129. HISTORY OF THE TURKS.F it were not that I fear to overlay this our volume with heaps of foreign histories, which have professed chiefly to treat of Acts and Monuments here done at home, I would adjoin after these popes above rehearsed, some discourse also of the Turks' story; of their rising and cruel persecution of the saints of God, to the great annoyance and peril of Christendom: yet, notwithstanding, certain causes there be, which necessarily require the knowledge of their order and doings, and of their wicked proceedings, their cruel tyranny, and bloody victories, the ruin and subversion of so many Christian churches, with the horrible murders and captivity of infinite Christians, to be made plain and manifest, as well to this our country of England, as also to other nations.
First, For the better explaining of the prophecies of the New Testament, as in St. Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians, and also in the Revelation of St. John. Which Scriptures otherwise, without the opening of these histories, cannot so perfectly be understood. Of the which Scriptures, we mind hereafter, Christ granting, orderly, as the course of matter shall lead us, to make rehearsal.
Another cause is, That we may learn thereby, either with the public church to lament with our brethren, such a great defection and decay of Christian faith, through these wicked Turks; or else may fear thereby our own danger.
The third cause, That we may ponder more deeply with ourselves the scourge of God for our sins, and corrupt doctrine; which in the sequel hereof more evidently may appear to our eyes, for our better admonition.
Fourthly, The consideration of this horrible persecution of the Turks, rising chiefly by our discord and dissension among ourselves, may reduce us again from our domestic wars, in killing and burning one of another, to join together in Christian patience and concord.
Fifthly, But chiefly, these great victories of the Turks, and unprosperous speed of our men fighting against them, may admonish and teach us, following the example of the old Israelites, how to seek for greater strength to encounter with these enemies of Christ, than hitherto we have done. First, we must consider that the whole power of Satan, the prince of this world, goeth with the Turks; which to resist, no strength of man's army is sufficient, but only the name, spirit, and power of our Lord Jesus, the Son of God, going with us in our battles; as among the old Israelites, the ark of God's covenant and promise went with them also, fighting against the enemies of God. For so are we taught in the Scripture, that we Christian men have no strength but in Christ only. Whether we war against the devil, or against the Turk, it is true that the Scripture saith, Without me ye can do nothing. Otherwise there is no puissance to stand against the devil, or to conquer the world, but our faith only; to which all the promises of God, touching salvation, be annexed, beyond which promises we must not go, for the word must be our rule. He that presumeth beyond the promises in the word expressed, goeth not, but wandereth, he cannot tell whither. Neither must we appoint God how to save the world, but must take that way which he hath appointed. Let us not set God to school, nor comprehend his Holy Spirit within our skulls. He that made us without our counsel, did also redeem us as pleased him. If he be merciful, let us be thankful. And if his mercies surmount our capacity, let us therefore not resist, but search his word, and thereunto apply our will, which, if we will do, all our contentions will be soon at a point. Let us therefore search the will of our God in his word, and if he will his salvation to stand free to all nations, why do we make merchandise thereof? If he have graciously offered his waters to us, without money, or without money-worth, let us not hedge in the plenteous springs of his grace given us.
And finally, if God have determined his own Son only to stand alone, let not us presume to admix with his majesty any of our trumpery. He that bringeth St. George or St. Dennis as patrons to the field to fight against the Turk, leaveth Christ (no doubt) at home. Now, how we have fought these many years against the Turk, though stories keep silence, yet the success declareth. We fight against a persecutor, being no less persecutors ourselves. We wrestle against a bloody tyrant, and our hands be as full of blood as his. He killeth Christ's people with the sword, and we burn them with fire. He, observing the works of the law, seeketh his justice by the same; the like also do we. But neither he nor we seek our justification as we should, that is, by faith only in the Son of God.
And what marvel then, our doctrine being as corrupt almost as his, and our conversation worse, if Christ fight not with us, fighting against the Turk? The Turk hath prevailed so mightily, not because Christ is weak, but because that Christians be wicked, and their doctrine impure. Our temples with images, our hearts with idolatry, are polluted: our priests stink before God for adultery, being restrained from lawful matrimony. The name of God is in our mouths, but his fear is not in our hearts. We war against the Turk with our works, masses, traditions, and ceremonies; but we fight not against him with Christ, and with the power of his glory, which if we did, the field were won.
Wherefore, briefly to conclude, saying my judgment in this behalf, what I suppose; this hope I have, and do believe, that when the church of Christ, with the sacraments thereof, shall be so reformed, that Christ alone shall be received to be our justifier, all other religions, merits, traditions, images, patrons, and advocates, set apart, the sword of the Christians, with the strength of Christ, shall soon vanquish the Turks' pride and fury. But of this more largely in the process of this story.
The sixth and last cause, why I think the knowledge of the Turks' history requisite to be considered, is this: Because that many there be, which, for that they be further from the Turks, and think therefore themselves to be out of danger, take little care and study what happeneth to their other brethren. Wherefore, to the intent to excite their zeal and prayer to Almighty God, in this so lamentable ruin of Christ's church, I thought it requisite, by order of history, to give this our nation also something to understand, what hath been done in other nations by these cruel Turks, and what detriment hath been, and is like more to happen by them to the church of Christ, except we make our earnest invocation to Almighty God, in the name of his Son, to stop the course of the devil by these Turks, and to stay this defection of Christians, falling daily unto them, and to reduce them again to his faith which are fallen from him. Which the Lord Jesus of his grace grant with speed. Amen.
Before we enter into this story of the Turks and Saracens, first let us call to remembrance the prophecy and forewarning of St. Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, in his Second Epistle, in these words: Be not moved or troubled in your minds, either by preaching or writing, or by letter from us, as though the day of the Lord were at hand; for the Lord will not come, except there come a defection first, and the wicked person be revealed, &c. Of this defection, sundry minds there be of sundry expositors; some thinking this defection to mean a falling away from the empire of Rome; some, from the obedience of the pope. But as St. Paul little passed upon the outward glory of the Roman empire, so less he passed upon the proud obedience of the pope. What St. Paul meant by this defection, the reading of these Turkish stories, and the miserable falling away of these churches by him before planted, will soon declare.
Another mystery there is in the Revelation, chap. xiii., where the number of the beast is counted six hundred and sixty-six. Whereby may seem, by all evidences, to be signified the first origin and springing of these beastly Saracens, as by sequel hereof may appear, by the first rising of this devilish sect of Mahomet.
Moreover, another place there is, Rev. xvi., where we read, that by pouring out of the vial of God's wrath, of the sixth angel, the great flood Euphrates was dried up, to let in the kings of the east; the opening of which prophecy may also more evidently appear, in considering the order and manner of the coming of these Turks into Europe.
Some also apply to the Turks certain prophecies of Daniel, Ezekiel, and other places of the Old Testament more, which here I omit, forasmuch as the prophecies of the Old Testament, if they be taken in their proper and native sense, after my judgment, do extend no further than to the death of our Saviour, and to the end of the Jews' kingdom. Albeit herein I do not prejudicate to any man's opinion, but that every man may abound in his own sense.
As touching the year and time when this pestiferous sect of Mahomet first began, histories do not fully consent, some affirming that it began A. D. 621, and in the tenth year of Heraclius the emperor of Constantinople; in which mind is Johannes Lucidus. As Munsterus counteth, it was in the year of our Lord 622. Martin Luther and John Carion refer it to the eighteenth year of the reign of Heraclius, which is the year of our Lord 630. Unto the which number, the computation of the beast signified in the Apocalypse doth not far disagree, which numbereth the name of the beast with three Greek letters, χ, ξ, σ [chi, xi, sigma,] which Greek letters, after the supputation of the Grecians, make the number of six hundred sixty and six.
In this all writers agree, that this damnable Mahomet was born in the country of Arabia, bordering on the east part of Jewry. His father was a Syrian, or a Persian, his mother was an Ishmaelite; which Ishmaelites being a people of Arabia, were called then Agarenes; which term Mahomet afterward turned to the name of Saracens. Of this wretched Mahomet mention was made before, where we showed, how he, making himself the highest prophet of all other, yet denieth not Christ to be a holy prophet, and next to him, and Moses also to be another. Moreover, he denieth not Mary the mother of Christ to be a virgin, and to have conceived Christ by the Holy Ghost; affirming further, that Christ in his own person was not crucified, but another called Judas for him. He greatly commendeth also John the son of Zacharias for a virgin; when he himself permitteth a man to have four wives, and as many concubines as he is able to find; and saith, that whereas Christ and other prophets had the gift given them to work miracles, he was sent by force of sword to compel men to his religion,
The prodigious vanities, lies, and blasphemies contained in his law, called Alcoran, are rather to be laughed at than recited.
It is thought that Sergius, a Nestorian, was a great doer with Mahomet, in contriving of this lying Alcoran; and so it doth well appear by the scope and pretence thereof, which especially tendeth to this end, to take the Divinity from the person of Christ, whom he granteth, notwithstanding, to be a most holy man, and also that he is received up to God, and shall come again to kill antichrist, &c.
Moreover, this ridiculous Alcoran is so blanched and powdered with so divers mixtures of the Christians', Jews', and the Gentiles' laws, giving such liberty to all wantonness of flesh, setting up circumcision, abstaining from swine's flesh, and Judaical lotions, and so much standeth upon Father Abraham, that it is supposed of some, this filthy Alcoran not to be set out in the days of Mahomet, but that certain Jews had some handling also in this matter, and put it out after his death; and so seemeth first to take his force about the number of years limited in the Apocalypse, as is aforesaid, where thus it is written: He that hath intelligence, let him count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man, and his number is six hundred sixty and six.
After this devilish Mahomet had thus seduced the people, teaching them that he came not by miracles, but by force of sword to give his law, and that they which will not obey it, must either be put to death, or else pay tribute (for so be the words of the Alcoran); and after that he had gathered strength about him of the Arabians, which Arabians had then occasion to rebel against the emperor, because their stipends were not paid them of Heraclius the emperor's officers, he began to range with force and violence in the parts of Syria bordering near unto him, and first subdued Mecca, then Damascus; and further increasing in power, he entered into Egypt and subdued the same. From thence he turned his power against the Persians, with whom Cosroes, the king of Persia, encountering with a puissant army, overthrew the Saracens, and put Mahomet to flight. Of these Persians came the Turks, which afterward joining with the Saracens, maintained them against the Christians.
After the death of this beast, which, as some say, was poisoned in his house, succeeded Ebocara, or Ebubecer, his father-in-law, or, as Bibliander affirmeth, his son-in-law, who took upon him the government of the Christians, and got the city Gaza, and besieged also Jerusalem two years. He reigned two years, having for his chief city Damascus.
After him followed Omar, or Ahumar, who conquered a great part of Syria, and got Egypt.
The fourth king of the Saracens, after Mahomet, was Odman, then followed Haly, and after him Muhanias; which, after the siege of seven years, obtained and got the Christian city of Cesarea; also overcame the Persians, with their king Orimasda, and subdued that country to his law.
