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numerable lights, and resounded with the voice of C H.A.P.
prayer and thanksgiving. The Latins were the most
odious of heretics and infidels; and the first minister of the empire, the great Duke, was heard to declare, that he had rather behold, in Constantinople, the turban of Mahomet, than the Pope's tiara, or a cardinal's hat". A sentiment so unworthy of Christians and patriots, was familiar and fatal to the Greeks; the Emperor was deprived of the affection and support of his subjects; and their native cowardice was sanctified by resignation to the divine decree, or the visionary hope of a miraculous deliverance. Of the triangle which composes the figure of Constantinople, the two sides along the sea were made inaccessible to an enemy; the Propontis by nature, and the harbour by art. Between the two waters, the basis of the triangle, the land-side was protected by a double wall, and a deep ditch of the depth of one hundred feet. Against this line of fortification, which Phranza, an eye-witness, prolongs to the measure of six miles f, the Ottomans directed their principal attack; and the Emperor, after distributing the service and command of the most perilous stations, undertook the defence of the external wall. In the first days of the siege, the Greek soldiers descended into the ditch, Vol. XII. P * or
* Paxtoxicy, waxworrea, may be fairly translated, a cardinal's hat. The difference of the Greek and Latin habits embittered the schism.
+We are obliged to reduce the Greek miles to the smallest measure which is preserved in the wersts of Russia, of 547 French toises, and of 1043 to a degree. The six miles of Phranza do not exceed four English miles, (d’Anville, Mesures Itineraires, p. 61. 123. &c.).
1453, April 6– May 29.
or sallied into the field; but they soon discovered, that in the proportion of their numbers, one Christian was of more value than twenty Turks; and, after these bold preludes, they were prudently content to maintain the rampart with their missile weapons. Nor should this prudence be accused of pusillanimity. The nation was indeed pusillanimous and base; but the last Constantine deserves the name of an hero; his noble band of volunteers was inspired with Roman virtue; and the foreign auxiliaries supported the honour of the Western chivalry. The incessant vollies of lances and arrows were accompanied with the smoke, the sound, and the fire of their musketry and cannon. Their small arms discharged at the same time either five, or even ten balls of lead, of the size of a walnut; and, according to the closeness of the ranks, and the force of the powder, several breast-plates and bodies were transpierced by the same shot. But the Turkish approaches were soon sunk in trenches, or covered with ruins. Each day added to the science of the Christians; but their inadequate stock of gunpowder was wasted in the operations of each day. Their ordnance was not powerful, either in size or number; and if they possessed some heavy cannon, they feared to plant them on the walls, lest the aged structure should be shaken and overthrown by the explosion". The same destructive secret had been revealed to the Moslems; by * At indies doćtiores nostri facti paravere contra hostes machinamenta, quae tamen avare dabantur. Pulvis erat nitri modica exigua ; tela modica; bombardae, si aderant incom
c H. A p. LXVIII. *-Y
moditate loci primum hostes offendere maceriebus alveisque - tectos
by whom it was employed with the superior energy
of zeal, riches, and despotism. The great cannon
of Mahomet has been separately noticed; an important and visible object in the history of the times; but that enormous engine was flanked by two fellows almost of equal magnitude"; the long order of the Turkish artillery was pointed against the walls; fourteen batteries thundered at once on the most accessible places; and of one of these it is ambiguously expressed, that it was mounted with one hundred and thirty guns, or that it discharged one hundred and thirty bullets. Yet, in the power and activity of the Sultan, we may discern the infancy of the new science. Under a master who counted the moments, the great cannon could be loaded and fired no more than seven times in one day t. The heated metal unfortunately burst; several workmen were destroyed; and the skill of an artist was admired, who bethought himself of preventing the danger and the accident, by pouring oil, after each explosion, into the mouth of the
tectos non poterant. Nam siquae magnæ erant, ne murus concuteretur noster, quiescebant. This passage of Leonardus Chiensis is curious and important.
* According to Chalcondyles and Phranza, the great cannon burst; an accident which, according to Ducas, was prevented by the artist's skill. It is evident that they do not speak of the same gun.
+ Near an hundred years after the siege of Constantinople, the French and English fleets in the Channel were proud of firing 3oo shot in an engagement of two hours, (Memoires de Martin du Bellay, l. x. in the Collection Generale, tom. xxi.
The first random shots were productive of more sound than effect; and it was by the advice of a Christian, that the engineers were taught to level their aim against the two opposite sides of the salient angles of a bastion. However imperfect, the weight and repetition of the fire made some impression on the walls; and the Turks, pushing their approaches to the edge of the ditch, attempted to fill the enormous chasm, and to build a road to the assault". Innumerable fascines, and hogsheads, and trunks of trees, were heaped on each other; and such was the impetuosity of the throng, that the foremost and the weakest were pushed headlong down the precipice, and instantly buried under the accumulated mass. To fill the ditch was the toil of the besiegers; to clear away the rubbish was the safety of the besieged; and, after a long and bloody conflict, the web that had been woven in the day was still unravelled in the night. The next resource of Mahomet was the practice of mines; but the soil was rocky; in every attempt he was stopped and undermined by the Christian engineers; nor had the art been yet invented of replenishing those subterraneous passages with gunpowder, and blowing whole towers and cities into the airf. A circumstance that distinguishes the siege * I have selected some curious facts, without striving to emulate the bloody and obstinate eloquence of the Abbé de Vertot, in his prolix descriptions of the sieges of Rhodes, Malta, &c. But that agreeable historian had a turn for romance,
and as he wrote to please the order, he has adopted the same spirit of enthusiasm and chivalry.
+ The first theory of mines with gunpowder appears in 1480. siege of Constantinople, is the re-union of the ancient and modern artillery. The cannon were intermingled with the mechanical engines for casting stones and darts; the bullet and the battering-ram were directed against the same walls; nor had the discovery of gunpowder superseded the use of the liquid and unextinguishable fire. A wooden turret of the largest size was advanced on rollers; this portable magazine of ammunition and fascines was protected by a threefold covering of bulls hides; incessant vollies were securely discharged from the loop-holes; in the front, three doors were contrived for the alternate sally and retreat of the soldiers and workmen. They ascended by a staircase to the upper platform, and as high as the level of that platform, a scaling-ladder could be raised by pullies to form a bridge, and grapple with the adverse rampart. By these various arts of annoyance, some as new as they were pernicious to the Greeks, the tower of St Romanus was at length overturned; after a severe struggle, the Turks were repulsed from the breach, and interrupted by darkness; but they trusted, that with the return of light they should renew the attack with fresh vigour, and decisive success. Of this pause of action, this interval of hope, each moment was improved by the activity of the Emperor and Justiniani, who passed the night on the spot,
P 3 and
1480, in a MS. of George of Sienna, (Tiraboschi, tom. vi. p. i. p. 324.). They were first practised at Sarzanella, in 1487; but the honour and improvement in 1503 is ascribed to Peter of Navarre, who used them with success in the wars of Italy, (Hist. de la Ligue de Cambray, tom. ii. p. 93–97.).