Biography of Bayezid I Sultan of Turkey 1360-1403

Around 1360 Bayezid I Sultan of Turkey was born.

Froissart. 1397. The sultan was very rigidly determined that all crimes committed within his dominions should be severely punished: he therefore listened to her attentively, and said he would do her justice. He then ordered the varlet to be brought, and confronted with the woman, who repeated her complaint. The varlet, who dreaded Bajazet (age 37), began to make excuses, saying it was all false. The woman told a plain tale, and persisted in its truth. The sultan stopped her, and said, - "Woman, consider well thy accusation; for, if I find thou hast told me a lie, thou shalt suffer death." "Sir," replied the woman," I consent to it; for were it not true, I could have no reason to come before thee, and I only ask for justice." "I will do it," answered the. sultan, "for I have so sworn, and indiscriminately to every man or woman within my dominions." He then ordered the varlet to be seized, and to have his belly opened, for otherwise he would not have known if he had drank the milk or not. It was there found, for it had not had time to be digested; and the sultan, on seeing it, said to the woman, "Thou hadst just cause of complaint: now go thy way, for the injury done tlieo has been punished." She was likewise paid for her loss. This judgment of Bajazet (age 37) was witnessed by the French lords, who were at the time in his company.

Froissart. 1397. You have before heard how sir John de Chateaumorant and sir James de Helly were sent by the king of France (age 28) and the duke of Burgundy (age 54) as ambassadors to Bajazet (age 37), in Turkey, and of the success of their mission. On their return to France they were well received by the king (age 28), the duke (age 54) and duchess (age 49) of Burgundy, from the certain intelligence they had brought from the count de Nevers (age 25) and his fellow-prisoners. These knights told the king (age 28) they thought the sultan would readily listen to terms for their ransom, for they had been so given to understand by some of his principal advisers, lest the prisoners might die while in captivity, which was likely enough to happen, from the difference of air and diet, and they would not in that case gain anything by them. These words encouraged the duke (age 54) and duchess (age 49) to exert themselves in procuring the ransom of their son and heir, and they were occupied day and night in devising means to open negotiations with the sultan. The duchess (age 49) said this battle of Nicopoli had been very unfortunate to her, for she had lost by it three of her brothers, who were gallant knights in arms: the first, the haze de Flandres, the second, sir Louis de Breze, and the third, sir John d' Ypres: there was another brother, the youngest of them, who had remained at home. To say the truth, the duchess (age 49) had grief enough, and it was not surprising if she was melancholy, but the duke (age 54) and his advisers calmed her, by their earnestness in procuring her son's liberty: this was not, however, soon done, for the distance and difficulty of treating with such people forced them to go about the business leisurely.

Froissart. 1397. The king of France (age 28) and the duke of Burgundy (age 54) were very active in their endeavours to abridge the captivity of their friends in Turkey, and there passed not a day without their having some conversation on the subject. Sir Dinde de Desponde was of all their consultations, and said the Venetian or Genoese merchants could alone assist them; for by means of merchandise, which governs everything, and their connexions with other merchants, they could pass everywhere, and learn the temper of the infidel sultans. They had great weight, particularly in Cairo, Alexandria, Damascus, and Antioch, where they had factories, and the Saracens and Christians mutually interchanged their merchandises. The king (age 28) and the duke (age 54), therefore, made as many friends among these merchants as they could, and gave up all intentions of making war on the duke of Milan from the friendship they learnt Bajazet (age 37) bore him. On the other hand, king James of Cyprus (age 63) knew well, that if he could any how soften the anger of the sultan, and prevail on him to accept of reasonable terms for the ransom of the French lords, he should greatly oblige the king of France (age 28), the duke of Burgundy (age 54), and the whole of the nation. To accomplish this, the king of Cyprus had a ship made of gold, curiously wrought, that might be worth ten thousand ducats, which he sent by his knights as a present to the sultan Bajazet (age 37). It was beautifully worked, and was graciously accepted by the sultan, who replied, he would return him double its value in courtesy and affection. This answer brought back by the Cypriote knights, was instantly made known to the king of France (age 28) and the duke of Burgundy (age 54) by some merchants, who wrote to sir Dinde that he might inform them of it. King James (age 63) was wise in making this present: he dreaded the king of France (age 28), and all kings, for having murdered in the night-time his valiant brother, king Peter, who had fought so courageously against the Saracens, and had won from them the towns of Satalia and Alexandria; and they were more afraid of him than of all the other kings or emperors in Christendom.

