11 December 2010

The Mocenigo War: Part Two

Continuing Coriolano Cippico's account of the war Pietro Mocenigo took to the Turkish coast in 1472.

The war had began in Greece in the summer of 1464, a Papal crusade with troops led by Sigismundo Malatesta.  The Pope died, Malatesta's troops died of plague while spreading it across the Morea, and there were several years of off-and-on war with disastrous effects on the Morea.  After several years and the disaster of the loss of Negroponte, with the Ottomans in control of the Morea, Mehmed turned his attentions elsewhere.  Venice built up her fleet, and accompanied by ships from the fleets of several other powers, took the war to the Turkish coast.

* * * * *
[After the hunt and the episode of the bear in Part One, while still on Samos] the commanders of the army discussed what they ought to do first, and all came to the opinion that they should immediately attack Satalia, a city of Panfilia which was built by Attalos Philadelphos, hoping that it might be assailed by surprise and without preparation, and that they might be able to acquire it without artillery and without ruin of the walls.  Satalia is the largest city with a marina in all the province of Asia, with a port fortified on both sides with many towers and closed with a chain. . . . The General ordered the sopracomiti that each galley should make two or three ladders and a "trellis" [for going up a wall]. . . . The number of galleys was 85: of these 19 had been sent by the Pope, 17 by the Kingdom [of Naple], 2 from Rhodes, the Venetians 47, of which 12 were from Schiavonia .  . . .

He directed Vettor Soranzo, provveditor of the fleet, to take the port with 10 galleys, and Stefano Malipiero, the other provveditor, that he should take the soldiers to assault the land side.  He directed the stratioti to occupy the hill near the city, to be able to come immediately to help.  He admonished everyone to return their weapons to their former virtue, since they had to fight against a vile, unprepared, and barbarian enemy, for the Christian religion and the majesty of the Venetian dominion; telling them the city was extremely rich in gold, silver, and precious goods.  If they took them, all would return home rich. . . .

The cavalry raided the coutryside and made great prey of men and animals, and put them on the hill.  Vettor Soranzo . . . broke the chain and entered the port.  The other galleys followed behind.  Our men immediately cut the defenders to pieces and took all the towers that were around the port.

There was, outside the city, a suburb, very well built, in which, for convenience of loading and unloading, the merchants lived. They, surprised and afraid, left their merchandise and fled into the city.  There were shops full of pepper, cinnamon, cloves, incense, carpets, and all manner of merchandise, which were sacked by our men and taken as booty to the galleys.  Then they set fire to the shops and burned everything.

[There was a tremendous battle for the walls of the city which was more difficult than they expected.]

The battle was atrocious on all sides.

There was in the city a Christian woman of Schiavonia, a slave for many years, who was seen on the wall, where she saw our men stop and proceed slowly to the attack.  She encouraged them and gave them heart, saying, "Why stop, soldiers? Do you want to abandon the attack, because of cowardice, to take this city so rich and full of every sort of barbarian possession.  I promise you that the major part of the defenders are already dead by your hand!"

Hearing this, a Turk started pulling at her and striking her, but she seemed unaware of her danger, intrepid in the face of what must be her fortune.  She settled her clothing and threw herself from the wall.  She was taken up by our men, half-dead, and commending her soul to Jesus Christ, she died in their arms.  . . . She was buried by our people. . . .

There were beautifully-built suburbs outside the city that appeared like another city.  The gardens were full, and cultivated with fruit-bearing trees, and bathed by many fountains of living water.  The next day our men set fire to the houses and burned them all, and cut down the trees, destroying everything all together.

* * * * *

The General had learned that Smyrna, the richest city of Ionia, was poorly guarded, for the reason that the greater part of the walls had disintegrated from age, and for a long time the citizens had not made the effort to repair them.  Because the city is situated in a long gulf and far from sailing routes, it has not suffered war, and its citizens live there secure and without fear. . . . one part of it is on a mountain, the other and large, in the plane, but the better houses are on the mountain.  So 16 of our galleys, without delay, drew up in a line around the city.  Many, by way of ladders, others through the ruined walls . . . passed into the city.  The people of Smyrna, shocked by such an unexpected attack, full of fear, did not know what to do.  Some took weapons and went to the broken-down city wall, and fought hand to hand with our men, who because of numbers and superior valor cut them to pieces.  Others mounted on the roofs of their houses and attacked ourmen with tiles and stones.  The women, as afraid, fled  -- hair disordered -- with their children to their mosques for refuge, embracing their altars and invoking their Prophet, Mohammed.  Many closed themselves with their little children in their houses.

Our men took the city, seizing everything, sacking everything.  Some tore the children from their mothers' arms, seizing also the mothers.  Others carried out of the temples [mosques] many women who resisted and called on their Mohammed, dragging them by their hair.  A widow passing near the tomb of her husband, embraced the tomb, almost as if it were alive, begging him to help her, saying, "Alas! no barbarian enemy will ever be able to separate us, while I live no force can ever part us!"  Not being able to pull her away, a soldier took his sword and cut off her head, she voluntarily extending her neck so he could do so, saying, "Go, now be with your husband!"  

Many did not concern themselves with prisoners, preferring to sack the houses, the precious ornaments of the women, the clothing of all sorts of colors, the damascened vases ornamented with gold and silver intaglio, and other possessions of great prices.  On every side weeping, from every direction one heard lamentations.  The whole city was full of tears and cries . . .    .

When they had sacked it all, and put fire in the houses, they burned everything.  So this city, ancient and adorned with many monuments, with its fortune changed in a few hours, was reduced to ashes.  I saw there many ancient monuments of fitted stone, and magnificently fabricated of marble.  Some of these were already in ruins, others still stood.  Among these were a monument of Homer with a statue and an inscription in Greek letters.  The territory near the city was well cultivated and bathed by the river Melos, and with many houses: everything was ruined by our men with fire and iron.

NOTE: My translations of Cippico have been made rapidly and without fine-tuning. If you need to make use of them, you will want to go over them carefully.


  1. It is me again. That was also great. Thanks


  2. Thank YOU. It is so great to have a Mocenigo show up!


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