« ZurückWeiter »
that he caused himself to be conveyed to Galata, where he soon after died of grief. His men, dismayed at the sudden flight of their general, immediately quitted their posts, and fled in the utmost confusion. However, the emperor, attended with a few of the most resolute of the nobility, still kept his post, striving, with unparalleled resolution, to oppose the multitude of barbarians, that now broke in from every quarter. But being, in the end, overpowered with numbers, and seeing all his friends dead on the ground, "What! cried he aloud, is there no Christian left alive, to strike off my head?" He had scarce uttered these words, when one of the enemy, not knowing him, cut him across the face with his sabre, and another coming behind him, with a blow on the back part of his head, laid him dead on the ground. After the death of the emperor, the few Christians who were left alive, fled; and the Turks, meeting with no further opposition, entered the city, which they filled with blood and slaughter. They gave no quarter, but put all they met to the sword, without distinction. Many thousands Uoik refuge in the church of St. Sophia, but they were all massacred in their asylum by the enraged barbarians, who, prompted by cruelty, revenge, and love of booty, spared no place nor person. Most of the nobility were, by the sultan's order cut off, and the rest kept for purposes more grievous than death itself. Many of the inhabitants, among whom were some men of great learning, escaped, while the Turks were busied in plundering the city. These, embarking in five ships then in the harbour, arrived safe in Italy, where, with the study of the Greek tongue, they revived the liberal sciences, which had long been neglected in the west. After the expiration of three days, Mahomet commanded his soldiers to forbear all farther hostilities, on pain of death; and then put an end to as cruel a pillage and massacre as any recorded in history. The next day he made his triumphal entry into Constantinople, and chose it for the seat of the Turkish empire, which it has continued to be ever since. Thus terminated the empire of the East, 1123 years after its establishment at Constantinople.
DAVID, of the imperial family of Comnenus, the last emperor of Trebizond, succeeded John, his brother. He was dethroned by Mahomet II., emperor of the Turks, who gave him his choice, either to embrace the Mahometan religion, or to suffer death. He preferred the latter, and was exposed to dreadful torments. This took place in 1461.
PAUL ERIZZO, was governor of Negropont. When obliged to eapitulate to the Turks, on condition of having his life spared, Mahomet II. ordered him, in 1469, to be sawn in two, and cut off, with his own hands, the head of his daughter, who refused to gratify his passion.
GEORGE, prince of Servia, was o to the attacks of Mahomet II, to whom he had given his daughter Mary in marriage. After seeing his children cruelly treated by the enemy, and his cities depopulated, he died, in consequence of a wound which he had received, in 1457, in a battle against the Hungarians.
AMURATH II., emperor of the Turks, was the eldest son of Mahomet I., and succeeded his father in 1421. He besieged Constantinople and Belgrade without success; but he took Thessalonica from the Venetians, and compelled the prince of Bosnia and John Castriot, prince of Albania, to pay him tribute. He obliged the latter to send his three sons as hostages; among whom was George, celebrated in history by the name of Scanderbeg. John Huniades defeated Amurath's troops, and obliged him to make peace with the princes, in 1442. The princes afterwards breaking their peace, Amurath defeated them in the famous battle of Varna, November 10th, 1444, which proved so fatal to the Christians, and in which Ladislaus, king of Hungary, was killed. He afterwards defeated Huniades, and killed about 20,000 of his men; but George Castriot, better known by the name of Scanderbeg, being established in the estates of his father, defeated the Turks several times, and obliged Amurath to raise the siege of Croia, the capital of Albany. Amurath died, chagrined with his ill success, in 1451, at Adrianople. He left behind him a very high character among his subjects, as well for civil as military virtues; and his piety and munificence in building mosques, caravanseras, colleges, and hospitals, and in bestowing alms on the devotees of his religion, are much extolled. He had too much of the Mahometan conqueror, in whose estimation cruelty and violence are sanctioned in the propagation of the faith; yet it is generally acknowledged, that he seldom drew the sword without previous provocation, and that he observed his treaties with inviolable fidelity.
