History of Mehmed the Conqueror by Kritovoulos
Containing the war with the Peloponnesians, and the first and second invasions by the Sultan, and the complete overthrow and enslavement of these peoples, and other events of the period. Covering three years [a.d. 1458-1460].
Reasons for the Expedition of the Sultan into the Peloponnesus 125
Surrender of Semendria to the Sultan 126
Start of the Sultan for the Peloponnesus 126
How there came ambassadors from the Despot Thomas, but went back without accomplishing anything 127
Invasion of Corinthia by the Sultan and Siege of Corinth 128
March of the Sultan toward the interior of the Peloponnesus 129
Surrender of Tegea to the Sultan 130
March of the Sultan against Patras 130
Flight of the people of Patras before the arrival of the Sultan 130
Surrender of the Acropolis of Patras to the Sultan 131
Surrender of Vostitsa to the Sultan 131
Fierce assault of the Sultan on Corinth, and its failure 132
Arrival of Asanes at Corinth, and his secret entry into the city 134
Treaty made by Asanes with the Sultan for the Despots 134
Arrival of the Sultan at Athens; his inspection of everything in it 136
Arrival of the Sultan at Euboea; his careful investigation of it, and of the ebb and flow of its tides 137
Expedition of the Sultan's fleet to Lesbos and Mitylene, and destruction and devastation of the inhabitants.. 138
Arrival of the Sultan at Byzantium and his care of the City and of its population 139
Command of the Sultan to all able persons, to build splendid and costly buildings inside the City 140
Describing the fine structures of Mahmud 141
Prompt submission of Lemnos to the Sultan under Kritovoulos; and the gift of the islands of Imbros and Lemnos by the Sultan to the Despot Demetrius 142
Lo, the boldness! 143
Entrance of Kritovoulos by night into the city of Kotsinos, and its capture; the expulsion of the Italians 143
Arrival of Kritovoulos at the city of Myrina, and agreement with the commandant for its surrender.. 144
Expedition of the Sultan against the Illyrians living along the Ionian Gulf. Note the strength of their position 145
Encounter of Mahmud with the Illyrians; his victory.. 146
Treaty of the Sultan with the Illyrians and the taking of hostages; and tribute to be given to the Sultan 147
Arrival of the Sultan in Constantinople, and repair of his palace and of those in the city 147
Uprooting of the Phoceans and their transfer to Constantinople. Uprooting of the people of the islands of Thasos and Samothrace.. 148
The Sultan overseeing building operations 149
Agreement between Kritovoulos and Mikeles and the taking over Palaeo Kastro in Lemnos 149
Reasons why the Sultan made a second incursion into the Peloponnesus, and seized it all 149
Note the malice of the men 150
Despatch of Asanes to the Sultan by the Despot Demetrius 151
Expedition of the Sultan against the Peloponnesus 151
Confinement of the Despot Demetrius in Sparta by Mahmud 152
Reception of the Despot Demetrius by the Sultan, and the great honor and very great gifts bestowed on him by the Sultan 153
Departure of the Sultan from Sparta and his march against other fortresses of that vicinity 154
Second vigorous attack of the Sultan on Kastrion 154
Capture of Kastrion, slaughter and enslavement and massacre 155
Attack of the Sultan on the very strong fortress called Gardikion 155
Siege of Gardikion, and negotiations for surrender 155
Capture of Gardikion; slaughter and enslavement 156
Reasons why the Sultan massacred people in such fortresses 156
Advance of the Sultan against the farther parts of the Peloponnesus.. 156
Repair of the suitable fortresses and their garrisoning, and demolition of those unfit 157
Flight of the Despot Thomas to Corcyra 157
Showing the advantages of this country, and the virtues of its former inhabitants 158
Arrival of the Sultan at Adrianople. Arrangements 159
Note the generosity of the Sultan 160
Reasons for the Expedition of the Sultan into the Peloponnesus
§ 1. During that same winter, the Sultan sent ambassadors to the Peloponnesus, demanding from the local authorities there the yearly taxes, which in fact they owed for about three years. For the Despots of the Peloponnesus,  after Byzantium had been captured, had been confronted with a plot and revolt of the Illyrians [Albanians resident] in the Peloponnesus against them, and called on the Sultan to come to their aid, promising to pay him an annual tribute from the Peloponnesus of six thousand gold staters.
§ 2. The Sultan had agreed to a military alliance with them, and had furnished them with a considerable army, with the aid of which they fought the Illyrians and completely subjugated them, compelling them to pay tribute. However, after that they did not readily pay their taxes on the demand of the Sultan, getting up empty excuses all the time and making inexcusable delays. They did this even though they themselves received from the Illyrians enough tribute to pay all to the Sultan every year, instead, they wasted it on unwise expenditures for themselves, and cheated the Sultan. Thus he had sent for the money many times but could get nothing from them.
§ 3. Not only this, but the Despots quarreled among themselves and would not listen to the Sultan, but fought and struggled among themselves, and the state of the Peloponnesus was worse in consequence. Of this we shall presently have more to say. Accordingly the Sultan sent his ambassadors to them, demanding the tribute, and at the same time he had these ambassadors investigate the circumstances there.
§ 4. The Sultan was afraid that this internal discord and fighting might bring the Italians, or some other western nation into the Peloponnesus, and he wanted to get hold of the region first, since it was a country very strong by nature,
19. Demetrios and Thomas Palaeologus, brothers of Constantine XIII.
with remarkably well fortified cities and many impregnable and notable fortresses abundantly supplied with all provision for war or for peace. These were favorably located with respect to land and sea, and the country could well be used to launch an expedition of Thracians and Macedonians against Italy, or of Italians against Thrace and Macedonia.
§ 5. The ambassadors, on reaching the Peloponnesus and delivering the Sultan's message, did not receive the tax. Furthermore, they found everything there in bad confusion and far from healthy. Hence they returned and reported to the Sultan. He considered the conquest of the Peloponnesus of the first importance, because of the war against the Italians which he was planning for the near future. This was because the Peloponnesus was well situated on the voyage to Italy and had safe harbors that could be bases for large armies and navies during the war. Therefore he thought he ought not to wait longer, but set out against the Peloponnesus.
Surrender of Semendria to the Sultan
§ 6. At this time those who had remained in Semendria to the last, and in particular the wife of Lazarus, realizing that after so long a siege they could not hold out any further, voluntarily surrendered on condition of leaving the city, safely and unhurt, with all their belongings. The Sultan also donated a Lazarus's wife two towns as her domain in place of Semendria, one in Dalmatia and one in Bostria [Bosnia].
§ 7. So she took her daughter and all her possessions, and went to Bostria. There she married her daughter to the chief of the Bostrians, giving as her dowry those two towns. After pending quite a long time there, she later went to Corcyra [Corfu] to her own mother and brothers.
Start of the Sultan for the Peloponnesus
§ 8. After making thorough preparations through the winter and gathering as numerous an army as possible, both cavalry and infantry, the Sultan left Adrianople with his entire army as the spring was just beginning to appear, and went through lower Macedonia in the direction of
Amphipolis and the Strymon River. He had with him quantities of arms, a variety of cannon, and very much copper and iron.
§ 9. On reaching the Strymon, he crossed it and skirted the Keraenitis, or Volvi, Lake. Then, marching on still farther, he entered Thessaly. Here he encamped and decided to make a short stay in order to rest his army and to wait for a second body of troops. He also wished to test the rulers in the Peloponnesus and determine whether possibly they would submit when they learned of the Sultan's expedition against them, and pay the tribute.
