. His father's
principality was reduced into a province; but the loss was
compensated by the rank and title of Sanjiak, a command of five
thousand horse, and the prospect of the first dignities of the
empire. He served with honor in the wars of Europe and Asia; and
we may smile at the art or credulity of the historian, who
supposes, that in every encounter he spared the Christians, while
he fell with a thundering arm on his Mussulman foes. The glory of
Huniades is without reproach: he fought in the defence of his
religion and country; but the enemies who applaud the patriot,
have branded his rival with the name of traitor and apostate. In
the eyes of the Christian, the rebellion of Scanderberg is
justified by his father's wrongs, the ambiguous death of his
three brothers, his own degradation, and the slavery of his
country; and they adore the generous, though tardy, zeal, with
which he asserted the faith and independence of his ancestors.
But he had imbibed from his ninth year the doctrines of the
Koran; he was ignorant of the Gospel; the religion of a soldier
is determined by authority and habit; nor is it easy to conceive
what new illumination at the age of forty ^38 could be poured
into his soul. His motives would be less exposed to the
suspicion of interest or revenge, had he broken his chain from
the moment that he was sensible of its weight: but a long
oblivion had surely impaired his original right; and every year
of obedience and reward had cemented the mutual bond of the
sultan and his subject. If Scanderbeg had long harbored the
belief of Christianity and the intention of revolt, a worthy mind
must condemn the base dissimulation, that could serve only to
betray, that could promise only to be forsworn, that could
actively join in the temporal and spiritual perdition of so many
thousands of his unhappy brethren. Shall we praise a secret
correspondence with Huniades, while he commanded the vanguard of
the Turkish army? shall we excuse the desertion of his standard,
a treacherous desertion which abandoned the victory to the
enemies of his benefactor? In the confusion of a defeat, the eye
of Scanderbeg was fixed on the Reis Effendi or principal
secretary: with the dagger at his breast, he extorted a firman or
patent for the government of Albania; and the murder of the
guiltless scribe and his train prevented the consequences of an
immediate discovery. With some bold companions, to whom he had
revealed his design he escaped in the night, by rapid marches,
from the field or battle to his paternal mountains. The gates of
Croya were opened to the royal mandate; and no sooner did he
command the fortress, than George Castriot dropped the mask of
dissimulation; abjured the prophet and the sultan, and proclaimed
himself the avenger of his family and country. The names of
religion and liberty provoked a general revolt: the Albanians, a
martial race, were unanimous to live and die with their
hereditary prince; and the Ottoman garrisons were indulged in the
choice of martyrdom or baptism. In the assembly of the states of
Epirus, Scanderbeg was elected general of the Turkish war; and
each of the allies engaged to furnish his respective proportion
of men and money. From these contributions, from his patrimonial
estate, and from the valuable salt-pits of Selina, he drew an
annual revenue of two hundred thousand ducats; ^39 and the entire
sum, exempt from the demands of luxury, was strictly appropriated
to the public use. His manners were popular; but his discipline
was severe; and every superfluous vice was banished from his
camp: his example strengthened his command; and under his
conduct, the Albanians were invincible in their own opinion and
that of their enemies. The bravest adventurers of France and
Germany were allured by his fame and retained in his service: his
standing militia consisted of eight thousand horse and seven
thousand foot; the horses were small, the men were active; but he
viewed with a discerning eye the difficulties and resources of
the mountains; and, at the blaze of the beacons, the whole nation
was distributed in the strongest posts. With such unequal arms
Scanderbeg resisted twenty-three years the powers of the Ottoman
empire; and two conquerors, Amurath the Second, and his greater
son, were repeatedly baffled by a rebel, whom they pursued with
seeming contempt and implacable resentment. At the head of sixty
thousand horse and forty thousand Janizaries, Amurath entered
Albania: he might ravage the open country, occupy the defenceless
towns, convert the churches into mosques, circumcise the
Christian youths, and punish with death his adult and obstinate
captives: but the conquests of the sultan were confined to the
petty fortress of Sfetigrade; and the garrison, invincible to his
arms, was oppressed by a paltry artifice and a superstitious
scruple. ^40 Amurath retired with shame and loss from the walls
of Croya, the castle and residence of the Castriots; the march,
the siege, the retreat, were harassed by a vexatious, and almost
invisible, adversary; ^41 and the disappointment might tend to
imbitter, perhaps to shorten, the last days of the sultan. ^42 In
the fulness of conquest, Mahomet the Second still felt at his
bosom this domestic thorn: his lieutenants were permitted to
negotiate a truce; and the Albanian prince may justly be praised
as a firm and able champion of his national independence. The
enthusiasm of chivalry and religion has ranked him with the names
of Alexander and Pyrrhus; nor would they blush to acknowledge
their intrepid countryman: but his narrow dominion, and slender
powers, must leave him at an humble distance below the heroes of
antiquity, who triumphed over the East and the Roman legions.
His splendid achievements, the bashaws whom he encountered, the
armies that he discomfited, and the three thousand Turks who were
slain by his single hand, must be weighed in the scales of
suspicious criticism. Against an illiterate enemy, and in the
dark solitude of Epirus, his partial biographers may safely
indulge the latitude of romance: but their fictions are exposed
by the light of Italian history; and they afford a strong
presumption against their own truth, by a fabulous tale of his
exploits, when he passed the Adriatic with eight hundred horse to
the succor of the king of Naples. ^43 Without disparagement to
his fame, they might have owned, that he was finally oppressed by
the Ottoman powers: in his extreme danger he applied to Pope Pius
the Second for a refuge in the ecclesiastical state; and his
resources were almost exhausted, since Scanderbeg died a fugitive
at Lissus, on the Venetian territory. ^44 His sepulchre was soon
violated by the Turkish conquerors; but the Janizaries, who wore
his bones enchased in a bracelet, declared by this superstitious
amulet their involuntary reverence for his valor. The instant
ruin of his country may redound to the hero's glory; yet, had he
balanced the consequences of submission and resistance, a patriot
perhaps would have declined the unequal contest which must depend
on the life and genius of one man. Scanderbeg might indeed be
supported by the rational, though fallacious, hope, that the
pope, the king of Naples, and the Venetian republic, would join
in the defence of a free and Christian people, who guarded the
sea-coast of the Adriatic, and the narrow passage from Greece to
Italy. His infant son was saved from the national shipwreck; the
Castriots ^45 were invested with a Neapolitan dukedom, and their
blood continues to flow in the noblest families of the realm. A
colony of Albanian fugitives obtained a settlement in Calabria,
and they preserve at this day the language and manners of their
ancestors. ^46
[Footnote 35: They are ranked by Sir William Temple, in his
pleasing Essay on Heroic Virtue, (Works, vol. iii. p. 385,) among
the seven chiefs who have deserved without wearing, a royal
crown; Belisarius, Narses, Gonsalvo of Cordova, William first
prince of Orange, Alexander duke of Parma, John Huniades, and
George Castriot, or Scanderbeg.]

[Footnote 36: I could wish for some simple authentic memoirs of a
friend of Scanderbeg, which would introduce me to the man, the
time, and the place. In the old and national history of Marinus
Barletius, a priest of Scodra, (de Vita. Moribus, et Rebus gestis
Georgii Castrioti, &c. libri xiii. p. 367. Argentorat. 1537, in
fol.,) his gaudy and cumbersoms robes are stuck with many false
jewels. See likewise Chalcondyles, l vii. p. 185, l. viii. p.
[Footnote 37: His circumcision, education, &c., are marked by
Marinus with brevity and reluctance, (l. i. p. 6, 7.)]

[Footnote 38: Since Scanderbeg died A.D. 1466, in the lxiiid year
of his age, (Marinus, l. xiii. p. 370,) he was born in 1403;
since he was torn from his parents by the Turks, when he was
novennis, (Marinus, l. i. p. 1, 6,) that event must have happened
in 1412, nine years before the accession of Amurath II., who must
have inherited, not acquired the Albanian slave. Spondanus has
remarked this inconsistency, A.D. 1431, No. 31, 1443, No. 14.]
[Footnote 39: His revenue and forces are luckily given by
Marinus, (l. ii. p. 44.)]

[Footnote 40: There were two Dibras, the upper aud lower, the
Bulgarian and Albanian: the former, 70 miles from Croya, (l. i.
p. 17,) was contiguous to the fortress of Sfetigrade, whose
inhabitants refused to drink from a well into which a dead dog
had traitorously been cast, (l. v. p. 139, 140.) We want a good
map of Epirus.]

[Footnote 41: Compare the Turkish narrative of Cantemir (p. 92)
with the pompous and prolix declamation in the ivth, vth, and
vith books of the Albanian priest, who has been copied by the
tribe of strangers and moderns.]
[Footnote 42: In honor of his hero, Barletius (l. vi. p. 188 -
192) kills the sultan by disease indeed, under the walls of
Croya. But this audacious fiction is disproved by the Greeks and
Turks, who agree in the time and manner of Amurath's death at

[Footnote 43: See the marvels of his Calabrian expedition in the
ixth and xth books of Marinus Barletius, which may be rectified
by the testimony or silence of Muratori, (Annali d'Italia, tom.
xiii. p. 291,) and his original authors, (Joh. Simonetta de Rebus
Francisci Sfortiae, in Muratori, Script. Rerum Ital. tom. xxi. p.
728, et alios.) The Albanian cavalry, under the name of
Stradiots, soon became famous in the wars of Italy, (Memoires de
Comines, l. viii. c. 5.)]

[Footnote 44: Spondanus, from the best evidence, and the most
rational criticism, has reduced the giant Scanderbeg to the human
size, (A.D. 1461, No. 20, 1463, No. 9, 1465, No. 12, 13, 1467,
No. 1.) His own letter to the pope, and the testimony of Phranza,
(l. iii. c. 28,) a refugee in the neighboring isle of Corfu,
demonstrate his last distress, which is awkwardly concealed by
Marinus Barletius, (l. x.)]

[Footnote 45: See the family of the Castriots, in Ducange, (Fam.
Dalmaticae, &c, xviii. p. 348 - 350.)]