Thus the wicked Saracens, in the space of thirty years, subdued Arabia, got Palestine, Phoenicia, Syria, Egypt, and Persia, which came directly to the six hundred and sixty-six years prophesied of in the Revelation of St. John, as is aforesaid. And not long after they proceeded further, and got Africa, and then Asia, as in the process of their story shall appear, the Lord willing.
Not long after Heraclius, emperor of Constantinople, succeeded Constance his nephew, who, in the thirteenth year of his empire, fighting unluckily against the Saracens in Lycia, was overthrown of Muhanias aforesaid, in the year of our Lord 655. Which Constance, if he were not prospered by the Lord in his wars, it was no great marvel, considering that he had slain his brother Theodosius before at home; moreover, lived in incestuous matrimony; also, being inclined to certain new sects, could not abide the contrary teachers, but slew them which admonished him thereof. The said Constance going afterward to Italy, was also overcome of the Lombards, &c. The Saracens after this victory spoiled all Rhodes.
Although these cursed Saracens, in these their great victories and conquests, were not without domestic sedition and divisions among themselves, yet the princes of the Saracens, being called then sultans, had in their possession the government of Syria, Egypt, Africa, and of a great part of Asia, about the term of four hundred years; till at length the Saracen king which ruled in Persia, fighting against the Saracen of Babylon, sought aid of the Turks, to fight with him against the sultan of Babylon. The which Turks by little and little surprised upon the sultan of Persia, and not long after putting him out of place, usurped the kingdom of Persia; which afterward went further, as ye shall hear, the Lord willing. And this is the first beginning of the Turks' dominion.
These Turks, after they had thus overcome great countries and provinces, and made their power large and mighty both in Asia and Europe, began to divide their kingdoms and countries amongst themselves. But when they could not agree, but with deadly war contended for the bounds of those kingdoms and dominions, in the mean time four of the principal families, conquering and subduing all the rest, parted the whole empire amongst themselves. And yet they also not so contented, fell to such cruel hatred, contention, war, and slaughter, (no doubt by the just judgment of God against his blaphemous enemies,) that there was no end thereof, until the remnant of the ancient Turks was utterly rooted out.
For it is evident that there are few now remaining which are Turks indeed by birth and blood, and that the state of that great empire is not up-holden, but by the strength and power of soldiers which have been Christians, and now are turned to Mahomet's religion; so that even their own natural language is now out of use amongst them, saving in certain families of their nobility and gentlemen.
These four families above mentioned, with their captains and armies, about the year of our Lord 1330, went raging throughout all Asia and Europe, and every one of them conquered some part of the countries where they passed.
The causes of these great invasions and victories, were the dissension and discord, falsehood, idleness, inconstancy, greedy avarice, lack of truth and fidelity among Christian men of all states and degrees, both high and low. For by the wilful defection and backsliding of the Christians the Turkish power did exceedingly increase, in that many, desiring the licentious life and liberty of war, and allured with the prosperous success of things, forsook the church of God, and made themselves bondslaves to Mahomet and his devilish sect; both because that fleshly liberty is delightful to all men, and partly also because as fortune favoureth, so commonly the wills of men incline. And again, such as be profane and without the fear of God, (whereof there is an infinite number in the church,) in all ages, are wont commonly to judge of religion according to the success of realms and kingdoms. For many, not only for the variety of opinions, but also for the diversity of events and fortune amongst men, have inquired, and do inquire, whether there be any church of God distinct from other nations; what it is, and where it is; especially, forasmuch as the greatest part of men, both in the old time, when the four monarchies flourished in order, was ignorant of this doctrine, which is peculiar to the church alone, and now also the barbarity of Mahomet prevaileth and reigneth in the most part of the world. And how standeth this with man's reason, that a small number, both miserable and also feebled and broken with many battles, should be regarded and loved of God, and the other flourishing in all wealth, prosperities, victories, authority, and power, should be rejected and despised of God, seeing there is no power and authority, but by the ordinance of God? Albeit, therefore, the power of the Turks had been, for these two hundred years, of greater force than any other monarchy of the world besides, yet is there no imperial dignity to be esteemed in that Turkish tyranny, but amongst those nations only, where the heavenly doctrine of the Gospel is preached, and other disciplines necessary for the church of God, and the common life of man maintained and regarded; where the laws of God, and other honest and civil ordinances agreeable to the same, do flourish and reign; where lawful judgment is exercised; where virtue is honoured and rewarded; where sin and wickedness is punished; where honest families are maintained and defended.
These things are not regarded amongst the Turks, the enemies of the Son of God, and all lawful empires; because they dissolve and reject all godly societies, honest discipline, good laws, policies, righteous judgment, the ordinance of matrimony, and godly families. For what hath the empire of the Turks been hitherto, but most deadly, cruel, and perpetual war, to work all mischief, destruction, and desolation; to subvert good laws, cities, kingdoms, policies, and to enlarge their cruel power and dominion? The stay and strength whereof, is not love and favour proceeding of virtue and justice, as in lawful and well-governed empires; but fear, violence, oppression, swarms and infinite thousands of barbarous and most wicked people, ministers of Satan's malice and fury. Which kind of dominion and tyranny hath been condemned by the voice of God many years ago; the testimonies whereof the Lord would have to remain in the church, lest the godly, being moved with the power and success thereof, should fall away and forsake the Son of God.
Wherefore, let us not seek for any imperial state in that barbarity; but let us be thankful, and acknowledge the great benefit of God, for that he hath reserved to us certain remnants of the Roman empire; and let us call upon him daily, with hearty petitions and groans, and with zeal and love to the house of God, that this Turkish power, joined with the malice of Satan against the Son of God, prevail not against the poor congregations and little remnant of his church, as it hath hitherto done against those strong and noble Christian kingdoms and churches, where now we see the Turkish tyranny to reign, and Satan to have taken full possession. Whose state was once far better than ours is now, and more like to continue without such horrible overthrows and desolation. Oh that we might foresee a little the great danger that hangeth over our heads! For though the Turk seemeth to be far off, yet do we nourish within our breasts at home, that which may soon cause us to feel his cruel hand, and worse, if worse may be, to overrun us; to lay our land waste; to scatter us amongst the infidels, the enemies and blasphemers of the Son of God.
Now, although these four families above mentioned long continued together in bloody wars, deadly hatred, yet one of them passed the rest in all cruelty and tyranny, and subduing the other three families, took upon him the government alone, and so became the first monarch, or emperor, that reigned amongst them, called Ottomannus; of whom all that reigned after him were called Ottomanni. Who succeeding orderly of his line, have occupied the same dominion and seat of the Turks, from the year of our Lord 1300, unto this present time, which have been to the number of twelve; of the which twelve, in such order as they lived and reigned, I intend, Christ so permitting, severally and compendiously something to treat, briefly abstracting, out of prolix and tedious writers, such specialties as for us Christians shall be briefly requisite to be known.
Ottoman, the first great emperor, or tyrant, of the Turks.
This Ottoman was at the first of poor estate, and obscure amongst the common sort of men, coming of a base progeny, and of rustical parents; but through his valiantness and activity in war, he got him a great name amongst the Turks; for he being a man of fierce courage, refusing no labour, and delighting in war, and gathering together by subtlety a multitude of common soldiers, began to make war, and by conquest and victories to advance himself and his family. First, he began to rob and spoil with a great band of rovers, and afterward he attempted to set upon all men. Neither did he vex and destroy the Christians only, but set upon his own nation also, and sought all occasion to subdue them wholly unto him. For now the princes and captains of the Turks, inflamed with ambition and desire of rule, began to fall out and contend among themselves, insomuch that they fell to domestic and inward war, with all the power they could.
Ottoman having this occasion very fit and meet to accomplish that which he long had sought for, gathering unto him all such as he thought to be given to robbing and spoiling, and set all upon mischief, in short time began to grow in authority, and first set upon certain towns, as he saw opportunity to serve him. Of which towns some he took by force, some by yielding, other some he spoiled and overthrew to terrify the rest, thus laying the first foundation of his rising. In the mean time, the discord which was amongst the Christians was no small advantage to this Ottoman, by occasion whereof he, within ten years' space, subdued Bithynia, and all the provinces about Pontus; also Natolia, which comprehended all the dominion of the Greeks within Asia; Ancyra, a city in Phrygia; Synope, a city in Galatia; and Sabastia, a city in Cappadocia: and thus still prevailing, he increased in short time to a mighty power, either through the secret judgment of God against that nation, or else because God would have them so far and so cruelly to prevail, for the punishment of the sins of other nations; like as it was prophesied before, that such a kingdom there should be of Gog and Magog.
This Ottoman, after he had reigned twenty-eight years, in the year of our Lord 1327, died, and departed to his Mahomet, leaving behind him three sons, of whom Orchan, being the youngest, killed his two brethren, whilst they were at variance between themselves.
Orchan, the second emperor after Ottoman.
Orchan, the youngest of the sons of Ottoman, after he had slain his two brethren, took the regiment of the Turks after his father. Who, after he had drawn to him the hearts of the multitude, such as had their dispositions set upon the licentious life of war, converted his power further to enlarge his father's dominion, winning and subduing Mysia, Lydia, Lycaonia, Phrygia, and Caria; all which countries, being within the compass of Asia, unto the sea-side of Hellespontus, and the sea Euxinus, he added to the Turkish empire. Also he won Prusia, which was the metropolitan city of Bithynia, which then he made the chief seat of the Turkish empire. Besides these, moreover, he conquered Nicea, and got Nicomedia; all which were before Christian cities and regions. And yet all this could not make the Christian princes in Grecia to cease their civil wars, and to join and accord among themselves; such debate and variance was then between Cantacuzenus on the Greeks' part, and Paleologus, the emperor of Constantinople. By reason whereof, the Turks' aid was sent out of Asia to help our Christians one to kill another, and at length to get all those parts of Europe from them both. Who, if they had, according to their profession, so well joined in brotherly unity, as they did in cruel hostility dissent, neither had Orchan so prevailed in getting Prusia from the Grecians, neither had the Turks so soon presumed into Europe as afterward they did. Orchan, after these victories, when he had reigned two and twenty years, was stricken, some say, with a dart in the shoulder, at the siege of Prusia. The opinion of other is, that he, fighting against the Tartars, where he lost a great part of his army, was there also slain himself, A. D. 1349.
Amurath, the third emperor of the Turks.
The Greek writers do hold that Orchan had two sons, Soliman and Amurath. Of which two, first Soliman reigned, albeit not long. After him followed Amurath, who, after that Asia now was subdued by his predecessors, sought by all means and ways how to proceed further, and to invade Europe. To whose ambitious purpose the domestic wars of the Christians gave unprosperous occasion, which occasion is thus declared. Certain discord fell between the princes of Greece (whose captain was Cantacuzenus) and Paleologus, emperor of Constantinople. Whereupon Paleologus, for that he was not able to make his party good with the Grecians, most unwisely sent for Amurath to help him. Who being glad to have such an occasion offered, which he so long had sought, sent to aid him twelve thousand Turks into Thracia; but first he used all delays he could of crafty policy, to the intent that the Greeks first should waste their strength and power upon themselves, whereby he might be more able afterward to set upon them, and to accomplish his conceived desire.
