The AUTHOR to the READER.
THE long and still declining state of the Christian Commonweal, with the utter ruin and subversion of the Empire of the East, and many other most glorious Kingdoms and Provinces of the Christians, never to be sufficiently lamented, might, with the due consideration thereof, worthily move even a right stony heart to ruth: but therewith also to call to remembrance the dishonour done unto the blessed Name of our Saviour Christ Iesus, the desolation of his Church here militant upon Earth, the dread∣ful danger daily threatned unto the poor remainder thereof, the millions of Souls cast headlong into eternal Destruction, the infininit number of woful Christians (whose grievous groanings under the heavy yoke of In∣fidelity no tongue is able to express) with the carelesness of the Great for the redress thereof, might give just cause unto any good Christian to fit down, and with the heavy Prophet to say, as he did of Jerusalem,*O how hath the Lord darkned the Daughter of Sion in his wrath! and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembred not his footstool in the day of his wrath! All which miseries (with many others so great as greater there can none be) the Prince of darkness and Author of all mischief hath by the persecuting Princes of all Ages, and antient Hereticks his Ministers, labored from time to time to bring upon the Church of God, to the obscuring of his blessed Name, and utter subversion of his most sacred Word; but yet by none, no not by them all together so much prevailed, as by the false Prophet Mahomet, born in an unhappy hour, to the great destruction of Mankind: whose most gross and blasphemous Doctrine first fantasied by himself in Arabia; and so by him obtruded upon the World, and afterwards by the Sarasin Caliphes (his seduced Successors) with greater Forces maintained, was by them, together with their Em∣pire, dispersed over a great part of the face of the Earth, to the unspeakable ruin and destruction of the Christian Religion and State: especially in Asia and Africk, with some good part of Europe also. But the unity of this great Mahometan Monarchy being once dissolved, and it divided into many Kingdoms, and so after the manner of worldly things drawing unto the fatal period of it self,* in process of time became of far less force than before, and so less dreadful unto the Christian Princes of the West, by whom these Sarasins were again expulsed out of all the parts of Europe, excepting one corner of Spain, which they yet held within the remembrance of our Fathers, until that by their Victorious Forces, they were thence at length happily removed also, after that they had possessed the same above the space of 700 Years. In this declination of the Sarasins, the first Champions of the Mahometan Superstition (who though they had lost much, yet held they many Kingdoms both in Asia and Africk, taken for the most part from the Christians) arise the Turks, an obscure and base People, before scarce known unto the World, yet fierce and couragious, who by their Valour first aspired unto the Kingdom of Persia, with divers other large Provinces: from whence they were about 170 Years after again expulsed by the Tartars, and enforced to retire themselves into the lesser Asia: where taking the benefit of the discord of the Christian Princes of the East, and the carelesness of the Christians in general, they in some good measure repaired their former losses again, and maintained the state of a Kingdom at Ico∣nium in Cilicia (now of them called Caramania) holding in their subjection the greatest part of that fruit∣ful Country, still seeking to gain from the Christians what they had before lost unto the Tartars. But this Kingdom of the Turks declining also, by the dismembring of the same, there slept up among the Turks in By∣thinia, one Osman or Othoman, of the Oguzian Tribe or Family, a Man of great spirit and valour, who by little and little growing up amongst the rest of his Countrymen, and other the effeminate Christians on that side of Asia, at last, like another Romulus, took upon him the Name of a Sultan or King, and is right wor∣thily accounted the first Founder of the mighty Empire of the Turks; which continued, by many descents, directly in the Line of himself, even unto Achmat, who now reigneth, is from a small beginning become the greatest terrour of the World, and holding in subjection many great and mighty Kingdoms in Asia, Europe, and Africk, is grown to that height of pride, as that it threatneth destruction unto the rest of the Kingdoms of the Earth; labouring with nothing more than with the weight of it self. In the greatness whereof is swallowed up both the Name and Empire of the Sarasins, the glorious Empire of the Greeks, the renowned Kingdoms of Macedonia, Peloponesus, Epirus, Bulgaria, Servia, Bosna, Armenia, Cyprus, Syria, Egypt, Judea, Tunes, Algiers, Media, Mesopotamia, with a great part of Hungary, as also of the Persian Kingdom, and all those Churches and Places so much spoken of in holy Scripture (the Romans only excepted) and in brief, so much of Christendom as far exceedeth that which is thereof at this day left. So that at this present if you consider the beginning, progress, and perpetual felicity of this the Othoman Empire, there is in this World nothing more admirable and strange; if the greatness and lustre