Page images

Death of Orchan and his son Soli. man,

The reign and European conquests of Amurath I.

A. D.



justified by the victories of the Ottomans. But as he practised in

the field the exercise of the jerid, Soliman was killed by a fall from his horse; and the aged Orchan wept and expired on the tomb of his valiant son.*

But the Greeks had not time to rejoice in the death of their enemies; and the Turkish scymetar was wielded with the same spirit by Amurath the First, the son of Orchan, and the brother of Soliman. By the pale and fainting

light of the Byzantine annals 52, we can discern, that he subdued without resistance the whole province of Romania or Thrace, from the Hellespont to Mount Hæmus, and the verge of the capital; and that Adrianople was chosen for the royal seat of his government and religion in Europe. Constantinople, whose decline is almost coëval with her foundation, had often, in the lapse of a thousand years, been assaulted by the Barbarians of the East and West; but never till this fatal hour had the Greeks been surrounded, both in Asia and Europe, by the arms of the same hostile monarchy. Yet the prudence or generosity of Amurath postponed for a while this easy conquest; and his pride was satisfied with the frequent and humble attendance of the emperor John Palæologus and his four sons, who followed at his summons the court and camp of the Ottoman prince. He marched against the Sclavonian nations between the Danube and the Adriatic, the Bulgarians, Servians, Bosnians, and Albanians; and these warlike tribes, who had so often insulted the majesty of the empire, were repeatedly broken by his destructive inroads. Their countries did not abound either in gold or silver; nor were their rustic hamlets and townships enriched by commerce or decorated by the arts of luxury. But the natives of the soil have been distinguished in every age by their hardiness of mind and body; and they were converted by a prudent institution into the firmest and most faithful supporters of the Ottoman greatness.53 The vizir of Amurath reminded his sovereign that, according to the Mahometan law, he was entitled to a fifth part of the spoil and captives; and that the duty might easily be levied, if vigilant officers were stationed at Gallipoli, to watch the passage,

and to select for his use the stoutest and most beautiful of the Christian youth. The advice was followed: the edict was

52 After the conclusion of Cantacuzene and Gregoras, there follows a dark interval of a hundred years. George Phranza, Michael Ducas, and Laonicus Chalcondyles, all three wrote after the taking of Constantinople.

53 See Cantemir, p. 37–41. with his own large and curious annotations.


* In the 75th year of his age, the 35th of his reign. V. Hammer.- M.

The Janizaries.

proclaimed; many thousands of the European captives were educated in religion and arms; and the new militia was consecrated and named by a celebrated dervish. Standing in the front of their ranks, he stretched the sleeve of his gown over the head of the foremost soldier, and his blessing was delivered in these words: “Let them be called Janizaries (Yengi cheri, or "new soldiers); may their countenance be ever bright! their “ hand victorious! their sword keen! may their spear always " hang over the heads of their enemies! and wheresoever they

go, may they return with a white face !54 Such was the origin of these haughty troops, the terror of the nations, and sometimes of the sultans themselves. Their valour has declined, their discipline is relaxed, and their tumultuary array is incapable of contending with the order and weapons of modern tactics; but at the time of their institution, they possessed a decisive superiority in war; since a regular body of infantry, in constant exercise and pay, was not maintained by any of the princes of Christendom. The Janizaries fought with the zeal of proselytes against their idolatrous countrymen; and in the battle of Cossova, the league and independence of the Sclavonian tribes was finally crushed. As the conqueror walked over the field, he observed that the greatest part of the slain consisted of beardless youths; and listened to the Aattering reply of his vizir, that age and wisdom would have taught them not to oppose his irresistible arms. But the sword of his Janizaries could not defend him from the dagger of despair; a Servian soldier started from the crowd of dead bodies, and Amurath was pierced in the belly with a mortal wound. The grandson of Othman was mild in his temper, modest in his apparel, and a lover of learning and virtue; but the Moslems were scandalised at his absence from public worship; and he was corrected by the firmness

** White and black face are common and proverbial expressions of praise and reproach in the Turkish language. Hic niger est, hunc tu Romane caveto, was likewise a Latin


* According to von Hammer, vol. i. still further beightened the romance. See p. 90., Gibbon and the European writers likewise in Von Hammer (Osmanische Geassign too late a date to this enrolment of schichte, vol.i. p. 138.) the popular Servian the Janizaries. It took place not in the account, which resembles that of Ducas, reign of Amurath, but in that of his pre- and may have been the source of that of decessor Orchan. -- M.

