Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire

Gibbon's The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

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Chapter LXV: Elevation Of Timour Or Tamerlane, And His Death. -- Part

The military republic of the Mamalukes still reigned in Egypt and Syria: but the dynasty of the Turks was overthrown by that of the Circassians; ^33 and their favorite Barkok, from a slave and a prisoner, was raised and restored to the throne. In the midst of rebellion and discord, he braved the menaces, corresponded with the enemies, and detained the ambassadors, of the Mogul, who patiently expected his decease, to revenge the crimes of the father on the feeble reign of his son Farage. The Syrian emirs ^34 were assembled at Aleppo to repel the invasion: they confided in the fame and discipline of the Mamalukes, in the temper of their swords and lances of the purest steel of Damascus, in the strength of their walled cities, and in the populousness of sixty thousand villages; and instead of sustaining a siege, they threw open their gates, and arrayed their forces in the plain. But these forces were not cemented by virtue and union; and some powerful emirs had been seduced to desert or betray their more loyal companions. Timour's front was covered with a line of Indian elephants, whose turrets were filled with archers and Greek fire: the rapid evolutions of his cavalry completed the dismay and disorder; the Syrian crowds fell back on each other: many thousands were stifled or slaughtered in the entrance of the great street; the Moguls entered with the fugitives; and after a short defence, the citadel, the impregnable citadel of Aleppo, was surrendered by cowardice or treachery. Among the suppliants and captives, Timour distinguished the doctors of the law, whom he invited to the dangerous honor of a personal conference. ^35 The Mogul prince was a zealous Mussulman; but his Persian schools had taught him to revere the memory of Ali and Hosein; and he had imbibed a deep prejudice against the Syrians, as the enemies of the son of the daughter of the apostle of God. To these doctors he proposed a captious question, which the casuists of Bochara, Samarcand, and Herat, were incapable of resolving. "Who are the true martyrs, of those who are slain on my side, or on that of my enemies?" But he was silenced, or satisfied, by the dexterity of one of the cadhis of Aleppo, who replied in the words of Mahomet himself, that the motive, not the ensign, constitutes the martyr; and that the Moslems of either party, who fight only for the glory of God, may deserve that sacred appellation. The true succession of the caliphs was a controversy of a still more delicate nature; and the frankness of a doctor, too honest for his situation, provoked the emperor to exclaim, "Ye are as false as those of Damascus: Moawiyah was a usurper, Yezid a tyrant, and Ali alone is the lawful successor of the prophet." A prudent explanation restored his tranquillity; and he passed to a more familiar topic of conversation. "What is your age?" said he to the cadhi. "Fifty years." -- "It would be the age of my eldest son: you see me here (continued Timour) a poor lame, decrepit mortal. Yet by my arm has the Almighty been pleased to subdue the kingdoms of Iran, Touran, and the Indies. I am not a man of blood; and God is my witness, that in all my wars I have never been the aggressor, and that my enemies have always been the authors of their own calamity." During this peaceful conversation the streets of Aleppo streamed with blood, and reechoed with the cries of mothers and children, with the shrieks of violated virgins. The rich plunder that was abandoned to his soldiers might stimulate their avarice; but their cruelty was enforced by the peremptory command of producing an adequate number of heads, which, according to his custom, were curiously piled in columns and pyramids: the Moguls celebrated the feast of victory, while the surviving Moslems passed the night in tears and in chains. I shall not dwell on the march of the destroyer from Aleppo to Damascus, where he was rudely encountered, and almost overthrown, by the armies of Egypt. A retrograde motion was imputed to his distress and despair: one of his nephews deserted to the enemy; and Syria rejoiced in the tale of his defeat, when the sultan was driven by the revolt of the Mamalukes to escape with precipitation and shame to his palace of Cairo. Abandoned by their prince, the inhabitants of Damascus still defended their walls; and Timour consented to raise the siege, if they would adorn his retreat with a gift or ransom; each article of nine pieces. But no sooner had he introduced himself into the city, under color of a truce, than he perfidiously violated the treaty; imposed a contribution of ten millions of gold; and animated his troops to chastise the posterity of those Syrians who had executed, or approved, the murder of the grandson of Mahomet. A family which had given honorable burial to the head of Hosein, and a colony of artificers, whom he sent to labor at Samarcand, were alone reserved in the general massacre, and after a period of seven centuries, Damascus was reduced to ashes, because a Tartar was moved by religious zeal to avenge the blood of an Arab. The losses and fatigues of the campaign obliged Timour to renounce the conquest of Palestine and Egypt; but in his return to the Euphrates he delivered Aleppo to the flames; and justified his pious motive by the pardon and reward of two thousand sectaries of Ali, who were desirous to visit the tomb of his son. I have expatiated on the personal anecdotes which mark the character of the Mogul hero; but I shall briefly mention, ^36 that he erected on the ruins of Bagdad a pyramid of ninety thousand heads; again visited Georgia; encamped on the banks of Araxes; and proclaimed his resolution of marching against the Ottoman emperor. Conscious of the importance of the war, he collected his forces from every province: eight hundred thousand men were enrolled on his military list; ^37 but the splendid commands of five, and ten, thousand horse, may be rather expressive of the rank and pension of the chiefs, than of the genuine number of effective soldiers. ^38 In the pillage of Syria, the Moguls had acquired immense riches: but the delivery of their pay and arrears for seven years more firmly attached them to the Imperial standard.

