History of Mehmed the Conqueror by Kritovoulos





Including the surrender of the city of Sinope and of all the realm of Ismail, and the surrender of Trebizond and of all its domain and its king; also the revolt of the Getae and their enslavement and the capture of the whole of Lesbos; also the first incursion of the Sultan against the Bostrians, and the destruction and the capture of their whole country. The entire duration: three years [a.d. 1461-1463].


Expedition against the City of Trebizond 163
A Change in Circumstances 163
The march of the Sultan against Trebizond and Sinope by land and sea 165
The Sultan crosses from Europe to Asia with his forces 166
As to the numbers of the army 166
March of the Sultan against Sinope 166
Remarks about the city of Sinope, and what it was 166
Ismail goes out to the Sultan, meets him, and surrenders the city 167
Showing what Ismail received in exchange for Sinope 167
Reasons why the Sultan took over Sinope 167
Expedition of the Sultan up the Taurus; this mountain, and of what sort it is 168
Indicating who have crossed the Taurus under arms, and about Timur, king of the Scythians and Massagetae [Tartars and Mongols] 169
Showing how Sultan Mehmed crossed the Taurus, opposed by Hasan 169
Of the road by which the Sultan crossed under arms 169
Of the roughness and difficulties of the mountain 170
Showing in how many days the Sultan crossed the Taurus 170
Note the arrangements of the Sultan, and how he crossed the Taurus 170
Attempt on Mahmud Pasha, insignificant wound by an arrow from a bow, and capture and death of the plotter 171
The Sorrow of the Sultan for the Pasha 172
Astonishment of Hasan at the Sultan's quick crossing; sending his mother to the Sultan, because he was afraid for himself 172
Voyage of the fleet to Trebizond; the landing; and the attack by the citizens; their defeat; the siege by land and sea 173
Proposals by the Pasha to those inside the city and to their Emperor, looking to the surrender of the city and of themselves 173
Arrival of the Sultan at Trebizond, and parley, and terms, and surrender of the city 174
Entry of the great Sultan into Trebizond 175
Noting how many children the Sultan took from Trebizond 175
Dismissal of Hasan's mother by the Sultan with gifts and honors; the embassy of Hasan to the Sultan.. 176
Arrival of the Sultan in Byzantium 176
How he cared for the ruler of Trebizond 176
Of the philosopher George Amiroukis and how the Sultan received him and honored him 177
The revolt of Drakoulis [Drakula], chief of the Getae [Vlachs] 177
How Drakoulis crossed the Ister and devastated the country around Nicopolis and Vidin 178
Advance of the Sultan against the Getae, his crossing of the Ister, and overrunning of all their country, and devastation of it 179
Defeat and flight of Drakoulis 179
Reasons why the Sultan made an expedition against Lesbos and Mitylene 180
Advance of the Sultan against Lesbos by land and sea 181
How the Sultan examined the tombs of the heroes, as he passed through Troy, and how he praised and congratulated them 181
Siege of Mitylene 182
Crossing of the Sultan to Lesbos 182
Capture of Mitylene and advance through Lesbos 183
Notes 183
Showing how the Sultan wished to build a great navy, and have control of the sea 185
Showing how the Sultan planned to build two fortresses on the Chersonese.. 186
Of the Bostrians [Bosnians], and how the Sultan made an expedition against them 187
Movement of the Sultan against the Bostrians. Overrunning of their country 188
Arrival of the Sultan at Yaitsa, and its siege 188
Destruction of all the country of the Bostrians, and capture of all the towns in it, nearly 300 189
Reasons why the Venetians broke their treaty with the Sultan, and fought with him 189
Expedition of the Venetians against the Peloponnesus 190
Relating how the Venetians built a wall at the Isthmus of the Peloponnesus 191
How the Sultan sent Mahmud to the Peloponnesus with an army against the Venetians 191


Expedition against the City of Trebizond


§ 1. The Sultan was in Constantinople, and when he had rested a short while, he immediately raised a very large army and fitted out a large fleet for an expedition by land and sea. He prepared arms and guns, and attended to every other military need.


§ 2. This preparation of his and the expeditionary fleet was for Trebizond and Sinope. For Trebizond was in times past the largest and finest city, as well as the oldest of the Greek colonies, being a colony of Ionians and Athenians, situated in a good part of Asia, in a deep bay of the Euxine Sea facing east, along the shore. It benefits by very fine soil, widely extended and fruitful, and it governs a large surrounding region.


§ 3. From its beginnings it has been a common trading center for upper Asia, that is, for Armenia and Assyria and the adjacent country. It prospered in former times, and had great wealth and was very powerful and very glorious. It was among the most famous cities, not only of neighboring regions but also of those far away.



A Change in Circumstances


§ 4. But as time went on, little by little things in Asia altered, and a change took place. Some kingdoms were destroyed or disappeared, while others rose. Some cities and countries were desolated, totally annihilated, while others rose up and were soon populous. So too, this city suffered a like change, for a time, but again recovered very rapidly and returned to her former happy state, unharmed by any of her experiences, and having suffered no misfortune.


§ 5. In later times, shortly before our own, it became the capital of a representative of the royal family of the Romans, the Comneni, who had taken refuge there from Byzantium. [26]



26. The "Empire" of Trebizond endured from 1204 to 1461.





He constructed there many splendid public works, and ruled over many neighboring tribes and cities. And the descendants of this line and their Kingdom had continued till now quiet and without rebellions, their kings always enjoying peace, and the inhabitants tranquil. The countries around either subdued or allied to them.


§ 6. But in these latter years they had internal revolutions and dissensions within the nation, and the city suffered among others. It was near to perishing, and altogether fared badly; for, as I said, the kings and the people rose up against each other, made war, and treated one another badly. Meantime the neighboring nations, taking advantage of the frequent uprisings, revolted against the city and often overran it and pillaged it, doing very great damage.


§ 7. Now, as long as things went well in Constantinople, and the Romans who held it were masters of the Straits, and the Bosporus was closed so that the Euxine Sea was entirely inaccessible to the great fleet of the Sultan, this city and others could resist. Hence, it bore its own misfortunes but guarded its liberty as it might, and was not much injured by its internal strife.