his Italian translator. The Turkish ac† Ducas has related this as a deliberate count agrees more nearly with Gibbon ; act of self-devotion on the part of a Ser. but the Servian (Milosch Kobilovisch), vian noble who pretended to desert, and while he lay among the heap of the dead, stabbed Amurath during a conference pretended to have some secret to impart to which he had requested. The Italian Amurath, and stabbed him while he leaned translator of Ducas, published by Bekker over to listen, - M. in the new edition of the Byzantines, has

[ocr errors]

The reign

A.D. 1389_1403, March 9.

of the mufti, who dared to reject his testimony in a civil cause: a mixture of servitude and freedom not unfrequent in Oriental history.55

The character of Bajazet, the son and successor of of Bajazet Amurath, is strongly expressed in his surname of

Ilderim, or the lightning; and he might glory in an

epithet, which was drawn from the fiery energy of his soul and the rapidity of his destructive march. In the fourteen years of his reign 56, he incessantly moved at the head of his armies, from Boursa to Adrianople, from the Danube to the Euphrates; and, though he strenuously laboured for the propagation of the law, he invaded, with impartial ambition, the Christian and Mahometan princes of Europe and Asia. From Angora to Amasia and Erzeroum, the northern regions of Anatolia were reduced to his obedience: he stripped of their hereditary

possessions his brother emirs of Ghermian and Caramania,

of Aidin and Sarukhan; and after the conquest of Euphrates Iconium the ancient kingdom of the Seljukians again

revived in the Ottoman dynasty. Nor were the conquests of Bajazet less rapid or important in Europe. No sooner had he imposed a regular form of servitude on the Servians and Bulgarians, than he passed the Danube to seek new enemies and new subjects in the heart of Moldavia. 57 Whatever yet adhered to the Greek empire in Thrace, Macedonia, and Thessaly, acknowledged a Turkish master: an obsequious bishop led him through the gates of Thermopylæ into Greece; and we may observe, as a singular fact, that the widow of a Spanish chief, who possessed the ancient seat of the oracle of Delphi, deserved his favour by the sacrifice of a beauteous daughter. The Turkish communication between Europe and Asia had been dangerous and doubtful, till he stationed at Gallipoli a fleet of galleys, to command the Hellespont and intercept the Latin succours of Constantinople. While the monarch indulged his passions in a

His conquests,

from the


55 See the life and death of Morad, or Amurath I., in Cantemir (p. 33–45.), the ist book of Chalcondyles, and the Annales Turcici of Leunclavius. According to another story, the sultan was stabbed by a Croat in his tent; and this accident was alleged to Busbequius (Epist, i. p. 98.) as an excuse for the unworthy precaution of pinioning, as it were, between two attendants, an ambassador's arms, when he is introduced to the royal presence.

56. The reign of Bajazet I. or Ilderim Bayazid, is contained in Cantemir (p. 46.), the üid book of Chalcondyles, and the Annales Turcici. The surname of Ilderim, or lightning, is an example, that the conquerors and poets of every age have felt the truth of a system which derives the sublime from the principle of terror.

57 Cantemir, who celebrates the victories of the great Stephen over the Turks (p. 47.), had composed the ancient and modern state of his principality of Moldavia, which has been long promised, and is still unpublished.

boundless range of injustice and cruelty, he imposed on his soldiers the most rigid laws of modesty and abstinence; and the harvest was peaceably reaped and sold within the precincts of his camp. Provoked by the loose and corrupt administration of justice, he collected in a house the judges and lawyers of his dominions, who expected that in a few moments the fire would be kindled to reduce them to ashes.His ministers trembled in silence: but an Æthiopian buffoon presumed to insinuate the true cause of the evil ; and future venality was left without excuse, by annexing an adequate salary to the office of cadbi.58 The humble title of emir was no longer suitable to the Ottoman greatness; and Bajazet condescended to accept a patent of sultan from the caliphs who served in Egypt under the yoke of the Mamalukes 59: a last and frivolous homage that was yielded by force to opinion ; by the Turkish conquerors to the house of Abbas and the successors of the Arabian prophet. The ambition of the sultan was inflamed by the obligation of deserving this august title; and he turned his arms against the kingdom of Hungary, the perpetual theatre of the Turkish victories and defeats. Sigismond, the Hungarian king, was the son and brother of the emperors of the West : his cause was that of Europe and the church; and, on the report of his danger, the bravest knights of France and Germany were eager to march under his standard and that of the cross. In the battle of Nicopolis, Bajazet defeated a confederate army Battle of of a hundred thousand Christians, who had proudly Aegis boasted, that if the sky should fall, they could uphold it Sept. 28. on their lances. The far greater part were slain or driven into the Danube; and Sigismond, escaping to Constantinople by the river and the Black Sea, returned after a long circuit to his exhausted kingdom. In the pride of victory, Bajazet threatened that he would besiege Buda; that he would subdue the adjacent countries of Germany and Italy; and that he would feed his horse with a bushel of oats on the altar of St. Peter at Rome. His progress was checked, not by the miraculous interposition of

