« PreviousContinue »
the fleets of Genoa, Venice, and Burgundy, were C H A P.
masters of the Hellespont; and that the allies, informed of the victory, and ignorant of the treaty, of Ladislaus, impatiently waited for the return of his victorious army. “And is it thus,” exclaimed the cardinal *, “that you will desert their ex“pectations and your own fortune 2 It is to them, “ to your God, and your fellow Christians, that “you have pledged your faith; and that prior ob“ligation annihilates a rash and sacrilegious oath “ to the enemies of Christ. His vicar on earth is “ the Roman Pontiff; without whose sanction you “can neither promise nor perform. In his name “I absolve your perjury, and sanctify your arms; “follow my footsteps in the paths of glory and “ salvation; and if still ye have scruples, devolve “on my head the punishment and the sin.” This mischievous casuistry was seconded by his respectable character, and the levity of popular assemblies. War was resolved on the same spot where peace had so lately been sworn; and, in the execution of the treaty, the Turks were assaulted by the Christians; to whom, with some reason, they might apply the epithet of Infidels. The falsehood of Ladislaus to his word and oath, was palliated by the religion of the times; the most perfect, or at least the
* I do not pretend to warrant the literal accuracy of Juiian’s speech, which is variously worded by Callimachus (l. iii. p. 505—507.), Bonfinius (Dec. iii. 1. vi. p. 457. 458.), and other historians, who might indulge their own eloquence, while they represent one of the orators of the age. But they all agree in the advice and arguments for perjury, which in the field of controversy are fiercely attacked by the Protestants, and feebly defended by the Catholics. The latter are discouraged by the misfortune of Warna.
the most popular excuse, would have been the success of his arms, and the deliverance of the Eastern church. But the same treaty which should have bound his conscience, had diminished his strength. On the proclamation of the peace, the French and German volunteers departed with indignant murmurs : the Poles were exhausted by distant warfare, and perhaps disgusted with foreign command; and their palatines accepted the first licence, and hastily retired to their provinces and castles. Even Hungary was divided by faction, or restrained by a laudable scruple; and the relics of the crusade that marched in the second expedition, were reduced to an inadequate force of twenty thousand men. A Walachian chief, who joined the royal standard with his vassals, presumed to remark, that their numbers did not exceed the hunting retinue that sometimes attended the Sultan; and the gift of two horses of matchless speed, might admonish Ladislaus of his secret foresight of the event. But the despot of Servia, after the restoration of his country and children, was tempted by the promise of new realms; and the inexperience of the King, the enthusiasm of the legate, and the martial presumption of Huniades himself, were persuaded that every obstacle must yield to the invincible virtue of the sword and the cross. After the passage of the Danube, two roads might lead to Constantinople and the Hellespont; the one direct, abrupt, and difficult, through the mountains of Haemus ; the other more tedious and secure, over a level country, and along the shores of the Fuxine ; in which their flanks, according to
to the Scythian discipline, might always be covered ch A P.
by a moveable fortification of waggons. The latter
* Warna, under the Grecian name of Odessus, was a colony of the Milesians, which they denominated from the hero Ulysses, (Cellarius, tom. i. p. 374. d’Anville, tom. i. p. 3.12.). According to Arrian's Periplus of the Euxine, (p. 24. 25. in the first volume of Hudson's Geographers), it
was situate 174c stadia, or furlongs, from the mouth of
the Danube, 21.40 from Byzantium, and 360 to the north of a ridge or promontory of mount Haemus, which advances into the sea. -
1444, Nov. 19.
alone was resolved to conquer or die; and his resolution had almost been crowned with a glorious and salutary victory. The princes were opposite to each other in the centre; and the Beglerbegs, or generals of Anatolia and Romania, commanded on the right and left against the adverse divisions of the despot and Huniades. The Turkish wings were broken on the first onset; but the advantage was fatal; and the rash victors, in the heat of the pursuit, were carried away far from the annoyance of the enemy, or the support of their friends. When Amurath beheld the flight of his squadrons, he despaired of his fortune and that of the empire. A veteran Janizary seized his horse's bridle; and he had magnanimity to pardon and reward the soldier who dared to perceive the terror, and arrest the flight of his sovereign. A copy of the treaty, the monument of Christian perfidy, had been displayed in the front of battle ; and it is said, that the Sultan in his distress, lifting his eyes and his hands to heaven, implored the protection of the God of truth; and called on the prophet Jesus himself to avenge the impious mockery of his name and religion *. With inferior numbers and disordered ranks, the King of Hungary rushed forwards in the confidence of victory, till his career was stopped by the impenetrable phalanx of the Janizaries. If we may credit the Ottoman annals, his horse was - pierced * Some Christian writers affirm, that he drew from his bosom the host, or wafer on which the treaty had not been sworn. The Moslems suppose, with more simplicity, an appeal to God and his prophet Jesus, which is likewise insi
nuate by Callimachus, (l. iii. p. 516. Spondan. A. D. 1444. No. 8.).
pierced by the javelin of Amurath"; he fell among ‘i. H.A.P. the spears of the infantry; and a Turkish soldier XV 11.
proclaimed with a loud voice, “Hungarians, be. ... “hold the head of your king !” The death of Ladislaus was the signal of their defeat. On his return from an intemperate pursuit, Huniades deplored his error, and the public loss; he strove to rescue the royal body, till he was overwhelmed by the tumultuous crowd of the victors and vanquished; and the last efforts of his courage and conduct were exerted to save the remnant of his Walachian cavalry. Ten thousand Christians were slain in the disastrous battle of Warna. The loss of the Turks, more considerable in numbers, bore a smaller proportion to their total strength; yet the philosophic Sultan was not ashamed to confess, that his ruin must be the consequence of a second and similar victory. At his command, a column was erected on the spot where Ladislaus had fallen; but the modest inscription, instead of accusing the rashness, recorded the valour, and bewailed the misfortune, of the Hungarian youth t.
M 2 Before
* A critic will always distrust these polia opima of a victorious general, so difficult for valour to obtain, so easy for flattery to invent, (Cantemir, p. 9o. 91.). Callimachus (l. iii. p. 517.) more simply and probably affirms, supervenientibus Janizaris, telorum multitudine, non tam confessus est, quam obrutus.
+ Besides some valuable hints from AEneas Sylvius, which are diligently collected by Spondanus, our best authorities are three historians of the 15th century, Philippus Callimachus (de rebus a Vladislao Polonorum atque Hungarorum Rege gestis, libri iii. in Bel. Script. Rerum Hungaricarum, tom. i. p. 433–518.), Bonfinius (decad iii. l. v. p. 460–467.), and Chalcondyles, (l. vii. p. 165–179.). The two first were Italians, but they passed their lives in Poland and Hungary, - (Fabric.