First Turkish Dominion In Europe, Turks Seize Gallipoli
Author: Hammer-Purgstall, Joseph Von
Translation: Leonard-Stuart, Charles

First Turkish Dominion In Europe, Turks Seize Gallipoli

1354

During the early years of the fourteenth century a new Mahometan realm
was established on the ruins of the Seljukian and Byzantine power in Asia
Minor. Osman, ^1 or Othman, the founder of this realm, which is regarded as
the original Ottoman empire, subdued a great part of Asia Minor, and in the
year of his death 1326, his son Orkhan captured Prusa (now Brusa) and
Nicomedia. In 1330 he took Nicaea - then second only to Constantinople in the
Greek or Byzantine empire - and six years later he defeated the Turkish Prince
of Karasi, the ancient Mysia, and annexed his territory, including the
capital, Berghama, the ancient Pergamus, to the Ottoman dominions, thus
securing nearly the whole of Northwestern Asia Minor.

[Footnote 1: Osman is the real Turkish name, which has been corrupted into
Othman. The descendants of his subjects style themselves Osmanlis - corrupted
into Ottoman.]

During the reign of Orkhan the Ottomans made frequent passages of the
Hellespont for the purpose of extending their power into Europe. After
fifteen invasions without any permanent conquest, in 1354 Orkhan and his son
Suleiman perceived an opportunity by which they prepared themselves to profit
- civil war was raging in the Byzantine empire, where John Palaeologus was
striving to deprive the emperor Cantacuzenus of his throne.

The plan whereby the Ottoman secured a foothold in Europe which soon
enabled them to establish a permanent sovereignty on the peninsula of
Gallipoli was executed by Suleiman with a military skill which gave his name a
conspicuous place in Turkish history.

On the meridional shore of the Sea of Marmora, at the entrance of the
Hellespont, is perceived the peninsula of Kapoutaghi - the ancient, almost
insular Cyzicus, a Milesian colony. At the neck of the isthmus, where it
joins the mainland, there where are seen to-day the ruins of Aidindjik,
formerly arose Cyzicus, a city celebrated in the history of Persia and of
Rome, of ancient Greece and of the Byzantine empire. This port, one of the
most commercial of the Asiatic coast, possessed, like Rhodes, Marseilles, and
Carthage, two military arsenals and an immense granary, each placed under the
special superintendence of an architect. The annals of this town have been
enriched by the passage of the Argonauts and of the Goths, by the siege of
Mithridates and by the assistance received from the Romans under the
leadership of Lucullus.

Granted its freedom by the latter as a reward for its fidelity, Cyzicus
was shortly afterward deprived of its privileges for having neglected the
service of the temple of Augustus. Under the Byzantines it became the capital
of the province of Hellespont and the metropolitan see of Mysia and of all the
territory of Troy. On Mount Dyndimos, at the gates of Cyzicus, arose the
temple of the great mother, the goddess Ida, whose worship had been
established by the Argonauts, and who was venerated at Cyzicus as at
Pessinunte, in the form of an aerolite, a sacred stone, which under the reign
of King Attalus was carried to Rome, and installed in the city by all the
matrons, preceded by Scipio the Younger. The inhabitants of the peninsula
adored also Cybele, Proserpine, and Jupiter, who, according to a fabulous
tradition, had given the town of Cyzicus to the wife of Pluto, as dower.
Emperor Hadrian embellished this town with the largest and the finest of the
temples of paganism. The columns of this edifice, all of one piece, were four
ells (fifteen and one-half feet) in circumference and fifty ells (one hundred
and ninety-five feet) in height.

In 1354 Suleiman, the son of Orkhan, Governor of ancient Mysia, a
province recently conquered by the Turks, was seized with admiration by the
aspect of the majestic ruins of Cyzicus. The broken columns, the marbles
prone on the sward, recalled to him the ruins of the palace of the Queen of
Saba Balkis, erected by the order of Solomon, the remains of Istakhr
(Persepolis), and of Tadmor (Palmyra). One evening when seated by the
sea-shore, he saw, by the light of the moon (Aidindjik, the crescent moon),
the porticoes and peristyles reflected in the waves. Clouds passed along the
surface of the sea, and he imagined that he saw these ruined palaces and
temples arise from the deep, and a fleet navigate the waters. Around him
arose mysterious voices whose sound mingled with the murmur of the waves,
while the moon, which at this moment shone in the east, seemed to unite Asia
and Europe by a silver ribbon. It was she who, emerging formerly from the
bosom of Edebali, ^1 had come to hide herself in that of Osman. The
remembrance of the fantastic vision, which had presaged a universal domination
to his ancestor, inflamed the courage of Suleiman, and made him resolve to
unite Europe and Asia by transporting the Ottoman power from the shores of
Asia Minor to the strands of the Greek empire, and thus to realize the dream
of Osman.

