Greatest Nations: Turkey - C. F. Horne

Founding of the Kingdom of Osman

[Illustration] from Greatest Nations - Turkey by C. F. Horne


[Authorities—General:  Von Hammer Purgstall, "History of the Ottoman Empire" (in German); Creasy, "History of the Ottoman Turks"; Larpent, "History of the Turkish Empire"; Lamartine, "History of Turkey"; Cantemir, "History of the Growth and Decay of the Ottoman Empire"; Morris, "The Turkish Empire" Lane-Poole. "The Story of Turkey"; Garnett, "Turkish Life in Town and Country"; Grosvenor, "Constantinople."—Special:  Vambery, "The Turkish Races."]

Constantinople, the Turkish capital, the mysterious, ancient, ever-flourishing city, sacred alike to Christian and Mahometan, stands in its wondrous beauty upon European shores; yet Turkey is an Asiatic State. Her story belongs to Asia, the world of dreamy fancy and lurid legend, not of sober fact and accurately dated history. Hence one can speak of Turkey only after the fashion of her own clime, repeating the poetic fantasies with which her writers have adorned her early days, enjoying the beauty and noting the symbolism of each new tale, but with not too deep a faith in its mathematical veracity.

The story deals first with Ertoghrul, whose name means the right-hearted man; and the hero who succeeds him is Osman, the limb-breaker. The significant titles indicate the chief qualities for which the Turks take pride in their far ancestors. Those founders of the race were sturdy warriors and "right-hearted" men of honor.

This is certainly not the general conception of the Turks, held by the peoples of the West; but if we are to appreciate or understand at all the marvellous rise of this fierce yet romantic race, we must begin by casting aside the false ideas which many of us have acquired through dwelling only on the evil side of the character of a fallen foe. Let us start on the basis of a few plain facts. Western ignorance and indeed indifference as regards things Asiatic, are so dense that we blunder over the very name of this people and of their land. To speak of the Turkish Empire at Constantinople is as mistaken as to speak of the Caucasian Empire at London. Turk  is really a general name covering all the nations and tribes which once spread over northern Asia and most of Russia. The name, to a gentleman of Constantinople, suggests something of wildness and barbarism. His own nation is a special branch of the Turkish race, the one that has risen above all others in intellect, in civilization and fame. The members of this noteworthy people are called the Osmanli, for they are the followers of Osman, or as the West has carelessly spelled it, Othman. Their domain, by a still further perversion of sound, we entitle the Ottoman Empire.



Turn now to the tale of its beginning. The first leader, Ertoghrul, steps into the light of romance as a hero of about the middle of the thirteenth century, the central figure of a striking and characteristic episode. At the time of his appearance the great religious crusades were just at an end, and if they had disrupted European kingdoms, far more had they shaken and shattered the East. The vast empire of the Mahometan Arabs had fallen into fragments; and Western Asia, the region of Persia, Syria, and Asia Minor, the birthplace of civilization, was occupied by a confusion of many peoples, the most numerous among them being perhaps of Turkish race, descendants of the many bands of Turks which for centuries had wandered down from the wild and barren north-east. One tribe of these Turks, the Seljuks, had even founded a sort of empire of their own in Asia Minor. Their rulers or Sultans had established their capital at Iconium and had fought valiantly against the Crusaders. But their power had wasted to a shadow, they were staggering under the assaults of other invading hordes.

Into this world of tumult and confusion there entered another Turkish people, as yet a tribe without fixed name, the Osmanli of the future. They were "khazak" or cossacks, which means wanderers,—nomads, owners of vast flocks and herds with which they roamed over the wide grassy wildernesses of the north. Following in the footsteps of endless earlier tribes, they grew numerous and strong and began to push their way southward, seeking ever pleasanter, warmer dwelling-lands with richer pasturage. They had crossed Armenia, taking uncounted years, perhaps generations, in their advance. They were moving down the Upper Euphrates River into Syria, when their chief was drowned in the stream, leaving part of his inheritance to a young son, Ertoghrul, too youthful, thought his wild followers, to give them protection or to deserve obedience. So the tribe scattered in all directions, as fancy moved them. Only a remnant of the most loyal clung to Ertoghrul, leaving him a band of four hundred and forty-four horsemen, a fitting, symbolic number of faithful and valiant clansmen.

In his wanderings the new chief had heard of the great Turkish Sultan at Iconium, and with this lord he resolved to seek shelter and service for his people. Journeying through the wilds of Asia Minor, he and his followers heard one day a furious clash of arms. Watching from a hill, they saw two armies in the shock of battle, and the weaker side, though fighting desperately, began to give way before overwhelming numbers. With characteristic chivalry and impetuosity, Ertoghrul stayed not to learn the causes of the quarrel, but crying to his band that they must restore the uneven balance, he led them in a wild charge into the affray. Small as the troop was, the shock of its unexpected appearance and attack decided the fortune of the day. The enemy fled, and Ertoghrul, showered with the thanks and praise of those whom he had rescued, found that their general was the very ruler he was seeking,—the Sultan of Iconium.

It may be imagined how eagerly the Sultan accepted the adherence of these proven veterans. He conferred on them the lordship of a province in northern Asia Minor, centering about the city of Saguta, and charged them to defend the land against the ever-recurring invasions of the Tartar hordes. Ertoghrul ruled wisely, and gathered round him a strong army from the inhabitants of the district and from the many adventurers, chiefly of Turkish race, who joined his standard. He soon found that he was really an independent ruler, who must rely on his own resources. Wandering bands like his own were constantly appearing to attack him. The Sultan's authority was only a shadow. Each warlike Emir (lord) of a city fought against the others, and the only law was that of the strongest.

By that law Ertoghrul proved his right to rule. Very gradually he made himself assured master of the territories that had been granted him. In a battle fought against the forces of the Greek cities bordering the coast of the Black Sea, he originated a new style of tactics which remained for centuries the favorite mode of attack among his people. He repeatedly sent his light troops against the enemy, not to lock with them in death-grapple, but to harass, bewilder and exhaust the foe. Then seizing the vital moment, the chieftain swept his lighter forces aside and charged with his own veterans, fresh, fierce, and eager to prove their right to the proud supremacy they held.

A complete victory resulted, and Ertoghrul was thereafter recognized as the chief lieutenant of the feeble Sultan, and as defender of all the northern frontiers. His province was greatly enlarged, and to it was given the name of Sultan-Śni,—the Sultan's stand.

The new Emir of Sultan Śni always remained loyal to the trust he had accepted, and maintained his nominal allegiance to the Sultan at Iconium. Hence he was not the founder of a new kingdom, though his province was practically an independent state and the best governed and best ordered in Asia Minor. The "right-hearted" Emir died in 1288 and left his authority to his son Osman, the limb-breaker.

As to whether Ertoghrul and his people had adopted the Mahometan faith before entering Asia Minor, the Turkish historians differ. The more commonly accepted legend represents them as rude, uncultured pagans. Their leader, we are assured, was first made acquainted with the Koran in the house of a Mahometan whom he saw reading it. Being told the book was the word of God, Ertoghrul examined it and was so impressed that he stood erect and in that attitude of reverence continued reading the entire night. Then, as if in a vision, he heard a solemn voice from above which spoke a promise: "Since thou hast read with such respect My Eternal word, even in the same manner shall thy children and thy children's children be honored from generation to generation."



Despite this vision, young Osman seems to have been brought up in the pagan faith of his ancestors, for the pretty love legend of his youth, a favorite theme of Oriental poets, is based on his conversion. According to the tales, there was a learned Mahometan sheik who dwelt in a village near Ertoghrul's capital. More famed even than the learning of the sheik was the beauty of his one daughter Malkhatoon or the moon maiden; and the lad Osman, first attracted to the house by the wisdom of the sire, remained as a suitor for the daughter. The sheik refused the alliance because Osman was an unbeliever; and the young prince submitted reverently. Still raving however, of his lady-love, he described her beauty in such impassioned terms to a neighboring Emir that the latter also became enamored, and striving to win the maid by rougher means, drove her and her father to seek shelter in the home of her more respectful admirer. Here the discourses of the sheik completed the conversion of Osman. Like his father Ertoghrul, the shrewd young convert had a vision. In this, if we omit the flowery details and symbols so dear to Turkish fancy, he saw a picture of the descendants of himself and the moon maiden governing the whole earth and, through the power of many crescent scimeters, spreading throughout their domains the religion of Mahomet.

So impressive a vision would scarce allow itself to be misunderstood or disobeyed. The young pair were wedded, Osman's warlike followers adopted his new religion with its invitation to conquest, and Mahometanism took a fresh lease of life. Over five centuries had elapsed since the exhaustion of that first impulse which sent the Arab followers of Mahomet across half the known world with the Koran and the sword. Their remarkable empire had long disappeared, but their religion remained, and now a new myriad of scimeters were consecrated to the work of conversion.

In many respects Mahometanism resembles Christianity. It has indeed been called a debased form of the earlier faith; for its followers accept the teachings of Christ, whom they regard as a great prophet whose commands have, however, been supplanted, and to some extent superseded, by those of the later and greater prophet, Mahomet. His doctrines are eminently fitted to inspire a rude and warlike race, for they expressly direct the spreading of the faith by the sword, and they promise physical bliss, instant and perfect, to all who perish in the holy strife. Thus by the word of Osman, what had been only a band of nomads, doubtless a mixture of many races, Mongols and Turcomans as well as Turks, growing like a snowball larger and more heterogeneous in their wandering advance—this mass was welded into a single nation, inspired by one common impulse.

Osman followed quietly at first in his father's footsteps, completing and enforcing his power over Sultan-Śni. He was a wise and just ruler, and not until after many years of peace did he (1299) begin to extend his territory through conquest. One of his earliest aggressive expeditions gave rise to another legend, treasured by his people as typical of their race. Being about to seize one of the Greek fortresses upon his borders, Osman called a council of his warriors. His aged uncle, who had accompanied Ertoghrul in all the wanderings of the tribe, pleaded for caution. Whereon Osman, fearing that his followers would begin to look coldly on his schemes, snatched up a bow and shot his uncle dead. No man after that dared counsel him to peace.

It was not, however, until twenty years after his father's death that Osman assumed a wholly independent sovereignty. His wars were fought and his provinces held in the name of the Sultans of Iconium. In 1307, the last of these to whom he had sworn allegiance died; upon which Osman abandoned the few remaining forms of vassalage and continued his career of conquest as a monarch in his own right. He did not change his simple title of Emir or lord for that of Sultan or supreme ruler; but about this time he took to himself the two most distinctive attributes and privileges of sovereignty in the East. He bade that the public prayers of Sultan-Śni be said in his own name, and he coined money bearing the stamp of his own head. Thus it was he, rather than his father, who became the founder of a new kingdom. It was he who gave it its new religious impulse, and from him it has become known as the realm of Osman and of his successors, the Osmanli.

The First Period of Power and the Fall of Bajazet

[Illustration] from Greatest Nations - Turkey by C. F. Horne


[Authorities: As before, also Gibbon, "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire": Freeman, "History of the Ottoman Power in Europe"; Tilly, "Eastern Europe and Western Asia."]

From the doubtful kingship of a petty border state to the assured sovereignty of a mighty empire, is no easy climb; nor did the Osmanli achieve it in a single generation. Emir Osman himself was busy all his life warring against the Greek cities of the Black Sea. These had seen the rise and then the fall of many a power such as his, and, protected by walls and fleets, had managed to maintain a practical independence of all. They treated the new conqueror with but half-veiled scorn. They admitted that he might be able to ravage their outlying territories others had done, or storm an occasional country fortress; but the great cities themselves he could not harm—and he too would pass away.

Osman, however, was more patient than earlier conquerors. Outside each city's gates he erected forts which served to shelter permanent garrisons; his soldiers remained year after year to plunder all who ventured forth. Yet the cities, provisioned by their fleets, continued to defy him, and it was not until the very year of his death that Osman, or rather his son Orchan, achieved the capture of Brusa after a siege of eight long years. Brusa, situated on the little sea of Marmora looking toward Europe, was one of the three greatest of the Greek cities of Asia Minor, and its fall drew the startled attention of all the East. The dying Osman commanded with pride that his body should be buried there in remembrance of the triumph he had achieved.

In studying the career of Osman we can see what has given such permanence to the Turkish dominion. It was established, at least in its earlier advance, by love, not fear, by benefits conferred, rather than sufferings inflicted. Other Asiatic monarchs have built up more sudden, more wide-spreading empires; but these terrible men have flashed like blood-stained meteors before the eyes of a devastated world. Their conquests have been vast raids of destruction, which left behind only hatred of themselves. Their captured provinces, held only by force, have broken away at the first sign of the conqueror's exhaustion. The power of Osman was not thus lost in the winning. It was extended slowly. Between his wars, there were long periods of peace. As each neighboring province was acquired, it was carefully assimilated. Though known to his people as a warrior, he was even more admired as a just and generous ruler. They called him Kara Osman, which means the black Osman, but not in the evil sense the term would have with us, for the Turks admire swarthy men. Hence the phrase suggests to them Osman the darkly beautiful, the nobly attractive and commanding. Despite that sudden slaying of his uncle, so repellent to Western ideas, Osman is regarded by his countrymen as almost a saint. The wish with which each new Sultan of Turkey is greeted is that he may be, not as great, but as good as Osman.

Conquest of Nicaea


The death of the founder of the kingdom left his authority to his two sons, Aladdin and Orchan, between whom a contest of generosity at once arose. Aladdin was the elder, but the European rule of succession was by no means fully established amid the Turks. Indeed, in their old days of wandering, it had been the youngest son who remained to care for the aged parents, and who finally took possession of the homestead. Each elder lad, as he came to manhood, started off with a few comrades to seek new fortunes. Moreover, it was Orchan who had proved his ability and gladdened his father's heart by the capture of Brusa; so the dying Emir named Orchan as his successor.

Emir Orchan offered his disinherited brother whatever he desired, even to the half of his domains, but Aladdin refused to destroy by division the power which their father had built up. He would accept only the revenues of a single village. "If you will take nothing from me," said Orchan, "then you must be my Vizier;" which means bearer of burdens. To this Aladdin consented and became the real administrator and director of the affairs of the kingdom.

To him the Turks attribute almost all their characteristic institutions. He gave them a code of laws, and established a feudal system not unlike that of Europe. He created a standing army, antedating by over a century the earliest known among the nations of the West. Schools were instituted and mosques erected, as were palaces and other public edifices of magnificent architecture. In short, if we regard the ancestors of the Osmanli as having been barbarians when they first entered Asia Minor, their progress in civilization was rapid almost beyond parallel.

Of all Aladdin's institutions, the best-known to the West was the band of soldiers called the Janizaries. The idea was suggested to him by a warrior relative; the name Janizaries, which means "new troops," was given the first recruits by a holy dervish who blessed them; but Aladdin's was the brain and Orchan's the hand that brought them into being. The purpose of their creation was partly, at least, religious. When the Turks conquered a people opposed to the faith of Mahomet, they did not compel conversion by massacre, but sought to induce it by milder means. One of their methods was to exact from the subjected territory a yearly tribute of the fairest and strongest boys who were not Mahometans. In this manner, a thousand such lads were gathered every year and separated from home and all the softer influences of life. They were brought up as Mahometans, trained in warfare and, if deemed worthy, became members of the band of "new troops," the chief instrument of Turkish warfare, the central band on whose final, desperate charge, like that of the four hundred and forty-four warriors of Ertoghrul, the rulers relied for victory.

The weapons thus prepared by Aladdin were wielded by Orchan. Within a year of his father's death, he had captured Nicomedia, the second of the three Greek cities which had defied his father. Three years later (1330) he put an end to the dominion of the Greeks in Asia Minor, by compelling the surrender of Nicaea, the last and greatest of their strongholds, inferior only to Constantinople itself in size and splendor. The Turkish kingdom of Karasi, with its capital at the ancient Greek city of Pergamos, was also conquered (1336). This established the authority of Orchan over all north-western Asia Minor, and gave him a kingdom nearly as large as modern Italy. He became the nearest neighbor and indeed the real master of the ancient and decrepit Roman Empire of the East. This still lingered as a Greek kingdom with its capital at Constantinople and its feeble authority extending over most of what to-day is European Turkey. The cities of Asia Minor had acknowledged a vague allegiance to this Empire, and in seizing them, Orchan began its dismemberment. Throughout the latter part of his reign, he was the practical dictator of its policy. Crusaders from the West gathered to aid this outpost of Christianity against the Turks. But Orchan was repeatedly appealed to by the rivals who fought for its throne, and in viewing the intrigues of father fighting against son, he gained such an introduction into European statecraft as could hardly have roused in him much admiration or even respect for the civilization of the West.

Norse Crusaders


Nearly a quarter of a century was devoted by Orchan to establishing himself in Asia Minor, while his warriors became ever more clamorous for a new advance. Several times bands of them crossed from Asia and raided the provinces beyond Constantinople, but these expeditions aimed only at plunder and were not intended to establish a permanent dominion. In 1356, came what was really the next great forward step of the Osmanli, their first acquisition of European territory. Solyman, the son of Orchan, was in command of his father's troops along the Hellespont. As he stood gazing across its waters, he had, according to legend, one of those visions characteristic of and so useful to his race. A crescent moon rose before him, linking the two continents with its light; he heard voices summoning him to advance and saw palace after palace rising out of nothing, for his possession.

A band of forty warriors with young Solyman at their head rowed secretly across the Hellespont by night and stormed the European fortress of Tzympe, capturing it by surprise. The Greek Emperor remonstrated, but Solyman refused to give up his prize. A large ransom was offered him, and peaceful negotiations were in progress, when suddenly, unexpectedly, a terrific earthquake swept over all the region, breaking and battering the walls of many cities. The opportunity seemed too providential to be lost. The Turks cried out that God himself had interfered to deliver the country into their hands. The troops of Solyman. advanced from Tzympe and seized Gallipoli, the chief city and seaport of the Hellespont, marching in over the ruins of its walls without resistance from the terror-stricken inhabitants. Other towns were captured in similar manner, and though the Greek Emperor protested, he dared do no more.

Solyman died, and his body, like that of Osman, was buried near the scene of his last conquest. Soon afterward, Emir Orchan closed a long life full of honors and fame. He was succeeded on the throne by his eldest surviving son, Amurath or Murad I (1359-1389).

Murad, the last of the Osmanli rulers to be satisfied with the simple title of Emir, was a worthy representative of his able, energetic race. He had first to defend himself against a revolt incited by the Emir of Caramania, chief rival of the Osmanli for dominion over Asia Minor. Despite the intrigues of the enemy, Murad suppressed the rebellion with a vigor and rapidity which thoroughly convinced his subjects of his right to rule. Then he returned to the Hellespont, and following in the footsteps of his brother Solyman continued the advance of the Osmanli into Europe.

His reign was practically one long war against the West, and to him were due most of those Turkish acquisitions in Europe which have lasted to this day. The great city of Adrianople was wrested from the Greek Empire in 1360, and Murad settled his court there permanently, made the place one of his capitals, and the seat from which he pushed on to further conquests. The degenerate Greeks opposed him with no effective force, and retained in their power only the massive-walled capital, Constantinople, with its immediate surroundings.