thereof, nothing more magnificent and glorious; if the Power and Strength thereof, nothing more Dreadful or Dangerous: Which wondering at nothing but at the Beauty of it self, and drunk with the pleasant Wine of perpetual felicity, holdeth all the rest of the World in Scorn, thundering out nothing still but Bloud and War, with a full persuasion in time• to Rule over all, prefixing unto it self no other limits than the uttermost bounds of the Earth, from the rising of the Sun unto the going down of the same. The causes whereof are many and right lamentable,* but for the most part are shut up in the Counsels of the Great, as that for me to seek after them, were great Folly: Yet amongst the rest, some others there be, so pregnant and manifest, as that the blind World taketh thereof, as it were a general Knowledge, and may therefore without Offence of the Wiser sort (as I hope) even in these our nice Days be lightly touched. Whereof the first and greatest, is the Iust and Secret Iudgment of the Almighty, who in Iustice delivereth into the Hands of these merciless Miscreants, Nation after Nation, and Kingdom upon Kingdom, as unto the most terrible Executioners of his dreadful Wrath, to be punished for their Sins: Others in the mean while, no less Sinful than they; in his Mercy enjoying the benefit of a longer time, calling them unto Repentance. Then, the uncertainty of Worldly things, which is subject to perpetual Change, cannot long stay in one State; but as the Sea is with the Wind, so are they in like sort tossed up and down with the Page [unnumbered] continual Surges and Waves of alteration and change; so that being once grown to their height, they there stay not long, but fall again as fast as ever they rise, and so in time come to nothing: As we see the greatest Mo∣narchies that ever yet were upon Earth have done, their course being run; over whom Time now Triumpheth, as no doubt at length it shall over this so great a Monarchy also, when it shall but then live by Fame, as the others now do. Next to these Causes from above, (without Offence be it said) is the small care the Chri∣stian Princes, especially those that dwelt further off, have had of the common State of the Christian Common∣weal, whereof even the very Greatest are to account themselves but as the principal Members of one and the same Body; and have, or ought to have, as sharp a feeling one of anothers Harms, as hath the head of the Wrongs done unto the feet, or rather as if it were done unto themselves: Instead of which Christian Compassion and Vnity, they have ever, and even yet at this time are so divided amongst themselves, with endless Quarrels, partly for Questions of Religion, (never by the Sword to be determined) partly for Matters touching their own proper State and Sovereignty, and that with such distrust and implacable Hatred, that they never could as yet (although it hath been long wished) joyn their common Forces against the common Enemy: But turning their Weapons one upon another, (the more to be lamented) have from time to time Weakend themselves, and Opened a way for him to Devour them one after another: Whereas with their combined Forces (the greedy Enemies greatest Terror) they might long since not only have repressed his Fury, and abated his Pride; but with small Danger and much Glory, (God favoring their so Honourable Attempts) have again Recovered from him most of those famous Christian Kingdoms, which he by Force, against all Right holdeth at this Day, in most miserable Subjection and Thraldom: Many Millions of the poor Oppressed Christians, in the mean time out of the Furnace of Tribulation, in the Anguish of their Souls crying in vain unto their Christian Brethren for re∣lief. By Civil discord the Noble Country of Graecia Perished, when as the Father rising against the Son, and the Son against the Father, and Brother against Brother, they to the mutual Destruction of themselves called the Turk, who like a greedy Lyon lurking in his Den, lay in wait for them all. So Perished the Kingdoms of Bulga∣ria, Servia, Bosna and Epirus, with the famous Island of the Rhodes and Cyprus, betray'd as it were by the Christian Princes, their Neighbours, by whom they might have easily been relieved. So the most Flourishing and Strong Kingdom of Hungary, (in the Relicks whereof, the Fortune of the Turkish Empire hath longer stuck, than in the Conquest of any other Kingdom▪ by it attempted whatsoever) divided in it self by the Ambition of Princes, and Civil discord, the Weaker still calling unto his Aid, the mighty Power of the Turk, is long since for the most part become to him a Prey; the poor remainders thereof, being at this Day hardly Defended by the Forces of the Christian Emperor, and of the Princes his Confederates; seldom times meeting together with such Cheerfulness or Expedition, as the Necessity of so great a Matter requireth. Vnto which so great a Cause of the common decay, may be added the evil Choice of our Souldiers employed in those Wars, who taken up hand over head, out of the promiscuous common People, are for the most part Vntrained men, serving rather for shew, and the filling up of Number, than for Vse; and in no respect to be compared with the Turks Iani∣zaries, and other his most expert Souldiers, continually even from their Youth Exercised in feats of Arms. Not to speak in the mean time