[Footnote 46: This colony of Albanese is mentioned by Mr.
Swinburne, (Travels into the Two Sicilies, vol. i. p. 350 -

In the long career of the decline and fall of the Roman
empire, I have reached at length the last reign of the princes of
Constantinople, who so feebly sustained the name and majesty of
the Caesars. On the decease of John Palaeologus, who survived
about four years the Hungarian crusade, ^47 the royal family, by
the death of Andronicus and the monastic profession of Isidore,
was reduced to three princes, Constantine, Demetrius, and Thomas,
the surviving sons of the emperor Manuel. Of these the first and
the last were far distant in the Morea; but Demetrius, who
possessed the domain of Selybria, was in the suburbs, at the head
of a party: his ambition was not chilled by the public distress;
and his conspiracy with the Turks and the schismatics had already
disturbed the peace of his country. The funeral of the late
emperor was accelerated with singular and even suspicious haste:
the claim of Demetrius to the vacant throne was justified by a
trite and flimsy sophism, that he was born in the purple, the
eldest son of his father's reign. But the empress-mother, the
senate and soldiers, the clergy and people, were unanimous in the
cause of the lawful successor: and the despot Thomas, who,
ignorant of the change, accidentally returned to the capital,
asserted with becoming zeal the interest of his absent brother.
An ambassador, the historian Phranza, was immediately despatched
to the court of Adrianople. Amurath received him with honor and
dismissed him with gifts; but the gracious approbation of the
Turkish sultan announced his supremacy, and the approaching
downfall of the Eastern empire. By the hands of two illustrious
deputies, the Imperial crown was placed at Sparta on the head of
Constantine. In the spring he sailed from the Morea, escaped the
encounter of a Turkish squadron, enjoyed the acclamations of his
subjects, celebrated the festival of a new reign, and exhausted
by his donatives the treasure, or rather the indigence, of the
state. The emperor immediately resigned to his brothers the
possession of the Morea; and the brittle friendship of the two
princes, Demetrius and Thomas, was confirmed in their mother's
presence by the frail security of oaths and embraces. His next
occupation was the choice of a consort. A daughter of the doge
of Venice had been proposed; but the Byzantine nobles objected
the distance between an hereditary monarch and an elective
magistrate; and in their subsequent distress, the chief of that
powerful republic was not unmindful of the affront. Constantine
afterwards hesitated between the royal families of Trebizond and
Georgia; and the embassy of Phranza represents in his public and
private life the last days of the Byzantine empire. ^48
[Footnote 47: The Chronology of Phranza is clear and authentic;
but instead of four years and seven months, Spondanus (A.D. 1445,
No. 7,) assigns seven or eight years to the reign of the last
Constantine which he deduces from a spurious epistle of Eugenius
IV. to the king of Aethiopia.]
[Footnote 48: Phranza (l. iii. c. 1 - 6) deserves credit and
The protovestiare, or great chamberlain, Phranza sailed from
Constantinople as the minister of a bridegroom; and the relics of
wealth and luxury were applied to his pompous appearance. His
numerous retinue consisted of nobles and guards, of physicians
and monks: he was attended by a band of music; and the term of
his costly embassy was protracted above two years. On his
arrival in Georgia or Iberia, the natives from the towns and
villages flocked around the strangers; and such was their
simplicity, that they were delighted with the effects, without
understanding the cause, of musical harmony. Among the crowd was
an old man, above a hundred years of age, who had formerly been
carried away a captive by the Barbarians, ^49 and who amused his
hearers with a tale of the wonders of India, ^50 from whence he
had returned to Portugal by an unknown sea. ^51 From this
hospitable land, Phranza proceeded to the court of Trebizond,
where he was informed by the Greek prince of the recent decease
of Amurath. Instead of rejoicing in the deliverance, the
experienced statesman expressed his apprehension, that an
ambitious youth would not long adhere to the sage and pacific
system of his father. After the sultan's decease, his Christian
wife, Maria, ^52 the daughter of the Servian despot, had been
honorably restored to her parents; on the fame of her beauty and
merit, she was recommended by the ambassador as the most worthy
object of the royal choice; and Phranza recapitulates and refutes
the specious objections that might be raised against the
proposal. The majesty of the purple would ennoble an unequal
alliance; the bar of affinity might be removed by liberal alms
and the dispensation of the church; the disgrace of Turkish
nuptials had been repeatedly overlooked; and, though the fair
Maria was nearly fifty years of age, she might yet hope to give
an heir to the empire. Constantine listened to the advice, which
was transmitted in the first ship that sailed from Trebizond; but
the factions of the court opposed his marriage; and it was
finally prevented by the pious vow of the sultana, who ended her
days in the monastic profession. Reduced to the first
alternative, the choice of Phranza was decided in favor of a
Georgian princess; and the vanity of her father was dazzled by
the glorious alliance. Instead of demanding, according to the
primitive and national custom, a price for his daughter, ^53 he
offered a portion of fifty-six thousand, with an annual pension
of five thousand, ducats; and the services of the ambassador were
repaid by an assurance, that, as his son had been adopted in
baptism by the emperor, the establishment of his daughter should
be the peculiar care of the empress of Constantinople. On the
return of Phranza, the treaty was ratified by the Greek monarch,
who with his own hand impressed three vermilion crosses on the
golden bull, and assured the Georgian envoy that in the spring
his galleys should conduct the bride to her Imperial palace. But
Constantine embraced his faithful servant, not with the cold
approbation of a sovereign, but with the warm confidence of a
friend, who, after a long absence, is impatient to pour his
secrets into the bosom of his friend. "Since the death of my
mother and of Cantacuzene, who alone advised me without interest
or passion, ^54 I am surrounded," said the emperor, "by men whom
I can neither love nor trust, nor esteem. You are not a stranger
to Lucas Notaras, the great admiral; obstinately attached to his
own sentiments, he declares, both in private and public, that his
sentiments are the absolute measure of my thoughts and actions.
The rest of the courtiers are swayed by their personal or
factious views; and how can I consult the monks on questions of
policy and marriage? I have yet much employment for your
diligence and fidelity. In the spring you shall engage one of my
brothers to solicit the succor of the Western powers; from the
Morea you shall sail to Cyprus on a particular commission; and
from thence proceed to Georgia to receive and conduct the future
empress." - "Your commands," replied Phranza, "are irresistible;
but deign, great sir," he added, with a serious smile, "to
consider, that if I am thus perpetually absent from my family, my
wife may be tempted either to seek another husband, or to throw
herself into a monastery." After laughing at his apprehensions,
the emperor more gravely consoled him by the pleasing assurance
that this should be his last service abroad, and that he destined
for his son a wealthy and noble heiress; for himself, the
important office of great logothete, or principal minister of
state. The marriage was immediately stipulated: but the office,
however incompatible with his own, had been usurped by the
ambition of the admiral. Some delay was requisite to negotiate a
consent and an equivalent; and the nomination of Phranza was half
declared, and half suppressed, lest it might be displeasing to an
insolent and powerful favorite. The winter was spent in the
preparations of his embassy; and Phranza had resolved, that the
youth his son should embrace this opportunity of foreign travel,
and be left, on the appearance of danger, with his maternal
kindred of the Morea. Such were the private and public designs,
which were interrupted by a Turkish war, and finally buried in
the ruins of the empire.
[Footnote 49: Suppose him to have been captured in 1394, in
Timour's first war in Georgia, (Sherefeddin, l. iii. c. 50;) he
might follow his Tartar master into Hindostan in 1398, and from
thence sail to the spice islands.]
[Footnote 50: The happy and pious Indians lived a hundred and
fifty years, and enjoyed the most perfect productions of the
vegetable and mineral kingdoms. The animals were on a large
scale: dragons seventy cubits, ants (the formica Indica) nine
inches long, sheep like elephants, elephants like sheep.
Quidlibet audendi, &c.]

[Footnote 51: He sailed in a country vessel from the spice
islands to one of the ports of the exterior India; invenitque
navem grandem Ibericam qua in Portugalliam est delatus. This
passage, composed in 1477, (Phranza, l. iii. c. 30,) twenty years
before the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope, is spurious or
wonderful. But this new geography is sullied by the old and
incompatible error which places the source of the Nile in India.]

[Footnote 52: Cantemir, (p. 83,) who styles her the daughter of
Lazarus Ogli, and the Helen of the Servians, places her marriage
with Amurath in the year 1424. It will not easily be believed,
that in six-and-twenty years' cohabitation, the sultan corpus
ejus non tetigit. After the taking of Constantinople, she fled
to Mahomet II., (Phranza, l. iii. c. 22.)]

[Footnote 53: The classical reader will recollect the offers of
Agamemnon, (Iliad, c. v. 144,) and the general practice of

[Footnote 54: Cantacuzene (I am ignorant of his relation to the
emperor of that name) was great domestic, a firm assertor of the
Greek creed, and a brother of the queen of Servia, whom he
visited with the character of ambassador, (Syropulus, p. 37, 38,

Chapter LXVIII: Reign Of Mahomet The Second, Extinction Of
Eastern Empire

Part I.

Reign And Character Of Mahomet The Second. - Siege, Assault,
And Final Conquest, Of Constantinople By The Turks. - Death Of
Constantine Palaeologus. - Servitude Of The Greeks. - Extinction
Of The Roman Empire In The East. - Consternation Of Europe. -
Conquests And Death Of Mahomet The Second.

The siege of Constantinople by the Turks attracts our first
attention to the person and character of the great destroyer.
Mahomet the Second ^1 was the son of the second Amurath; and
though his mother has been decorated with the titles of Christian
and princess, she is more probably confounded with the numerous
concubines who peopled from every climate the harem of the
sultan. His first education and sentiments were those of a devout
Mussulman; and as often as he conversed with an infidel, he
purified his hands and face by the legal rites of ablution. Age
and empire appear to have relaxed this narrow bigotry: his
aspiring genius disdained to acknowledge a power above his own;
and in his looser hours he presumed (it is said) to brand the
prophet of Mecca as a robber and impostor. Yet the sultan
persevered in a decent reverence for the doctrine and discipline
of the Koran: ^2 his private indiscretion must have been sacred
from the vulgar ear; and we should suspect the credulity of
strangers and sectaries, so prone to believe that a mind which is
hardened against truth must be armed with superior contempt for
absurdity and error. Under the tuition of the most skilful
masters, Mahomet advanced with an early and rapid progress in the
paths of knowledge; and besides his native tongue it is affirmed
that he spoke or understood five languages, ^3 the Arabic, the
Persian, the Chaldaean or Hebrew, the Latin, and the Greek. The
Persian might indeed contribute to his amusement, and the Arabic
to his edification; and such studies are familiar to the Oriental
youth. In the intercourse of the Greeks and Turks, a conqueror
might wish to converse with the people over which he was
ambitious to reign: his own praises in Latin poetry ^4 or prose
^5 might find a passage to the royal ear; but what use or merit
could recommend to the statesman or the scholar the uncouth
dialect of his Hebrew slaves? The history and geography of the
world were familiar to his memory: the lives of the heroes of the
East, perhaps of the West, ^6 excited his emulation: his skill in
astrology is excused by the folly of the times, and supposes some
rudiments of mathematical science; and a profane taste for the
arts is betrayed in his liberal invitation and reward of the
painters of Italy. ^7 But the influence of religion and learning
were employed without effect on his savage and licentious nature.

