Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/115

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was concluded between the Pope, Venice, and the King of Hungary; the Duke of Burgundy joined it. The co-operation of Venice seemed a security that business was meant at last. The Pope, though he was advanced in years, resolved to lead the Crusade himself; Ancona was appointed as the mustering-place; and thither streamed from all countries bands of poor and ill-furnished people, drawn by the hope of booty (1464). But neither the Venetian vessels which were to transport them to Greece, nor the princes who were to lead them, appeared; and Ancona and the whole country round about groaned under their excesses. When Pius arrived in June, he found but the remnant of a disbanded rabble; and, overcome with disappointment, this victim of an idea out of season fell ill and died.

Venice, unlike the Pope, was in contact with realities. The war had broken out in Greece by the Turkish capture of Argos, which a Greek priest betrayed. The Venetians laid siege to Corinth, and built a wall—the old "Six-mile" wall—across the Isthmus; and had they been directed by a brave and competent commander, they would have captured the key of the Morea. But, disheartened by defeat in some small engagements with Omar Pasha who had marched up from the south of the peninsula to raise the siege, they abandoned the defence of the Isthmus, before Mahmud Pasha, the grand vezir, arrived with an army from the north (1463). Their failure at this favourable tide put a term to their chances of recovering ground in the Peloponnesus. An ineffectual maritime war was prosecuted for the next six years (1464-9); and then the great blow to Venetian power was struck. At the beginning of June 1470 a fleet of 108 large galleys and nearly 200 small sail, commanded by Mahmud, set sail for the Euripus, and by land Mohammad himself led an army probably numbering about 80,000. The usual size of his armies seems to have been from 80,000 to 100,000, though they are generally set at far larger figures by the vanity of his defeated foes. The Sultan had resolved to rob Venice of her most valuable station, the strong fort of Chalcis or Egripos (which the Latins further corrupted to Negroponte, with an allusion to the bridge which connected it with the mainland). Against this great double armament Venice had nothing ready to oppose but the strength of the well-provisioned city's walls, the resolution of the inhabitants, and thirty-five galleys which were in the Aegean under Nicolò da Canale. This captain could not venture to guard the Straits against the far superior squadron; but, had he remained hard by, he might, it was thought, have effectually impeded Mohammad's construction of a bridge of boats from the mainland to the shore of the island. But he sailed away to beat up reinforcements in Crete. The siege operations lasted for four weeks. In a final storm Mohammad, apparently aided by treachery, took the city in the teeth of a desperate defence (July 12). All the Italians who survived the conflict were executed; the Greeks were enslaved. At this crisis Canale covered himself with shame. He