The invaders found a much more vigorous foe when they approached the Balkan States, the little principalities which we have seen revived in our own generation, after their national life had been extinct for over four hundred years. In the fourteenth century Servia was a powerful state, an empire in the estimation of its rulers, one of whom had assumed the grandiloquent title "Emperor of the Roumelians, the Macedonian Christ-loving Czar." Bosnia and Bulgaria were also strong kingdoms of the Slavic race, while beyond, and aiding them, lay Poland and Hungary, at that time two of the chief powers of Europe.

A league of all these states was formed to expel from the continent the invading Osmanli. The Christian forces took the field and advanced almost to Adrianople. In the pride of their numbers and prowess, they neglected all precautions; and, as they lay one night by the Marizza River engaged in a drunken carouse, they were suddenly set upon by the Turks and completely overthrown (1363).

The battle of the Marizza was the first of the long series in which for five centuries the Eastern invaders have held their ground against all the efforts of the West. The Turkish historians rise to poetry in celebration of the triumph. Says one of them: "The enemy were caught even as wild beasts in their lair. They were driven before us as flames are driven before the wind, till plunging into the Marizza they perished in its waters." By 1376, both Servia and Bulgaria had become tributary states to Murad, and the great Emir set himself to the peaceful task of consolidating the kingdom which he had more than doubled in size.

Solyman the Magnificent


Once only in later life was he compelled to encounter rebellion, and that was not from his subjects but from his younger son Saoudji. The tale is strikingly Turkish. Saoudji was in command of all his country's forces in Europe. He thought himself neglected by his father, and joining an equally discontented son of the Greek Emperor, ordered the Turkish troops to follow him in revolt. The wrathful Murad hurried back from Asia. He accused the Greek Emperor of being the instigator of their two sons; and the trembling Emperor, to prove he had no part in it, agreed with Murad that if the youths were captured, they should both have their eyes put out. Marching onward from this interview, the Sultan encamped his troops in front of his son's forces, and himself spurred forward alone in the night. Riding up to the rebels he called out to them to return to their allegiance. At the sound of the well-known voice, the Turkish warriors rushed around their Sultan in multitudes, beseeching pardon since they had been bound in loyalty to follow the command of his son.

Thus the rebellion was over, but Murad seized Saoudji, blinded him according to his pledge and then beheaded him. The Greek nobles who were with the rebel, were drowned in batches, the Sultan showing a grim pleasure in their sufferings. He bound the Greek prince in chains and sent him to the Emperor, informing the latter of the punishment already inflicted on Saoudji. The feeble Emperor blinded his own son also, but unwillingly and so imperfectly that the youth was left with some slight power of vision. Murad took no further notice of the matter.

Equally important with Murad's European conquests, at least to Turkish eyes, was his victory over the Emir of Caramania, the hereditary rival of his house. Caramania was the land of south-eastern Asia Minor where a Turkish power similar to that of the Osmanli had grown up from the ruins of older empires. The two rival states had swallowed one by one the lesser principlities between them and finally stood face to face disputing the supremacy of the entire region. The decisive struggle broke out in 1387, and Murad completely overthrew the enemy in a great battle at Iconium. It was here that Bajazet, Murad's son and successor, gained the title of Ilderim, "the lightning," through the speed and fury of his attacks upon the foe.

Scarcely were the Caramanians overcome, when the aged monarch found himself confronted by another danger. A second league of the Christian states was formed against him with Servia at their head. This kingdom and Bulgaria had been apparently his submissive vassals, until in 1388 their troops suddenly assailed and almost annihilated a Turkish army which was advancing into the unsubdued province of Bosnia. Murad hurried from Asia for revenge. His troops crossed the Balkans into Bulgaria, desolated the land with grim fury, conquered and annexed it. The Turkish frontier was advanced to the Danube. Then Murad himself led his forces against Servia. The enormous army which was gathered against him from many Christian states, greatly outnumbered his, but the aged conqueror did not hesitate to attack the foe on the plain of Kossova (1389). A brilliant Turkish victory followed, due once more, we are told, to the dash and daring of Bajazet Ilderim.

While the contest was raging, Murad was stabbed by a Servian assassin, who penetrated to his tent under pretense of being a deserter with important news. The Emir lived long enough to be assured of his last great victory and to order the execution of his rebel vassal, the Servian King, who was brought before him a prisoner. Then he died, and Bajazet Ilderim 'succeeded to the throne.

In Bajazet I (1389–1402) we find a ruler of wholly different type from the earlier Osmanli. Four generations of the house of Ertoghrul had shown themselves fierce and strong, but also wise and just and even generous, caring for the reality of power rather than its outward trappings. Bajazet seemed to inherit only the ferocity of his race. He was vain and ostentatious, false and foolish, an evil-minded voluptuary, who brought to ruin almost all that his ancestors had labored to accomplish. Perhaps we ought not to accept these statements too freely. The Turkish writers, with their love of allegory and poetic justice, always insist that vice must be punished and virtue rewarded. As Bajazet fell, it follows therefore in the estimation of his people that he must have been wicked; and the tales of his folly and perfidy have perchance been pictured with too dark a hue.

Yet the record seems plain to read. The new Emir's first act on the very field of battle, was to seize his only surviving brother and cause him to be put to death. Remembering that Orchan, a younger brother, had superseded an elder, Bajazet meant to allow no rival near the throne, which he had already resolved to hold by force if not by justice.

Fickle fortune seemed to welcome him as a favorite and showered upon his undeserving head all the conquests for which his father had laboriously prepared the way. Servia, crushed by the defeat of Kossova, became a vassal state, its king remaining the most valued and the most faithful of the allies of Bajazet. Wallachia also became tributary to the Turks without much resistance; and thus their expanding territory for the first time crossed the Danube. In 1392, Sigismund, King of Hungary, afterward the Emperor Sigismund, attacked them, but was driven back in utter rout.

Bajazet was next obliged to return to Asia to re-establish his dominion over Caramania, whose emirs were recovering from their defeat at the hands of Murad. They do not seem, however, to have been able to offer Bajazet any considerable opposition, and he annexed their entire land as a permanent part of his empire. He then marched his victorious armies to the eastward, and extended his power over the last remaining fragments of Asia Minor.

Having thus made sure of his domains, Bajazet sank into a state of indolence and evil pleasure. The tales of his debauchery and licentiousness are too hideous to repeat. His pride, however, led him to do one noteworthy thing. The simple title of Emir seemed to him insufficient for his glory. He applied to the Caliph in Egypt, the religious head of the Mahometan world, and was by him authorized to assume the illustrious title of Sultan, or lord of lords.



In 1396, Sultan Bajazet was compelled to return to Europe to meet the most formidable effort yet put forth by the West to resist the advance of the Turks. In the Hungarians, the invaders had at last encountered Roman Christians, instead of the Greeks who looked to Constantinople as their Church's centre. Upon the appeal of the defeated King Sigismund of Hungary, the Roman Pope preached a crusade against the heathen foe. An army, perhaps twelve thousand strong, composed not of peasants but of the proudest knights of France and Germany, took up the holy war. So splendid was their array that they boasted that if the sky should fall they would uphold it on the points of their lances. They planned to defeat Bajazet, then take possession of Constantinople, then conquer Asia Minor, march on to Syria, seize Jerusalem, and re-establish a Christian kingdom there.

King Sigismund received this aid with joy, and marshalling his own forces, joined the advance of the Crusaders. The King of Servia refused to desert Bajazet and join them, so this Christian state was laid waste by the followers of the Cross. Its warriors were slain without quarter and its cities stormed.

The Sultan made haste to gather the most powerful army his dominions could supply, and met the enemy before the city of Nicopolis. The Crusaders had boasted that this notorious voluptuary would never dare encounter them; they had refused to believe the news of his approach. When at last his troops suddenly faced them, the Crusaders were eager to attack at once. Sigismund, who knew to his cost the Turkish style of. battle, explained to his impetuous allies that they were confronting only the lighter troops, whose attack meant nothing. He entreated them not to exhaust themselves until the Janizaries should appear. But the Crusaders, especially the French knights, refused to be advised; they would not condescend to alter their form of battle to please the Turks, but insisted on charging the foe at once and bearing down all who opposed them. Their light-armed opponents scattered, but there were always other troops beyond. The Frenchmen were led on and on until at length, when they were exhausted and their wearied horses were stumbling at every step, the last curtain of light horsemen was drawn away, and they saw before them the long, stern ranks of the steel-clad Janizaries. Slowly the grim foe closed about them in a circle, and the Frenchmen were slain or captured almost to a man.

Following them, hoping yet to save the fortunes of the day, came the Hungarians and the remnant of the Crusaders. Both sides fought valiantly; but the Servian troops under Bajazet, furious at the cruel devastation of their land, made a charge that swept all before it. The Janizaries advanced to join them, and soon the Hungarians and their allies were fleeing in utter rout. King Sigismund escaped almost alone from the disastrous battlefield of Nicopolis (1396).

The slaughter was immense. Christian historians say that sixty thousand Turks were slain. The next day Bajazet, vowing to be avenged for the loss of .so many subjects, caused almost all his prisoners, at least ten thousand in number, to be massacred in his presence. A few of the richest Crusaders were spared for ransom, and when these were released, the. Sultan sent back by them the scornful message that he would always be pleased to have the Franks come and try their strength against him.

The Turks did not pursue their advantage far. After ravaging a portion of the enemy's domains, Bajazet fell back. Perhaps his losses had really been too great to bear, though his own historians explain that he was seized with illness. He sent his troops into Greece instead, and all that ancient land was added to the Ottoman Empire. Then in 1400, Bajazet dispatched to the Emperor of .Constantinople a haughty notice that the divinely appointed conquerors would wait no longer, that Constantinople must be surrendered to them, or they would slay every soul within its walls. The Emperor bravely responded that he knew his weakness, but would defend his capital, and only Heaven could decide the issue.

Heaven had already decided. This last easy triumph was to be denied the savage Bajazet. Already his doom was at hand. The great Tartar conqueror, Timur the Lame, or Tamburlane, had established his empire in Central Asia. His forces swept westward and clashed with those of the Osmanli. A son of Bajazet defended against the invaders the city of Sebastia on the eastern borders of Asia Minor. Sebastia was captured and all its defenders slain with torture. The Sultan vowed to avenge his son. Timur's hordes had surged southward into Syria, but would soon return. Bajazet had two years in which to gather all his forces; then Turk and Tartar met on the plain of Angora to contest the sovereignty of the East (1402).

Turks return from Serbia


Vague and marvellous legends have reached us of this tremendous battle. The Turkish historians seem to assign to Bajazet a hundred thousand troops and to Timur eight hundred thousand. Yet, despite this enormous discrepancy, they represent their own chieftain as acting with the blind self-confidence of a madman or a fool. To show his contempt of his adversary, he withdrew his troops from before the foe and employed them in a gigantic hunt, miles upon miles of mountain land being encircled by the army and the game driven forward to be killed by the Sultan and his court. So exhaustive was the labor, so barren the region, that thousands of the warriors perished of thirst; and when at last the senseless tyrant would have permitted his victims to return to the streams of the plain, they found the vantage ground occupied by their watchful foe and they could reach the water only by fighting for it. They struggled heroically but in vain, and the gallant army perished almost to a man, through exhaustion rather than the blows of their enemies.

Of these legends we may believe what we choose. It is certain that the Turks were utterly defeated; Bajazet was captured, and Timur marched in triumphant procession over the Asiatic territories of his foe. The tale has passed into literature of his carrying the fallen Sultan around in an iron cage and forcing him to drag his conqueror's chariot. But in truth the captive seems to have been borne about in a comfortable litter, to which bars were only added after he had attempted to escape. Timur's treatment was apparently as kindly as was consistent with holding a rival prisoner. Bajazet soon died; and Timur did not long survive him. The Tartar chief had conquered all Asia, but his successors did not know how to hold together his vast domains, and at his death the Asiatic world fell into chaos.

The Recovery of the Empire and the Capture of Constantinople by Mahomet II

[Illustration] from Greatest Nations - Turkey by C. F. Horne


[Authorities: As before, also Mommsen, "History of the Roman Empire"; Von Ranke, "History of Servia"; Pears, "The Fall of Constantinople"; Vambery, "The Story of Hungary"; Besant, "Constantinople and its Sieges."]

It is curious to reflect that after the deaths of Timur and Bajazet, the empire of the victor perished, while that of the vanquished survived. This was because of the manner in which the latter power had been established, so thoroughly, so wisely, that all the tyranny and folly of Bajazet had not been able to destroy the esteem in which his family was held. Sultan-Śni and its surrounding territory, with some part even of the more recently acquired domains of Murad and Bajazet, remained faithful to the Osmanli. Yet their empire had to endure an even severer shock than that delivered by Timur. Bajazet's eldest son, Solyman, was ruling the European portion of the Sultan's domains at the time of the battle of Angora. Three younger sons escaped from that fatal field, and the four brothers plunged at once into civil war, each claiming a portion of their father's domains.

Mahomet, the youngest of the four, had inherited the high character and abilities of the earlier generations of his house; the others seemed to possess little beyond their father's savagery. Gradually Mahomet gained possession of all the Asiatic region and established himself at Brusa, the capital of the empire. He even allied himself with the Greeks against his brother; and his troops garrisoned Constantinople. Asiatic Turks fought European Turks defense of this ancient capital of Christianity.

At last the virtues of Mahomet and the vices of his brothers caused the followers of the latter to desert them even on the field of battle, and, by 1413, Mahomet had reunited under his single sceptre all that was left of the shorn and desolated empire. In Europe he then sought peace rather than reconquest. His friendly alliance with the Greek Emperor was continued, although the Greeks had regained many of their cities formerly captured by the Turks. The Sultan held at Adrianople a general conference with all the little lords who had seized a city or a province on his European borders and made themselves independent. He promised to leave them unharmed in their possessions. "Peace," he said to them, "I grant to all, peace I accept from all. May the God of peace be against the breakers of that peace."

The shrewd Sultan thus gained opportunity to devote all his attention to his Asiatic dominions, which were in even more precarious condition. The Emir of Caramania had been re-established as an independent ruler by Timur. By degrees he had regained much of the former power of his race, and burning with inextinguishable hatred, was once more ravishing the lands of the Osmanli. His forces even besieged Brusa, their capital. Mahomet hurried to its rescue, and after a long campaign was victorious over his hereditary foe. The Emir was brought before him a captive. With his usual mild policy, Mahomet only demanded an oath of submission, which the Emir gave by placing his hand within the robe upon his breast and saying, "So long as there is breath within this body, I swear never to attack or covet the possessions of the Sultan."

Even as the captive left the presence of his conqueror, he began giving orders to his captains to renew the struggle. They reminded him of his oath, but he grimly drew from the concealment of his bosom a dead bird, and told them that it was only while breath remained in that body that he had sworn to submit. So the war began again. Once more the Sultan broke the dwindling power of his foe, and once more he pardoned him.

Mahomet, in his early days of strife, had been called by his followers the "champion," because of his strength and skill with weapons; but in later years he became a builder of palaces and mosques to replace those that had been ruined in the years of anarchy; he became a lover of the arts, and his added name was Tschelebi, which means the noble-minded or the gentleman. It was Mahomet the gentleman who thus forgave his foes, yet restored his domains to peace and security. He is remembered by his countrymen as the second founder of their empire, its rescuer after the period of devastation.

Timur and Bazajet


It is strange that this lover of life's purer side should have been forced constantly to engage in war. The Dervishes of his own faith raised a revolt against him, the only religious strife which for centuries directed the fanaticism of the Turks against other than external foes. This was suppressed only after several bloody battles. A pretender claiming to be a son of Bajazet caused another civil war, was defeated and escaped to Constantinople, where he was imprisoned. There was a quarrel with the Venetians, and the Sultan built against them the first of those Turkish fleets which afterward became the terror of the Mediterranean. There was also fighting along the Hungarian frontier. Fortunately for the Turks, Hungary had been so crushed by the great defeat at Nicopolis that she remained quiet through all the Turkish period of weakness. But her people finding themselves unassailed, now began to recover courage and to renew the strife.

Mahomet died of apoplexy in 1421, and his death was concealed for forty days to enable his eldest son and acknowledged successor, Murad, to return to Brusa from the eastern frontier where he was learning the art of war. Murad II (1421-1451) was a youth of only eighteen when he was thus unexpectedly called to assume the difficult position and responsibilities of his father. Once again, however, the Osmanli had found a chief worthy of their fame.

The Greek Emperor, presuming on the new Sultan's youth and hoping to renew the civil wars which had proved so destructive to his dangerous neighbors, released his prisoner, the pretended son of Bajazet. The expected strife did follow, but it was soon terminated. Murad displayed a skill both in statecraft and in battle which completely overmatched his opponent, who was defeated and slain.

The youthful Sultan vowed to end forever the perfidy of the Greeks by capturing Constantinople. In 1422, he besieged the massive walls of the metropolis, advancing against them with good generalship and reaching the point where a preliminary assault was begun. Both Greek and Turkish accounts tell us that this was repelled by the miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary at the most threatened spot. The assault certainly failed, and Murad was soon compelled to withdraw his forces to meet another danger.

This was an Asiatic rebellion headed by his younger brother and supported by all the power of the Emir of Caramania. It was suppressed and its leader slain. Murad himself remained for a long time in personal government over the people of Caramania; and from that time onward they became the devoted followers of his house. We hear no more of their persistent and formidable revolts.

Along the Hungarian border the Turkish troops were engaged in an endless though not serious warfare, and after many years of patience had fully established Murad's power in Asia, he resolved to crush forever this petty contest in Europe. He was destined, however, in the new strife to meet at last his equals if not his superiors in the art of war, the two ablest champions brought by the West against the East;—Hunyadi, the hero of Hungary, and Scanderbeg, the hero of Albania.

The decisive war began in 1442 when the forces of Murad were repulsed from Belgrade, the chief fortress on the Hungarian border. At the same time, Hunyadi leaped into fame by defeating with great slaughter a Turkish army which had invested the town of Hermanstadt in Transylvania. We have spoken of the savagery of Bajazet, who slew his Christian prisoners after Nicopolis; but there is certainly little to choose between the methods of either side. After the battle of Hermanstadt, Hunyadi caused the Turkish general and his son to be chopped into little pieces; then, at a banquet of victory, he entertained his guests by having Turkish captives led in one by one and slaughtered in various interesting ways.

Hunyadi followed his success by an even greater victory at Vasag. Encouraged by this turning of the tide, the Roman Pope preached another crusade, and volunteers from all Europe joined Hunyadi's force. The next year, 1443, he led a strong army into Turkish territory. He won the battle of Nissa, drove the Turks out of Bulgaria, and fought his way across the Balkan Mountains in most remarkable manner, opening to the ravages of his army the thoroughly Turkish district around Adrianople. That year, however, he advanced no farther; his great force broke up, and its members scattered to their homes.

Murad had not personally encountered this terrible foe; but having found his ablest generals defeated, he had no wish to put his life, and throne on the hazard of so desperate a contest. He proposed a peace with the King of Hungary, yielding the latter large advantages and surrendering all his claims to suzerainty over Servia and Wallachia. These liberal terms were accepted and a truce was made which both parties swore should not be broken for at least ten years (1444).



Having thus after many trials established peace through all his domains, Sultan Murad performed an act rare in the annals of any land, rarest in the East. He resigned his throne. His eldest and best-loved son having just died, the second, Mahomet, a boy of fourteen, was declared Sultan and girded with the sacred sword of Osman. Murad retired, not to a monastery of austerity like his later and more celebrated imitator, the German Emperor Charles V, but to a retreat made attractive by every pleasure that could appeal to the cultured intellect.