I will not transcribe, nor do I firmly believe, the stories of
his fourteen pages, whose bellies were ripped open in search of a
stolen melon; or of the beauteous slave, whose head he severed
from her body, to convince the Janizaries that their master was
not the votary of love. ^* His sobriety is attested by the
silence of the Turkish annals, which accuse three, and three
only, of the Ottoman line of the vice of drunkenness. ^8 But it
cannot be denied that his passions were at once furious and
inexorable; that in the palace, as in the field, a torrent of
blood was spilt on the slightest provocation; and that the
noblest of the captive youth were often dishonored by his
unnatural lust. In the Albanian war he studied the lessons, and
soon surpassed the example, of his father; and the conquest of
two empires, twelve kingdoms, and two hundred cities, a vain and
flattering account, is ascribed to his invincible sword. He was
doubtless a soldier, and possibly a general; Constantinople has
sealed his glory; but if we compare the means, the obstacles, and
the achievements, Mahomet the Second must blush to sustain a
parallel with Alexander or Timour. Under his command, the
Ottoman forces were always more numerous than their enemies; yet
their progress was bounded by the Euphrates and the Adriatic; and
his arms were checked by Huniades and Scanderbeg, by the Rhodian
knights and by the Persian king.
[Footnote 1: For the character of Mahomet II. it is dangerous to
trust either the Turks or the Christians. The most moderate
picture appears to be drawn by Phranza, (l. i. c. 33,) whose
resentment had cooled in age and solitude; see likewise
Spondanus, (A.D. 1451, No. 11,) and the continuator of Fleury,
(tom. xxii. p. 552,) the Elogia of Paulus Jovius, (l. iii. p. 164
- 166,) and the Dictionnaire de Bayle, (tom. iii. p. 273 - 279.)]

[Footnote 2: Cantemir, (p. 115.) and the mosques which he
founded, attest his public regard for religion. Mahomet freely
disputed with the Gennadius on the two religions, (Spond. A.D.
1453, No. 22.)]

[Footnote 3: Quinque linguas praeter suam noverat, Graecam,
Latinam, Chaldaicam, Persicam. The Latin translator of Phranza
has dropped the Arabic, which the Koran must recommend to every

Note: It appears in the original Greek text, p. 95, edit.
Bonn. - M.]
[Footnote 4: Philelphus, by a Latin ode, requested and obtained
the liberty of his wife's mother and sisters from the conqueror
of Constantinople. It was delivered into the sultan's hands by
the envoys of the duke of Milan. Philelphus himself was suspected
of a design of retiring to Constantinople; yet the orator often
sounded the trumpet of holy war, (see his Life by M. Lancelot, in
the Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. x. p. 718, 724,

[Footnote 5: Robert Valturio published at Verona, in 1483, his
xii. books de Re Militari, in which he first mentions the use of
bombs. By his patron Sigismund Malatesta, prince of Rimini, it
had been addressed with a Latin epistle to Mahomet II.]

[Footnote 6: According to Phranza, he assiduously studied the
lives and actions of Alexander, Augustus, Constantine, and
Theodosius. I have read somewhere, that Plutarch's Lives were
translated by his orders into the Turkish language. If the
sultan himself understood Greek, it must have been for the
benefit of his subjects. Yet these lives are a school of freedom
as well as of valor.

Note: Von Hammer disdainfully rejects this fable of
Mahomet's knowledge of languages. Knolles adds, that he
delighted in reading the history of Alexander the Great, and of
Julius Caesar. The former, no doubt, was the Persian legend,
which, it is remarkable, came back to Europe, and was popular
throughout the middle ages as the "Romaunt of Alexander." The
founder of the Imperial dynasty of Rome, according to M. Von
Hammer, is altogether unknown in the East. Mahomet was a great
patron of Turkish literature: the romantic poems of Persia were
translated, or imitated, under his patronage. Von Hammer vol ii.
p. 268. - M.]

[Footnote 7: The famous Gentile Bellino, whom he had invited from
Venice, was dismissed with a chain and collar of gold, and a
purse of 3000 ducats. With Voltaire I laugh at the foolish story
of a slave purposely beheaded to instruct the painter in the
action of the muscles.]

[Footnote *: This story, the subject of Johnson's Irene, is
rejected by M. Von Hammer, vol. ii. p. 208. The German
historian's general estimate of Mahomet's character agrees in its
more marked features with Gibbon's. - M.]
[Footnote 8: These Imperial drunkards were Soliman I., Selim II.,
and Amurath IV., (Cantemir, p. 61.) The sophis of Persia can
produce a more regular succession; and in the last age, our
European travellers were the witnesses and companions of their

In the reign of Amurath, he twice tasted of royalty, and
twice descended from the throne: his tender age was incapable of
opposing his father's restoration, but never could he forgive the
viziers who had recommended that salutary measure. His nuptials
were celebrated with the daughter of a Turkman emir; and, after a
festival of two months, he departed from Adrianople with his
bride, to reside in the government of Magnesia. Before the end
of six weeks, he was recalled by a sudden message from the divan,
which announced the decease of Amurath, and the mutinous spirit
of the Janizaries. His speed and vigor commanded their
obedience: he passed the Hellespont with a chosen guard: and at
the distance of a mile from Adrianople, the viziers and emirs,
the imams and candhis, the soldiers and the people, fell
prostrate before the new sultan. They affected to weep, they
affected to rejoice: he ascended the throne at the age of
twenty-one years, and removed the cause of sedition by the death,
the inevitable death, of his infant brothers. ^9 ^* The
ambassadors of Europe and Asia soon appeared to congratulate his
accession and solicit his friendship; and to all he spoke the
language of moderation and peace. The confidence of the Greek
emperor was revived by the solemn oaths and fair assurances with
which he sealed the ratification of the treaty: and a rich domain
on the banks of the Strymon was assigned for the annual payment
of three hundred thousand aspers, the pension of an Ottoman
prince, who was detained at his request in the Byzantine court.
Yet the neighbors of Mahomet might tremble at the severity with
which a youthful monarch reformed the pomp of his father's
household: the expenses of luxury were applied to those of
ambition, and a useless train of seven thousand falconers was
either dismissed from his service, or enlisted in his troops. ^!
In the first summer of his reign, he visited with an army the
Asiatic provinces; but after humbling the pride, Mahomet accepted
the submission, of the Caramanian, that he might not be diverted
by the smallest obstacle from the execution of his great design.

[Footnote 9: Calapin, one of these royal infants, was saved from
his cruel brother, and baptized at Rome under the name of
Callistus Othomannus. The emperor Frederic III. presented him
with an estate in Austria, where he ended his life; and
Cuspinian, who in his youth conversed with the aged prince at
Vienna, applauds his piety and wisdom, (de Caesaribus, p. 672,
[Footnote *: Ahmed, the son of a Greek princess, was the object
of his especial jealousy. Von Hammer, p. 501. - M.]

[Footnote !: The Janizaries obtained, for the first time, a gift
on the accession of a new sovereign, p. 504. - M.]

[Footnote 10: See the accession of Mahomet II. in Ducas, (c. 33,)
Phranza, (l. i. c. 33, l. iii. c. 2,) Chalcondyles, (l. vii. p.
199,) and Cantemir, (p. 96.)]

The Mahometan, and more especially the Turkish casuists,
have pronounced that no promise can bind the faithful against the
interest and duty of their religion; and that the sultan may
abrogate his own treaties and those of his predecessors. The
justice and magnanimity of Amurath had scorned this immoral
privilege; but his son, though the proudest of men, could stoop
from ambition to the basest arts of dissimulation and deceit.
Peace was on his lips, while war was in his heart: he incessantly
sighed for the possession of Constantinople; and the Greeks, by
their own indiscretion, afforded the first pretence of the fatal
rupture. ^11 Instead of laboring to be forgotten, their
ambassadors pursued his camp, to demand the payment, and even the
increase, of their annual stipend: the divan was importuned by
their complaints, and the vizier, a secret friend of the
Christians, was constrained to deliver the sense of his brethren.

"Ye foolish and miserable Romans," said Calil, "we know your
devices, and ye are ignorant of your own danger! The scrupulous
Amurath is no more; his throne is occupied by a young conqueror,
whom no laws can bind, and no obstacles can resist: and if you
escape from his hands, give praise to the divine clemency, which
yet delays the chastisement of your sins. Why do ye seek to
affright us by vain and indirect menaces? Release the fugitive
Orchan, crown him sultan of Romania; call the Hungarians from
beyond the Danube; arm against us the nations of the West; and be
assured, that you will only provoke and precipitate your ruin."
But if the fears of the ambassadors were alarmed by the stern
language of the vizier, they were soothed by the courteous
audience and friendly speeches of the Ottoman prince; and Mahomet
assured them that on his return to Adrianople he would redress
the grievances, and consult the true interests, of the Greeks.
No sooner had he repassed the Hellespont, than he issued a
mandate to suppress their pension, and to expel their officers
from the banks of the Strymon: in this measure he betrayed a
hostile mind; and the second order announced, and in some degree
commenced, the siege of Constantinople. In the narrow pass of
the Bosphorus, an Asiatic fortress had formerly been raised by
his grandfather; in the opposite situation, on the European side,
he resolved to erect a more formidable castle; and a thousand
masons were commanded to assemble in the spring on a spot named
Asomaton, about five miles from the Greek metropolis. ^12
Persuasion is the resource of the feeble; and the feeble can
seldom persuade: the ambassadors of the emperor attempted,
without success, to divert Mahomet from the execution of his
design. They represented, that his grandfather had solicited the
permission of Manuel to build a castle on his own territories;
but that this double fortification, which would command the
strait, could only tend to violate the alliance of the nations;
to intercept the Latins who traded in the Black Sea, and perhaps
to annihilate the subsistence of the city. "I form the
enterprise," replied the perfidious sultan, "against the city;
but the empire of Constantinople is measured by her walls. Have
you forgot the distress to which my father was reduced when you
formed a league with the Hungarians; when they invaded our
country by land, and the Hellespont was occupied by the French
galleys? Amurath was compelled to force the passage of the
Bosphorus; and your strength was not equal to your malevolence.
I was then a child at Adrianople; the Moslems trembled; and, for
a while, the Gabours ^13 insulted our disgrace. But when my
father had triumphed in the field of Warna, he vowed to erect a
fort on the western shore, and that vow it is my duty to
accomplish. Have ye the right, have ye the power, to control my
actions on my own ground? For that ground is my own: as far as
the shores of the Bosphorus, Asia is inhabited by the Turks, and
Europe is deserted by the Romans. Return, and inform your king,
that the present Ottoman is far different from his predecessors;
that his resolutions surpass their wishes; and that he performs
more than they could resolve. Return in safety - but the next who
delivers a similar message may expect to be flayed alive." After
this declaration, Constantine, the first of the Greeks in spirit
as in rank, ^14 had determined to unsheathe the sword, and to
resist the approach and establishment of the Turks on the
Bosphorus. He was disarmed by the advice of his civil and
ecclesiastical ministers, who recommended a system less generous,
and even less prudent, than his own, to approve their patience
and long-suffering, to brand the Ottoman with the name and guilt
of an aggressor, and to depend on chance and time for their own
safety, and the destruction of a fort which could not long be
maintained in the neighborhood of a great and populous city.
Amidst hope and fear, the fears of the wise, and the hopes of the
credulous, the winter rolled away; the proper business of each
man, and each hour, was postponed; and the Greeks shut their eyes
against the impending danger, till the arrival of the spring and
the sultan decide the assurance of their ruin.

