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Sultan, the grandees of the empire, and the
remainder of the Greek population. Its
markets and its streets were broad, and paved
with flags of stone. Every trade occupied a
distinct place, and the markets were closed
by gates at night. From this description,
which would now apply to most Oriental
towns, we might infer that Constantinople
afterwards became the model city of the East.
But it is added, that in the fifteenth century
most of the artisans and shopkeepers were
women. The second quarter of the city was
called Galata, and was principally inhabited
by Christian Franks of many nations as
Genoese, Venetians, Romans, and French.
They were under the authority of the
Emperor, who nominated what they call Alkomes,
or a court to govern them. They paid an
annual tribute, but often revolted and warred
against the Emperor, until the Pope, or
patriarch, interposed to make peace between
them. All were devoted to commerce. " I
have seen about a hundred galleys and other
great ships there," says Ibn-Batutah, " without
counting smaller craft. The markets of
this quarter are large but full of filth, and
are traversed by a dirty river. The churches
of these people are also disgusting, and
contain nothing good."

Then the worthy traveller goes on to talk
of the great church of St. Sophia, which has
been closed for so many centuries against
Christians, whilst remaining the pole-star of
orthodox popes. According to him, it was
founded by Assag, son of Barakia, who was a
son of Solomon's aunt. In those days the
Greeks had it all their own way, and set the
example of keeping strangers rigidly out.
Ibn-Batutah was not allowed to enter further
than the great enclosure. He describes the
exterior as very splendidly adorned, but
mentions that shops existed within the sacred
limits. In order to be certain that none but
good Christians entered the church, guardians
were posted, who compelled every one to
kneel before a cross, which (says the
traveller) was greatly respected by those people.
It was a fragment of the real cross, preserved
in a coffer of gold. Ibn-Batutah gives
a good many details of the religious customs
existing at Constantinople. The number of
monks and other people living by religion
seems to have been immense. What
particularly struck him was a convent of five
hundred virgins, dressed in haircloth, with
felt caps on their heads, which were shaved.
These women, he says, were of exquisite
beauty, but the austerity of their life was
marked upon their faces. When he went to
see them, a young boy was reading the Gospel
to them in a voice of marvellous beauty.
Having told many other facts of the same
nature, the traveller exclaims again: " Verily,
the greater part of the population of this city
consists of monks and priests. The churches
were innumerable. All the inhabitants,
military or not, poor and rich, went about with
great parasols summer and winter." Do we
not now begin completely to understand the
great disaster which happened about a
century afterwards?

One day Ibn-Batutah met an old man with
a long white beard and a handsome countenance,
walking on foot in a dress of horsehair
and a felt cap. Before him and behind him
was a troop of monks; in his hand was a
stick, and about his neck a chaplet. When
the Greek who had been given to our traveller
as a guide saw him, he got down from his
horse and said "—  Do as I do; for this is the
father of the king." It was indeed George,
the father of Andronicus. He spoke to the
Greek, who knew Arabic, and said: " Tell
this Saracen that I press the hand that has
been at Jerusalem and the foot which has
walked on the Rock of Jacob." Then he
touched Ibn-Batutah's feet, and passed his
hand over his own face. Afterwards, they
walked hand in hand together, talking of
Jerusalem and the Christians who were still
there, until they entered the enclosure of
St. Sophia. When he approached the
principal gateway a troop of priests and monks
came out to salute him, for he was one of
their chiefs. On seeing them, he let go the
hand of the traveller, who said to him: "I
wish to enter with thee into this church."
But the old king replied: " Whoever enters
must do obeisance to the Cross, according to
the law of the ancients, which cannot be
transgressed." So saying, he entered alone,
and Ibn-Batutah saw him no more.

It will be seen that our traveller looked at
everything from a particular point of view,
and was not very fertile in general observations.
What he relates, however, will be
sufficient to suggest the wonderful change
that has come over those regions since he
wrote. Every thing and every race seems to
to have changed its place. The Russians were
then spoken of as an obscure tribe: the
Turks, recently emerged from the depths of
Central Asia, were indulging, under their
tents, in a foretaste of Imperial splendour;
the Greeks were gradually sinking into the
slough of mere formal religion, and becoming
effeminate under their silken parasols. The
Franks appeared merely as strangers, freely
trafficking with either party, but trying here
and there to establish a footing. One of the
most curious parts of Ibn-Batutah's rapid
narrative is the sketch of the story of Beialoun.
She had been made over to Uzbek Khan
from political motives, but had probably not
won any extravagant share of his affections.
At any rate, by her conduct on her arrival in
Christendom, she seemed determined to have
no more of barbarian life. The Turks who
accompanied, soon saw that she professed the
religion of her father, and desired to remain
with him. They asked her permission,
therefore, to return; which she granted, after
bestowing presents upon them. Ibn-Batutah
also shared in her bounty. He received