Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/121

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the first great Mohammadan sovereign of whose outward appearance we have such evidence. The pale, bearded face, set on a short, thick neck, was marked by a broad forehead, raised eyebrows, and an eagle nose.

The situation and prospects of the Ottoman empire seemed changed on the death of the conqueror. The prosperity and growth of that empire depended wholly on the personality of the autocrat who ruled it; and the two sons whom Mohammad left behind were made in a different mould from their vigorous father. Bayazid the elder, who was governor of the province of Amasia, was a man of mild nature who cared for the arts of peace, and would have been well contented to rest upon the conquests which had been already achieved, and to enjoy the fruits of the labours of his fathers. Jem, governor of Caramania, was a bright, clever youth, endowed with a distinguished poetical talent; he might easily have been lured into a career of military ambition, but perhaps he hardly possessed the strength and steadfastness necessary for success. When Bayazid reached Constantinople, on the news of his father's death, he found that the Janissaries had begun a reign of terror in the city. They had slain the Grand Vezir, who, being disposed to espouse the cause of Jem, had, according to a common practice in such cases, concealed the Sultan's death; and they had plundered the habitations of the Jews and Christians. They favoured the claims of Bayazid, and were tranquillised when they had exacted from him a pardon for their outbreak and an increase of their pay. Meanwhile Jem—who claimed the throne on the ground that, though the younger, he was born in the purple—had advanced to Brusa, and was there proclaimed Sultan. But he was willing to compromise. Through his great-aunt he made a proposal to Bayazid that they should divide the empire—Bayazid to rule in Europe, and he in Asia. The question at stake was not merely a personal one, the extent of Bayazid's sovereignty, but the integrity and power of the Ottoman empire. Moreover, it involved a direct violation of one of the fundamental canons of Islam: that there shall be only one supreme Imam. Bayazid's decision accordingly influenced the history of the world. He refused to accept Jem's offer; "the empire," he said, "is the bride of one lord." The rival claims were settled by the award of battle in the plains of Yenishehr, where the treachery of some of Jem's troops gave the victory to Bayazid. The defeated brother fled to Cairo, and his attempt in the following year to seize Caramania in conjunction with an exiled prince of that country was repelled. Then he sought refuge at Rhodes; his chances of success lay in the help of the Christian powers of Europe.

Jem arrived at Rhodes under a safe-conduct from the Grand-Master and the Council of the Knights, permitting him and his suite to remain in the island and leave it at their will. But it was soon felt that it