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The Story of Constantinople


The Story of Constantinople

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Interior of S. Sophia.
Showing the Sultan's pew and the stairs to the pulpit.

Title Page


The Story of the old Capital
of the Empire by William
Holden Hutton, Fellow of
S. John Baptist College, Oxford.
Illustrated by Sydney Cooper

London: J. M. Dent & Co.
Aldine House, 29 and 30 Bedford Street
Covent Garden, W.C.  ·  ·  1900

This superb successor

Of the earth's mistress, as thou vainly speakest,

Stands 'midst these ages as, on the wide ocean,

The last spared fragment of a spacious land,

That in some grand and awful ministration

Of mighty nature has engulfed been,

Doth lift aloft its dark and rocky cliffs

O'er the wild waste around, and sadly frowns

In lonely majesty.

I was the daughter of Imperial Rome,

Crowned by her Empress of the mystic east:

Most Holy Wisdom chose me for her home

Sealed me Truth's regent, and High Beauty's priest.

Lo! when fate struck with hideous flame and sword,

Far o'er the new world's life my grace was poured.



A word of introduction is necessary to explain the nature of this sketch of the history of Constantinople. It is the holiday-task, very pleasant to him, of a College don, to whom there is no city in the world so impressive and so fascinating as the ancient home of the Cæsars of the East.

It is not intended to supersede the indispensable Murray. For a city so great, in which there is so much to see, a guide-book full of practical details is absolutely necessary. For this I can refer the reader, with entire confidence, to Murray's Hand-book—and to nothing else. But I think everyone who visits Constantinople feels the need of some sketch of its long and wonderful history. I have myself often felt the need as I wandered about the city, or spent a long evening, during the cold spring, in the hotel. I have endeavoured, as best I could, to supply what I have myself wanted. I do not pretend to have written a history of the city "from the earliest times to the present day" from the mass of original authorities of which I know something. I have used the works of the best modern writers freely, and I should like here, once for all, to express my obligations. I may venture to say that the list of books I here insert will be found useful by anyone who wishes to go further into the history than my little book is able to take him. The ordinary standard books are Professor Bury's edition of Gibbon; Mr Tozer's edition of Finlay's History of Greece; Professor vi Bury's History of the Later Empire; Von Hammer's History of the Turks; and the Vicomte de la Jonquière's sketch of the same subject.

The authorities, in detail, for the history and topography of the city are admirably summed up in Herr Eugen Oberhummer's contribution to the Pauly-Wissowas Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, band iv., which can be purchased separately as a "Sonder-Abdruck." Among the books which I have found especially useful I must mention first Professor van Millingen's Byzantine Constantinople, The Walls, etc.; the Broken Bits of Byzantium, by Mrs Walker and the late Rev. C. G. Curtis, to whose kindness I owe very much, a book which is now very rarely to be met with, and ought certainly to be republished; Bayet, L'Art Byzantin; Kraus, Geschichte der Christlichen Kunst; Lethaby and Swainson, S. Sophia; Grosvenor, Constantinople; Paspates, The Great Palace of Constantinople. Among histories of particular periods there are none more useful than Pears' Conquest of Constantinople, and Mijatovich, Constantine the last Emperor of the Greeks. Among a mass of interesting and important articles I should like to note that on Les Débuts du Monachisme à Constantinople, by M. Pargoire in the Revue des questions historiques, Jan. 1899.

The texts of the original authorities may be read in the Bonn edition, and some of them, happily, in Professor Bury's admirable collection of Byzantine texts, of which I have found the three volumes already published most useful. I have referred in Chapter VII. to the work of Gyllius, to whom we owe much of our knowledge of the mediæval city.

I have referred to a great number of books of travel, as may be seen; it is impossible here to particularise them all. vii

The limits of the series have compelled me to confine myself chiefly to the story of Constantinople as a mediæval town. Thus I have been reluctantly compelled to leave out much that I should have liked to say about Skutari, the Bosphorus and its palaces, and the present social life and religious observances, the Dervishes, the "Sweet Waters," and many familiar names.

For the same reason, I have dwelt very briefly on much that is of great interest. I would gladly, for instance, have said more about Iconoclasm, and something about that great theologian, S. Theodore of the Studium.

Practically, I may add that the advice of Murray's Guide is always to be taken; personally I have always found the Hotel Bristol most comfortable in every way, and I have no occasion to commend any other hotel, because I have never felt tempted to leave it. It has had varied fortunes, but it is at its best, I think, as managed by Herr H. Güllering. I have myself found a dragoman, except for the first day, unnecessary; but I can strongly recommend Eustathios Livathinos as a most pleasant companion. Jacob Moses has also much experience.

I should add that in my spelling of names I have usually adopted, for simplicity, the common use; but I fear I have not even been uniform.

I owe very much to the kind offices of Lord Currie and of Sir Nicholas O'Connor, Her Majesty's Ambassadors in 1896 and 1899, and to several members of the Embassy, with a very special debt of gratitude to Mr Fitzmaurice, C.M.G. I can never forget the kindness of the late Canon C. G. Curtis, whose death in 1896 was so great a loss to the British community in Constantinople, to archæology, and to religion.

In several instances photographs taken by my friend, viii Mr J. W. Milligan, who was in Constantinople in 1896, have been of not a little use to my friend, the Rev. Sydney Cooper, to whose illustrations this book will owe very much more than half its interest.


The Great House, Burford, Oxon,
S. Mark's Day, 1900.




The History of the City in ancient and mediæval times


Constantinople under the Turks


The Churches


The Walls


The Mosques, Türbehs and Fountains


The Palaces






Interior of S. Sophia Frontispiece
Seraglio Point after Sunset 2
Therapia 4
The Hippodrome and Mosque of Ahmed 9
Yeri Batan Serai (Cistern) 28
The Imperial Quarter (Plan) 31
The Burnt Column 35
S. Sophia and the Ministry of Justice from the Sea 37
The Golden Gate 42
The Golden Horn from Eyûb 53
The Aqueduct of Valens 67
Roumeli Hissar 139
In the Cemetery at Scutari 154
The Golden Horn from Pera, after Sunset 173
Fountain in the Court of Mosque of Valideh 186
Interior of Mosque of Ahmed I. 191
Houses in the Phanar 207
Street in Galata 223
Capitals from S. Sophia 232
Courtyard of the Church of the Studium 234
Plan of SS. Sergius and Bacchus 237
Plan of S. Sophia 245
In the Gallery of S. Sophia 253
Ornament on the Brazen Lintel above the Principal Door of S. Sophia 257
Bronze Door of Southern Entrance to the Narthex, S. Sophia 258 xii
Ancient Urn in S. Sophia 260
Church of the Pantokrator 267
Part of the Walls of Theodosius: the Seven Towers in the Background 270
Kadikeui (Chalcedon) from Seraglio Point 272
The Marble Tower at S.W. Corner of the Walls 277
Walls near the Golden Gate: Roman Road in Foreground 281
Mohammed, the Apostle of God. Embroidery from Curtain over the Door of S. Sophia 290
Mosque of Mohammed II. from English Embassy 291
Mosque of Suleiman from the Golden Horn 293
Court of the Mosque of Ahmed I. 299
An Entrance to the Mosque of Ahmed 301
Mural Tiles from the Mosque of Valideh 305
In a Türbeh 306
Entrance to the Türbeh of Selim II. at S. Sophia 307
Embroidery from Curtain over Entrance to S. Sophia 309
Tower of Galata from Bridge 311
Approach to the Old Seraglio 313
A Corner of the Old Seraglio 315
Scutari Point and Leander's Isle 319
S. Sophia from the Hippodrome. Obelisk in the Foreground 321
Bas-Relief from Base of the Obelisk in the Hippodrome, showing the Imperial Box during the Performance of a Ballet 324
The Palace of the Porphyrogenitus 331
Sarcophagus from the Royal Mausoleum at Sidon. The Carving is copied from the Frieze of the Parthenon 336
Sketch Plan of the City facing last page



Constantine I., the Great 306-337
Constantius II. 337-361
Julian 361-363
Jovian 363-364
Valens 364-378
Theodosius I., the Great 378-395
Arcadius 395-408
Theodosius II. 408-450
Marcian 450-457
Leo I. 457-474
Zeno 474-491
Anastasius I. 491-518
Justin I. 518-527
Justinian I., the Great 527-565
Justin II. 565-578
Tiberius II. 578-582
Maurice 582-602
Phocas 602-610
Heraclius 610-641
Heraclius Constantinus and Heracleonas 641-642
Constans II. 642-668
Constantine IV. 668-685
Justinian II. 685-695
Leontius 695-697
Tiberius III. Apsimarus 697-705
Justinian II. (restored) 705-711
Philippicus 711-713
Anastasius II. 713-715
Theodosius III. 715-717
Leo III., the Isaurian 717-740 xiv
Constantine V. Copronymus 740-775
Leo IV. 775-779
Constantine VI. 779-797
Irene 797-802
Nicephorus I. 802-811
Stauricius 811
Michael I. Rhangabe 811-813
Leo V., the Armenian 813-820
Michael II., the Amorian 820-829
Theophilus 829-842
Michael III. 842-867
Basil I., the Macedonian 867-886
Leo VI., the Wise 886-912
Constantine VII. Porphyrogenitus 912-958
  Alexander 912-913
  Romanus I. Lecapenus 919-945
  Constantine VIII. and Stephanus, sons of
Romanus I., reigned five weeks
Romanus II. 958-963
Basil II. Bulgaroktonos 963-1025
  Nicephorus II. Phocas 963-969
  John I. Tzimisces 969-976
  Constantine IX. 976-1025
Constantine IX. 1025-1028
Romanus III. Argyrus 1028-1034
Michael IV., the Paphlagonian 1034-1042
Michael V. 1042
Zoe and Theodora 1042
Constantine X. Monomachus 1042-1054
Theodora (restored) 1054-1056
Michael VI. Stratioticus 1056-1057
Isaac I. Comnenus 1057-1059
Constantine XI. Ducas 1059-1067
Michael VII. Ducas 1067-1078
  Romanus IV. Diogenes 1067-1078 xv
Nicephorus III. Botoniates 1078-1081
Alexius I. Comnenus 1081-1118
John II. Comnenus 1118-1143
Manuel I. Comnenus 1143-1180
Alexius II. Comnenus 1180-1183
Andronicus I. Comnenus 1183-1185
Isaac II. Angelus 1185-1195
Alexius III. Angelus 1195-1203
Isaac II. (restored) } 1203-1204
Alexius IV. Angelus }
Alexius V. Ducas, Murtzuphlus 1204
Latin Emperors
Baldwin I. 1204-1205
Henry 1205-1216
Peter 1217-1219
Robert 1219-1228
John of Brienne 1228-1237
Baldwin II. 1237-1261
Nicæan Emperors
Theodore I. Lascaris 1204-1222
John III. Ducas 1222-1254
Theodore II. Ducas 1254-1259
John IV. Ducas 1259-1260
Empire Restored
Michael VIII. Palæologus 1260-1282
Andronicus II. Palæologus 1282-1328
  Michael IX. 1295-1320
Andronicus III. Palæologus 1328-1341
John VI. Palæologus 1341-1391
  John V. Cantacuzene 1342-1355
  Andronicus IV. Palæologus (usurped
1376-1379 xvi
Manuel II. Palæologus 1391-1425
John VII. Palæologus 1425-1448
Constantine XII. Palæologus 1448-1453
Turkish Sultans
Mohammed II., "The Conqueror" 1451-1481
Bayezid II., "The Mystic" 1481-1512
Selim I., "The Great" 1512-1520
Suleiman I., "The Magnificent" 1520-1566
Selim II., "The Sot" 1566-1574
Murad III. 1574-1595
Mohammed III. 1595-1603
Ahmed I. 1603-1617
Mustafa I. } 1617-(1618)
Osman II. } 1623
Murad IV. 1623-1640
Ibrahim 1640-1649
Mohammed IV. 1649-1687
Suleiman II. 1687-1691
Ahmed II. 1691-1695
Mustafa II. 1695-1703
Ahmed III. 1703-1730
Mahmûd I. 1730-1754
Osman III. 1754-1757
Mustafa III. 1757-1774
Abdul Hamid I. 1774-1789
Selim III. 1789-1807
Mustafa IV. 1807-1808
Mahmûd II., "The Reformer" 1808-1839
Abdul Mejid 1839-1861
Abdul Aziz 1861-1876
Murad V. 1876
Abdul Hamid II. 1876


The History of the City in ancient and mediæval times


1. Byzantium Before Constantine.

It is impossible to approach Constantinople without seeing the beauty and the wonder of its site. Whether you pass rapidly down the Bosphorus, between banks crowned with towers and houses and mosques, that stretch away hither and thither to distant hills, now bleak, now crowned with dark cypress groves; or up from the Sea of Marmora, watching the dome of S. Sophia that glitters above the closely packed houses, till you turn the point which brings you to the Golden Horn, crowded with shipping and bright with the flags of many nations; or even if you come overland by the sandy wastes along the shore, looking across the deep blue of the sea to the islands and the snow-crowned mountains of Asia, till you break through the crumbling wall within sight of the Golden Gate, and find yourself at a step deep in the relics of the middle ages; you cannot fail to wonder at the splendour of the view which meets your eyes. Sea, sunlight, the quaint houses that stand close upon the water's edge, the white palaces, the crowded quays, and the crowning glory of the Eastern domes and the mediæval walls—these are the 2 elements that combine to impress, and the impression is never lost. Often as you may see again the approach to the imperial city, its splendour and dignity and the exquisite beauty of colour and light will exert their old charm, and as you put foot in the New Rome you will feel all the glamour of the days that are gone by.


So of old the Greeks who founded the city dwelt lovingly on the contrast of sea and land here meeting, and hymned the nymphs of wave and spring, the garden by the shore.

"Where ocean bathes earth's footstool these sea-bowers

Bedeck its solid wavelets: wise was he

Who blended shore with deep, with seaweed flowers,

And Naiads' rivulets with Nereids' sea."

Strictly speaking the peninsula on which the city stands is of the form of a trapezium. It juts out into 3 the sea, beating back as it were the fierce waves of the Bosphorus, and forcing them to turn aside from their straight course and widen into the Sea of Marmora, which the ancients called the Propontis, narrowing again as it forces its way between the near banks of the Hellespont, which rise abrupt and arid from the European side, and slope gently away in Asia to the foot of Mount Ida. Northwards there is the little bay of the Golden Horn, an arm as it were of the Bosphorus, into which run the streams which the Turks call the Sweet Waters of Europe. The mouth of the harbour is no more than five hundred yards across. The Greeks of the Empire spanned it by a chain, supported here and there on wooden piles, fragments of which still remain in the Armoury that was once the church of S. Irene. Within is safe anchorage in one of the finest harbours of the world.

South of the Golden Horn, on the narrow tongue of land—narrow it seems as seen from the hills of the northern shore—is the city of Constantine and his successors in empire, seated, like the old Rome, on seven hills, and surrounded on three sides by sea, on the fourth by the still splendid, though shattered, mediæval walls. Northwards are the two towns, now linked together, of Pera and Galata, that look back only to the trading settlements of the Middle Ages.

The single spot united, as Gibbon puts it, the prospects of beauty, of safety, and of wealth: and in a masterly description that great historian has collected the features which made the position, "formed by Nature for the centre and capital of a great monarchy," attractive to the first colonists, and evident to Constantine as the centre where he could best combine and command the power of the Eastern half of his mighty Empire.


"Situated in the forty-first degree of latitude, the 4 imperial city commanded, from her seven hills, the opposite shores of Europe and Asia; the climate was healthy and temperate, the soil fertile, the harbour secure and capacious, and the approach on the side of the continent was of small extent and easy defence. The Bosphorus and Hellespont may be considered as the two gates of Constantinople, and the prince who possessed those important passages could always shut them against a naval enemy and open them to the fleets of commerce. The preservation of the eastern provinces may, in some degree, be ascribed to the policy of Constantine, as the barbarians of the Euxine, who in the preceding age had poured their armaments into the heart of the Mediterranean, soon desisted from the exercise of piracy, and despaired of forcing this insurmountable barrier. When the gates of the Hellespont and Bosphorus were shut, the capital still enjoyed, within their spacious enclosure, every production which would supply the wants, or gratify the luxury, of its numerous inhabitants. The sea-coast of 5 Thrace and Bithynia, which languish under the weight of the Turkish oppression, still exhibits a rich prospect of vineyards, of gardens, and of plentiful harvests; and the Propontis has ever been renowned for an inexhaustible store of the most exquisite fish, that are taken in their stated seasons without skill, and almost without labour. But when the passages of the straits were thrown open for trade, they alternately admitted the natural and artificial riches of the north and south, of the Euxine, and of the Mediterranean. Whatever rude commodities were collected in the forests of Germany and Scythia, as far as the sources of the Tanais and the Borysthenes; whatsoever was manufactured by the skill of Europe or Asia; the corn of Egypt, and the gems and spices of the farthest India; were brought by the varying winds into the port of Constantinople, which for many ages attracted the commerce of the ancient world."

There is no wonder that legend should surround the beginnings of the imperial city of the East. Men from Argos and Megara under the navigator Byzas founded it about 657 B.C. But mythology made the founder the son of Neptune the sea god, and said that Io, changed into a heifer, swam across the narrow strait that divides Europe from Asia, and so gave it the name of Bosphorus, which means literally Oxford. The Delphic oracle told men to settle "opposite the land of the blind," for blind were those men of Megara who some years before had chosen Chalcedon on the Asiatic shore instead of the matchless site on which rose the city of Byzantium.

The early history can be briefly told. Byzantium was the first of the cities of Europe to fall into the hands of Darius. It was burned to the ground by the Persians, rescued and rebuilt by Pausanias, was threatened by the Ten Thousand on their retreat, and 6 saved by the eloquence of Xenophon. Two years it was besieged by Philip of Macedon, and was saved by the Athenians. When Rome first showed her power in those lands Byzantium was her ally; but her chequered fortunes ended their first epoch with destruction at the hands of Septimius Severus in 196 A.D. She waited then for a century till her real founder came. Byzantine coins go back as far as the fifth century B.C., and there were in the early Middle Ages many surviving memorials of pre-Christian times; of these there are now left only the striking Corinthian column standing on a high granite base in the garden of the old Seraglio, which almost certainly commemorates a victory of the Emperor Claudius Gothicus, some parts of the foundations of the Hippodrome, an inscription in the Doric dialect which formerly stood in the Stadium, and that wonderful serpent column, which only came, it is true, to the city after Constantine rebuilt it, but which was centuries before in the temple of Apollo at Delphi.

2. From Constantine to Justinian.

The true history of the city begins with Constantine the Great. It is said that he hesitated at first, like the men of Megara, between Byzantium and Chalcedon, when he came to choose a spot from which to rule the East. But when he chose aright he founded a city which has endured to this day, and which it is inconceivable should ever be deserted again. The site on which he built is about four miles long, broadening from less than a mile where it fronts the Bosphorus to four miles from where the Marble Tower now stands to the Golden Horn. Seven hills and six valleys diversify the ground. The seven hills as we see them now stretch thus from east to west. First is that irregular elevation ending at Seraglio Point, on which stand the 7 buildings of the old Seraglio, S. Irene, S. Sophia, the great mosque of Sultan Ahmed, and the Hippodrome. Second, and north-west of it, is the hill on which stands the column of Constantine himself, now burned and broken. On the third stands the great tower by the War Office (Seraskierat), the mosques of Bayezid and Suleiman. A valley descends northwards to the Golden Horn; and across it runs the Aqueduct of Valens, and on the other side is the hill marked by the mosque of Mohammed the Conqueror. The fifth hill stretches from the fourth almost to the Golden Horn, and on it stands the mosque of Selim. The sixth hill, divided from the fifth by a valley ascending from the Golden Horn, has now the ruins of the palace called by the people "the House of Belisarius," and the seventh extends from the south of the Adrianople Gate to the Sea of Marmora. As the old foundation, so the new planning of Constantine has its legend. It is said that he traced the boundary of his city himself, walking spear in hand and marking the line of the walls; and when his courtiers asked him how far he could go he answered, as though he saw a sacred vision, "Until He tarries Who now goes before." He ascribed in his laws the founding to the command of God.

He did not cover the whole ground of the Seven Hills. It is difficult to trace with certainty the line of the walls, but it would seem probable that they extended from what is now the inner bridge across the Golden Horn to a point on the Sea of Marmora about midway between the gate of Daoud Pasha and the Psamatia Gate. This would exclude part of the fifth, sixth, and seventh hills; but it is improbable that they were left entirely unprotected or completely excluded from the city of Constantine. By the sixth at any rate already stood the Blachernae, later to be the 8 famous palace of the Byzantine emperors. Sycae, across the Golden Horn, was the name of what is now Galata. It was at one time the quarter where the Galatian mercenaries dwelt, and quite early in history it had another division named Pera, or "across the water." The seaward walls remained as they had been in old Byzantium, and they were repaired, and brought forward to the point whence the new land walls started. Of the remains of Constantine's time there are none that are not half destroyed or wholly altered, but the Church of S. Irene still recalls the days of its first founder, and the serpent column from Delphi still stands in the Hippodrome where he placed it.

The divisions of Constantine's city are not easy to recover. For municipal government it had, like Rome, fourteen regions, two of which were outside the walls, those (xiii.) of Sycae and (xiv.) of Blachernae. From the Golden gate, which was not far from the Marmora end of the land walls (the name Isa Kapou Mesjidi still recalls the Holy Name of Jesus which it bore), a road led to the Augusteum. The Forum of Constantine stood outside where the old Byzantine walls had been, and west of the Hippodrome. The Hippodrome extended south-west from the Forum of the Augusteum. North-east at some distance stood the Church of S. Irene. The Augusteum which, as Mr Bury says, we may translate place impériale, had the Church of S. Sophia, begun probably by Constantius, on the north; on the east the Senate house, and some buildings of the Palace; on the south the great Palace itself, built eastwards of the Hippodrome and commanding the magnificent view over the Marmora islands to the shores of Asia and the snows of Olympus.


Of the splendour of the city of Constantine many 11 hints of description remain. Constantinople was enriched, says one writer, by the spoils of all other cities: Rome and Athens, Sicily and Antioch, were robbed of treasures. Of all these treasures the most wonderful, almost if not quite alone, survives. For eight hundred years it had already stood in the Sanctuary of Delphi, the serpent column with its triple head, inscribed with the names of the Greek city states which had triumphed on the field of Platæa. Through all the changes of the sixteen centuries since Constantine lived the column has still remained where he set it. Its heads are now broken off, and one may be seen in the museum; but parts of the inscription on the coils might still be traced fifteen years ago when rubbings were taken. The name of the Tenians, whose trireme brought the news to the Greeks of the Persian approach, may still be seen. "For this service," says Herodotus, "the Tenians were inscribed in Delphi, on the tripod, among those who had overthrown the barbarian." Thus for nearly two thousand four hundred years this memorial has endured. Of all the wonders of the city of Constantine there is none like it.

From Constantine to Justinian the history of the city may be rapidly traversed, for no great builder came between them to rival their work. It was on May 11, 330 A.D., that the city of Constantine was dedicated and received the name of New or Second Rome. Throned in the Hippodrome, ever after to be the centre of Byzantine life, Constantine gave thanks to God for the birth of this fair city, the daughter (so wrote S. Augustine), as it were, of Rome herself. Grandeur, riches, dignity, he could give to his new city: but before he died it was plain that he could not bequeath to her a legacy of peace.

The early history of Constantinople is largely concerned 12 with the defence of the true Christian faith, handed down from the Apostles, against the errors of Arius. The Council of Nicæa (Isnik) in 325, summoned by Constantine at a place not more than a day's journey from Constantinople, defined the being of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity as Ὁμοούσιον , of one essence (substance), with that of the Father, but centuries passed before the false teaching was overcome. It was natural that at Constantinople, the seat of imperial government, the strife should be concentrated. Thither the Arian leaders went to denounce the great S. Athanasius of Alexandria to the Emperor. It was there that Constantine gave his order to the aged bishop Alexander that Arius should be admitted to communion. There the bishop lay in prayer before the altar in the apse of S. Irene, beseeching God to spare him the profanation. There that very day Arius met his awfully sudden death.

Under the sons of Constantine the imperial city witnessed scenes of disturbance and persecution. As soon as Constantius freed himself from the danger of civil war, he threw himself warmly into the support of Arianism, and "devoted the leisure of his winter quarters," says Gibbon, "to the amusement or toils of controversy; the sword of the magistrate, and even of the tyrant, was unsheathed to enforce the reasons of the theologian"; and he refers to the happy passages in which Ammianus Marcellinus records the results of his disastrous activity, in language which loses nothing in Gibbon's English.

"The Christian religion, which in itself is plain and simple, he confounded by the dotage of superstition. Instead of reconciling the parties by the weight of his authority, he cherished and propagated by verbal disputes the differences which his vain curiosity had excited. The highways were covered with troops 13 of bishops, galloping from every side to the assemblies which they call synods; and, while they laboured to reduce the whole body to their own particular opinions, the public establishment of the posts was almost ruined by their hasty and repeated journeys." The "opinions" indeed were far from original to Constantius, but his support of Arianism rendered the position of the Church in the imperial city dangerous and uncertain. Five times was the bishop Paul banished from the city. The Catholics rose in tumult, and the streets of Constantinople saw for the first time what they have often since witnessed, a massacre in which not even the churches preserved those who fled to them for refuge. Another fatal precedent had already been set when Constantine died, by the murder of many princes of his house. One of the few survivors ascended the throne in 361, on the death of the last of Constantine's sons. This new Emperor was Julian, whom later ages have named the Apostate.

Julian had been baptized and had "followed the way of the Christians" till he was twenty. He had even, it seems, taken minor orders as a reader. But he was greatly attracted by the old Greek ideals, and had not patience to study the Christian religion perfectly. As Emperor he set himself seriously to revive Paganism, which had received its death-blow from Constantine.

The pagan Emperor was above all things a pedant and a doctrinaire. It is impossible to study his life or his writings without a sense of his extraordinary self-conceit. He was moral in life, sound and excellent even to weariness in his platitudinarian sentiments; but he was obstinate, and blind, and abnormally self-conscious, as men of his mould always are. He was so convinced that he was right that he was utterly blind to the good deeds of Christians and deaf to their arguments, even from the clearest thinkers. We see 14 in him not a trace of intellectual progress, even on his own lines; we find him throughout intensely superstitious and fond of dabbling in occult arts. As a student, he somewhat hastily accepted certain conclusions, and found himself a marked man in consequence. From that moment he clung to his philosophy with the tenacity of a limited mind; and we may be quite sure the story is legendary that such a man admitted on his deathbed the triumph of a religious system which he had combated all his life.

Julian was brought up probably in Constantinople. As Emperor he did not a little to increase the pride and beauty of the city. Especially interesting to him were the constitutional rules which Constantine had set up in imitation of the old Rome, and he paid notable respect to the office of the Consul, and enlarged the powers of the Senate. Art and science he endeavoured to foster by endowments for teaching in the schools of the city, and in this he was followed by his successors. Julian died a disappointed man in 363, and his successors inclined to the Catholic party; but still Arianism was strong, and its strength was felt not least in Constantinople. Jovian proclaimed toleration, Valentinian followed him, Valens professed Arianism. While religions contended, the material prosperity of the city continued to grow. In 378, when the Goths drew near to besiege the imperial city, they turned back, it is said, at the sight of its increased size. Already people of every kindred and tongue poured into the great mart for commerce and pleasure. At length, says Sozomen, it far surpassed Rome both in population and riches, and Eunapius thus describes its importance in his day:—"Constantinople, formerly called Byzantium, allowed the ancient Athenians a liberty of importing corn in great quantities; but now not all the ships of burden from Egypt, Asia, Syria, Phœnicia, and many 15 other nations can import a quantity sufficient for the support of those people whom Constantine, by unpeopling other cities, has transported thither." Already there began the custom, which has lasted so many centuries, of building houses on wooden piles thrust out into the sea. As the incursion of the barbarians became more dangerous many took refuge in the capital; and yearly the churches grew in importance, and the monasteries attracted more religious.

"There were many structures which Constantine had only commenced; and the completion of the fortifications of the city had been left to Constantius; Julian found it necessary to construct a second harbour on the side of the sea of Marmora;[1] Valens was obliged to improve the waterworks of the city by the erection of the fine aqueduct which spans the valley between the fourth and fifth hills. And how large a number of hands such work required appears from the fact that when the aqueduct was repaired, in the ninth century, 6000 labourers were brought from the provinces to Constantinople for the purpose."[2]

But while the magnificent aqueduct of Valens (364-378) still towers over the city, as one views it from the heights of Pera, no other great building was added till the reign of Theodosius the Great (378-395), which marks the triumph of Catholic Christianity and the great increase in the splendour of the patriarchal and imperial abode. A contemporary, Gregory of Nyssa, quaintly describes the results of the theological interests which now surrounded the throne. Not only did great preachers fill the churches with attentive crowds, but the poor took up the tale. "The city is full of mechanics and 16 slaves who are all of them profound theologians, and preach in the shops and in the streets. If you desire a man to change a piece of money for you he informs you wherein the Son differs from the Father; if you ask the price of a loaf you are told by way of reply that the Son is inferior to the Father; and if you enquire whether the bath is ready, the answer is that the Son was made out of nothing." This was in the time of the Arian triumph. It was the work of great preachers, as well as of the orthodox Emperor, to recover the Church from the blows she had received in the house of her friends.

The three great saints of the Eastern Church in the fourth century were in different ways associated with Constantinople. S. Basil of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, (brother of S. Gregory of Nyssa) was a fellow-student of the Emperor Julian, and died in 379. He knew very little directly of the seat of empire; he probably only twice passed through it; but his writings, full in every page of lucid order and perspicuous exposition, did much to vindicate the position which the orthodox in Constantinople were struggling to retain. Probably it was before his death that the great preacher, S. Gregory of Nazianzus, was pleading in the imperial city, and vindicated by his great oration the worship of the Holy Trinity. The site of his first preaching was commemorated by the building of the Church of Anastasia, a name given to denote the rising again of the Catholic faith of Nicæa. The sixteenth century mosque of Mehmed Pacha, south-west of the Hippodrome, preserves the position of the church, which was destroyed in 1458. At first the mission of S. Gregory was conducted amid scenes of the greatest disturbance and at great danger to his own life. His church was profaned, he himself was stoned. But when Theodosius entered the city in 17 triumph he gave to S. Gregory the great church of the Twelve Apostles, and himself sought to seat him upon the episcopal throne. Humble, and weakened by suffering, it was with reluctance that the saint entered upon the heritage of the church; but he records that when he entered the sanctuary the light that burst forth on the chill November day cheered him to give thanks before all the people for the benefits which the Blessed Trinity had bestowed. After a month of reluctance he was at length installed as bishop. In May 381 the second General Council of the Church was assembled by the order of the Emperor Theodosius at Constantinople. It reasserted the creed of Nicæa, emphasised the Catholic teaching of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, and condemned the heresy of Apollinaris. Its claim to be ecumenical rests on its unanimous acceptance of "all the nations and all the churches of the Christian world."

By this council the precedence of the bishop of Constantinople in the Church was assigned as next after that of the Roman bishop, "because it is the new Rome."

S. Gregory, attacked by critics for his acceptance of the see, which he had so reluctantly received, withdrew to Nazianzus. "The title of a saint had been added to his name, but the tendencies of his heart, and the elegance of his genius, reflect a more pleasing lustre on the memory of Gregory of Nazianzen," says Gibbon in his inimitable way. The consecration of his successor, a senator named Nectarius, who when elected had not yet been baptised, is described by the same classic as "whimsical," but it served to bring peace to the Church of Constantinople. The conquests of Theodosius confirmed the security of the imperial throne, and under the rule of the orthodox Emperor the Church in the East regained her peace. By his order all churches were given up to the orthodox, and his 18 edict condemned all those who taught heretical doctrines, and "who, though possessing a sound faith, form congregations separate from the canonical bishops." Under Theodosius the security of life and property in the imperial city tended to a great increase of wealth and population; and with that to a considerable extension of the area occupied.

"Should the zeal of the Emperor to adorn the city continue," said the orator Themistius, "a wider circuit will be required, and the question will arise whether the city added to Constantinople by Theodosius is not more splendid than the city which Constantine added to Byzantium."

"No longer is the vacant ground in the city more extensive than that occupied by buildings; nor are we cultivating more territory within our walls than we inhabit; the beauty of the city is not as heretofore scattered over it in patches, but covers the whole area like a robe woven to the very fringe. The city gleams with gold and porphyry. It has a [new] Forum, named after the Emperor; it owns baths, porticos, gymnasia; and its former extremity is now its centre. Were Constantine to see the capital he founded, he would behold a glorious and splendid scene, not a bare and empty void; he would find it fair, not with apparent but with real beauty."[3]

The beginning of the fifth century witnessed the great extension of the city which the orator so grandiloquently describes in anticipation. Anthemius, who ruled during the earlier part of the minority of Theodosius II., built the great wall, a mile or in parts a mile and a half to the west of Constantine's wall, which still extends from the Sea of Marmora to the so-called "palace of Belisarius." It was within the city now rapidly growing, that the greatest preacher of the early 19 Church, began at the end of the fourth century to exercise his marvellous influence over the crowds that thronged the great church of the capital. Arcadius, the son and successor of Theodosius I., having heard of the splendid eloquence of John, a preacher of Antioch, whom men came to call Chrysostom (the golden-mouthed), nominated him to the throne of Constantinople on the death of Nectarius in 397.

He set an example, which the clergy sadly needed, of simplicity and asceticism; he was not only a reformer but an organiser of missions, and above all a preacher of righteousness. The Emperor and Empress, Arcadius and Eudocia, were among his most ardent admirers. He owed his nomination to the imperial minister Eutropius; yet he denounced his vices at the height of his power, and when he fell preserved him in sanctuary from the rage of the people. But the Empress and the courtiers soon grew restless under his searching exposure of vice and worldliness. He was a severe disciplinarian: bishops were ready to turn against him, and the ladies of the court were determined to avenge themselves on their censor. When he denounced the Empress almost openly as Jezebel, it was clear that peace could not long be maintained even in appearance. Charges of heresy, complicated by his charitable succour of some Eastern monks whom the bishop of Alexandria had ill-treated and banished, led to his condemnation by a council of his enemies at Chalcedon, across the Bosphorus. When the citizens heard this they surrounded the palace of their beloved bishop and kept watch all night lest he should be seized, but he gave himself up and was banished to Hieron (now Anadoli Kavak) at the mouth of the Black Sea on the Asiatic side. The people assembled round the imperial palace with threats; an earthquake shook the resolution of the Empress, and Chrysostom was brought 20 back in triumph to his throne. His position seemed stronger than ever. Always ready to believe the best, he accepted the Empress's assurance of friendship and repaid it with courtierlike expressions of respect. But it was soon apparent that the friendship could not be continued without a sacrifice of principle. Eudocia envied, it would seem, the divine honours of the pagan emperors; and the dedication of her statue in September 403 was made the occasion of blasphemous and licentious revelry. From the ambo of the great church S. John Chrysostom denounced the wickedness of the festival, while the sound of the disturbance could be heard as he spoke. Men declared that he compared the Empress to Herodias—"Again Herodias dances: again she demands the head of John on a charger."

The Empress demanded the punishment of the bold preacher. Intrigues won over the Emperor, time-serving bishops brought up ingenious distortions of Church rules through which Chrysostom could be punished. It was pretended that he was not legally bishop, and at last the timid Emperor gave the order to arrest him, an act which was accomplished, in a scene of brutal disorder and violence, in the great church itself on Easter Eve 404, when the sacrament of baptism was being ministered to three thousand catechumens.

Two months later he was sent into banishment, and his adherents underwent a bitter persecution. They appealed to the churches of the West for aid: Chrysostom himself wrote to Rome, Milan, and Aquileia. But the Emperor was not to be moved. In his banishment at Cucusus, on the borders of Cilicia and Armenia, the Saint exercised as wide an influence as on his throne. Constant letters to Constantinople cheered the loyal clergy, comforted penitents, aroused faint hearts to devoted service of God. But his sufferings 21 in exile were at length made fatal by the brutality with which he was hurried from place to place, and he gave up his soul on September 14, 407, a martyr to his zeal for righteousness. Thirty years afterwards in 438 his body was translated to the city where his memory was still cherished. It came in triumphal procession down the Bosphorus followed by crowds of boats, and was laid in a tomb by the altar in the Church of the Holy Apostles; the Emperor, Theodosius II., praying for the pardon of God on the sins of his parents.

Thus briefly the tale of Chrysostom may be told. It is characteristic of the struggles through which the Church of Constantinople had to pass during the years of unchecked imperial power, when it was dependent on the arbitrary authority of a sovereign who might be weak and led by evil counsellors, or wicked and resentful of any criticism of his deeds, but who had always at his command a body of brutal soldiery, often pagan and retaining of the old Roman tradition only the implicit obedience to the commands of their ruler. The name of S. John Chrysostom, loved and honoured by the people in his life, has remained the chief glory of the Church of Constantinople. It is said that his tomb was rifled by the Crusaders in 1204, and his head is shown among the relics of the Cathedral of Pisa; but in countless ways his memory is still preserved by the Church which he ruled. At the Cathedral Church of the Patriarchate in the Phanar they point to-day to a pulpit and a throne (of much later date) as his; and the ancient liturgy of the East, used from time immemorial in the Church of Constantinople, has been given his name, as that of the most famous of the holy prelates who used it.

The troubles of the Church, which centred round the persecution and martyrdom of S. Chrysostom, were 22 followed by at least outward peace in religious matters. The chief clergy of Constantinople became the mere officers of the Court. But the dangers of the times, when again and again the barbarian was at the gates, turned men's minds to the repair of the fortifications and the completion of their circuit around the now greatly extended city.

The work of Anthemius, regent during part of the minority of Theodosius II., was eulogised by Chrysostom himself. The office of Prætorian Præfect of the East which he held, was honoured, said the great preacher, by his holding it. He restored the defences of the Empire after the weakness of Arcadius, "and to crown the system of defence he made Constantinople a mighty citadel. The enlargement and refortification of the city was thus part of a comprehensive and far seeing plan to equip the Roman State in the East for the impending desperate struggle with barbarism; and of all the services which Anthemius rendered, the most valuable and enduring was the addition he made to the military importance of the capital. The bounds he assigned to the city fixed, substantially, her permanent dimensions, and behind the bulwarks he raised—improved and often repaired indeed by his successors—Constantinople acted her great part in the history of the world."[4]

The two greatest interests of Constantinople have always been the military and the ecclesiastical. The Eastern churches have always looked, and look to-day, on the New Rome as the centre of true religion and sound learning. The theology of the Councils is the theology of the great Church of Constantinople and its patriarchs; and in the days of its bitterest persecution, in the times when the infidel has ruled, the strongest sentiment of the Greek people, who feel 23 that the city is still truly their own, is that of loyalty to the unalterable faith and the immemorial liturgies of the holy Orthodox Church preserved by the successors of S. Chrysostom. But while the intense intellectual keenness of the East and the chivalrous conservatism of the ancient Greek families preserves undisputed the dominion of religion, and the thronged churches witness to a devotion which is perhaps more conspicuous than in any city which lives on to our day from the centuries of the Middle Ages, the great city of Constantine can never cease to be the home of a military power, where military science is cultivated and the soldier's life is the most prominent before the eyes of the people. Even at the lowest point of the Empire, the great city of the Cæsars was always a military stronghold of the first class. The streets have never ceased to be thronged with soldiers, and the military pageants of to-day look back for their origin and their necessity to the days of Constantine and Theodosius and Anthemius the wall-builder. It is said that to-day the city is more completely defended than any other in Europe. More than sixteen centuries ago it was the strength of the walls of Anthemius and the size of the army and the fleet that he gathered that turned back the army of Attila. Just as the whole city was concerned in the doings of the Church, its buildings, its festivals, its councils, so were all the citizens bound to take part in its military defence. The walls, like the churches, belonged to all. Strict laws, from which no one was exempt, and the power of levying special taxes besides the due proportion of the city land-tax, made every man liable to contribute. Characteristically the Hippodrome had its share in directing the work. The two factions of the Circus, the blues and the greens, were charged with the direction; and it is said that 24 in 447 they furnished no less than sixteen thousand labourers for the work.

The reign of Theodosius II. was the great age of the construction of defences. The walls of Anthemius were built in 413; in 439 the sea walls were extended to include the part of the city now enclosed. In 447, an earthquake, always the greatest enemy of the fortifications and responsible even now for more destruction than any other force, overthrew much of what had been so lately built, with fifty-seven towers. Attila was almost at the gates, and was dictating an ignominious treaty of peace. But, as an inscription which may be read to-day on the gate now called Yeni-Mevlevi Haneh Kapoussi tells—

"In sixty days, by order of the sceptre loving Emperor,

Konstantinos the Eparch added wall to wall."

A Latin inscription makes the same record almost in the words of the contemporary chronicler Marcellinus Comes—

"Theodosii jussis gemino nec mense peracto

Constantinus ovans haec moenia firma locavit

Tam cito quam stabilem Pallas vix conderet arcem."

This addition was a new wall, in front of that of Anthemius, with 192 towers, and a moat without, forming tiers of defence. It was this magnificent series of bulwarks which, in the words of the historian of the walls, "so long as ordinary courage survived and the modes of ancient warfare were not superseded, made Constantinople impregnable, and behind which civilisation defied the assaults of barbarism for a thousand years."[5]

Theodosius II. reigned till 450. The later part of his reign was disturbed by the Nestorian controversy, in 25 which the bishop of Constantinople himself involved the Church. The denial by this prelate of the title Theotokos (Mother of God) to the Blessed Virgin Mary was no obscure attack upon the reality of the Incarnation as the Church had always received it; and the people of the city as well as the clergy received the new teaching with disgust. Eastern and Western bishops united against the heresy, and in 431 the third General Council of the Church at Ephesus condemned it and its author, and again defined the Catholic faith. The party of Nestorius was not suppressed, though he was himself deposed, and in the sixth century it became the great agent of Christian missions in the East.

Hardly was this false teaching rejected before a new heresy arose. Eutyches, a monk of Constantinople, denied the existence of two natures in Christ, and after a dispute which shook the Church for twenty years his teaching was at last condemned by the fourth General Council, which met at Chalcedon, just across the Bosphorus. The Council also emphasised the importance of the position now held by the New Rome by enacting that it should be "magnified in ecclesiastical matters even like the elder imperial Rome, as being next to it." This rule was accepted by the Emperor Marcian, and the power it gave to consecrate the metropolitans of Thrace, Asia, and Pontus was supported by the State as a badge of supremacy. The emperors who followed Marcian were all more or less concerned in the theological strife which the opinions of Eutyches had raised. The Monophysites, as the party which rejected the decisions of Chalcedon came to be called, was constantly rising into power in the Court. The imperial crown was worn in turn by four adventurers, who deposed prelates and attempted to reconcile parties at their will. In 482 the Emperor Zeno, with the 26 advice of the patriarch Acacius, put forth the Henoticon (form of union), which was intended to reconcile the Monophysites to the Catholic Church. The controversy was far from stilled by this inept document; and when in 484, Felix, the pope of Rome, with other Western bishops, wrote to the patriarch Acacius, declaring him deposed from his office, and separated from the communion of the faithful, a schism was caused in Constantinople itself. While the majority of the clergy and people treated the Roman decree with contempt, some of the monks, and especially the Akoimetai (an order which kept up perpetual worship by succession of worshippers, and thus received the name of "sleepless"), refused communion with their own patriarch. The Henoticon had divided the Church. The patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria were Monophysite; Jerusalem and Constantinople were orthodox.

The reign of Anastasius, the son-in-law of Leo, whose wife was the widow of his predecessor Zeno, was regarded by the orthodox as an era of persecution. Himself a man of piety and virtue, he was greeted by the people in the Circus on his accession with the cry, "Reign as you have lived!" He added to the defences of the city a great wall stretching from the Marmora to the Euxine, some thirty-five miles from Constantinople; but he unhappily turned to theology, and widened the gulf which the Henoticon had made between the Emperors and the Church. In November 512, the streets again ran with blood shed by the people for the cause of religious truth. Amid these years stained by crime and folly, the imperial city was again and again in danger from external as well as internal foes. At the beginning of the reign of Anastasius the Isaurians who had been driven from the city rebelled, and for 27 five years there was war, ended only when, in 498, Isaurian captives were led in triumph through the streets. Eleven years before, Theodoric the Goth had stood before the gates, but turned back from the massive strength which he could not overthrow. He was now ruler of Italy. And even in the East, Huns, Romans and Goths again and again threatened the capital. Anastasius dabbled in theology to the end, made overtures to Pope Hormisdas which came to nothing, and died at the age of eighty-eight, regretted by none.

He was succeeded by an illiterate but honest Thracian soldier, Justin. Orthodox and straightforward, he was welcomed by the people as a saviour and a second Constantine. Under his rule peace was made with the orthodox West, and the Church again had rest.

With the death of Justin, 527, we reach the second great epoch of the history of the imperial city. Constantinople before the days of Justinian, when Theodoric, about 461, was sent as a hostage to the Imperial Court, et quia puerulus elegans erat meruit gratiam imperialem habere, was the most glorious city of Europe. Jordanes, the historian of the Goths, tells how he marvelled at the wondrous sight. "Lo! now I behold," said he, "what I have often heard, but have never believed, the glory of so great a city!" Then turning his eyes this way and that, beholding the situation of the city and the concourse of ships, how he marvels at the long perspective of lofty walls. Then he sees the multitude of various nations like the stream flowing forth from one fountain which has been fed by many springs; then he beholds the soldiers in ordered ranks. "A god," said he, "without doubt a god upon earth is the Emperor of this realm, and whoso lifts his hand against him, that man's blood be on his 28 own head." Thus the barbarian may well have spoken when he had his first sight of the majesty of the Empire and its civilization in its Eastern home.


Within a few years there was a great change. Earthquakes, rebellions, fires, compelled the rebuilding of a great part of Constantinople, and Justinian the Great, lawyer, theologian and organiser of victory, left monuments as enduring in architecture as in the other spheres of his activity. With the exception of the churches of S. John of the Studium and S. Irene, and the walls of Theodosius, there are to-day no great works of the Christian period, save a very few of the later Emperors, remaining in Constantinople except those which Justinian built. His architects created the Byzantine style which reached its magnificent completion in S. Sophia. The finest of the cisterns which astonish the traveller to-day are the work of his age; and as we walk by the splendid walls that 29 extend from the Marmora to the Golden Horn, it is along his triumphal way that we tread. The first book of the "Aedifices" of Procopius, written to commemorate his achievements in building, is even now a handbook in little to the glories of Constantinople.

Leaving to our description of the city the still standing work of the great Emperor, we must here shortly sketch the reign which was for nine centuries the most glorious memory of the Eastern Empire. Born in 482 or 483, Justinian was the son of a Dardanian peasant, and was born at Scupi (Üsküp), "at the crossing-point of great natural routes across the western part of the Illyrian peninsula." When his uncle Justin raised himself to the throne in 518 he was sent for and trained to succeed to, if not already to exercise, supreme power. So long as Justin lived Justinian was his chief adviser. When Vitalian, the orthodox Goth, whose troops in the neighbourhood of the city seemed to threaten the new dynasty, was murdered in the palace, it was Justinian, for whose concern in the crime no valid evidence has been produced, who rose to the highest place in military as well as civil affairs. In 523 he married the beautiful Theodora, whose earlier life has been covered with shame by historians whose veracity is open at least to suspicion. She is described by the bitter Procopius as everything that is vile; it is probably true that her youth was disreputable; but it is certain that she made the noblest atonement for the past by the charity and piety of her later life and by the courage and wisdom which were of profit even to the Empire.[6] Of her beauty there is no doubt. Small, pale as marble, but with brilliant eyes, the bitterest of 30 her enemies describes her; and when he uses the language of compliment he declares of the statue erected in her honour by the baths of Arcadius that "the face is beautiful but falls short of the beauty of the Empress, since it is utterly impossible for any mere human workmen to express her loveliness." Four years after the marriage, which was one of unbroken affection till the Empress died in 548, Justinian was associated with his uncle on the imperial throne. On April 1, 527, he became sole Emperor, and he reigned till 565.

Constantinople under Justinian became again the centre of Christian Europe. But before his power was fully established it was threatened by the gravest of the great insurrections with which the populace showed its independence and its fickle levity. The sedition arose in the Circus, and it was long the fashion to believe that Constantinople was ruled entirely under the sway of the factions of the Hippodrome. A more critical investigation has shown that the demes (δῆμοι) or parties were organised bodies intimately connected with the court and the municipality. The demes had two parts, military under democrats, and civil, or political, under demarchs. The heads of each faction were officers of the court and the army, and the demes were fully organised for military purposes. Not only were they, as we have seen, intrusted with the building of the wall, but they provided, under the Emperor Maurice, troops for the guarding of the long walls; and Justinian himself, at the end of his reign, used them in a similar way. It was to the demes, one writer seems to show, that Justin owed his throne. But while their military and political importance is now fully recognised, we are still without an explanation of how they became connected with the parties and colours of the Circus. 31

However that may be, we find in the reign of Justinian two large Circus parties, the Blues and the Greens, with whom were merged as sub-divisions the Reds and the Whites, who organised the races and had so much liberty allowed them by the laws, that they were able to defy emperors and set public order at defiance. But the madness of their riot was not without a method. To the demes or factions were allowed privileges which seemed the last relics of the ancient freedom of the Greek cities. "In the sixth century," says Professor Bury, "the outbreaks of the demes represent a last struggle for municipal independence, on which it is the policy of imperial absolutism to encroach. The power of the demarchs had to give way to the control of the præfects of the city."


On January 13, 532, there began an insurrection called ever after the "Nika" (conquer), from the 32 watchwords of the insurgents, which threatened the imperial throne, and went nigh to destroy the whole city. The præfect of the city led to execution some criminals belonging to both parties, three days before. The Greens, during the celebration of public games in the Hippodrome on Sunday, January 11, appealed to the Emperor against Calapodius, the imperial minister, and the most extraordinary dialogue occurred. "Be silent, Jews, Samaritans and Manichæans," cried Justinian's mandator, uttering imperial commands, but they renewed their complaints, and finally passed into insults, calling the Emperor tyrant and murderer. Justinian determined to show his indifference to the mob by the execution that night of criminals of both factions. Two were rescued, and the two factions determined to procure their pardon, and on the 13th, when the great games took place, they appealed to Justinian, but in vain. The two demes then declared themselves united, and having no answer from the præfect whose house they surrounded, they set fire to the prætorium, and then in the night spread the fire over the imperial quarter. The portico of the Palace, the Baths of Xeuxippus, the Senate-house, and the wooden church of S. Sophia were set on fire. Next morning they marched to the Palace and demanded the dismissal of the unpopular ministers. Justinian was about to yield, and indeed had given the order, when the insurgents determined to depose him. Anastasius had left three nephews, Probus, Hypatius and Pompeius. Failing to find the first the mob burned his house. The two other brothers remained in safety in the palace. Next day the greatest general of the age, Belisarius, who had but recently returned from a victorious campaign against the Persians, sallied forth from the palace with a body of barbarian troops, Goths and Heruls—for the garrison of the city could not be 33 trusted—and fierce fighting occurred for two days in the streets. The clergy did their utmost to restore peace, but were utterly unheeded, and in the evening of the 16th the Church of S. Irene, built by Constantine, was burnt, though not to the ground, and the Hospice of Samson, which stood between it and S. Sophia, were also destroyed. On the 17th, Saturday, the fire spread still further, and almost all the centre of the city was reduced to ashes. At night Justinian determined to give up Hypatius and Pompeius to the mob, hoping no doubt that if they were conspiring against him they would be less dangerous outside than within the palace. In spite of their reluctance he drove them forth to their own houses. Next day, early on the Sunday morning, the Emperor himself went down to the Hippodrome and made what was little better than an abject submission. He swore on the gospels to forgive all that had been done, if order were now restored. "The blame is not yours but all mine. For the punishment of my sins I did not grant your requests when first you spoke to me in this place." Some cried out that he swore falsely, and no heed was taken of his words. A few hours later Hypatius was proclaimed Emperor, and as the mob surrounded the palace it seemed that there was nothing for the Emperor but flight. It was then, when Justinian was ready to yield and cross the Bosphorus to the safety of Chalcedon, that Theodora showed herself worthy of the purple. "No time is this," she cried, "to ask whether a woman should be bold before men or valiant when men are afraid. They who are in extremest peril must think of nothing but how best to meet what lies before them. To fly, if ever it be expedient, would now not be so, I declare, even if it preserved us. For a man born into this light not to die is impossible; but for one who has been Emperor to become an exile is 34 not to be endured. Let me never come to be without this purple robe nor live that day when men shall cease to call me their sovereign Lady. If you, Emperor, wish to escape, it is no hard matter. Here is the sea, and there lie the ships. But consider whether you may not one day wish that you had exchanged your mean safety for a glorious death. For me I love the ancient saying, 'How brave a sepulchre a kingdom is!'"

Thus Theodora proved herself fit mate for a Cæsar, and worthy of her crown; and those who had counselled flight now found courage to resist. While Justinian's men planned an attack, the followers of Hypatius agreed upon delay, and he himself sent, it would seem, to make peace with the Emperor. As his messenger went, he was told that the Cæsar had fled, and then the unhappy pretender took upon him the dignity of Emperor. In a few hours Belisarius led his troops upon the multitude assembled in the Hippodrome, and before nightfall they forced their way in with fire and sword, and of all the citizens gathered in the Circus not one left it alive. Justinian was not told till too late that Hypatius had been willing to submit. The two brothers were dragged out with contumely, and the next morning before daylight they fell under the swords of the barbarian soldiers. The Emperor, it is said, would have spared them, but Theodora, "swearing by God and by him, urged him to have them killed." Zachariah of Mitylene says that more than 80,000 persons perished in the riot.

