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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

The fall of Byzantium

The policies of Byzantium in the fourteenth century


The Original Greek New Testament

The Turks. Toward the end of the reign of Andronicus the Younger the Turks were almost in complete control of Asia Minor. The eastern portion, of the Mediterranean and the Archipelago were continuously threatened by the vessels of Turkish pirates, both Ottomans and Seljuqs. The situation of the Christian population of the peninsula, coastlands, and islands became unbearable; trade died away. Turkish attacks on the Athonian monasteries forced one of the monks, Athanasius, to leave Athos and emigrate to Greece, to Thessaly, where he founded the famous monasteries in air, the weirdly fantastic Meteora, which crown the needle-like crags of the grim valley of Kalabaka. The king of Cyprus and the Master of the military order of the Hospitalers, or of St. John, who had held Rhodes since the beginning of the fourteenth century, besought the pope to rouse the western European states to take arms against the Turks. But the small relief expeditions which answered the papal appeals, though not altogether unsuccessful, could not accomplish much. The Turks were resolved to establish themselves firmly on the European coast; and this was facilitated by the civil war in the Empire, in which John Cantacuzene involved the Turks.

The first establishment of the Ottoman Turks in Europe is usually connected with the name of John Cantacuzene, who often called upon their support in his struggle with John Palaeologus. Cantacuzene even married his daughter to Sultan Orkhan. On the invitation of Cantacuzene the Turks as his allies devastated Thrace several times. Nicephorus Gregoras remarked that Cantacuzene hated the Romans as he loved the barbarians. It is quite possible that the first settlements of the Turks in the peninsula of Callipoli took place with the knowledge and consent of Cantacuzene. The same Byzantine historian wrote that while a Christian service was being celebrated in the imperial church, the Ottomans who had been admitted into the capital were dancing and singing near the palace, crying out in incomprehensible sounds the songs and hymns of Muhammed, and thereby attracting the crowd to listen to them rather than to the divine Gospels. To satisfy the financial claims of the Turks Cantacuzene even handed over to them the money sent from Russia by the Great Prince of Moscow, Simeon the Proud, for the restoration of the Church of St. Sophia, at that time in a state of decay.

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