[Footnote 11: Before I enter on the siege of Constantinople, I
shall observe, that except the short hints of Cantemir and
Leunclavius, I have not been able to obtain any Turkish account
of this conquest; such an account as we possess of the siege of
Rhodes by Soliman II., (Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions,
tom. xxvi. p. 723 - 769.) I must therefore depend on the Greeks,
whose prejudices, in some degree, are subdued by their distress.
Our standard texts ar those of Ducas, (c. 34 - 42,) Phranza, (l.
iii. c. 7 - 20,) Chalcondyles, (l. viii. p. 201 - 214,) and
Leonardus Chiensis, (Historia C. P. a Turco expugnatae.
Norimberghae, 1544, in 4to., 20 leaves.) The last of these
narratives is the earliest in date, since it was composed in the
Isle of Chios, the 16th of August, 1453, only seventy-nine days
after the loss of the city, and in the first confusion of ideas
and passions. Some hints may be added from an epistle of
Cardinal Isidore (in Farragine Rerum Turcicarum, ad calcem
Chalcondyl. Clauseri, Basil, 1556) to Pope Nicholas V., and a
tract of Theodosius Zygomala, which he addressed in the year 1581
to Martin Crucius, (Turco-Graecia, l. i. p. 74 - 98, Basil,
1584.) The various facts and materials are briefly, though
critically, reviewed by Spondanus, (A.D. 1453, No. 1 - 27.) The
hearsay relations of Monstrelet and the distant Latins I shall
take leave to disregard.

Note: M. Von Hammer has added little new information on the
siege of Constantinople, and, by his general agreement, has borne
an honorable testimony to the truth, and by his close imitation
to the graphic spirit and boldness, of Gibbon. - M.]

[Footnote 12: The situation of the fortress, and the topography
of the Bosphorus, are best learned from Peter Gyllius, (de
Bosphoro Thracio, l. ii. c. 13,) Leunclavius, (Pandect. p. 445,)
and Tournefort, (Voyage dans le Levant, tom. ii. lettre xv. p.
443, 444;) but I must regret the map or plan which Tournefort
sent to the French minister of the marine. The reader may turn
back to chap. xvii. of this History.]

[Footnote 13: The opprobrious name which the Turks bestow on the
infidels, is expressed by Ducas, and Giaour by Leunclavius and
the moderns. The former term is derived by Ducange (Gloss. Graec
tom. i. p. 530), in vulgar Greek, a tortoise, as denoting a
retrograde motion from the faith. But alas! Gabour is no more
than Gheber, which was transferred from the Persian to the
Turkish language, from the worshippers of fire to those of the
crucifix, (D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 375.)]

[Footnote 14: Phranza does justice to his master's sense and
courage. Calliditatem hominis non ignorans Imperator prior arma
movere constituit, and stigmatizes the folly of the cum sacri tum
profani proceres, which he had heard, amentes spe vana pasci.
Ducas was not a privy-counsellor.]
Of a master who never forgives, the orders are seldom
disobeyed. On the twenty-sixth of March, the appointed spot of
Asomaton was covered with an active swarm of Turkish artificers;
and the materials by sea and land were diligently transported
from Europe and Asia. ^15 The lime had been burnt in Cataphrygia;
the timber was cut down in the woods of Heraclea and Nicomedia;
and the stones were dug from the Anatolian quarries. Each of the
thousand masons was assisted by two workmen; and a measure of two
cubits was marked for their daily task. The fortress ^16 was
built in a triangular form; each angle was flanked by a strong
and massy tower; one on the declivity of the hill, two along the
sea-shore: a thickness of twenty-two feet was assigned for the
walls, thirty for the towers; and the whole building was covered
with a solid platform of lead. Mahomet himself pressed and
directed the work with indefatigable ardor: his three viziers
claimed the honor of finishing their respective towers; the zeal
of the cadhis emulated that of the Janizaries; the meanest labor
was ennobled by the service of God and the sultan; and the
diligence of the multitude was quickened by the eye of a despot,
whose smile was the hope of fortune, and whose frown was the
messenger of death. The Greek emperor beheld with terror the
irresistible progress of the work; and vainly strove, by flattery
and gifts, to assuage an implacable foe, who sought, and secretly
fomented, the slightest occasion of a quarrel. Such occasions
must soon and inevitably be found. The ruins of stately
churches, and even the marble columns which had been consecrated
to Saint Michael the archangel, were employed without scruple by
the profane and rapacious Moslems; and some Christians, who
presumed to oppose the removal, received from their hands the
crown of martyrdom. Constantine had solicited a Turkish guard to
protect the fields and harvests of his subjects: the guard was
fixed; but their first order was to allow free pasture to the
mules and horses of the camp, and to defend their brethren if
they should be molested by the natives. The retinue of an Ottoman
chief had left their horses to pass the night among the ripe
corn; the damage was felt; the insult was resented; and several
of both nations were slain in a tumultuous conflict. Mahomet
listened with joy to the complaint; and a detachment was
commanded to exterminate the guilty village: the guilty had fled;
but forty innocent and unsuspecting reapers were massacred by the
soldiers. Till this provocation, Constantinople had been opened
to the visits of commerce and curiosity: on the first alarm, the
gates were shut; but the emperor, still anxious for peace,
released on the third day his Turkish captives; ^17 and
expressed, in a last message, the firm resignation of a Christian
and a soldier. "Since neither oaths, nor treaty, nor submission,
can secure peace, pursue," said he to Mahomet, "your impious
warfare. My trust is in God alone; if it should please him to
mollify your heart, I shall rejoice in the happy change; if he
delivers the city into your hands, I submit without a murmur to
his holy will. But until the Judge of the earth shall pronounce
between us, it is my duty to live and die in the defence of my
people." The sultan's answer was hostile and decisive: his
fortifications were completed; and before his departure for
Adrianople, he stationed a vigilant Aga and four hundred
Janizaries, to levy a tribute on the ships of every nation that
should pass within the reach of their cannon. A Venetian vessel,
refusing obedience to the new lords of the Bosphorus, was sunk
with a single bullet. ^* The master and thirty sailors escaped in
the boat; but they were dragged in chains to the Porte: the chief
was impaled; his companions were beheaded; and the historian
Ducas ^18 beheld, at Demotica, their bodies exposed to the wild
beasts. The siege of Constantinople was deferred till the
ensuing spring; but an Ottoman army marched into the Morea to
divert the force of the brothers of Constantine. At this aera of
calamity, one of these princes, the despot Thomas, was blessed or
afflicted with the birth of a son; "the last heir," says the
plaintive Phranza, "of the last spark of the Roman empire." ^19

[Footnote 15: Instead of this clear and consistent account, the
Turkish Annals (Cantemir, p. 97) revived the foolish tale of the
ox's hide, and Dido's stratagem in the foundation of Carthage.
These annals (unless we are swayed by an anti-Christian
prejudice) are far less valuable than the Greek historians.]

[Footnote 16: In the dimensions of this fortress, the old castle
of Europe, Phranza does not exactly agree with Chalcondyles,
whose description has been verified on the spot by his editor

[Footnote 17: Among these were some pages of Mahomet, so
conscious of his inexorable rigor, that they begged to lose their
heads in the city unless they could return before sunset.]

[Footnote *: This was from a model cannon cast by Urban the
Hungarian. See p. 291. Von Hammer. p. 510. - M.]

[Footnote 18: Ducas, c. 35. Phranza, (l. iii. c. 3,) who had
sailed in his vessel, commemorates the Venetian pilot as a

[Footnote 19: Auctum est Palaeologorum genus, et Imperii
successor, parvaeque Romanorum scintillae haeres natus, Andreas,
&c., (Phranza, l. iii. c. 7.) The strong expression was inspired
by his feelings.]

The Greeks and the Turks passed an anxious and sleepless
winter: the former were kept awake by their fears, the latter by
their hopes; both by the preparations of defence and attack; and
the two emperors, who had the most to lose or to gain, were the
most deeply affected by the national sentiment. In Mahomet, that
sentiment was inflamed by the ardor of his youth and temper: he
amused his leisure with building at Adrianople ^20 the lofty
palace of Jehan Numa, (the watchtower of the world;) but his
serious thoughts were irrevocably bent on the conquest of the
city of Caesar. At the dead of night, about the second watch, he
started from his bed, and commanded the instant attendance of his
prime vizier. The message, the hour, the prince, and his own
situation, alarmed the guilty conscience of Calil Basha; who had
possessed the confidence, and advised the restoration, of
Amurath. On the accession of the son, the vizier was confirmed
in his office and the appearances of favor; but the veteran
statesman was not insensible that he trod on a thin and slippery
ice, which might break under his footsteps, and plunge him in the
abyss. His friendship for the Christians, which might be
innocent under the late reign, had stigmatized him with the name
of Gabour Ortachi, or foster-brother of the infidels; ^21 and his
avarice entertained a venal and treasonable correspondence, which
was detected and punished after the conclusion of the war. On
receiving the royal mandate, he embraced, perhaps for the last
time, his wife and children; filled a cup with pieces of gold,
hastened to the palace, adored the sultan, and offered, according
to the Oriental custom, the slight tribute of his duty and
gratitude. ^22 "It is not my wish," said Mahomet, "to resume my
gifts, but rather to heap and multiply them on thy head. In my
turn, I ask a present far more valuable and important; -
Constantinople." As soon as the vizier had recovered from his
surprise, "The same God," said he, "who has already given thee so
large a portion of the Roman empire, will not deny the remnant,
and the capital. His providence, and thy power, assure thy
success; and myself, with the rest of thy faithful slaves, will
sacrifice our lives and fortunes." - "Lala," ^23 (or preceptor,)
continued the sultan, "do you see this pillow? All the night, in
my agitation, I have pulled it on one side and the other; I have
risen from my bed, again have I lain down; yet sleep has not
visited these weary eyes. Beware of the gold and silver of the
Romans: in arms we are superior; and with the aid of God, and the
prayers of the prophet, we shall speedily become masters of
Constantinople." To sound the disposition of his soldiers, he
often wandered through the streets alone, and in disguise; and it
was fatal to discover the sultan, when he wished to escape from
the vulgar eye. His hours were spent in delineating the plan of
the hostile city; in debating with his generals and engineers, on
what spot he should erect his batteries; on which side he should
assault the walls; where he should spring his mines; to what
place he should apply his scaling-ladders: and the exercises of
the day repeated and proved the lucubrations of the night.

[Footnote 20: Cantemir, p. 97, 98. The sultan was either
doubtful of his conquest, or ignorant of the superior merits of
Constantinople. A city or a kingdom may sometimes be ruined by
the Imperial fortune of their sovereign.]
[Footnote 21: It, by the president Cousin, is translated pere
nourricier, most correctly indeed from the Latin version; but in
his haste he has overlooked the note by which Ishmael Boillaud
(ad Ducam, c. 35) acknowledges and rectifies his own error.]

[Footnote 22: The Oriental custom of never appearing without
gifts before a sovereign or a superior is of high antiquity, and
seems analogous with the idea of sacrifice, still more ancient
and universal. See the examples of such Persian gifts, Aelian,
Hist. Var. l. i. c. 31, 32, 33.]

[Footnote 23: The Lala of the Turks (Cantemir, p. 34) and the
Tata of the Greeks (Ducas, c. 35) are derived from the natural
language of children; and it may be observed, that all such
primitive words which denote their parents, are the simple
repetition of one syllable, composed of a labial or a dental
consonant and an open vowel, (Des Brosses, Mechanisme des
Langues, tom. i. p. 231 - 247.)]