SCANDERBEG, or Lord Alexander, whose proper name was George Castriot, king of Albania, a province of Turkey in Europe, was born in 1404. He was delivered up with his three elder brothers, as hostages, by their father, to Amurath II., sultan of the Turks, who poisoned his brothers, but spared him on account of his youth, being likewise pleased with his juvenile wit and amiable person. in a short time, he became one of the most renowned generals of the age; and revolting from Amurath, he joined Huniades, a most formidable enemy of the Turks. He defeated the sultan's army; took Amurath's secretary prisoner, obliged him to sign and seal an order to the governor of Croia, the capital of Albania, to deliver up the citadel and the city to the bearer of that order, in the name of the sultan. With this forced order, he repaired to Croia, and thus recovered the throne of his ancestors, and maintained the independency of his country against the numerous armies of Amurath and his successor, Mahomet II., who was obliged to make peace with this heroin 1461. He then went to the assistance of Ferdinand of Arragon, at the request of pope Pius II.; and by his assistance Ferdinand gained a complete victory over his enemy, the count of Anjou. Scanderbeg died in 1467.
Scanderbeg was one of the greatest warriors of his time. Possessed of uncommon strength and dexterity, his prowess in the field resembled that of a hero of romance; whilst his enterprise and military skill placed him amongst the ablest and most successful of generals. His Jesuit historian, Poncet, has painted him as a genuine Christian hero; but there was too great a mixture of perfidy and cruelty in his character, to render this title applicable in any other view than as the perpetual antagonist of the Christian name. His morals in private life, are, however, said to be pure, and he inculcated sobriety and continence to his soldiers. The Turks gave a singular proof of their admiration of his valour; for when they took Lissa, they dug up his bones with great respect, and made use of them as relics, set in gold and silver, to be worn about their persons, as an amulet.
MAHOMET II., surnamed the Great, emperor of the Turks, was born at Adrianople, the 24th of March, 1430, and succeeded his father Amurath II., in 145J. He took Constantinople in 1453, and thereby drove many learned Greeks into the West, which was a great cause of the restoration of learning in Europe, as the Greek literature was then introduced here. He was one of the greatest men upon record, considered merely as a conqueror; for he conquered two empires, twelve kingdoms, and 200 considerable cities. He was very ambitious of the title of Great, which both Turks and Christians have given him. He was the first of the Ottoman emperors whom the western nations dignified with the title of Grand Seignior, or Great Turk, which posterity has preserved to his descendants. Italy had suffered greater calamities, but had never felt a terror equal to that which this sultan's victories imprinted. The inhabitants seemed already condemned to wear the turban; and the pope, Sixtus IV., dreading the fate of Constantinople, thought of escaping into Provence, and transferring the holy see to Avignon. Hence, the news of Mahomet's death, which happened on the 3d of May, 1481, was received at Rome with the greatest demonstrations of joy. Vigour of mind and body, and the loftiness of enterprise, raise him above those possessors of an hereditary throne, who merely give a date to the great actions performed by their ministers and generals. The evils he brought upon Christendom, have caused his moral qualities to be painted in the darkest colours by its writers. To the ordinary vices of conquerors, injustice and cruelty, it must be acknowledged he joined an elevation of soul, a prudence and knowledge, worthy of commendation.
Sanguinary as Mahomet was, the manner in which he treated the vanquished did him honour. He left them in possession of several churches, performed in person the ceremony of installing a patriarch, restrained the fury of his soldiers, gave the emperor a magnificent funeral, and rendered Constantinople happy and flourishing. In a word, whatever reproaches he may deserve on some accounts, we see the great man through all his vices.