The Turks thus being called into Europe by the Christians, whether they, tasting the sweetness of the soil, incensed Amurath their emperor to make invasion, or whether Amurath of his own head thought good to use the time, in the year of our Lord 1363, he came himself over into Europe with sixty thousand Turks, falling upon the Grecians, being wasted and spent with their long wars and battles before. The pretence of the devilish Turk was, to aid and to assist the Emperor Paleologus, whether he would or no, and to subdue such as had fallen from him. The Christian ships of the Ligurions, for money were hired to conduct them over, taking for every soldier a piece of gold.
Thus the Turks' army being conveyed over by the Grecian sea, called Hellespont, first got Calipolis, with other towns and cities bordering about the sea, and there planting themselves, and preparing ships of their own for transporting their munitions out of Asia, advanced their power further into Thracia, and there won Philippolis, then got Adrianopolis, which was not far from Constantinople, and there Amurath made his chief seat. Then began Paleologus the emperor at length to bewail his offer and covenant made with Amurath. When the Turks had expugned thus a great part of Thracia, they extended forth their army unto Mysia, which they soon subdued; from thence proceeding and conquering the Bessos and Triballos, they entered into Servia and Bulgaria, where they joining battle with Lazarus Despota, prince of Servia, and with other dukes of Dalmatia and Epirus, won of them the field, and put them to the worse; where Lazarus Despota, being taken and committed to prison, ended his life. This Lazarus had a certain faithful client or servant, who to revenge his master's death, with a bold courage, although seeing death before his eyes, yet ventured his life so far, that he came to the tyrant and thrust him through with his dagger. This Amurath reigned twenty-three years, and was slain in the year of our Lord 1372.
Bajazet, the fourth emperor of the Turks.
The power of the Turks began to increase in Europe, what time Bajazet, the first of that name, after the death of his father, entered the possession of the Turks' kingdom. This Bajazet had two brethren, Soliman and Sauces; which Sauces had his eyes put out by his father, for striving for the kingdom. Soliman was slain of his brother. Thus Bajazet, beginning his kingdom with the murder of his brother, reduced his imperial seat from Prusia, a city of Bithynia, unto Adrianople, intending with himself to subdue both Asia and Europe to his own power. First he set upon the Servians and Bulgarians, thinking to revenge his father's death, where he gave the overthrow to Marcus Despota, with all the nobility of the Servians and Bulgarians, and put all those parts under his subjection, unto the confines and borders of the Illyrians. All Thracia moreover he brought likewise under his yoke, only Constantinople and Pera excepted. That done, he invaded the residue of Grecia, prevailing against the countries of Thessalia, Macedonia, Phocides, and Attica, spoiling and burning as he passed without any resistance; and so, returning with innumerable spoil of the Christians unto Adrianople, laid siege to Constantinople the space of eight years, and had expugned the same, but that Paleologus, being brought to extremity, was driven to crave aid of the Frenchmen, and of Sigismund the emperor; who, being accompanied with a sufficient power of Frenchmen and Germans, came down to Hungary, and toward Servia, against the Turk. Bajazet, hearing of their coming, raised his siege from Constantinople, and with sixty thousand horsemen came to Nicopolis, where he, encountering with them, overthrew all the Christian army, took John, the captain of the French power, prisoner; Sigismund, which before in the council of Constance had burned John Huss and Jerome of Prague, hardly escaped by flying. Bajazet, after the victory got, carried away Duke John with five other in bands, into Prusia, where before his face he caused all the other Christian prisoners to be cut in pieces. Afterward the said John, being ransomed with 200,000 crowns, was delivered. Some authors refer this story to the time of Calepine, as followeth hereafter to be seen.
Bajazet, the cruel tyrant, after this victory won and tyranny showed upon the Christians, returned again to the siege of Constantinople, fully bending himself to conquer and subdue the same; which thing no doubt he had accomplished, but that the providence of God had found such a means, that Tamerlane, king of Parthia, with a hundred thousand horsemen, and swarms of footmen, like a violent flood overrunning Asia, and pressing upon Syria and Sebastia, had taken Orthobules, the son of Bajazet, prisoner, and afterward slew him, exercising the like cruelty upon his prisoners, as Bajazet had done before upon the Christians; insomuch that he spared neither sex nor age of the Turkish multitude; of whom he caused twelve thousand at one time to be overridden and trodden down under his horses' feet. By reason whereof, Bajazet the tyrant was forced to raise his siege from Constantinople, and to return his power into Asia; where he, near the hill called Stella, pitched his tents there to encounter with Tamerlane.
The fight between these two was long and great on both sides, which was in the year of our Lord 1397, and the second year after the slaughter of our Christians at Nicopolis in Pannonia; but the victory of this battle fell to Tamerlane at length. In the which battle, as Munsterus writeth, were slain two hundred thousand Turks. Among whom Bajazet the tyrant, having his horse slain under him, was taken prisoner; and to make a spectacle of his wretched fortune, he was bound in golden fetters, and so being enclosed in an iron grate, whom before all Grecia could not hold, was led about and showed through all Asia, to be scorned and laughed at; and moreover, was used instead of a footstool to Tamerlane, or a block, as often as he mounted upon his horse. Some add also, that he was made, like a dog, to feed under Tamerlane's table. The tyranny of which Bajazet against the Christians, as it was not much unlike to the cruelty of Valerian the Roman emperor above mentioned, so neither was the example of his punishment much discrepant; for as Sapores, king of the Persians, did then with Valerian in time of the eighth persecution of the primitive church, so likewise was Bajazet this persecutor worthily handled by Tamerlane king of the Parthians, as in manner abovesaid.
Tamerlane after this conquest passed with his army into Mesopotamia, to Egypt, and all Syria, where he victoriously subduing the cities and munitions of the Turks, at length also conquered Damascus. In his sieges his manner was, the first day to go all in white attire, the second day in red, the third day in black; signifying thereby mercy the first day, to them that yielded; the second day the sword; the third day fire and ashes. At last, after great victories, and spoils gotten of the Turks, he returned into his country again, and there died, A. D. 1402.
Seb. Munsterus, writing of this Tamerlane, recordeth that he had in his army two hundred thousand men; and that he overcame the Parthians, Scythians, Hiberians, Albans, Persians, Medes, and conquered all Mesopotamia; and after he had also subdued Armenia, passing over the river Euphrates, with six hundred thousand footmen, and four hundred thousand horsemen, he invaded all Asia Minor, conquering and subduing from the flood Tanais unto the Nile in Egypt, and was called Terror orbis, The terror of the world. He left behind him two sons, who, falling in discord for their possessions, lost all again that their father got.
In the mean time Bajazet, in the second year of his captivity, died, leaving behind him divers sons, Jesus or Josua the eldest, Mulsuman, Moses, Celebine, or Calepine, Jesus the younger, Mustapha, and Hali; of whom first Jesus the eldest was overcome and slain of Mulsuman; which Mulsuman afterward was delivered to Moses his brother, and by him was slain likewise; which Moses had also the like end by his brother Calepine, having his neck broke with a bowstring, which was then the usual manner among the Turks in killing their brethren. The same Calepine sparing only the life of Mustapha his other brother, condemned him to perpetual prison. Jesus the younger was baptized, and shortly after departed at Constantinople. In these such discords and divisions among the Turks, what occasions were given to the Christians to have recovered again of the Turks that they had lost, if they had not been either negligent, or in their own private wars otherwise occupied with themselves?
Calepine, the fifth emperor of the Turks.
Calepine, or Celebine, was the son of Bajazet, and of four brethren the eldest; who being all taken captives of the Parthians, he only escaped and obtained his father's kingdom. This Calepine, encouraged by the sloth and negligence of the princes of Europe, and by the discord of the Grecians amongst themselves and other nations near about them, long troubled and vexed the Bulgarians, Servians, and Macedonians, even to the time of Sigismund. Which Sigismund, seeing now Bajazet to be overcome and taken of Tamerlane, and the power of the Turks weakened in Europe, and having such occasion offered him, as it were from heaven, to destroy and utterly to root out, not only out of Asia, but also all Europe, that barbarous nation and cruel enemies to the name and religion of Christ; and also to revenge the great slaughter and discomfiture of his army, fighting before with Bajazet at Nicopolis, a city in Mysia; with great power made war against Cale-pine at Columbatium, a town in Servia, as is also before mentioned, but as unluckily and with as little success as he did before against Bajazet his father. For in that battle were slain of the Christians to the number of twenty thousand, and the rest utterly discomfited, the king himself escaping so hardly, that he entered not again into his kingdom for the space of eighteen months after. Some write that this was done under Bajazet, other some refer this battle to Amurath; but howsoever it was, most pernicious was it to the Christians. He reigned but six years, and died very young, A. D. 1404.
Orchan and Moses his uncle, the sixth after Ottoman.
After the captivity of Bajazet above mentioned, histories diversely do dissent. The Greek writers, making no mention at all of Calepine, only make mention of the sons of Bajazet, and of the contention among them, until the time of Mahomet. The Latin stories, writing of the children of Bajazet and of their succession, do not therein agree, some affirming that Bajazet had two sons, Orchan surnamed Calepine, and Mahomet his brother, which within two years slew the said Calepine, and entered his dominion. Other attribute to Bajazet more sons, as is above rehearsed. Some again do give to Bajazet only these two sons, Celebine and Mustapha; and hold that Calepine or Celebine had two sons, to wit, Orchan and Mahomet; and add, moreover, that the said Orchan, being somewhat young, was slain of his uncle Moses, who governed but two years. For Mahomet, to revenge his brother's death, slew Moses, and invaded his dominion. The Greek stories make no mention at all of Orchan.
Mahomet, the seventh emperor of the Turks.
This Mahomet, whether he was the son of Bajazet, or else of Calepine, converted to himself alone the kingdom, or tyranny rather, of the murdering Turks: who afflicted the Christians with sore wars within Europe, especially the country called Wallachia, lying not far from the flood Danube, between Hungary and Thrace. From thence he removed into Asia, where he recovered divers parts in Galatia, Pontus, Cappadocia, Cilicia, which before Tamerlane had alienated from the Turks. This Mahomet planted his chief imperial seat in Adrianople, not far from Constantinople, within the country of Thrace. In some writers the conflict between Sigismund and the Great Turk, wherein the Christians were so discomfited, is referred rather to this Mahomet, than to Calepine; of which conflict mention is above made in the story of Sigismund. This Mahomet reigned, as some say, fourteen years, and died in the year of our Lord 1419; other affirm seventeen years.
Amurath, the eighth emperor of the Turks.
Amurath, as Philelphus saith, was the son of Celebine; as Laonicus Chalcondiles testifieth, of Mahomet: whose son soever be was, a wretched tyrant he was, and permitted, as a scourge of God, to correct the sins of the Christians. In the story of Bajazet, mention was made before of Mustapha, his son, who was condemned to perpetual prison by Calepine, his brother. This Mustapha, escaping out of his brother's prison, was conveyed to the Grecians, where he remained long in custody, till at length they, understanding the purpose of Amurath, set him up with sufficient habiliments and furniture of war, to fight against the said Amurath, his nephew. But in conclusion, he, being not able to make his party good, came into the hands of his enemy, and had his neck broke with a bow-string, after the manner of the Turkish execution.
