OSMAN. 129-1326


IT was in 1299 that Osman (Othmain, Uthman) declared himself Emir of the Turks, that is, of the tribe over which he ruled. The Seljuq Turks have been treated in a previous chapter; but there were many other Turkish tribes present in the middle and at the end of the thirteenth century in Asia Minor and Syria, and, in order to understand the conditions under which the Ottoman Turks advanced and became a nation, a short notice of the condition of Anatolia at that time is necessary. The country appeared indeed to be everywhere overrun with Turks. A constant stream of Turkish immigrants had commenced to flow from the south-west of Central Asia during the eleventh century, and continued during the twelfth and indeed long after the capture of Constantinople. Some of these went westward to the north of the Black Sea, while those with whom we are concerned entered Asia Minor through the lands between the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea. They were nomads, some travelling as horsemen, others on foot or with primitive ox-waggons. Though they seem to have left Persia in large bodies, yet, when they reached Anatolia, they separated into small isolated bands under chieftains. Once they had obtained passage through Georgia or Armenia or Persia into Asia Minor, they usually turned southwards, attracted by the fertile and populous plains of Mesopotamia, though they avoided Baghdad so long as that city was under a Caliph. Thence they spread through Syria into Cilicia, which was then largely occupied by Armenians under their own princes, and into Egypt itself. Several of these tribes crossed the Taurus, usually through the pass known as the Cilician Gates, and thereupon entered the great tableland, three thousand feet above sea-level, which had been largely occupied by the Seljaqs. By 1150, the Turks had spread over all Asia Minor and Syria. These early Turks were disturbed by the huge and well-organised hordes of mounted warriors and foot-soldiers under Jenghiz Khan, a Mongol belonging to the smallest of the four great divisions of the Tartar race, but whose followers were mainly Turks. The ruin of the Seljuqs of Rum may be said to date from the great Mongol invasion in 1242, in which Armenia was conquered and Erzerum occupied. The invading chief exercised the privilege of the conqueror, and gave the Seljuq throne of Rum to the younger brother of the Sultan instead of to the elder. The Emperor in Constantinople supported the latter, and fierce war was waged between the two brothers. A resident, somewhat after the Indian analogy, was appointed by the Khan of the Mongols to the court of the younger brother. The war contributed to the weakening of the Seljuqs, and facilitated the encroachment of the nomad Turkish bands, who owned no master, upon their territory. The Latin occupation of Constantinople (1204­1261) had the same effect, for the Latin freebooters showed absolutely no power of dealing with the Turks, their energies being engaged simply in making themselves secure in the capital and a portion of its European territory. Hulagu, the grandson of Jenghiz Khan, captured Baghdad in 1258 and destroyed the Empire of the Caliphs. He extended his rule over Mesopotamia and North Syria to the Mediterranean. The dispersion of the new Turkish hordes not only greatly increased the number of nomads in Asia Minor, but led to the establishment of additional independent Turkish tribes under their own rulers, or emirs, and to an amount of confusion and disorder in Asia Minor such as had not previously been seen under the Greek Empire. The chieftain and his tribe usually seized a strong position, an old fortified town for example, held it as their headquarters, refused to own allegiance to the Emperor or any other than their immediate chieftain, and from it as their centre plundered the inhabitants of the towns and the neighbouring country. The tribes showed little tendency to coalesce. Each emir fought on his own account, plundered on all the roads where travellers passed, or demanded toll or ransom for passage or release. In this want of cohesion is to be found one explanation of the fact that though the Turks were defeated one day, yet they emerge with apparently equal strength a short time after in another place. They had to be fought in detail in their respective centres or as wandering tribes. During the thirteenth century many such groups of Turks occupied what a Greek writer calls "the eyes of the country." Even as far south as Aleppo there was such an occupation by a tribe with a regular Turkish dynasty. Some such chiefs, established on the western shores of the Aegean, not only occupied tracts of country, but built fleets and ravaged the islands of the Archipelago. During the half century preceding the accession of Osman, Tenedos, Chios, Samos, and Rhodes fell at various times to these Turkish tribes. Some of them, who had occupied during the same period the southern and western portions of the central highland of Asia Minor, met with great success. Qaraman established his rule around the city of Qaraman, whose strongly fortified and interesting castle still stands, a noble ruin, on the plain about sixty-four miles south-east of Qonya. But the same Qaraman ruled over a district extending for a time to the north-west as far as, and including, Philadelphia. Indeed, he and his successors were for perhaps half a century the most powerful Turks in Asia Minor. Other chiefs or emirs ruled in Germiyan, at Attalia, at Tralles, now called after its emir Aidin, and at Magnesia. The shores of the Aegean opposite Lesbos and large strips of country on the south of the Black Sea were during the same period under various Turkish emirs. The boundaries of the territories over which they ruled often changed, as the tribes were constantly at war with each other or in search of new pasture. Needless to say, the effect of the establishment of so many wandering hordes of fighting men unused to agriculture was disastrous to the peaceful population of the country they had invaded. The rule of the Empire in such districts was feeble, the roads were unsafe, agriculture diminished, and the towns decayed. The nomad character of these isolated tribes makes it impossible to give a satisfactory estimate of their numbers on the accession of Osman. The statements of Greek and Turkish writers on the subject are always either vague or untrustworthy.

Three years before Osman assumed the title of emir, namely in 1296, Pachymer reports that the Turks had devastated the whole of the country between the Black Sea and the territory opposite Rhodes. Even two centuries earlier similar statements had been made. For example, William of Tyre after describing Godfrey of Bouillon's siege of Nicaea in 1097 says the Turks lost 200,000 men. Anna Comnena tells of the slaughter of 24,000 around Philadelphia in 1108; four years later a great band of them were utterly destroyed. Matthew of Edessa in 1118 describes an "innumerable army of Turks" as marching towards that city. It would be easy to multiply these illustrations. The explanation is to be found in the nomadic habits of the invaders, and in the fact already noted that there was a constant stream of immigration from Asia.

The tribe over which Osman ruled was one which had entered Asia Minor previous to Jenghiz Khan's invasion. His ancestors had been pushed by the invaders southward to Mesopotamia, but like so many others of the same race continued to be nomads. They were adventurers, desirous of finding pasturage for their sheep and cattle, and ready to sell their services to any other tribe. The father of Osman, named Ertughril, had probably employed his tribe in the service of the Sultan Ala-ad-Din of Rum, who had met with much opposition from other Turkish tribes. According to Turkish historians, he had surprised Maurocastrum, now known as Afyon-Qara-Hisar, a veritable Gibraltar rising out of the central Phrygian plain about one hundred miles from Eski-Shehr. Ertughril's deeds, however, as related in the Turkish annals, are to be read with caution. He became the first national hero of the Turks, was a Ghazi, and the victories gained by others are accredited to him. They relate that he captured Bilijik, Aq-Gyul (Philomelium), Yeni-Shehr, Lefke (Leucae), Aq-Hisar (Asprocastrum), and Give (Gaiucome).

Accession of Osman

A romantic story which is probably largely mythical is told of the early development of the tribe of the Ottoman Turks. It relates how Ertughril found himself by accident in the neighbourhood of a struggle going on to the west of Angora (Ancyra) between the Sultan of the Seljuqs, Kai-Qubad, and a band of other Turks who had come in with the horde of Jenghiz Khan, neither of whom were known to him. Ertughril and his men at once accepted the offer of the Seljuqs, who were on the point of losing the battle. Their arrival turned the scale and after a three days' struggle the Seljuqs won. The victors were generous, and the newly arrived tribe received a grant from them of a tract of country around Eski-Shehr, a hundred and ninety miles distant from Constantinople, with the right to pasture their flocks in the valley of the Sangarius eastward towards Angora and westward towards Brasa.

Whatever be the truth in this story, it is certain that the followers of Ertughril obtained a position of great importance which greatly facilitated their further development. Three ranges of mountains which branch off from the great tableland of western Asia Minor converge near Eski-Shehr. The passes from Bithynia to this tableland meet there. It had witnessed a great struggle against the Turks during the First Crusade in 1097, in which the crusaders won, and again in 1175 in the Second Crusade. Its possession gave the Turks the key to an advance northwards. It commanded the fertile valley of the Sangarius, a rich pasture ground for nomads. Ertughril made Sugyut, about ten miles south-east of Bilijik, now on the line of the Baghdad railway, and about the same distance from Eski-Shehr, the headquarters of his camp.

Ertughril died at Sugyut in 1281, and there too his famous son Osman was born. The number of his subjects had been largely increased during the reign of his father by accessions from other bands of Turks, and especially from one which was in Paphlagonia. Osman from the first set himself to work to enlarge his territory. He had to struggle for this purpose both with the Empire and with neighbouring tribes. The Greek historians mention two notable victories in 1301 gained by the Greeks over the Turks, in the first of which the Trapezuntines captured the Turkish chief Kyuchuk Agha at Cerasus and killed many of his followers, and in the second the Byzantines defeated another division at Chena with the aid of mercenary Alans from the Danube. Neither of these Turkish bands were Ottomans; the second belonged to a ruler whose head­quarters were at Aidin (Tralles) and who had already given trouble to the Empire. One of the last acts of the Emperor Michael Palaeologus (1259 -1282) had been to send his son Andronicus, then a youth of eighteen, in 1282 to attack the Turks before Aidin, but the young man was unable to save the city for the Greek Empire. Andronicus II in his turn despatched his son and co-regent Michael IX (1295-1320) with a force of Alans to Magnesia in 1302 to attack other Turks, but they were in such numbers that no attack was made, and Michael indeed took refuge in that city while the nomads plundered the neighbouring country. To add to the Emperor's difficulties, the Venetians had declared war against him. His mercenaries, the Alans, revolted at Gallipoli, and the Turkish pirates or freebooters, fighting for themselves, attacked and for a time held possession of Rhodes, Carpathos, Samos, Chios, Tenedos, and even penetrated the Marmora as far as the Princes Islands. The Emperor Andronicus found himself under the necessity of paying a ransom for the release of captives. Taking advantage of the preoccupation of the Empire in fighting these other Turks, Osman had made a notable advance into Bithynia. In 1301 he defeated the Greek General Muzalon near Baphaeum, now Qoyun-Hisar (the Sheep Castle), between Izmid and Nicaea, though 2000 Alans aided Muzalon. After this victory Osman established himself in a position to threaten Briisa, Nicaea, and Izmid, and then came to an important arrangement for the division of the imperial territories with other Turkish chieftains. He was now "lord of the lands near Nicaea."


The Catalan Grand Company 

It was at this time that Roger de Flor or Roger Blum, a German soldier of fortune of the worst sort, took service with the Emperor (after August 1302). The latter, was, indeed, hard pressed. Michael had made his way to Pergamus, but Osman and his allies pressed both that city and Ephesus, and overran the country all round. At the other extremity of what may be called the sphere of Osman's operations, in the valley of the Sangarius, he ruled either directly or by a chieftain who owed allegiance to him. One of his allies was at Germiyan and claimed to rule all Phrygia; another at Calamus ruled over the coast of the Aegean from Lydia to Mysia. It was with difficulty that Michael IX succeeded in making good his retreat from Pergamus to Cyzicus on the south side of the Marmora. That once populous city, with Brasa, Nicaea, and Izmid, were now the only strong places in Asia Minor which had not fallen into the possession of the Turks. It was at this apparently opportune moment, when the Emperor was beset by difficulties in Anatolia, that Roger de Flor arrived (autumn 1303) with a fleet, 8000 Catalans, and other Spaniards. Other western mercenaries, Germans and Sicilians, had come to the aid of the Empire both before and during the crusades. But great hopes were built on the advent of the well-known but unscrupulous Roger. His army bore the name of the Catalan Grand Company. Roger at once got into difficulties with the Genoese, from whom he had borrowed 20,000 bezants for transport and the hire of other mercenaries.

One of Roger's first encounters in Anatolia was with Osman. The Turks were raiding on the old Roman road which is now followed by the railway from Eski-Shehr to Izmid, and kept up a running fight with the imperial troops, and Roger, defeating them near Lefke, in 1305 took possession of that city.

The Catalan Grand Company soon showed that they were dangerous auxiliaries. Roger at various times defeated detached bands of Turks, and made rapid marches with his band into several districts, but his men preyed upon Christians and Muslims with equal willingness.

The first thirty years of the fourteenth century were a period of chaotic disorder in the Empire, due partly to quarrels in the imperial family and partly to struggles with the Turks and other external foes. But of all the evils which fell upon the state the worst were those which were caused by the Catalan mercenaries. The imperial chest was empty. The Catalans and other mercenaries were without pay, and the result was that, when they had crossed the Dardanelles at the request of the Emperor and had driven back the enemy, they paid themselves by plundering the Greek villagers, a plunder which the Emperor was powerless to prevent. Feebleness on the throne and in the councils of the Empire and the general break-up of the government opened the country to attack on every side. The so-called Empire of Nicaea, which had made during half a century a not inglorious struggle on behalf of the Greek race, had ceased to exist. The city itself, cut of from the resources of the neighbouring country and situated in an almost isolated valley ill-adapted for the purpose of commerce, became of comparatively little importance, though its ancient reputation and its well-built walls still entitled it to respect. The progress of the Ottoman Turks met with no organised resistance.


First entry of Turks into Europe, 1308

In 1308 a band of Turks and of Turcopuli, or Turks who were in the regular employ of the Empire, was induced to cross into Europe and join with the Catalan Grand Company to attack the Emperor Andronicus. This entry of the Turks into Europe, though not of the Ottoman Turks, is itself an epoch-making event. But the leaders of the Catalans were soon quarrelling among themselves. Roger had killed the brother of the Alan leader at Cyzicus. He was himself assassinated by the surviving brother at Hadrianople in 1306. The expedition captured Rodosto on the north shore of the Marmora, pillaged it, and killed a great number of the inhabitants, the Emperor himself being powerless to render any assistance. One of the Catalan leaders, Roccafort, however, shortly afterwards delivered it to the Emperor. In the same year Ganos, on the same shore, was besieged by the Turks, and though it was not captured the neighbouring country was pillaged, and again the Emperor was powerless to defend his subjects. In the year 1308 another band of Turks, this time allied with Osman, captured Ephesus. Brusa was compelled to pay tribute to the Ottoman Emir. The Turks who had joined the Catalans in Europe withdrew into Asia, while their allies continued to ravage Thrace.

Osman took possession of a small town, spoken of as Tricocca, in the neighbourhood of Nicaea. In 1310 the first attempt was made by him to capture Rhodes, an attempt which Clement V states to have been due to the instigation of the Genoese. The Knights had only been in possession of the island for two years. It was the first time that the famous defenders of Christendom, who were destined to make so gallant a struggle against Islam, met the Ottoman Turks.

An incident in 1311 shows the weakness of the Empire. Khalil, one of the allies of Osman, with 1800 Turks under him, had agreed with the Emperor that they should pass into Asia by way of Gallipoli. They were carrying off much booty which they had taken from the Christian towns in Thrace. The owners, wishing to recover their goods, opposed the passage until their property was restored. Khalil took possession of a castle near the Dardanelles, possibly at Sestos, and called other Turks to his aid from the Asiatic coast. The imperial army which had come to assist the Greeks was defeated, and Khalil in derision decked himself with the insignia of the Emperor.

Progress of Osman 

The struggle went on between the Greeks and the Turks with varying success during the next three or four years, the Turks maintaining their position in Thrace and holding the Chersonese and Gallipoli. In 1315 the Catalan Grand Company, after having done great injury to the Empire, finally quitted the country.