[Footnote 1: Edebali, a Mussulman prophet and saint, whose daughter Osman
married.]

Suleiman consulted immediately with Adjebeg, Ghazi-Fazil, Ewrenos, and
Hadji-Ilbeki, ancient vizier of the Prince of Karasi, who had been his
assistants in the government of Mysia. All confirmed him in his resolution.
Adjebeg and Ghazi-Fazil the same night went to Gouroudjouk and took ship to
make a reconnaissance in the environs of Tzympe, situated a league and a half
from Gallipoli, opposite Gouroudjouk. A Greek prisoner whom they brought with
them to Asia informed Suleiman of the abandoned and unprepared state of the
place, and offered himself as a guide to surprise the garrison. Suleiman
immediately had two rafts constructed of trees united by thongs of bull skins,
and made the attempt the following night, with thirty-nine of his most
intrepid companions in arms. Arrived before the fortress, they scaled the
walls by mounting on an immense dung-heap, and took possession of it easily,
owing to the inhabitants being all absent in the fields engaged in harvesting.
Suleiman then hastened to send to Asia all the ships which he found in the
port, to transport soldiers to Tzympe; and three days after, the fortress
contained a garrison of three thousand Ottomans.

In the mean while Cantacuzenus, unable to resist any longer the forces
assembled against him by his young rival, John Palaeologus, asked the
assistance of Orkhan. Orkhan sent him the conqueror of Tzympe, an auxiliary
whose support later became more troublesome to the Emperor than it was useful
against his enemy. Ten thousand Turkish cavaliers disembarked near Ainos, at
the embouchure of Maritza (Hebrus), defeated the auxiliary troops which John
Palaeologus had drawn from Moesia and from the Triballiens, ravaged Bulgaria,
and repassed into Asia, loaded with spoil.

Cantacuzenus, more at his ease after the departure of the conquering
horde, negotiated with Suleiman the ransom of Tzympe. Scarcely had he sent
the ten thousand ducats agreed upon, when a commissary of the Ottoman Prince
arrived bringing him the keys; but at the same time a terrific earthquake
devastated the towns on the Thracian coasts. The inhabitants who did not find
death in the destruction of their dwellings went with the garrisons to seek
refuge against the destroying scourge and the barbarity of the Turks in the
towns and the castles which the catastrophe had spared. But torrents of rain,
snow, and a glacial temperature killed the women and the children on the road.
As to the men, they fell into the power of Orkhan's soldiers, who were
awaiting their passage. Thus the Ottomans found a powerful auxiliary in the
warring elements. From that time they believed that God himself favored their
projects. Adjebeg and Ghazi-Fazil, whom Suleiman had left in front of
Gallipoli, penetrated into that town by the large breaches that the earthquake
had made in the walls, and took possession of it, owing to the confusion which
reigned among the inhabitants.

Gallipoli, the key of the Hellespont, the commercial entrepot of the
Black Sea and of the Mediterranean, is celebrated in history by the siege that
it sustained against Philip of Macedon, and by the revolt of the Catalans or
Mogabars who, half a century before the disaster, braved with impunity the
power of the Greek Emperor and made it the centre of their piracies. The
tombs of the two Ottoman chiefs are still seen to-day. These two mausoleums
are much visited by Mussulman pilgrims, and the reason of this pious
veneration is due to the fact that here in this sacred place lie the ashes of
the two generations to whom the Ottoman empire owes the conquest of a town,
the possession of which facilitated the passing of the Turks into Europe. For
the same reason all the surrounding country, which, during the blockade of the
town, Adjebeg and his lieutenant Ghazi-Fazil had put to fire and sword,
received the name of Adje Owa. The two beys, taking advantage of the terror
caused by so many disasters, penetrated into the deserted towns and
established themselves.

On the news of these conquests Suleiman, who then was at Bigha (Pegae),
refused to restore Tzympe, and, far from being contended with the peaceful
possession of the territory invaded by his hordes, dreamed of extending the
boundaries, and for this purpose sent over to Europe numerous colonies of
Turks and Arabs. One of his first cares was to raise the walls of Gallipoli
and other strong places devastated by the earthquake; among the number were
Konour, whose commander, called Calaconia by the Ottoman historians, was
hanged by order of Suleiman at the doors of the castle; the fort of Boulair,
before which Suleiman received, as a presage of his future glory, the bonnet
of a dervish Mewlewi; Malgara, renowned for its trade in honey; Ipsala
(ancient Cypsella) on the Marizza; and lastly Rodosto, now Tekourtaghi,
ancient residence of Besus, King of Thrace, and the place of exile where died
in modern times the Hungarian Francis Rakoczy, Prince of Transylvania, and his
partisans. All these towns and strong places fell into the power of the
Ottomans in the course of the year 1357; they served them as starting-bases
for their excursions, which they pushed as far as Hireboli (Chariupolis) and
Tschorli (Tzurulum).

