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is peopled with representatives of some of the greatest races that the world has ever known. There are the Arnauts of Albania, strange remnants of a prehistoric race of whose ancestry or origin the world knows nothing, save that before Greece and Rome were founded they were there, and now centuries' after Greece and Rome have fallen they are still there-remote, unique, unconquerable. There are Greeks, who once made the plains of Thrace and the narrow seas the battlegrounds on which to protect the dawning soul of Europe from the decadent body of Asia. There are the Bulgars, who came down from the dreary plains between the Volga and the Urals to plant the rose garden of Europe. There are the Serbs, who wandered south from Poland to found a great though short-lived empire. There are the Ottoman Turks, who folloved in the track of Darius and Xerxes and conquered where the Persians had failed, and who by their conquests changed all the subsequent history of the world. There are the Jews, most marvelous of peoples, who after more thousands of years than most nations know hundreds, are still distinct, immutable, with scarcely a change of character since the days of Solomon. There are Roumanians, who still proudly call themselves Romans; Russians, Germans, Italians, and a contingent of almost every nation under the sun.
THE CENTER OF THE OLD WORLD
And these are gathered together in that land which of all is perhaps most entitled to be known as the center of the world. There is no other country round which the history of the human race has so much revolved and upon which human interest has so much centered. Look at a map of the world as it was known by the ancients, or was
imagined by them, and observe its place. It occupies the center of the stage, in full blazing spotlight of the world's attention. On the one hand, Europe; on the other, Asia. At the North, the vast regions of the Slavs, the Bulgars, the Tartars; at the South, the immemorial civilization of Egypt and Ethiopia. And this region, the point at which they all meet; the veritable Four Corners of the world. There is no more certain law of physics than that forces move along lines of least resistance. Forces moving North and South or East and West found the lines of least resistance leading them directly to the Bosporus and Dardanelles.
Thousands of years ago it was recognized that the power which held those Straits controlled the destinies of the world. Later discoveries in geography, the opening of new routes of travel, and the invention of new methods and systems of transportation have greatly modified these conditions; yet even to this day those lands and waters retain a large degree of their old-time importance.
ON THE BOSPORUS
We speak familiarly of Constantinople with less of reverence or of awe than of Babylon, Rome, Athens, or Jerusalem, yet it easily ranks with them as one of the five or six greatest cities of the ancient world. More than six centuries before the Christian era it was founded by the Megarians and Argives, under the lead of Byzas, from whom it took its ancient name, Byzantium. Tradition has it that the site was divinely selected and directed by the Delphic Oracle. In the Greco-Persian Wars it was destroyed by the armies of Darius, but after the immortal battle of Platea the Spartan hero Pausanias regained it and rebuilt it. Alcibiades, Lysander, Xenophon and Epaminondas
and many other great names in Grecian history are inseparably associated with the city upon the Bosporus; and after them the names of Roman emperors and conquerors. The place was attacked and largely destroyed by Alexander Severus, who thus unwittingly struck a deadly blow at his own Roman Empire. For with the fortifications of Byzantium destroyed, the fleets of the Goths were enabled to come down the Danube and other rivers into the Black Sea and thence through the Straits into the Mediterranean. It was not until the fourth century of our era that the city was rebuilt by Constantine the Great, endowed with his name and made the Eastern Capital of the Roman Empire, soon to become the capital of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire. As such it played a great part in history for many centuries. You may still see there the stately ruins of the castle of Belisarius, the last of the great Roman conquerors. The tides of Turkish and Tartar invasion swept past the city into Europe, but could not overwhelm it. Even after the Ottoman Turks had conquered Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia and most of Thrace, and had established their capital at Adrianople, the city of Constantine still seemed impregnable. When at last, after one of the most famous and heroic defenses in history, deserted and betrayed by those who should have been its friends and defenders, it finally fell in 1453, a new epoch came upon the world. For the fall of Constantinople threw into Turkish hands that one great gateway between Europe and the East, and that was what set the Portuguese and other navigators, explorers and adventurers to seeking new routes to the Indies, and finally sent Columbus across the Atlantic to seek the back door of Asia but instead to find the front door of America. The rise of the new world dates from
the triumph of the Crescent over the Cross on the banks of the Bosporus.
THE ALBANIANS Now let us glance for a moment at some of the present dwellers in this historic land. In the extreme west, in the mountainous region along the Adriatic Coast, are the Albanians, or Arnauts, who have the distinction of being one of the only two or three peoples in Europe who so far as we know have never migrated but have been settled where they are today ever since the dawn of history. More than one thousand years before our era there occurred the Dorian invasion, and it was several centuries later before Greece attained the glory which made her unique among the nations of antiquity and still leaves her in memory the unrivaled wonder of the world.
But long before the Dorian invasion this whole region was occupied by what the Greeks called the Pelasgian race.
The origin or the meaning of that word Pelasgian is unknown. But that was what Homer and other ancient Greeks called the people who were there before them. They have all vanished save the Albanians, who today remain the unchanging representatives of the prehistoric Pelasgians. Centuries ago, when the Turks were striving for the conquest of all Europe, the Albanians produced in John Castriot, Prince of Croia, best known as Scanderbeg, one of the supreme, immortal heroes of the world; the man who held his rock citadel for a lifetime against all the might of Othman, and who with a handful of mountaineers rolled back in disaster and dismay the Turkish armies which were threatening all Europe, and sent the proudest and mightiest of the Ottoman Sultans back to Adrianople to die of chagrin and despair and a broken
heart. To this day the Albanians are still the same wild, daring, hospitable, indomitable mountaineers that they were of old, and though for centuries they have been nominally under Turkish rule, they have never fully acknowledged any other authority than their own.
The Bulgars are a Turanian people, kin to the Tartars, Huns and Finns, who had their former home at the earliest date of which we know of them on the vast plains and mountain slopes of Eastern Russia, between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains, where their kingdom was known as Great Bolgary for several centuries. In the seventh century of our era they began their migration, by way of Astrakhan, the Crimea and the northern and western shores of the Black Sea, around to the Balkan region; a horde of wild and savage horsemen, practicing polygamy, and ruled despotically in patriarchal fashion by tribal chiefs. Their invasion was a forerunner of the later Tartar invasions of Genghis Khan and Timur Leng, but while not marked with so extensive conquests or so great savagery as theirs, it was more successful in being more permanent. They marched to the very gates of Constantinople and compelled the Byzantine Emperor to pay them rich tribute and to grant them the extensive provinces which form the Bulgaria of today. These
These savage invaders absorbed the civilization of the lands which they conquered and became a part of the Serbian empire which in the tenth and thirteenth centuries ranked among the great civilized powers of the world. It extended from the Black Sea to the Adriatic and from Thessaly to the Carpathians, and its ruler bore the proud title of Emperor and Autocrat of All the Serbs. In 1389 the fatal battle