19 DECEMBER 1885, Page 16


TO THE EDITOR OP THE " SPECTATOR.” J Sie,—Mr. Robinson's late inquiries at Constantinople are of extreme interest ; but I am not in the least surprised to hear that there is no hope of any great additions to knowledge being made by objects in possession of the Turk. The sack of Con- stantinople by the Franks and Venetians must not be forgotten, and in your article headed "Aladdin's Cave" in your last number you say that "the House of Othman pillaged Thrace, Mace- donia, Greece, Asia Minor, and Constantinople itself, while they were still full of the work of that elder world which feudal Europe in its madness suffered them to keep." This leaves out the work of all destroyers before the Ottomans. Before they arose at all the greater part of Asia Minor had, to say nothing of Saracen inroads, been deliberately made a wilderness by the Seljuk Turks. Greece, when the Ottomans entered it, had largely become part of "feudal Europe." The long struggles between East-Roman and Bulgarian must have swept away a good deal of the " work of the elder world " from Macedonia and Thrace. Your article goes on,—" Constantinople, in particular, when it fell, was a museum choked with the art treasures accumulated for nine hundred years." This is literally true of Constantinople when it fell in 1204 ; it is no longer true of Constantinople when it fell in 1453. " Nothing like the Palace of the Palmologi can ever have • existed." Nothing like the Palace of the Komndnoi can ever have existed ; the Palwologi can have had nothing but what they may have contrived to gather in the 190 years of the restored Empire. The renegade Crusaders of 1204 had the greatest opportunity for both destruction and plunder that ever fell to the lot of any company of spoilers, and they used it pretty thoroughly in both ways. Both with regard to artistic treasures and to everything else, it should always be borne in mind that the Ottomans had not to deal with the mighty East- Roman power as it stood under Macedonian Basil or Komnenian Manuel. They found only a mere fragment of it, which con- tinned its name and traditions, and which had had the good luck to win back the ancient capital, but which otherwise was simply one of the endless States, Greek, Latin, and Slavonic, which arose out of the breaking-up of the Empire after the conquests of the Franks and Venetians in 1204.—I am Sir, &c., EDWARD A. FREEMAN.

16 St. Giles', Oxford, .December 14th.

[The Ottomans ought to have inherited the plunder of the Seljuk Turks ; and as to the Crusaders, where is the proof that

they stole objects of art If so, what did they do with them ? Mere destruction was not their objeet.—En. Spectator.]