Froissart. 1397. King James (age 63) had sorely repented having committed this crime, or being present when it was done; and, not daring to continue in Cyprus, for the Christians would have put him to a disgraceful death, could they have caught him, he embarked on board a galley belonging to some Genoese merchants which was in the port of Nicosia, where the murder had been done, and fled to Genoa. The Genoese kindly entertained him, and some say that this villanous murder had been instigated by them; for, shortly after, they entered the harbour of Famagousta with a large fleet of galleys and men at arms, which they took possession of, and have held by force ever since. True it is, that the late king of Cyprus had a very promising youth for his son, whom he brought with him, in company with a knight who had travelled through Lombardy to Rome, the last time he had crossed the sea: this youth the Cypriotes crowned their king on the assassination of his father, but he lived not long to enjoy it. On his death, the Genoese brought back James (age 63), whom they had crowned king, and he has reigned ever since in Cyprus, through the support the Genoese give him against all nations. They would never give up possession of the town or port of Famagousta, and are the masters of it at this present moment of my writing these chronicles. Indeed, had the Genoese not held it, the Turks and infidels would have conquered the whole of the island, as well as Rhodes and the other adjacent islands; but the Venetians and Genoese are their great opponents. When the last saw that the kingdom of Armenia was conquered by the Turks, they seized the town of Courch, that is situated on the sea-shore, which they have kept under their governance. The Turks, were they not fearful of Courch and Pera, near Constantinople, would do the greatest mischief to all who navigate those seas, as well as to Rhodes and the neighbouring islands. It is by these means the frontiers of Christendom are defended; but let us return to king James of Cyprus (age 63). "When he found, from the base crime he had been guilty of, he was fallen under the displeasure and hatred of every crowned head, he exerted himself to the utmost to recover their favour, and thought himself highly honoured by the letter the king of France had written to him. He was afraid of him, and not without reason, for the duke of Bourbon, uncle to the king of France, was, by right of succession through the Lusignans, the true heir to the throne of Cyprus. This king James (age 63), although brother to the late king, was not so by lawful marriage, but a bastard, as was well known to the Genoese. When they gave him the crown they mutually entered into special treaties with each other; and the Genoese bound themselves to defend his and his descendants' rights to the government against all claimants: in consideration of which, they had many lordships and tracts of land yielded up to them in the island of Cyprus. Every thing they did in the defence of king James was to strengthen themselves against the Venetians, and to open greater markets for their trade with the Saracens, for, as factors, they have many connexions with them and others of their faith. King James, through the Genoese, took great pains to please the king of France (age 28) and his subjects, and it was in consequence of this he had made Bajazet (age 37) so very rich a present, which was highly pleasing to the sultan and his ministers, who valued it much. It was supposed by many, that sir Dinde Desponde had urged on the Genoese in this matter, as they were very warm in their endeavours to bring about a treaty for the deliverance of the count de Nevers (age 25) and the other prisoners.