[Footnote 33: See the reigns of Barkok and Pharadge, in M. De Guignes, (tom. iv. l. xxii.,) who, from the Arabic texts of Aboulmahasen, Ebn (Schounah, and Aintabi, has added some facts to our common stock of materials.]

[Footnote 34: For these recent and domestic transactions, Arabshah, though a partial, is a credible, witness, (tom. i. c. 64--68, tom. ii.

  1. 1--14.) Timour must have been odious to a Syrian; but the notoriety of facts would have obliged him, in some measure, to respect his enemy and himself. His bitters may correct the luscious sweets of Sherefeddin,
  1. v. c. 17--29.)]

[Footnote 35: These interesting conversations appear to have been copied by Arabshah (tom. i. c. 68, p. 625--645) from the cadhi and historian Ebn Schounah, a principal actor. Yet how could he be alive seventy-five years afterwards? (D'Herbelot, p. 792.)]

[Footnote 36: The marches and occupations of Timour between the Syrian and Ottoman wars are represented by Sherefeddin (l. v. c. 29--43) and Arabshah, (tom. ii. c. 15--18.)]

[Footnote 37: This number of 800,000 was extracted by Arabshah, or rather by Ebn Schounah, ex rationario Timuri, on the faith of a Carizmian officer, (tom. i. c. 68, p. 617;) and it is remarkable enough, that a Greek historian (Phranza, l. i. c. 29) adds no more than 20,000 men. Poggius reckons 1,000,000; another Latin contemporary (Chron. Tarvisianum, apud Muratori, tom. xix. p. 800) 1,100,000; and the enormous sum of 1,600,000 is attested by a German soldier, who was present at the battle of Angora, (Leunclav. ad Chalcondyl. l. iii. p.

  1. Timour, in his Institutions, has not deigned to calculate his troops, his subjects, or his revenues.]

[Footnote 38: A wide latitude of non-effectives was allowed by the Great Mogul for his own pride and the benefit of his officers. Bernier's patron was Penge-Hazari, commander of 5000 horse; of which he maintained no more than 500, (Voyages, tom. i. p. 288, 289.)]