The struggle between the young and the old Emperor Andronicus increased in violence and incidentally strengthened the position of Osman. Both Emperors, as well as Michael IX who had died in 1320, employed Turkish troops in their dynastic struggles. The young Andronicus, when he was associated in 1321 with his grandfather, had the population on his side, the old Emperor having been compelled to levy new and heavy taxes in order to oppose the inroads of the Turks who had joined his grandson's party. Shortly afterwards the partisans of the young Emperor attacked near Silivri a band of Turkish mercenaries and Greeks who were on his grandfather's side. They disbanded on his approach and this caused terror in the capital. The mercenaries refused to defend it, and demanded to be sent into Asia. Chalcondyles states that Osman slew 8000 Turks who had crossed into the Chersonese. Thereupon the old Emperor sued for peace.

In addition to the dynastic struggles and those with the Turks, the Empire had now to meet the Serbs, Bulgarians, and Tartars. The Tartars made their appearance in Thrace, having worked their way from South Russia round by the Dobrudzha. Young Andronicus III in 1324 is reported to have defeated 120,000 of them.

While in the last years of the reign of Osman the Empire was unable to offer a formidable resistance, Osman himself was making steady progress. He never lost sight of his main object, the conquest and occupation of all important places between his capital at Yeni-Shehr (which he had chosen instead of Eski-Shehr) and the Marmora with the straits that lead to it from north and south. Two points are noteworthy in his campaign of conquest: first, that he trusted largely to the isolation of the towns which he desired to capture; secondly, that he made great use of cavalry. Every Turk under him was a fighter. They continued their nomad habits and many of them almost lived on horseback. The result was that they moved much more quickly than their enemies, and this mobility, combined with the simple habits of others who travelled readily on their simple ox-carts, which served them as dwellings, greatly favoured Osman's method of isolating a town. By pitching their tents or unyoking their oxen in a neighbourhood from which cavalry had driven away the inhabitants, they reduced the town by starvation. Osman had now during nine or ten years applied this method to the capture of 13rasa. His son Orkhan (born 1288) was in command of his father's army, and in 1326 the position of Brusa was so desperate that, when the Emperor was unable to send an army to break the blockade, the inhabitants surrendered the city.

Capture of Brusa

The surrender of Brusa to Osman's army in November 1326 marked an epoch in the advance of the Ottoman Turks. He had gained a most advantageous position for attacking the Empire from the Anatolian side. Once in the hands of the Turks, who already held the country between it and the passes concentrating near Eski-Shehr, its situation rendered it secure from the south. The Bithynian Olympus immediately in its rear made it inaccessible from that side, while its commanding natural position on the mountain slope rendered it strong against an army attacking it in front. While itself occupying an exceptionally strong natural position, no other place was so good a centre for operations against an enemy on the Marmora. It dominated Cyzicus, and was not too distant to serve as a defensive base against an enemy attempting to cross from Gallipoli to Lampsacus. On the other side it threatened Nicaea and facilitated the capture of Izmid. Henceforth it became the centre of operations for the Ottoman Turks, and when immediately afterwards in November 1326 Osman died, his historian could truthfully note that while he had taken many strongly fortified places in Anatolia, and in particular nearly every seaport in the region on the Black Sea between Ineboli and the Bosphorus, his greatest success, the most important to the race which history was to call after him Osmanlis or Ottomans, was the surrender of Brusa.

Osman was at Sugyut, the capital chosen by his father, when the news was brought to him of the success of his son at Brusa. He was then near his end and died in November 1326 at the age of sixty-eight. The expression of his desire to be buried in Brusa marks the value which he attached to its possession. His wish was complied with; and the series of tombs of the early sultans of his race, which are still shown to visitors to the city, mark its importance during the following century and a half.

Osman rather than Ertughril is regarded as the founder of the Ottoman nation. His successors on the throne are still girt with his sword. The Turkish instinct in taking him as at once their founder and greatest national hero is right. While rejecting most of the stories regarding him, we may fairly conclude that he was a ruler who recognized that to obtain the reputation of a lover of justice was good policy. His merits as a warrior-statesman rest on a surer foundation. There is reason to believe that the advance of his people from the time he ascended the throne until the capture of Brusa was in accordance with a general plan. While occasionally finding it necessary to carry on war to the south of the mountain ranges which on his accession formed the southern boundary of his territory, he never lost hope of an advance to the straits and the Marmora. In making an advance in that direction he increased the number of his own immediate subjects by allying himself with other Turks; and, by gaining the reputation of a ruler who might be safely followed, and under whose protection Christians might find security both from other Turks and from the exactions of their own Emperor, he drew even Christians to accept his rule.


ORKHAN (1326-1359).


Osman had been a successful conqueror. It remained for his son to extend his father's conquests on the lines which he had laid down, and to organise the administration of his government. Orkhan offered to share the government with his brother Ala-ad-Din, who refused, but consented to be his Vizier or "burden-bearer." To him quite as much as to Orkhan is due the organisation of the army which is one of the main features of the reign. As the Turkish writers report the matter, while Orkhan occupied himself with the conquest of new territories, Ala-ad-Din gave a civilized form to the government.

The line of advance of the victorious tribe from Brusa was clearly indicated. Izniq, the name by which the Turks know Nicaea, "the city of the creed," is not more than a day's journey for an army from Brusa. Izmid, or Nicomedia, is only a few hours farther off. It was to these strongholds that the new Emir directed his attention. Nicaea, which had been occupied at least twice by bands of Turks, though not by Ottomans, was attacked by Orkhan. Although surrounded by good walls, its resources would not allow of a long defence, and the inhabitants were about to surrender when they learned that the Emperor, young Andronicus, with Cantacuzene, who afterwards in 1341 was associated as joint-Emperor, were coming to its relief. In the late spring of 1329 they arrived with a hastily-gathered army, met the Turks, and defeated them. But a band of too impetuous Greeks endeavoured to follow up the victory, and the Turks, employing the ruse which continued for centuries to give them success, simulated flight. When the band had thus well separated themselves from the main body of the army, the Turks turned and attacked. The Emperor and Cantacuzene then intervened. In the battle which ensued the Emperor was himself wounded, and the result of the struggle was indecisive. Shortly afterwards, however, a panic followed, and the Turkish troops took advantage of it to capture the city and pillage the imperial camp.

The capture of Nicaea was effected in 1329. Its wealth was probably still great. After the recovery of Constantinople in 1261, its importance had at once lessened, but it was still the store-house of Greek wealth in Asia Minor. Orkhan decreed that tribute should be exacted from every place in Bithynia, and this cause, combined with the knowledge of its wealth, probably led to the pillage of the city by the Turks in 1331.

Capture of Nicomedia

The next stronghold of the Empire which Orkhan attacked was Izmid, formerly Nicomedia. Situated at the head of the gulf of the same name which stretches forty miles into Asia Minor from Constantinople, its position was always an important one. Diocletian had selected it as the capital of the Empire in the East. Instead of being landlocked as is Nicaea, which at the time of the First Council (325) was for a while its rival, it is on the sea at the head of a noble valley through which the great highway leads into the interior of Asia Minor. In 1329 Orkhan sat down before its great walls. But the Emperor Andronicus III, now t1he sole occupant of the throne, had command of the sea, and hastened to its relief with so strong a force that Orkhan was compelled to abandon the siege and make terms. A few months passed and Orkhan once more appeared before its walls. Once more the Emperor hastened to its relief and the siege was raised. But Orkhan pursued the plan already mentioned of starving the inhabitants into surrender by devastating the surrounding country. The Emperor was unable to furnish an army sufficiently strong to inflict a defeat upon the elusive hordes who were accustomed to live upon the country, and in 1337 Nicomedia surrendered.

In 1329, and during the next ten years, attacks by the Turks suggest unceasing movement on their part. In that year the Emirs of Aidin and Caria, jealous of the conquests of the Ottomans, arranged with the Emperor for his support. An army sent by Orkhan against them by sea was destroyed near Trajanopolis. In the following year the Greeks were still more successful: 15,000 Turks were defeated and destroyed in Thrace.

In 1333 Omar Beg, the Emir of Aidin, sent an expedition to Porus in Thrace, which was defeated and compelled to retire. Another band of Turks was destroyed at Rodosto, and again another at Salonica, both in the same year. In 1335 we hear of the Turks as pirates in various parts of the Mediterranean, and of the Emperor's vain attempts to combine his forces with those of the West to destroy them. His territory on the eastern shore of the Aegean was in constant danger from the Turkish emirs established there. In 1336 Andronicus was compelled to ally himself with the Emir of Magnesia and other local Turkish chieftains in order to save Phocaea. A struggle with the Turks continued in the same neighbourhood for two years. In the spring of 1338 a great invasion of Thrace by the Tartars compelled the Emperor's attention. They attacked the Turks who were still in that province and exterminated them, but as the Emperor was unable to pay for their services they captured 300,000 Christians. Other Turks, however, came the following year, and devastated even the neighbourhood of the capital.

Orkhan styled Sultan: the Janissaries

Being now in possession of the chief port in Bithynia, the head of all the great roads from Anatolia to Constantinople, and of Brusa, well fitted by its natural strength to be the capital of a race of warriors, Orkhan turned his attention to the organisation of his government. He had from his accession been conscious that he had succeeded to the rule of a greatly increased number of subjects and of a larger extent of territory than his father, and judged that he was entitled to abandon the title of Emir and to assume the more ambitious one of "Sultan of the Ottomans." Hitherto the coinage current was either that of Constantinople or that of the Seljuqs; Orkhan with his new sense of sovereignty coined money in his own name.

Besides having greatly increased the number of his Muslim subjects, he had to rule over a large number of Christians. Most of them were the inhabitants of conquered territory. Many of the peasants, however, from neighbouring territories sought his protection; for, as the Greek writers record, his Christian subjects were less taxed than those of the Empire. He saw that it was wise to protect these rayahs. He left them the use of their churches, and in various ways endeavoured to reconcile them to his rule. This policy of reconciliation, commenced on his accession, was continued during his reign and did much to set his army free for service in the field. He took a step, however, with regard to his Christian subjects, of which he could not have foreseen the far-reaching results. In this he was at least greatly aided by his brother Ala-ad-Din and by Khalil, a connection of his family. He formed a regiment of Christians who were kept distinct from the remainder of his army. The men were at first volunteers. The inducements of regular pay, of opportunities of loot and adventure, and of a career which was one for life, appealed to many amid a population which had been greatly harassed and impoverished by his army. The experiment was a new one, and when Hajji Bektash, a celebrated dervish, was asked to give a name to the new corps, the traditional story is that he laid the loose white sleeve of his coat over the head of one of them, declaring that this should be their distinctive head-dress, and called them New Troops or Janissaries. Under this name they were to become famous in history. The special feature which has attracted the attention of Europeans, namely that they were tribute children, probably did not apply to them in the time of Orkhan. Von Hammer follows the Turkish authors who claim that Khalil, called Qara or Black Khalil, suggested that Christian children taken into military service should be forcibly brought up as Muslims. But the first mention of compulsory service by Christians made in the Greek authors is attributed to the first year of the reign of Orkhan's successor Murad in 1360. They relate that one-fifth of all Christian children whose fathers were captured in battle were regarded as ipso facto the property of the Sultan, and that Murad caused his share of the boys to be taken from their parents and brought up as Muslims to become Janissaries. It may be noted, however, that not all Janissaries were soldiers. A large proportion, perhaps even one-half, were educated for the civil service of the State. The seizure and apportionment of the children and other property of Christians in resistance to the Sultan was in accordance with Islamic law.

The last twenty years of Orkhan's reign were years of less active aggression. But the Sultan found abundant occupation for his army. The facts justify us in assuming that he never lost sight of his father's intention to extend his empire northwards so as to encroach on that of Constantinople.

The ravages of the Turks who had been called into Thrace to resist the Tartars continued during two years. Then until 1344 we hear of fewer troubles with them in Thrace, though in that year they were before Salonica in the west and before Trebizond in the east of the Empire, while still another band attacked the Knights of Rhodes, who once more defeated them. It was probably shortly after the capture of Nicaea that Orkhan took possession of Gemlik, formerly called Civitot, and of almost all the south coast of Marmora.

In order to attach Orkhan to his side, the Emperor Cantacuzene in 1344 promised his daughter Theodora in marriage to the Ottoman Sultan. The offer was accepted, and Orkhan sent 6000 troops into Thrace. Perhaps the most noteworthy fact during the dynastic struggle, which went on in the imperial family during Orkhan's reign, was that two opposing bands of Turks were preying upon the country and thus impoverishing the Empire.

In the midst of the civil war Cantacuzene gave another daughter in marriage to the young Emperor John Palaeologus, aged fifteen, who had been associated with him. Orkhan came to Scutari to congratulate his father-in-law in 1347 on thus effecting a reconciliation, though Cantacuzene asserts that the object of his visit was to kill the young Emperor, whom he regarded as the rival of Cantacuzene or of a son that he himself might have by his wife Theodora.

Venetian versus Genoese influence

The Serbs had now developed into a formidable nation. Orkhan sent 6000 Ottomans against Stephen Dusan. The Turks defeated the Serbs, but then recrossed into Asia with their booty. Two years later, in 1349, Orkhan sent 20,000 of his horsemen against the Serbs, who were attacking Salonica. Matthew, the youngest son of Cantacuzene, was with the Ottomans. In 1352 the Tsar of Bulgaria united with Stephen Dusan to support the young Emperor Palaeologus, who was now quarrelling with his father-in-law. Much of the fighting centred about Demotika, in the neighbourhood of which in the same year Sulaiman, the son of Orkhan, defeated the Serbs. Orkhan himself refused to assist in attacking his brother-in-law.

In these later years also, the struggle between the Genoese and the Venetians disturbed the Empire and assisted in furthering the advance of the Ottomans. On more than one occasion the Venetian fleet had successfully resisted the Turk; for the fleet of the republic, like that of Genoa, often made its appearance in the Aegean, and penetrated even to the Euxine to protect the trade of its subjects. As the two States were at this time almost constantly at war, it was practically inevitable that in the civil war raging during the time of Cantacuzene one or both of them should be invited to take sides. The Genoese were already estalished in Galata, and they had strongly fortified it with walls which may still be traced. In 1353 fourteen Venetian galleys fought at the entrance to the Bosphorus against the combined Greek and Genoese fleets, and their passage through the Straits was intercepted. In the following year Cantacuzene had to take a decided line between the two powers. He refused to ally himself with the Venetians, who had sent a fleet to invite him so to do, probably because of his unwillingness to give offence to Orkhan. His conduct, however, was of so dubious a character that the Genoese declared war against him. The Venetians and the fleet of the King of Aragon went to his assistance. Fighting took place once more in the Bosphorus, and the Genoese persuaded Orkhan to come to their aid. Thereupon Cantacuzene was compelled to come to terms with the Genoese; he granted them an extension of territory beyond the then existing walls of Galata, doubling in fact its area, and surrendered to them the important towns of Heraclea and Selymbria (Silivri) on the north shore of the Marmora. Cantacuzene, however, had fallen into disfavour with the citizens of his capital, who sus­pected that he was prepared to hand over Constantinople itself to Orkhan. It was when he proposed to place the fortress of Cyclobium around the Golden Gate in Orkhan's possession, for so went the rumour, that the old Emperor resigned, and assuming the habit of a monk retired to a monastery at Mangana; but a different version is given a century later by Phrantzes.