Froissart. 1397. The duke (age 54) and duchess (age 49) of Burgundy heard, with infinite pleasure, that the sultan began to tire of his prisoners, and would readily enter into a treaty for their liberty. They selected a valiant knight from the country of Flanders, called sir Guissebreth de Linrenghen, who was regent of Flanders under the duke (age 54) and duchess (age 49) of Burgundy, to go to Turkey and treat with Bajazet (age 37) for the ransom of the French lords. At the same time they sent for sir James de Helly, and entreated that he would accompany their ambassador, because he was well acquainted with the countries he was to travel through, and with the court of the sultan, promising that his trouble and attention should be handsomely remunerated. Sir James, having promised to fulfil their commands, set out in company with the Flemish knight: on their arrival in Hungary, they waited on the king, to deliver the letters which were intrusted to them. The king received the letters and knights with joy, in compliment to the king of France (age 28): he was before acquainted with sir James de Helly. They informed the king, the object of their mission to Bajazet (age 37) was to treat for the release of his prisoners, if he were inclined to listen to them. The king of Hungary replied, that it would be well done if they could obtain their liberty for money: and the attempt was worth trying, for nothing could be lost by that. He offered them every assistance in his power, of money or men, for which the knights thanked him.

Froissart. 1397. They had many difficulties to encounter, before they could enter into a personal treaty with Bajazet (age 37); for it was first necessary that sir James de Helly should wait on the sultan to obtain a passport for sir Guissebreth de Linrenghen to travel through Turkey, which having been properly made out he returned with it to Hungary. They journeyed to Turkey together; and Bajazet (age 37) received the regent of Flanders with kindness, and listened to his proposals, which formed the basis for a treaty. At this time there lived a Genoese merchant called Bartholomeo Pelegrini, in the island of Scio, who was universally esteemed for his probity and knowledge in trade, even by Bajazet (age 37) himself: to him sir Dinde de Desponde had written to interest himself in the business, that it might have a more speedy termination, for they were well known to each other, and promised him a handsome recompense, if successful in obtaining the French lords' liberty, from the duke (age 54) and duchess (age 49) of Burgundy, and other lords and ladies who had friends or husbands in the power of Bajazet (age 37). He entreated him to take upon himself the debt for their ransom, however large the sum, and to conduct the French lords to Venice, or to some part under the government of the Venetian? and that the moment he should be assured from him of their arrival thither, he would, without delay, hasten to Venice in person, with the amount of the sum to repay him what he had expended. The Genoese merchant complied with the request of sir Dinde, as well from personal regard to him, as for the profit and honour he should acquire by it, and for the esteem he should gain from the king of France (age 28); for, from such a king, it was worth having. From the infonnation I had, I am inclined to believe that the king of Cyprus sent some of bis ablest counsellors to push forward the negociations with the sultan, in compliance with tlie solicitations of the king of France (age 28) and the duke of Burgundy (age 54). The lords de Mathelin and d' Amine, two great barons of Greece, and much in favour with Bajazet (age 37), interfered also in the matter, according to the requests that had been made them from France otherwise they would not have troubled themselves about it.

Froissart. 1397. Turkey was an extensive country, and not convenient to travel through, to those unaccustomed to it: Bajazet (age 37), therefore, as soon as he had consented to a treaty, resolved that all the French prisoners should be conveyed to Bursa, where the whole business should be concluded. Those lords were brought thither, to the amount of twenty-five; but their conductors, the Turks, treated them scandalously on the road, by beating them forward, for they had purposely badly mounted them, and their horses would only go at a foot's pace: for this they were beaten by the Turks, who heard, very unwillingly, that they were to have their liberty. On their arrival at Bursa, where the negociators from the king of France (age 28), the duke of Burgundy (age 54), the king of Cyprus, the Venetians and Genoese were waiting to receive them, they had more liberty than when in the prisons of the sultan: but, notwithstanding it was known they were to be ransomed, they were so closely guarded that they could not obtain a fourth part of their wishes. Among the differerent persons who were at Bursa on account of the treaty, Bajazet (age 37) inclined more to sir Guissebreth de Linrenwhen, for sir James de Helly had told him he was regent of Flanders and the most confidential counsellor of the duke of Burgundy (age 54). The sultan resided in a handsome castle near Bursa, and where the negotiators went to discuss matters with him: the ransom for the twenty-five prisoners was fixed at two hundred thousand ducats. The lords de Mathelin and d' Amine, with the Genoese merchant of Scio, pledged themselves to the sultan for the due payment of it. The count de Nevers (age 25) gave his oath to the merchant, for himself and the rest, that on his arrival at Venice, he would never depart thence until the whole of this sum were paid to his satisfaction. Before the treaties were concluded, the count d'Eu was so much weakened by sickness, change of air, and diet he had not been accustomed to, that he departed this life at Haute-loge, where he had been confined with the other lords, who were much afflicted thereat, though they could not any way prevent it. The lord Philip d'Artois, count d'Eu and constable of France, was, when dead, opened and embalmed, and in this state put into a coffin and carried to France, where he lies buried in the church of Saint Laurence at Eu.