He was not, however, allowed to remain in his seclusion. The truce with Hunyadi had roused vigorous protest from the Roman Catholic Church. A crusade had been preached, it had achieved splendid victories, yet its object was not accomplished. The Turks must be driven wholly out of Europe. Their appeal for peace proved their weakness; the successes of Hunyadi attested the irresistible might of the Christian arms. No faith was to be kept with infidels; despite the oaths of ten years' peace, the war must be renewed at once. Hunyadi opposed this. Having freed his own land and those nearest it, he had no desire for further war; but he was overborne. Without warning, waiting only till the promised fortresses of Servia and Wallachia had been handed over to them, the Christians invaded the Turkish lands.

Their advance was as successful as it was unexpected. All down the Danube Hunyadi marched his forces, seizing the fortresses and cities by the way. He then moved southward along the Black Sea, penetrating as far as the important port of Varna, which he captured.

The storm which Sultan Murad had thus far avoided, he could not leave to burst upon his son. Instantly upon news of Hunyadi's advance, his resolution was taken. Leaving his retirement, he hastily gathered his best troops and hurried to repel the invader. Crossing the Balkan Mountains in unexpected fashion, he advanced against Hunyadi from the rear, and for the first time these two able generals met at Varna. The encounter that followed is known to the Turks as the Battle of the Violated Treaty, for the Sultan, hoisting a copy of that document upon a lance, bade his soldiers follow it as a standard. Hunyadi on his side, having grown confident through success, drew up his forces on the plain outside the city and charged without waiting for the attack of the foe. Both wings of the Turkish army were driven back, and we are told that for a moment Murad contemplated flight. But in the centre, the Janizaries held firm. The Hungarian king who attacked them was slain and his head raised upon a lance, as fitting companion to the treaty to which he had sworn. Bearing these two grim standards the Janizaries advanced, and the Christians fled before them. Even Hunyadi, though he performed prodigies of valor, could not stay the tide. He himself escaped, but his army was annihilated (1444).

The battle of Varna broke forever the power of the Balkan States which had joined Hunyadi. Not only Servia and Wallachia but Bosnia also became tributary Turkish states. Having established garrisons there as a bulwark against Western Europe, Murad for the second time abdicated in favor of his son and withdrew to his philosophical retreat. He is the only sovereign in history who has ever twice resigned his power.

The peace and pleasure for which he longed were still denied him. The boy Mahomet was not yet strong enough to control the wild Turkish warriors. The fierce Janizaries in particular were little likely to obey a child. They engaged in open plunder and murder and laughed at all efforts to restrain them. The councillors whom Murad had left around his son, hurried to their former master and besought him to return again from his seclusion, for only he could prevent the establishment of a military tyranny, a despotism subject to these "new troops" once slaves of the empire.

Then Murad, feeling that he was indeed the servant of his subjects, abandoned his dream of rest. He came forth from his beloved retreat and dispatched young Mahomet thither to study and obey, until he should be capable of leading and commanding. The turbulent troops welcomed with delight the return of their trusted master. The ringleaders of sedition were executed, the remainder pardoned, and Murad began again the task of keeping order both at home and on his frontiers.

The chief enemy of his remaining years was the Albanian hero, Kara George, or Black George, frequently spoken of as Scanderbeg, a corrupted form of "Lord Alexander," a name given him in youth by Murad himself in admiration of the lad's fiery valor, which the Sultan said was like that of the great conqueror, Alexander. George was the son of an Albanian chieftain and was sent to Murad's court as hostage for his father. He was brought up a Mahometan and became a chief favorite of the Sultan, then one of his most valued and trusted lieutenants, commanding in several Asiatic campaigns.

In secret, however, the courted and admired "Kara George" had never forgotten the home of his childhood. On his father's death he hoped to be established in the family lordship, and as the Sultan failed to send him home he planned a bold revolt. Seizing for its execution the moment of Hunyadi's great victories of 1443, he went to the chief secretary of the empire and forced him with a dagger at his throat to write out an order to the governor in Albania, directing that all the fortresses should be placed in the hands of the bearer. Then, slaying the unhappy secretary lest the secret be betrayed, George hurried to Albania and without difficulty secured command of almost the entire region. He threw off the pretence of having come in the Sultan's name, and declared the land independent and its ancient religion re-established. The wild Albanian mountaineers eagerly joined this son of their former leader. The peaceful Turkish inhabitants of the land were massacred; their remaining armies were defeated and put to flight.

Murad by abdicating had thought to leave to his son rather than himself the struggle against his well-beloved page and favorite, Scanderbeg. But even on his second return to his throne, he found the task still unbegun. So taking this trial also upon himself, he invaded Albania with a mighty army. One fortress after another was recaptured. The Sultan, however, found his progress so slow and so costly in the lives of his followers, that he resorted to his old tactics and sought peace, offering to make Scanderbeg his viceroy over Albania. The Albanians steadily refused all terms of accommodation, and the Turks were finally compelled to fight their way out of the land through the mountain passes, even as they had forced a passage in.

Fall of Constantiniple


This was in 1448, and the Sultan's departure was made necessary by the return of his other foe, Hunyadi, who had recovered from the defeat of Varna and was again leading an army out of Hungary, attacking the Turks in Servia, their border dependency. A second time did Murad defeat his greatest enemy, this time in the terrific three-day battle of Kossova. It was his final triumph; he died in 1451, and was by his own command buried, not in a grand mausoleum, but in a simple, open grave, "nothing differing," says Knowles, the picturesque English historian of the time, "from that of the common Turks,—that the mercy and blessing of God might come unto him by the shining of the sun and moon and the falling of the rain and dew of Heaven upon his grave."

Mahomet II (1451-1481), called the Conqueror, was that son of Murad who had been twice removed by his father from the throne because of his inability to control the empire. By 1451, however, the young man had learned at least the blacker part of his hard lesson. On receiving the news of his father's death, he cried out, "Who loves me, follows me," and leaping on a horse rode without pause until he reached the capital. There he was immediately proclaimed Sultan; and his first act was to order the death of his infant brother, justifying the crime by the example of Bajazet, and by pointing to all the civil wars which had been caused by the weakness of his own father and grandfather in not following this firm course. In the latter part of his reign, Mahomet actually proclaimed this slaughter of all the brothers of a new sovereign as the law of the Empire. It became the established policy of his successors.

The first warlike movement of Mahomet's reign was against Constantinople. Its last Emperor, Constantine, judging the man by the incapacity of the boy seven years before, sent a demand for an increase in an annual sum paid him for keeping in confinement a claimant to the Turkish throne. Mahomet responded encouragingly until he had taken full possession of his inheritance and felt secure of his subjects' allegiance. Then he began building a huge fortress which still towers above the shores of the Bosphorus, close to Constantinople. The Emperor Constantine, himself a youth but little older than Mahomet, remonstrated against this threatening demonstration, whereupon the Sultan, with fury suddenly released, answered that the Osmanli had borne too long the insolence of a dependent, and that he meant now to chastise Constantinople once for all and to take rightful possession of this arrogant metropolis which obtruded itself like a foreign island in the midst of his domains.

Mahomet II


Early in 1453, the Moslems gathered round the doomed city, the capital of a thousand years, whose mighty walls had resisted the siege of so many armies of Asiatic invaders. Constantine sought help from Western Europe, but secured only a few hundred troops, while the effort cost him the allegiance of the mass of his own people, who declared him a heretic. Some of them vowed they would sooner see the Mussulmans in possession of their homes than open them to the hated Roman Christians. Thus it was upon a city hopelessly divided against itself that Mahomet made his attack. He conducted it with great skill, casting enormous cannon with which to batter down the walls, sapping the defenses with mines, and creating a fleet to prevent the provisioning of the besieged by sea. His people were as yet untrained in naval warfare, and once a relieving fleet fought its way past his vessels, though Mahomet in fury forced his horse into the very waves and passionately urged on his defeated sailors. At length, however, the blockade was complete, and the defenses were so battered, the loyal defenders so decimated and exhausted, that a general assault was made.

Constantine and his troop resisted this heroically but without avail, and the last of the Caesars perished with the downfall of his empire. The city was sacked.. For a time the Moslems slew all they met, then they began seizing as slaves all the fairer women and stronger men. Thousands of the fanatical Greek Christians, gathered in the great church of St. Sophia, believing that a miracle would save them from the foe. None occurred, and most of the foolish and factious inhabitants who had refused to join in the defense of their city, thus met the fate they had invited, almost deserved.

Finally Mahomet checked the slaughter. This grandest metropolis of the world was henceforth to be his capital; he did not want it wholly without people. The remnant of the miserable Greeks were therefore promised mercy. They were even permitted to continue their religion, and Mahomet conferred office on a new Patriarch or head of the Greek Christian Church, assuring him that he should be unhampered in his religious authority. But the splendid palaces, the gorgeous churches, were all taken possession of by the Mahometans. The Osmanli might at last feel themselves fittingly housed in a capital worthy of their fame. They were masters of a broad and undisputed empire, united around its natural centre, the ancient city most celebrated in all the world for culture and magnificence.

Seizing Christian Children


Religious Supremacy Established under Selim the Destroyer

[Illustration] from Greatest Nations - Turkey by C. F. Horne


[Authorities: As before, also Muir, "The Mameluke or Slave Dynasty of Egypt"; Lane-Poole, "History of Egypt in the Middle Ages"; Samuelson, "Bulgaria Past and Present."]

Mahomet II, through his capture of Constantinople, is perhaps better remembered by Europeans than is any other of the Turkish monarchs. Hence the typical idea of his race is taken from him, one of its most unfavorable specimens. The career of the Osmanli had dawned with glorious promise. Their noonday splendor only furnishes us with another instance of a nation admirable in the rude strength and virtue of its youth, but sinking into degeneracy under the enervating influences of wealth and victory.

Much of what is most evil in the Turkish empire, much that has led to its decay, was inaugurated by Mahomet. He was undoubtedly an able man, shrewd and strong, but as false as he was cruel, and self-indulgent, and enamoured of every vice. In the murder of his infant brother, he had chosen for his model, not Orchan and Aladdin, the brethren of the generous strife, but Bajazet, the monster, and like Bajazet he found a hideous pleasure in licentiousness, in the ruin and destruction of innocent young lads and maidens.

Having mastered Constantinople, Mahomet in the pride of youth, strove to earn and justify still further his title of the Conqueror. He easily gained possession of the remaining fragments of the Greek Empire, the cities of Sinope and Trebizond in the far East, and the Peloponessus and the islands of the Ćgean in the West. The unhappy Greeks fled from their homes in multitudes, often without waiting the approach of the enemy and without any idea whither to turn for shelter. They perished by thousands of starvation and exposure. Mahomet then gave play to his craft and subtlety against Servia and Bosnia, never as yet wholly submissive in their dependency.

We are told that when Hunyadi negotiated with these states, he was asked what terms he would give them if they aided him against the Turks. He answered frankly that he would compel them to abandon every doctrine of Greek Christianity and conform to the Roman Church. The despairing people then asked the same question of the Sultan, who, less bigoted and less honest, assured them of full protection in their own religion. This may not be true, but it is certain that the Bosnian king and his sons came to Mahomet under a sworn promise of safety and he used against them the very doctrine that Hunyadi had adopted against Murad. No pledge, he declared, was binding toward unbelievers. He slew his guests.

Mahomet II


The next year (1456) the Conqueror advanced against Hungary. Belgrade, the famous frontier fortress, was besieged, and Mahomet boasted that he would take it as easily as he had Constantinople. Another religious crusade was preached against him, and Hunyadi with a band of desperate adherents forced an entrance into the beleaguered town. Then heading a sally against the Turks, the great Hungarian chieftain won his last and most important victory. Mahomet saw his troops put to flight by a fanaticism beyond their own. In his fury he struck down his closest adherents and wielded his sword almost, alone against the advancing foe. He was wounded and carried from the field, still raging and resisting in the arms of his devoted followers. Twenty-five thousand Turks perished, and not for many years did the Osmanli venture any further advance against Hungary.

Never again do we hear of Mahomet the Conqueror appearing in person on the field of battle, nor did he for nearly two decades attempt any military movement of importance. He developed, however, a strong and intelligent interest in civil matters and in art, establishing a widespread system of law and life among his people. Religious doctrine he placed under the charge of a special order of learned men called mufti. The whole system of government was made so elaborate and minute that it had much to do with checking the progress of the Turkish race. It took away the necessity and also the incentive to initiate new methods of action, it destroyed the power of invention, and the "march of civilization" ceased. The Turks remain to-day almost exactly where Mahomet II left them.

In middle age the Conqueror turned again to military glory, but sought it along an easier path. Hunyadi was long dead, but Murad's other great antagonist, Scanderbeg, still reigned over Albania. The strife between him and the Turks had never wholly ceased, and gradually they wore his followers down by numbers, took his fortresses one by one, and compelled him to flee from Albania, which became a Turkish province. When, a little later, Turkish invaders came upon his grave in a Venetian city, they broke open the tomb and devoured the hero's heart, hoping thus to become as brave as he.

Herzegovina also yielded to the Turkish advance. Mahomet then, in 1475, quarrelled with Genoa, which was still a powerful maritime republic, owning most of the northern shore of the Black Sea, what is now southern Russia. The people there were "khazak" or cossacks, wanderers, Turkish nomads such as the followers of Ertoghrul had been. They were at enmity with the Genoese and eagerly aided an army sent by Mahomet to attack Kaffa, the chief seaport of the Crimea, a Genoese colony so opulent as to be known as "the lesser Constantinople." Kaffa and all the Crimea fell easy victims to the Turkish arms.

Finding there was little real strength in these Italian city republics, Mahomet quarrelled with Venice, and his troops plundered her territories along the Adriatic, venturing almost to the site of the venerable city of the doges itself. In 1480, the last year but one of his life, his generals attacked Italy from its southern end and captured the famous stronghold of Otranto.

Only one repulse checked the Ottoman arms during this period. The same year that Otranto was won, Mahomet sent a formidable fleet and army against the island of Rhodes, which was held by the Knights of St. John and formed the last bulwark of Christian power in the East, the last remnant of the conquests of the Crusaders. Both the attack and the defense of the citadel of Rhodes were conducted with noteworthy skill, but the final Turkish assault failed just when it promised to be successful. The reason assigned by the Turks for the repulse is that at the very moment when their troops reached the summit of the ramparts. their general issued a command that there must be no plunder, that all the spoils were reserved for the Sultan himself. Indignant and disgusted, the bulk of the Turks abandoned their advance; their comrades on the ramparts were left unsupported and were hurled back. The siege failed and Rhodes for the time escaped.

Mahomet died rather suddenly the next year, in the midst of the preparation of a vast armament whose destination no one else knew. Treacherous himself, he was always suspecting others and concealed his purposes from even his closest councillors. Consequently the great expedition stood still, and the Grand Vizier tried to keep secret the death of his master while he dispatched hurried news of the event to the Sultan's sons, Bajazet and Djem. These two were each in command of a distant province, and as the Vizier was specially devoted to Djem, the younger, he arranged that the word should reach his favorite first. Djem had many partisans in Constantinople; he was known to be as energetic as Bajazet was quiet; and since, under their father's law, one of them was likely to die, Djem might prefer being Sultan himself.



The Vizier's scheme failed because the Janizaries suspected the Sultan's death. Mahomet had increased both the number and the power of these famous troops. Their turbulence had grown greater in proportion, and now, finding that the master-hand was indeed removed, they broke out into open rioting. They slew the Vizier who would have deceived them, and began, as at Mahomet's first accession, to plunder their more peaceful and milder fellow citizens. In the general tumult, the messenger to Djem was slain. So Bajazet got the news first after all, and came post-haste to Constantinople where the Janizaries declared in his favor, being still angry with the Vizier who they knew befriended Djem. The troops even condescended to entreat the new Sultan's pardon for their outbreak, though at the same time they demanded from him a large sum of money to pay them for their adherence.

Bajazet II (1481-1512) was at the time thirty-five years old; he might in childhood have seen the members of this same troop crowding in passionate devotion round his grandfather, Murad; but those old days of obedience had passed away under Mahomet. Bajazet, perforce, submitted to the insolence of his servants and paid the money they exacted. Thereafter this became the custom, and the Janizaries insisted on a donation from each future Sultan.

Djem, however, was not yet disposed of. His whole career reads like a romance and has been much enlarged on and embroidered by the poets of the East. He was himself a poet of no mean order, and his works are still cherished by his countrymen. He was, moreover, if not one of the ablest members of his race, at least a warrior and statesman of no mean merit. He may well have felt that he was fighting for his life, Mahomet's specious legalizing of murder being well fitted to produce death and discord, but never peace. So Djem maintained the mastery of his own province and raised civil war against his brother. The ablest generals of his father were dispatched against him by Bajazet; and these with all their forces found the conquest of the rebel no easy task. When driven from his province, he sought aid from the Sultan of Egypt and renewed the struggle. Crushed a second time, he turned to the Knights of Rhodes, but they while promising him alliance and assistance made him prisoner. He was hurried from one European court to another. Bajazet paid an enormous price for his detention, and each of the Western monarchs, under pretense of aiding the fugitive, sought to secure his person and thus receive a portion of the spoils. The Pope urged him to turn Christian, promising in that case a real support; but Prince Djem haughtily refused and dragged out in foreign lands a weary exile of thirteen years. At last, he fell into the hands of the worst of all the Popes, Alexander Borgia, and was by him poisoned, Bajazet having promised for his brother's death a reward even larger than for his restraint.

Despite this evil bargain, Sultan Bajazet II was not at all a bloody or cruel-minded man. He only purchased his brother's murder when the necessity of it was forced upon him. He was not even a soldier, disliked war and devoted himself mainly to religion. He was called by his people "Sofi," which means the mystic or the dreamer. Yet he was not without worldly wisdom. "Empire," he sent word to Djem, "is a bride whose favors cannot be shared." He built up a navy which made him respected and feared by European powers, and which for the first time gained victories for the Turks at sea.

On land, his armies were unfortunate. The success of Turkish soldiers depended always on their enthusiasm, on the fanatic courage roused by the presence of their Sultan. The "dreamer" failed to aid them with this inspiration. Hence no foreign conquests were achieved in his reign; and he failed to win the admiration of his warlike people. He even abandoned Otranto, the foothold which his father had secured in Italy. Such wars as Bajazet was compelled to undertake were in the East. He attacked the Persians, who from his time appear in the place of the former Emirs of Caramania as the hereditary Asiatic rivals of the Osmanli. He was also forced to fight against Egypt, then under the sway of the famous Mamelukes, a band of noted warriors who had broken the power of the French in the last crusade of King Louis IX. The powerful Mameluke Sultans repeatedly defeated the forces of the Turks, and acquired some portions of the Osmanli territory to the southward.

The old age of Bajazet the Dreamer was moreover long embittered by strife with his fierce son Selim, afterward Sultan Selim, the Destroyer. He was neither the eldest nor the best-loved of Bajazet's sons, but he early distinguished himself in war and became the favorite of the soldiers, who despised the peaceful Bajazet. The latter, as we have seen, never possessed any real control over his people, such as made the earlier members of his house so powerful and so beloved. Selim even dared to raise frequent rebellions against his father. Once Bajazet was forced to lead against him such portion of the army as remained loyal, and Selim was decisively defeated. His intrigues, however, never ceased, and at length the Janizaries insisted that he should be called to the capital in preference to his brothers. Selim came with an army, and the turbulent troops, gathering round the palace, shouted to the Sultan to come forth.