At midday on Monday, January 19, Constantinople was at peace; but it was in ruins. Three distinct conflagrations had reduced the grandest monuments of the city of Constantine to ashes. On the first two days of the riot all the buildings of the Augusteum were destroyed, and with them S. Sophia, the "Great 35 Church," only its baptistery, it would seem, being saved. Two days later the buildings north-west of S. Sophia were in flames, and among them the Hospice for poor and sick folk, "founded in ancient times by a holy man whose name was Samson," and Constantine's Church of S. Irene. On the 17th the buildings round the Mesê, the street which connected the forum of Constantine with the Augusteum, and the "great porticoes leading up to the agora named from Constantine, and many houses of rich men, and large property, were burned." Thus, a great part of what had been the first Byzantium, which was adorned with the finest buildings of Constantine, was utterly destroyed. To one who saw the blackened ruins, they seemed like the masses of molten lava round the crater of a volcano. To Justinian, already a great law-giver, came the task of building anew the imperial city.


The Emperor began at once with the rebuilding of the Great Church of the Divine Wisdom. On the 23rd of February the work was begun: on December 26, 537, the new church was dedicated. "The procession," says Theophanes, who wrote from older materials in the eighth century, "started from the 36 church of the Anastasia," where S. Gregory of Nazianzus had long preached to the men of Byzantium, "Menas, the patriarch, sitting in the royal chariot, and the King walking with the people." In 558 the eastern part of the dome with the apse was destroyed by an earthquake and was rebuilt. Agathias, a contemporary historian, thus describes the building and the restoration:

"Now the former church having been burnt by the angry mob, Justinian built it up again from the foundations, as great, and more beautiful and wonderful, and this most beautiful design was adorned with much precious metal. He built it in a round form, with burnt brick and lime. It was bound together here and there with iron; but they avoided the use of wood, so that it should no more be easily burnt. Now Anthemius was the man who devised and worked at every part. And when by the earthquake the middle part of the roof and the higher parts had been destroyed, the Emperor made it stronger, and raised it to a great height. Anthemius was then dead, but the young man Isidorus and the other craftsmen, turning over in their minds the earlier design, and comparing what had fallen with what remained, estimated where the error lay, and of what kind it was. They determined to leave the eastern and western arches as they were. But of the northern and southern they brought towards the inside that portion of the building which was upon the curve. And they made these arches wider, so as to be more in harmony with the others, thus making the equilateral symmetry more perfect. In this way they were able to cover the measurelessness of the empty space, and to take off some of its extent to form an oblong design. And again, they wrought that which rose up above it in the middle, whether cycle or hemisphere or whatever other name it may be 37 called. And this also became more straightforward and of a better curve, in every part agreeing with the line; and at the same time not so wide but higher, so that it did not affright the spectators as before, but was set much more strong and safe."


A more minute account of the work must be reserved till we pass from history to description. Here we have only to summarise and characterise the work of the great architects whom Justinian employed to rebuild his city. The opportunity was a great one. Constantinople was now the centre of the civilised world. Thither came in the sixth century a crowd as motley as those 38 gathered together on the day of Pentecost, or as may be seen now on the bridge of Galata. Men of Mesopotamia and Syria, Persians, Greeks from the islands and the Peloponnese, men of Sicily and Africa, Alexandrines and Palestinian Jews, met with the Roman and with the barbarian subjects of the now again undivided empire.

Of this vast gathering of the nations Byzantine art was the result and the reflexion. But adaptive as it was of every influence that came before the eyes of its great masters, it was, above all, like the city where it reached its highest glory, pre-eminently religious and Christian. The new style has been called "historical-dogmatic," and indeed it combined in a marvellous manner the traditions of different races under the uniting power of the Catholic faith.

The genius which gave to the Byzantine architecture its completed glory was that of Anthemius of Tralles, of whose skill contemporary writers write in enthusiastic applause. His works, says Agathias, "even if nothing were said about them, would suffice of themselves to win for him an everlasting glory in the memory of man as long as they stand and endure."

The characteristics of the art of Anthemius at its highest development may be seen to-day in Constantinople. There are few churches earlier than his time still standing. Among these may be the semi-basilican S. Thekla and S. Theodore of Tyrone, and certainly are S. John of the Studium and S. Irene. The last was rebuilt by Justinian immediately after the Nika insurrection in 532, but it belongs to the earlier style. Similar to it was the church of S. Peter and S. Paul, now destroyed, but of which some beautiful marble capitals lie in the sea close to the palace of Hormisdas. Later came the still standing church of S. Sergius and S. Bacchus, called by the people "little S. Sophia," built 39 about 527 by Justinian himself. This prepares the way for almost every feature which appears developed and completed in the great S. Sophia itself. The two most striking characteristics of the new style are the impost capital and the merging of subsidiary spaces in one central building.

The impost capital is probably first seen in the great cistern, also of Justinian's day. I may here repeat what I have said elsewhere.[7]

"Strygowski[8] regards this impost-capital as the work of the builder of the great cistern, who he thinks may have been Anthemius, here proving his fitness for the great work of S. Sophia. It was, he shows, an architectural revolution. The capital, with undercut volutes, was suitable for a straight architrave, but not for the arch. Hence a piece was inserted to transfer the weight from the angles to the centre. The Theodosian age used an inserted impost. The constructive activity of the age of Justinian produced the impost-capital.

As to design, the capitals lying neglected about the city, together with those in situ in the churches and cisterns, furnish a perfect museum of the types with which others, dispersed over the whole area of the empire, agree in the minutest particulars of design and workmanship. The acanthus leaves, so familiar through all the work of the centuries—from the Golden Gate (388) onward, and the portico to S. John of the Studium a century later—assume the beautiful "windblown" design in the ruins near the "Rose Mosque."[9]

The second feature is the arrangement which unites the longitudinal with the central building and makes 40 the whole effect of the interior of one piece by relating every piece of work, pillar, arch, semi-dome, to the one vast central dome which crowns the whole. From without, but more clearly from within, the architecture of S. Sophia is seen to form one entire and perfect whole. It is impossible to conceive it deprived of a single feature without the sacrifice of the whole. To mutilate would be to destroy.

Seen then in its grandeur at S. Sophia the work of Justinian changed the appearance of the whole city. Procopius in his Aedifices records what was when he wrote in 558, a complete list of what had been built in the reign. Everywhere there were arising, as though by an enchanter's wand, palaces, churches, baths, aqueducts, great cisterns supported on exquisitely carved columns, new markets, houses for the great nobles, barracks, hospitals, convents. The splendour and beauty of the new city, its richness of decoration, marbles, statuary, mosaics, struck all beholders with amaze. The chroniclers, who in other times would have been satisfied to tell of military successes and court intrigues, now tell of measurements and designs, and collect lists of gems and splendours of decoration. The reign of Justinian, in spite of many foreign dangers, and oppression at home, is the most magnificent period of early Byzantine history; and the magnificence seemed to be expressed in the buildings of Constantinople.

When Procopius in his Ædifices has told of the glories of S. Sophia, he goes on to speak of the Augusteum and its statues. Chiefest among them, one of Justinian himself as Achilles. Then S. Irene, then the churches of the Blessed Virgin at the Blachernae and at Balukli beyond the triumphal way. Church after church follows in his tale, and chief among them those which the mariner sees as he sails up the Golden 41 Horn. "As to the other buildings, it would be hard to name them all." The Hospice of Samson rose again from its ruins, probably close by where the gate of the old Seraglio now stands. The baths of Xeuxippus, which lasted down to the time of Mohammed the Conqueror, with the other buildings near the Augusteum and the forum of Constantine, were restored. "In addition to this he rebuilt and added great magnificence to the house named after Hormisdas, which stands close to the palace, to which he joined it,"—that pathetic ruin whose broken wall hangs over the Marmora to-day. When the eulogist comes to the palace itself, words fail him to repeat its glories, the pictures, mosaics, marbles, that combine to make the walls glitter as with life. After works of beauty come those of use, and the cisterns receive as much praise as works more brilliant yet hardly more beautiful.

It is buildings such as these that enable us to see what Justinian was to the capital of his Empire. Every year it seemed that new victories and new conversions were increasing the power of the Empire and the Church. While Belisarius reconquered Italy and made the name of the Cæsar again honoured at Rome and Ravenna, ended the cruel rule of the Vandals in Africa and Sicily, crushed the Goths of Spain, and kept the strong Persian prince at bay on the eastern frontier of the empire, Christian missions spread the faith of the orthodox Church to the Caucasus and the Sudan. Again and again did processions of returning warriors pass along the triumphal way, but the Emperor alone entered by the Golden Gate. It was in the Hippodrome that Belisarius celebrated his triumph over the Vandals. It was nigh six hundred years, Procopius thought, since any had had the same. But Belisarius walked with a proud humility 42 from his own house to the Hippodrome, and thence from his own tent to the imperial throne. The rich spoils that were spread out were the treasures of all the years of Vandal conquest, and among them some of the vessels that Titus had brought from the temple at Jerusalem and Generic the Vandal conqueror had taken from Rome. These Justinian gave to churches in the Holy City. As the captives were led up to the imperial throne all eyes were fixed on the Vandal chief, Gelimer, wearing the purple, as in mockery, with his kindred about him, "himself the tallest and most beautiful of the Vandals." As he walked up to the throne he looked up, and uttering no lament for his fallen state, said with the poet's simple feeling, "Vanity of vanities." They stripped him of his robe and made him fall on his face before the Emperor. Beside him knelt his conqueror, and supplicated for his pardon, and the day was crowned by generosity such as the Emperor loved to show and the people to applaud.


Such scenes became familiar to the people as the 43 years of victory rolled on. They saw, too, Belisarius, drawn through the streets in his chariot by the captives of his wars, when he received the dignity of Patrician. The empire of Justinian, based upon the old laws which he collected and enlarged, cherishing the traditions of old Rome, was eager to revive every glory of former days. "And then," says Procopius, who himself the bitterest of satirists of the present, looked not unkindly on the past, "men saw things long forgotten thus renewed by time." But the picture, brilliant though it was, was not unclouded. The city of the Cæsars was again and again threatened by barbarians and struck by the visitation of God. In 542 Constantinople was devastated by a terrible pestilence, the bubonic plague, that has lost none of its terrors in fifteen hundred years. For four months it raged, and at its height Procopius declares that as many as ten thousand perished in a day. It spared no constitution and no age, and God alone could be the cause of it. Justinian, who was one of the few who recovered, was assiduous in charitable aid; but the loss to the city could hardly be conceived—no trades, no shops, says the recorder of many horrors, remained, and "many for fear leaving their bad courses, consecrated themselves to God, and many when the danger was passed fell to their old despising of God again."

After plagues came famines and earthquakes, and in the last year of the reign, the dread army of the Huns, under Zabergan, drew nigh even to the walls of Constantinople, murdering and ravaging as they came. Hastily the treasures of the church northwards of the city were brought for safety within the walls, and Belisarius in old age again came forward to save the empire. It was his last victory, and seven years later he passed away, honoured and beloved. The Emperor himself died but a few weeks later in November 44 565. The glories of the reign had passed away before the aged ruler laid down his power; but he left a reconquered Empire and a capital that was the wonder of the world.

He left too a memory as a theologian, which the church for some centuries continued specially to honour in her most solemn service. Justinian, the legislator, the builder and the organizer of victory, seemed to the vision of Dante to dwell like the sun in perpetual light.

Sì come'l sol, che si cela egli stessi

Per troppa luce, quando il caldo ha rose

Le temperanze de' vapori spessi;

Per più letizia sì mi si nascose

Dento al suo raggio la figura santa.

To this aspect of his life we can give here but little attention; but it is not to be doubted that it was as a theologian that the men of his Constantinople heard most of their ruler's doings. Far into the dark hours, says the chronicler of his reign, he sat writing the theological treatises which expressed the teaching of the Church; night after night he would study in his library the writings of the Fathers, and the Sacred Scriptures, with some learned prelates or monks at hand, that he might discuss with them the questions as they rose before his mind. From the time of his predecessor he had been engaged in corresponding with Popes on theological points, and when he became sole ruler he determined once for all to settle the side issues which depended on the great Monophysite contest. Edict after edict, letter after letter, treatises closely argued and tightly packed with patristic and scriptural learning, and even hymns, showed the restless activity of the imperial theologian. When in 535 Anthemius of Trebizond was made Patriarch of Constantinople, and when Pope Agapetus came on a mission from the 45 Gothic King Theodahad, the discussion of articles of the faith brought the deposition of the patriarch as a monophysite, and the succession of Mennas, head of the hospice of Samson. Then came the conflict with the Origenists, which led indirectly to the controversy of "the Three Chapters" and the session of the Fifth General Council. Of this it were here a weariness to tell. Let it suffice to say that on May 5, 553, the Council met in the southern gallery of the great Church of the Divine Wisdom. The Pope himself was at Constantinople but he would not attend the sessions. He was lodged at first in the royal palace of Placidia at the eastern end of the promontory, beyond S. Irene, looking over the sea to Asia and the churches of Chalcedon. Then he fled by night to cross the Bosphorus and took refuge in the Church of S. Euphemia at Chalcedon where a hundred years before the council had sat. Embassies crossed and recrossed the sea; even the great general Belisarius was an envoy, but Vigilius, when the Council met, refused to join it, to speak, or to vote: and the Council made short work of the foolish, bombastic, hesitating pontiff. It condemned those who refused to receive its decisions and struck Vigilius out of the diptychs on which were inscribed the names of those prayed for at the Eucharist.

But if there was no Roman patriarch present, there was the new patriarch of Constantinople, Eutychius, and the patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch, while he of Jerusalem sent proxies. To the decisions of the council a hundred and sixty-four signatures were affixed. Theologians still contest as to whether it was a free and open council; but it was accepted beyond question, though after some years, by the whole Church. It did its work: it safeguarded the Catholic faith by stripping bare the meaning of statements which indirectly attacked the Divine and Human Natures of the 46 Incarnate Son. It condemned these subtle suggestions, and it preserved to the Church the real Christ of Whom she had learned.

These theological questions stand out, it may seem to some to-day, too boldly in the history of the New Rome: but they know little of the capital of the East who do not know how close to its life lie these matters of dogma and definition. The very tradesmen at their work talked of them, as they talked in the time of Gregory; and there was nothing which the crowds who thronged the markets and the basilicas in the days of Justinian more readily or more constantly discussed. Constantinople in these first centuries of her life had the theological interest closest to her heart; as the years went on the needs of defence brought the military interest to the top.

The city in Justinian's days was rich and full of bread. All the glory of the world seemed there to be gathered together, and with it the vice, which stern laws and the charitable institutions, founded by the imperial sovereigns, endeavoured as best they could to conquer or to heal. The thronged markets sold every kind of goods, for commerce or luxury. The monks who brought the silkworm from China to the Emperor's court enabled him to found an industry which added greatly to resources of his empire and the prosperity of his people. The mosaics, which glittered on the walls of the churches, were made by skilled artists in the city itself—carved work, images (the icons which the Greek Church has never ceased to love), jewellery, beautifully wrought, were among the manufactures of the great trading centre of the East; and the military engines for which the Eastern army was renowned were made within the walls of the capital itself. The pages of Procopius and Agathias, of Lydus and John of Ephesus, show a busy hurrying life, elaborate administrative 47 arrangements, official classes greedy and exclusive, popular agitations hasty and fickle, an accumulating luxury with all its accompaniments of oppression, avarice, and vulgar show. The millionaires of the sixth century, with their gout, their costly equipages, and their summer palaces on the Bosphorus or at Chalcedon, were a prominent feature in the life of the great city. Beside them were the dusky traders from the far East, the hordes of bearded monks ever ready to join in the logical squabbles or take part in popular riots, and the silent barbarian soldiers, opening wondering eyes on the disputes and the splendours of the imperial city, and prompt at the word of command to dethrone emperors or massacre their foes. In such a city it would have been strange if there were order or peace; and indeed the constant complaint of the chroniclers is of nobles, clerics and artizans, whom it was impossible to restrain. Yet amid this scene of confusion at any moment the imperial power might show itself with arbitrary and brutal abruptness. When a servant maid by mischance spat on the robe of the dead Empress Eudocia as it was carried to the tomb she was executed immediately and without protest.

3. From Justin II. to the Latin Conquest.

In 565 Justinian died, and the glory of his reign set in a dull glow that heralded storms. Justin II., his nephew, was a tyrant and a madman, but it was power which brought out his tyranny and his madness. When he came to the throne he spoke mildly and well. He made profession of orthodoxy in S. Sophia; he was raised on the imperial shield in the palace; he promised in the Hippodrome to pay the debts of the dead Emperor. They were strange scenes, such as the people of Byzantium often saw, and strangest of all to our minds is that which shows the citizens in 48 the place of public games clamouring before the imperial throne for the payment of debts of Justinian.

Constantinople is still the same. Even when it looks cowed, it has still its impudence and its determination to criticise. Justin's doings were watched and mocked at, as if he had been the humblest tradesman, by the city jesters. He built a golden chamber in the palace by the sea: he set up a pillar to record his virtues, and then some one affixed a tablet on it:

Build, build aloft thy pillar,

And raise it vast and high;

Then mount and stand upon it,

Soar proudly in the sky;

East, south and north, and westward,

Wherever thou shalt gaze,

Nought shalt thou see but ruins,

The work of thine own days.

Meanwhile the barbarians were coming nearer to the Empire. The Avars demanded tribute, and the Turks, a name that was so soon to be a familiar terror, sent envoys to the Cæsar's court. The enemies, it might seem, were already closing in when Justin became a lunatic, bursting into mad fits of rage, and drawn about the palace in a toy cart, while the "whole senate and city" knew of the sad fate of their Emperor. Sophia, his wife, had all the masterful genius of her aunt Theodora. It was she who gave the rule to Tiberius II., under whom the empire steadily decayed. Maurice, his successor, was a severe ruler, whom the people learned to hate. When at last his reign ended in a revolution and a flight, it was the people of Constantinople, the demes and the factions of the Circus, who gave him to death, and placed the imperial crown on the head of Phocas, his successor.

While Constantinople thus dethroned and set up the civil rulers of the Empire, it was claiming for its 49 patriarch the highest position in the Church. When at the beginning of the sixth century the patriarch John had signed the formula drawn up by Pope Hormisdas, he repudiated any claim to superiority on the part of the old Rome: the two cities and the two Sees he declared were one. As early as 518 the patriarch of Constantinople called himself "universal bishop": in 595 the great Pope Gregory, who had himself, as a papal envoy, seen the greatness of the Eastern See, vigorously protested, to the Emperor Maurice, against the assumption to the title. But while the patriarchs used the title in no exclusive sense, they were determined, as they are determined to-day, to assert the independence of their See and its equality with that of Rome.

Ecclesiastical independence did not preserve the Empire from political weakness. Phocas was soon seen to be worse than Maurice, and one conspiracy after another was begun in the Hippodrome and ended by a massacre in the streets. The Green faction in the Circus called the Emperor a drunkard and a madman to his face. Famine and pestilence ravaged the crowded city, and when Heraclius, already a renowned general, brought his fleet up the Hellespont and anchored at the Golden Horn the collapse of the power of Phocas was immediate, and a new Emperor was crowned in the great church of the "Capital of the World." The reign of Heraclius, gallant man though he was, began in almost unbroken disaster, and when in 615 Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Persians it seemed that the end was at hand. In the next year, as had already happened under Phocas, a Persian army encamped at Chalcedon. When negotiations were in vain, when Heraclius had even formed the idea of transferring the seat of Empire from Constantinople to Carthage, and had only abandoned it after 50 his preparations were far advanced, when the terror and indignation of the people forced him to take oath before the patriarch in S. Sophia that he would never leave "the Queen of Cities," at length the courage of the empire awoke, the nobles sacrificed their wealth and the churches their treasures, the fleet utterly destroyed that of the Persians, and Heraclius delivered the city and the empire by a march as brilliant as it was daring. Leading five thousand veterans across Asia Minor and through the mountains he "penetrated into the heart of Persia and recalled the armies of the great king to the defence of their bleeding country." After three campaigns he returned in triumph and entered, as no Emperor since Theodosius the Great had done, by the Golden Gate.

In his absence thirty thousand Avars, who had swept over the Balkan provinces like a devouring flame, broke through the great wall and encamped under the very walls of the city itself. Churches in the suburbs were burnt to the ground and the famous Church of the Theotokos in Blachernae was on the point of being destroyed, when some panic caused the Avar horsemen to retire. The danger was too obvious for the warning to be neglected, and the Senate, which had refused with contumely the offers of the barbarian leaders, allies of the Persian King, drove back the enemy and immediately increased the fortifications by a new wall. This splendid barrier, magnificent to-day in its ruins, stretched from the enclosure outside the palace of Blachernae, at the foot of the sixth hill, to the Golden Horn. It is flanked by three hexagonal towers.

A year later, in 627, the Emperor, who dreaded even the sight of the sea, crossed the Bosphorus by a bridge of boats, decked with branches of trees to imitate a forest. Landing north of the city he marched 51 inland and crossed the valley at the head of the Golden Horn—below the "Sweet Waters of Europe"—by a bridge made by Justinian nearly opposite the end of the walls. So along the triumphal way he went, past the new walls that have ever since borne his name, and entered by the Golden Gate, the Emperor who had vanquished the Persians, saved his empire, and brought back the greatest of all relics, the sacred wood of the true Cross, which S. Helena, the mother of Constantine, had found on Calvary.

But Heraclius was not to triumph unchecked. The fatal temptation of theological strife conquered even the conqueror of the Persians, and the beginning of the Monothelite controversy dates from the Ekthesis of Sergius the patriarch, a document which, if it were intended to make peace, certainly provoked, war that was not ended, though its area was defined, by the decision of the Fourth General Council, which met at Constantinople in 680, and condemned those who denied that Christ had two wills, human and divine.

The dreary years of the latter half of the seventh century may be rapidly summarised. Constantinople saw the settlement of barbarians, Slaves and Balgars, almost at its gates. Emperor succeeded emperor without anyone appearing who was worthy to be the heir of Heraclius. At length in 672 the Saracens, who had long devastated Asia, brought a fleet up the Hellespont and besieged the city. Their total defeat by Constantine IV., whom his people nicknamed Pogonatus (the bearded), was the greatest triumph of the Christian powers against the infidel; it was won, it is said, by the newly-discovered "Greek fire," so long to be the terror of the foes of the Empire. Constantinople proved herself the bulwark of Europe against the infidel. The nations of the West sent their envoys to applaud. Six hundred years later another Constantine 52 was to fall, when his city was at length captured by the followers of Mohammed.

Justinian II., the son of Constantine Pogonatus, was a great builder like his namesake, whom probably he sought to imitate; but in character he was far from resembling the builder of S. Sophia. In the inimitable phrases of Gibbon, "The name of a triumphant law-giver was dishonoured by the vices of a boy.... His passions were strong; his understanding was feeble; and he was intoxicated with a foolish pride that his birth had given him the command of millions, of whom the smallest community would not have chosen him for their local magistrate. His favourite ministers were two beings the least susceptible of human sympathy, an eunuch and a monk; to the one he abandoned a palace, to the other the finances; the former corrected the Emperor's mother with a scourge, the latter suspended the insolvent tributaries, with their heads downwards, over a slow and smoky fire. Since the days of Commodus and Caracalla, the cruelty of the Roman princes had most commonly been the effect of their fear; but Justinian, who possessed some vigour of character, enjoyed the sufferings and braved the revenge of his subjects about ten years, till the measure was full of his crimes and of their patience."

The attempt to banish a popular general whom he had long imprisoned was the occasion of a revolt which cast the Emperor from the throne; and the hippodrome saw again an act of tragic vengeance, when the tongue and nose of the fallen Cæsar were slit in the presence of the people who had borne with him too long.


Let Professor Bury's summary continue the tale:—"The twenty years which intervened between the banishment of Justinian in 695 and the accession of Leo the Isaurian in 717 witnessed a rapid succession of monarchs, 55 all of whom were violently deposed. Isaurian Leontius was succeeded by Apsimar, who adopted the name Tiberius, and these two reigns occupied the first ten years. Then Justinian returned from exile, recovered the throne, and 'furiously raged' for six years (705-711). He was overthrown by Bardanes, who called himself Philippicus; then came Artemius, whose imperial name was Anastasius; and finally the years 716 and 717 saw the fall of Anastasius, the reign and fall of Theodosius, and the accession of Isaurian Leo, whose strong arm guided the Empire from ways of anarchy into a new path."[10]

In the tragedies of these years Constantinople bore its full share, and no more strange contrast to the scene of his barbarous mutilation could be imagined than that when Justinian II. sat again, ten years later (705) in the hippodrome, with his feet on the necks of the two monarchs who had filled his throne in the meantime. As the fickle people saw the "slit-nose," as they called him, triumphant over Leontius and Apsimar they called out in the words of the psalms, which came so readily to their lips, "Thou hast trodden upon the lion and the asp: the young lion and the dragon hast thou trodden under thy feet."

Six years later (711) there was a more terrible tragedy. Justinian was justly dethroned and slain, and his little boy Tiberius, the child of his exile, was torn from the church of the Theotokos at Blachernae and cruelly butchered outside the palace wall. The next years were stained by crimes and follies hardly less revolting than those that had gone before; there could be no more bitter irony than the single word which the humble tax-gatherer, who was elevated against his will to the imperial throne under the name of Theodosius II., inscribed upon his tomb—ὑγίεια—health 56 was to be found nowhere for the empire in his day.

His successor, Leo the Isaurian, whom the Senate and the patriarch of Constantinople chose in 718 to be their lord, had seen an adventurous life, and was already the general and imperator of the great eastern army.

His first task was to defend the city against the Saracens. The great siege of 718, lasting twelve months, failed chiefly through his skill and patience. The invaders encamped before the city in August 717; the name of their Suleiman was one which was later to be very familiar to the Byzantines. When winter came it was one of those bitter seasons to which Constantinople is often subject. For many weeks snow lay on the ground, and the besiegers suffered far more than the garrison. Leo defended the city with extraordinary skill, and at length, at the right moment, by a well planned sortie he scattered the infidels, and of the great host of a hundred and eighty thousand men the Mohammedan historians say that only thirty thousand escaped back to the East. No greater feat was ever performed by the great empire, the bulwark of Christendom, than this heroic defence and splendid repulse.

It was not wholly the work of Leo, for the Bulgarians came from the north to his aid, and a pestilence, even before the storms of the Dardanelles destroyed their fleet, caused the withdrawal of the Saracen host. Then as an administrator he reformed the government, as a legist he reissued and revised the laws. The great earthquake of 739 caused the institution of a new tax, if not a new financial system.

"Some of the oldest monuments in the city were thrown down by the shock, the statue of Constantine the Great, at the gate of Attalus; the statue and 57 sculptured column of Arcadius; the statue of Theodosius I., over the Golden Gate, and the church of Irene, close to S. Sophia. The land walls of the city were also subverted; and in order to repair the fortifications Leo increased the taxes by one-twelfth, or a miliarision in a nomisma."

Thus Professor Bury.[11] But to such acts, important though they were, Leo the Isaurian does not owe the fact that his name will never be forgotten in the history of the Empire which he ruled. It was he who began the attack upon the ancient custom of the Eastern churches which gave rise to the long and bitter iconoclastic controversy. It were idle for a Western accustomed to the severity and restraint of English worship to pretend to judge without partiality the conflict which arose in the eighth century among the Easterns. To Englishmen it comes with a shock of surprise to learn that they are regarded as Romanists, as has recently happened, because they do not use incense in every public service of the Church, according to the immemorial usage of the East. Similarly it is with diffidence that we learn to recognise the reverence paid to icons, pictures of sacred things, as a true and helpful part of Oriental devotion. It tends, we think, to superstition; as much perhaps as our grandfathers' pride in the black gown of the preacher, or the curious customs which led in England to the "plethoric Sunday afternoon." Leo the Isaurian, and after him his son, Constantine V. (nicknamed Copronymus by his people, probably "from his devotion to the stables"), of whom the latter certainly had no sense of the reality of religion, embarked on an ill-omened attempt to purge from the Church, and to destroy in the sacred buildings themselves, all the brilliant pictures and mosaics which commemorated the saints and received 58 the homage, bordering no doubt on superstition, of the faithful. They objected that it was a sin to represent Christ in art at all; and that the representation of His Mother tended to the exaltation of her name into that of a Divinity. "Apostles of rationalism" these Emperors have strangely been called, who fought against an ineradicable passion of their people. As dear to the hearts of the Greek Christians as their subtle questionings into the deep meanings of divine things, their determination to be satisfied with nothing less than a precise and logical definition of the faith once for all given to the saints, was their craving for outward and visible signs to represent the gifts of God at once in the Divine Life and in the lives of the saintly followers of the Lord, and their own reverence and consecration of all that was beautiful in the work of man. The force of Mohammedanism had lain in its austere rejection of any outward image of Divine things; heretics, Judaising or Monophysite, had from time to time taken up the cry against these innocent representations of the saints. If the "worship" of images tended to obscure the spiritual truth of religion, the destruction of all visible memorials of the saints, emblems of the divine attributes, or representations of the passion of Christ, was even more certain to tell against the real belief of a race at once ignorant and dramatic, to whom the eye was the constant teacher of the mind. However strange and unedifying the reverence paid to icons may seem to the modern Western mind, it is but the shallowest ignorance which would call it idolatry, and it is plain that any hasty attempt to interfere with the popular expression of religious ideas must tend, if hastily and unskilfully conducted, to impair the faith of the people itself. Led by men who were believed by the enthusiastic and conservative Byzantines to be influenced by Monophysites, Jews 59 and Mohammedans, it was certain to provoke a desperate resistance, and that the more widespread because the issue was not an intricate matter of scholastic teaching, but a plain issue of practice in which every day passions were deeply concerned.

In 726, almost, it would seem, without warning, the Emperor Leo issued an edict that all images in churches should be utterly abolished. The patriarch, rather than consent to the action, resigned his office. The story of what followed may be given in the words of Mr Tozer.[12]

"The work of destruction now commenced in earnest; the statues were everywhere removed, and the pictures on the walls were whitewashed over, and though numerous outbreaks occurred, and some executions took place before it was accomplished, yet on the whole the opposition was not formidable. The act which caused the greatest indignation was the removal of the magnificent image of Christ which surmounted the bronze gateway of the imperial palace, and was the object of great reverence. In order to take down this statue and burn it, a soldier of the guard had mounted a ladder, when a number of women assembled at the spot to beg that it might be spared; but, instead of listening to them, the soldier struck his axe into the face of the image. Infuriated by this, which appeared to them to be an insult offered to the Saviour Himself, they dragged the ladder from under his feet and killed him. The Emperor avenged his agent by executing some, and exiling others, of the offenders, and set up in the place of the statue a plain cross, with an inscription explaining the significance of the change.

"In the defence of images there stood forth two champions, the one in the West, the other in the East; and the points of view from which they 60 respectively regarded them illustrate the different feelings of the two churches on the subject. The former of these was Pope Gregory II., who at first strongly remonstrated with the Emperor on his edict, and afterwards, when he endeavoured to enforce its observance in Italy, encouraged his people to disregard the order, and defied his nominal sovereign in violent and even insulting language. At last he excommunicated his nominee, the patriarch Anastasius. But he advocated the retention of images on the practical ground of their utility in instructing the young and ignorant, and as being an incentive to devotion. Far more exalted and more subtly defined was the position attributed to them by the other advocate, who spoke from the distant East. This was John of Damascus, otherwise known as S. John Damascene, the last of the Fathers of the Greek Church. This learned and acute theologian, who in many ways was superior to the age in which he lived, at one time filled a civil post of some importance under the Caliphs, who now ruled in Syria, but afterwards retired to the monastery of S. Saba, in the wilderness of Engedi, the strange position of which, overhanging a deep gorge that leads down to the Dead Sea, is still the wonder of the traveller. As he lived in the dominion of the Saracens he was beyond the reach of the Emperor's arm, and now undertook the cause of his suffering co-religionists. In three powerful addresses he set forth his arguments for image worship. Some of them follow the familiar lines of defence, that these objects were memorials of the mysteries of the faith; and that in the adoration of them the spiritual was reached through the medium of the material. But beyond this he made it plain that, to his mind, and the minds of those who thought with him, the worship of images was closely connected with the doctrine of the Incarnation, 61 the earthly material having been once for all sanctified when the Son of God took human flesh, and being thenceforth worthy of all honour. From this we may learn both how it came to pass that the most religious men of the age became enthusiasts for what was in itself superstitious, and also what was the cardinal point of difference between them and their opponents. For, while the one side regarded figures of Christ as a degradation of a heavenly being, to the other they were a practical confession of His true humanity, and any disregard of them appeared in the light of a denial of the Incarnation. At last, when it was found that the Emperor persevered in his attack, the iconoclasts were anathematised by the orthodox congregations in all the Mahometan countries outside the Empire. Both John and Gregory protested throughout against the interference of the State with the Church in this matter as being beyond its province; and, owing to the close connection which existed between the clergy and the people, they were generally regarded as the assertors of liberty and of the right of private judgment in opposition to despotism."

The indirect effects of Leo's action were even more important than the obvious ones. The division which ensued between Italy, resisting iconoclasm under the Pope's authority, and the imperial power made the Emperor decide to transfer to the patriarch of Constantinople the jurisdiction over Sicily and Calabria, leaving to the Pope that over the exarchate of Ravenna which still nominally obeyed the Cæsar. The meaning of this is thus expressed by Professor Bury.

"The effect of this act of Leo, which went far to decide the mediæval history of Southern Italy, was to bring the boundary between the ecclesiastical 62 dominions of New Rome and Old Rome into coincidence with the boundary between the Greek and the Latin nationalities. In other words, it laid the basis of the distinction between the Greek and the Latin Churches. The only part of the Empire in which the Pope now possessed authority was the exarchate, including Rome, Ravenna and Venice. The geographical position of Naples, intermediate between Rome and the extremities of Italy, determined that its sympathies should be drawn in two directions; in religious matters it inclined towards Old Rome, in political matters it was tenacious of its loyalty to New Rome."[13]

But this was not all. An immense immigration of persecuted monks and priests as well as lay folk practically recolonised much of Southern Italy.

Constantine Copronymus was far more eager than his father to push the iconoclastic campaign. In 761 he began a deliberate and bitter persecution of those who opposed him. Already, under Leo the Isaurian, the virgin Theodosia had been martyred. Her festival is still kept on May 29, and the church raised to her memory still stands transformed into a mosque just within the Aya Kapou, on the Golden Horn. Many whom the Greek Church still commemorates were now slain and others tortured. Constantine was equally hostile to monks, and he was as bitter against his creatures whom he suspected as against those who openly disputed his will. The patriarch whom he had set up fell into disgrace in spite of his support of iconoclasm. He was degraded in S. Sophia, carried round the Hippodrome sitting backwards on an ass, and at last beheaded as a traitor.

The successor of Constantine, Leo IV., was significant only in that he followed his policy of persecution. 63 He left the crown in 780 to his son Constantine and his widow Irene. Conspiracies, real or alleged, of his brothers were bitterly punished. The Empress Irene was satisfied so long as her son was still a boy to allow him a nominal share in the government; but when he grew up and showed an independent spirit, she used the growing unpopularity which came upon him after his repudiation of his wife to raise a party against him, and hired troops to take his life. He escaped death only to lose his eyes, and his wicked mother, surrounded by degraded favourites, reigned alone. It was she whom the great Teutonic King Charles was ready to wed, and the failure of the negotiations led, with other more notable causes, to the creation of the new empire of the West, so long held by German Cæsars, but professing still to be—as that of Constantinople historically was—the heir of the ancient empire of the Roman world.

Wicked as Irene was, it was given to her to restore peace to the Church, and to reunite though only for a time the Catholic Church throughout the world. So completely was the popular feeling against the iconoclasts that it needed little of the intrigue or violence which Irene was so ready to use to secure the result she desired. In 786, when her worst passions had not been revealed and she still lived in union with her son, the seventh General Council met at Nicaea. It was attended by representatives from Italy as well as from the East, and as its decisions represent the use and teaching of the Eastern Church to-day, they may here be summarised in Professor Bury's words.

"At the seventh sitting (5th or 6th October), the definition (ὅρος) of doctrine was drawn up; after a summary repetition of the chief points of theology established by previous Universal Councils, it is laid down that the figure of the holy cross and holy images, 64 whether coloured or plain, whether consisting of stone or of any other material, may be represented on vessels, garment, walls or tables, in houses or on public roads; especially figures of Christ, the Virgin, angels, or holy men: such representations, it is observed, stimulate spectators to think of the originals, and, while they must not be adored with that worship which is only for God (λατρεία) deserve adoration (προσκύνησις)."[14]

But Irene's services to the Church were not allowed then, any more than we should allow them now, to preserve her in power. The stars in their courses seemed to the superstitious to fight against her, and, though she held the crown she had so ill-won for five years, the end came at last by the treachery of those she had raised to highest place. "For five years," says Gibbon, "the Roman world bowed to the government of a female; and, as she moved through the streets of Constantinople, the reins of four milk-white steeds were held by as many patricians, who marched on foot before the golden chariot of their queen." But among the patricians whom she had chosen was the treasurer Nicephorus, who on October 31, 802, having captured his benefactress, and with some spark of generosity, undestroyed by his ambition and his avarice, sent her to banishment rather than to death, ascended the throne of the Cæsars.

With him began a new dynasty, a new century, and in some ways a new era for the imperial city.

During the eighth century Constantinople, as a city, underwent a great change. This was not merely due to the incessant ebb and flow of population, the coming and going of different detachments of the imperial army, the founding of new monasteries by men from all parts of the Christian world, the opening of new commercial establishments, the coming of new trading embassies, 65 but to one great and irremediable disaster. From 745 to 747 the city was devastated by the plague, that bubonic distemper, so familiar already but now more terribly destructive than ever before. The words of Theophanes, who lived when the remembrance of it was still fresh, though they have been often quoted, may be quoted again. They stand side by side with the modern records of the still powerful pestilence.

"And in the spring of the first indiction (747) the pestilence spread to a greater extent, and in summer its flame culminated to such a height that whole houses were entirely shut up, and those on whom the office devolved could not bury their dead. In the embarrassment of the circumstances, the plan was conceived of carrying out the dead on saddled animals, on whose backs were placed frameworks of planks. In the same way they placed the corpses above one another in waggons. And when all the burying-grounds in the city and suburbs had been filled, and also the dry cisterns and tanks, and very many vineyards had been dug up, the gardens too within the old walls were used for the purpose of burying human bodies, and even thus the need was hardly met."


The effect of the great loss of life which ensued was felt at once. At the very time when multitudes were seeking refuge in Italy from the iconoclastic persecution, came this new depopulation, and Constantine found himself obliged to encourage, and even enforce, immigration from every part of his dominions. Chiefly he brought Greeks from the mainland, and their places were filled by Slaves from the North. Greece and the Balkan States as they appear to-day, and even to some degree Constantinople itself took a new and marked departure in the middle of the eighth century. Constantinople received a new Greek population and, while its official classes still preserved the pomp and 66 dignity of Roman traditions, began to feel itself more than ever Greek. None the less it was still actively and obviously cosmopolitan. Scholars from all parts of the world came to the university where ancient classics were still read and where Greek was still a living tongue. Constantine actually made Nicetas, a man of Slavonic race, patriarch, and it is said that his clergy mocked at his pronunciation of the Greek of the Gospel. Armenians had already become almost as prominent in the city as they are to-day; at the beginning of the ninth century one of them actually became Emperor. As early as the reign of Justin II. a large colony of traders from Central Asia was established in the city. When communication became easier and the power of the Roman State, reviving under Heraclius, more wide spread, the riches of the city increased. It is noted that the influence of the Church was steadily directed against luxury, and that nothing at all like the scenes described by Juvenal or Petronius marked the Byzantium of the days of the iconoclasts. Constantine himself was a man who lived freely, and the monks whom he attacked commented severely on his life. But the rich men of Constantinople, as a rule, though they delighted in the outward adorning of gold and precious stones, and loved entertainments, the circus and excursions on the Bosphorus, lived on the whole simply. Though the churches, as well as the houses, glittered with mosaics and gems, the asceticism which the many monasteries kept always visibly before the eyes of the people, had its influence among the rich as well as the poor. Rich though the imperial city was it was rich most of all in its churches and its relics. And indeed the constant danger from without, and the pressing needs of a large population, both gave employment to great numbers and gave to the government always some practical work which kept up the taxes. 67 The laws, it has been observed, recognised the duty of the State to provide work for the people, and to see that they did it. Idleness was regarded as a crime as well as a sin: the State declared that for this reason it must actively discourage it, and no less because "it is unfair that strong men should live by the consumption of the superfluity of the labour of others, because that superfluity is owed to the weak." It is noted also that "besides the inevitable staff of public workmen, who, in a city like Byzantium, where fires were frequent and earthquakes not uncommon, had much to do beyond the repairs necessitated by the wear and tear of time, the State also supported multitudes of bakers"—for the State still followed the Roman rule and provided the poor with bread as well as public games—"and we are taught that the gardens, to which we sometimes meet casual references in the historians, were not the property of private citizens, but were parks for the people, kept up at the State's expense." Already we see that some of the features most prominent in the city to-day belonged to it in the early Middle Age. The great Dome of S. Sophia glittered upon the wayfarer as he sailed up towards the mouth of the Golden Horn, and the city as the soldier looked at it from the tower of Heraclius was a city set in bowers 68 of perpetual green. Another feature as prominent, which the foreigner sees from the heights of Pera, owes its preservation to Constantine Copronymus. The aqueduct of Valens had been destroyed by the Avars in the reign of Heraclius, Constantine brought thousands of workmen together and repaired it, and the water flowed as of old into the capacious cisterns which were the work of the greatest of eastern architects.

The ninth century began with the new and short-lived dynasty of Nicephorus. "His character," says Gibbon, "was stained with the three odious vices of hypocrisy, ingratitude and avarice; his want of virtue was not redeemed by any superior talents nor his want of talents by any pleasing qualifications." The historians, being ecclesiastics, resented his attempt to assert the most extreme claims of the iconoclastic emperors to rule the Church, and the people despised him for his treachery and his failures in war. He fell in 811 in battle against the Bulgarians. In six months his son, Stauricius, followed him to the tomb. Michael Rhangabe, who had married Procopia, the daughter of Nicephorus, then reigned for two years, but his weakness caused his deposition, and the people of Constantinople found a new sovereign, Leo the Armenian, forced upon them by the army. During his reign the imperial city was again besieged. Hadrianople was lost, and but for the death of the Bulgarian king it seems unlikely that Leo would have been able to drive back the forces which overran the peninsula. Yet Leo, conqueror though he was, was able to hold the crown but little longer than his predecessors. In 820 a conspiracy of his generals, which his own generosity had made possible, attacked him as he sang matins on Christmas Day, and slew him at the foot of the altar in the chapel. He did not reign without leaving a memorial of his rule which lasts to this day. The wall of 69 Heraclius was not thought fully to defend the quarter of Blachernae. Leo determined to build another wall and dig a broad moat in front of the Heraclian wall. "The wall of Leo," says Professor Van Millingen, "stands 77 feet to the west of the wall of Heraclius, running parallel to it for some 260 feet, after which it turns to join the walls along the Golden Horn." It is a strong fortification, and the number of attacks afterwards delivered on that quarter show how necessary it was that it should be strong. "Its parapet-walk was supported upon arches, which served at the same time to buttress the wall itself, a comparatively slight structure about 8 feet thick. With a view of increasing the wall's capacity for defence, it was flanked by four small towers, while its lower portion was pierced by numerous loopholes. Two of the towers were on the side facing the Golden Horn, and the other two guarded the extremities of the side looking towards the country on the west. The latter towers projected inwards from the rear of the wall, and between them was a gateway corresponding to the Heraclian gate of Blachernae."[15]

Michael II., called the Stammerer, who was then brought from the dungeon to the throne, and on whose legs,—such was the haste of the revolution,—the fetters actually remained for some hours after he was Emperor, was twice besieged in Constantinople by a rival general, but was relieved by the Bulgarians, and showed to the captured leader, Thomas the Slavonian, none of the mercy that had been shown to himself. He died in 829, and his son Theophilus reigned in his stead. Of his character and reign the most contradictory reports are given; but it is interesting to recall the scene of his choice of a wife, as Theophanes tells it. He determined to choose a bride from among the beauties of 70 Constantinople, and when they were assembled he walked between two lines of lovely damsels. When he came to the poetess Kasia, he addressed her in verse:

διὰ γυναικὸς εἰσερρύη τὰ φαῦλα.

She replied, more happily,

ἀλλὰ καὶ διὰ γυναικὸς τὰ κρείττονα πηγάζει.

It was in the style of the old Greek poets: the leaders of each semichorus championing the cause of their sex in the immortal question: "Through woman evil things entered"; "but also through woman better things well forth." The lady was too witty to be empress, and Theodora, who was chosen instead, became not only a happy wife but a wise regent after the death of Theophilus. He died in 842, and Theodora was regent for her son Michael till 856. Her husband had been Iconoclast, and he scourged those who would not receive his edict. His widow declared that he had repented on his death-bed, and procured his absolution after death. Before the year of his death was out Theodora had replaced the images and a synod had reiterated the right and benefit of image-"worship." But the independence of the Eastern Church was none the less fully secured; and the indignant protests of Popes showed that they were becoming, as their own pretensions grew, more and more estranged from Constantinople.

The wisdom of the mother was not rewarded in the life of her son. Michael III. was perhaps the most contemptible sovereign who ever sat on the imperial throne of the East. He gave himself up to pleasure and in particular to the Circus. He was a drunkard and buffoon, and he delighted to mock in public processions the most sacred ordinances of the 71 Christian religion. In 867 he was murdered by one whom he had raised almost to the purple. The years of his reign were diversified by sieges—notably the first attack of some hitherto unknown barbarians from the North-East.

Between the ninth and the eleventh centuries Constantinople was attacked four times by the Russians. The traders told of the riches of the city, and the barbarians were eager to carry them away. In June 860 they actually anchored in the Bosphorus and attacked the walls, but the return of Michael III. drove them off, and they were afterwards completely defeated. A second attempt is said to have taken place in 907, when the rough barks of the pirates were drawn over the isthmus; a third in 941 was as completely defeated; and again in 1048 the Greek fire proved effective.

But these later sieges were still in the far future when Michael, with the aid, men said, of the Blessed Virgin of the Blachernae, scattered the invaders, and passed again into the seclusion of his corrupt court, from whose recesses no news but that of murders and debaucheries seems ever to have penetrated without. "The state of society at the Court of Constantinople," says Finlay, "was not amenable to public opinion, for few knew much of what passed within the walls of the great palace; but yet the immense machinery of the imperial administration gave the Emperor's power a solid basis, always opposed to the temporary vices of the courtiers. The order which rendered property secure, and enabled the industrious classes to prosper, through the equitable administration of the Roman law, nourished the vitality of the Empire, when the madness of a Nero and the drunkenness of a Michael appeared to threaten political order with ruin. The people, carefully secluded from public business, and almost 72 without any knowledge of the proceedings of their government, were in all probability little better acquainted with the intrigues and crimes of their day than we are at present. They acted, therefore, only when some real suffering or imaginary grievance brought oppression directly home to their interests or their feelings. Court murders were to them no more than a tragedy or a scene in the amphitheatre, at which they were not present."[16]

Thus, when Cæsar followed Cæsar, with no change for the city over which they were supposed to rule, the intrigues and scandals which disgraced the reign of Michael III. raised scarce a stir among the people; and when he died by the hands of one who had taken—it was said—a base part in some of the most degraded of his acts, men hardly wondered and certainly did not condemn.

Basil the Macedonian, had had a romantic life. As a boy he had wandered penniless to Constantinople, and slept on the steps of the church of S. Diomed. The kindness shown to the wayfarer by the abbat of the monastery attached to the church was rewarded, when Basil became Emperor, by the erection of a new church and monastery, some pillars of which still lie neglected upon the beach of the Sea of Marmora, not far from Yedi Koulé station. His immense strength, personal beauty, and acute intelligence, soon made their way, and he completed his ascent to power it is said by marrying a mistress of Michael III.

As sovereign and the founder of a dynasty, Basil the Macedonian was amongst the greatest of the Emperors. He was a successful warrior, an able administrator of finance, a great builder of churches, and a repairer of the walls. But his greatest glory is that of restorer of the ancient Roman law. He returned, as has been shown 73 by Professor Bury,[17] to the principles of Justinian, in the Basilica, which were the most important reconstruction of Roman law in the Middle Ages, and the last it received.

We must hurry over these years, in which Constantinople itself underwent but few changes. Leo VI., the "philosopher," who has been more happily called a pedant, left no trace on the history of the city, save his name as a repairer on one of the towers of the sea-walls by Koum Kapou. His son, Constantine VII., called Porphyrogenitus, because he was "born in the purple," (i.e. not when his father was Emperor, but because of the porphyry lined chamber reserved for his mother at his birth), was at first under the charge of his uncle Alexander and then of his mother Zoe, and lastly of a successful general Romanus, who surrounded himself with a galaxy of imperial sons, allowing Constantine VII. also still to retain the title of Emperor.

"The studious temper and retirement of Constantine," says Gibbon, "disarmed the jealousy of power; his books and music, his pen and his pencil, were a constant source of amusement; and, if he could improve a scanty allowance by the sale of his pictures, if their price was not enhanced by the name of the artist, he was endowed with a personal talent which few princes could employ in the hour of adversity." Constantine was much more than a student. A plot against Romanus and the other Cæsars enabled him to resume power, which he held with credit for seventeen years. As a writer he is one of the most important of all the Byzantine historians.

The chief feature indeed of this age is its literary interest. Two Emperors ruled whose pride it was to be men of letters. Leo the wise, and Constantine born in the purple, were both men who wrote of war and 74 government as they knew them, and left to their successors remarkable pictures of their times. Leo describes the military forces which had still a magnificent organisation and a record of victory and valour but little tarnished. The nobles of Constantinople could fight as well as intrigue. Rich, brave and popular, the ancient families which lingered so long after the Mohammedan conquest in the ancient houses of the Phanar could always be relied upon to furnish gallant officers for the troops. Constantine wrote of the Themes, of the Imperial administration, and of the court ceremonial—the last an extraordinary work describing the dignity and state of the emperors, and regulating the minutest detail of the pomp with which their daily life was surrounded.

The Court of the Eastern Empire indeed was by far the most brilliant of the Middle Ages, and the Empire itself, weak and corrupt though it may seem, was much the strongest government of the time, and the one under which life and property were most secure. The commerce of Constantinople was still greater probably than that of any other city of the world. East and West poured their treasures into the city.

The reign of Constantine Porphyrogenitus was diversified, like those of so many of his predecessors, as has already been said, by revolutions, which placed many Cæsars on at least the steps of the throne. Romanus and his sons Constantine (called the Eighth) and Stephen, came to an end in 945, and from that time till his death in 958 Constantine VII. reigned alone. His son, Romanus II., succeeded him, and to him came a time of war, in which his arms were victorious over the Mohammedans through the genius of his general, Nicephorus Phocas. In 963 Romanus died, and Nicephorus, marrying his widow Theophano, became joint Emperor with the young Basil. 75

Nicephorus was above all things a warrior. He recovered for the Empire the lands of Cilicia, North Syria, and Cyprus. His triumph in 966, celebrated in the Hippodrome and in the great street of the city, was the prelude to many another great military display; yet not being sole Emperor, he never entered in triumph through the Golden gate, though it was at that gate that he was received in 963 when he began his joint reign.[18] But his life as Emperor was an unhappy one. So unpopular was he in the city, owing to his opposition to the lavish generosity of his predecessors and to his debasement of the coinage, that he was often stoned in the streets and had to fortify the great Palace; and his portrait has been limned for posterity by his enemies. Chief among the pictures of mediæval Constantinople is that drawn by Liudprand, bishop of Cremona, who came on behalf of the Emperor Otto I. to treat of a marriage between Theophano, the daughter of the Emperor Romanus, and the future Otto II.

Liudprand had visited Constantinople in 948. Then he spoke of the great palace to which he was admitted to audience with Constantine Porphyrogenitus, of its golden tree in which golden birds of divers kinds sang sweetly, of the golden lions that guarded the throne, shaking the earth with the beat of their tails, and roaring at the approach of the envoys—marvellous features of the Eastern Court which the Emperor had not forgotten to record in his account of the ceremonial. Then he saw, too, the Emperor recline at dinner after the ancient fashion, he saw the games of the Hippodrome, and he marvelled at the size of the fruit and at the extraordinary acrobatic strength of the boys of the circus. Then he was treated with great distinction. Now, in 968, his reception was very different. In his 76 letter to the two Ottos he declared that he even lodged in a roofless house, exposed to heat and cold, and constantly under guard, and that he suffered agonies from the resinous Greek wine. First he saw Basil, the Emperor's brother, and then he was admitted to the presence of Nicephorus himself, whom he describes as more a monster than a man, black as an Ethiop, and small as a pigmy. A pretty argument took place between envoy and Emperor; the Greek refusing the imperial title to the German Cæsars of the West, while the Western bishop would not allow any rights of the East to the Italian lands of old Rome. Their converse was interrupted by the hour of prayer, and Liudprand joined the procession to S. Sophia. Tradesmen and low-born folk, says the contemptuous bishop, lined the streets, many of them barefoot, because of the holiness of the procession. Nicephorus alone wore gold and jewels.