The Grecians then, terrified with this sinister adversity, required truce of the Turk; but when that would not be granted, they procured unto them Mustapha, the other brother to Amurath, being of the age of thirteen years; who, likewise being armed of the Grecians, got the city of Nice, in Bithynia, from Amurath his brother. Albeit it was not long but he was circumvented in the same city, and brought to Amurath, who caused him likewise to taste of the same whip, as the other Mustapha had done before. Amurath, being now out of all fear and doubt of brethren and kinsfolk to rise against him, converted all his power against the Grecians; and first ranging throughout Thrace, where divers cities yielded unto them, which before belonged to the emperor of Constantinople, from thence he set forward to the noble and famous city Thessalonica, being then under the league and protection of the Venetians. This Thessalonica is a city in Greece, bordering upon Macedonia, to the citizens whereof St. Paul writeth, foreshowing unto them, in his Second Epistle, of a defection to come before the coming of the day of the Lord, 2 Thess. ii. By the which apostacy or defection, what the holy apostle doth mean, this story of the Turks may easily declare. After Thessalonica was subdued, Phocis, with all the country about Athens, Boetia likewise, Ætolia, Acarnania, with all the region beyond Peloponnesus, unto the coast of Corinth, to whom St. Paul also wrote two other Epistles, were brought in bondage and slavery unto the Turk.
In Epirus, and in that quarter that adjoineth to Macedonia, named Albania, reigned then one Johannes Castriotus; who, perceiving himself too weak to match with the Turk's power, made with the Turk this convention, that he should have Croia, a famous city in Grecia, and also gave to him his three sons for hostages, to wit, Constantinus, Reposius, and Georgius.
In this George, such towardness of noble courage, such vigour of mind and strength of body, singularly did appear, that the Turk caused him more freely to be instructed after the Turkish religion and manner in his own court; where he, being trained up, did so shoot up, as well in feats of activity as in strength of body, that he excelled all his equals; insomuch that he was named Scanderbeius, which soundeth as much as Alexander Magnus.
After this Alexander was grown up to mature ripeness of age, and was well trained up in feats of war, he was sent out by the Turk, to war against Caramannus of Cilicia, the Turk's enemy. In which expedition he sped himself most manfully, fighting hand to hand, first with a footman of Scythia, then with a horseman of Persia, being challenged by them both to encounter, first with the one, after with the other; whom he so valiantly overthrew that he won great renown with the Turk; insomuch that he, trusting to the Turk's favour, when he heard of the decease of his father, durst ask of the Turk the grant of his father's dominion to be given unto him: which request, although Amurath the Turk did not deny him, yet, notwithstanding, he, perceiving the matter to be dallied out with fair words, by subtle means and policy slipped out of the Turk's court, and came to Epirus, his own inheritance, where first by forged letters he recovered Croia. The other cities of their voluntary mind yielded themselves unto him; who then gathering unto him the people of Epirus and Macedonia, (which were not so many in number, as with good willing minds they stuck unto him,) so manfully and valiantly behaved himself, that against all the puissance both of Amurath, and also of Mahomet, he maintained his own, repulsed their violence, and put to flight their armies many years together. But to return again to the course of Amurath's victories, after he had thus prevailed (as is before signified) against the east parts of Europe and Greece, and had convented thus for the dominion of Epirus, he invaded Illyricum, (otherwise called now Sclavonia,) containing in it Dalmatia, Croatia, Istria, and Liburnia; which countries after he had spoiled and wasted, he continued his course to Albania and Bosnia. In which regions, when he had subdued a great part, and had led away an innumerable multitude of captives, he moved further to Wallachia and Servia, upon hope to conquer all Pannonia.
There reigned at the same time in Servia a certain prince named Georgius Despota, who made great suit to the Turk for truce and peace, promising to give his daughter to marriage; for by the Turk's law they marry as many wives as they lust. It was not long after Amurath had married the daughter of Despota, but he, contrary to his league and promise, made war upon Despota his father-in-law, and expelled him out of his kingdom, taking from him divers cities, as Scopia, Novomonte, Sophia, and all Mysia. Georgius himself fled into Hungary, leaving behind him his son to defend the town of Sinderonia. Amurath, understanding of the flight of Despota his father-in-law, compassed the city of Sinderonia with a strong siege, which, when he in few days had expugned, he took his wife's brother, the son of Despota, and without all regard of mercy and affinity, after the barbarous tyranny of the Turks, put out his eyes, with a bason red hot set before his eyes, and after that led him about with him in derision, in despite of his cowardly father.
Servia being thus won and gotten, Amurath, thinking to go farther into Hungary, besieged the city called Belgrade, and no doubt had also suppressed the same, had not the providence of God found means, that partly through slaughter of his men, partly for lack of victual and other forage, he was compelled to raise his siege and retire.
In the mean time Johannes Huniades (of whom mention was made before) had got great victories against the Turkish power, and had recovered part of Servia, and all Moldavia; against whom Amurath the Turk, with a mighty army, moved into Pannonia. But Huniades, with the power and aid of Ladislaus, king of Poland, (but especially by the power of the Lord,) did soon infringe the puissance of the Turk, and gave him the overthrow, recovering unto the Christians the greatest part of Servia and Bulgaria.
In this battle Huniades had five sundry conflicts with the Turks upon one day, and with five victories put them to the worse, and toward night did so discomfit and overthrow the great captain of Amurath called Bassa, the duke of Anatolia, (which is otherwise named Asia Minor,) that he slew of the Turks that day to the number of thirty thousand. Amurath, although he was not a little thereat discouraged, yet dissembling his fear, with stout countenance sent for Carambeius his principal stay and captain, with a new power brought out of Asia, to assist him in his wars. This Carambeius, in the downs of Transylvania, Ladislaus, the aforesaid king of Poland, (the Lord so working,) through the industry of Johannes Huniades, so received and with such celerity oppressed him unprovided, that all his stout and sturdy army either was slain downright, or else put to flight and disparkled, Carambeius the captain being himself taken prisoner in the same field.
These victories of Huniades struck no little terror to Amurath, insomuch that for distress of mind he was ready to destroy himself, (as some do write,) but being confirmed by Helibeus Bassa, his counsellor, he kept himself within the straits of the Mount Rhodope. Who, then hearing that Caramannus invaded the same time the country of Bithynia and Pontus in Asia, was glad to take truce with Ladislaus and Huniades upon such conditions as they listed to make themselves; which conditions were these, that Amurath should depart clearly from all the region of Servia, and should remove from thence all his garrisons, which were placed in the castles and forts of the same; also he should restore George Despota, (which is to say,) prince of Servia, unto his possession, and set his children free, whom he had in captivity, and restore them to their inheritance. Item, that he should make no more claim nor title to the country of Moldavia above mentioned, nor to that part of Bulgaria which he had lost; and that he should desist hereafter from all wrongs and injuries against the Christians. Upon these conditions the Turk being agreed, so was truce concluded on both parts for ten years, and with solemn oath between them confirmed.
This done, Amurath, the tyrant, addressed himself toward Asia, to resist the invasion of Caramannus aforesaid. At what time Pope Eugenius, so soon as he heard the Turk to be returned into Asia, sendeth Julianus Cæsarianus his cardinal, (whose story is before touched,) unto Ladislaus the aforesaid king, with full dispensation and absolution to break his oath and league with the Turk, promising moreover great hope and aid, if he would go in arms stoutly against the tyrant.
Where by the way is to be noted, that as there is no truth of promise in that pestilent see of Rome, neither was there any war prospered, which was taken in hand by the pope's counsel; so was there never any counsel of the pope that brought with it more detriment to Christianity than this. But the pope belike thought, that as he might lawfully break promise with John Huss, and with other Christians, so also he needed not to observe any league or truce taken with the Turk; but it turned much otherwise than the pope's blind brains imagined, as by the sequel is to be seen. For Ladislaus being thus excited by the unadvised and sinister instigation of Pope Eugenius, contrary to the truce established a little before, set out with his army from Seledinus, and so proceeding to Wallachia and Bulgaria, came to Varna, a town of Bulgaria, where he fell sick.
It was not long but the Turk, having thereof intelligence, left his wars begun with Caramannus in Asia, and with great journeys made haste into Europe, passing over by the Straits near to Callipolis, where all the Italian navy still looking on, and whether of purpose, or whether for cowardliness, would not stir one oar to stop the passage of the Turkish army. When Amurath was come to Adrianople in Thrace, using such celerity as no man looked for, within eight days he was in Bulgaria, and there encamped himself against Ladislaus. The day of battle being set, the armies joined on both sides. Huniades was himself there present, but all the matter was ruled by Julian the cardinal, and the pope's clergy. The fight continued three days and three nights together, with great courage and much bloodshed on each side; insomuch that the field did stand with lakes of blood. It seemed at the first to incline to the Christians, by breaking the first ranks of the Turks. But the priests and prelates which were at the field, (which had been more fit to have been in the church,) seeing the Turks to begin to fly, unskilfully left their array to pursue the enemy, so that they, leaving the other standings of the Christians naked, gave great advantage to the Turks with their darts and shot to disturb the Christian ranks. By the which occasion Amurath enclosing the Christians with his army round about, obtained the victory. In the which field, Ladislaus the young king of Poland, having his horse first killed under him, was stricken down and slain. The pope's bishops flying to save themselves, fell into the marshes, and there were destroyed, sustaining a dirty death condign to their filthy falsehood and untruth. Julian the cardinal, which with the pope was the chief doer in breaking the league, in the way was found dead, being full of wounds, and spoiled to his naked skin. Of the rest of the army that escaped by flying, part was drowned in the marshes, some perished miserably for hunger, some for cold, watching and wandering in the woods. Huniades hardly escaped the danger, by the merciful providence of God, being reserved to the further profit and commodity of Christendom.
This John Huniades the worthy warrior was born in Wallachia, being earl of Bistice, of all captains that ever went against the Turks most famous and singular, prudent in wit, discreet in counsel, expert and politic in war, prompt of hand, circumspect before he attempted, quick in expedition; in whom wanted almost no good property requisite in a warlike captain. Against two most mighty and fierce tyrants, Amurath and Mahomet, through the Lord's might, he defended all Pannonia, and therefore was called the thunderbolt and terror of the Turks. Like as Achilles was unto the Grecians, so was he set up of God to be as a wall of bulwark of all Europe against the cruel Turks, and enemies of Christ and of his Christians. Neither was there any king or prince that ever achieved such noble victories, either so many in number, or so profitable for the public utility of all Europe, as did he, and that not only in the days of this Amurath, but also of Mahomet his successor, as hereafter remaineth further to be seen. This battle of Amurath against the Christians at Varna in Bulgaria, was fought in the year of our Lord 1404.