"What will you?" demanded the aged ruler as he calmly faced them.

"Our monarch," they answered, "is too old and too sickly, and we will that Selim should be Sultan."

"So be it," said Bajazet philosophically, "I abdicate in his favor. God grant him a prosperous reign." Then the deposed Sultan left the city in a litter, Selim walking respectfully by his side. Yet Bajazet must have taken the matter more deeply to heart than he admitted, for within three days he was dead.

With the dethronement of a Sultan by the Janizaries, we enter a new phase of Turkish history. The servants have grown as powerful as their master; the unquestioning devotion to the ancient line of Osman has disappeared. Hereafter it is always a disputed point as to which shall rule, the Sultan or the Janizaries, whichever is stronger and more subtle holding temporary control.

Selim the Destroyer (1512–1520) was eminently fitted to cope with the corps which had raised him into power. If they were fierce, he was fiercer. They slew with little hesitation, he with none at all. They were passionate for war, he devoted his life to it. Once more the Turks became a nation of warriors on the march. In his brief reign of eight years, Selim doubled the size of the Ottoman Empire.

He trusted no one. Among his followers the executioner was ever at work, until the common curse with his people grew to be, "May you be made Grand Vizier to Sultan Selim." The average term of life of these Viziers is said to have exceeded scarcely a single month.

"Will your highness grant me a few days to arrange my affairs?" queried one of them, venturing a jest in the moment of his greatest prosperity. "You are sure to order my execution some day or other."

Selim laughed with grim appreciation. "You are right," he said; "in fact I have been intending to order it for some days, but have not found any one fitted to take your place."

Yet this ferocious man was in his way deeply religious, a fanatic in his devotion to his faith. He found no enjoyment in voluptuous ease, and when not engaged in war devoted himself to hunting. All his pleasures were of the sterner sort. Nevertheless, he was an admirer of literature. A "royal historiographer" accompanied his campaigns, and other men of letters were given high posts in his service. Selim even displayed in himself something of the genius which glowed in so many of his race, and composed poetry of no mean order.

Flight of Djem


A ruler of such varied ability could not fail to make his impress upon the world. Bajazet had left several sons and grandsons; Selim promptly slew the seven who were within reach. Then he attacked the others, until all had been defeated and killed in civil war, On Selim's first entrance into Constantinople as the acknowledged sovereign, the Janizaries planned to form a double line and cross their swords above his head as he passed between. This, while it would show their loyalty, would also be a hint to the Sultan of the power which had made and could unmake him. Sooner than submit to their yoke, Selim avoided them entirely, passing through the city by another route. To pacify the turbulent warriors he sent there an immense present or "donation" which well-nigh emptied his treasury. Afterward, one by one, he executed all whom he suspected of being leaders in the movement. Once when His religious teachers ventured to remonstrate against his endless slaughters, he put, them gravely by. "My people," he said, "can only be controlled by sternness."

The Mahometan world, then as now, was divided into two religious sects, the Sunnites and Shiites. The Osmanli were Sunnites, but the other sect had begun to spread from its stronghold in Persia and to take root in their dominions. Selim arranged a vast and subtle system of police spies who enveloped his empire as in a net, and made record of every Shiite. They found seventy thousand of the heretics; and on a single day, without warning, these were all made prisoners. Forty thousand were slain, while the remaining thousands met the even crueller fate of being immured for life in the fanatic's dungeons. Thus did the holy Sultan purge his domains of heretics at a single stroke. It was a massacre of St. Bartholomew, only of earlier date and, more successful issue than that which later stirred Christianity to its depths. The Turkish orthodox writers hailed the slaughter with enthusiasm. Its perpetrator is styled "the devout," "the just,'' "the humane."

The "humane" Sultan was planning a still more comprehensive effort of religious zeal. The Shah of the Persian Empire, who was, a Shiite, had sheltered one of his rebellious brothers. Selim sent the Shah a long, eloquent letter pointing out the wickedness of all Shiites and of the Shah in particular, and explaining to the latter that he was a reprobate needing chastisement, a tyrant who abused his people, a criminal who slew them without justice. All these atrocities, declared the mild and clement Selim, he meant to put an end to; and he invaded Persia with an army of nearly two hundred thousand troops, perfectly organized and equipped.

The management of the Turkish armies of this period, the preparations for their supplies, their nourishment and the care taken for their health, demand admiration even in our own day, and were centuries in advance of the commissariat arrangements of European troops. Selim's invasion of Persia would have been impossible to any other monarch of his time. It was difficult even for him. His army crossed deserts, and marched hundreds of miles without serious loss. The Persians wisely fell back before; them, devastating the land on their approach, until the Janizaries complained loudly of their hardships. Selim turned on them with furious scorn, and taunted them with having become children, who only clamored for war when it was at a distance. Some of the murmurers he slew with his own hand; then he offered to let each soldier go home who found himself unable to endure what their Sultan was suffering, with them. Not one accepted the contemptuous proposal.

Meanwhile, Selim was sending one taunting message after another to the Shah, until the latter's rage overmastered his generalship. On the plain of Calderan he attacked the Turks with an army almost equal to their own, but unprovided with the artillery which had become the chief weapon of the Osmanli. The Shah was defeated and fled, wounded, leaving Tabriz, his northern capital, to the plunder of the enemy (1514).

An extensive portion of Persia was thus added to the Turkish Empire; but Selim, yielding to the protests of his soldiers, ventured no farther through the deserts to complete the conquest of the East. He turned southward instead. The Mahometan world had long been divided among the rulers of Turkey, Persia and Egypt. One of the Turks' rivals having been overcome, they attacked the other,—Egypt, the land of the Mamelukes, a band of famous slave soldiers like the Janizaries, only that the Mamelukes—bolder than the Janizaries—had long since overthrown their master and established in Egypt a government and Sultan of their own.

Selim enters Cairo


Bajazet the Dreamer had quarrelled with them and been defeated. Hence they despised the Osmanli. When Selim's forces invaded Syria, they met him with little preparation; they were disputing among themselves and considered their internal strife far more important than any menace from the invaders. Through the power of artillery, the Turks gained an easy victory near Aleppo (1516), and all Syria with its celebrated holy cities, Jerusalem, Antioch, Damascus, passed into their possession.

No longer underestimating the foe, the Mamelukes retreated into Egypt. They awoke to the vast difference between Janizaries taking orders from a dreamer in his capital, and the same troops headed by Selim in the field. The Egyptians placed their mightiest warrior on the throne; they had still the desert for defense, and prepared to guard its passage, to hurl troops fresh and strong against the exhausted warriors who would come staggering out of its burning wastes. But the thorough preparations of Selim thwarted them. He gathered thousands and thousands of camels to carry water and make the journey easy for his men. Not only soldiers but cannon were successfully transported across the sands. The Mamelukes were defeated at Gaza, and again in a last desperate stand at Ridania, near Cairo their capital. So furiously did they charge in this last battle, that Selim was himself in danger. The warrior Sultan of Egypt pierced to the very centre of the Turkish army, where mistaking the gorgeously apparelled Grand Vizier for the Sultan, he slew the lesser man, wheeled horse and escaped. The Turkish artillery, however, once more decided the fortune of the day. Twenty-five thousand Mamelukes fell, and the Osmanli became lords of Egypt (1517).

His new empire brought to Selim authority over Arabia also, and the guardianship of Mecca and Medina, the holy cities of his faith. More attractive still to the religious devotee (or was it the subtle statesman who saw the value of the change?) he became master of the nominal religious chief of all the Mussulmans, a feeble descendant of the Prophet Mahomet, who dwelt in empty state among the Egyptians. This chief "caliph" was induced or compelled to transfer his authority to Selim and his descendants, and the house of Osman, children of the wandering khazak Ertoghrul, became Caliphs as well as Sultans, religious as well as temporal heads of the greater part of the Mahometan world.

Selim himself assumed the sword, the mantle and the standard of the Prophet. Now, indeed, was he armed against heresy. Only the Shiites of Persia still opposed him and denied his authority; and there can be little doubt that had Selim lived he would have completed the conquest of the Persian Empire.

Having organized a government for Egypt, he returned to Constantinople in 1518, loaded down with spoils. He had resolved to compel the Greeks within his domain to join also in his faith, planning to slaughter the refractory ones, as he had the Shiites. "Which is better," he asked a mufti, his leading spiritual adviser, "to conquer the world, or to convert its nations to the true faith?" The mufti pronounced eagerly in favor of conversion; and the Sultan promptly ordered every Greek church to be changed into a mosque, every Christian to become a Mahometan or die. The Greek Patriarch protested, and appealed to the pledges made by the conqueror of Constantinople. He quoted passages from the Koran itself which forbade such violence as Selim's. Even the Mahometan preachers remonstrated with their new Caliph at his excess of zeal, and he reluctantly resigned the truly stupendous pleasure which he had promised himself in the slaughter or conversion of six millions of his subjects.

The restrictions upon the Christians became, however, increasingly severe, and only the sudden death of Selim in 1520 relieved them, and indeed the entire empire, of an ever-increasing burden of fear. The "Destroyer," as all men knew, was not yet glutted with bloodshed, not yet weary of forcing his own fierce way upon the world.

[Illustration] from Greatest Nations - Turkey by C. F. Horne

The Splendor of Solyman the Magnificent

[Illustration] from Greatest Nations - Turkey by C. F. Horne


[Authorities: As before, also Knolles, "History of the Turks"; Clark, "Races of Europea Turkey"; Upham. "History of the Ottoman Empire."]

Mahomet II had enfeebled the creative power of his people and encouraged them in idleness; he had himself 1ed the way into paths of voluptuous vice. Now Selim drove them with whips of scorpions and taught them fear, with which comes always falsehood. Laziness and vice, cowardice and treachery! Philosophizing from a distance, one may see that the Turks were and under bad teaching, that already their degeneration had begun. When the absolute ruler of a people is a hero and a sage, an Osmano or a Murad, his headship is like that of a god and inspires his nation to a glorious imitation of himself. But when the despot falls ever so little below the highest rank, when he becomes mere man, his faults have far wider influence than his virtues, and his people breathe contamination. Hence the Turkish Empire, for all its seeming splendor and territorial advance, was an impossibility, a thing that could not continue to exist, whose power had only momentarily increased, because of the continued greatness and good fortune, the nobility and the wisdom of most of the members of that remarkable house of Osman.

The failure visible to us, had not, however, at the time of Sultan Selim's death become manifest to his contemporaries. On the contrary the reign of his son Solyman (1520—1566) is depicted as the acme of Turkish glory. The first half of sixteenth century was in many respects one of the most remarkable periods in history. It was the age of the Reformation; Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin were preaching their doctrines. The Renaissance was in fullest flower; Raphael and Michael Angelo were beautifying the churches of Italy. Columbus had discovered America, and its riches were pouring into Europe. Ferdinand and Isabella had expelled the Moors from Spain, and their grandson, the Emperor Charles V., wielded a combination of Spanish and German power the most extensive since Charlemagne. Francis, called the Great, ruled over France, as the most munificent of art patrons, most chivalric of heroes, most sumptuous of monarchs. Yet amid all this rising splendor and power of the West, the Turkish Emperor was not eclipsed. Bickering sovereigns who heaped insults upon one another, united in admitting the greatness of the infidel, the most hated among them all. From Western Europe itself, Sultan Solyman received the name of "the Magnificent." His own people knew him by a yet more lordly appellation, perhaps not undeserved. They called him Solyman the Lord of the Age.



Let us see how far the title was merited. When the young prince at the age of twenty-six ascended the throne of his fathers, he ruled over an empire territorially as large as all Western Europe combined; His capital had been for a thousand years the centre of the culture of the world. His subjects, it is estimated, were forty millions in number, at a time when England contained only four millions, and even the German Empire, most populous of European lands, boasted of but thirty million subjects. Moreover, Solyman was absolute master of his realm, not constantly thwarted and antagonized by nobles almost as powerful as he, not bound by charters and constitutions, not antagonized by a Church that claimed from his subjects a still higher allegiance. Solyman was spiritual chief of a region even wider than his temporal domains. He bowed to no law except the Koran, of which he himself was the interpreter. No nobility existed in his land, except such as he created.

In personal character also, the young monarch was a worthy example of the Osmanli at their best. Even in the reign of his grandfather, Bajazet the Dreamer, Solyman's budding youth had been distinguished by military success. Selim had found him a valuable lieutenant. Moreover, he was an only son, hence his accession to the throne was undisputed. He was not driven to trickery and intrigue during his father's reign, and sudden fratricide at its close. He came into his great inheritance with hands unsoiled by crime, with heart in the first warm flush of youth, with a reputation already high for generosity as well as valor; and his people welcomed him with a hopefulness and enthusiasm, which measured the intensity of their relief in escaping the terror of Selim.

The very opening of his reign was marked by notable military achievements. The two great bulwarks of Christianity, Belgrade on the borders of Hungary, and the Island of Rhodes in the eastern Mediterranean, fell before his arms. From these two famous strongholds Mahomet the Conqueror had been repulsed. They had dealt him the two great defeats of his career; and for half a century the attack had not been renewed. The Dreamer had not dared attempt it. The Destroyer was himself too soon destroyed. The last effort of Selim's life had been the gathering with his customary thoroughness of a vast armament against Rhodes. While awaiting the completion of this, Solyman turned his attention to Belgrade.

The young King of Hungary had merited chastisement by putting a Turkish ambassador to a cruel and shameful death. Solyman advanced swiftly into Hungary, captured several fortresses, and by a vigorous siege made himself master of Belgrade (1521). He so strengthened its already enormous fortifications, that it remained for two centuries the chief bulwark of the Turkish Empire against Europe.

Returning next to his already formulated project against Rhodes, the Gibraltar of its day, Solyman invested the island with an overpowering force, and at the enormous sacrifice of one hundred thousand lives, gradually sapped the strength of the defenders. The tremendous artillery of the Turks was employed with its usual effect. The modern science of attack, by means of trenches slowly advanced and carefully protected, here first received its full study and development. After five months of a most memorable defense, the exhausted Knights of St. John surrendered; and the only remaining fetter which had been imposed upon the East by all the toil and bloodshed of the Crusades, was broken. No foe remained anywhere within the circle of the Turkish Empire. Its outspreading bounds were unified at last (1522).

Solyman the Magnificent


All the world recognized the valor which the defenders had displayed. The Sultan granted them honorable terms, and they were allowed to depart from Rhodes unmolested. Solyman even spoke to their Grand Master with characteristic generosity, reminding him of the varied fortunes of war, and saying that he grieved to drive from home so aged and so brave a gentleman. The Emperor Charles V conferred upon the Knights a new Mediterranean fortress to defend, the island of Malta; and to this they withdrew, making of it another memorable centre of defense against the Turks.

Having satisfied his martial ardor by these two celebrated achievements and by the suppression of revolts in the recently conquered regions of Syria and Egypt, the young Sultan betook himself to the pleasures of peace and to the improvement of the internal order of his empire. Ambassadors sought him from all the turbulent courts of Western Europe. Their letters to their homes make marvel of the splendor of his surroundings and the wisdom, justice, and generosity of his character. In 1525, Francis of France, held prisoner by the Emperor Charles, wrote to Solyman, Sultan of the infidels, entreating him to compel his release. Solyman answered in terms well befitting the "Lord of the Age," speaking of his own court as the asylum of sovereigns, the refuge of the world; and assuring Francis that, having appealed to him, he should have justice. "Night and day," says his letter, "our horse is saddled and our sabre girt."

The continued appeals of Francis had undoubtedly considerable effect in fomenting the wars which arose between the Turkish and the German Empires. Their immediate cause, however, was less romantic and more serious. The turbulent Janizaries protested against peace and began plundering Constantinople. Solyman hurried to the scene of their rioting and, after cutting down the leaders with his own hand, executed a number whom he suspected of instigating the disorder. But to quell it wholly and by the most effective means, he marched to war.

Hungary, with which no peace had been made since the capture of Belgrade, was the victim of his attack. Its young king hastily gathered his forces, but he directed them with little judgment or skill and was slain and his army annihilated by the overwhelming numbers of the Turks on the field of Mohacs (1526). This battle, still remembered as "the destruction of Mohacs," caused the downfall of the Hungarian kingdom, which for a century and a half had held back the European advance of the Osmanli. Now it lay helpless at the feet of the victor. "May Allah be merciful to this youth," he said as he gazed at the body of the dead king, "and punish the counsellors who have misled his inexperience. I had no wish to cut him off when he had but just begun to taste the joys of life and sovereignty."

Advancing up the Danube, the Turks seized Buda, the Hungarian capital; but the purpose of the Sultan seemed rather to punish the land by devastation than, to take permanent possession of it, and his army withdrew laden with plunder and burdened by a mass of one hundred thousand unhappy prisoners.

In the extremity of their despair, the Hungarians broke into civil war. One party sought the aid of Germany. To strengthen their resistance against Turkey, they gave the Hungarian throne to Ferdinand, brother of the Emperor Charles V. The other party, insisting on a native king, elected Zapolya, one of their nobles. Being defeated by Ferdinand, Zapolya appealed to the Sultan for assistance. The rival kings laid their claims before his court, where they were treated with arrogance as vassals of the Turks. "Thy master," the envoy of Zapolya was told, "is only king because we make him so. The crown does not make kings, it is the sword." The ambassador from Ferdinand, having been less submissive and having demanded the restoration of Belgrade, was assured that the Sultan would punish him even if the Turks had to march all the way to Vienna, the capital of the German Empire, to drag him from the protection on which he relied.

Zapolya meets with Sultan


Thus was the gage of battle fairly offered to the great German Empire; and over the prostrate lands of the Greek Empire, the Balkan States and Hungary, the Turks advanced into central Europe. In the spring of 1529, Solyman, with a quarter of a million men, began his threatened march from Constantinople. This time the elements were against him. Constant rains made the advance of his troops almost impossible, and much of his heaviest artillery had to be left behind. Not until September did he reach the Hungarian capital, which after a brief siege, surrendered. Ferdinand had fled, and Solyman, as he had promised, placed Zapolya upon the throne. Then, taking his vassal king with him, he continued his advance upon Vienna.

From that city also Ferdinand took flight, and the energies of the Emperor Charles V were absorbed elsewhere in his dominions; but fortunately for Christendom, its capital had more resolute defenders. Lacking heavy artillery, the Sultan could make no effective breach in the walls, and assault after assault was vigorously repelled. The weather grew more bleak, winter approached, and sickness spread through the camp of the warm-blooded Turks. After a single month of ineffectual siege, Solyman, recognizing that he had met the first check of his career, withdrew his troops. Vienna remained unconquered, but almost all Austria had been ravaged as had been Hungary three years before. Thousands of captives were slaughtered and other thousands carried away by the withdrawing Turks. Solyman boasted that the Christians dared not meet him in the field, and at Buda he held a great celebration of his triumph.

Three years later the Sultan invaded the Austrian territories again and laid all Styria in ashes. The little fortress of Guntz made a memorable defense against his arms, giving the Emperor Charles time to gather an imperial German army and march against him. It seemed as though a great decisive battle might again settle the fate of an entire continent. But Solyman had already weakened his forces by his long and trying campaign; he challenged Charles to lead the Imperial army against him, but did not himself march toward Vienna. The Emperor with even greater caution remained within reach of the sheltering walls of the capital, and saw his fairest provinces made desolate without an effort to protect them.

