Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 6, by Edward Gibbon, , at sacred-texts.com
In this shipwreck of nations, some surprise may be excited by the escape of the Roman empire, whose relics, at the time of the Mogul invasion, were dismembered by the Greeks and Latins. Less potent than Alexander, they were pressed, like the Macedonian, both in Europe and Asia, by the shepherds of Scythia; and had the Tartars undertaken the siege, Constantinople must have yielded to the fate of Pekin, Samarcand, and Bagdad. The glorious and voluntary retreat of Batou from the Danube was insulted by the vain triumph of the Franks and Greeks; 34 and in a second expedition death surprised him in full march to attack the capital of the Caesars. His brother Borga carried the Tartar arms into Bulgaria and Thrace; but he was diverted from the Byzantine war by a visit to Novogorod, in the fifty-seventh degree of latitude, where he numbered the inhabitants and regulated the tributes of Russia. The Mogul khan formed an alliance with the Mamalukes against his brethren of Persia: three hundred thousand horse penetrated through the gates of Derbend; and the Greeks might rejoice in the first example of domestic war. After the recovery of Constantinople, Michael Palaeologus, 35 at a distance from his court and army, was surprised and surrounded in a Thracian castle, by twenty thousand Tartars. But the object of their march was a private interest: they came to the deliverance of Azzadin, the Turkish sultan; and were content with his person and the treasure of the emperor. Their general Noga, whose name is perpetuated in the hordes of Astracan, raised a formidable rebellion against Mengo Timour, the third of the khaus of Kipzak; obtained in marriage Maria, the natural daughter of Palaeologus; and guarded the dominions of his friend and father. The subsequent invasions of a Scythian cast were those of outlaws and fugitives: and some thousands of Alani and Comans, who had been driven from their native zeats, were reclaimed from a vagrant life, and enlisted in the service of the empire. Such was the influence in Europe of the invasion of the Moguls. The first terror of their arms secured, rather than disturbed, the peace of the Roman Asia. The sultan of Iconium solicited a personal interview with John Vataces; and his artful policy encouraged the Turks to defend their barrier against the common enemy. 36 That barrier indeed was soon overthrown; and the servitude and ruin of the Seljukians exposed the nakedness of the Greeks. The formidable Holagou threatened to march to Constantinople at the head of four hundred thousand men; and the groundless panic of the citizens of Nice will present an image of the terror which he had inspired. The accident of a procession, and the sound of a doleful litany, "From the fury of the Tartars, good Lord, deliver us," had scattered the hasty report of an assault and massacre. In the blind credulity of fear, the streets of Nice were crowded with thousands of both sexes, who knew not from what or to whom they fled; and some hours elapsed before the firmness of the military officers could relieve the city from this imaginary foe. But the ambition of Holagou and his successors was fortunately diverted by the conquest of Bagdad, and a long vicissitude of Syrian wars; their hostility to the Moslems inclined them to unite with the Greeks and Franks; 37 and their generosity or contempt had offered the kingdom of Anatolia as the reward of an Armenian vassal. The fragments of the Seljukian monarchy were disputed by the emirs who had occupied the cities or the mountains; but they all confessed the supremacy of the khans of Persia; and he often interposed his authority, and sometimes his arms, to check their depredations, and to preserve the peace and balance of his Turkish frontier. The death of Cazan, 38 one of the greatest and most accomplished princes of the house of Zingis, removed this salutary control; and the decline of the Moguls gave a free scope to the rise and progress of the Ottoman Empire. 39
After the retreat of Zingis, the sultan Gelaleddin of Carizme had returned from India to the possession and defence of his Persian kingdoms. In the space of eleven years, than hero fought in person fourteen battles; and such was his activity, that he led his cavalry in seventeen days from Teflia to Kerman, a march of a thousand miles. Yet he was oppressed by the jealousy of the Moslem princes, and the innumerable armies of the Moguls; and after his last defeat, Gelaleddin perished ignobly in the mountains of Curdistan. His death dissolved a veteran and adventurous army, which included under the name of Carizmians or Corasmins many Turkman hordes, that had attached themselves to the sultan's fortune. The bolder and more powerful chiefs invaded Syria, and violated the holy sepulchre of Jerusalem: the more humble engaged in the service of Aladin, sultan of Iconium; and among these were the obscure fathers of the Ottoman line. They had formerly pitched their tents near the southern banks of the Oxus, in the plains of Mahan and Nesa; and it is somewhat remarkable, that the same spot should have produced the first authors of the Parthian and Turkish empires. At the head, or in