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A.D. 1452. HE BUILDS A FORTRESS ON THE BOSPHORUS. 148
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” 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 ardour: his three vizirs claimed the honour of finishing their respective towers; the zeal of the cadhis emulated that of the Janizaries; the meanest labour 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 The Turkish been open 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,” 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,
* In the dimensions of this fortress, the old castle of Europe, Phranza does not exactly agree with Chalcocondyles, whose description has been verified on the spot by his editor Leunclavius.
” Among these were some pages of Mahomet, so conscious of his inexorable rigour, that they begged to lose their heads in the city unless they could return before sunset.
“pursue,” said he to Manomet, “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'" 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 ..p. iisa, divert the force of the brothers of Constantine. At this aera Jail. 17. 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.”” The Greeks and the Turks passed an anxious and sleepless preparation, winter: the former were kept awake by their fears, the §'é... latter by their hopes; both by the preparations of defence nople, and attack; and the two emperors, who had the most to
A.D. 1452, ... lose or to gain, were the most deeply affected by the
* national sentiment. In Mahomet that sentiment was inflamed by the ardour of his youth and temper: he amused his leisure with building at Adrianople” the lofty palace of Jehan Numa (the watch-tower 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 vizir. The message, the hour, the prince, and his own situation, alarmed the guilty
* Ducas, c. 35 sp. 248, ed. Bonn]. Phranza (l. iii. c. 3), who had sailed in his vessel, commemorates the Venetian pilot as a martyr.
* Auctum est Palaeologorum genus, et Imperii successor, parvaeque Romanorum scintillae hares natus, Andreas, &c. (Phranza, l. iii. c. 3 [p. 236, ed. Bonn]). The strong expression was inspired by his feelings.
* 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.
* This was fron a model cannon cast by Urban the Hungariar. See p. 152. Von tlauuner, p. 510–M. y P. lo
A.D. 1452, 1453. PREPARATIONS FOR SIEGE OF CONSTANTINOPLE. 151
conscience of Calil Basha; who had possessed the confidence, and advised the restoration, of Amurath. On the accession of the son the vizir was confirmed in his office and the appearances of favour; 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 stigmatised him with the name of Gabour Ortachi, or foster-brother of the infidels;” 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.” “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 vizir 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”” (or preceptor), continued the sultan, “do you see this pillow 2 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
* zwrestos, by the president Cousin, is translated père nourricier, most correctl indeed from the Latin version; but in his haste he has overlooked the note by whic Ismael Boillaud (ad Ducam, c. 35 [p. 251, ed. Bonn]) acknowledges and rectifies his own error.
* 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. War. l. i. c. 31, 32, 33.
* 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 dental consonant and an open vowel (Des Brosses, Méchanisme des Langues, tom. i. p. 231-247).
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. 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 2 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.”** 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 an 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 waggons 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
* 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, réAavroy). Leonardus Chiensis measured the ball or stone of the second cannon: Lapidem, qui palmis undecim ex meis ambibat in gyro.
* Gibbon has written Dane by mistake for Dace, or Dacian. A4% ri yires. Chalcocondyles, Von Hammer, p. 510.-M.
* 1200, according to Leonardus Chien3is. Von Hammer states that he had ^imself seen the great cannon of the Dar
danelles, in which a tailor, who had run away from his creditors, had cencealed himself several days. Won Hammer had measured balls twelve spans round. Note, p. 666.-M.
and fifty miles. A lively philosopher * 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 of 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.” While Mahomet threatened the capital of the East, the Greek emperor implored with fervent prayers the assistance of Mahome II. earth and Heaven. But the invisible powers were deaf to ... his supplications; and Christendom beheld with indifference o the fall of Constantinople, while she derived at least some *P*. 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 favour the arms and treasures of Italy, Nicholas the Fifth had foretold their approaching ruin; and his honour was engaged in the accomplishment of his prophecy." Perhaps he was softened by the
* See Woltaire (Hist. Générale, 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.
* 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.
* See the curious Christian and Mahometan predictions of the fall of Constanti mople, Von Hammer, p. 518.-M.