§ 8. But when things changed for the worse, and Constantinople was besieged by the great Sultan and his large and powerful army, and taken, the Strait was in his power. The way to the Euxine Sea and its cities was wholly opened both by land and by sea. Then that city declined as had the others, and became submissive, and the kings in her yielded to the great Sultan and paid tribute.


§ 9. As long as those princes preserved order at home and in their relations with each other, paid the tribute, and did not plot treason, they enjoyed peaceful relations with the Sultan. But when they rose up against one another and gave the tribute only very unwillingly, and further when they allied themselves by marriage with the Kings of neighboring countries of Tigranocerta [27] of the Armenians, and the Medes, and with Hasan the son of Timur [Tamerlane], and of the Iberians [Georgians] as well, and seemed to be plotting



27. Apparently Koyunlu Hisar, which Kritovoulos mistakenly identifies as the ancient Tigranocerta.





some rebellion, and trying to break their treaties with the Sultan (for they could not hide these acts of theirs), the Sultan was consequently very angry and made this expedition against them, determined to forestall them and gain the mastery over them before they could start a rebellion.



The march of the Sultan against Trebizond and Sinope by land and sea


§ 10. So he made thorough preparation through the winter. When the first signs of spring appeared, he fitted out the fleet for a voyage. He had in fact about three hundred ships of war in fighting shape. They included long triremes, fiftyoared vessels, and armored ships, besides the freight transports and those carrying cannon, and those that went for commerce and for other uses.


§ 11. He placed on board these ships arms of all sorts in very large quantities: small and large shields, helmets, spears, breastplates, darts, and a large number and variety of arrows, both those fired from bows and from crossbows; also many bows and slings and many other things suitable for attacking walls. He also embarked as many men as possible, the strongest and the best equipped, fitted out completely for battle, men of experience. And he put over them admirals for the whole fleet, and as supreme commanders Kasim, the Governor of Gallipoli, and Yakoub, a man of great experience in naval warfare and a very fine admiral.


§ 12. So, after fitting out and arming the entire fleet well, he sent it off; and it sailed up the Bosporus into the Euxine at great speed, with force and velocity, amid mingled shouting and cheering and friendly rivalry of the crews with each other, bringing terror and dismay to all wherever they went, and astounding everyone at the unsual sight.


§ 13. The Sultan also mobilized his European land forces and made them cross over into Asia, cavalry and foot, plus a great quantity of horses, mules, and camels for carrying burdens, and all sorts of material for war, and provisions.





The Sultan crosses from Europe to Asia with his forces


§ 14. When he had watched the crossing in force, then he himself also crossed over, and marched through Bithynia till he reached Brousa [Bursa]. There he found the Asiatic forces all gathered. So, after spending not many days there, and making some necessary preparations, and fitting out the army completely, he sacrificed a sheep at the tomb of his father, and performed the rightful ceremonies for him in grand style. He adorned the tomb with a quantity of gifts and offerings, and laid a wreath on it. Then he started out from there and went through the region of the Galatians and Paphlagonians.



As to the numbers of the army


§ 15. The army numbered, it was said, sixty thousand cavalry, and not less than eighty thousand infantry, not counting the carriers and other followers of the army.



March of the Sultan against Sinope


§ 16. Having marched his men through Galatia and Paphlagonia and then Cappadocia, he crossed the Halys River and reached Sinope, a coast town, the best and richest of those on the Euxine Sea. It ruled over an immense and splendid countryside and was already a common emporium for the whole region as well as for no small part of lower Asia. It gets the use of many products of the seasons from land and sea.



Remarks about the city of Sinope, and what it was


§ 17. The greatest of these is copper, which is abundantly mined here, and is distributed everywhere in Asia and Europe, and brings in large incomes in gold and silver for the inhabitants.


§ 18. For many years Ismail had been ruler of the city, an able man from one of the noble families of the town;





he had inherited the power from his father. The Sultan, then, marched against the city and pitched his camp; he also found his fleet already attacking the harbors, [28] according to plan. For the admirals, arriving first, attacked, and held the harbors and the isthmus, encircling all the city and islet in a circle, by their ships, for it was a peninsula.



Ismail goes out to the Sultan, meets him, and surrenders the city


§ 19. Ismail, seeing the sudden attack of the Sultan, and the land and sea forces surrounding the city and himself, was astonished at this turn of affairs, and considered what he had best do under such conditions. On thinking it over, it seemed to him best to go out and meet the Sultan and learn the reasons why he had made this expedition, and get himself out of the difficulty if he could. So he prepared many very valuable gifts, and went out to the Sultan.


§ 20. The latter received him mildly and cordially, addressed him in a friendly way, shook hands with him, and showed him appropriate honors. Then they talked about the country and the city; and after a long discussion of much that was necessary and right and suitable and proper to the occasion and to themselves, they finally agreed on the following conditions, and parted peacefully, and as friends.



Showing what Ismail received in exchange for Sinope


§ 21. So the Sultan received the city of Sinope and the whole dominion of Ismail connected with it. In exchange he gave him a governorship in Europe called Skopia [Skoplje], on the borders of the Triballi, a very fine and very fertile country in no way inferior to his own in products and territory or in necessities and comforts.



Reasons why the Sultan took over Sinope


§ 22. The Sultan had no complaint to bring against Ismail. But he coveted Sinope eagerly, and got possession of



28. Sinope has two harbors.





it, because it was a city worth mentioning, situated at a favorable point on the Asiatic coast of the Euxine Sea, and with harbors that were safe and could well serve as bases for his fleet of ships to attack Trebizond and the entire upper shores of the Sea and the cities there. Besides, as it was situated in the midst of the territory of the Sultan, he did not think of safe from many standpoints for it to be in the power of other rulers, and not directly under him.


§ 23. Not only so, but he also feared that Hasan, king of Tigranocerta and the Medes, might secretly try to get possession of it, by treaty or by war, since it bordered on his territory. And the Sultan knew from many indications that le was plotting in every way, and determined to seize it.


§ 24. So for these reasons it was essential for the Sultan to capture Sinope. Ismail with all his men left immediately and went off to his new province, and the Sultan took over Sinope and all the domain of Ismail. When he had arranged everything there, he ordered Kasim and Yakub to sail with the whole fleet right to Trebizond, and after seizing the harbors, to invest the town by land and sea, and keep safe guard over it.



