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Southern Europe: Italy - the Papacy, Naples and Sicily, Venice, Genoa; the Moors in Spain; the Turks; Downfall of Greek (Eastern page 4

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It was Mongol pressure, as already seen, that forced the Turks westwards in Asia, and finally brought them into Europe. It is the Seljukian Turks whom we have hitherto seen warring with the Byzantine emperors in Syria and Asia Minor. We are now to see the Turks of the line of Othman, the Ottomans who founded the great empire called by their name, making the Black Sea a Turkish lake, and holding all the territory on the east and south, with some regions on the north, of the Mediterranean; ruling at Bagdad, Alexandria, and Cairo, Tunis, Tripoli, and Algiers, as well as at Smyrna and Constantinople. A leader of a small body of Turkish horse, named Ertoghrul, about the middle of the 13th century, rendered a great and unexpected service, by a happy charge in the nick of time, as a stranger both to those whom he was aiding and those whom he attacked, to the Seljuk Sultan of Iconium, when he was fighting with a Mongol army near Angora in Asia Minor. Ertoghrul, with but 400 mounted men, was moving from the banks of the Euphrates, driven off by Mongols, to Anatolia in the west of Asia Minor, when he came upon the armies engaged in conflict. Mongols he knew, too well, by sight, and he went straight at them with the happiest effect. In reward for this great service, Ertoghrul received a gift of territory in the north-west of Asia Minor, on the border between the Christian and Moslem dominions, and gave further aid to the Seljuk Sultan against both Greeks and Mongols. Othman, son of Ertoghrul, was born in 1258, and succeeded his father as head of the clan 30 years later. His authority grew, through the justice of his rule and successful war on neighbouring chiefs. Many Greek towns and fortresses were captured, and Nicasa and Brusa fell after long blockades. The light Turkish cavalry ravaged the country to the shores of the Bosphorus and the Black Sea, and the emperor at Constantinople, from his palace towers, could see the flames of burning villages. Othman died in 1326, and was buried at Brusa, the new capital of his growing state. His sword is still kept at Constantinople, and the equivalent of Christian coronation is the investing of a new Sultan with the weapon of the founder whose posterity still rule the Ottoman Empire, with a continuous authority, in the same family, unexampled in European history, through the succession, without a break, of 35 princes in the male line from Ertoghrul to the present Sultan.

His son and successor, Orkhan, ruled in peace for 20 years, busily engaged in consolidating his little state in the north-west of Asia Minor, and preparing for future conquests by the organisation of a regular military force, the earliest standing army of modern days. He was now independent through the death of the last prince of the Seljuk line, and was most ably assisted by his brother Ala-ud-din,' the first Turkish "Vezir" (Vizier, Prime Minister), a word meaning "bearer of burdens." The Ottoman Turks now included men of many clans or tribes, with officers of the original race holding the higher commands. The chief military measure was the formation of the famous corps of Janissaries (or Janizaries), meaning "new soldiers," composed of Christian prisoners compelled to embrace "Islam," and recruited by Christian children trained as Mussulmans. The most spirited and strongest boys were chosen, and for three centuries 1,000 Christian children were annually enrolled, with the addition, at a later day, of the sons of the Janissaries themselves. These troops fought on foot with bow and sabre, and their courage and discipline made them for ages the most formidable of foes. Every encouragement was held out to fidelity and prowess, not only the courtiers and personal attendants of the Sultan, but governors of provinces and general officers, being usually selected from the ranks of this superb body of soldiers. The- army included also irregular light infantry, acting as skirmishers before the advance of the solid masses of the Janissaries; and many squadrons of "Horse Guards." The irregular cavalry received no pay, and could only live by plunder. We must now look for a moment at the decayed Byzantine Empire, while Orkhan, with his army at his back, is gazing across the Bosphorus at the array of palaces and domes, and revolving schemes of coming conquest.