Chapter LXVIII: Reign Of Mahomet The Second, Extinction Of
Eastern Empire

Part II.

Among the implements of destruction, he studied with
peculiar care the recent and tremendous discovery of the Latins;
and his artillery surpassed whatever had yet appeared in the
world. A founder of cannon, a Dane ^* or Hungarian, who had been
almost starved in the Greek service, deserted to the Moslems, and
was liberally entertained by the Turkish sultan. Mahomet was
satisfied with the answer to his first question, which he eagerly
pressed on the artist. "Am I able to cast a cannon capable of
throwing a ball or stone of sufficient size to batter the walls
of Constantinople? I am not ignorant of their strength; but were
they more solid than those of Babylon, I could oppose an engine
of superior power: the position and management of that engine
must be left to your engineers." On this assurance, a foundry was
established at Adrianople: the metal was prepared; and at the end
of three months, Urban produced a piece of brass ordnance of
stupendous, and almost incredible magnitude; a measure of twelve
palms is assigned to the bore; and the stone bullet weighed above
six hundred pounds. ^24 ^* A vacant place before the new palace
was chosen for the first experiment; but to prevent the sudden
and mischievous effects of astonishment and fear, a proclamation
was issued, that the cannon would be discharged the ensuing day.
The explosion was felt or heard in a circuit of a hundred
furlongs: the ball, by the force of gunpowder, was driven above a
mile; and on the spot where it fell, it buried itself a fathom
deep in the ground. For the conveyance of this destructive
engine, a frame or carriage of thirty wagons was linked together
and drawn along by a team of sixty oxen: two hundred men on both
sides were stationed, to poise and support the rolling weight;
two hundred and fifty workmen marched before to smooth the way
and repair the bridges; and near two months were employed in a
laborious journey of one hundred and fifty miles. A lively
philosopher ^25 derides on this occasion the credulity of the
Greeks, and observes, with much reason, that we should always
distrust the exaggerations of a vanquished people. He
calculates, that a ball, even o two hundred pounds, would require
a charge of one hundred and fifty pounds of powder; and that the
stroke would be feeble and impotent, since not a fifteenth part
of the mass could be inflamed at the same moment. A stranger as
I am to the art of destruction, I can discern that the modern
improvements of artillery prefer the number of pieces to the
weight of metal; the quickness of the fire to the sound, or even
the consequence, of a single explosion. Yet I dare not reject
the positive and unanimous evidence of contemporary writers; nor
can it seem improbable, that the first artists, in their rude and
ambitious efforts, should have transgressed the standard of
moderation. A Turkish cannon, more enormous than that of
Mahomet, still guards the entrance of the Dardanelles; and if the
use be inconvenient, it has been found on a late trial that the
effect was far from contemptible. A stone bullet of eleven
hundred pounds' weight was once discharged with three hundred and
thirty pounds of powder: at the distance of six hundred yards it
shivered into three rocky fragments; traversed the strait; and
leaving the waters in a foam, again rose and bounded against the
opposite hill. ^26

[Footnote *: Gibbon has written Dane by mistake for Dace, or
Dacian. Chalcondyles, Von Hammer, p. 510. - M.]

[Footnote 24: The Attic talent weighed about sixty minae, or
avoirdupois pounds (see Hooper on Ancient Weights, Measures,
&c.;) but among the modern Greeks, that classic appellation was
extended to a weight of one hundred, or one hundred and
twenty-five pounds, (Ducange.) Leonardus Chiensis measured the
ball or stone of the second cannon Lapidem, qui palmis undecim ex
meis ambibat in gyro.]

[Footnote *: 1200, according to Leonardus Chiensis. Von Hammer
states that he had himself seen the great cannon of the
Dardanelles, in which a tailor who had run away from his
creditors, had concealed himself several days Von Hammer had
measured balls twelve spans round. Note. p. 666. - M.]
[Footnote 25: See Voltaire, (Hist. Generale, c. xci. p. 294,
295.) He was ambitious of universal monarchy; and the poet
frequently aspires to the name and style of an astronomer, a
chemist, &c.]

[Footnote 26: The Baron de Tott, (tom. iii. p. 85 - 89,) who
fortified the Dardanelles against the Russians, describes in a
lively, and even comic, strain his own prowess, and the
consternation of the Turks. But that adventurous traveller does
not possess the art of gaining our confidence.]
While Mahomet threatened the capital of the East, the Greek
emperor implored with fervent prayers the assistance of earth and
heaven. But the invisible powers were deaf to his supplications;
and Christendom beheld with indifference the fall of
Constantinople, while she derived at least some promise of supply
from the jealous and temporal policy of the sultan of Egypt. Some
states were too weak, and others too remote; by some the danger
was considered as imaginary by others as inevitable: the Western
princes were involved in their endless and domestic quarrels; and
the Roman pontiff was exasperated by the falsehood or obstinacy
of the Greeks. Instead of employing in their favor the arms and
treasures of Italy, Nicholas the Fifth had foretold their
approaching ruin; and his honor was engaged in the accomplishment
of his prophecy. ^* Perhaps he was softened by the last extremity
o their distress; but his compassion was tardy; his efforts were
faint and unavailing; and Constantinople had fallen, before the
squadrons of Genoa and Venice could sail from their harbors. ^27
Even the princes of the Morea and of the Greek islands affected a
cold neutrality: the Genoese colony of Galata negotiated a
private treaty; and the sultan indulged them in the delusive
hope, that by his clemency they might survive the ruin of the
empire. A plebeian crowd, and some Byzantine nobles basely
withdrew from the danger of their country; and the avarice of the
rich denied the emperor, and reserved for the Turks, the secret
treasures which might have raised in their defence whole armies
of mercenaries. ^28 The indigent and solitary prince prepared,
however, to sustain his formidable adversary; but if his courage
were equal to the peril, his strength was inadequate to the
contest. In the beginning of the spring, the Turkish vanguard
swept the towns and villages as far as the gates of
Constantinople: submission was spared and protected; whatever
presumed to resist was exterminated with fire and sword. The
Greek places on the Black Sea, Mesembria, Acheloum, and Bizon,
surrendered on the first summons; Selybria alone deserved the
honors of a siege or blockade; and the bold inhabitants, while
they were invested by land, launched their boats, pillaged the
opposite coast of Cyzicus, and sold their captives in the public
market. But on the approach of Mahomet himself all was silent
and prostrate: he first halted at the distance of five miles; and
from thence advancing in battle array, planted before the gates
of St. Romanus the Imperial standard; and on the sixth day of
April formed the memorable siege of Constantinople.
[Footnote *: See the curious Christian and Mahometan predictions
of the fall of Constantinople, Von Hammer, p. 518. - M.]

[Footnote 27: Non audivit, indignum ducens, says the honest
Antoninus; but as the Roman court was afterwards grieved and
ashamed, we find the more courtly expression of Platina, in animo
fuisse pontifici juvare Graecos, and the positive assertion of
Aeneas Sylvius, structam classem &c. (Spond. A.D. 1453, No. 3.)]

[Footnote 28: Antonin. in Proem. - Epist. Cardinal. Isidor. apud
Spondanum and Dr. Johnson, in the tragedy of Irene, has happily
seized this characteristic circumstance: -

The groaning Greeks dig up the golden caverns. The accumulated
wealth of hoarding ages; That wealth which, granted to their
weeping prince, Had ranged embattled nations at their gates.]

The troops of Asia and Europe extended on the right and left
from the Propontis to the harbor; the Janizaries in the front
were stationed before the sultan's tent; the Ottoman line was
covered by a deep intrenchment; and a subordinate army enclosed
the suburb of Galata, and watched the doubtful faith of the
Genoese. The inquisitive Philelphus, who resided in Greece about
thirty years before the siege, is confident, that all the Turkish
forces of any name or value could not exceed the number of sixty
thousand horse and twenty thousand foot; and he upbraids the
pusillanimity of the nations, who had tamely yielded to a handful
of Barbarians. Such indeed might be the regular establishment of
the Capiculi, ^29 the troops of the Porte who marched with the
prince, and were paid from his royal treasury. But the bashaws,
in their respective governments, maintained or levied a
provincial militia; many lands were held by a military tenure;
many volunteers were attracted by the hope of spoil and the sound
of the holy trumpet invited a swarm of hungry and fearless
fanatics, who might contribute at least to multiply the terrors,
and in a first attack to blunt the swords, of the Christians.
The whole mass of the Turkish powers is magnified by Ducas,
Chalcondyles, and Leonard of Chios, to the amount of three or
four hundred thousand men; but Phranza was a less remote and more
accurate judge; and his precise definition of two hundred and
fifty-eight thousand does not exceed the measure of experience
and probability. ^30 The navy of the besiegers was less
formidable: the Propontis was overspread with three hundred and
twenty sail; but of these no more than eighteen could be rated as
galleys of war; and the far greater part must be degraded to the
condition of store-ships and transports, which poured into the
camp fresh supplies of men, ammunition, and provisions. In her
last decay, Constantinople was still peopled with more than a
hundred thousand inhabitants; but these numbers are found in the
accounts, not of war, but of captivity; and they mostly consisted
of mechanics, of priests, of women, and of men devoid of that
spirit which even women have sometimes exerted for the common
safety. I can suppose, I could almost excuse, the reluctance of
subjects to serve on a distant frontier, at the will of a tyrant;
but the man who dares not expose his life in the defence of his
children and his property, has lost in society the first and most
active energies of nature. By the emperor's command, a
particular inquiry had been made through the streets and houses,
how many of the citizens, or even of the monks, were able and
willing to bear arms for their country. The lists were intrusted
to Phranza; ^31 and, after a diligent addition, he informed his
master, with grief and surprise, that the national defence was
reduced to four thousand nine hundred and seventy Romans.
Between Constantine and his faithful minister this comfortless
secret was preserved; and a sufficient proportion of shields,
cross-bows, and muskets, were distributed from the arsenal to the
city bands. They derived some accession from a body of two
thousand strangers, under the command of John Justiniani, a noble
Genoese; a liberal donative was advanced to these auxiliaries;
and a princely recompense, the Isle of Lemnos, was promised to
the valor and victory of their chief. A strong chain was drawn
across the mouth of the harbor: it was supported by some Greek
and Italian vessels of war and merchandise; and the ships of
every Christian nation, that successively arrived from Candia and
the Black Sea, were detained for the public service. Against the
powers of the Ottoman empire, a city of the extent of thirteen,
perhaps of sixteen, miles was defended by a scanty garrison of
seven or eight thousand soldiers. Europe and Asia were open to
the besiegers; but the strength and provisions of the Greeks must
sustain a daily decrease; nor could they indulge the expectation
of any foreign succor or supply.

[Footnote 29: The palatine troops are styled Capiculi, the
provincials, Seratculi; and most of the names and institutions of
the Turkish militia existed before the Canon Nameh of Soliman II,
from which, and his own experience, Count Marsigli has composed
his military state of the Ottoman empire.]