During this diversion of the Mogul arms, Bajazet had two years to collect his forces for a more serious encounter. They consisted of four hundred thousand horse and foot, ^39 whose merit and fidelity were of an unequal complexion. We may discriminate the Janizaries, who have been gradually raised to an establishment of forty thousand men; a national cavalry, the Spahis of modern times; twenty thousand cuirassiers of Europe, clad in black and impenetrable armor; the troops of Anatolia, whose princes had taken refuge in the camp of Timour, and a colony of Tartars, whom he had driven from Kipzak, and to whom Bajazet had assigned a settlement in the plains of Adrianople. The fearless confidence of the sultan urged him to meet his antagonist; and, as if he had chosen that spot for revenge, he displayed his banner near the ruins of the unfortunate Suvas. In the mean while, Timour moved from the Araxes through the countries of Armenia and Anatolia: his boldness was secured by the wisest precautions; his speed was guided by order and discipline; and the woods, the mountains, and the rivers, were diligently explored by the flying squadrons, who marked his road and preceded his standard. Firm in his plan of fighting in the heart of the Ottoman kingdom, he avoided their camp; dexterously inclined to the left; occupied Cæsarea; traversed the salt desert and the River Halys; and invested Angora: while the sultan, immovable and ignorant in his post, compared the Tartar swiftness to the crawling of a snail; ^40 he returned on the wings of indignation to the relief of Angora: and as both generals were alike impatient for action, the plains round that city were the scene of a memorable battle, which has immortalized the glory of Timour and the shame of Bajazet. For this signal victory the Mogul emperor was indebted to himself, to the genius of the moment, and the discipline of thirty years. He had improved the tactics, without violating the manners, of his nation, ^41 whose force still consisted in the missile weapons, and rapid evolutions, of a numerous cavalry. From a single troop to a great army, the mode of attack was the same: a foremost line first advanced to the charge, and was supported in a just order by the squadrons of the great vanguard. The general's eye watched over the field, and at his command the front and rear of the right and left wings successively moved forwards in their several divisions, and in a direct or oblique line: the enemy was pressed by eighteen or twenty attacks; and each attack afforded a chance of victory. If they all proved fruitless or unsuccessful, the occasion was worthy of the emperor himself, who gave the signal of advancing to the standard and main body, which he led in person. ^42 But in the battle of Angora, the main body itself was supported, on the flanks and in the rear, by the bravest squadrons of the reserve, commanded by the sons and grandsons of Timour. The conqueror of Hindostan ostentatiously showed a line of elephants, the trophies, rather than the instruments, of victory; the use of the Greek fire was familiar to the Moguls and Ottomans; but had they borrowed from Europe the recent invention of gunpowder and cannon, the artificial thunder, in the hands of either nation, must have turned the fortune of the day. ^43 In that day Bajazet displayed the qualities of a soldier and a chief: but his genius sunk under a stronger ascendant; and, from various motives, the greatest part of his troops failed him in the decisive moment. His rigor and avarice ^* had provoked a mutiny among the Turks; and even his son Soliman too hastily withdrew from the field. The forces of Anatolia, loyal in their revolt, were drawn away to the banners of their lawful princes. His Tartar allies had been tempted by the letters and emissaries of Timour; ^44 who reproached their ignoble servitude under the slaves of their fathers; and offered to their hopes the dominion of their new, or the liberty of their ancient, country. In the right wing of Bajazet the cuirassiers of Europe charged, with faithful hearts and irresistible arms: but these men of iron were soon broken by an artful flight and headlong pursuit; and the Janizaries, alone, without cavalry or missile weapons, were encompassed by the circle of the Mogul hunters. Their valor was at length oppressed by heat, thirst, and the weight of numbers; and the unfortunate sultan, afflicted with the gout in his hands and feet, was transported from the field on the fleetest of his horses. He was pursued and taken by the titular khan of Zagatai; and, after his capture, and the defeat of the Ottoman powers, the kingdom of Anatolia submitted to the conqueror, who planted his standard at Kiotahia, and dispersed on all sides the ministers of rapine and destruction. Mirza Mehemmed Sultan, the eldest and best beloved of his grandsons, was despatched to Boursa, with thirty thousand horse; and such was his youthful ardor, that he arrived with only four thousand at the gates of the capital, after performing in five days a march of two hundred and thirty miles. Yet fear is still more rapid in its course; and Soliman, the son of Bajazet, had already passed over to Europe with the royal treasure. The spoil, however, of the palace and city was immense: the inhabitants had escaped; but the buildings, for the most part of wood, were reduced to ashes From Boursa, the grandson of Timour advanced to Nice, ever yet a fair and flourishing city; and the Mogul squadrons were only stopped by the waves of the Propontis. The same success attended the other mirzas and emirs in their excursions; and Smyrna, defended by the zeal and courage of the Rhodian knights, alone deserved the presence of the emperor himself. After an obstinate defence, the place was taken by storm: all that breathed was put to the sword; and the heads of the Christian heroes were launched from the engines, on board of two carracks, or great ships of Europe, that rode at anchor in the harbor. The Moslems of Asia rejoiced in their deliverance from a dangerous and domestic foe; and a parallel was drawn between the two rivals, by observing that Timour, in fourteen days, had reduced a fortress which had sustained seven years the siege, or at least the blockade, of Bajazet. ^45