Expedition of the Sultan up the Taurus; this mountain, and of what sort it is


§ 25. He himself started from there with his whole army and went through the interior. Reaching the Taurus, he encamped in its foothills. The Taurus is the largest mountain a Asia, [29] dividing lower Asia from upper. Beginning with Mt. Mykale and the sea there, and extending from there and cutting Asia in two it ends in the Euxine Sea near Sinope. And going on from there again, it unites with the mountains of the Armenians and the Medes, and through them with the Caucasus.



29. Kritovoulos, like some later classical writers, attempts to use "Tauros" as a generic term for the mountain systems of Asia Minor. Reference to map will enable the reader to detect the errors which this involves.





Indicating who have crossed the Taurus under arms, and about Timur, king of the Scythians and Massagetae [Tartars and Mongols]


§ 26. They say that Alexander of Macedon was the first to cross this range with armed forces—although Hercules and Dionysus had, of course, been earlier—when he was marching against Darius, king of the Persians, and against the whole of Asia. After him the next was Pompey the Great with the Romans. And in our days it was crossed by Timur [Tamerlane], king of the Massagetae and Scythians, when he was marching against Beyazid, one of the ancestors of the Sultan. He went armed, indeed, and with an army, but he had for a long time held the passes, and proceeded through country friendly to him.



Showing how Sultan Mehmed crossed the Taurus, opposed by Hasan


§ 27. And now Sultan Mehmed crossed it, but with arms and in war, the third after Alexander, counting the Romans and Pompey. For Hasan, as I have said earlier, being connected by marriage with the Emperor of Trebizond and wishing to be his ally in arms—or, rather, wishing and hoping to conquer Trebizond himself, when he learned of the expedition of the Sultan against the city—gathered a force and went to the passes, intending to prevent the Sultan from crossing.



Of the road by which the Sultan crossed under arms


§ 28. The Sultan learned of this, and allowed him to enjoy himself there with his army, while he himself cut a passage by another route, trackless and rough, and everywhere very difficult and steep, leading straight to Tigranocerta, the capital of Hasan. First he sent out a considerable army of evzones, light-armed men, bowmen and soldiers with small shields, under Mahmud Pasha, and took beforehand the most favorable hills and the narrower and more impassable defiles, and all the difficult places. After that he sent





very large numbers of active men to fell the trees and level the rough, steep places and the forests and thickets and bushes of the region through which he wanted to make the crossing, thus securing a wider and smoother passage.



Of the roughness and difficulties of the mountain


§ 29. For this Taurus mountain, although called one mountain, embraces many mountains difficult to cross and difficult to extricate oneself from, and heights stretching above the clouds and steep. There also are very lofty and sheer peaks and deep and yawning precipices, and crags and difficult passes, and chasms, ascents, and declivities, hard and arduous places in plenty. All these make the crossing very difficult and vexatious, and painful and dangerous.



Showing in how many days the Sultan crossed the Taurus


§ 30. But the greatest feat was that a journey of many days, leading through such great and multiple difficulties and through trackless regions which only light-armed and nimble men could achieve—and even these with much difficulty—he made in eighteen days altogether, to say nothing of such an army of cavalry and infantry with heavy weapons and baggage that no one could enumerate; and also horses and donkeys and camels and mules, all loaded. This was a great undertaking, but the Sultan, counting all these as nothing, undertook the crossing.



Note the arrangements of the Sultan, and how he crossed the Taurus


§ 31. So, after setting in order and fully arming the entire army, he made the crossing, having the infantry in the van and wings, always marching on, the baggage in the middle, and the cavalry at the rear, with rearguards and their leaders. He himself was in the midst of the footsoldiers with a few horsemen. And when he passed through narrow defiles, he formed the wings into long thin lines. At times





he went forward to the very apex of the point, but when he reached the wider parts of the pass, for a short time he widened out the wings into phalanxes and arranged a hollow square at the front, with the bowmen and heavy infantry as a vanguard, marching in order. The bowmen went with bow in hand and arrows poised on the string, the men being in inverse order, those who shot left-handedly at the right, and those who shot right-handedly at the left. And the heavy infantry marched with their spears on their shoulders, continually pointing them here and there, or brandishing them.



Attempt on Mahmud Pasha, insignificant wound by an arrow from a bow, and capture and death of the plotter


§ 32. So he proceeded each day, encamping by night. He would light many fires in front of the camp and slightly distant from it, and he placed strong guards around, with frequent scouts and outposts whom he placed by daylight in the most suitable places, making the camp secure on all sides.


§ 33. In spite of all this, something inexplicable happened, which not a little disturbed both the Sultan and the officers and the whole army, For a hostile and evil-minded and evil-eyed man, who had no cause for complaint but ought much rather to have been grateful, instigated by his own evil intent and baseness, plotted against Mahmud Pasha. He seized a favorable opportunity for his misdeed and, trusting to the intricacies of the pass and hoping to escape detection, secretly and without anyone knowing it or catching sight of him at all, drew his bow and shot at the Pasha. He wounded him in the forehead, but did not succeed in inflicting a mortal wound.


§ 34. This man was mentally upset by the enormity of his act and his hands were affected by this confusion, otherwise the wound would have been deadly. A very great hue and cry arose at this deed. Both the Sultan and his officers and indeed the whole army were very much upset by this unnatural act, just as if the enemy had made a surprise attack. That very wretched and evil man was speedily seized.





Before he had had a chance for a word of explanation, he suffered the deserved penalty for his daring, being mercilessly cut to pieces by the army. He just escaped having all of them eat his flesh and drink his blood.



The Sorrow of the Sultan for the Pasha


§ 35. The Sultan was moved with boundless sorrow and agony and anxiety for him, lest he should lose so valuable a man, especially at such a time and place of need and danger. He immediately called Yakub, his own physician, a wise man and one with the highest attainments in his art, whether in point of theory or of practice as well as a man who had great influence with him. He asked him about the wound. Learning that it was insignificant, and did not present any danger, he breathed more freely and was relieved of grief. And he gave the physician many gifts, and ordered that the wounded man should be cared for most tenderly. So he, with the necessary care, quickly got well from his wound.


