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Joannes Vi. Palaeo'logus

Ἰωάννης Παλαιολόγος), emperor of Constantinople (A. D. 1355-1391), often called Joannes V., the only son and heir of the emperor Andronicus III. Palaeologus the younger was born in 1332, and nominally succeeded his father in 1341. It has been narrated in the preceding article how the young prince first reigned under the guardianship of Joannes Cantacuzenus, then under the authority of a party headed by the admiral Apocauchus and the empress Anne of Savoy, and at last as a nominal colleague of John Cantacuzenus, who held the title and the power of emperor, till he ceded both to John Palaeologus, in 1355, whose real accession consequently begins with that year. For the same reason he stands in the series of emperors as John VI., although strictly he was the fifth of that name. John VI. was a weak prince. " After his enfranchisement from an oppressive guardian," says Gibbon, " he remained thirty-six years the helpless and, as it should seem, the careless spectator of the public ruin. Love, or rather lust, was his only vigorous passion; and in the embraces of the wives or virgins of the city, the Turkish slave forgot the dishonour of the emperor of the Romans." The reign of this emperor is nevertheless full of the most important events, and nothing affords a better insight into the causes of the final overthrow of the Greek empire than the history of his time. Our space, however, is too confined to give more than a sketch of those events which are most remarkable for ecclesiastical as well as political history. The young emperor was scarcely seated on his throne when the Turks crossed the Bosporus, and by the capture of the fortress of Tzympe, now Chini or Jemenlik, laid the foundation of all their further conquests in Europe. The plan of extending the dominions of the Osmanlis over Europe was formed by Soliman, the son of sultan Urkhan, the governor of Cyzicus, while he was wandering in the silence of a moonlight night through the ruins of that ancient and once splendid town; and having crossed the Bosporus with 10,000 horse, he soon conquered an extensive district near the mouth of the Hebrus. He died in 1358; but his brother Mürad, who succeeded sultan Urkhan in 1359, took up and realized his plans. Neither the arms nor the gold of Palaeologus could stop the victorious career of sultan Mürad : town after town fell into his hands ; and in 1361 he took the noble city of Adrianople, which soon became the capital of the Turkish empire. Thence he directed his march upon Servia, despising the forces of the emperor, who could have fallen upon his rear and cut off his retreat to Asia, but stood trembling within the closed gates of Constantinople. With the fall of Adrianople the fate of the Greek empire was sealed. Pope Urban V. yielding to the entreaties of the Greek emperor, who promised to submit to his spiritual authority, entreated king Louis of Hungary to arm for the defence of both the Servian and Greek Christians, and from that time the protection of the remnants of the Greek empire depended entirely upon the fears or the courage of the kings of Hungary. A united army of Servians and Hungarians, commanded by king Louis, advanced upon Adrianople, but at two days' distance from that town was stopped by Mürad, who obtained a decisive victory over them (1363). After this Mürad took up his permanent residence at Adrianople, and gradually conquered the greater part of the Thracian peninsula; but finding the Servians formidable adversaries, he made peace with John Palaeologus, who paid him a heavy annual tribute. Aware that his turn would come as soon as the Servians should have been brought under the Turkish yoke, Palaeologus resolved to implore the assistance of the Western princes, and with that view made overtures to pope Urban V. to adopt the Roman Catholic religion if he would assist him in his plans. The negotiations being carried on too slowly for his fears and his hopes, he went twice to Rome (1369 and 1370). Urban promised to put 15 galleys, 500 men in armour, and 1500 archers, at his disposal; but this succour never arrived at Constantinople, nor