Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/130

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army was about 200,000 strong, including 60,000 miners from Wallachia and Bosnia. The Grand-Master, L'Isle Adam, had made all possible preparations. An iron chain locked the harbour; and outside it a boom of timber floated from the windmill tower at the north-east point of the harbour to Fort St Nicholas, which stood at the end of a mole on the north-west side. The houses beyond the walls were demolished, to deprive the foe of shelter and supply stones for new defences. The precaution was taken of removing the slaves from the powdermills; freemen were set to work there day and night. The first great assault (in September) was repelled with such enormous loss, that Solyman resigned himself to the tactics of wearying the garrison out. In December, as the ammunition of the besieged was failing, the Grand-Master agreed to surrender. Free departure within ten days was conceded to all the Latin Knights; any who chose to remain in the island were to be free from taxes for five years, were not to be subject to the child-tribute, and were to enjoy free exercise of their religion. Hostages were exchanged, and Solyman withdrew his army some miles from the walls to allow the garrison to depart in peace. But it was hard to keep the Turkish troops under control, and on Christmas-day a body of soldiers burst in and sacked the city. The majority of the Knights sought refuge in Crete, to find eight years later an abiding home in Malta.

By the capture of the two bulwarks of Christendom which had defied the conqueror of Constantinople, the young Sultan established his fame. Belgrade and Rhodes fallen, as Pope Adrian wrote, "the passages to Hungary, Sicily, and Italy lie open to him." There was as much cause for alarm in the west as there had been on the captures of Negroponte and Scodra. But the conqueror could not immediately follow up his victories. Now, as often, events in the eastern dominions of the Sultan procured a respite for his western neighbours. A revolt in Egypt and disquiet in Asia Minor claimed Solyman's attention, and not till the fourth year after the fall of Rhodes could he march on Buda, "to pluck up" in the words of a Turkish historian "the strong-rooted tree of evil unbelief from its place beside the rose-bed of Islam." Sooner or later, this expedition was inevitable; but it may have been hastened by a year or two through the action of one of the Christian powers.

After the sudden disaster of Pavia (February, 1525) Francis I, a captive in his enemy's hands, looked abroad for succour, and the only European power he could discern strong enough to bear effectual help was the Turk, to whose extirpation he had devoted himself some years before. No scruple was felt in appealing to the common foe. The French King's mother dispatched an ambassador to Solyman with rich presents; but in passing through Bosnia he and his companions were slain and robbed by the sanjak-beg. A second envoy, with a letter written by the King himself in his captivity at Madrid, suggesting that the Sultan should