Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/111

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Albanian state; perhaps they were encouraged by the fame and success of Scanderbeg. But there was no Scanderbeg among them to unite and keep them together; they could not agree upon a leader of their own race; and they selected Manuel Cantacuzenus (a noble, of the family which had given an emperor to the East-Roman throne) who was now ruling informally over the hillsmen of Maina in Taygetus. He adopted the Albanian name of Ghin, and placed himself at the head of the insurgents. By themselves the despots would have been unable to hold out in their strong places; but they appealed to Mohammad, to whom after the fall of Constantinople they had become tributary; and, when the governor of Thessaly marched into the peninsula, the rebels sued for peace (1454). The Albanians received favourable terms; for it was Ottoman policy to preserve them as a make-weight to the Greeks. But the Morea was far from being tranquillised. Four years later Mohammad in person led an army thither to restore order, and captured and garrisoned the Aero-Corinth. The enmity of the two brothers Palaeologus led to new miseries. They took up arms against one another, Thomas posing as the champion of Christendom against the Turks; and Mohammad decided that an end must be made of Greek rule in the Peloponnese. In 1460 he descended for the second time, and he did not hold his hand when policy urged cruelty. Thus when the indwellers of Leondari (a place on the northern extremity of Taygetus, overlooking Megalopolis) abandoned their town and took refuge in the hills in the citadel of Gardiki—an ill-omened place where thirty-seven years before Turakhan had built pyramids of Albanian heads (1423)—Mohammad followed the luckless people to this sequestered fort, and on their surrender they were all gathered together and slain, six thousand of them. At Calavryta a renegade Albanian chief who had been in Turkish service was sawn in two. Here and elsewhere thousands were reduced to slavery. Demetrius had submitted without a blow at Mistra; Thomas fled to Corfu and ended his life at Rome as a pensioner of the Pope. It was thus that the Morea became perhaps the most miserable province in the Turkish realm; nor can there be any doubt but that Mohammad deliberately intended this to be its fate. He unpeopled and desolated it, so that it might present no allurements to a foreign invader and have no spirit to be restless. Six maritime places still belonged to Venice:—Argos, Nauplia and Thermisi in the east, and Coron, Modon and Navarino in the west, to which we must add Aegina. The little town of Monemvasia, which Frankish speech corrupted to Malvoisy, on the rocky east coast of Laconia, held out for four years, in the name of Thomas Palaeologus, and then placed itself under the protection of Venice (1464).

The withdrawal of Genoa from the field, and the conquest of the Morea and Bosnia, followed by the death of Scanderbeg, devolved the whole defence of the coasts of the Illyrian peninsula and the Aegean