Froissart. 1397. When the sultan Bajazet (age 37) was completely satisfied as to the security of those who had pledged themselves for the payment of the two hundred thousand ducats as the ransom for the French lords, the two ambassadors from the duke of Burgundy (age 54) were impatient to return to France, and carry the joyful news of their success to the king and other lords so greatly interested in it. They took leave of Bajazet (age 37) and those of his court they were the most intimate with; and, as the regent of Flanders was in his favour, the gallant sultan ordered, that twenty thousand ducats should be deducted from the two hundred thousand he was to receive, and given to the two knights, in consideration of the great pains they had taken to accomplish these treaties. The two knights gratefully thanked the sultan, as they had reason, for his magnificent gift, and, after taking leave of the Turkish court and the French lords, returned to Bursa. They there left the count de Nevers (age 25) and his companions, waiting the lords de Mathelin1 and d' Amine, who were to come for them in their galley, and embarked on board a small passage-galley for Mathelin. On quitting the harbour, the sea was calm and the weather temperate; but they had not advanced far before it changed, and at length became so tempestuous that sir Guissebreth, sorely tormented by sea-sickness, died before they could reach Mathelin. Sir James de Helly was much grieved for his loss, and, engaging a Venetian galley, sailed to Rhodes. He published everywhere the deliverance and speedy arrival of the count de Nevers (age 25) and his companions, to the great joy of the knights of Rhodes. On his arrival in France, he made the king, the duke (age 54) and duchess (age 49) of Burgundy, and the nation, happy by the good news he had brought. Sir James spoke loudly in the praise of his companion, sir Guissebreth, and of the great pains he took to conclude the treaty.

Note 1. D. Sauvage supposes, in a marginal note, this must be the lord of the island of Mitelino, hut confesses his ignorance of the other.

Froissart. 1397. The sultan Bajazet (age 37), having had every thing respecting the ransom of his French prisoners settled to his satisfaction, resolved on allowing them more liberty, for indeed they were now no longer prisoners, and invited them to his presence before the departure of the ambassadors, to show them the magnificence of his establishments. They were said to be very grand indeed; and immense numbers were daily attendant on his person. He sent some of his principal lords to invite the count de Nevers (age 25) and his companions to the castle, where he received and entertained them handsomely: he ordered all things they might want to be delivered out to them by his officers, as was the usual custom of his court. The sultan conversed daily with the count de Nevers (age 25), by means of an interpreter, and paid him much respect, for he knew that he was, or would be, a very great lord in France, by the great exertions that were made, and the large sum paid for his ransom, which was enough to satisfy his avarice, having securities for the amount of one million of florins. The other French lords were equally astonished with the count de Nevers (age 25) at the power and state of Bajazet (age 37). He was attended by such numbers, that they were always encamped, for no town could lodge them; and the expense must have been very great to supply so many with food. It was surprising where such quantities came from, notwithstanding the natives of warm climates are very temperate in their diet, eating but little meat, living on spices and sugar, of which they have abundance, as well as goats' milk, the common beverage of the Turks and Saracens, and they have plenty of bread made of millet.