When they entered the great church the choir sang "Lo there cometh the morning star. The dawn riseth. He reflects the rays of the sun. Nicephorus our ruler, the pale death of the Saracens."[19] The famous phrase, "pallida mors Saracenorum," which Liudprand uses, was to be terribly avenged; but then it was a triumphant expression of the safety which the city owed to the wise Emperor. As he went, says Liudprand, "his lords the Emperors" (Basil and Constantine, the sons of Romanus) bowed before him. After the Eucharist the bishop dined with the Emperor, and was again, he says, subject to his taunts. "You are not Romans but Lombards," was the Eastern mockery of the German imperialism; and 77 the reply was that to the Westerns there was no name more contemptible than that of Roman. Such abrupt witticisms naturally consigned Liudprand again to his "hated dwelling, or more truly, prison." He wrote to Basil the curopalates (a post of honour second only to that of Cæsar) and John Tzimisces the Logothete, beseeching that if his mission was not favourably received, he might return at once; and then in an interview with Nicephorus, in the presence of Basil the chamberlain (parakinomenos) he pressed the proposal of Otto for a marriage. The Emperor replied that it was unheard of that a princess born in the purple, the child of an Emperor born in the purple, should be given in marriage to a "gentile" or "barbarian." So day by day the meetings were renewed and the proud Italian thought that he was treated each time with new indignity, being even set below a Bulgarian envoy—to whose master the Greeks would even allow the title of "Vasileus" (βασιλεύς) which they would not give to Otto, and towards whose people alone it seemed that the Eastern Empire at this time had any kindly feeling. Theology as well as politics were often in question, and the Italian bishop was mocked at for the modernism of his doctrines, as the Greeks mock the Latins to-day. He was kept, he says, in company with five lions; and the women, as he passed through the streets, called out in pity at his woe-worn appearance. Sometimes he visited the Emperor in the camp at Balukli (εἰς πήγας, he says, in one of his snatches of Greek) and quoted Plato to him; sometimes he had to listen to homilies of S. John Chrysostom read aloud; more often he had to hear what seemed to him the grossest insults of the Germans and the Latins, insults which he gladly returned in his report to the Ottos upon "the wild ass Nicephorus," and which he even ventured, he says, to write on the 78 wall of his prison in verses none too easily to be understood. At length he was allowed to leave the city, "once most opulent and flourishing, now half-starved, perjured, lying, cunning, greedy, rapacious, avaricious, boastful." His report, as we have it, breaks off in a torrent of denunciations of the Greeks and their ways. His mission was a failure, but Theophano, refused by Nicephorus, was afterwards given by John Tzimisces, to be bride to Otto II.

This curious survival of tenth century opinion illustrates the almost total severance which had now come about between the East and the West, and shows how natural was the destruction which was soon to come upon the city of the Cæsars. The West had ceased to feel for the Eastern survival of empire anything of brotherhood or Christian fellowship. First it would seek to conquer the bulwark of Christendom for itself; then it would let it fall before the conquering infidels.

Nicephorus did not long retain the throne he had so well defended. John Tzimisces (or Tchemchkik), an Armenian, who won the favour of the Empress Theophano, joined in a plot to overthrow his benefactor, and Nicephorus was murdered in the palace. John Tzimisces reigned in his stead. He made treaty with the patriarch Polyeuctus, by which he gave up the claim that Nicephorus had asserted, that all episcopal nominations should only be valid by the Emperor's consent. He gave high promotion to the dignified and imposing Basil, the chamberlain whom Psellus the historian describes as so impressive a person. He banished the wicked Empress Theophano to the Princes' islands. Then he reigned as joint Emperor with the young Emperors Basil and Constantine, whose rights he was scrupulous to preserve.

John Tzimisces was famous as a gallant defender of the empire. The people of Constantinople knew him 79 chiefly for the imposing ceremonies of his accession, of his second marriage with Theodora, daughter of Constantine VII., and of his departure for war against the barbarian invaders, when the clergy led him in pomp to his embarkation on the Golden Horn, and blessed his ships, and the citizens watched a naval sham fight from the walls. Domestic rebellions—those of Bardas, Sclerus, and of the family of Phocas—as well as the dangerous Russian invasions—distracted his reign: but Tzimisces was a successful general, and by his conquest over the Russians under Swiatoslaf he preserved the Empire, and began that association of teaching and Christian influence which is returned to-day by the orthodox Russians to the Church of Constantinople, which is their mother, and which now, in her time-honoured conservatism, weak though she is, she is inclined rather to resent than to welcome. From his conquest John Tzimisces returned in triumph to Constantinople through the Golden gate, followed by his soldiers and his captives, greeted by the Church and by the officers of his court, and watched by the vast population of the imperial city. It was one of the greatest of the triumphs, as it was one of the last. The ancient usages were retained in all their pomp. The senate met the Emperor at the gate with the conqueror's chaplet and with the golden chariot drawn by four white horses, in which they besought him to drive through the streets. Dramatically he showed his sympathy with the religious feeling of his people; the chariot should carry the Ikon of the Blessed Virgin which he had taken in Bulgaria and to which he attributed his victories: he would ride behind, clothed as an emperor and a general, and would offer in S. Sophia the crown of the conquered Bulgarian kings. Then in the palace the young Bulgarian chieftain Boris, who had followed his 80 triumph on foot, was despoiled of the insignia of sovereignty, yet ranked among the officers of the imperial court.

It was not the last of the victories of John Tzimisces. He returned more than once a conqueror from Armenia and Mesopotamia. He died in 976, in the midst of his victories; and since the young Emperors whom he had guarded were now grown to man's estate, men spoke of his death as mysterious and as probably due to poison.

In Basil II. the Empire again had a warrior Emperor, but one who added to the delights of war the devotion of an almost monastic religion. While his brother, Constantine IX., confined himself to the court and its pleasures, Basil in many hard-won fights achieved the title of Bulgaroktonos, the slayer of the Bulgarians. For thirty-four years he fought the great King Samuel, who had built up a power in the Balkans, till at last he utterly broke up the Slavs, captured all their fortresses, and extended the frontier of the Empire to Belgrade, and so down the Danube to the Black Sea. It was, as Gibbon says, "since the time of Belisarius, the most important triumph of the Roman arms." Victories also he won in the East, but they served only to break down the kingdom of Armenia, and thus to destroy what might have been a bulwark against the infidel. Basil, who reigned from 963 to 1025, when he died at the age of sixty-eight, and who for more than fifty years was practically the sole ruler of the Empire, was a stern, vigorous man, sharp in speech, often cruel in victory, serious and restrained in life, but fond of mirth in his moments of ease. He was a complete contrast to his idle brother, who lived it seemed only for the Hippodrome and the society of the ladies of his court. Basil was never married. Constantine, who survived him three years, 81 left three daughters.[20] During his long reign Basil had swept away all rivals from his path: the great chamberlain Basil had early been banished, and there was no dynasty to compete with the Macedonians in the last days of their power.

Basil taught the people that the Emperor could rule without the intervention of courtiers, and thus when he died the imperial city looked for a man to be at its head. If they had feared rather than loved the great conqueror of the Bulgarians, they respected him because he had kept up the power of the Church and had patronised the learning which still had its home in the East. He left to his successors the alliance of the patriarchal See and a school of literature founded on classic models, which, with all its affectations, gave to the eleventh century an important group of historical writers. In no age, too, was Byzantine art, the art of working in ivory, of miniature, of mosaic, more vigorous. With the death of Basil, however long it might be disguised, the decay began.

When Constantine died his three daughters survived him, Eudocia who preferred a convent to a throne, and Zoe and Theodora, ladies of more ambitious temper. Zoe before her father died was wedded—she was forty-eight—to Romanus Argyrus, an elderly noble already married, whose wife was banished to a convent. Romanus III. was for six years (1028-1034) the nominal ruler of the Empire. He thought himself a philosopher and a warrior; but, says Psellus, "he thought he knew far more than he did." Some of his acts were useful—as his repair of the walls after the earthquakes of 1032 and 1033, commemorated by an inscription on 82 the fourth tower from the Sea of Marmora, shows. But the historian mocks at his long drawn-out building of the monastery of S. Mary Peribleptos and says that a "whole mountain was excavated" to supply the stones. It was his most enduring memorial, and, several times rebuilt, it still survives in the possession of the Armenians as the monastery of S. George, not far from the Psamatia station.

But the Emperor's dreams of war, philosophy and building, were rudely disturbed by the intrigue of his wife with a young Paphlagonian soldier, Michael. He professed to disbelieve it, though it was notorious to the court. His complaisance perhaps allowed him to die in peace, though some said he was killed by a slow poison. On the very day of his death Zoe elevated Michael to the throne, and before the burial of Romanus the senate kissed the right hand of his successor.

Michael appears before us in the pages of the rhetorical Psellus as almost a hero and a saint. He reclaimed sinners after the manner of Justinian, he reformed the administration, he daily worshipped God in the services of the Church, and nightly walked the streets to watch and to prevent crime. One of the strangest pictures of mediæval Constantinople is that which Psellus gives us of the unwearied Emperor, disguised in monkish dress, passing swiftly "like lightning" through the streets at night, watching that his people might be preserved from crime. Yet with all his virtues he was a drunkard, and the epileptic fits to which he became more and more subject were probably due to his vices. So terribly did his affliction increase upon him that when he gave audience it was necessary to surround him with curtains which could in a moment be drawn to hide his paroxysms, and when he rode his guards formed a circle about him. His greedy relations surrounded him and urged him to provide for them, and 83 when he had signalised his reign by a heroic defence of the Empire against a rising of the Bulgarians he returned in triumph only to retire to a monastery and to die.

Zoe emerged from the seclusion in which she had passed the last years of her young husband's life, and was induced by her family to make his nephew, Michael Kalaphates Emperor. Raised to the throne by his family he set himself at once to reduce it to the lowest depths. "The names of kinship, the common tie of kindred blood, appeared to him mere childishness, and it would have been nothing to him if one wave had engulfed all his kin." The same measure he meted to the nobles and the officials; but he courted popularity with the traders and the populace more than any of his predecessors had done, and when he showed himself in the streets silk carpets were strewn before him and he was greeted as the noblest of the Cæsars. Yet he relied too much upon the fickle mob. When the senate consented to his banishment of Zoe, shorn as a nun, to Prince's Island, he proclaimed his act in the forum of Constantine for the acceptance of the people.

But Constantinople again showed that, favoured as it had been like a petted child, it could show its power. The people assembled in knots at street corners and protested against the banishment of the heiress of the Macedonian warrior. The conclaves became a riot and the riot a revolution. Women ran through the streets tearing their hair and beating their breasts. Officers of State joined the mob, and they rushed to destroy the houses of the Emperor's family. Zoe was hastily recalled from Prinkipo, and shown in purple robes to the people in the Hippodrome. But it was too late. The mob broke open the monastery of the Petrion (by the Phanar) where her sister Theodora had long lived in retirement, and forced her 84 to go with them to S. Sophia and there the patriarch Alexius and the vast crowd hailed her as Empress. The Emperor and his uncle took refuge in the church of the Studium. They were dragged from the altar and their eyes were put out; and Zoe and Theodora, who hated each other, became joint Empresses.

Their rule was extravagant and reckless; and while the State was advancing rapidly towards bankruptcy, the aged Zoe took a third husband, after two attempts at choice, wedding Constantine Monomachus, who reigned from 1042 to 1054 as Constantine X. The old Empress and her young husband gave themselves entirely to pleasure, to luxury and buffoonery. The Emperor, generous in giving and knowing how to confer benefits after the manner of an Emperor, beautified the city by the building of the magnificent monastery of S. George at the Mangana (near Deirmen Kapou on the Mamora), and amused the citizens by showing them an elephant and a camelopard. The court which Constantine and Zoe gathered round them was a strange assembly; its chief personage was the Emperor's mistress Skleraina, whom the Empress treated as a friend. The people resented the conjunction and cried "we will not have Skleraina to reign over us, nor on her account shall our purple-born mothers, Zoe and Theodora, die." The aged Zoe herself appeased them. It was an extraordinary state of society, reminding us of the eighteenth century in France: the intrigues that Psellus tells are indeed hardly credible. But the social corruption coexisted with a real revival of learning. Constantinople became the centre of a new study of literature, which had decayed since the iconoclastic emperors set themselves to destroy culture and Leo III. abolished the University. Constantine refounded the University, endowing two chairs—philosophy and law—which were held by 85 Psellus and his friend, John Xiphilinos. A revival of the study of the classics followed this institution: Psellus considered himself a Platonist, and he thought himself worthy to represent as well as to revive the best traditions of Greek literature. In the hands of Anna Comnena and her contemporaries, the purism which the writers affected became little more than an Attic euphuism.

While the Emperor and his friends were thus busy with trifles, and the government was in the hands sometimes of wise ministers such as Leichudes, sometimes of mere thieves, the throne was constantly threatened by revolts (of which the most famous was that of George Maniakes) and by direct attacks on the city, such as that of the Russians, and in 1047 of Leo Tornikos. This latter was nearly successful. Many of the citizens were ready to join him, and but for the military skill shown by Constantine (if we rightly read the rhetorical description of Psellus) Leo would probably have entered and found himself welcomed as Emperor.

In 1054 Constantine X. died, and the aged Theodora, the last survivor of the Macedonian house, came forth again from her convent and reigned with the aid of ministers who were at least capable and honest. On her death, after two years as sole ruler, the throne passed, by her wish, to an able but aged soldier, Michael Stratioticus.

Psellus shows that the accession of this sovereign marked a crisis in the history of the Empire. Constantine X. had reformed the Senate, opening it to all men of merit apart from their birth. Michael VI. thought he could rely entirely on the civil functionaries, but the army was still strong enough to dictate to the Emperor, and his unwise acts led to an alliance between the generals and the energetic patriarch Michael Cerularius. 86 Michael attempted to negotiate with Isaac Comnenus, whom the army had chosen as their leader, and who was encamped at Nicæa (Isnik); but before the envoys, among whom was Psellus, had completed their mission, a rising in the city, led by some discontented senators, had dethroned and slain Michael, and the whole city was waiting to welcome Isaac as Emperor.

Constantinople in this revolution decisively chose her own Emperor. The Senate and the chiefs of certain "clubs" (the successors of the factions of the Circus so prominent four centuries before) guided, as seems probable, by the patriarch, carried the city with them. Isaac they summoned from Skutari: Michael departed to a monastery with the patriarch's kiss of peace.

The scene when Isaac was about to cross the Bosphorus to receive his crown was a dramatic one. He called Psellus, the envoy of his deposed rival, to him, and said, when the philosopher spoke of the enthusiasm of the people, "I liked thy tongue better when it reviled me than now when it speaks smooth words." But he began his reign by an amnesty, for he made Psellus president of the Senate, and Michael the patriarch—however much he may have distrusted him—he treated with the fullest confidence and honour.

While these political and dynastic changes had supplied the Empire with a new ruler almost every year, the growing alienation between East and West had been marked decisively by the separation of the Churches. Two great names embody in the East the final protest against Roman assumption. The Church of Constantinople had never abandoned its claim to equality with that of Rome, though it allowed to the ancient city the primacy of honour. Photius, who became patriarch in 858, and died in 87 891, owed his throne to an election which was not canonical, and though a council in 861 at Constantinople, at which papal legates were present, confirmed him in his office, Pope Nicholas I. declared that its decisions were illegal, and that Photius was deposed and excommunicated, while the Emperor himself was attacked in language of peculiar vehemence. The papal claim to decide between two claimants to the patriarchate was fiercely resented. Photius declared the equality of his see with that of Rome. To the Roman claim of jurisdiction, complicated also by assertions of supremacy over the Bulgarian Church, were added points of theological contention which the churches debated with as much eagerness, and it would seem, as little desire, to arrive at a reasonable solution. The addition of the words Filioque to the Nicene Creed, asserting the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son, was, and is, resented by the Greeks as an addition to "the faith once for all delivered to the Saints." The use of unleavened bread in the Holy Eucharist was regarded in the East as an heretical innovation. There were, and are, other points of dispute; but none, it is probable, but for the strong national feeling of Italy and of Greece, would have caused a final breach.

The position which Photius defended with skill and vigour in the ninth century was reasserted by Michael Cerularius in the eleventh. He regarded the teaching of the West on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, says Psellus, as an intolerable heresy; and he was prompt to reassert jurisdiction over the churches of Apulia, now conquered by the Normans and made subject to Rome. The final breach came from Rome itself. On July 16, 1054, two legates of the Pope laid on the altar of S. Sophia the act of excommunication which severed the patriarch from the communion of the West, and condemned 88 what were asserted to be seven deadly heresies of the Eastern Church.

But to return to the imperial revolution.

Isaac Comnenus, who was called to the throne in 1057, had been brought up in the palace, but he was none the less a warrior and a man of determination, who had served the Empire well. He reigned only for two years, and then retired to end his days in religion, in the famous and beautiful monastery of the Studium, which looks from a slight elevation over the Sea of Marmora, some half mile away, and whose half ruined walls are to-day among the most striking of the memorials of the past that Constantinople can show.

With the beginning of the dynasty of the Comneni the causes which brought about the fall of the Empire can clearly be traced. The imperial power, concentrated more and more in the imperial household, and finally in the Emperor himself, had come to be devoted chiefly, in the hands of feeble or self-indulgent emperors, to the maintenance of imperial dignity and pride in the city itself. The magnificent administration which had presented a coherent and effective government while the rest of Europe was in "the dark ages," was beginning to sink into a mere machine for the support of a luxurious Court. The Empire was neglected. The aristocracy of Byzantium was treated with severity or contempt. The officials of the State were the mere nominees of the Emperor. For their interest and for the pursuit of popularity among the people it was that government seemed to exist. Every year, as the defences of the Empire grew weaker, the shows of the Hippodrome, the festivals of the Church, the entertainments of the palace, grew more splendid. When the other States of Europe were yet in their cradle, when England as a Power had hardly begun to 89 exist, the long history of the Empire was verging irresistibly towards decay.

"The domestics of the Basilian dynasty carried on the work of political change," says Finlay,[21] "by filling the public offices with their own creatures, and thereby destroying the power of that body of State officials, whose admirable organisation had repeatedly saved the Empire from falling into anarchy under tyrants or from being ruined by peculation under aristocratic influence. In this manner the scientific fabric of the imperial power, founded by Augustus, was at last ruined in the East as it had been destroyed in the West. The Emperors broke the government to pieces before strangers destroyed the Empire.

"The revolution which undermined the systematic administration was already consummated before the rebellion of the aristocracy placed the imperial crown on the head of Isaac Comnenus. No organised body of trained officials any longer existed to resist the egoistical pretensions of the new intruders into ministerial authority. The Emperor could now make his household steward prime minister, and the governor of a province could appoint his butler prefect of the police. The Church and the law alone preserved some degree of systematic organisation and independent character. It was not in the power of an emperor to make a man a lawyer or a priest with the same ease with which he could appoint him a chamberlain or a minister of State."

The decay of which the general causes are thus sketched can clearly be traced in the series of historians who give us the records of the years from the accession of John Comnenus to the conquest of Constantinople by the Crusaders, from the year 1057, that is, to the year 1204. Psellus, monk, secretary of 90 State, philosopher, statesman, gives, as we have already seen, a close account of the intrigues of the court. Michael Altaleiates records the years 1034-1079. Nicephorus Bryennius and his wife, Anna Comnena, wrote from within the story of the politics of Alexius Comnenus, the former to some extent, the latter very greatly, influenced by the classic revival, and endeavouring to form their work on classic models. John Cinnamus, Nicetas Acominatos, John Scylitzes, John Zonaras, are all chroniclers who have special sources of information; and the result is that for the century of decay which culminated in the collapse of the Empire before the Latins, we have information almost complete.

The Emperor Isaac was assisted at the first by the able patriarch Michael Cerularius, who put into exercise all the claims of his predecessors to power and independence, to equality with Rome, and to superiority over the churches related to the patriarchate. Strife soon broke out between Emperor and patriarch. Michael appeared in the red boots which marked the imperial dignity, declaring that he was the equal of the Emperor; and of the Emperor himself he said, in what seems to have been a popular proverb, "Oven, I built you, and I can knock you down." He was seized and banished to Proconnesus.

After the retirement of Isaac, Constantine Ducas, like the Comneni a Cappadocian, and a friend of their own, reigned for eight years, 1059-1067, and left the reputation of a man anxious only to save money, and thus unable to protect the frontiers of the Empire. Under him we learn the importance of the Emperor's personal guard of Varangians—a body of barbarian warriors founded early in the eleventh century, and consisting at first of Russians, whom the wars of Nicephorus Phocas, John Tzimisces 91 and Basil Bulgaroktonos had taught the Empire to respect; and of Scandinavians, and later of Danes, and after the Norman Conquest of fugitive Englishmen, who, rather than serve the foreign conquerors of their own land, gladly came to win fame and wealth as the guardians of the Cæsar's throne. Constantine XI. paid the Varangians while he neglected the rest of his army. The Empire paid the penalty in the ravaging of Armenia by the Seljuk Turks, and of Bulgaria by the Tartars. When he died in 1067, already the name of Alp-Arslan, the Sultan of the Seljuks, struck terror into the Asiatic provinces of the Empire, and the sceptre of the Cæsars fell to Michael VII., a child who could not protect what his father had not cared to defend. The mother of the young Emperor, Eudocia, married a gallant general, Romanus Diogenes, who, with the title of joint Emperor, won but little power in the palace, but was readily allowed to lead the armies in the field. Of his campaigns it is only needful to say that, while for a time he held back the Seljuks, in 1071, at Manzikert, on the Armenian frontier, his troops were scattered by the overwhelming hordes of the barbarians, and when night fell Alp-Arslan placed his foot upon the neck of the prostrate Cæsar, his captive.

In Constantinople a new revolution followed the news of the Emperor's defeat. John Ducas, brother of Constantine XI., for a time held the post of Regent for his nephew. When Romanus was released from captivity he was seized and his eyes were put out, a crime which resulted in his death. The scenes of blood and treachery which marked these years, when the Court still kept up its splendours in the presence of pestilence, famine, and decay, are almost incredible; but the vengeance that was surely coming shows the 92 weakness that resulted from the reign of corruption and crime. Michael VII. was called Parapinakes, "the peck-stealer," a name "given him because in a year of famine he sold the measure of wheat to his subjects a fourth short of its proper contents." He was overthrown by an adventurer named Nicephorus Botoniates, whose reign of three years was a period of vice and waste which brought the Empire rapidly nearer to its fall. Michael VII. retired, like Romanus, to the Monastery of the Studium, where as titular bishop of Ephesus, he passed the last years of his life in peace. Three years exhausted the patience of the nobles with the aged and debauched Nicephorus. Maria, once wife of Michael VII. and now wife of his successor, formed a plot against him, and from a number of conspirators, Alexius Comnenus, son of the Emperor Isaac, was chosen to lead the troops who determined to give a new Cæsar to the exhausted Empire. In 1081 the friends of the conspirators escaped through the gate of Blachernae with horses they had stolen from the Imperial stables. They returned with an army: the German guards who held the gate of Charisius (Edirnè Kapou) were bribed, and the adherents of Comnenus poured into the heart of the city. A battle at first seemed certain, for the Varangians stood boldly across the forum of Constantine to defend the approaches to the great palace. But when George Palaeologus, a gallant officer connected by marriage with the Comneni, secured the fleet, the heart of the aged Nicephorus failed him, and he fled to S. Sophia, whence he was removed like so many of his predecessors to a monastery.

Alexius Comnenus was not strong enough to restrain the motley rabble who had entered in his train. The city was given over to pillage. The very palaces and monasteries were spoiled by the barbarians from the 93 Balkans. It was from this date that the ruin of the city began. If the churches still maintained their relics and their jewels, the commercial prosperity, which all through these years of imperial corruption and weakness it had struggled to maintain, now began to slip from its grasp. It was clear that property was no more safe than life; and as the Italian cities began to secure the commerce of the Levant, the merchants of Constantinople fell behind in the race for wealth, and saw the trade that had been theirs taken by the Venetians, the Pisans and the Genoese, who now settled at their very gates.

Alexius Comnenus was at first not sole Emperor. Constantine Ducas, the son of Michael VII., was also called Emperor, but he soon died. Alexius then reigned alone, but not without many plots against him. Within, the city managed to suppress the conspirators; without, he suffered defeat from the Normans at Durazzo, and preserved with difficulty the Thessalian province. He won fame among his people as a persecutor of Paulicians and Bogomils; and Basil, a monk, was entrapped by Alexius into a confession of his heretical opinions and then burnt as a heretic in the Hippodrome, to the delight of the people of Constantinople. He kept off the Turks, though they were now (1092) settled so near as to have Smyrna for their capital. But his chief danger came from the Crusades.

In spite of the breach between the Churches it was impossible for the Eastern Emperor openly to do otherwise than welcome the hosts who in response to the preaching of Peter the Hermit and the call of Urban II. marched through Hungary and Bulgaria and arrived outside the land walls in a ragged and disordered condition. Hugh of Vermandois had landed near Durazzo, but had been treated almost as a foreigner, and having been made to do homage to Alexius, awaited in 94 the imperial city the arrival of the rest of the hosts. His treatment was resented by Godfrey of Bouillon; but the skill and tact of Alexius triumphed. In the palace of the Blachernae, while the hosts were encamped outside the walls, the Emperor received the leaders, among them Godfrey, Bohemond, and Peter the Hermit himself, and by cajoling some, bribing others, threatening those who seemed weakest, he procured that they all should do him homage and promise to convey to him all of his Empire that they should recover from the Turks.

To the people of Constantinople the warriors of the West seemed like ignorant and half-brutal children, ever gabbling, boasting, and changeable. The warlike garb of the Latin priests and bishops disgusted the Greeks and widened the breach between the Churches. The climax seemed to come on the day when the chiefs did homage to the Emperor. Thus the story is told by Anna Comnena, who was herself then fourteen years old, and may not improbably have witnessed the scene.

"As soon as they approached the great city, they occupied the place appointed for them by the Emperor, near to the monastery of the Cosmidion.[22] But this multitude was not, like the Hellenic one of old, to be restrained and governed by the loud voices of nine heralds. They required the constant superintendence of chosen and valiant soldiers to keep them from violating the commands of the Emperor. He, meantime, laboured to obtain from the other leaders that acknowledgment of his supreme authority which had already been drawn from Godfrey himself. But notwithstanding the willingness of some to accede to this proposal, and their assistance 95 in working on the minds of their associates, the Emperor's endeavours had little success, as the majority were looking for the arrival of Bohemond, in whom they placed their chief confidence, and resorted to every art with the view of gaining time. The Emperor, whom it was not easy to deceive, penetrated their motives; and by granting to one powerful person demands which had been supposed out of all bounds of expectation, and by resorting to a variety of other devices, he at length prevailed, and won general assent to the following of the example of Godfrey, who also was sent for in person to assist in this business.

"All, therefore, being assembled, and Godfrey among them, the oath was taken; but when all was finished, a certain noble among these counts had the audacity to seat himself on the throne of the Emperor. The Emperor restrained himself and said nothing, for he was well acquainted of old with the nature of the Latins.

"But the Count Baldwin stepping forth, and seizing him by the hand, dragged him thence, and with many reproaches said, 'It becomes thee not to do such things here, especially after having taken the oath of fealty. It is not the custom of the Roman Emperors to permit any of their inferiors to sit beside them, not even of such as are born subjects of their empire; and it is necessary to respect the customs of the country.' But he, answering nothing to Baldwin, stared yet more fixedly upon the Emperor, and muttered to himself something in his own dialect, which, being interpreted, was to this effect—'Behold, what rustic fellow is this, to be seated alone while such leaders stand around him!' The movement of his lips did not escape the Emperor, who called to him one that understood the Latin dialect, and inquired what words the man had spoken. When he heard them the Emperor said 96 nothing to the other Latins, but kept the thing to himself. When, however, the business was all over, he called near to him by himself that swelling and shameless Latin, and asked of him, who he was, of what lineage, and from what region he had come. 'I am a Frank,' said he, 'of pure blood, of the nobles. One thing I know, that where three roads meet in the place from which I came, there is an ancient church, in which whosoever has the desire to measure himself against another in single combat, prays God to help him therein, and afterwards abides the coming of one willing to encounter him. At that spot a long time did I remain, but the man bold enough to stand against me I found not.' Hearing these words the Emperor said, 'If hitherto thou hast sought battles in vain the time is at hand which will furnish thee with abundance of them. And I advise thee to place thyself neither before the phalanx, nor in its rear, but to stand fast in the midst of thy fellow-soldiers; for of old time I am well acquainted with the warfare of the Turks.' With such advice he dismissed not only this man, but the rest of those who were about to depart on that expedition."

A scene such as this made the Greeks regard the Westerns simply as barbarians, and they rejoiced when the host at last passed over the Bosphorus to fight the Turks. For the first year Alexius remained with the army; but as they became divided among themselves, and refused to give up to him the territory they conquered in the East, he returned to Constantinople, satisfied with the conquest which had driven back the Turks in Asia for more than 200 miles.

While the Empire gained by its most dangerous enemy being thus driven back, it lost seriously in other ways. "Between 1098 and 1099 a continual stream of armed pilgrims traversed the Byzantine Empire," 97 everywhere bringing ruin and devastation with them. One detachment of Lombards actually attempted to storm the Blachernae quarter and were only with great difficulty taken over to Asia, where they slaughtered Christians as readily as Turks. Open war broke out between Bohemond and Alexius, and it was the last success of Alexius that he was able to beat off the attacks of the Christians of the West. He died in 1118, his last hours disturbed by a plot in which his wife Irene and his daughter Anna were engaged to compel his son John to yield the Empire to Anna's husband, Nicephorus Bryennius.

Alexius may have seemed to leave the Empire stronger than he found it; but in truth, though its military power was greater, its commercial greatness was passing away. The development of trade in the Levant through the establishment of Christian kingdoms in the East by the Crusaders reduced the trade of Constantinople, it has been estimated, by "a third or even a half in the fifty years that followed the first crusade." A system of financial extortion and a debased coinage brought the merchants of the city still nearer to ruin, and that ruin seemed consummated when they found the Genoese and Pisans settled with special privileges in their midst. But the new Emperor at least kept up appearances. He was a conqueror, and he was popular among his subjects, called at first Maurojoannes (Black John), from his dark complexion, he soon became called Kalojoannes, for his goodness rather than his beauty. At the first he was met by conspiracy. His sister Anna was ready to have him murdered that she and her husband might ascend the throne. He discovered the plot, and after a few weeks restored her to all her possessions. His brother Isaac fled from Constantinople to the Turks, and though he returned, his 98 son afterwards became a Mohammedan. For chief minister the Emperor had a Turkish slave who had been captured by his father at Nicaea and brought up with him. These instances show how closely the Empire, in spite of its Christianity, was drawing nigh to the Turks, a state of affairs paralleled by the relations between Christians and Moors in Spain in the days of El Cid Campeador, and which made the conquest, when it came, less abrupt and terrible than it seems to-day.

The reign of John Comnenus (1118-1143) was perhaps the brightest in the later years of the Empire. "Feared by his nobles, beloved by his people," says Gibbon, "he was never reduced to the painful necessity of punishing, or even of pardoning, his enemies. During his government of twenty-five years[23] the penalty of death was abolished in the Roman Empire, a law of mercy most delightful to the human theorist, but of which the practice, in a large and vicious community, is seldom consistent with the public safety. Severe to himself, indulgent to others, the philosophic Marcus would not have disdained the artless virtues of his successor, derived from his heart and not borrowed from the schools. He despised and moderated the stately magnificence of the Byzantine Court, so oppressive to the people, so contemptible to the eye of reason. Under such a prince innocence had nothing to fear and merit had everything to hope; and without assuming the tyrannic office of a censor he introduced a gradual though visible reformation in the public and private manners of Constantinople."

Manuel I., his youngest son, whom he chose for his military daring in preference to his brother Isaac, was "a mere knight errant, who loved fighting for fighting's 99 sake, and allowed his passion for excitement and adventure to be his only guide." It is said that he made a special payment to secure the good will of the clergy on his accession; but he was vicious as well as passionate, and the crimes of his court received a licence from his own acts. Buffoonery as well as vice seems to have marked the life of Constantinople, for the popular minister, John Kameratos, was renowned as the greatest drinker of his time, as being able to swallow a vast quantity of raw beans and drink "the water contained in an immense porphyry vase at two draughts," and he was favoured by the Emperor chiefly for his powers as a singer and dancer. Manuel himself was skilled in surgery and was a theologian as well as a warrior, but his abilities were of no service to the Empire. The citizens saw the Italians encroaching upon them at every point. Heavy taxation was continued, but the army and navy alike decayed in his time. Only the public games were kept up, and outwardly Constantinople was as gay and wealthy as ever. Benjamin of Tudela, a Jew who visited the city in 1161, wrote of the magnificence that he saw everywhere, and the riches of the traders and nobles, and in the Hippodrome he said that "lions, bears and leopards were shown, and all nations of the world were represented, together with surprising feats of jugglery." With all this, and especially after the war with Venice, which was ended in 1174, the city was really becoming poor, and it might almost seem defenceless. Manuel did much for the defences; a large part of the land walls, defending the palace of Blachernae, was added by him; an inscription on the tower close to Narli Kapoussi records his repair of part of the sea wall; and he built many other gates and additional fortifications. It was indeed time.

The eleventh century saw the position of the 100 Empire and the safety of the imperial city continually threatened not only by active attacks but by internal dissensions; dissensions which, it has been well said, would have settled themselves a century before, but which now both weakened the city and made its weakness apparent to the world.

How weak the city was, was seen in 1146, when a Norman fleet sailed up the Hellespont, and the admiral robbed the imperial gardens of fruit. Bulgars, Serbians, Turks, had all at different times threatened the city, and without success, but its internal weakness was made the more evident as the century went on by the division which was arising between the Emperor and his people. Manuel I. was believed to be at heart a Latin; his campaigns of the West, his marriages to Western wives, his neglect of the fleet, his encouragement of foreign settlers in the capital, all increased his unpopularity. Matters were not improved under the boy, Alexius II., when the struggle between his mother and the minister she favoured, and his sister, took place in the streets of the city, and in S. Sophia itself. The dynastic dispute was complicated, like all the disputes in Constantinople, by ecclesiastical interests, and the return of a patriarch who had been driven out was one of those picturesque scenes in which the people delighted, which showed their independence of the government, but revealed also, only too plainly, that there was now no union in Church or State.

A few words may suffice to explain and date the events of the latter part of the twelfth century.

Manuel up to his death in 1180 retained all the appearance of a victorious Emperor, though he suffered a severe defeat in 1176, at Myriokephalon in Phrygia, from the Seljukian Turks. Crusading princes, the Turkish Sultan Kilidji Arslan, and the Christian King, Amaury of Jerusalem, visited him at Constantinople, 101 and were received with ostentatious splendour. Alexius II., his son and successor, was a boy of thirteen, and in two years the streets of the imperial city witnessed a desperate encounter between his supporters and those of his sister Maria, which swept up to the walls of S. Sophia. Then Andronicus, the cousin of the Emperor Manuel, was recalled from banishment, and he signalised his acquisition of power by a massacre of the Latins in the city. From this he proceeded to slay every one who stood in his way, till, in 1183, having murdered the young Alexius, he seated himself on the throne. For two years he continued a course of crimes greater than those that any sovereign ever committed, till a popular insurrection crowned a descendant of the great Alexius. Andronicus, though the vilest of men, had made a serious effort to reform the administration and reduce the influence of the nobles. His fall left the Empire to its fate.

The miserable end of the wickedest of the Emperors, as it is told by a recent writer from the pages of Nicetas, may well serve to illustrate the horrors with which the Empire in its fall was only too familiar.

He was confined in the prison called after the Cretan Anemas, who was first imprisoned there by Alexius Comnenus. "He quitted it only to die at the hands of his infuriated subjects. On the eve of his execution he was bound with chains about the neck and feet, like some wild animal, and dragged into the presence of his successor, Isaac Angelus, to be subjected to every indignity. He was reviled, beaten, struck on the mouth; he had his hair and beard plucked, his teeth knocked out, his right hand struck off with an axe, and then was sent back to his cell, and left there without food or water or attention of any kind for several days. When brought forth for execution, 102 he was dressed like a slave, blinded of one eye, mounted upon a mangy camel, and led in mock triumph through the streets of the city to the Hippodrome, amidst a storm of hatred and insult, seldom, if ever, witnessed under similar circumstances in a civilised community. At the Hippodrome he was hung by the feet on the architrave of two short columns which stood beside the figures of a wolf and a hyena, his natural associates. But neither his pitiable condition, nor his quiet endurance of pain, nor his pathetic cry, "Kyrie eleison, why dost Thou break the bruised reed?" excited the slightest commiseration. Additional and indescribable insults were heaped upon the fallen tyrant, until his agony was brought to an end by three men who plunged their swords into his body, to exhibit their dexterity in the use of arms."[24]

Isaac Angelus was little more worthy of his position than the man whom he displaced. He gave himself to enjoyment, to building, to luxury of every kind. He lost Bulgaria and Cyprus, and when his own general, Alexis Branas, turned against him and led his troops to besiege Constantinople, it was saved only by Conrad of Montferrat, the husband of the Emperor's sister Theodora, who was then in the city on his way to the East.

The troops of Branas assembled outside the walls and attacked, but were driven back from the gate of Charisius (Edirnè Kapoussi): the famous icon of the Blessed Virgin, believed to have been painted by S. Luke, was carried round the walls: then a sortie led by Conrad scattered the rebels and brought the revolt to an end. But Isaac was incapable of ruling. He retained his throne with difficulty for ten years. At length in 1195, when he was on the way to the 103 Bulgarian war, he was betrayed by his brother Alexius. He was not, as would have happened two centuries before, made a monk: he was imprisoned in a monastery, blinded, and left to die in peace. No one foresaw his restoration.

Alexius III., called also Angelus Comnenus, was no wit better than his brother, but he had a clever wife, Euphrosyne, in whom the worst characteristics of the Eastern Empresses were reproduced. Her profligacy and extravagance completed the ruin of the Empire, and when the fourth crusade turned its arms against the city it fell an easy prey.

It has been well said of the rule of the early Byzantines—during the period, that is, that extended from the foundation of the city by Constantine down to the death of Michael VI. and the end of the Macedonian dynasty—that no other government has ever existed in Europe which has secured for so long a time the same advantages to the people. There was a general security for life and property; there was a magnificent system of law; there was a genuine and commanding influence of religion; and municipal government was, for the age, well developed. But this can only be accepted with considerable qualifications. If the government itself did not change, the dynasties often did; if there was a good code of laws, there were terrible and barbarous punishments, and there were often periods of mob-rule; if there was a sound system of municipal government, it was far from a complete check on the excesses of imperial power.

But the most striking characteristic of these centuries, when all deductions have been made, is the stability of the government. As the city and the Empire were ruled under Isaac Comnenus, so, save for changes more superficial than real, had it been ruled under 104 Justinian. The new families of merchant princes that had grown up and lined the Bosphorus with their houses, were as much in touch with the old system as the old families had been. Trading interests had become stronger and stronger with each century, and trading interests are in the main conservative. But the century and a half that followed the accession of the Comneni told inevitably in favour of further changes. First there was the slow and terrible advance of the Turks, cutting away strip by strip the outskirts of the Empire. Then there was the exhaustion proceeding from the constant passage through the Empire of crusaders, often pillaging, always contending, a continual drain upon the material resources of the land. More important still was the great and rapid increase of dynastic contentions. As ever, internal dissension was the real cause of the self-betrayal which gave up Constantinople in 1204 to the robbers of the West.

The condition of Constantinople at the beginning of the thirteenth century has been the subject of more than one exhaustive examination. We must briefly summarise what is known of the capital at this period of its greatest riches, and perhaps its greatest weakness. First and most prominently, it was a great commercial centre. Subordinate to its commerce were its art, rich and wonderful though that was, its military power, even its popular and all-embracing religious spirit. Commerce influenced all these. It gathered together all the nations of the earth, and it inspired them with greed for its treasures. Constantinople was, as it still is to some extent, in spite of the revolutions wrought by railways and by steamships, the most important outlet of commerce in the world. All the traffic of Asia naturally came that way; the great caravans of Central Asia, the trade of Palestine, Asia 105 Minor, Persia, even Egypt, journeyed naturally to the New Rome. So naturally was Constantinople the centre of trade that she acted as a sort of universal banker. Her coins were in use in India and in distant England.

And the merchants who made their living in Constantinople had, like those of the Hansa in London, their own permanent settlements. You may see to-day the great khans or caravanserais where the merchants and pilgrims congregate, the walls strong to resist attacks, the gates closed at nightfall, the arrangements for common meals and common ablutions; and as you pass by you see the dark figures clustering in the doorways, or sitting on the marble steps, in their picturesque colours, and with that strange far-away look on their faces that you learn to know so well in the land where there is never any more pressing need than repose, or any delight more sweet. The custom of these great common lodgings, and very often the buildings themselves, go back far into the Middle Ages. In the thirteenth century they held great colonies of merchants strong for mutual combination and defence. Many of them were near to the wharves, as close within the walls as might be, and some without. No visitor to-day can fail to be struck by the great khan hard by the Mosque of Validè Sultan, which he passes when he has crossed the Galata Bridge on his way to S. Sophia.

The traders of the thirteenth century were by no means all Christians. Jews and even Mohammedans were allowed to settle in the imperial city, and Geoffrey of Vinsauf bitterly says "it would have been right even to have rased the city to the ground, for, if we believe report, it was polluted by new mosques, which its perfidious Emperor allowed to be built that he might strengthen the league with the Turks." It 106 seemed strange to the Western that such toleration should be allowed. The Jews and the Albigenses were the only "dissenters" he had met; but in the East there were not only the Romanists, but the Monophysite Armenians and the Nestorian Chaldeans; Jews and Mohammedans made no such very great addition to the parliament of religions. And they all, infidels and heretics alike, brought their riches to the great mart. As the Turks advanced over Asia, scattering ruin and blight before their path, the riches of the devastated cities fled to shelter behind the Byzantine walls. No city it seemed to a Jewish observer of the time was so rich or so full of business save Baghdad. Gold was nothing accounted of; it covered the walls and pillars of the palace, it made the throne of the Emperor, the lamps of S. Sophia, the vessels of many an almost forgotten church. "The whole Empire had been put under contribution for the adornment of the capital. The temples and public buildings of Greece, of Asia Minor, and of the islands of the Archipelago, had been ransacked to embellish what its inhabitants spoke of as the Queen City, and even Egypt had contributed an obelisk and many other monuments." All who saw the city were amazed at its riches, at the magnificence of its buildings, of its churches, palaces, houses of nobles and merchants. Marble and stone houses filled the chief streets; the splendid marble from the quarries of the Proconnesus, the stone which still stands firm in the massive dwellings of the Phanar. There were of course then as now many houses of wood, and fires were constant, but those who noted the fine houses destroyed as more than in the three largest cities of France, noted also that of those that remained as of the treasures of the churches there was "neither end nor measure." And with all this there was a profound sense of security, so often 107 and so unwarrantably contemporaneous with a marked development of luxurious life. Constantinople had never been captured, men easily believed that it never would be. Its walls, so magnificent in their decay, had proved and were thought still to be impregnable. The subtle influence of Oriental habits had eaten, it seemed, into the life that had been so strong and fierce under Justinian or Heraclius. Men, as they had ceased to contend earnestly for faith or morals, had sunk down into a luxurious pleasure-loving life, almost like that of old Rome or modern London. Some of the worst features of Asiatic life had already been introduced; the entourage of the Sultan that is now so conspicuous at the Selamlik had its counterpart in the court of the Comneni. The Emperor's favourites were coming to be the administrators of the Empire: so bitterly complains the chronicler Nicetas—"these creatures who guard the mountains and the forests for the Emperors' hunting with as great care as the old pagans guarded the groves sacred to the gods, or with a fidelity like that with which the destroying angel guards the gates of Paradise, threatened to kill any one who attempted to cut timber for the fleet": it was at the crisis of the Empire. And while the Empire was ruled by eunuchs and the court by mistresses the Emperors of the twelfth century lived in luxury, effeminacy, and indolence. It had come to be thought—what a contrast from the days of the sleepless Justinian!—that work was impossible for a Cæsar of the East. And the example spread, as such examples always do, downwards. It was easy for there to be a general who could not lead, soldiers who could not fight, sailors who could not navigate beyond the Bosphorus. And there was no hope of regeneration from a strong Church preaching righteousness. The Emperors in the time of their power had reduced 108 the patriarchs to impotence: and now there was no one in the Church to resist, as there was no one in the State to lead. Yet still the immemorial protest of the Church was not altogether silenced. Historians show that there were many priests and monks who preached and lived according to a high standard of morality and religion. Learning still survived, and piety, without ostentation but never wholly without influence.

It is not necessary to detail the causes which led to the diversion of the fourth Crusade upon Constantinople. Venice, it is enough to say, betrayed the Christian cause by a secret treaty with the infidel, and then formed a plot for the capture of the city. Alexius III. had deposed Isaac Angelus in 1195; his son Alexius was allowed to escape and secretly took ship for Italy and eventually threw himself upon the charity of his brother-in-law, Philip of Swabia, the claimant of the imperial crown of the West. He was assisted; and by a series of complicated intrigues the Crusaders were induced to undertake the capture of Constantinople and the restoration of the Empire to the supposed rightful heir, as a step towards the accomplishment of the duty to which they were pledged, the recovery of the Holy Land. The Pope's wishes were set aside, the honest leaders were hoodwinked, and Dandolo won the day.

On the 23rd of June 1204 the crusading fleet anchored at San Stefano. Thence they saw the magnificent city that lay before them. "Be sure," says Villehardouin, "there was not a man who did not tremble, because never was so great an enterprise undertaken by so small a number of men." Next day they sailed up to the Bosphorus, past the walls, crowded with spectators, to the anchorage of Chalcedon. The Emperor sent to know their intentions: they ordered him to surrender the crown to the young Alexius. Then came another of those picturesque scenes of 109 which the mediæval history of the New Rome is so full. It was determined to show the young prince to the people whom he came to recover to their allegiance. The splendid Venetian galleys sailed up to the walls of the Sea of Marmora, and stopped where the crowds that thronged them could see. Then loud voices proclaimed the presence of the young Alexius, and demanded the loyal assent of the people to the restoration of his father. Only mocking laughter came back from the walls.

Then the Crusaders prepared for the attack. First it was necessary to break the chain which crossed the Golden Horn from Galata, near what is now Tophané, to near the point of the peninsula of Byzantium. A fierce attack was made on the watch-tower at Galata, from which the chain began. It was captured, the chain was loosed, and the fleet sailed up the Golden Horn. The army was then landed beyond the walls, where is now Eyoub, and took up a position opposite the Blachernae quarter, which had so long been felt to be the weakest point. They were opposed then by the wall of Manuel Comnenus which extended southward of the wall of Heraclius, and considerably in advance of the old Theodosian fortification. Moats, walls, towers, stood before them, a defence hitherto unbroken, and which even before the last fortification was erected it had been found impossible to overthrow.

And so it proved again. When the attack on July 17, 1203, was directed against the northern point of the wall of the Blachernae quarter, near the Xylo-porta, it was utterly defeated. And so again when Dandolo, the old blind Doge, dauntless in bravery as adept in cunning, led the attack from his galleys, their success was but temporary. The old sea-dog had his galley drawn up close to the walls, threw himself on shore, 110 on the narrow strip of land that stood between the water and the walls, and planted the gonfalon of S. Mark on one of the towers. The ends of the flying bridges were thrust from the vessels on to the towers and thus twenty-five were captured. But the Venetians could not maintain their position, and when the Greeks were reported to have made a sortie from the gate of S. Romanus, south of the Blachernae quarter, they withdrew to help these other Crusaders who were attacked.

Meanwhile within the walls disaffection with the government of Alexius III. was growing into readiness to accept the new sovereign to be set up by the Crusaders rather than to risk the chances of capture. Alexius himself would do nothing to protect the city: and when he brought out his troops to the sortie, he retired with them before any fighting took place. Before the next day he himself fled across the sea, deserting his wife and children and the city. The imprisoned Isaac was at once released and placed upon the throne.

This was far from satisfying the greed of the Crusaders. It took away from them every honest cause for attack. So they demanded through Villehardouin, who has himself written us the account of it, that Isaac should consent to the hard terms which Alexius his son had agreed to—that the Empire should be placed under the Roman Pope; that 200,000 marks of silver should be given to the army, and that they should be supported for a year; that 10,000 of them should be taken to Egypt in Greek vessels at the Emperor's expense, and supported there for a year; and that Isaac should agree, during the whole of his life, to keep five hundred knights for the defence of the Holy Land. The Emperor, though from the first he said that he 111 thought it would be impossible to carry it out, felt bound to give his consent to the convention. Alexius was crowned in S. Sophia as joint occupant of his father's throne, and it seemed as if the danger was at an end.

But it was only just begun. Some of the Crusaders wanted to push on at once to the Holy Land or to Egypt; but they had not enough money, and no ships. And the Venetians who held the ships delayed: they cared for nothing but that the army should be divided. Within the city the fiercest opposition was aroused when it was known that Alexius had promised to subordinate the Church to Rome. He was making large exactions too, to pay the men who had brought him back to his country. Feeling against him rose rapidly in the capital. He left with Boniface of Montferrat to pursue the fugitive Emperor to Adrianople.

During his absence the populace, eager to vent their rage upon the foreigners, attacked the Pisan quarter: a sort of retaliatory measure was the attack of the Crusaders on a Saracen mosque between S. Irene and the sea. The Saracens had legal rights of toleration, and the Christians of Constantinople defended them. The riot ended, as riots so often do in the East, in a fire—and before it was over a great strip of the most thickly populated part of the city, running right across from the Golden Horn to the Mamora, was utterly destroyed. Confusion soon reigned within the city. The old Emperor, so long imprisoned, was weak and foolish; but young Alexius was equally weak and enjoyed his new sovereignty without the slightest dignity. He drank and gambled in the Crusaders' tents, took off his imperial circlet, and wore the woollen caps of his boon companions. And he could not find money to pay the incessant demands of the greedy host. As new taxes were levied the 112 citizens resisted, and eventually the Western troops became really in need. They had not enough provisions: why were they waiting: why were the ships not ready to carry them on their quest?

At length all the allies agreed to demand formally of the Emperor the payment of the money that was promised; if he refused they would defy him to his face. The scene was another of those dramatic audacities which so often flash across the history of the city. Villehardouin and five others stood before the Emperors on their thrones in the palace of Blachernae, and their spokesman, Conan de Bethune, spoke thus:

"We come to summon you in the presence of your barons to fulfil the agreement made between you and us. If you fulfil it, well; if not, take note that the barons will hold you neither for lord nor friend, but they will deem themselves free to take what belongs to them as they can get it. They give you warning that till they have defied you they will do you no harm. They will not betray you; that is not the custom of their land. Now you have heard what we have said, and you will take counsel on the matter how you will."

No such speech, men said, had ever been made to a Roman Emperor; and Villehardouin wonders that the envoys were allowed to depart in peace. But for a week or two nothing happened. Yet the city was slowly rising to fever point. Attacks were made on the Venetian fleet; the people assembled in the great Church of S. Sophia and debated how they could drive out the foreigner, and replace the dastard Emperors. Then it seemed to Alexius that he must protect himself. He called on Boniface of Montferrat to protect the palace with Frenchmen and Italians. That sealed his fate.

Alexius Ducas, a kinsman of the Emperors and protovestiarios of the household, whom the people called 113 "Mourtozouphlos" on account of his thick overhanging eyebrows, determined to dethrone the Cæsars and replace them. He prevailed on Alexius to leave the palace for safety, and at once placed him in chains. In a few days both he and his father were dead, and Alexius V. was crowned in S. Sophia.

The new Emperor set himself at once to defend the city, and at once he drew down on him the vengeance of the Crusaders. They were, of course, the defenders of Isaac Angelus and his son. "Never was so horrible a treason committed by any people as deposing and imprisoning young Alexius," says Villehardouin, who had a few days before taken part in insulting him to his face. When a little later they heard that he was dead, they paused for a while as though in dismay: their difficulties grew on them: the storms of a January at Constantinople made them reluctant to embark: and yet what could they do?

Henry Dandolo met the new Emperor in conference within the walls, and demanded the submission of the Church to Rome and an immediate payment of money. It is said that there was a treacherous attempt to capture the Emperor. At any rate no compromise was arrived at, and the divergent parties among the Crusaders agreed to besiege the city. Long was the debate before the final step was taken. They talked, says Villehardouin in his quaint way, before and behind. At last it was agreed how to divide the spoil, how a new Emperor and a new patriarch should be chosen.

On April 9, 1204, the first attack was delivered, on the Petrion or Phanar, and the gate now called Petri Kapoussi at the east of the church of the Patriarchate was first attacked. The invaders were repulsed. A second attack, on the 12th, was more successful. "The flying bridge of the Pélerine 114 lodged itself on a tower and allowed a bold French knight, André d'Urboise, to rush across, seize the tower, and clear a way for their comrades to follow. Here ladders were then landed, the walls scaled, three gates forced, and the city thrown open to the whole host of the invaders." In vain did Mourtozouphlos try to rally his troops; he was forced to take refuge in the palace of the Bucoleon. In the night he fled through the Golden Gate, through which before Emperors had entered only in triumphal procession. Next day the Crusaders entered; the palaces were occupied; the troops marched through the streets; and then the horrible work of plunder and ravage began.

Nicetas, the Grand Logothete, whose own house was burnt earlier in the siege, and who now had to escape with his family as best he might, tells piteous tales of the horrors that ensued. Of the destruction of precious things it seems impossible to draw an adequate picture. S. Sophia, then the richest as well as the finest church in the world, was utterly despoiled; and what had been "an earthly heaven, a throne of divine magnificence, an image of the firmament created by the Almighty," became like a bare barn, and was defiled by the most disgraceful scenes of profanity and horror.