of the want of the Antient Martial Discipline, the wholesome preservative of most Puissant Armies, which breedeth in the Proud Enemy a Contempt of the Christian Forces, with a full persua∣sion of himself, that he is not by such Disordered and Weak means to be withstood. But to come near unto the Causes of the Turks greatness, and more proper unto themselves, as not depending of the improvident Careles∣ness, Weakness, Discord, and Imperfections of others: First, in them is to be Noted an ardent and infinite De∣sire of Sovereignty, wherewith they have long since promised unto themselves the Monarchy of the whole World, a quick motive to their so haughty Designs: Then, such a rare Vnity and Agreement amongst them, as well in the manner of their Religion, (if it be so to be called) as in matters concerning their State; (especially in all their Enterprises, to be taken in hand for the augmenting their Empire) as that thereof they call them∣selves Islami, that is to say, Men of one Mind, or at Peace amongst themselves; so as it is not to be Mar∣velled, if thereby they grow Strong themselves, and Dreadful to others: Ioyn unto this their Courage, conceived by the wonderful Success of their perpetual Fortune, their notable Vigilancy in taking the advantage of every Occasion, for the inlarging of their Monarchy; their Frugality and Temperateness in their Diet, and other manner of Living, their careful observing of their Antient Military Discipline, their Cheerful and almost Incredible Obedience unto their Princes and Sultans; such, as in that point no Nation in the World was to be worthily compared unto them: All great Causes why their Empire hath so mightily encreased, and so long con∣tinued. Whereunto may be added the two strongest Sinews of every well Governed Commonweal; Reward propounded to the Good, and Punishment threatned unto the Offender; where the prize is for Vertue and Valour set up, and the way laid open for every common Person, be he never so meanly Born, to aspire unto the greatest Honours and Preferments both of the Court and of the Field, yea even unto the nearest Affinity of the Great Sultan himself; if his Valour or other Worth shall so Deserve: When as on the contrary part, the Disloyal or Cowardly, is to expect from the same Sovereign Power, nothing but Disgrace, Death, and Tor∣ture. And yet these great ones, not contented by such Commendable and Lawful means, still to extend or establish their far spreading Empire, if that point once come in question, they stick not in their Divelish Po∣licy to break and infringe the Laws both of Nations and Nature. Their Leagues, grounded upon the Law of Nations, be they with never so Strong Capitulations concluded, or Solemnity of Oath confirmed, have with them no longer Force than standeth with their own Profit, serving indeed but as Snares to intangle other Princes in, until they have singled out him whom they purpose to Devour; the rest fast bound by their Leagues, still looking on, as if their own turn should never come; yet with no more assurance of their Safety by their Leagues, than had the other whom they see Perish before their faces. As for the kind Law of Na∣ture, what can be thereunto more contrary, than for the Father most unnaturally to embrue his Hands in the Blood of his own Children? And the Brother to become the Bloody Executioner of his own Brother? A com∣mon matter among the Othoman Emperors. All which most Execrable and Inhumane Murthers, they cover with the pretended safety of their State, as thereby freed from the fear of all aspiring Competitors, (the greatest Page [unnumbered] torment of the Mighty) and by the Preservation of the Integrity of their Empire, which they thereby keep whole and entire unto themselves, and so deliver it as it were by Hand from one to another, in no part dismem∣bred or impaired. By these and such like means in this Barbarous Empire (of almost nothing) grown to that height of Majesty and Power, as that it hath in Contempt all the rest; being it self not Inferiour in Great•ess and Strength, unto the greatest Monarchies that ever yet were upon the face of the Earth, the Roman Empire only excepted. Which how far it shall yet further spread, none knoweth, but he that holdeth in his Hand all the Kingdoms of the Earth, and with his Word boundeth the raging of the Sea, so that it cannot further pass. Moved with the Greatness and Glory, of this so Mighty and Dreadful an Empire, grown for the most part out of the Ruin of the Christian Commonweal, with the utter Subversion of many great and Flourishing Kingdoms, and Woful fall of many more, Right Puissant and Mighty Princes, not without Grief to be remembred; I long since (as many others have) entred into the heavy Consideration thereof, purposing so to have contented my self with a light View of that which might well be for ever of all good Christians Lamented, but hardly or never Remedied; until that afterwards led with a more earnest Desire to know the Strange and Fatal Mutations by this Barbarous Nation in former time brought upon a great part of the World, as also so much as I might, to see so great a Terrour of the present time, and on what Terms it standeth with the rest, I had with long Search and much Labour, mixt with some Pleasure and mine own reasonable Contentment, passed through the whole Melancholy Course of their Tragical History: Yet without purpose ever to have commended the same or any part thereof, unto the Remembrance of Posterity, as deeming it an Argument of too high a reach, and fitter for some more happy Wit, better furnished with such helps both of Nature and Art, as are of necessity requisite for the Vndertaking of so great a Charge, than was my self, of many Thousands the Meanest. Being not un∣mindful also of that which the Poet (keeping decorum) saith in like case, though far less matter, of himself:
