MEMOIRS OF BARON DE TOTT
François, Baron de Tott (1733-93) was a French diplomat and military engineer much involved in the affairs of the Ottoman Empire in the third quarter of the eighteenth century. His Mémoires du Baron de Tott Sur les Turcs et les Tartares were published in Paris in 1784. An anonymous translation from the French was published in London in 1785. The following extract, the only one concerning Greek love, is taken from the second edition, published there in 1786 as Memoirs of Baron de Tott. Containing the State of the Turkish Empire & the Crimea, During the late War with Russia.
Part the Third
Describing fighting near Constantinople in about 1771 between the Janissaries, the “Grand Seignior” (Sultan)’s household troops and others of his troops during the 1768-74 Russo-Turkish War, in which de Tott was commissioned by the Ottoman government to improve its defences:
The Janissaries of the Company of the Lasses had, for some time before, been at variance with the Troops employed on board the Fleet. The Quarrel began in one of the Taverns of Galata, where a Boy, of about thirteen or fourteen, used to dance to bring Custom to the House. As he equally pleased both Parties, the dispute concerning him rose to a great height; and, the one successively taking him from the other, they at length publicly declared War, of which Galata became the Seat.
Their Outrages were carried so far that, one Party having taken refuge within the principal Mosque, the other carried off Cannon from some Merchant-ships, and fired on the Gate of the Temple. In every Corner of the Street there was an Ambuscade, and the Night was disturbed by continual firing, within the hearing of the Grand Seignior himself. All Business and Communication of every kind was interrupted.
The Government, which had neglected to stifle this Contention in its Birth, and which might easily have perceived to what Extremities it was carried, by the Attack on my Attendants, knowing no method of re-establishing good Order, but that of destroying the Human Species, thought it best to suffer the Combatants to murder each other, after having endeavoured, to no purpose, to procure a Reconciliation.
This scandalous Anarchy lasted three days, during which more than fifty persons were killed. I happened to be with the Visir when word was brought him of some new, and still more obstinate, Engagements, between the belligerent Parties. So much Bravery, at Galata, said he, and Cowardice, on the Danube, plainly shews the Turks are only afraid of Hats. We shall never quell this Disturbance, continued he, laughing, without we send Tott with a score of Frenchmen, to bring them to Reason.
It was time to treat the subject seriously, for it was to be feared lest the other Companies of the Janissaries, taking part with their Comrades, should spread the Tumult to Constantinople itself. Vigorous measures were, on this account, not without Difficulty. Policy was therefore employed, and the subject of their contention taken from them; but the Party who had got possession would not consent to give him up, without the most positive Assurances that he should not be yielded to their Opponents; and the Boy, surrendered on these Conditions, was directly hanged, to the great satisfaction of those who had fought for him but a moment before. [pp. 130-132]
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