Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/131

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

attack the King of Hungary, arrived safely at Constantinople. Without committing himself Solyman returned a gracious answer in this style:

"I who am the Sultan of Sultans, the Sovereign of Sovereigns, the distributor of crowns to the monarchs of the surface of the globe, the shadow of God on the earth, the Sultan and Padishah of the White Sea, the Black Sea, Rumelia, Anatolia, Caramania, Rum, Sulkadr, Diarbekr, Kurdistan, Azerbijan, Persia, Damascus, Aleppo, Cairo, Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, all Arabia, Yemen, and other countries which my noble ancestors (may God brighten their tombs) conquered and which my august majesty has likewise conquered with my flaming sword, Sultan Sulayman Khan, son of Sultan Selim, son of Sultan Bayazid; you who are Francis, King of France, you have sent a letter to my Porte the refuge of sovereigns"; then he heartens the captive, and observes, "night and day our horse is saddled, and our sword girt on."

This was the first embassy of a French King to the Porte, the beginning of France's oriental politics. It was naturally the interest of the Sultan to cultivate friendly relations with the western neighbours of Germany and the Empire. But Francis hardly looked beyond the immediate emergency; and at the beginning of 1526, when he won his freedom by the treaty of Madrid, he undertook to help the Emperor in an expedition against the Turks. The efforts of the Popes meanwhile to organise a Crusade had failed, as before. Adrian had proclaimed a holy truce for three years; the Minorites had dreamed of an army of crusaders furnished by all the monasteries of Europe "for the confusion and destruction of the Turks." The Reformation reacted on the Eastern Question. The mere fact that the Roman See continuously and consistently exhorted to a Crusade was to the adherents of the new religious movement an argument against a Turkish war. Luther himself announced the principle, that to resist the Turks was to resist God, who had sent them as a visitation. At a safe distance, this was a comfortable doctrine. But some years later, when the visitation drew nigh to the heart of Germany itself, the Reformer was somewhat embarrassed to explain away his earlier utterances.

The diffusion of the doctrine of the Reformers seems to have been one of the causes which slackened and weakened the resistance of Hungary to the Ottoman invasion. But the main cause was that King Louis was not competent as ruler or as leader; he had not the trust of his kingdom, and he was unable to cope with the opposition and dilatoriness of the Diet. The transactions of the Diet during the crisis are a melancholy comedy: the King and the councillors severally disclaiming any responsibility for consequences of the coming invasion and the safety of the realm. Help from his neighbours Louis could not expect. Venice had congratulated Solyman on the capture of Rhodes, and was still on most friendly terms with him; Poland had just concluded a peace with him. The distant kingdoms of England and