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Ma'nuel Ii., Palaeo'logus>

Μανουήλ Παλαιολόγος), emperor of Constantinople A. D. 1391-1425, was the son of the emperor John VI., in whose life is related the history of Manuel previous to his sole accession, which took place on the death of John, in A. D. 1391. Manuel was then an hostage at the court of sultan Bayazid, but no sooner was he informed of the death of his father, than he escaped from Nicaea, and hastened to Constantinople, fearing lest his brother Andronicus should seize the crown. His flight enraged the sultan, who, without declaring war, advanced with his main army against Constantinople, and laid siege to it, swearing he would not retire till he had taken the city, and put the emperor to death. In this extremity Manuel implored the assistance of the Western princes, with whom he had constant negotiations: his efforts were crowned with success, inasmuch as a powerful army, composed of Hungarians, Germans, and French, headed by the flower of European chivalry and nobility, appeared on the Turkish frontier, and obliged Bayazid to raise the siege, and defend his own kingdom. The unfortunate battle of Nicopolis, in 1396, where the allies were routed, and 10,000 of them, who were taken prisoners, massacred by the victors on the field of battle, seemed to be the signal for the final destruction of the Greek empire, for no sooner had Bayazid obtained that decisive victory on the banks of the Danube, than he changed the blockade of Constantinople into a close siege. The obstinate resistance of the inhabitants, and the attention which the sultan was obliged to pay to the appreaching danger arising from the conquests of Timur, delayed the surrender of the Greek capital; and after a blockade and siege of nearly six years, the belligerent parties came to terms. Manuel turned the friendship of Bayazid for John, the son of the blinded Andronicus, to his own advantage. He gave his nephew the government of Constantinople, reserving for himself the Peloponnesus, whither he proceeded with his family, and then set out for Europe, to beg succour from the Western princes. Italy, France, and Germany, received the imperial suppliant with all the honours due to his rank; but his prayers for assistance were in vain, and he returned to Constantinople in 1402, at a moment when a great political crisis made his presence most necessary. During his absence, John reigned with absolute power, having obtained his recognition from Bayazid, on conditions which show the state of helpless weakness into which the small remnant of the Byzantine empire was sunk. At that period there were already three mosques in Constantinople, where a numerous Mohammedan population enjoyed the free exercise of their religion. To these John was compelled to add a fourth; and besides, the sultan obtained the privilege of establishing in the capital a " mehkeme," or court of justice, where a Turkish " kadi," or judge, administered justice in the name of the sultan, who increased the number of Mohammedans by settling a numerous colony of Turkmans at Kiniki, a borough in the immediate vicinity of Constantinople. A yearly tribute of 10,000 ducats was added as another condition.

Considering Constantinople a prey which he could seize at the first opportunity, Bayazid resolved, first to subdue Greece, the greater part of which was then governed by Latin princes, among whom the dukes of Delphi and Athens were the principal. Greece was an easy conquest, and Athens, which the Turks still called the city of philosophers, became for some time the seat of a Turkish pasha. The fall of Constantinople now seemed to be inevitable, and Bayazid had already assembled an army for its speedy reduction, when the great Timur invaded Asia Minor with a countless host. At Angora (1402) the Turkish army was annihilated by the Tatar; and Bayazid, with his son Musa, fell into the hands of the victor. This unexpected event saved Manuel. Bayazid died soon after his captivity; and Timur, who left Asia Minor for the purpose of conquering China, died in 1405. Meanwhile, the sons of Bayazid seized each a portion of their father's empire; and the Tatar having withdrawn from Asia Minor, a civil war broke out between the Turkish princes, which ended in the undisputed government of prince Mohammed, the first of the sultans of that name (1415). During these disturbances Manuel acted with diplomatic skill: he first removed his nephew, John, from the government; and perceiving the rising fortune of Mohammed, joined him; and in 1413 he contributed to the defeat and death of prince Musa, who had succeeded his brother Suleiman, in 1410, in the government of European Turkey. In reward for his assistance, Manuel received from Mohammed several places on the Euxine, Thessalonica and its territory, and several districts in the Peloponnesus. The latter part of the reign of Manuel was quiet. Still hoping that the Western princes would finally unite for the purpose of putting an end to the Turkish dominion and restoring the Greek empire, he sent ambassadors to the Council of Constance with seeming instructions to effect a union of the Latin and Greek churches. But his real intentions were quite different; he never earnestly wished for such an union; and Phranza (2.13) was witness when the emperor openly said that he negotiated with the Western princes for no other purpose but causing fear to the Turks. This was well known in Europe; and while Greek fickleness and duplicity prevented a cordial understanding between the East and the West, it became one of the principal causes of the destruction of the Greek empire. Manuel died in 1425, at the age of 77, and was succeeded by his eldest son John (VII.), whom he had by his wife Irene, daughter of Constantine Dragas, and whom he created co-emperor in 1419. (Laonic. 1.2; Ducas, 100.12-15; Phranza, 1.16, &c.)


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1391 AD (1)
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