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painful wound in his eye, by representing that accident as the cause of his defeat. Baltha Ogli was a renegade of the race of the Bulgarian princes ; his military character was tainted with the unpopular vice of avarice; and, under the despotism of the prince or people, misfortune is a sufficient evidence of guilt. His rank and services were annihilated by the displeasure of Mahomet. In the royal presence, the captain-bashaw was extended on the ground by four slaves, and received one hundred strokes with a golden rod ; 60 his death had been pronounced ; and he adored the clemency of the sultan, who was satisfied with the milder punishment of confiscation and exile. The introduction of this supply revived the hopes of the Greeks, and accused the supineness of their Western allies. Amidst the deserts of Anatolia and the rocks of Palestine, the millions of the crusades had buried themselves in a voluntary and inevitable grave; but the situation of the Imperial city was strong against her enemies, and accessible to her friends; and a rational and moderate armament of the maritime states might have saved the relics of the Roman name and maintained a Christian fortress in the heart of the Ottoman empire. Yet this was the sole and feeble attempt for the deliverance of Constantinople; the more distant powers were insensible of its danger; and the ambassador of Hungary, or at least of Huniades, resided in the Turkish camp, to remove the fears, and to direct the operations, of the sultan.
It was difficult for the Greeks to penetrate the secret of the Mahomet divan; yet the Greeks are persuaded that a resistance, so obsti- bis navy nate and surprising, had fatigued the perseverance of Mahomet. He began to meditate a retreat, and the siege would have been speedily raised, if the ambition and jealousy of the second vizir had not opposed the perfidious advice of Calil Bashaw, who still
60 According to the exaggeration or corrupt text of Ducas (c. 38), this golden bar was of the enormous and incredible weight of 500 libre, or pounds. Bouillaud's reading of 500 drachms, or five pounds, is sufficient to exercise the arm of Mahomet and bruise the back of his admiral.
61 Ducas, who confesses himself ill informed of the affairs of Hungary, assigns a motive of superstition, & fatal belief that Constantinople would be the term of the Turkish conquests. See Phranza (1. iii. c. 20) and Spondanus. [The Hungarian envoy had come to announce that Hunyady had resigned the government to Ladislaus, the young king, and to return the document, in which a truce between Turkey and Hungary had been signed in 1451, and ask for the counterpart which had been signed by Hunyady. The embassy was thus a move intended to suggest to Mohammad that Hungary might come to the resoue of the Emperor.]
maintained a secret correspondence with the Byzantine court. The reduction of the city appeared to be hopeless, unless a double attack could be made from the harbour as well as from the land; but the harbour was inaccessible : an impenetrable chain was now defended by eight large ships, more than twenty of a smaller size, with several galleys and sloops ; and, instead of forcing this barrier, the Turks might apprehend a naval sally and a second encounter in the open sea. In this perplexity, the genius of Mahomet conceived and executed a plan of a bold and marvellous cast,62 of transporting by land his lighter vessels and military stores from the Bosphorus into the higher part of the harbour. The distance is about ten miles; the ground is uneven, and was overspread with thickets; and, as the road must be opened behind the suburb of Galata, their free passage or total destruction must depend on the option of the Genoese.« But these selfish merchants were ambitious of the favour of being the last devoured ; and the deficiency of art was supplied by the strength of obedient myriads. A level way was covered with a broad platform of strong and solid planks ; and to render them more slippery and smooth, they were anointed with the fat of sheep and oxen. Fourscore 64 light galleys and brigantines of fifty and thirty oars were disembarked on the Bosphorus shore; arranged successively on rollers; and drawn forwards by the power of men and pulleys. Two guides or pilots were stationed at the helm and the prow of each vessel ; the sails were unfurled to the winds; and the labour was cheered by song and acclamation. In the course of a single night, this Turkish fleet painfully climbed the hill, steered over the plain, and was
[April 22 23
62 [N. Barbaro says that the idea was suggested to the Sultan by a Christian (p. 27).]
