Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small]

After the departure of his Greek brethren, Eugenius had not been unmindful of their temporal interest; and his tender regard for the Byzantine empire was animated by a just apprehension of the Turks, who approached, and might soon invade the borders of Italy. But the spirit of the crusades had expired; and the coldness of the Franks was not less unreasonable than their headlong passion. In the eleventh century, a fanatic monk could precipitate Europe on Asia for the recovery of the holy sepulchre; but in the fifteenth, the most pressing motives of religion and policy were insufficient to unite the Latins in the defence of Christendom. Germany was an inexhaustible store-house of men and arms"; but that complex and languid body required the impulse of a vigorous hand; and Frederic the Third was alike impotent in his personal character and Imperial dignity. A long war had

impaired the strength, without satiating the animo

sity, of France and Englandf; but Philip, Duke of

Burgundy, was a vain and magnificent prince; and he

* In the year 1431, Germany raised 40,000 horse, men at arms, against the Hussites of Bohemia, (l'Enfant, Hist. du Concile de Basle, tom. i. p. 318.). At the siege of Nuys on the Rhine, in 1474, the princes, prelates, and cities, sent their respective quotas; and the Bishop of Munster (qui n'est pas des plus grands) furnished 1400 horse, 6000 foot, all in green, with 120c waggons. The united armies of the King of England and the Duke of Burgundy scarcely equalled one third of this German host, (Memoires des Philippe de Comines, l. iv. c. 2.). At present, six or seven hundred thousand men are maintained in constant pay and admirable discipline, by the powers of Germany.

* It was not till the year 1444, that France and England could agree on a truce of some months, (see Rymer's Foedera, and the chronicles of both nations).

he enjoyed, without danger or expence, the adven- C H A P.

turous piety of his subjects, who sailed, in a gallant fleet, from the coast of Flanders to the Hellespont. The maritime republics of Venice and Genoa were less remote from the scene of action; and their hostile fleets were associated under the standard of St Peter. The kingdoms of Hungary and Poland, which covered, as it were, the interior pale of the Latin church, were the most nearly concerned to oppose the progress of the Turks. Arms were the patrimony of the Scythians and Sarmatians; and these nations might appear equal to the contest, could they point, against the common foe, those swords that were so wantonly drawn in bloody and domestic quarrels. But the same spirit was adverse to concord and obedience; a poor country, and a limited monarch, are incapable of maintaining a standing force; and the loose bodies of Polish and Hungarian horse were not armed with the sentiments and weapons which, on some occasions, have given irresistible weight to the French chivalry. Yet, on this side, the designs of the Roman Pontiff, and the eloquence of Cardinal Julian, his legate, were promoted by the circumstances of the times *; by the union of the two crowns on the head of Ladislaust, a young and ambitious soldier; by the va

lour

* In the Hungarian crusade, Spondanus (Annal. Eccles. A. D. 1443, 1444.) has been my leading guide. He has diligently read, and critically compared, the Greek and Turkish materials, the historians of Hungary, Poland, and the West. His narrative is perspicuous; and where he can be free from a religious bias, the judgement of Spcndanus is not contemptible.

+ I have curtailed the harsh letter (Wladislaus) which most writers affix to his name, either in compliance with the Polish pronunciation,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

lour of an hero, whose name, the name of John Huniades, was already popular among the Christians, and formidable to the Turks. An endless treasure of pardons and indulgences was scattered by the legate; many private warriors of France and Germany enlisted under the holy banner; and the crusade derived some strength, or at least some reputation, from the new allies, both of Europe and Asia. A fugitive despot of Servia exaggerated the distress and ardour of the Christians beyond the Danube, who would unanimously rise to vindicate the religion and liberty. The Greek Emperor, with a spirit unknown to his fathers, engaged to guard the Bosphorus, and to sally from Constantinople at the head of his national and mercenary troops. The Sultan of Caramania f announced the retreat of Amurath, and a powerful diversion in the heart of Anatolia; and if the fleets of the West could occupy at the same moment the streights of the Hellespont, the Ottoman monarchy would be dissevered and destroyed. Heaven and heart must rejoice in the perdition of the miscreants; and the

- legate,

pronunciation, or to distinguish him from his rival the infant
Ladislaus of Austria. Their competition for the crown of
Hungary is described by Callimachus (l. i. ii. p. 447–486.),
Bonfinius (Decad. iii. l. iv.), Spondanus, and l'Enfant.