Orkhan now assumed an attitude of open hostility to the Empire. The year 1356 marks an epoch in the progress of the Ottoman Turks.

The Ottomans in Europe 

They and other Turkish tribes had frequently found themselves in Thrace, either to help one of the parties in the civil war, or to assist the Empire to repel Serb or Bulgar or Tartar invaders. But now Sulaiman, the son of Orkhan, succeeded in crossing the Straits simply with the intention of conquering new territory. A boat was ferried across the north end of the Dardanelles, a Greek peasant was captured who assisted the Turks in making rafts united by bullocks' hides, and on each raft forty horsemen were ferried across to Tzympe, possibly at the foot of the hill on which the castle of Sestos stands. In three nights thirty thousand men were transported to the European shore, either in boats or, as seems more likely, on a bridge supported on inflated skins. This was the real entry of the Turks into Europe.

Shortly afterwards the Ottoman army, now under the command of Murad, the second surviving son of Orkhan, took possession of three of the most important towns in Thrace, Charlu on the direct line to Hadrianople, Epibatus, and Pyrgus. In 1357 the Ottomans pushed on to Hadrianople, which they captured and held as their European capital until Constantinople fell into their hands. The capture was made by Sulaiman, who, however, died shortly afterwards. A few weeks later Demotika, which had had various fortunes during half a century and which was near the Bulgarian frontier, fell into the hands of the Ottomans. To have obtained possession of Hadrianople and of Demotika, and to be able to hold them, was the greatest Ottoman advance yet made in Europe.

An incident occurred in the last year of Orkhan's life which is instructive as showing how much influence the fear of his power had in the Empire. His son Khalil, by Theodora the daughter of Cantacuzene, was taken prisoner by pirates, probably Turks under the Emir of Magnesia, and sent to Phocaea at the head of the Gulf of Smyrna. The Emperor, with whom Matthew the son of Cantacuzene was associated, went himself with a fleet to capture the city, but returned without having accomplished his object. After some weeks spent in the capital, Orkhan insisted that he should return to set Khalil free. The request was in the nature of a command, and was obeyed. The Palaeologus met his fleet returning. Negotiations went on, but for a while without effect. Finally in 1359 Khalil was ransomed by the Emperor, brought to the capital, made governor of Bithynia, and took up his quarters at Nicaea. Previous to his arrival the Emperor had agreed with Orkhan to give his ten-year-old daughter to Khalil. The agreement was made at Chalcedon; the betrothal was celebrated at Constantinople with great pomp and amid the rejoicing of the people, who believed that by the marriage and the signature of a treaty of perpetual peace they would have rest.

Orkhan died a few months afterwards at Brusa in 1359, two months after the death of his son Sulaiman. He had consolidated the realm over which Osman had ruled, and had largely extended it. The Turkish writers claim that he had captured nearly every place between the Dardanelles and the Black Sea, including the shores of the gulfs of Gemlik and Izmid. The claim is exaggerated, for though he had harassed all the neighbourhood he had not taken possession of it. If, instead of speaking of his taking possession of these places, it is said that he claimed sovereign rights from the Dardanelles to the Black Sea, the statement would be correct. On the European side also he had acquired many places in Thrace and, most important of all, had cap­tured Hadrianople, which was to serve as the chief centre of attack on the Empire by his successors.


MURÁD I (1359-1384


The thirty years' reign of Sultan Murad marks a great advance of Ottoman power. On his accession, the Ottomans were already the most powerful division of the Turks in Asia Minor. With two or three exceptions, such as Karamania, little attention had to be given to the Turks in the rear, that is, to the south and east of the territory the Ottomans occupied. The greater body was constantly attracting to itself members of the smaller bodies.

The attention of Murad was devoted at the beginning of his reign mainly to the development of the important territory his people had already acquired, extending from the north of the Aegean eastward to Ineboli on the Black Sea. This territory, though for the most part conquered in the sense that it paid tribute and contained no population able to revolt, was ill-organised, and it was the business of the new sultan to complete its organization for the purpose of government. But the great object of Murad's life was to make a still further advance into Europe. Indeed the remark may be made once for all that the Ottomans were never prosperous except when they were pushing forward to obtain new territory. Times of peace always sheaved the worst side of the race. Inferior in civilization and intelligence to the races they conquered, they resented their inferiority and became oppressors. Religion at this early stage of their history was not a powerful element in their character, but as they had adopted Islam the difference in religion between the conquerors and conquered tended to become more and more the distinguishing mark between them, with results which became increasingly important as time went on. Various Greek writers note the commencement of a religious persecution by Murad, and attribute it to the influence of a mufti. The Sultan is said to have promised to the Ulama one-fifth of the spoils of war.

We have seen that the predecessor of Murad had effected a landing in Thrace, had overrun the country, and claimed sovereignty over several towns. Murad's object was to make such sovereignty real and permanent, and to obtain effectual possession of further territory, and especially of important centres like Hadrianople and Salonica. We have seen that the first of these cities had been taken by his father, but its occupation had been only temporary. The explanation is that, numerous as the hordes of the Ottoman Turks were, they had not sufficient men to hold the cities they conquered.

They were now destined to meet much more formidable enemies than the Greek Emperor. The great Slav nations, Bulgars and Serbs, were strong, and were indeed at the height of their power. They too had taken advantage of the weakness of the Empire, and had strengthened their already powerful kingdoms. The chief struggles of Murad were to be with them, aided as they were by the Magyars and the Roumanians of Wallachia.

Meantime the advance of the Ottomans had aroused some of the nations of the West. England and France were too much occupied with the Hundred Years' War to take an active part in opposing the common enemy of Christendom. But the Pope, who was perhaps the strongest Power in western Europe, had long seen the advance of the Muslims, and accordingly did his utmost to rouse Christian nations to check that advance.

The Greek Empire at this time was in the midst of civil war. Though the fullest account we have of its condition is that written by the Emperor Cantacuzene himself, the picture presented is one of hopeless incompetence. Nor was Asia Minor unmolested. The Mamluks had invaded Cilicia, and had captured Tarsus, Adana, and other cities. In the following year Attalia was taken by the King of Cyprus with the aid of the Knights of Rhodes. Murad did not trouble himself with the capture of Asiatic territory. The Ottomans were constant to their purpose of extending their conquests in Europe. The rival parties in the Empire were ready to buy their services. Sulaiman, the brother of Murad, had taken Hadrianople. Cantacuzene, after remonstrances based on appeals to the treaties made by Orkhan, was compelled to pay 10,000 crowns to Sulaiman on his promise to abandon his conquests in Thrace and return to Asia. Nevertheless, on the death of Sulaiman, Murad again took possession of Hadrianople. Probably, however, it was not held in permanence until 1366, six years after its occupation by Murad. In the same way and in the same year Gallipoli, which several times was occupied for a short time by the Ottomans, was taken from them by the Count of Savoy and given back to the Emperor within a year of its capture. The Emperor tried to induce the Serbs to join with him to expel the Turks, but this effort failed. After Murad had taken Demotika in 1361, he drove the Serbs out of Seres, and then attacked various claimants to both the Serbian and Bulgarian thrones.

Defeat of the Serbs on the Maritza, 1371

In 1363 Murad was obliged to give his attention to Asia Minor. So strong was he that he was able, before crossing into Asia, to obtain a treaty from the Emperor that he would not attempt to retake any of the places captured in Thrace, but would send aid to him across the Bosphorus. Returning the same year from his Asiatic territory, Murad made an agreement with the Genoese to transport 60,000 of his followers into Thrace. Proceeding to Hadrianople, we find him attacking and defeating an army composed of Serbs, Bulgarians, and Magyars. Three years later, in 1366, the South Serbs made an effort to capture Hadrianople. Their army of 50,000 men was, however, defeated. To have accomplished this result the number of the Turks in Europe must certainly have been great. Other evidence is to the same effect. Ducas, writing three-quarters of a century later, states his belief that there were more Turks between the Dardanelles and the Danube than in Asia Minor itself. He describes how the Turks from Cappadocia, Lycia, and Caria had crossed into Europe to pillage and ruin the lands of the Christians. A hundred thousand had laid waste the country as far as Dalmatia. Notwithstanding the defeat of the Serbs just mentioned, they again attacked the Turks. In September 1371 Vukasin, King of South Serbia, with an army of 70,000 men, made a desperate stand near the banks of the river Maritza. In this battle the rout of the South Serbs was complete. Two sons of the king were drowned in the river, and Vukasin himself was killed in flight. The kingdom of the South Serbs had perished.

It is noteworthy that in the battle of the Maritza the Greeks took no part. It may be said that the impotency of the Empire reached its highest point two years later, in 1373, when Murad was formally recognised as his suzerain by the Emperor, who promised to render him military service, and consented to surrender his son Manuel as a hostage.

John V, the Greek Emperor, was meantime seeking aid from western Europe. In 1366 the Pope, in reply to his request for aid, pressed for the Union of the two Churches as a condition precedent, and urged him to take part in a crusade headed by Louis, King of Hungary. Urban V in the following year wrote to the Latin princes to facilitate the voyage of John and to assist him in raising means to oppose the Turks. In 1369 John visited Venice and thence went to Rome, where he formally professed the Roman faith. Upon such profession he was allowed to collect troops. Meantime the Pope urged Louis and the Voivode of Wallachia to join in attacking the Turks. John went to France, but his mission failed, and he found himself in money difficulties when in 1370 he returned to Venice. A new Pope, Gregory XI, preached once more a crusade with the object of driving the Turks back into Asia, and tried to obtain soldiers for Louis. The effort met with little success, and in 1374 the Pope reproached Louis for his inactivity, ignoring the fact that the task assigned to him was beyond his means. The Union of the Churches had not been completed, and though the Knights of Rhodes were urged to attack the Turks and to send seven hundred knights to attack them in Greece, and although a papal fleet was building, these preparations resulted in very little. In reference to the proposed Union one thing was clear, that, whatever the Emperor and his great nobles were prepared to do in the matter, the majority of his subjects would have none of it.

An incident in 1374 is significant of the relations between the chief actors, Murad the Sultan and John Palaeologus the Emperor. In 1373 John had associated his younger son Manuel with him as Emperor. Both father and son loyally fulfilled their obligations to Murad, and joined him in a campaign in Asia. The elder son, Andronicus, was on friendly terms with Sauji, the son of Murad. These two, who were about the same age, joined in a conspiracy to dethrone their fathers. When Mural and John returned from Asia Minor, they found the army of the rebellious sons in great force on the Maritza near Demotika. The most powerful element in the rebel army was Turkish. A bold appeal made in person to them by Murad caused large defections. Though both the rebel sons resisted, Demotika was captured. The inhabitants were treated with exceptional cruelty, which revolted Turks as well as Christians. The garrison was drowned in the Maritza; fathers were forced to cut the throats of their sons. The Sultan and the Emperor, say the chroniclers, had agreed to punish the chief rebels. Sauji was blinded.

The disastrous war between members of the imperial family, a war without a single redeeming feature, continued. The chief combatants were the rival sons of John—Manuel and Andronicus—the latter of whom gained possession of Constantinople in 1376, having entered it by the Pege Gate. He imprisoned John, his father, and his two brothers in the tower of Anemas. He had promised the Genoese the island of Tenedos in return for their aid. But the Venetians were in possession, and strongly opposed the attempt of Andronicus and the Genoese fleet to displace them. Amid these family disputes the Turks were steadily gaining ground. The one city in Asia Minor which remained faithful to the Empire was Philadelphia. In 1379, when John V was restored, the Turks, possibly at the instigation of Bayazid who later became Sultan, stipulated that the annual tribute paid by the Empire should be 30,000 gold bezants, that 12,000 fighting men should be supplied to the Sultan, and that Philadelphia should be surrendered. The bargain was the harder because the Emperor had to send his own troops to compel his subjects to open their gates to the enemy.

Advance of the Turks: Kossovo, 1389

The Turks were now waging war in southern Greece and in the Archipelago with great energy and success. Even Patmos had to be surrendered to them in 1381 in order to effect the ransom of the Grand Master of Rhodes. Islands and towns were being appropriated by Turks or Genoese without troubling about the consent of the Emperor. Scio or Chios, however, was given on a long lease by him to a company of Genoese who took the name of Giustiniani. In 1384 Apollonia on the Black Sea was occupied by Murad after he had killed the villagers. Two years later Murad sent two of his generals to take possession of several of the flourishing towns north of the Aegean. Gumaljina, Kavala, Seres, and others farther afield into Macedonia as far as Monastir, fell into Turkish hands.

As we near the end of Murad's reign, the increasing impotency of the Greek Empire becomes more manifest. Almost every year shows also an increase in numbers of the subjects who had come under Ottoman rule, and the wide-spread character of Ottoman conquest. The Muslim flood, which though not exclusively was mainly Ottoman, had spread all over the Balkan Peninsula. Turks were in Greece, and were holding their own in parts of Epirus. West of Thrace the most important city on the coast which had not been captured by the Turks was Salonica. After a siege lasting four years, it was captured for Murad in 1387.

The growth and development of the Bulgars and Serbs during the early part of the fourteenth century forms one of the leading features in the history of Eastern Europe. Their progress was checked by the Ottoman Turks. The Serbs had been so entirely defeated as to accept vassalage at Murad's hands. In 1381 their king was ordered to send 2000 men against the Emir of Karamania (Qaraman). On the return of this detachment the discontent at their subjection to Murad was so great that King Lazar revolted. He was defeated and thereupon set to work to organise an alliance against Murad. In 1389 the decisive battle was fought on the plains of Kossovo; Lazar was taken prisoner, and the triumph of the Ottomans was complete. As the battle on the Maritza had broken the power of the South Serbs and of the eastern Bulgarians in 1371, so did this battle on the plains of Kossovo in 1389 destroy that of the northern Serbians and the western Bulgarians.

During or immediately before the battle, there occurred a dramatic incident. A young Serb named Milos ran towards the Turkish army, and, when they would have stopped him, declared that he wanted to see their Sultan in order that he might shew him how he could profit by the fight. Murad signed to him to come near, and the young fellow did so, drew a dagger which he had hidden, and plunged it into the heart of the Sultan. He was at once cut down by the guards. Lazar, the captive king, was hewn in pieces.

Causes of Murad's success

Murad was the son of a Christian woman, who in Turkish is known as Nilafer, the lotus flower. She was seized by Orkhan on the day of her espousal to a Greek husband, and became the first wife of her captor. It is a question which has been discussed, whether the influence of the mother had any effect in moulding the character of her distinguished son. Murad seems to have possessed traits quite unlike those of his father or grandfather: a singular independence, a keen intelligence, a curious love of pleasure and of luxury, and at the same time a tendency towards cruelty which was without parallel in his ancestors. In his youth he was not allowed to take part in public affairs, and was overshadowed by his brother Sulaiman. It is claimed for Murad that he was inexorably just, and that he caused his "beloved son Sauji to be executed for rebellion." Von Hammer believes that he had long been jealous of him, but the better opinion would appear to be that Bayazid intrigued to have his brother condemned. When this elder brother came to the throne, he put another brother named Yaqub to death so as to have no rival.