63 [Paspatês suggested (op. cit. p. 136) that, starting from Diplokionion (Beshiktash) the ships sailed up the hill of Staurodromion, and descended to the little bay of Kasimpasha in the Golden Horn. The distance was between two and three miles. But Pears (op. cit. p. 272 sqq.) has made it probable that they started from Tophana, near the mouth of the Bosphorus, and were hauled up the steep ridge to the level which is now the Grande Rue de Péra, and thence down to the Golden Horn. Critobulus (who gives the best description of the transport, i. 42) says that the distance was 8 stadia, and this suits, taking the stadium as about a furlong. According to Michael the Janissary (for his Memoirs see Appendix 3) “the batteries kept up an incessant cannonade that night,” to distract attention (Mijatovich, Constantine : Last Em. peror of the Greeks, p. 163).]
EA [The number of ships is given by Barbaro as 72, by Tedardi as between 70 and 80, by Critobulus as 67 (Chalcondyles 70, Ducas 80).]
launched from the declivity into the shallow waters of the harbour, far above the molestation of the deeper vessels of the Greeks. The real importance of this operation was magnified by the consternation and confidence which it inspired ; but the notorious, unquestionable fact was displayed before the eyes, and is recorded by the pens, of the two nations.65 A similar stratagem has been repeatedly practised by the ancients; 6 the Ottoman galleys (I must again repeat) should be considered as large boats; and, if we compare the magnitude and the distance, the obstacles and the means, the boasted miracle 67 has perhaps been equalled by the industry of our own times.68
As soon as Mahomet had occupied the upper harbour with a fleet and army, (May 19, he constructed, in the narrowest part, a bridge, or rather mole, completed] of fifty cubits in breadth and one hundred in length; it was formed of casks and hogsheads, joined with rafters linked with iron, and covered with a solid floor. On this floating battery he planted one of his largest cannon, while the fourscore galleys, with troops and scaling-ladders, approached the most accessible side, which had formerly been stormed by the Latin conquerors. The indolence of the Christians has been accused for not destroying these unfinished works; but their fire, by a superior fire, was controlled and silenced ; nor were they wanting in a nocturnal attempt to burn the vessels as well as the bridge 69 of
63 The unanimous testimony of the four Greeks is confirmed by Cantemir (p. 96) from the Turkish annals; but I could wish to contract the distance of ten miles and to prclong the term of one night.
66 Phranza relates two examples of a similar transportation over the six miles of the isthmus of Corinth: the one fabulous, of Augustus after the battle of Actium ; the other true, of Nicetas, a Greek general, in the xth century. To these he might have added a bold enterprise of Hannibal, to introduce his vessels into the harbour of Tarentum (Polybius, l. viii. p. 749, edit. Gronov (c. 36]). [Cp. also Thucydides, iii. 15, 81; iv. 8; and the dragging of the Syracusan fleet of Dionysius I. over the isthmus of Motya, a distance of 24 miles, on a wooden road (Diodorus, xiv. 50 ; Polyænus, v. 2). In 1097 an Imperial squadron was transported across land into Lake Ascanias, to operate against Nicæa.]
67 A Greek of Candia, who had served the Venetians in a similar undertaking (Spond. A.D. 1438, No. 37), might possibly be the adviser and agent of Mahomet. [The Venetians conveyed ships from the river Adige to L. Garda.]
68 I particularly allude to our own embarkations on the lakes of Canada, in the years 1776 and 1777, so great in the labour, so fruitless in the event.
69 (Barbaro states that the bridge was not completed till May 19; and he places this attempt to burn the vessels on April 28. Gibbon follows Phrantzes. Ducas also mentions (p. 277, ed. Bonn) an attempt to burn the Turkish ships, and attributes its failure to the treachery of the Genoese of Galata who revealed it to Mohammad. Ducas mentions the construction of the bridge after this unlucky enterprise. Critobulus relates how Mohammad foiled a plan of the Greeks to confine his ships to the little barbour (Kasim Pasha); and he places this episode after
[April 28) the sultan. His vigilance prevented their approach; their fore
most galliots were sunk or taken; forty youths, the bravest of Italy and Greece, were inhumanly massacred at his command; nor could the emperor's grief be assuaged by the just though
cruel retaliation of exposing from the walls the heads of two Distress of hundred and sixty Musulman captives. After a siege of forty the city
days, the fate of Constantinople could no longer be averted. The diminutive garrison was exhausted by a double attack; the fortifications, which had stood for ages against hostile violence, were dismantled on all sides by the Ottoman cannon; many breaches were opened ; and near the gate of St. Romanus four towers had been levelled with the ground." For the payment of his feeble and mutinous troops, Constantine was compelled to despoil the churches, with the promise of a fourfold restitution; and his sacrilege offered a new reproach to the enemies of the union. A spirit of discord impaired the remnant of the Christian strength; the Genoese and Venetian auxiliaries asserted the pre-eminence of their respective service; and Justiniani and the Great Duke, whose ambition was not extin. guished by the common danger, accused each other of treachery and cowardice.