§ 36. The Sultan advanced continuously for seventeen days. Having crossed, with great difficulty and hardships, deep ravines, steep precipices, very rugged regions, and impassable and repelling places, as well as many difficult and vexatious obstacles, and having endured great hardships because of their arms, both he and his entire force got over the Taurus.



Astonishment of Hasan at the Sultan's quick crossing; sending his mother to the Sultan, because he was afraid for himself


§ 37. Descending into the plain, he encamped not far from Tigranocerta. Hasan learned of the swift incursion of the Sultan and how he had crossed so easily by a very difficult road which for the most part was trackless and until that time altogether impassable, how he had crossed with such a large and heavily armed force and with much baggage, and was now marching on his very capital. He was astounded at the unheard-of event. As if struck by a bolt from the blue,





he was in terrible perplexity and fear, not knowing what to do. At length, as he absolutely had to do something, he sent off his mother as an envoy to the Sultan. She took very many gifts, apologized for what he seemed to be doing, asked pardon, and at the same time begged to become an ally and friend to the Sultan.


§ 38. The Sultan received her in a friendly way, and rendered her fitting honors and spoke peaceably with her, and made a truce, and agreed to receive Hasan as a friend and ally. Nor would he send her right back, but took her with him, and went on.



Voyage of the fleet to Trebizond; the landing; and the attack by the citizens; their defeat; the siege by land and sea


§ 39. The admirals of the fleet sailed to Trebizond and anchored in the harbors. On landing they joined battle with the inhabitants of Trebizond who had come out in front of the city. Turning them to flight, they made a strong attack and shut them up inside the town. They got control of the whole of the country outside, and of the road leading into the city, and surrounded them with the army on land and the fleet at sea, besieging them and taking strict measures not to allow anyone inside to get out, or anyone outside to enter.


§ 40. Twenty-eight days of siege thus passed. During them there were some sorties by the garrison against the besiegers, in which they proved no less strong than the attackers. However, as they were fewer, and were attacked vigorously by larger numbers, they were soon driven back in, and shut up in the city.



Proposals by the Pasha to those inside the city and to their Emperor, looking to the surrender of the city and of themselves


§ 41. After this, Mahmud Pasha arrived with the land army, one day ahead of the Sultan. He pitched camp not far from the city, and sent as a messenger Thomas, son of





Katabolenus, making proposals to those in the city and to their ruler, looking toward an agreement for the surrender of themselves and the city. He told them it would be better and much more advantageous for them to entrust themselves and their town to the great Sultan with agreements and oaths of good faith. This would be to their good and of advantage to them in general, particularly so to their ruler, his children, and all his entourage.


§ 42. To the ruler he promised that he should have special attention from the Sultan, a large territory, a sufficient income for the sustenance and ease of them all, and everything necessary for his contentment. To the entourage he promised the right to live with their wives and children, quite free from evils, and to enjoy their fatherland and their homes.


§ 43. But he also promised that if, now that the great Sultan called on them to make this agreement, they should not consent, they would no longer be allowed even to remember in future the agreements or treaties, if once they decided in their rage and fury to make war. Instead they would be judged by arms and by iron. Being made prisoners in war, they would suffer death and plunder and enslavement and all the dire consequences of war and capture.


§ 44. The inhabitants and their ruler heard this. They received the message quietly, and said they would agree to the conditions as soon as the Sultan arrived.



Arrival of the Sultan at Trebizond, and parley, and terms, and surrender of the city


§ 45. The next day he himself arrived and encamped before the city. And sending this same Thomas as a herald, he called on them to surrender on the same or similar terms as had been offered by Mahmud. On hearing the herald, they immediately prepared many splendid gifts, and selected their very best men and sent them out with full powers. These went, made obeisance to the Sultan, came to terms, exchanged oaths, and surrendered both the town and themselves to the Sultan. Then they opened the gates and received Mahmud with his army. And Mahmud took over the city.





Entry of the Pasha into Trebizond and his taking over of the city, and the departure of its ruler to make his obeisance before the great Sultan, and his reception and . . . [obliterated]


§ 46. Then the ruler of Trebizond [David Comnenus] with his children and all his suite, went out to do homage to the Sultan. The latter received him mildly and kindly, shook hands, and showed him appropriate honors. He gave both him and his children many kinds of gifts, as well as to all his suite.



Entry of the great Sultan into Trebizond


§ 47. After this the Sultan entered the city. He went about it, noting its situation and the measures taken for its security, the various advantages of the region and the town itself, and also its buildings and the population it contained. He went up to the citadel and to the royal palace, and saw and admired the strength of the citadel and the construction of the palace and its magnificence. He remarked on the high value of the city in every respect.


§ 48. After this he ordered the ruler and all his suite, and also some of the most influential men of the city who had amassed wealth, to go out and embark in the triremes with their wives and children, and all their belongings.



Noting how many children the Sultan took from Trebizond


§ 49. He chose out from the youths of the city and the surrounding region about one thousand five hundred and sent them on board the triremes. Then, having munificently rewarded the commanders of the fleet, namely, the captains of the triremes and the admirals, and even the helmsmen and the overseers of the rowers, and the rest, he ordered them to weigh anchor. So they sailed away.


§ 50. He then selected one of the admirals of the fleet, Kasim, the Governor of Gallipoli, and gave him the governorship of Trebizond. He gave him also from his own body





guard four hundred chosen men as a garrison. After spending not many days there and arranging everything in the city according to his own ideas, he left for home by the same route.



Dismissal of Hasan's mother by the Sultan with gifts and honors; the embassy of Hasan to the Sultan, and their friendship and alliance with each other


§ 51. When he came to Hasan's country, he sent back Hasan's mother with many gifts and honors. He also sent emissaries with her to her son Hasan, renewing his pledges and saying, as he had said before, that he wanted him as an ally and friend. Hasan in turn sent emissaries to the Sultan with gifts, congratulating him on his successes, expressing thanks for the honors done to his mother, and assuring him of his friendship and alliance.



Arrival of the Sultan in Byzantium


§ 52. The Sultan left there and, marching swiftly on, crossed the Taurus safely. Passing through all the intervening country in a total of twenty-eight days, he arrived in Brousa [Bursa]. There he disbanded his army, and he and his companions rested a few days. After that, as the autumn was ending, he went to Byzantium. And the 6969th year in all, ended, the eleventh of the reign of the Sultan [a.d. 1461].