When the church had been stripped of everything it contained, the altars of precious metals broken up to be melted down, the vestments and carpets and hangings carried off, the sacred vessels packed up with the other plunder as if they were common things, the sacred icons torn down from the splendid iconostasis; when the tombs of the emperors had been rifled, and the body of Justinian cast out like that of a criminal in the search for treasure, it might be thought that the worst was over. It was not so. Then began the hunt for relics which made not the least degrading 115 part of the work of these soldiers of Christ. Well was it said by a contemporary that if these soldiers had when they besieged the city the shield of the Lord, now when they had taken the city they threw away His shield and took the shield of the devil. Bitter, and well deserved, were the words of Nicetas. "You have taken up the Cross, and have sworn on it and on the Holy Gospels to us that you would pass over the territory of Christians without shedding blood and without turning to the right hand or to the left. You told us that you had taken up arms against the Saracens only, and that you would steep them in their blood alone. You promised to keep yourselves chaste while you bore the Cross, as became soldiers enrolled under the banner of Christ. Instead of defending His tomb, you have outraged the faithful who are members of Him. You have used Christians worse than the Arabs used the Latins, for they at least respected women."

Of the extraordinary quantity of ecclesiastical plunder taken by the Crusaders we have the records collected by Comte Riant in his monumental (and delightful) volumes of Exuviæ Sacræ Constantinopolitanæ. It may be observed, to begin with, that he collects no less than a hundred and forty-four letters relating to the reception in the West of these stolen relics. To these are added endless references in the chroniclers of the time, who were enchanted with the riches that poured upon their religious houses, and displayed all the passion of a collector of antiquities combined with the business instincts of a dealer in curiosities and the piety of a hagiologist. In spite of all this evidence—and there is more of it, in inscription, later lives of the saints, and the like—it is impossible to discover exactly all that was stolen, because the lists of the relics preserved in the churches of Constantinople at the actual time of the siege have disappeared. But it is possible 116 of course, from earlier lists, as well as from the sources already named, to discover what were the greater part of the relics taken.

The riches of Constantinople were well known to the Crusaders when they turned to besiege it. The stories of the earlier crusades were well known, when the Greeks had loved to show the treasures of the imperial city, the riches of S. Sophia, and even of the imperial palace. In the East were almost all the most sacred survivals, nearly all that remained in fact, or was believed to remain, of the relics of the Saviour, His Mother, and most of His Apostles. In the West, till the thirteenth century, there was practically nothing but the relics of Western, and, therefore, comparatively modern, saints, and the few more sacred treasures that had been given by Eastern sovereigns to those of the West.

For three days the pillage went on. Churches escaped no more than palaces or private houses. Indeed they were more greedily ransacked: and after the days of direct pillage there came weeks, months, of deliberate search for relics which had been concealed. The result was, as M. Riant says, to rob Constantinople of two distinct sorts of sacred objects; of relics, with or without their reliquaries, and of ecclesiastical furniture. It seems that the treasures taken were supposed to be placed in a common fund and divided proportionately among the nations concerned; but there was a great deal of chicanery and jobbery as well as of direct spoliation; ecclesiastical furniture certainly was supposed to be divided like the other booty, but the relics were regarded as too sacred for anything but direct robbery. It should be added, also, that much that was not taken at first was acquired during the period of the Latin Empire in ways more or less legitimate. The robbery went on for forty years.

Time would fail to tell of the wonderful things that 117 were discovered and stolen. Almost every country in Europe received some fragments of the True Cross, found by S. Helena. Besides this there were drops of the Saviour's Blood, one of His teeth, some of His hair, the purple robe, some of the bread blessed at the Last Supper, and countless relics of the Blessed Virgin and the Apostles. The heads of S. John Baptist and of many of the Apostles found their way to the West. Venice was incomparably the largest gainer, but even the little church of Bromholm in Norfolk, by a gift which was the result of a double robbery, became the possessor of a fragment of the true Cross. The Crusaders were not content with taking relics of the primitive Church, but must needs take also the mortal remains of the Greek Fathers; you may see the head of S. Chrysostom to-day in the cathedral of Pisa.

The reliquaries, the exquisite examples of Byzantine art, that were scattered about the West, remain very often even now to witness to the completeness of the spoliation. But artistically the things that were destroyed, broken up or melted down, were far more precious than those that survived. If S. Mark's still possesses the horses that once stood in the Hippodrome of Constantinople, we know that magnificent statues of Juno, of Paris, of Bellerophon, an exquisite figure of Helen, of which Nicetas pathetically deplores that "she who had formerly led all spectators captive could not soften the heart of the barbarians," and many ancient works, statues, medallions, vases, were destroyed in the furnace. There are remains of ancient art in Constantinople to-day; but when we think of the pillage of 1204 and the Mohammedan Conquest we marvel that there is anything more ancient than the sixteenth century, or more valuable than a kettle or a candlestick of old time, to be found in the whole city. 118

The capture of the city was followed by the election, by twelve electors representing the Crusaders, of an Emperor for the throne of the Cæsars. Baldwin Count of Flanders, by what process of intrigue we do not know, was chosen. He was "heaved" upon the shield, as the ancient custom was; he received the reverence of those who had been his equals in the campaign; he was led in triumph to S. Sophia, and in a strange mixture of Latin and Greek rites was consecrated, crowned and enthroned a week after his election, as Cæsar and Augustus.

But this was not all. It is possible that in time the citizens, weary of their decadent rulers, might have come to accept without active discontent the rule of a gallant and chivalrous Christian knight such as Baldwin. But the Crusaders, and most of all the Pope, would not be content with this. If they were justified at all in the havoc they had made it was only because the Easterns were heretics and idolaters and schismatics. The Church of Constantinople was "rebellious and odious" to that of Rome. It must be brought to submission. So a century later the case is summed up, "God delivered the city into the hands of the Latins because the Greeks declared that the Holy Ghost proceeded only from the Father, and celebrated the mass with leavened bread." Such was the feeling,—though the expression of it is somewhat of an anachronism,—that animated now the leaders of the hosts, which, sated with their debauchery, began to feel something of an inevitable remorse.

But Innocent III. was of too pure a soul to countenance the iniquity that had been committed. Among all the shameless hypocrisies of the time his words of denunciation ring out true. Even the union of the Churches on which he had set his heart seemed to him now to be impossible. "Disappointment, shame, and 119 anxiety weaken us when we ask whether the Greek Church can enter into union with the Apostolic see when that Church had seen among the Latins only the works of darkness."

Meanwhile the Venetians set canons in the Church of S. Sophia, and elected Morosini to be patriarch. It was an empty honour. In fifty-seven years a Greek again was seated on the throne of Justinian, and the Liturgy of S. Chrysostom was again sung in S. Sophia; but long before that revolts had made the Latin hold on the East more and more precarious, and the city more and more able to reassert its ancient independence.

4. From the Latin Conquest to the Conquest by the Turks.

It is unnecessary to tell of the division of the Empire among the conquerors, or of how a daughter of Alexius III. wedded the heroic Greek who still fought on, Theodore Lascaris, and was the ancestress of one who eventually brought back the old Empire; of how Mourtozouphlos was caught by the Latins and cast down from the top of the column of Arcadius, or of how Greek states sprang into existence on every side; how Baldwin the Emperor was captured by the Bulgarians and died a horrible death. These events all happened within two years. Henry, the brother of Baldwin, reigned in his stead. Henry Dandolo the old doge died "in the fulness of years and glory" and was buried, it would seem, in S. Sophia, where the great slab that covered his grave is still to be seen. Ten years later Henry the Emperor passed away, and Peter of Courtenay, husband of his sister Yolande reigned in his stead. He reigned though crowned in Rome, only to be captured on 120 his way to Constantinople, and to pass away from history to an unknown fate. Robert, his son, was crowned in S. Sophia in 1221. His fate was hardly less ignominious. His successors, the child Baldwin II. (Courtenay) and John of Brienne, were besieged in Constantinople by the Greek so-called Emperor of Nicæa and John Asēn, the Bulgarian king, but the aged joint-Emperor successfully defended the city. The young Baldwin went as a beggar to the chief courts of Europe, was the pensioner of S. Louis, seated himself with difficulty on the throne, descended to an ignoble marriage treaty with a Mohammedan Sultan and sold the Crown of Thorns to the king of the Franks.

In the weakness into which they had fallen, it is not to be wondered that the survivors of the Latin conquerors were easily vanquished by the advancing power of the Greeks, and on July 25th, 1261, John Ducas and Michael Palæologus were welcomed back by the exultant Greeks to the throne of the Cæsars.

It was Alexius Strategopoulos, General and Cæsar, who captured the city. By night he led his men to the gate of the Pegè (πύλη τῆς πηγῆς)—the gate which led out to the spring of Balukli, now called the gate of Selivria. The Latins had built up the entrance, but some of the soldiers scaled the walls, and aided by friends within, killed the guards, broke down the barricade, and opened the gate. A few days later the Emperor, Michael Palæologus, entered in triumph. He walked as far as the church of S. John of the Studium. Then he mounted his horse and rode on to S. Sophia. So the Greeks had won back their city. But the results of the Latin conquest and the years of strife that followed it were not undone. The historian of that conquest has thus summed them up. 121

"The results of the Fourth Crusade upon European civilisation were altogether disastrous. The light of Greek civilisation, which Byzantium had kept burning for nearly nine centuries after Constantine had chosen it as his capital, was suddenly extinguished. The hardness, the narrowness and the Hebraicism of western civilisation were left to develop themselves with little admixture from the joyousness and the beauty of Greek life. Every one knows that the Turkish conquest of Constantinople dispersed throughout the West a knowledge of Greek literature, and that such knowledge contributed largely to the bringing about of the Reformation and of modern ways of thought. One cannot but regret that the knowledge of Greek literature was so dearly bought. If the dispersion of a few Greeks, members of a conquered and therefore despised race, but yet carrying their precious manuscripts and knowledge among hostile peoples, could produce so important a result, what effect might not reasonably have been hoped for if the great crime against which Innocent protested had not been committed? Western Europe saw the sparks of learning dispersed among its people. The light which had been continuously burning in a never forgotten and, among the literary class, a scarcely changed language, had been put out. The crime of the Fourth Crusade handed over Constantinople and the Balkan peninsula to six centuries of barbarism, and rendered futile the attempts of Innocent and subsequent statesmen to recover Syria and Asia Minor to Christendom and civilisation. If we would understand the full significance of the Latin conquest of Constantinople, we must try to realise what might now be the civilisation of Western Europe if the Romania of six centuries ago had not been destroyed. One may picture not only the Black Sea, the Bosphorus, and the Marmora surrounded by 122 progressive and civilised nations, but even the eastern and southern shores of the Mediterranean given back again to good government and a religion which is not a barrier to civilisation."[25]

The restored Empire of the Greeks was ruled for some years with wisdom and enthusiasm. Michael Palæologus was of an ancient family already allied with the imperial house, and "in his person the splendour of birth was dignified by the merit of the soldier and statesman." He was admitted as the guardian, and then as the colleague, of the child-Emperor John. The gallant Varangians, the northern soldiers whose force had been replenished by fresh blood from year to year, and had never deserted the imperial house, had raised him to the throne, and he ruled with a severity and determination that bore down all opposition.

It was his first task to cleanse and restore the palace of Blachernae, left filthy and dilapidated by Baldwin II. Then he set about the restoration of the walls. His chief attention was paid to the sea walls, which he raised seven feet by means of wooden erections covered with hide; and later he began to make a double line of walls to protect the sea side of the city as the land side was protected. He took the harbour of the Kontoscalion (in front of what is now Koum Kapoussi) for a dockyard, had it dredged and deepened, protected by an iron mole and "surrounded with immense blocks, closed with iron gates." But he was determined to rule alone, and before the end of the year he had blinded his young colleague and banished him. He was excommunicated by the patriarch Arsenius, and a schism was caused by his banishment of the prelate, which was not healed for nearly fifty years. 123

Fearing a renewed invasion by the Latins he did his utmost to make alliances to protect himself. He established the Genoese in a settled concession at Galata, hoping to make them a firm support against their rivals of Venice. But this act only made the commercial rivalries stronger, and planted a power which soon became hostile on the very shores of the capital and in command of the Golden Horn. "The Roman Empire," says Gibbon, "might soon have sunk into a province of Genoa, if the Republic had not been checked by the ruin of her freedom and naval power." No less disastrous was the attempt of Michael to unite with the Roman Church. Urban IV. had taken up the cause of the young Baldwin and called on the powers to make Crusade. Michael endeavoured to meet him by diplomacy if not by submission. His envoys attended the council held at Lyons in 1274 by the Pope Gregory X. Veccus, who had long opposed the union of the churches, underwent a sharp imprisonment in the prison of Anemas, but being convinced of the error of his opinions was released to mount the patriarchal throne. But all these measures were in vain. On questions of faith it should not have been impossible for candid men, as the history of Veccus shows, to bring the churches into essential union, but the claim of the Popes to supremacy, which they emphasised by the mission of legates, was one which the Church of Constantinople has never admitted. Michael died in 1282. Already his attempt had failed, and he died excommunicated by pope and patriarch. The restorer of the Empire was unworthy to rank among its heroes, and the historian of the Greek people has described him in language of severity that is well deserved. "He was selfish, hypocritical, able and accomplished, an inborn liar, vain, meddling, ambitious, cruel and rapacious. He has gained renown as the restorer of 124 the Eastern Empire; he ought to be execrated as the corrupter of the Greek race, for his reign affords a signal example of the extent to which a nation may be degraded by the misconduct of its sovereign when he is entrusted with despotic power."

Of his intrigues, the most important of which was his encouragement of the revolt of John of Procida against the French in Sicily, ever memorable as the Sicilian Vespers, it can only be said that they may have saved him from attack. Catalan mercenaries, who after the expulsion of the French from Sicily came into the service of the Empire, overwhelmed its fairest provinces with rapine and disaster. It is a history which makes Gibbon for once ascend the pulpit of the preacher of righteousness. "I shall not, I trust, be accused of superstition; but I must remark that, even in this world, the natural order of events will sometimes assume the strong appearances of moral retribution. The first Palæologus had saved his Empire by involving the kingdoms of the West in rebellion and blood; and from these seeds of discord uprose a generation of iron men, who assaulted and endangered the Empire of his son."

Andronicus II., indeed, had a long but disastrous reign. He continued his father's works at the harbour of the Kontoscalion. He repaired the sea walls, and in 1317, when his wife, Irene, died and left him some money, the impoverished Cæsar was able to undertake a general repair of the whole of the fortifications. Otherwise he is known in the history of the city only for his disputes with the patriarch, his abject submissions, and his misfortunes. His son, Michael IX., was from 1295 to 1320 the associate of his throne, and won universal praise. His grandson, Andronicus III., sank to the pleasures which had disgraced so many of his predecessors, but when his iniquities were 125 too flagrant to be concealed, when his brother Manuel was murdered, it was believed, through his orders, and his father, Michael IX., died of grief, he took up arms against his grandfather, secured his own coronation, and then the absolute submission of the aged Emperor. Andronicus lived in 1332 in the great palace, but in absolute penury. He took monastic vows and died, no longer as Emperor, but as the poor monk Antony.

Andronicus the younger (III.), though he married princesses of Western houses, did not add to the dignity of the Eastern Empire. He died in 1341, and left behind him a child of eight, the son of his second wife, Agnes of Savoy. He was protected by John Cantacuzene, who had protected his father, and finally won him the crown, and who himself bore a character that was high among the best of the Byzantine statesmen and generals. But palace intrigues and attacks of interested politicians against him, at last obliged him, as he declares—for he is his own historian—to assume the Imperial title. In the war that ensued it seems that while the people supported the Palæologi, the officials supported the new claimant. It gave the opportunity to the Servian king, Stephen Dashan, to extend his territories and threaten to replace the Emperors as leaders of the Greek peoples. Strip by strip the territory of the Empire was shorn away, and Serbians, Turks, and Albanians left little to be conquered by Cantacuzene. At last, after previous failures, he advanced to the walls again in 1347 and was admitted secretly by his friends through the Golden Gate. For once, what was practically a change of dynasty was accomplished without bloodshed. John Cantacuzene became Emperor and gave his daughter in marriage to John Palæologus. It is said by a contemporary that so poor 126 were even the imperial houses that at the wedding feast the illustrious personages had to be served in earthenware and pewter: strange change from the time when the very walls of the palace glittered with gold. In seven years the balance of power changed completely. War, first joint against the Serbians, then hostile against each other, was ended, it seemed, in favour of Cantacuzene by the assistance—a woeful precedent—of the Turks, now settled in Europe and the masters of Adrianople. But when the successful Emperor tried to associate his son Matthew on the throne, the feeling of Constantinople turned strongly against him. In 1358, John Palæologus whose seat of government had been fixed at Thessalonica, arrived, with but two galleys and two thousand men, on a dark night at the gate of the Hodegetria on the Sea of Marmora. Bringing their vessels quite close to the gate, they made every sign of distress, throwing out oil-jars and uttering cries for help. The stratagem succeeded; the guards opened the gate and came to their assistance. They were overpowered, and the troops rushed in and captured the adjoining tower. The city rose in favour of the young Palæologus, and John Cantacuzene with great willingness, if he is to be believed in his own case, retired from the throne and entered a monastery, where he died in 1383.

Each change of Emperor marked the more clearly the coming end of the Empire. John VI. Palæologus "carelessly watched the decline of the Empire for thirty-six years," from the day when he became sole ruler. He saw the growth of the Turkish power, and he sought the aid of Urban V. for the final contest that he saw must come. In 1361 he was decisively defeated before Adrianople, and in later years he was little better than the vassal of the Sultan. He himself went to Rome in 1369, and submitted to the Latin 127 Church, on the points of the Procession of the Holy Spirit, the use of unleavened bread and the supremacy of the Roman See. So poor was he that he was arrested at Venice, on his return, for debt. The Cæsar of the East had indeed sunk low.

He was compelled to aid Sultan Murad with troops, and during his absence in Asia, apparently in 1374, his eldest son, Andronicus, secured Constantinople, in alliance with the Turkish Sultan's son, also a rebel against his father. By the aid of Murad, Andronicus was seized. He was imprisoned in the tower of Anemas with his wife and his son John, then only five years old. He was to have been blinded, but perhaps in mercy the sight of one eye was not harmed. After two years he was released, and he at once made alliance with the Genoese and with the Sultan Bayezid, and marched to the capital. He caught his father and his brother Manuel, who were at the palace of the Pegé, now the village of Balukli, and sent them with his younger brother Theodore to the prison in which he himself had been confined, "as Zeus," says the historian Ducas, with a classic touch such as the Greeks always delighted to use, "cast his father Kronos and his brothers Pluto and Poseidon into Tartarus." Andronicus entered the city by the Selivri Kapoussi (gate of the Pege), and held the throne for two years and a half. Bayezid urged him to kill his father and brothers, but he would not; and within two years, in some way, as to which the historians—none of whom are strictly contemporary—differ, they escaped, and with the aid of Murad, or Bayezid (for again the dates are doubtful), attacked the city, entered by the gate of S. Romanus, and defeated Andronicus, who was allowed to retire to Selivria as ruler of the adjacent lands. In 1384 Manuel was recognised as heir to his father. These changes were 128 all effected by the aid of the Turks, and of the cities of Genoa and Venice, who, it might seem, gave the city to whom they would; and when John VI. began to repair the walls which thirty-six years before he had himself despoiled, he was stopped by order of Bayezid and compelled to destroy what he had done.

In his time decay visibly laid its hand on the still splendid city. Many of the streets, it is said, were almost in ruins, the palaces empty, and the costliest and most beautiful treasures of the ancient Byzantine art had been sold to the Genoese and the Venetians. But for the defeat of Bayezid by Timur, the prize would have fallen into the hands of the Turks half a century before it was theirs at last.

Manuel II. had an unquiet reign. Forced to yield on every side to the demands of the Sultan, blockaded in Constantinople, he was at last forced to admit his cousin John, the son of Andronicus, as joint Emperor, in 1399, a title which he seems to have borne but a short time.

For a while it seemed that the distractions and defeats of the Turks might give opportunity for a revival of the Empire. In 1411 a Turkish attack on Constantinople was driven off; but the Greeks were incapable of using their own victories or the weakness of their enemies; and though Manuel made some reforms in the administration the members of his household thwarted him on every side. The years of peace were wasted, and in 1422 Murad II. appeared before the walls of the imperial city.

The defeat of the Turks—their last—was soon followed by the death of Manuel (1425). John VII. set himself to repair the walls, but he could not rebuild or repopulate the city. The decay, in spite of the outward splendour, the disgraceful subjection of the Emperor to the Turks, and the hatred of the Greeks 129 for the Westerns, all struck the keen observer Bertrandon de la Brocquière, a Burgundian knight, who visited the city in 1433. The despairing effort of the Emperor was to win the help of a new crusade by union with the Latin Church.

Those who have stood in admiration before the frescoes of Benozzo Gozzoli in the Riccardi Palace at Florence will remember the solemn impressive figure of John Palæologus, in his gorgeous robes, as he rides in the procession of the Magi, a stately personage contrasting markedly with the bourgeois Medici who follow him. Italians knew the Eastern Emperor, for in 1438 he stood with the patriarch before the Council of Ferrara, and in the next year, in Florence itself accepted, with his bishops (save the bishop of Ephesus), the doctrines of the Latins, and joined on July 6, 1439, in the proclamation beneath the dome of Brunelleschi, then only three years completed, of the unity of the Catholic Church of East and West.

When he returned to Constantinople the people refused to accept the union, and even the bishops who had signed the decrees of Florence now repudiated their act as a sin. No help came from the West; and John died in 1448, having preserved his throne even by temporising with the Turks.

Constantine Palæologus was the eldest surviving son of the Emperor Manuel. He could only ascend the throne by the consent of the Sultan, and when that was obtained he was crowned in Sparta, where he had ruled. On the 12th of March 1449 he entered Constantinople. The city was receiving its new lord with exultation and joy, says his friend and chronicler Phrantzes. So long as Murad still reigned they were indeed safe, but when Mohammed II. became Sultan it was clear that there would be war.

Constantine turned—it was his only hope—to the 130 West for aid. He sent an embassy to Rome begging for help, and showing willingness to renew the union of the Churches. The Pope, Nicholas V., sent back Cardinal Isidore, who had once been a Russian bishop, but, having accepted the decrees of Florence, had remained loyal to them, and was an exile from his country in consequence. He arrived at Constantinople in November 1452, bringing some money and a few troops. On December 12, 1452, the union was ratified in S. Sophia, and Cardinal Isidore said mass according to the Latin rite. From that day the people regarded the church as desecrated. In the church and monastery of the Pantokrator the monk Gennadios preached against the crime and folly of the union. Many of the great nobles cried out against it; one even declared that the Sultan would be a far better lord than the Pope. As Constantine rode through the streets daily the mob mocked and reviled him; and some cried out "rather than that we should be Latins would we be Turks." The holy sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ they rejected, declaring that it was polluted. Even if an angel from heaven had descended and declared that he would save the city if only the people would unite with the Roman Church the people would have refused. So the chroniclers describe the disunion within. Without, the preparations were complete.

The conquerors of Constantinople had had a romantic history. A horde of barbarians, coming from the far East, and a branch of the race known to Chinese historians as the Hiung-no, they emerge into history in the sixth century, then assuming the name of Turk, which they were to make famous. In the latter half of that century they became known to the rulers of Constantinople. In 568 embassies came to the Emperor from the Northern Turks. Eight years later an 131 embassy was sent to the Southern Turks. At the very end of the century an embassy came to the Emperor Maurice in 598 from the Khan of the Turks, now claiming to be a great sovereign. But it was more than six centuries before the Empire came face to face with the actual tribe which should found the power that was to take its place. Pressed hard by the Seljuks, with territories limited to the Bithynian province, it was not till the beginning of the fourteenth century that Osman, the founder of the Osmanlis, came forward as a leader who should begin a line of mighty sovereigns.

Legends surround the life of Osman; his dream of a great tree which should overshadow the world, of Constantinople won by clashing swords, of the ring of universal Empire, his romantic love suit, belong perhaps to history, but only as it appears magnified by an imagination fired by the wonderful successes of later years. More certain are the capture of Nicaea and of Brusa, accomplished by his son,—the latter still the picture of a Turkish city, with its innumerable mosques, its trees and gardens, its population half-military, but now wholly languid and quiescent. The sword of Osman is still the sign of power among his descendants. It rests in the türbeh of Eyûb, the companion of Mohammed himself, who fell not by the sword but by disease during the first Moslem attack on Constantinople in 672, and over whose grave Mohammed the Conqueror built a tomb, to the Moslems the most sacred of all in the city they had made their own. Osman was brought to Brusa only to be buried. His son Orchan carried fire and sword nearer and nearer to the goal. It was he who founded the terrible corps of the Janissaries, Christian child captives trained by the sternest methods to be the fiercest champions of Islam. In 1326 Orchan captured Nicomedia; 132 in 1330 he defeated the imperial host led against him by the Emperor himself, and Nicaea fell into his hands. He showed the wisdom and restraint which, combined with the daring and ferocity of his men, served to strengthen the Turkish power step by step in the districts it won. Nicaea was not pillaged. Its citizens were allowed to live on in peace under Moslem laws, and Orchan himself by every act of charity and of devotion to his religion sought, and won, the respect of the people whom he had conquered. Then for twenty years he rested and prepared. Brusa was enriched with mosques and hospitals, tombs of soldiers and prophets, fountains, baths, colleges of students of the Koran. There rest to-day the first six Sultans, among "some five hundred tombs of famous men, pashas, scheiks, professors, orators, physicians, poets, musicians."

The years of waiting ended when in 1346 the power of Orchan was so great, and was recognised to be so dangerous, that John Cantacuzene, the Christian Cæsar, did not hesitate to purchase his friendship by the gift of his daughter Theodora, in a marriage performed with all the pomp of a State ceremonial, but without even the form of a Christian blessing. The friendship thus bought was never yielded. The Osmanlis crossed to Europe in freebooting bands, and ravaged up to the very walls of Constantinople; and when the Genoese whom Cantacuzene had settled at Galata fought with him and destroyed his fleet, it was with the aid of Orchan that they fought against their benefactor. In 1356 Orchan's son, Suleiman, inspired like his grandfather by a dream or a vision which he took as a supernatural summons, crossed to Europe with but thirty-nine companions, and took the fort of Tzympe near Gallipoli. In three days there were three thousand Turks settled in Europe. It was the beginning of an Empire which lasts to this day. The occupation 133 of Gallipoli followed, and when Orchan died in 1359, the Turks had settled down to wait, for a hundred years, till the Queen city herself should fall into their hands.

Before him his son Suleiman had passed away; and his tomb at the northern entrance to the Hellespont seemed to mark the country for the possession of the Turks. "For a hundred years he was the only Ottoman prince who lay buried in European earth; and his tomb continually incited the races of Asia to perform their pilgrimage to it with the sword of conquest. Of all the hero-tombs," says Von Hammer, "which have hitherto been mentioned in connection with Ottoman history, there is none more renowned, or more visited, than that of the second Vizier of the Empire, the fortunate crosser of the Hellespont, who laid the foundation of the Ottoman power in Europe."

Already the military organisation was founded, and the system which had made in the brother of Orchan as Vizier the civil ruler of the people. Now the settlement in Europe was begun. Murad (or Amurath, as our forefathers called the name), the younger brother of Suleiman, succeeded his father. In less than thirty years he had transformed the face of Southern Europe, and made the Emperor of Rome but a dependent of his power. He landed and established his armies in Thrace. He defeated the Hungarians and Serbians and captured Nisch; he pressed southwards and Adrianople fell into his hands; and then when the circle of Turkish territory was drawn closely round Constantinople, he turned northwards and became the conqueror of the northern lands ruled by princes Christian yet still barbarian, who had long before this conquered them from the Empire. In 1389 Murad was slain, after a great victory, by Milosch Kobilovitsch, the hero of Serbian legend. Bayezid, his son, reigned in his stead; and he began 134 the fatal custom which still further consolidated the monarchy. On the very day of his accession he had his brother murdered, and so wise was the precedent considered that by the time of Mohammed the Conqueror it became a law that every brother of the Sultan should be slain. He began, too, it is asserted, the hideous vices which have stained the Empire of his successors, and which degraded the courts of the Sultan with the guilt of the rulers and the shame of their captives.

The battle of Kossova, the last fight of Murad, was followed before long by that of Nicopolis, in which the choicest chivalry of Europe went down before the fierce onslaught of the Turkish squadrons. The captives, all but twenty-four knights, who were spared, were butchered in cold blood in the presence of their comrades, before the tent of Bayezid.

Then Bayezid led his hosts to the conquest of Greece; and in 1397 Athens fell before his arms. The Cæsars bowed before him, suffered a mosque to be built within the walls of Constantinople, and actually joined their arms to his for the capture of the one Greek city which remained free in the midst of the European conquests of the Turks. When at last the insolent Sultan demanded that the crown of the Emperors should be yielded to him, and threatened to exterminate the inhabitants of the capital if he were not obeyed, it is said that the nobles replied: "We know our weakness, but we trust in the God of justice, who protects the weak and lowly, and puts down the mighty from on high." It was an answer that befitted the ancient city.

Before the attack was made that seemed certain to prove fatal to the last stronghold, the capital of the Christian Empire, Bayezid was called away to meet the onslaught of the greatest of conquerors, Timur the Tartar. The great battle of Angora shattered 135 the Turkish power, destroyed the Janissaries and left Bayezid himself a prisoner in the hands of Timur. Before a year was over, the proud Sultan died, and the power which he had made so great was utterly crushed beneath the feet of the Tartars.

Brusa itself was left in ruins, and not only the son of Bayezid, who was safe in Adrianople, made submission, but even the Emperor paid tribute to Timur. Then the conquering horde swept back again to the Far East, and the Turks set to work to rebuild again the power that had been shattered.

Domestic warfare succeeded the destruction at the hands of foreign foes, and Mohammed I., the youngest son of Bayezid, established his authority over his brothers as ruler of the Osmanlis by the aid of the Emperor Manuel Palæologus. His brother Musa laid siege to Constantinople, and the troops of Mohammed actually joined with those of Manuel in the successful defence of the city. Mohammed was the ally, almost the subject, of the Emperor, and when he died he sought to commend his children to Manuel's care.

Mohammed died in 1421 at Adrianople. His son Murad II. had to fight for his throne against a pretender whom the Emperor had set free, and whom he overcame only by the help of the Genoese galleys which carried him from Asia to Europe. In 1422 he was ready to revenge himself on the Greeks. His army encamped before the walls of Constantinople, and his own tent was set up in the garden of the Church of the Blessed Virgin of the Fountain (Balukli). He brought his cannon to bear upon the walls that cross the valley of the Lycus, but without success. The walls of Theodosius were still too strong, and the fierce attack on the gate of S. Romanus was a failure now, as it would not be thirty years later. 136

The city was stoutly defended. John Palæologus, the Emperor's son, commanded a garrison inspired by the fullest religious enthusiasm: and when a vision of the Blessed Virgin, the Panhagia, was seen on the walls, both by assailants and defenders, the siege was given up; and the Sultan did not attempt to renew it. Still, a tribute was paid by the Emperor, and it must have been clear to the Osmanlis that the capture was but for a short time deferred. But Murad had to undergo defeats at the hands of the Hungarians, which he amply avenged: and his two abdications showed that he was weary of power, if not incapable of wielding it. The end of his reign saw him repeatedly over-matched by the Albanian hero, Scanderbeg, whom he himself had trained among the Janissaries. In 1451 he died; and then the greatest triumph of the Osmanlis was at hand.

The early history of Mohammed II. has been thus summed up, in the clear-cut eloquence of Dean Church.

"Three times did Mohammed the Conqueror ascend the Ottoman throne. Twice he had resigned it, a sullen and reluctant boy of fourteen, whom it was necessary to inveigle out of the way, lest he should resist his father to the face, when, to save the State, he appeared to resume his abdicated power. The third time, seven years older, he sprang on the great prize with the eagerness and ferocity of a beast of prey. He never drew bridle from Magnesia, when he heard of his father's death, till on the second day he reached Gallipoli, on his way to Adrianople. To smother his infant brother in the bath was his first act of power; and then he turned, with all the force of his relentless and insatiate nature to where the inheritor of what remained of the greatness of the Cæsars—leisurely arranging marriages and embassies—still detained from the Moslems the first city of the East;—little 137 knowing the savage eye that was fixed upon him, little suspecting the nearness of a doom which had so often threatened and had been so often averted."

It did not need the half-defiant attitudes of Constantine XII. to arouse the young Sultan: as soon as he had concluded a truce with his northern foes he began to make those elaborate preparations which should ensure success in the great conquest. His first act was to secure the isolation of the capital. Already he held the passage of the Dardanelles; now he would secure that of the Bosphorus. In 1393 Bayezid had built on the Asiatic shore, some five miles above Constantinople, the fortress which was the first distinct menace to the imperial city. Anadoli Hissar, the "Asiatic Castle," still stands overhanging the water's edge, a splendid mediæval building of four square towers with one great central keep. In 1452 a corresponding tower was begun on the other side of the sea, at the point where the passage is narrowest. The first stone was laid by Mohammed himself on March 26, 1452, and by the middle of August the castle was completed. The design of this Roumeli Hissar represented the name of the Prophet and the Sultan, the consonants standing out as towers. Protests were unheeded and the two envoys sent by the Emperor to remonstrate were butchered at once. A Venetian galley was sunk as it passed, to prove the range of the guns. Its crew were slain when they swam ashore. A Hungarian engineer was employed to direct a cannon foundry, and a vast store of materials of war was accumulated for the siege. After another winter's preparation all was ready, and early in the spring of 1453 a vast Turkish host[26] was ranged from the 138 Golden Horn to the Marmora. The sea was covered by three hundred vessels and it seemed as if succour was cut off on every side.

On April 6, 1453, the siege began.

The last message of the Roman Emperor to the Turkish Sultan had been somewhat in these words: "As it is plain thou desirest war more than peace, as I cannot satisfy thee by my vows of sincerity or by my readiness to swear allegiance, so let it be according to thy will. I turn now and look above to God. If it be His will that the city should become thine, where is he who can oppose His will? If He should inspire thee with a wish for peace, I shall indeed be happy. Nevertheless I release thee from all thy oaths and treaties to me, I close the gates of my city, I will defend my people to the last drop of my blood. And so, reign in happiness till the Righteous and Supreme Judge shall call us both before the seat of His judgment."

It was in this spirit that Constantinople stood to meet the foe. Mohammed when he came in sight of the walls, spread his carpet on the ground and turning towards Mecca prayed for the success of his enterprise. Everywhere throughout the camp the Ulemas promised victory and the delights of Paradise.

On April 7, the Turkish lines were drawn opposite the walls. The tent of the Sultan himself was placed opposite the gate of S. Romanus (Top Kapoussi). Thence to his right the Asiatic troops stretched down to the sea, to his left past the gate of Charisius (Edirnè Kapoussi), the European levies extended northwards to the Golden Horn. Within four days sixty-nine cannon were set in position against the walls, and with them ancient engines, such as catapults and balistae, discharging stones. On the heights about Galata also a strong body of troops was placed.


Within, measures had been taken to repair the walls, 141 but it is said that the money had been embezzled by the two monks, skilled in engineering, to whom it had been given, and in some places the fortifications were not strong enough to support cannon. Constantine sought help from every side. On April 20, four ships laden with grain forced their way through the Turkish fleet, but they added few if any to the defenders. The Venetian aid that had been promised did not arrive even at Euboea till two days after the Turks had captured the city. Of troops within, Phrantzes, who himself had charge of the search, states that there were hardly seven thousand in all, of whom two thousand were foreigners. Others give higher numbers, but there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of the Emperor's most trusted friend. Strange it seems that outside, in the Sultan's army, some thirty thousand Christians were fighting for the infidels. Phrantzes says that when he heard that some of the Byzantine nobles had left the city, the Emperor only heaved a deep sigh.

Of the arrangements for defence, the fullest accounts can be found in the writings of Phrantzes and Ducas, the letters of Archbishop Leonardo of Mitylene and of Cardinal Isidore, the report of the Florentine Tedardi, two poems, and a Slavonic MS. quoted by M. Mijatovich.[27]

Here it is needless to tell how each wall was manned. It may suffice to say that during the few weeks that passed, while the Christians still kept their foes at bay, there was no rest for the besieged. Sometimes when the Emperor went on his rounds to inspect the defences he found the weary soldiers asleep at their posts. He seemed himself to be sleepless; every hour that he did not devote to the defences he seemed to spend at prayer. 142

He visited every post himself; he even crossed the Golden Horn in a small boat to be sure of the security of the great chain which stretched from the tower of Galata to what is now called Seraglio Point. Every hour he had to contend with new difficulties, with monks declaring that defence was hopeless because of the union with the Latins, with Italian mercenaries clamouring for pay. He was compelled to take the furniture of the churches when the treasures of the palace were quite exhausted, but he promised if God should free the city to restore to Him fourfold.

After nearly a week in which the heavy Turkish cannon thundered against the walls, the gunners learned at last from the Hungarian envoys to their camp how to direct their fire. At length, on April 18, at the hour of vespers, a great attack was made. The people rushed out from the churches, and the air was filled with the cries of the combatants, the ringing of the bells, the clash of arms. The attack was strongest against the weak walls by the Blachernae quarter, and by the gate of S. Romanus. After hours of hard fighting it was repulsed, and Te Deum was sung in all the churches for the victory.

The victory of the 18th, followed by that of the 20th, when the ships broke up the whole Turkish fleet and rode triumphantly into the Golden Horn, inspirited the besieged. But on the 21st the cannonade brought down one of the towers that defended the gate of S. Romanus. The Sultan was not on the spot, and the Turks were not ready to make assault, so the opportunity passed. After these victories the Emperor hoped that it was possible to induce the Sultan to retire. He offered to surrender everything but the city, and there were some in the infidel camp who would have been ready to make terms, but Mohammed would offer only that the whole Peloponnesus should be Constantine's 143 in undisturbed possession, if he would yield the city. The terms were rejected, and the Emperor prepared for the worst.

But still the Turks were far from the end of their task. Long though the extent of land walls was that had to be manned, it was not difficult to protect it with a comparatively small force. A low counter-scarp enclosed a moat, over which rose the scarp surmounted by breastworks. Above this was the line of the outworks, with towers advanced here and there from their surface. Behind, and also protected by high towers, was the inner or great wall, with breast work and rampart. It was "the most perfect of Eastern fortresses,"[28] and might indeed seem impregnable. Every wall had its "military engines capable of playing on the siege-works of the beleaguering army." And as the walls "were loopholed at a stage below the battlements," the "garrison could fire not merely from the parapets but from a well protected second line of openings." While therefore it was quite possible to defend the land walls, the besieged relied for ultimate safety on being able to leave without risk the walls of the Golden Horn and the sea practically undefended. The Turkish fleet would not venture to draw near to the Marmora walls. The Golden Horn was safe with Galata on the other side—though the Genoese held aloof, through treaty probably with Mohammed—and the chain across. The Sultan had already tried to force the chain but failed. So it seemed safe:—

"Till Birnam wood shall come to Dunsinane."

But the genius of the Sultan, or as one authority says, a Christian in his army, devised a scheme which at once 144 made him the master of the city. He determined to transport his fleet overland into the Golden Horn from the Bosphorus. An extraordinary feat it was, but it was splendidly performed. A narrow canal was dug, paved, and set with rollers. The point of starting was between Top Haneh and Beshiktash, out of the range of the fort at Galata. Thence between two and three miles up the valley of Dolma Bagtché the seventy or eighty ships were drawn by night up the hill of Pera to the point where now the gardens stand just below the Hotel Bristol, and thence down the hill to the bay of Kassim Pasha where now stands the great Arsenal.[29] When the watchers on the towers of Galata and the Kentatarion by the Gate of Eugenius could see through the fogs of dawn on the morning of April 22, the great fleet was no longer before them in the Bosphorus, but behind in the Golden Horn there rode the gallant vessels with their flags flying in the breeze. The north-east wall must be reinforced. How could it be done?

The Venetian ships in the harbour determined to attack the Turks before they could complete the great pontoon which they were preparing to bring up. For some days, however, nothing was done. The attacks on the land walls continued and were beaten back, often with heavy loss. But each day provisions were growing less and the defenders were growing weaker. On the morning of April 28th two Venetian galleys, three smaller ships, and two stored with fire, advanced upon the Turks. They were received with the fire of four cannon. The great galley of Gabrielo 145 Trevisani sank, and one of the smaller ships. Only one of the Turkish ships caught fire. The Venetians who swam to shore when their ships sank were beheaded next day in sight of the defenders of the walls. A bitter revenge was taken. Over two hundred and fifty Turks had at some time or other been captured and lay in the prisons of Constantinople. They were now all beheaded on the walls in sight of their kindred. The horrible act made certain what would be the fate of the city if it fell.

And internal dissensions made the fall seem imminent. The Venetians accused the Genoese and the Genoese the Venetians for the failure of their attack on the Turkish fleet, till Constantine himself called their leaders before him and besought them to be at peace. "The war without," he said, "is enough; by the mercy of God seek not war among ourselves." "So," says Phrantzes, "with much speech at length he pacified them."

Next day and on the first of May the Turkish cannon did some damage; but in some parts the fire was utterly unable to penetrate or dislodge the splendid masonry, and one tower near the Lycus, it is said, was struck by over seventy balls without suffering in the slightest; and the great gun built by the Hungarian mercenary Ourban was dismounted by the fire of the cannon directed by the gallant Genoese engineer Giustiniani, who, with four hundred of his countrymen, manned the walls near the gate of S. Romanus. Mohammed himself was standing by the gun at the moment, and in rage called his troops at once to the assault. They crossed the counter-scarp and began to pull down the scarp where it had been repaired; but again the defenders drove them back.

It was said when the attack began the walls were but half manned, as some of the soldiers had actually 146 left their posts to go home to dine. This laxity, as soon as it was discovered, was of course stopped; but it shows how utterly the people, safe for centuries behind their defences, had forgotten the meaning of war.

The Emperor on the 3rd of May sent out a ship which penetrated through the Turkish fleet, being disguised with Turkish colours, to beg aid. It was plain that if it were much delayed it would be too late. A council of war, indeed, advised the Emperor to escape while it was still possible. The Patriarch and the Senators urged him to go, assuring him that he could then easily gather an army to relieve the city. "The emperor," we are told, "listened to all this quietly and patiently. At last, after having been for some time in deep thought, he began to speak: 'I thank you all for the advice which you have given me. I know that my going out of the city might be of some benefit to me, inasmuch as all that you foresee might really happen. But it is impossible for me to go away: how could I leave the churches of our Lord, and His servants the clergy, and the throne, and my people in such a plight? What would the world say of me? I pray you, my friends, in future do not say to me anything else but, 'Nay, sire, do not leave us.' Never, never, will I leave you. I am resolved to die here with you.' And saying this, the Emperor turned his head aside, because tears filled his eyes; and with him wept the Patriarch and all who were there."[30]

In the next two days a ship was sunk, and the other Christian vessels were compelled to withdraw outside the chain. A Genoese merchant ship was also sunk, and when the merchants of Galata protested, declaring 147 that they were entirely neutral, the Grand Vizier promised to compensate them, when the city was taken.

During the next week the breach by the gate of S. Romanus was daily widened, and on the 7th of May a desperate attack was made upon the walls. But again with splendid courage the Turks were beaten back, though some of the bravest of the defenders fell.

On the 12th of May a breach was made in the walls north of the palace of the Porphyrogenitus, and thousands of Turks poured in. It was only the arrival of Constantine himself, summoned hastily from a council of war, that drove forth the hosts after hot fighting. The Emperor would have pushed through and fought hand to hand in the ditch, we are told, if he had not been held back by his nobles.

From this date every effort was concentrated upon the gate of S. Romanus. There more cannon were directed; and in return men were brought from the fleet, now felt to be useless, to man the walls. One of the towers fell; and new engines were constantly being brought, with clever shelters for the archers. A great erection covered with bulls' hide was destroyed by a gallant attack from the walls, to the surprise of the Turks, who thought the feat impossible. Mines and countermines every day were discovered; every day the defenders were becoming weaker.

On the 23rd an envoy from the Sultan was admitted to the city. Again, and for the last time, Constantine was offered a sovereignty in the Peloponnese, freedom for all who chose to depart, and security for the persons and possessions of all who should choose to remain after the surrender. Again he rejected the offer. No doubt he thought that it was impossible to trust it; nor could the Roman Emperor endure to yield the city that had been but once captured in its age-long history. "We 148 are prepared to die." The last hope failed just after the last bold defiance was returned: the ship sent out returned, to say that nowhere had it found the vessels of the relieving force.

The people began to see portents in the sky, when the great bonfires in the Turkish camp were reflected on the great dome of S. Sophia. The Emperor stood on the walls watching the enemy keeping festival, it seemed, with sounds of music, and shrill cries and the beating of drums. As he watched, says one who saw him, the tears coursed down his cheeks. He knew what must come, but he was ready to fight to the last. Again he was urged to fly, the Patriarch declaring that the city now must fall. Again, and for the last time he refused. "How many Emperors, great and glorious, before me have suffered and died for their country? Shall I be the one to fly? No, I will die with you!"

The ladies of the imperial household, the sister-in-law of the Emperor and her attendants, were sent away in a ship of Giustiniani's; and everything was prepared for the worst. By gigantic efforts the walls were repaired, and so well was the work done that even the Sultan was for a moment half dismayed.

Already there were many in the Turkish camp who thought the enterprise too hazardous to continue. It was known that a Venetian fleet was on the way, and that a league was being formed by the Pope. After long debate it was decided to make one last assault, and, if that failed, to raise the siege. On the night of the 28th, Mohammed visited all the posts, and promised to his soldiers all the pillage of the city, encouraging them by every hope for this world and the next. In the city priests bearing the sacred icons went through the streets. It was for the last time. For the last time Constantine called his officers 149 together and spoke to them in brave words which burnt themselves into the memory of the faithful Phrantzes.

"Brothers and fellow-soldiers, be ready for the morn. If God gives us grace and valour, and the Holy Trinity help us, in Whom alone we trust, we will do such deeds that the foe shall fall back with shame before our arms." Then, says the chronicler, the wretched Romans strengthened their hearts like lions, sought and gave pardon, and with tears embraced each other as though mindful no more of wife or children or earthly goods, but only of death, which, for the safety of their country, they were glad to undergo. Constantine for the last time went to the great church, and there, before all the bishops, asked the pardon of all whom he had wronged. Then he received his last communion. For the last time the Holy Sacrifice was offered in S. Sophia, and then the last of the Cæsars and his nobles went forth to die.

Before cock-crow he was again at his post; and with the first streak of dawn the Turkish troops poured forth to the attack. Again and again they were forced back, and again forced forward by the troops behind them. The moat had been filled with earth and stones; but a great palisade of stones covered with hides had been set up below the inner wall. The Janissaries at length rushed up to the breach, but even they were driven back. The critical moment came when a wound compelled Giustiniani to retire, and a few minutes after the Turks discovered a gate in the outer wall that had been newly opened, near to the gate of Charisius, and below the palace of the Porphyrogenitus, found it unprotected, and entering through it turned upon the defenders from within. Already the Genoese had left their posts when their 150 leader withdrew. The Janissaries again advanced; they stormed the barricade, and at the moment when some discovered the Kerko-porta,[31] others forced their way through the gate of Charisius, and others through the great breach near where the great Cæsar had stood. When the city was entered he was in the street calling his men around him. He rode forward, cutting his way through the foe, with some of the bravest of his nobles round him. At length he fell, near the gate of S. Romanus, by an unknown hand, and the conquering Turks swept over his body.

The age-long fight which the Imperial East had waged against barbarism was over. The city of the Cæsars and the Church was in the hands of the infidel. The land where the scholarship of the ancient world and the law of the pioneers of equal justice had been preserved unbroken, was now trodden under foot of those whose life was formed on quite other models. Europe had stood by for centuries and watched the gallant battle waged by the Christians who manned the bulwarks of her civilisation. She had now to learn what was meant by the substitution of the Koran for the Bible, of Mohammed for Christ.

Within a few hours of the capture of the gate of S. Romanus the whole city was overrun by the victorious troops. At first they slew all whom they saw, but when it was plain that all opposition was over they began to make captives, tying them together with ropes and dragging them on as they advanced further into the city. In the last hours of the siege thousands had gathered in the great church of S. Sophia. There many still thought that they must find safety. God, they fancied, could not allow the infidel to desecrate the fairest church in all the world. An angel, it had been prophesied, would descend at the last 151 moment and strike the enemies of Christ to the dust.

The great doors were shut, and the hushed thousands stood in prayer. The cries of the victors came nearer and nearer, and at last the doors of the narthex were beaten in and the savage soldiery rushed in, slaying at first, then seizing captives, tearing down every Christian symbol, and shattering with their axes the magnificent iconostasis, before which, twelve hours before, Constantine and his gallant men had bent in reverent devotion.[32]

At noon Mohammed himself entered the city by the gate of S. Romanus. He rode straight down the wide street which leads to S. Sophia, followed by the greatest of his officers and the holy men of the Mussulman faith. At the great door he dismounted, and taking earth from the ground he poured it on his head, as mindful of the end of all earthly conquests. Then he entered, and when he saw that wonderful sight which still strikes dumb with awe the greatest and the meanest of mankind, he stayed. Then, after some minutes' silence, he passed up to the altar. As he went he saw a soldier wantonly breaking up the beautiful pavement with his axe, and sternly forbade him, with a blow. As the priests stood before him he assured them of his protection, and he bade those Christians who still stood unfettered in the church to go to their homes in peace.

Then the Sultan ordered one of the Ulemas to mount the pulpit and read forth to the conquerors from the Koran, and he himself mounted upon the marble altar 152 and prayed. Two legends have grown up round these first moments of the Mussulman triumph in the great church. It is said that as the first infidel entered a priest was celebrating the Eucharist, and that he passed into the wall, which mysteriously opened for him and closed when he had passed, bearing the Body and Blood of the Lord. He will return, they say, when the Christians again have S. Sophia for their own. The other legend points to a pillar at the south-east where a mark like a blood-stained hand stands out on the white marble. There it declared, Mohammed riding his horse over heaps of dead, made an impress of blood and victory, and ordered the slaughter to be stayed.

As the day went on it became known that some of the most notable of the defenders had escaped. Tedardi the Florentine, whose record of the siege is one of the most valuable we possess, when at last he saw that the fight was hopeless, fled to the harbour and with many others swam out to the Venetian ships some of which put out to sea and escaped. Giustiniani's wound had proved mortal. Cardinal Isidore, in disguise, was taken captive, but a Genoese of Galata bought his freedom. Many escaped to Galata. Some paid large ransoms: some were slaughtered, whether Latins or Greeks, in spite of the money they gave. Most of the Greeks were made captive. The duke Notaras and his family were at first spared, but when Mohammed demanded that the duke's son, a boy of fourteen, should be sent to him in the palace, he refused, and he and all his sons were put to death.

The usual fate of the Greek nobles however was that the fathers were slain, the boys taken to the barracks of the Janissaries, and the women and girls to the harems of the sultan and his chief favourites. Some forty thousand Greeks perished during the siege, fifty thousand it is supposed became captives, ten thousand, it is possible, 153 some few rich, most the very poor, retained their freedom if not their homes.[33]

The body of Constantine, recognised by the purple buskins, was found in a heap of dead. His head was cut off and borne to the Sultan. It was exposed on a column in front of the palace. The body was buried with respect, and over its grave, not far from where the mosque of Suleiman now stands, a lamp has always been kept burning, but the Ottoman government has sternly repressed the attempt of the faithful Greeks to turn it into a place of pilgrimage and prayer.

So ended the Roman empire of the East. Its fall was an undying disgrace to Christendom, which stood by and would not help. But it fell chiefly through its own weakness. Military power and religion had been the strength of the Empire; corruption had eaten away the first, and the luxury and vice of the imperial court had shown that the Christian faith had failed to hold its own. In the hour of their despair the Emperors turned again to Christ, but it was too late to save the Empire which their defiance of His laws had brought to desolation. The Church of Constantinople must pass through the fires of persecution, and recover in its isolation, if it might be, the strength of the first days.

When Mohammed passed from the great church, he rode along the Hippodrome, and when he came to the serpent column from Delphi he struck off one of the three heads. He had done, he might have said, with the old world. It was the day of the new peoples: a day which began with the destruction of the old. As he walked through the deserted halls of the great palace he repeated the words of Firdusi:

Now the spider draws the curtain in the Cæsar's palace hall,

And the owl is made the sentinel on Afrasiab's tower of watch.

Constantinople under the Turks


Constantinople soon became Stambûl in the mouth of the Turks, a corruption it may be of the εἰς τὴν πόλιν which they had often heard in the mouth of the Greeks. The crescent of Byzantium became the symbol of the Ottoman power. A new city began to be raised on the ruins of the old.