[Footnote 39: Timour himself fixes at 400,000 men the Ottoman army, (Institutions, p. 153,) which is reduced to 150,000 by Phranza, (l. i.

  1. 29,) and swelled by the German soldier to 1,400,000. It is evident that the Moguls were the more numerous.]

[Footnote 40: It may not be useless to mark the distances between Angora and the neighboring cities, by the journeys of the caravans, each of twenty or twenty-five miles; to Smyrna xx., to Kiotahia x., to Boursa x., to Cæsarea, viii., to Sinope x., to Nicomedia ix., to Constantinople

  1. or xiii., (see Tournefort, Voyage au Levant, tom. ii. lettre xxi.)]

[Footnote 41: See the Systems of Tactics in the Institutions, which the English editors have illustrated with elaborate plans, (p. 373--407.)]

[Footnote 42: The sultan himself (says Timour) must then put the foot of courage into the stirrup of patience. A Tartar metaphor, which is lost in the English, but preserved in the French, version of the Institutes,

  1. 156, 157.)]

[Footnote 43: The Greek fire, on Timour's side, is attested by Sherefeddin, (l. v. c. 47;) but Voltaire's strange suspicion, that some cannon, inscribed with strange characters, must have been sent by that monarch to Delhi, is refuted by the universal silence of contemporaries. ]

[Footnote *: See V. Hammer, vol. i. p. 310, for the singular hints which were conveyed to him of the wisdom of unlocking his hoarded treasures. -- M.]

[Footnote 44: Timour has dissembled this secret and important negotiation with the Tartars, which is indisputably proved by the joint evidence of the Arabian, (tom. i. c. 47, p. 391,) Turkish, (Annal. Leunclav. p. 321,) and Persian historians, (Khondemir, apud d'Herbelot,

  1. 882.)]

[Footnote 45: For the war of Anatolia or Roum, I add some hints in the Institutions, to the copious narratives of Sherefeddin (l. v. c. 44--65) and Arabshah, (tom. ii. c. 20--35.) On this part only of Timour's history it is lawful to quote the Turks, (Cantemir, p. 53--55, Annal. Leunclav. p. 320--322,) and the Greeks, (Phranza, l. i. c. 59, Ducas, c. 15--17, Chalcondyles, l. iii.)]