[Footnote 30: The observation of Philelphus is approved by
Cuspinian in the year 1508, (de Caesaribus, in Epilog. de Militia
Turcica, p. 697.) Marsigli proves, that the effective armies of
the Turks are much less numerous than they appear. In the army
that besieged Constantinople Leonardus Chiensis reckons no more
than 15,000 Janizaries.]

[Footnote 31: Ego, eidem (Imp.) tabellas extribui non absque
dolore et moestitia, mansitque apud nos duos aliis occultus
numerus, (Phranza, l. iii. c. 8.) With some indulgence for
national prejudices, we cannot desire a more authentic witness,
not only of public facts, but of private counsels.]
The primitive Romans would have drawn their swords in the
resolution of death or conquest. The primitive Christians might
have embraced each other, and awaited in patience and charity the
stroke of martyrdom. But the Greeks of Constantinople were
animated only by the spirit of religion, and that spirit was
productive only of animosity and discord. Before his death, the
emperor John Palaeologus had renounced the unpopular measure of a
union with the Latins; nor was the idea revived, till the
distress of his brother Constantine imposed a last trial of
flattery and dissimulation. ^32 With the demand of temporal aid,
his ambassadors were instructed to mingle the assurance of
spiritual obedience: his neglect of the church was excused by the
urgent cares of the state; and his orthodox wishes solicited the
presence of a Roman legate. The Vatican had been too often
deluded; yet the signs of repentance could not decently be
overlooked; a legate was more easily granted than an army; and
about six months before the final destruction, the cardinal
Isidore of Russia appeared in that character with a retinue of
priests and soldiers. The emperor saluted him as a friend and
father; respectfully listened to his public and private sermons;
and with the most obsequious of the clergy and laymen subscribed
the act of union, as it had been ratified in the council of
Florence. On the twelfth of December, the two nations, in the
church of St. Sophia, joined in the communion of sacrifice and
prayer; and the names of the two pontiffs were solemnly
commemorated; the names of Nicholas the Fifth, the vicar of
Christ, and of the patriarch Gregory, who had been driven into
exile by a rebellious people.

[Footnote 32: In Spondanus, the narrative of the union is not
only partial, but imperfect. The bishop of Pamiers died in 1642,
and the history of Ducas, which represents these scenes (c. 36,
37) with such truth and spirit, was not printed till the year

But the dress and language of the Latin priest who
officiated at the altar were an object of scandal; and it was
observed with horror, that he consecrated a cake or wafer of
unleavened bread, and poured cold water into the cup of the
sacrament. A national historian acknowledges with a blush, that
none of his countrymen, not the emperor himself, were sincere in
this occasional conformity. ^33 Their hasty and unconditional
submission was palliated by a promise of future revisal; but the
best, or the worst, of their excuses was the confession of their
own perjury. When they were pressed by the reproaches of their
honest brethren, "Have patience," they whispered, "have patience
till God shall have delivered the city from the great dragon who
seeks to devour us. You shall then perceive whether we are truly
reconciled with the Azymites." But patience is not the attribute
of zeal; nor can the arts of a court be adapted to the freedom
and violence of popular enthusiasm. From the dome of St. Sophia
the inhabitants of either sex, and of every degree, rushed in
crowds to the cell of the monk Gennadius, ^34 to consult the
oracle of the church. The holy man was invisible; entranced, as
it should seem, in deep meditation, or divine rapture: but he had
exposed on the door of his cell a speaking tablet; and they
successively withdrew, after reading those tremendous words: "O
miserable Romans, why will ye abandon the truth? and why,
instead of confiding in God, will ye put your trust in the
Italians? In losing your faith you will lose your city. Have
mercy on me, O Lord! I protest in thy presence that I am
innocent of the crime. O miserable Romans, consider, pause, and
repent. At the same moment that you renounce the religion of
your fathers, by embracing impiety, you submit to a foreign
servitude." According to the advice of Gennadius, the religious
virgins, as pure as angels, and as proud as daemons, rejected the
act of union, and abjured all communion with the present and
future associates of the Latins; and their example was applauded
and imitated by the greatest part of the clergy and people. From
the monastery, the devout Greeks dispersed themselves in the
taverns; drank confusion to the slaves of the pope; emptied their
glasses in honor of the image of the holy Virgin; and besought
her to defend against Mahomet the city which she had formerly
saved from Chosroes and the Chagan. In the double intoxication
of zeal and wine, they valiantly exclaimed, "What occasion have
we for succor, or union, or Latins? Far from us be the worship
of the Azymites!" During the winter that preceded the Turkish
conquest, the nation was distracted by this epidemical frenzy;
and the season of Lent, the approach of Easter, instead of
breathing charity and love, served only to fortify the obstinacy
and influence of the zealots. The confessors scrutinized and
alarmed the conscience of their votaries, and a rigorous penance
was imposed on those who had received the communion from a priest
who had given an express or tacit consent to the union. His
service at the altar propagated the infection to the mute and
simple spectators of the ceremony: they forfeited, by the impure
spectacle, the virtue of the sacerdotal character; nor was it
lawful, even in danger of sudden death, to invoke the assistance
of their prayers or absolution. No sooner had the church of St.
Sophia been polluted by the Latin sacrifice, than it was deserted
as a Jewish synagogue, or a heathen temple, by the clergy and
people; and a vast and gloomy silence prevailed in that venerable
dome, which had so often smoked with a cloud of incense, blazed
with innumerable lights, and resounded with the voice of prayer
and thanksgiving. The Latins were the most odious of heretics and
infidels; and the first minister of the empire, the great duke,
was heard to declare, that he had rather behold in Constantinople
the turban of Mahomet, than the pope's tiara or a cardinal's hat.
^35 A sentiment so unworthy of Christians and patriots was
familiar and fatal to the Greeks: the emperor was deprived of the
affection and support of his subjects; and their native cowardice
was sanctified by resignation to the divine decree, or the
visionary hope of a miraculous deliverance.

[Footnote 33: Phranza, one of the conforming Greeks, acknowledges
that the measure was adopted only propter spem auxilii; he
affirms with pleasure, that those who refused to perform their
devotions in St. Sophia, extra culpam et in pace essent, (l. iii.
c. 20.)]

[Footnote 34: His primitive and secular name was George
Scholarius, which he changed for that of Gennadius, either when
he became a monk or a patriarch. His defence, at Florence, of the
same union, which he so furiously attacked at Constantinople, has
tempted Leo Allatius (Diatrib. de Georgiis, in Fabric. Bibliot.
Graec. tom. x. p. 760 - 786) to divide him into two men; but
Renaudot (p. 343 - 383) has restored the identity of his person
and the duplicity of his character.]

[Footnote 35: It, may be fairly translated a cardinal's hat. The
difference of the Greek and Latin habits imbittered the schism.]

Of the triangle which composes the figure of Constantinople,
the two sides along the sea were made inaccessible to an enemy;
the Propontis by nature, and the harbor by art. Between the two
waters, the basis of the triangle, the land side was protected by
a double wall, and a deep ditch of the depth of one hundred feet.

Against this line of fortification, which Phranza, an
eye-witness, prolongs to the measure of six miles, ^36 the
Ottomans directed their principal attack; and the emperor, after
distributing the service and command of the most perilous
stations, undertook the defence of the external wall. In the
first days of the siege the Greek soldiers descended into the
ditch, or sallied into the field; but they soon discovered, that,
in the proportion of their numbers, one Christian was of more
value than twenty Turks: and, after these bold preludes, they
were prudently content to maintain the rampart with their missile
weapons. Nor should this prudence be accused of pusillanimity.
The nation was indeed pusillanimous and base; but the last
Constantine deserves the name of a hero: his noble band of
volunteers was inspired with Roman virtue; and the foreign
auxiliaries supported the honor of the Western chivalry. The
incessant volleys of lances and arrows were accompanied with the
smoke, the sound, and the fire, of their musketry and cannon.
Their small arms discharged at the same time either five, or even
ten, balls of lead, of the size of a walnut; and, according to
the closeness of the ranks and the force of the powder, several
breastplates and bodies were transpierced by the same shot. But
the Turkish approaches were soon sunk in trenches, or covered
with ruins. Each day added to the science of the Christians; but
their inadequate stock of gunpowder was wasted in the operations
of each day. Their ordnance was not powerful, either in size or
number; and if they possessed some heavy cannon, they feared to
plant them on the walls, lest the aged structure should be shaken
and overthrown by the explosion. ^37 The same destructive secret
had been revealed to the Moslems; by whom it was employed with
the superior energy of zeal, riches, and despotism. The great
cannon of Mahomet has been separately noticed; an important and
visible object in the history of the times: but that enormous
engine was flanked by two fellows almost of equal magnitude: ^38
the long order of the Turkish artillery was pointed against the
walls; fourteen batteries thundered at once on the most
accessible places; and of one of these it is ambiguously
expressed, that it was mounted with one hundred and thirty guns,
or that it discharged one hundred and thirty bullets. Yet in the
power and activity of the sultan, we may discern the infancy of
the new science. Under a master who counted the moments, the
great cannon could be loaded and fired no more than seven times
in one day. ^39 The heated metal unfortunately burst; several
workmen were destroyed; and the skill of an artist ^* was admired
who bethought himself of preventing the danger and the accident,
by pouring oil, after each explosion, into the mouth of the
[Footnote 36: We are obliged to reduce the Greek miles to the
smallest measure which is preserved in the wersts of Russia, of
547 French toises, and of 104 2/5 to a degree. The six miles of
Phranza do not exceed four English miles, (D'Anville, Mesures
Itineraires, p. 61, 123, &c.)]

[Footnote 37: At indies doctiores nostri facti paravere contra
hostes machina menta, quae tamen avare dabantur. Pulvis erat
nitri modica exigua; tela modica; bombardae, si aderant
incommoditate loci primum hostes offendere, maceriebus alveisque
tectos, non poterant. Nam si quae magnae erant, ne murus
concuteretur noster, quiescebant. This passage of Leonardus
Chiensis is curious and important.]

[Footnote 38: According to Chalcondyles and Phranza, the great
cannon burst; an incident which, according to Ducas, was
prevented by the artist's skill. It is evident that they do not
speak of the same gun.

Note: They speak, one of a Byzantine, one of a Turkish, gun.

Von Hammer note, p. 669]

[Footnote 39: Near a hundred years after the siege of
Constantinople, the French and English fleets in the Channel were
proud of firing 300 shot in an engagement of two hours, (Memoires
de Martin du Bellay, l. x., in the Collection Generale, tom. xxi.
p. 239.)]