Some privileges were left to the Christians. Galata and Pera were from the first confirmed in their independence and freedom of trade; yet step by step the Turkish sway was established over them, and though the foreign liberties still exist, and are reinforced by the privileges, from time to time increased, of the ambassadors and their households and the colonies they protect, the Sultan's rule is complete on both 155 sides of the Golden Horn. After three days of plunder, Mohammed set himself to make order. He declared that he would protect the Greek Church. A new patriarch, George Scholarios or Gennadios, was installed: his ecclesiastical jurisdiction was recognized. He was allowed to hallow new churches, and one little humble oratory remained undefiled by the infidel. On the hill above the Phanar, hidden away in a side street, by a high wall, stands the little white-washed sanctuary round which on the fatal day the fight had surged. The Turks still call it Kan Klissé, the church of blood. The Greeks know it as S. Mary Mouchliotissa (the Mongolian), in memory, not only of the B. V. M., but of Mary the daughter of Manuel Palæologus, who had married the Khan of the Mongols, and after his death returned to Constantinople and built or restored the little church. Mohammed gave it to the architect Christodoulos, and by special firman, preserved it to the Christians.

The patriarchal throne was moved first to the Church of the Apostles, soon destroyed to make the mosque of the conqueror; thence to the Pammakaristos (Fetîyeh Djami); thence to the Church of the Wallachian palace in the Phanar, now the monastery of the Jerusalem patriarchate. At last, in 1601, it was moved to the ancient Petrion, where it remains. The palace of the patriarch is close by: the walls still show remains of the ancient fortifications, and of the stones of the monastery where the Empress Theodora lived so long in retirement. The church has a beautiful iconostasis of dark olive wood, and a patriarchal throne and pulpit, all probably of the seventeenth century, but which the faithful delight to ascribe to much earlier days. The throne is called the throne of S. John Chrysostom, the pulpit his 156 pulpit; but their only claim to the title is that they belong to his successors, in an unbroken line. In this sheltered spot, and in the district of Phanar, stretching between the inner bridge over the Golden Horn and the ultra-Moslem suburb of Eyûb, remain the last links of Constantinople with the ancient Christian city. Round the patriarchal church, with the Christian schools and colleges, in the houses that are still half fortresses, cluster ancient memories that survive to-day. Gautier wrote fancifully, "Hither ancient Byzantium has fled. Here in obscurity dwell the descendants of the Comneni, the Dukai, the Palaiologoi, princes with no lands, but whose ancestors wore the purple and in whose veins flows imperial blood." Still in these dark houses, dusty and begrimed without, there survives some of the ancient Greek society, that has passed through so many changes, and hopes at least to witness one more.

The conquest of Constantinople had less effect than might have been expected upon the position of the Greek Church. Gennadios whom Mohammed made Patriarch, had been the bitter opponent of the reunion of the churches, and he had even declared that the destruction of the Empire would be the certain result of the concessions to the Latins. Mohammed desired that the Church should retain its power. If he protected it there might grow up some general feeling of acceptance of the Moslem rule. Thus synods were still allowed to meet, the patriarch was allowed to hold courts Christian, and to enforce his sentences with excommunication. But none the less the Church had no means of resisting the absolute power of the Sultan. At any moment patriarch, bishop or priest could be deposed, banished, executed, by his sole will. The Church has never ceased to 157 live in a position of danger, at the mercy of an alien lord, and amid an infidel people; and at any moment she is liable to an active persecution, and her members to martyrdom.

The earlier patriarchs after the conquest seem to have been disturbed in their office by scandals, intrigues, difficulties of every kind. Before long the Sultan demanded payment on each new election, and it is represented that it was only by bribes that the election proceeded at all. Simony appears to have been rife. It was but slowly and under persecution that the Church was purged from these sins and became again fully worthy of the reverence of the whole Greek people. The encouragement of learning in the present century, the high character of the patriarchs, the times of danger through which they have passed, have left the Church the true centre of the national life which still remains. Nor has the widespread influence of the patriarchate failed to preserve some relics of the power of the ancient Empire. During the seventeenth century, while the Morea was in the hands of the Venetians, the Patriarch of Constantinople still nominated the bishops, revenues still reached him from the monasteries; and his excommunications were still valid in the lands which did not own the Sultan as lord. The Patriarch still claims ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the Balkan lands, though the Porte has appointed a Bulgarian exarch, in accord with the wishes of the government, to act as head of the Orthodox in that principality, and Roumania has also freed herself; Serbia still struggles to be free: but it can hardly be doubted that should the lands ever be reunited, they would all gladly return to the obedience of the Patriarchate.

But this by anticipation: Mohammed set himself to found a new city. Land was freely granted to rich 158 families from other cities: it is said that five thousand families, Greeks and Turks, were soon induced to settle in what had been the richest city in the world. Four thousand Servians were planted outside the walls to recolonize the villages that the war had destroyed. As the conquest spread Greeks and Albanians were forcibly deported to the capital. The Christians of Constantinople alone were freed from the tribute of their children. Before he died Mohammed saw the city again populous and in prosperity. He founded a new city on the ruins of the old: the new population, half Christians, but predominantly Turks, gave new life; and the new life was made to centre round the new buildings which Christian art inspired the Moslems to build. Gradually the city became not only Oriental, but Mohammedan. It is thus we see it to-day. Of the buildings let us speak later. Now let us see the work that was done by Mohammed the Conqueror and his successors.

The Turkish power depended upon the characteristic institution of the Janissaries. From the time of Orchan it was the law of the Turks to require from all the Christian subjects of their power a tribute of their children. These were at once made Mussulmans, brought up very strictly in their faith, skilfully taught, and trained to hardness. As time showed their capacity, they were divided into two classes; those who had no special physical strength were set to work in the offices of State; the others underwent the strict discipline which produced the finest military corps in Europe, the Janissaries. Unmarried, without family ties, connected neither among themselves nor with the people, these soldiers, it was said by their founder, Khalil-Djendereli, would belong solely to their sovereign, from whom they would have their sole reward. It was an original 159 and daring thought, to make each conquest the basis of future victories. "Let the Christians support the war; let themselves furnish the soldiers by whose means we shall fight."

The first batch of Christian captives thus set apart in 1328 were brought before a renowned dervish, Hadji Bektash. Thus he blessed them. "Let them be called Yeni-Tscheri (new soldiers): they shall be conquerors in every fight; let their countenance be ever white and shining, their arm strong, their sword sharp, their arrow swift."

No troops ever more powerfully affected the imagination of friends and foes. Among the Turks they were always the leaders, the forlorn hope. Among Christians the terror of their name spread over Europe. In every war they gained new laurels, and from the moment when they stormed the walls of Constantinople they began to be, slowly but certainly, the sole strength of the Ottoman power. At first the absolute servants of the Sultan, before two centuries were over they became his masters. Their numbers increased rapidly. Within a few years their numbers reached twelve thousand, and in the seventeenth century they were more than three times as numerous. The description of the English traveller Sandys shows perhaps better than any other record what impression they made upon Christians at the height of their power.

"The Janissaries," he says,[34] "are those that bear great sway in Constantinople: in so much that the Sultans themselves have been sometimes subject to their insolencies. They are divided into severall companies under severall Captaines; but all commanded by their Aga: a place of high trust, and the third in repute through the Empire: howbeit, 160 their too much love is to him an assured destruction. These are the flower of the Turkish infantery, by whom such wonderfull victories have been atchieved. They call the Emperour father (for none other is there for them to depend on), to whose valour and faith in the time of warre he committeth his person: they having their stations about the royal pavillion. They serve with harquebushes, armed besides with cymiters and hatchets. They weare on their heads a bonnet of white felt, with a flap hanging downe behind to their shoulders; adorned about the browes with a wreathe of metall, gilt, and set with stones of small value; having a kind of sheathe or rocket of the same erected before, wherein such are suffered to sticke plumes of feathers as have behaved themselves extraordinarie bravely. They tucke up the skirts of their coates when they fight, or march: and carry certaine dayes provision of victuals about with them. Nor is it a cumber: it being no more than a small portion of rice, and a little sugar and hony. When the Emperor is not in the field, the most of them reside with him in the Citie: ever at hand upon any occasion to secure his person, and are as were the Pretorian cohorts with the Romanes. They are in number about forty thousand: whereof the greater part (I meane of those that attend on the Court) have their being in three large Serraglios; where the juniors do reverence their seniors, and all obey their severall commanders (as they their Aga) with much silence and humility. Many of them that are married (a breach of their first institution) have their private dwellings: and those that are busied in forreine employments, are for the most part placed in such garrison townes as do greatly concerne the safetie of the Empire. Some are appointed to attend on Embassadors; others to guard such particular Christians as will 161 be at the charge, both about the City, and in their travels, from incivilities and violences, to whom they are in themselves most faithfull: wary and cruell, in preventing and revenging their dangers and injuries; and so patient in bearing abuses, that one of them of late being strucken by an Englishman (whose humorous swaggering would permit him never to review his countrey) as they travelled along through Morea, did not onely not revenge it, nor abandon him to the pillage and outrages of others, in so unknowne and savage a country; but conducted him unto Zant in safety, saying, God forbid that the villany of another should make him betray the charge that was committed to his trust. They are al of one trade or other. The pay that they have from the Grand Signior is but five aspers a day: yet their eldest sons as soone as borne are inrolled, and received into pension; but his bounty extendeth no further unto his progeny (the rest reputed as natural Turks), nor is a Janizary capable of other preferments than the command of ten, of twenty, or of an hundred. They have yeerly given them two gowns apiece, the one of violet cloth, and the other of stanmell, which they weare in the City: carrying in their hands a great tough reede, some seven feet long, and tipped with silver; the weight whereof is not seldome felt by such as displease them. Who are indeed so awefull, that Justice dare not proceed publikely against them (they being only to be judged by their Aga), but being privately attached, are as privately throwne into the sea in the night time. But then are they most tumultuous (whereto they do give the name of affection) upon the dangerous sicknesses of their Emperours; and upon their deaths commit many outrages. Which is the cause that the great Bassas as well as they can, do conceale it from them, untill all things be provided for the presentment of the next for 162 them to salute. Whereupon (besides the present larges) they have an Asper a day increase of pension: so that the longer they live, and the more Emperours they outlive, the greater is their allowance. But it is to be considered, that all these beforenamed, are not onely of that tribute of children. For not a few of them are captives taken in their child-hood; with divers Renegados, that have most wickedly quitted their religion and countrey, to fight against both: who are to the Christians the most terrible adversaries. And withall they have of late infringed their ancient customes, by the admitting of those into these orders, that are neither the sons nor grandsons of Christians; a naturall Turke borne in Constantinople, before never knowne, being now a Barsa of the Port."

To the English traveller's record may be added information of the Venetian ambassador's relazioni, which speak of the severe military training which the lads underwent, the strict asceticism in food, drill, garb, and tell that at night they all lay in a long room, lighted, and patrolled all night by a watchman, who walked up and down that they might learn thus to sleep in the midst of alarms.

Children of every nation, Poles, Bohemians, Russians, Italians, Germans, as well as tribute slaves from Greece and the Balkan lands, they knew no home but that narrow court in the Seraglio, no master but the Sultan, no hope but the hope of plunder and the paradise of Islam. So great was the power of the training, the comradeship, the fanaticism, that but one of all the Christians forcibly made Moslem and brought up among the Janissaries is known to have taken the opportunity to escape and return to Christendom. The single hero was Scanderbeg, who alone arrested the triumphant progress of Mohammed II.

One of the most curious memorials of the old 163 Turkish State is that which is preserved to-day in the museum at the end of the At-meidan. There a hundred and thirty-six figures, huge painted dolls, represent the terrible troops in their habits as they lived. On the stairs are figures in chain armour, in the hall above the representations of the different ranks, and the officers named after the kitchen duties they were supposed to perform. It was one great family, in idea, with the Sultan as father. He gave the food, and their great kettles in which it was cooked were also their drums, with spoons for drumsticks. A strange grotesque sight are these bright figures in their long robes, with here and there, for contrast, an example of the new uniform introduced by Mohammed II. The museum is almost deserted; but there is no more characteristic memorial of the great days of the Turks. Let the visitor not imagine that he may sketch or take notes or look at the book of drawings which he may find in the room. He will hear the familiar Turkish word Yasak! and the book will be snatched from his hands.

But this by the way. When Mohammed II. took Constantinople and settled the Janissaries in the outer court of the Seraglio, once the Acropolis, they were only beginning to be the centre of power. Yet even then they were the most characteristic institution of the Osmanlis. While Constantinople was assuming the aspect which it was to bear for centuries, of an entirely eastern town, with minarets everywhere, khans, shrouded women, the strange solemn social life of the East, Mohammed the Conqueror was adding everywhere to his empire. Servia and Bosnia were annexed, Albania and Cyprus subdued; the whole of Asia Minor was under his rule. He died on May 2, 1481, and left the name of the greatest of the Turkish rulers. His laws, his organisation of the judicial and religious 164 class of the Ulemas, the teachers of the people, were more permanent than his victories. But when he died the power that he had founded rested securely on the great maxim which his successors were, from his practice, to develop till it became a fixed theory of government—that the children of Christians were alone those who should enjoy the highest dignities of the empire.

The visitor to Constantinople remembers Mohammed most of all by the magnificent mosque which towers over the city and is seen in such striking effects of light from the heights of Pera. With the name of his successor is associated a mosque as beautiful and as famous. Bayezid succeeded his father in spite of a plot of the Grand Vizier to give the throne to his younger brother Djem, whose romantic adventures fill so large a space in the French and papal diplomacy of the end of the fifteenth century. His reign (1481-1512) was marked like his father's by great victories, and the once famous Turkish fleet owes its origin to him. In him first appears the contemplative lethargic character which was to become marked in some of the later Sultans. Eastern writers called him a philosopher; and when he had ceased even to pretend to be a warrior his troops insisted on his giving up the throne to his son Selim.

Three weeks after his resignation he died. Rarely has he who has once been Sultan lived long in retirement. Selim, with ferocious zest, carried out, though he did not inaugurate, another custom of the Ottoman monarchy. He swept away all possible claimants to his throne, strangling his two brothers and five of his nephews. He followed the victorious course of his predecessors; he fought in Persia, he seized Egypt and occupied Jerusalem, and Mecca, the centre of Mohammedan reverence, passed under his power. 165 Savage and relentless as he was—it became a proverb of hatred, "Would that thou wast the Vizier of Sultan Selim"—he was yet, like so many of his race, a poet, and the friend and patron of learned men. He died near Adrianople on the 22nd of September 1520, and left the throne to his son Suleiman, one of the greatest of the Sultans.

Suleiman began with mercy. Justice and benevolence, he declared that he took for the principles of his government. He freed prisoners, he declared that he would rule in accordance with the precepts of the Koran. From the first his reign was a succession of victories. In 1521 Belgrade surrendered; in 1522 he conquered the isle of Rhodes, so long the gallantly defended outpost of Christendom in the Mediterranean. For a time after these great successes he turned to pleasure, but threatened insubordination among the Janissaries awoke the barbarity which was never far below the surface in the great Turkish Sovereigns, and Mustafa the aga with several of the officers paid for their independence with their lives.

It was necessary, Suleiman saw, to continue war, to find employment for his turbulent force; and in 1526 he marched against Hungary with a force of a hundred thousand men. At Mohacz the Christian army was utterly defeated after a gallant fight, in which Suleiman himself was for a time in great danger, and in which at the end the flower of Hungarian chivalry with their King at their head perished by the sword or in the river through which they tried to escape. Buda Pesth fell into the hands of the conqueror. All the prisoners taken at Mohacz were massacred, and over a hundred thousand slaves were led back to Turkey. The spoils were enormous. The library of the old Seraglio and the treasury still hold some of the choicest manuscripts of the famous library of 166 Mathias Corvinus. Suleiman returned in triumph to Constantinople.

To the passage of armies on their way to victory the people of the great city had now become familiar as in the greatest days of the Empire. Thirteen times, it is said, did Suleiman pass through the gates on warlike expeditions and thirteen times did he return a conqueror. He led his forces to the walls of Vienna, and though he was at length compelled to withdraw, he inflicted a blow on the Empire which it took long to recover, and he showed to Europe that a new and terrible power had come to take part in the affairs of the West. In Persia, if he was not entirely successful, yet he added new territories to the Empire. A pirate fleet under his sanction swept the seas. He defeated the combined fleets of Spain, Italy, and Venice. During a reign of forty-six years he kept Europe and Asia at war. But his greatest triumphs were not those of the battlefield. He made the great Sovereigns of Christendom count him as their equal. Every prince of the time was anxious to enter into negotiation with him. Their envoys came to Constantinople, and were treated as suppliants. To every indignity they submitted for the sake of winning the alliance of "the grand Turk," the Sultan whom Europe came to call "the magnificent."

France was the first to make alliance with the infidel; and in spite of the papal curse the Mohammedan power was introduced as a prominent actor in the politics of Europe by the most Christian King, Francis I. The Sultan of sultans, King of kings, giver of crowns to the kings of the world, the shadow of God upon the earth, Suleiman, the ever victorious, assured the prostrate King of France that he need not fear, for that every hour his horse was saddled, his sword girt on, and he was ready to defend and to 167 overthrow. A solemn treaty in February 1535 united France and Turkey in bonds of perpetual amity. It was renewed in 1553; and the alliance remained an important fact in the politics of Europe for more than two hundred years.

Renowned for his victories in diplomacy and war, Suleiman's fame was even greater as a patron of art and letters. It was through him first that the Christendom of the sixteenth century heard of the glories of Eastern literature, and that Europe began to imitate Asia. It was the great age of Turkish poets. The court of Suleiman was thronged by poets who vied with each other in celebrating the glories of their master. Every bazaar of the East rang with his praises: in far distant lands the ingenious verse-makers made his victories, his pleasures, his magnificence, the theme of their elaborate compositions. Trade poured into Stambûl. All the riches of the East, the wonderful carpets and embroideries, the exquisite metal-work, the dignified designs of the pen and the brush, fixed their natural home in the court of the magnificent Suleiman. Under him the architecture of the Moslems reached its culmination: the splendid mosque named after him, with the türbehs around it, represent the great work of his age, worthy of commemoration as lengthy as that which Procopius gave to the edifices of his sovereign. Great as conqueror, as builder, and as restorer of ancient work, Suleiman may well be called, in yet another aspect, the Turkish Justinian. He was great also as a legislator, and his work completed that of Mohammed II. He laid down the limits of the privileges of the Ulemas, the powers of the Sheikh-ul-Islam and the Grand Vizier. Financial organisation, so essential to the security of his conquests, was made under his rule into an elaborate system. The 168 penal code was revised, simplified, and, on the whole, rendered less severe. Every change, every reform, showed the guiding genius of the great Sultan; arbitrary as the worst of his race, unrestrained always in the exercise of his authority, he yet showed an Eastern despotism at its best, animated by a zeal for justice, for regularity, for the welfare of the people.

Suleiman, whose name exercised so great a fascination over the imagination of the West, was the hero, Christian romancers thought, of a grand passion. The name of Roxelana became famous in the drama and poetry of Europe. Her story was indeed a striking one. Khurrem, "the joyous one," was a Russian captive, who, in the later years of the mighty Sultan, obtained an absolute control over him. From a slave, placed among hundreds of other captives in the harem, she rose to be herself Sultan,[35] the wife of the Commander of the Faithful.

It was contrary to all precedent that Suleiman deposed the mother of his eldest son from her rank and made Roxelana Sultan. The French Ambassador accounts for the elevation in this way. "Roxelana wished to found a mosque for the weal of her soul, but the mufti told her that the pious works of a slave turned only to the advantage of her lord: upon this special ground Suleiman declared her free. This was immediately followed by the second step. The free woman would no longer comply with those desires of Suleiman which the bondswoman had obeyed, for the fetwa of the mufti declared that this could not be without sin. Passion on the one side and obstinacy on the other at last brought it about that Suleiman made her his wife. A treaty of marriage was ratified, 169 and Roxelana was secured an income of 5000 sultanins."[36]

The extraordinary influence which this remarkable woman exercised over the great Sultan was new, it seemed, to the Empire; it was not only new, but destructive to the military system of the Turks that any special attachment should be formed which should attract the Sultan to the home rather than the camp. The Sultans, with all their gross pleasures, had been ever warriors ready to desert everything for their military duties, and had ruled their Empire as well as their army solely by their own will. Suleiman seemed to open the way to influences which would be destructive to the Turkish power; and one of the greatest of the Viziers a century later said that all his successors were fools or tyrants.

Be this so or not, Suleiman and Roxelana were unique in Turkish history. Their devotion to each other appeared to be complete: and the passionate love which grew rather than diminished with years, marked the history of the court with the stains of sacrifice and crime. Mustafa, the Sultan's eldest son, stood in the way of the children of Khurrem. The Vizier Rustem Pacha was her devoted slave, owing to her his elevation to the dignity of the Sultan's vicegerent. He brought to Suleiman reports that Mustafa was allying with the Shah of Persia to dethrone him, and was winning the Janissaries to his side, a charge to which his valour and ability, and his great popularity with the soldiers, might seem to give some colour. Suleiman himself, on his Syrian campaign, ordered his son to appear before him. On September 21, 1553—the day was long remembered—the gallant Mustafa was brought with great pomp 170 and ceremony to the tent of the Sultan. When he entered he found only the seven mutes armed with the fatal bowstring. He was seized, and before he could utter more than one cry, he was murdered. The thick tapestry at the back of the tent was drawn aside and Suleiman entered to gaze upon the body of his son.

Even then the vengeance was not complete. The child of the murdered Mustafa was stabbed at Brusa in his mother's arms. The horror that was felt at these crimes became evident when the Janissaries demanded the punishment of Rustem, and when Djihanghir, the son of Suleiman and Roxelana, died of grief for the brother to whom he was devoted. The new grand Vizier was sacrificed also: and not long afterwards the beautiful Roxelana, Khurrem, passed away. The great Sultan gave her the most beautiful of tombs. The art of the Mussulmans was centered in that last home which the love of Suleiman could bestow.

"Without, the scented roses twine,

The Suleymanieh tow'rs o'erhead,

The flagstones, flecked with shade and shine,

Re-echo to the pilgrim's tread,

And soft grey doves their wings outspread

In the blue vault above the shrine."

If Roxelana was the evil genius of Suleiman, his reign was not more happy after her death. Her two elder sons, Selim and Bayezid broke into open war. Bayezid attacked Selim, and, betrayed, it would seem by the basest of intrigues, he was defeated, and fled to Persia. Every letter that he wrote to his father was suppressed, and the Persians sold him to his brother by whom he and his four sons were put to death. A few months later his fifth son, a child of three, was strangled at Brusa by the Sultan's orders. 171

To the last, Suleiman led his troops to the field. He died on August 30, 1566, while he was conducting the siege of Szigeth, a small fortress in Hungary. The grand Vizier concealed his death from the army and sent messengers at once to Selim, who hastened to Constantinople.

Suleiman left behind him a name more famous than any of his predecessors save Mohammed the Conqueror. His lofty and enterprising genius, his heroic courage, his strict observance of the laws of Islam tempered at times by a wise tolerance, the order and economy which were combined with his magnificence and grandeur, his love of knowledge and the protection he extended to learned men, all mark him out, says the historian of the Ottomans, among the noblest of his race.

Selim II. began ill by not paying the largesse which the Janissaries expected from a new sovereign. They mutinied, and he was obliged to yield. His father had altered the ancient rule which required the Janissaries only to go to the war when the Sultan himself took the field. The Janissaries now compelled him to allow the enrolment of their children in their ranks. Selim was no warrior, and he was glad to send his troops without him. He preferred, the ambassadors say, "the society of eunuchs and of women, and the habits of the serai to the camp:" he "wore away his days in sensual enjoyments, in drunkenness and indolence." "Whoever beheld him and saw his face inflamed with Cyprus wine, and his short figure rendered corpulent by slothful indulgence, expected in him neither the warrior nor the leader of warriors. In fact, nature and habit unfitted him to be the supreme head, that is the life and soul, of that warlike State."[37] 172

He was the first of the Turkish Sovereigns who was unworthy of the throne that had been won by hard and incessant work. "I think not of the future," he himself said, "I live only to enjoy the pleasure of each day as it passes." A drunkard ruling over the Mussulmans, sworn to total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks, was a grotesque and disgusting anomaly. The people mocked while they followed the example. "Where shall we get our wine to-day," they said, "from the Mufti (priest) or from the Kadi (judge)?"

But whatever might be the character of the Sultan, it had become a fixed policy with the Turks that the Empire could only be carried on by aggressive war. Under Selim, though without his personal intervention, war was made with Russia, but without success: the conquests of Suleiman in Arabia were made complete, and Yemen fell into the hands of the Turks. Then it was determined to complete the conquest of the Mediterranean: war was declared against Venice, and Cyprus was captured in August 1571. But this capture, which Selim described to Barbaro as "cutting off one of the arms of the Republic" was avenged by the famous naval league against the Turks. On October 7, 1571, Don John of Austria utterly destroyed the Turkish fleet at Lepanto, capturing 130 galleys, 30,000 prisoners, and 15,000 Christian slaves. It was the first sign of the long decline of the Ottoman power. Europe awoke to the belief that the Turks were not invincible.


The news was received with consternation in Constantinople. An outbreak of Mohammedan fanaticism, as so often since, found its expression in the ferocity of the Sultan. Selim issued orders for the massacre of all the Christians in the city: happily his Vizier deferred the execution of the command, and it was 175 revoked. The incident is characteristic. From 1453 the Christian inhabitants of the capital have held their lives simply at the pleasure of the Commander of the Faithful. At any moment the word may be spoken which the loyal Turk must obey

"For an order has come from the Padishah

I must go and kill the Giaour."

The butchery was countermanded in 1571, but little more than twenty years later it was again seriously proposed. When the Spaniards in 1595 sacked Patras, the extermination of the Christians in Constantinople "was discussed in the divan, but the result was confined to the publication of an order for the expulsion of all unmarried Greeks from Constantinople within three days."[38] This was in the reign of Murad III., and when he died, in the same year, "the Janissaries, in their wonted manner, fell to spoiling Christians and Jews, and were proceeding to further outrages, when their aga, to restrain their insolence, hung up a Janissary taken in the act of murdering a rayah."

The alarm of Mussulman Constantinople was ended by the speedy reconstruction of a fleet, and by the capture of Tunis. But with none of these triumphs was it possible to associate the name of Selim. He died on December 12, 1574, "the victim," in the phrase of the Vicomte A. de la Jonquière, "de sa passion pour le vin."

Murad III. his son and successor was not without good instincts. He was a striking contrast to his father. He loved study, he was temperate, he was a soldier. But the terrible custom, now become almost a law of state, laid its frightful burden of crime upon him at the moment of his succession. For eighteen hours he refused to be proclaimed, he argued with the Muftis 176 and the Ministers, to save the lives of his brothers. But he yielded, willingly or unwillingly, and the chief of the mutes was summoned to his presence, shown the body of the dead Sultan, and given nine handkerchiefs for the nine princes in the Seraglio. Weeping, Murad gave the order, says the Venetian ambassador: and men thought when he began his reign that he would be sober, wise, and just. He did not long retain the reputation. He began a war with Persia and his troops were engaged on the Hungarian frontier. But he followed the example of his father. He did not himself lead his armies in the field. He rarely left the seraglio, where he gave himself up entirely to the pleasures which appealed so powerfully to the Moslem. The harem and the treasury became his sole delights. The ambassadors tell stories that sound fabulous of his insane desire for gold. He stripped ornaments from ancient works of art and coined them into money; he collected from every quarter; he pinched and starved everything but his private pleasures, and year after year he cast into the great marble well which he had made beneath his bed "two and a half millions of gold, all in sequins and sultanins." Under him the sale of offices, which was begun by Rustem, the vizier to whom Roxelana induced Suleiman to give his favour, became a settled and almost fundamental rule of the state. Even judicial and military offices were given for bribes, and the money was caressed by the insane Murad and cast into the pit over which he slept. The ambassadors describe in ludicrous language the impression which Murad made upon them. He sat in state to receive them, he received their presents, he listened to them with a stupid stare; then he "went back to his garden, where in deep sequestered spots his women played before him, danced and sang, or his dwarfs made sport for him, or his mutes, awkward and mounted on 177 as awkward horses, engaged with him in ludicrous combats, in which he struck now at the rider now at the horse, or where certain Jews performed lascivious comedies before him." In fact the Sultans were becoming ridiculous, without ceasing to be terrible. As for government, Murad left it to his vizier, a Bosnian, Mohammed, who held his office in three reigns and far surpassed any European minister in riches and power. It was he who peacefully arranged the succession of both Selim and Murad, and so long as he lived there was order and firmness in the government. But after his death the chief office was passed from hand to hand, according to the Sultan's fancy, and always a large sum found its way, at each change of viziers, into the pit of gold. The elevation of Ferhat reads like a tale in the Arabian Nights. Murad would wander like Haroun al-Raschid through the bazaars. One day he heard a cook bewailing the misgovernment of the city. He questioned him, approved his replies, and next day summoned him to the palace and appointed him to the office whose holder he had criticised, from which he rose to be vizier. It was a perilous rise. Ferhat did not long retain his position, but at least he escaped with his life. It was different with others, and the precedent of handing over officers to the vengeance of the Janissaries was set in 1590, when the soldiers attacked the Seraglio and demanded the execution of the Beyler bey of Roumelia and another. The plane tree of the Janissaries began its deadly history.

Murad died on January 6, 1596. His eldest son and successor, whose mother was a Venetian, marked his accession by the most bloody of all the murders which inaugurated the reign of the Sultans. He had his nineteen brothers strangled in his presence, and then proceeded to govern as though he had no objects but those of the most exalted virtue. After a few 178 weeks he left all the work to his ministers, and was himself ruled entirely by his mother. In 1596, however, the disasters of his army induced him to go himself to the war in Wallachia. The sacred standard of the Prophet, preserved at Eyûb, was unfurled, and on the field of Kereskte, Mohammed won a great victory over the Austrians. He returned in triumph to Constantinople, where the rest of his reign was marked by rebellions and misfortunes on all sides. The plague made fearful ravages in the crowded streets of Stambûl. It penetrated into the Seraglio, and it is said that seventeen princesses, sisters of Mohammed, died. The sipahis rose and demanded the heads of the eunuchs who ruled under favour of the Valideh Sultan. They were given up and strangled. But then the Sultan determined to take vengeance, he entrusted its execution to the Janissaries. The sipahis were ordered to lay down their arms; if they failed to do so they were threatened with the penalties of treason. The soldiers thereupon delivered up their officers, who were put to death. The Sultan himself died in 1603. His son Ahmed succeeded him, an elder son having been put to death on pretence of having shown independence of character which threatened the throne.

Ahmed I. was but fourteen when he came to the throne. Well served by a wise Grand Vizier, his reign was marked by some signs of activity, and, strange to say, by two years of peace. But the treaty of Sitvakorok (1606) with Austria was another step in the decline of the Ottomans.

Ahmed did something to redress the corruption that had infected the government. He administered justice like the chieftains of old; he received petitions, and saw that grievances were redressed. He began, as he grew up, to read of the exploits of Suleiman, and to promise himself that he would surpass them; but he 179 had no stability of purpose, and his reign passed away in disasters, with the murder of the one eminent man, Nousouh Pacha, who might have saved the State, and with the introduction of usages which seemed to the Ulemas to strike at the very heart of Moslem law. Constantinople was almost abandoned to mob-rule because the muftis forbade the use of tobacco, which was introduced by the Dutch. It is impossible now to conceive a Turk without this solace; and it is strange that it needed the most ingenious arguments and the most stubborn defiance to procure the withdrawal of the edict which forbade it to the Moslem. The poets, we are told, called tobacco, coffee, opium, and wine the four elements in the world of happiness; the Ulemas replied that they were the four chief servants of the devil. The people settled the question for themselves.

With Ahmed the custom of butchering the brothers of the new Sultan had ceased. He not only spared the life of his brother Mustafa, but left directions that he should succeed him on the throne. But the custom which he began was even more fatal to the power of the Turks than that which he ended. The succession of the oldest male of the royal house might not itself have been a misfortune. But from the time when the princes ceased to be strangled they were kept in the Seraglio, with no knowledge of the work of government, trained only to a voluptuous and effeminate life. Mustafa had almost lost his wits when he became Sultan; he had been a prisoner for nearly forty years. Within three months his violence, his promotion of two pages to be Pashas of Cairo and of Damascus, his dislike of the female sex, convinced the ministers that he was incapable of governing; he was again removed to the Seraglio, and Osman II., the son of his brother Ahmed, was elevated to the throne. 180

Of the troubles which beset the ambassadors and how they were redressed more shall be said hereafter. Osman's six years of rule were disturbed by sterner men. The Janissaries again showed that their power was greater than that of the Sultan. Osman decimated them in war, and executed many who drank wine; but they were too strong for him, dragged the unhappy Mustafa again from prison, and again declared him to be the ruling Sultan. The Kafess (cage), the splendid building in the grounds of the old Seraglio, which even now may not be approached, which had so long held him prisoner, has memories of no stranger history than his. When he was dragged forth he trembled before his nephew, and threw himself at his feet. Osman taunted the Janissaries with the weakness of the ruler they preferred to himself; but it was not weakness that the Janissaries feared. Osman was dragged to the Seven Towers, and there, after a desperate struggle, he was strangled in a dungeon. Within a few months the idiot Mustafa was again deposed and sent back to the Kafess, where soon afterwards the bowstring ended his miserable life. For the few months of his nominal reign he was entirely in the hands of the soldiery; minister after minister was given up to them, and ended his life by the bowstring or on the fatal tree. The Janissaries held Constantinople in terror, and raised and deposed a Sultan as easily as a minister.

Murad IV., still a child, the surviving son of Ahmed, was made Sultan in 1623. In him the Turks had again a masterful and determined ruler. His mother the Valideh, and his Vizier Hafiz, made the first years of his reign distinguished if not glorious. Till 1632 he trained himself in all military exercises; he rode, he drew the bow with the best of the Janissaries. Then came the revolt of the Sipahis and 181 Janissaries, which gave him his opportunity. Constantinople was for many days in the hands of the military mob, reinforced by disaffected troops who had returned from Persia. They assembled in the Atmeidan (the old Hippodrome); thence they went to the Seraglio and demanded the "seventeen heads" of the Sultan's chief advisers and friends. For some days Murad held out. He summoned the Vizier, Hafiz, who rode through the crowd, past the barracks of the Janissaries, in at the Orta Kapou, after dismounting, the stones of the mob falling round him as he disappeared. Murad ordered him to escape to Juntan. Within a few hours the Sultan was compelled to come forth to the people and hold Divan. They demanded the seventeen—the "vizier, the aga of the Janissaries, the deftarder, and even a boy, because he was liked by the Sultan." "Give us the heads," they cried. "Give the men up to us, or it shall be the worse for thee."

Murad summoned Hafiz to return to die. The Vizier came back, made the ablution of the Moslem law before death, went forth calmly to the mob, and was hewn in pieces outside the gate of the Seraglio. "Infamous assassins," cried Murad, "who fear neither Allah nor his prophet, some day if God wills you shall find your victims terribly avenged." "The sole remedy against abuses is the sword," one said to the Sultan; and the rest of his life showed how well he understood the lesson. One by one the leaders of the revolt were secretly assassinated; their bodies were found floating on the Bosporus. The Janissaries and the sipahis were ostensibly received into favour again, justice was promised, and the strict rule of law. But it was a reign of terror that Murad inaugurated. His first execution had given him a passion for blood. Sometimes he gratified it in the chase, when he 182 slaughtered thousands of head, driven together by an army of beaters. More often it was displayed in the slaughter of men. In the year 1637 it was declared that he had executed 25,000 men, many of them with his own hand. "He was now terrific to behold. His savage black eyes glared threateningly in a countenance half hidden by his dark brown hair and long beard; but never was its aspect more peculiar than when it showed the wrinkles between the eyebrows. His skill with the javelin and the bow was then sure to deal death to some one. He was served with trembling awe. His mutes were no longer to be distinguished from the other slaves of the Serai, for all conversed by signs. While the plague was daily carrying off fifteen hundred victims in Constantinople, he had the largest cups brought from Pera, and drank half the night through, while the artillery was discharged by his orders."[39]

Drunken and brutal as he was he had still much of the terrible force of the early Ottomans. He led his own troops to battle, and when they flinched—for the old spirit seemed to have deserted even the Janissaries—he drove them forward with his own sword. He appears in history as the Conqueror of Bagdad (1638) a conquest marked, it is said, by a massacre of 25,000 people. He was the last Sultan whom the people of Constantinople saw return in triumph from a war of which he himself had been the leader.

He died on February 9, 1640, leaving behind him no child. Only his mother's craft had prevented the murder of his only brother, the last of the race of Osman. He left behind him an empire which seemed entirely subdued to the Sultan's will. But the terror which he had inspired could not endure; and while it lasted it could only paralyse the forces which should 183 have given strength and permanence to the empire. Greedy, avaricious to an extent as enormous but not so ridiculous as Murad III., the supreme passion of his life was the lust of blood. It became an insanity; at night he would rush through the streets, cutting down all whom he met. Yet he died in his bed; the time had not come when Sultans were murdered as easily as Viziers. Ibrahim, his successor, had been imprisoned in the Kafess since he was a child of two. He had lived through the reigns of Mustafa, Osman and Murad. He had been allowed no offspring. He was utterly ignorant of politics and war. He cared for nothing but the pleasures of the harem. When the soldiers went in to announce his accession he would not believe that they desired anything but his death. He would not be convinced till the corpse of his brother was brought before him. Then he screamed with insane delight, "The empire is at last delivered from its butcher."

His reign of nine years was a horrible mixture of tragedy and farce. In licentiousness he outdid the worst of his predecessors, in folly the silliest of them. The capture of the child of a favourite slave led to the war of Candia: the marriage by his orders of his baby daughter to a rich Pacha was used as an occasion to strangle the bridegroom and seize his treasures. At length the shameful crimes of the sovereign, of which murder seemed the least, caused an organised insurrection in the city. The chief Mufti, whose daughter had been shamefully used by the Sultan, assembled all the mollahs, and the officers of the Janissaries and the sipahis in the Orta djami (a mosque on the Etmeidan, the old quarter of the Janissaries, now destroyed). They first demanded the execution of the Vizier. When that was refused, the Janissaries secured the gates, surrounded the Seraglio, caught 184 and slew the Vizier. In S. Sophia, the Mufti, the Sheik-ul-Islam, proclaimed to a vast multitude the iniquities of the Sultan, and demanded his deposition. Solemnly the Osmanlis declared Ibrahim, the padishah, the king of kings, the commander of the faithful, unworthy to reign. His little child, Mohammed, only seven years old, was fetched from the charge of his mother, the famous Valideh Sultan, and invested with the ensigns of sovereignty. Ibrahim was again carried to the Kafess. Ten days later appeared the mutes, with the Vizier and the Sheik-ul-Islam; and the bowstring ended the life of Ibrahim.

Mohammed IV. reigned for nearly forty years, 1649-1687, and he filled a great space in the history of his time. Foreign observers—notably that most entertaining writer Paul Ricaut, Esquire, "late secretary to his Excellency the Earl of Winchelsea, Embassador Extraordinary for His Majesty Charles II., to Sultan Mahomet Han the Fourth Emperor of the Turks, now Consul of Smyrna, and Fellow of the Royal Society," in his "History of the present state of the Ottoman Empire," and a certain escaped slave (unless indeed it be an ingenious gentleman of Grub Street) who wrote in 1663 "A new survey of the Turkish Empire and Government"—made Europe well acquainted with the customs of the Turks, and the manners, especially the least pleasing manners, of their rulers. The Turk become better known, yet hardly less terrible; and our knowledge of the revolutions of Constantinople now comes to us, for the first time, largely from English observers. The story must be briefly sketched. In the first year of the child-Sultan's reign tragedies of the palace succeeded each other with fearful rapidity.

There was a contest between the Valideh, the mother, and Kiosem (as Ricaut calls her), the 185 grandmother of Mohammed. The aga of the Janissaries took part against Sinan the Vizier, who, with the old queen, determined to put a young child, Suleiman, on the throne. Sinan took prompt measures. He entered the Seraglio, had the Valideh aroused and sent to the bedside of her son. The household was armed. Suspected traitors were slain before Mohammed's eyes, and their blood bespattered his dress as he sat on his throne. While within the Seraglio there was this confusion, without the whole city was in disturbance, and the people were all aroused to defend their Sultan.

Ricaut's description is worth quoting. He derived his knowledge from some persons intimately concerned, and the way he tells the tale, from which a short passage is here given, shows how Eastern doings struck the Westerns of his day.

"These preparations," he says,[40] "were not only in the Seraglio, but likewise without; for the Visier had given order to all the Pashaws and Beglerbegs, and other his Friends, that without delay they should repair to the Seraglio with all the force they could make, bringing with them three days Provision, obliging them under pain of Death to this Duty. In a short space so great was this concourse, that all the Gardens of the Seraglio, the outward Courts and all the adjoining Streets were filled with armed Men: from Galata and Tophana came boats and barges loaden with Powder and Ammunition and other necessaries; so that in the morning by break of day appeared such an Army of Horse and Foot in the Streets, and Ships and Gallies on the Sea, as administered no small terrour to the Janizaries; of which being advised, and seeing the concourse of the people run to the assistance of the King, they 186 thought it high time to bestir themselves; and therefore armed a great company of Albaneses, Greeks and other Christians to whom they offered Money, and the Title and Priviledges of Janizaries, promising to free them from Harach, or Impositions paid by the Christians; which Arguments were so prevalent, that most taking Arms, you might see the Court and City divided, and ready to enter into a most dread confusion of a Civil War."


The end of the matter was that "the old queen" was dragged naked from the Seraglio, a horror unknown in Turkish history, and bowstrung outside the Orta Kapou. The banner of the Prophet was unfurled. The Janissaries rallied to it. Their aga was deserted and slain, with his accomplices, and (by retributive justice) the Vizier was stabbed in the streets. Tranquillity was re-established, and the government was carried on from the harem. From 1649 to 1656 six Viziers were deposed or strangled, Pacha after Pacha broke into open revolt, the Janissaries and sipahis fought against each other as if there had been no Christians to conquer, and in turn demanded from the Sultan the heads of those whom they chose to proscribe. The Valideh Sultan was wisely and carefully educating her son. In 1656 she gave him the best of teachers and viziers in Kuprili Mohammed. With him began the age of the great Viziers who for a time revived the glory of the Turks. He showed with severity that he intended to rule; and the Turks have always submitted to one who knows how to command. The sipahis were sent away from Constantinople and settled in the provinces. A rising was sternly checked, and four thousand corpses were thrown into the sea. Thus began the rule of the Kuprilian Viziers, which lasted from 1659 to 1702, a half century of varying fortunes, but never wholly 187 unfavourable to the Turks. The interminable war with Candia went on, and the Austrian and Hungarian campaigns succeeded each other with undeviating regularity. The Turks met Montecuculi, and Sobieski, in the field; and when they were defeated they were at least not disgraced. In 1683 Kara Mustafa, the Vizier, was defeated before Vienna and the Turks were driven back to Belgrade. Though he was the Sultan's son-in-law an order was sent to the camp for him to die; he placed the cord with his own hands round his neck. In the year of continuous warfare, when the forces of the empire bore the Turkish banners against Venice, as well as the Empire, the vices and neglect of the Sultan passed for a time almost unheeded. But in 1687 the defeat of the army led to a demand for the punishment of the general, Suleiman Pacha. Mohammed saw that this was but a step towards his own deposition. He sacrificed his minister, and ordered the execution of his own brother Suleiman, that there might be no one to replace him. But it was too late. The army, in rebellion, marched on Constantinople, released Suleiman and invested him as Sultan. Mohammed was imprisoned till his death in 1693.

Suleiman II. reigned but four years, but he showed an unexpected ability. His accession was marked by what had now become a custom, an insurrection of the Janissaries. The house of the Grand Vizier was sacked, his harem was violated, and the most shameful atrocities were committed in the streets. Constantinople seemed to be given over to pillage; the bazaars were attacked, and some private houses were pillaged. The Sheik-ul-Islam was obliged to arouse the Ulemas and display the standard of the Prophet over the gate of the Seraglio, and when the Janissaries, like spoilt children, returned to their allegiance, their 188 leaders were executed and peace was restored. In Suleiman the people had again a sovereign who lived according to the precepts of the Koran. His wisdom and impartiality, extended even to allowing the Christians of Constantinople to rebuild some of their ancient churches, were recognised even by fanatics and he was counted a saint. His wars were carried on by Kuprili Mustafa, to whom also his brother Ahmed II. (1691-1695) abandoned all the power of government, at the death of that wise statesman at the head of the defeated army of the Turks at Salankanem. Mustafa II. (1695-1703) was the son of Mohammed IV. His first proclamation to his people was a strange document to issue from the arbitrary sovereign of the Osmanlis. He attributed all the defeats and misfortunes of the last reigns to the vices of the Sultans. "While the Padishahs who have ruled since our sublime father Mohammed have heeded nought but their fondness for pleasure and for ease, the unbelievers, the unclean beings, have invaded with their armies the four quarters of Islam." In any other monarchy it would have been dangerous indeed to criticise after this fashion. At Constantinople neither the pen nor the voice was of much importance. It was the sword that ruled.

And the sword of the Sultan had ceased to be victorious. In 1697 Mustafa was utterly defeated by Prince Eugene at Zenta. Again a Kuprili was called to command, but by the treaty of Carlowitz, 1699, by which Hungary and Transylvania were given up, the dismemberment of the Empire had begun.

For the last two years of his reign Mustafa abandoned his capital and lived in a palace at Adrianople. An intrigue deposed him in 1703, and his brother Ahmed reigned in his stead. He began his reign by 189 executing all those who had taken part in his elevation, an act which he followed by appointing another Kuprili Vizier. The next year was marked by the beginning of serious wars with Russia, the bizarre sojourn of Charles XII. at Bender, and the treaty of Passarowitz (1718). The wars in which Turkey was now year by year involved continued the slow process of the dismemberment of Turkey; but Constantinople hardly felt the blows which struck the Empire at its extremities. The description which English travellers give of the city shows that strangers passed freely about in it, and that in many respects it was superior to other European capitals as they were then, and particularly in the condition of its streets, to what it became a hundred years later, and remains to-day. A passage from Pococke's travels (published in 1745) is worth quoting here. His description of the four "royal" mosques he saw, those of Ahmed, Suleiman, Selim, and Mohammed the Conqueror, shows that they were much as they are to-day, but on the other hand S. Sophia and the Church of the Studium are manifestly worse now than then; the latter indeed, now a mere ruin, was then "the finest mosque next after Saint Sophia." Of the city he writes thus[41]:—

"Great part of the houses of Constantinople are built with wooden frames, mostly filled up with unburnt brick; and a great number of houses are made only of such frames covered with boards. They have notwithstanding very good rooms in them; and the streets are tolerable, with a raised footway on each side. The street of Adrianople is broad, and adorned with many public buildings; to the south of it there is a vale which is to the north of the seventh hill. The bazestans or shops of rich goods are such as have been described in other places; and many of the shops for 190 other trades are adorned with pillars, and the streets in which they are, covered over in order to shelter from the sun and rain. There are also several large kanes, where many merchants live, and most of these have apartments in them, where they spend the day, and retire at night to their families in their houses. The bagnios also are to be reckoned another part of the magnificence of Constantinople, some of them being very finely adorned within. The fountains, likewise, are extremely magnificent, being buildings about twenty feet square, with pipes of water on every side; and within at each corner there is an apartment, with an iron gate before it, where cups of water are always ready for the people to drink, a person attending to fill them; these buildings are of marble, the fronts are carved with bas-reliefs of trees and flowers and the eaves projecting six or seven feet; the soffit of them is finely adorned with carved works of flowers, in alto relievo, gilt with gold in a very good taste, so that these buildings make a very fine appearance."

Dr Pococke was certainly a somewhat dull person, and as certainly a thorough Englishman. One feels that he never quite got over his surprise that S. Sophia was not like Westminster Abbey or the Golden Gate like Temple Bar. Happily we have a contrast to him in the literature of his time.

Certainly the most charming, perhaps the most characteristic, account of the city of the Sultan that the eighteenth century has left us, is that of the Lady Mary Wortley Montague.


Her husband was appointed ambassador to the Sublime Porte in 1716, and she accompanied him. The letters which form the records of her journey out, of her life in Constantinople and of her return, serve to show, as the "Lady" who wrote a preface to them when they were published says she is 'malicious enough 193 to desire,' "to how much better purpose the ladies travel than their lords." The skill and point with which she tells the most ordinary incidents of her travels, no less than fixes on the contrasts that are so striking between what she sees and what her correspondents are accustomed to, gives the letter an imperishable charm. But not a little also is due to the position of the writer. Merchants, and ordinary travellers, as she says, had told the world long before a great deal about the marvels of the Turkish Empire; but Lady Mary was a woman, a very clever woman, and an ambassador's wife. She had the entrée where few others could go, and she knew as very few others did how to describe what she had seen.

The position of an European ambassador's household in Pera in the eighteenth century, was by no means entirely pleasant, and indeed it was not wholly without risks, even for an ambassador's wife. Lady Mary, however, went everywhere and saw everything, and, in the midst of a good deal of domestic discomfort, accommodated herself amazingly to the cosmopolitan and polyglot life which she came to delight in. "I live," she wrote, "in a place that very well represents the tower of Babel, in Pera they speak Turkish, Greek, Hebrew, Armenian, Arabic, Persian, Russian, Slavonian, Wallachian, German, Dutch, French, English, Italian, Hungarian, and what is worse, there are ten of these languages spoken in my own family." Children of three years old often speak five languages, she says, a statement that would be as nearly true now as it was then. This she professes to find annoying, it was really delightful, other things were not so pleasant.

Constantinople in earlier times had not been a pleasant resort for ambassadors. The Mémoires sur l'ambassade de France en Turquie, written by M. le Comte de 194 Saint-Priest, at the end of the eighteenth century, show how difficult and dangerous had been the position of the envoys. They are a brilliant sketch of the work of the able French ambassadors who had endeavoured from the time of Francis I. and Suleiman the Magnificent, to confirm an alliance which should secure to France a flourishing trade in the Levant, and a powerful ally against the House of Hapsburg. Their success was considerable, but it was not infrequently interfered with by their own eccentricities. Savari de Lancosme (1585) was so rash that his cousin Savari de Brèves was sent out to supersede him, and he promptly induced the Turks to imprison him in the Seven Towers.

Achille de Harlay Sanay (1611-17) procured the escape of an imprisoned Pole, and was in consequence himself "outragé en sa personne et celle de ses gens" and made to pay 20,000 piastres. The Comte de Marcheville in 1639, found "le logis de l'ambassadeur si infâme, qu'on ne se pouvait imaginer qu'un ambassadeur effectif pût y demeurer." He built, among other additions, two chapels, "one public, the other interior." The Turks were furiously enraged, and after a good deal of acrimonious complaints, in which the people of Galata shared, the unhappy ambassador was expelled the country. De la Haye, a few years later, spent three months in the Seven Towers, and M. de Vautelec also had unpleasant experiences. M. de Ferriol, illuminating his house on the occasion of the birth of a French prince, found himself in danger of expulsion. As late as 1798, a French ambassador, on the declaration of war, was imprisoned as usual in the Seven Towers.

Lady Mary's friend the French ambassadress might tell her of some of these catastrophes, but she shows no fear that they would happen to herself. Her descriptions were evidently written with perfect freedom, day by day, and it is that which preserves 195 their freshness after nearly two centuries. A passage or two will bring vividly before us what English folk then thought of the Turkish power, and of the sights of the capital.

Here she speaks of the Constitution, just as an orthodox English politician would wish to speak.

"The Grand Signior, with all his absolute power, is as much a slave as any of his subjects, and trembles at a Janizary's frown. Here is, indeed, a much greater appearance of subjection than amongst us; a minister of state is not spoke to, but upon the knee; should a reflection on his conduct be dropt in a coffee-house (for they have spies everywhere) the house would be raz'd to the ground, and perhaps the whole company put to torture. No huzzaing mobs, senseless pamphlets, and tavern disputes about politics;

A consequential ill that freedom draws;

A bad effect,—but from a noble cause.

None of our harmless calling names! but when a minister here displeases the people, in three hours time he is dragged even from his master's arms. They cut off his hands, head, and feet, and throw them before the palace gate, with all the respect in the world; while the Sultan (to whom they all profess an unlimited adoration) sits trembling in his apartment, and dares neither defend nor revenge his favourite. This is the blessed condition of the most absolute monarch upon earth, who owns no law but his will."

To live close to such scenes was an education in Oriental politics. Lady Mary lived still nearer to the outward show and pomp of the Oriental despots. The state of the Sultans was reflected on the ambassadors of powers with whom they desired to be friendly. When she travelled from Selivria, along 196 the shore of the Marmora, Lady Mary and her husband had from the "Grand Signior" "thirty covered waggons for our baggage, and five coaches for the country for my women." Of the Sultan's own state she was most impressed, as travellers are to-day, by the Selamlik. Thus she describes it:

"I went yesterday, along with the French ambassadress, to see the Grand Signior in his passage to the mosque. He was preceded by a numerous guard of Janizaries, with vast white feathers on their heads, as also by the spahis and bostangees (these are foot and horse guards) and the royal gardeners, which are a very considerable body of men, dressed in different habits of fine lively colours, so that, at a distance, they appeared like a parterre of tulips. After them the Aga of the Janizaries, in a robe of purple velvet, lined with silver tissue, his horse led by two slaves richly dressed. Next him the kyzlier-aga (your ladyship knows this is the chief guardian of the Seraglio ladies) in a deep yellow cloth (which suited very well to his black face) lined with sables. Last came his Sublimity himself, arrayed in green, lined with the fur of a black Muscovite fox, which is supposed worth a thousand pounds sterling, and mounted on a fine horse, with furniture embroidered with jewels. Six more horses, richly caparisoned were led after him; and two of his principal courtiers bore, one his gold, and the other his silver coffee-pot, on a staff; another carried a silver stool on his head for him to sit on."