Besides that, so many Difficulties even at the first presented themselves unto my View, as to overcome the same, if I should take the Labour in hand, seemed to me almost impossible: For beside the Sea and World of matter I was to pass through, (requiring both great Labour and Time) full of the most rare Example, both of the better and worse Fortune, in Men of all sorts and conditions, yeilding more Pleasure unto the Reader, than Facility to the Writer; I saw not any (among so many as had taken this Argument in hand) whom I might as a sure Guide or Load-star, long follow in the Course of this so great a History: Many Right Worthy, and Learned Men (whose Memory my Soul honoureth) contenting themselves, to have with their Learned Pens enrolled in the Records of never dying Fame; some, one great Expedition or Action, some another, as in their times they fell out; yea, the Turkish Histories and Chronicles themselves (from whom the greatest light, for the continuation of the History, was in reason to have been expected) being in the Declaration of their own Af∣fairs, (according to their Barbarous manner) so sparing and short, as that they may of right be accounted rather short rude Notes, than just Histories, rather pointing Things out, than declaring the same, and that with such Obscurity, by changing the antient and usual Names, as well of whole Kingdoms, Countries, and Provin∣ces, as of Cities, Towns, Rivers, Mountains and other Places; yea and oftentimes Men themselves into other Strange and Barbarous Names of their own devising; in such sort as might well stay an intentive Reader, and deprive him of the Pleasure, together with the Profit he might otherwise expect by the Reading thereof; where∣unto to give Order, Perspicuity and Light, would require no small Travail and Pain: Not to speak in the mean time of the diversity of Reports in the Course of the whole History, such as is oftentimes most hard, if not altogether impossible to Reconcile. Notwithstanding all which Difficulties, with many others more proper unto my self, having with long Labour and diligent Search, passed through the Course of the whole History, and so in some reasonable sort satisfied my self therein, I thought it not amiss, as well for the Worthiness of the mat∣ter, as for the Zeal I bear to the Christian Common-weal, and for the satisfying also of some others my good Friends very desirous of the same, to make proof if out of the dispersed Works of many Right Worthy Men, I could set down one orderly and continuate History of this so Mighty an Empire, with the Great and Fatal mutation, or rather Subversion of many Right Strong and Flourishing Kingdoms and States, (the proper Work of mighty Empires, still encreasing by the fall of others) wherewith this proud Monarchy hath already daunted a great part of the World, being so many and so strange, as that more or more wonderful were not ever to be seen in any of the greatest Monarchies of antient Time or Memory; and so together, and as it were under one View, and at one Shew; to lay open unto the Christian Reader, what I was glad to seek for out of the confused Labours of many: A Work so Long and Labourious, as might well have deterred a Right Resolute and Constant Mind from the undertaking thereof, being as yet to my Knowledge not undergone or per∣formed by any: Wherein, among such Variety, or more truly to say, contrariety of Writers, I did content my self, as a blind man led by his Guide, happily of no better sight than himself,* to tread the steps of this or that one man, going for a while before me, and by and by leaving me again stumbling in the Dark: But out of the Learned and Faithful Works of many, according to my simple Iudgment, to make Choice of that was most probable, still supplying with the perfections of the better, what I found wanting or defective in the Weaker, propounding unto my self no other Mark to aim at, than the very Truth of the History; as that which is it self of Power to give Life unto the Dead Letter, and to cover the Faults escaped in the homely Penning, or Page [unnumbered] compiling thereof. Which the better to perform, I Collected so much of the History as possibly I could, out of the Writings of such as were themselves present, and as it were Eye-witnesses of the greatest part of that they Writ, and so as of all others best able, most like also to have left unto us the very Truth. Such is the greatest part of so much of the History of the Greek Empire, as I have (for the better Vnderstanding, of the rising of the Turks in this History set down) gathered out of the Doings of Nicetas Choniates, Nicephorus, Gregoras, and Laonicus Chalcocondiles, all Writing such Things as they themselves saw, or were for most part in their time, and near unto them done. Such are the Wonderful and almost Incredible Wars betwixt old Amu∣rath the Second, and