did the pope succeed in his endeavours to arm the Western princes for the defence of the city. The emperor, however, kept his promise to the pope, and in the presence of four cardinals solemnly professed himself a Roman Catholic, and acknowledged the pope as the spiritual head of the Greek church. Disappointed in Rome, Palaeologus went to Venice; but there he not only failed in obtaining assistance, but being short of money, he incurred debts, and was arrested by some Venetian merchants. He sent messengers to his son Andronicus, who, during his absence, governed the empire, which was then reduced to the city of Constantinople, Thessalonica with its district, a few islands, and some districts in the Peloponnesus and northern Greece, and implored him to do his utmost for his delivery should he even be obliged to sell the holy vessels of the churches. Andronicus, in pursuit of some selfish and ambitious plans, remained deaf to the prayers of his father. Manuel, however, the emperor's second son and lord of Thessalonica, was no sooner informed of the misfortune of his father, than he sold his whole property, hastened to Venice, and released his father, who immediately returned to Constantinople (1370), although not without serious apprehensions of vengeance from sultan Mürad. In order to soothe him he sent his third son, Theodore, as a hostage, to Adrianople; whereupon he deprived Andronicus of his supreme authority, and appointed the faithful Manuel coemperor. Andronicus, a man full of ambition and destitute of principles and honour, now sought for revenge; and being acquainted with one of the sons of Mürad, who governed the European provinces during the sultan's absence in Asia, and who was a secret enemy of his father, he had an interview with this prince, and they mutually promised to murder their fathers, and then assist each other in obtaining the supreme power. The name of the Turkish prince was Sauji, but the Greek historians call him Σαβουτρίος and Μώση Τρελέπης (Moses the gentleman), Chalcocondylas being the only one who writes the name nearly correctly, Σιάους. Mürad was soon informed of the conspiracy. He summoned the emperor to appear at his court, and to justify himself, since it was believed that only Sauji, not Andronicus, really intended the alleged crime, and that the whole was but a plot of John Palaeologus : but the deep grief of the emperor at hearing this terrible news soon convinced the sultan of his innocence. They now resolved to unite their efforts in punishing the traitors, who had meanwhile raised troops and pitched their camp near Apricidium, in the neighbourhood of Constantinople. In the dead of night they were roused by the voice of the sultan, who was seen riding fearlessly through the tents of the rebels, summoning them to avoid certain death by returning to their duty, and promising life and liberty to their royal leaders likewise, if they would now surrender and implore his mercy. Most of the rebels, Turks as well as Greeks, immediately availed themselves of the sultan's conditions, and were pardoned, but the two princes fled. Sauji was taken in the town of Didymoticum, blinded, and afterwards put to death : and Andronicus having likewise been made prisoner by the imperial troops, he and his son John were sentenced to be deprived of their sight, but the operation was unskilfully performed with boiling vinegar, and neither father nor son was entirely blinded. The rebellion of the sons of the two Eastern monarchs is differently told by the Byzantine and Turkish historians; but the narratives of the Greeks, Chalcocondylas, Phranza, and Ducas, deserve more credit, because they agree even in details. Phranza indeed says that the rebellion took place previous to the emperor's journeys to Rome in 1369 and 1370, though it really happened in 1385; but chronology is the weak side of Phranza, and here, as in many other cases, he makes an anachronism. Andronicus and his son were confined in the tower of Anemas, a sort of state prison, where forty years previouslsy the admiral Apocauchus was murdered. Some time before this an event took place wnich showed the utter decay of the Greek power.