How he cared for the ruler of Trebizond


§ 53. Such was the manner in which operations were carried out around Sinope and Trebizond, notable cities and well known in our own times. And Sultan Mehmed, when he reached Constantinople, first of all attended to making provision for the ruler of Trebizond. He gave him and his companions a region sufficient for their support, somewhere near the Strymon River. From this he received a yearly income of an estimated 300,000 pieces of silver.





Of the philosopher George Amiroukis and how the Sultan received him and honored him


§ 54. Among the companions of the ruler of Trebizond was a man named George Amiroukis, a great philosopher, learned both in the studies of physics and dogmatics and mathematics and geometry and the analogy of numbers, and also in the philosophy of the Peripatetics and Stoics. He was also full of encyclopedic knowledge, and was an orator and a poet as well.


§ 55. The Sultan learned about this man and sent for him. On getting well acquainted with his training and wisdom, through contact and conversation, he admired him more than anyone else. He gave him a suitable position in his court and honored him with frequent audiences and conversations, questioning him on the teachings of the ancients and on philosophical problems and their discussion and solution. For the Sultan himself was one of the most acute philosophers.


§ 56. After this, he gave himself anew to efforts in behalf of the City, taking special pains to increase its population and also for its general beautifying, including everything ornamental and useful. He erected houses of worship, naval arsenals, theaters, marketplaces and other buildings. In addition, he introduced into it all the different trades and crafts, searching in every direction for men who knew these and were skilled in them, then bringing them in ar\d settling them, sparing no expense or cost for this end. He was determined to make the City self-sufficient in every respect,, not dependent on any outside source, whether in point of ambition or need or adornment or splendor.



The revolt of Drakoulis [Drakula], chief of the Getae [Vlachs]


§ 57. In this situation, then, while the Sultan was putting things to rights in the City, in the winter, it was announced that Drakoulis, chief of the Getae [30] was striving to head an insurrection, and that he had gathered a considerable army,



30. Vlad the Impaler, Voyvod of Wallachia.





with horses and weapons, to rebel against the Sultan who had previously granted him that principality.


§ 58. This man and his brother had fled when John the Getan [Hunyadi], ruler of the Paeonians and Dacians, had come in with a considerable force and had killed their father and given the governorship to another man. The father of the present Sultan had then welcomed these two fugitives who fled to him. He very nobly nourished them in the palace while they were yet young boys, and on his death he left them to the Sultan his son. He, too, brought them up with great care and honor, and provided for them royally.


§ 59. Then when a revolution occurred as to the rulership over the Getae, and the man who had been governing the region was badly defeated, the Sultan took this Drakoulis, and at great expense forcibly set him as ruler over all the country of the Getae. He exchanged pledges and oaths with him, specifying that he should guard unsullied and pure his affection and good will toward the Sultan, and also the promises and treaty which they had made.



How Drakoulis crossed the Ister and devastated the country around Nicopolis and Vidin


§ 60. But Drakoulis remained faithful to this treaty only a short time. Then, forgetting it all and being evil-minded toward the one who had trusted him, he revolted against the Sultan. First, he secretly crossed the Ister with a large and powerful army, and invaded all of the adjacent section of the Sultan's domains, namely, around Nicopolis and Vidin. Then, after capturing much booty and killing many people, he crossed the river again and returned to his own country.


§ 61. On this, the Sultan sent messages to him to remind him of his obligations, and to try to find out the causes of the revolt. But Drakoulis, even before finding out the object of their coming, seized them and killed them by impaling them, and uttered many blasphemous threats against the Sultan.





Advance of the Sultan against the Getae, his crossing of the Ister, and overrunning of all their country, and devastation of it


§ 62. The Sultan could not bear this insult, but was justly indignant. He immediately gathered a very large army and, after thorough preparations during the winter, crossed the Ister in the early spring. Once he had crossed, he overran in a few days practically the whole country of the Getae, sacking and plundering it, coming on like a torrent and sweeping all before him. He captured fortresses, pillaged towns, and carried off immense booty.


§ 63. That rash and arrogant man did not wait for the swift advance of the Sultan, but fled immediately. He occupied the most inaccessible mountainous parts of the country, and awaited the outcome of events. And the Sultan wreaked his will on the country. In the end he appointed Rados, the brother of Drakoulis, as commander and ruler of the Getae. This Rados he had with him.


§ 64. Drakoulis now gave up all hope for his own situation. Having no prospect any longer of ruling, he decided to kill his enemies by making a desperate attack, and to die in the. attempt. Having made this senseless resolve, he decided to attack the camp by night. So about midnight he took his men and attacked one corner of the camp, in disorderly fashion and without any plan. He slaughtered a considerable number of animals, camels, and horses and mules, but he did not succeed in reaching the men.


§ 65. When the Sultan learned of the attack, he purposely ordered his soldiers to fall back a little, so as to draw the enemy farther forward and make him more vulnerable. Then he gave the army the signal ordering a general attack from all sides. So they rushed in with a shout and with great dash and eagerness, and slaughtered all on the spot except a considerable number whom they took alive.



Defeat and flight of Drakoulis


§ 66. Drakoulis hid in a certain place, and then fled and





got away as a fugitive to Paeonia. The Paeonians [Hungarians] arrested him and shut him up in prison. And the Sultan, as I have said, appointed Rados as ruler of the Getae and gave over to him all rule and authority over them, taking pledges from him. Then he recrossed the Ister, taking with him an immense quantity of booty, prisoners, and cattle which he distributed to the army. He reached Adrianople in the fall and gave his army a brief rest there.



Reasons why the Sultan made an expedition against Lesbos and Mitylene


§ 67. After this he summoned the chiefs of the fleet and commanded them to fit out a fleet of two hundred ships against Lesbos. For Nikorezos, the son of Dorieus, who with his brother Dominicus had been left the heir to his father's domains when their father died, [31] and who had made a treaty with the Sultan and was paying tribute, first made a foul plot and acted impiously, and then arrested and imprisoned his own brother and treacherously murdered him.


