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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume III: The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

XVIII: The aftermath of the Crusades,   pp. [unnumbered]-666 PDF (24.0 MB)

Page 647

 The revival of the crusade as an international movement in the fourteenth
century had ended with the disaster of Nicopolis in 1396; the massacre of
the flower of the western chivalry by the Turks in Bulgaria had disheartened
the princes of Europe in their intermittent struggle for the deliverance
of the east. 1 Moreover, the internal conditions of European nations, both
political and religious, had already become less and less favorable for united
action under the banner of the cross. Nevertheless, in the face of imminent
danger during the fifteenth century, some measure of defense had to be undertaken
to arrest Ottoman progress. The Orthodox principalities of the Balkans were
overrun by the irresistible Turkish armies, and the kingdom of Hungary was
increasingly becoming the bulwark of European Christendom. Though western
Europe would send occa sional reinforcements to the east, the people of east
Central Europe and the Balkans had to shoulder the main burden of the mortal
strife against the Turks. Thus in the fifteenth century, two movements ran
in parallel lines—both heroic and both hopeless: the Hungarian cru
sade and the defense of Constantinople. In the meantime, desperate attempts
were made to convert the Greeks to Catholicism and thus rouse the monarchs
of the west to save the tottering Byzantine empire from final downfall. But
all this was futile, for western assistance to the east remained insignificant
and relatively ineffective. Apart from the papal curia, the court of Burgundy
became the chief center of crusading propaganda after the tragedy of Nicopolis,
in which Burgundian nobles were the principal victims. While they wanted
to avenge themselves for past humiliation at the hands of the Turks, most
enthusiasts for the cause turned their eyes from the thrones of Europe to
the duke of Burgundy as the richest prince in Europe who might lead a successful
crusade. Philip the Good aspired 
1. See above, chapter I. 

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