the rear, of a Carizmian army, Soliman Shah was drowned in the passage of the Euphrates: his son Orthogrul became the soldier and subject of Aladin, and established at Surgut, on the banks of the Sangar, a camp of four hundred families or tents, whom he governed fifty-two years both in peace and war. He was the father of Thaman, or Athman, whose Turkish name has been melted into the appellation of the caliph Othman; and if we describe that pastoral chief as a shepherd and a robber, we must separate from those characters all idea of ignominy and baseness. Othman possessed, and perhaps surpassed, the ordinary virtues of a soldier; and the circumstances of time and place were propitious to his independence and success. The Seljukian dynasty was no more; and the distance and decline of the Mogul khans soon enfranchised him from the control of a superior. He was situate on the verge of the Greek empire: the Koran sanctified his gazi, or holy war, against the infidels; and their political errors unlocked the passes of Mount Olympus, and invited him to descend into the plains of Bithynia. Till the reign of Palaeologus, these passes had been vigilantly guarded by the militia of the country, who were repaid by their own safety and an exemption from taxes. The emperor abolished their privilege and assumed their office; but the tribute was rigorously collected, the custody of the passes was neglected, and the hardy mountaineers degenerated into a trembling crowd of peasants without spirit or discipline. It was on the twenty-seventh of July, in the year twelve hundred and ninety-nine of the Christian aera, that Othman first invaded the territory of Nicomedia; 40 and the singular accuracy of the date seems to disclose some foresight of the rapid and destructive growth of the monster. The annals of the twenty-seven years of his reign would exhibit a repetition of the same inroads; and his hereditary troops were multiplied in each campaign by the accession of captives and volunteers. Instead of retreating to the hills, he maintained the most useful and defensive posts; fortified the towns and castles which he had first pillaged; and renounced the pastoral life for the baths and palaces of his infant capitals. But it was not till Othman was oppressed by age and infirmities, that he received the welcome news of the conquest of Prusa, which had been surrendered by famine or treachery to the arms of his son Orchan. The glory of Othman is chiefly founded on that of his descendants; but the Turks have transcribed or composed a royal testament of his last counsels of justice and moderation. 41
From the conquest of Prusa, we may date the true aera of the Ottoman empire. The lives and possessions of the Christian subjects were redeemed by a tribute or ransom of thirty thousand crowns of gold; and the city, by the labors of Orchan, assumed the aspect of a Mahometan capital; Prusa was decorated with a mosque, a college, and a hospital, of royal foundation; the Seljukian coin was changed for the name and impression of the new dynasty: and the most skilful professors, of human and divine knowledge, attracted the Persian and Arabian students from the ancient schools of Oriental learning. The office of vizier was instituted for Aladin, the brother of Orchan; *_0036 and a different habit distinguished the citizens from the peasants, the Moslems from the infidels. All the troops of Othman had consisted of loose squadrons of Turkman cavalry; who served without pay and fought without discipline: but a regular body of infantry was first established and trained by the prudence of his son. A great number of volunteers was enrolled with a small stipend, but with the permission of living at home, unless they were summoned to the field: their rude manners, and seditious temper, disposed Orchan to educate his young captives as his soldiers and those of the prophet; but the Turkish peasants were still allowed to mount on horseback, and follow his standard, with the appellation and the hopes of freebooters. !_0036 By these arts he formed an army of twenty-five thousand Moslems: a train of battering engines was framed for the use of sieges; and the first successful experiment was made on the cities of Nice and Nicomedia. Orchan granted a safe-conduct to all who were desirous of departing with their families and effects; but the widows of the slain were given in marriage to the conquerors; and the sacrilegious plunder, the books, the vases, and the images, were sold or ransomed at Constantinople. The emperor Andronicus the Younger was vanquished and wounded by the son of Othman: 42 !!_0036 he subdued the whole province or kingdom of Bithynia, as far as the shores of the Bosphorus and Hellespont; and the Christians confessed the justice and clemency of a reign which claimed the voluntary attachment of the Turks of Asia. Yet Orchan was content with the modest title of emir; and in the list of his compeers, the princes of Roum or Anatolia, 43 his military forces were surpassed by the emirs of Ghermian and Caramania, each of whom could bring into the field an army of forty thousand men. Their domains were situate in the heart of the Seljukian kingdom; but the holy warriors, though of inferior note, who formed new principalities on the Greek empire, are more conspicuous in the light of history. The maritime country from the Propontis to the Maeander and the Isle of Rhodes, so long threatened and so often pillaged, was finally lost about the thirteenth year of Andronicus the Elder. 