§ 68. Thereafter he failed to pay the tribute promptly to the Sultan, and was unwilling to be faithful to his treaty obligations, but carried on secret negotiations with the Italians. He made pacts with them and, as I have said, broke his treaty with the Sultan. In many other ways, and in particular by tolerating the visits of pirate ships, by hiring other such men himself, and furnishing them with guides to the towns, and harbors and such places, he clandestinely did damage to the entire coasts of the Sultan opposite Lesbos. Not only this, but he also attacked the Chersonese itself and the coasts of Thrace and Macedonia beyond.


§ 69. The Sultan often heard of this, and sent and ordered him not to act thus, in view of his treaty of peace, for he could not hide such evil deeds. The Sultan admonished him that he must remain faithful to his treaty and pay the tribute without fail, or else he would make war against him.


§ 70. The man denied some of the charges, and thought



31. Nicolo and Domenico, sons of Dorino of the Gattilusio family.





he could conceal some facts. And as he had some vain hopes of help from the Italians, he paid little attention to the Sultan. So, after threatening him many times, the Sultan sent a fleet, as I stated above, and devastated a part of Lesbos so as to bring him to his senses. But this did not change him. Though for a while he thought best, because he was afraid, to do certain things and to refrain from others, he still remained unchanged.


§ 71. So the Sultan was angered at him and made his expedition against him. He made his preparations as rapidly as possible, got his fleet well armed, placed many heavy infantry and all sorts of weapons on board, including stonefiring cannon and cross-bows, appointed Mahmud Pasha as admiral-in-chief, and sent them off.



Advance of the Sultan against Lesbos by land and sea


§ 72. He himself with his army crossed the Hellespont, marched through Phrygia Minor, [32] and reached Ilium. He observed its ruins and the traces of the ancient city of Troy, its size and position and all the advantages of the country, and its favorable location as to land and sea. He also inquired about the tombs of the heroes—Achilles and Ajax and the rest.



How the Sultan examined the tombs of the heroes, as he passed through Troy, and how he praised and congratulated them


§ 73. And he praised and congratulated them, their memory and their deeds, and on having a person like the poet Homer to extol them. He is reported to have said, shaking his head a little, "God has reserved for me, through so long a period of years, the right to avenge this city and its inhabitants. For I have subdued their enemies and have plundered their cities and made them the spoils of the Mysians. It was the Greeks and Macedonians and Thessalians and Peloponnesians who ravaged this place in the past, and whose descendants have now through my efforts paid the just penalty,



32. Region south of the Marmara and the Dardanelles.





after a long period of years, for their injustice to us Asiatics at that time and so often in subsequent times."


§ 74. So then, starting on from there, he came to Cape Lecton, and going on farther he encamped on the mainland opposite Lesbos and right opposite to Mitylene.


§ 75. And Mahmud, sailing from Gallipoli with the whole fleet of two hundred ships, on the third day arrived at Mitylene and, having disembarked his troops, pitched camp not far from the city. The Mityleneans then first made a sortie, but accomplished nothing and were driven back again by the heavy infantry into the city, where they shut the gates and waited.



Siege of Mitylene


§ 76. Mahmud first addressed them and their commander, asking if they were willing to surrender themselves and their city to the Sultan and to make terms with him. But as he could not persuade them, he first ravaged the country around and devastated everything. Later he built palisades around the city and surrounded it with his army. He set up his cannon against it and laid siege, and within six or seven days at the most he had wrecked a great part of the wall, demolishing it with his cannon.


§ 77. When the inhabitants saw that the wall was wrecked, they brought up great beams, fastened palings in front and behind them, piled up earth and other things inside, and fought from there.


§ 78. The Sultan watched the proceedings from beyond the camp, and decided that he should wait no longer, but should make every preparation for his entire army to attack the city and capture it by a single assault. He immediately ordered the army and all the ammunition to cross over to the island as quickly as possible. And they crossed.



Crossing of the Sultan to Lesbos


§ 79. The Sultan embarked in a trireme and was ferried across to the island. When he had joined Mahmud, he found





out all the facts. Then he mounted his horse and examined the city, its vulnerable and invulnerable points by land and sea. And he ordered the entire army to be drawn up, and the triremes to be armed so as to attack by sea from the harbor.



Capture of Mitylene and advance through Lesbos


§ 80. But at this juncture those in the city and their commander, when they saw that the Sultan had crossed over and that the army was ready to attack them by land and sea, feared that they would be captured by assault. They saw that the wall was demolished by the cannon and that the army was immense and strong and fully armed, and also that the attack by the Sultan was irresistible and that he would never leave the island until he had completely subdued it. So they sent a messenger to offer their surrender and that of the city to the Sultan, and also to beg for forgiveness because they had not yielded immediately when summoned.


§ 81. The Sultan received these men and gave them pledges. Accordingly the Mitylenians came out of their city with their commander, made obeisance before the Sultan, and surrendered the city to him. He accepted them generously, and gave them handsome presents. Then he entered the town and looked it over carefully, and it appeared to him very fine and very beautiful. The men from the other fortresses and towns also came and surrendered themselves and those fortresses.


§ 82. After spending four whole days on the island, inspecting it and everything in it and admiring its size and beauty and the various advantages of the country and its arrangement, the Sultan then embarked in a trireme and crossed over to his camp, leaving Mahmud to arrange affairs in the city and throughout the island according to his instructions.





§ 83. Mahmud gathered all the inhabitants of the city, men, women, and children, and divided them into three parts.





The first part he allowed to stay in the city and inhabit it, retaining and enjoying their own property and paying the customary yearly tribute. The second he deported to Constantinople and settled there. And the third he made slaves and distributed to the soldiers. As many mercenaries of the Italians as he found in the city, he killed every one.


§ 84. As for the other forts and towns in the island, he allowed them temporarily to remain as they were. But later he captured and destroyed some of them, transferring the men and children and women to Constantinople. So Mahmud in this way arranged affairs in MityJene and in the whole of Lesbos. He installed a considerable garrison in the city and in the other fortresses, and left there a governor, one of the best known of all his men and one exceptionally famed for his courage and strategy and other qualifications, a Samian named Ali. He then went back to the Sultan.


§ 85. The admirals of the fleet took with them the ruler of the Lesbians and all his suite, also the men, children, and women who were destined for repopulating the City. They placed in the ships the immense booty of all sorts, sailed home to Gallipoli and Byzantium, and disbanded the fleet.