Her skill certainly lay chiefly in describing social functions or eccentricities, and her description of S. Sophia—indeed she makes an apology for her ignorance of architecture—shows a characteristic absence of feeling or artistic knowledge. What she says of the mosque of Suleiman however, is worth quoting.

"That of Sultan Solyman, is an exact square, with 197 four fine towers in the angles; in the midst is a noble cupola, supported with beautiful marble pillars; two lesser at the ends, supported in the same manner; the pavement and gallery round the mosque, of marble; under the great cupola, is a fountain, adorned with such fine coloured pillars, that I can hardly think them natural marble; on one side is the pulpit of white marble, and on the other the little gallery for the Grand Signior. A fine stair-case leads to it, and it is built up with gilded latrices. At the upper end is a sort of altar, where the name of God is written; and, before it, stand two candlesticks, as high as a man, with wax candles as thick as three flambeaux. The pavement is spread with fine carpets, and the mosque illuminated with a vast number of lamps. The court leading to it, is very spacious, with galleries of marble, of green columns, covered with twenty-eight leaded cupolas on two sides, and a fine fountain of basons in the midst of it."

The liberality which allowed Christian ladies to see the mosques, and even permitted Lady Mary, in spite of the horror of her friends and the terrified protests of the French ambassadress, to go about in Stambûl much as she would have walked in S. James's, was especially the characteristic of the reign of Suleiman II., himself something of a savant, and of Ahmed II., who actually allowed a printing press to be established in the city. But none the less society and government were essentially barbarous. Ahmed III. was himself deposed in 1730 by an insurrection of the Janissaries. His nephew Mahmûd I., son of Mustafa II., was his successor. Again within three weeks the leaders of the revolution were executed before his face. "These executions," it is quaintly said, "when they became known, instead of exciting the slightest sedition, gave the greatest joy to the 198 inhabitants of the capital." Step by step the Turks lost ground, by treaties with Persia (1732) and with Austria and Russia, by the mediation of France (Belgrade, 1739); and the new policy of governing the lands of Wallachia and Moldavia by "Fanariotes" (Greeks of the ancient families who still dwelt in the Phanar), was far from successful. In Constantinople itself there were émeutes if not insurrections, and incendiary fires which gave occasion for them. They were the usual means of expressing dissatisfaction with the government, and the usual means were taken to meet them, by the execution of the Sultan's ministers. Mahmûd died in 1754. He was thought at least to have done no harm; and his successor, Osman III., was regarded as equally blameless.

Mustafa III. (1757-1774) had been many years in the Kafess. He was the son of Ahmed III. His reign was a succession of misfortunes. The astute policy of Catherine II. and her agents in Serbia and Croatia, arousing the religious enthusiasm of the Christians against the Moslems, the utter neglect of the Turkish army and ordnance, the ignorance of the ministers, and the superstition of the people, seemed to invite a certain and immediate destruction of the Empire. Disaster after disaster at last awoke the Sultan and his ministers to the necessity of employing European aid, and the French ambassador Saint-Priest with the Baron de Tott was successful in reforming the army, introducing the bayonet, founding a school of mathematics, and infusing a new spirit into the Turks.

Mustafa died in 1774, at a time of unexpected success. He had seen at least the necessity of reform. Abdul Hamed I., his brother, who succeeded him, had been forty-four years a captive. He was not the prince to restore the power of his Empire: the treaty 199 of Kutchuk-Kainardji (1774) further reduced its territory, and gave the cause for war eighty years afterwards by the clause allowing to Russia a right to represent to the Porte the grievances of the Christians in European Turkey. In 1788 the Crimea was captured by Russia; in 1789 Abdul Hamed died. His nephew Selim III. (1789-1807) had to deal with all the difficulties introduced into the East by the partition of Poland, the schemes of Napoleon, and the Mediterranean policy of Pitt. To follow these wars which resulted from the new political situation would be impossible. It need only be said that the French occupation of Egypt, and the decisive entrance of England into the Eastern question created as great a revolution in the position of Turkey as had occurred in any Monarchy of the West. The old alliance with France was broken. It became the interest of England to preserve the tottering power of Turkey as a counterpoise to Russia, and as a security for her own interests in the East.

Internally Turkey, under the energetic Selim, made a new start. A cannon foundry was begun at Galata, the Top-haneh so familiar to-day: new troops, drilled and armed after the European fashion were embodied; new taxes were levied, and a financial administration was organized which made some pretence of following Western ideas.

After what has been said so often, it may almost go without saying that there was an insurrection of the Janissaries to express the orthodox opinion of these reforms. The separation of the artillery from the Janissaries, and the creation of new regiments of infantry for Constantinople, to act as a counterpoise to the Janissaries, caused a serious revolt which was entirely successful, and the Sultan was obliged to receive the Aga as his chief minister. In the very 200 midst of these troubles occurred the famous mission of Colonel Sébastiani, which led to the forcing of the Dardanelles by the English fleet under Admiral Duckworth. The fleet destroyed a small Turkish flotilla in the Marmora and cast anchor before the city. It was centuries since the people of Constantinople had seen a hostile fleet threatening their city. They worked night and day to repair the fortifications, to mount cannon, and to man the walls with an efficient force. In five days nine hundred cannon were placed upon the walls, and the English fleet had to retire. The Sultan was forced to declare war against Great Britain.

Within a few weeks he was deposed by another insurrection of the Janissaries, encouraged by the Sheik-ul-Islam. Again they assembled in the Atmeidan, again they overturned their kettles, their picturesque method of declaring that they would no longer eat the food of the Sultan,—attacked the Seraglio, murdered all the ministers, and deposed the Sultan. The ministers had gladly died that they might save their master. It was not sufficient. Can a Padishah, who by his conduct and his laws attacks the principles of the Koran, be allowed to reign? Impossible. And Selim retired to the Kafess.

Mustafa IV. was a mere name under which the rule of the successful revolutionaries was legitimated. Assassination and execution proceeded. The Grand Vizier, in command of the army in Bulgaria, was beheaded. He was the most conspicuous of a hundred victims.

The Pasha of Rustchuk, Mustafa Baraicktar, led 40,000 men to Constantinople, to restore Selim. He had with him the standard of the Prophet, which had accompanied the late Grand Vizier to the field. Encamped outside the walls, he allowed Mustafa still to 201 hold the palace: a few murders and a few depositions were all that marked the suspense. On July 28, 1808, Mustafa Baraicktar entered the city, declared the Sultan deposed, and advanced to the Seraglio to restore Selim III. While the troops were kept back at the gates, the Sultan determined to secure himself. Selim, after a desperate struggle, was murdered in the Kafess. "Take Sultan Selim to the Pasha of Rustchuk, since he demands him," said Mustafa, and the body wrapped in a carpet was thrown out. Mahmûd, the last surviving prince of the house of Osman, but narrowly escaped: the murderers sought him everywhere, but he was concealed under a heap of rugs. The avengers of blood burst in; he was rescued: Mustafa IV. was thrust into the Kafess, and Mahmûd II. at the age of twenty-three ascended the throne.

The reign of Mahmûd (1808-1839) witnessed the first real introduction of Turkey into the atmosphere of the West. He had been trained by the deposed Selim, to hate the Janissaries, to play the part, strange indeed, of a reforming Sultan. Baraicktar was at his side.

It seemed at first that only a new and more blood-thirsty tyrant had begun to reign. On the day of his accession, thirty-three heads were exposed on the outer gate of the Seraglio, the Bâb-i-Humayoun: many of the leaders of the Janissaries were strangled and thrown into the Bosporus: even the women who had shown joy at Selim's murder were sewn up in sacks and drowned at Seraglio point. Within a few months the government of the new Sultan and his Vizier was in danger of ending like those that had preceded it. On November 14, 1808, a new revolt of the Janissaries broke out. They surrounded the palace of the Porte and set fire to it. Baraicktar 202 the Vizier escaped, but only a few days later to meet death by exploding a powder magazine rather than fall into the hands of his enemies. For four days the streets were abandoned to carnage, and to the horrors of blood were added those of fire. M. de Jucherau, a Frenchman then at Pera, has left a vivid description, which is supplemented by that of an English traveller.

"No one," says that eloquent author, "attempted to stay the conflagration, which in a short time made terrible progress. Soon the most populous quarter of Constantinople was covered with a sheet of fire. The cries, the groans of women, and old men and children, attracted no attention and excited no pity. In vain they raised their suppliant hands, in vain they begged for beams or planks to save themselves from their burning houses by their roofs: their supplications were vain: they were seen with indifference to fall and to disappear among the flames. The desire of destruction was the only feeling that then prevailed! Sultan Mahmood beheld the awful spectacle from one of the lofty towers of the Seraglio, but not 'like another Nero,' as some have unjustly asserted—the flames were not of his lighting, and he was anxious that they should cease. He ordered Cadi-Pasha to stop his carriage, and to retire with his troops within the walls of the Seraglio, and despatched a hatti-sheriff to the Janissary-agha, commanding him, as he valued his head, to exert himself to stay the conflagration. As Mahmood was Sultan, and from the pledge he had in his hands, was likely to continue so, even when the revolt should end, the Janissary-agha trembled at the imperial mandate and obeyed; but the fire was too intense and active to be subdued or arrested, even by throwing to the ground whole stacks of houses: it vaulted over the chasms thus 203 made, and only found 'sufficient obstacles in the public squares and in the mosques, whose vast cupolas and massy stone walls have frequently preserved Constantinople from entire destruction.'"[42]

The fire raged from the Seraglio to the aqueduct of Valens, and a man-of-war in the harbour directed its cannon on the barracks of the Janissaries in the At Meidan. The troops of the barracks on the other side of the Horn, at the Arsenal and at Top-haneh, threw in their lot with the Janissaries. Mahmûd within the Seraglio took the precaution which he had so long refrained from: he ordered the murder of his brother Mustafa IV., and the body was thrown out to the Janissaries. In a few hours Mahmûd outwardly submitted. The new troops were disbanded; the barracks were destroyed; the military schools, the mathematical institution, the printing press, every sign of the dangerous introduction of Western ideas, entirely disappeared. Even the ladies of the Seraglio ceased to learn French, and Mahmûd abandoned the enervating amusements of the opera and the ballet. For sixteen years a curtain fell, raised only to show an occasional massacre. Constantinople returned to its condition as the most orthodox of Moslem cities. It was at this time that the greatest of all European ambassadors at Constantinople first made acquaintance with the power in whose fortunes he was to become so powerful a factor. Stratford Canning came to Stambûl in 1808, as secretary to a special mission. These were his first impressions of Turkey.

"The state[43] of Turkey itself was anything but satisfactory in view of those powers who did not wish the Porte to become the prey either of Russia or 204 of France. The throne of the empire was filled by a young Sultan, who had recently succeeded to his brother Mustafa, whose immediate predecessor, their cousin Selim, had fallen a sacrifice to the mutinous spirit of the Janissaries. Mahmûd, the reigning sovereign, was for some time the last of his race. Young, ignorant, and inexperienced, he had everything to apprehend from the circumstances in which he was placed. Both morally and materially his empire was bordering on decrepitude. The old political system of Turkey had worn itself out. The population was not yet prepared for a new order of things. A depreciated currency, a disordered revenue, a mutinous militia, dilapidated fortresses, a decreasing population, a stagnant industry, and general misrule, were the monuments which time had left of Ottoman domination in the second capital of the Roman empire and throughout those extensive regions which had been the successive seats of civilisation, ever varying, generally advancing, from the earliest periods of social settlement and historical tradition. A continual and often a sanguinary antagonism of creeds, of races, of districts and authorities within the frontier, and frequent wars of little glory and much loss with the neighbouring powers, had formed of late the normal condition of the Porte's dominions."

Most European observers thought that the Ottoman power was doomed to almost immediate extinction; and the next few years increased the illusion. The Mussulman population was everywhere declining; a new Greek power was rising; and Ali Pasha at Janina seemed likely to establish a new Mussulman domination which should destroy the Turkish rule. Within a few years Greece secured her independence by rebellion. But Canning saw plainly enough that Turkey was still strong. As early as 1809 he wrote thus:— 205

"Very false notions are entertained in England of the Turkish nation. You know much better than I do the mighty resources and native wealth which this enormous empire possesses. I am myself a daily witness of the personal qualities of the inhabitants, qualities which if properly directed are capable of sustaining them against a world of enemies. But the government is radically bad, and its members, who are all alive to its defects, have neither the wisdom nor the courage to reform it. The few who have courage equal to the task know not how to reconcile reformation with the prejudices of the people. And without this nothing can be effected."[44]

From 1821 the tide turned. The defects of the Turkish government did not avail against the valour of the Sultan's army, and the dimensions of Europe. The tragedies of those days passed far from Constantinople. Missolonghi, Navarino, Athens, Janina, Adrianople, are names that bring each its memory; but within the city of the Cæsars and the Sultans a different tale was told. It was the great era of reform, when at last Mahmûd was able to use his strength, and re-establish the power of the Padishah.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the authority of the Commander of the Faithful had sunk, decade by decade, till the murder of a Sultan who showed an independent policy was as certain as the sunrise. The Janissaries were the real masters of the city, and of the Empire. The force which had been raised to carry out the absolute will of the Sultan had now entirely superseded him. Anarchy was substituted for the rule of an irresponsible despot. But Mahmûd had a character of strength unknown in any Sultan for two centuries. He had matured his plans, 206 and in 1826 he was able to carry them into execution. But for an utterly unforeseen disaster he would doubtless have been able to secure his triumph earlier than he did. In 1823 the arsenal and cannon foundry at Top-haneh were entirely destroyed by fire. A vast quantity of military stores and ammunition was destroyed. Pera and Galata suffered severely. It is said that fifty mosques and six thousand houses were destroyed. Mahmûd attributed the fire to the Janissaries; and he became the more determined to destroy them.

Already he had dealt with another enemy. In 1821 the plots of the Hetairists, working for the liberation of Greece, became known. Mahmûd immediately ordered all Greeks not engaged in trade to be deported from Constantinople. Then he ordered the patriarch and Synod of Constantinople to excommunicate the leaders who had engaged in the massacre of Moslems. The act was issued; nor can the Church be regarded as having done anything but what was demanded by Christian charity.

Hardly was the excommunication issued before a number of rich Greeks escaped from the city, evidently with the intention of joining the revolutionary armies. On March 26 the city was filled with troops, and arms were issued to the citizens. Several Hetairists were executed; and when the news came of the murder of Moslems in Greece, Mahmûd, who had already imprisoned seven Greek bishops, ordered the public execution of a number of prominent Greeks, who were entirely innocent, solely for the purpose of alarming their compatriots. But this was not sufficient. On Easter Day, April 22, 1821, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Gregorios, was summoned, at dawn, when he had finished the offering of the Holy Eucharist in his Cathedral Church, into the hall of 209 the Synod at the Phanar, by the officers of the Sultan. There, before the clergy and the heads of the chief Greek families, he was declared deposed by the authority of the State, and the trembling priests were required to elect a new Patriarch in his stead.


Within a few hours Gregorios was hung from the gate of the patriarchate, with a document pinned to his breast, declaring him a traitor in that he knew of the Hetairist conspiracy, and did not reveal it. Of the charge there is no known proof; and the Greeks have always regarded him as a martyr. If he knew the details of the conspiracy at all it is more than probable that he knew them only in confession; nor is it at all probable that he knew anything but that the Greeks intended to strike for their freedom.

Three bishops were executed on the same day. It was not a day to be forgotten. When the body of the martyred Gregorios was taken down it was given to the Jews to be dragged through the streets and cast into the sea. It was recovered by night and taken by ship to Odessa, where it was interred with solemn ceremonial as the remains of a saint and martyr.

This horrible deed was followed by the outbreak of anarchy in Constantinople. The Janissaries called for a massacre of the Christians in the city to avenge the Moslems who had been killed in Greece. The Christian quarters were attacked, the Christian villages on the Bosphorus were robbed, and the patriarchate was sacked. Greek clergy and nobles were executed daily, and four bishops were among the slain. No Christians were allowed to leave the city without a passport or vengeance was exacted upon the family. The massacres that occurred in Constantinople were tolerated if they were not organised by the authorities; several subjects of Western nations were murdered. 210 All that was done by Christian Europe was to protest. The Russian ambassador left Constantinople, having demanded that the massacres should cease and the churches be rebuilt that had been destroyed. Mahmûd replied that only traitors were ill-treated. But the massacres ended, at least for a time.

While all danger of a Christian rising in Constantinople was thus prevented, Mahmûd was maturing the plans which in 1825 made him at last an absolute ruler, at least in his own city.

For seventeen years Mahmûd prepared for this great stroke. First by gifts and offices he detached many of the supporters of the Janissaries and the Ulemas from the party which supported them. Some less important members of the body were arrested for infraction of the laws and were publicly executed. Others were secretly made away with. The Sultan was surrounding himself with an elaborate spy system and with agents who were capable of dealing in detail with those whom he wished to be put out of the way. Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, in his "Memoirs," says: "I remember that in crossing the Golden Horn from time to time I had observed loose mats floating here and there upon the water, and that in answer to my enquiries I had been told in a mysterious manner that they had served for covering the bodies thrown after private executions into the harbour." All this was done slowly; the power of the Janissaries was gradually undermined; "almost unparalleled craft and cruelty," some observers called the process, but to Mahmûd it seemed absolutely necessary.

In 1826 the Sultan perceived that the time limit had come. A meeting of all the chief functionaries of the Empire and chief officers of the Janissaries was held. They agreed to submit to the new military discipline and organisation which the Sultan designed. 211 All signed their names. On June 12 the first exercises of the new order were begun. On the 16th the inferior officers and the soldiers declared that they would not submit. The revolt was proclaimed in the ancient manner. The kettles were overturned, and the whole force was called to arms. Mahmûd crossed from Bekistasch to the Seraglio; the standard of the Prophet was displayed; the city was filled with the troops upon whom the Sultan could rely; the Moslem population rallied round the green flag. The people assembled in the Atmeidan (the Hippodrome); Mahmûd went to the mosque of Ahmed. The Janissaries were summoned to submit to the new order. They in return demanded the destruction of the "subverters of the ancient usages of the Empire." Then their fate was sealed. They had advanced to the mosque of Bayezid; they were rapidly driven back and hemmed in in their quarters in the Etmeidan. Then from every side artillery was directed upon them. From his house in Pera Stratford Canning, at dinner, saw "two slender columns of smoke rising above the opposite horizon." What did they mean? The Sultan, he was answered, had fired the barracks of the Janissaries. The rest of the tragedy may best be told in Canning's own words:[45]

"The Sultan was determined to make the most of his victory. From the time of his cousin Selim's death he had lived in dread of the Janissaries. A strong impression must have been made upon his mind by the personal danger which he had encountered. It was said that he had escaped with his life by getting into an oven when the search for him was hottest. His duty as sovereign gave strength as well as dignity to his private resentment. That celebrated militia, which in earlier times had extended the bounds of the 212 empire, and given the title of conqueror to so many of the Sultans, which had opened the walls of Constantinople itself to their triumphant leader, the second Mohammed, were now to be swept away with an unsparing hand and to make room for a new order of things, for a disciplined army and a charter of reform. From their high claims to honour and confidence they had sadly declined. They had become the masters of the government, the butchers of their sovereigns, and a source of terror to all but the enemies of their country. Whatever compassion might be felt for individual sufferers, including as they did the innocent with the guilty, it could hardly be said that their punishment as a body was untimely or undeserved.

The complaints of those who were doomed to destruction found no echo in the bosoms of their conquerors. They were mostly citizens having their wives, their children, or their parents, to witness the calamity which they had brought in thunder on their necks. Many had fallen under the Sultan's artillery; many were fugitives and outlaws. The mere name of Janissary, compromised or not by an overt act, operated like a sentence of death. A special commission sat for the trial, or rather for the condemnation of crowds. Every victim passed at once from the tribunal into the hands of the executioner. The bowstring and the scimitar were constantly in play. People could not stir from their houses without the risk of falling in with some terrible sight. The Sea of Marmora was mottled with dead bodies. Nor was the tragedy confined to Constantinople and its neighbourhood. Messengers were sent in haste to every provincial city where any considerable number of Janissaries existed, and the slightest tendency to insurrection was so promptly and effectually repressed, that no disquieting reports were conveyed to us from any quarter of the 213 Empire. Not a day passed without my receiving a requisition from the Porte, calling upon me to send thither immediately the officer and soldiers comprising my official guard. I had no reason to suppose that any of them had been concerned in the revolt, and I was pretty sure that they could not repair to the Porte without imminent danger of being sacrificed. I ventured, therefore, to detain them day after day, first on one pretext, then on another, until, at the end of a week, the fever at headquarters had so far subsided as to open a door for reflection and mercy. Relying on this abatement of wrath, I complied, and the interpreter whom I directed to accompany them, gave every assurance on their behalf which I was entitled to offer. The men were banished from the capital, but their lives were spared, and many years later I was much pleased by a visit from their officer, who displayed his gratitude by coming from a distance on foot to regale me with a bunch of dried grapes and a pitcher of choice water. Let me add that this instance of good feeling on the part of a Turk towards a Christian is only one of many which have come to my knowledge."

On June 17, 1826, the Janissaries ceased to exist. The Sheik-ul-Islam formally proclaimed the extinction of the corps. A solemn divan was held within the Seraglio, and the victory of Mahmûd was ratified by the council. Then Canning writing on the 20th records the end of the revolution which re-established the authority of the Sultan in a position as absolute and despotic as it had been in the days of Mohammed II.

"The Sultan's ministers are still encamped in the outer court of the Seraglio, and I grieve to add that frequent executions continue to take place under their very eyes. This afternoon, when the person, 214 to whom I have already alluded, was standing near the Reis Efendi's tent, his attention was suddenly caught by the sound of drums and fifes, and on turning round he saw, to his utter astonishment, a body of Turks in various dresses, but armed with muskets and bayonets, arranged in European order, and going through the new form of exercise. He supposes the number to have been about two thousand, but never before having seen troops in line he may have been deceived in this particular. He says that the men acted by word of command, both in marching and in handling their arms. The Sultan, who was at first stationed at the window within sight, descended after a time, and passed the men in review. His Highness was dressed in Egyptian fashion, armed with pistols and sabre, and on his head in place of the Imperial turban was a sort of Egyptian bonnet.

"Rank, poverty, age, and numbers are alike impotent to shelter those who are known as culprits or marked as victims. It is confidently asserted that a register has been kept of all persons who, since the accession of the Sultan, have in any way shown a disposition to favour the designs of the Janissaries, and that all such individuals are diligently sought out and cut off as soon as discovered. Respectable persons are seized in the street and hurried before the Seraskier or Grand Vizier for immediate judgment. There are instances of elderly men having pleaded a total ignorance of the late conspiracy, and being reminded of some petty incident which happened twenty years ago, in proof of their deserving condign punishment as abettors of the Janissaries. Whole companies of labouring men are seized and either executed or forcibly obliged to quit Constantinople.

"The entrance to the Seraglio, the shore under the Sultan's windows, and the sea itself, are crowded 215 with dead bodies—many of them torn and in part devoured by the dogs."[46]

Théophile Gautier adds even more gruesome details. To the destruction of the Janissaries was added that of the Becktash derviches. Then the new army was formed, organized, drilled. For the rest of his reign, Mahmûd's chief thought was to perfect the reforms which he had inaugurated in blood. When in 1834 he struck coins bearing his own portrait, so grave a breach of the rules of the Koran caused another insurrection. It was suppressed with fearful severity, and added four thousand victims to the tale. But the coinage had to be called in. Fanatics, whom the people regarded as saints, coveted martyrdom by seizing the Sultan's bridle as he rode over the new bridge which he had made from Galata to Stambûl, calling him "Giaour Padishah" and paying Heaven's vengeance on his head. Nothing moved Mahmûd. Without, misfortunes befell his power on every side. He held steadfastly on, and when he died in 1839, he left behind him a strong government, and an appearance—it may have been little more—of approximation to the ways of Western Europe. The aim of Mahmûd, indeed, was not unlike that of Peter the Great: he wished to make his State an integral part of the European system. Hitherto, admitted though she was into European politics, coveted as ally and dreaded as a foe, Turkey had occupied no place among the permanent factors of European politics. Mahmûd thought to make Turkey, really and essentially, a European power. It was impossible.

The external events of the reign, the revolt of Mohammed Ali, the treaty of Adrianople, the creation of Greece as an independent State, important as they 216 were in the history of the Ottoman power, hardly affected Constantinople.

In 1832, Stratford Canning returned on a special mission to Constantinople. He found the outer change extraordinary. Mahmûd received him as an European sovereign would receive. He began to think a real reform of Turkey possible. He secured the concession that he sought on behalf of Greece: "The new Hellas was lifted up to that great mountain ridge whence the eye of the traveller may range unchecked over the pastures of Thessaly." Canning, after renewed experience of the delays and intrigues of the Turkish ministers, bade farewell to the Sultan for the last time. His character of Mahmûd is too important to be omitted from our view. It may well conclude what we have to say of the most important reign in recent Turkish history.

"Resolution and energy were the foremost qualities of his mind. His natural abilities would hardly have distinguished him in private life. In personal courage, if not deficient, he was by no means superior. His morality, measured by the rules of the Koran, was anything but exemplary. He had no scruple of taking life at pleasure from motives of policy or interest. He was not inattentive to changes of circumstance, or insensible to the requirements of time. There was even from early days a vein of liberality in his views, but either from want of foresight, or owing to a certain rigidity of mind, he missed at critical times the precious opportunity and incurred thereby an aggravated loss. His reign of more than thirty years was marked by disastrous wars and compulsory cessions. Greece, Egypt, and Algiers escaped successively from his rule. He had to lament the destruction of his fleet at Navarino. On the other hand, he gathered up the reins of sovereign power, which had fallen from the 217 hands of his immediate predecessors; he repressed rebellion in more than one of the provinces, and his just resentment crushed the mutinous Janissaries once and for ever. Checked no longer by them, he introduced a system of reforms which has tended greatly to renovate the Ottoman Empire, and to bring it into friendly communion with the Powers of Christendom. To him, moreover, is due the formation of a regular and disciplined army in place of a factious fanatical militia, more dangerous to the country than to its foes. Unfortunately his habits of self-indulgence kept pace with the revival of his authority, and the premature close of his life superseded for a while the progress of improvement. Mahmûd when young had rather an imposing countenance; his dark beard set off the paleness of his face, but time added to its expression. His stature was slightly below the average standard, his countenance was healthy, he wrote well, he rode well, and acquired a reputation for skill in archery. It may be said with truth that whatever merit he possessed was his own, and that much of what was wrong in his character and conduct resulted from circumstances beyond his control. Peace to his memory!"[47]

Abdul-Mejid (1839-1861), the son of Mahmûd II., had been brought up in the harem. He was only sixteen at his accession, and was utterly ignorant of politics. But he had some wise ministers, and the defeats of the earlier part of his reign were wisely utilised. In 1841 came the practical separation of Egypt, the family of Mohammed Ali being established there as perpetual pashas or deputies of the Sultan, paying tribute, but otherwise free and guaranteed in their position by the Powers.

Unquestionably the great figure in Constantinople 218 during the reign of Abdul Mejid was Stratford Canning, who came in 1842 as British ambassador. He remained till 1852. He returned in 1853, and he left finally in 1858. During these years he devoted himself to the preservation of Turkey as a Power, but only with the hope, and on the condition, that she should become civilized. It may have been a hopeless task, but in the endeavour it is astounding to observe the high measure of success which came to the noble Englishman who gave the best years of his life to it. Kinglake has immortalised him as "the great Elchi." No greater ambassador ever lived; and his greatness lay in the fact that he passed entirely beyond the range of ordinary diplomatic functions, and made himself as really a part of the Empire to which he was accredited as he was essentially the representative of the British nation. Needless to tell again the tale that has been so well told, of his diplomatic triumphs, of his supreme honesty and loyalty, of his ceaseless energy, of his magnificent services to humanity and religion.

Throughout the whole of his life in Turkey he kept his one aim steadily before his eyes, and never deviated from it. If Turkey could be saved he would save her; but it could only be done by carrying out what had been the real intention of Mahmûd the reformer, and making an Oriental despotism resemble an European government with constitutional guarantees for personal and religious freedom. That in the long-run he utterly failed is now quite plain. What he wrote more than fifty years ago, in spite of superficial outward changes is really true to-day. "There is no such thing as system in Turkey. Every man according to his means and opportunities gets what he can, commands when he dares, and submits when he must." None the less Canning won real victories. 219 He procured a declaration that the punishment of death should no longer be inflicted on those who gave up Islam for Christianity. "It was the first dagger," he wrote himself, "thrust into the side of the false prophet and his creed." And indeed so long as Lord Stratford de Redcliffe remained at Constantinople justice, toleration, good government made progress such as could hardly have been conceived before.

It is needless here to inquire how far the success of Turkey in the Crimean War led to the casting aside of all reforms, or whether the war was justified or how it was caused. Russia's declaration of her protectorate over the Orthodox Church; the belief of England and France that they were bound to protect Turkey against wanton aggression; the earnest desire of "the great Elchi" to avoid war: these things may be read in the Blue Books[48] and in Kinglake's great History. Constantinople saw the encampment of British troops at Gallipoli and at Skutari; and then came the sad days of the hospitals on the Asiatic shore and the English cemetery where sleep so many English dead. The Hatti-Humayun of February 21, 1856, seemed to embody all that the best friends of Turkey could have wished, in its abolition of all distinctions telling unfavourably against the exercise of any religion, its fine declarations of freedom and equality among all subjects of the Porte. But who could enforce it? The story is pitiful, and it shall not here be told. Rather let it be remembered when we sail into the harbour of Constantinople that the Crimean Memorial Church which stands boldly on the heights of Pera was the sign of the noble work for religion and freedom that had been done by the great Englishman whose 220 last public act in the city it was to lay the foundation-stone, and whose noble life is simply commemorated on a tablet within its walls.

It was in 1858 that this great embassy ended. Three years later Abdul Mejid died; and his brother Abdul Aziz was girt with the sword in the mosque of Eyûb. Under his rule outward reforms progressed gaily, but the reckless extravagance of the Sultan brought the country to financial ruin. Reforms, insurrections, the creation of Roumania, the insurrection of Crete, how did these affect Constantinople? Not at all. Only daily the financial disorder became more apparent. On May 10, 1876, the city witnessed a scene which might have seemed proof that Turkey was regenerated. The Sultan's son was stopped in the streets by crowds who demanded the dismissal of the Grand Vizier and the Sheik-ul-Islam. From the gorgeous new palace which he had built on the Bosporus came the reply of Abdul Aziz—"His Majesty is deeply touched with the proof of confidence you place in him. It is his pleasure in no way to resist the will of his faithful people." But it was merely one of those delusive pictures which remind one of the tricks of the genii in the Arabian Nights. There was no real change; and on May 29, again resort was had as in the old days to the Sheik-ul-Islam. A reformer, who had been but a few days elevated to the post, he declared the lawfulness of deposing a Sultan whose conduct was insensate, who had no political judgment, who spent on himself sums which the Empire could not afford. At dawn on May 30 the palace of Dolma Bagtché was surrounded by troops, the Sultan was declared a prisoner, and then was hurried across to the old Seraglio. A few days later he returned to the gorgeous palace of Tcheragan. On June 4, he was found dead. It was certified that 221 he had opened his veins with a pair of scissors. Few Sultans have long survived deposition.

Murad V. the eldest son of Abdul Mejid was received at the Seraskierat with enthusiasm. Announcements were made which declared him a reformer. He was Sultan for only three months. Within the first few days a number of the ministers were murdered, as they sat in Council, by the brother of the wife of Abdul Aziz. A few weeks later it was declared that the Sultan was incapable of Government. He was deposed with as much ease as his predecessor, no one knows to-day whether he is alive or not, and Abdul Hamed II., his brother, reigned in his stead. Of his reign little need be said. It has seen the Bulgarian atrocities, the defeat of Turkey by Russia, the encampment of the Russian troops at San Stefano, the proclamation of a Constitution, a parliament with two houses opened by the Sultan himself. It has seen also the suppression of that Constitution; it has seen the liberty of Bulgaria, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Cyprus and Crete.

And Constantinople, what may be told here in brief is what cannot be forgotten. The Sultan no longer lives, like his predecessors, within earshot of his people. Yildiz-Kiosk high on the hills above the Bosphorus secludes him from the world. No longer does the Commander of the Faithful visit the mosques of Stambûl or ride through the streets with a gorgeous military display. The massacres for which precedent was set centuries ago have again given the city a ghastly fame. In October 1895 crowds of Softas—religious students—assembled in the Atmeidan and a massacre of Armenians began. The riots lasted for three days. The authorities declared that the cause was the revolutionary plots of the Armenians themselves, that they did their utmost to preserve order, and that they would punish all who were responsible. Ten months 222 passed. Constantinople in the spring of 1896 was outwardly at peace, but arrests were constantly being made, and there was a general feeling of insecurity. On August 28, 1896, a band of Armenians seized the Ottoman Bank at Galata, killing the guard and imprisoning the officials. After some hours they were allowed to depart under a safe conduct. But for nearly two days the city was given up to massacre. Bands of Moslems rose simultaneously at different parts before the police or the military appeared, led or accompanied by Softas, by soldiers, by police officers. When the troops appeared they looked on. The scenes in the streets beggar description. Christians were butchered wherever they appeared, were chased into houses and over roofs, were shot in their houses by men who took the tiles from the roofs across the street, broke the windows, and then fired into the rooms where Armenians had crowded for refuge. The churches were filled with people who sought sanctuary, who had lost everything they possessed and dared not leave the security of the sacred walls. The churches of Pera and Galata, the buildings of the Patriarchate in the Psamatia quarter seemed the only safe places. Of the numbers killed no count can be given; two thousand certainly perished, but five thousand has been declared to have been the total of the victims. For days the dead-cart passed through the streets and the murdered Christians were carried off with indescribable brutality to be cast into huge pits or into the sea. It is impossible as yet to tell the full story. It seems still like a horrible dream, a reminiscence of the worst terrors of the Middle Age.


The two acts of tragedy by which it has been attempted to destroy a large, and that perhaps the richest and most progressive, part of the population of Constantinople, emphasise an important historical fact. 225 Not only by the importations of Mohammed II., but gradually during the four centuries and a half that have elapsed since the Conquest, the population of Constantinople has changed its character. Pera and Galata are the home of a mixed race, of whom every writer says hard words, and of many nationalities still striving to preserve their separate life. Greeks, Italians, Germans, French, English, immigrants from the Balkan lands, are the most prominent, after the Jews and the wealthy Armenians. The divisions that are to be seen in the Orthodox Church, perpetuated by politicians for their own purposes, are the reflection of the national and political divisions that we pass through on our way to Constantinople and find there in full force. Every league nearer to the city walls, as the railway drags its tedious length, is a step nearer to barbarism; and Pera is indeed but a poor outpost of civilisation. It has over it a veneer of the West. As you walk through the streets you might think yourself in an inferior Italian city; when you descend to Galata, down steep streets, half stairways, you pass through the gate of the Middle Ages into a town like any cosmopolitan seaport, crowded with sailors and travellers of all nations.

The Galata bridge, the most wonderful pathway in Europe, with its thousands of passengers in every strange garb, its Parisian carriages, its Arab steeds bearing alert officers, its beggars, mollahs, white turbaned and white coated toll-takers, its ceaseless stream of life all day long, brings you to the harbour, the historic anchorage of great ships for fifteen hundred years or more. "Eothen" has said once for all what comes to mind as we gaze at that magnificent sight, life, ships, walls, domes, minarets.

"Even if we don't take a part in the chaunt about 'Mosques and Minarets,' we can still yield praises to 226 Stamboul. We can chaunt about the harbour; we can say and sing that nowhere else does the sea come so home to a city; there are no pebble shores—no sand bars—no slimy river beds—no black canals—no locks nor docks to divide the very heart of the place from the deep waters; if being in the noisiest part of Stamboul, you would stroll to the quiet side of the way amidst those cypresses opposite, you will cross the fathomless Bosphorus; if you would go from your hotel to the Bazaars, you must pass by the bright blue pathway of the Golden Horn, that can carry a thousand sail of the line. You are accustomed to the gondolas that glide among the palaces of St Mark, but here at Stamboul it is a hundred-and-twenty-gun-ship that meets you in the street. Venice strains out from the steadfast land, and in old times would send forth the chief of the state to woo and wed the reluctant sea; but the stormy bride of the Doge is the bowing slave of the Sultan—she comes to his feet with the treasures of the world—she bears him from palace to palace—by some unfailing witchcraft, she entices the breezes to follow her, and fan the pale cheek of her lord—she lifts his armed navies to the very gates of his garden—she watches the walls of his serail—she stifles the intrigues of his Ministers—she quiets the scandals of his Court—she extinguishes his rivals, and hushes his naughty wives all one by one, so vast are the wonders of the deep!"[49]

But you cross the bridge, or you take a caique, and land under the old walls; you pass through some gateway, scarcely recognisable; and in a moment you are in a new life. It is the East. The hundreds of solemn figures climbing the hill to the daily afternoon prayers at the mosque of Mohammed the Conqueror; the busy market that goes on outside the walls, the stalls 227 displaying everything that man needs to buy, the carpets, the great earthenware vessels, marked in white wax with delicate arabesques, the fresh fruits, the strange liquors, the stranger cates. A few yards off and you are among the streets that belong to particular trades, the workers in brass, the cobblers, the blacksmiths, the horse-dealers, the sellers of every conceivable object under the sun, all in their windowless shops, laughing, talking, selling, with that stately mien which makes a ceremonial of the simplest act. There is no vulgar European haste here, no chattering impatience to serve or to bargain; the ages as they have passed over the place seem to have left their solemn impress on the people. Let the story-teller come and amuse them; for themselves they will not hurry or fret or speed. All is dignified, stately, restrained. This is a Turkish quarter, but the Turks are rarely indeed of pure blood. Almost every Asiatic race, and many European nationalities, have gone to make the Turks of Stambûl—pilgrims from the far East, Christian slaves, converts to Islam from every quarter of the globe. Negroes are constantly to be met with, eunuchs, slaves, and free trading folk. Pass further on and you are among the Jews, who remain as large a proportion of the population as in the fifteenth century, when some forty thousand of them were to be found in Stambûl. It was they who first opened regular shops for the sale of manufactured goods, and the greatest shops in the Bazaar to-day are the property of Jews. In the great Bazaar with its intricate streets and quarters, a great desolation reigns. The Jews and the Europeans have invaded its recesses, and the pictures that the old books draw of the haggling and the humour and the riches, have no meaning to-day. In the enclosure of the Ahmediyeh you may see characteristic Eastern sights. There a man 228 sits being shaved. There are stalls heaped with fruit. There are sellers pressing rich stuffs and linen on Turkish ladies as they pass. And indeed it is not all stateliness even among the Turks. Desert the streets of the leather-sellers and the brass-workers, come down to the markets by the mosques, and there is enough vigorous and vivacious life. In the harbour among the shipping, where the rowers of caiques clamour for employment, in the Greek quarter, or in the Psamatia among the poorer Armenians, there is plenty of stir and movement. For a succession of pictures, there is no city like Constantinople. Pilgrims from the far East, Mongolians, Persians, men of Bokhara and Khiva, negroes from the heart of Africa, armed many of them to the teeth, most with the strange wistful half frightened look of strangers and foreigners in a civilisation of which they have not dreamed; the groups at the fountains, the staid ancients smoking solemnly at the doors, the closed windows with the wooden lattices, through which sometimes comes a sound of soft music, the tramp of armed men, the clatter of cavalry as they trot up the street, the endless processions of donkeys and draught horses, and sometimes camels,—these sights and sounds are, in the sunlight by the old walls, in the narrow streets, or by the great domed mosques, never to be forgotten or to be rivalled in Europe to-day.

Constantinople remains, with all its changes, a city of the dark ages. At any moment the curtain may be lifted on a scene of tragic horror, and meanwhile there is the grotesque mimicry of Western civilisation, the parade of meaningless forms, justice, government, finance, which in a moment may be destroyed, which never have, it is hardly an exaggeration to say, any real meaning. How does the city fare? Even now, interviews with officials, walks through 229 the streets of Stambûl, the sights of each day, remind one irresistibly of "a chapter in Gibbon or some tale of wonder in the Arabian Nights." Soberly and solemnly the Turks go about their business. Before the horrors of the last decade an observer who knew well the people and the history wrote these words.

"I have been present in the city during the deposition of two Sultans. The most striking characteristic in the circumstances attending these depositions was the utter indifference of the great body of the native, and especially of the Moslem, population to the change which was being made. There was a small but active party which took action, but beyond this there was comparatively very little excitement; no resistance, no rioting, no expression of dissatisfaction. When newspaper correspondents and foreigners generally were aware that a revolution was in preparation, it is impossible to believe that thousands of Turks and rayahs were in ignorance of the fact. The general feeling among the Sultan's subjects was one of indifference. If the conspirators failed it would go hardly with them. If they succeeded it would go hardly with the Sultan. That business only regarded the parties concerned. Beyond a vague belief that any change could hardly be followed by a worse condition of things than had existed, there was no public sentiment on the matter."[50]

The words would be as true to-day. Save only at moments of sudden and fanatic excitement, organised there can be no doubt at least under the impression that there is a religious duty, and a command which may not be disobeyed, the calm of the city is unbroken. We seem to be standing with Candide when he heard the news that "two viziers of the bench and the mufti had just been strangled at Constantinople, 230 and several of their friends impaled," and when he heard the instructive comments of the old Turk who never knew the name of any vizier or mufti. "I presume," said that sage, "that in general such as are concerned in public affairs come to a miserable end, and that they deserve it; but I never enquire what is doing at Constantinople. I am content with sending thither the produce of my garden, which I cultivate with my own hands." To-day it would seem that the people of Constantinople are of the same mind with this philosopher. "Our country is rich, capable of prosperity, and of supporting in comfort twenty times its present population; but alas a gang of robbers has seized it," are the published words of a Turkish prince. Vice and luxury and despotism triumph. Eh bien! je sais qu'il faut cultiver notre jardin.

This at any rate may be said. It is idle to prophecy the future of the Ottoman power in Europe. Has the last Greek war really strengthened it? Does the approach of Russia foreshadow an occupation of Constantinople and the longed for return of S. Sophia to the worship of the Orthodox Church? Of all people the English are the least fitted to foresee the future. Nothing can be more ludicrous than the letters of Tom Hughes, an observer acute enough, written from Constantinople in 1862, in which he says that Islam is all but dead, and that what the Turks want is the English public-school system. The Turk hears such things with a smile; il faut cultiver notre jardin. 231

The Churches

Though as it has already been said there is but one church which has survived the Turkish conquest without ever ceasing to be used for its divine purpose, there are very many buildings in Constantinople still remaining, with more or less change, that were once hallowed to the worship of the Church of Christ.

Very many have perished, the most notable among them that Church of the Holy Apostles, which was destroyed by Mohammed the Conqueror to build the great mosque which bears his name. But those which still remain were among the chiefest wonders of the City of the Emperors, and there is not one of them which does not deserve an extensive study.

The volumes that have been written on Byzantine architecture cannot be compressed into a few pages. It must suffice to recall what are the chief characteristics of the style which may still be seen in its perfection at Constantinople, as at Salonica. The origin of what had so wide an extension over the East, of the art which made a new departure under Constantine, and a still more important one under Justinian, is simply the basilica, the law court of ancient Rome. A long nave and aisles separated by rows of pillars, surmounted by a flat roof and ending in an apse: that is the familiar type of which a splendid example built under Byzantine influence is to be found in the church of S. Apollinare 232 Nuovo at Ravenna. To this simple design the East added the development of the dome. In the sixth century the domical style decisively replaced the basilican; and nowhere can the transition be more clearly traced than in Constantinople.


Metal Socket


We have then, in our examination of the still remaining specimens of Byzantine art, to observe first the basilicas, then the combination of basilica with dome, then the examples of the completed domical style. But this is by no means all. Byzantine art, in the carving of capitals, in the creation of the impost-capital, in its achievement of "teaching the column to support the arch," in sculpture, in bronze work, in the detail of inscriptions, and above all, in mosaic, is worth the most attentive study, and happily in spite of time, war and barbarism, Constantinople still furnishes a fruitful field for the student. 233

Of the basilicas which existed before the time of Justinian, there are two impressive examples remaining. The first is the church of S. John Baptist, once attached to the monastery called the Studium. It was originally built in 463, and was attached to the monastery founded by one of the early emigrants from the old Rome, Studius. This monastery became the most important centre of the Akoimetai, the "sleepless ones," an order which kept up perpetual intercession for the sins of the world, and whose importance from the fifth century to the time of the Latin Conquest was very great.[51] It was in this church that many of the icons were preserved during the first fury of iconoclasm: in the monastery, Isaac Comnenus and Michael VII. assumed the monastic habit.

The church has undergone several restorations, but is now in a ruinous state. It was turned into a mosque under Bayezid II.—it is called Mir Achor Djami—but its structural arrangements have not been altered. It is a basilica with two aisles and apse, narthex and atrium. On each side the aisles are divided from the nave by seven marble pillars, the capitals Corinthian, the work below Byzantine. The design on the capitals is that of the double acanthus, "one leaf lying over and within another." Outside in the atrium the columns are Corinthian, and so also below in the great crypt or cistern. The door of the narthex is inserted between the two columns. Of the many memorials that the church once contained only one may now be seen. In a wall marking a small enclosure behind the apse, at the north-east, is a tombstone upside down on which may be traced 234 the Greek inscription to the memory of Dionysios, a Russian monk, who fell asleep on September 6, 1387.

Beautiful in its ruin, with the creepers hiding many of the great gaps in the Western entrance, the church of S. John Baptist does not differ essentially from the common Western type of basilica. The galleries (now without floors) mark, it has been said, the advent of organised monasticism earlier than in the West; but there is, save for some of the work on the pillars, nothing of an especially Byzantine style about the church. It seems certain to perish in a few years if nothing is done. Meanwhile it should be visited by every student of history or art.


S. Irene, now within the grounds of the Seraglio, is of more importance. It owes its original foundation to Constantine, but it suffered severely in the Nika riot and was rebuilt by Justinian in 532. It was again restored in 740. Little if anything has been done to it since the Turkish Conquest, and it may be 235 taken as certain that its original structure remains practically unaltered. For the historical interest of its contents as well as for its architectural importance, it is well worth a visit; but it is rarely that permission is accorded to view it.[52] It has been used since the Turkish Conquest as an armoury, and an irardé from the Sultan himself is necessary to authorise the Minister of Ordnance to permit any one to see it.

Its form is basilican, a nave with two aisles and an apse. The dome rests upon a drum lighted by twenty windows. It is probable that this was built by Justinian. In the apse is a characteristic feature which shows what must have been the arrangement at S. Sophia. There are five rows of seats for the clergy, facing west—an unusual number of seats I think, for at Ravenna there is but one row. Under the seats there is a passage round the apse.

There were originally a narthex and an atrium. The narthex seems to have been thrown into the church, as is shown by the heavy pier supporting the gallery, with its counterpart in the outer walls ending abruptly at the wall plate. It seems probable that this was done in order to make room for the second dome, the original structure being that of the ordinary Roman basilica. The atrium seems to have undergone many changes: possibly it is entirely of Mohammedan work, as it has pointed arches. The interior of the church is solemn and impressive, an effect due to the great dignity of the general lines. Originally no doubt the walls and domes were covered with mosaics. Part of the apse still bears its decoration uncovered with the wash which is over all the rest of the surface. A gigantic cross of black tesseræ stretches up the vault, and large 236 inscriptions remain over the arch. The apse is lighted by three great windows, a feature never seen in Roman basilicas till much later. The columns which support the galleries are plain, the arch resting on simple uncarved blocks. It may be seen, even from this brief description, how interesting the church is as a representation in Constantinople of the style brought to the East by the Christian architects of the Empire, and exposed to many foreign influences, but as yet showing no important signs of departure from the original type.

But the church is interesting not only architecturally, but historically. It has never been used for the worship of Islam. It could be restored in a few hours to the worship of the Christian Church. Its incongruous contents, too, have an interest. There are weapons of the Crusaders, chainmail, great swords; the curious machines of Alexius Comnenus; keys of conquered cities, bags of earth in token of conquest. There are five fine bells, two with dates 1600 and 1658, one dedicated "Vero Deo Patri Filio Spiritui Sancto." There are swords of the Janissaries, and their curiously shaped helmets, and their famous kettle drums, differing in size according to the number of companies that were assembled. Most interesting of all, perhaps, are the fragments of the great chain which stretched across the Golden Horn. In the court are two fine sarcophagi, which are called those of Constantine and Irene.


These two examples of the basilican style are clear and distinct. There are other churches which have basilican features, but do not belong to the period before Justinian, and are worthy of detailed examination. S. Thekla stands back from the walls on the Golden Horn not far from the gate now called Aivan Serai Kapoussi, which was once the Porta Kiliomené. The foundation of this is not earlier than 239 the ninth century, and Anna Comnena mentions its restoration in the eleventh. It is a curious survival of an early style, for it has no dome, and is simply a basilica about forty feet long and twenty broad, with an apse. It was gaily restored a few years ago, and bears as a mosque the name of Toklou Ibrahim Dedeh Mesjid.

S. Theodore Tyrone (Killisé Djami) stands not far to the west of the mosque of Suleiman. It was built about 450, but much of the present building is of the twelfth century. It is not improbable that in its chief features it may be older than any church in Constantinople. The central dome has ten arches, perhaps originally windows, now closed. All the domes are small, and the columns are without ornament. There are narthex and exo-narthex, and in the latter is a mysterious opening, full of stones and fragments of mortar, leading, it is said, to a long passage which the Turks fancy once led to S. Sophia.

But more interesting than either of these is that unique building which the Turks have happily named "Kutchuk Aya Sofia," little S. Sophia, the Church of S. Sergius and S. Bacchus.[53] It stands not far from Koum Kapoussi in the Marmora Walls, and quite close to the railway. Originally it was connected with the Church of S. Peter and S. Paul. Procopius describes the churches as standing obliquely towards each other, "joined together, and vieing one with another. They have," he says, "a common entrance, are equal to one another in all respects, are surrounded by a boundary wall, and neither of them exceeds the other or falls short of it, either in beauty, size, or any other respect; for each alike reflects the rays of the sun from its polished marble, and is alike covered with rich gold and adorned with offerings. 240 In one respect alone they differ, that the one is built longitudinally, whereas the columns of the other for the most part stand in a semi-circle. The portico at their entrance is common to both, and from its great length is called narthex (i.e. a reed). The whole propylea, the atrium, and the doors from the atrium, and the entrance to the palace, are common to both." A door now closed at the south of the narthex shows where was the entrance to the Church of S. Peter and S. Paul. S. Sergius and S. Bacchus has happily suffered but little. It has, as has been said, a structural narthex. The atrium can still be traced in the arrangement of the Turkish houses and garden separated now from the church by a narrow pathway.

The Church of S. Sergius and S. Bacchus is a square with a dome. Columned exedras fill out the angles of the square under the domed vaults, and the piers supporting the dome form an octagon. A small apse is added at the east end. The ground plan of the church almost exactly repeats that of S. Vitale at Ravenna, which was probably begun a year before its companion in Constantinople. The resemblance is most marked in the six windows of the apse, the galleries and the columns on which they rest. The details also of the work closely resemble each other. We have the simplest form of the impost capital and the eight-lobed melon-formed capital. Vine-leaves form part of the decoration of some of the capitals and of the frieze: some say that this is a fanciful allusion to the associations of the name of one of the saints to whom the church is dedicated. Many crosses are cut in the marble of the west gallery; and on the south side over the imperial entrance from the palace are the monograms of Justinian and Theodora.

Justinian built the Church in 527, and dedicated it to the soldier saints who were martyred under 241 Maximianus, to commemorate his preservation when he was charged with treason during the reign of Anastasius. An inscription commemorates the Emperor "inspired by pity," and his wife Theodora, "the divinely crowned." Its historic associations are interesting. It was there that representatives of the Latin Church on a visit to Constantinople were generally allowed to worship according to their own rite. It is probable that Gregory the Great, who was so long the Papal representative at the Byzantine court, often said mass there. It suffered severely during the Latin conquest, and it was repaired by Michael VIII.

Interesting, and in spite of whitewash and colouring, even beautiful in itself, it is important architecturally as illustrating the process which developed the design of S. Irene into that of S. Sophia. Closely resembling S. Vitale at Ravenna, it is yet, in little, a very distinct anticipation of the great church of the Divine Wisdom of which we have now to speak.

Something has been said already (above, pp. 35-39) of the historic circumstances under which this, "the fairest church in all the world," as our Sir John Mandeville hath it, was built. Hardly a month after the burning of the first church of the Divine Wisdom in 532, the new building was begun. On S. Stephen's Day 537, it was consecrated. In 558 much of it was seriously damaged by an earthquake, the eastern part of the dome, with the apse, being thrown down, "destroying in its fall the holy table, the ciborium, and the ambo." At their restoration, the dome was raised twenty feet.

From the first, it was recognised as the greatest work that had ever been completed by architects. Not only the eulogists of Justinian, but every chronicler of the age, and for some centuries after, bear 242 testimony to the fascination which its splendour and dignity exercised upon the imagination of beholders. It was the great outward expression of the power of a world-empire consecrated to the religion of Christ. It was the symbol of the offering of all beautiful things, all art, now conquered from the corruptions of paganism, all riches, all human skill and thought, to God the Creator. The Divine Wisdom which made the world and designed all things so great and so fair, was to hallow all, now that man offered them up in continual sacrifice to God from Whom alone their use and blessing came. S. Sophia's was the highest outward expression which man had given to the idea of God's omnipotence and omnipresence, and to the absolute dependence of man upon the Divine ordering of life. "Anima naturaliter Christiana" was the noble saying of Tertullian. The Church of S. Sophia was the expression of that thought by the genius of Anthemius of Tralles under the direction of Justinian, Cæsar and Augustus.