44 Two Turkish chieftains, Sarukhan and Aidin, left their names to their conquests, and their conquests to their posterity. The captivity or ruin of the seven churches of Asia was consummated; and the barbarous lords of Ionia and Lydia still trample on the monuments of classic and Christian antiquity. In the loss of Ephesus, the Christians deplored the fall of the first angel, the extinction of the first candlestick, of the Revelations; 45 the desolation is complete; and the temple of Diana, or the church of Mary, will equally elude the search of the curious traveller. The circus and three stately theatres of Laodicea are now peopled with wolves and foxes; Sardes is reduced to a miserable village; the God of Mahomet, without a rival or a son, is invoked in the mosques of Thyatira and Pergamus; and the populousness of Smyrna is supported by the foreign trade of the Franks and Armenians. Philadelphia alone has been saved by prophecy, or courage. At a distance from the sea, forgotten by the emperors, encompassed on all sides by the Turks, her valiant citizens defended their religion and freedom above fourscore years; and at length capitulated with the proudest of the Ottomans. Among the Greek colonies and churches of Asia, Philadelphia is still erect; a column in a scene of ruins; a pleasing example, that the paths of honor and safety may sometimes be the same. The servitude of Rhodes was delayed about two centuries by the establishment of the knights of St. John of Jerusalem: 46 under the discipline of the order, that island emerged into fame and opulence; the noble and warlike monks were renowned by land and sea: and the bulwark of Christendom provoked, and repelled, the arms of the Turks and Saracens.
The Greeks, by their intestine divisions, were the authors of their final ruin. During the civil wars of the elder and younger Andronicus, the son of Othman achieved, almost without resistance, the conquest of Bithynia; and the same disorders encouraged the Turkish emirs of Lydia and Ionia to build a fleet, and to pillage the adjacent islands and the sea-coast of Europe. In the defence of his life and honor, Cantacuzene was tempted to prevent, or imitate, his adversaries, by calling to his aid the public enemies of his religion and country. Amir, the son of Aidin, concealed under a Turkish garb the humanity and politeness of a Greek; he was united with the great domestic by mutual esteem and reciprocal services; and their friendship is compared, in the vain rhetoric of the times, to the perfect union of Orestes and Pylades. 47 On the report of the danger of his friend, who was persecuted by an ungrateful court, the prince of Ionia assembled at Smyrna a fleet of three hundred vessels, with an army of twenty-nine thousand men; sailed in the depth of winter, and cast anchor at the mouth of the Hebrus. From thence, with a chosen band of two thousand Turks, he marched along the banks of the river, and rescued the empress, who was besieged in Demotica by the wild Bulgarians. At that disastrous moment, the life or death of his beloved Cantacuzene was concealed by his flight into Servia: but the grateful Irene, impatient to behold her deliverer, invited him to enter the city, and accompanied her message with a present of rich apparel and a hundred horses. By a peculiar strain of delicacy, the Gentle Barbarian refused, in the absence of an unfortunate friend, to visit his wife, or to taste the luxuries of the palace; sustained in his tent the rigor of the winter; and rejected the hospitable gift, that he might share the hardships of two thousand companions, all as deserving as himself of that honor and distinction. Necessity and revenge might justify his predatory excursions by sea and land: he left nine thousand five hundred men for the guard of his fleet; and persevered in the fruitless search of Cantacuzene, till his embarkation was hastened by a fictitious letter, the severity of the season, the clamors of his independent troops, and the weight of his spoil and captives. In the prosecution of the civil war, the prince of Ionia twice returned to Europe; joined his arms with those of the emperor; besieged Thessalonica, and threatened Constantinople. Calumny might affix some reproach on his imperfect aid, his hasty departure, and a bribe of ten thousand crowns, which he accepted from the Byzantine court; but his friend was satisfied; and the conduct of Amir is excused by the more sacred duty of defending against the Latins his hereditary dominions. The maritime power of the Turks had united the pope, the king of Cyprus, the republic of Venice, and the order of St. John, in a laudable crusade; their galleys invaded the coast of Ionia; and Amir was slain with an arrow, in the attempt to wrest from the Rhodian knights the citadel of Smyrna. 