Mahomet appears to have been the first sultan who was a lover of the arts and sciences ; and who cultivated polite letters. He often read the history of Augustus and the other Caesar's; and he perused those of Alexander, Constantine, and Theodosius, with more than ordinary pleasure, because these had reigned in the same country with himself. He was fond of painting, music, sculpture, and agriculture. He was much addicted to astrology; and used to encourage his troops by giving out, that the influence of the heavenly bodies promised him the empire of the world. Contrary to the genius of his country, he delighted' so much in foreign languages, that he not only spoke the Arabian, but also the Persian, Greek, and French, or corrupted Italian. Landin, a knight of Rhodes, collected several of his letters, written in Syriac, Greek, and Turkish, and translated them into Latin. Where the originals are is unknown, but the translation has been published at Lyons, 1520, 4to; at Basil 1554, 12mo; in a collection by Oporinus, at Marpurg, 1604, in 8vo; and at Leipsic, in 1690, 12mo; Prof. Melchior Junius, published at Montbeliard, 1595, a collection of letters, in which there are three written by Mahomet II. to Scanderbeg. These letters have nothing of Turkish ferocity in them; they are written in as civil terms, and as obliging a manner, as the most polite prince in Christendom could have written.
BAJAZET II., sultan of the Turks, succeeded his father Mahomet II., in 1481, at thirty years of age. He was governor of Amasia, when he received the news of his father's death, and was meditating a prilgrimage to Mecca, in which design he persisted, notwithstanding the danger to which his throne waft exposed from the ambitious designs of his brother Zizem, or Jem. He was absent nine months, during which time Zizem had raised a rebellion, and had been proclaimed at Bursa. Bajazet, on his return, marched against him, and gave him a complete overthrow; in consequence of which, Zizem escaped to Rhodes, where he was entertained by the grand master, and at length sent to Italy. In that country he met with his death, either in consequence of poison, or from the razor of a renegade barber, whom his brother had employed for that purpose. Bajazet, thus freed from his competitor, engaged in war with his neighbours, like his predecessors, and made conquests in Moldavia and Caramania. He showed the treacherous ferocity of his character in putting to death, at an entertainment in his palace, his famous general Achmet, an act which he had before attempted, but was intimidated by the Janizaries revolting. His resentment against this powerful body for their interference, caused him to form a design of cutting them all off, but he was dissuaded from so hazardous a purpose by his counsellors. His war with the sultan of Egypt was a commencement of hostilities, which at first proved unfavourable to Bajazet, but finally terminated in the ruin of the sultan of Egypt. With a view of cutting off the sources of the Mameluke soldiery of Egypt, he afterwards overran Circassia, and carried a multitude of its inhabitants into captivity. On the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, Bajazet was solicited to revenge their cause; and he sent a fleet into the Mediterranean which defeated the fleet of the Christians, and ravaged the coasts. Afterwards, he sent an army into Croatia and Bosnia, which reduced those countries. He was solicited by Sforza duke of Milan, to declare war against the Venetians, and he invaded and plundered Friuli. At the same time he marched in person into the Morea, attended by a powerful fleet along the coast, and captured Lepanto, Modon, and Durazzo; the Venetians on the other hand, took Cephalonia. However a peace was concluded in 1503. Besides these foreign wars, Bajazet had various civil commotions to sustain, of which, that which most nearly affected him was occasioned by the rebellion of his son Selim. The prince was at first defeated, and his father, hoping to reclaim him, would not suffer his men to pursue him. However, Selim accepted the invitation of the Janizaries to come to Constantinople. He repaired thither, and was so warmly supported, that Bajazet thought it best to resign the crown to his son without a farther contest. He only desired to live in peace and privacy at Demotica; and having given Selim his blessing, he set out on his journey thither, attended by a few friends. He proceeded so slowly, that his son suspected he was waiting for some turn of affairs in his favour; and his death, when he had got only forty miles from Constantinople, was ascribed to poison, administered by a Jewish physician. He died in 1JJ2,