Sidebilder
PDF

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 Palaeologus 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.” 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 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 The jaw. “(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 whereso“ever they go, may they return with a white face l’”* 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,

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

* 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 sentence.

* According to Won Hammer, vol. i. p. the Janizaries. It took place, not in the 30, Gibbon and the European writers reign of Amurath, but in that of his preusign too late a date to this enrolment of decessor Orchan—M.

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 flattering 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 of the mufti, who dared to reject his testimony in a civil cause: a mixture of servitude and freedom not unfrequent in Oriental history.” The character of Bajazet,” the son and successor of Amurath, is

The reign strongly expressed in his surname of Ilderim, or the lightfoo" ning; and he might glory in an epithet which was drawn

isolo from the fiery energy of his soul and the rapidity of his de

*** structive march. In the fourteen years of his reign” 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

* See the life and death of Morad, or Amurath I., in Cantemir (p. 33–45), the ist book of Qualcocondyles, 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.

* The reign of Bajazet I., or Ilderim Bayazid, is contained in Cantemir (p. 46), the iid book of Chalcocondyles, 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.

* Ducas has related this as a deliberate his Italian translator. The Turkish an

act of self-devotion on the part of a Servian noble, who pretended to desert, and stabbed Amurath during a conference which he had requested. The Italian translator of Ducas, published by Bekker in the new edition of the Byzantines, has still further heightened the romance. See likewise in Von Hammer (Osmanische Geschichte, vol. i. p. 138) the popular Servian account, which resembles that of Ducas, and may have been the source of that of

count, agrees more nearly with Gibbon;
but, the Servian (Milosch Kobilovisch),
while he lay among the heap of the dead,
pretended to have some secret to impart
to Amurath, and stabbed him while he
leaned over to listen.—M.
* Bajazet was the first of his family
who assumed the title of Sultan. His
three predecessors had been content with
the inferior title of Emir.— S.

regions of Anatola were reduced to his obedience: he stripped of their hereditary possessions his brother emirs of Ghermian m. and Caramania, of Aidin and Sarukhan; and after the con- oi. quest of Iconium the ancient kingdom of the Seljukians !...” again revived in the Ottoman dynasty. Nor were the con- "" quests 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.” 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 Thermopylae 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 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 AEthiopian 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 cadhi.” 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: * 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 * 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. * 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, yoy o: o oins of the Turks themselves (D'Herbelot, Biblioth. Orientale, *ś, attested by the Arabic history of Ben Schounah, a contempcrary 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.

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 na., of the battle of Nicopolis Bajazet defeated a confederate army ...; of a hundred thousand Christians, who had proudly boasted *** that if the sky should fall they could uphold it 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 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. Such is the general idea of the Hungarian war; but the disastrous crusa, and adventure of the French has procured us some memorials §... which illustrate the victory and character of Bajazet." p". The duke of Burgundy, sovereign of Flanders and uncle 1* 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; * but the constable, admiral, and marshal of France * commanded an army which did not exceed the number

* See the Decades Rerum Hungaricarum (Dec. iii. l. 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 preference to some homely chronicle of the time and country. * 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. The 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. * 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 1. of Austria (Sinner, Voyage dans la Suisse Occidentale, tom. i. p. r18–124). * 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 A.D. 1806–1398. CRUSADE AND CAPTIVITY OF FRENCH PRINCES. 33

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 attack. The battle of Nicopolis would not have been lost if the French would have obeyed the prudence of the Hungarians: but it might have been gloriously won had the Hungarians imitated the valour of the French. They dispersed the first line, consisting of the troops of Asia; forced a rainpart of stakes which had been planted against the cavalry; broke, after a bloody conflict, the Janizaries themselves; and were at length overwhelmed by the numerous squadrons that issued from the woods and charged on all sides this handful of intrepid warriors. In the speed and secrecy of his march, in the order and evolutions of the battle, his enemies felt and admired the military talents of Bajazet. They accuse his cruelty in the use of victory. After reserving the count of Nevers and four-and-twenty lords,” whose birth and riches were attested by his Latin interpreters, the remainder of the French captives, who had survived the slaughter of the day, were led before his throne; and, as they refused to abjure their faith, were successively beheaded in his presence. The sultan was exasperated by the loss of his bravest Janizaries; and, if it be true, that, on the eve of the engagement, the French had massacred their Turkish prisoners,” they might impute to themselves the consequences of a just retaliation." A knight, whose life had been spared,

defended Constantinople, governed Genoa, invaded the coast of Asia, and died in the

field of Azincour. * For this odious fact, the Abbé de Vertot quotes the Hist. Anonyme de St. Denys,

l. xvi. c. 10, 11. (Ordre de Malthe, tom. ii. p. 310.)

* Daru, Hist. de Venise, vol. ii. p. 104, makes the whole French army amount to 10,000 men, of whom 1000 were knights. The curious volume of Schiltberger, a German of Munich, who was taken prisoner in the battle (edit. Munich, 1813), and which W. Hammer receives as authentic, gives the whole number at 6000. See Schiltberger, Reise in dem Orient., and W. Hammer, note, p. 610.-M.

vol. VIII.

* According to Schiltberger there were only twelve French lords granted to the prayer of the “duke of Burgundy,” and “Herr Stephan Synther, and Johann von “Bodem.” Schiltberger, p. 13.—M.

* See Schiltberger's very graphic account of the massacre. He was led out to be slaughtered in cold blood with the rest of the Christian prisoners, amounting to 10,000. He was spared, at the interces

D

« ForrigeFortsett »