The iron cage in which Bajazet was imprisoned by Tamerlane, so long and so often repeated as a moral lesson, is now rejected as a fable by the modern writers, who smile at the vulgar credulity. ^46 They appeal with confidence to the Persian history of Sherefeddin Ali, which has been given to our curiosity in a French version, and from which I shall collect and abridge a more specious narrative of this memorable transaction. No sooner was Timour informed that the captive Ottoman was at the door of his tent, than he graciously stepped forwards to receive him, seated him by his side, and mingled with just reproaches a soothing pity for his rank and misfortune. "Alas!" said the emperor, "the decree of fate is now accomplished by your own fault; it is the web which you have woven, the thorns of the tree which yourself have planted. I wished to spare, and even to assist, the champion of the Moslems; you braved our threats; you despised our friendship; you forced us to enter your kingdom with our invincible armies. Behold the event. Had you vanquished, I am not ignorant of the fate which you reserved for myself and my troops. But I disdain to retaliate: your life and honor are secure; and I shall express my gratitude to God by my clemency to man." The royal captive showed some signs of repentance, accepted the humiliation of a robe of honor, and embraced with tears his son Mousa, who, at his request, was sought and found among the captives of the field. The Ottoman princes were lodged in a splendid pavilion; and the respect of the guards could be surpassed only by their vigilance. On the arrival of the harem from Boursa, Timour restored the queen Despina and her daughter to their father and husband; but he piously required, that the Servian princess, who had hitherto been indulged in the profession of Christianity, should embrace without delay the religion of the prophet. In the feast of victory, to which Bajazet was invited, the Mogul emperor placed a crown on his head and a sceptre in his hand, with a solemn assurance of restoring him with an increase of glory to the throne of his ancestors. But the effect of his promise was disappointed by the sultan's untimely death: amidst the care of the most skilful physicians, he expired of an apoplexy at Akshehr, the Antioch of Pisidia, about nine months after his defeat. The victor dropped a tear over his grave: his body, with royal pomp, was conveyed to the mausoleum which he had erected at Boursa; and his son Mousa, after receiving a rich present of gold and jewels, of horses and arms, was invested by a patent in red ink with the kingdom of Anatolia.

[Footnote 46: The scepticism of Voltaire (Essai sur l'Histoire Générale,

  1. 88) is ready on this, as on every occasion, to reject a popular tale, and to diminish the magnitude of vice and virtue; and on most occasions his incredulity is reasonable.]

Such is the portrait of a generous conqueror, which has been extracted from his own memorials, and dedicated to his son and grandson, nineteen years after his decease; ^47 and, at a time when the truth was remembered by thousands, a manifest falsehood would have implied a satire on his real conduct. Weighty indeed is this evidence, adopted by all the Persian histories; ^48 yet flattery, more especially in the East, is base and audacious; and the harsh and ignominious treatment of Bajazet is attested by a chain of witnesses, some of whom shall be produced in the order of their time and country. 1. The reader has not forgot the garrison of French, whom the marshal Boucicault left behind him for the defence of Constantinople. They were on the spot to receive the earliest and most faithful intelligence of the overthrow of their great adversary; and it is more than probable, that some of them accompanied the Greek embassy to the camp of Tamerlane. From their account, the hardships of the prison and death of Bajazet are affirmed by the marshal's servant and historian, within the distance of seven years. ^49 2. The name of Poggius the Italian ^50 is deservedly famous among the revivers of learning in the fifteenth century. His elegant dialogue on the vicissitudes of fortune ^51 was composed in his fiftieth year, twenty-eight years after the Turkish victory of Tamerlane; ^52 whom he celebrates as not inferior to the illustrious Barbarians of antiquity. Of his exploits and discipline Poggius was informed by several ocular witnesses; nor does he forget an example so apposite to his theme as the Ottoman monarch, whom the Scythian confined like a wild beast in an iron cage, and exhibited a spectacle to Asia. I might add the authority of two Italian chronicles, perhaps of an earlier date, which would prove at least that the same story, whether false or true, was imported into Europe with the first tidings of the revolution. ^53