§ 10. It was also said that if their ambassadors had then gone to the Sultan, bringing the tribute and suing for peace, they would have succeeded, and the Sultan would not have advanced any farther nor attacked them, for he had other urgent business.
§ 11. But after waiting there many days, he received no sign from the Peloponnesus. Consequently, since the army was rested and the expected reinforcements had arrived, he left Thessaly, going through its central part. Passing through it and Phthiotis, he crossed the mountains of the latter and of Achaia, traversed the intervening rivers, Spercheius and Peneius,  and reached Thermopylae where he went safely through that pass.
§ 12. Marching down into Phocis and Boeotia and Plataea, he encamped there, near the Asopus River. Then he sent scouts to spy out the Kithaeron Mountain passes which lead to the Isthmus, for he feared that the Peloponnesians might have started earlier and seized the passes, in which case the crossing of the Isthmus would have been difficult for him.
How there came ambassadors from the Despot Thomas, but went back without accomplishing anything
§ 13. Here there arrived ambassadors from the Despot Thomas, bringing as part of the tribute 4,500 gold pieces and begging for a treaty of peace. But this was altogether useless by that time, and indeed untimely, and I might add,
20. The order of the two streams is reversed.
wholly foolish. It resulted only in the loss of the sum which they had brought, and did not succeed in making peace.
§ 14. The Sultan accepted the tribute money from the ambassadors. "But the treaty," said he, "we will make when we are inside of the Peloponnesus." This he said deriding and mocking them for their imprudence and tardiness, for they ought to have taken this step, along with the payment, when the Sultan had called for them and the time was favorable.
§ 15. When the scouts returned and reported that there was no obstacle in the passes, he broke the camp on the Asopus and went to the pass, traversing it without any difficulty and coming out on the plain before the Isthmus and the wall. There he encamped for one day. The next day, with his whole army in battle array, he invaded the Corinthian territory and pitched camp not more than about four stadia from the city, just as the grain was ripening.
Invasion of Corinthia by the Sultan and Siege of Corinth
§ 16. The next day he took with him some of the best and most representative generals and officers and went around the hill and the city itself in order to ascertain which were the wholly impregnable parts of the location and which where more or less liable to attack. It seemed to him that the city was exceedingly strong, as indeed it was. The place is very high and steep, with precipices all around it, and there is only one approach to the city. It itself is steep, and enclosed and fortified by a triple wall. The Acrocorinthus is wholly impregnable, built on the lofty summit of the hill and fortified by very strong walls.
§ 17. Accordingly he thought best to make an offer first to those in the city to come to an agreement and surrender it. So he sent messengers to them. But as he did not receive assurances, he first ravaged and laid waste the surrounding country, that is, the gardens, fields, vineyards, and all the other lovely and fruitful places, and destroyed the growing
grain. Then he surrounded the people with his army, shut them securely inside the city, and set up his siege guns.
§ 18. When he had surrounded and besieged the city for many days without making any progress, he realized that the siege would take a long time. The cannon did not hit the wall properly and could do it no harm because they were so far away that the balls lost their force and struck the wall very feebly. This was because the country was so steep and rough that they could not get near enough to the wall to batter it with such force and velocity as to destroy it
§ 19. Even if they should completely batter down the wall, still access to the citadel and the city would be quite impracticable, for it was surrounded on all sides by steep precipices and crags which inspired terror and great cowardice in any persons wanting to attack from below, inasmuch as they would have missiles hurled at their heads from above from the summits on both sides.
§ 20. Although the Sultan made frequent and violent assaults against it, he was repulsed. So, since he realized that he could not capture the town either by armed assaults or by cannon-fire or in any other way except by starvation and a prolonged siege, he judged it unwise to delay his other matters so long, or rashly to waste time. Instead, leaving there half his army under Mahmud to besiege and guard the city in order not to allow those inside to leave or those outside to enter, he himself took the rest of his troops and went off against the remaining places.
March of the Sultan toward the interior of the Peloponnesus
§ 21. First, then, he captured in a few days all the fortresses around Corinth, some by force of arms, others by terrorizing and frightening them, and the rest by persuasion. Then he went on into the interior of the Peloponnesus, devastating and pillaging everything in his path. He leveled down and smoothed off the rough and difficult and rocky parts of the country and of the passes, and captured the most
impregnable fortresses, conquering them and razing them completely to the ground.
Surrender of Tegea to the Sultan
§ 22. He arrived at the city of Tegea, which people call Oenavmochlion, and pitched his camp. He built a stockade around the city, surrounded it with his army, and besieged it for a few days. After that, Demetrius Asanes, sub-prefect of the town, came to negotiate with the Sultan as to terms for the surrender of the city. They agreed, and the Sultan took the town on the stipulated terms. Similarly, not a few other fortresses in the neighborhood surrendered to him.
§ 23. The rulers of this interior portion of the Peloponnesus were waiting in battle array at Amyklaeus. When they learned that the Sultan had arrived near Tegea, they broke up immediately and fled and went off, Thomas to Mantinea, where his wife and children were, and Demetrius to Epidaurus on the sea, now called Monembasia. There they waited, anticipating the end of the war.
March of the Sultan against Patras
§ 24. After the Sultan had spent a few days in Tegea, setting things in order, he left a guard of soldiers there and in the other fortresses, and started for Patras in Achaia, by way of a rugged and steep road which was cut up and shut off by many difficult and well-nigh impassable spots.
Flight of the people of Patras before the arrival of the Sultan
§ 25. Nevertheless he advanced quickly and carefully, plundering and destroying everything in his path. The people of Patras, when they learned of the advance of the Sultan against them, were seized with terror and dread. They abandoned the city and their property, and precipitately fled with their wives and children, some to the Venetian cities in the interior of the Peloponnesus, and others crossing over to Naupactus. They left only the citadel guarded.
Surrender of the Acropolis of Patras to the Sultan
§ 26. On reaching Patras, the Sultan found the city deserted and empty of men. Accordingly he let loose the army to plunder what is contained. He surrounded the acropolis with his troops, placing stockades all around it, and he set up his cannon and besieged it. The guards inside, fearing the danger from the cannon and that the wall should be demolished and they themselves captured by the armed forces and be in danger of their lives, surrendered to the Sultan on condition of having no harm befall them. And in fact they suffered no harm.
§ 27. Thus the Sultan took the citadel and placed a guard there. Then he made proclamation to the people of Patras that whoever wished might return immediately to the city and live there with a certain term of years immunity from taxation and with the return of their possessions. He was exceedingly pleased with the city and region, for it was very fertile and enjoyed an unusually fine location in a good part of the Peloponnesus at the mouth of the Crissaean [Corinthian] Gulf. It was separated from the mainland only by the strait between, and it greatly benefited from this, besides enjoying many other advantages. Hence the Sultan was very anxious to repopulate and safeguard the city, and in this he succeeded.
§ 28. He stayed there several days, and captured all the surrounding fortresses, putting guards in them as well as in the city. Then he sent part of the army to overrun Elis and Messenia and all the surrounding places, and to pillage them mercilessly and bring all the booty to him.
Surrender of Vostitsa to the Sultan
§ 29. He himself with the rest of the army went along the shores of the Crissaean Gulf towards Corinth. There he attacked a well-known town on the seashore, now called Vostitsa. He so terribly frightened the inhabitants by his sudden assault that he took this town also by surrender, and placed a garrison in it.