The reign of Murad is the most brilliant period of the advance of the Ottomans. It lasted thirty years, during which conquest on the lines laid down by his two predecessors extended the area of Ottoman territory on a larger scale than ever, its especial feature being the defeat of the Serbians and Bulgarians with their allies in the two crowning victories of the Maritza in 1371 and Kossovo in 1389. On Mural's assassination it looked as if the Balkan peninsula was already under Ottoman sway. They had overrun Greece, had penetrated into Herzegovina, and had captured Nis, the position which commands the passes leading from Thrace into Serbia. The success of Murad was due to four causes, the impotence of the Greek Empire, the organisation of the Ottoman army, the constant increase of that army by an unending stream of Muslims from Asia Minor, and the disorganised condition of the races occupying the Balkan peninsula. We have already spoken of the impotence of the Empire. Murad and his brothers had developed the organisation of the Ottoman army, had improved its discipline, and had perfected a system of tactics which endured for many generations. It was already distinguished for its mobility, due in great part to the nomad character of a Turkish army. We may reject the stories of Turkish writers that the Christian armies were encumbered with women and with superfluous baggage due to their love of luxury, but, in comparison with the simple requirements of an army of nomads, it was natural and probably correct on the part of the Turks to regard the impedimenta of the other armies as excessive and largely useless. The constant stream of Asiatic immigrants is attested by many writers, Muslim and Christian. Moreover, the great horde from central Asia under the leadership of Timur was already on the march, and had driven other Turks before it to the west; to them were due the constant accretions to the Ottoman army. The disorganised condition of the races once occupying the Balkan peninsula aided the advance of the Ottomans. The Slavs, as we have seen, were divided. There were Bulgars, Serbs, and inhabitants of Dalmatia; there were also Albanians, Wallachs of Macedonia, and Greeks. In the Ottoman army there was the tie of a Common language. Patriotism, that is love of country, did not exist, but its place was taken by a common religion. Among the Christians whom they attacked, though there was unity of religion, patriotism was far from forming a bond of union.

The reign of Mural is important, not merely because of his successes in the Balkan peninsula, but because it was the beginning of an Ottoman settlement in Europe. It is true that the army still marched as a disciplined Asiatic horde, but the soldiers wherever they took possession of territory had lands, or chiftliks, granted to them according to their valour and the Sultan's will. Liable as they were at all times to continuous military service, they were always ready on the conclusion of peace to return to their lands, their flocks and herds. The occupation of Hadrianople caused that city soon to be the centre from which further Ottoman conquests were made—so that, while nominally Brasa remained the capital of the race, Hadrianople soon became a more important city and the real centre of Ottoman rule.


BAYAZID (1389-1403).



On the assassination of Murad, Bayazid succeeded to the Ottoman throne. He was popular with the army because already renowned for his successes as a soldier. He is known as Yilderim, or the Thunderbolt, a title conferred upon him on account of the rapidity of his movements in warfare. Regarded simply as a man, he was the most despicable of Ottoman Sultans who had as yet been girded with the sword of Osman. He alternated periods of wonderful activity with others of wild debauch. He was reckless of human life and delighted in cruelty. Had he possessed the statesmanlike ability of either of his predecessors he might have made an end of the Greek Empire. As it was, he would probably have done so if he had not encountered an opponent even more powerful and ruthless than himself.

Immediately after the victory of Kossovo he led his troops in quick succession against the Bulgars, the Serbs, the Wallachs, and the Albanians, reducing them to submission. He compelled Stephen, the son of Lazar, to acknowledge him as suzerain, and to give him his sister Maria in marriage. To such an extremity was the lingering Empire of Trebizond reduced that its Emperor Manuel in 1390 was compelled to contribute a large subsidy to aid Bayazid in a campaign against his father-in-law, the Emir of Germiyan or Phrygia, and to bring a hundred knights to aid in the campaign. Bayazid had in the meantime strengthened his fleet, which overran the islands in the Aegean as far as Euboea and the Piraeus. Sixty of his ships burnt the chief town of the island of Chios. A swift campaign in Asia Minor made him complete master of Phrygia and of Bithynia. Then he turned his attention to Constantinople. The Emperor proposed to strengthen the landward walls and to rebuild the famous towers at the Golden Gate. Bayazid objected and threatened to put out the eyes of the Emperor's son Manuel, who was with him as a hostage, unless the new buildings were demolished. The old Emperor John had to yield, and the surrender helped to kill him. The towers were shortly afterwards, on the death of Bayazid, rebuilt. Simultaneously Bayazid demanded payment of tribute, a recognition of the Emperor's vassalage to him, and the establishment of capitulations by which a Muslim cadi should be named in the capital to have jurisdiction over Ottoman subjects. He appears to have waged during 1392 and 1393 a war of extermination throughout Thrace, the subjects of the Empire being either taken captive or killed.

The advance of the Turks was now well known in western Europe, but the efforts made to resist it were spasmodic and shewed little power of coherence between the Christian States. Those who were nearest to the Balkan peninsula naturally were the most alarmed. Venice in 1391 decided to aid Durazzo in opposing Turkish progress. In the following year its senate treated with the King of Hungary for common action. Ten thousand Serbs from Illyria joined Theodore Palaeologus of Mistra, in his attempt to expel the Turks from Achaia. Theodore himself in 1394 was compelled by Bayazid to cede Argos. The Sultan later sent his general, Yaqub, into the Morea with 50,000 men, who penetrated as far as Methone and Coronea, captured Argos which Theodore had not surrendered, and carried off or killed 30,000 prisoners. The Emperor Manuel, whose rule hardly extended beyond the walls of Constantinople, made a series of appeals to the Western princes. Sigismund, King of Hungary and brother of the Emperor of the West, was the first to respond. He attacked the Turks at Little Nicopolis in 1393, and defeated them. This encouraged the Western powers to come to his aid. The Pope Boniface IX preached a new crusade in 1394, and in 1396 the Duke of Burgundy, at the head of 1000 knights and 9000 soldiers (French, English, and Italian), arrived in Hungary and joined Sigismund. German knights also came in considerable numbers. The Christian armies defeated the Turks in Hungary, and gained the victory in several engagements. The Emperor Manuel was secretly preparing to join them. Then the allies prepared to strike a decisive blow. They gathered on the banks of the Danube an army of at least 52,000 and possibly 100,000 men, and encamped at Nicopolis. The elite of several nations were present, but those of the highest rank were the French knights. When they heard of the approach of the enemy, they refused to listen to the prudent counsels of the Hungarians and, with the contempt which so often characterised the Western knights for the Turkish foe, they joined battle confident of success.

Victory of Bayazid at Nicopolis, 1396

Bayazid, as soon as he had learned the presence of the combined Christian armies, marched through Philippopolis, crossed the Balkans, made for the Danube, and then waited for attack. In the battle which ensued (1396), Europe received its first lesson on the prowess of the Turks and especially of the Janissaries. The French with rash daring broke through the line of their enemies, cut down all who resisted them, and rushed on triumphantly to the very rearguard of the Turks, many of whom either retreated or sought refuge in flight. When the French knights saw that the Turks ran, they followed, and filled the battlefield with dead and dying. But they made the old military blunder, and it led to the old result. The archers, who always constituted the most effective Turkish arm, employed the stratagem of running away in order to throw their pursuers into disorder. Then they turned and made a stand. As they did so, the Janissaries, Christians in origin, from many Christian nations, as Ducas bewails, came out of the place where they had been concealed, and surprised and cut to pieces Frenchmen, Italians, and Hungarians. The pursuers were soon the pursued. The Turks chased them to the Danube, into which many of the fugitives threw themselves. The defeat was complete. Sigismund saved himself in a small boat, with which he crossed the river, and found his way, after long wandering, to Constantinople. The Duke of Burgundy and twenty-four nobles who were captured were sent to Brusa to be held for ransom. The remaining Burgundians, to the number of 300, who escaped massacre and refused to save their lives by abjuring Christianity, had their throats cut or were clubbed to death by order of the Sultan and in the presence of their compatriots.

The battle of Nicopolis gave back to Bayazid almost at once all that the allies had been able to take from him. The defeat of Sigismund, with his band of French, German, and Italian knights, spread dismay among their countrymen and the princes of the West.

Bayazid, having retaken all the positions which the allied Christians had captured from him, hastened back to the Bosphorus, his design being to conquer Constantinople. For this purpose, having strengthened his position at Izmid and probably at the strong fortification still remaining at Gebseh, he immediately gave orders for the construction of a fortress at what is now known as Anatolia-Hisar. The fort was about six miles from the capital on the Asiatic side and at the mouth of a small river now known as the Sweet Waters of Asia. The arrival in March 1397 of the great French soldier Boucicaut in the capital probably influenced the design of the Sultan; for although he had defeated the Christian allies at Nicopolis and had made all preparations for the capture of Constantinople, and although the Emperor had been summoned to surrender it, a demand to which he had not replied, the grand vizier represented to him that its siege would unite all Christian Europe against him, and the project was therefore delayed. The construction of Anatolia-Hisar, which was to serve as his basis of attack, was however pushed on and completed. A few months later in 1397, the Sultan endeavoured to accomplish his object by persuading John, the nephew of the Emperor Manuel, to claim the throne, promising that if he did so he would aid him in return by the cession of Silivri. John refused, and when Bayazid made further proposals Manuel took a step which suggests patriotism and which Godefroy, the biographer of Boucicaut, attributes to his wise intervention. Manuel agreed to admit John into the city, to associate him on the throne, and then to leave for western Europe to bring the aid so greatly needed (1398). Boucicaut arrived in the following year at the head of 1400 men-at-arms and with a well-manned fleet. At Tenedos he was joined by Genoese and Venetian ships, and became admiral-in-chief. He met near Gallipoli a Turkish fleet of seventeen galleys and defeated them. Then he pushed on to the Bosphorus, and arrived in the Golden Horn just in time to prevent Galata being captured by the Turks. The Emperor appointed him Grand Constable. The French knights under him fought the Turks whenever they could find them, from Izmid to Anatolia-Hisar, defeated them in many skirmishes, and sent many Turkish prisoners to Constantinople. But their numbers were too few to have much permanent value. They harassed Bayazid's army at Izmid, but failed to capture the city. They burnt a few Turkish villages; but after a year's fighting Boucicaut left for France in order to obtain more volunteers. He left in Constantinople Chateaumorant with 100 knights and their esquires and servants to assist in defending the city.

The Turks were now spread throughout the Balkan peninsula and claimed to rule over almost all Asia Minor. Western Europe was alarmed at their progress and many attempts were made to resist it. Had their forces been capable of united action under a great general like Boucicaut, they might have succeeded in effecting a check. But while that general was fighting on the shores of the Marmora, destroying many Turkish encampments and greatly harassing the enemy, he was only hopeful of success if he could obtain a larger contingent of French knights. While others, as we have seen, were fighting the battle of civilisation in the Morea, the Knights of Rhodes had captured Budrun, the ancient Halicarnassus, and had already made themselves a strong power in the Aegean and Levant; but they were themselves a cause of weakness to the Empire. Theodore of Mistra, the brother of Manuel, had ceded Corinth to them, but they attempted to obtain other concessions, and Bayazid tempted Theodore with the promise of peace if he would give his aid to expel the Knights. While Bulgarians, Serbs, and Albanians were ready for resistance whenever a favourable opportunity occurred, there was little solidarity between them in their efforts to resist the invaders. Bayazid, a ruthless invader with forces ever increasing, was ready everywhere to employ his genius for warfare and the great mobile army whose interest was to follow him; and the result was that the efforts of his disunited enemies hardly impeded his progress.

Boucicaut persuaded the Emperor Manuel to offer to become the vassal of Charles VI of France; and the Venetians, Genoese, and the Knights of Rhodes consented to his doing homage. Venetians and Genoese in the Bosphorus agreed to join forces and work for the defence of the city. The Emperor Manuel and Boucicaut left together for Venice and France. Charles received both with great honours, and consented to send 1200 soldiers and to pay them for a year. In order to avoid the responsibility of giving Manuel the protection of a suzerain, he seems to have refused to accept him as his vassal. Manuel went in 1400 from Paris to England, where Henry IV received him with great honour but gave no assistance. In 1402 he returned to Venice by way of Germany.

In the same year Bayazid summoned John to surrender the capital. During three years it had been nearly isolated by the Turks, but now it was threatened by assault. Bayazid swore "by God and the prophet" that if John refused he would not leave in the city a soul alive. The Emperor gave a dignified refusal. Chateaumorant, who had been in charge of the defence for nearly three years, waited to be attacked.

At this time, remarks Ducas, the Empire was circumscribed by the walls of Constantinople, for even Silivri was in the hands of the Turks. Bayazid had gained a firm hold of Gallipoli, and thus commanded the Dardanelles. The long tradition of the Roman Empire seemed on the eve of coming to an end. No soldier of conspicuous ability had been produced for upwards of half a century, none capable of inflicting a sufficient defeat, or series of defeats, on the Turks to break or seriously check their power. The Empire had fought on for three generations against an ever-increasing number of Muslims, but without confidence and almost without hope. It was now deficient both in men and in money. The often-promised aid from the West had so far proved of little avail. The power of Serbia had been almost destroyed. Bulgaria had perished. From Dalmatia to the Morea the enemy was triumphant. The men of Macedonia had everywhere fallen before Bayazid's armies. Constantinople was between the hammer and the anvil. Asia Minor, on the one side, was now nearly all under Turkish rule; Europe, on the other, contained as many Turks as there were in Asia Minor itself.

Bayazid passed in safety between his two capitals, one at Brusa, the other at Hadrianople, and repeated his proud boasts of what he would do beyond the limits of the Empire. It seemed as if, with his overwhelming force, he had only to succeed once more in a task which, in comparison with what he and his predecessors had done, was easy, and his success would be complete. He would occupy the throne of Constantine, would achieve that which had been the desire of the Arab followers of Mahomet, and for which they had sacrificed hundreds of thousands of lives, and would win for himself and his followers the reward of heaven promised to those who should take part in the capture of New Rome. The road to the Elder Rome would be open, and he repeated the boast that he would feed his horse on the altar of St Peter.

When he had sent his insolent message in 1402 to John VII, the answer was: "Tell your master we are weak, but that in our weakness we trust in God, who can give us strength and can put down the mightiest from their seats. Let your master do what he likes." Thereupon Bayazid had laid siege to Constantinople.

The appearance of Timur

Suddenly in the blackness of darkness with which the fortunes of the city were surrounded there came a ray of light. All thought of the siege was abandoned for the time, and Constantinople breathed again freely. What had happened was that Timur the Lame, "the Scourge of God," had challenged, or rather ordered, Bayazid to return to the Greeks all the cities and territories he had captured. The order of the Asiatic barbarian, given to another ferocious barbarian like Bayazid, drove him to fury. The man who gave it was, however, accustomed to be obeyed.

Timur, or Tamerlane, was a Musulman and a Turk. His nomad troops advanced in well-organised armies, under generals who seem to have had intelligence everywhere of the enemy's country and great military skill. After conquering Persia, Timur turned westward. In 1386 he appeared at Tiflis, which he subsequently captured, at the head of an enormous host estimated at 800,000 men. At Erzinjan he put all the Turks sent there by Bayazid to the sword.