During the siege of Constantinople, the words of peace and Turks for capitulation had been sometimes pronounced; and several emdhe baneral bassies had passed between the camp and the city. The
Greek emperor was humbled by adversity; and would have yielded to any terms compatible with religion and röyalty.72 the building of the bridge (i. 44). It seems from this that Ducas has mixed together the incident recorded by Phrantzes with that recorded by Critobulus.]
70 [The Turks also essayed mining operations against the Caligaria region (south of Blachernæ), where the ground was mo favourable. But all their mines (the first was discovered on May 16, see Barbaro, p. 41) were foiled by the skill of a German engineer, Johannes Grant, who was entrusted with the defence of this part of the wall. Cp. Phrantzes, p. 254, and Tedardi, Informacion, p. 25.]
71 Chalcondyles and Ducas differ in the time and circumstances of the negotiation; and, as it was neither glorious nor salutary, the faithful Phranz& spares his prince even the thought of a surrender.
72 [The author of the Slavonic relation of the siege (see Appendix 3) states that & council was held on May 3, and that all the military officers, the senators, and the patriarch advised the emperor to leave the city, and attempt to create & diversion. “The emperor" (the passage is thus translated by Ch. Mijatovich, op. cit. p. 173)“ listened to all this quietly and patiently. At last, after having been for some time in deep thought, he began to speak : • I thank all for the advice which you have given me. I know that my going out of the city might be of some benefit to me, inasmuch as all that you foresee might really happen. But it is impossible for me to go away! How could I leave the churches of our Lord and his servants the clergy, and the throne, and my people in such a plight? What would
Preparations of the
The Turkish sultan was desirous of sparing the blood of his soldiers; still more desirous of securing for his own use the Byzantine treasures; and he accomplished a sacred duty in presenting to the Gabours the choice of circumcision, of tribute, or (May 23] of death.73 The avarice of Mahomet might have been satisfied with an annual sum of one hundred thousand ducats ; but his ambition grasped the capital of the East; to the prince he offered a rich equivalent, to the people a free toleration or a safe departure; but, after some fruitless treaty, he declared his resolution of finding either a throne or a grave under the walls of Constantinople. A sense of honour and the fear of universal reproach forbade Palæologus to resign the city into the hands of the Ottomans; and he determined to abide the last extremities of war.
Several days were employed by the sultan in the preparations of the assault; and a respite was granted by his favourite science of astrology, which had fixed on the twentyninth of May as the fortunate and fatal hour. On the evening of the twenty-seventh, he issued his final orders; assembled in his presence the military chiefs; and dispersed his heralds through the camp to proclaim the duty and the motives of the perilous enterprise. Fear is the first principle of a despotic government; and his menaces were expressed in the Oriental style, that the fugitives and deserters, had they the wings of a bird,74 should not escape from his inexorable justice. The
the world say about me? I pray you, my friends, in future do not say to me any. thing else but : “ Nay, sire, do not leave us !” Never, never will I leave you! I am resolved to die here with you!' And saying this, the emperor turned his head abide, because tears filled his eyes; and with him wept the patriarch and all who were there."]
73 [On this mission Mohammad sent his brother-in-law Ismail Hamza, lord of Sinope and Castamboly, who was on friendly terms with Constantine. The incident is entirely omitted by Barbaro, Phrantzes, and Critobulus.]
74 These wings (Chalcondyles, 1. viii. p. 208) are no more than an Oriental figure; but, in the tragedy of Irene, Mabomet's passion soars above sense and
Should the fierce North, upon his frozen wings,
Thence should my fury drag him down to tortures.