Amurath, by reason of this victorious overthrow against the Christians, surprised with no small pride, directed his journey incontinent toward the Grecians, where Castriotus was, otherwise called Scanderbeius. And first coming to Peloponnesus, and breaking down the wall about the straits of Corinth, encountered with the brother of the emperor of Constantinople, whom with his sudden coming he oppressed, with all the Greeks' army, ere they were provided. Paleologus, the emperor, after that did build up the wall again, but at the Turk's bidding he was compelled to undo it again; which wall afterwards the Venetians did repair. After the demolition of the wall, Amurath entering into Peloponnesus took divers towns and cities, as Sycion, and Patris; and moreover made all the parts of Thessalia and Achaia tributaries unto him.
The next year after this battle of Amurath fought against the Christians at Varna, the Turk being now about the parts of Grecia, purposed to bend all his force and main against the country of Epirus, belonging to Georgius Castriotus Scanderbeius. Of this Scanderbeius mention was made before, how he was brought up in the Turk's court, from whence we declared also how subtlely he conveyed himself, and came to the possession of his own patrimony of Epirus. Which Epirus this noble and victorious Scanderbeius, whom the Lord also had raised up the same time with Huniades, to bridle the fury of the Turks, valiantly defended against all the power of Amurath; insomuch that he discomfited and vanquished seven of the most expert bassas or dukes of the Ottoman emperor, one after another, with all their armies of most picked and chosen soldiers, dislodged them of their tents, and expulsed them utterly out of all Epirus. And when Amurath himself with his whole puissance had environed about the city of Croia, with cruel siege and ordinance out of measure, yet, notwithstanding, the said Scanderbeius, through the power and blessing of the Lord, beat him out of the field, and repulsed him from the siege.
After this discomfiture, the saying is, that Amurath, to keep his vow made before, after his victory at Varna, gave himself unto a religious order, living a contemplative life, with certain other priests joined unto him, in the forest of Bithynia, renouncing the government of his realm to the hands of Haly, one of his princes; for thou must understand, good reader, that the Turks also be not without their sundry sects of religion, no more than we Christians are without our friars and monks.
In the mean time, while Amurath this Turkish tyrant was cloistered up in his monkish religion, Johannes Huniades in the kingdom of Hungary, and Castriotus Scanderbeius in Grecia, kept great stir against the Turks. By reason whereof Amurath was taken again from his monkish vow and profession, and brought again into the field; for first, Huniades had rescued the whole country of Hungary, and had propelled moreover all the might of the Turks far from Servia. And although the peevish practice of Georgius, prince of Servia, had oftentimes disclosed his counsels unto the Turks, whereby twice he was brought in danger, yet, notwithstanding, through the Lord's gracious protection, he was preserved and delivered by the said George unto the Hungarians again, and after that manfully vanquished the Turks, so that they had no resting-place about those parts of Servia and Bulgaria, so long as he lived.
On the other side, in Grecia, Castriotus Scanderbeius so foiled the Turk in defence of his country, Epirus and Macedonia, and kept Amurath so short, that not only he was not able to win any great town in all Epirus; but also coming from Epirus in the straits, he was so entangled by Castriotus, that he was forced to give battle; in the which battle he was so vanquished, and most part of his army slain, that, for grief and sorrow conceived, he falling into a raving sickness was transported out of his pavilion unto Adrianople, and there in fury and madness died, after he had reigned thirty-four years, which was about the year of our Lord 1450.
This Amurath first ordained the order of the Janizaries; which were the men-children of such Christians as he conquered and took captive; whom he forced to renounce the faith of Christ wherein they were baptized, and brought them up in Mahomet's law, and exercised them in the same feats of war as he did his own people, and after that they came to men's estate, he named them Janizaries, that is to say, soldiers of a strange country, and made them to guard his person. They wear on their head, instead of a helmet, a white attire made of the grossest sort of wool, and in so many folds about their head that it cannot be pierced with a sword. It hangeth down on the back with a tail, and before on the forehead it is garnished with gold and silver. They were wont to use bows and lances in the field, but now they use daggers as our horsemen do.
At the first institution there were but eight thousand in their garrison, but now there be twice so many. This of all bondage and servitude that the Christians suffer under the Turk is most intolerable, and greatly to be of all true Christians lamented. For what can godly minds behold more to their grief, than to see their children pulled from the faith of Christ wherein they were baptized, and by whose blood they should eternally he saved, and to be instructed and nourished with the blasphemous doctrine of Mahomet, and so be professed enemies of Christ and his church, to make war against heaven, and to perish everlastingly? And finally, what a lamentable thing is it, to see and behold our own children, born of our own bodies, to become our mortal and cruel enemies, and to cut our throats with their own hands! This servitude of mind is far greater than death itself; which if our princes would well consider, it would cause them the rather to agree, and bend their whole force and power against this cruel enemy.
Mahomet the Second, the ninth emperor of the Turks.
Amurath left behind him three sons, Mahomet, born of the daughter of Despota, prince of Servia, being twenty years of age; the second son, called Turcin; the third, named Calepine. This Turcin being an infant, and but eighteen months old, was strangled at the commandment of the Turk by his servant Moses, himself being there present and beholding the horrible murder. And when Moses, the executer of the murder, had desired him not to pollute his hands with the blood of his brother, he answered, that it was the manner of all the Ottoman Turks, that all the other brethren, being destroyed, none should be left alive but one to govern the empire. Wherefore Moses was commanded by the tyrant, there presently, and in his sight, to kill the infant. This horrible fact, when the mother of the child understood, she cried out, and, almost mad for sorrow, cursed the tyrant to his face. But he, to mitigate the rage of his mother, at her request, being desirous to be revenged upon the executer of her son's death, delivered the said Moses bound into her hands, who then, in the presence of the tyrant, thrust him to the heart with a knife, and opening his side, took out his liver, and threw it to the dogs to be devoured.
The third son, called Calepine, which was but six months old, the aforesaid Amurath, his father, commended to the custody of Halibassa, one of his nobles, who, to gratify and please the tyrant, betrayed the infant, and brought him unto him, and thereupon he, at the tyrant's commandment, was strangled. Some affirm, that instead of Calepine, another child was offered unto the tyrant, and that Calepine was conveyed to Constantinople, and after the taking of Constantinople was carried to Venice, and then to Rome to Pope Calixtus, where he was baptized, and afterward came into Germany to Frederic the emperor, and there was honourably entertained, and kept in Austria during his life. Where note how the merciful providence of God, whom he list to save, can fetch out of the devil's mouth. And note moreover the aforesaid Halibassa, the betrayer of the infant, how he escaped not unrevenged. For Mahomet, understanding him to be a man of great substance and riches, through forging of false crimes, with great torments put him to death to have his riches, for this tyrant was given to insatiable avarice. Thus this bloody Mahomet began regiment with horrible murder, after the example of other cursed tyrants, his predecessors.
Although this Mahomet, notwithstanding that he came of a Christian mother, being the daughter of Despota, prince of Servia, and by her was brought up and instructed from his childhood in the precepts of Christian religion and manners, yet he, soon forgetting all, gave himself to Mahomet's religion, and yet so, that he, being addicted to neither religion, became an atheist, believing and worshipping no God at all, but only the goddess of good fortune, deriding and mocking the minds and judgments of men, which believe that God by his providence governeth and regardeth the state of human things on earth.
After that this Mahomet heard of the victories and conquests of other his predecessors, and had understanding how Bajazet lay eight years about Constantinople, and could not win it; he, dispraising Bajazet, and disdaining that so long, time should be spent about the siege thereof, and yet no victory gotten, bent all his study and device how to subdue the same. But first, having a privy hatred against the city of Athens, and having his hands lately imbrued with the blood of his brethren, this murdering Mahomet first of all taketh his voyage to subvert and destroy the city aforesaid, being a famous school of all good learning and discipline. Against the which city he did so furiously rage for the hatred of good letters, that he thought he ought not to suffer the foundation thereof to stand, because that city was a good nurse and fosterer of good arts and sciences; wherefore he commanded the city to be razed and utterly subverted; and wheresoever any monuments or books could be found, he caused them to be cast into dirty sinks, and the filthiest places of the city, or put to the most vile uses that could be devised, for extirpating and abolishing all good literature; and if he understood any to lament the case and ruin of that noble place, those he grievously punished and put to death.
Thus the famous and ancient school of Athens being destroyed and overthrown, he returned his army and power into Thrace, where in all haste he, gathering up his power together, both by sea and land, with a mighty multitude compassed the city of Constantinople about, and began to lay his siege against it, in the year of our Lord 1453, and in the four and fiftieth day of the said siege it was taken, sacked, and the Emperor Constantine slain. As touching the cruelty and fierceness of the Turks in getting of this city, and what slaughter there was of men, and women, and children, what calamity and misery was there to be seen, forasmuch as sufficient relation, with a full description thereof, hath been madebefore, it shall be superfluous now to repeat the same. This only is not to be omitted touching three principal causes of the overthrow of this city, whereof the first was the filthy avarice of those citizens which, hiding their treasures in the ground, would not employ the same to the necessary defence of their city. For so I find it in story expressed, that when the Turk, after the taking of the city, had found not so much treasure as he looked for, suspecting with himself (as the truth was) the treasures and riches to be hidden under the ground, commanded the earth to be digged up, and the foundations of the houses to be searched; where when he had found treasures incredible, "What," quoth he, "how could it be that this place could ever lack munition and fortifications, which did flow and abound with such great riches as here is, and plenty of all things? "The second cause was the absence of the navy of the Venetians, which, if they had been ready in time, might have been a safeguard against the invasion of the enemies. A third cause also may be gathered upon occasion incident in stories, either for that the city of Constantinople fifteen years before did yield to the bishop of Rome, as is before to be seen, or else because (as in some writers it is evident) that images were there received and maintained in their churches, and by the Turks the same time destroyed.
Johannes Ramus, writing of the destruction of this city, amongst other matters maketh relation of the image of the crucifix, being there in the high temple of Sophia; which image the Turk took, and writing this superscription upon the head of it, This is the god of the Christians, gave it to his soldiers to be scorned, and commanding the said image with a trumpet to be carried through all his army, made every man spit at it most contumeliously. Wherein thou hast, good reader, by the way to note, what occasion of slander and offence we Christians give unto the barbarous infidels by this our ungodly superstition, in having images in our temples, contrary to the express commandment of God in his word. For if St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, saith, We know Christ now no more after the flesh; how much less then is Christ to be known of us in blind stocks and images set up in our temples, serving for none other purpose, but for the infidels to laugh both us and our God to scorn, and to provoke God's vengeance! which, by the like example, I fear, may also fall upon other cities, where such images and idolatrous superstition is maintained; whereof God grant Vienna to take heed betime, which hath been so long, and yet is, in such great danger of the Turk, and polluted with so many images and plain idolatry.