When prince Manuel was despot of Thessalonica, he waged war on his own account against the Turks, who were then engaged in serious contests with the Servians in Europe, and some Turkoman princes in Asia. His undertaking was rash, and his forces inadequate. Khair-ed-dín Pasha advanced upon Thessalonica, and despairing of defending himself with success, Manuel left the town to its fate, and fled by sea to Constantinople. Trembling for his own safety, his father refused to receive in his palace a son who had incurred the anger of the sultan, and the unfortunate prince sailed to Lesbos, in hopes of finding protection at the court of Gasteluzzi, the Latin prince of that island, but there also the gates were closed at his appearance. Having no other alternative but voluntary exile or death, Manuel, with noble boldness, hastened to Brusa, appeared resolutely in presence of the sultan, confessed himself guilty, and implored his enemy's mercy. After a silence of some minutes, the sultan said to him, " You have been wicked, be better, and if you are good, the condition of the empire over which you are destined to rule will be good too. Return to Constantinople--I will give orders to your father to receive you well." Not till then did the emperor dare to embrace his son. In 1389 sultan Mürad was assassinated by a Servian captive, Milosh Kobilovicz; and his successor, the terrible Báyazíd, soon manifested more hostile intentions than his father. Availing himself of the dissensions in the imperial family, he carried on secret negotiations with Andronicus and his son while they were imprisoned in the tower of Anemas, and with them and the leaders of the Genoese at Pera he concerted the plan of dethroning John. Andronicus having escaped from his prison, with the aid of the Genoese, Báyazíd suddenly surprised John and Manuel in one of their palaces without the gates of Constantinople, and gave them to the custody of Andronicus, who confined them in the same prison whence he had escaped, and treated them with humanity, although the sultan constantly urged him to put them to death. Andronicus was acknowledged as emperor by Báyazíd on condition of paying a heavy tribute ; but the captive emperor having promised to pay the same tribute, to take the oath of allegiance to the sultan, and to assist him in all his wars with 12,000 horse and foot, Báyazíd, after ascertaining that the Greeks preferred Manuel to Andronicus, ordered the latter to restore his father to liberty, and to be satisfied with the conditions which he would make, in order to prevent any further dissensions between him and his father. These conditions were, that John and Manuel should reign over Constantinople and its environs as far as they were subject to the imperial sceptre, and that Andronicus should hold, as a fief of the crown, the towns and districts of Selymbria, Heracleia, Rhaedestus or Rhodosto, Danias and Panidas, on the Propontis, and the fine town of Thessalonica, which, during the time, had alternately been in the hands of the Turks, the Venetians, and the Greeks. The chronology of these events is far from being clear. Báyazíd succeeded in 1389, and John died in 1391. Yet it is said that John was imprisoned through the same sultan, remained in prism during two years. and afterwards reigned again during several years. Was John perhaps arrested by Báyazíd previous to this prince having succeeded his father in 1389 ? If this were the case, the whole matter would be clear. Gibbon pays no attention to the chronology of this period, and it cannot be denied that the account he gives of the last Greek emperors is very short and incomplete. The submission of Manuel to sultan Mürad, and the generous pardon he obtained, are not even alluded to by Gibbon, although he had undoubtedly read it in Chalcocondylas and Phranza : the last three volumes of Ameilhon's continuation of Le Beau's " Histoire du Bas Empire " were not published when Gibbon, in 1787, concluded the last volume of his " Decline and Fall." The writer of this article has endeavoured, but in vain, to clear up the chronology of the events alluded to, by means of "Hammer's History of the Turkish Empire; " and the conjecture he has offered seems to be the only means of solving the difficulty.

When John was once more established on his throne, he sent his son Manuel, then co-emperor, and acknowledged by all parties as his future successor, as a hostage to sultan Báyazíd. Both of them were summoned by the sultan to assist him in reducing the town of Philadelphia, now Allah Shehr, which was the last possession of the Greeks in Asia Minor; and so complete was their dependence, that they followed the summons, and were seen among the foremost of the Turks while the town was stormed, thus compelling their own subjects to submit to the Turkish yoke (1390). Manuel, moved by fear, now secretly proposed to his father to strengthen and increase the fortifications of Constantinople, but the emperor having begun the work, and already constructed several new walls and towers, a peremptory order came from Báyazád to pull down the new fortifications, and leave every thing in its former state. The order was complied with; and it is said that the shame which the old emperor felt at being thus treated as an humble vassal of the Turks, hastened his death, which took place in 1391.

Further Information

Chalcocondylas, 1.2, &c.; Phranza, 1.16, &c.; Ducas, 100.5-15 ; Cantacuzenus, 3.4, &c.


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