The feeble, cowardly, and superstitious Andronicus II. (1282-1328) grew alarmed when the Turks reached the shores of the Propontis (Sea of Marmara), and in 1303 he hired an army of mercenaries from Sicily, under a renegade Knight Templar. This leader, with some thousands of men, drove the Turks out of the Bithynian coast-land and Lydia and Caria, but he showed clear intentions of holding conquered territory as his own, and he was therefore enticed to Adrianople and murdered. His men, the "Grand Company," marched southwards, and ravaged the country up to the gates of the capital. They then went westwards, ravaging Macedonia and Thessaly, and finally took possession of the "duchy of Athens." After this, as we have seen, Othman and his men became masters in the north-west of Asia Minor. Under Andronicus III. (1328-1341) nothing was done to stay coming ruin, and then came a long minority of his son and heir John V. (1341-1391). An intriguing rascal named John Cantacuzenus, chief minister of the late sovereign, aimed at the young emperor's throne, and he went a long way towards destroying the empire by calling in the aid of the Servians and the Turks. The former occupied Macedonia, Thrace, and Thessaly, and the Byzantines had no power outside the capital, except in districts around Thessalonica and Adrianople. The Servian Empire soon afterwards broke up, and the way was left clear for the Turks. Turkish horsemen, brought over to help Cantacuzenus, ravaged Thrace and carried thousands of captives away to the slave-markets of Brusa and Smyrna. The would-be usurper sank to the depths of infamy by giving his daughter to be a denizen of Orkhan's harem, and he was at last, in 1347, admitted as colleague and guardian of the young emperor. In 1354 the young man took up arms, captured Cantacuzenus, shaved his head, and placed him in a monastery, leaving him his eyes, which served the recluse in the writing of a history of his own time, and of a highly edifying defence of Christianity. The brave Soliman, or Suleyman, elder son of Orkhan, gained the first foothold for the Ottoman Turks in Europe by seizing Gallipoli in 1355 and settling Turkish families there, and before his death three years later he fortified the shores of the Dardanelles. Orkhan's son Murad I., or Amurath, succeeding him in 1359, captured Adrianople in 1361 and made it his capital, and then spent nearly 30 years in constant and successful warfare with the Servians and Bulgarians. Before the close of the 14th century the Ottoman territory in Europe reached the Balkans, and much was conquered in Asia Minor from the Seljuk Turks. The Greek emperor, John Paleologus, was a mere vassal of Murad, and actually aided in person at the capture of Philadelphia, the last Christian stronghold in Asia.

Murad's successor Bayezid (or Bajazet), who ruled from 1389 to 1402, had won great renown by defeating, in 1394, a Christian host at Nicopolis, including Hungarians, Frenchmen, Germans, Knights of St. John, Bavarians, and Bulgarians. He was destined to succumb in turn to an attack of the old foes of the Turks in Asia. In 1402 Asia Minor was invaded by a host of Mongols under the famous Tamerlane, or "Timour the Tartar." The Sultan was besieging Constantinople when he was called away by this new foe, who utterly defeated his Janissaries and light horsemen at Angora, in Galatia, and made him a captive for life. The invaders took the Ottoman capital, Brusa, and swarmed over Asia Minor, restoring to power the Seljuk " Emirs " whose rule had been subverted by Murad (Amurath) I. The remains of the Turkish Empire were divided between the two sons of Bayezid (Bajazet), one of whom ruled at Nicsea, the other at Adrianople. The latter yielded to the Greek emperor, Manuel Paleologus, Thessalonica and other territory in Macedonia, with the coast of Thessaly and the Black Sea ports on the west coast, in order to have his aid against the rival Sultan at Nicasa, and it seemed possible for a time that the Greek Empire might be in a measure restored. On the death of the rival Sultans, however, an able man, Mohammed, the youngest of Bayezid's sons, had all their dominions in 1421, and the opportunity of driving out the Turks from Europe had been lost while the Emperor Sigismund was persecuting the Hussites in Bohemia. Mohammed very shortly died, and his power came into the hands of his son, the ambitious Murad (Amurath) II. Manuel rashly took the part of rival claimants, and Murad then attacked him, recovered all the places ceded, and besieged Constantinople. The fortifications resisted all attacks by cannon, movable towers, and the Janissaries, and the Sultan then, in 1422, made peace on terms which reduced the emperor to the possession of Constantinople, Thessalonica, and the Peloponnesus. During the rest of Manuel's reign, and under his son John VII. (1425-1448), there was the peace of vassalage to the Turks, of exhaustion and despair. The capital was half in ruins; the population had dwindled to 100,000 souls, mostly poor; the region outside was a desert. The little commerce of the place was in the hands of Genoese and Venetians at their fortified "factories" or trading-posts in Galata and Pera, and the sole military force consisted of a few thousand foreign mercenaries. In 1430 the Sultan annexed Thessalonica, and in 1439 the emperor sank so low as to seek help from the Pope (Eugenius IV.) by reconciling himself to the Western or Latin Church. He got nothing by this infamy except a little money and a few hundred mercenary troops. On returning to Constantinople, he was treated as an outcast by the priests, who would not pray for him, and by the people, who would not enter St. Sophia to hear the hated Roman Mass. At the end of the reign the achievements of the gallant Hungarian captain Huniades (Hunyadi Janos), which have been described, against the Turks, seemed likely to deprive them of the Balkan territory, but the Ottoman power soon revived.

