Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/114

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sect" of Mohammad. For three and a half years he wrought and hoped, but with all his efforts could do no more than send a few ducats to Scanderbeg, or float a few galleys to harass the shores of the eastern Aegean. He was succeeded by Aeneas Sylvius, under the name of Pius II (August, 1458). While the West had been talking, Mohammad had been advancing; and in a great Council, assembled with much trouble at Mantua (1459), Pius said: "Each of his victories is the path to a new victory; he will conquer the kings of the West, abolish the Gospel, and ultimately impose the law of Mohammad on all peoples." The insincere attitude of the Venetians frustrated any results that might have been brought about by the assembly at Mantua. These fruitless diets and councils are a dull and dead page in history; but they represent the efforts of the European states to discuss the same Eastern Question which we have seen them deal with in our own day at the Congress of Berlin.

One of the most obvious policies for the western enemies of Mohammad was to enter into communication with his enemies in the orient and attempt to concert some common action. Such negotiations had been set on foot by Popes Nicholas and Calixtus. The last two sovereigns of the dynasty of the Grand Comneni of Trebizond, who were now the representatives of the Roman Empire, John IV and David, had endeavoured to organise an alliance of the principalities of Asia Minor and Armenia, and to gain the support of Persia. It was upon Uzun Hasan, prince of the Turcomans of the White Sheep, that they above all relied. In 1459 David wrote to the Duke of Burgundy announcing the conclusion of such a league, and expressing the conviction that, if east and west were to strike together now, the Ottoman could be abolished from the earth. But the league availed not David, when two years later Mohammad came to destroy the empire of Trebizond (1461), and Uzun Hasan left him in the lurch. He surrendered on the offer of favourable treatment; but he was not more fortunate than the King of Bosnia; he and his family were afterwards put to death. At the same time Mohammad seized Genoese Amastris, and likewise Sinope, an independent Seljuk state; and thus he became master of the whole southern board of the Pontic sea.

It was about this time (1460) that Pope Pius indited a most curious letter to Mohammad, proposing that the Sultan should embrace Christianity, and become, under the patronage of the Roman see, "Emperor of the Greeks and the East." A little thing, he wrote, only a drop of water, will make you the greatest of mortals; be baptised, and without money, arms, or fleet, you will win the greatest lordship in Christendom. Had this chimerical proposal been seriously meant, it would argue in Aeneas an almost incredibly fanciful and unpractical mind; but, when we find that he himself composed Mohammad's answer, we may infer that the letter was written as a rhetorical exercise, and never intended to be sent.

The prospect looked brighter in 1463, when the breach at length came between Venice and the Sultan. An offensive and defensive alliance