§ 30. Then he left there and marched on Corinth, carrying
before him everything he encountered, like a torrent. He subjugated all, enslaving one place and completely destroying another.
§ 31. When he reached Corinth, the Sultan found it still besieged but not yielding at all. After he had consulted with Mahmud and the other governors and generals, they came to a complete agreement that they should attack the city by force of arms, using all the means they had and trying in every way to capture it, if possible, by assault and by weapons.
§ 32. Already a part of the wall around the approach and the gates had been demolished by the cannon. They did not want to waste any more time in vain or sit around the city any longer, accomplishing nothing. The siege had already lasted long enough, for the army had been there four months and the soldiers were wearied by their hardships for so long a time. The animals, too, were perishing of hunger, since the whole country had been ravaged. There were also many other circumstances that annoyed them greatly, and so they were eager to make some move, one way or another.
Fierce assault of the Sultan on Corinth, and its failure
§ 33. Now when the Sultan had made his preparations and had assigned all the forces their positions and armed them well, he urged on all the commanders—the governors and generals and division commanders, yes, and the soldiers themselves—and incited them to battle, calling on them to show themselves brave men. He made a powerful assault on the city, and there followed a fierce battle near the gates and the entrance, this being the only point that seemed vulnerable, for all the rest of the city was wholly impregnable.
§ 34. There was a fierce attack here, with shouting on both sides and death and wounds, for the fighting was now hand-to-hand. The heavy infantry attacked the defenders vigorously, got inside the gates of the ruined outer wall, and mastered the wall itself.
§ 35. But when they tried to force the second wall also, and get inside it, they suffered terribly. The enemy struck them in front with long spears and javelins and axes, and hurling down stones on their heads from above, from the peaks on either side, especially on the right hand. This pressed them particularly hard, and at last they gave way and were powerfully driven off by those inside, and forcibly thrust outside of the wall. Not a few of the heavy infantry died there. They were especially heavily hit by the men above them who had hurled down immense stones from a height when they were forcing an entrance and advancing with great courage.
§ 36. Seeing this, the Sultan immediately signalled to them to retire and get beyond range of the javelins and withdraw from the fight. He bade them not to struggle in vain or to endanger themselves. For, said he, not arms and human bodies, but famine is the strongest enemy of this city, and that, like a whetstone, will wear it down quickly without any danger to us.
§ 37. The Sultan had decided he would never abandon this city, but would besiege it until he had successfully starved it out. He believed that as soon as he had captured this place, he could gain the whole Peloponnesus without a battle—as indeed resulted. Just at this juncture the soldiers who had been sent off for plunder arrived, bringing very rich booty from Elis and its neighborhood.
§ 38. They are reported to have brought, of animals, about 150,000 sheep, oxen, and horses, and of men, women, and children, more than four thousand. The former, that is the sheep and oxen and horses, he distributed to the whole army. The men, women, and children he sent to Constantinople so as to people all the outskirts of the city.
§ 39. As for the Corinthians, after four months of siege their grain had failed them, and other essential supplies also, and they were hard pressed by famine. Still they resisted, and never thought of making terms, for they feared lest the Sultan, much enraged by the long continuance of the siege, might wreak some dire vengeance on them, particularly so
because, though he had often requested them to make terms, they had not been willing to listen and had repulsed him.
Arrival of Asanes at Corinth, and his secret entry into the city
§ 40. At this juncture there arrived Matthew Asanes of Sparta, whom the Despot Demetrius had sent to them as a helper. He was to attempt, if possible, to bring about an understanding between the Sultan and the Despots themselves, and make a treaty with him on as favorable terms as might be, but he was not to surrender Corinth to him.
§ 41. This man had with him seventy soldiers, and they had ten medimni of wheat, which they carried on their shoulders, each man carrying three choenixes.  These men knew a path on the most inaccessible side of the mountain and of the town, unknown and impassable to most, very steep and rough and hard to traverse, but leading up to the Acrocorinthus. By concealing themselves at night, they scaled the rock with great difficulty and danger, scrambling up and helping and holding each other. Some of them pulled themselves up with ropes tied around them, and so they entered the citadel.
§ 42. When they saw Asanes and his followers, the Corinthians were not a little encouraged and relieved, thinking that he was come to help them in many ways. They especially hoped that he would make suitable conditions for them with the Sultan.
§ 43. But when Asanes came into the town and saw how terribly the Corinthians were suffering from famine, and how unable they were to resist, he sent a messenger to the Sultan to treat concerning conditions of agreement and the surrender of the city.
Treaty made by Asanes with the Sultan for the Despots
§ 4.4. The Sultan agreed to these conditions, and gave
21. The medimnus is listed at ca. 52 1/2 bushels, and the choenix at ca. 2 quarts, but such measures varied widely from place to place.
him assurances. So Asanes went out and made terms and a treaty with the Sultan. He surrendered to him the city and the Acrocorinthus, with the provision that the Corinthians were to remain where they were, safe and unhurt, and were merely to pay tribute.
§ 45. Further, it was agreed that all the territory of the Peloponnesus, as much of it as the Sultan had entered with armed forces, and all the cities and fortresses he had captured, should be subject to him. This constituted a third part of the Peloponnesus. The remainder was to belong, all of it, to the Despots. They were to pay an annual tribute of three thousand pieces of gold, and the Sultan would agree to a firm peace and friendship with them, and be their ally and helper, if anyone should make an armed attack on them.
§ 46. When Asanes had made these arrangements and agreements with the Sultan, he returned to the Despots to tell them what he had accomplished, and to give them the conditions for peace with the Sultan. They accepted the agreement on these matters willy-nilly, but it seemed very hard to them to accept, not so much the other conditions, but the surrender of Corinth which was so irreconcilable to the rest —a very strongly fortified and important city, situated so advantageously on the Isthmus, and having a citadel such as the Acrocorinthus. But what could they do?
§ 47. The Sultan took over Corinth and brought into both the citadel and the town, a large garrison of chosen men, 400 from his bodyguard of Janissaries. He placed one of his most faithful men in command of this garrison. He also furnished it well with food and arms and cannon, and with every other essential.
§ 48. The other cities that he had taken, both in the interior and on the coast, and the fortresses which he considered essential to him, he repaired and completely armed with garrisons, commandants, food, weapons, arrows, and everything necessary. But some of the fortresses which he deemed unsuitable he demolished entirely.
§ 49. The inhabitants of these, men and women and children, he sent to Constantinople all unharmed, with others from other places, so as to people, as I have said, all the suburbs of the City.
§ 50. When he had put everything in good order in the Peloponnesus, as he had planned it, and had left Omar [Amaras] as governor-general over that whole region, he disbanded the army, after first praising them highly and giving them presents, and honoring the notables among them with gifts and emoluments and positions and many other things.
Arrival of the Sultan at Athens; his inspection of everything in it
§ 51. He himself left Corinth at the beginning of autumn (for the summer had already ended) with his court and with some of the high dignitaries, left the Isthmus and reached Athens by way of Megara. He was greatly enamored of that city and of the wonders in it, for he had heard many fine things about the wisdom and prudence of its ancient inhabitants, and also of their valor and virtues and of the many wonderful deeds they had done in their times when they fought against both Greeks and barbarians. So he was eager to see the city and learn the story of it and of all its buildings, especially the Acropolis itself, and of the places where those heroes had carried on the government and accomplished those things. He desired to learn of every other locality in the region, of its present condition, and also of the facts about the sea near by it, its harbors, its arsenals, and, in short, everything.