Froissart. 1397. You have heard that the count d'Eu (age 40), constable of France, died in his bed at Bursa in Turkey, to the great regret of all his friends, more especially the king of France (age 28), who much loved him. The constableship became vacant by his death, and that office is of such weight that it must not long remain so. Councils were therefore held to appoint his successor, and the wiser among them nominated the lord Louis de Sancerre (age 56), in which they were confirmed by the majority in the kingdom. He had been a very long time marshal of France, and was so at the time of his election, residing in Languedoc. Being sent for by the king (age 28) to Paris, he was invested with the office of constable, and by this vacated the charge of marshal; on which the king said, that he had already thought of a successor, for that no one should have it but his knight the lord Boucicaut (age 30). All the lords agreed to the propriety of this choice, for indeed he was deserving of it, and when appointed was at Venice. He returned home shortly after this, for the ransoms were paid, and the whole of those who had been prisoners in Turkey came back to France, to the great joy of their friends and countrymen. The lord Boucicaut (age 30) was made marshal of France; and the count de Nevers (age 25) waited on the duke (age 54) and duchess of Burgundy (age 49), and was well feasted by them and others, for he was returned from a long and dangerous expedition, wherein he and his companions had suffered many perils, but, through the grace of God, they had escaped, and were returned home. The count (age 25) was seen with much pleasure by all in Flanders, Artois, and Burgundy, and other dependencies of his father (age 54), as he was their heir-apparent. After he had remained some time with the duke (age 54) and duchess (age 49), and had visited the countries under their obedience, he determined to wait on the king of France (age 28) and the duke of Orleans (age 24), both of whom received him honourably and kindly. He was made welcome by all the lords and ladies of the court. The king and the duke of Orleans were very glad to see him again, and eagerly listened to his relation of what he had suffered. They inquired news of Turkey, of the battle of Nicopoli, of the adventures he had met with, how he was made prisoner, and of the state of Bajazet (age 37).

The count (age 25) satisfied them by his answers, for he was well spoken, and made no complaints, at least by speech, of the sultan, but said he had found him courteous and affable, even to those attached to his person; that he was very well treated; and he did not forget to tell the lords to whom he was speaking, that Bajazet (age 37), on his taking leave, to quit Turkey, had said, that he was born to bear arms, and make conquests in this world every year to a greater extent, and that he wished not to prevent his prisoners from again taking up arms against him, for he would with pleasure meet them in battle two, three, or four times if necessary; and that it was his intention to march to Rome, and feed his horse on the altar of Saint Peter. The count added, that the sultan thought our faith erroneous, and corrupted by those who ought to have kept its purity; and the Turks laughed and made their jokes at it. Many Saracens declare that Christianity, from the above cause, will be destroyed, and that the time is now come for its ruin; and that Bajazet (age 37) was born to accomplish this, and be king over all the world. "Such was the language the interpreter translated to me; and, from what I saw and heard, I believe they are perfectly well acquainted in Turkey, Tartary, Persia, and throughout the whole of the infidels' country, with our schisms in the church, and how the Christians are at difference, one with another, respecting the two popes of France and Italy; and the Saracens are wonderfully surprised how the kings of the different countries suffer it."

On 08 Mar 1403 Bayezid I Sultan of Turkey (age 43) died.

Froissart. News was soon carried to the island of Rhodes, that the sultan had accepted a ransom for the French lords, and that they were now at Mathelin. The intelligence gave much pleasure to the grand-master and to all his knights, who proposed to equip and arm two galleys, and send them to Mathelin to convey the count and his fellow-prisoners to Rhodes. This was executed; and, when ready, sir James de Brasemont1, a Burgundian, who was marshal of Rhodes, embarked on board, and had a favourable voyage to Mathelin, where he was made heartily welcome by the lord de Mathelin, his lady, and their guests. He remained there four days: on the fifth, the galleys having on board the purveyances of the French lords, the count and his companions took leave of the lord and lady de Mathelin, returning them their best thanks for all the kindness and friendship they had received, especially the count de Nevers, who, as the principal personage, said he was bound at all times hereafter to render them every service in his power. After many compliments on both sides, the French lords entered the galleys, and, as long as they were in sight, the lord de Mathelin remained on the shore, and after that went home. The galleys, having a favourable wind, arrived at Rhodes, and anchored in the haven, where vessels from Cyprus, Baruth, and other ports in the Levant, usually do. On their landing, they were received by many of the knights of Rhodes, who wear a white cross, in memory of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered to deliver others from the pains of hell. They are valiant knights, and give daily assaults by sea or land on the infidels, to support and defend the Christian faith.