48 Before his death, he generously recommended another ally of his own nation; not more sincere or zealous than himself, but more able to afford a prompt and powerful succor, by his situation along the Propontis and in the front of Constantinople. By the prospect of a more advantageous treaty, the Turkish prince of Bithynia was detached from his engagements with Anne of Savoy; and the pride of Orchan dictated the most solemn protestations, that if he could obtain the daughter of Cantacuzene, he would invariably fulfil the duties of a subject and a son. Parental tenderness was silenced by the voice of ambition: the Greek clergy connived at the marriage of a Christian princess with a sectary of Mahomet; and the father of Theodora describes, with shameful satisfaction, the dishonor of the purple. 49 A body of Turkish cavalry attended the ambassadors, who disembarked from thirty vessels, before his camp of Selybria. A stately pavilion was erected, in which the empress Irene passed the night with her daughters. In the morning, Theodora ascended a throne, which was surrounded with curtains of silk and gold: the troops were under arms; but the emperor alone was on horseback. At a signal the curtains were suddenly withdrawn to disclose the bride, or the victim, encircled by kneeling eunuchs and hymeneal torches: the sound of flutes and trumpets proclaimed the joyful event; and her pretended happiness was the theme of the nuptial song, which was chanted by such poets as the age could produce. Without the rites of the church, Theodora was delivered to her barbarous lord: but it had been stipulated, that she should preserve her religion in the harem of Bursa; and her father celebrates her charity and devotion in this ambiguous situation. After his peaceful establishment on the throne of Constantinople, the Greek emperor visited his Turkish ally, who with four sons, by various wives, expected him at Scutari, on the Asiatic shore. The two princes partook, with seeming cordiality, of the pleasures of the banquet and the chase; and Theodora was permitted to repass the Bosphorus, and to enjoy some days in the society of her mother. But the friendship of Orchan was subservient to his religion and interest; and in the Genoese war he joined without a blush the enemies of Cantacuzene.
In the treaty with the empress Anne, the Ottoman prince had inserted a singular condition, that it should be lawful for him to sell his prisoners at Constantinople, or transport them into Asia. A naked crowd of Christians of both sexes and every age, of priests and monks, of matrons and virgins, was exposed in the public market; the whip was frequently used to quicken the charity of redemption; and the indigent Greeks deplored the fate of their brethren, who were led away to the worst evils of temporal and spiritual bondage 50 Cantacuzene was reduced to subscribe the same terms; and their execution must have been still more pernicious to the empire: a body of ten thousand Turks had been detached to the assistance of the empress Anne; but the entire forces of Orchan were exerted in the service of his father. Yet these calamities were of a transient nature; as soon as the storm had passed away, the fugitives might return to their habitations; and at the conclusion of the civil and foreign wars, Europe was completely evacuated by the Moslems of Asia. It was in his last quarrel with his pupil that Cantacuzene inflicted the deep and deadly wound, which could never be healed by his successors, and which is poorly expiated by his theological dialogues against the prophet Mahomet. Ignorant of their own history, the modern Turks confound their first and their final passage of the Hellespont, 51 and describe the son of Orchan as a nocturnal robber, who, with eighty companions, explores by stratagem a hostile and unknown shore. Soliman, at the head of ten thousand horse, was transported in the vessels, and entertained as the friend, of the Greek emperor. In the civil wars of Romania, he performed some service and perpetrated more mischief; but the Chersonesus was insensibly filled with a Turkish colony; and the Byzantine court solicited in vain the restitution of the fortresses of Thrace. After some artful delays between the Ottoman prince and his son, their ransom was valued at sixty thousand crowns, and the first payment had been made when an earthquake shook the walls and cities of the provinces; the dismantled places were occupied by the Turks; and Gallipoli, the key of the Hellespont, was rebuilt and repeopled by the policy of Soliman. The abdication of Cantacuzene dissolved the feeble bands of domestic alliance; and his last advice admonished his countrymen to decline a rash contest, and to compare their own weakness with the numbers and valor, the discipline and enthusiasm, of the Moslems. His prudent counsels were despised by the headstrong vanity of youth, and soon justified by the victories of the Ottomans. But as he practised in the field the exercise of the jerid, Soliman was killed by a fall from his horse; and the aged Orchan wept and expired on the tomb of his valiant son. *_0037
34 Some repulse of the Moguls in Hungary (Matthew Paris, p. 545, 546) might propagate and color the report of the union and victory of the kings of the Franks on the confines of Bulgaria. Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 310) after forty years, beyond the Tigris, might be easily deceived.