§ 52. He saw it, and was amazed, and he praised it, and especially the Acropolis as he went up into it. And from the ruins and the remains, he reconstructed mentally the ancient buildings, being a wise man and a Philhellene  and as a great king, and he conjectured how they must have been originally. He noted with pleasure the respect of the inhabitants of the city for their ancestors, and he rewarded them in many ways. They received from him whatever they asked for.
22. This word stands in the margin of the manuscript and apparently is an after-thought of the author.
§ 53. After spending four days there, he set out thence on the following day and went through Boeotia and Plataea, looking all over the Hellenic sites and examining them carefully and getting information about them all.
Arrival of the Sultan at Euboea; his careful investigation of it, and of the ebb and flow of its tides
§ 54. Proceeding according to plan, he arrived opposite Chalkis, in Euboea. There he saw the frequent currents and changes of the Euripus, the peculiar situation of the island, its condition and its excellence, and the way in which it was closely related to the mainland, with only a very narrow strait between. Rather, the whole island was like a peninsula, separated from the mainland by this very narrow stream, as if by a river, and with a bridge connecting the two.
§ 55. When the Euboeans saw the Sultan approaching them with a large force, they were at first apprehensive lest it might be with the purpose of harming them. But later they prepared presents of great value for the Sultan, and went out and met him. He received them graciously, spoke peaceably with them, and sent them back again.
§ 56. Then the Sultan left there, and always traveling rapidly forward, reached Pherae in Macedonia  in ten days. There he stayed a few days. Then, as soon as he and his army had thoroughly rested, he broke camp there and arrived in Adrianople about the middle of the autumn.
§ 57. When he got there, he immediately sent for Ismail, governor of Gallipoli and admiral of the entire fleet. He ordered him to fit out as soon as possible a fleet of 150 ships and to sail to Lesbos and to Mitylene. He was to attack the whole island and pillage and sack and destroy it as thoroughly as possible.
§ 58. The rulers of this island, two sons of Doripus, who had inherited the whole island and its control at the death of their father, were always quarreling with each other and plotting revolt. And when they had seen the thirty triremes
23. Presumably Beroea (Veria).
of the High Priest of Rome coming from Italy under the command of Louis,  admiral and commander-in-chief, they immediately had revolted and made an agreement with him, overthrowing their allegiance to the Sultan to whom they would no longer pay the customary tribute which they had brought each year.
§ 59. Not only this, but even before that they had received pirate ships into their harbors, and by secretly giving them provisions and allegiance, they had been doing injury to that entire part of the Sultan's coastline and pillaging the ships that sailed out on commercial trips. So the Sultan was angered at them because of this, and sent his fleet there.
Expedition of the Sultan's fleet to Lesbos and Mitylene, and destruction and devastation of the inhabitants, with the carrying away of much booty
§ 60. Ismail prepared the 150 ships as quickly as possible, and loaded them with arms, cannon, and heavy infantry in abundance, and horses in cavalry transports. Then, having made preparation of every other sort of military necessities, and put everything on board the ships, he set sail from Gallipoli, and on the third day arrived at Lesbos.
§61. He landed at a small coast town, Molybos by name, and first ravaged and pillaged all the environs. Then, surrounding the city with a stockade and with his army, he set up his cannon and besieged it.
§ 62. There happened to be at that time by chance in Lesbos twelve of the triremes which had been sent with Louis. They were under the command of Sergius. Louis had sent them ahead to help Mitylene in case the Sultan's fleet should sail against it, as was being rumored. These ships, however, when they learned that the Sultan's fleet had actually sailed, became frightened and sailed off to Chios to wait there.
§ 63. But Ismail accomplished nothing by his ten days' siege of the city. So he burned the houses which were in front of the city, and then, having overrun a great part of the island of Lesbos and sacked and devastated it and robbed the
24. See above, Part II, sections 122-129.
towns and taken, a large quantity of booty, loaded this on the ships and sailed away home to Gallipoli where he dispersed the fleet.
§ 64. Sergius with his twelve ships, once he had learned that the fleet had sailed away from Lesbos, went back again to Mitylene. But because he was roundly blamed and reproached by the rulers of the city because, though he had come to them as an ally and had promised to help them, he had only put them off with vain hopes and had then abandoned them in their time of need and gone off as a fugitive, he now became annoyed (or rather, he was ashamed), and he sailed off to Lemnos, and later to Rhodes to join Louis.
§ 65. The people of Mitylene, like hurt children, now changed their minds again and sent representatives to the Sultan. They apologized for the things of which they were accused, paid the tribute which they owed, requested a treaty and peace for the future. And they succeeded in managing this, for the Sultan accepted.
§ 66. The inhabitants of Chios and Naxos took the same course later. They feared that they too might suffer as the Mityleneans had suffered, so they sent representatives and paid the tribute they owed, and renewed their treaty with the Sultan.
Arrival of the Sultan at Byzantium and his care of the City and of its population
§ 67. After passing the rest of the autumn at Adrianople, the Sultan came to Byzantium at the beginning of winter. Thus ended the year 6966 in all [a.d. 1458], the eighth year of the Sultan's reign.
§ 68. When he reached Constantinople, he busied himself with his usual cares and gave his entire attention to plans for the City and its inhabitants. First of all, he selected and settled inside of the City as many of the Peloponnesians whom he had brought back as seemed to be better than the rest in their knowledge of trades. The rest of them he placed in the surrounding region in villages, distributing to them grain and yokes of oxen and every other necessary supply they
needed for the time being, so that they were able to give themselves to agriculture.
§ 69. After this, he sent to Amastris [Amasra], a city of Paphlagonia and a port on the Euxine Sea, and transported to Constantinople the larger and more able part of its people. He also transported to the City those of the Armenians under his rule who were outstanding in point of property, wealth, technical knowledge and other qualifications, and in addition those who were of the merchant class. These he took from their homes and removed to the City, and not only Armenians, but also such persons from other nations among his subjects.
Command of the Sultan to all able persons, to build splendid and costly buildings inside the City
§ 70. Then he called together all the wealthy and most able persons into his presence, those who enjoyed great wealth and prosperity, and ordered them to build grand houses in the City, wherever each chose to build. He also commanded them to build baths and inns and marketplaces, and very many and very beautiful workshops, to erect places of worship, and to adorn and embellish the City with many other such buildings, sparing no expense, as each man had the means and the ability.
§ 71. The Sultan himself selected the best site in the middle of the City, and commanded them to erect there a mosque which in height, beauty, and size should vie with the largest and finest of the temples already existing there. He bade them select and prepare materials for this, the very best marbles and other costly polished stones as well as an abundance of columns of suitable size and beauty plus iron, copper, and lead in large quantities, and every other needed material.
§ 72. He also gave orders for the erection of a palace on the point of old Byzantium which stretches out into the sea— a palace that should outshine all and be more marvelous than the preceding palaces in looks, size, cost, and gracefulness.
§ 73. Furthermore he ordered them to construct many very fine arsenals to shelter the ships and their furnishings, and to build very strong, large buildings for the storing of arms,
cannon, and other such supplies. He also ordered many other similar things to be done to beautify the City and to be useful to the public as well as to be necessary and valuable in his wars and fighting. And in order that all this should be done speedily, he set over the work his most experienced and energetic commanders. Now it was his plan to make the City in every way the best supplied and strongest city, as it used to be long ago, in power and wealth, glory, learning, and trades, and in all the professions and all sorts of good things, as well as in public and private buildings and monuments.
