the Turkish language: their bodies were exercised by every labour that could fortify their strength ; they learned to wrestle, to leap, to run, to shoot with the bow, and afterwards with the musket; till they were drafted into the chambers, and companies of the Janizaries, and severe.y trained in the military or monastic discipline of the order. The youths most conspicuous for birth, talents, and beauty, were admitted into the inferior class of Agiamoglans, or the more liberal rank of Ichoglans, of whom the former were attached to the palace, and the latter to the person of the prince. In four successive schools, under the rod of the white eunuchs, the arts of horsemanship and of darting the javelin were their daily exercise, while those of a more studious cast applied themselves to the study of the Koran, and the knowledge of the Arabic and Persian tongues. As they advanced in seniority and merit, they were gradually dismissed to military, civil, and even ecclesiastical employments : the longer their stay, the higher was their expectation ; till, at a mature period, they were admitted into the number of the forty agas, who stood before the sultan, and were promoted by his choice to the government of provinces and the first honours of the empire. 88 Such a mode of institution was admirably adapted to the form and spirit of a despotic monarchy. The ministers and generals were, in the strictest sense, the slaves of the emperor, to whose bounty they were indebted for their instruction and support. When they left the seraglio, and suffered their beards to grow as the symbol of enfranchisement, they found themselves in an important office, without faction or friendship, without parents and without heirs, dependent on the hand which had raised them from the dust, and which, on the slightest displeasure, could break in pieces these statues of glass, as they are aptly termed by the Turkish proverb.89 In the slow and painful steps of education, their characters and talents were unfolded to a discerning eye: the man, naked and alone, was reduced to the standard of his personal inerit; and, if the sovereign had wisdom to choose, he possessed a pure and boundless liberty of choice. The Ottoman candidates were trained by the virtues of abstinence to those of action ; by the habits of submission to those of command. A similar spirit was diffused among the troops ; and their silence and sobriety, their patience and modesty, have extorted the reluctant praise of their Christian

** This sketch of the Turkish education and discipline is chiefly borrowed froni Rycaut's State of the Ottoman Empire, the Stato Militare del Imperio Ottomanno of Count Marsigli (in Haya, 1732, in folio), and a Description of the Seraglio, approved by Mr. Greaves himself, a curious traveller, and inserted in the second volume of his works.

w From the series of cxv vizira, till the siege of Vienna (Marsigli, p. 13), their plans may be valued at three y sars and a half purchase.



[ocr errors]

enemies." Nor can the victory appear doubtful, if we compare the discipline and exercise of the Janizaries with the pride of birth, the independence of chivalry, the ignorance of the new levies, the mutinous temper of the veterans, and the vices of intemperance and disorder which so long contaminated the armies of Europe.

The only hope of salvation for the Greek empire and the adjacent kingdoms would have been some more powerful weapon, some discovery in the art of war, that should give them and use of a decisive superiority over their Turkish foes. Such a weapon was in their hands; such a discovery had been made in the critical moment of their fate. The chemists of China or Europe had found, by casual or elaborate experiments, that a mixture of saltpetre, sulphur, and charcoal produces, with a spark of fire, a tremendous explosion. It was soon observed that, if the expansive force were compressed in a strong tube, a ball of stone or iron might be expelled with irresistible and destructive velocity. The precise æra of the invention and application of gunpowder is involved in doubtful tra. ditions and equivocal language; yet we may clearly discern that it was known before the middle of the fourteenth century, and that before the end of the same the use of artillery in battles and sieges by sea and land was fainiliar to the states of Germany, Italy, Spain, France, and England. The priority of nations is of small account; none could derive any exclusive benefit from their previous or superior knowledge; and in the common improvement they stood on the same level of relative power and military science. Nor was it possible to circumscribe the secret within the pale of the church ; it was disclosed to the Turks by the treachery of apostates and the selfish

% See the entertaining and judicious letters of Busbequius.

91 The first and second volumes of Dr. Watson's Chemical Essays contain two valuable discourses on the discovery and composition of gunpowder.

* On this subject modern testimonies cannot be trusted. The original passages are collected by Ducange (Gloss. Latin, tom. i. p. 675, Bombarda). But in the early doubtful twilight, the name, sound, fire, and effect, that seem to express our artillery, may be fairly interpreted of the old engines and the Greek fire. For the English cannon at Crecy, the authority of John Villani (Chron. l. xii. c. 65) must be weighed against the silence of Froissard. Yet Muratori (Antiquit. Italiæ medii Ævi, tom. ii. Dissert. xxvi. p. 514,515) has produced a decisive passage from Petrarch (De Remediis utriusque Fortunæ Dialog.), who, before the year 1344, execrates this terrestrial thunder, nuper rara, nuno communis."