Bayazid seems from the first to have been alarmed, and went himself to Erzinjan in 1394, but returned to Europe without making any attempt to resist the invader, probably believing that Timur had no intention of coming farther west. He soon learned his mistake. Timur was not merely as great and cruel a barbarian but as ambitious as Bayazid himself. In 1395, while the Sultan was in the Balkan peninsula, Timur summoned the large and populous city of Siwas to surrender. The inhabitants twice refused. Meantime, he had undermined the wall. On their second refusal, his host stormed and captured the city. A hundred and twenty thousand captives were massacred. One of Bayazid's sons was made prisoner and put to death. A large number of prisoners were buried alive, being covered over in a pit with planks instead of earth so as to prolong their torture. Bayazid was relieved when he heard that from Siwas, which had been the strongest place in his empire, the ever victorious army had gone towards Syria.

Capture of Aleppo and Baghdad by Timur

Timor directed his huge host towards Aleppo, the then frontier city of the Sultan of Egypt, his object being to punish the Sultan for his breach of faith in imprisoning his ambassador and loading him with irons. On his march to that city, he spread desolation everywhere, capturing or receiving the submission of Malatiyah, Ain Tab, and other important towns. At Aleppo the army of the Egyptian Sultan resisted. A terrible battle followed, but the Egyptians were beaten, and every man, woman, and child in the city was slaughtered.

After the capture of Aleppo, Hamah and Baalbek were occupied. The last, which, like so many other once famous cities, has become a desolation under Turkish rule with only a few miserable huts amid its superb ruins, was still a populous city, and contained large stores of provisions. Thence he went to Damascus, and in January 1401 defeated the remainder of the Egyptian army in a battle which was hardly less bloody than that before Aleppo. The garrison, composed mostly of Circassian mamluks and negroes, capitulated, but its chief was put to death for having been so slow in surrendering. Possibly by accident the whole city was burned.

Timur was stopped from advancing to Jerusalem by a plague of locusts, which ate up every green thing. The same cause rendered it impossible to attack Egypt, whose Sultan had refused to surrender Syria.

From Damascus Timur went to Baghdad, which was held by contemporaries to be impregnable. Amid the heat of a July day, when the defenders had everywhere sought shade, Timur ordered a general assault, and in a few minutes the standard of one of his shaikhs, with its horsetail and its golden crescent, was raised upon the walls. Then followed the usual carnage attending Timur's captures. The mosques, schools, and convents with their occupiers were spared; so also were the imams and the professors. All the remainder of the population between the ages of eight and eighty were slaughtered. Every soldier of Timur, of whom there were 90,000, as the price of his own safety, had to produce a head. The bloody trophies were, as was customary in Timur's army, piled up in pyramids before the gates of the city.

It was on his return northward from Damascus that, in 1402,sent the message to Bayazid which at once forced him to raise the siege of Constantinople. Contemporaneously with this message Timur requested the Genoese in Galata and at Genoa to obtain aid from the West, and to co-operate with him to crush the Turkish Sultan.

Timur organised a large army on the Don and around the. Sea of Azov, in order that in case of need it might act with his huge host now advancing towards the Black Sea from the south. His main body passed across the plain of Erzinjan, and at Siwas Timur received the answer of Bayazid. The response was as insulting as a Turkish barbarian could make it. Bayazid summoned Timor to appear before him, and declared that, if he did not obey, the women of his harem should be divorced from him, putting his threat in what to a Musulman was a specially indecent manner. All the usual civilities in written communications between sovereigns were omitted, though the Asiatic conqueror himself had carefully observed them. Timur's remark, when he saw the Sultan's letter containing the name of Timur in black writing under that of Bayazid which was in gold, was: "The son of Murad is mad." When he read the insulting threat as to his harem, Timur kept himself well in hand, but turning to the ambassador who had brought the letter, told him that he would have cut off his head and those of the members of his suite, if it were not the rule among sovereigns to respect the lives of ambassadors. The representative of Bayazid was, however, compelled to be present at a review of the whole of the troops, and was ordered to return to his master and relate what he had seen.

Meantime Bayazid had determined to strike quickly and heavily against Timur, and by the rapidity of his movements once more justified his name of Yilderim. His opponent's forces, however, were hardly less mobile. Timur's huge army marched in twelve days from Siwas to Angora. The officer in command of that city refused to surrender. Timur made his arrangements for the siege in such a manner as to compel or induce Bayazid to occupy a position where he would have to fight at a disadvantage. He undermined the walls and diverted the small stream which supplied it with water. Hardly had these works been commenced before he learned that Yilderim was within nine miles of the city. Timur raised the siege and transferred his camp to the opposite side of the stream, which thus protected one side of his army, while a ditch and a strong palisade guarded the other. Then, in an exceptionally strong position, he waited to be attacked.

Disaffection existed in Bayazid's army, occasioned by his parsimony, and possibly nursed by emissaries from Tiur. Bayazid's own licentiousness had been copied by his followers, and discipline among his troops was noted as far less strict than among those of his predecessor. In leading them on what all understood to be the most serious enterprise which he had undertaken, his generals advised him to spend his reserves of money freely so as to satisfy his followers; but the capricious and self-willed Yilderim refused. They counselled him, in presence of an army much more numerous than his own, to act on the defensive and to avoid a general attack. But Bayazid, blinded by his long series of successes, would listen to no advice and would take no precautions. In order to show his contempt for his enemy, he ostentatiously took up a position to the north of Timur, and organised a hunting party on the highlands in the neigh­bourhood, as if time to him were of no consequence. Many men of his army died from thirst under the burning sun of the waterless plains, and when, after three days' hunting, the Sultan returned to his camping ground, he found that Timur had taken possession of it, had almost cut of his supply of drinking water, and had fouled what still remained. Under these circumstances, Bayazid had no choice but to force on a fight without further delay. The ensuing battle was between two great Turkish leaders filled with the arrogance of barbaric conquerors, each of whom had been almost uniformly successful. Nor were pomp and circumstance wanting to impress the soldiers of each side with the importance of the issue. Each of the two leaders was accompanied by his sons. Four sons and five grandsons commanded the nine divisions of Timur's host. In front of its leader floated the standard of the Red Horsetail surmounted by the Golden Crescent. On the other side, Bayazid took up his position in the centre of his army with his sons Isa, Musa, and Mustafa, while his eldest son Sulaiman was in command of the troops who formed the right wing. Stephen of Serbia was in command of his own subjects, who had been forced to accompany Bayazid, and formed the left wing of the army. The Serbians gazed in wonder and alarm upon a number of elephants opposite to them, which Timur had brought from India.

The Battle of Angora: capture of Bayazid

At six o'clock in the morning of 28 July 1402, the two armies joined battle. The left wing of Bayazid's host was the first to be attacked, but the Serbians held their ground and even drove back the Tartars. The right wing fought with less vigour, and when the troops from Aidin saw their former prince among the enemy, they deserted Bayazid and went over to him. Their example was speedily followed by many others, and especially by the Tartars in the Ottoman army, who are asserted by the Turkish writers to have been tampered with by agents of Timor.

The Serbians were soon detached from the centre of the army, but Stephen, their leader, at the head of his cavalry, cut his way through the enemy, though at great loss, winning the approval of Timur himself, who exclaimed: "These poor fellows are beaten, though they are fighting like lions." Stephen had advised Bayazid to endeavour like himself to break through, and awaited him for some time. But the Sultan expressed his scorn at the advice. Surrounded by his ten thousand trustworthy Janissaries, separated from the Serbians, abandoned by a large part of his Anatolian troops and many of his leading generals, he fought on obstinately during the whole of the day. But the pitiless heat of a July sun exhausted the strength of his soldiers, and no water was to be had. His Janissaries fell in great numbers around him, some overcome by the heat and fighting, others struck down by the ever pressing crowd of the enemy. It was not till night came on that Bayazid consented to withdraw. He attempted flight, but was pursued. His horse fell and he was made prisoner, together with his son Musa and several of the chiefs of his house­hold and of the Janissaries. His other three sons managed to escape. The Serbians covered the retreat of the eldest, Sulaiman, whom the grand vizier and the Agha, of the Janissaries had dragged out of the fight.

The Persian, Turkish, and most of the Greek historians say that Timur received his great captive with every mark of respect, assured him that his life would be spared, and assigned to him and his suite three splendid tents. When, however, he was found attempting to escape, he was more rigorously guarded and every night put in chains and confined in a room with barred windows. When he was conveyed from one place to another, he travelled much as Indian ladies now do, in a palanquin with curtained windows. Out of a misinterpretation of the Turkish word, which designated at once a cage and a room with grills, grew the error into which Gibbon and historians of less repute have fallen, that the great Yilderim was carried about in an iron cage. Until his death he was an unwilling follower of his captor.

Timor's conquests in Asia Minor

After the battle of Angora, Sulaiman, the eldest son of Bayazid, who had fled towards Brusa, was pursued by a detachment of Timor's army. He managed to cross into Europe, and thus escaped. But Brusa, the Turkish capital, fell before Timur's attack, and its inhabitants suffered the same brutal horrors as almost invariably marked either Tartar or Turkish captures. The city, after a carefully organised pillage, was burned. The wives and daughters of Bayazid and his treasure became the property of Timur. Nicaea and Gemlik were also sacked and their inhabitants taken as slaves. From the Marmora to Karamania, many towns which had been captured by the Ottomans were taken from them. Asia Minor was in confusion. Bayazid's empire appeared to be falling to pieces in every part east of the Aegean. Sulaiman, however, established himself on the Bosphorus at Anatolia-Hisar, and about the same time both he and the Emperor at Constantinople received a summons from Timor to pay tribute. The Emperor had already sent messengers to anticipate such a demand. Timor learned with satisfaction that the sons of Bayazid were disputing with each other as to the possession of such parts of their father's empire as still remained unconquered.

In 1402 the conqueror left Kyutahiya for Smyrna, which was held, as it had been for upwards of half a century, by the Knights of Rhodes. In accordance with the stipulation of Muslim sacred law, he summoned them either to pay tribute or to become Musulmans, threatening them at the same time that if they refused to accept one or other of these conditions all would be killed. No sooner were the proposals rejected than Timur gave the order to attack the city. With his enormous army, he was able to surround Smyrna on three sides, and to block the entrance to it from the sea. The ships belonging to the Knights were at the time absent. All kinds of machines then known for attack upon walled towns were constructed with almost incredible speed and placed in position. The houses within the city were burned by means of arrows carrying flaming materials steeped in naphtha or possibly petroleum, though, of course, not known under its modern name.

After fourteen days' vigorous siege, a general assault was ordered, and the city taken. The Knights fought like heroes but were driven back into the citadel. Seeing that they could no longer hold out, and their ships having returned, the Grand Master placed himself at their head, and he and his Knights cut their way shoulder to shoulder through the crowd of their enemies to the sea, where they were received into their own ships. The inhabitants who could not escape were taken before Titular and butchered without distinction of age or sex.

The Genoese in Phocaea and in the islands of Mitylene and Chios sent to make submission, and became tributaries of the conqueror.

Smyrna was the last of Timur's conquests in western Asia Minor. He went to Ephesus, and during the thirty days he passed in that city his army ravaged the whole of the fertile country in its neighbourhood and in the valley of the Cayster. The cruelties committed by his horde would be incredible if they were not well authenticated and indeed continually repeated during the course of Tartar and Turkish history. In fairness it must also be said that the Ottoman Turks, although their history has been a long series of massacres, have rarely been guilty of the wantonness of cruelty which Greek and Turkish authors agree in attributing to the Tartar army. One example must suffice. The children of a town on which Timur was marching were sent out by their parents, reciting verses from the Koran to ask for the generosity of their conqueror but co-religionist. On asking what the children were whining for, and being told that they were begging him to spare the town, he ordered his cavalry to ride through them and trample them down, an order which was forthwith obeyed.

Deaths of Timur and Bayazid

Timur, wearied with victories in the West, now determined to leave Asia Minor and return to Samarqand. He contemplated the invasion of China, but in the midst of his preparations he died, in 1405, after a reign of thirty-six years.

Bayazid the Thunderbolt had died at Aq-Shehr two years earlier (March 1403), or according to Ducas at Qara-Hisar, and according to another account by his own hand. His son Musa was permitted to transport his body to Brusa.

The next ten years were occupied in struggles among the sons of Bayazid for the succession to his throne. These struggles threatened still more to weaken the Ottoman power. The battle of Angora had given the greatest check to it which it had yet received. Timur's campaign proved, however, to be merely a great marauding expedition, most of the effects of which were only temporary. But its immediate result was that the victorious career of the Thunderbolt was brought suddenly to an end. The empire of the Ottomans which he had largely increased, especially by the addition to it of the southern portion of Asia Minor, was for a time shattered. Mahomet of the old dynasty had taken possession of Karamania; Caria and Lycia were once more under independent emirs. The sons of the vanquished Sultan, after the departure of Timur and his host, quarrelled over the possession of what remained. Three of them gained territories in Asia Minor, while the eldest, Sulaiman, retook possession of the lands held by his father in Europe. Most of the leaders of the Ottoman host, the viziers, governors, and shaikhs, had been either captured or slain, and in consequence the sons of Bayazid fighting in Asia Minor found themselves destitute of efficient servants for the organisation of government in the territories which they seized on the departure of the great invader.

The progress of the Asiatic horde created a profound impression in Western Europe. The eagerness of the Genoese to acknowledge the suzerainty of Timur gives an indication of their sense of the danger of resistance. The stories of the terrible cruelties of the Tartars lost nothing in the telling. When the news of the defeat at Angora, along with the capture of Brusa, of Smyrna, and of every other town which the Asiatic army had besieged, and of the powerlessness of the military Knights, reached Hungary, Serbia, and the states of Italy, it appeared as if the West were about to be submerged by a new flood from Asia. Then, when news came of the sudden departure of the Asiatics and of the breaking up of the Ottoman power, hope once more revived, and it appeared possible to the Pope and to the Christian peoples to complete the work which Timur had begun by now offering a united opposition to the establishment of an Ottoman empire. Constantinople itself when Bayazid passed it on his way to Angora was almost the last remnant of the ancient Empire. The battle of Angora saved it and gave it half a century more of life.

Civil war among the Ottomans 

Sulaiman in 1405 sought to ally himself with the Emperor, and his proposals show how low the battle of Angora had brought the Turkish pretensions. He offered to cede Salonica and all country in the Balkan peninsula to the south-west of that city as well as the towns on the Marmora to Manuel and his nephew John, associated as Emperor, and to send his brother and sister as hostages to Constantinople. The arrangement was accepted.

Sulaiman attacked his brother Isa, in 1405, and killed him. Another brother, Musa, in the following year, attacked the combined troops of Sulaiman and Manuel in Thrace, but the Serbians and Bulgarians deserted the younger brother, and thereupon Sulaiman occupied Hadrianople. Manuel consented to give his granddaughter in marriage to Sulaiman, who in return gave up not merely Salonica but many seaports in Asia Minor, a gift which was rather in the nature of a promise than a delivery, since they were not in his possession. Unhappily Sulaiman, like many of his race, had alternate fits of great energy and great lethargy, and was given over to drunkenness and to debauchery. This caused disaffection among the Turks; and Musa, taking advantage of it, led in 1409 an army composed of Turks and Wallachs against him. The Janissaries, who were dissatisfied with the lack of energy displayed by their Sultan, deserted and went over to the side of Musa. Sulaiman fled with the intention of escaping to Constantinople, but was captured while sleeping off a drinking bout and killed.