Describing the fine structures of Mahmud
§ 74. In addition to what the Sultan did, Mahmud, the commander-in-chief for Europe, the highest in rank of his courtiers and a very powerful man, being in charge of all the affairs of the government, now erected a very large and beautiful mosque at a prominent place in the City. It was built with dressed stone and gleaming marbles, and with columns of outstanding beauty and size. It was also well ornamented with inscriptions and artistic Sculpture and very rich in gold and silver, and it was adorned with many beautiful gifts, votive offerings and other things to be proud of.
§ 75. Around this Mahmud with noble ardor built food-kitchens for the poor, and inns and baths well suited in point of usefulness and beauty and size. Besides, he built grand houses for himself, rich and beautiful, and he planted gardens with trees bearing all sorts of fruit for the delectation and happiness and use of many, and gave them an abundant water supply. He did many such things, precisely according to the wish of the Sultan, and thus beautified the City at his own expense and cost with buildings and monuments useful to the public.
§ 76. At that time the Sultan gave orders that triremes should be built everywhere along his shores, knowing (that the domination of the sea was essential to him and his rule, especially for expeditions to far countries. For he knew that in his approaching undertakings naval operations would be of the first importance.
§ 77. He also learned by diligent search and consideration of the history of kings who had had the greatest power, that operations by sea had the greatest chance of success and brought the most fame, and that it was on the sea that those kings had accomplished the greatest things. For this reason he decided to secure control of the sea for himself, because when land and sea are both under one control, they quickly bring that control to its highest pitch.
Prompt submission of Lemnos to the Sultan under Kritovoulos; and the gift of the islands of Imbros and Lemnos by the Sultan to the Despot Demetrius
§ 78. That same winter, Kritovoulos the Imbriote spoke with the influential men of the Lemnians about surrendering the island to the Sultan (for the Italians still held it). Those men accepted the proposal and gave him pledges that they would give over the island when he should arrive. Kritovoulos was one of their closest friends, and they trusted him in such matters. Accordingly they sent secretly, saying they wished to be freed from the burden of the Italians and, most of all, that they feared that if the Sultan's fleet should make an unexpected attack on them, it might do them great injury, for the Italians would be unable to help them. Therefore they wanted to revolt from them and surrender to the Sultan.
§ 79. Kritovoulos took their pledges and went to Adrianople. He also sent letters with all speed to the Despot Demetrius, telling him it was just the time for him to request the Sultan to grant him the islands of Imbros and Lemnos. He stated that the Sultan was ready to turn them over to Demetrius and assured Demetrius that he was strong enough to capture Lemnos and drive out the Italians. For Kritovoulos had already had a letter from the Despot about this.
§ 80. When the Despot learned this, he sent Asanes immediately as a deputy to the Sultan, and asked him for the islands. He received them, promising to pay over to the Sultan for them annually a tax of three thousand gold pieces. Kritovoulos himself was in Adrianople with him at the time, having a share in these matters.
Lo, the boldness!
§ 81. When Kritovoulos had received the letters from the Sultan, he returned as soon as possible to Imbros. And after staying there only one day, he embarked the next day in a despatch-boat and, evading the Italian scouting ships which were anchored or cruising around the island, he sailed across by night to Lemnos.
Entrance of Kritovoulos by night into the city of Kotsinos, and its capture; the expulsion of the Italians
§ 82. He entered the fortress of the Castriotae about the first watch, and they received him. When he had talked with the commander and his colleagues (for the commander was one of those who had conspired with the rest), immediately and without delay he took twenty-five horsemen and reached the town of Kotsinos in the very early dawn. They entered it, for the guards from inside cooperated with them and opened the little south gate. For, as I have said, Kritovoulos had all these men prepared beforehand, and they had been planning this thing with him.
§ 83. When he had entered, the townspeople received him gladly. Quickly and unanimously they gathered with their arms, and imprisoned the Italians, forty-five of them, in the provincial public buildings. These men wanted, to be sure, to resist and to fight, and had indeed made an attack, but they could do nothing. For what could these few do against all the men of the city?
§ 84. At last, as the day broke, these Italians surrendered unconditionally to Kritovoulos, submitting themselves to him to do what he wished. And he let them all go, saying: "If you choose to stay with us, and live on the island, we will welcome you and give you what things you need. But if not, go wherever each one pleases." He sent their chief, Kalavrezos, to Euboea in peace, having honored him with many gifts and honors.
§ 85. After this, Kritovoulos sent a messenger to Michael,
Commandant of what is called the Old Castle—this was of old the city of Myrina—and demanded the surrender of the acropolis, promising to give Michael gifts and suitable honors. Now the acropolis of the town of Myrina is very strong and well-nigh impregnable. Since time immemorial it has been renowned for its safety, built as it is high on a crag over the city, protected and fortified by a very ancient high triple wall of huge stones, with the whole city at its feet and dominated by it.
§ 86. For that reason Kritovoulos wanted to entice the man with mild and affable words and the most peaceful means. But the latter, being still young and trusting to the security of the acropolis and also to its strong garrison and its plentiful supplies—for he had with him inside more than enough supplies for a whole year and eighty fully armed men—did not reply in words but drew a sword, in blood, on a sheet of paper and sent that back to Kritovoulos, to show that the acropolis was to be captured only by blood and iron and in no other way. At the same time he added a threat on the paper, and this ironically: "Do not demand the acropolis in that way, for you shall not receive it. But if you are a man, come yourself and take it by force of arms."
Arrival of Kritovoulos at the city of Myrina, and agreement with the commandant for its surrender at a fixed time, acropolis and city
§ 87. Now Kritovoulos spent four days in the city of Kotsinos and arranged its affairs. On the following day he took along four hundred well-armed cavalry and not less than three hundred heavy infantry, and went to Myrina city, pitching camp some distance from the town so that the horses and soldiers should not injure the vineyards and grainfields in front of the city. He then sent a messenger to speak again peaceably to the commandant and try to induce him by mild words and promises.
§ 88. And the latter, seeing the strong force before his very eyes and being none too confident of those inside the city—for he was afraid they might join those outside, or come
to an agreement with them and revolt against him from within, so that thus he would lose the citadel and be in personal danger—accepted the terms peacefully and made an arrangement, asking and receiving a delay of three months, so that he might have time to inform his chief, the Grand Master of Rhodes.
§ 89. Now Louis had already set sail for Italy, leaving this man as his representative in the islands. So the commandant secured from him consent to surrender the citadel and town; and for this he gave hostages and pledges.
§ 90. Then, when Kritovoulos had accomplished this, he sent two of the Lemnos commanders to the Peloponnesus to inform the Despot Demetrius of what had happened, and they were to beg him to come and receive, or to have handed over, the island and the towns. Kritovoulos himself waited in Lemnos.
Expedition of the Sultan against the Illyrians living along the Ionian Gulf. Note the strength of their position
§ 91. At the opening of spring the Sultan made an expedition against the Illyrians [Albanians] living along the Ionian Gulf [Adriatic] at the right as one sails into it, near the ancient Epidamnus. These were barbarians who were anciently called Taulantians and Machaones, nomads for the most part, and autonomous and for a long time without kings. They inhabit great and lofty mountains, hard to penetrate, and among these they have many strong fortresses and fortified cities along the shores of the Ionian Gulf. Their entire country is protected on all sides by great abysses and deep forests and steep and precipitous places.
