List Of Contents | Contents of Captain John Smith by, Charles Dudley Warner
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flaming course of their flight in the air, but presently after their
fall, the lamentable noise of the miserable slaughtered Turkes was
most wonderful to heare."

While Smith was amusing the Turks in this manner, the Earl Rosworme
planned an attack on the opposite suburb, which was defended by a
muddy lake, supposed to be impassable.  Furnishing his men with
bundles of sedge, which they threw before them as they advanced in
the dark night, the lake was made passable, the suburb surprised, and
the captured guns of the Turks were turned upon them in the city to
which they had retreated.  The army of the Bashaw was cut to pieces
and he himself captured.

The Earl of Meldritch, having occupied the town, repaired the walls
and the ruins of this famous city that had been in the possession of
the Turks for some threescore years.

It is not our purpose to attempt to trace the meteoric course of
Captain Smith in all his campaigns against the Turks, only to
indicate the large part he took in these famous wars for the
possession of Eastern Europe.  The siege of Alba Regalis must have
been about the year 1601--Smith never troubles himself with any
dates--and while it was undecided, Mahomet III.--this was the prompt
Sultan who made his position secure by putting to death nineteen of
his brothers upon his accession--raised sixty thousand troops for its
relief or its recovery.  The Duc de Mercoeur went out to meet this
army, and encountered it in the plains of Girke.  In the first
skirmishes the Earl Meldritch was very nearly cut off, although he
made "his valour shine more bright than his armour, which seemed then
painted with Turkish blood."  Smith himself was sore wounded and had
his horse slain under him.  The campaign, at first favorable to the
Turks, was inconclusive, and towards winter the Bashaw retired to
Buda.  The Duc de Mercoeur then divided his army.  The Earl of
Rosworme was sent to assist the Archduke Ferdinand, who was besieging
Caniza; the Earl of Meldritch, with six thousand men, was sent to
assist Georgio Busca against the Transylvanians; and the Duc de
Mercoeur set out for France to raise new forces.  On his way he
received great honor at Vienna, and staying overnight at Nuremberg,
he was royally entertained by the Archdukes Mathias and Maximilian.
The next morning after the feast--how it chanced is not known--he was
found dead His brother-inlaw died two days afterwards, and the hearts
of both, with much sorrow, were carried into France.

We now come to the most important event in the life of Smith before
he became an adventurer in Virginia, an event which shows Smith's
readiness to put in practice the chivalry which had in the old
chronicles influenced his boyish imagination; and we approach it with
the satisfaction of knowing that it loses nothing in Smith's

It must be mentioned that Transylvania, which the Earl of Meldritch,
accompanied by Captain Smith, set out to relieve, had long been in a
disturbed condition, owing to internal dissensions, of which the
Turks took advantage.  Transylvania, in fact, was a Turkish
dependence, and it gives us an idea of the far reach of the Moslem
influence in Europe, that Stephen VI., vaivode of Transylvania, was,
on the commendation of Sultan Armurath III., chosen King of Poland.

To go a little further back than the period of Smith's arrival, John
II.  of Transylvania was a champion of the Turk, and an enemy of
Ferdinand and his successors.  His successor, Stephen VI., surnamed
Battori, or Bathor, was made vaivode by the Turks, and afterwards, as
we have said, King of Poland.  He was succeeded in 1575 by his
brother Christopher Battori, who was the first to drop the title of
vaivode and assume that of Prince of Transylvania.  The son of
Christopher, Sigismund Battori, shook off the Turkish bondage,
defeated many of their armies, slew some of their pashas, and gained
the title of the Scanderbeg of the times in which he lived.  Not able
to hold out, however, against so potent an adversary, he resigned his
estate to the Emperor Rudolph II., and received in exchange the
dukedoms of Oppelon and Ratibor in Silesia, with an annual pension of
fifty thousand joachims.  The pension not being well paid, Sigismund
made another resignation of his principality to his cousin Andrew
Battori, who had the ill luck to be slain within the year by the
vaivode of Valentia.  Thereupon Rudolph, Emperor and King of Hungary,
was acknowledged Prince of Transylvania.  But the Transylvania
soldiers did not take kindly to a foreign prince, and behaved so
unsoldierly that Sigismund was called back.  But he was unable to
settle himself in his dominions, and the second time he left his
country in the power of Rudolph and retired to Prague, where, in
1615, he died unlamented.