The next year, 1533, a truce was agreed upon. Solyman was too sensible to exhaust his armies by repeating such distant and profitless invasions. There was little left to plunder, no army would give him battle, and he only sacrificed his troops by thousands against the stone walls of the innumerable fortresses. Moreover, the old religious quarrel with the Persians had again broken out, so that from this time Solyman, like Selim, turned his attention mainly to the East. He fought at least six great campaigns against the Persians, broke their power, and wrested from them the fairest portion of their empire. The entire valley of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers with the great capital Baghdad, the last of the sacred places of the East, passed under the sway of the Osmanli, where it still remains. The "arch of Turkish Empire" curved from Baghdad in the east, to Belgrade and even to Buda in the west.

Fortunate indeed for Europe was the respite thus granted her from Solyman's attacks, and some of her sovereigns frankly recognized it as such. "Nothing but these Persians," writes Ferdinand's ambassador, "stand between us and ruin." And again, "This war affords us only a respite, not a deliverance."

Another important addition to Turkey's empire was acquired by her navy. Or rather the navy was presented to her as a voluntary tribute to her now recognized position as head of the Moslem world. The little Mahometan states of North Africa had long found in piracy their chief source of revenue. A Turkish sea-rover known to Europe as Barbarossa (Red-beard), and to his own people as Khaireddin, distinguished himself by establishing a piratical control over all Algiers. As the magnitude of his operations increased, he recognized his need of protection from the Christians he despoiled and, voluntarily placing himself under the protection of Solyman, became a "vassal of the Porte." His example was soon followed by other African states. Solyman, gladly accepting this addition to his empire, increased his own navy and made Khaireddin his chief admiral or Kapitan Pasha.

The Turkish sea power thus suddenly created, disputed with Venice and Genoa, with Spain and France, for the naval supremacy of the Mediterranean. Khaireddin, who had made himself master not only of Algiers but of Tunis also, was driven from the latter stronghold by a formidable fleet and army led by the German Emperor in person. In 1538 he avenged himself by a great victory over the combined fleets of the Emperor, Venice, and the Pope, off Prevesa. For a time thereafter he ravaged the Italian coast almost at will, plundering some of its fairest cities. In 1541, another elaborately planned Christian expedition attacked him in Algiers, but failed disastrously.

Encouraged by Khaireddin's example, the Turks became experts in the art of seamanship, and other admirals arose to emulate his deeds. The fleets of Solyman were, if not masters of the Mediterranean, at least far more powerful than those of any other single state. The Christians could withstand them only by uniting.

In 1539, Zapolya, the Sultan's vassal ruler over Hungary, died. Ferdinand of Austria, who had been allowed to keep a small portion of the country, at once laid claim to the whole. The widow of Zapolya appealed to Solyman to preserve the land for her infant son; and the great Sultan, postponing his Persian campaigns, hurried westward once more (1541). He drove Ferdinand and his Austrians out of the districts they had seized. As fortress after fortress surrendered it was garrisoned, not with followers of Zapolya, but with Turkish troops. Turkish officials were also installed in civic control, and thus almost the whole of Hungary sank to be a mere province of the Ottoman Empire. In 1547, a five-year truce was concluded between Solyman and the powers of Europe which lay beyond Hungary. Not only the Emperor Charles V, but also the Pope, the Doge of Venice, and the King of France were parties to this treaty, by which most of Hungary was formally surrendered to the Turks. For the small part of the land which King Ferdinand was allowed to keep, he was to pay a heavy annual tribute to the Sultan. This treaty marks the high tide of the power of the Osmanli. It may perhaps be regarded as justifying Solyman's claim to be "Lord of the Age."

Barbarossa the Turk


Nor was it through military successes alone that the great Sultan's reign won its renown. This was also the most noted period of Turkish literature. Solyman was its patron. A cultured admirer of the art of verse, he even dabbled in its mysteries himself, though without noteworthy success. Yet if not gifted with this special form of genius, he could recognize it in others. One of his poems addressed to the lyric poet, Abdul Baki, prophesied that future ages would name Baki, "the Immortal." He is so called to-day; and though the Sultan's prophecy doubtless helped to work out its own fulfillment, Baki is generally regarded by Turkish critics as the chief master of their language. On Solyman's death the poet whom he had so admired composed in his honor an ode accounted by the Turks the grandest paean ever uttered in human praise.

Nine other noteworthy poets adorned this culminating age of the Turkish race, in addition to a crowd of lesser singers, at least one great historian, and one great jurist, beside numerous minor writers on these themes, on philosophy and on religion. Architecture likewise reached its fullest development, as did the decorative arts. The luxury of the court of Solyman became such as only revenues vast as his could have supported.

To see the inevitable "other side" of the picture, the sorrows of the "Magnificent" Sultan's lot, we must turn to his domestic life. He was easily susceptible to the softer emotions. For the first time in the story of the house of Osman, we find a vast and baneful influence exercised over the entire realm by a woman. She was the daughter of a Russian priest, was brought to Constantinople by Cossack raiders, and sold into the Sultan's harem. She was called Khurrem, "the laughing one," though European courts spoke of her as Roxalana. She soon gained a great influence over Solyman. He valued her wisdom as highly as her charms and took counsel with her upon every subject. She was in fact an empress.

Before Roxalana's rise, the chief aids and counsellors of the Sultan had been his eldest son Mustapha and his Grand Vizier Ilderim. Ilderim was a Greek slave boy to whom Solyman had become attached in youth, and whose marvellous rise and great ability form a favorite theme of Turkish legend. His devotion to his master secured him by degrees a power second only to that master's own. He even signed himself "Sultan Ilderim." Ferdinand of Hungary when negotiating with the Porte, addressed Ilderim as "brother." Roxalana secured Mustapha's banishment from court and Ilderim's execution (1536).

She thus became unrivalled in her power, her strong nature impressing itself upon Solyman's as he grew old. When her two sons approached manhood, she resolved that they, not Mustapha, should succeed to their father's throne. For this purpose she secured the promotion of Rustem, her daughter's husband, to the office of Grand Vizier. Rustem was wholly under Roxalana's control; he was a miser, false and wholly venal, who corrupted the entire state by selling its chief offices to the highest bidders, men who naturally sought to recompense themselves by every method of extortion.

At the Sultana's urging, the Vizier systematically poisoned his master's mind against the distant Mustapha. Solyman, who had known his son well and loved him, long refused to believe the evidences laid before his eyes, but finally yielded and in 1553, probably in the father's presence, the son was executed.

Solyman the Magnificent


The grief of the entire empire was extreme. Mustapha had been one of the worthy members of his race, devoted to the service of his father, beloved and highly honored by the people. His very virtues wrought his destruction, for it was reported that the Janizaries of their own accord were planning to substitute him for his aging father upon the throne. To the necessity of fratricide which the house of Osman already felt, the rising power of the Janizaries thus added a further horror. Fathers began to slay each able son lest he depose them as Bajazet the Dreamer had been deposed. They adopted still another method of protection, keeping their sons in ignorance and seclusion, that the young men might lack both the ability and the influence to revolt. Under such policy as this the house of Osman was doomed!

Roxalana's eldest son, Selim, was declared heir to the throne, but so incompetent and so vicious did he prove himself, that many of his troops rebelled in favor of Bajazet, his younger brother. This Bajazet, of whom we have scant records, seems to have been an able and honorable youth; but Roxalana, with a mother's partiality, clung to her first-born. Bajazet was declared a rebel, and the royal army marched against his followers. Roxalana died while the campaign was in progress. Bajazet was defeated and executed. Thus in his old age Solyman was left alone. The friend of his youth, the hero son of his early manhood, the promising child of his later years, each had been slain by his orders. The siren at whose bidding he had acted was also gone; and to his desolation there remained only a ferocious drunkard, an imbecile, the false and worthless Selim. Such are the declining days of despotism.

Military reverses also came upon the aged Sultan. The Knights of St. John, whom he had expelled from Rhodes, had made of Malta another powerful citadel, where their ships reposed in safety, or rushed suddenly forth upon the Turkish fleets. If master of this island, Solyman felt that he would be master of the Mediterranean, and in 1565 he sent a tremendous armament against it. After a and bloody siege, the attack was repulsed, and though a second expedition was planned for the following year, it was perforce abandoned because of the renewal of the war on the German frontier.

King Ferdinand, who had become the Emperor Ferdinand, died; and his son, the Emperor Maximilian II, succeeded to his claims over the small remainder of independent Hungary. The Turkish vassal king who held the rest of Hungary, claimed the part which had been Ferdinand's, and so fell to fighting with Maximilian. Once more Solyman led an army across Hungary. He was now over seventy years of age and so feeble that he had to be borne in a litter. But he had no son that he could trust, to take his place.

Fortress after fortress in independent Hungary surrendered. The Austrians abandoned the hapless land to its fate. One of its own sons saved it at the sacrifice of himself. The count palatine Nicholas Zrinvi defended his town and fortress of Szigeth with such valor and ability that Solyman was compelled to settle down to a regular siege with his entire army. Month after month slipped by. September came, and the enfeebled Sultan one night complained with childish querulousness that he could no longer hear the beating of the huge drum of victory. Then turning his back upon a world that had grown dark to him, he died in solitude. With him departed the glory of the Turkish race.

Solyman the Magnificent


Internal Decay and its Temporary Arrest under Murad IV

[Illustration] from Greatest Nations - Turkey by C. F. Horne


[Authorities: As before. also Stirling-Maxwell, "Lon John of Austria"; Dyer, "History of Europe"; Menzies, " Turkey Old and New."]

The death of Solyman was concealed from his troops by his devoted Vizier, Sokolli. The Vizier was well aware that the news would cause the soldiers to abandon the siege of Szigeth in discouragement; and he was determined that the fortress before which his master had perished should not remain untaken to boast of its resistance. For seven weeks the body of the dead "Lord of the Age" was borne about in a closed litter, as though the empty shell still held its former tenant. Officers approached and bowed low to it and heard Sokolli, stooping within the curtains, repeat feeble words of command.

The fortress succumbed at last, and its heroic defendants rushed forth to death in a final charge. The Countess Zrinyi, remaining behind, blew up the powder magazine at the entrance of the victors, hurling the entire fortress into air and carrying with it skyward three thousand Janizaries. Sokolli announced that the object of the campaign was accomplished, and withdrew the army in good order. Only when the homeward march was well advanced, was the demise of the great Sultan proclaimed and his outworn body permitted to have rest. His authority passed to his only surviving son, the drunken, imbecile Selim, called even by his own reverent historians, Selim the Sot.

Of no land has it been more true than of Turkey, that the fortune of the people followed that of their rulers. For three centuries the descendants of Ertoghrul had handed their kingship steadily from father to soli. Ten generations of leaders, all efficient and only one or two falling below real greatness of mind or body, had established for the Osmanli an almost superhuman reverence in the hearts of their people. But with the death of Solyman, the genius of his race suddenly disappears. His successors sink to a general level of feebleness as impressive as was the grandeur of the earlier generations. One or two of the later Sultans rise, perhaps, to the ordinary stature of mankind, but as a race they grovel beneath contempt.

For this evil change we must hold Solyman responsible, Solyman and Khurrem, "the laughing one," the Sultana whose machinations destroyed all the capable sons of her royal lover and left him only Selim, the worthless child whom, with a mother's instinct of his need of her, Khurrem had made her favorite.

Destruction of Szigeth


The character of Selim II (1566-1574) had come to be well understood by his father and all his people, but such was the absolute devotion of the nation to the house of Osman, that no one thought for a moment of disputing his succession. The lives, the fortunes, and the consciences of the whole Turkish race were placed unreservedly in the hands of an acknowledged drunkard and half-imbecile. Through him this power descended to the children of his vile amours.

The weakness of one man could not of course cause the immediate downfall of so vast and firmly founded an empire. For a time the high spirit of Solyman still pervaded its counsels. Except when swayed by his Sultana, he had been a keen judge of men, and he had drawn around him a body of noble servitors. The venal Vizier Rustem, the creature of Khurrem, had been succeeded in his high office as second head of the empire by Sokolli, the artful secreter of his master's death, a soldier and statesman worthy of the rank.

Sokolli, by a wise diplomacy, managed to retain until his death, not only his place but also his honor, and was the real ruler of the empire throughout Selim's reign and during the first years of his successor. Selim was awed by his Vizier's. high repute, and being content to revel in idleness with boon companions, seldom intruded on affairs of state.

The Turkish troops, however, were accustomed to being led to battle by their Sultan, and their inefficiency without the religious enthusiasm aroused by his presence, or at least by his guidance from afar, was soon sadly demonstrated. Sokolli had conceived the bold and statesmanly project of uniting by a canal the two great Russian rivers, the Volga and the Don, and thus securing for the Turkish fleet a passage from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea. This would assuredly have resulted in the conquest of all northern Persia, which was no longer protected from the Turks by the valor of its warriors, but only by the difficulty of approach across its dreary deserts. Azov, the city at the mouth of the Don, was already in Ottoman hands; but the region of the canal and Astrakhan, the famous port at the mouth of the Volga, had half a century before been taken from the Tartars by the Russians.

Sokolli's project, therefore, brought Russians and Turks for the first time into armed conflict. A force was sent to build the canal, another to seize Astrakhan, and the great Khan of the Crimea, ruler of all the northern Black Sea shore under the suzerainty of the Sultan, was commanded to aid the expedition. Instead, he naturally did all he could to discourage it. He did not wish the Ottomans brought closer to his domain, and in greater numbers. He worked upon the religious fears of the soldiers, reminded them of their distance from the Sultan, and explained that the short nights of the north would make it impossible for them to perform the duties of their faith, which required them to pray at evening, at midnight, and again at dawn. While in this superstitious mood they were attacked both at Astrakhan and on the Don by Russian forces. The disheartened Turks easily allowed themselves to be driven back and abandoned the expedition (1569). To the Ottoman Empire this appeared a mere frontier repulse by a barbarian tribe, and not till a century later did the two predestined rivals meet again in strife.

A far more noted disaster of Selim's reign was the great sea-fight of Lepanto (1571). According to some authorities this was directly attributable to the Sultan's drunken folly. He had acquired a special liking for the wine of Cyprus, and insisted that the home of so delicious a beverage must assuredly be added to his domains. The island of Cyprus belonged to Venice, and Sokolli, who on Solyman's death had hurriedly made peace with Western Europe, had no wish to revive against the ill-governed Turks, a coalition of the Christian powers. For once, however, all his arguments and diplomatic manoeuvres in opposition to his master were without avail. With besotted stubbornness Selim insisted that Cyprus he must have. It was invaded and captured for him at a cost of fifty thousand lives.

The struggle left Venice, like Hungary, exhausted by her long resistance to the Ottomans. Another Solyman might have seized upon her territories with ease; but Selim's utterly unjustified aggression against Cyprus roused all Europe and startled the other states into a selfish fear for themselves. What Sokolli had dreaded took place. A Christian league was formed by the Pope, and an immense fleet was gathered not only of Venetian but of Spanish, Papal, Maltese, and other galleys, over two hundred in all. This armament, under the leadership of the renowned Don John of Austria, advanced to the Turkish coast and was met off Lepanto by the navy of Selim, superior to it in numbers, but hastily gathered and ill-prepared.

After Lepanto


The battle of Lepanto was the greatest naval disaster the Turks ever encountered. If we except only the defeat of the Spanish Armada in the same genera ton, no other sea-fight in history can compare with this, in the number of men and ships engaged, and in the completeness of the defeat. The entire Turkish fleet was destroyed or captured with the exception of a single squadron of about forty ships. The commander of this wing, the celebrated Ouloudj All, Bey of Algiers, had protested against encountering the enemy while the Turks were so unprepared. He was overborne in council, but in the battle he held his own. At its close; seeing the destruction that had come upon the Turkish centre, he with the ships of his wing broke boldly through the line of the Christians and escaped.

When news of this disastrous overthrow reached Constantinople, even Selim was startled from his indifference. He devoted his own private treasures to ship-building, he gave up a portion of his garden for the ship-yard. Ouloudj Ali, with the ships that he had rescued, cruised from port to port collecting around this remnant of the navy all the scattered craft that could be pressed into service. The Christian admirals, on the contrary, had, dispersed to their homes to sing Te Deums of victory. When another year came around, there was a second Turkish fleet apparently as powerful as before, which under Ouloudj Ali, now surnamed Kilidj (the sword), baffled the Christian advance at every point.

A peace was agreed upon in 1573. Not only did Turkey retain Cyprus, but the helpless Venetians agreed to repay her for the cost of its conquest. Christian writers learning this said bitterly, that despite all the celebrations it was really the Turks who had won the battle of Lepanto.

Selim died from a drunken fall, and his son, Murad III (1574–95) a weakling in mind and body, succeeded him. The first words of each new Sultan on assuming power are regarded by his superstitious subjects as prophetic of the character of his reign. Murad's were, "I am hungry, bring me something to eat." His first official act was to command the slaughter of five brothers, apparently as worthless as himself. Murad was a woman-lover, always in his harem and completely under the influence of its occupants. His early reign was still marked by victories. Turkish generals conducted a successful and even glorious war against Persia, wresting from her all Georgia and the ancient capital, Tabriz. The peace of 1590 confirming these conquests marks the date of the greatest expansion of Turkish territory.

But the drain which for a quarter of a century had been sapping the resources of the empire to supply the debauchery of its base rulers, now began to be apparent. Not from the strength of its enemies without, but from decay within, came the downfall of the Turkish State. The marvel seems only that it so long withstood the evils gnawing at its root. Let us enumerate again the more obvious and generally recognized of these causes of decay. They were the repressive laws of Mahomet II, which arrested the development of the people; the ferocity of Selim the Destroyer, which taught them fear and falsehood; the increasing number and turbulence of the Janizaries, whose whole training urged them to insolence and oppression; the corruption in office, which was introduced by the Vizier Rustem, and which after Sokolli's death pervaded the entire empire; and above and behind all these, lay the inherent evil of an hereditary despotism, the decay which sooner or later must enervate its rulers.

In 1590 the foreign nations little suspected the change that had come over the conquering Turks. France sought their alliance. Elizabeth of England wrote them long letters urging their attack upon her enemy Philip II of Spain, and explaining to them how similar their faith was to that of Protestant England and how opposed were both to Catholicism. It was a common saying among the Turks, that very little was needed to make the English genuine Mahometans.

The miseries of the people could not, however, be longer ignored. The devoted peasantry of Asia Minor had given of their substance to repeated tax-collectors until they faced starvation. The unpaid troops lived perforce by plunder, while their money was held back by thieving officers. In 1589 the storm broke. The Janizaries in the capital, furious at a new fraud imposed on them, surrounded the royal palace clamoring for the heads of the officials whose guilt they suspected. Sultan Murad yielded in instant terror, and the heads which they demanded rolled at their feet.

If one head, why not another? The Janizaries had learned their power. Twice within the next four years they repeated their clamor and compelled the removal of Grand Viziers who had not pleased them. Rival bands of troops fought civil wars against one another in the streets of Constantinople. Internal revolt, a thing hitherto unknown among the Turks, broke out in Asia Minor among the starving peasantry. The Christian border dependencies were also harassed beyond endurance. The mild and humane treatment previously accorded them was changed to intolerable oppression. Their people rebelled. In the "Wallachian Vespers" (1594) all the peaceful Turks of Wallachia were suddenly slaughtered. Both there and in Transylvania, the disorganized Ottoman armies were repeatedly and disgracefully defeated. The surrounding nations began to rouse themselves and take fresh heart against the hitherto irresistible Osmanli. The German Empire declared war and joined the Transylvanian insurgents. Even the Persians defended their threatened frontier with the vigor of new hope.