To make the story short, such was the cruelty of these Turks in winning the city, that when Mahomet had given licence to the soldiers three days together, to spoil, to kill, and to do whatsoever they listed, there was no corner in all Constantinople, which did not either flow with Christian blood, or else was polluted with abominable abusing of maids, wives, and matrons, without all reverence of nature. Of the which citizens, some they murdered, some they roasted upon spits, of some they flayed off their skin, hanging them up to consume with famine, of other some they put salt into their wounds, the more terribly to torment them, insomuch that one of them contended with another, who could devise most strange kinds of new torments and punishments, exercising such cruelty upon them, that the place where the city was before, seemed now to be no city, but a slaughter-house or shambles of Christian men's bodies. Among the dead bodies, the body also of Constantine the emperor was found; whose head being brought to Mahomet, he commanded it to be carried upon a spear through the whole city for a public spectacle and derision to all the Turkish army. And because he would diminish the number of the captives, which seemed to him to be very great, he never rose from his table, but he put every day some of the nobles to death, no less to fill his cruel mind with blood, than his body was filled with wine; which he used so long to do as any of the nobles of that city were left alive. And of the other sort also, as the stories do credibly report, there passed no day in the which he did not orderly slay more than three hundred persons; the residue he gave to his rascal soldiers to kill, and to do with them what they would. Where is to be noted, that as Constantine, the son of Helena, was the first emperor of Constantinople, so Constantine, the son also of Helena, was the last emperor thereof.
Not far from the said city of Constantinople there was another little city called Pera, and once called Gallatia, situated by the sea-side; who, hearing of the miserable destruction of Constantinople, and seeing the city flaming with fire, sent certain of the chief men with speed to Mahomet, declaring unto him, that they neither had sent any help to the city of Constantinople, neither yet wrought any detriment to any of his army; wherefore they desired and prayed him, that as they would gladly yield unto him, so he would be favourable unto them and spare them, and not punish the guiltless with the guilty. Mahomet, although he was not ignorant that for fear, rather than of any good will, they submitted themselves, and that they would rather resist him if they had been able, yet he received for that time the submission of the messengers; but sending with them his ambassadors into the city, he commanded also his army to follow withal, and to enter with him into the city, which although it was greatly suspected and misliked of the citizens, yet they durst not otherwise do but suffer them to enter; which being done, the ambassador gave a sign to the soldiers, every man to do whatsoever he was bidden; of whom, some ran to the walls, some to the temples and churches, some to the streets and houses of the city, plucking all things down to the ground, sacking and ranging with no less fury and abominable filthiness than they had done at Constantinople before, saving only that they abstained from murder; but the same day letters came from Mahomet to the ambassador, that he should spare none, but destroy and murder all that ever were in the city; which message, because it seemed to the ambassador to be too cruel, forasmuch as they had yielded themselves, he stayed his hand a little until night came. In the mean time, drunken Mahomet coming something to himself, (whom drunkenness had before overcome,) sent his second letters to revoke the first. Where again is to be noted the merciful providence of God towards his people in their deserved plagues, by staying the hands and bridling the fury many times of their enemies, when otherwise the case seemeth to be past all remedy.
Mahomet thus being in himself not a little advanced and elevated by the winning of Constantinople, where he had now made the imperial seat of the Turkish dominion, the third year next following, to adventure more masteries, he set out to the siege of Belgrade, a city of Hungary, lying near to the banks of the Danube, thinking to have the like success there as he had in the winning of Constantinople, albeit, through the Lord's disposing, it fell out much otherwise. Within the city of Belgrade, the same time of the siege thereof, was Johannes Huniades, the valiant captain, of whom in divers places mention hath been made before; who with a sufficient strength of picked soldiers, albeit in number nothing equal to the Turk's army, valiantly defended the city with great courage, and no less success. In the which siege great diligence was bestowed, and many of the Turks slain. Among whom also Mahomet himself, being stricken with a pellet under the left arm, was fain to be carried out of the field for half dead, and the rest so put to flight, that of the Turks the same time were destroyed to the number, or not much under the number, of forty thousand, besides the loss of all their ordnance, which the Turks, in haste of their flight, were forced to leave behind them.
Hieronymus Zieglerus, writing of the siege of this Belgrade, addeth moreover, that when Mahomet was at the siege thereof, seeing the town to be so small and weak of itself, that it could not be won with all his great multitude, he staring and faring like a mad man, commanded all his brazen pieces to be laid, to batter down the walls and towers of the town; so that the Christians within the walls were vehemently distressed; for the siege continued both night and day without intermission. Among the rest of the Christians which defended the town, Hieronymus Zieglerus maketh mention of a certain Bohemian, much worthy of his condign commendation; who being upon the walls, and seeing a Turk with a banner or ensign of the Turks to be gotten up, by the sight whereof the whole town was in danger to be conquered and taken, runneth unto the Turk, and clasping him about the middle, speaking to John Capistranus standing below, asking him, whether it were any danger of damnation to him, if he of his voluntary mind did cast himself with that dog (so he termed him) down headlong from the wall to be slain with him; what should become of his soul, and whether he might be saved or not? To whom when the other had answered, that he should be saved without doubt, he eftsoons tumbleth himself with the Turk down off the wall, where, by his death he saved the same time the life of all the city. Mahomet being so wounded, and in despair of winning the city, was carried (as ye heard) out of the field. Who at length coming again to himself, partly for fear and partly for shame, was ready to kill himself. And thus was the town of Belgrade at that time rescued through God's providence, by the means of Johannes Huniades and this good Bohemian.
This siege of Belgrade began in the year of our Lord 1456, and endured six and forty days. At which siege were numbered of the Turks two hundred thousand. Of whom more than forty thousand (as is aforesaid) were slain, where the victory fell to the Christians through the prosperous success given of God to Johannes Huniades, and Capistranus. Which Huniades not long after the said victory, through the importune labour and travail in defending of the said town, was taken with a sore sickness, and thereof departed; to whose valiant prowess and singular courage stories do give great laud and commendation.
Mahomet the Turk, after this done in Europe, returned into Asia to war with Usumcassanes a Persian, one of the Turk's stock, with whom he had three battles. The first was about the river Euphrates, where the Turk lost ten thousand men, and was put to the worse. In the second field likewise he was discomfited. The third battle was at Arsenga, where through the terrible noise of the brazen pieces, the Persian horses disturbed the camp, and so was Usumcassanes overcome.
From thence the Turk reduced again his power against the Christians, and first subdued unto him Synope and all Paphlagonia; also the kingdom of Trapezunce, which he besieging both by land and water, won from the Christians, and sent David the king of the same with his two sons, and Calus his uncle, unto Constantinople, where they were miserably and cruelly put to death, and all the stock of the Conneni, which were of the king's stock, by the Turk were destroyed. Which was about the year of our Lord 1459, at which time this mischievous Mahomet was first saluted emperor.
Not long after he got from the Grecians Corinth and Mitylene, not without great slaughter of Christian men, insomuch that the whole city of Mitylene was utterly to the ground almost destroyed. The isles also of Lemnos and Lesbos he won from the Venetians; in the whieh island of Lesbos is the city of Mitylene aforesaid.
Not far from this isle of Lesbos and Mitylene, there is a country in Asia toward the sea side, bordering next to Europe, called Mysia, or of some called M?sia, wherein stood the city of Troy. This country Mahomet coveting to win rather by policy and falsehood, than by doubtful danger of war, secretly sent for the prince thereof, to come to speak with him for certain causes, as he pretended, which should concern the profit and commodity of them both. Which when the king of Mysia either for shame would not, or for fear durst not, deny, he came to him as to confer upon necessary affairs in common to them appertaining. Mahomet, when he had brought that to pass which he would, he caused the king to be apprehended, and cruelly to be slain, or rather torn in pieces; and so invading the land of Mysia, he exercised the like tyranny upon his kindred and affinity.
This Mysia by fraud being taken and lost, Mahomet flyeth again toward Europe, where he assailed the island Eub?a, otherwise called Negropont, making a bridge of a marvellous frame over the sea Euripus, to convey over his army out of Grecia, and there laid his siege to the city Chalcis, which at length in thirty days he overcame, not without a great slaughter of his army; who, in the siege thereof, is said to have lost forty thousand of the Turks. But the slaughter of the Christians was greater, for when the city was won, the tyrant commanded, most cruelly, none to be spared within the whole city, but to be put to the sword, whosoever was above the age of twenty years. This cruelty was showed of the barbarous tyrant for anger and fury, because such a number of his Turks were slain at the siege thereof, being reckoned, as is said, to forty thousand. In the fierce siege of this city it is memorable that is in stories recorded, how that the women of that city, seeing the men begin to faint, and the city to lie in present danger, took the matter themselves in hand, and playing the men, went to the walls, and there defended the city with no less trouble to the enemy than the men had before done, and so for a space continued, so long as any man's strength and diligence could do any good. A great cause of the loss of this city and island is imputed to the cowardly timidity of the Venetians' navy, who being there present, and having prosperous wind, yet durst not, or would not, adventure upon the Turks' bridge, which if they had done, the island of Eub?a and Chalcis had not so soon been overmatched of the Turks.
Thus all the east parts of Grecia being subdued to the Turkish tyrant, with all Achaia, Attica, Acarnania, and Eub?a, shortly after followed also Peloponnesus, brought in like subjection to the Turk. Within Peloponnesus were these provinces contained, Achaia, Messenia, Laconia, Argolica, and Arcadia, &c. The Venetians in this Peloponnesus had great possessions, and had made up the wall again toward the sea side, near to the straits of Corinth before mentioned, where, for the more speed of the work, they had thirty thousand workmen to the building thereof; which when it came to the knowledge of the the Turk, he burst into the country of Peloponnesus with an army of eighty thousand, and first wasted the regions of the Coroneans, and Methoneans, and making a great slaughter of the Venetians, in short time he brought the whole dominion of Peloponnesus under his yoke and tribute.
Long it is, and more lamentable, to recite all the victories of this Mahomet, gotten against the Christians both by land and sea; who, after he had overcome the isle Lesbos above mentioned, and had cruelly slain Nicolaus Catalusius, the prince thereof, turning his army toward the sea of Pontus Euxinus, got the country of Capha from the Genoese. Before was declared how truce was taken between Georgius Scanderbeius and the Turk for ten years; which truce being expired, Mahomet leaveth no time unspent, no diligence unsought, but maketh all his power to Epirus and Albania, which he, after long fatigation of siege, at length overcame and subdued. In the which tract also, he won from the Venetians Scodra, Lysson, and Dinastrum. Notwithstanding, when Scanderbeius, the valiant captain, had done against the Turk what in man's strength did lie, yet being overmatched with power and multitude, seeing no possibility to make his party good, he was forced to depart his country as an exile, and went to Italy, and there, being sent for by the pope's letters, openly declared that it was not possible otherwise to resist the furious rage of the barbarous Turks by the strength of any one king or prince, unless all Europe, with one consent, should join their power and force together. And thus Georgius Scanderbeius, a man of puissant courage, being driven out of his country, continued his age in exile. Whose courage and vehemency is reported to have been such, that in fighting against the barbarous enemy, for very eagerness of spirit, his blood was seen to burst out of his lips. It is testified also of him, that being provoked, he neither denied to fight, and in his fighting never turned his back, neither yet was ever wounded but only once with a light shaft in his foot, neither ever set against the Turks with more than six thousand horsemen and three thousand footmen; who is said with his own hand to have slain above two thousand Turks, whom with such violence he did strike, that many of them he did cleave asunder from the head to the middle.
