Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/129

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statesman; but his mind was well balanced; he felt none of Selim's grim delight in war and butchery. Perhaps no contemporary sovereign in Christendom was so unfeignedly desirous or so sincerely resolute to administer evenhanded justice as Solyman. His reign began without bloodshed; he was lucky enough to have no brother or nephew to remove; the only trouble was a rebellion in Syria, which was promptly crushed.

The wave which had flowed eastward under Selim turns westward again under Solyman. He had been viceroy in Europe during his father's absence in the orient, and he had occasion to observe the intolerable situation on the north-western frontier, where there was continuous friction with the Hungarian kingdom. On this side he could not feel safe, so long as the key-fortresses of Belgrade and Szabacs were in the hands of the Hungarians; these places must be captured whether as a base for further advance or as the bulwarks of a permanent frontier. Envoys were sent to King Louis demanding tribute; he replied by murdering the envoys. When this news arrived, the Sultan's thought was to march straight on Buda; but his military advisers pointed out that he could not leave Szabacs in his rear. The operations on the Save were protracted during the whole summer (1521). Szabacs was taken under the eye of the Sultan himself, and a few days later Semlin was captured by his generals. But Solyman was compelled to recognise that Belgrade must also be secured, and after a difficult siege it was taken, through treachery. Solyman kept a diary of the campaign so that we can read his doings day by day. Other fortresses, such as Slankamen and Mitrovic, fell into his hands; and thus the gates of Hungary were fully unlocked, whenever he chose to pass in. As yet he did not press on to Buda. A more urgent task lay before him in another quarter,—the conquest of Rhodes.

Where Mohammad had failed, his great-grandson was to succeed. Belgrade had fallen, Rhodes was now to fall. The pirate-ships of the Rhodian Knights were a pest to the eastern waters of the archipelago and the Asiatic coasts; and not only was it imperative for the Sultan that his line of communication with Egypt should be cleared of the corsair nest, but it was in the interest of public order that the island should be annexed to the Turkish realm. The lords of Rhodes had to depend entirely on themselves, without aid from the west. The first principle of Venetian policy at this time was to keep on good terms with the Turk. The Signory had congratulated Selim on his conquests, and had transferred to him the tribute for Cyprus previously paid by them to the Sultan of Egypt. They had congratulated Solyman on his accession, and of all foreigners they had the most advantageous commercial position in the Ottoman realm. They were therefore careful to lend no countenance to Rhodes. In summer 1522 the main army of the Turks under Solyman himself marched across Asia Minor to the Carian coast, and a fleet of about 300 ships carried select troops. In all, the Turkish