35 See Pachymer, l. iii. c. 25, and l. ix. c. 26, 27; and the false alarm at Nice, l. iii. c. 27. Nicephorus Gregoras, l. iv. c. 6.
36 G. Acropolita, p. 36, 37. Nic. Greg. l. ii. c. 6, l. iv. c. 5.
37 Abulpharagius, who wrote in the year 1284, declares that the Moguls, since the fabulous defeat of Batou, had not attacked either the Franks or Greeks; and of this he is a competent witness. Hayton likewise, the Armenian prince, celebrates their friendship for himself and his nation.
38 Pachymer gives a splendid character of Cazan Khan, the rival of Cyrus and Alexander, (l. xii. c. 1.) In the conclusion of his history (l. xiii. c. 36) he hopes much from the arrival of 30,000 Tochars, or Tartars, who were ordered by the successor of Cazan to restrain the Turks of Bithynia, A.D. 1308.
39 The origin of the Ottoman dynasty is illustrated by the critical learning of Mm. De Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. iv. p. 329 - 337) and D'Anville, (Empire Turc, p. 14 - 22,) two inhabitants of Paris, from whom the Orientals may learn the history and geography of their own country. Note: They may be still more enlightened by the Geschichte des Osman Reiches, by M. von Hammer Purgstall of Vienna. - M.
40 See Pachymer, l. x. c. 25, 26, l. xiii. c. 33, 34, 36; and concerning the guard of the mountains, l. i. c. 3 - 6: Nicephorus Gregoras, l. vii. c. l., and the first book of Laonicus Chalcondyles, the Athenian.
41 I am ignorant whether the Turks have any writers older than Mahomet II., nor can I reach beyond a meagre chronicle (Annales Turcici ad Annum 1550) translated by John Gaudier, and published by Leunclavius, (ad calcem Laonic. Chalcond. p. 311 - 350,) with copious pandects, or commentaries. The history of the Growth and Decay (A.D. 1300 - 1683) of the Othman empire was translated into English from the Latin Ms. of Demetrius Cantemir, prince of Moldavia, (London, 1734, in folio.) The author is guilty of strange blunders in Oriental history; but he was conversant with the language, the annals, and institutions of the Turks. Cantemir partly draws his materials from the Synopsis of Saadi Effendi of Larissa, dedicated in the year 1696 to Sultan Mustapha, and a valuable abridgment of the original historians. In one of the Ramblers, Dr Johnson praises Knolles (a General History of the Turks to the present Year. London, 1603) as the first of historians, unhappy only in the choice of his subject. Yet I much doubt whether a partial and verbose compilation from Latin writers, thirteen hundred folio pages of speeches and battles, can either instruct or amuse an enlightened age, which requires from the historian some tincture of philosophy and criticism.
Note: We could have wished that M. von Hammer had given a more clear and distinct reply to this question of Gibbon. In a note, vol. i. p. 630. M. von Hammer shows that they had not only sheiks (religious writers) and learned lawyers, but poets and authors on medicine. But the inquiry of Gibbon obviously refers to historians. The oldest of their historical works, of which V. Hammer makes use, is the "Tarichi Aaschik Paschasade," i. e. the History of the Great Grandson of Aaschik Pasha, who was a dervis and celebrated ascetic poet in the reign of Murad (Amurath) I. Ahmed, the author of the work, lived during the reign of Bajazet II., but, he says, derived much information from the book of Scheik Jachshi, the son of Elias, who was Imaum to Sultan Orchan, (the second Ottoman king) and who related, from the lips of his father, the circumstances of the earliest Ottoman history. This book (having searched for it in vain for five-and-twenty years) our author found at length in the Vatican. All the other Turkish histories on his list, as indeed this, were written during the reign of Mahomet II. It does not appear whether any of the rest cite earlier authorities of equal value with that claimed by the "Tarichi Aaschik Paschasade." - M. (in Quarterly Review, vol. xlix. p. 292.)