It was during this last effort of Sigismund to regain his position
that the Earl of Meldritch, accompanied by Smith, went to
Transylvania, with the intention of assisting Georgio Busca, who was
the commander of the Emperor's party.  But finding Prince Sigismund
in possession of the most territory and of the hearts of the people,
the earl thought it best to assist the prince against the Turk,
rather than Busca against the prince.  Especially was he inclined to
that side by the offer of free liberty of booty for his worn and
unpaid troops, of what they could get possession of from the Turks.

This last consideration no doubt persuaded the troops that Sigismund
had "so honest a cause."  The earl was born in Transylvania, and the
Turks were then in possession of his father's country.  In this
distracted state of the land, the frontiers had garrisons among the
mountains, some of which held for the emperor, some for the prince,
and some for the Turk.  The earl asked leave of the prince to make an
attempt to regain his paternal estate.  The prince, glad of such an
ally, made him camp-master of his army, and gave him leave to plunder
the Turks.  Accordingly the earl began to make incursions of the
frontiers into what Smith calls the Land of Zarkam--among rocky
mountains, where were some Turks, some Tartars, but most Brandittoes,
Renegadoes, and such like, which he forced into the Plains of Regall,
where was a city of men and fortifications, strong in itself, and so
environed with mountains that it had been impregnable in all these

It must be confessed that the historians and the map-makers did not
always attach the importance that Smith did to the battles in which
he was conspicuous, and we do not find the Land of Zarkam or the city
of Regall in the contemporary chronicles or atlases.  But the region
is sufficiently identified.  On the River Maruch, or Morusus, was the
town of Alba Julia, or Weisenberg, the residence of the vaivode or
Prince of Transylvania.  South of this capital was the town
Millenberg, and southwest of this was a very strong fortress,
commanding a narrow pass leading into Transylvania out of Hungary,
probably where the River Maruct: broke through the mountains.  We
infer that it was this pass that the earl captured by a stratagem,
and carrying his army through it, began the siege of Regall in the
plain.  "The earth no sooner put on her green habit," says our
knight-errant," than the earl overspread her with his troops."
Regall occupied a strong fortress on a promontory and the Christians
encamped on the plain before it.

In the conduct of this campaign, we pass at once into the age of
chivalry, about which Smith had read so much.  We cannot but
recognize that this is his opportunity.  His idle boyhood had been
soaked in old romances, and he had set out in his youth to do what
equally dreamy but less venturesome devourers of old chronicles were
content to read about.  Everything arranged itself as Smith would
have had it.  When the Christian army arrived, the Turks sallied out
and gave it a lively welcome, which cost each side about fifteen
hundred men.  Meldritch had but eight thousand soldiers, but he was
re-enforced by the arrival of nine thousand more, with six-and-twenty
pieces of ordnance, under Lord Zachel Moyses, the general of the
army, who took command of the whole.

After the first skirmish the Turks remained within their fortress,
the guns of which commanded the plain, and the Christians spent a
month in intrenching themselves and mounting their guns.

The Turks, who taught Europe the art of civilized war, behaved all
this time in a courtly and chivalric manner, exchanging with the
besiegers wordy compliments until such time as the latter were ready
to begin.  The Turks derided the slow progress of the works, inquired
if their ordnance was in pawn, twitted them with growing fat for want
of exercise, and expressed the fear that the Christians should depart
without making an assault.

In order to make the time pass pleasantly, and exactly in accordance
with the tales of chivalry which Smith had read, the Turkish Bashaw
in the fortress sent out his challenge: "That to delight the ladies,
who did long to see some courtlike pastime, the Lord Tubashaw did
defy any captaine that had the command of a company, who durst combat
with him for his head."

This handsome offer to swap heads was accepted; lots were cast for
the honor of meeting the lord, and, fortunately for us, the choice
fell upon an ardent fighter of twenty-three years, named Captain John
Smith.  Nothing was wanting to give dignity to the spectacle.  Truce
was made; the ramparts of this fortress-city in the mountains (which
we cannot find on the map) were "all beset with faire Dames and men
in Armes"; the Christians were drawn up in battle array; and upon the
theatre thus prepared the Turkish Bashaw, armed and mounted, entered
with a flourish of hautboys; on his shoulders were fixed a pair of
great wings, compacted of eagles' feathers within a ridge of silver
richly garnished with gold and precious stones; before him was a
janissary bearing his lance, and a janissary walked at each side
leading his steed.

This gorgeous being Smith did not keep long waiting.  Riding into the
field with a flourish of trumpets, and only a simple page to bear his

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