Then Musa determined to attack Manuel, who had been faithful to his alliance with Sulaiman. He denounced him as the cause of the fall or Bayazid, and set himself to arouse all the religious fanaticism possible against the Christian population under the Emperor's rule. According to Ducas, Masa put forward the statement that it was the Emperor who had invited Timur and his hordes, that his own brother Sulaiman had been punished by Allah because he had become a giaour, and that he, Musa, had been entrusted with the sword of Mahomet in order to overthrow the infidel. He therefore called upon the faithful to go with him to recapture Salonica and the other Greek cities which had belonged to his father, and to change their churches into mosques.

In 1412 he devastated Serbia for having supported his brother, and this in as brutal a manner as Timur had devastated the cities and countries in Asia Minor. Then he attacked Salonica. Orkhan, the son of Sulaiman, aided the Christians in the defence of the city, which however was forced to surrender, and Orkhan was blinded by his uncle.

While successful on land Musa was defeated at sea, and the inhabitants of the capital, in 1411, saw the destruction of his fleet off the island of Plataea in the Marmora. In revenge for this defeat he laid siege to the city. Manuel and his subjects stoutly defended its landward walls, and before Musa could capture it news came of the revolt of his younger brother, Mahomet, who appeared as the avenger of Sulaiman. The siege of Constantinople had to be raised. Mahomet had taken the lordship of the Turks in Amasia shortly after the defeat of his father at Angora, and had not been attacked by Timar. The Emperor proposed an alliance with him, which was gladly accepted, and the conditions agreed to were honourably kept by both parties. Mahomet came to Scutari, where he had an interview with the Emperor. An army composed of Turks and Greeks was led by Mahomet to attack his brother. But Musa defeated him in two engagements. Then Manuel, after a short time, having been joined by a Serbian army, attempted battle against him, and with success. The Janissaries deserted Musa and went over to Mahomet and Manuel, and his army was defeated. Musa was himself captured and by order of Mahomet was bowstrung.

Mahomet was now the only survivor of the six sons of Bayazid, with the exception of Qasim, the youngest, who was still living with Manuel as a hostage; three of his brothers had been the victims of fratricide. In 1413 Mahomet proclaimed himself Grand Sultan of the Ottomans.




Mahomet was a soldier at the age of fifteen and proved himself from the first an able one. After the ten years of civil war already mentioned he was formally recognised as Sultan. Shortly before his accession he charged the representatives of Venice, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Wallachia, who went to offer their congratulations, not to forget to repeat to their masters that he purposed to give peace to all and to accept it from all. He added: "May the God of Peace inspire those who should be tempted to violate it."

At his accession the Ottomans had lost nearly all their possessions in Europe except Hadrianople. Bosnia, Bulgaria, and Wallachia had recovered their freedom. In Asia Minor revolts followed each other in rapid succession. According to his promise, Mahomet restored to the Emperor Manuel the strong positions which the Turks had occupied on the Black Sea, on the Marmora, and in Thessaly; and he acknowledged the rule of the Serbians over a considerable portion of the territory they had lost. When the Emperor returned by sea from the Morea, the two rulers had a friendly interview in Gallipoli on an imperial ship. In 1416 Mahomet gave permission to the Knights of Rhodes to build a castle in Lycia as a refuge for fugitives from the Muslims.

In the following year, 1417, he crossed from Hadrianople to Asia Minor and recaptured Smyrna from Junaid, who had declared himself independent during the war of succession.

Venice at this time sent out many rovers who, while owning allegiance to the republic, fought for their own hands, annexed territory to the sovereign city, but were allowed to establish themselves as rulers. They plundered the Turkish coasts and captured Turkish vessels wherever they found them. War with the republic was declared in 1416. The Sultan had so far not sought war with any European State, nor did he now seek war with Venice, the republic indeed forcing it upon him. He fitted out no less than 112 ships, of which thirteen were galleys. The Venetian fleet was under the command of Loredan. The two fleets met off Gallipoli on 29 May 1416, when a bloody encounter took place and the Turks were utterly defeated. Twenty-seven Turkish vessels were captured, and a tower built by the Genoese at Lampsacus to prevent the Turks passing into Europe was rased to the ground.

Mahomet did not seek to play the part of a conqueror in his expeditions against Hungary in 1416 and the two following years, but he introduced a better organiZation into the places which his predecessor had captured. He erected a series of forts on the frontier of the Danube. One of the most important was at Giurgevo, opposite Ruschuk. Junaid, the former governor of Smyrna, was named to the same post in Nicopolis. Severin, near Trajan's bridge, was fortified. Mahomet endeavoured, but with less success, to introduce better organiZation among the Serbs, west and northwest of Belgrade, as far as Styria. Sigismund, however, declared war, and obtained a victory over the Turks between NiS and Nicopolis in 1419. The last years of Mahomet's reign were comparatively peaceful.

Mahomet had to meet a pretender, as he is called by the Turkish historians, who claimed to be Mustafa, brother of the Sultan, who had disappeared after the battle of Angora. He was supported by Junaid, the ex-rebel of Smyrna whom we have seen named governor of Nicopolis, and also by the Wallachs. The rebellion raised by them became more serious in the reign of the following Sultan. Mahomet died from a fit of apoplexy, in which he fell from his horse at Hadrianople, at the end of 1421 or perhaps in January 14221.

Halil Ganem claims that Mahomet was the greatest, wisest, noblest, and most magnanimous of the Ottoman conquerors. He was called Chelebi,"the gracious lord," "the gentleman." He was renowned for his justice as much as for his courage. He was the rebuilder, the restorer, whose practical wisdom was of as much value to the Ottomans as the military genius of his predecessor. Their empire on his accession appeared as a mass of fragments. The attacks on the Greek Empire almost altogether ceased, because the Sultan considered it was his first duty to undo the mischief following Timur's dislocation of the Ottoman dominions.

The defeat of the Turks by the Venetians and the Sultan's treatment of the Empire led its rulers to hope once more for the recovery of their rule, and enabled them to strengthen their positions in the capital. The story of Mahomet's reign would appear to justify the belief that when he came to the throne he had decided that, instead of seeking for an extension of his dominions, he would consolidate and strengthen those which his predecessors had conquered and he had inherited. While therefore he did not seek war, he not only improved the administration of his government, but also founded mosques and schools in the large towns. Brusa itself contains the most important of the institutions established by him, and the Yeshil-jami, or Green Mosque, of that city is at once the most beautiful specimen of Turkish architecture and decoration and one of the world's artistic monuments.


MURAD II (1421-1451).


Murad, the lawful heir to the throne, was, on the death of Mahomet, at Amasia. Indeed the death was concealed by Bayazid, the faithful vizier, until Murad could be produced. Notwithstanding the comparative calm which characterised the reign of Mahomet, the evidence shows that, during his reign and during the war of succession which preceded it, the number of Turks, both in Europe and in Asia, was continually increasing. Remembering the huge hordes under TimUr, and still more the Turks who had fled westward before his advance, there can be little doubt that this increase in the numbers of invading Asiatics was largely due to the great movement in question. Ducas notes that, after the hordes of TimUr left Persia and passed through Armenia, they invaded Cappadocia and Lycaonia, where they received permission to pillage the lands of Christians, and that, without swords or lances, they were in such numbers that they swept the country before them. The invasion, he adds, was so general that it spread all over Anatolia and Thrace, even into the provinces beyond the Danube. They ravaged Achaia and Greece, and while trying to keep on good terms with the Empire attacked the Serbians, Bulgarians, and Albanians; they destroyed all nations except the Wallachs and Hungarians. Ducas believed that there were more Turks between the Danube and Gallipoli than in Asia. When, often to the number of a hundred thousand, they entered the various provinces, they took possession of everything they could find. They desolated the country as far as the frontier of Dalmatia. The Albanians, who were considered innumerable, were reduced to a small nation. Everywhere they obliged Christian parents to give to the Grand Signor one-fifth of the prisoners and booty captured, and the choicest children were taken. From the rest the young and strong were purchased at low prices, and were compelled to become Janissaries. The victims were then compelled to embrace the conqueror's religion and to be circumcised. Everywhere the army formed of tribute children was victorious. Among them, says Ducas, were no Turks or Arabs but only children of Christians—Romans, Serbians, Albanians, Bulgarians, and Wallachs. The statement of Ducas is confirmed by both Turkish and Christian writers.

It was the increased and ever-increasing body of Turks which under the second Murad was destined to carry the Ottoman banner throughout the length of the Balkan peninsula. Murad commenced his reign by an action which shOwed, as the Turkish writers insist, that he was a lover of peace. He proposed to the Emperor Manuel to renew the alliance which had existed with his father. The Emperor had supported the claims of the pretender Mustafa, who succeeded in capturing Gallipoli but then refused to surrender it to the Emperor, alleging that it was against the religion of Islam to yield territory to infidels except by force. Shortly afterwards, however, Mustafa was defeated at Lopadium on the river Rhyndakos by Murad, who obtained possession of Gallipoli, followed Mustafa, and hanged him at Hadrianople in 1422.

Murad then made war on John, who in 1420 was associated with his father Manuel, and laid siege to Constantinople in June 1422. The siege continued till the end of August and was then abandoned. One of the reasons alleged for so doing was that Murad's younger brother, thirteen years old, named Mustafa, aided by Elias Pasha, had appeared as a claimant to the throne, and was recognised as Sultan by the Emirs of Karamania and Germiyan as well as in Brusa and Nicaea. The rebellion appeared formidable, and was not ended till 1426, when the boy was caught and bowstrung.

European conquests of Murad II

Thereupon in 1423 Murad returned to Hadrianople, and made it his capital. John, who was now the real Emperor, made peace with Murad, but on condition that he paid a heavy tribute and surrendered several towns on the Black Sea, including Derkos. The Turks during the next seven years steadily gained ground. Salonica after various vicissitudes, the chief being its abandonment by the Turks in 1425, was finally captured from the Venetians in 1430, and seven thousand of its inhabitants were sold into slavery. In 1430 Murad took possession of Joannina. In 1433 he re-colonised the city with Turks. He later named a governor at Uskilb (Skoplje), the former capital of Serbia. George Brankovic bought peace with Murad by giving his daughter in marriage to him with a large portion of territory as dowry. From Serbia the Sultan crossed to Hungary, devastated the country, and retired, but, pushing on to Transylvania, was so stoutly opposed that he had to withdraw across the Danube.

In Greece, during the year 1423, the Turks took temporary possession of Hexamilion, Lacedaemon, Cardicon, Tavia, and other strongholds. In 1425 they captured Modon (Methone) and carried off 1700 Christians into slavery. In the same year one of Mural's generals destroyed the fortifications at the Isthmus of Corinth. In 1430 the Sultan granted capitulations to the republic of Ragusa. Three years later a Turkish fleet ravaged the coasts of Trebizond. The Emperor Sigismund, the King of Hungary, with Vladislav, King of Poland, was beaten by Murad on the Danube in 1428.

We are not concerned here with the profoundly interesting negotiations which went on between the Greek Emperors and the Pope, except to note that the price required to be paid for assistance from the West was the acceptance by the Orthodox Church of the supremacy of Rome, that the great mass of the Greek population, owing to many causes, mainly the recollection of the Latin Empire of Constantinople (1204-1261), was bitterly opposed to Union, and that the Emperor and the few dignitaries who were willing to change their creed so as to bring it about had no authority, expressed or implied, to act on behalf of the Orthodox Church. The Union however, such as it was, was accepted in 1430 by the Emperor John, who had gone to Florence for that purpose. Thereupon the Pope undertook to send ten galleys for a year, or twenty for six months, to attack the Turks and give courage to the Christian Powers. Early in 1440 he sent Isidore as delegate to Buda. John, who returned from Italy in February of the same year, finding that Mural had become restive at the action of the Pope, sent to him to declare that his journey had been solely for the purpose of settling dogmas and had no political object. He was, however, treating already for common action with Vladislav, now also King of Hungary. In the same year Skanderbeg (Skander or Alexander bey), an Albanian who had reverted to Christianity, declared war against the Sultan.

Crusade of Vladislav and Hunyadi. Battle of Varna, 1444 

Meantime the Pope had invited all Christian princes, including Henry VI of England, to give aid against the Turks. The King of Aragon promised to send six galleys. Vladislav responded too, and joined George, King of Serbia, in 1441. John Corvinus, surnamed Hunyadi, who was Voivode of Transylvania, at the head of a Hungarian army drove the Turks out of Serbia. A series of engagements followed, in which the brilliant soldier Hunyadi defeated the Turks. The Emir of Karamania also attacked the Ottomans in his neighbourhood. Murad went in consequence into Asia Minor, but the invasion of the Serbians and Bulgarians compelled him to return. Several engagements took place between the Slav nations and Murad, the most important being in 1443 at a place midway between Sofia and Philippopolis. Three hundred thousand Turks are stated, probably with gross exaggeration, to have been killed.

Thereupon a formal truce was concluded for ten years in June 1444 between Murad and the King of Hungary and his allies. Each party swore that his army should not cross the Danube to attack the other. Vladislav swore on the Gospels and Murad on the Koran. Ducas states that Hunyadi refused either to sign or swear. This peace, signed at Szegedin, is regarded by the Turkish writers as intended by Murad to be the culminating point of his career. Murad was a philosopher, a man who loved meditation, who wished to live at peace, to join his sect of dervishes in their pious labour, and to have done with war. But his enemies would not allow him. The treaty thus solemnly accepted was almost immediately broken. The story is an ugly one and, whether told by Turks or Christians, shows bad faith on the side of the Christians. The cardinal legate Julian Cesarini bears the eternal disgrace of declaring that an oath with the infidel might be set aside and broken. Against the advice of Hunyadi, the ablest soldier in the army of the allies, battle was to be joined. The decision was ill-considered, for the French, Italian, and German volunteers had left for their homes on the signature of the treaty. John was not ready to send aid. George of Serbia would have no share in the war. He refused not only to violate his oath but even to permit Skanderbeg to join Vladislav. The place of rendezvous was Varna, but the whole number of the Christians, who gathered there in the early days of November 1444, probably did not exceed 20,000 men. Hunyadi reluctantly joined. To the astonishment of the Christians they found immediately after their arrival at Varna that Mural had advanced with the rapidity then characteristic of Turkish military movements, and that he had with him 60,000 men. A great battle followed, during which one of the most notable incidents was that the Turks displayed the violated treaty upon a lance, and in the crisis of the battle, according to the Turkish annals, Murad prayed: "0 Christ, if thou art God, as thy followers say, punish their perfidy." The victory of the Turks was complete. The Christian army was destroyed. Murad, who in June 1444 had abdicated in favour of his son Mahomet when the latter was only fourteen years old, again retired after the victory of Varna and fixed his residence at Magnesia. But in 1445 the Janissaries became discontented. His son is reported to have written to him in the following terms: "If I am Sultan I order you to resume active service. If you are Sultan then I respectfully say that your duty is to be at the head of your army." Murad accordingly was compelled to reascend the throne. In 1446 one of Murad's generals desolated Boeotia and Attica. His fleet in the meantime attacked the Greek settlements in the Black Sea. Later in the same year Murad destroyed the fortifications at the Isthmus though he was opposed by 60,000 men. Patras was also taken and burned. Thereupon the Morea was ravaged, and the inhabitants were either killed or taken as slaves. Constantine, afterwards the last Emperor of Constantinople, was compelled to pay tribute for the Morea. During the years 1445-8 a desultory war was being waged against the Albanians under Skanderbeg. In 1447 Murad, having failed to capture Kroja, later called Aq-Hisar, the capital of Albania, withdrew to Hadrianople where, according to Chalcondyles, he remained at peace for a year.

