Mahomet Ii.

, the eleventh sultan of the Turks, born at Adrianople, the 24th of March, 1430, is to be remembered chiefly by us, for taking Constantinople in 1453, and thereby driving many learned Greeks into the West, which was a great cause of the restoration of learning in Europe, as the Greek literature was then introduced here. He was one of the greatest men upon record, with regard to the qualities necessary to a conqueror: and he conquered two empires, twelve kingdoms, and two hundred considerable cities. He was very ambitious of the title of Great, | which the Turks cave him, and even the Christians have not disputed it with him; for he was the first of the Ottoman emperors, whom tue Western nations dignified with the title of Grand Seignior, or Great Turk, which posterity has preserved to his descendants. Italy had suffered greater calamities, but she had never felt a terror equal to that which this sultan’s victories imprinted. The inhabitants seemed already condemned to wear the turban; it is certain that pope Sixtus IV. represented to himself Rome as already involved in the dreadful fate of Constantinople; and thought of nothing but escaping into Provence, and once more transferring the holy see to Avignon. Accordingly, the news of Mahomet’s death, which happened the ad of Mav, 1481, was received at Rome with the greitest joy that ever was beheld there. Sixtus caused all the churches to be thrown open, made the trades-peopld leave off their work, ordered a feast of three days, with. public prayers and processions, commanded a discharge of the whole artillery of the castle of St. Angelo all that time, and put a stop to his journey to Avignon. Some authors have written that tbis sultan was an atheist, and derided all religions, without excepting that of his prophet, whom he treated as no better than a leader of banditti. This is possible enough; and there are many circumstances which make it credible It is certain he engaged in war, not to promote Mahometism, but to gratify his own ambition: he preferred his own interest to that of the faith he professed; and to this it was owing that he tolerated the Greek church, and even shewed wonderful civility to the patriarch of Constantinople. His epitaph deserves to be noted; the inscription consisted only of nine or ten Turkish words, thus translated: “I proposed to myself the conquest of Rhodes and proud Italy.

He appears to be the first sultan who was a lover of arts and sciences; and even cultivated polite letters. He often read the History of Augustus, and the other Caesars; and he perused those of Alexander, Constantine, and Theodosius, with more than ordinary pleasure, because these bad reigned in the same country with himself. He was fond of painting, music, and sculpture; and he applied himself to the study of agriculture. He was much addicted to astrology, and used to encourage his troops by giving out that the motion and influence of the heavenly bodies promised him the empire of the world. Contrary to the genius | of his country, he delighted so much in the knowledge of foreign languages, that he not only spoke the Arabian, to which the Turkish laws, and the religion of their legislator Mahomet are appropriated, but also the Persian, the Greek, and the French, that is, the corrupted Italian. Landin, a knight of Rhodes, collected several letters which this sultan wrote in the Syriac, Greek, and Turkish languages, and translated them into Latin. Where the originals are is not known; but the translation has been published several times; as at Lyons, 1520, in 4to; at Basil, 1554, 12mo, in a collection published by Oporinus; at Marpurgh, 1604, in 8vo, and at Leipsic, 1690, in 12mo. Melchior Junius, professor of eloquence at Strasburg, published at Montbeliard, 1595, a collection of letters, in which there are three written by Mahomet II. to Scanderbeg. One cannot discover the least air of Turkish ferocity in these letters: they are written in as civil terms as the most polite prince in Christendom could have used. 1


Guillet Hist, de Mahomet II, Universal Hist. Gibbon.