End of Europe's Middle Ages
After the disaster at Varna, Pope Calixtus III was happy to report on the success of Janos Hunyadi's defense of Belgrade in 1456. His letter to a Burgundian bishop is full of optimism and praise and closes with a request for more money.
Oh admirable empire of our Saviour! The insane Turks, burning with anger and with a most powerful army, occupied the plains and the mountains. They pressed hard upon the fortress of Belgrade which is the key to the Hungarian Empire. They destroyed the walls and other defences and thought themselves to be in possession of the fortress. If this fortress had been lost, the very existence of the entire Christian republic would have been in danger. Them would the way be open, and the Turks could have entered Hungary without opposition. In this case the Turks would have gained the opportunity to put to the test the entire Christian world.
But the Supreme Lord did not allow his religion to be covered with such darkness. Neither did he permit such a shame to be showered upon the true faith The barbarians were routed by the most powerful Athlete of Christ, Prince John Hunyadi, and a small army of plebians and unarmed soldiers With joy in our hearts we were in a state of exaltation after this memorable victory. We lost our old apathy which had been caused by the inaction of the Christian princes. And we gave thanks and honour to God and ordered that all Christendom should pray and rejoice at this great victory We give you our Encyclical naming prayers that we asked for ... We now nurture the hope, based on our inviolate faith, that we will not only reconquer Constantinople, but we will free Europe, Asia, and the Holy Land. The Catholic princes should follow us, and they should toil for the faith of Christ, their foremost obligation. And because we are presently burdened with unbearable expenses , we exhort you and your princes to obtain more funds in addition to what you were already obliged to collect.
We cannot perform such a great task unless the Christians assist us. Besides, we send to those parts our beloved son, Peter Clerici
Made in Rome, under the ring of the Fisherman, at St. Peter's, August 14, 1456. In the Second Year of our Pontificate.
Source: Theiner, A., ed. VETERA MONUMENTA HISTORICA HUNGARIAM SACRAM ILLUSTRANTIA. Rome: Vatican Press, 1860. Volume II, 280-281. Cited in Alfred J. Bannan and Achilles Edelenyi. Documentary History of Eastern Europe. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1970. 78-80.
The End of Europe's Middle Ages / Applied History Research Group / University of Calgary
Copyright © 1998, The Applied History Research Group