John VII.'s death in 1448, and Sultan Murad's in 1451, bring us to the closing scene of more than 1,000 years of strange eventful history. The last Greek emperor was Constantine XL (1448-1453): his conqueror was Murad's son, Mohammed II., greatest in ability of all the Ottoman rulers; a very able general, secret in counsel and swift to strike; and a cruel, treacherous, and sensual tyrant. Constantine was a brave, pious, and generous man, but he was foolish enough to provoke the Sultan, who had already resolved on making Constantinople his capital. Mohammed at once erected a strong fortress near the city, on the European side, the Rumelia Hisar, or "Castle of Rumelia," with walls 30 feet thick, and having cannon throwing stone shot of six hundredweight. The Bosphorus was commanded by this strong work, facing the "Castle of Anatolia" on the Asiatic shore, and the siege began in April, 1453. Appeals for help had been made to the Italian naval powers and the Pope, but Venice and Genoa did very little, though their own commercial interests in the East were at stake, and Nicholas V., with the utmost goodwill, was unable to send more than a little money and a few hundred hired troops. The emperor's whole force for defence consisted of 3,000 mercenaries, his own little army of 4,000, and 2,000 volunteers from the city itself, all that could be raised among a population who regarded him, a " Romanist" like his predecessor, as an apostate from the faith of his ancestors. The number of troops was not sufficient to man the great extent of land-fortification and sea-wall, and the place was assailed by several hundred war-galleys, and by 70,000 picked men on the land side. The resistance made by the emperor, and by the Genoese commander Giustiniani, and the men under their charge, was both skilful and heroic, but it was hopeless from the first. The heavy cannon of the Sultan breached the walls; the Christians could make no adequate reply. Brave sorties were made; mining was met by counter-mining; a great Turkish wooden turret was reduced to ashes by the famous "Greek fire." Mohammed showed his skill and resolution in getting many galleys into the inner harbour above Galata by a novel process. These vessels, of the lighter class, were moved by rollers, for ten miles, under the action of sails spread to the wind, and of men and pulleys, along a broad well-greased platform of strong planks. They were thus placed, with their light draught, out of reach of the large Greek vessels guarding the entrance of the harbour. The' most accessible part of the city was thus reached, and the end drew near when the cannon of the Turks had made several practicable breaches. On May 29th, 1453, at dawn of day, as Constantine and Giustiniani stood side by side in one of the breaches, with their best men around them, 12,000 Janissaries, in successive columns, began the storming. Hundreds fell before the swords of the Greek men in armour, but Giustiniani was mortally wounded by an arrow, and Constantine was almost alone at the wall when the Turks forced their way in and trod him under foot. The people were in the churches at prayer when the Turks entered the town. The corpse of Constantine was found so gashed that it could only be recognised by the golden eagles on his shoes. The head was struck off, and sent to the chief cities for the populace to view. As the Ottoman Sultan rode through the Atmeidan ("place of horses"), or hippodrome, towards St. Sophia, he rose in his stirrups and struck off with a blow of his mace the nearest head of the three, on one neck, forming the top of the monument dedicated by Pausanias at Delphi in 479 b.c., after the Greek victory over the Persians at Plataea. The East was at last avenging itself on the West, the Tartar on the Aryan, in maiming, after the death of the last Greek emperor, the memorial of Western victory standing on the spot where Constantine the Great had placed it 11 centuries before. The fall of Constantinople, and the firm seating of Ottoman power in Europe, came after 53 days of siege. About 2,000 Christians were killed in the first heat of capture; the rest of the people - male and female, senators and prelates, patricians and plebeians, matrons and nuns, to the number of 60,000 - became the spoil of war, and were sold as slaves. The "Church" became the "Mosque" of St. Sophia, and the Mohammedan rites were at once inaugurated after the muezzin or crier, from the highest turret, had issued the public invitation to worship.

After his conquest of the former Greek capital, Mohammed annexed Bosnia and Servia, but he was driven from Belgrade, as we have seen, by Hunyadi of Hungary, and he could make no head against Matthias Corvinus. In Albania the brave and renowned prince George, called Scanderbeg, a national hero, had taken up arms against the Turks in 1443. Carried away captive at seven years of age, he was trained as a Mohammedan, and became a favourite, through his valour and skill as a leader, with Murad (Amurath) II. He commanded a division of the Ottoman forces under that Sultan, and deserted his service, with a few hundred Albanians, to become a Christian and the terror of his former friends. The Turkish garrisons were all driven out, and in 1444 the new leader, heading 15,000 men, almost utterly destroyed 40,000 Turks in the mountain-gorges. Other like successes came, and in 1449 Amurath himself, with a vast host, lost 30,000 troops in vain attacks on two hill-forts held by Scanderbeg. Unaided by the Christian potentates, except in munitions of war, and by volunteers who flocked to his standard, the Albanian hero was partly deserted by the chiefs through jealousy of his ambitious designs, but he continued to defeat all Turkish efforts to reach him in his mountain-posts, and again and again repulsed Mohammed II., who lost tens of thousands of men. This tall, athletic, active, fierce, and resolute patriot, after 25 years' incessant warfare, died in 1468, worn out by his exertions. He was a man of wonderful physical, mental, and spiritual gifts, who stemmed the tide of Moslem conquest while he lived, and whose value to his country and to Christendom was amply proved by the rapid cessation of Albanian resistance which followed his death. We have already seen, in the history of Venice, the warlike successes of Mohammed II. against the great republic. Before his death in 1481, the Turks were masters of most of Greece and the AEgean archipelago; and of Trebizond, Sinope, and the Crimea, on the Black Sea; and were navally strong rivals of Venice and Genoa.

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