Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/123

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from the vexations of this life and send him to a better world. For the dead body of the prince he promised 300,000 ducats, with which the Pope might buy estates for his sons. Charles VIII advanced to Rome, and the terms which he made with Alexander VI comprised the transference of Jem into his own power. Jem accompanied the King southward, but he was in ailing health, and at Capua became so ill that he could go no further. He was taken in a litter to Naples, and died there in high fever (February, 1495). The Venetians, who were the first to inform the Sultan of his brother's end, wrote in a pointed way that he had died a natural death; but, as it was their policy at this moment to keep on good terms with the Pope, this testimony does not weigh much in deciding the question whether, as was certainly believed at the time, Jem's health was undermined by a deliberate system of intoxication. The insufficiency of our material compels us to leave the question open; but the circumstances are at least suspicious, and in any case the French were innocent.

Thus for thirteen years the western powers held Jem as a menace over the head of the Turkish Sultan; but this singular episode did not affect the course of Turkish history. A second ruler like Bayazid, Machiavelli thought, would have rendered the Ottoman power innocuous to Europe. The temper of the man was displayed at once not only by the abandonment of the Rhodian expedition, but by a reduction of tribute granted to Ragusa, and by a modification in Venice's favour of the treaty which had recently been concluded with that republic (1482). His reign was marked indeed by raids on Croatia and the Dalmatian coast, by intermittent hostilities with Hungary, by incursions into Moldavia and even into Poland; but the only serious war was with Venice, which broke out in 1499 after twenty years of peace. In that interval the republic had acquired the island of Cyprus (1489) and extended her influence in the Aegean, and the Sultan at last deemed it time to check her course. Active naval preparations in the Turkish arsenals stirred the alarm of Venice; but the Porte lulled her suspicions by furnishing her envoy, Andrea Zancani, with a document which renewed and confirmed the peace. An experienced Venetian resident at Constantinople, Andrea Gritti by name, well acquainted with Turkish methods, pointed out to Zancani that the document was drawn up in Latin, not in Turkish, and was therefore not considered binding by the Porte; but Zancani, unable to induce the Porte to give him a new deed in Turkish, omitted to explain the matter to the authorities at home. Gritti's surmises were true. Suddenly the Sultan threw him and all the other Venetians at Constantinople into prison, and presently sent forth a fleet of 270 sail. Its destination was Lepanto. It was intercepted by a Venetian squadron of about half that strength, hastily got together, off the coast of Messenia; but the brave seaman Antonio Loredano failed in his attack and perished himself. Besieged by land and sea, Lepanto