Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/128

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Moreover the wickedness and tyranny of an Imam would not necessitate or justify his deposition.

The brilliant conquests of Selim in the East alarmed the powers of the West; "returning powerful and proud," such a monarch as he was a terrible menace to Europe. Leo X had thrown himself with zeal into the project of a Crusade; for the experience of sixty years of futilities had not killed that idea. In 1517 he issued a bull imposing a truce of five years on Christendom, in order that the princes of Europe might march against the Infidels. His hopes rested chiefly on the young French King, Francis I, who, after the victory of Marignano, had met him at Bologna and discussed with him the Eastern Question. A letter of Francis, written soon after that interview, breathes the spirit of a knight-errant dedicating his youth and strength to a holy war. But though Francis was in earnest, religious enthusiasm was not his moving inspiration or his guiding idea. His project was that the three great powers of Europe—the Empire, France, and Spain—should conquer the Turkish realm and divide it amongst them in three equal parts. Thus the Eastern Question began to enter upon its modern phase—assuming a political rather than a religious aspect; and the significance of the oriental policy of Francis I was that he definitely formulated the doctrine, now a commonplace of politics, that Turkey is a spoil to be parted among the great powers of Europe. The new conception of the French King was indeed more likely to lead to practical results than had been the arguments of Aeneas Sylvius and his successors; and the Emperor Maximilian composed a memoir of suggestions on the conduct of the proposed war. But his death in 1519 changed the situation, disconcerting the plan of the European powers; and the favourable hour for a common enterprise against the Turk had passed. Men were indeed still painfully afraid of the designs of the formidable Sultan. The logic of geography determined that after the acquisition of Egypt the next enterprise of Selim should be the conquest of Rhodes, which lay right in the track of communication between Egypt and Constantinople. He made preparations accordingly for the destruction of the "dogs" of Rhodes. But when his fleet and army were ready, he was smitten down by the plague (September 21, 1520), having in his short reign done as much as any of the Sultans for the extension and prestige of the Ottoman empire.

On his death Europe, full of apprehensions for the fate of Rhodes, breathed securely; but the feeling of relief was premature. The rumour had spread that his son and successor was, in complete contrast to his father, of a quiet unaggressive nature, and might prove another Bayazid. But these auguries were ill-based; for the youth who mounted the throne was Solyman (Sulayman) the Lawgiver—known to the West as Solyman the Magnificent, in whose reign Turkey climbed to the summit of its power and glory. He was as strong as his father, a soldier as well as a