Neither yet was the unsatiable greediness of this Turkish hell-hound with all this satisfied, but still he conceived greater things in his mind, thinking to conquer the whole world; and so passing forward towards Europe, he subdued all Illyria, slaying Stephanus the king of Bosnia, about the year of our Lord 1463. But afterward Matthias Corvinus, the son of Huniades before mentioned, recovered again the said kingdom of Bosnia, with many other cities near unto Croatia and Dalmatia, and moreover repulsed Mahomet the Turk in his second siege of Jaitza, taking his tents and munitions left behind him.
Moreover, the said Mahomet passing unto Wallachia, set upon Dracula the prince thereof; which Dracula, although he had no great power of soldiers, yet he so enclosed and environed the Turk, that he had almost lost his whole army, of whom a great part, notwithstanding, was destroyed, and many of his ensigns taken. Into Dalmatia were sent two captains of the Turk, who, fighting against the provinces of the Venetians, made great spoil and waste about the regions of Stiria and Carinthia; where also the Venetian power was discomfited, and Hieronymus Nouell their captain slain. At length truce was taken between the Turk and the Venetians, upon this condition, that Scodra, Tenarus, and Lemnos should be yielded unto him, and they should pay to him to him yearly eight thousand ducats, for the free passage of their merchants.
After this peace concluded with the Venetians, Mahomet himself sailed over into Asia, sending two of his great captains abroad to sundry places; of whom Mesithes was sent against Rhodes with a mighty navy. The other, called Acomates Bassa, was sent into Italy to take Rome, and all the west empire. Concerning the voyage of which two captains, this was the event, that Mesithes, after his great travail and bloody siege against the Rhodians, was fain to retire at length with great shame and loss. The other eaptain, Acomates, as is said, was sent into Italy with a navy of a hundred ships, and fifteen thousand men, who by the way in his sailing got Leucadia, (which now they call St. Maure,) Cephalonia, and Zacynthus, and sailing by Favelona, arrived in Apulia, and so passing along by the sea side, spoiled and wasted divers parts by the coast, till at length he came to Hidruntium, a city in Calabria in Italy, which after long siege he overcame and subdued, and brought such a terror into all Italy, that the pope, forgetting all other things, yet mindful of himself, with all hastefled out of Rome. After the city of Hydruntium was taken, and the Turks placed in the same, which was the year of our Lord 1481. Matthias Corvinus, Huniades' son, was sent for by the Italians, to set upon the said city, upon the rescue whereof, when Acomates was about to make his return with five and twenty thousand Turks, in the mean time news eame, that Mahomet the Great Turk was dead; by reason whereof, the siege broke up, and the city was delivered to the Italians again, and so was Italy delivered at that time out of that present peril and danger. This Mahomet won from the Christians two hundred cities, and twelve kingdoms, and two empires, which he joined both together. He died in the year abovesaid, A. D. 1481.
Bajazet the Second, the tenth emperor of the Turks.
Mahomet aforesaid had three sons; of the which, Mustapha the eldest, through voluptuousness and carnal lust, died before his father. The other two were Bajazet and Demes, otherwise called Zizimus. About whom great controversy rose amongst the Turks, which of them should succeed in their father's kingdom. For neither of them was present at Constantinople when Mahomet died; Bajazet being in Cappadocia, and Demes in Lycaonia; wherefore, when great dissension was among the nobles for the succession, and great strife and bloodshed for the matter, the Janizaries, which were the Turk's guard, did proclaim Bajazet emperor; others, in the absence of Bajazet the father, did choose Corchuthus his son. Bajazet the father coming at length from Cappadocia, partly through yielding, partly by corrupting with money, got the wills of the Janizaries, and was made emperor. Demes the other brother being in Lycaonia more near, although he made no less speed in his coming, yet was prevented of Bajazet, and excluded out of Constantinople. Wherefore he being put back from all hope of his kingdom, incited by some of his friends, moved war against his brother; who being overcome in three battles by Acomates, Bajazet s captain, who had got Hydruntium before, did fly to the great master of Rhodes, leaving in a place called Carræ his mother and two young children, whom Bajazet slew.
This Demes, being with the master of Rhodes, was desired first of Pope Innocent the Fourth, then of Ludovicus the Second, French king, but especially of Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary, intending by him to obtain great victory against Bajazet. But in conclusion, the knights of Rhodes sent him to the bishop of Rome, where he, being kept, and afterwards sent to Charles the Eighth, the French king, for a hostage of Pope Alexander the Sixth, was poisoned by the way of Terracina, by the said Pope Alexander, as is before declared. After whose death, Bajazet, to requite the aforesaid Acomates for his good service, put him to the halter, partly misdoubting his power, partly for lucre sake to have his treasure; whose death redounded to the great profit of the Christians, forasmuch as he was ever an utter enemy to the religion and name of Christ.
Bajazet thus being confirmed in his tyranny, made his expedition against Wallachia, where he subdued two great forts, one called Lithostomus, the other called Moncastrum. From thence he removed his power, taking his voyage into Asia, thinking to be revenged of the sultan of Egypt, which had succoured and entertained before his brother Demes against him; where he lost two great battles, the one fought at Adena, the other at Tarsus; but especially at the field at Tarsus, the army of the Turk took such a wound, that of a hundred thousand brought into the field, scarce the third part remained unslain. But as touching the Rhodians, although they were succourers of Demes aforesaid, yet Bajazet (whether for fear or for subtlety) abstained to provoke them with war, but rather entering with them the league of peace, requiring the master of Rhodes to keep his brother safe under his custody, promising for his yearly salary, to be paid unto him every year in the month of August, 45,000 ducats.
Thus Bajazet, being overthrown and terrified with evil luck, fighting against the sultan of Egypt, removed from Asia, and directed his army into Europe, where he got Dyrrachium near unto Verona, and had a great victory over the Christian army in the country of Croatia, where the Illyrians, Pannonians, and Croatians, joining their powers together, encountered with the Turk, and lost the field, about the year of our Lord 1493.
From thence the Turk leading his army against the Venetians, had with them divers and doubtful conflicts, where the Turk sometimes was put to the worse, and sometimes again prevailed, out of Jadra and divers other cities about Dalmatia, carried away great multitudes of Christians into captivity, which was about the year of our Lord 1498.
Two years after this, which was the year of our Lord 1500, Bajazet, with a hundred and fifty thousand armed men, entered into Peloponnesus, which although Mahomet had expugned before, yet the Venetians had defended Methone, otherwise called Modon, all this while against the Turks. Which Methone the Turk besieged with three armies,having about the walls five hundred great brazen cannons, whereof twenty-two were most violent and hurtful, wherewith he battered the city both day and night; but the citizens, which were within the city, committing themselves to God, defended their city as well as they could, rather choosing to die than to yield unto the Turk's tyranny. But the Turk prevailing, and they not able to withstand the siege, the Christians convented together into a certain house prepared for the purpose, both men, women, and children; where they, setting the house on fire, gave themselves rather to be burned, than to come into the tyrant's hands. Certain women also, with their children, cast themselves headlong into the sea, by that means to avoid the Turkish captivity. Some writers there be, which affirm that the Methonians, seeing five great ships of the Venetians coming with men and victuals toward them, issued down from the walls to the sea side to receive them, which were all taken captives, being above the number of a thousand; which all being tied with long ropes, were brought before the tyrant, and in his sight were cruelly slain, except certain nobles, whom Cherseogles, son-in-law to Bajazet, got to be pardoned, amongst whom was Andreas Gritto. The city of Coron, and also Pilus, cities in Greece, being terrified with the example of the Methonians, yielded themselves to the power of the Turks. Crisseum, otherwise called Caput Sancti Galli, was expugned by Cherseogles, by force of guns.
These things thus achieved, although Bajazet went away victor unto Constantinople, yet, notwithstanding, the Venetians, through the help of the kings of France and Spain, had won from the Turk Cephalonia, an island very commodious for their traffic. Also they had gotten other two islands, Leucas and Nericus, otherwise called Sancta Maura, slaying all the garrison of the Turks. But afterwards, peace being taken between the Venetians and the Turks, by the counsel of Andreas Gritto aforesaid, the Turks so agreed, that Leucas and Nericus, the islands abovesaid, should be rendered unto the Turks, and the Venetians should keep still the possession of Cephalonia.
Unto this league the Turk did the rather condescend, for that he had to maintain war against Ismael Sophus in Asia, king of Persia. Which Sophus was stirred up by God's providence to war with this Bajazet, whereby the Christian churches in Europe might have some breathing time, and freedom from the Turk's cruel tyranny and bloodshed. This Sophus was a valiant Turk, who with great power and victories had overrun a great compass of the east parts of Asia; then passing from Assyria into Media, and returning again into Armenia, he made war against the Albanians, Iberians, and Scythians, and from thence coming into Asia Minor, encountered with Corchuthus, Bajazet's son, and afterward coming to Bithynia, fought with Caragius Bassa, Bajazet's captain, whom he overcame and put to flight, and afterward took him alive, and his wife, prisoners. Afterward he was encountered by Halibassa another captain of the Turks, whom Techelles, one of the said Sophus's captains, meeting in the plain of Galatia, did withstand, and so by the way slew Caragius the captain, and hanged him upon a pole in the sight of Halibassa; which Halibassa shortly after was slain in war, and his army scattered and put to flight.
Thus through the admirable example of God's justice and providence, were these Turks kept occupied, and so came it to pass, that these barbarians, being blasphemous against the Son of God, should thus horribly run on to the destruction one of another, being worthily punished with mutual slaughter and bloodshed, for their impiety and blasphemy against Christ and his religion, whereby in the mean time some rest was given to the Christians.
Bajazet, partly by these victories discouraged, partly diseased and languishing of the gout, and partly also broken with age,.finding himself unwieldy to the regiment of that tumultuous kingdom, began to have talk with the nobles about the choosing of one to succeed him; the occasion whereof ministered much matter of inward wars amongst the Turks. This Bajazet had in all six sons, whereof three died before him, and three yet were left alive, to wit, Acomates, Corchutus, and Selim. Bajazet himself had most mind to Acomates, but the chiefest of his nobles did favour rather Selim; who, through their traitorous incitation, provoked him to stir war against his father; and notwithstanding that he was overcome in war, yet, through intercession, he was reconciled again to his father, and afterward proclaimed again emperor against his father's will, through the help and favour of the soldiers, entering the first beginning of his kingdom with the murdering of his own father. The story whereof in some authors is thus declared.