his Foster-Child the Fortunate Prince of Epirus, of the Turks commonly called Scan∣derbeg, and by that wayward Tyrant at his Death, together with his Kingdom, delivered, as it were, by In∣heritance, unto his Son, the Great and Cruel Sultan Mahomet, all Written by Marinus Barletius, himself an Epirot, and in all those troublesom Times then living in Scodra, a City of the Venetians joying upon Epirus. Such is the Woful Captivity of the Imperial City of Constantinople, with the miserable Death of the Greek Emperor Constantinus Palaeologus, and the Fatal Ruine of the Greek Empire, Written by Leo∣nardus Chiensis, Archbishop of Mytilene, being himself then present, and there taken Prisoner. Such is the Lamentable History of the Rhodes, taken for most out of Ja. Fontanus his Three Books de bello Rhodio, a Learned Man then present, and in great Credit with Villerius the great Master, at such time as that fa∣mous Island, after it had by him and the other Worthy Knights of the Order, been most wonderfully of long Defended, was to the great ruth of Christendom taken by the Great Sultan Solyman. Such is the most Tragical History of Bajazet, Solymans youngest Son, Collected out of the notable Epistles of Augerius Busbequius, Legationis Turcicae, he himself then lying Ambassad•r for the Empiror Ferdinand at Constantinople, and present in Solymans Camp, at such time as he himself in Person, went over with his Army into Asia, to Countenance his eldest Son Selymus, who Succeeded him in the Empire, against his Valiant yonger Brother Bajazet, and beside well acquainted with the Great Bassaes, Achmet, Rustan, Haly, and others, oftentimes mentioned in the History following. Such is also the History of the taking of the antient City of Tripolis in Bar∣bary, from the Knights of Malta, by Sinan the proud Bassa, Written by Nicholas Nicholy, Lord of Ar•euile, present at the same time with the Lord of Aramont, then Ambassador for the French King unto Solyman. So might I say also of the miserable spoil of the Fruitful and Pleasant Islands of the Mediterranean, made by Lutzis Bassa, Solyman his Brother in Law, and Great Admiral, with the submitting of the Island of Naxos, to the Turks Obeisence, Written by John Crispe, at that time Duke of the same Island. And so likewise of diverse other parts of the History, too long to rehearse. But forasmuch as every Great and Famous Action, had not the Fortune to have in it a Caesar, such as both could and would commend unto Posterity, by Writing that, whereof they might truly say, They were themselves a great part, many Right Excellent Gene∣rals contenting themselves with the Honor of the Field, and their Glory there Won, leaving the Honorable Fame thereof to be by others reported, for lack of such most certain Authors, or rather (as I before said) Eye-witnesses, I gathered so much as I could of what remained, out of the Works of such as being themselves Men of Great Place, and well acquainted with the Great and Worthy Personages of their Time, might from their Mouths, as from certain Oracles, Report the undoubted Truth of many most Famous Exploits done both by themselves and others: As might Pau. Jovius from the mouth of Muleasses King of Tunes, from Vastius the Great General, from Auria the Prince of Melphis, Charles the Emperor his Admiral, and such others: Or, else out of the Writings of such as were themselves great Travellers into the Turks Dominions, and withal, diligent observers of their Affairs and State, as were the Physitians Pantaleon, Minadoie, and Leunclavius, (of all others a most curious Searcher of their Antiquities and Histories) unto which great Clerks, and some others of that Learned Profession, we may Worthily attribute the greatest Light and Certainty of that is Reported, of a great part of the Turkish Affairs. But these in the Course, of so long a History failing also (as by conferring that which is hereafter Written, together with their Histories, is easily to be perceived) to perfect that I had taken in Hand, I took my refuge unto the Writings of such other Learned and Credible Authors, as of whose Integrity and Faithfulness, the World hath not to my Knowledge at any time yet doubted: Yea, for these few late Years, I was glad out of the German and Italian Writers in their own Language, in part to borrow the Knowledge of these late Affairs: As also from the credible and certain Report, of some such H•norable minded Gentlemen of our own Country, as have either for their Honors sake served in these late Wars in Hungary, or upon some other Occasions, spent some good times in Travelling into the Turks Dominions; but especially unto the Imperial City of Constantinople, the chief Seat of the Turkish Empire, and Place of the Great Turks abode: Amongst whom, I cannot but deservedly remember my kind Friend and Cousin M. Rog. Howe, unto whose discreet and curious Observations, during the time of his late abode at Constan∣tinople, I justly account my self for many things beholden. In which Course of my Proceeding, if the Reader find not himself so fully satisfied, as he could desire, I would be glad, by him my self, to be better informed; as being no less desirous to learn the Truth, of that I know not, than willing to impart to others, that little which I know.
So Wishing thee all Happiness, I bid thee farewell. R. KNOLLES.
Sandwich,Marti ult. 1610.