§ 86. The Sultan disbanded the army and reached Byzantium with his personal bodyguard at the end of autumn. Thus ended the year 6970, which was the twelfth of the Sultan's reign [a.d. 1462].


§ 87. Thus was Lesbos conquered by the Sultan, and Mitylene too, after it had prospered and enjoyed great glory and power and wealth for 150 years, from the time when Nikorezos, the first of the Gateliouzes family, originally received this island from the Roman Emperor. He was an Italian and a well-born man, very wise and highly educated, rich in moral courage and having other and physical gifts as well. And he knew thoroughly and to the best degree how to administer government. He had brought the island up to such a state, and improved it so in every respect by the gifts and services which little by little he gave to it, that it could vie in nearly every respect with its own ancient prosperity.


§ 88. The island not only subjugated the neighboring and





less remote places, but even the whole of Syria and Egypt feared it and brought annual tribute to it, thus purchasing peace with the holder of the island. For it had and maintained a worthy navy, and had very many triremes, some in use and others in naval arsenals, by means of which it held absolute control not only of the seas around itself but also of those around Egypt and Syria and even Libya.


§ 89. This ruler pillaged and devastated all of those places by piracy, until, when the control of this realm had been passed down from generation to generation and the realm itself had become somewhat less in extent in course of time, the ancestors of the Sultan, and finally the Sultan himself secured the control of the sea round about and subjugated all the places in it, so that this island also, among the rest, became subject to the Sultan and paid tribute. And now it was completely conquered.


§ 90. On his return to Constantinople, the Sultan established the Mitylenians in one quarter of the City. To some he gave houses, to others, land to build houses on, and to still others, whatever else that they needed. Nikorezos, their chief, he then shut up in prison; but shortly afterward he killed him as guilty.



Showing how the Sultan wished to build a great navy, and have control of the sea


§ 91. Then he gave orders that, in addition to the existing ships, a large number of others should speedily be built and many sailors selected from all his domains for this purpose and set aside for this work alone. He did this because he saw that sea-power was a great thing, that the navy of the Italians was large and that they dominated the sea and ruled all the islands in the Aegean, and that to no small extent they injured his own coastlands, both Asiatic and European—especially the navy of the Venetians. Hence he determined to prevent this by every means and to be the powerful master of the entire sea if he could, or at least to prevent them from harming his possessions. For this purpose he got together as quickly as possible a great fleet, and began to gain control of the sea.





§ 92. After this, on thinking it over, he concluded that it would be very wise and indeed of the utmost necessity to ensure his possession of the Strait of the Hellespont and of the Chersonese by very strongly built fortresses on both shores in order to connect the continents of Asia and Europe and to make an enclosed sea out of all the upper sea, that is, the Euxine and the Hellespont, and also to secure this firmly by closing the Strait, so that if enemies attacked, its coasts should not be ravaged—as indeed he had earlier done for the Bosporus.



Showing how the Sultan planned to build two fortresses on the Chersonese, opposite each other, in Asia and Europe, and close the Strait and all the upper sea of the Hellespont and the Pontus


§ 93. Having made this decision, the Sultan immediately sent men to examine the lay of the land and to ascertain the narrowest part and the swiftest current in the Strait. These men went and took measurements. They found that the narrowest and swiftest point of the Strait was the part between Madytus [Maydos] and Eleous [Seddulbahr], toward the opposite point of the continent of Asia, or Dardania [Chanakkale], as it is called, a width of about eight stadia. There there happened to be the ruins also of an old tower, built by some former king who wanted to close the Strait, it is said, by a chain, but was unable to do so because the strength of the current easily turned and twisted and wound up the chain. So they came back and reported this to the Sultan.


§ 94. As quickly as possible he summoned Yakub, Governor of Gallipoli and the Chersonese, Admiral of the entire fleet, and Commander of the whole shore, and charged him with the building of the forts, to be carried out as promptly as possible, together with all the responsibility for other things in this connection, without slackening speed. This man, without the least hesitation, immediately constructed them with a large force of eager workmen. He spent a large sum of money on the work.





Of the Bostrians [Bosnians], and how the Sultan made an expedition against them


§ 95. That winter the Sultan made his preparations so that in early spring he might march his army against the Paeonians south of the Save River, whom they call Dalmatians, but the moderns call them Bostrians. They are a nation large and numerous with a great kingdom and very much land from which they get good crops and fruits, a land protected by very great natural ruggedness, by well-nigh impassable craggy mountains and steep precipices. Further, this land has strong fortresses and well fortified towns hard to capture. It also has wealthy and powerful chiefs. Besides this, they have eternal friendship and alliance with the king of the Paeonians [Hungarians] and treaties and strict promises that if one party is attacked, the other party will help them.


§ 96. Trusting in all this, they were never willing to make a treaty with the Sultan or to pay him an annual tribute as did other frontier peoples like the Illyrians and the Triballi, or to be in any form subject to him. On the contrary, although the Sultan had invited them many times to make a treaty, they had disdained it, and would not agree to such a step, preferring to be free and independent and not bound by any treaty.


§ 97. For this reason the Sultan had often sent in an army to plunder their country, overrunning it and carrying away great quantities of plunder, and men, children, women and flocks. But still they would not stir from their former position. They kept to the beliefs they had once adopted, even to their own disaster.


§ 98. Angered at this, the Sultan made an expedition against them. He made careful preparation, gathered many arms and a variety of cannon plus an immense army of horse and foot. And just at the opening of spring he set out against them with a strong and numerous force.





Movement of the Sultan against the Bostrians. Overrunning of their country


§ 99. So then, starting from Adrianople with his entire army, horse and foot, by continuous and rapid marches he soon traversed his own territory and, when he reached the boundaries of the Bostrians, encamped there a short time. After that he attacked their country vigorously and overran it, falling on it like a thunderbolt, burning, ruining, and destroying everything. He captured fortresses, in some of which he placed garrisons, and took away booty. And he subdued the whole country, for no one was able to resist.


§ 100. Finally, after he had marched through most of the country in a short period of days, and overrun it and captured many fortresses and towns, some, as I said, by assault and armed force and others by surrender, he reached the town where their chief had taken refuge.