Note 1. " Sir James de Brasemont." The MSS. have de Bauffremont, which I should prefer.

Froissart. The different negociations and embassies had called for large sums, and, though the ransom was but two hundred thousand florins to Bajazet, yet the other costs and expenses amounted to as much more, as was declared by those through whose hands the money passed; and without this sum their liberty would never have been obtained. It was matter of much consideration how this money was to be raised; for neither the duke nor duchess were inclined to abate anything of their state, which was very magnificent. It was resolved by his council to lay a tax on all the towns under his obedience, more especially those of Flanders; for they abounded in wealth, from their commerce, and therefore the greater load was laid on them, that the count de Nevers might be at liberty to quit Venice. When the matter was mentioned to the townsmen of Ghent, they readily declared their willingness to present their young lord fifty thousand florins to aid him in his ransom. Bruges, Mechlin, Antwerp, Ypres, Courtray, and the other towns in Flanders, expressed their readiness to assist in the ransom of the count de Nevers. The duke and duchess of Burgundy were well pleased at these answers, and returned their warm acknowledgments to the magistrates of the different towns in Flanders, and to those of Artois and Burgundy, who had testified equally good inclinations.

Froissart. While others were diligently despatching the business of their ransom, the lords spent their time most joyously at Venice; but, about this period, an infectious disorder afflicted that town and neighbourhood, which began in the month of August, and never ceased until Saint Andrew's day. Great numbers fell victims to it, and among the rest (the more the pity!) the lord Henry de Bar, eldest son to the duke of Bar, and, in right of his wife, heir to all the estates of the late lord de Coucy, excepting the dower of his widow. Thus were the two ladies de Coucy made widows in one year, which was a great misfortune. The body of the lord Henry was embalmed and brought to France, and I believe buried at Paris, for his obsequies were there performed with much solemnity. On account of this epidemical distemper, and to avoid its danger, the count de Nevers left Venice, and fixed his residence at Treviso, where he and the other French lords remained, with their households, for upwards of four months without stirring from it. During their stay at Treviso, the king of Hungary was informed by the knights of Rhodes, of their having made peace with Bajazet, and obtained their liberty by payment of two hundred thousand francs. He, in consequence, sent letters by a bishop and some of his knights to the count de Nevers, to mark his affection to him, with others to those who had the government of Venice. The bishop and knights were ordered by the king to address the count as follows, and of which they handsomely acquitted themselves.

Froissart. "My lord, we are sent hither by our much-redoubted lord, and your cousin, the king of Hungary, who salutes you by us. Here are letters written by him to congratulate you on your deliverance from the sultan Bajazet, his enemy. He is sincerely rejoiced at your and your companions' escape, for, without the means you have pursued, it would never have been effected. Dear sir, our lord is well assured that your treaties with the sultan must have cost you immense sums of money, and, with the losses you all suffered at the disastrous battle of Nicopoli, will have made it difficult to you to procure a sufficiency for your ransom. Our sovereign, therefore, dear sir, orders us to make you his excuses for not offering you, on this occasion, his assistance: if it were in his power, he would most cheerfully do it, for he conceives and declares he is bound to aid you, from his connection with you by blood and other causes; were it not that he and his subjects have had such losses by the late defeat, that you, who are a person of great understanding, will readily believe, end know the impossibility of his giving any aid at this present moment. The revenues of Hungary are ruined for this and the ensuing year, but whenever they are recovered, and the usual payments made, that he may be enabled to show his offers are not mere empty words, he will assuredly come handsomely forward to your service. That you may believe our most redoubted sovereign and your cousin is in earnest, we must acquaint you that he has ordered us to offer for sale to the rulers of Venice, the rents he receives from this town, which amount to seven thousand ducats yearly; and that whatever these may produce you are to dispose of as if it were your own; and for which we will sign receipts to the Venetians, having full authority so to do."