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characters. The historian Phranza, first chamber.ain and principal secretary, was involved with his family in the common lot. After suffering four months the hardships of slavery, he recovered his freedom: in the ensuing winter he ventured to Adrianople, and ransomed his wife from the mir bashi, or master of the horse; but his two children, in the flower of youth and beauty, had been seized for the use of Mahomet himself. The daughter of Phranza died in the seraglio, perhaps a virgin: his son, in the fifteenth year of his age, preferred death to infamy, and was stabbed by the hand of the royal lover." A deed thus inhuman cannot surely be expiated by the taste and liberality with which he released a Grecian matron and her two daughters, on receiving a Latin ode from Philelphus, who had chosen a wife in that noble family." The pride or cruelty of Mahomet would have been most sensibly gratified by the capture of a Roman legate; but the dexterity of Cardinal Isidore eluded the search, and he escaped from Galata in a plebeian habit.” The chain and entrance of the outward harbour was still occupied by the Italian ships of merchandise and war. They had signalised their valour in the siege: they embraced the moment of retreat, while the Turkish mariners were dissipated in the pillage of the city. When they hoisted sail, the beach was covered with a suppliant and lamentable crowd; but the means of transportation were scanty; the Venetians and Genoese selected their countrymen; and, notwithstanding the fairest promises of the sultan, the inhabitants of Galata evacuated their houses, and embarked with their most precious effects. In the fall and the sack of great cities an historian is condemned Amount of to repeat the tale of uniform calamity: the same effects *** must be produced by the same passions; and when those passions may be indulged without control, small, alas! is the difference between civilised and savage man. Amidst the vague exclama
* See Phranza, l. iii. c. 20, 21. His expressions are positive: Ameras suá mana jugulavit . . . . . volebat enim eo turpiter et nefarie abuti. Me miserum et infelicens
et he could only learn from report the bloody or impure scenes that were acted in the dark recesses of the seraglio.
* See Tiraboschi (tom. vi. P. i. p. 290) and Lancelot (Mém. de l'Académie des Inscriptions, tom. x. p. 718). I should be curious to learn how he could praise the public enemy, whom he so often reviles as the most corrupt and inhuman of tyrants.
* The Commentaries of Pius II. suppose that he craftily placed his cardinal's hat on the head of a corpse which was cut off and exposed in triumph, while the legate himself was bought and delivered as a captive of no value. The great Belgic Chronicle adorns his escape with new adventures, which he suppressed (says Spondanus, A.D. 1453, No. 15) in his own letters, lest he should lose the merit and reward of suffering for Christ."
* He was sold as a slave in Galata, letter of Cardinal Isidore in the appendix according to Von Hammer, p. 560. See to Clarke's Travels, vol. ii. p. 653.-M the somewhat vague and declamatory
A.D. 1453. AMOUNT OF THE SPOIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE, 175
tions of bigotry and hatred, the Turks are not accused of a wanton or immoderate effusion of Christian blood: but according to their maxims (the maxims of antiquity), the lives of the vanquished were forfeited; and the legitimate reward of the conqueror was derived from the service, the sale, or the ransom of his captives of both sexes.” The wealth of Constantinople had been granted by the sultan to his victorious troops; and the rapine of an hour is more productive than the industry of years. But as no regular division was attempted of the spoil, the respective shares were not determined by merit; and the rewards of valour were stolen away by the followers of the camp, who had declined the toil and danger of the battle. The narrative of their depredations could not afford either amusement or instruction: the total amount, in the last poverty of the empire, has been valued at four millions of ducats; ” and of this sum a small part was the property of the Venetians, the Genoese, the Florentines, and the merchants of Ancona. Of these foreigners the stock was improved in quick and perpetual circulation: but the riches of the Greeks were displayed in the idle ostentation of palaces and wardrobes, or deeply buried in treasures of ingots and old coin, lest it should be demanded at their hands for the defence of their country. The profanation and plunder of the monasteries and churches excited the most tragic complaints. The dome of St. Sophia itself, the earthly heaven, the second firmament, the vehicle of the cherubim, the throne of the glory of God,” was despoiled of the oblations of ages; and the gold and silver, the pearls and jewels, the vases and sacerdotal ornaments, were most wickedly converted to the service of mankind. After the divine images had been stripped of all that could be valuable to a profane eye, the canvas, or the wood, was torn, or broken, or burnt, or trod under foot, or applied, in the stables or the kitchen, to the vilest uses. The example of sacrilege was imitated, however, from the Latin conquerors of Constantinople; and the treatment which Christ, the Virgin, and the saints had sustained from the guilty Catholic, might be inflicted by the zealous Musulman on the monuments of idolatry. Perhaps, instead of joining the public clamour, a philosopher will observe that in the decline of the arts the workmanship could not be more valuable than the work, and that a fresh supply of visions and miracles would speedily be renewed by the craft of the priest and the
* Busbequius expatiates with pleasure and applause on the rights of war and the * of slavery among the ancients and the Turks (de Legat. Turcica, Epist. iii. p. 61). *m. sum is specified in a marginal note of Leunclavius (Chalcocondyles, 1. viii. p. 211); but, in the distribution to Venice, Genoa, Florence, and Ancona, of 30, 20, 20, and 15,000 ducats, I suspect that a figure has been dropped. Even with the restitution, the foreign property would scarcely exceed one-fourth. "See the enthusiastic praises and lamentations of Phranza (l. iii. c. 17).
