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CHAPTER 4: SLAVE POWER
The past twenty years had been good to Bayezid. In our TL, he was responsible for a small dark age. Though bitter from the loss of his father all those years ago, and the simple fact that he had appeased millions empire-wide were enough to turn him into a competent ruler. With the acquisition of thousands of printing presses from Europe, and the establishment of secular universities in Constantinople, Athens and Thessaloniki, the empire was quickly becoming one of the most powerful nations in the known world.
His chamber was magnificent. Delicate silk curtains hung against the windows, blocking light, and an ornate chandelier hung from the ceiling, perhaps three meters in the air. The bedposts had beautiful carvings of horses, soldiers and heroic battles, running vertically along their lengths. Beautiful, however crude they were. He sat for a while, in the gloom, and reminisced over good, and bad times. All the things that had culminated into this point in time, the string events resulting in the empire he had. His empire. The Ottoman empire.
Little slits of light played through the drawn curtains, and pierced the air, glinting and shining off of the dainty, levitating, specks of dust, being blown through the air, by the gentle breeze wafting through the obscured windows.
Over the past twenty years, he had gained the Crimean Khanate as a vassal for his empire. He did not strip it of any land, and at a speech given at a dinner party with the monarchy of the Crimeans, said; "Your land is safe, and you are safe, we will not rob you of your land because we can. We, the Ottomans, are not barbarians ..." He had also doubled the economic output of the empire, and opened several universities. He even experimented with free scholarship at Constantinople, which was dropped after the University became clogged, and a drain on national finances.
Bayezid, in this reality, he considered himself cultured, economically minded, and sophisticated, his fathers views had made him a better ruler, and in turn benefited the empire. But the peaceful decades of Bayezid's rule was about to come to an end.
The Mamluk diplomat stood square before him, in the main hall of the Palace of Osman. Before the fountain, the diplomat stood, with legs spaced apart, and with a showy scroll in his outstretched arm. There was a sort of vicious keeness in the diplomat's eyes. Bayezid snatched it from him, and when the diplomat quickly recoiled, the Sultan's guard almost stabbed him with their pike. Once the staring-match had ended, the pike were slowly drawn back into their holder's side.
Bayezid opened the scroll, a paragraph at a time. It read;
"Bayezid, my dear friend, are you blind? It would seem to me that you were. Christians and Jews masquerade in your empire, as Human Beings. Your heretical ways have not made you popular throughout the Muslim World. We have seen your rising power, and we believe it would be prudent to put an end to your rapid expansion, and also to remove your dynasty and its heathenistic beliefs. And so, I am finding myself having to write this declaration of war. Good day to you.
"Kill me if you wish, Ottoman ..." The diplomat said, having never broken his eye contact with him the entire visit.
"You will not get the satisfaction of us retaliating, by killing the messenger. We are not barbarians."
Bayezid's most trusted generals sat around the table. They all looked very worries. Not even a month had passed, and the Mamluks had brushed aside ever force they sent to slow down their advance on Constantinople. Their main armies were stationed in Napoli, and Belgrade, the places considered to be the greatest zones of tension diplomatically. Only a token force was situated at the Ottoman-Mamluk border. "If they attack, our main armies will get their in time." Was the key phrase tossed around commonly at meetings.
One of the generals, the Grand Vizier, Davud Pasha, looked confident, and where everyone else's faces were pale, his was full of colour. "Keep the navy out on patrol. Our ally, Milan, will help us with that. As you all no doubt know, since the demise of Venice, the Milanese navy has grown to tremendous size, filling up the gap left by the Venetian navy."
One of the other generals suddenly jumped out of his slumber, and said, although in a somewhat tired, heavy, grumbling tone; "Which means, as they were not counting on the Milanese joining us in this war, and that even though their navy is superior to ours, they cannot beat the combined naval force of us, AND the Milanese."
Davud smiled slightly, trying to contain his joy. "Exactly. We whittle down their navy, and raid their ports. I mean, burning every single port in Egypt to the ground. Starve them out." He looked around the room, surveying each face, gauging whether or not they might be on his side on the matter. Every one looked as if they had found the answer, they had perked up, they looked lively. Everyone except Bayezid. His face still hung in space, his jaw slack and dangling below his nose. Very cynical looking. "Sultan?"
Bayezid exhaled. "That still does not answer the main problem, Davud."
Davud's face melted. "Then I have no idea. Withdrawn."
The generals sat in the demi-gloom for over fifteen minutes in complete silence. Then Bayezid began rolling his eyes, and biting his tongue, as if contemplating something. "Where are the Mamluk armies currently?"
"Mersin province, sir. The will be in Constantinople within two to three months."
Bayezid stood up, and for the first time during the entire meeting, he smiled. "The Milanese have a small army, yes?" He asked. "Yes," came the disbelieving answer from the Generals. "They also have a larger navy than that of ours, no? While their navy is on route to the suggested blockade points, which I hope they will pay heed to, we get a lift. Where is our army now?" "Athens-ish, sir!" came the reply of the generals, now he had piqued their interest. "If we hitch a ride, then where would they be when our two armies met?"
Davud, the chief military mind of the group lulled it over in his head. "About half a month South West of Constantinople. Dangerously close, if you ask me."
"Then it is decided."
The Muslim boy played in the sand. The banks of "Judea" were lovely. That was, they were lovely. The wooden carcasses of Mamluk ships dominated the horizon, their rotting skeletal frame sinking slowly, and eerily into the ocean, while still sticking up skyward. It wasn't just Mamluk ships, but they certainly were in the majority. The Ottoman armies had also raped the countryside behind him, turning it into an awful wasteland. His father had been killed in the battle for Jerusalem, before the Ottomans swept along the coastline. They failed at their first attempt. But two years later, they hit again, and succeeded, and the Mamluk war effort crumpled. They had been drained of manpower. There was no-one left to fight the war. Worse, people all over Egypt, and Syria had been converting to Christianity, and Islam. Some had even began mixing the faiths, in the hope they would find the "true faith." And apparently people were doing it throughout the Ottoman Empire, and the Mamluk Sultanate. Although these people were still rare, they were growing in number. Perhaps within the next generation it would take off.
The little boy continued, pushing sticks into the sand, and making patterns. There was no joy for him, anymore. He had no father, no family, and no hope.
Bayezid was in his chamber, scribbling furiously into a thick, heavy bound book.
Excerpt from Bayezid's memoirs;
Ottoman National Library Authorised reprint no. 1846A17 This edition, printed Mar. 1987 First edition, printed/written Oct. 1491 English Translation Jun. 1932
"The Milanese may soon part from us diplomatically. We have nothing to offer them for their help in the war against the Mamluks. They would not be able to hold down all of Egypt, and we have taken the holy land for ourselves. I plan to use this to my advantage, and build a secular University in Jerusalem. Encouraging men of all three major faiths to the region should eventually displace all loyalty to the Mamluk Sultanate."
"We have decided that we will also absorb a small strip of land connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. We plan to use this as a secondary route to India and China by ferrying cargo and trade over land through this strip, for a price. There are also plans for canal, but many think this is unfeasible. The Milanese are going to have most of the Egyptian coastline, save for a small Mamluk piece. Of course, the Milanese gains will only be a strip of land. The Mamluks have been removed from power and and my brother, Cem has been placed on the throne of Egypt, now our vassal.  The reason I have not annexed Egypt, is because I wish to take only the land I need, The holy land, the strip of land I intend to turn into the road to India, and a land to appease my allies. We Ottomans, are not barbarians ..."
END OF CHAPTER 4