[Footnote *: The founder of the gun. Von Hammer, p. 526.]
The first random shots were productive of more sound than
effect; and it was by the advice of a Christian, that the
engineers were taught to level their aim against the two opposite
sides of the salient angles of a bastion. However imperfect, the
weight and repetition of the fire made some impression on the
walls; and the Turks, pushing their approaches to the edge of the
ditch, attempted to fill the enormous chasm, and to build a road
to the assault. ^40 Innumerable fascines, and hogsheads, and
trunks of trees, were heaped on each other; and such was the
impetuosity of the throng, that the foremost and the weakest were
pushed headlong down the precipice, and instantly buried under
the accumulated mass. To fill the ditch was the toil of the
besiegers; to clear away the rubbish was the safety of the
besieged; and after a long and bloody conflict, the web that had
been woven in the day was still unravelled in the night. The
next resource of Mahomet was the practice of mines; but the soil
was rocky; in every attempt he was stopped and undermined by the
Christian engineers; nor had the art been yet invented of
replenishing those subterraneous passages with gunpowder, and
blowing whole towers and cities into the air. ^41 A circumstance
that distinguishes the siege of Constantinople is the reunion of
the ancient and modern artillery. The cannon were intermingled
with the mechanical engines for casting stones and darts; the
bullet and the battering-ram ^* were directed against the same
walls: nor had the discovery of gunpowder superseded the use of
the liquid and unextinguishable fire. A wooden turret of the
largest size was advanced on rollers this portable magazine of
ammunition and fascines was protected by a threefold covering of
bulls' hides: incessant volleys were securely discharged from the
loop-holes; in the front, three doors were contrived for the
alternate sally and retreat of the soldiers and workmen. They
ascended by a staircase to the upper platform, and, as high as
the level of that platform, a scaling-ladder could be raised by
pulleys to form a bridge, and grapple with the adverse rampart.
By these various arts of annoyance, some as new as they were
pernicious to the Greeks, the tower of St. Romanus was at length
overturned: after a severe struggle, the Turks were repulsed from
the breach, and interrupted by darkness; but they trusted that
with the return of light they should renew the attack with fresh
vigor and decisive success. Of this pause of action, this
interval of hope, each moment was improved, by the activity of
the emperor and Justiniani, who passed the night on the spot, and
urged the labors which involved the safety of the church and
city. At the dawn of day, the impatient sultan perceived, with
astonishment and grief, that his wooden turret had been reduced
to ashes: the ditch was cleared and restored; and the tower of
St. Romanus was again strong and entire. He deplored the failure
of his design; and uttered a profane exclamation, that the word
of the thirty-seven thousand prophets should not have compelled
him to believe that such a work, in so short a time, could have
been accomplished by the infidels.

[Footnote 40: I have selected some curious facts, without
striving to emulate the bloody and obstinate eloquence of the
abbe de Vertot, in his prolix descriptions of the sieges of
Rhodes, Malta, &c. But that agreeable historian had a turn for
romance; and as he wrote to please the order he had adopted the
same spirit of enthusiasm and chivalry.]

[Footnote 41: The first theory of mines with gunpowder appears in
1480 in a Ms. of George of Sienna, (Tiraboschi, tom. vi. P. i. p.
324.) They were first practised by Sarzanella, in 1487; but the
honor and improvement in 1503 is ascribed to Peter of Navarre,
who used them with success in the wars of Italy, (Hist. de la
Ligue de Cambray, tom. ii. p. 93 - 97.)]

[Footnote *: The battering-ram according to Von Hammer, (p. 670,)
was not used - M.]

Chapter LXVIII: Reign Of Mahomet The Second, Extinction Of
Eastern Empire

Part III.

The generosity of the Christian princes was cold and tardy;
but in the first apprehension of a siege, Constantine had
negotiated, in the isles of the Archipelago, the Morea, and
Sicily, the most indispensable supplies. As early as the
beginning of April, five ^42 great ships, equipped for
merchandise and war, would have sailed from the harbor of Chios,
had not the wind blown obstinately from the north. ^43 One of
these ships bore the Imperial flag; the remaining four belonged
to the Genoese; and they were laden with wheat and barley, with
wine, oil, and vegetables, and, above all, with soldiers and
mariners for the service of the capital. After a tedious delay,
a gentle breeze, and, on the second day, a strong gale from the
south, carried them through the Hellespont and the Propontis: but
the city was already invested by sea and land; and the Turkish
fleet, at the entrance of the Bosphorus, was stretched from shore
to shore, in the form of a crescent, to intercept, or at least to
repel, these bold auxiliaries. The reader who has present to his
mind the geographical picture of Constantinople, will conceive
and admire the greatness of the spectacle. The five Christian
ships continued to advance with joyful shouts, and a full press
both of sails and oars, against a hostile fleet of three hundred
vessels; and the rampart, the camp, the coasts of Europe and
Asia, were lined with innumerable spectators, who anxiously
awaited the event of this momentous succor. At the first view
that event could not appear doubtful; the superiority of the
Moslems was beyond all measure or account: and, in a calm, their
numbers and valor must inevitably have prevailed. But their
hasty and imperfect navy had been created, not by the genius of
the people, but by the will of the sultan: in the height of their
prosperity, the Turks have acknowledged, that if God had given
them the earth, he had left the sea to the infidels; ^44 and a
series of defeats, a rapid progress of decay, has established the
truth of their modest confession. Except eighteen galleys of some
force, the rest of their fleet consisted of open boats, rudely
constructed and awkwardly managed, crowded with troops, and
destitute of cannon; and since courage arises in a great measure
from the consciousness of strength, the bravest of the Janizaries
might tremble on a new element. In the Christian squadron, five
stout and lofty ships were guided by skilful pilots, and manned
with the veterans of Italy and Greece, long practised in the arts
and perils of the sea. Their weight was directed to sink or
scatter the weak obstacles that impeded their passage: their
artillery swept the waters: their liquid fire was poured on the
heads of the adversaries, who, with the design of boarding,
presumed to approach them; and the winds and waves are always on
the side of the ablest navigators. In this conflict, the
Imperial vessel, which had been almost overpowered, was rescued
by the Genoese; but the Turks, in a distant and closer attack,
were twice repulsed with considerable loss. Mahomet himself sat
on horseback on the beach to encourage their valor by his voice
and presence, by the promise of reward, and by fear more potent
than the fear of the enemy. The passions of his soul, and even
the gestures of his body, ^45 seemed to imitate the actions of
the combatants; and, as if he had been the lord of nature, he
spurred his horse with a fearless and impotent effort into the
sea. His loud reproaches, and the clamors of the camp, urged the
Ottomans to a third attack, more fatal and bloody than the two
former; and I must repeat, though I cannot credit, the evidence
of Phranza, who affirms, from their own mouth, that they lost
above twelve thousand men in the slaughter of the day. They fled
in disorder to the shores of Europe and Asia, while the Christian
squadron, triumphant and unhurt, steered along the Bosphorus, and
securely anchored within the chain of the harbor. In the
confidence of victory, they boasted that the whole Turkish power
must have yielded to their arms; but the admiral, or captain
bashaw, found some consolation for a painful wound in his eye, by
representing that accident as the cause of his defeat. Balthi
Ogli was a renegade of the race of the Bulgarian princes: his
military character was tainted with the unpopular vice of
avarice; and under the despotism of the prince or people,
misfortune is a sufficient evidence of guilt. ^* His rank and
services were annihilated by the displeasure of Mahomet. In the
royal presence, the captain bashaw was extended on the ground by
four slaves, and received one hundred strokes with a golden rod:
^46 his death had been pronounced; and he adored the clemency of
the sultan, who was satisfied with the milder punishment of
confiscation and exile. The introduction of this supply revived
the hopes of the Greeks, and accused the supineness of their
Western allies. Amidst the deserts of Anatolia and the rocks of
Palestine, the millions of the crusades had buried themselves in
a voluntary and inevitable grave; but the situation of the
Imperial city was strong against her enemies, and accessible to
her friends; and a rational and moderate armament of the marine
states might have saved the relics of the Roman name, and
maintained a Christian fortress in the heart of the Ottoman
empire. Yet this was the sole and feeble attempt for the
deliverance of Constantinople: the more distant powers were
insensible of its danger; and the ambassador of Hungary, or at
least of Huniades, resided in the Turkish camp, to remove the
fears, and to direct the operations, of the sultan. ^47

[Footnote 42: It is singular that the Greeks should not agree in
the number of these illustrious vessels; the five of Ducas, the
four of Phranza and Leonardus, and the two of Chalcondyles, must
be extended to the smaller, or confined to the larger, size.
Voltaire, in giving one of these ships to Frederic III.,
confounds the emperors of the East and West.]
[Footnote 43: In bold defiance, or rather in gross ignorance, of
language and geography, the president Cousin detains them in
Chios with a south, and wafts them to Constantinople with a
north, wind.]

[Footnote 44: The perpetual decay and weakness of the Turkish
navy may be observed in Ricaut, (State of the Ottoman Empire, p.
372 - 378,) Thevenot, (Voyages, P. i. p. 229 - 242, and Tott,
(Memoires, tom. iii;) the last of whom is always solicitous to
amuse and amaze his reader]

[Footnote 45: I must confess that I have before my eyes the
living picture which Thucydides (l. vii. c. 71) has drawn of the
passions and gestures of the Athenians in a naval engagement in
the great harbor of Syracuse.]
[Footnote *: According to Ducas, one of the Afabi beat out his
eye with a stone Compare Von Hammer. - M.]

[Footnote 46: According to the exaggeration or corrupt text of
Ducas, (c. 38,) this golden bar was of the enormous or incredible
weight of 500 librae, or pounds. Bouillaud's reading of 500
drachms, or five pounds, is sufficient to exercise the arm of
Mahomet, and bruise the back of his admiral.]
[Footnote 47: Ducas, who confesses himself ill informed of the
affairs of Hungary assigns a motive of superstition, a fatal
belief that Constantinople would be the term of the Turkish
conquests. See Phranza (l. iii. c. 20) and Spondanus.]

