130. SOLYMAN, THE TWELFTH EMPEROR OF THE TURKS.
Solyman, the only son of Selim, succeeded after his father's death, who in the first beginning seemed to some to be simple and sheepish, and not meet for the Turkish government. Wherefore certain of his nobles, consulting how to depose him, intended to set up another emperor. In which conspiracy, especially are named Cajerbeius and Gazelles. This Cajerbeius was he that betrayed before Campson, the sultan of Egypt, to Selim, as is aforesaid; who now also being in consultation with Gazelles and other about this matter, detected them also unto Solyman. Wherefore the said Gazelles and his fellows, being thus detected, were put to death by Solyman, declaring thereby that he was not so sheepish as he was thought of them to be, and as also by his acts afterward did more appear.
Solyman, after this execution done upon the conspirators, taking his voyage into Europe, first besieged Belgrade; which, being a city in Hungary, was the strongest fort of all the Roman empire, and the chief defence at that time of all Christendom; which also being assaulted before time by Amurath the Second, was valiantly defended by Johannes Huniades, as is above specified. But here now lacked such a one as Huniades was. For the kingdom of Hungary at that time was under the government of Ludovicus, a young king, unexpert and of a simple wit: whom other princes, and specially the covetous churchmen, did so pill and poll, that they left him nothing but only the bare name and title of his kingdom, whereby he, being unfurnished both of men and money, was unable to match with such an enemy.
Another vantage also the Turks had in besieging Belgrade: for the Christian princes at that time were in civil dissension and variance amongst themselves, and the pope, with his churchmen also, were so busy in suppressing of Luther, and of the gospel then newly springing, that they minded nothing else, except it were to maintain the wealth of their own bellies. Which pope, if he set his care, as his duty was, so much in stirring up princes against the common enemy, as he was bent to deface the gospel, and to persecute the true professors thereof, soon might he have brought to pass, not only that Belgrade might have been defended against the Turk, but also that to be recovered again which was lost before; and moreover, he might have stopped the great dangers and perils which now are like to fall upon the religion and church of Christ, which the Lord of his great mercy avert and turn away.
Certes, whatsoever the pope then did, this had been his duty, setting all other things apart, to have had an earnest compassion of so many miserable and lost captives, which were fallen from their faith and religion, unto the misery and slavery of the Turk, and thraldom of the devil, and to have sought all means possible to have redueed them, as lost sheep, into the fold again. Which then might soon have been done, if prelates and princes, joining together in Christian concord, had loved so well the public glory of Christ, and souls of Christians, as they tendered their own private, worldly, and frivolous quarrels. And admit that the pope had conceived never so much malice against Luther, his quarrel also being good, yet the public church standing in such danger, as it then did by the invasion of the Turk, reason would, nature led, religion taught, time required, that a good prelate, forgetting lighter matters, should rather have laid his shoulder to the excluding of so great a danger, as then was imminent both to himself and the universal church of Christ; but now, his quarrel being unjust, and the cause of Luther being most just and godly, what is to be said or thought of such a prelate, who forbearing the Turk, whom in a time so dangerous he ought chiefly to have resisted, persecuted the truth which be should specially have maintained? But Christ for his mercy stands for his church, and stirs up zealous princes and prelates, if not to recover that that is lost, yet at least to retain that little which is left.
Solyman therefore, taking this occasion, and using the commodity of time, while our princes were thus at variance betwixt themselves, without any resistance or interruption brought his army unto Belgrade, in the year of our Lord 1521. Which city, being but slenderly defenced, the Turk, through his underminers, guns, and other engines of war, without great difficulty, and with little loss of his soldiers, soon subdued and overcame.