  1. At the time when Poggius flourished at Rome, Ahmed Ebn Arabshah composed at Damascus the florid and malevolent history of Timour, for which he had collected materials in his journeys over Turkey and Tartary. ^54 Without any possible correspondence between the Latin and the Arabian writer, they agree in the fact of the iron cage; and their agreement is a striking proof of their common veracity. Ahmed Arabshah likewise relates another outrage, which Bajazet endured, of a more domestic and tender nature. His indiscreet mention of women and divorces was deeply resented by the jealous Tartar: in the feast of victory the wine was served by female cupbearers, and the sultan beheld his own concubines and wives confounded among the slaves, and exposed without a veil to the eyes of intemperance. To escape a similar indignity, it is said that his successors, except in a single instance, have abstained from legitimate nuptials; and the Ottoman practice and belief, at least in the sixteenth century, is asserted by the observing Busbequius, ^55 ambassador from the court of Vienna to the great Soliman. 4. Such is the separation of language, that the testimony of a Greek is not less independent than that of a Latin or an Arab. I suppress the names of Chalcondyles and Ducas, who flourished in the latter period, and who speak in a less positive tone; but more attention is due to George Phranza, ^56 protovestiare of the last emperors, and who was born a year before the battle of Angora. Twenty-two years after that event, he was sent ambassador to Amurath the Second; and the historian might converse with some veteran Janizaries, who had been made prisoners with the sultan, and had themselves seen him in his iron cage. 5. The last evidence, in every sense, is that of the Turkish annals, which have been consulted or transcribed by Leunclavius, Pocock, and Cantemir. ^57 They unanimously deplore the captivity of the iron cage; and some credit may be allowed to national historians, who cannot stigmatize the Tartar without uncovering the shame of their king and country.

[Footnote 47: See the History of Sherefeddin, (l. v. c. 49, 52, 53, 59,

  1. This work was finished at Shiraz, in the year 1424, and dedicated to Sultan Ibrahim, the son of Sharokh, the son of Timour, who reigned in Farsistan in his father's lifetime.]

[Footnote 48: After the perusal of Khondemir, Ebn Schounah, &c., the learned D'Herbelot (Bibliot. Orientale, p. 882) may affirm, that this fable is not mentioned in the most authentic histories; but his denial of the visible testimony of Arabshah leaves some room to suspect his accuracy.]

[Footnote 49: Et fut lui-même (Bajazet) pris, et mené en prison, en laquelle mourut de dure mort! Mémoires de Boucicault, P. i. c. 37. These Memoirs were composed while the marshal was still governor of Genoa, from whence he was expelled in the year 1409, by a popular insurrection, (Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. xii. p. 473, 474.)]

[Footnote 50: The reader will find a satisfactory account of the life and writings of Poggius in the Poggiana, an entertaining work of M. Lenfant, and in the Bibliotheca Latina Mediæ et Infimæ Ætatis of Fabricius, (tom. v. p. 305--308.) Poggius was born in the year 1380, and died in 1459.]

[Footnote 51: The dialogue de Varietate Fortunæ, (of which a complete and elegant edition has been published at Paris in 1723, in 4to.,) was composed a short time before the death of Pope Martin V., (p. 5,) and consequently about the end of the year 1430.]

[Footnote 52: See a splendid and eloquent encomium of Tamerlane, p. 36--39 ipse enim novi (says Poggius) qui fuere in ejus castris . . . . Regem vivum cepit, caveâque in modum feræ inclusum per omnem Asian circumtulit egregium admirandumque spectaculum fortunæ.]

[Footnote 53: The Chronicon Tarvisianum, (in Muratori, Script. Rerum Italicarum tom. xix. p. 800,) and the Annales Estenses, (tom. xviii. p. 974.) The two authors, Andrea de Redusiis de Quero, and James de Delayto, were both contemporaries, and both chancellors, the one of Trevigi, the other of Ferrara. The evidence of the former is the most positive.]

[Footnote 54: See Arabshah, tom. ii. c. 28, 34. He travelled in regiones Rumæas, A. H. 839, (A.D. 1435, July 27,) tom. i. c. 2, p. 13.]

