The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Joannes Vif


Some time before this an event took place wnich showed the utter decay of the Greek power.

When prince Manuel was despot of Thessalonica, lie waged war on his own account against the Turks, who were then engaged in serious contests with the Servians in Europe, and some Turkoman princes in Asia. His undertaking was rash, and his forces inadequate. Khair-ed-din Pasha advanced upon Thessalonica, and despairing of defending himself with success, Manuel left the town to its fate, and fled by sea to Constantinople. Trembling for his own safety, his father refused to receive in his palace a son who had incurred the anger of the sultan, and the unfortunate prince sailed to Lesbos, in hopes of finding protection at the court of Gas-teluzzi, the Latin prince of that island, but there also the gates were closed at his appearance. Having no other alternative but voluntary exile or death, Manuel, with noble boldness, hastened to Bnisa, appeared resolutely in presence of the sultan, confessed himself guilty, and implored his enemy's mercy. After a silence of some minutes, the sultan said to him, *' You have been wicked, be better, and if you are good, the condition of the empire over which you are destined to rule will be good, too. Return to Constantinople—I will give orders to your father to receive you well." Not till then did the emperor dare to embrace his son. In 1389 sultan Mlirad was assassinated by a Servian captive, Milosh Kobilovicz; and his suc­cessor, the terrible Bayazid, soon manifested more hostile intentions than his father. Availing him­self of the dissensions in the imperial family, he carried on secret negotiations with Andronicus and his son while they were imprisoned in the tower of Anemas, and with them and the leaders of the Genoese at Pera he concerted the plan of dethron­ing John. Andronicus havitfg escaped from his prison, with the aid of the Genoese, Bayazid sud­denly surprised John and Manuel in one of their palaces without the gates of Constantinople, and gave them to the custody of Andronicus, who con­fined them in the same prison whence he had escaped, and treated them with humanity, although the sultan constantly urged him to put them to death. Andronicus was acknowledged as emperor by Bayazid on condition of pay ing a heavy tribute; but the captive emperor having promised to pay the same tribute, to take the oath of allegiance to the sultan, and to assist him in all his wars with 12,000 horse and foot, Bayazid, after ascertaining •that the Greeks preferred Manuel to Andronicus, ordered the latter to restore his father to liberty, and to be satisfied with the conditions which he would make, in order to prevent any further dis­sensions between him and his father. These con­ditions were, that John and Manuel should reign over Constantinople and its environs as far as they were subject to the imperial sceptre, and that Andronicus should hold, as a fief of the crown, the towns and districts of Selymbria, Heracleia. Rhae-destus or Rhodosto, Danias and Paiiidas, on the Propontis, and the fine town of Thessalonica, which, during the time, had alternately been in the hands of the Turks, the Venetians, and the Greeks. The chronology of these events is far from being clear. Bayazid succeeded in 1389, and John died in 1391. Yet it is said that John was imprisoned through the same sultan, remained in prison during two years, and afterwards reigned again during several years. Was John perhaps arrested by,


Bayazid previous to this prince having- succeeded his father in 1389 ? If this were the case, the whole matter would be clear. Gibbon pays no attention to the chronology of this period, and it cannot be denied that the account he gives of the last Greek emperors is very short and incomplete. The submission of Manuel to sultan Mlirad, and the generous pardon he obtained, are not even alluded to by Gibbon, although he had undoubtedly read it in Chalcocondylas and Phranza: the last three volumes of' Ameilhon's continuation of Le Beau's *6 Histoire du Bas Empire " were not published when Gibbon, in 1787, concluded the last volume of his " Decline and Fall." The writer of this article has endeavoured, but in vain, to clear up the chronology of the events alluded to, by means of "Hammer's History of the Turkish Empire ; " and the conjecture he has offered seems to be the only means of solving the difficulty.

When John was once more established on his throne, he sent his son Manuel, then co-emperor, and acknowledged by all parties as his future suc­ cessor, as a hostage to sultan Bayazid. Both of them were summoned by the sultan to assist him in re­ ducing the town of Philadelphia, now Allah Shehr, which was the last possession of the Greeks in Asia Minor; and so complete was their depend­ ence, that they followed the summons, and were seen among the foremost of the Turks while the town was stormed, thus compelling their own sub- jects to submit to the Turkish yoke (1390). Manuel, moved by fear, now secretly proposed to his father to strengthen and increase the fortifica­ tions of Constantinople, but the emperor having begun the work, and already constructed several new walls and towers, a peremptory order came from Bayazid to pull down the new fortifications, and leave every thing in its former state. The order was complied with; and it is said that the shame which the old emperor felt at being thus treated as an humble vassal of the Turks, hastened his death, which took place in 1391. (Chalcocon­ dylas, i. 2, &c.; Phranza, i. 16, &c.; Ducas, c.5— 15; Cantacuzenus, iii. 4, &c.) [W. P.]

JOANNES VIF. PALAEO'LOGUS, emperor of Constantinople (a. d. 1425—1448), was born in 1390, and succeeded his father, the emperor Manuel II., in 1425, after having been made co-emperor in 1419. In the year of his accession he concluded a new peace with sultan Mlirad II., and the Turks being then engaged in war with Hungary, Servia, Wallachia, Venice, and the Turkomans, in Asia Minor, he enjoyed the quietude of a slave during more than ten years. His empire consisted of the city of Constantinople and its immediate neigh­bourhood : the other Greek possessions in Greece, on the Propontis and on the Black Sea, were go­verned with sovereign power by his six brothers, among whom was Constantine, the last emperor of Constantinople. But the peace with Mlirad did not include his brothers also, and several of them were deprived by the sultan of their small prin­cipalities, and took refuge at Constantinople. Still, hoping that the Greek empire could be restored, through the western princes, he followed the line of policy which had been adopted by so many of his predecessors, and promised to unite the Greek church with the Roman, if the pope would rouse the kings of Europe for his defence. Pope Eu­gene IV. invited him to Rome, alleging that his

p p 4

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of