+ The Greek historians, Phranza, Chalcondyles, and Ducas, do not ascribe to their prince a very active part in this crusade, which he seems to have promoted by his wishes, and injured by his fears.

+ Cantemir (p. 88.) ascribes to his policy the original plan, and transcribes his animating epistle to the King of Hungary. But the Mahometan powers are seldom informed of the state of Christendom ; and the situation and correspondence of the knights of Rhodes must connect them with the Sultan of Carainania.

legate, with prudent ambiguity, instilled the opi-
nion of the invisible, perhaps the visible, aid of the

Son of God, and his divine mother.
Of the Polish and Hungarian diets, a religious
war was the unanimous cry; and Ladislaus, after
passing the Danube, led an army of his confede-
rate subjects as far as Sophia, the capital of the
Bulgarian kingdom. In this expedition they ob-
tained two signal victories, which were justly ascri-
bed to the valour and conduct of Huniades. In
the first, with a vanguard of ten thousand men,
he surprised the Turkish camp; in the second, he
vanquished and made prisoner the most renowned
of their generals, who possessed the double ad-
vantage of ground and numbers. The approach
of winter, and the natural and artificial obstacles of
mount Haemus, arrested the progress of the hero,
who measured a narrow interval of six days’ march
from the foot of the mountains to the hostile towers
of Adrianople, and the friendly capital of the Greek
empire. The retreat was undisturbed ; and the
entrance into Buda was at once a military and re-
ligious triumph. An ecclesiastical procession was
followed by the King and his warriors on foot; he
nicely balanced the merits and rewards of the two
nations; and the pride of conquest was blended
with the humble temper of Christianity. Thirteen
bashaws, nine standards, and four thousand cap-
tives, were unquestionable trophies; and as all
were willing to believe, and none were present to
contradict, the crusaders multiplied, with unblush-
ing confidence, the myriads of Turks whom they
had

[ocr errors][merged small]

c H A p. had left on the field of battle *. The most solid

[ocr errors][merged small]

Turkish

peace.

Violation

of the peace,

1444.

proof, and the most salutary consequence of vic-
tory, was a deputation from the divan to solicit
peace, to restore Servia, to ransom the prisoners,
and to evacuate the Hungarian frontier. By this
treaty, the rational objects of the war were obtain-
ed; the King, the despot, and Huniades himself,
in the diet of Segedin, were satisfied with public
and private emolument; a truce of ten years was
concluded ; and the followers of Jesus and Maho-
met, who swore on the Gospel and the Koran, at-
tested the word of God as the guardian of truth
and the avenger of perfidy. In the place of the
Gospel, the Turkish ministers had proposed to sub-
stitute the Eucharist, the real presence of the Ca.
tholic deity; but the Christians refused to profane
their holy mysteries; and a superstitious conscience
is less forcibly bound by the spiritual energy, than
by the outward and visible symbols of an oath f.
During the whole transaction, the Cardinal-le-
gate had observed a sullen silence, unwilling to
approve, and unable to oppose, the consent of the
King and people. But the diet was not dissolved
before Julian was fortified by the welcome intel-
ligence, that Anatolia was invaded by the Cara-
manian, and Thrace by the Greek Emperor; that
the
* In their letters to the Emperor Frederic III. the Hunga-
rians slay 323,coo Turks in one battle, but the modest Julian
reduces the slaughter to 6cco, or even 2Coo infidels, (ZEneas
Sylvius in Europ. c. 5. and epist. 44.81. apud Spoudanum).
+ See the origin of the Turkish war, and the first expedi-
tion of Ladislaus, in the 4th and 5th books of the 3d Decad
of Bonfinius, who, in his division and style, copies Livy with
tolerable success. Callimachus (l. ii. p. 487–496) is still
more pure and authentic. -

« PreviousContinue »