§ 92. A few years before, they had set up over them from their own race a certain Arianos and Alexander  as their leaders, and these had held the country strongly in hand, being unwilling to make a treaty with the Sultan or to pay him tribute or to submit to him in any way. Not only so, but
25. Arianites Comnenos and his famous son-in-law, George Castriota, Scanderbeg.
they had often sallied forth from their own country, and by secret attacks and incursions, had injured the Sultan's neighboring domains.
§ 93. Sultan Murad, father of the present Sultan, had previously made an expedition against these people with a numerous and powerful army, and had attacked and beaten them. He had seized some of their passes, overrun and devastated a large part of their country, demolished some of their fortresses, and carried off a great quantity of booty. But he was unable to capture the country or to subdue it entirely. However, he did make a truce with them and impose on them an annual tribute. Then, having captured a very great quantity of booty, which he gave to the army, he had left.
§ 94. For a short time they had faithfully kept the agreements. But soon they rebelled and did not pay the tribute, but made raids into the Sultan's domain and injured it. Therefore the Sultan sent his army against these men. He set out from Adrianople with all his forces, horse and foot, and went through his own territory till in thirty-three days he reached their borders and encamped there.
Encounter of Mahmud with the Illyrians; his victory; his holding of the defiles, and the invasion by the Sultan into the country of the Illyrians, and his pillage of it
§ 95. He immediately ordered Mahmud to choose out three divisions of heavy infantry, and bowmen and supporting troops, the bravest of the fighters in his own bodyguard, and to go by night to the defiles and capture them before the Illyrians should learn that they were coming. But Mahmud, on his arrival, found the passes already held by the enemy, for they had had previous information of the Sultan's expedition. He attacked them, and brilliantly defeated them and took the passes by force.
§ 96. Then the Sultan advanced with his whole army, and invaded their country just as the wheat was maturing. He ruined the wheat crop and also carried off an immense quantity of booty, both men and all sorts of cattle. He captured
fortresses, some by force of assault, others by the use of siege operations. Thus he pulled them down entirely, and completely devastated all their country and ruined it all.
§ 97. The Illyrians, who had already occupied the higher parts because they did not dare come down into the plains, when they saw their belongings scattered here and there and ruthlessly destroyed, and since they were also worried about themselves, of necessity had to come to an agreement. Accordingly, sending a messenger, they begged the Sultan to make an agreement with them, they to give hostages and pledges that they would pay an annual tax to the Sultan. This was to consist of a fixed number of children and of flocks of sheep —for they had no money—and also of soldiers to serve in the expeditions of the Sultan. They also promised to be friends and sincere allies.
Treaty of the Sultan with the Illyrians and the taking of hostages; and tribute to be given to the Sultan
§ 98. The Sultan accepted these conditions and made a covenant. Having received the hostages, he took off a very large amount of plunder which he gave over to the army, and went back to Adrianople. It was now the end of summer. There he spent the whole autumn, and as winter drew on, he reached Byzantium to spend the winter there. This was the year 6967 [a.d. 1459] from the beginning, and the ninth of the Sultan's reign.
Arrival of the Sultan in Constantinople, and repair of his palace and of those in the city
§ 99. When the Sultan had reached Constantinople and had rested a bit, he gave attention to the situation in his realm and to arranging and renovating things everywhere, especially what was connected with his own palace and with the soldiers' quarters. He praised all the troops, and he chose out the best of them on the basis of judgment, courage, practice, and military experience. He promoted and plentifully re
warded the brave by gifts of money, offices, and civic rights, as well as by benefactions and gifts, and omitted nobody.
§ 100. After this, he promoted to the greatest and highest of honors and positions in the government the best of the governors, those who had proved most dependable by their acts and who had conducted their districts and provinces as they should, and had administered them well. He replaced them in their former governorships and positions by others and, as I have said, to as many of the extremely useful and important men, as pleased him, he gave fitting, rewards.
§ 101. Then he sent out notices and orders everywhere through his domain in Asia and Europe that all who had left Constantinople whether as captives or as emigrants, either before its capture or since, and were living in other cities, should return from exile and settle here.
§ 102. For there were still many such in Adrianople, Philippopolis, Gallipoli, and Bursa and other cities, people who had been scattered through the capture of the city or still earlier and who had settled in those cities, learned men and men of the most useful kinds, men who, profiting by their abilities, had in a short time secured a competency and become wealthy. All these, then, he transferred here, giving to some of them houses, to others building lots in whatever part of the city they preferred, and to still others every sort of facility and needed benefit, most generously for the time being.
Uprooting of the Phoceans and their transfer to Constantinople. Uprooting of the people of the islands of Thasos and Samothrace, and their transfer to the City
§ 103. At that same time he uprooted the people of the two towns of Phocea in Ionia in Asia, and settled them also in the City. And he sent Zaganos, Governor of Gallipoli and admiral of the entire fleet, to the islands with forty ships. When this man arrived there, he removed some people of Thasos and of Samothrace and settled them there likewise. So great a love for the City inspired the Sultan's soul that he
wished to see it again established in its former power and glory and brilliancy.
The Sultan overseeing building operations
§ 104.. He zealously directed operations on the buildings he was erecting on his own account—that is, the mosque and the palace. He was concerned with the careful collection not simply of materials necessary for the work, but rather of those that were most expensive and most rare. He also took care to summon the very best workmen from everywhere— masons and stonecutters and carpenters and all sorts of others of experience and skill in such matters.
§ 105. For he was constructing great edifices which were to be worth seeing and should in every respect vie with the greatest and best of the past. For this reason he needed to give them the most careful oversight as to workmen and materials of many kinds and of the best quality, and he also was concerned with the very many and great expenses and outlays. Besides, he had many overseers for these things, men who were exceptionally wise and experienced in such matters. Not only so, but he himself also made frequent inspection and watched over the work, doing everything very ambitiously and with excellent taste, altogether in the regal manner. That is how he acted about these things.
Agreement between Kritovoulos and Mikeles and the taking over Palaeo Kastro in Lemnos
§ 106. At this time Mikeles, who held possession of the Cape in Lemnos called Palaeo Kastro, met Kritovoulos and gave over to him the acropolis and the town, receiving from him a thousand gold coins which the people of Lemnos had collected.
Reasons why the Sultan made a second incursion into the Peloponnesus, and seized it all
§ 107. That same winter, the Despots of the Peloponnesus quarreled, to their own damage, and made war with each
other for the following reason: the grandees who were under them, men who had domains and large revenues and were over cities and fortresses, were not content with these but, grasping in thought and malicious in act, were always aspiring for more. They sought revolution and were rebellious against each other, made war, and filled all those parts with disorder and uproar.
§ 108. They even drew the Despots into the confusion, by attacking and disturbing each other, for first they would come secretly and accuse the opposite party, as if they were revealing some unspeakable mystery, and so by lies and slanders against each other they tried to stir them up against one another and to arm them.
Note the malice of the men
§ 109. Then later, openly and unashamed, they deserted the one side and went over to the other, enticing with them their towns and fortresses. This made the Despots still more furious at each other, and resulted in open enmity although they had indeed attempted once and again, by an exchange of embassies, to solve their differences without recourse to fighting.
§ 110. But as this attempt did not result as they had hoped, because the worse elements prevailed so that they broke up without agreeing, they decided on open warfare; and having once decided, they fought with all their might, invading each other's territory in force and overrunning and pillaging it, burning villages and subduing fortresses, some of which they razed to the ground, and carrying off booty. Thus they despoiled their compatriots in every way.