We can hardly see the great church better than with the words of Procopius, the first to describe it, before us.

In his Ædifices, a glorification perhaps too glorious of the great Emperor's wisdom in his buildings, the strange historian, half soldier, half philosopher, who followed the greatest captain of the age in his campaigns, who lived in the close presence of the splendid works which made the men of the sixth century famous in the history of the world, and yet had a mind utterly sceptical as to real goodness, entirely credulous of evil, perhaps for once threw aside his sardonic humour when he wrote of the great church. Here at least, in all those high-wrought pages, he is sincere.

Justinian, he says, is highly to be regarded for his wisdom and his good fortune that he found architects 243 and workmen so skilful, and was "able to choose the most suitable of mankind to execute the noblest of his works."

It was this, he says, which caused the matchless achievement. Cost was not spared, workmen were brought from every land.

"The church[54] consequently presents a most glorious spectacle, extraordinary to those who behold it, and altogether incredible to those who are told of it. In height it rises to the very heavens, and overtops the neighbouring buildings like a ship anchored among them, appearing above the rest of the city, which it adorns and forms a part of it. One of its beauties is that being a part of and growing out of the city, it rises so high that the whole city can be seen as from a watch-tower. The length and breadth are so judiciously arranged that it appears to be both long and wide without being disproportionate.

"It is distinguished by indescribable beauty, excelling both in its size, and in the harmony of its measures, having no part excessive and none deficient; being more magnificent than ordinary buildings, and much more elegant than those which are not of so just a proportion. The church is singularly full of light and sunshine; you would declare that the place is not lighted by the sun from without, but that the rays are produced within itself, such an abundance of light is 244 poured into this church. The Apse.—Now the head (πρόσωπον) of the church (that is to say the part towards the rising sun, where the sacred mysteries are performed in honour of God) is built as follows. The building rises from the ground not in a straight line, but setting back somewhat obliquely, it retreats in the middle into a rounded form which those who are learned in these matters call semi-cylindrical, rising perpendicularly. Apsoid and Semidome.—The upper part of this work ends in the fourth part of a sphere, and above it another crescent-shaped (μηνοειδές) structure is raised upon the adjacent parts of the building, admirable for its beauty, but causing terror by the apparent weakness of its construction; for it appears not to rest upon a secure foundation, but to hang dangerously over the heads of those below, although it is really supported with especial firmness and safety. Exedras.—On each side of these parts are columns standing upon the floor, which are not placed in a straight line, but arranged with an inward curve of semicircular shape, one beyond another like the dancers in a chorus. These columns support above them a crescent-shaped structure. Opposite the east wall is built another wall, containing the entrances, and upon either side of it also stand columns, with stonework above them, in a half-circle exactly like those previously described. Great Piers and Arches.—In the midst of the church are four masses of stone called piers (πεσσούς), two on the north and two on the south sides, opposite and alike, having four columns in the space between each pair. These piers are formed of large stones fitted together, the stones being carefully selected, and cleverly jointed into one another by the masons, and reaching to a great height. Looking at them, you would compare them to perpendicular cliffs. Upon them, four arches (ἀψῖδες) arise over a 247 quadrilateral space. The extremities of these arches join one another in pairs, their ends resting upon the piers, while the other parts of them rise to a great height, suspended in the air. Two of these arches, that is those towards the rising and the setting of the sun, are constructed over the empty air, but the others have under them some stonework and small columns. Dome and Pendentives.—Now above these arches is raised a circular building of a curved form through which the light of day first shines; for the building, which I imagine overtops the whole country, has small openings left on purpose, so that the places where these intervals occur may serve for the light to come through. Thus far I imagine the building is not incapable of being described, even by a weak and feeble tongue. As the arches are arranged in quadrangular figure, the stonework between them takes the shape of a triangle, the lower angle of each triangle, being compressed where the arches unite, is slender, while the upper part becomes wider as it rises in the space between them, and ends against the circle which rests upon them, forming there its remaining angles. A spherical-shaped dome (θόλος) standing upon this circle makes it exceedingly beautiful; from the lightness of the building, it does not appear to rest upon a solid foundation, but to cover the place beneath as though it were suspended from heaven by the fabled golden chain. All these parts surprisingly joined to one another in the air, suspended one from another, and resting only on that which is next to them, form the work into one admirably harmonious whole, which spectators do not dwell upon for long in the mass, as each individual part attracts the eye to itself. The sight causes men constantly to change their point of view, and the spectator can nowhere point to any part which he admires more than the rest. Seeing the art 248 which appears everywhere, men contract their eyebrows as they look at each part, and are unable to comprehend such workmanship, but always depart thence, stupefied, through their incapacity. So much for this.


AA. Outer Porch (Exo-narthex) a. Altar, now destroyed
BB. Porch (narthex) bb. Seats for clergy
CC. Space covered by central Dome cc. Iconostasis, or Screen
DD. Space covered by Semi-domes d. Ambo or pulpit
EE. Space covered by Supplementary semi-domes.

"The Emperor Justinian and the architects Anthemius and Isidorus used many devices to construct so lofty a church with security. One of these I will now explain, by which a man may form some opinion of the strength of the whole work; as for the others I am not able to discover them all, and find it impossible to describe them in words. It is as follows: The piers, of which I just now spoke, are not constructed in the same manner as the rest of the building, but in this fashion; they consist of quadrangular courses of stone, rough by nature, and made smooth by art; of these stones, those which make the projecting angles of the pier are cut angularly (ἐγγωνίων), while those which go in the middle parts of the sides are cut square (ἐν τετραπλεύρῳ).

"They are fastened together not with lime (τίτανος), called 'unslaked' (ἄσβεστον), not with ashphaltum, the boast of Semiramis at Babylon, nor anything of the kind, but with lead, which, poured into the interstices, has sunk into the joints of the stones, and binds them together; this is how they are built.

"Let us now proceed to describe the remaining parts of the church. The entire ceiling is covered with pure gold, which adds to its glory, though the reflections of the gold upon the marble surpass it in beauty. There are two aisles one above another on each side, which do not in any way lessen the size of the church, but add to its width. In length they reach quite to the ends of the building, but in height they fall short of it; these also have domed ceilings adorned with gold. Of these two porticoes one (ground floor) 249 is set apart for male and the other (upper floor) for female worshippers; there is no variety in them, nor do they differ in any respect from one another, but their very equality and similarity add to the beauty of the church. Who could describe these gynaeceum galleries, or the numerous porticoes (στοάς) and cloistered courts (περιστόλους αὐλάς) with which the church is surrounded? Who could tell of the beauty of the columns and marbles with which the church is adorned? One would think that one had come upon a meadow full of flowers in bloom! Who would not admire the purple tints of some and the green of others, the glowing red and the glittering white, and those too, which nature, painter-like, has marked with the strongest contrasts of colour? Whoever enters there to worship perceives at once that it is not by any human strength or skill, but by favour of God, that this work has been perfected; the mind rises sublime to commune with God, feeling that He cannot be far off, but must especially love to dwell in the place which He has chosen; and this is felt not only when a man sees it for the first time, but it always makes the same impression upon him, as though he had never beheld it before. No one ever became weary of this spectacle, but those who are in the church delight in what they see, and, when they leave, magnify it in their talk. Moreover, it is impossible accurately to describe the gold and silver and gems presented by the Emperor Justinian; but by the description of one part, I leave the rest to be inferred. That part of the church which is especially sacred, and where the priests alone are allowed to enter, which is called the sanctuary (θυσιαστήριον), contains forty thousand pounds' weight of silver.

"The above is an account, written in the most abridged and cursory manner, describing in the fewest 250 possible words the most admirable structure of the church at Constantinople, which is called the Great Church, built by the Emperor Justinian, who did not merely supply the funds for it but assisted at its building by the labour and powers of his mind, as I will now explain. Of the two arches (τῶν ἀψίδων) which I lately mentioned—the architects (μηχανοποιοί) call them loroi—that one which stands towards the east had been built up on each side, but had not altogether been completed in the middle, where it was still imperfect; when the piers (πεσσοί) upon which the building rested, unable to support the weight which was put upon them, somehow all at once split open, and seemed as though before long they would fall to pieces. Upon this, Anthemius and Isidorus, terrified at what had taken place, referred the matter to the Emperor, losing all confidence in their own skill. He at once, I know not by what impulse, but probably inspired by Heaven, for he is not an architect, ordered them to complete this arch; for it, said he, resting upon itself will no longer need the piers below (τῶν ἔνερθεν πεσσῶν). Now if this story were unsupported by witnesses, I am well assured that it would seem to be written in order to flatter, and would be quite incredible; but as there are many witnesses now alive of what then took place I shall not hesitate to finish it. The workmen performed his bidding, the arch was safely suspended, and proved by experiment the truth of his conception. So much then for this part of the building; now with regard to the other arches, those looking to the south and to the north, the following incidents took place. When the (arches) called loroi (λῶροι) were raised aloft during the building of the church everything below them laboured under their weight, and the columns which are placed there shed little scales, as though they had been planed. 251

"Alarmed at this, the architects (μηχανικοί) again referred the matter to the Emperor, who devised the following scheme. He ordered the upper part of the work that was giving way to be taken down where it touched the arches for the present, and to be replaced afterwards when the damp had thoroughly left the fabric. This was done, and the building has stood safely ever since, so that the structure, as it were, bears witness to the Emperor's skill."

The description of Procopius is for us no mere antiquarian record. It is still a guide which may direct us what to look for and how to explain what we see. S. Sophia is unique in the fact of its survival in continued use, and in its preservation from the horrors of "restoration," which have robbed us, all over the civilised world, of the true work of the greatest Christian architects. The Turks, it must be honestly said, deserve the thanks of Europe for their preservation of their greatest work of sacred art. In 1847 Abdul Mejid undertook the reparation of the damage done by time. He employed the Italian architect Fossali, who was probably the first to do any important work at the main part of the building since the time of John VI. Palæologus. The work on the whole was well done; and it is plain that it must have been absolutely necessary. The wonder is that his work was so conservative as it was. It is impossible not to echo the gratitude of the experts that "far from being a ruin, the church is one of the best preserved of so ancient monuments, and in regard to its treatment by the Turks we can only be grateful that S. Sophia has not been situated in the more learned cities of Europe, such as Rome, Aachen, or Oxford, during 'the period of revived interest in ecclesiastical antiquities.'"

Evagrius, who may also be regarded as practically 252 a contemporary of the original building, has also left a description which is worth quoting, of this "great and incomparable work, hitherto unparalleled in history, the Church's greatest temple, fair and surpassing, and beyond the power of words to describe."[55]

"The nave," he says, "of the temple is a dome, lifted on four arches, and rising to so great a height that from below it is difficult for the observers to reach with their eyes the apex of the hemisphere; while from above none who might get there, howsoever hardy he might be, would for a moment attempt to lean over and cast his eyes to the bottom. And the arches spring clear from the floor up to the covering which forms the roof; and on the right and left columns, wrought of Thessalian stone, are ranged with (i.e. are in line with) the piers of the arches and support upper chambers [enclosed] with other similar columns, so enabling them that wish to lean forward and see the rites that are being performed: and it is here that the Empress also when she is present on the festivals assists at the celebration of the mysteries. But the arches to the east and the west are left clear without anything to intercept the marvellous impression of the huge dimensions. And there are colonnades under the upper chambers already mentioned, finishing off the vast structure with small columns and arches." It may be noted here that the figures that Evagrius gives are inaccurate. The church is 250 feet long from east to west, not including the narthex or the apse; and it is 235 feet across.


These descriptions are in comparatively sober prose; but besides them we have the ecstatic eloquence of 255 Paul the Silentiary, a court official of highest rank, whose poem was probably recited in 563. This is perhaps the most exact of all the descriptions, but it is far too long for transcription.[56]

A passage, which certainly loses nothing of its poetry in Mr Swainson's flowing translation, is of especial interest for its description of the marble which formed the great glory of the church, next at least to the mosaics, if not surpassing them.

"Yet who, even in the measures of Homer, shall sing the marble pastures gathered on the lofty walls and spreading pavement of the mighty church? These the iron with its metal tooth has gnawed—the fresh green from Carystus, and many-coloured marble from the Phrygian range, in which a rosy blush mingles with white, or it shines bright with flowers of deep red and silver. There is a wealth of porphyry too, powdered with bright stars, that has once laden the river boat on the broad Nile. You would see an emerald green from Sparta, and the glittering marble with wavy veins, which the tool has worked in the deep bosom of the Iassian hills, showing slanting streaks blood-red and livid white. From the Lydian creek came the bright stone mingled with streaks of red. Stone too there is that the Lybian sun, warming with his golden light, has nurtured in the deep-bosomed clefts of the hills of the Moors, of crocus colour glittering like gold; and the product of the Celtic crags, a wealth of crystals, like milk poured here and there on a flesh of glittering black. There is the precious onyx, as if gold were shining through it; and the marble that the land of Atrax yields, not from some upland glen, but from the level plains; in parts fresh green as the sea or emerald stone, or again 256 like blue corn-flowers in grass, with here and there a drift of fallen snow,—a sweet mingled contrast on the dark shining surface."[57]

I think ancient words such as these speak best of this ancient church. Yet something must be added of what we see with modern eyes. S. Sophia strikes the modern at once as unlike the domical churches with which he is familiar. The dome in S. Sophia is the one essential feature of the whole building. Every thing leads to it or from it: every thing is subordinate to it. The effect of immense space is conveyed by this subordination, very different from the Western use where the dome is merely part of the general design, usually at the centre of a cruciform building.

The problem which Anthemius of Tralles set himself to solve was that of "uniting the longitudinal with the central building"; to this is added "the appropriate disposition of space, the grouping of subsidiary chambers and the costliness of mosaic splendours."[58]

Originally the church was approached at the west through an atrium, an outer narthex and a narthex. The atrium cannot now be traced: the exo-narthex and narthex still remain, but it seems probable that the former is not now as it was originally built. The walls and ceiling of the exo-narthex are quite plain. Five doors give entrance into the much larger narthex, the walls of which are covered with marble, and the ceiling has mosaics which have been but little touched.


Translation of Inscription:

"The Lord said, 'I am the door of the sheep: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture.'"

The Christian must enter the church by the north porch, which leads down a flight of steps into the narthex. He walks forward till he faces the midst of the church, and there over the great central door, the 257 largest of the nine which open eastwards from the narthex into the nave, the mosaic can still be traced, for the paint is almost worn off. It shows our Lord on His throne with the gospel in His hand, open at the words "I am the Light of the World." An Emperor kneels at His feet. It is the Imperial door-way, and by it the sovereign always entered the church. Immediately above the door and below the mosaic, is a brass lintel on which may be clearly read the text of the book represented open upon a throne with a dove spreading its wings above. "The Lord said, I am the door of the sheep: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture." A heavy curtain falls over the doorway. It is moved aside and we stand in a space that seems enormous. The eye looks forward to find itself carried upward to the great dome. The great arches on the floor support the smaller arches of the galleries, which extend north, south and west. From these again the eye is carried to the smaller semi-domes, thence to the great semi-domes east and west, and so to the great dome which 258 is the centre of all. The scheme seems at once amazingly intricate and exceedingly simple. There is an infinity of detail, but it is never irrelevant to the main idea, and in an extraordinary manner the feeling of unity is dominant at every point. It is impossible to rest content with any part: the architect compels you to see the part only in its relation to the whole.

How should S. Sophia be seen? Every one will have his own preference. Perhaps it is best first to take the great impression that you obtain as you look eastward, and then to go slowly round the aisles, looking again and again towards the centre. The wonderful columns supporting the galleries, four of dark green marble which came from Ephesus—it may be from the temple of Artemis—eight of dark red porphyry which came from the Temple of the Sun at Baalbek and were given by a Roman lady, Marcia, to Justinian "for the safety of her soul"—have a magnificent air of strength as well as splendour. Then the details begin to attract the eye, the brass bases to the columns, the capitals elaborately carved with designs most beautiful and delicate, the monograms, still undefaced, of Justinian and Theodora. Here the elaboration, the extraordinary wealth of detail, on the minute examination of which hours may be spent delightedly, the endless variety of the finest work, enchains the attention. For the moment you forget the splendour of the whole in the beauty of the details. But at every point, as you look up from the carving of capitals, or the inscriptions (as on the bronze doors of the narthex, whose Christian emblems may still clearly be traced), you are brought again to the central thought. It is a great church for worship. From every side, from aisles and galleries as from all the length of the great nave, the eye would turn in the old days towards the iconostasis, and to the magnificent ambo, of which writers 259 from the contemporaries of Justinian to the latest Christian pilgrims speak in such glowing words. As a Christian church, S. Sophia must have been unsurpassed in its power to solemnise the worshipper.


The brightness of the great church, when all the splendid lamps made the mosaics glitter as the heavens with stars, finds record again and again in poem and history. That glory is departed, though when the thousands of lamps are lighted on the nights of Ramazan (the twenty-eight days fast), something of what it must have been may perhaps be guessed. The mosaics are covered, not everywhere indeed, but over a great part of the vast space, with paint and whitewash. The head of Christ may be dimly traced over the sanctuary. The four gigantic seraphs on the pendentives remain as of old, save that their faces are painted over.

Next to the decoration the point of chiefest interest is the mass of historical memorials that may here and there be discovered. In the south gallery the Second Council of Constantinople, the sixth General Council of the Church, was held. The "place of the most noble lady Theodora" may still be seen in the north gallery. A slab now let into the floor of the south gallery has the words "Henricus Dandolo." It once rested over the body of the blind Doge who stormed the city in 1204. The ciphers and monograms are worth attentive study.[59] The curious water-vessel at the north-west may have stood in the church in the Christian days. But the multiplication of instances would be endless. Anyone who wants really to know S. Sophia, must have with him the noble book of Mr Lethaby and Mr Swainson.

The outside of S. Sophia is comparatively uninteresting, and is impressive only for the vast size. Seen from the corner of the street leading to the "Burnt 260 Column," its immense extent, and the height of the great dome, dwarf every other building within sight. Seen again from the Bosphorus at the entrance to the Golden Horn, or as a vessel sails up the Marmora, it stands, as the old writers said of it, dominating the city. But closer it is almost ugly, and the stripes of red paint with which Fossati bedecked it do not add to its attraction.


Round the great church are some smaller buildings which should not be forgotten. "Every evidence of the atrium has entirely disappeared": it was finally destroyed in 1873. At south side are five türbehs, four of which are of Turkish building, those of Sultans Selim II., Murad III., each with his children, Mohammed III., and the sons of Murad III. Among these that of Selim II. is notable for the beautiful 261 tiles at the doorway. At the south-west is Justinian's baptistery, now the türbeh of Mustafa I. (1622). It is a rectangle externally, but within, an octagon with a low dome, covered with twelfth-century mosaics, which, when I saw it in 1896, were being covered anew with paint. At the north-east of the church is a circular building which may very probably be the earlier baptistery, built by Constantine.[60]

Throughout I have spoken of S. Sophia as a church. Such indeed to the Christian eye it remains. A few hours would restore its fitness for its original purpose. The Mihrab, showing the direction of Mecca, the minber, or pulpit, the Sultan's seat, the immense shields with the names of the four companions of the prophet, the four minarets, belong, one feels, but to transitory things. The dedication of S. Sophia is eternal. S. Sophia is the greatest and most splendid example of what has been truly called "the last great gift of Hellenic genius, mediæval Greek architecture"—the last great work of the Greek people. But it is more. It is the most perfect representation that art has ever devised in visible outward form of the theology of the Christian Church. A multitude of detail, all beautiful, all important when understood, has its true significance solely from its relation to the central idea, to the whole which is so much more than the parts of which it is composed. "The Catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity," says the magnificent hymn of faith which we call the Creed of Saint Athanasius. From that central doctrine, that dome of theology, shade off other thoughts and facts which have their importance in exact proportion to their nearness to the central fact. They all contribute to its support; they are all really part of it; but they can only be seen in their 262 real meaning when the one Unifying Truth is seen to be over and above them all.

Is this the narrow view of a Christian priest? Will art critics say that S. Sophia means quite other things, and draws forth quite other memories? Not truly, as I think. For S. Sophia is certainly a supreme expression of Christian faith, and only in relation to that faith can it be fully understood. "We worship one God": S. Sophia expresses that thought, and it expresses the myriad reflections of that truth, and how that worship is visibly presented.

To some art critics, and notably to Jesuit writers, whose sympathy with the genuine expression of artistic ideas has never been profound, S. Sophia seems to mark not only the culmination of Byzantine art but a distinct step in its decadence. Supreme indeed it is, but it is difficult for any one who knows Constantinople to doubt that the work which is at its greatest in S. Sophia was continued centuries after Anthemius had passed away. The same dignity, and sincerity, and splendour, are striven for, and if they are never attained it is only because the greatest genius is never repeated.

There are many later churches which carry us back to the vigorous age of Byzantine art. First must be placed the μονὴ τῆς χώρας, the Church of S. Saviour "in the country," now called Kahriyeh Djamissi. It stands on an open space of broken ground near the gate of Charisius, Edirnè Kapoussi. It is shown to-day, most courteously and sympathetically, by an imâm with whom it is a pleasure to converse. The Christian feels almost at home, though the Moslem has long worshipped where for so many centuries the Holy Sacrifice was offered.

The Church of the Chora was rebuilt, or refounded, by Justinian. The site had been chosen by Constantine for a monastery which he erected outside the 263 walls, "in the country." When Justinian built it, it was within the walls which Theodosius had made. It fell into decay, and Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Alexius Comnenus, restored it. Finally Theodore the Logothete, in 1381, completed the work. Of recent years it has been thoroughly repaired. It has an inner and an outer narthex, a central church and two side chapels.

No church, save S. Sophia, has more touching memories. Crispus, the son-in-law of the Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, redecorated it, and found in it his resting-place as a monk. Patriarchs have retired there. Theodore, who beautified it, had to seek refuge there when Andronicus II. was deposed, and he ended his days as a monk within its walls. Under the sovereigns of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it was famous. Near to the palace of Blachernae the Emperors often worshipped there. It kept for part of the year the sacred picture of the Blessed Virgin which was believed to have been the work of S. Luke, and was there yearly shown on Easter Monday for the veneration of the people. When the Turks broke in, the Janissaries seized the picture and cut it into fragments, for charms. The church was turned into a mosque very soon after the conquest. Petrus Gyllius rediscovered it, for it seems soon to have had its history forgotten; and he noted the beauty of the capitals.

Architecturally the complication of the style, the many independent domes, and the practical separation of the chapels from the central church, illustrate the development of Byzantine architecture in its later stages. In detail the beautiful acanthus carved in white marble and carved right through is noticeable. There are also the fragments of a splendid door, now used as jamb linings, the panels of which were originally filled with sculpture. The Church of the Chora as we now 264 have it belongs to a veritable renaissance of Byzantine art, and that most notably in its mosaics. The apse has a great picture of Christ with the open Gospel in His hand. It is whitewashed over. The mural paintings of the side chapels are of little interest; but the mosaics in the narthex and outer narthex are by far the finest remaining examples of the art now visible in Constantinople. Those in the outer narthex represent the history of the B. V. Mary, a wonderful series of glowing pictures in gold and colours. They are well worth minute study of the designs, the dresses, and the colours.[61] But the most striking of all is the splendid figure of Christ enthroned, with Theodore kneeling to present to Him the renovated church. Theodore wears the great cap conferred on him as a sign of dignity by Andronicus II. The Lord, with the Gospel in His left hand, blesses with the right hand, the thumb and two fingers joined, after the Greek manner of benediction. It is a noble figure, restrained and solemn. No longer, as in the earlier representations, is He represented as young and beardless, but as a Man of middle life, the features and hair approximating at least to the traditional portrait. But still, and seemingly to the last in Constantinople, the early reticence which prevented a representation of the Crucifixion remains. All through the incidents of His earthly life He is followed by the artistic reverence of the Byzantines; but His death remains unpictured. The other separate representation of the Lord in this church shows Him blessing, as the giver of life.

There are many other churches which should be visited. Of the mediæval example the most interesting are the church of S. Thekla, S. Mary Pammakaristos, S. Theodosia (mentioned above, p. 62), the Pantokrator, 265 SS. Peter and Mark, and the little village church of S. Mary at the Fountain. Of this last more hereafter. S. Mary Pammakaristos was built by the sister of Alexius Comnenus early in the twelfth century. It stands on the hill overlooking the Phanar. Its design is unlike any other building in the city. The main dome rests on a drum supported by four arches, these again on another drum and other arches. There are narthex and outer narthex and a number of subsidiary chapels, divided from the central chapel by columns of different sizes and shapes. In the south-east chapel there is still a splendid mosaic of Christ blessing the apostles. The tomb of Alexius Comnenus and his famous daughter Anna were here, but they were destroyed when Murad III. turned the church into a mosque. From 1456 to 1586 it was the patriarchal church. A legend attaches to it which declares that the patriarch Jeremiah I. preserved it, and all other churches then remaining, by producing Moslem witnesses before Suleiman, that the city was really surrendered by capitulation, and that the churches were guaranteed to the Christians. Two aged Moslems were brought from Adrianople and their oath was accepted, a strange story of lying in which neither faith seems to be established by the truthfulness of its believers.

S. Theodosia, called "the rose mosque" for the horrible tragedy which marked its last day as a Christian church, is within the Aya Kapou, the Porta Divae Theodosiæ which was named after it. S. Theodosia was the first martyr, under Leo the Isaurian, of the iconoclastic persecutions, and her name was held in special veneration by the ladies of Constantinople. Her festival is on May 29; and in 1453 when the city was captured the church was crowded with worshippers, many of whom had spent the whole night 266 there in prayer. Before midday the doors were broken down and the sipahis poured in. Over the walls clustered roses then in bloom, and, within, the columns were wreathed with them. The picture of the ladies seized and carried off into slavery lingered in the verses of Turkish poets, and when the church became a mosque its name was that of the rose, Güil Djami.

The Church of the Pantokrator stands high above the inner bridge, a little below, and eastwards of, the mosque of Mohammed II. It is a triple church, separated by columns and all entered from the narthex. It is probable that it was founded by John Comnenus and his wife Irene, who died in 1124. The exterior of the apses have much fine work; and the door and windows of the narthex are well worth careful examination. Outside in the rough square westwards of the church is a fine tomb of verde antico which is said to have been the tomb of the Empress Irene, on which the crosses still remain. Of the three churches the northern was monastic and the central was the mausoleum of the Comneni. There slept Irene and her husband John I., Manuel I. and his wife Irene, a third Irene, the wife of Andronicus II., and Manuel II. who drove back the Turks from the walls. During the Latin occupation this church was the patriarchal cathedral; there Morosini had his throne; and there the holy picture of the B. V. M. (see above p. 263) was kept by them. When Michael VIII. returned it was brought forth and borne before him through the Golden Gate. Here in 1453 dwelt Gennadios who prophecied incessantly against the union of the churches, and hence he was brought when after the capture of the city he was chosen patriarch. It is a church of many memories, now almost deserted. Near it is the ancient library of the monastery, a quaint disfigured octagonal 267 building that peers over a high wall in a narrow by-street.


These churches—and there are many more—now mosques, yet retain some of their old dignity; and if they should ever come again into Christian hands 268 it is very likely that many mosaics and much early work in them would be rediscovered.

There is another which I cannot forbear to mention, though it hardly repays the search for it. For many hours in April 1896 did I wander and inquire and grope through filthy streets, followed by filthier Turks, whose attentions became embarrassing, till I relieved myself of them by means of a stern gaze, a threatening forefinger, and a solemnly delivered passage from Euclid, in English. It is not far from Aivan Serai, and is approached through the wall now broken down. It is now called Atik Mustapha Pasha Djamissi, but was consecrated in 451 as the Church of SS. Peter and Mark, having been built by two patricians, Gallius and Candidus, "on the shore of the Golden Horn, in the quarter of Blachernae." It is a sordid, decrepit hovel to-day; but outside it stands its ancient font, made of a single block of marble, and with three steps descending to the bottom. It belongs probably to the earliest years of the reign of Justinian. A pathetic memory, it is forgotten and uncared for save by a few faithful Greeks who cleanse it secretly from time to time. Is it ever used secretly now?

These may stand for examples of the many churches which still remain from Byzantine days. But there are others which should not be forgotten. The Church of the Patriarchate and the little S. Mary Mouchliotissa have been mentioned already (above, p. 155). The Armenian patriarch has his throne in the Church of S. George in the Psamatia. The churches in Pera and Galata are worth a visit, and notably S. Georgio a Monte, near the Ottoman bank, and the Armenian church of S. Gregory, built in 1436, and buried in a back street above the wharfs not far from Top-haneh. This last contains some fine MSS. and a sacred picture of Christ, of great antiquity. It witnessed fearful 269 tragedies in 1876. The open apse of the Armenian churches, with its altar covered with candles, contrasts with the hidden holy table of the orthodox church, plain, and concealed behind the high iconostasis with its closed gates.

The Christianity of Pera and Galata is a strange contrast to the solemn Mohammedanism of Stambûl. But it is impossible to attend the offering of the Holy Eucharist in the orthodox churches of Pera and of the Phanar without feeling how firm and enthusiastic is the faith of the worshippers. They stand indeed, hardly less than the Armenians, always on the verge of the undiscovered country.

Ἕως πότε ὁ Δεσπότης.



The Walls

The history of Constantinople—it is proclaimed at every epoch in her life—has ever its two abiding interests, the Church and the military spirit. The one is represented for all time in S. Sophia. The other finds its memorial in the walls.

For centuries, whose heroic story we have so baldly told, the city of the Cæsars preserved for Europe the justice of Rome, the learning of Greece. She taught to the barbarians the meaning of civilitas, she led many of the nations into the truest brotherhood of the Catholic Church. And all through she was fighting a war which never ceased, often driven back upon her own defences, but again and again issuing forth a conqueror. By her age-long resistance Constantinople saved Europe from a new barbarian deluge, from a second Dark Age. And Constantinople herself was saved by her walls. There is no historic monument in Europe which has a memory more glorious or more heroic.

To the student of history there is nothing of all he 271 sees in the "Queen of Cities" that is so full of perpetual and varied interest. The whole story of Constantinople might be told in commentary on the great walls that once protected her from the foe. Here it shall only be pointed how two or three days may be spent—or two or three hours if it must be so—in learning something of these magnificent ruins which have so great a history written on their face. The writer has spent many happy hours in tracing them at every point. Within a few days of his last visit the knowledge, such as it was, which he had gained, was a hundredfold increased by the superb work of devotion and research in which Professor van Millingen has summed up the studies of many years, which will be, once for all, the classical authority on the walls and adjoining sites of Byzantine Constantinople. It has often already been referred to in these pages. Here let it be said that every word that is written on the walls is revised in the light of what Professor van Millingen has published, and that no one who wishes seriously to study the history of the fortifications, or indeed of the city itself, can now do so with any success without the help of this almost faultless book.

The simplest method for the traveller is probably first to take the less interesting and more ruinous walls on the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmora—which indeed will probably only be visited in detail by those who have a special historical interest, and then to turn to the Land walls, which no one ever visits the city without seeing at least in superficial view.


Constantinople, though it has ceased to be the capital city of a maritime power, has never lost the advantages of its unique maritime position. The sea, with its currents and its storms, has always been its first 272 natural protector. Only once has the city been captured from the sea. But this has not meant that defence was necessary only for the landward approach. Byzantium had its sea-walls: they were enlarged by Constantine, and in 439 Theodosius II. completed them by carrying them on to meet the land-walls, which ended then at Blachernae northwards and by the Golden Gate on the south. During the middle ages they constantly needed repair, notably after the arctic winter of 763-4, when huge ice-floes thronged the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, and even broke over the wall at the point of the Acropolis (Seraglio point). In the ninth century again Theophilus made a thorough restoration, which is recorded in many inscriptions still to be seen on the wall by the Dierman Kapoussi at the foot of the Seraglio gardens. Among later restorations are those of Leo the Wise and his 273 brother Alexander: a tower, near Koum Kapoussi, bears the inscription:


and it is here, it has been suggested, that the Cretans held out in 1453 till Mohammed gave them special terms and allowed them to depart with all the honours of war. Michael Palæologus, after the recovery of the city from the Latins, began an inner sea-wall, but no traces of it, Professor van Millingen says, have survived. In 1351 again all the seaward walls were repaired, and all the houses that had been built between them and the sea were destroyed. It appears that the strip of ground originally outside the walls was smaller than at present, considerable silting having taken place during the last five centuries. The Venetian fleet in 1203 drew near enough to the walls to throw a flying bridge from the ships to the ramparts.

The last gate of the land walls is the Xylo-porta. The first on the Golden Horn is Aivan-Serai. Near it is a landing-stage, at which the Emperors used formally to be received by the Senate when they came by water to Blachernae. Close to this gate are the churches of S. Thekla and SS. Peter and Mark, and the church (on an ancient site) of S. Demetrius. From an archway near the next gate comes the splendid Nike now in the museum. The walls here are now some way from the Golden Horn, generally at the opposite side of the narrow street, and can be seen only in fragments, sometimes set into a house, or in a garden. Balat Kapoussi, gate of the Kynegos (Hunter), protected a harbour: the name is thought to be connected with the imperial hunting. The other gates going eastwards that are of interest are the Porta Phani, the gate of Phanar, where was once a lighthouse, now the nearest entrance to the patriarchal 274 church and to the little church of the Mouchliotissa; Petri Kapoussi, the gate of the Petrion, near the famous convent where so many imperial ladies ended their days, and where the Venetians cast their bridges on to the walls in 1203, recovering the city for Isaac Angelus, and in 1204, capturing it for the Latins. The desperate Turkish attack on this point in 1453 was repulsed; Aya Kapoussi, the gate of S. Theodosia, comes next. After the inner bridge are the old Venetian quarter and the great timber yards. By the outer bridge is the Baluk Bazâr Kapoussi, the gate of the fish market, where now as in the fifteenth century the fish market is held. It was the Gate of the Perama (the old ferry was across here, where is now the bridge) and it was also called Porta Hebraica, for the Jews early settled there, and held their property till they were dispossessed to build the Yeni Valideh Djamissi. Beyond it were the settlements of the merchants of Pisa and Amalfi. Beyond it again is the Bagtché Kapoussi, the Πόρτα τοῦ Νεωρίου, the harbour in which the imperial fleet was moored when it came in for repairs. From here eastwards was the home of the first Genoese colony, and by it is the pier at which a new Grand Vizier lands in state when he first comes to take possession of the office of his department. Further still (after the Porta Veteris Rectoris) is the Yali Kiosk Kapoussi, at the point where the walls which now separate the Seraglio from the rest of the city join the ancient fortifications. It was the Porta Eugenii, and from it the chain was stretched across to Galata. Here the brides of the Emperors landed when they came by sea, and were "invested with the imperial buskins and other insignia of their rank."

From this point there is difficulty for the student to trace the course of the walls. Part can be identified 275 at the beginning of the Seraglio enclosure; but part cannot be seen at all except from the sea. Approach is forbidden by the harsh "Yasak, Yasak" of the sentries. The walls from the Acropolis, now Seraglio point, to the marble tower at the end of the Land walls, had 188 towers, and were above five miles in length. Unlike those on the Golden Horn they were built close to the sea, and the line of their course "was extremely irregular, turning in and out with every bend of the shore, to present always as short and sharp a front as possible to the waves that dashed against them." At least thirteen gates are known. The first is the Cannon gate, Top Kapoussi, "a short distance to the south of the apex of the promontory," called by the Greeks the gate of S. Barbara, from the church which stood near it. Close to it was the Mangana, or arsenal of the city. The next gate is Deirmen Kapoussi (gate of the mill), of which the Greek name is unknown. It was near here that the great ice-floes broke over the wall; and a number of inscriptions westwards from this point mark the restorations of Theophilus. Near it "a hollow now occupied by market gardens indicates the site of the Kynegion, the amphitheatre erected by Severus when he restored Byzantium," where in later times Justinian II. set his feet on Leontius and Apsimarus (see above, p. 55).

The next gate is the Demir Kapoussi, with a small opening through which it is said that the Sultanas sewn in sacks were thrown, and near it large chambers possibly used as prisons. A little further on there are arched buttresses through which water used to be brought from the holy spring of the ancient Church of S. Saviour, and on which was built the famous Indjili Kiosk, from which the Sultans would view the splendid panorama of hill and sea which stretches before it. 276 Here, too, was the palace of Mangana, and not far off the atrium of Justinian mentioned by Procopius, where stood the splendid statue of Theodora. Further south was the Church of the Theotokos Hodegetria, where originally the icon of the B. V. M. attributed to S. Luke (see p. 263) was kept. The place of the small gate named after the church is shown by two slabs, built into the inner side of the gateway now walled up, bearing the inscription "Open me the gates of righteousness that I may go in and praise the Lord." It was through this gate that John VI. Palæologus entered in 1355, having tricked the guards by pretending that his ships were wrecked. Beyond Ahour Kapoussi is the ruined wall of the palace of Hormisdas, where once was the Bucoleon, and then comes the small bay which formed the imperial port of the Bucoleon. A little further one sees clearly the Church of SS. Sergius and Bacchus above the ruined wall, and here was the gate on which was an inscription which commemorated the famous Nika insurrection. Beyond this were two harbours, the Harbour of Julian or S. Sophia, and that of the Kontoscolion, where the gate is now called Koum Kapoussi. Within this is the Armenian quarter with its patriarchate. Next comes Yeni Kapoussi, the new gate, where began the ancient harbour now silted up, called the harbour of Eleutherius (Vlanga Bostan).

The next gate was called that of S. Æmilianus, now Daoud Pasha Kapoussi, which ended the walls of Constantine along the shore. The next is the πόρτα τοῦ Ψαμαθᾶ, Psamathia Kapoussi, named, as is the quarter, after the sand thrown up on the beach. The next, Narli Kapoussi, the Pomegranate gate, is that which gave admission to the monastery of the Studium. Here on the Decollation of S. John Baptist, August 29, the Emperor was received by the abbat and conducted 277 in state to the church to attend the Eucharist of the day. On the tower close by is an inscription recording its reparation by Manuel Comnenus. Beyond was the church and monastery of Diomed, on whose steps Basil the Macedonian slept when he first came to Constantinople a homeless wanderer. The wall ends with the famous Mermer Kuleh. Perhaps this was at one time the prison of S. Diomed, where Pope Martin I. was placed in 654, and Maria Comnena, mother of Alexius II., was imprisoned by Andronicus Comnenus. Traces of a two-storeyed building still exist behind this magnificent tower which so splendidly ends the sea-walls.

The Marble Tower at S. W. Corner of the Walls


so we turn northwards and enter upon the famous defences, so long the bulwarks of the Empire.

Something has already been said about the building of the Theodosian walls. It has been seen that Anthemius who ruled as Prætorian prefect during the minority of the Emperor Theodosius II. enlarged and refortified the city, and that "the bounds he assigned to the city, fixed substantially her permanent dimensions, and behind the bulwarks he raised—improved and often repaired, indeed, by his successors—Constantinople acted her great part in the history of the world." Repaired 278 by Constantine, then holding the office that had been held by Anthemius, thirty-four years after the first construction, "this was a wall, indeed, τὸ καὶ τεῖχος ὄντως[62]—a wall which, so long as ordinary courage survived, and the modes of ancient warfare were not superseded, made Constantinople impregnable, and behind which civilization defied the assaults of barbarism for a thousand years."

The walls stretch now from the marble tower to a short distance beyond the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus. Originally they went further, but, as will be seen, they were superseded by newer fortifications beyond that point.

The walls, as may be traced to-day, were thus divided. First, within was the great inner wall from 13½ to 15½ feet thick, which historians call τὸ κάστρον τὸ μέγα, τὸ μέγα τεῖχος. It rose probably about 50 feet above the ground, with a battlement of 4 feet 8 inches. It was guarded by ninety-six towers, standing about 180 feet apart, about 60 feet high, and projecting from the wall from 18 to 34 feet. These towers were distinct buildings from the wall, though connected with it. The capture of a tower would not necessarily involve the capture of the wall. From the roof of the tower the engineer discharged stones and Greek fire, and there, says Nicephorus Gregoras, the sentinels looked westward day and night, keeping themselves awake at night by shouting to one another along the line.

Between the inner and outer walls was the inner terrace, ὁ περίβολος, in which were sheltered the troops for the defence of the outer walls. It was a space of from 50 to 64 feet. Above it rising now 10 feet, but probably of old nearly twice as far, was the outer 279 wall, the "little wall." It is "from 2 to 6½ feet thick, rising some 10 feet above the present level of the peribolos, and about 27½ feet above the present level of the terrace between the outer wall and the moat."[63] The upper part is built above a lower solid portion, "for the most part in arches, faced on the outer side with hewn blocks of stone," and supported behind by arches which carried a parapet-wall. This wall was also protected by towers with small windows. Behind this outer wall the troops on which fell the brunt of the fighting, as in 1422 and 1453, were sheltered.

Beyond the outer wall was an embankment or terrace, τὸ ἔξω παρατείχιον, some 60 feet broad. Then came the moat, of at least the same breadth as the terrace. This is now to a great extent filled up and used for market gardens, but in front of the Golden Gate it is still 22 feet deep. It had scarp and counter-scarp, each 5 feet thick, and the scarp was surmounted by a breast-work with battlements 5 feet high. Across the moat are walls, which were probably aqueducts. It seems probable that the moat itself was rarely if ever filled with water.

To the gates which went through both walls belongs the greatest historic interest. Some of the ten great gates were merely used to give entrance to the fortifications; others, connected with bridges thrown over the moat, formed the public gates of the city. These latter were specially guarded by towers. Besides these there were a few posterns, most of which led only into the inner terrace. Starting from the marble tower we come across a series of inscriptions, one of Basil and Constantine (975-1025), over the first inner tower, and after that a number commemorating the restoration by John Palæologus, 1433-44. The first 280 gate is the most renowned of all, the Porta Aurea, the Golden Gate, built of marble with two beautifully carved capitals. It is flanked by two great marble towers. It was built between 389 and 391 to commemorate the victory of Theodosius the Great over Maximus. Through it he entered in triumph in 391, and like the column of Arcadius and the obelisk in the Hippodrome, it is the still surviving memorial of his greatness. Above it at one time stood a statue of Theodosius, and many groups of statuary. An inscription recorded its foundation:



Probably, as Professor Bury has suggested, the second line was inscribed under Theodosius II. when the archway became part of the new wall. "At the south-western angle of the northern tower the Roman eagle still spreads its wings; the laureated monogram 'XP' appears above the central archway on the city side of the gateway, and several crosses are scattered over the building." Traces of frescoes may still be seen on the inner walls of the southern arch, which Professor Van Millingen thinks may have been used as a chapel. It had three archways, the centre of which was the imperial entrance. Through this gate passed new sovereigns from the Hebdomon (which Professor Van Millingen has conclusively proved to have been situated at the village, now Makrikeui, some three miles westwards of the city) when they came to be crowned or to take formal possession. Such were Marcian in 450, Leo I. in 457, Basiliscus in 476, Phocas in 602, Leo the Armenian in 813, and Nicephorus Phocas in 963. Here too envoys from the Pope were sometimes met.


Through it came the imperial triumphs of Heraclius, Constantine Copronymus, Theophilus, Basil I., 283 Tzimisces, Basil II. The last to enter in triumph was Michael Palæologus when the Empire was restored to the Greeks in 1261, and the Emperor walked humbly on foot through the gate till he reached the church of the Studium.

It was long one of the strongest defences of the city, an almost impregnable acropolis, as Cantacuzene calls it. When the city was captured by the Turks, Mohammed II. increased the defences by building here, in 1457, behind the gate, the great enclosure now called the Seven Towers, which became the state prison. In it foreign ambassadors were placed when their countries were at war with Turkey, and there as late as the war with Revolutionary France a French ambassador was confined. Mohammed II. built up all the entrances of the Golden Gate; and the legend still survives that through it a victorious Christian army shall enter when the city is captured from the Turks.

The gate nearest to it, now called Yedi Koulé Kapoussi, may probably have existed in Byzantine times, as a public gate called by the same name as the greater gate. Through it doubtless Basil the Macedonian came when he turned aside and lay down to sleep on the steps of the monastery of S. Diomed.

Next to this as we walk northwards comes the second military gate, and, after walls which have several inscriptions, the second public gate, the Selivri Kapoussi (gate leading to the Selivria road). This was originally the πύλη τῆς πηγῆς, gate of the Holy Spring, which is at the village now called Balukli. After we have looked on it, with its old towers and dark narrow entrance through which Alexius the general of Michael Palæologus entered in 1261, it is delightful to turn aside and follow the shady road half a mile to the little Christian village, best of all if it is en fête in the week of the Greek Easter, when you can buy icons 284 and sacred medals, and join the crowds who throng the church and descend the steps by the baptistery to the sacred well. The legend of its sacredness goes far back. As early as Justinian's time there was a church there, as Procopius says, "in the place which is called the Fountain, where there is a thick grove of cypress trees, a meadow whose rich earth blooms with flowers, a garden abounding with fruit, a fountain which noiselessly pours forth a quiet and sweet stream of water—in short, where all the surroundings befit a sacred place." There was also for many centuries a palace and park of the Emperors. The last tale of the sacred well belongs to the time of the Turkish conquest. On the fatal 29th of May the village priest was sitting in his garden beside the well frying his fish, when a messenger rushed up with the news that the Turks had broken through the wall and were entering the city. The holy man refused to believe it. "But run to the top of your garden," said his friend, "and see for yourself." "No. I would as soon believe that these fish should leap out of the frying-pan into the spring." And they did; and there are their descendants, as any one may see for himself, to this day.

Back, after a pleasant rest at Balukli, to the third military gate, only a short space from that of the πήγη; then to the Porta Rhegion, the gate of Rhegium Yeni Mevlevi Haneh Kapoussi, which led to Rhegium on the Marmora twelve miles away. On it are no less than five inscriptions on the gateway itself, and two on the southern tower. Of the latter, one reads—




+                                           +

"The fortune of Constantine our God-protected Emperor conquers."


The last line has been effaced.

After the fourth military gate comes the gate of S. Romanus, now Top Kapoussi, near which the last Emperor fell, and through which Mohammed entered in triumph. Opposite this point the Sultan's tent was placed, as Phrantzes tells us.

The next military gate is that of the Pempton. To this the road descends into the valley of the Lycus, and we pass the great breach made by the Turkish cannon in 1453, through which the troops forced their entrance. In the Lycus valley it was that Theodosius II. fell from his horse in 450, an accident from the effects of which he died. The next public gate is that called Edirnè Kapoussi, the Adrianople gate, which was of old the gate of Charisius. Within, the road led to the Imperial cemetery by the Church of the Holy Apostles, where Theodora, the wife of the great Justinian, was buried. Here was the part of the walls which was called Μεσοτείχον: and here was generally the chief point of attack against the city. "Here stood the gates opening upon the streets which commanded the hills of the city; here was the weakest part of the fortifications, the channel of the Lycus rendering a deep moat impossible, while the dip in the line of the walls as they descended and ascended the slopes of the valley put the defenders below the level occupied by the besiegers."

This was shown in the very first siege, 626, as well as in the last; and it was here that the first cannonade was directed against the walls, in 1422. In the last siege two towers of the inner wall and a large part of the outer wall were battered to pieces, and the moat was filled ready for an assault. Giustiniani erected a palisade covered with hides and supported with earthworks; and it was not till the gallant Genoese fell 286 mortally wounded that the Turks succeeded in forcing their way in.

It is through the Edirnè Kapoussi that one naturally enters to see both the Church of the Chora and the Tekfour Serai, the palace of the Porphyrogenitus. The large mosque within the gate is that built by Suleiman in memory of one of his daughters.

Continuing northwards, with the striking view of the ruined palace rising above the walls, we reach the sixth military gate, and beyond this the lines of the walls, which have turned eastwards, are much broken. The sixth military gate is the Kerko-Porta (see above p. 150).

Beyond this the wall of Theodosius comes to an end abruptly. From this point the fortifications have a different character. "Along the greater portion of their course these bulwarks consisted of a single wall, without a moat; but at a short distance from the water, where they stand on level ground, they formed a double wall, which was at one time protected by a moat and constituted a citadel at the north-west angle of the city." They belong, Professor van Millingen has also clearly proved, to at least three periods, to the days of Heraclius, of Leo, and of Manuel Comnenus. After the Kerko-Porta the Theodosian walls turned eastwards; when the palace of Blachernae was defended it was probably by the erection, after the fifth century, of a new wall. The wall of Manuel Comnenus, built to give additional protection, left the earlier wall on an inner line of defence.

The wall of Manuel is stronger than that of Theodosius, but it has no moat; it resisted all the efforts of the Turkish artillery in 1453. The public gate in it was that of the Kaligaria (the district where military shoes were made), and from 287 a tower beside it the last Emperor and Phrantzes reconnoitred early in the morning of the last day of the siege. North of this, from the tower which stands at the point where the wall turns eastwards, the fortifications seem to have been entirely rebuilt during the repairs of the fourteenth and fifteenth century. In this piece stands the gate of Gyrolimnè, through which probably the leaders of the Crusaders in 1203, who were encamped on the hill just outside, entered to negotiate with Isaac Angelus. Behind it stood the palace of Blachernae, the site of which may be expected to reveal much when it is excavated.

Beyond this, from the great tower, unbattlemented, which has on it an inscription in honour of Isaac Angelus, who reconstructed it in 1188, the greatest difficulties surround the identification of the different portions. The first part of the wall is of great height—sometimes sixty-eight feet—and of thickness varying from over thirty to over sixty feet. Three towers protect this part: two "twin towers" rising to a great height above the walls. The special character of the walls is determined by the fact that, within, the palace of Blachernae stood upon a terraced hill. The second tower, much higher than that with the inscription, may be identified with the tower of Isaac Angelus, described by Nicetas Choniates as built by the Emperor both for the defence of Blachernae, and for a residence for himself. Beyond it is a third tower, which has been generally considered to be the tower of Anemas, mentioned first by Anna Comnena, as the place in which Anemas, who had conspired against her father, was confined.

All these identifications are difficult; and it is also difficult to feel sure that a more satisfactory solution of the many problems which arise would not be to consider that the tower of Isaac Angelus is the comparatively 288 small one that still bears his inscription, and that the two others, and northern tower, combine to form the "prison of Anemas."

Within these towers was certainly the Palace of Blachernae, and the chambers now so grim and foul, that may sometimes be inspected, are very likely the prisons built by Alexius Comnenus and connected with his palace.

Beyond these towers a new series of walls begins. These are "in two parallel lines, connected by transverse walls, so as to form a citadel beside the Golden Horn. The inner wall belongs to the reign of Heraclius; the outer is an erection of Leo V. the Armenian." A splendid view of these magnificent walls, and of the Golden Horn below, is obtained from the hill westwards, on which the Crusaders encamped in 1203. The wall of Heraclius, with its three hexagonal towers, was built to protect the suburb of Blachernae after the attack of the Avars in 627: that of Leo was built in 813 when the city was in danger from the Bulgarians. A citadel was formed between the two walls, within which was the chapel and sacred well of S. Nicholas. The gate is the gate of Blachernae, and beyond it is a tower with an inscription stating that it was reconstructed by "Romanus, the Christ-loving sovereign." From this point a wall led to the water's-edge, and in it was the Wooden Gate (Ξυλόπορτα, see above, p. 273).

We have thus completed the circuit of the most interesting mediæval defences in Europe. At every point they have memories that go back to great historic days, memories of treachery as well as heroism, but above all of a long and gallant defence of all that made the civilization of Europe enduring and worthy to endure. 289

To-day as one goes along the great triumphal way, still retaining fragments at least of its solid pavement that was laid by Justinian, the way along which countless armies of emperors and of invaders have passed on their march of triumph or retreat, we are reminded of the past not only by shattered walls, and by the goats that feed and scramble where once the soldiers of the empire kept watch, but by the immemorial cemetery, with its groups of cypress, which stands beside us as we walk.

It is a perpetual memorial of the vanity of human power. There, where thousands of Turks are now laid to rest, where the stones gape above the coffins placed a few feet below, and the strange lozenge-shapes with their gaudy inscriptions lean and totter on every side; there once crusading armies camped to sack a Christian city; and there the soldiers of Mohammed mustered for the last fight which was to give them the crown of their centuries of war. Huns, Avars, Bulgars, Goths, men of Italy and Russia and Greece, all have passed; and the men who have conquered where they fought and failed lie buried where once they camped. On one side of the great imperial way stretches this vast gloomy silent graveyard; on the other stand is the shattered wall.

In that long, broken, deserted wall the history of the great city seems summed up. "Débris colossal du passé, elle nous diminue et nous écrase, nous et nos existences courtes, et nos souffrances d'une heure, et tout le rien instable que nous sommes." 290

The Mosques, Türbehs and Fountains

The mosques of Constantinople, as has already been shown, are very largely buildings which had been churches in past days. The inspiration felt so overpoweringly in the Church of the Divine Wisdom still abides in the buildings erected by the Emperors of past days. More open and evident still is the fact that the architects of the mosques, built for Mohammedan worship since the Turks have ruled in the city of the Cæsars, have done little more than copy the people whom they have conquered. In most of the great mosques of Stambûl, S. Sophia is simply and directly imitated. In others the leading idea is developed with a variation or two. Of genuine originality the Turkish architects have shown not a trace.