*_0036 Von Hammer, Osm. Geschichte, vol. i. p. 82. - M.
!_0036 Ibid. p. 91. - M.
42 Cantacuzene, though he relates the battle and heroic flight of the younger Androcinus, (l. ii. c. 6, 7, 8,) dissembles by his silence the loss of Prusa, Nice, and Nicomedia, which are fairly confessed by Nicephorus Gregoras, (l. viii. 15, ix. 9, 13, xi. 6.) It appears that Nice was taken by Orchan in 1330, and Nicomedia in 1339, which are somewhat different from the Turkish dates.
!!_0036 For the conquests of Orchan over the ten pachaliks, or kingdoms of the Seljukians, in Asia Minor. see V. Hammer, vol. i. p. 112. - M.
43 The partition of the Turkish emirs is extracted from two contemporaries, the Greek Nicephorus Gregoras (l. vii. 1) and the Arabian Marakeschi, (De Guignes, tom. ii. P. ii. p. 76, 77.) See likewise the first book of Laonicus Chalcondyles.
44 Pachymer, l. xiii. c. 13.
45 See the Travels of Wheeler and Spon, of Pocock and Chandler, and more particularly Smith's Survey of the Seven Churches of Asia, p. 205 - 276. The more pious antiquaries labor to reconcile the promises and threats of the author of the Revelations with the present state of the seven cities. Perhaps it would be more prudent to confine his predictions to the characters and events of his own times.
46 Consult the ivth book of the Histoire de 'Ordre de Malthe, par l'Abbe de Vertot. That pleasing writer betrays his ignorance, in supposing that Othman, a freebooter of the Bithynian hills, could besiege Rhodes by sea and land.
47 Nicephorus Gregoras has expatiated with pleasure on this amiable character, (l. xii. 7, xiii. 4, 10, xiv. 1, 9, xvi. 6.) Cantacuzene speaks with honor and esteem of his ally, (l. iii. c. 56, 57, 63, 64, 66, 67, 68, 86, 89, 95, 96;) but he seems ignorant of his own sentimental passion for the Turks, and indirectly denies the possibility of such unnatural friendship, (l. iv. c. 40.)
48 After the conquest of Smyrna by the Latins, the defence of this fortress was imposed by Pope Gregory XI. on the knights of Rhodes, (see Vertot, l. v.)
49 See Cantacuzenus, l. iii. c. 95. Nicephorus Gregoras, who, for the light of Mount Thabor, brands the emperor with the names of tyrant and Herod, excuses, rather than blames, this Turkish marriage, and alleges the passion and power of Orchan, Turkish, (l. xv. 5.) He afterwards celebrates his kingdom and armies. See his reign in Cantemir, p. 24 - 30.
50 The most lively and concise picture of this captivity may be found in the history of Ducas, (c. 8,) who fairly describes what Cantacuzene confesses with a guilty blush!
51 In this passage, and the first conquests in Europe, Cantemir (p. 27, &c.) gives a miserable idea of his Turkish guides; nor am I much better satisfied with Chalcondyles, (l. i. p. 12, &c.) They forget to consult the most authentic record, the ivth book of Cantacuzene. I likewise regret the last books, which are still manuscript, of Nicephorus Gregoras. Note: Von Hammer excuses the silence with which the Turkish historians pass over the earlier intercourse of the Ottomans with the European continent, of which he enumerates sixteen different occasions, as if they disdained those peaceful incursions by which they gained no conquest, and established no permanent footing on the Byzantine territory. Of the romantic account of Soliman's first expedition, he says, "As yet the prose of history had not asserted its right over the poetry of tradition." This defence would scarcely be accepted as satisfactory by the historian of the Decline and Fall. - M. (in Quarterly Review, vol. xlix. p. 293.)
*_0037 In the 75th year of his age, the 35th of his reign. V. Hammer. M.