After this victory, Solyman resting himself a whole year, and casting in his mind how to make all sure behind him, for fear of enemies to come upon his back, thought it expedient for his purpose if he might obtain the island of Rhodes; for that only remained yet Christian betwixt him and Asia; wherefore the next year following he brought his army of four hundred and fifty ships, and three hundred thousand men, to the besieging thereof. This Rhodes was a mighty and strong island, within the sea called Mare Mediterraneum. The inhabitants whereof at the first did manfully resist the Turk, sparing no labour nor pains for the defenee of themselves and of all Christendom; but afterward being brought to extremity, and pinched with penury, seeing also no aid to come from the Christians, somewhat began to languish in themselves. The Turks in the mean time casting up two great mountains with strength of hand, two miles off from the city, like rolling trenches carried them before them near unto the city, in the tops whereof they planted their ordnance and artillery, to batter the city. The master of the knights of Rhodes was then one Philippus Villadamus, a Frenchman, in whom no diligence was lacking that appertained to the defence of the city. The Rhodians likewise so valiantly behaved themselves upon the walls, that with their shot all the ditches about the city were filled with carcasses of dead Turks. Besides this, such a disease of the bloody flux reigned in the Turk's camp, that thirty thousand of them died thereof; and yet for all this Solyman would not cease from this siege begun; who, at length by underminers casting down the vaumures and uttermost parts of the city, won ground still more and more upon the Rhodians, and with mortar pieces so battered the houses, that there was no free place almost standing in all the city. And thus continued the siege for the space of five or six months, and yet all this while came no help unto them from the Christians. Wherefore they being out of all hope, through the advice of Villada mus, yielded themselves unto the Turk, upon condition that he would spare them with life and goods; which convention the Turk kept with them faithfully and truly.
Thus Solyman with his great glory, and utter shame to all Christian princes, and also ruin of all Christendom, got the noble isle of Rhodes, although not without great loss and detriment of his army, insomuch that at one assault twenty thousand Turks about the walls were slain with fire, sword, stones, and other engines. Whereby it may be conjectured what these Rhodians might or would have done, if succour had come to them from other Christian princes as they looked for. This city was won upon Christmas day, A. D. 1522.
This conquest of Rhodes obtained, Solyman, thefourth year after, bringeth back his army again into Hungary, where he found to resist him but only Ludovick the young king, who being accompanied with a small army, and nothing able to match with the Turk, yet of a hasty rashness and vain hope of victory, would needs set upon him; who if he had stayed but a little, had prospered the better; for Johannes Vaivoda, being a captain well exercised in Turkish wars before, was not far off, coming with a sufficient power of able soldiers. But Paulus, the archbishop of Colosse, a Franciscan friar, a man more bold than wise, with his temerity and rashness troubled all their doings. For the whole sum of the army of the Hungarians contained in all but only four and twenty thousand horsemen and footmen, who at length coming unto the battle, and being compassed about with a great multitude of the Turk's army, were brought into great distress. The Turks twice shot off their pieces against the Christian army; yet scarce was any Christian touched with the stroke thereof; which was thought to be done of purpose, because they were Christians which had the ordering of the guns, for then the special gunners of the Turks were Christians, whom for the same cause they spared. Then the Turk's horsemen, coming back upon the Christian army, compassed them about, and by reason of their multitude overcharged their horsemen. Amongst whom was slain the same time the archbishop friar above-said, with the bishops of Strigone and Varadine, and many other nobles beside. Also the king himself, being destitute of his necessary aid and succour, was compelled to fly into a marsh, where he falling from his horse, being heavy laden with the harness, was not able to rise again, but there miserably perished.
Solyman the Turk marvelled at the foolishness of Ludovick the king, who with so small an army would presume to encounter with such a great host of two hundred thousand. This battle in Hungary was fought A. D. 1526.
After the decease of Ludovick, Ferdinand succeeded in the kingdom, being duke of Austria and king of Hungary. Then Solyman, setting contention betwixt Johannes Vaivoda and Ferdinand for the kingdom of Hungary, sped his voyage to the city of Buda, which also in short time he made to be yielded unto him, upon condition that they should escape with their lives and goods; which condition some say he kept, and some say he did not. Besides Buda, divers places and munitions the said Turk, contrary to his league made before, did spoil and waste, as Varadinum, Quinque Ecclesias, and other forts and munitions more, bordering about the coasts of Hungary.