The innumerable mosques of Constantinople are of two kinds, those founded by members of the reigning dynasty, and those built by humbler persons. Most of the mosques have a court with a fountain in the midst. Many have houses, round kitchens, schools for children and for students of the Koran, hospitals, and the dwelling of the imam. Nearly all have 291 türbehs, tombs of the royal family and of persons of great distinction. All have of course the minaret, which to the traveller is the most characteristic feature of the vast city. The ordinary mosques have but one minaret, from which five times a day the voice of the muezzin calls the faithful to pray. The royal mosques have more than one minaret, S. Sophia and the mosque of Suleiman have four, the mosque of Ahmed has six.

Mosque of Mohammed II. from English Embassy

The first and most sacred of the mosques is that of Eyûb, with the türbeh of that great warrior by its side. It is the one mosque which no Christian may enter or even approach. On the accession of each new sultan he "must be girded with the sabre of the great Osman by the hands of the general of the Mevlevi Dervishes, who comes across Asia Minor from distant Konieh for the proud purpose. Only two Sultans since Mohammed II. have omitted the ceremonial, or have performed it elsewhere, and the reign of each was brief and calamitous."

Both mosque and türbeh, the most sacred buildings in all Stambûl to the Moslem, are kept, it is said, with ceaseless care, and redecorated again and again with increased splendour. Near them is a great street of tombs, where sleep the long line of sheikhs-ul-Islam.

In that crowded suburb, still fanatically Mohammedan, the stranger lingers but few moments. He seeks the characteristic expression of Moslem reverence 292 in the great buildings that crown the hills. In the heat of the afternoon he climbs the hill to where once the great church of the Holy Apostles stood. Lingering on the terrace he looks over the Golden Horn and the vast city, a city of gardens and minarets, stretching as far as the eye can see. As the hour for prayer draws near, men pour from every street, across through the market, or by the open arid space that extends westwards till the narrow streets close round, stretching down to the harbour. Hundreds and hundreds they seem, of all ages, in every kind of attire, of every race, some light-haired and fresh-coloured, as of more than half European blood; some, negroes from Africa, but all males and all Moslems. They enter the great mosque; the Christian must stand back, even from the court; a few minutes and the stream pours out again and leaves but a few pious lingerers still at their prayers or some children sitting before their teacher and reciting to him the Koran.

It is the great mosque of Mohammed II., built in 1463-69 for the Conqueror by a Greek Christian, Christodoulos. It covers a great extent of ground, with its schools, its türbehs, and its great court. The court is cloistered, and it has eighteen splendid columns, which came, there can be little doubt, from the Church of the Apostles. Six are of red granite, twelve of verde antico; the simple carving of the capitals belongs to a period when Byzantine art was at its best. In the midst of the court is a fountain shaded by cypresses. It is almost always deserted, save for a few children here and there at play.


We enter the mosque itself by the great door at the south. Its size is its most impressive feature. The decoration is simple; great black arabesques on a white ground: dignified, but, in the full sunlight which pours through the great windows, too dazzling. At the 295 right above the entrance is the blue tablet on which is inscribed that traditional prophecy of the prophet: "They shall conquer Constantinople; happy the prince, happy the army, which shall achieve the conquest."

Outside, to the East, is the plain octagon in which is laid, alone, the Conqueror Mohammed. The great turban hangs over the head, a heavy velvet pall over the chest which contains the coffin. Two big brass candlesticks, a Koran copied by the hand of the Conqueror himself, in a reliquary a tooth of the prophet: that is all the türbeh contains. But the simplicity is, for this generation at least, spoilt by the "thorough restoration" the whole has received, and its brightness of new paint. Mohammed, of all the sultans, remains alone in his glory. There are other türbehs round his, his mother, his wife, the wife of Abdul Hamid I., who is said to have been a Creole from Martinique, and the schoolfellow of the Empress Josephine—she was the mother of Mahmûd II.—these and others throng the enclosure. But the memory of Mohammed is still unchallenged among all his successors, and still pilgrims, hour by hour, stand on the broad marble step and look reverently within on his last resting-place.

If Mohammed's mosque has the greatest historic interest, by far the most splendid of all in Stambûl is the great Suleimaniyeh, the mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent. It crowns the third hill as Mohammed's crowns the fourth. It was built by Sinan; but it would seem that he was throughout ordered to copy S. Sophia. Justinian, when he entered his great church, had said, "Solomon, I have surpassed thee": Suleiman was determined that he would surpass the Christian Emperor.

His mosque owes not only its design but its details to Christian sources. Much of the marble, and most 296 notably the great marble pillars, came from the Church of S. Euphemia at Chalcedon.

Westwards is the large fore-court, surrounded by cloisters, covered by twenty-four small domes. It is much larger than most of the mosque-courts. In the midst is a fountain, with a dome above. There are four minarets at the corners of the cloisters. The mosque itself, like S. Sophia, is nearly square—225 by 205 feet. The central dome rests on four piers, and four great shafts support the side arches of the dome. The great dome is not so large as that of S. Sophia; but the effect from the outside is far more beautiful owing to the skilful grouping of the masses of smaller domes, with the four minarets rising from among the trees. Architects have praised the exquisite adjustment of all the parts of the building; and, indeed, its combination of grace with vastness is apparent to the dullest eye. But its general effect is spoilt, like that of all the greater mosques, by paint. The colour confuses; the four tints are a meaningless disturbance; the eye finds it hard to distinguish the real splendour of marble, in mihrab, minber, and the Sultan's chamber. The brightness of the windows, fine though the glass is, distracts. Most of all the endless wires and cords stretched across and from above prevent any clear view of the whole. But, none the less, it is a splendid building, very solemn and noble, expressive of the best that Islam can give, in its consecration of strength and riches to the highest ends.

Outside are the two splendid türbehs of the most dramatic figures in Turkish history since the Conquest. Suleiman himself lies in a beautiful domed octagon, the walls covered with intricate arabesques, the roof, especially, beautiful in brown. A blue inscription on the white tiles that run round the walls is in exquisite 297 taste. At the head of his catafalque is Suleiman's white turban with double tufts of heron's feathers. Over it are splendid and elaborate shawls, which he once wore.

The same türbeh contains the tombs of Suleiman II. and Ahmed II. But a stone's throw from it is the beautiful tomb of Roxelana, in which a Western poet of our time has found inspiration.

Where rarely sunbeam of the morn,

Or ev'ning moonbeam ever stray'd,

Above the ground she trod in scorn,

Here, draped in samite and brocade,

Behold the great Sultana laid,

Of all her fleeting greatness shorn!

The walls are covered with exquisite blue tiles, with beautiful designs of almond and tulip. Happily this türbeh has not been restored as have so many of them. It remains a gem of the best Moslem art. The group of buildings seen as one descends from the hill on which the Seraskierat stands, or from the tower, has a charming effect. The cypresses mingling with the domes and minarets make the most peaceful scene that Stambûl can show. In the city of trees and gardens, of domes and minarets, this seems the picture typical of the whole as the Moslems have made it. Here is, one feels, the true poetic East, the home of the poets we have read. We might be in the Arabian Nights,

Whilst there o'er mosque and minaret

That rise against the sunset glow,

broods the great calm of a nation of fatalists. It is not the "purple East" we see, but the soft, somnolent, sensuous splendour of a great repose, or may be a great decay. 298

Third of the great mosques I should place that of Ahmed, which, with its large enclosures, encroaches on the old Hippodrome. It may well be considered the most truly oriental of them all. "The masterpiece of Asiatic art" some call it, the highest achievement of Mussulman architecture. Something it owes to its position, fronted by the long, broad, open space; something, certainly, to those who know, to its historic associations. But undoubtedly in its general plan and in the detail of its decoration it is more clearly than the others a work of the genius of the East.



It covers a vast space. The great court which surrounds it seems constantly to be filled with a great market. It is in the heart of life: crowds are constantly passing through, pilgrims from S. Sophia, travellers who have turned in from the Hippodrome. The air of the buyers and sellers is more dilettante than that of the serious folk who make their homely purchases among the stalls outside the great mosque of Mohammed II. This seems an oriental scene decked out for your amusement. But the place has a long and tragic history. Part of the area covered by the buildings of the mosque was once occupied by the great palace of the Emperors; part was the Hippodrome; here too, probably, was the Augustæum. It was not for more than a hundred years after the conquest that the Turks built upon this site. Then (1608-14) Ahmed I. determined to raise a memorial of his piety finer than any of his predecessors had achieved, and if it might be, by a propitiatory offering, to stay the decline which had already begun to fall upon the Empire. He worked himself at the building, it is said, and paid the workmen with his own hands. The fore-court has a beautiful fountain. The interior of the mosque itself is larger than the Suleimaniyeh. Its fault is sameness. Fergusson, whose judgment is not always to be quoted, may here speak without contradiction. 301 "If the plan were divided into quarters, each of the four quarters would be found to be identical, and the effect is consequently painfully mechanical and prosaic. The design of each wall is also nearly the same; they have the same number of windows spaced in the same manner, and the side of the Kibleh[64] is scarcely more richly decorated than the others." The prevailing blue of the whole becomes oppressive. There are some exquisite tiles; but the effect of the whole mosque is spoilt, like that of Suleiman, by the paint. Yet with all its defects the size makes the mosque magnificent. "A hall nearly two hundred feet square, with a stone roof supported by only four great fluted piers, is a grand and imposing object." Fergusson's judgment must be accepted. 302

At the same time there are many points that no one who has seen them will ever forget. One is the view as you stand under the great columns of the arched court and look up at the almost innumerable domes, rising dome upon dome to the great central cupola that dominates them all, the one minaret that you see breaking the monotonous gradation of the domes by its sheer, sharp ascent into the sky. Another is the colossal strength of the four great piers from which spring the arches of the central cupola, immense in their solidity, yet hardly so clumsy as you think at first when you gaze from under them at the more graceful pillars of the outer arcade.

Of details that repay attention, the chief door into the mosque, typically eastern, stands out. The six minarets, seen from far, are the most graceful of all in the city. Ahmed in building six encroached on the unique dignity of Mecca. The sherif protested, and the Sultan added a seventh to the sacred shrine. His own mosque remains the only one with six.

Within, the later history of the Turks invests the scene with a new interest. It was from the splendid marble pulpit that the fetva decreeing the abolition of the Janissaries was read, while Mahmûd stood in his box. It was round the mosque that much of the fiercest fighting took place that day. Bodies were heaped up before the gate of the court, and from the great sycamore, still standing, and called "the tree of groans," hung corpses "like the black fruit of a tree in hell."

These three are the most splendid of the mosques. Next to them ranks the mosque of Bayezid II. It was built between 1489 and 1497, and the architect was the son of Christodoulos, who built the mosque named after the Conqueror, Bayezid's father. The 303 two sons designed to surpass their father. It cannot be said that they succeeded. The mosque itself has little interest. The fountain in the court does not equal those of Ahmed and Suleiman. But the place will always be visited for the name, which the travellers give it, of the Pigeons' Mosque. A poor widow, says the legend, offered a pair of pigeons to Bayezid for the mosque. These hundreds are their offspring, and they have always been held sacred. They fly about, settle everywhere on the roofs, walk over the floor, and surround in an instant everyone who takes up a handful of grain. They divide the honours of the court with the sellers of trivial ornaments, and the professional letter-writers, whom one may spend a merry half hour in watching, as they formally express the feelings which the lover, or the applicant for a post under government, is rightly supposed to possess, and is anxious to have set forth for him.

The mosque of Bayezid owes something of its attraction to its position, looking on two sides upon a wide open space, with the wall and gate of the Seraskierat only a few yards away. To the east is the great garden, which contains the türbeh of Bayezid himself, with a catafalque thirteen feet long.

Of the hundreds of mosques, each with its own characteristic design or adornment or history, stand out for a word of admiration, those of the Shahzadeh, of Selim I., of the Yeni Valideh, and that called the Tulip Mosque.

The mosque of the Shahzadeh, built like that of Suleiman, by the Moslem architect Sinan, was erected by the Sultan and Roxelana, between 1543 and 1547, to commemorate their eldest son, whose türbeh stands beside it, decorated with the most exquisite Persian tiles. The mosque is on the great central street that runs through Stambûl. Four semi-domes culminate in 304 a great central dome, and four great octagonal pillars support it. It is one of the most beautiful of the Ottoman mosques. It may be added that the mosque which the sorrowing parents built to their youngest son Djanghir (see above p. 170), at Galata, above Top-haneh, was burnt in 1764, and as it now stands is the result of "restoration" by the present Sultan. It is the most prominent object on the shore as one draws near to landing at the Galata bridge.

On the fifth hill, and perhaps the most prominent object in the view from the hill of Pera, above the petit champ des morts, is the mosque of Selim I. The style is simple, one vast dome resting on a drum lighted by many windows, and supported by flying buttresses.

The Tulip Mosque, Laleli Djami, stands in a prominent position in a crowded street, the Koska Sokaki. It is an example of the more modern style. It was built by Mustapha III. in 1760-63, and shows the Turkish expression of the Strawberry-Hill interest in antiquity. It contains columns from the palace of Boucoleon and the forum of Theodosius. Beside it is the türbeh of Mustafa III. and of Selim III. Perhaps the most pleasant part of a visit here is to stand on the terrace and look over the houses on to the Sea of Marmora and the distant snow-covered hills.

The last mosque I shall mention is that which the traveller probably first visits. It attracts him as soon as he has crossed the Galata bridge, and most likely turns him aside from his way to S. Sophia. It is the mosque of Yeni Valideh Sultan, the wife of Ahmed I. Begun by her orders in 1615, it was completed by the mother of Mohammed IV. in 1665.


This, of all others, aroused the admiration of Lady 305 Mary Wortley Montagu. "The most prodigious, and I think, the most imposing, structure I ever saw," she called it; perhaps because she regarded it as a tribute to her sex. Unhappily, as in most of the other mosques, paint and whitewash have done their disfiguring work; but the beauty of its tiles, most of them blue and white, is perhaps superior to any other collection in the city. The exquisite carving of the doorways, too, enriched with mother-of-pearl, attracts one as one passes through. In no other mosque can the excellence of the minute Turkish work be better studied. The delicacy of the lattice work at the fountain, too, is admirable.

So much may I say of the mosques. But a word more is needed for their inseparable attendants. By the Valideh mosque, begun by one sultan's mother, after whose murder it was completed by her rival, is the great türbeh which contains, in two chambers, a host of princes and princesses, and five sultans—Mohammed IV., deposed in 1687, who died in 1693; Mustafa II., deposed in 1703; Ahmed III., deposed in 1730; Mahmûd I., 1754; and Osman III., 1757. Of these, the last two alone died peaceably in possession of the throne.

One other türbeh besides those I have named claims especial mention. It is that of Mahmûd II., the Reformer, and it stands by itself near the Column of Constantine. It is the most modern in date and style, a domed octagon of white marble lighted by seven windows, an atrocious example of the style which our grandfathers thought rich and dignified. At the right as one enters lies the mother of Mahmûd. In the midst is the Reformer himself, a black pall, elaborately worked, thrown over the catafalque. At the head is, for the first time, the fez, the symbol of the reform, but it has attached, as of old, the great tuft of heron's 306 feathers. At the left is the resting-place of Abdul Aziz, again with a splendid covering, and at the head a simple fez. The last of the dead sultans—for Murad cannot be counted—who entered as none of his predecessors had done into the social life as well as the politics of European courts, yet was deposed and died a violent death, fitly ends the list. As you stand by his coffin you see the lesson of Turkish history for to-day. Outwardly, save for the fez, all is as with the sultans five centuries ago: and the spirit of Turkish life has not changed, and will not change.



Its worst expression is recalled in the blood and luxury which are linked with the names of these two 307 sultans. Its best is attached to the one other architectural feature of the city which I must mention in this place. One of the most beautiful and most characteristic sights that strikes the western traveller as he wanders through Stambûl is the fountain outside every mosque and at almost every street corner. Hundreds of them are worth lingering over. Here I will only mention one. Outside the Bâb-i-Humayûn, the gate upon which the heads of so many disgraced officials have been placed, and under the shadow of S. Sophia, is the most beautiful of all, designed by Ahmed I. himself. White marble it is, with beautiful arabesques and elaborate inscriptions in those graceful elaborations of kaligraphy in which the Turks have always excelled. It is the most elaborate of all the fountains, but the little ones at the street corners, with an arched or domical pent-house above them and 308 some small decorative inscription above the marble founts, have a simple charm of their own.

As one turns away from the Turkish buildings and tries to sum up the impressions which the architecture represented by the mosques of Constantinople leaves on the student of other styles, there are criticisms which are natural and inevitable. How little variety, we say; how tiresome, this similarity of design! The Turks indeed have felt it themselves, but they have been unable to set themselves free. For indeed the lack is the hopeless one, the sheer absence of originality, in every feature. We may call one mosque more eastern than another, but it would puzzle us to find a single feature in any of them, except the Mihrab, which is not ultimately Christian. The feeling, it is true, differs; but that will be felt, by Westerns at least, to be a conspicuous defect. There is no sense of the mystery that lies behind all life, the solemn awe in which alone man may fitly draw nigh to God. All is clear, complete, satisfied, protestant of its completeness and satisfaction. Is there anything, one feels, beyond man and this world? Certainly here there is nothing to raise thought to heaven, to help to pierce behind the veil. Is it fanciful to say that something of this it is that makes the difference between the windows of a Christian church and those of a mosque? The mosques have windows of the plainest, ugliest, most staring. Can anything be more pitiable than the windows of Ahmed's, the characteristic Turkish mosque? No tracery, no stained glass, nothing that uplifts or separates from the outer world.

Yet to all this there must be a corresponding gain. From this absorption in the things of the present, this satisfaction with the work of men's hands, comes often a real perfection of detail. How often the fore-court is an admirable piece of building, worth examination and imitation at every point! Yet even here there 309 is the exception that detracts from the merit of all Southern "pointed" work: the arches will not remain firm of themselves, they must needs be tied together with cross beams. How sordid and untidy this looks one sees in a moment as one stands in the court of the Valideh mosque. But the detail, we must insist, is often good, the niches notably so in the "stalactite pattern," which also appears in the capitals of late date of sixteenth and seventeenth century building, as in the courts of Ahmed and Valideh. Yet when all this is said, the chief glory of the mosques, the best and most original feature of the Moslem art as we see it in Constantinople, is the exquisite tile-work everywhere and of every date. It brings us back again, as we end this chapter, to the magnificent Sultan and his proud wife. The choicest art surrounds the tomb of the Circassian, and there

The walls that shut thee from the sun,

The potter's art made bright with blue,

Where leaf and tendril overrun

The Persian porcelain's ivory hue,

And blazon'd letters, twisting thro'

Proclaim there is no God but One.



The Palaces

No features in the Sultan's city are more prominent than the cloud-capped towers and the gorgeous palaces. The two towers of Galata and of the Seraskerat have a very practical meaning. Perpetual watch is kept in them, and warning sent when the fires which have so often devastated both Pera and Stambûl are seen to have begun. The great tower of the Seraskerat, built by Mohammed II., standing in the large open space in front of the War Office, gives the best detailed view of Stambûl, and one sees how truly it is not only a city of gardens but a thoroughly Oriental city. The bazaars, the khans, the mosques, and here and there an old Byzantine house can be clearly distinguished; and the seven hills, so puzzling to the traveller on foot, stand out plainly in the forest of building.

The tower of Galata dates back, in foundation at least, to the fifth century; and when the Genoese made their settlement in the suburb it became their chief fortress. It was rebuilt and increased in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The roof has been often burnt, and the present arrangement of four circular chambers, diminishing as they ascend, is that of Abdul Mejid. Seen from the street below the Petit Champ des Morts, it is picturesque and imposing. From it is the splendid view over the whole city and far into Asia and the range of Olympus. 311

Between these towers, so plain and practical, and the luxurious palaces of the Sultans, the public offices form a convenient link. Some are modern of the modern, comfortable, and even comparatively clean, like the great building of the Ottoman Debt, on the finest site in Stambûl, with magnificent views of the city and the harbour. Some, like the Sublime Porte, have a certain leisurely dignity, as of the eighteenth century in Italy, but tawdry and decaying. Some, like the Ef-kaf—the ministry of religious foundations, close to S. Sophia—are mere collections of rooms, half ruined, the abode of countless officials and petitioners, of squalor and dirt.


How long will it be before the group of buildings now called the Old Seraglio follow in the same way? Already the outer court, with the tree of the Janissaries, and the Church of S. Irene, bear a desolate unkempt appearance, such as one soon learns to associate with everything that belongs to Turkish officialdom. There are few spots in Europe that have a longer or more tragic history. This 312 once was the Akropolis of Byzantium. When first the Turks took the city the Sultan lived in the Eski Seraï, the "old palace," which was on the site now occupied by the Seraskierat. But in 1468 Mohammed began to build here a summer palace, which after much enlargement became under Suleiman I. the chief palace of the Sultans, and was occupied by them till in 1839 Abdul Mejid finally removed to Dolma bagtché.

The outer court can be freely visited; though during the last year entrance has been several times refused to me at the most convenient approach, the Bâb-i-Humayûn, a tiresome restriction which is no more than an inconvenience, as one may walk freely through the lower gate. In niches on each side of the Bâb-i-Humayûn were often placed the heads of viziers whom the Sultans had sacrificed to their own jealousy or to the demands of the Janissaries. Above is a small square room where Mahmûd waited all day on the fateful 16th of June 1826, for news of the fight raging in the streets against the Janissaries. Above the gate is an inscription placed by Mohammed the Conqueror: "God shall make eternal the glory of its builder. God shall strengthen his work. God shall support his foundations." In the bare space between the outer and inner gates there is nothing to notice except the fateful tree, and the splendid sarcophagi outside S. Irene, which are said to have come from the Church of the Holy Apostles. Thence we go through an avenue up to the Middle Gate, Orta Kapou.

Coming the other way, through the lower gate, Teheshmeh Kapou, we leave the Museum Chinili Kiosk to the left. To the right of the Bâb-i-Humayûn is the Gül Kkâneh Kiosk, where Abdul Mejid issued his great hatti sherif in the presence of representatives of all the religions of the empire (see above, p. 219). 313

Beyond the Orta Kapou no one may pass except by special irardé from the Sultan. This can only be obtained through the Embassy. Of recent years it is rarely refused; but it is usual to make a party, for the expense is large. Some five pounds or so must be given in presents. The visitors are treated as the Sultan's guests, are placed under charge of an imperial aide-de-camp, are refreshed with coffee and roseleaf jam in one of the kiosks, and taken on, usually, to the modern palaces of Dolma bagtché and Beylerbey. The Orta Kapou is strictly guarded. Here one must walk, for only a Sultan may enter on horseback. On the right was the room in which the Christian envoys waited till the Sultan pleased to send out clothes in which alone they might appear before him. As they came forth the Janissaries, ranged in military order, "darted like arrows" at the food placed before them in their kettles, a quaint custom intended to impress the 314 foreigner with the feeling that he was in the power of a still savage people. At the left was the room where Viziers were beheaded.

Approach to the Old Seraglio

The court of the divan, now neglected, is the place where the ministers discussed, and the Sultans, when they would, listened from a latticed window. To the right were the vast kitchens. Then comes the Bâb-i-s'âddet, Gate of Felicity, which leads to what was once the Serai, the royal palace with its harem, which the Italians called Seraglio. It was through this gate that Murad IV. in 1632 walked alone to face the rebels, and hushed them to obedience, and that in 1808 the dead body of Selim III. was thrown out to the Pacha Baraicktar (see p. 201), and that a few days later the corpse of his murderer, Mustafa IV., was carried forth to burial.

Within, we are among a maze of small buildings, without dignity but not altogether without beauty. They represent the caprice of sultan after sultan, and of their ladies. First we see the Arz Odassi, the throne room, built by Suleiman I., where on a large couch, like a great bed, the Sultans reposing on cushions received their ministers and the foreign envoys. Here the first French ambassadors were received by Suleiman, and here in 1568 Elizabeth's envoy sought assistance against Spain. Here again is a lattice behind which the Sultan could sit, if he would assume the state of the unapproachable Oriental.


Next we cross a deserted garden, and pass through neglected courts till we reach the library, a single room, built by Mustafa III., with a beautiful bronze door, in which are many unknown MSS. treasures. Next is the Khazna, the treasury, which is opened only by the second in authority of the imperial eunuchs, while a crowd of black-coated and fezzed officials stand on each side. It were idle to enumerate the 315 treasures. The visitor rarely has time properly to examine them. But one cannot fail to note the Persian throne of gold, set with hundreds of precious stones, and the beautiful Turkish divan which belonged 316 to Ahmed I. On the staircase leading to the gallery which contains this last treasure are medallion portraits of the Sultans, interesting enough but perhaps of the same historic value as, though of far superior artistic excellence to, the portraits of the Scots Kings at Holyrood. Of similar interest and closer authenticity are the fine state costumes of the Sultans from Mohammed II. to Mahmûd the Reformer. The robes are exquisite examples of the richest eastern work in brocade and silk, and the weapons are of the finest design. Cases on the walls contain splendid collections of jewels, and some magnificent armour, notably that worn by Murad IV. at the capture of Belgrade in 1638.

There are three buildings within this part of the grounds which no one may approach. The one contains the relics of the prophet. We see the entrance with its massive door and elaborate tiles. We know that inside are the mantle, the sacred standard, the beard and a tooth of the prophet, and an impression in limestone of his foot. Beyond this again is the old harem, now unused. And not far off is the Kafess, the luxurious retreat of dethroned sultans, which has often been mentioned in these pages—the scene perhaps of the worst and vilest crimes of the Ottomans.

It is with kindlier associations that we approach the beautiful kiosk of Bagdad, whose walls, with their beautiful tiles, doors of the finest inlaid work, and carpets of the richest design, place us in an ideal Eastern scene. It is a copy, they say, of a kiosk Murad IV. saw at Bagdad. Pity that it is now only a show. Here or in the Mejidiyeh kiosk looking on the Marmora and up the Golden Horn, comes the refection, and we fancy ourselves again, but for the officials 317 in their to us most inappropriate costume,[65] in the Arabian Nights.

So back again and we drive round at break-neck pace, the driver shouting and cracking his whip all the way, across the Galata Bridge, along that wretched dirty lane called the "grande rue de Galata," past Top-haneh and the modern Valideh Mosque, to the palace of Dolma bagtché. It is the work of Abdul Mejid. It is vast, white, elaborate: it has aroused enthusiasm among personages who might have been expected to know better: it was from this gorgeous abode that Abdul Aziz was hurried across to the old Seraglio at his deposition: some state functions are still performed here. That is really all that one would like to say. The bewildering, dazzling, costly decorations, the pictures that Abdul Aziz so much admired, the mirrors and candelabra, the abundance of everything that is ugly and expensive, represent nothing in the world but a taste which has tried to graft on orientalism the worst ideas of the early Victorian age and the Second Empire.

Of Cheragan, where Abdul Aziz died and perhaps the last Sultan still lingers, I cannot speak. No one is now admitted. Let the enthusiastic de Amicis express, in his account of it, what we feel as we leave Dolma bagtché.

"Nothing of all the splendour remains in my memory except the Sultan's bath, made of whitest marble, sculptured with pendent flowers and stalactites, and decorated with fringes and delicate embroideries that one feared to touch, so fragile did they seem. The disposition of the rooms reminded me vaguely of the Alhambra. Our steps made no sound upon the rich carpets spread everywhere. Now and then an 318 eunuch pulled a cord, and a green curtain rose and displayed the Bosphorus, Asia, a thousand ships, a great light; and then all vanished again, as in a flash of lightning. The rooms seemed endless, and as each door appeared we hastened our steps; but a profound silence reigned in every part, and there was no vestige of any living being, nor rustle of garment save the sound made by the silken door-curtains as they fell behind. At last we were weary of that endless journey from one splendid empty room to another, seeing ourselves reflected in great mirrors, with the black faces of our guides and the group of silent servants, and were thankful to find ourselves again in the free air, in the midst of the ragged, noisy denizens of Tophane."

The present Sultan, as all the world knows, lives in Yildiz Kiosk, a building erected by himself, on the hills above the Bosphorus. He has gradually restricted his public appearances within the narrowest limits possible to a Sultan. Only once a year does he now cross to Stambûl, to pay, on the 15th of Ramazan, homage to the Prophet's mantle in its chamber in the old Seraglio. Once a week, on Friday, he goes to the mosque he has built just outside his palace grounds. A card from the Embassy admits to a house provided by the Sultan which gives a good view of his ceremonial procession to his official prayers. As a survival, or as the modern expression of the power and obligation of the Khalif, the Commander of the Faithful, it is a sight not to be missed. The massed thousands of splendid troops, as fine a body of men as any soldiers in the world, the pilgrims from the far East, the holy men of the Mohammedan faith, admitted to the best positions and treated with the most profound reverence, the gathering of ladies from the harem in closed carriages surrounded by eunuchs, and of little 319 princes in gay uniforms, at last the coming of the Sultan himself, in the most prosaic of European costumes, surmounted by a fez, with his officials preceding and following his carriage—that is the ceremony to-day which centuries ago foreigners watched rarely and with awe, if not with terror. The times have changed; and the man.




Needless to say, the antiquities of Constantinople would take for their description not one but many books. Archæologists will read as well as see for themselves. Let me merely call attention to some of the prominent archæological remains which no one will wish to miss. They are the living memorials of the great past.

And first the Hippodrome. So much has already been said of it that here I shall only give the barest description of what we see to-day. And first be it noted that the space now open is probably no more than two-fifths of the original Hippodrome. The mosque of Sultan Ahmed encroached on the east; other buildings on the west. The area of the ancient Hippodrome has been estimated at 25,280 square yards. The present space is not more than 216 yards in length and 44 across. Secondly, it must not be forgotten that the present level is about 10 feet above the original pavement. Some indication of this is given by the fact that the bases of the columns, excavated by British officers during the Crimean war, are still considerably below the ground outside the railings.


Gyllius gives a long account of the Hippodrome as it was in his day, a century or so after the Turkish Conquest. The Egyptian obelisk, the Colossus, and the serpent column stood then as they stand now; but 323 there then remained also seventeen white pillars at the north-east, the iron rings still fixed to the tops from which awnings were hung. Columns, pillars, benches, remained here and there; but desolation and ruin had already fallen upon the scene. "The Hippodrome," he wrote, "is desolate, stripped of all its ornaments; and they have lately begun to build upon it. At the sight of it I was filled with grief." The Crusaders in 1204 destroyed a vast number of precious works of ancient art which adorned the site: the destruction was completed by the Turks. The famous bronze horses of Lysippus, which stood as ornaments of the imperial seat, were taken to Venice after the Latin Conquest, and stand to-day outside S. Mark's.

We see now only a great open space, thick in dust, from which rise three striking monuments. At the north-east, whence we enter from S. Sophia, is the Egyptian obelisk. This was brought from Heliopolis by Theodosius, and was erected in the position which it has ever since retained. He placed it upon a pedestal of marble and granite, upon which are elaborate reliefs of the fourth century, representing scenes in the Hippodrome. On the north are the bringing the obelisk to the Hippodrome and the placing it in position, and above it a representation of the imperial family watching the games, Theodosius in the midst, with Honorius and Arcadius and attendants, with the Labarum, the ensign of the Eastern Empire, above. On the west is a Greek inscription recording the difficulty of the erection; a corresponding Latin one is on the east. It may be worth while to give the verse translation of the old translator of Gyllius:

"To raise this four square pillar to its height,

And fix it steady on its solid base,

Great Theodosius tried, but tried in vain.

In two and thirty days, by Proclus' skill

The toilsome work, with great applause, was done."


Above the Greek inscription on the west side are other representations of the spectators at the games, including the Empress. The south side gives a chariot race round the low wall (spina), which divided the Hippodrome in the midst and on which the monuments stood. Above is another representation of the imperial family in their Kathisma. On the east, above the Latin inscription, are shown two rows of spectators, the Emperor in the upper, with a wreath for the winner of the race. The sculptures are worth the closest attention, as they are among the finest remains of the fourth century that we possess. The minuteness of the detail, in the representation of the persons with their official garb, is of the greatest historical interest.

A few paces further on is the famous Serpent column (see above, p. 11). Nothing in Constantinople, perhaps in the world, has such a history. The three heads have long disappeared: one is in the Museum. When they were taken away is doubtful. Tradition makes Mohammed cut off one on the day of the conquest; but Gyllius certainly speaks as if they were still intact in his day. "Made of brass, not fluted," he says of the pillar, "but wreathed around with the foldings of three serpents like those we see in great ropes. The heads of these serpents are placed in a triangular form and rise very high upon the shaft of the pillar." The column removed from Delphi by Constantine bore, at its first making, the golden tripod which the Greeks consecrated to Apollo after the victory over Xerxes at Plataea. The names of the cities inscribed on the coils may still be traced in fragments. Canon Curtis, in "Broken Bits of Byzantium," part ii., gives tracings of five of them. 325


Further on, and nearest to the Museum of the Janissaries, is the Colossus, which is more than half as high again as the obelisk. It rests upon a base with three steps. It was once covered with brazen plates riveted with iron pins. In the time of Gyllius it was already "despoiled of its outward beauteous appearance, and discovers only the workmanship of its inside, as having felt the effects of the avarice and rapine of the barbarians." All the columns were, during the days of the Empire, regarded as great treasures. The obelisk was restored by Constantine Porphyrogenitus.

These are the most important of the monuments. But four others need mention. The Column of Constantine, of porphyry bound together by bronze rings, stands in a prominent position at the summit of the second hill, a short distance from the Hippodrome. It was Constantine's own special memorial of his foundation of the city, and it was yearly the scene of a solemn service of thanksgiving conducted by the patriarch in the presence of the emperor. It was in the main street of Byzantium, and every public ceremonial was in some way connected with it. Damaged in the eleventh century, it was restored by Manuel Comnenus (1143-1180), whose inscription marks the marble which he placed at the top of the column. It has constantly suffered from fire, and well deserves its common name of the burnt column.

While the column of Constantine is one of the prominent monuments in the city, there are three others much more rarely seen. The column of Theodosius is, happily safe in the Seraglio garden. Its inscription




326 may refer to victories of Theodosius in 381, but more probably carries us back as far as the time of Claudius Gothicus and the battle of Nissa, 269. It is fifty feet high, and is said to have supported a golden statue of Theodosius. According to legend a pillar-saint lived on it for twenty years. Certainly it was used for a grimmer purpose, for the Latins in 1204 dashed from its summit the usurper Alexius Mourtozouphlos.

The column of Marcian, not far from the Etmeidan, where the Janissaries were destroyed, is hard to find; it is in a garden belonging to a Turkish private house. It is of granite with a marble capital. The column of Arcadius, of which only the base remains, is at Avret Bazar on the seventh hill.

Next to the columns the most interesting antiquities are the aqueducts and cisterns. The aqueduct of Valens, built in 366 of stone from the walls of Chalcedon, is a conspicuous object in the view from the hill of Pera. It has been constantly repaired and restored, and it still carries water. It now extends from near the east of the mosque of Mohammed II. very nearly to the Seraskerat. The way from the mosque back to the bridge passes under it, and gives a good view of its construction and its picturesque, overgrown, half-ruined state. This and the other aqueducts (one of which may be seen near Edirnè Kapoussi) brought water from the distant hills, which was stored in vast cisterns, many of which still remain. Three at least are worth a visit. The most beautiful are the work of Philoxenus; and chief is that which the Turks call Yeri Batan Serai—the underground cistern—but more generally known is that fancifully called Bin Bir Derek, cistern of 1001 columns. I may repeat what I have said of them elsewhere.[66] 327

"The latter is now empty, and the sixteen rows of fourteen columns each can be closely examined. It has been considered as exhibiting 'the highest development of the art of cistern building,' and thus 'in its particular sphere' resembling S. Sophia; 'like it the boldness of the construction was never again equalled by the Byzantines.'[67] The capitals are not as a rule highly ornamented, but some have monograms which are repeated in S. Sophia. Impressive though this great building is, it is not nearly so striking as the awful gloom of the Yeri Batan Serai (the Underground Palace)—the Basilike. There seems little doubt that this is the cistern alluded to by Procopius,[68] as made by Justinian under the Portico of the Basilica. 'It is still in perfect preservation, with the entire roof intact; its three hundred and thirty-six columns, twelve feet apart, arranged in twenty-eight symmetric rows, stand each in place, crowned by a finely wrought capital; it still serves its original purpose, supplying water from the aqueduct of Valens in as copious measure as of old.'[69] The capitals here are elaborately carved, in endless variety, and in the very finest style of the age. Darkness, immensity, and the colossal size of the columns seen in the flickering torchlight, make this one of the most impressive memorials of the sixth century. It is below ground what S. Sophia is above."

They both belong, as Forchheimer and Strygowski have incontestably shown, to the age of Justinian. The capitals of the columns of the Bin Bir Derek are much plainer than those of the Yeri Batan Serai. Strygowski thinks that there the new impost capital was first used. 328

"It is of the widest significance for the history of Byzantine art that here throughout the new 'impost capital' is employed in its plainest constructive form. It seems not improbable that the daring builder of the cistern was the first to make use of this form of capital, which completely broke with classical tradition, and is in such perfect accord with the exigencies of arch-architecture." But the analysis of the varieties of capital made by Lethaby and Swainson shows that the impost capital had probably been in use some years before the building of the Bin Bir Derek.

The descent through a trap door and some worn steps from the stableyard of a Turkish house into the Yeri Batan Serai, lighted by a torch extemporised of sacking steeped in naptha, and wrapped round a pole, is an exciting experience. As you look out into the darkness you do not wonder that weird stories have grown up around its recesses, or that Gyllius who discovered it has a strange experience to record.[70]

"Through the Carelesness and Contempt of everything that is curious in the Inhabitants, it was never discover'd, but by me, who was a Stranger among them, after a long and diligent Search after it. The whole Ground was built upon, which made it less suspected there was a Cistern there. The People had not the least Suspicion of it, although they daily drew their Water out of the Wells which were sunk into it. I went by Chance into a House, where there was a Descent into it, and went aboard a little Skiff. The Master of the House, after having lighted some Torches, rowing me here and there a-cross, through the Pillars, which lay very deep in Water, I made a Discovery of it. He was very intent upon catching his Fish, with which the Cistern abounds, and spear'd some of them by the Light of the Torches. There is also a small 329 Light which descends from the Mouth of the Well, and reflects upon the Water, where the Fish usually come for Air. This Cistern is three hundred and thirty six Foot long, a hundred and eighty two Foot broad, and two hundred and twenty four Roman Paces in Compass. The Roof, and Arches, and Sides, are all Brickwork, and cover'd with Terrass, which is not the least impair'd by Time. The Roof is supported with three hundred and thirty six Marble Pillars. The Space of Intercolumniation is twelve Foot. Each Pillar is above forty Foot nine Inches high. They stand lengthways in twelve Ranges, broadways in twenty-eight. The Capitals of them are partly finish'd after the Corinthian Model, and part of them not finish'd. Over the Abacus of every Pillar is placed a large Stone, which seems to be another Abacus, and supports four Arches. There are abundance of Wells which fall into the Cistern. I have seen, when it was filling in the Winter-time, a large Stream of Water falling from a great Pipe with a mighty Noise, till the Pillars, up to the Middle of the Capitals, have been cover'd with Water. This Cistern stands Westward of the Church of St. Sophia, at the Distance of eighty Roman Paces from it."

One other cistern at least is worth a visit. It is that which is approached from the outside of the Church of the Studium at its east end. It was originally the cistern of the monastery. It is now dry and filled with hay. It has a splendid vaulted roof and twenty-five columns with beautifully carved Corinthian capitals.

As one wanders through the streets many remains of Byzantine building, even in the parts that have been almost entirely rebuilt by the Turks, are to be seen. There is one especially notable in the long street that leads to Top Kapoussi (the gate of S. 330 Romanus). The great Imperial Palace about which antiquaries have waged so fierce a fight, has left not one stone upon another; so I will not rashly utter my own opinion of the evidence as to its site. Remains of only two of the Byzantine palaces are now to be found. The first is the surely falling wall which arrests attention as the traveller by the sea of Marmora follows the course of the sea walls before rounding the point. It is close to the Church of S. Sergius and S. Bacchus, and the identification of it with the house of Hormisdas purchased by Justinian, and afterwards enlarged by him, may be regarded as certain. It is the "palace of the King, which was formerly called by the name of Hormisdas," of which Procopius says that it was once Justinian's private house, "and when he became Emperor he made it look worthy of a palace by the magnificence of its buildings, and joined it to the other imperial apartments."[71]

It was here that Justinian was living when he had determined to fly, crossing the sea to Chalcedon, and that Theodora made her heroic and historic speech (see p. 33). Now but a single wall remains. Some capitals are strewn in the sea near it. A water gate, with an inscription evidently referring to the Nika sedition, was still standing a few years ago. Canon Curtis told me of its interest in 1896: I searched for it, but it had absolutely disappeared. The solitary wall will probably soon follow it.


The other palace is one about which the most extraordinary mistakes have been made. It is that which the Greeks call the house of Belisarius and the Turks Tekfûr Serai. It is an oblong building of three stories, facing north and south, and placed between the two walls which descend from the Xylokerkon Gate (Kerko-Porta), at which the Theodosian walls 333 end, towards the Golden Horn. Gyllius believed this to be the famous palace of the Hebdomon, and nearly all the antiquaries have followed him. Professor Bury, among historians, had shown the impossibility of this identification; but it has remained for Professor van Millingen conclusively to show it to be the palace of the Porphyrogenitus. It was here that Andronicus III. resided in 1326 when Andronicus II. was at Blachernae. It was here that John Cantacuzene was in 1347 when he negotiated with the Empress. Architectural authorities differ as to its date. Some have placed it as early as Theodosius II., but it much more probably belongs to the tenth century and to the work of Constantine Porphyrogenitus. It is clearly later than the sixth century work of the palace of Hormisdas, being much more elaborate both in design and in decoration. The evidence for the identification is thus given by Professor van Millingen.[72]

"The evidence for the proper Byzantine name of Tekfûr Serai, occurs in the passage in which Critobolus describes the positions occupied by the various divisions of the Turkish army during the siege of 1453. According to that authority, the Turkish left wing extended from the Xylo-Porta (beside the Golden Horn) to the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus, which was situated upon a slope, and thence to the Gate of Charisius (Edirnè Kapoussi). The site thus assigned to the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus corresponds exactly to that of Tekfûr Serai, which stands on the steep ascent leading from Egri Kapou to the Gate of Adrianople."

Of the other palaces practically no remains exist. A few stones of Blachernae may be built into houses or walls on its site. Two lions from the Boukoleon, of which Anna Comnena speaks, stand in the gardens 334 of the old Seraglio not far from Chinili Kiosk.[73] I know nothing else which belongs to any house of the Christian Emperors.

All these treasures of antiquity are still exposed to the sky; but those preserved in the Museum make it one of the finest in the world. The Turks have awoke to the fact that the lands most fruitful in archæological remains are now in their hands, and Hamdy Bey, the director of the imperial museum, has with indefatigable industry and admirable judgment made a magnificent collection of antiquities in the two buildings under his charge.

In the annexe, which is first visited on the upper floor, there are several collections—a magnificent series of old Oriental carpets said to have belonged to Ahmed I., two chairs, of Selim I. and Ahmed I., some exquisite Turkish and Persian pottery of various dates, and some extremely fine glass. In the other room (right, first floor) are cases containing Assyrian and Babylonian cones and Hittite inscriptions, including the famous record of Sennacherib's expedition against Hezekiah. There is also a less interesting collection of Egyptian antiquities, and, of course, several mummies. The ground floor contains the splendid collection of sarcophagi, superior to any in the world. They form an uninterrupted series from the Ionic art to that of the Byzantines. The most ancient are the three sarcophagi of terra-cotta from Clazomene, near Smyrna, which with the two at the Louvre are the only complete monuments of the archaic period. Greek art of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. is represented by the famous sarcophagi found at Sidon, known as the Satrap, the Mourners, Alexander's and the Lycian. To the 335 same centuries and the third belong a considerable number of sarcophagi. The Greco-Roman style is represented by two sarcophagi which represent the story of Hippolytus. Of the many Byzantine sarcophagi—to which ought certainly to be added those now outside S. Irene—the most beautiful, besides those called after Constantine and S. Helena his mother, is the No. 100 with the monogram of Christ.

The most splendid part of the collection is that which was unearthed in Phœnicia and chiefly near Sidon by Hamdy Bey from 1887 onwards. The Satrap—representing an oriental potentate in life and in death—is of Parian marble, and was originally painted, and is in the Ionian style. Close by it was found the beautiful Mourners, an exquisite series of weeping women, which belongs to Attic art. The glorious "sarcophagus of Alexander," which represents the Macedonian fighting with the Persians, and hunting, is alone worth a visit to Constantinople to see. It is the work of a contemporary of Lysippus, fourth century B.C., and is one of the very finest examples we possess of ancient art. There is another sarcophagus which evidently copies the frieze of the Parthenon.

Then there is the Egyptian-like tomb of Tabnith, King of Sidon. But it would be absurd to try and describe, or still more to criticise, these splendid examples of ancient art in a little book like mine. The excellent catalogues sold at the museum are well worth buying. Here and in Chinili Kiosk, the oldest piece of Turkish house-building in Constantinople, which contains the rest of the collection, are treasures of every period of art. Among the inscriptions are the famous stele from the temple of Jerusalem, and the Siloam inscription. There are exquisite examples of ancient glass and pottery and bronzes, among them the head of one of the serpents from the column. Among 336 the statues are the great Hadrian from Crete, and the head and torso of Apollo, and the Nero, both from Tralles. There are two curious pieces of mosaic, but otherwise very little that is of late Byzantine work.

The museum, with its treasures scattered about the rooms and in the gardens, as yet hardly half known and studied as they deserve, may not unfitly serve to represent the endless interests of the great city, its associations with every phase of the historic life of East and West. But the fascination of the imperial city which lies "betwixt two seas" lies in something besides her history. And the poets have known it.

"Dans un baiser, l'onde au rivage

Dit ses douleurs;

Pour consoler la fleur sauvage,

L'aube a des pleurs;

Le vent du soir conte sa plainte

Au vieux cyprès,

La tourterelle au térébinthe

Ses longs regrets.

"Aux flots dormants, quand tout repose,

Hors la douleur,

La lune parle, et dit la cause

De sa pâleur.

Ton dôme blanc, Sainte-Sophie,

Parle au ciel bleu,

Et, tout rêveur, le ciel confie

Son rêve à Dieu.

"Arbre ou tombeau, colombe ou rose,

Onde ou rocher,

Tout, ici-bas, a quelque chose

Pour s'épancher ...

Moi, je suis seule, et rien au monde

Ne me répond,

Rien que ta voix morne et profonde,

Sombre Hellespont!"


The Carving is copied from the Frieze of the Parthenon



  • K
  • Kuprili, Viziers, the, 186-188.
  • N
  • Nika insurrection, 31, 32, 276.
  • O
  • Obelisk of Theodosius, 323, 324.
  • Oman, Mr C. W., 143.
  • T
  • Top-haneh, 109, 144, 185, 304, 317, 318.
  • Türbeh at Eyûb, 289.
  • —— of Mahmûd the Reformer, 305, 306.
  • —— of Mohammed the Conqueror, 295.
  • —— of Roxelana, 170, 297.
  • —— of Selim II., 307.
  • —— of Suleiman, 296, 297.
  • Turks, first appearance in history, 130.
  • V
  • Varangians, 90, 91.
  • Z
  • Zachariah of Mitylene, 34.


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[1] This was close to where is now the Kutchuk Aya Sofia (church of S. Sergius and S. Bacchus).

[2] Van Millingen, "Walls of Constantinople," p. 41.

[3] Themistius, Oratio xviii., quoted by Van Millingen, p. 42.

[4] Van Millingen, pp. 44, 45.

[5] Van Millingen, p. 46.

[6] The very interesting little book of M. Antonin Debidour, L'Impératrice Théodora (1885), should be read by all who are attracted by the wonderful career of this extraordinary Empress.

[7] Church of the Sixth Century, pp. 259, 260.

[8] Byzant. Zeitschrift, i. 69.

[9] See Curtis, Broken Bits of Byzantium, ii. 54, 56.

[10] Later Roman Empire, ii. 352.

[11] Vol. ii., p. 423.

[12] The Church and the Eastern Empire, pp. 106-108.

[13] Vol. ii., p. 446.

[14] Vol. ii., pp. 497-498.

[15] Van Millingen, p. 168.

[16] History of Greece, vol. ii., p. 191.

[17] Gibbon, vol. v., pp. 525, appendix II., a most important and thorough investigation of a very interesting period of legal history.

[18] On Nicephorus Phocas see the brilliant book of M. Schlumberger, "Un Empereur Byzantin au Xième Siècle."

[19] In modern times the greeting of a bishop at his entrance by a special anthem is still retained in the Greek Church; as also the greeting of cardinals when they enter S. Peter's—"Ecce sacerdos" etc.

[20] The first part of the reign of these sovereigns, and the reign of John Tzimisces, are described with abundance of illustrative detail in M. Schlumberger's charming book, "L'Epopée byzantine à la fin du dixième siècle."

[21] "History of Greece," vol. iii., p. 4.

[22] This was the suburb named after the church of SS. Cosmas and Damian. The monastery was fortified, and stood on the top of the hill overlooking the Golden Horn. It was granted by Alexius to Bohemond.

[23] His reign was really only a little over twenty-four years and a half.

[24] Van Millingen, Walls of Constantinople, p. 157.

[25] Pean, Conquest of Constantinople, p. 403.

[26] There are many different estimates given by the different writers. La Jonquière, perhaps the latest, decides on 200,000 (p. 158).

[27] M. Mijatovich in his "Constantine the last Emperor of the Greeks," gives a vivid account of the siege, but he is far from accurate in dealing with the topography.

[28] Mr Oman, History of the Art of War, Middle Ages, pp. 526-7, speaks of three walls; but the scarp was quite low, and there were only two walls behind it.

[29] There is much dispute as to the route taken by the ships and as to almost every point connected with the passage. I would only say that it seems to me that the view of Professor Van Millingen, which I have followed in the text, is the most satisfactory.

[30] Quoted by M. Chedomil Mijatovich, from a Slavonic MS.

[31] See Van Millingen, pp. 89 and 99.

[32] The icons were hewn down, the ornaments everywhere torn off, the altar stripped of its coverings, the lamps and sacred vessels stolen; everything, says Ducas, of silver and gold or other precious substance was taken away, and the church was left naked and desolate.

[33] These are Finlay's figures.

[34] Sandys' Travels, pp. 48, 49, ed. 1627.

[35] The form "Sultana" is only a Western one. The Turks use the word Sultan for both sexes, placing it after the name in the case of a female.

[36] Quoted by Ranke, Ottoman and Spanish monarchies [Eng. trans.], p. 12.

[37] Ranke, quoting Barbaro, the Venetian ambassador.

[38] Finlay, vol. v. p. 92. See Von Hammer, viii. 134, 317.

[39] Ranke, p. 25.

[40] Pp. 31-32.

[41] Travels, vol. ii., pp. 127-128.

[42] Constantinople in 1828, by C. MacFarlane, p. 306.

[43] Life of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, by Stanley Lane Poole, 1 volume edition, p. 18.

[44] "Life of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe," by Stanley Lane Poole, 1 volume edition, p. 19.

[45] Life, pp. 137-138.

[46] Life, p. 139.

[47] Life, pp. 164-165.

[48] See the correspondence respecting the rights and privileges of the Latin and Greek Churches in Turkey, presented to Parliament 1854.

[49] Eothen, pp. 30, 31.

[50] Pears, Conquest of Constantinople.

[51] See especially "Les Débuts du Monachisme à Constantinople" (Pargoire) in Revue des questions historiques, Jan. 1899, pp. 133, sqq.

[52] In 1896 and 1899 application was made on my behalf by the British Ambassador; on the last occasion the Sultan granted an irardé.

[53] This can be reached from the Hippodrome by a road going southwards, and easy to find.

[54] Aedif. I. i.—The translation here used is that of Mr Aubrey Stewart, published by the Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society, with alterations by the late Mr Harold Swainson, as published in the admirable work of Mr W. R. Lethaby and himself, Sancta Sophia, Constantinople, a Study of Byzantine Building, 1894 (pp. 24-29). Messrs Lethaby and Swainson insert explanatory divisions of the description, thus 'The Apse,' etc. I have inserted the Greek words where they have transliterated them, and made an occasional slight alteration. The value of Messrs Lethaby and Swainson's work as an architectural translation is great.

[55] Evagrius, Hist. Eccl., iv. 31.

[56] It may be read in Migne's Patrologia Græca, lxxxvi. (2), and in the translation in Messrs Lethaby and Swainson's book.

[57] Quoted from Lethaby and Swainson, p. 45.

[58] Kraus, Geschichte der Christlichen Kunst, i. 361, 362.

[59] See Lethaby and Swainson, pp. 21 and sqq.

[60] See Lethaby and Swainson.

[61] Murray's "Guide" gives a complete list of the subjects.

[62] Inscription formerly on the outer wall between the fourth and fifth towers south of the Golden Gate.

[63] These figures, and all the others, came from Professor Van Millingen's exhaustive book.

[64] I.e. where the Mihrab shows the direction of Mecca.

[65] It is simply that of an English clergyman with high waistcoat and straight collar—and a fez!

[66] Church of the Sixth Century, pp. 298-301.

[67] Forchheimer and Strygowski (quoted by Lethaby and Swainson, p. 248).

[68] De Ædif., i. 11.

[69] Grosvenor, Constantinople, vol. i., p. 399.

[70] Ball's Translations, 1729, pp. 147-8.

[71] De Aedif., i. 4.

[72] Walls of Constantinople, pp. 109, 110.

[73] I must here admit that in the Church of the Sixth Century I wrongly suggested that these lions came from outside S. Sophia. Further study convinced me of my error.

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