After that the Janizaries had persuaded with Bajazet, for that he himself was unwieldy, therefore he should do well to constitute some successor, and that he had assigned Acomates to succeed him; the Janizaries being offended with the said Acomates, because he would not enlarge their stipends, and bribe them, compassing about the king's palace with their privy swords which they had under their garments, with a mighty cry, required Selim to be appointed for their emperor. Unto whom when Bajazet had answered, that he had assigned Acomates, they refused him, because he was fat, gross, and unable thereunto; but needs would have Selim, which was stout and warlike, to be made emperor; and withal they drew out their swords, crying, Selim, Selim. Then Bajazet, giving place to their fury, showed himself content to give them Selim; whom the Janizaries receiving, brought him into the palace; unto whom Bajazet his father giving place, willed him not to be so hasty and furious in his doings, but to be modest and take heed what he did, and not to follow his fury, but to give place unto time, which revealeth all things, and think himself to be a man subject to dangers and jeopardies as other men are; and thus speaking, he resigned his imperial throne and seat unto him, and went away all heavy, entering into a certain order of their religion. Whereupon followed great exclamations of the people, saluting Selim as emperor. Who then taking the rule upon him, began with great cruelty to govern, destroying many of his nobles, such as had stood against him, some with poison, some by other cruel means, and advancing his own side with great honours and promotions.
Not long after that Selim was thus settled in his kingdom, Bajazet his father intending to see and prove how he behaved himself in his government, first entered into his treasure house, where he found all his riches to be scattered and gone. Afterward he came into his armoury, where all the spoils gotten by war were likewise wasted; then he entered into the jewel house, where all his plate and gifts sent from kings and princes were kept, which likewise were dispersed and given away. At length he came into the stable, where also he seeing his principal horses to be lacking, sighing with himself, and crying vengeance upon him, he prepared himself, with the residue of the treasure which was remaining, to sail over into Natolia unto his eldest son; and passing by an orchard near to the sea-side, where he had appointed to take ship, in the mean time, whilst the ships were in furnishing, he sat down under a tree, and began to curse his son, and to ask vengeance upon him, for that he had so despised his father, and was become so impious a wretch.
Selim, understanding of his father's departure, came into the orchard where his father was, seeming to be very heavy, and much lamenting that his father would so privily depart and go away, seeing that he desired not the government of the empire, but was contented only with the title thereof. "O father," said he, "do not thus privily depart away; do not procure this shame to your son, who so tenderly loveth you. Let me have but the name only, and be you the emperor indeed. The end of your natural life most patiently I shall expect, which I pray God may long continue. And thus using many fair and flattering words to his father, he commanded a banquet with many dainty junkets to be brought unto him, but tempered and infected with poison. Which as soon as Bajazet had begun to taste of, and felt the strength of the poison working in his body, he took his last farewell of his son, and going out of the city accompanied with a great retinue of men, yelling and crying out in the streets, in the middle of his journey fell down and miserably died, in the year of our Lord 1512. Here mayest thou see, good reader, a cursed brood of this Turkish generation, where the father dieth in cursing the son, the son reigneth by poisoning his father.
Selim, the eleventh emperor of the Turks.
After that this wretched Selim had exercised his barbarous cruelty upon his father, with like impiety he seeketh destruction of his brethren and their children, first beginning his murder with the five children his nephews, which were the sons of his three brethren before departed. Which done, then remained his other two brethren yet alive, Acomates and Corchutus, with their children, likewise to be destroyed. Of whom the one had three sons, whom the father sent to Selim his brother, and their uncle, with fair and gentle words, to entreat him to be good unto their father, offering to him their duty and service in all things, honouring him also as emperor. But cruel Selim commanded forthwith his said nephews to be strangled. The father hearing of the cruel murder of his sons, leaving house and home, went and hid himself in mountains, where he lived for a space with herbs and wild honey; but being betrayed by one of his men, he was brought to Selim, and so was strangled.
Christopherus Richerus, writing of these matters, seemeth something to differ from other stories, and saith that Selim, after the death of his brother Corchutus, came to Bursia, where he, under the colour of making a great triumph, ordained a feast for his friends and kinsfolk, whereunto were called especially his nephews, who then at the end of the feast calling his nephews aside, as under the pretence of conferring with them secretly about his necessary affairs, committed them to his servants to be strangled and put to death. All this while Acomates his other brother, through the help and instruction of his mother, was kept out of the tyrant's hands, till at length, after great labour and search made how to get him, certain forged letters were cast abroad, wherein was contained, that Acomates, to revenge the great impiety and subdue the tyranny of Selim his brother, should show himself abroad; which if he would do, he shall find friends enow to take his part. Acomates, circumvented with these subtle trains, partly for hope of revengement, partly for desire of the empire, showed himself abroad with such power and strength as he had; who, being set upon incontinent by Selim his brother, was overcome in battle, and falling from his horse, being a man corpulent and gross, and his horse falling upon him, was so overpressed and slain.
Touching the death of this Acomates, Munsterus somewhat differing from this narration, addeth moreover, and saith, That he was not killed with the fall from his horse, but sitting all dismayed upon a stone, and seeing no other remedy but death, desired the captain, taking his rings from his fingers, to deliver the same to his brother, desiring him that he might not be put to any extreme cruelty of death, but that he gently would suffer him to be let blood in the bath, and so to die. But Selim, being not ignorant of this, suborneth privy tormentors, who binding his hands behind him, with their feet cast him down upon the ground, and so twisting his neck with a cord, did strangle him. This Acomates had two sons, who hearing of the death of their father, did fly for succour, the one to Sophus in Persia, and the other to the sultan in Egypt.
By the means whereof, new occasion of war grew unto Selim, whereby he was kept in Asia, at home, to fight against the Persians and Egyptians; so that, through the Lord's providence, Christendom by that means was delivered from great danger and peril of the Turk's tyranny. For otherwise the Turk was wholly minded, with all his force and puissance, to invade the Christians, being in doubt whether first to begin with Rhodes, or whether to assault Pannonia, or else to set upon Italy, being then at great discord within itself; but this cause occupied the Turk's mind otherwise, and kept him at home. Such was then the providence of the Lord for the safeguard of his people.
Wherefore, forasmuch as the affairs and doings of this Turk were spent for the most part in the Turkish and heathenish countries, it shall not be greatly necessary to trouble our Christian stories therewith, but only shall suffice to contract them in a brief sum, declaring superficially what unquietness was amongst them there, which could never be quieted, but ever working some mischief either abroad or at home. Amurath, the Turk's nephew aforesaid, after he had obtained aid of Sophus, the king of the Persians, first invaded Cappadocia; not long after whom followed Ismael Sophus the Persian king. By reason whereof a great battle was fought betwixt the Persians and Selim, in the fields of Armenia Major. In the which battle Ismael Sophus, the Persian king, was hurt on the shoulder with a pellet, and so being carried out of the field, left the victory to Selim; who, albeit he had an army of one hundred and fifty thousand men, yet he in the same field lost about thirty thousand of his Turks. Which field was fought in the year of our Lord 1514. Selim, after this victory, went to Tauricia, the imperial city of the Persians, which he, by yielding, subdued.
In this mean time it happened that one Aladulus, a king of Armenia the Greater, was also a helper to Ismael against the Turk; whereupon Selim the Turk taking great indignation, the next year following, leaving the Persians, fought against the said Aladulus, and in the end overcame him; and afterward being found in a cave in a wood, he was taken out and brought to Selim, and so beheaded; whose head, being first carried about Asia for a triumph, was afterward sent to the senate of Venice for a terror unto them. The eldest son of Aladulus, escaping the hands of his pursuers, fled into Egypt. This battle thus fought and ended, Selim, after he had divided the kingdom of Aladulus into three provinces, went to Lyconia, and from thence to Europe, there to defend the city of Samandria against the Christians in Hungary, but the Hungarians being soon repressed by Juno Bassa, the Turk's captain, great preparation began to be made by the Turks against the confines of Servia bordering upon Hungary. The terror whereof stirred up Maximilian the emperor, and Ladislaus, king of Hungary, and Sigismund, king of Poland, to consult together, and conjoin their power for defence of Christendom. But through new encumbrances incident, the Turk, leaving Europe, made haste again into Asia, to renew again his wars against the Persians, who had made a vow not to give over that war before Ismael was overthrown.
But before he entered that war, first he sent his messengers to the sultan of Egypt, requiring him not to intermeddle in that war; for this sultan before had promised to assist the Persians against the Turk. The name of the sultan which reigned then in Egypt, was Campson, set up by the Mamalukes. These Mamalukes were a certain order amongst the Egyptians, much like to the Janizaries about the Turk, who, being the children of Christian men, and after denying Christ, were the chiefest doers in the sultan's court; and being grown into a great multitude, did degenerate into a Turkish barbarity, or rather became worse than Turks. This Campson unto the messengers of the Turk gave this answer again, That, unless he would leave off this war against Ismael, and restore the son of Aladulus, he would not lay down his armour.
Selim, being incensed not a little with this insolent answer of the sultan, leaving all other wars aside, with great celerity advaneed his power against the sultan. Which sultan, partly through the falsehood of his captain, Cajerbeius, partly by the suddenness of the Turk's coming, not far from the city of Damascus, encountered with the Turk, and there overthrown from his horse, being a fat and gross body, and falling under his horse, and his horse also falling upon him, was quashed in pieces, and so died, which was the year of our Lord 1516.
The Mamalukes, of whom more than a thousand in this battle were slain, flying from thence to Memphis, set up Tomumbeius instead of Campson; whose captain, Gazelles, was overcome at the city of Gaza, and he afterward himself driven out of Memphis, where a great part of the Mamalukes were destroyed. Then Tomumbeius, flying over the flood Nile, renewed his army again; but in the end was discomfited and chased into a marsh, where he was found standing in the water up to the chin: and so being brought to Selim, was put to the rack and great torments, to make him confess where Campson's treasures were; but when he would not declare, he was carried about the town with a halter about his neck, and hanged up upon a high gibbet for a spectacle to all Egypt; which was the year of our Lord 1517. And thus were the two sultans of Egypt destroyed with the Mamalukes, which there had borne the rule in Egypt the space of two hundred and forty-three years. The progeny of the which Mamalukes remaining of the wars, the Turk commanded in the prison-gates of Alexandria to be cut in pieces; Selim from thence triumphing, departed to Constantinople, intending to spend the rest of his time in persecuting the Christians. But in that mean space he was stricken with a cankered sore rotting inward, and died, after he had reigned seven years, like a beast, in the year of our Lord 1520.
The reign of this Turk was but short in number of years; but in number of his murders and cruel bloodshed it might seem exceeding long, which lived more like a beast than a man; for he never spared any of his friends or kindred. His father first he poisoned, his brethren and all his cousins he quelled, leaving none of his kindred alive. Moreover, his chief and principal captains for small occasions he put to death, as Mustapha, Calogere, Chendeme, Bostang, his son-in-law, and Juno Bassa.
It is said moreover, that he intended the poisoning of his own son Solyman, sending unto him a shirt infected with poison, because he seemed something freely to speak against the cruel demeanour of his father; but by the means of his mother, the gift being suspected, was given to another, which was his chamberlain, who, putting on the shirt, was stricken with the poison thereof, and therewithal died.
As touching this Turk Selim, by the way here may be noted how the secret providence of the Lord kept him occupied with his Turkish wars at home, while that the reformation of Christian religion here in Europe, the same time begun by Martin Luther, might the more quietly take some rooting without disturbance or interruption. For so it appeareth by the computation of time, that in the days of this Selim Martin Luther first began to write against the pope's indulgences, which was in the year of our Lord 1516.