45 Leunclav. Annal. Turcici, p. 318, 319. The venality of the cadhis has long been an object of scandal and satire ; and if we distrust the observations of our travellers, we may consult the feeling of the Turks themselves (D'llerbelot, Bibliot. Orientale, p. 216, 217. 229, 230.).

5The fact, which is attested by the Arabic history of Ben Schounah, a contemporary Syrian (De Guignes, Hist. des Huns, tom. iv. p. 336.), destroys the testimony of Saad Effendi and Cantemir (p. 14, 15.), of the election of Othman to the dignity of sultan.

6* See the Decades Rerum Hungaricarum (Dec. iii. 1. ii. p. 379.) of Bonfinius, an Italian, who, in the xvth century, was invited into Hungary to compose an eloquent history of that kingdom. Yet, if it be extant and accessible, I should give the prefer. ence to some homely chronicle of the time and country.

vity of the


A. D.

the apostle, not by a crusade of the Christian powers, but by a long and painful fit of the gout. The disorders of the moral, are sometimes corrected by those of the physical, world; and an acrimonious humour falling on a single fibre of one man, may prevent or suspend the misery of nations. Crusade Such is the general idea of the Hungarian war; but and capti.

the disastrous adventure of the French has procured us French

some memorials which illustrate the victory and character 1396—1395. of Bajazet. The duke of Burgundy, sovereign of Flanders, and uncle of Charles the Sixth, yielded to the ardour of his son, John Count of Nevers; and the fearless youth was accompanied by four princes, his cousins, and those of the French ! monarch. Their inexperience was guided by the Sire de Coucy, one of the best and oldest captains of Christendom 62; but the constable, admiral, and marshal of France 63 commanded an army which did not exceed the number of a thousand knights and squires.* These splendid names were the source of presumption and the bane of discipline. So many might aspire to command, that none were willing to obey; their national spirit despised both their enemies and their allies; and in the persuasion that Bajazet would fly, or must fall, they began to compute how soon they should visit Constantinople and deliver the holy sepulchre. When their scouts announced the approach of the Turks, the gay and thoughtless youths were at table, already heated with wine: they instantly clasped their armour, mounted their horses, rode full speed to the vanguard, and resented as an affront the advice of Sigismond, which would have deprived them of the right and honour of the foremost

61 I should not complain of the labour of this work, if my materials were always derived from such books as the chronicle of honest Froissard (vol. iv. c. 67. 69. 72. 74. 79—83. 85. 87. 89.), who read little, inquired much, and believed all. original Mémoires of the Maréchal de Boucicault (Partie i. c. 22–28.) add some facts, but they are dry and deficient, if compared with the pleasant garrulity of Froissard.


62 An accurate Memoir on the Life of Enguerrand VII., Sire de Coucy, has been given by the Baron de Zurlauben (Hist de l'Académie des Inscriptions, tom. xxv.). His rank and possessions were equally considerable in France and England ; and, in 1375, he led an army of adventurers into Switzerland, to recover a large patrimony which he claimed in right of his grandmother, the daughter of the emperor Albert I. of Austria ( Sinner, Voyage dans la Suisse Occidentale, tom. i. p. 118-124.).

63 That military office, so respectable at present, was still more conspicuous when it was divided between two persons ( Daniel, Hist. de la Milice Françoise, tom, ii

. p. 5.). One of these, the marshal of the crusade, was the famous Boucicault, who afterwards defended Constantinople, governed Genoa, invaded the coast of Asia, and died in the field of Azincour.

* Daru, Hist. de Venice, vol. ii. p. 104. soner in the battle (edit. Munich, 1813,) makes the whole French army amount to and which V. Hammer receives as au10,000 men, of whom 1000 were knights. thentic, gives the whole number at 6000. The curious volume of Schiltberger, a See Schiltberger, Reise in dem Orient. German of Munich, who was taken pri- and V. Hammer, note p. 610. — M.

« PreviousContinue »