Amid these disasters Murad III died in dreary dissatisfaction and despondency. He was succeeded by his son Mahomet III (1595-1603), who signalized his accession by the execution of his nineteen brothers and also eight of his father's wives. The brothers were all young, probably all worthless, and the slaughter deserves mention only as being the most extensive of those hideous holocausts offered by each new Sultan to the evil policy of his race. Mahomet III instituted what became the practice of the future, by keeping his sons in a special part of the palace called the "cage" from which they never emerged except to die or to reign. Their unfitness to do either seems thus to have been most effectually insured.

Accession of Mohomet III


Meanwhile the advancing armies of the Germans, Hungarians and rebels had driven the Turks from almost all their European possessions north of the Danube. Every counsellor who still cared for the preservation of the empire, now vehemently urged the new Sultan to take the field in person. Only by his presence could the fanaticism of the soldiers be once more aroused, their obedience secured, and the triumphant enemies checked. After long hesitation and evasion, Mahomet III consented to lead his troops as his ancestors had done. Moreover, the sacred standard of his namesake, the Prophet Mahomet, the most holy and treasured relic of the empire, was taken from its sanctuary and borne before the soldiers to inspire them.

They met the allied Christian armies on the plain of Cerestes near the river Theiss, and there were three days of fighting. The first day the Mahometans lost several standards and even the sacred relic of the Prophet was endangered. The terrified Sultan insisted he must withdraw and leave the troops to protect his retreat. Long and passionate entreaties from his generals persuaded him to remain, and the second day the Turks made some advance. The third day saw the final issue. Almost the entire army of the Turks was driven from the field, but a sudden charge of their cavalry caught the enemy unprepared and swept the whole Christian array into panic-stricken flight. Fifty thousand were slain. This was the last great triumph of Turk over Caucasian, of Mussulman over Christian(1596).

The Sultan took advantage of his tremendous victory to retreat to his capital .and resume his life of indolence. Fortunately his generals proved able to maintain themselves against the weakened enemy, and the contest dragged on without much success on either side until in the reign of Mahomet's successor, peace was made by the treaty of Sitavorak (1606). This is worthy of note as the first diplomatic meeting in which the Turks condescended to deal with the Christians on equal terms, sending them high ambassadors, consenting to forego the customary presents, and employing toward the German Emperor titles of dignity equal to those with which the Sultan was addressed.

Why follow further the full list of the feeble rulers who now disgraced the throne of Osman? The irresponsible supremacy and tyranny of the Janizaries had become fully established, and their former masters were obliged to bend to their every whim. Osman II (1618-1622), the grandson of Mahomet III, deserves mention because, though only fourteen when crowned, he had evidently some conception of the disgrace of his position and endeavored to reassert his power.

He was a savage youth who practised archery by shooting at prisoners of war, and when the supply of these ran low, he fastened up one of his own attendants as a target. To weaken the Janizaries, he made war on Poland and sent them thither. They preferred however to return and quarrel at home. Osman then announced his intent of making a pilgrimage to Mecca; but the Janizaries learned that his real purpose was to collect an army in Asia and return to crush them for their frequent seditions. In fury they demanded the heads of his advisers, and having secured these, they swept on to the farthest extreme of rebellion. Seizing Osman. himself, they dragged him to prison and slew him there with excesses of cruelty equal to his own. They then placed upon the throne his predecessor Mustapha I, who had been deposed for utter imbecility. Even the feeling of personal loyalty and exaggerated reverence for the reigning descendant of Ertoghrul was thus broken down at last. The divinity which in Turkey had actually grown to "hedge a king" now shielded him no more. It was life for life; and the successors of Osmanli could no longer slaughter their subjects with the same comfortable and reassuring sense of personal inviolability which had so upheld the successors of Osman I.

Murad IV (1623-1640), son of the poor imbecile Mustapha, was the next Sultan, to assert himself. For a time he stayed the fall of the empire, holding the Janizaries in subjection and suppressing extortion and injustice by means of an injustice even more relentless. When Murad ascended the throne the Persians were victorious on the frontiers; all Asia Minor was in successful revolt; fleets of Cossack marauders were plundering even along the Bosphorus itself; the royal treasury was empty; and Murad was a boy of only twelve. In one of their tumults, the blood-thirsty rabble still dignified by the name of troops demanded the heads of seventeen of the young Sultan's closest friends and councillors. These he yielded to them perforce. But the mere fact that he protested against yielding led the Janizaries to talk of his dethronement.

It is evident that Murad studied the situation long and thoughtfully; but he made no movement until he reached the age of twenty. Then slowly and cautiously he gathered round him what little remained of better sentiment within the capital. He employed the antagonism of the Janizaries against the other troops, to suppress the latter. Afterward he seized upon the leaders of the Janizaries, themselves. A few faithful followers supported him, and the soldiers were bullied into submission. A celebrated gathering was held at which Murad himself and then each one of his officials swore to restore the ancient order, justice and honor of the empire.

Battle of Cerestes


Then began a reign of terror, a series of wholesale executions. The Sultan, had kept track of every servant who had ever insulted him, every soldier who had, rioted in the streets. They were killed by hundreds. Unwarned victims were. summoned from their homes night after night by secret messengers and haled. before secret executioners. No man knew but his own turn might come next, and no man dared oppose this grim and watchful young avenger.

Having thus established himself in his capital, Murad made a royal progress through his empire, taking not of the state of every district and slaying every unjust official he encountered. His character has often been paralleled with that of Selim the Destroyer. At first Murad struck down only the guilty, but the habit of massacre grew. The value of human life was lost to him, and at the merest suspicion against the officials who came forth from each town and knelt before his charger, he would strike out savagely with his scimeter. Their heads rolled beneath the goofs of his steed. Worse and worse grew his unrestrained ferocity until it was a madness in itself, and in his later years he seemed scarce human. A party of women were making merry in a field, and he ordered them drowned merely because their laughter disturbed him as he passed. If, as he rode forth, any unfortunate crossed or impeded the road, the offender was shot down, often by the Sultan himself.

Before Murad’s severity thus degenerated into atrocity, it had already brought back to the empire something of the ancient military order and prestige. Once more a Sultan led his armies in person, and the Persians felt the weight of his iron hand. They were defeated and reduced to such a degree that it was nearly a century before they again measured themselves against the might of Turkey.

Murad had no sons of his own, hence he had permitted one of his brothers, Ibrahim, to survive, though keeping the unfortunate in confinement and in a constant fear of assassination which reduced him to a pitiful state of mental weakness. Murad in his own last hour resolved to slay this brother also, and commanded his execution. The attendants of the Sultan, horrified at the thought of the utter extinction of the sacred race, strove to dissuade their master from his purpose, and when he persisted, they only pretended to have obeyed him. The fierce despot in the very pangs of death insisted on seeing the corpse, and expired in a desperate effort to rise and be thus assured of the fulfillment of his order. Ibrahim, being hurriedly told of his brother’s fate and hailed as Sultan, refused to believe his fortune, barricaded his door and swore to fight for life. Not until Murad’s body was in its turn borne before him, did he accept the truth, and realize that his chance had come to rule.

Sultan Ibrahim (1640-1648) promptly proceeded to undo what little good his brother had accomplished. He presents to us the type of Ottoman Sultan at its very lowest, a fool so dull as to know no pleasure but debauchery, a trembling coward who dared not leave his palace walls, who squandered untold wealth upon his harem and thought of his subjects only as the source of all the treasure of which he robbed them to satisfy his immeasurable extravagances.

Fiction is outdone by such tales as that of his “fur tax.” An old woman maundering through ancient fairy stories for the amusement of his idle beauties, described a king clothed all in sables and having every drapery about his palace and even its carpets underfoot of the same rare and costly fur. The impossible vastness of the idea challenged Ibrahim's weak mind. He vowed he could do as much and immediately laid a "fur tax" upon his entire empire, ordering every high official to send him such quantities of sables as in reality did not exist in the entire world. Homes were desolated and officers tortured to compel their compliance with this impossible demand, and Ibrahim long insisted upon enforcing the punishments though he could not get the furs.

At another time, finding that his ladies delighted in buying all sorts of fineries, but that paying the bills was less pleasant, he commanded that every shopkeeper must allow members of the royal harem to take what they pleased without payment. Then, one of his capricious beauties complaining that shopping by daylight was uncomfortable, he further ordered the unlucky merchants to keep their places open through the night, and well lighted so that no part of their wares might pass unobserved by their expensive customers.

Ibrahim was so fortunate or unfortunate as to secure a Vizier who, caring only for his place, not for his country, humored his master's folly to its fullest bent. Whenever the feeble minded Sultan himself expressed amaze that what he desired was invariably approved as right, the Vizier replied, "My Sultan, thou art Caliph; thou art God's Shadow upon earth. Every idea which thy spirit entertains is a revelation from Heaven. Thy orders, even when they appear unreasonable, have an innate reasonableness, which thy slave ever reveres, though he may not always understand."

This comfortable doctrine Ibrahim eagerly accepted, and he insisted upon using it to justify every whim, every cruelty, every foulest abomination. Surely no ruler, no government, could have sunk to lower depths of self-abandonment than the Osmanli had thus reached.

[Illustration] from Greatest Nations - Turkey by C. F. Horne


Downfall of Turkish Power and Efforts of the Kiuprili

[Illustration] from Greatest Nations - Turkey by C. F. Horne


[Authorities: As before, also Coxe, "History of the House of Austria"; Curtis, "The Turk and his Lost Provinces"; Finlay, "Greece under the Ottoman Dominion."]

One of the surprising facts of history is that the Ottoman empire, having fallen into such utter descrepitude at home, still continued, and to this day continues, to exist. For more than a hundred years, even after the accession of Selim the Sot (1566), it managed to retain its wide territories practically undiminished, its frontiers on the whole, advancing rather than receding. This century of empty bombast, this semblence of strength after the reality had departed, was due largely to the condition of Western Europe. There in the fierce religious strife of Catholic and Protestant had culminated in the terrible "Thirty Years' War," which left the Empire of the Germans even more exhausted than was that of the Turks. Other causes for the apparent vitality of the Ottoman State lay in the enormous and preponderating strength which it had attained during the three centuries from Osman to Solylman, and in the high character of the common Turks for honesty and valor, traits which all these later generations with their indescribably evil government, have not wholly eradicated. Moreover something must be accredited to the good fortune of Mahomet III, who had so unexpectedly seen defeat shift into overwhelming victory at Cerestes (1596), to the fury of Murad IV who fought fire with fire, and finally to the noted family of Kiuprili. Five of the sons of this house held the Grand Vizierate at intervals between 1656 and 1710, and were the real rulers of the empire, displaying a spirit of wisdom and patriotism scarce inferior to that of the early Osmanli.

Sultan Ibrahim, the foolish, had been at length deposed by the exasperated victims of his tyranny, deposed and slain, protesting to the last that his words were inspired of God and that this assault upon him really could not be. His child son, Mahomet IV (1648-1687), was girded with the sword of Osman, and anarchy ran riot. Sultanas and slaves contested for rule over the child and the empire, until a general council or divan of the chief officials was called in desperation, and all agreed that the only escape from the endless disaster and horror on every hand was to place a strong Vizier in full control.

Austrians at St. Gotthard


Mahomet Kiuprili, seventy years old, who had begun life as a kitchen-boy and risen by stern rigor and justness through all the ranks of state, was the chosen man. He made every general, every sultana, swear absolute obedience to him before he would accept the office. Then he held it with a hand of iron. Every offender whom he ever suspected was executed without mercy. He never reprimanded. "His blows outsped his words." Thirty thousand officials are said to have perished during the five brief years of his sway. Then he died, handing down his authority to his son, Achmet Kiuprili, a young man of only twenty-six, but a patriot and statesman yet greater than his sire.

Mahomet Kiuprili had restored order to the state; Achmet sought to restore its ancient military strength. The degeneracy of the Turkish arms had long been suspected in Europe; the German Empire recuperated rapidly from the Thirty Years' War; and, after a peace of seventy years enforced by the weakness of both East and West, hostilities in Hungary were renewed. In 1664, the Vizier, having gathered an army that in numbers and outward appearance resembled one of the old-time levies of valiant and victorious Turks, advanced against Austria, capturing fortress after fortress. He was met by the Imperial general Montecuculi, eminent as a writer and tactician as well as a soldier. Montecuculi points out for us how much the Turkish military organization had degenerated in the previous seventy years, spent only in Asiatic warfare; and he shows also how vastly European arms and tactics had developed by the experience of the Thirty Years' War. Though his troops were much inferior in number, he completely defeated Achmet in the battle of St. Gotthard. The tide of victory had turned at last.

Achmet hastened to make peace. Yet with such art did he take advantage of the internal dissensions of the German Empire, that he exacted his own terms of profit rather than loss. The respite thus secured he devoted to the training of his antiquated army. A war for the conquest of the island of Crete had been dragging on for twenty years; he ended it with vigor and success (1669), and next turned his attention to the north. The Cossacks beyond the Turkish border line, in what is now southern Russia, admitted some vague allegiance to either Poland or Russia and were domineered over by both governments. In 1672, they appealed to Turkey for protection, and their district, the Ukraine, was enrolled in the list of Turkish dependencies. Both Poland and Russia protested and threatened war.

Siege of Vienna


Kiuprili defied them in a letter worthy of the days of Solyman: "If the inhabitants of an oppressed country, in order to obtain deliverance, implore the aid of a mighty emperor, is it prudent to pursue them in such an asylum? When the most mighty and most glorious of all emperors is seen to deliver and succor from their enemies those who are oppressed, and who ask him for protection, a wise man will know on which side the blame of breaking peace ought to rest. If, in order to quench the fire of discord, negotiation is wished for, so let it be. But if the solution of differences is referred to that keen and decisive judge called 'The Sword,' the issue of the strife must be pronounced by the God who has poised upon nothing Heaven and earth, and by whose aid Islamism has for a thousand years triumphed over its foes."

War with Poland followed. At first the Vizier was so successful that not only the Ukraine but other parts of Poland were surrendered to him. Then however, arose the famous Polish leader, Sobieski, who twice defeated Kiuprili, at Khoczim (1673) and at Lemberg (1675). A general under the Vizier, more fortunate than his master, restored the balance of power by checking Sobieski, and the dissensions of the Poles led them to accept the loss of their territory and conclude peace (1676).

This same year Achmet Kiuprili died. Despite his repulses at the hands of Montecuculi and Sobieski, he had outranked both their governments at the game of diplomacy. He extended the frontier of the Turks to its widest European extent, and he restored among his people their ancient confidence in themselves and in their destiny. Better still, he did all this with justice and without extortionate taxation. Under him the prosperity of the Turkish common people began to revive. Blessings, not curses, were heaped upon him at home, and he was hailed with truth as the "light and splendor of the nation."

His death may well be taken as marking the last expiring glow of Turkish power. The boy Sultan, Mahomet IV, was now grown a man, and he conferred the Vizierate not on one of the Kiuprili, but on a brother-in-law of his own, Kara. Mustapha, who in contradistinction to his predecessor, has been poetically called by the Ottomans "the curse of the Empire." His ambitions were as vast as his abilities were weak. Like the common Turks, he seems really to have believed in the invincibility of his race, and he planned to conquer all Germany and hold it as an empire of his own.

He had first, however, to encounter Russia, which now began to assert herself against the Porte and started that victorious southward advance by which she has assumed the role of the avenger of Greek Christianity upon the Moslems. Russia had not been a party to the treaty by which Poland transferred to Turkey the land of the Cossacks. She encouraged the Cossacks in rebellion against their new suzerain, and when Kara Mustapha led an immense army into the disputed territory, Cossacks and Russians joined in defeating him at Cehzrym (1677). Astonished at the wholly unexpected overthrow, the Turks recalled their failure at Astrakhan a century before, and acquired toward the Muscovites an instinctive fear never afterward overcome. Mustapha yielded the Ukraine to Russia and sought an easier glory elsewhere.

A revolt of the Hungarians against Austrian tyranny furnished an excuse for the interference of the ambitious Vizier. The greater part of Hungary was already Turkish, and the remainder now asked, as had the Cossacks, for Turkish protection against Christian oppression. Mustapha raised an army of two hundred and seventy-five thousand regular troops, beside vast swarms of irregulars more like brigands, whose numbers probably swelled the total to half a million men. With this enormous force he advanced in 1683 to accomplish the project of his dreams, the conquest of Vienna, that barrier which had broken the first tremendous wave of Ottoman advance under Solyman.

Christendom, divided into its many petty states, could muster no such host as Mustapha's to oppose him; but it had now soldiers better than the Turks, a spirit nobler than theirs, and generals immeasurably superior to the incompetent Vizier. The Emperor fled from Vienna, but its citizens defended it under Count Stahremberg. For two months they held back the Turks; then the end seemed near. The walls were in ruins; the besieged garrison was woefully depleted and a final assault must almost inevitably have been successful. But Mustapha suddenly displayed an avarice as ill-timed as his previous ambition. If Vienna were stormed, his soldiers would plunder it at will; if it surrendered, he could hold them back and exact an enormous payment for himself. So he negotiated, and the Viennese negotiated and thus kept him in check while the Emperor who had fled, strove desperately to persuade some one to lend him an army for the rescue of his capital. Sobieski of Poland, the victor over Kiuprili, finally marched to Vienna's aid. Mustapha refused to believe the news that the Christians were advancing against him. The Poles and Germans combined had managed to raise less than seventy thousand men, and the Vizier was sure they would not dare attack him. Hence he was culpably negligent, and Sobieski's final assault was somewhat in the nature of a surprise. The Viennese joined in the attack and the Turks gave way under it almost immediately. Their vast army dispersed in utter rout. Mustapha, bewildered and furious, blamed the defeat upon everybody but himself, and as he fled southward with his officers he had them slain one after another, day after day, until finally there came from Constantinople the dread order for his own execution.

Recovery of Buda


As news spread of the great national disaster, the Ottoman Empire was attacked on every side. Her foes had only been held in check by fear; they leaped on her like wolves on a wounded stag. In the north, Russia declared war and advanced with the Cossacks against the Khan of the Crimea. From the north-west came the Poles. The Imperial armies entered Turkish Hungary. The Albanians revolted. Even feeble Venice found an able general in Morosini and reconquered the lower part of Greece, the ancient Peloponessus. The Imperial forces repossessed themselves of Buda, the Hungarian capital; in 1687 they gained a great victory at Mohacs, the very field on which Solyman had crushed the Hungarian power. The Sultan Mahomet IV was compelled to abdicate. Once more there was tumult and unbridled riot in Constantinople.

Yet the proud Turks did not yield readily to their foes. For a brief time a third Kiuprili was made Vizier, a brother of Achmet. He crushed the Albanian revolt; he recaptured Belgrade, which had surrendered; he inaugurated vast internal reforms. Then—if he could not save his country he could at least die for it—he attacked the Imperial armies at Slankamen, rashly we are told, and perished leading on a last desperate, unsuccessful charge of his devoted soldiers (1691).

The next Sultan, Mustapha II (1695-1703), for a moment promised better things. He defeated the Imperialists in several minor battles, but in 1697 he was overthrown at Zenta by the celebrated general Prince Eugene. Thereon Mustapha fled to Constantinople and abandoned himself like his predecessors to the life of the seraglio.