Murad's victories at Kossovo

In the autumn of 1448 the war against the Albanians recommenced. George Castriotes, known to us already as Skanderbeg, was still their trusted leader, and now and for many years was invincible. Meantime under the directions of Pope Nicholas V the Hungarians and the Poles were preparing once more to aid in resisting the advance of the Turks. Hunyadi, notwithstanding the defeat at Varna, for which he was not responsible, was named general, and succeeded in forming a well-disciplined but small army of 24,000 men. Of these 8000 were Wallachs and 2000 Germans. As the King of Serbia refused to join, Hunyadi crossed the Danube and invaded his kingdom. While Murad was preparing for a new attack on the Albanians, Hunyadi encamped on the plains of Kossovo, where in 1389 the Sultan's predecessor of the same name had defeated his enemies and had been assassinated. The Turkish army probably numbered 100,000 men.

For some unexplained reason Hunyadi did not wait for the arrival of Skanderbeg. A battle ensued on 18 October 1448. It lasted three days. On the second the struggle was the fiercest, but the brave Hungarians were powerless to break through the line of the Janissaries. On the third day the Wallachs turned traitors, obtained terms from Murad, and passed over to his side. The Germans and a band of Bohemians held their ground, but the battle was lost. Eight thousand, including the flower of the Hungarian nobility, were said to have been left dead on the field. During the fight 40,000 Turks had fallen.

The effect of this defeat upon Hungary and Western Europe was appalling. The Ottoman Turks had nothing to fear for many years from the enemy north of the Danube. Skanderbeg struggled on, and in 1449 beat in succession four Turkish armies and again successfully resisted an attempt to capture Kroja. Indeed one author states that the Sultan died while making this attempt. In the autumn Murad re turned to Hadrianople, where he died in February 1451.


MAHOMET II (1451-1481)


The great object which Mahomet II had to accomplish to make him supreme lord of the Balkan peninsula was the capture of Constantinople itself. He was only twenty-one years old when he was girt with the sword of Osman. But he had already shown ability, and had had experience both in civil and military affairs. The contemporary writers, Muslims and Christians, give ample materials from which to form an estimate of his character. From his boyhood he had dreamed of the capture of New Rome. Ducas gives a striking picture of his sleeplessness and anxiety before the siege of the city. Subsequent events showed that he had laid his plans carefully, and had foreseen and prepared for every eventuality.

When his father Murad died he was at Magnesia. He hastened to Gallipoli and Hadrianople, and at the latter place was proclaimed Sultan. Though he distrusted Khalil Pasha, who had prevented him from retaining supreme power when his father had abdicated, he named him again to the post of grand vizier, called him his father, and continued to show him confidence. He commenced his reign by the murder of his infant brother Atnadi, the only other member of the Ottoman dynasty being Orkhan who was with the Emperor in Constantinople, though in order to avoid public disapprobation for the act he had 'Ali, the actual murderer, put to death'.

Shortly after his arrival at Hadrianople he received ambassadors with congratulations from Constantinople and the semi-independent emirs of Asia Minor, but he noted that Ibrahim, the Emir of Karamania, was not represented. Mahomet confirmed the treaty already made with Constantine, and professed peaceful intentions to all. His father had failed in 1422 to capture the city because of the rebellion of the Emir of Karamania. To prevent the repetition of such opposition the Sultan crossed into Anatolia and forced the emir to sue for peace.

No sooner had Mahomet left Europe than the Emperor committed the blunder of sending ambassadors to Khalil Pasha, Mahomet's grand vizier, who had always been friendly to the Empire, with a demand that Orkhan, a pretender to the throne for whose maintenance Murad had paid, should receive double the amount, failing which the ambassadors suggested that Orkhan's claims would be supported by the Empire. Khalil bluntly asked them if they were mad, and told them to do their worst. Mahomet, when he learned the demand, hastily returned to Europe.

He at once set about preparations for the capture of Constantinople. He concluded arrangements with the Venetians, and made a truce with Hunyadi for three years, the latter step enabling him to arrange peace with Hungary, Wallachia, and Bosnia. He amassed stores of arms, arrows, and cannon balls. He was already master of the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus by means of the castle at Anatolia-Hisar built by Bayazid. In order to seize the tribute paid by ships passing through the Bosphorus, and also that he might have a strong base for his attack upon the city, he decided to build a fortress opposite that of Bayazid at a place now known as Itumelia-Hisar. The straits between the two castles are half a mile wide. In possession of the two he would have command of the Bosphorus, and could transport his army and munitions without difficulty. When the Emperor, the last Constantine, and his subjects heard of Mahomet's preparations, they were greatly alarmed, and remonstrated. Mahomet's answer was a contemptuous refusal to desist from building a fort; for he knew that the imperial army was so reduced in strength as to be powerless outside the walls.

In the spring of 1452 Mahomet himself took charge of the construction of the fortress, and pushed on the works with the energy that characterised all his military undertakings. Constantine sent food to Mahomet's workmen, with the evident intention of suggesting that he was not unwilling to see executed the work which he could not prevent. Meantime the Turks gathered in the harvest in the neighbourhood of the new building, and seemed indeed to have desired that Constantine should send out troops to prevent them, a step which the Emperor dared not undertake. All the neighbouring churches, monasteries, and houses were destroyed in order to find materials for building the series of walls and castles which formed the fortification. The work was begun in March 1452 and completed by the middle of August. The fortifications still remain to add beauty to the landscape and as a monument of the conqueror's energy. When they were completed, as the Turks seized the toll paid by ships passing the new castle, Constantine closed the gates of Constantinople. Mahomet answered by declaring war and appearing before the landward walls with 50,000 men. But he had not yet completed his preparations for a siege. After three days he withdrew to Hadrianople. The value of his new fortification was seen a few weeks afterwards, for when on 10 November two large Venetian galleys from the Black Sea attempted to pass they were captured, the masters killed, and their crews imprisoned and tortured.

Mahomet now made no secret of his intention to capture Constantinople. Critobulus gives a speech, which he declares was made by the Sultan at Hadrianople, attributing the opposition to the Ottomans from a series of enemies, including Timur, to the influence of the Emperors.

The country around Constantinople was cleared by Mahomet's army. San Stefano, Silivri, Perinthus, Epibatus, Anchialus, Vizye, and other places on the north shore of the Marmora and on the coast of Thrace on the Black Sea were sacked. In November 1452 Cardinal Isidore had arrived in Constantinople with 200 soldiers sent by the Pope, together with a papal letter demanding the completion of the Union of the Churches. In consequence on 12 December a service was held in St Sophia commemorating the reconciliation of the Eastern and Western Churches. Leonard, Archbishop of Chios, had arrived with the cardinal. Six Venetian vessels came a few weeks afterwards, and at the request of the Emperor their commander, Gabriel Trevisan, consented to give his services per honor de Dio et per honor de tuta la christianitade. They had safely passed the Turkish castles owing to the skilful navigation of their captain. On 29 January 1453 the city received the most important of its acquisitions, for on that day arrived John Giustiniani, a Genoese noble of great reputation as a soldier. He brought with him 700 fighting men. He was named, under the Emperor, commander-in-chief, and at once took charge of the works for defence. In April a chain fixed upon beams closed the harbour of the Golden Horn, its northern end being fastened within the walls of Galata. Ten large ships, with triremes near them, were stationed at the boom. The Genoese of Galata undertook to aid in its defence.

By the end of March, Mahomet's preparations were nearly completed. Nicole Barbaro, a Venetian surgeon who was present within the city from the beginning to the end of the siege, states that there were 150,000 men in the besieging army between the Golden Horn and the Marmora, a distance of three miles and three-quarters. Barbaro's estimate is confirmed by that of the Florentine soldier Tedaldi, who states that there were 140,000 effective soldiers, the rest, making the number of Mahomet's army amount to 200,000, "being thieves, plunderers, hawkers, and others following the army for gain and booty."

In this army the most distinguished corps consisted of at least 12,000 Janissaries, who formed the body-guard of the Sultan. This force had shown its discipline and valour at Varna and at Kossovo. This, the most terrible portion of Mahomet's force, was derived at that time exclusively from Christian families. It was the boast of its members in after years that they had never fled from an enemy, and the boast was not an idle one. The portion of the army known as Bashi-bazuks was an undisciplined mob. La Brocquiere says that the innumerable host of these irregulars took the field with no other weapon than their curved swords or scimitars. "Being," says Filelfo, "under no restraint, they proved the most cruel scourge of a Turkish invasion."

In January 1453 report reached the capital of a monster gun which was being cast at Hadrianople by Urban, a Hungarian or Wallach. By March it had been taken to the neighbourhood of the city. Fourteen batteries of smaller cannon were also prepared, which were subsequently stationed outside the landward walls. Mahomet had also prepared and collected a powerful fleet of ships and large caiques. A hundred and forty sailing-ships coming up from Gallipoli arrived at the Diplokionion south of the present palace of Dolma Bagcha on 12 April. Cannon balls of a hard stone were made in large numbers on the Black Sea coast, and brought to the Bosphorus in the ships which joined the fleet.

The Turkish army with Mahomet at its head arrived before the city on 5 April. The arrangement of the troops was as follows: Mahomet, with his Janissaries and others of his best troops, took up his position in the Lycus valley between the two ridges, one crowned by what is now called the Top Qapu Gate, but which was then known as that of St Romanus, and the other by the Hadrianople Gate. This division probably consisted of 50,000 men. On the Sultan's right, that is between Top Qapa and the Marmora, were 50,000 Anatolian troops, while on his left from the ridge of the Hadrianople Gate to the Golden Horn were the least valuable of his troops, including the Bashi-bazuks, among whom were renegade Christians. With them was also a small body of Serbs.

Two or three days after his arrival Mahomet sent a formal demand for the surrender of the city upon terms which were probably intended to be rejected. Upon their rejection he at once made his dispositions for a regular siege.

For the most part the remains of the walls still exist, so that little difficulty is found in learning what were Mahomet's chief points of attack. The Golden Horn separates Galata and the district behind it, known as Pera, from Constantinople proper, now distinguished as Stamboul. Galata was a walled city under the protection of the Duke of Milan, and ruled under capitulations by the Genoese, and was not attacked during the siege. The length of the walls which gird Constantinople or, to give it the modern name, Stamboul, is about thirteen miles. Those on the Marmora and the Horn are strong but single. Those on the landward side are triple, the inner wall being the loftiest and about forty feet high. The landward walls have also in front of them a foss about sixty feet broad, with a series of dams in every part except about a quarter of a mile of steep ascent from the Horn, where exceptionally strong walls and towers made them impregnable before the days of cannon.

The walls on the two sides built up from the water were difficult to capture, because the attack would have to be made from boats. They therefore required few men for their defence. The landward walls were, in all the great sieges, except that by the filibustering expedition in 1202-4 called the Fourth Crusade, the defence which invaders sought to capture. Some places, notably near the Silivri Gate and north of that of Hadrianople, were weaker than others, but the Achilles' heel of the city was the long stretch of wall across the Lycus valley. About a hundred yards north of the place where the streamlet, which gives the valley its name, flows under the walls to enter the city, stood a military gate known as the Pempton, or Fifth Military Gate, and called by the non-Greek writers who describe the siege the St Romanus Gate. It gave access to the enclosure between the Inner and the Second wall. Mahomet's lofty tent of red and gold, with its sublima porta, as the Italians called it, was about a quarter of a mile distant from the Pempton in the valley. The fourteen batteries, each of four guns, were distributed at various places in front of the landward walls. The Emperor Constantine had fixed his headquarters within the city in the vicinity of the same gate.

Under normal conditions a large detachment of the defenders should have been stationed on the city side of the great Inner wall. But the troops for the defence were not even sufficient to guard the second land­ward wall. Indeed the disparity in numbers between the besiegers and besieged is startling. To meet the 150,000 besiegers the city had only about 8000 men. Nearly all contemporary writers agree in this estimate. Phrantzes states that a census was made and that, even including monks, it shewed only 4983 Greeks. The result was so appalling that he was charged by the Emperor not to let it be known. Assuming that there were 3000 foreigners present, 8000 may be taken as a safe total. The foreigners were nearly all Venetians or Genoese. The most distinguished among them was the Genoese Giustiniani. We have already seen the spirit which actuated Trevisan. Barbaro records the names "for a perpetual memorial" of his countrymen who took part in the defence.

The arrangements for the defence were made by Giustiniani under the Emperor. With the 700 men he had brought to the city he first took charge of the landward walls between the Horn and the Hadrianople Gate, but soon transferred his men with a number of Greeks to the enclosure in the Lycus valley as the post of greatest danger. Archbishop Leonard took the place which he had left. At the Acropolis, that is near Seraglio Point, Trevisan was in command. Near him was Cardinal Isidore. The Greek noble, the Grand Duke Lucas Notaras, was stationed near what is now the Matunfidiye mosque with a few men in reserve. The monks were with others at the walls on the Marmora side. The besieged had small cannon, but they were soon found to be useless. The superiority of the Turkish cannon, and especially of the big gun cast by Urban, was so great that Critobulus says: "it was the cannon which did everything."

A modern historian of the siege' claims that the population of the city was against the Emperor. This is scarcely borne out by the evidence. It is true that a great outcry had been raised against the Union of the Churches; that the popular cry had been "better under the Turk than under the Latins;" that the demand of the Pope for the restoration of Patriarch Gregory, sent away because he was an advocate of Union with Rome, offended many; that Notaras himself, the first noble, had declared that he "preferred the Turkish turban to the cardinal's hat;" and that the populace had sought out Gennadius because he was hostile to the Union. But when the gates of the city were closed against the enemy, this sentiment in no way interfered with the determination of all within the city to oppose the strongest resistance, and the population rallied round the Emperor.

In the early days of the siege Mahomet destroyed all the Greek villages which had already escaped the savagery of his troops, including Therapia and Prinkipo.

Mahomet's army took up its position for the siege on 7 April. On 9 April the ships in the Golden Horn were drawn up for its defence, ten being placed at the boom and seventeen held in reserve. On the 11th the Turkish guns were placed in position, and began firing at the landward walls on the following day. The diary of the Venetian doctor, Nicole Barbaro, and the other contemporary narratives show that the firing of the Turks went on with monotonous regularity daily from this time, and that the three principal places of attack were, first, between the Hadrianople Gate and the end of the foss which terminates a hundred yards north of the palace of the Porphyrogenitus, secondly, in the Lycus valley at and around the Pempton or so-called St Romanus Gate, and thirdly, near the Third Military Gate to the north of the Silivri (or Pege) Gate. The ruined condition of the walls, which have hardly been touched since the siege, confirms in this respect the statement of contemporaries. The cannon from the first did such damage that Mahomet on 18 April tried a general assault in the Lycus valley. It failed, and Giustiniani held his ground in a struggle which lasted four hours, when Mahomet recalled his men, leaving 200 killed and wounded.

The effect of the cannon in the Lycus valley soon, however, became terrible. In front of the Pempton, the Middle wall, as well as that which formed one of the sides of the foss, was broken down, and the foss in the lower part of the valley had been filled in. Giustiniani therefore constructed a stockade or stauroma of stones, beams, crates, barrels of earth, and other available material, which replaced the Outer and Middle walls through a length of 1500 feet.