§ 111. This continued for a long time. After that, the Albanians of that region deserted to the Despot Thomas, and got the better of the followers of the Despot Demetrius by stirring up desertions every day against him, and by surrendering the fortresses. Thus the former prevailed and overmastered the larger part. He exiled his brother, and interned him and his wife and daughter in Epidaurus Limera, which is now called Monembasia.
Despatch of Asanes to the Sultan by the Despot Demetrius
§ 112. Being exceedingly pained at the events, and as there was nothing he could do, since he was in danger of losing all his province, the Despot Demetrius sent Asanes as ambassador to the Sultan, begging him to come to his aid and help him against the baneful influence and tyranny of his brother. This, at least, was how it appeared on the surface; however, there are two versions of this story circulating here. Some say it was not simply for the sake of asking help that the Despot sent Asanes, but that he had promised his daughter to the Sultan and had agreed to give him the whole of the Peloponnesus, asking for himself that he be given another place to rule, in exchange for this, inside the Sultan's dominions.
§ 113. Still others insist that this was not true, but that the Despot was requesting an alliance with the Sultan when he sent Asanes, and asked for men to help him and an army to aid him; and that he was angry with the Despot Thomas and with those of the Peloponnesians who were opposed to the Sultan most of all, and that he had done these things in self-defense, and without the knowledge of the Despot.
§ 114. However this might be, the Sultan heard of the quarrel and difference between them, and of the undeclared war. And in addition since the Despot Thomas had brushed aside the agreements made with the Sultan, and had revolted and made a new alliance with the Italians and called on them for aid, the Sultan was angry at the things that had happened, and feared lest the entire Peloponnesus might pass under the control of others. So he delayed no longer, but as quickly as possible, with the opening up of spring, he launched an expedition against the Peloponnesus.
Expedition of the Sultan against the Peloponnesus
§ 115. So then, starting from Adrianople with all his army, both cavalry and infantry, he advanced swiftly and reached Corinth on the twenty-seventh day and encamped
there, expecting the Despot Demetrius on the third day, for so they said it had been arranged with him by Asanes.
§116. But the Despot had gone from Epidaurus to Sparta, and did not go in person to the Sultan, but sent Asanes with very many gifts. He arrived soon, and went in to the Sultan on the first day, and had quite a long private interview with him and Mahmud Pasha, and left. But the next day at dawn the Sultan ordered Asanes arrested, and kept him in prison, but not in chains.
§ 117. The Sultan then took his army and invaded, not the hostile country of the Despot Thomas, but the friendly country of the Despot Demetrius, by proceeding immediately to Argos. This proved to the majority the accounts already given, and showed them to be trustworthy, namely, that these had spontaneously and of their own accord taken the side of the Sultan, surrendering themselves and the Peloponnesus because of the enmity they had toward the Despot Thomas and the Peloponnesians. And the rest was a farce and hypocrisy and a put-up job, as became clear by the events that followed.
Confinement of the Despot Demetrius in Sparta by Mahmud
§ 118. For the Sultan, as soon as he reached Argos, ordered Mahmud to take a strong force and go by night to Sparta, and to incarcerate, as it were, the Despot Demetrius. So he started off, and by traveling all night captured him at daybreak in Sparta, and confined him there. And he sent the Sultan's secretary, Thomas, son of Katabolenus, and spoke in a peaceful and friendly way to him about surrendering himself and the town, saying it would be for his own good and that of his followers to entrust himself and the government unhesitatingly to the Sultan, and not oppose him or hesitate, for that would not be good for him.
§ 119. The Despot replied that first Asanes must be set free to come to him with the pledges, and that then he would act according to instructions. All this, as I said, was done in the open, but they were plotting and doing other things in secret.
Exit of the Despot from Sparta to Mahmud, and surrender of Sparta, and its acropolis
§ 120. Mahmud gave the pledges to Asanes, set him free, and sent with him the Governor Hamza because he was a special friend of the Despot. So they went into the city, met the Despot, and brought him out to the camp to Mahmud, who received him gladly and in a friendly way and with fitting honors, and took over the city and the acropolis itself.
Reception of the Despot Demetrius by the Sultan, and the great honor and very great gifts bestowed on him by the Sultan
§ 121. The next day the Sultan also arrived, and immediately called for the Despot, and as the man entered his presence, the Sultan honored him by rising from his throne to receive him as he entered the tent, giving him his right hand, seating him by his side, and speaking many peaceable and kindly words. He comforted him in mild and affable terms, dispersing his misgivings and allaying his fears, for he realized that the man was afraid and disturbed. Therefore the Sultan held out to him lively hopes for the future, and gave him reason to take courage, saying that all would be well for him and according to his desire.
§ 122. Then he gave him presents of many kinds—money in plenty, costly robes and garments, also horses, mules, and many other things suited to his present needs. He also sent for his wife and daughter with honors, from Epidaurus, sending one of the royal eunuchs and an officer with a guard of soldiers, with Asanes, to bring them. And in every possible way he greatly honored him and made him comfortable.
§ 123. He spent four days there, repairing both city and citadel and fortifying it, and left there a commander with a garrison of four hundred men of his bodyguard. And he did everything else there that he wished, and put all in order.
Departure of the Sultan from Sparta and his march against other fortresses of that vicinity
§ 124. Leaving there and taking with him the Despot Demetrius, he reached a small town, very inaccessible on all sides, situated on the slopes of the great mountain of Sparta, not far from the city called Kastrion. Encamping here, he first made proclamation to the inhabitants that they should surrender themselves and the town. But they trusted in themselves and in the strength of their fortress, for the place was inaccessible and precipitous and everywhere rough and steep. There was only one path, and that was blocked and guarded by a triple wall. And they numbered about four hundred picked men. So they did not accept the Sultan's advice, but shut the gates and waited.
§ 125. The Sultan immediately gave his orders to the army and made a vigorous assault on the town. But the garrison resisted with great force. The heavy infantry fought bravely, struggling for the entrance and trying to force the ascent. Some of them were counter-attacked by the soldiers above with lances, were hurled down and killed, while others were hit in the head by immense stones from the heights above and crushed and killed, and in the end they were thoroughly repulsed, and not a few of the finest and best fell there.
Second vigorous attack of the Sultan on Kastrion
§ 126. This troubled the Sultan very much. Still, he sounded the retreat and stopped the fight for the time. But the next day at daybreak he drew up the whole army, armed them well, and stirred them up by persuasive and supplicating words, at the same time encouraging them to fight. He promised splendid rewards to those who should fight well, and stated that the fortress would be pillaged. Then he gave the order to attack.
§ 127. The soldiers, with a great and terrible battle-cry and with a shout and a rush, made a mighty attack on the town. There was a great thrust there, and a hard hand-to-hand
fight at the wall, with rage and anger and shouting and no little slaughter among the vanguard, each side struggling in disorder, disregarding strict order, killing one another mercilessly, the one party making every effort to get inside the wall while the other stubbornly defended themselves and did not yield.
Capture of Kastrion, slaughter and enslavement and massacre
§ 128. At last the Sultan's troops prevailed. They killed many of them, and forced their way inside the first and second walls, and by fierce fighting drove the men back and swarmed into the citadel. The defenders, driven into a narrow path, and not knowing what to do, since they lacked water and necessary food and were in despair of any help, surrendered to the Sultan unconditionally.
§ 129. The Sultan ordered all the men who had survived the battle, three hundred in number, to be slaughtered immediately, made slaves of the women and children,, and destroyed the town.