In the extremity to which the staggering empire was thus reduced, it was saved by a fourth Kiuprili, Housein, descended from a brother of the first Vizier of the race. Being invested with the Vizierate (1697), Housein sought for peace; and England and Holland, alarmed at the increasing power of the other European States, aided his efforts. Much against the will of some of the combatants, a general treaty was arranged in 1699. From the town of the Danube where the envoys met, this was known as the Peace of Carlowitz.

Reckoning from the first ill-starred advance of Kara Mustapha against Vienna, this war had lasted sixteen years. It left Turkey shorn indeed, but by no means crushed. Poland, after the first great victory of Sobieski, had taken little part in the contest, the death of her king involving her in difficulties of her own. Yet in recognition of her services to their cause, the victorious Powers insisted that by the treaty she receive again the provinces of which Achmet Kiuprili had deprived her. Russia during the early years of the war had found her best efforts checked by the Khan of the Crimea, who with his wild Tartar riders proved a most valuable Turkish ally. Toward the end of the struggle, that mightiest of the Czars, Peter the Great, had come into complete authority, and in a siege noteworthy upon both sides, he had won from the Turks their chief northern defense, the fortress city of Azov at the mouth of the Don. This with its surrounding territory, Russia retained, thus winning the first step of her advance, a foothold on the Sea of Azov. To Venice was given up the whole of the Peloponessus, though the Turks probably intended this concession to be only temporary, knowing that the region could some day be recovered. One of their ambassadors scornfully told the Venetian minister a story of a pickpocket who, creeping up while some mighty wrestlers were engaged in contest, stole the garments of one. He added point to the sarcasm by remarking that later the pickpocket would probably have to yield up the purloined robe and his own skin as well.

The main loss to Turkey was on the Hungarian frontier. There she had met the Imperial forces, and there suffered her principal defeats. Most of Hungary and all Transylvania, her possessions of nearly two centuries, were given over to Austria, and certain rights and privileges were exacted for the Christians of the Balkan regions which remained under Ottoman rule, thus establishing a pretext for further interference. The disintegration of European Turkey was vigorously begun.

Kara Mustapha


The Eighteenth Century and the Wars with Russia

[Illustration] from Greatest Nations - Turkey by C. F. Horne


[Authorities: As before, also Alison, "History of Europe"; Russell, "Russian Wars with Turkey"; Memoirs of Catharine II.]

The treaty of Carlowitz (1699) may fairly be regarded as marking the entrance of Turkey into Europe's diplomatic circle. Hitherto the Ottomans had stood beyond that circle, indifferent, half contemptuous of its intrigues and disputes. They had been foes to all the Christian States, had defied united Europe, and in their warfare had sought no allies except from their own conquered dependencies.

Now this was changed. The statesmen of the Porte no longer made any pretense of being a match for all Christianity combined The inefficiency of their brave but untrained troops was fully realized. The Sultan expressed his gratitude to both England and Holland for having intervened between him and the many enemies that had beleaguered him. Short-sighted theorists even began to reckon on the speedy expulsion of the Turks from Europe. But if not a match for all the peoples of the West, the Osmanli still felt themselves the equal of any single power. They began, therefore, to imitate the others in the game of statecraft, to seek alliances and bargains, to stir up strife and division among opponents.

In this new diplomacy, the Vizier Hausein, last of the greater Kiuprili, had no part. Finding it impossible to make head against the corruption which permeated the entire Empire, he resigned and died (1703).

With him departed Turkey's last chance of regaining her ancient honor abroad and prosperity at home. There was another eruption of the Janizaries, and another Sultan deposed.

Under the new Sultan, Achmet III (1703-1730), the wars of Charles XII against Russia were eagerly encouraged by the Turks. Definite promises of assistance were given him—and not redeemed. When defeated, Charles fled to Turkey and the Sultan became his protector. It was then that the great Russian Czar Peter encountered the most serious failure of his remarkable career. He had consented unwillingly to the peace of Carlowitz. It gave hire Azov but he hoped for more, and he believed Turkey to be well-nigh helpless. Hence the shelter given Charles, his enemy, and a dozen other trifling complaints, were magnified into cause for war and Peter marched against the Turks. He was lured far southward, even as Charles had been. Vain promises of help reached him from the little semi-dependent chiefs of the wild borderland between Russia and Turkey. On the banks of the Pruth River, the Czar found himself with an exhausted and enfeebled army, suddenly surrounded by masses of the Ottoman troops. Capture being inevitable, Peter philosophically negotiated a peace with the Vizier who had so cleverly entrapped him.

Though capable as a soldier, this Vizier, Bultadji, once a wood-cutter's son, proved weak as a diplomat and allowed the Czar to depart upon terms so mild as to excite the ridicule of the Russians and the anger of the Sultan, who dismissed Bultadji from office. Peter was compelled to do little more than promise to return Azov and the surrounding region into Turkish hands. Once in safety again, he evaded the fulfillment of even this slight pledge until the Turks threatened another war. Being just then busily engaged in robbing Sweden, the wily Russian consented to be bound by his agreement and surrendered Azov, sooner than fight two foes at the same time.

Prince Eugene of Savoy


The Turks next turned their attention to the Peloponessus, reconquered it from Venice, and were pressing forward to attack Italy itself, when the Austrian Emperor once more interposed. Ostensibly in aid of Venice, he declared war and sent the celebrated Prince Eugene to win further glory from the Turks. Eugene defeated them at Peterwardein (1716) and again at Belgrade (1717) and thus enforced another peace. By the treaty the Austrian Emperor abandoned the interests of Venice and consented that the Turks should retain the Peloponessus, he receiving in return another large portion of their Danubian territory.

We next find the Turks in actual alliance with the Russians, the two empires agreeing to aid each other in attacking feeble Persia (1723). A little territorial plunder was secured by the despoilers, but there was no real friendship between them, the Russians in truth waiting only till they should feel strong enough to throw themselves again upon their southern neighbor and wipe out the disgrace of Czar Peter's defeat and capitulation.

The time did not seem ripe until 1736, when Constantinople had again passed through the throes of a Janizary revolt and the Turks were suffering severe repulses from the Persians. Then, without a declaration of war, the able Russian general Munnich was sent to attack Azov and ravage the Crimea. He did his work with a thoroughness and cruelty that have kept his name vividly before the world. Azov surrendered; and the slaughter of all classes of helpless non-combatants in the Crimea was widespread and hideous.

Envious of Russia's "glory" and plunder, Austria joined hands with her and began a second war of unprovoked aggression against the Sultan. His envoys, still new to the etiquette of diplomacy, and unwilling to face so many foes at once, urged upon the Austrians the oath of peace sworn to Turkey by the Emperor. When the Austrians tried to evade the responsibility of this oath, the Turkish ambassador called all present to join him in an earnest prayer that the authors of the war might suffer the curses of the war, and that God would distinguish between the guilty and the innocent. The appeal was solemnly offered up by both Mahometans and Christians.

Doubtless it would be going too far to regard this ceremony as the reason for the failure of the Austrians. They had overestimated both the strength of their own arms and, the decay of the Turks. Their victories in the previous generation had been mainly due to the military genius of Prince Eugene. Now their leaders were rash and incompetent. They were repulsed again and again and finally defeated in a decisive battle at Krotzka (1738). Belgrade was besieged by the Turks; and Austria terrified and panic-stricken sought peace on any terms, surrendering not only Belgrade but all her other conquests of Eugene's last war. The Austro-Turkish frontier then became practically what it remained until 1876.

Janizaries in Serbia


The treaty left the Porte free to fight Russia single-handed. So far, Marshal Munnich had been very successful, having won possession of almost all the Turkish territory along the Black Sea and beyond the Danube. It is significant, however, of the high repute in which the Ottoman Empire was still held, that Russia on finding herself alone to face the victorious army which came marching from Belgrade, promptly made terms of peace by which she surrendered all her recent acquisitions in the Crimea. It was agreed by both parties that Azov, the original bone of contention, should be destroyed.

Following upon this vigorous effort of the Turks, their empire way allowed to repose in peace for a generation. The warlike spirit of their race seems largely to have disappeared, and despite several opportunities offered by the increasing weakness of Austria, they were well content to leave matters as they stood abroad, while sloth, treachery and extortion held sway at home. To Russia this period was one of preparation. Twice had she defeated the Turks in battle, and yet lost the reward for which she sought, the possession of an outlet to the Black Sea. Her statesmen were fully convinced that destiny pointed their way to Constantinople, and under their great empress, Catharine II, they deliberately prepared for a renewal of the struggle. Their encroachments roused Sultan Mustapha III (1757–1773) to sudden, unreasoning anger, and without taking time for preparation, he unexpectedly declared instant war. The wiser counsellors who besought him to wait at least until armies could be gathered, were dismissed from office, and he attempted with his own untried hands the gigantic task of rousing his lethargic people from their torpor (1768).

The sharp-tongued Frederick the Great of Prussia called this war a victory of the one-eyed over the blind. The Turks had certainly fallen far below Western Europe through lack of discipline among their troops, the uselessness of their antiquated weapons, and the ignorance and folly of their leaders. The Russian generals were subtle and well-trained, though still half savages and utterly indifferent to the lives of their common soldiers. Thousands upon thousands of these were allowed to perish on the march and in the camp. Fever and exhaustion preyed upon them because of the lack of the commonest necessities of life.

The Russians, however, were all in readiness for the war, and they swept their opponents out of the Crimea, drove them back from the Danube, and advanced to the Balkans. The Turkish rabble, miscalled an army, was put to flight again and again. Never had the Ottoman troops been so completely disgraced. At the same time a Russian fleet sailed from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, roused a rebellion in Greece, and destroyed the few hastily gathered ships of the Turks at Tchesme, though the success of the Russians was due, not to their own commander, but to the English officers who accompanied him.

As illustrative of the density of the ignorance into which the once enlightened Osmanli had sunk, it appears that they had been warned of the coming of this northern fleet, but scornfully insisted that no passage existed from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, from the ocean of the north to that of the south. When the fleet actually appeared among them, they sent a formal and threatening protest to Venice, assuming that their enemies must somehow have come south through the Adriatic Sea.

So crushing were the Turkish disasters, that the Porte itself begged for peace, the first time this confession of weakness, this downward step had been taken in its career. So exacting however, were the terms insisted upon by the Russians, that the peace negotiations were broken off and the war resumed.

This time the Turks attained better results. Incompetent leaders had been weeded out, and genuine patriotism and the desperation of despair nerved the faltering arms of the remainder. Besides, the Empress Catharine had entered upon the partition of Poland. She needed all her troops to crush resistance there. The "Oriental project" could wait. Hence in 1774 another peace was made, and a new treaty, that of Kanjierdi, was signed, the Russians insisting that it should date from the anniversary of that which Peter the Great had been compelled to accede to at Pruth, sixty-three years before. The triumph, and what they called the moderation of the later peace, would, they felt, outweigh the shame of the other. Azov and a few ether fortresses were surrendered to Russia, and the Khanate of the Crimea was declared a wholly independent kingdom, this being a rather obvious prelude to its annexation by its powerful northern neighbor, though the Empress took the most solemn vows not to undertake any such procedure.

Black George urging revolt


Our story now passes over a long period containing little of importance to record, except the continued decay of Turkey and the steady aggression of Russia, enveloping her prey like a giant octopus. Such an advance must be indeed impressive in the strength displayed by the conqueror. But to our modern age the cruelty of the attack, the falsity to each solemnly proffered pledge, the horrible murder of women and children, the slaughter of thousands upon thousands of helpless men driven into battle merely to gorge their leaders' lust for territory—these horrors infinitely outweigh the "glory" that was gained.

The Crimea was taken possession of by Russia in 1783. In 1787, Catharine entered into an alliance with Austria which deliberately planned a division of the Ottoman Empire similar to that previously begun in Poland. The troops of the allies advanced suddenly, Austria, as in her last previous attack, pretending to peace, until her troops were ready and actually on Turkish ground. Nevertheless they were beaten back, and along the Austrian frontier the Turks for two years held their own, until the turmoils consequent on the French Revolution compelled Austria to seek peace.

Against Russia the Turks were less successful. They were repeatedly defeated and became hopelessly disorganized, so that the mighty Empress fancied she saw Constantinople already in her grasp. England and Prussia interfered. The huge Muscovite power began to terrify them, and from this time forward England, at least, assumed the role which she has since maintained, of Turkey's protector. Catharine moderated her demands. She was given some further provinces along the north coast of the Black Sea and in the Caucasus. Affairs both in Poland and in France compelled the attention of Europe; the great French Revolution had begun; and the annihilation of Turkey was again postponed to a more convenient opportunity.

Reforms of Selim III and Mahmud II

[Illustration] from Greatest Nations - Turkey by C. F. Horne


[Authorities: As before, also Paton, "History of the Egyptian Revolution"; Marmont, "State of the Turkish Empire"; Howe, "Historical Sketch of the Greek Revolution"; Latimer, "Russia and Turkey in the Nineteenth Century"; Diplomatic Papers of Metternich.]

The disintegration and panic of the Turks before the resistless advance of the armies of Catharine II, marked the lowest ebb to which the Ottoman Empire had yet descended. Even in our own day and despite its recent losses, Turkey is stronger than it then seemed to be.

In 1787 the intervention of England and Prussia appeared useless to preserve the Turkish domain for more than a moment. The death of Catharine when she was planning another and final attack, gave it further respite. Then the Titanic struggles of Napoleon drew all eyes away from the Osmanli and so altered ancient enmities that we find Russia and Turkey for a moment in alliance. France defeats a Turkish army in Egypt, English forces aid the Ottomans in an heroic defense of Acre against the French, and most amazing of all, an English fleet threatens Constantinople and is forced to escape from the Hellespont, suffering some loss from Turkish batteries.

All these kaleidoscopic changes were, however, only temporary. The Napoleonic madness passed; and the disruption of the Ottoman Empire would inevitably have been resumed, had not the Turks themselves undertaken internal reform. Two Sultans, Selim III and Mahmud II, were really awake to the needs of their country, and understood its desperate condition. By their vigorous efforts they saved it from what seemed the very throes of dissolution. The first of these, Selim III (1789—1808), was girded with the sword of Osman during the Russian war. He saw its hopelessness, and after securing peace began the reorganization of his dominions. Schools were instituted that the dense ignorance of the Turks might be overcome, and with it their disastrous contempt for everything Christian or progressive. At the same time, Selim made an effort to introduce the European system of discipline among his soldiers; but at this the Janizaries rebelled and compelled its abandonment.

Battle agasint Russians


Selim saw that he had no real power over his empire. Not only did the Janizaries force him to do their pleasure, but each Pasha of a distant province acted as an independent ruler and treated with contempt the orders of the Porte. The Barbary States had long yielded the Sultan only a nominal allegiance. But now Egypt under its great Pasha, Mehemet Ali, showed equal independence. So did the Syrian governor, and the rulers of Bosnia and the other Balkan States. Except in some districts in the heart of Asia Minor, the Sultan could find nowhere any subjects who offered him real obedience. He began operations in Servia. The Janizaries there had completely cast off their allegiance and were plundering the inhabitants, Mahometan as well as Christian. Selim summoned the people to defend themselves, encouraging to resistance even the despised rayahs  or Christians. These, under their peasant leader "Black George," overthrew the Janizaries, but naturally refused submission to the Mahometan governors who were then sent to rule them.

The fanatic Moslems cried out against their Sultan; he was deserting them, they said, abandoning their faith and ancient laws and upholding even their rayahs against them. The Turkish troops everywhere revolted. Leaders who remained loyal to the Sultan were defeated and slain. In Constantinople the Janizaries once more went through the ceremony of overturning their camp kettles—thereby declaring that they would accept no more food from the reigning Sultan—and marched against the palace. Selim submitted to the inevitable and abdicated. His cousin was proclaimed Sultan as Mustapha IV. Anarchy had again triumphed. The Janizaries were king.

But through it all, one of Selim's lieutenants remained loyal. He was General, or Pasha, Bairactar, who was defending the line of the Danube against Russia. The Russian war with France relieved Bairactar of his opponents, and he promptly marched his troops to Constantinople. Defeating the Janizaries in a pitched battle in the streets, he demanded the surrender of the palace and the restoration of Selim.

Then ensued the last of those too common scenes of turmoil and horror within the walls of the seraglio. Sultan Mustapha bade his servants hold the gates against the invaders, while he hastily ordered the execution of Selim and also of his own younger brother Mahmud, the only other surviving member of the royal house. Were these two dead, Mustapha knew he would himself be safe. No Turk would venture on the total extinction of the race of Osman. Selim defended himself desperately, the cries of his rescuers without, ringing in his ears. But he was finally overcome and strangled, and his body was thrust out to Bairactar as proof of the impossibility of restoring him to power. The infuriated general continued for vengeance the assault which he had begun for loyalty.

Mustapha's other victim, Mahmud, escaped the slaves sent to destroy him. He hid in the furnace of a bath and while the murderers wera still hunting for him, Bairactar's soldiers burst in the gates and proclaimed him Sultan.

Mahmud II (1808—1839) had been the companion of Selim in the royal kawah  or cage, where they were held by Mustapha. There the deposed Selim, the ruler who had failed in his reforms, imparted to this untried cousin, this recluse from birth, the story of his own reign, his struggles, and his defeat by the power of the Janizaries. Hence Mahmud II was in a way a reincarnation of Selim, possessed of his views and aims. Mahmud had also the support of his rescuer, Bairactar, and for some months reform progressed rapidly. Then the Janizaries, who had pretended submission to Bairactar, suddenly attacked his troops. He had unwisely dismissed most of them from the city; the remainder proved insufficient for his protection. His fortress home was stormed. Its tower citadel in which he took refuge, was blown up; and Sultan Mahmud was forced in his turn to become the servant of the triumphant Janizaries. He was only saved from deposition and death by the fact that he had slain their former creature, Sultan Mustapha, and was thus the only remaining member of his race.

In this extremity Mahmud showed himself subtle as well as resolute. He affected submission to the old order of things. At the command of his tumultuous masters, he proclaimed the recent innovations and all other Christian customs to be accursed. Each reform was solemnly repudiated.

We must regard Turkey at this period as merely a set of Mahometan provinces, each virtually independent of the others and making little pretense of obedience to any central authority. Servia continued in rebellion and could not be suppressed, though the Turkish Pasha of Bosnia warred against it on his own account, hoping to add Servia to his government. The Pasha of Egypt made war upon the Mamelukes and showed his nominal master at Constantinople an example not afterward forgotten, by coaxing these formidable soldiers into a trap and there massacring them all (1811). The Pasha of Albania had long been accustomed to make treaties with the Europeans quite as an independent monarch, and in 1820 he embarked in open war against Constantinople. Encouraged by his successes, the Greeks also rose and began their war of independence.

The Albanian Pasha, "the old lion of Jannina," was overthrown, as much through treachery as by force; but the Greeks continued to struggle, and again and again repulsed the disorderly hordes of Janizaries who marched against them. That body being thus discredited, Sultan Mahmud at last ventured upon the attack he had been long maturing. Recognizing the value of artillery against such a mob as the Janizaries had become, he carefully strengthened that branch of his army. Under plea of the mechanical and therefore inferior labor required in handling the cannon, he collected his artillerymen from new recruits, many of them not even Turks by birth, but recusants from the Christian faith. By kind treatment and many privileges, he gained the personal devotion of these men. He also ventured to revive a few of Selim's regiments, trained to obedience and discipline on the Western model.

