« ForrigeFortsett »
arose ten principalities, which, one by one, in due time, were joined to the Osman kingdom. Osman coined money and caused public prayers to be read in his own name (1301). These are the two essential prerogatives of an eastern sovereign. That date is practically taken as the birth of the Ottoman empire. He introduced the absolute ownership of land among his people. After a firm establishment of his power, he waged war against his old adversaries, the Mongol hordes, and drove them out of Kara Hissar. It is alleged he was of such a just and generous character that the subjects of the eastern Roman emperor fled to his protection. It is commonly said that this wise and good Osman ruled after his death. His younger son, Orkhan, came forth with such unusual attainments of imperial wisdom and tact that he far surpassed his father's achievements. He became a master of a considerable portion of Asia Minor, as the mutual jealousies of the provinces of the empire made them easy victims to conquest. His reign marked the creation of a most vital military organization, that of the standing army. This new system came a century before the reign of Charles VII. of France, who is considered by the European historians of middle ages the originator of that policy.
His celebrated guards were known by the name YeniCheri, “new troops.” Corps of Spahis, or regular cavalry, were also organized. He married the daughter of the Emperor Cantacuzenus. As a potent advocate of science, art and religion, he promoted the cause of public instruction, endowing the state with various educational and religious institutions, and was greatly esteemed by men of learning who were admitted to his councils. His capital, Brusa, was made a centre of light. Considering the age in which he lived, he should be placed among the most illustrious of Turkish sovereigns, as a competent leader, promptexecutive. and wise legislator.
His son, Suleyman, co-operated in his father's enterprises, and was the first to embrace the idea of a European invasion. He planted the crescent across the Hellespont. The sudden termination of his life hastened the death of his broken-hearted father (1359). The second son of Orchan, Amurath, or Murad, inherited the crown and the military genius of his father. He strengthened his military corps, the Janizaries, by recruiting it from youthful Christian captives, who were thus dedicated to the service of the court and army. Their number and power was greatly augmented under succeeding sovereigns. He accomplished his burning desire to extend his possessions across the Hellespont into Europe. In 1365 he captured and made his European capital, Adrianople, then a most flourishing city of the Byzantine empire, rich in population and favorably situated at the confluence of three rivers.
This move was of momentous importance in furthering his designs upon Europe. The tidings of Turkish devastation so greatly frightened the Christians that Pope Urban V. pronounced a crusade against "the unbelieving Turks.” In this the Kral of Servia, the Voivodes
of Bosnia and Wallachia, joined with King Louis of Hungary in an expedition against Adrianople to drive the Turks back to Asian deserts. The Turks, however, under the cover of night, with shouts of Allah! Allah! inflicted
an overwhelming defeat on the united forces of Christendom.
Roumelia and Bulgaria were conquered and passed to the swelling possessions of the Sultan. His last famous
contest against the combined forces of Servia, Hungary, Bosnia, Wallachia and Albania, was of an extremely desperate nature, in which the Sultan gained victory with the sacrifice of his lise.
Bayezid the Yildirim, or “Thunderbolt," the son of Amurath, rightly earned his title, as speedy inovements characterized all his expeditions. He extended his conquests east and west. He besieged Constantinople for years, and the emperor was compelled to recognize his authority in paying an annual tribute. While Bayezid was engaged in the East, the King of Hungary, taking advantage of liis absence, with a large army of European knights, besieged Nicopolis. The “ Thunderbolt,” however, arrived at his lightning speed and overwhelmed the besiegers. Mongol-Tartars, under the leadership of wild Tamerlane, after causing serious destruction in Armenia, had penetrated into the Ottoman Empire. Near Angora, two determined hosts stood face to face. As the result of the furious battle Bayezid met his fate, his country was conquered and he was carried into captivity, where he died. Then the Tartars withdrew. A civil war of ten years ensued between the four jealous sons of the late Sultan.
Mohammed, however, succeeded in ascending the throne. He did not engage in annexation of new territories, but endeavored to be at peace and on amicable terms with the sovereigns of Europe. He was much esteemed by his subjects and the Byzantines. He had, however, a constant struggle with civil outbreaks. His death was sudden, at the early age of 33 years (1420).
It is needless herein to follow the administration of successive sultans. The sword of Osman descended in regular line of succession through many generations in the grasp of conquering sultans. Their brightest victory was the capture of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine empire. Its subjection was delayed by Tamerlane, the Napoleon of Asia, until the reign of Mohammed II, who overthrew it in 1453. The empire was extended eastward in Asia Minor and westward in Europe. There were internal revolts against the absolute power of the sultans, but they were always suppressed. Sometimes the Janizaries, the pretorian guard of the sultan, would depose him and put his son on the throne. An attempt was made to conquer Italy, but it failed completely. At this time a navy was maintained, which was the terror of the Mediterranean Sea. Early in the sixteenth century, by the conquest of Egypt, the sultan was able to negotiate with Caliph, who reigned a purely spiritual prince at Cairo, to make over to him the rights and privileges of the successors to the Prophet, at the same time securing the sacred banner and other relics of the founder of Islam.
Syria and the Island of Rhodes was conquered about this time. Soon after, the planting of the red flag before the walls of Venice by Suleyman I. marked the western limit of the Ottoman advance, for they did not take the city. Farther into Europe the Crescent never found its way.