BAYEZID I. (1347-1403), Ottoman sultan, surnamed Yilderim or “Lightning,” from the great rapidity of his movements, succeeded his father Murad I. on the latter’s assassination on the field of Kossovo, 1389, and signalized his accession by ordering at once the execution of his brother Yakub, who had distinguished himself in the battle. His arms were successful both in Europe and Asia, and he was the first Ottoman sovereign to be styled “sultan,” which title he induced the titular Abbasid caliph to confer on him. After routing the chivalry of Christendom at the battle of Nikopoli in 1396, he pursued his victorious career in Greece, and Constantinople would doubtless have fallen before his attack, had not the emperor Manuel Palaeologus bought him off by timely concessions which reduced him practically to the position of Bayezid’s vassal. But his conquests met with a sudden and overpowering check at the hands of Timur (Tamerlane). Utterly defeated at Angora by the Mongol invader, Bayezid became his prisoner, and died in captivity some months later, in March 1403.
Bayezid first married Devlet Shah Khatun, daughter of the prince of Kermian, who brought him in dowry Kutaiah and its dependencies. Two years before his accession he also married a daughter of the emperor John Palaeologus.
BAYEZID II. (1447-1512), sultan of Turkey, was the son of Mahommed II., whom he succeeded in 1481, but only after gaining over the janissaries by a large donative, which henceforth became for centuries the invariable prerogative of that undisciplined body on the accession of a new sultan. Before he could establish himself on the throne a long struggle ensued with his brother Prince Jem. Being routed, Jem fled for refuge to the knights of St John at Rhodes, who, in spite of a safe-conduct granted to him, accepted a pension from Bayezid as the price for keeping him a close prisoner. (See Aubusson, Pierre d'.)
So long as Jem lived he was a perpetual menace to the sultan’s peace, and there was considerable rivalry among the sovereigns of Europe for the possession of so valuable an instrument for bringing pressure to bear upon the Porte for the purpose of extracting money or concessions. By common consent the prince was ultimately entrusted to Pope Innocent VIII., who used him not only to extract an annual tribute out of the sultan, but to prevent the execution of Bayezid’s ambitious designs in the Mediterranean. His successor, Alexander VI., used him for a more questionable purpose, namely, not only to extract the arrears of the pension due for Jem’s safe-keeping, but, by enlarging on Charles V.’s intention of setting him up as sultan, to persuade Bayezid to aid him against the emperor. There appears, however, to be no truth in the report that Bayezid succeeded in bribing the pope to have Jem poisoned. The prince, who had lived on excellent terms with Alexander, died at Naples in February 1495, possibly as the result of excesses in which he had been deliberately encouraged by the pope.
Whether as a result of his fear of the rivalry of Jem, or of his personal character, Bayezid showed little of the aggressive spirit of his warlike predecessors; and Machiavelli said that another such sultan would cause Turkey to cease being a menace to Europe. He abandoned the attack on Rhodes at the first check, made concessions, for the sake of peace, to Venice and reduced the tribute due fiom Ragusa. His wars were of the nature of raids, on the Dalmatian coast and into Croatia, Hungary, Moldavia and Poland. The threat of the growing power in the Aegean of Venice, which had acquired Cyprus in 1489, at last roused him to a more serious effort; and in 1499 the war broke out with the republic, which ended in 1502 by the annexation to Turkey of Lepanto and Modon, Coron and Navarino in the Morea. Bayezid himself conducted the siege of Modon in 1500.
The comparative inactivity of Bayezid in the direction of Europe was partly due to preoccupation elsewhere. In the south he was threatened by the dangerous rivalry of Kait Bey, the Mameluke sultan of Egypt, who had extended his power northwards as far as Tarsus and Adana. In 1488 he gained a great victory over the Ottomans, and in 1491 a peace was made which was not again broken till after Bayezid’s death. On the side of Persia too, where the decisive battle of Shurur (1502) had raised to power Ismail, the first of the modern line of shahs, danger threatened the sultan, and the latter years of his reign were troubled by the spread, under the influence of the new Persian power, of the Shi’ite doctrine in Kurdistan and Asia Minor. The forces destined to maintain his authority in Asia had been entrusted by Bayezid to his three sons, Ahmed, Corcud and Selim; and the sultan’s declining years were embittered by their revolts and rivalry. Soon after the great earthquake of 1509, which laid Constantinople in ruins, Selim, the ungovernable pasha of Trebizond, whose vigorous rule in Asia had given Europe an earnest of his future career as sultan, appeared before Adrianople, where Bayezid had sought refuge. The sultan had designated Ahmed as his successor, but Selim, though temporarily defeated, succeeded in winning over the janissaries. On the 25th of April 1512 Bayezid was forced to abdicate in his favour, and died a few days later.