[Footnote 55: Busbequius in Legatione Turcicâ, epist. i. p. 52. Yet his respectable authority is somewhat shaken by the subsequent marriages of Amurath II. with a Servian, and of Mahomet II. with an Asiatic, princess, (Cantemir, p. 83, 93.)]

[Footnote 56: See the testimony of George Phranza, (l. i. c. 29,) and his life in Hanckius (de Script. Byzant. P. i. c. 40.) Chalcondyles and Ducas speak in general terms of Bajazet's chains.]

[Footnote 57: Annales Leunclav. p. 321. Pocock, Prolegomen. ad Abulpharag Dynast. Cantemir, p. 55. *

* Von Hammer, p. 318, cites several authorities unknown to Gibbon. -- M.]

From these opposite premises, a fair and moderate conclusion may be deduced. I am satisfied that Sherefeddin Ali has faithfully described the first ostentatious interview, in which the conqueror, whose spirits were harmonized by success, affected the character of generosity. But his mind was insensibly alienated by the unseasonable arrogance of Bajazet; the complaints of his enemies, the Anatolian princes, were just and vehement; and Timour betrayed a design of leading his royal captive in triumph to Samarcand. An attempt to facilitate his escape, by digging a mine under the tent, provoked the Mogul emperor to impose a harsher restraint; and in his perpetual marches, an iron cage on a wagon might be invented, not as a wanton insult, but as a rigorous precaution. Timour had read in some fabulous history a similar treatment of one of his predecessors, a king of Persia; and Bajazet was condemned to represent the person, and expiate the guilt, of the Roman Cæsar ^58 ^* But the strength of his mind and body fainted under the trial, and his premature death might, without injustice, be ascribed to the severity of Timour. He warred not with the dead: a tear and a sepulchre were all that he could bestow on a captive who was delivered from his power; and if Mousa, the son of Bajazet, was permitted to reign over the ruins of Boursa, the greatest part of the province of Anatolia had been restored by the conqueror to their lawful sovereigns.

[Footnote 58: Sapor, king of Persia, had been made prisoner, and enclosed in the figure of a cow's hide by Maximian or Galerius Cæsar. Such is the fable related by Eutychius, (Annal. tom. i. p. 421, vers. Pocock. The recollection of the true history (Decline and Fall, &c., vol. ii. p 140--152) will teach us to appreciate the knowledge of the Orientals of the ages which precede the Hegira.]

[Footnote *: Von Hammer's explanation of this contested point is both simple and satisfactory. It originates in a mistake in the meaning of the Turkish word kafe, which means a covered litter or palanquin drawn by two horses, and is generally used to convey the harem of an Eastern monarch. In such a litter, with the lattice-work made of iron, Bajazet either chose or was constrained to travel. This was either mistaken for, or transformed by, ignorant relaters into a cage. The European Schiltberger, the two oldest of the Turkish historians, and the most valuable of the later compilers, Seadeddin, describe this litter. Seadeddin discusses the question with some degree of historical criticism, and ascribes the choice of such a vehicle to the indignant state of Bajazet's mind, which would not brook the sight of his Tartar conquerors. Von Hammer, p. 320. -- M.]

