Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/105

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an envoy to Mohammad; and a treaty, which formed the basis of all subsequent negociations, was presently concluded. By it she secured freedom of trade for her merchants and the privilege of protecting Venetian settlers on Turkish soil by means of her own officers.

Hungary, then, was the only power that Mohammad, secure on the side of Venice, had immediately to fear. In the first month of 1454 the young and worthless King Ladislaus had assembled a diet at Buda and carried extraordinary measures for organising an army against the Turks. John Hunyady, appointed commander-in-chief, had a host ready to take the field in spring, when George Brankovic, the despot of Servia, arrived, suppliant for help, with the news that the Turk was advancing against his kingdom. Hunyady crossed the Danube and raided Turkish territory, while Mohammad beleaguered the Servian fortresses of Ostroviza and Semendra (Smederevo). He took Ostroviza, but Semendra—a stronghold of capital strategic importance for operations against Servia, Hungary, and Wallachia—was saved by the arrival of the Magyar general, and Mohammad retreated. A large detachment of the retreating army encountered Hunyady near Krusovac. No regular battle was fought; a panic seized the Turks and they were routed with slaughter. Hunyady completed his campaign by descending the Danube and reducing the Ottoman fortress of Widdin to ashes.

In the following year (1455) Mohammad—who claimed Servia through his step-mother, a Servian Princess—won a foothold in the south of the country by the capture of Novoberdo, with its important gold and silver mines; and he spent the next winter in making large and elaborate preparations for besieging Belgrade by land and water. The siege lasted three weeks in July, 1456, and hardly has a more brilliant feat been achieved in the course of the struggles between Europe and the Ottoman Turks than the relief of Belgrade by John Hunyady and his Magyar army. It was the second time that he saved this bulwark at the gates of Hungary. Pope Calixtus III had sent an able legate, Juan de Carvajal, to rally the people round the general in the holy cause; but it is a Minorite brother, John of Capistrano, who shares with Hunyady the glory of the triumph. The eloquence of this preacher, inspired with zeal against the misbeliever, could still move men's hearts to some faint semblance of that crusading fervour which had once strung Europe to madness. The greater part of the host which was collected was a tattered undisciplined rabble; but infinite patience and energy overcame all difficulties. With a few vessels Hunyady broke through the chain of barques by which Mohammad had barred the Save, and entered the besieged city. Though the defenders were far inferior in number and equipment, yet by valour and cunning they defeated all the efforts of the enemy and at last forced the whole army to retreat in confusion, and with tremendous losses, amounting to more than 50,000 killed and wounded, 300 guns, and 27 war-boats. In the first hour of delight the