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CLAUDE DELAVAL COBHAM
Exerpta Cypria
page 94

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the Queen and his posthumous child heirs of the kingdom. The child died in infancy, and the Queen remained in sole possession, hut she would soon have fallen a victim to the ambition of the great island nobles, the craft of the Saltans of Egypt, and the farsightedness of Ferdinand, King of Naples, who longed to make himself master of her kingdom through a marriage with the Queen, if she had not been able to range against these manifest perils the forces of her own country for her maintenance and defence. At last finding herself constantly exposed to violence and to treachery she accepted the advice of her brother George Coruaro, who suggested that she shim Id return to Venice and abandon to the Republic her sovereign rights and the guardianship of the kingdom. Cyprus, henceforth reduced to a province, was defended down to the time of which we are about to speak against the turbulence of its inhabitants and the jealousies of its neighbours by the power of Venice. But now the Turkish Sultan Selim, who coveted the island, set himself to attempt its conquest, waving aside the considerations, which had weighed with his predecessors, that the enterprise was difficult in itself, and certain to stir up against his empire the forces o£ the Christian princes joined to the powerful armaments of the Venetians. However one day he went out hunting with his principal Pashas (the Turks call an assembly of this kind a mounted Divan) and laid the question before them. The opinions at first were various, Mehmed, the Grand Vasir, maintaining that it would be more to the advantage and glory of the empire to carry its arms in another direction, either against Spain, to check its aggrandizement and to set free the Moors of Granada, or against places which might pave the way to conquests in the fairest provinces of Europe. The kingdom of Cyprus was, he said, jealously guarded by the Venetians; the forts fully snpplied with troops and artillery, and on the mere report that they would be attacked the Republic had added wonderfully to the fortifications and fastnesses. It ought not to be difficult to the troops of Venice to prevent a landing, and to surprise vessels whose best men would be away, employed in the siege of fortresses; and again, if on the rumour of an attack the Christian powers were stirred to a common defence, how difficult would be the task undertaken by the Porte of carrying on a war in violation of their pledges, and so soon after the signing of treaties of peace ; on these grounds prudence and the interests of the empire recommended that the acquisition of the kingdom of Cyprus should be deferred to a more convenient season, and that the Venetians should be lulled with the prospects of peace until they could be taken defenceless and unawares. Piali and Mustafa Pasha were of the opposite opinion, though rather for their private ends and their hatred of Mehmed than for the real good of the empire. They suggested to the Sultan that the forces of his kingdom could not be directed to a worthier object than that of adding to it an island conveniently sitnated and serviceably rich, and which harboured the corsairs of the Levant, who obstructed the free passage of the seas, and were a danger and menace to Musai mans on the voyage to Mecca. That the power of Venice was not sufficiently flourishing to resist the luck and valour of the Ottoman Empire: that the assistance of the princes of Christendom was uncertain, and generally of little service, for past conflicts had made it clear that they might figure as an appendage or ornament, without being a substantial help, to their allies. That the defence of the Cypriot strongholds, and the very existence of the kingdom, depended solely on a few garrisons, which would be reduced by privations and assaults before they could be reinforced by expeditions from other countries. That the natives of the island had through long peace laid aside their military habits, the feudal soldiers had abandoned the nse of arms for ease and Inxnry, and in their stead were employed a low class of mercenaries. That an attack 88 EXCERPTA CYPRIA.

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