From the Irtish and Volga to the Persian Gulf, and from the Ganges to Damascus and the Archipelago, Asia was in the hand of Timour: his armies were invincible, his ambition was boundless, and his zeal might aspire to conquer and convert the Christian kingdoms of the West, which already trembled at his name. He touched the utmost verge of the land; but an insuperable, though narrow, sea rolled between the two continents of Europe and Asia; ^59 and the lord of so many tomans, or myriads, of horse, was not master of a single galley. The two passages of the Bosphorus and Hellespont, of Constantinople and Gallipoli, were possessed, the one by the Christians, the other by the Turks. On this great occasion, they forgot the difference of religion, to act with union and firmness in the common cause: the double straits were guarded with ships and fortifications; and they separately withheld the transports which Timour demanded of either nation, under the pretence of attacking their enemy. At the same time, they soothed his pride with tributary gifts and suppliant embassies, and prudently tempted him to retreat with the honors of victory. Soliman, the son of Bajazet, implored his clemency for his father and himself; accepted, by a red patent, the investiture of the kingdom of Romania, which he already held by the sword; and reiterated his ardent wish, of casting himself in person at the feet of the king of the world. The Greek emperor ^60 (either John or Manuel) submitted to pay the same tribute which he had stipulated with the Turkish sultan, and ratified the treaty by an oath of allegiance, from which he could absolve his conscience so soon as the Mogul arms had retired from Anatolia. But the fears and fancy of nations ascribed to the ambitious Tamerlane a new design of vast and romantic compass; a design of subduing Egypt and Africa, marching from the Nile to the Atlantic Ocean, entering Europe by the Straits of Gibraltar, and, after imposing his yoke on the kingdoms of Christendom, of returning home by the deserts of Russia and Tartary. This remote, and perhaps imaginary, danger was averted by the submission of the sultan of Egypt: the honors of the prayer and the coin attested at Cairo the supremacy of Timour; and a rare gift of a giraffe, or camelopard, and nine ostriches, represented at Samarcand the tribute of the African world. Our imagination is not less astonished by the portrait of a Mogul, who, in his camp before Smyrna, meditates, and almost accomplishes, the invasion of the Chinese empire. ^61 Timour was urged to this enterprise by national honor and religious zeal. The torrents which he had shed of Mussulman blood could be expiated only by an equal destruction of the infidels; and as he now stood at the gates of paradise, he might best secure his glorious entrance by demolishing the idols of China, founding mosques in every city, and establishing the profession of faith in one God, and his prophet Mahomet. The recent expulsion of the house of Zingis was an insult on the Mogul name; and the disorders of the empire afforded the fairest opportunity for revenge. The illustrious Hongvou, founder of the dynasty of Ming, died four years before the battle of Angora; and his grandson, a weak and unfortunate youth, was burnt in his palace, after a million of Chinese had perished in the civil war. ^62 Before he evacuated Anatolia, Timour despatched beyond the Sihoon a numerous army, or rather colony, of his old and new subjects, to open the road, to subdue the Pagan Calmucks and Mungals, and to found cities and magazines in the desert; and, by the diligence of his lieutenant, he soon received a perfect map and description of the unknown regions, from the source of the Irtish to the wall of China. During these preparations, the emperor achieved the final conquest of Georgia; passed the winter on the banks of the Araxes; appeased the troubles of Persia; and slowly returned to his capital, after a campaign of four years and nine months.

[Footnote 59: Arabshah (tom. ii. c. 25) describes, like a curious traveller, the Straits of Gallipoli and Constantinople. To acquire a just idea of these events, I have compared the narratives and prejudices of the Moguls, Turks, Greeks, and Arabians. The Spanish ambassador mentions this hostile union of the Christians and Ottomans, (Vie de Timour, p. 96.)]

[Footnote 60: Since the name of Cæsar had been transferred to the sultans of Roum, the Greek princes of Constantinople (Sherefeddin, l. v.

  1. 54 were confounded with the Christian lords of Gallipoli, Thessalonica, &c. under the title of Tekkur, which is derived by corruption from the genitive tou kuriou, (Cantemir, p. 51.)]

[Footnote 61: See Sherefeddin, l. v. c. 4, who marks, in a just itinerary, the road to China, which Arabshah (tom. ii. c. 33) paints in vague and rhetorical colors.]

[Footnote 62: Synopsis Hist. Sinicæ, p. 74--76, (in the ivth part of the Relations de Thevenot,) Duhalde, Hist. de la Chine, (tom. i. p. 507, 508, folio edition;) and for the Chronology of the Chinese emperors, De Guignes, Hist. des Huns, (tom. i. p. 71, 72.)]

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