Arrival of the Sultan at Yaitsa, and its siege


§ 101. This town was very strongly fortified. It was called in the local tongue Yaitsa. He besieged the chief here, and also began negotiations with the townspeople for the surrender of themselves and the place. But, as he could not persuade them, he built ramparts around the city, surrounded it with his army, placed the cannon in position, and laid siege to it. He demolished a large part of the wall with his cannon in a few days, and laid it low. Then he made preparations to assault it with his whole army.


§ 102. The people in the town saw that most of the wall was destroyed and that the Sultan was about to make a massed assault. Therefore, fearing that if it were taken by attack they would be destroyed, they sent secret messengers to the Sultan, without the knowledge of their chief, and surrendered themselves and the town. But the chief, on hearing of this, left the town secretly and fled.


§ 103. However the sentinels of the besieging force got wind of this, pursued hotly after him, captured him alive, and brought him to the Sultan, who immediately had him





executed. Then the townspeople went out and gave up themselves and the town to the Sultan.


§ 104. He received them kindly and gave them many sorts of presents, allowing them to live in the city, safely and unharmed, with their wives and children and all their possessions, simply on the customary condition of paying an annual tribute. After that he himself entered the city, and looked it over carefully. It impressed him as being very strong. He decided it must be preserved and garrisoned, and that it would serve his purpose well.



Destruction of all the country of the Bostrians, and capture of all the towns in it, nearly 300


§ 105. This was because it lies in a suitable part of the country, on the boundary of the Paeonians, and can accommodate a considerable garrison which could do much harm to the latter. For that reason the Sultan considered its possession of the highest importance. Accordingly, he left a sufficient garrison there, with one of his own household as commandant. Then he, at the head of the army, went against the rest of the country. Before the summer had entirely passed, he had ravaged air the land of the Bostrians and the Dalmatians, and pillaged it, and captured a little less than three hundred castles. He also made prisoner four of their chiefs.



Reasons why the Venetians broke their treaty with the Sultan, and fought with him


§ 106. That same summer, the Venetians broke their treaty with the Sultan, and declared war on him, alleging the following accusations as reasons: Omer, governor-general of the Peloponnesus and of the rest of Greece, moving on very little provocation, or indeed without any provocation, being simply angered by the fact that the Venetians showed him no friendship or kindness even though he was a neighboring governor who could do them harm, considered himself slighted by them and sought to wreak vengeance on them. Therefore, awaiting the favorable moment, he made an unexpected attack





on the people of Naupactus [Lepanto], overran Naupactus and its environs, and carried off as spoils many men, animals, children, and women. He had fallen on them suddenly and was utterly unexpected, nor did they foresee anything, in a time of peace when they had treaties. Hence he did them great harm, and even came very near capturing the town of Naupactus itself.


§ 107. Not only that, but he also maltreated the Venetians' towns of Coroneia and Methone in the Peloponnesus, and others, offering in each case empty pretexts as reason. This was very hard for the Venetians to bear, and was the greatest cause for their going to war. In addition they had been aching for war with the Sultan ever since he had conquered the Peloponnesus, for they had always counted on having it for themselves. Therefore, believing they had lost what was really their own, they waited for the suitable time and pretext for declaring war on the Sultan and for marching against his country.



Expedition of the Venetians against the Peloponnesus


§ 108. Hence they seized upon these pretexts immediately. And, without sending any embassy whatsoever or trying to solve their difficulties by negotiation, they got together a large army and a sea-going fleet for the Peloponnesus. It was composed of seventy triremes and large galleons. These they filled with crews. They embarked in them as many heavy infantry as they could, and soldiers with coats of mail, ready for battle, from their own recruits and classes, but with hired mercenaries as well, in great numbers. They also loaded into the ships arms of all sorts, and stone-shooting cannon and crossbows; also iron in large quantities, and wood, and lime. Added to these were technicians and builders, and material for building. They also loaded and stowed carefully away much else for all sorts of uses. And they appointed as commander-in-chief one of their most experienced men, well known for his bravery and military skill both on land and sea. Thus they despatched the fleet.





§ 109. So, setting sail from their city with a great force and after every sort of preparation, with a notable army and with brilliant hopes, they sailed through the Adriatic and Ionian seas. Then, sailing by Corcyra and Leucas, between the adjacent islands of Ithaca and Cephallenia, they headed for Elis, in the extreme west of the Peloponnesus. Thence they went along the coast of Achaia and, passing through the Crissaean [Gulf of Corinth], arrived at Corinth on the Isthmus.



Relating how the Venetians built a wall at the Isthmus of the Peloponnesus


§ 110. There they disembarked and encamped. They intended to build a wall there and get possession of this town first, and then later to capture the whole of the Peloponnesus. So they unloaded all the cargo and everything they needed, and occupied the Isthmus from coast to coast with all their army. They built the wall using many workmen and great energy and all haste and eagerness.


§ 111. At that time some of the fortresses and towns belonging to the Sultan revolted, both in the inland and on the shores, and joined the Italians who established garrisons in them. Not only this, but all the rest of the Peloponnesus was in doubt and watching to see what would happen, so as to be able also to revolt from the Sultan.


§ 112. Omer collected all of his troops and added to them some of the Illyrians [Albanians] from the Peloponnesus, thus forming a rather numerous army. He himself stayed at Corinth, guarding the city and waiting for an army to be sent from the Sultan. He had already sent a messenger to him, as soon as the fleet started, warning him of the coming attack. At the same time he watched for a good opportunity to attack the Venetians.



How the Sultan sent Mahmud to the Peloponnesus with an army against the Venetians


§ 113. When the Sultan heard of the expedition of the





Venetians against the Peloponnesus and of their building a wall across the Isthmus, he decided not to delay any longer. Therefore he quickly called Mahmud Pasha and gave him a large army of heavy infantry and bowmen and of soldiers from his own bodyguard, the best fighters and the best armed. And he sent him to the Peloponnesus.


§ 114. Therefore Mahmud put in good order all his affairs among the Bostrians, according to his previous plan, and placed garrisons and commanders in Yaitsa and the other fortresses which he had not destroyed. He left in that region a considerable army and a governor—a man he knew well to be brave and of military ability. Then, having taken a large quantity of booty, he went back to Adrianople, as the autumn was at its close. This was the end of the year 6971 in all [a.d. 1463], which was the thirteenth year of the reign of the Sultan.


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