[ocr errors]

Mr. Hallam makes the following ob cannon of Edward, Colpi delle bom. servation on the objection thrown ont by “ barde, which I suspect, from his strong Gibbon:-" The positive testimony of expressions, had not been employed " Villani, who died within two years before, excepte against stone walls. It “afterwards, and had manifestly obtained seems, he says, as if God thundered con " much information as to the great events grande uccisione di genti, e sfondamento “ passing in France, cannot be rejected. “ di cavalli.” Middle Ages, vol. i. p. 478, “ He escribes a material effect to the 10th ed.-M.

policy of rivals; and the sultans had sense to adopt, and wealth to reward, the talents of a Christian engineer. The Genoese, who transported Amurath into Europe, must be accused as his preceptors; and it was probably by their hands that his cannon was cast and directed at the siege of Constantinople. 93 The first attempt was indeed unsuccessful; but in the general warfare of the age the advantage was on their side who were most commonly the assailants; for a while the proportion of the attack and defence was suspended, and this thundering artillery was pointed against the walls and towers which had been erected only to resist the less potent engines of antiquity. By the Venetians the use of gunpowder was communicated without reproach to the sultans of Egypt and Persia, their allies against the Ottoman power; the secret was soon propagated to the extremities of Asia; and the advantage of the European was confined to his easy victories over the savages of the new world. If we contrast the rapid progress of this mischievous discovery with the slow and laborious advances of reason, science, and the arts of peace, a philosopher, according to his temper, will laugh or weep at the folly of mankind.

93 The Turkish cannon, which Ducas (c. 30 (p. 211, ed. Bonn]) first introduces before Belgrade (A.D. 1425), is mentioned by Chalcocondylon (1. v. p. 123 (p. 332, ad. Bonn]) in 1422, at the siege of Constantinople.





younger Andronicus

A.D. 1339.

Iz the four last centuries of the Greek emperors their friendly o: hostile aspect towards the pope and the Latins may be ob- Embassy of served as the thermometer of their prosperity or distressas the scale of the rise and fall of the barbarian dynasties. vedieme he When the Turks of the house of Seljuk pervaded Asia, and threatened Constantinople, we have seen at the council of Placentia the suppliant ambassadors of Alexius imploring the protection of the common father of the Christians. No sooner had the arms of the French pilgrims removed the sultan from Nice to Iconium than the Greek princes resumed, or avowed, their genuine hatred and contempt for the schismatics of the West, which precipitated the first downfall of their empire. The date of the Mogul invasion is marked in the soft and charitable language of John Vataces. After the recovery of Constantinople the throne of the first Palæologus was encompassed by foreign and domestic enemies : as long as the sword of Charles was suspended over his head he basely courted the favour of the Roman pontiff, and sacrificed to the present danger his faith, his virtue, and the affection of his subjects. On the decease of Michae the prince and people asserted the independence of their church and the purity of their creed: the elder Andronicus neither feared nor loved the Latins ; in his last distress pride was the safeguard of superstition; nor could be decently retract in his age the firm and orthodox declarations of his youth. His grandson, the younger Andronicus, was less a slave in his temper and situation ; and the conquest of Bithynia by the Turks admonished him to seek a temporal and spiritual alliance with the Western princes. After a separation and silence of fifty years a secret agent, the monk Barjaam, was despatched to Pope Benedict the Twelfth ; and his artful instructions appear to have been drawn by the master-hand of the

The argu

ments for & crusade

great domestic..

“ Most holy father," was he commissioned to say, “ the emperor is not less desirous than yourself of an union between

“ the two churches : but in this delicate transaction he is

“ obliged to respect his own dignity and the prejudices of his wid unton, “ subjects. The ways of union are twofold, force and per" suasion. Of force, the inefficacy nas been already tried, since the “ Latins have subdued the empire without subduing the minds of the “ Greeks. The method of persuasion, though slow, is sure and per“ manent. A deputation of thirty or forty of our doctors would pro

bably agree with those of the Vatican in the love of truth and the * unity of belief; but on their return, what would be the use, the “ recompense, of such agreement? the scorn of their brethren, and 'the reproaches of a blind and obstinate nation. Yet that nation is “accustomed to reverence the general councils which have fixed the "articles of our faith ; and if they reprobate the decrees of Lyons, “ it is because the Eastern churches were neither heard nor repre“ sented in that arbitrary meeting. For this salutary end it will be "expedient, and even necessary, that a well-chosen legate should “ be sent into Greece to convene the patriarchs of Constantinople, “ Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, and with their aid to prepare “ a free and universal synod. But at this moment,” continued the subtle agent, “the empire is assaulted and endangered by the Turks, “ who have occupied four of the greatest cities of Anatolia. The “ Christian inhabitants have expressed a wish of returning to their

allegiance and religion ; but the forces and revenues of the emperor

are insufficient for their deliverance : and the Roman legate must “ be accompanied or preceded by an army of Franks to expel the “infidels, and open a way to the holy sepulchre.” If the suspicious Latins should require some pledge, some previous effect of the sincerity of the Greeks, the answers of Barlaam were perspicuous and rational. “ 1. A general synod can alone consummate the union of the churches;

nor can such a syuiod be held till the three Oriental patriarchs and a great number of bishops are enfranchised from the Mahometar

yoke. 2. The Greeks are alienated by a long series of oppressior. “ and injury: they must be reconciled by some act of brotherly love, “some effectual succour, which may fortify the authority and argu“ments of the emperor and the friends of the union. 3. If some “ difference of faith or ceremonies should be found incurable, the “ Greeks however are the disciples of Christ, and the Turks are the

This curious instruction was transcribed (I believe) from the Vatican archives by Odoricus Raynaldus, in his Continuation of the Annals of Baronius (Romæ, 16461677, in x volumes in folio). I have contented myself with the abbé Fleury (Hist. Ecclésiastique, tom. xx. p. 1-8), whose abstracts I have always found to be clear, uccurate, and impartial.

« ForrigeFortsett »