Then, pointing out to the mufti the failures of the Janizaries and the successes of his own better-ordered troops, he secured from these religious judges a declaration that the discipline of the Janizaries must be restored. The insulted and unsuspecting bullies of the empire promptly overturned their camp kettles and advanced against the palace. Met by Sultan Mahmud at the head of his twelve thousand loyal artillery, they were mowed down in the streets. They retreated to their barracks, and there defended themselves with a valor worthy a better cause. No direct assault was made on them, but from a distance the artillery steadily continued its fire until the barrack buildings crumbled into ruin. The defenders rushed out in repeated sallies, but were driven back. Some few cried for mercy; they were shot down. No chance was to be given them to turn suddenly on their conquerors as they had on Bairactar. The cannonade was kept up until nothing was left of the Janizaries of Constantinople but their dead bodies and the burning, bloodstained ruins which had been their homes (1826).

Surrender of varna


The grim massacre extended throughout the empire. Then Mahmud, really master of his dominions at last and avenged for the wrongs done him in earlier years, began the construction of a new army which might well have rehabilitated the Ottoman power in the eyes of Europe. Time was not given him, however, to carry his reforms to their full fruition. To check the successes of the Greeks he had appealed for aid to his powerful Egyptian vassal Mehemet Ali, and Ali so cruelly and completely suppressed the insurgents that Europe interfered. A combined English, French and Russian fleet entered the harbor of Navarino, where the Turkish navy lay. There had been no declaration of war, but the intrusion was threatening if not openly hostile, and the Turkish admiral fired on the advancing ships. A battle ensued in which, after an heroic defense, the Turkish navy was annihilated (1827).

With it disappeared most of Mahmud's hopes. The Western Powers insisted on the freedom of Greece. The Sultan, infuriated though despairing, refused to consent. Indeed, fearing his own people, he dared not consent. Russia, twice checked in her southward advance by the other Powers, seized the opportunity to secure their approval in the chastisement of the obdurate Turks. The war of 1828 followed, and Mahmud's new troops, few as yet and incompletely organized, failed to hold back their foes. A Russian army passed the Balkans, seized the ancient fortifications of Varna and took possession of Adrianople. The force that had thus penetrated to the heart of the Sultan's domains was in reality small and almost exhausted; but Mahmud, astounded, bewildered, and misled as to the number of his foes, asked for peace. Every behest of the Powers was agreed to. Greece was made independent. The vassalage of Servia and also of ancient Moldavia and Wallachia was reduced to little more than a name. The Russian frontier was advanced to the Danube (1828).

The unhappy Sultan had next to face the revolt'of Egypt. Mehemet Ali, seeing the helplessness of his ancient master, extended his authority over Syria as well as Egypt; and when the Turks sought to expel him from his new possession, he asserted a complete independence, defeated their armies, and marched his forces to the walls of Constantinople. Nothing saved the Sultan but the interference of the Western Powers, which had promised to protect him in the weakness to which they had themselves reduced him (1831).

After several years of preparation, the persistent Sultan again felt himself strong enough to compel the obedience of his overgrown Egyptian vassal. The Turkish army had been completely reconstructed, and a new fleet had been slowly and laboriously rebuilt to replace that lost at Navarino. Fleet and army were both despatched against Egypt with high hopes of victory; but the corruption which had for generations sapped the honesty of Ottoman officials, now played an extraordinary part. Mehemet Ali's bribes must have been high indeed; for whole battalions of the Turkish troops deserted to him on the very eve of battle, leaving the more loyal regiments to be easily overthrown. As for the commander of the fleet, taking leave of his sovereign with repeated oaths of the great deeds he intended to perform, he sailed straight for the Egyptian port of Alexandria, and there handed over all his vessels to Mehemet Ali (1839).

Sultan Mahmud was saved the knowledge of these last unparallelled acts of treachery. Worn out by years of anxiety and endeavor, he died before the news of the double disaster reached Constantinople. His career has been mocked at by his own people who have hated his innovations; his purposes had been foiled by foes whose subtlety dug deeper than his own; and he had brought his throne to what seemed hopeless ruin. Yet he cannot be charged wholly with failure. He accomplished much with little means, and the continued existence of the Ottoman Empire to-day is largely due to the reforms inaugurated by Mahmud II, the projects that he carried through, and the reawakening respect for both himself and his people which he extorted from reluctant Europe.

The Recent Generations

[Illustration] from Greatest Nations - Turkey by C. F. Horne


[Authorities: As before, also Kinglake, "The Crimean War"; Bliss, "Turkey and the Armenian Atrocities"; Stevens, "With the Conquering Turk"; Hidden, "The Ottoman Dynasty."]

Two generations have passed since the death of Sultan Mahmud, and his tottering empire still lives. It is indeed, far stronger in our day than it was in his. The credit of this, if credit it be, must be given to the Western Powers of Europe. Many critics, however, insist that the efforts of England and France have only temporarily galvanized the dead body of the Turkish Empire, which cannot long retain even this faint semblance of life.

In 1839 the Powers interfered to prevent the rebellious Mehemet All from marching for the second time against Constantinople. When he resisted their decree, English ships bombarded his ports and soon forced him to submission. The East, admitting itself crushed and helpless, was taken wholly under Western tutelage. Sultan Abdul Mejid (1839-1861), who succeeded his father Mahmud upon the throne, consented to be modernized. His subjects no longer offered objection.

To Abdul, a dreamy, idle-minded, impracticable man, the change consisted mainly in wearing European clothes, importing a Parisian tailor, and falling into all the elegancies and extravagances of the French. His suite followed his example; it was a new game and they were charmed with it. They readily learned to talk the shibboleth of government reform, and their western mentors, highly pleased, accommodated them with large national loans to be employed upon the work of reorganizing the empire. Little real reform was attempted. Talk was so much simpler; and the easily acquired money was lavishly spent upon the pleasures of the court. The Sultan acquired a taste for draperies and decorations, and the inmates of his harem were bejewelled in a way that recalled the days of Ibrahim. Taxes were heavily increased, but of course it was all in the interests of "reform," and the Sultan issued the much-lauded hatti-scheriff, or proclamation of Gulhana, assuring his subjects that their government had become and would continue to be the most enlightened in the world.

His western friends asked for treasury reports showing what had been done with the funds they had supplied, what definite progress had been made in the good work. The Ottoman officials obligingly invented a series of replies, not taking the trouble to make actual count of what they or their friends or the Sultan might have squandered in thoughtlessness, but putting down whatever figures they thought would be most pleasing to this kind-hearted Europe. In fact so wholly ignorant of what might come after, so blindly indifferent to the future, were these children of the East, that when the chief minister of finance was gently reproved for printing off several million dollars more of bank notes than he had money to redeem, he replied in surprise that the Sultan had asked him for more notes, and he saw no objection to printing them since the press was already in operation!

Turkish Parliament


In this opium dream of pleasure, the Turkish officials would gladly have continued forever. It was interrupted by Russia. Her leaders do not forget; they have Constantinople ever before their eyes. Moreover the government of the Czar and also that of Austria were directly antagonized by the refusal of the Turks to surrender Kossuth and the other fugitive rebels who fled to them for shelter after the overthrow of Hungary in 1849. This alone was scarce cause for war; but the increase of taxes in the Christian provinces of Turkey brought murmurings of which Russia became the voice. She declared herself the protector of all Christians within the Moslem empire; she demanded reforms on their behalf. Abdul Mejid, encouraged by his western allies, refused to admit Russia's right to interfere, and once more the armies of the Czar invaded Turkish territory (1853).

The Turkish navy was easily destroyed at Sinope, but the new Moslem army created by Selim and Mahmud displayed unexpected powers of resistance. The Russians were repelled from the Danube. England and France hasted to the aid of their ward; and the aggressive war, which Russia had planned to make a repetition of that of 1828, became for her a struggle of defense. England and France assailed her in the Crimea. The Turks drew back and let their kind friends fight for them, and by the treaty of peace of 1856, a portion of the territory beyond the Danube was taken from Russia and restored to its former possessors.

Could the delighted Sultan have held his own subjects in check, he might nave found no further trouble, but it was impossible to convince the common Turk that his Christian servants, his slaves, his rayahs, whom he had treated for centuries with contempt, were really on an equality with himself. This equality the Western Powers insisted upon. Abdul Mejid readily admitted it in theory and proclaimed another hatti-scheriff  abolishing among his subjects all distinctions based on religion or race. This encouraged the Christians to assert themselves a little in various places, and where they did so the indignant and insulted Moslems massacred them.

Reports of these slaughters began to reach the West. They roused protest and ever-increasing horror. The easy-going Sultan undoubtedly did his best to check these annoyances to his good friends; but his efforts amounted to little and he died in 1861.

Greek-Turkish War


His successor, his son Abdul Aziz (1861-1876), was a man of different stamp, a Moslem fanatic, stiff and fierce, who fawned a little where he must, but in secret approved and encouraged these massacres. He saw that the Christian subjects of the empire, once slavish and submissive, had become changed, were inspirited almost to the point of rebellion. If they could only be exterminated in a body, his realm would be far stronger to resist the Christian Powers beyond. So the slaughter increased, the oppression grew dark and hideous. Rebellion after rebellion sprang up in Bosnia, in Montenegro, in Crete. Russia was accused of instigating these in her own interests. The bewildered Powers of the West seeing their promising pupil fallen into such evil ways, knew not what to do. They threatened, they demanded reforms. Abdul Aziz promised these, and having thus lulled his mentors into inaction, was able to suppress the Christian uprisings. But the reforms failed to follow. The massacres went on.

In 1874, the Christians of Herzegovina were driven to desperate revolt. The flame spread to Bulgaria and thence to all the Balkan States. Many peaceful Turks met cruel death from the sudden savage revenge of their ancient victims. Encouraged by Russian promises, the Christians declared bitterly that they would die to the last man sooner than submit longer to Turkish oppression.

Meanwhile the financial difficulties of the government at Constantinople had reached a climax. Abdul Aziz had acquired a taste for building palaces, on which he squandered enormous sums. He had travelled with Oriental magnificence through Europe, being the first Ottoman Sultan who ever left his own domains except in war. From this venture amid western civilization the Sultan returned unenlightened, and only more ferocious and fanatical than before. He readily seized at an expedient proposed to him for escaping all financial worry, declared his government bankrupt (1875), and repudiated all its debts to the Western Powers.

Here was a crash indeed! England and France defied; the Balkans in revolt; Moslems and Christians massacring each other; the Sultan raging furiously at home! The Turkish officials knew not what to do, and then followed one of those obscure tragedies of the seraglio, whose exact details we may never know. Sultan Abdul Aziz disappeared, perhaps he abdicated, at any rate he was dead, and his nephew, Murad V, was proclaimed Sultan. The lad, who had once been intellectual enough, was now found to be an imbecile. What horrors had he passed through at his uncle's death? What had he endured? The Turks do not speak of these things. Murad was soon seen to be incapable of reigning, and his younger brother, the present Sultan, Abdul Hamid II, was made ruler in his stead (1876).

Meanwhile the Balkan rebellion had been almost crushed by Turkish armies; but the atrocities committed by the aroused and infuriated Moslems compelled Europe to interfere. The Porte was ready with promises, but these were no longer trusted. The new Sultan even went so far as to proclaim a complete revolution in the traditional form of Turkish government. He announced that his people were to rule, and summoned a parliament imitated upon those of Western Europe. The Powers, however, refused to be blinded any further, and the purely nominal "parliament" soon disappeared when Europe continued to insist upon effectual reform in the Christian provinces. The Powers demanded that these reforms should be placed under their supervision. This was refused, and Russia stepped forward as usual, eager to become the agent of the other Powers and enforce Turkish obedience. Then followed the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78.

Again as in 1853 the Ottoman troops displayed unexpected powers of resistance. They found an able general in Osman Pasha and for months held back the Moscovites at Plevna. The fortress surrendered at last, and in midwinter the Russians mastered the dangerous passes of the Balkans and crossed to the plains beyond. Adrianople was captured, the Turkish armies utterly dispersed, and under the very walls of Constantinople the Russians dictated terms of peace. Even the most ignorant and most obstinate of the European Osmanli could no longer believe in the invincibility of their nation.

England, intervening once more in Turkey's favor, made the terms less severe upon her and less profitable to Russia than they would otherwise have been. But all the Balkan States became practically independent, and Turkey in Europe was reduced to the territory it holds to-day.

Dinner of Abdul Hamid II


Twenty years followed of what we are assured was real reform. Then came the Greco-Turkish war, insisted upon by Greece in opposition to the mandate of Europe. The Turkish government shrewdly placed itself under the direction of the Powers, and these, having done everything possible to restrain the excited Greeks, felt compelled to permit Turkey to defend herself. Instantly her armies sprang forward with a vigor of action and excellence of discipline that astonished her sponsors. Here was no despicable force! The soldiers, stirred to their ancient religious enthusiasm, charged bravely forward shouting "Allah! Allah!" and paying no heed to the comrades who fell around them. They swept back the Greek army like crumpled paper; and then with rare self-restraint, when the Powers stretched forth interposing hands, the Turks stopped. They surrendered their conquests and peace was made (1898).

Since then the long-persisting "Eastern Question" has assumed new phases. The Sultan in his old age has become afraid of everything, suspicious of everyone. From his retirement in his favorite palace of Yildiz Kiosk, he peeps out upon the world in terror. Every dish that reaches his table is first examined and tested for poison by experts whose own lives hang upon the issue. Of what happens in the outer world of Turkey, he receives little information, and that little reaches him in garbled form. Asiatic missionaries in Syria and Armenia warn us that massacres of Christians still continue. The Sultan denies this, or belittles it. Apparently in good faith, he investigates the reports and strives to control his people.

Yet surely the end of all this evasion and procrastination is near. Russia reaches out her hand toward Constantinople. England still intervenes, and will not allow too severe a chastisement to fall upon "the unspeakable Turk!" Perhaps in his new strength, he intends to resort once more to armed resistance. In the fall of 1905, the ever-continuing tumult and bloodshed in Macedonia led the Powers to unite in insisting that the financial administration of the region should be placed in their hands. The Porte evaded this further surrender of its authority, until threats were employed, and cities seized by a European fleet. The final issue between East and West cannot be much longer delayed.

[Illustration] from Greatest Nations - Turkey by C. F. Horne

Chronology of the Turkish Empire

~1250 A.D.Ertoghrul rescues the Sultan of Iconium.
1260Ertoghrul made ruler of Sultan-Śni.
1288Ertoghrul succeeded by his son Osman.
~1301Osman had the public prayers said in his name.
1307Osman cast off the last remnant of vassalage to Iconium.
1318The Turks besieged Brusa.
1326Surrender of Brusa.
~1327Death of Osman, and generous rivalry of his sons Orchan and Aladdin.
1330Capture of Nicma.
1336Karasi added to the Osmanli domains; which extended over all north-western Asia Minor.
1356Solyman led the Turks across the Hellespont; earthquakes facilitated the capture of Gallipoli.
1360Murad I conquered Adrianople and most of the Roman Empire of the East.
1364Turkish victory over the Servians at the Marizza.
1387Decisive defeat of the Caramanians at Iconium.
1389Murad crushed the Servians at Kossova; Bajazet Ilderim annexed Servia.
1396Crusade and Christian defeat at Nicopolis.
1402Timur overthrew Bajazet in the huge battle of Angora.
1403-13Civil war among the sons of Bajazet, ended by the triumph of Mahomet I.
1442Victories of Hunyadi at Hermanstadt and Vasag.
1443Revolt of Scanderbeg.
1444Abdication of Murad II ; his return to the throne, and defeat of the Hungarians at Varna.
1451Murad defeated Hunyadi at Kossova.
1453Final siege and capture of Constantinople by Mahomet II.
1456Mahomet repulsed by Hunyadi at Belgrade.
1460Greece occupied by the Turks.
1475Kaffa, the Genoese metropolis of the Crimea, captured.
1480The Turks seize Otranto in Italy.
1481Civil wars of Bajazet II and his brother Djem.
1512Bajazet II forced to abdicate in favor of his son, Selim the Destroyer.
1513Massacre of thz Shiites.
1514Selim overthrows the Persians at Calderan.
1516He adds Syria to his do-mains by the victory of Aleppo.
1517The Mamelukes defeated at Ridania, and Egypt conquered; Selim becomes Caliph of the Mahometans.
1521Solyman the Magnificent captures Belgrade.
1522Knights of St. John driven from the Isle of Rhodes.
1526Destruction of the Hungarians at Mohacs.
1529Solyman ravages Austria and besieges Vienna.
1533Truce between Solyman and Europe.
1538Naval victory of Barbarossa off Prevesa.
1547Most of Hungary surrendered to Solyman; Ferdinand of Austria pays him tribute.
1566Solyman dies before the fortress of Szigeth, and Selim the Sot begins the decadence of the royal house.
1569First encounter of Turks and Russians.
1571Capture of Cyprus; the sea-fight of Lepanto.
1589Great revolt of the Janizaries; frightful interval of disorder.
1590The cession of Georgia by the Persians expands the Turkish Empire to its widest extent.
1594Uprising of the Christian tributary states, "the Wallachian Vespers."
1596Mahomet III overthrows the Christian armies at Cerestes; the last great Turkish victory.
1622Osman II murdered by the Janizaries.
1636Murad IV recaptures Baghdad.
1656Mahomet Kiuprili made Vizier.
1664Defeat at St. Gotthard.
1669Crete surrenders to the Turks.
1672The Cossacks of the Ukraine secure Turkish protection.
1673Victories of Sobieski at Khoczim and (1675) Lemberg.
1683Kara Mustapha driven back from Vienna; European coalition against the Turks.
1687Turkish defeat at Mohacs.
1689Loss of Belgrade.
1691Defeat at Slankamen.
1697Defeat at Zenta.
1699Peace of Carlowitz, by which Turkey loses Hungary, Azov, the Ukraine and the Peloponnesus.
1711Victory over Peter the Great.
1717Second defeat at Belgrade.
1736The Russians ravage the Crimea.
1787England and Prussia rescue Turkey from the Russians.
1808Selim III attempts reform and is overthrown by the Janizaries.
1820The Albanians and then the Greeks revolt.
1826Mahmud II exterminates the Janizaries.
1827Battle of Navarino.
1828Russian war establishes the independence of Greece.
1839War with Egypt; Turkey rescued by the Western Powers. submits to their tutelage.
1853Russian aggression leads to the Crimean War.
1861Turkish reaction under Abdul Aziz.
1875National bankruptcy; the Balkan rebellion.
1877Russia chastises the Turks again; freedom of the Balkan States.
1897Grco-Turkish war.
1905Turkey defies the Powers on the Macedonian question.

Rulers of the Osmanli

1359Murad I.
1389Bayazid I.
1413Mahomet I.
1421Murad II.
1451Mahomet II.
1481Bayazid II.
1512Selim I.
1520Solyman I.
1566Selim II.
1574Murad III.
1594Mahomet III.
1603Achmet I.
1617Mustapha I.
1617Osman II.
1623Mural IV.
1640Ibrahim I.
1648Mahomet IV.
1687Solyman II.
1691Achmet II.
1695Mustapha II.
1703Achmet III.
1730Mahmud I.
1754Osman III.
1757Mustapha III.
1789Selim III.
1807Mustapha IV.
1808Mahmud II.
1876Murad V.
1876Abdul-Hamid II.