It was difficult for the Greeks to penetrate the secret of
the divan; yet the Greeks are persuaded, that a resistance so
obstinate and surprising, had fatigued the perseverance of
Mahomet. He began to meditate a retreat; and the siege would
have been speedily raised, if the ambition and jealousy of the
second vizier had not opposed the perfidious advice of Calil
Bashaw, who still maintained a secret correspondence with the
Byzantine court. The reduction of the city appeared to be
hopeless, unless a double attack could be made from the harbor as
well as from the land; but the harbor was inaccessible: an
impenetrable chain was now defended by eight large ships, more
than twenty of a smaller size, with several galleys and sloops;
and, instead of forcing this barrier, the Turks might apprehend a
naval sally, and a second encounter in the open sea. In this
perplexity, the genius of Mahomet conceived and executed a plan
of a bold and marvellous cast, of transporting by land his
lighter vessels and military stores from the Bosphorus into the
higher part of the harbor. The distance is about ten ^* miles;
the ground is uneven, and was overspread with thickets; and, as
the road must be opened behind the suburb of Galata, their free
passage or total destruction must depend on the option of the
Genoese. But these selfish merchants were ambitious of the favor
of being the last devoured; and the deficiency of art was
supplied by the strength of obedient myraids. A level way was
covered with a broad platform of strong and solid planks; and to
render them more slippery and smooth, they were anointed with the
fat of sheep and oxen. Fourscore light galleys and brigantines,
of fifty and thirty oars, were disembarked on the Bosphorus
shore; arranged successively on rollers; and drawn forwards by
the power of men and pulleys. Two guides or pilots were stationed
at the helm, and the prow, of each vessel: the sails were
unfurled to the winds; and the labor was cheered by song and
acclamation. In the course of a single night, this Turkish fleet
painfully climbed the hill, steered over the plain, and was
launched from the declivity into the shallow waters of the
harbor, far above the molestation of the deeper vessels of the
Greeks. The real importance of this operation was magnified by
the consternation and confidence which it inspired: but the
notorious, unquestionable fact was displayed before the eyes, and
is recorded by the pens, of the two nations. ^48 A similar
stratagem had been repeatedly practised by the ancients; ^49 the
Ottoman galleys (I must again repeat) should be considered as
large boats; and, if we compare the magnitude and the distance,
the obstacles and the means, the boasted miracle ^50 has perhaps
been equalled by the industry of our own times. ^51 As soon as
Mahomet had occupied the upper harbor with a fleet and army, he
constructed, in the narrowest part, a bridge, or rather mole, of
fifty cubits in breadth, and one hundred in length: it was formed
of casks and hogsheads; joined with rafters, linked with iron,
and covered with a solid floor. On this floating battery he
planted one of his largest cannon, while the fourscore galleys,
with troops and scaling ladders, approached the most accessible
side, which had formerly been stormed by the Latin conquerors.
The indolence of the Christians has been accused for not
destroying these unfinished works; ^! but their fire, by a
superior fire, was controlled and silenced; nor were they wanting
in a nocturnal attempt to burn the vessels as well as the bridge
of the sultan. His vigilance prevented their approach; their
foremost galiots were sunk or taken; forty youths, the bravest of
Italy and Greece, were inhumanly massacred at his command; nor
could the emperor's grief be assuaged by the just though cruel
retaliation, of exposing from the walls the heads of two hundred
and sixty Mussulman captives. After a siege of forty days, the
fate of Constantinople could no longer be averted. The
diminutive garrison was exhausted by a double attack: the
fortifications, which had stood for ages against hostile
violence, were dismantled on all sides by the Ottoman cannon:
many breaches were opened; and near the gate of St. Romanus, four
towers had been levelled with the ground. For the payment of his
feeble and mutinous troops, Constantine was compelled to despoil
the churches with the promise of a fourfold restitution; and his
sacrilege offered a new reproach to the enemies of the union. A
spirit of discord impaired the remnant of the Christian strength;
the Genoese and Venetian auxiliaries asserted the preeminence of
their respective service; and Justiniani and the great duke,
whose ambition was not extinguished by the common danger, accused
each other of treachery and cowardice.

[Footnote 48: The unanimous testimony of the four Greeks is
confirmed by Cantemir (p. 96) from the Turkish annals; but I
could wish to contract the distance of ten miles, and to prolong
the term of one night.
Note: Six miles, not ten. Von Hammer. - M]

[Footnote 49: Phranza relates two examples of a similar
transportation over the six miles of the Isthmus of Corinth; the
one fabulous, of Augustus after the battle of Actium; the other
true, of Nicetas, a Greek general in the xth century. To these
he might have added a bold enterprise of Hannibal, to introduce
his vessels into the harbor of Tarentum, (Polybius, l. viii. p.
749, edit. Gronov.)

Note: Von Hammer gives a longer list of such
transportations, p. 533. Dion Cassius distinctly relates the
occurrence treated as fabulous by Gibbon. - M.]

[Footnote 50: A Greek of Candia, who had served the Venetians in
a similar undertaking, (Spond. A.D. 1438, No. 37,) might possibly
be the adviser and agent of Mahomet.]

[Footnote 51: I particularly allude to our own embarkations on
the lakes of Canada in the years 1776 and 1777, so great in the
labor, so fruitless in the event.]

[Footnote !: They were betrayed, according to some accounts, by
the Genoese of Galata. Von Hammer, p. 536. - M.]

During the siege of Constantinople, the words of peace and
capitulation had been sometimes pronounced; and several embassies
had passed between the camp and the city. ^52 The Greek emperor
was humbled by adversity; and would have yielded to any terms
compatible with religion and royalty. The Turkish sultan was
desirous of sparing the blood of his soldiers; still more
desirous of securing for his own use the Byzantine treasures: and
he accomplished a sacred duty in presenting to the Gabours the
choice of circumcision, of tribute, or of death. The avarice of
Mahomet might have been satisfied with an annual sum of one
hundred thousand ducats; but his ambition grasped the capital of
the East: to the prince he offered a rich equivalent, to the
people a free toleration, or a safe departure: but after some
fruitless treaty, he declared his resolution of finding either a
throne, or a grave, under the walls of Constantinople. A sense
of honor, and the fear of universal reproach, forbade Palaeologus
to resign the city into the hands of the Ottomans; and he
determined to abide the last extremities of war. Several days
were employed by the sultan in the preparations of the assault;
and a respite was granted by his favorite science of astrology,
which had fixed on the twenty-ninth of May, as the fortunate and
fatal hour. On the evening of the twenty-seventh, he issued his
final orders; assembled in his presence the military chiefs, and
dispersed his heralds through the camp to proclaim the duty, and
the motives, of the perilous enterprise. Fear is the first
principle of a despotic government; and his menaces were
expressed in the Oriental style, that the fugitives and
deserters, had they the wings of a bird, ^53 should not escape
from his inexorable justice. The greatest part of his bashaws
and Janizaries were the offspring of Christian parents: but the
glories of the Turkish name were perpetuated by successive
adoption; and in the gradual change of individuals, the spirit of
a legion, a regiment, or an oda, is kept alive by imitation and
discipline. In this holy warfare, the Moslems were exhorted to
purify their minds with prayer, their bodies with seven
ablutions; and to abstain from food till the close of the ensuing
day. A crowd of dervises visited the tents, to instil the desire
of martyrdom, and the assurance of spending an immortal youth
amidst the rivers and gardens of paradise, and in the embraces of
the black-eyed virgins. Yet Mahomet principally trusted to the
efficacy of temporal and visible rewards. A double pay was
promised to the victorious troops: "The city and the buildings,"
said Mahomet, "are mine; but I resign to your valor the captives
and the spoil, the treasures of gold and beauty; be rich and be
happy. Many are the provinces of my empire: the intrepid soldier
who first ascends the walls of Constantinople shall be rewarded
with the government of the fairest and most wealthy; and my
gratitude shall accumulate his honors and fortunes above the
measure of his own hopes." Such various and potent motives
diffused among the Turks a general ardor, regardless of life and
impatient for action: the camp reechoed with the Moslem shouts of
"God is God: there is but one God, and Mahomet is the apostle of
God;" ^54 and the sea and land, from Galata to the seven towers,
were illuminated by the blaze of their nocturnal fires. ^*

[Footnote 52: Chalcondyles and Ducas differ in the time and
circumstances of the negotiation; and as it was neither glorious
nor salutory, the faithful Phranza spares his prince even the
thought of a surrender.]
[Footnote 53: These wings (Chalcondyles, l. viii. p. 208) are no
more than an Oriental figure: but in the tragedy of Irene,
Mahomet's passion soars above sense and reason: -

Should the fierce North, upon his frozen wings.
Bear him aloft above the wondering clouds,
And seat him in the Pleiads' golden chariot -
Then should my fury drag him down to tortures.

Besides the extravagance of the rant, I must observe, 1. That the
operation of the winds must be confined to the lower region of
the air. 2. That the name, etymology, and fable of the Pleiads
are purely Greek, (Scholiast ad Homer, Sigma 686. Eudocia in
Ionia, p. 399. Apollodor. l. iii. c. 10. Heyne, p. 229, Not.
682,) and had no affinity with the astronomy of the East, (Hyde
ad Ulugbeg, Tabul. in Syntagma Dissert. tom. i. p. 40, 42.
Goguet, Origine des Arts, &c., tom. vi. p. 73 - 78. Gebelin,
Hist. du Calendrier, p. 73,) which Mahomet had studied. 3. The
golden chariot does not exist either in science or fiction; but I
much fear Dr. Johnson has confounded the Pleiades with the great
bear or wagon, the zodiac with a northern constalation.]
[Footnote 54: Phranza quarrels with these Moslem acclamations,
not for the name of God, but for that of the prophet: the pious
zeal of Voltaire is excessive, and even ridiculous.]

[Footnote *: The picture is heightened by the addition of the
wailing cries of Kyris, which were heard from the dark interior
of the city. Von Hammer p. 539. - M.]

Far different was the state of the Christians; who, with
loud and impotent complaints, deplored the guilt, or the
punishment, of their sins. The celestial image of the Virgin had
been exposed in solemn procession; but their divine patroness was
deaf to their entreaties: they accused the obstinacy of the
emperor for refusing a timely surrender; anticipated the horrors
of their fate; and sighed for the repose and security of Turkish
servitude. The noblest of the Greeks, and the bravest of the
allies, were summoned to the palace, to prepare them, on the
evening of the twenty-eighth, for the duties and dangers of the
general assault. The last speech of Palaeologus was the funeral
oration of the Roman empire: ^55 he promised, he conjured, and he
vainly attempted to infuse the hope which was extinguished in his
own mind. In this world all was comfortless and gloomy; and
neither the gospel nor the church have proposed any conspicuous
recompense to the heroes who fall in the service of their
country. But the example of their prince, and the confinement of
a siege, had armed these warriors with the courage of despair,
and the pathetic scene is described by the feelings of the
historian Phranza, who was himself present at this mournful
assembly. They wept, they embraced; regardless of their families
and fortunes, they devoted their lives; and each commander,
departing to his station, maintained all night a vigilant and
anxious watch on the rampart. The emperor, and some faithful
companions, entered the dome of St. Sophia, which in a few hours
was to be converted into a mosque; and devoutly received, with
tears and prayers, the sacrament of the holy communion. He
reposed some moments in the palace, which resounded with cries
and lamentations; solicited the pardon of all whom he might have
injured; ^56 and mounted on horseback to visit the guards, and
explore the motions of the enemy. The distress and fall of the
last Constantine are more glorious than the long prosperity of
the Byzantine Caesars. ^*
[Footnote 55: I am afraid that this discourse was composed by
Phranza himself; and it smells so grossly of the sermon and the
convent, that I almost doubt whether it was pronounced by
Constantine. Leonardus assigns him another speech, in which he
addresses himself more respectfully to the Latin auxiliaries.]

[Footnote 56: This abasement, which devotion has sometimes
extorted from dying princes, is an improvement of the gospel
doctrine of the forgiveness of injuries: it is more easy to
forgive 490 times, than once to ask pardon of an inferior.]

[Footnote *: Compare the very curious Armenian elegy on the fall
of Constantinople, translated by M. Bore, in the Journal
Asiatique for March, 1835; and by M. Brosset, in the new edition
of Le Beau, (tom. xxi. p. 308.) The author thus ends his poem:
"I, Abraham, loaded with sins, have composed this elegy with the
most lively sorrow; for I have seen Constantinople in the days of
its glory." - M.]

In the confusion of darkness, an assailant may sometimes
succeed; out in this great and general attack, the military
judgment and astrological knowledge of Mahomet advised him to
expect the morning, the memorable twenty- ninth of May, in the
fourteen hundred and fifty-third year of the Christian aera. The
preceding night had been strenuously employed: the troops, the
cannons, and the fascines, were advanced to the edge of the
ditch, which in many parts presented a smooth and level passage

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