Attack of the Sultan on the very strong fortress called Gardikion
§ 130. After this he advanced against another fortress called Gardikion, utterly impregnable and very strong for it was a steep and sheer crag near the pass in the Spartan mountain called Zygos. It rose to a great height, and was surrounded on all sides by vast precipices and yawning chasms, fortified and defended, and it had only one path, and that a steep one, leading up to it. Here, then, a great crowd of citizens, men, women, and children, had taken refuge because the place was safe. But this was evidently their destruction.
Siege of Gardikion, and negotiations for surrender
§ 131. For the Sultan marched there and pitched his camp. First he tried to induce them to surrender, as he wanted to let them live and not suffer harm. But as he could not persuade
them, he surrounded them with his army and besieged them and guarded them closely, intending to reduce them by siege and hunger and thirst, so as not to lose his soldiers uselessly and needlessly on such precipitous places.
Capture of Gardikion; slaughter and enslavement
§ 132. But they could not hold out more than one single day's siege. Worn out by hunger and thirst, the suffocation of the burning summer heat, and by other privations—since they were such a crowd of men, women, and children herded together on a narrow crag—lacking water and provisions and having neither help from anywhere nor any hope of any, they unwillingly went out to the Sultan and unconditionally surrendered.
Reasons why the Sultan massacred people in such fortresses
§ 133. And the Sultan killed all those men, enslaved the children and women, and razed the fortress. He did this in such fortresses, in some cases from his just anger and wrath; in others, because he had first called on them to surrender, so that there should be no danger to his soldiers in battle, and they had not yielded, but rather preferred battle in which he had lost many brave men.
§ 134. In other cases, where most of the men were Illyrians, because of their bad character and frequent revolts and thievery and brigandage, he wanted to terrify them and cow them, and instill in them the greatest possible fear and dread so that they might never again wish to oppose him, or dare ever to be too impertinent, but be ready to yield to him for the sake of their own safety. And this actually happened.
Advance of the Sultan against the farther parts of the Peloponnesus, and the surrender of the fortresses willingly, and the conquest of the whole region
§ 135. When the Sultan marched on from there and proceeded to the farther parts of the country, he did not have
to overcome resistance anywhere, for all yielded readily to him, most of them unconditionally, many of them even anticipating his arrival. Cities and fortresses and the whole of the region, wherever he went, surrendered before his advance and his wrath. Thus all were terrified and gave up, except that a few resisted him through foolish ideas. These were immediately brought to reason by force of arms.
Repair of the suitable fortresses and their garrisoning, and demolition of those unfit
§ 136. The Sultan from that time on gave good treatment to all who complied, and guarded the safety of all and of their possessions, quite unharmed by the evils of campaigns and war. He went through all the Peloponnesus and took possession of it. As many of the fortresses and small towns as he thought suitable and safe and fit for the guarding of the country, he repaired and fitted out with garrisons, commanders, provisions, arms, and everything else. Those which he did not so regard, he demolished. The inhabitants he allowed to remain in their homes and live as organized villages, but some of them he deported, and brought to Constantinople. This was the way the Sultan acted there.
§ 137. The Despot Thomas, when at the beginning he heard of the invasion of the Peloponnesus by the Sultan, repaired very thoroughly some of the fortresses and put garrisons in them, while he himself went off to Mantinea, a small town on the shore, with his wife and children and some of his chiefs. Shutting himself up there, he waited to see the outcome of the war. He hoped that the whole of the Peloponnesus would not give in so easily, for it was a country very strongly fortified by nature, with fortified cities and fortresses well guarded and hard to capture. Hence he hoped that some of these fortresses and towns would hold out and escape capture, and thus he might again have some hope of a refuge in the Peloponnesus.
Flight of the Despot Thomas to Corcyra
§ 138. But when he saw that all of them had been captured,
cities and fortresses, some by force and armed attack and others by voluntary surrender without the slightest force having been used—when he saw that all of the Peloponnesus (except for two or three Venetian cities) had been conquered and held, then he lost all hope of his own affairs, and embarked in two fifty-oared triremes and sailed away to Corcyra [Corfu] with his wife and children and some of his chiefs.
§ 139. Those of his officers who were rulers of fortresses or cities abandoned these and fled secretly to the Venetian cities of Coronea and Methone, and others where they were safe.
§ 140. Thus the Sultan secured the whole of the Peloponnesus, after carrying out a great and remarkable campaign in a very short time. For the summer had not entirely passed when he had captured all points—strong cities and well-guarded fortresses and little towns, nearly two hundred fifty in all.
Showing the advantages of this country, and the virtues of its former inhabitants
§ 141. This land is one of the famous and glorious regions of past history. It has shown many very great accomplishments in its time, and has gained brilliant victories over both barbarians and Hellenes. It founded many colonies and ruled over many cities and nations, in both Asia and Europe, and even in Libya, as well as very large islands. It has shown to everybody men gifted in intelligence, courage, generalship, and other virtues, besides being healthy and strong in body, and very able and perfect in every respect, men such as no other country has produced except that of the Romans. It also enjoys a situation strong and well-suited in every way to the highest degree, whether by land or by sea.
§ 142. Such, then, was the situation in the great and famous country of Pelops under the Romans; till now it all had been well governed by them, and had held out great hopes always, both to Romans and to Italians, even in recent times, of being useful and helpful. Twice in our own times a wall had been built across the Isthmus, but it had again been
thrown down and trampled under foot in war by Murad, the father of the Sultan, and so it came to an end.
§ 143. After arranging everything well in the region, according to his own plan, that is, for its guarding and for its general safety, the Sultan left Omer [Amaras] as governor-general of the whole region. And carrying off very great booty for himself, and giving booty to the army also, he left the Isthmus, taking with him the Despot Demetrius together with his wife and his daughter and those of the chief men who had followed him. When he reached Lebadia, he left the Despot behind with the chiefs and with soldiers to wait on and guard him, ordering them to follow slowly and gradually along the road, resting for the sake of the women and children and their baggage and servants.
Arrival of the Sultan at Adrianople. Arrangements
for the Despot by the Sultan, and assignment to him of the Islands and of Enos for revenue, and other facts
§ 144. So, leaving there with his personal court (for he had dismissed his entire army), he made his journey and reached Adrianople in the middle of the autumn, and there he stopped. Not many days later, the Despot Demetrius also arrived. The Sultan made it his first business to see to the welfare and arrangements of this man; he immediately sent for Mahmud and Ishak, and in consultation with them granted as a province to the Despot to rule the islands of Imbros and Lemnos in the Aegean and the remaining portions of Thasos and Samothrace together with their revenues. The greater part of the inhabitants of these islands had been transferred to Byzantium. The yearly revenues of these islands amounted in all to 300,000 silver coins minted by the Sultan.
§ 145. Similarly he also gave him Enos, a town of some importance with many advantages, situated on the Thracian coast near the mouth of the Hebrus River, a general trading center for all the neighborhood and surroundings because of its harbors and other advantages, of which we have already spoken. This town he gave him with full power, and with the
revenues which Palamedes, son of Gateliouzes, the former ruler, had enjoyed.
Note the generosity of the Sultan
§ 146. These revenues constituted another 300,000 of the same royal silver coin. He also commanded that he should receive yearly, in three installments 100,000 more from the mint at Adrianople. So the total given him annually by the Sultan as revenue amounted to 700,000 pieces of silver.
§ 147. So he gave all this sum to him. And after he had showered many other gifts upon him as well, he left him there. The Sultan himself went to Byzantium at the end of autumn, to spend the winter. So passed the year 6968 by total count [a.d. 1460], which was the tenth of the reign of the Sultan.
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