Defeat of Mahomet's fleet

Probably on the same date as the first general assault, Balta-oghlu, the admiral of Mahomet's fleet, tried to force the boom, but failed. On 20 April occurred a notable sea-fight which raised the hopes of the besieged. Three large Genoese ships in the Aegean, bringing soldiers and munitions of war for the besieged, fell in with an imperial transport. They had been long expected in the capital and also by the Turks. Mahomet's fleet was anchored a little to the south of the present Dolma Bagcha palace. When the ships were first seen Mahomet hastened to the fleet, and gave orders to the admiral to prevent them entering the harbour or not to return alive. The inhabitants of the city crowded the east gallery of the Hippodrome, and saw the fleet of at least 150 small vessels filled with soldiers drawn up to bar the passage. One of the most gallant sea-fights on record ensued. The large ships, having a strong wind on their quarter, broke through the Turkish line of boats, passed Seraglio point and, always resisting the mosquito fleet, fought under the walls of the citadel, when the wind suddenly dropped. The ships drifted northwards towards the shores of Pera and a renewed struggle began, which lasted till sunset, at the mouth of the Golden Horn. It was witnessed by Leonard, the Archbishop of Chios, and hundreds of the inhabitants from the walls of the city, and by Mahomet from the Pera shore. The Christian ships lashed themselves together, while the Turks and especially the vessel containing Balta-oghlu made repeated efforts to capture or burn them. Mahomet rode into the water alternately to encourage and threaten his men. All his efforts, however, failed and, when shortly before sunset a northerly breeze sprung up, the four sailing ships drove through the fleet, causing enormous lossl. After sunset the boom was opened and the relieving ships passed safely within the harbour.

The defeat of his fleet was the immediate cause of Mahomet's decision to obtain possession of the Golden Horn by the transport of his ships overland from the Bosphorus to a place outside the walls of Galata.

The Turkish fleet in the Golden Horn

But preparations for this task had been in hand for several days. He had tried, and failed, to destroy the boom. He was unwilling to make an enemy of the Genoese by trying to force an entrance into Galata, where one end of the boom was fastened. His undisputed possession of the country beyond its walls enabled him to make his preparations for the engineering feat he contemplated without interruption. He had already stationed cannon, probably on the small plateau where the British Crimean Memorial Church now stands, in order to fire over a corner of Galata on the ships defending the boom and to distract attention from what he was doing. Seventy or eighty vessels had been selected, a road levelled, wooden tram-lines laid down on which ship's cradles bearing the ships could be run, and on 22 April the transport was effected. A hill of 240 feet had been surmounted and a distance of a little over a mile traversed. The ships probably were started from Tophana and reached the Horn at Qasim Pasha.

The sudden appearance of 70 or 80 ships in the Golden Horn caused consternation in the city. After a meeting of the leaders of the defence, it was decided to make an effort to destroy them. James Coco, described by Phrantzes as more capable of action than of speech, undertook the attempt. Night was chosen and preparations carefully made, but the plan could not be kept secret. On 28 April the attack was made and failed, the design probably having been signalled to the Turks from the Tower of Galata. Coco's own vessel was sunk by a well-aimed shot fired from Qasim Pasha. Trevisan, who had joined the expedition, and his men only saved their lives by swimming from their sinking ship. The fight, says Barbaro, was terrible, "a veritable hell, missiles and blows countless, cannonading continual." The expedition had completely failed.

The disadvantages resulting from the presence of the fleet were immediately felt. Fighting took place almost daily on the side of the Horn as well as before the landward walls. The besieged persisted in their efforts to destroy the enemy's ships, but their inefficient cannon did little damage. During the early days of May, a Venetian ship secretly left the harbour in order to press the Venetian admiral Loredan, who, sent by the Pope, was believed to be in the Aegean, to hasten to the city's relief. The Emperor was urged by the nobles and Giustiniani to leave the city, but refused. Meantime Mahomet continued an attack on the ships in the harbour with his guns on the slope of Maltepe. On 7 May a new general assault was made, and failed after lasting three hours. A similar attempt was made on 12 May, near the palace of the Porphyrogenitus, now called Tekfur Serai. This also failed.

After 14 May the attacks on the landward side were concentrated on the stockade and walls of the Lycus valley. Attempts were made to under­mine the walls, and failed; and to destroy the boom, and thus admit the great body of the fleet which still remained in the Bosphorus. The latest attempt on the boom was on 21 May. Two days later the Venetian bri­gantine, which had been sent to find Loredan, returned in safety but with the news that they had been unable to find him. Their return was due to a resolution of the crew which has the best quality of seamanship, "whether it be life or death our duty is to return."

In the last week of May the situation within the city was desperate. The breaching of the walls was steadily going on, the greatest damage being in the Lycus valley, for in that place was the big bombard throwing its ball of twelve hundred pounds weight seven times a day with such force that, when it struck the wall, it shook it and sent such a tremor through the whole city that on the ships in the harbour it could be felt. The city had been under siege for seven weeks and a great general assault was seen to be in preparation. Two thousand scaling ladders, hooks for pulling down stones, and other materials in the stockade outside the Pempton had been brought up, and ever the steady roaring of the great cannon was heard. In three places, Mahomet declared, he had opened a way into the city through the great wall. Day after day the diarists re­count that their principal occupation was to repair during the night the damages done during the day. The bravery, the industry, and the perseverance of Giustiniani and the Italians and Greeks under him is beyond question; and as everything pointed to a great fight at the stockade, it was there that the elite of the defence continued to be stationed.

Mahomet showed a curious hesitation in these last days of his great task. The seven weeks' siege was apparently fruitless. Some in the army had lost heart. The Sultan's council was divided. Some asserted that the Western nations would not allow Constantinople to be Turkish. Hunyadi was on his way to relieve the city. A fleet sent by the Pope was reported to be at Chios. Mahomet called a council of the heads of the army on Sunday, 27 May, in which Khalil Pasha, the man of highest reputation, declared in favour of abandoning the siege. He was opposed and overruled. Mahomet thereupon ordered a general assault to be made without delay.

On Monday Mahomet rode over to his fleet and made arrangements for its co-operation, then returned to the Stamboul side and visited all his troops from the Horn to the Marmora. Heralds announced that every one was to make ready for the great assault on the morrow.

What was destined to be the last Christian ceremony in St Sophia was celebrated on Monday evening. Emperor and nobles, Patriarch and Cardinal, Greeks and Latins, took part in what was in reality a solemn liturgy of death, for the Empire was in its agony. When the service was ended, the soldiers returned to their positions at the walls. Among the defenders was seen Orkhan, the Turk who had been befriended by Constantine. The Military Gates, that is those from the city leading into the enclosures between the walls, were closed, so that, says Cambini, by taking from the defenders any means of retreat they should resolve to conquer or die. The Emperor, shortly after midnight of 28-29 May, went along the whole line of the landward walls for the purpose of inspection.

Commencement of the assault, 29 May 1453

The general assault commenced between one and two o'clock after midnight. At once the city was attacked on all sides, though the principal point of attack was on the Lycus valley. First of all, the division of Bashi-bazuks came up against the stockade from the district between the Horn and Hadrianople Gate. They were the least skilled of the army, and were used here to exhaust the strength and arrows of the besieged. They were everywhere stoutly resisted, lost heavily, and were recalled. The besieged set up a shout of joy, thinking that the night attack was ended. They were soon undeceived, for the Anatolian troops, many of them veterans of Kossovo, were seen advancing over the ridge crowned by Top Qapu to take the place of the retired division. The assault was renewed with the utmost fury. But in spite of the enormous superiority in numbers, of daring attempts to pull down stones and beams from the stockade, of efforts to scale the walls, the resistance under the brave defenders of the thousand-year-old walls proved successful. The second division of the army had failed as completely as the first.

The failure of the Turks had been equally complete in other parts of the city. Critobulus is justified in commenting with pride on the courage of his countrymen: "Nothing could alter their determination to be faithful to their trust."

There remained but one thing to do if the city was to be captured on 29 May—to bring up the reserves. Mahomet saw that the two successive attacks had greatly weakened the defenders. His reserves were the elite of the army, the 12,000 Janissaries, a body of archers, another of lancers, and choice infantry bearing shields and pikes. Dawn was now supplying sufficient light to enable a more elaborate execution of his plans. The great cannon had been dragged nearer the stockade. Mahomet placed himself at the head of his archers and infantry and led them up to the foss. Then a fierce attack began upon the stockade. Volleys were fired upon the Greeks and Italians defending it, so that they could hardly shew a head above the battlements without being struck. Arrows and other missiles fell in numbers like rain, says Critobulus. They even darkened the sky, says Leonard.

When the defenders had been harassed for some time by the heavy rain of missiles, Mahomet gave the signal for advance to his "fresh, vigorous, and invincible Janissaries." They rushed across the foss and attempted to carry the stockade by storm. "Ten thousand of these grand masters and valiant men," says Barbaro with admiration for a brave enemy, "ran to the walls not like Turks but like lions." They tried to tear down the stockade, to pull out the beams, or the barrels of earth of which it was partly formed. For a while all was noise and mad confusion. To the roar of cannon was added the clanging of every church bell in the city, the shouts "Allah! Allah!" and the replies of the Christians. Giustiniani and his little band cut down the foremost of the assailants, and a hard hand-to-hand fight took place, neither party gaining advantage over the other.

It was at this moment that Giustiniani was seriously wounded. He bled profusely, and determined to leave the enclosure to obtain surgical aid. That the wound was serious is shown by the fact that he died from it after a few days, though some of his contemporaries thought otherwise and upbraided him for deserting his post. Critobulus, whose narrative, written a few years after the event, is singularly free from prejudice, says that he had to be carried away. It was in vain that the Emperor implored him to remain, pointing out that his departure would demoralise the little host which was defending the stockade. He entered the city by a small gate which he had opened to give easier access to the stockade. The general opinion at the time was undoubtedly that by quitting his post he had hastened the capture of the city. Meanwhile the Emperor himself took the post of Giustiniani, and led the defenders.

Mahomet witnessed from the other side of the foss the disorder caused by the departure of the Genoese leader. He urged the Janissaries to follow him, to fear nothing: "The wall is undefended; the city is ours already." At his bidding a new attempt was made to rush the stockade and to climb upon the debris of the wall destroyed by the great gun.

A stalwart Janissary named Hasan was the first to gain and maintain a position on the stockade, and thereby to entitle himself to the rich reward promised by the Sultan. The Greeks resisted his entry and that of his comrades and killed eighteen. But Hasan held his position long enough to enable a number of his followers to climb over the stockade. A fierce but short struggle ensued while other Turks were pouring into the enclosure. They followed in crowds, once a few were able to hold their position on the stockade. Italians and Greeks resisted, but the Turks were already masters of the enclosure. Barbaro says that within a quarter of an hour of the Turks first obtaining access to the stockade there must have been 30,000 within the enclosure. The defenders fled in panic. The Turks, according to Leonard, formed a phalanx on the slope of each side of the hill and drove Greeks and Italians before them. Only the small gate into the city was open, and this was soon crowded with dying or dead.

The overwhelming numbers of the invaders enabled them soon to slaughter all opponents who had not escaped into the city. The military gate of the Pempton was at once opened. Hundreds of Turks entered the city, while others hastened to the Hadrianople Gate and opened it to their comrades. From that time Constantinople was at the mercy of Mahomet. A public military entry followed, probably at about ten in the morning, and then the city was handed over to the army, as Mahomet had promised, for a three days' sack.

In the first struggle within the enclosure and near the Pempton, the Emperor bore a part worthy of his name and his position. The last Constantine perished among his own subjects and the remnant of the Italians who were fighting for the honor de Dio et de christianitade. All accounts of his death attest his courage. He refused, says Critobulus, to live after the capture of the city, and died fighting. The manner of his death and the question whether his body was ever found are, however, both doubtful.

An incident is mentioned by Ducas, and is incidentally confirmed by other writers, which may have hastened the capture of the city. Whether by accident or by treason a small postern gate near Tekfar Serai (the palace of the Porphyrogenitus) had been left open, and in the midst of the final struggle a number of Turkish troops entered and obtained possession of the walls between the palace and the Hadrianople Gate, where they hoisted Turkish ensigns. Some even went as far as the mosaic mosque; known as the Chora, and plundered it. But an alarm was immediately given, and the Emperor hastened to the Hadrianople Gate and assisted in driving out the intruders. Then as hastily he returned to the stockade, arriving just at the moment when Giustiniani was preparing to leave. The story of Ducas is not mentioned by Critobulus, who either knew nothing of it or regarded the incident as unimportant. Sad-ad-Din gives a version which, apart from the bombastic fashion in which he wrote his account of the capture of the city, occasionally contains a grain of truth. He says that, "while the blind-hearted Emperor" was busy resisting the besiegers to the north of the Hadrianople Gate, "suddenly he learned that the up­raising of the most glorious standard of 'the Word of God' had found a path to within the walls." The entrance into the city at this moment by the sailors opposite the church of St Theodosius, now the Gul-jami, may be held to confirm the story of Ducas.

Character of Mahomet 

Mahomet's capture of Constantinople was the crowning of the work done by his able predecessors. With the sack of the city and with the further conquests of Mahomet we have nothing to do. His biographers claim that he conquered two empires and seven kingdoms. Cantemir calls him the most glorious prince who ever occupied the Ottoman throne. Halil Ganem is justified in saying that, judged by his military exploits, Mahomet occupies the first place in the Ottoman annals. Responsibility had been thrown upon him by his father while still a boy. Throughout his life he was self-reliant. He cared nothing for the pleasures usually associated with an Asiatic sovereign. As he was, like so many of the earlier Sultans, the son of a Christian mother, he may have derived many of the elements in his character from her. He showed from the first a dislike for games, for hunting, indeed for amusement of any kind. He kept his designs to himself, and is reported to have said in reply to a question: "If a hair in my beard knew what I proposed I would pluck it out."

He had no court favourites and was a lonely man, though he enjoyed conversation on historical subjects, knew the life of Alexander the Great well, and took interest in the story of Troy. He was careful in the selection of his ministers, and a rigid disciplinarian. The Janissaries had already begun to count upon their strength, and exacted from him a donative on his accession. He never forgave their Agha, for permitting it. Shortly afterwards he degraded and flogged him for not preventing a revolt. At the beginning of his reign he reformed Turkish administration, and increased the revenue by preventing great leakage in the collection of taxes. He is spoken of by the Turks as the Qanuni or Lawgiver. Thoughtful as a youth, he continued during his life to take a delight in studies which have not occupied the attention of any other Turkish ruler. Gennadius, the new Patriarch, became so great a favourite with him that some of his subjects spoke of him as an unbeliever. Yet his mind was usually occupied with great projects. He rightly judged what were the obstacles to the Turks' further advance. The phrase "First Rhodes, then Belgrade," is attributed to him as indicating the direction of his ambition. He showed his intention of making the Turks a European power when he commenced his reign, by laying the foundation of his palace at Hadrianople. He was, moreover, a lover of learning according to his lights, delighted in discussing theology and philosophy, and had acquired five languages. He employed Gentile Bellini, the Venetian painter, and when he left presented him with the arms and armour of Dandolo. The dark side of his character shows him as reckless of human life and guilty of gross cruelty. He made infanticide in the imperial family legal, though it had been commonly practised before his reign. All things considered, we can have no hesitation in pronouncing him the ablest of Ottoman Sultans.

The capture of Constantinople marks not only the end of the Greek Empire but the establishment of that of the Ottomans. After that event, when the world thought of Turks they connected them with New Rome on the Bosphorus. The Ottoman Turks had advanced to be a European nation.