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most worthy object of the royal choice; and Phran- c H.A.P. za recapitulates and refutes the specious objections ***, that might be raised against the proposal. The majesty of the purple would ennoble an unequal alliance; the bar of affinity might be removed by liberal alms, and the dispensation of the church; the disgrace of Turkish nuptials had been repeatedly overlooked; and, though the fair Maria was near fifty years of age, she might yet hope to give an heir to the empire. Constantine listened to the advice, which was transmitted in the first ship that sailed from Trebizond; but the factions of the court opposed his marriage; and it was finally prevented by the pious vow of the Sultana, who ended her days in the monastic profession. Reduced to the first alternative, the choice of Phranza was decided in favour of a Georgian princess; and the vanity of her father was dazzled by the glorious alliance. Instead of demanding, according to the primitive and national custom, a price for his daughter", he offered a portion of fifty-six thousand, with o an annual pedion of five thousand ducats ; and the services of the ambassador were repaid by an assurance, that as his son had been adopted in baptism by the Emperor, the establishment of his daughter should be the peculiar care of the Empress of Constantinople. On the return of Phranza, the treaty was ratified by the Greek Monarch, who with his own hand impressed three vermilion crosses on the . Golden Bull, and assured the Georgian envoy, that N 2 in
* The classical reader will recollect the offers of Agamemnon, (Iliad, l. v. 144), and the general practice of antiquity.
State of the Byzantine tourt,
in the spring his gallies should conduct the bride to her Imperial palace. But Constantine embraced his faithful servant, not with the cold approbation of a sovereign, but with the warm confidence of a friend, who, after a long absence, is impatient to pour his secrets into the bosom of his friend. “Since
“ the death of my mother and of Cantacuzene, who
“ alone advised me without interest or passion", I “am surrounded,” said the Emperor, “by men “whom I can neither love, nor trust, nor esteem. “You are not a stranger to Lucas Notaras, the great “admiral; obstinately attached to his own senti“ments, he declares, both in private and public, “ that his sentiments are the absolute measure of “my thoughts and actions. The rest of the cour“ tiers are swayed by their personal or factious “views; and how can I consult the monks on que“stions of policy and marriage 2 I have yet much “employment for your diligence and fidelity. In “the spring you shall engage one of my brothers “to solicit the succour of the Western powers; “from the Morea you shall sail to Cyprus on a par“ticular commission; and from thence proceed to “Georgia to receive and conduct the future Em“press.” Your commands,” replied Phranza, “are “irresistible; but deign, great Sir,” he added, with a serious smile, “to consider, that if I am “thus perpetually absent from my family, my “ wife * Cantacuzene (I am ignorant of his relation to the Emperor of that name) was a great domestic, a firm assertor of the Greek creed, and a brother of the Queen of Servia, whom he
visited with the character of ambassador, (Syropulus, p. 37. 38.45).
“wife may be tempted either to seek another hus- CHAP.
“band, or to throw herself into a monastery.” CoAfter laughing at his apprehensions, the Emperor . .
more gravely consoled him by the pleasing assurance, that this should be his last service abroad, and that he destined for his son a wealthy and noble heiress; for himself, the important office of great logothete, or principal minister of state. The marriage was immediately stipulated; but the office, however incompatible with his own, had been usurped by the ambition of the admiral. Some delay was requisite to negociate a consent and an equivalent; and the nomination of Phranza was half declared, and half suppressed, lest it might be displeasing to an insolent and powerful favourite. The winter was spent in the preparations of the embassy; and Phranza had resolved, that the youth his son should embrace this opportunity of foreign
travel, and be left, on the appearance of danger,
with his maternal kindred of the Morea. Such were the private and public designs, which were interrupted by a Turkish war, and finally buried in the ruins of the empire.
C H A P. LXVIII.
Reign and Character of Mahomet the Second–Siege,
HE siege of Constantinople by the Turks atIl tracts our first attention to the person and character of the great destroyer. Mahomet the Second * was the son of the second Amurath; and though his mother has been decorated with the titles of Christian and Princess, she is more probably confounded with the numerous concubines who peopled from every climate the haram of the Sultan. His first education and sentiments were those of a devout Mussulman; and as often as he conversed with an infidel, he purified his hands and face by the legal rites of ablution. Age and empire appear to have relaxed this narrow bigotry; his aspiring genius disdained to acknowledge a power above his own ; and in his looser hours he - - presumed
* For the character of Mahomet Is, it is dangerous to trust either the Turks or the Christians. The most moderate picture appears to be drawn by Phranza, (). i. c. 33.), whose resentment had cooled in age and solitude; see likewise Spondanus (A. D. 14 § 1, No. 1 1.), and the continuator of Ficury (tom. xxii. p. 5 ; 2.), the F.cgia of Paulus Jovius (l. iii. p. 164–166), and the Dictionnaire de Bayle (tom. iii. p. 272 –279). -
ca as a robber and impostor. Yet the Sultan persevered in a decent reverence for the doctrine and discipline of the Koran *; his private indiscretion must have been sacred from the vulgar ear; and we should suspect the credulity of strangers and sectaries, so prone to believe, that a mind which is hardened against truth, must be armed with superior contempt for absurdity and error. Under the tuition of the most skilful masters, Mahomet advanced with an early and rapid progress in the paths of knowledge; and besides his native tongue, it is affirmed that he spoke or understood five languagest, the Arabic, the Persian, the Chaldaean or Hebrew, the Latin, and the Greek. The Persian might, indeed, contribute to his amusement, and the Arabic to his edification; and such studies are familiar to the Oriental youth. In the intercourse of the Greeks and Turks, a conqueror might wish to converse with the people over whom he was ambitious to reign; his own praises in Latin poetry i or
N 4 prose
* Cantemir, (p. 115.), and the moschs which he founded, attest his public regard for religion. Mahomet freely disputed with the patriarch Gennadius on the two religions, (Spond. A. D. 1453, No. 22.).
+ Quinque linguas praeter suam noverat; Graecam, Latinam, Chaldaicam, Persicam. The Latin translator of Phranza has dropt the Arabic, which the Koran must recommend to every Mussulman.
f Philelphus, by a Latin ode, requested and obtained the liberty of his wife's mother and sisters from the conqueror of Constantinople. It was delivered into the Sultan's hands by the envoys of the Duke of Milan. Philelphus himself was suspected of a design of retiring to Constantinople; yet the orator often sounded the trumpet of holy war, (see his life by M. Launcelot, in the Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. x. p. 718. 724, &c.).