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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
(1975)

I: The Crusade in the Fourteenth Century,   pp. 2-26 ff. PDF (9.6 MB)


Page 25

Ch. I THE CRUSADE IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY 25 28. Extracts in vol. XVI of
Froissart's Chroniques, ed. Kervyn de Lettenhove. 
Constantinople, Rhodes, and Ragusa. The rest of their men, apart from the
few who managed to save themselves by hurried flight through the neighboring
woods, were either killed or imprisoned. 
 Later, Bayazid was startled when he realized his own losses, esti mated
at "thirty thousand," and his wrath was demonstrated in the treatment of
the three thousand Christian prisoners on the morrow of the day of the battle.
Stripped of their clothes and tied together with ropes, the captives were
led before the sultan in groups to be decapitated in cold blood. Bayazid
discovered among them a certain James of Helly, whom he had previously employed
in his eastern campaigns and who knew Turkish. It was through his mediation
that the French and Burgundian nobility escaped the rank and file's grim
fate; their lives were spared for the heavy ransom of 200,000 gold forms.
Among others, these included John of Nevers, Enguerrand of Coucy, Guy of
Trémolay, and Philip of Artois, count of Eu. Young men under twenty
were spared for sale in the slave markets of the Levant or presentation to
other Moslem potentates. The news of the complete discomfiture of the crusaders
overwhelmed European soci ety with deep grief, which was alleviated only
slightly by the return of the few noble captives after the payment of their
heavy ransom. 
 The downfall of the western chivalry on the field of Nicopolis marked the
end of any hope that the Ottoman empire could be destroyed by Christendom,
and Turkey was accepted as a European power. Though the road to the Hungarian
plains was open before the Turks after Sigismund's disaster and flight, Bayazid
preferred to consolidate his Balkan possessions and bide his time for further
expansion. Meanwhile, the crusade had become an anachronism. Only a few revered
its memory and continued to work hard at resuscitating the moribund movement.
After the defeat of 1396, Philip of Mézières, in his retreat
in the convent of the Celestines in Paris, composed yet another of his famous
epistles, which he entitled Epistre lamentable et consolatoire and presented
to the duke of Burgundy. 28 In it, he enumerates the causes of the calamity
and prescribes remedies for healing the wounds of Christendom, which lacked
the four virtues of good governance—Order, Discipline, Obedi ence,
and Justice. In their stead, the three daughters of Lucifer—Van ity,
Covetousness, and Luxury—ruled the whole society. The "Nova Militia
Passionis" is termed the only hope for the eradication of these vices and
for redeeming the honor of (western) Christendom. Philip extols the principles
of his new organization, representing the summa 


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