See J. B. Bury in the Cambridge Modern History, vol. i. chap. iii. and bibliography p. 700.
BAY ISLANDS (Islas de la Bahía), a small archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Honduras, of which country it forms an administrative district. Pop. (1905) about 3000, including 500 Indians. The archipelago consists of Roatan or Ruatan, Guanaja or Bonacca, Utilla, Barbareta, Helena, Morat, the Puercos or Hog Islands, and many cays or islets. The Bay Islands have a good soil, a fine climate and an advantageous position. Roatan, the largest, is about 30 m. long by 9 m. broad, with mountains rising to the height of 900 ft., covered with valuable woods and abounding with deer and wild hogs. Its chief towns are Coxen Hole and Puerto Real. Its trade is chiefly with New Orleans in plantains, cocoa-nuts, pineapples and other fruit. Guanaja is 9 m. long by 5 m. broad; it lies 15 m. E.N.E. of Roatan. Wild hogs abound in its thickly-wooded limestone hills. The other islands are comparatively small, and may, in some cases, be regarded as detached parts of Roatan, with which they are connected by reefs. Guanaja was discovered in 1502 by Columbus, but the islands were not colonized until the 17th century, when they were occupied by British logwood cutters from Belize, and pearlers from the Mosquito Coast. Forts were built on Roatan in 1742, but abandoned in 1749. In 1852 the islands were annexed by Great Britain. In 1859 they were ceded to Honduras.
BAYEUX TAPESTRY, THE. This venerable relic consists of a band of linen, 231 ft. long and 20 in. wide, now light brown with age, on which have been worked with a needle, in worsteds of eight colours, scenes representing the conquest of England by the Normans. Of these scenes there are seventy-two, beginning with Harold’s visit to Bosham on his way to Normandy, and ending with the flight of the English from the battle of Hastings, though the actual end of the strip has perished. Along the top and the bottom run decorative borders with figures of animals, scenes from fables of Aesop and of Phaedrus, from husbandry and the chase, and occasionally from the story of the Conquest itself (see Embroidery; Plate I. fig. 7). Formerly known as the Toile de St Jean, it was used on certain feast days to decorate the nave of Bayeux cathedral. Narrowly escaping the perils of the Revolution, it was exhibited in Paris, by Napoleon’s desire, in 1803-1804, and has since been in civil custody at Bayeux, where it is now exhibited under glass. In the Franco-German War (1871) it was hastily taken down and concealed.
“The noblest monument in the world relating to our old English history,” as William Stukeley described it in 1746, it has been repeatedly described, discussed and reproduced, both in France and in England since 1730. The best coloured reproduction is that by C. A. Stothard in 1818, published in the sixth volume of Vetusta Monumenta; but in 1871-1872 the “tapestry” was photographed for the English education authorities by E. Dossetter.
Local tradition assigned the work to the Conqueror’s wife. F. Pluquet, in his Essai historique sur la ville de Bayeux (Caen, 1829), was the first to reject this belief, and to connect it with the Conqueror’s half-brother Odo, bishop of Bayeux, and this view, which is now accepted, is confirmed by the fact that three of the bishop’s followers mentioned in Domesday Book are among the very few named figures on the tapestry. That Odo had it executed for his cathedral seems tolerably certain, but whether it was worked by English fingers or not has been disputed, though some of the words upon it have been held to favour that view. Freeman emphatically pronounced it to be “a contemporary work,” and historically “a primary authority ... in fact the highest authority on the Norman side.” As some of its evidence is unique, the question of its authority is important, and Freeman’s conclusions have been practically 556 confirmed by recent discussion. In 1902 M. Marignan questioned, on archaeological grounds, the date assigned to the tapestry, as the Abbé de la Rue had questioned it ninety years before; but his arguments were refuted by Gaston Paris and M. Lanore, and the authority of the tapestry was vindicated. The famous relic appears to be the solitary survivor of a class, for Abbot Baudri described in Latin verse a similar work executed for Adela, daughter of the Conqueror, and in earlier days the widow of Brihtnoth had wrought a similar record of her husband’s exploits and death at the hard-fought battle of Maldon (991).