credulity of the people. He will more seriously deplore the loss of the Byzantine libraries, which were destroyed or scattered in the general confusion: one hundred and twenty thousand manuscripts are said to have disappeared; *ten volumes might be purchased for a single ducat ; and the same ignominious price, too high perhaps for a shelf of theology, included the whole works of Aristotle and Homer, the noblest productions of the science and literature of ancient Greece. We may reflect with pleasure that an inestimable portion of our classic treasures was safely deposited in Italy; and that the mechanics of a German town had invented an art which derides the havoc of time and barbarism. From the first hour” of the memorable twenty-ninth of May, Mahome, disorder and rapine prevailed in Constantinople till the #... eighth hour of the same day, when the sultan himself ;: passed in triumph through the gate of St. Romanus. He &c. was attended by his vizirs, bashaws, and guards, each of whom (says a Byzantine historian) was robust as Hercules, dexterous as Apollo, and equal in battle to any ten of the race of ordinary mortals. The conqueror' gazed with satisfaction and wonder on the strange though splendid appearance of the domes and palaces, so dissimilar from the style of Oriental architecture. In the hippodrome, or atmeidan, his eye was attracted by the twisted column of the three serpents; and, as a trial of his strength, he shattered with nis iron mace or battle-axe the under jaw of one of these monsters,” which in the eyes of the Turks were the idols or talismans of the city." At the principal door of St. Sophia he alighted from his horse and entered the dome; and such was his jealous regard for that monument of his glory, that, on observing a zealous Musulman in the act of breaking the marble pavement, he admonished him with his scimitar that, if the spoil and captives were granted to the soldiers, the public and private buildings had been reserved for the prince. By his command the metropolis of the Eastern church was transformed into a mosque: the rich and portable instruments of superstition had been
* See Ducas (c. 42 [p. 312, ed. Bonn), and an epistle, July 15th, 1453, from Laurus Quirinus to Pope Nicholas V. (Hody de Graecis, p. 192, from a MS. in the Cotton library).
7” The Julian calendar, which reckons the days and hours from midnight, was used at Constantinople. But Ducas seems to understand the natural hours from sunrise.
* See the Turkish Annals, p. 329, and the Pandects of Leunclavius, p. 448.
* I have had occasion (vol. ii. p. 298) to mention this curious relic of Grecian antiquity.
* Won Hammer passes over this circum- tion of Thévenot. Chishull states that tance, which is treated by Dr. Clarke the monument was broken by some atTravels, vol. ii. p. 58, 4to. edit.) as a fic- tendants of the Polish ambassador.—M.