Cantacuzenus, too weak to stop the progress of the Turks, complained of
this violation of the peace. Orkhan excused his son, saying that it was not
force of arms which had opened the gates of the towns of the Greek empire, but
the divine will manifested by the earthquake. The Emperor made
representations that he was not agitating to know whether it was by the gates
or by the breaches that Suleiman had penetrated into the places in question,
but whether or not he possessed them legitimately. Orkhan then asked a delay
for reflection, and subsequently promised that he would request his son to
return the towns that he occupied, if Cantacuzenus, on his side, would engage
to pay him a sum of forty thousand ducats. At the same time he invited him to
an interview to meet Suleiman on the Gulf of Nicomedia. But the Sultan
pretending to be ill, the Emperor returned to Byzantium, without having
obtained anything.

Orkhan now found himself in one of the happiest of political situations.
The division of sovereign authority between Cantacuzenus and his pupil John
Palaeologus, and their continual wars, allowed him to address one or the other
according as his interests and the circumstances demanded. It was thus that
John Palaeologus, ally of the Genoese, undertook to deliver from captivity to
Phoceus, the son of Orkhan, Khalil or Kasim, whom the governor Calothes
surrendered for a ransom of one hundred thousand pieces of gold and the
concession of the glorious title of Panhypersebastos ("very venerable"). The
service that John had rendered did not prevent Orkhan from sending to Abydos a
body of troops to rescue the son of Cantacuzenus, Mathias, then at war with
the Bulgarians.

From the epoch when the Ottomans made durable conquests in the Greek
empire, Asia each spring threw new hordes into Europe, until the time when the
successors of Orkhan had extended their domination from the shores of the Sea
of Marmora to those of the Danube.

The conquest of Gallipoli, which had opened the gate of the Greek empire
and the whole of the European continent to the Ottomans, was announced by
"letters of victory" to the neighboring princes of Orkhan, whose father had
divided with Osman the heritage of the Seljukian sultans. The use of these
"letters of victory" has been preserved to this day in Turkey, and their
style, already so pompous in the days of Orkhan, has become so proudly
emphatic that this kind of document to-day is not the least curious of those
which belong to the annals of the Turkish nation.

Orkhan left to his son, Suleiman Pacha, and Hadji-Ilbeki the charge of
preserving the conquests made in Europe; Suleiman established his residence at
Gallipoli, and Ilbeki at Konour. The first overran the country as far as
Demitoka; the second as far as Tschorli and Hireboli. Adjebeg received in
fief the valley which still bears his name.

But Suleiman enjoyed for only a few years the fruits of his conquests.
One day while hunting wild geese between Boulair and Sidi-Kawak, that is to
say near the palatine of the Cid, and following at a gallop the flight of his
falcon, he fell so violently from his horse (1359) as to be instantly killed.
His body was deposited, not in the mausoleum of the Osman family at Prusa,
where he had caused a mosque to be erected in the quarter of the
confectioners, but near the mosque of Boulair, also founded by him. Orkhan,
to perpetuate the exploits of his son, caused a tomb to be built to his memory
on the shore of the Hellespont, the only one which, during more than a
century, was erected in memory of an Ottoman prince on Greek soil. Of all the
sepulchres of Turkish heroes which the national historians mention with holy
respect, that of the founder of the Ottoman power in Europe is the most
venerated and the most frequented by pilgrims. It is still to be seen to the
north of the embouchure of the Hellespont.

Tradition attributes yet another victory to Suleiman after his death. At
the head of a troop of celestial heroes, mounted on white horses, encircled by
a brilliant aureole, he is said to have vanquished an army of infidels. The
love of the marvellous, so general among orientals, the leaning which all
people have to make heaven intervene in the deeds relating to their origin,
alone can explain this tradition, for it would be useless to seek any historic
fact which could have given it birth. According to this tradition, thirty
thousand Christians appeared in the Hellespont on a fleet of sixty-one
vessels; one half disembarked at Touzla and the other at Sidi-Kawak; it was
this latter body which was cut in pieces by the celestial troop led by
Suleiman. The Ottoman historians who relate this miracle have evidently
borrowed the apparition of these vessels from the First or the Second Crusade
of the Europeans against the Turks, and have transported them from the waters
of Smyrna to those of Gallipoli, for the greater glory of Suleiman Pacha.
Neither the history of Byzantium nor that of the crusades offers the slightest
trace of this event.
 

 

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