removed; the crosses were thrown down; and the walls, which were covered with images and mosaics, were washed and purified, and restored to a state of naked simplicity. On the same day, or on the ensuing Friday, the muezin, or crier, ascended the most lofty turret, and proclaimed the ezan, or public invitation, in the name of God and his prophet; the imam preached; and Mahomet the Second performed the namaz of prayer and thanksgiving on the great altar, where the Christian mysteries had so lately been celebrated before the last of the Caesars.” From St. Sophia he proceeded to the august but desolate mansion of an hundred successors of the great Constantine, but which in a few hours had been stripped of the pomp of royalty. A melancholy reflection on the vicissitudes of human greatness forced itself on his mind, and he repeated an elegant distich of Persian poetry: “The spider has wove his web in the Imperial palace, and “ the owl hath sung her watch-song on the towers of Afrasiab.” 77 Yet his mind was not satisfied, nor did the victory seem complete, till he was informed of the fate of Constantine—whether he no. had escaped, or been made prisoner, or had fallen in the ** battle. Two Janizaries claimed the honour and reward of “ his death: the body, under a heap of slain, was discovered by the golden eagles embroidered on his shoes; the Greeks acknowledged with tears the head of their late emperor; and, after exposing the bloody trophy,” Mahomet bestowed on his rival the honours of a decent funeral. After his decease Lucas Notaras, great duke 7° and first minister of the empire, was the most important prisoner. When he offered his person and his treasures at the foot of the throne, “And why,” said the indignant sultan, “did you not employ these “treasures in the defence of your prince and country?”—“They “were yours,” answered the slave; “God had reserved them for “your hands.”—“If he reserved them for me,” replied the despot, “how have you presumed to withhold them so long by a fruitless and “fatal resistance?” The great duke alleged the obstimacy of the strangers, and some secret encouragement from the Turkish vizir; and from this perilous interview he was at length dismissed with the assurance of pardon and protection. Mahomet condescended to visit his wife, a venerable princess oppressed with sickness and grief; and his consolation for her misfortunes was in the most tender strain of humanity and filial reverence. A similar clemency was extended to the principal officers of state, of whom several were ransomed at his expense; and during some days he declared himself the friend and father of the vanquished people. But the scene was soon changed, and before his departure the hippodrome streamed with the blood of his noblest captives. His perfidious cruelty is execrated by the Christians: they adorn with the colours of heroic martyrdom the execution of the great duke and his two sons, and his death is ascribed to the generous refusal of delivering his children to the tyrant's lust." Yet a Byzantine historian has dropped an unguarded word of conspiracy, deliverance, and Italian succour: such treason may be glorious; but the rebel who bravely ventures, has justly forfeited his life; nor should we blame a conqueror for destroying the enemies whom he can no longer trust. On the eighteenth of June the victorious sultan returned to Adrianople, and smiled at the base and hollow embassies of the Christian princes, who viewed their approaching ruin in the fall of the Eastern empire. Constantinople had been left naked and desolate, without a prince He rooms, or a people. But she could not be despoiled of the incom*... parable situation which marks her for the metropolis of a nople. great empire; and the genius of the place will ever triumph over the accidents of time and fortune. Boursa and Adrianople, the ancient seats of the Ottomans, sunk into provincial towns; and Mahomet the Second established his own residence and that of his successors on the same commanding spot which had been chosen by Constantine.” The fortifications of Galata, which might afford a shelter to the Latins, were prudently destroyed; but the damage of the Turkish cannon was soon repaired, and before the month of August great quantities of lime had been burnt for the restoration of the walls of the capital. As the entire property of the soil and
* We are obliged to Cantemir (p. 102) for the Turkish account of the conversion of St. Sophia, so bitterly deplored by Phranza and Ducas. It is amusing enough to observe in what opposite lights the same object appears to a Musulman and a Christian eye. 77 This distich, which Cantemir gives in the original, derives new beauties from the application. It was thus that Scipio repeated, in the sack of Carthage, the famous prophecy of Homer. The same generous feeling carried the mind of the conqueror to the past or the future. * I cannot believe with Ducas (see Spondanus, A.D. 1453, No. 13) that Mahomet sent round Persia, Arabia, &c., the head of the Greek emperor: he would surely content himself with a trophy less inhuman. * Phranza was the personal enemy of the great duke; nor could time, or death, or his own retreat to a monastery, extort a feeling of sympathy or forgiveness. Ducas is inclined to praise and pity the martyr; Chalcocondyles is neuter, but we are indebta.” to him for the hint of the Greek conspiracy.
wo. VIII. s
• For the restitution of Constantinople and the Turkish foundations, see Cantemir (p. 102–109), Ducas (c. 42 [p. 317, ed. Bonn]), with Thévenot, Tournefort, and the rest of our modern travellers. From a gigantic picture of the greatness, population, &c., of Constantinople and the Ottoman empire (Abrégé de l’Histoire Ottomane, tom. i. p. 16–21), we may learn that, in the year 1586, the Moslems were less numerous in the capital than the Christians, or even the Jews.
• Von Hammer relates this undoubtingly, and apparently on good authority, p. 559.--M.