A few years ago a search was made at the Library of Congress for evidence supporting Gibbon's date, July 27, 1299, for the first invasion of Othman into Nicomedia. Failure to verify this date has thrown into more or less confusion the interpretation of the fifth and sixth trumpets of Revelation 9.
Feeling that this line of prophecy which played such an important part in the 1844 movement and our early history, deserves most careful study, I made a recent search through the old libraries of New England, and found in the Harvard University library all of the old Greek histories to which Gibbon refers. The references to Nicephorus Gregoras and Laonicus Chalcondyles, the Athenian, checked up accurately; but the footnote in Gibbon referring to Pachymeres was given incorrectly. On careful examination of this old work, written in Greek and Latin, I found the account of the invasion and the date, as Gibbon gave it, in Book IV, Chapter XXV, page 197 of the edition of 1729, Venice, Historic? Andronici (Byzantine History Michael Palmologus and Andronicus Palmologus), by Georgius Pachymeres. This work was edited and published by Petri Possini at Rome in 1669, and published again in 1729 at Venice. Both volumes are in the Harvard library, and were carefully compared. The paragraph concerning the invasion, translated, reads as follows:
"On the 27th day of the month of July around Baphcem (this region is the renowned Nicomedia), Athman, together with many thousands of soldiers, advancing suddenly attacked."*
Possini has worked out a chronological table based on the records of Pachymeres, and placed the dates in three columns. The first column is used •for the year of the Christian era, the second for the pontifical year, and the third for the year of the emperor. He places Othman's invasion in 1299 A. D., the 5th year of Boniface VIII, who ascended to the papal chair December 24, 1294. Thus July 27th of his 5th year was in 1299. Andronicus II came to the throne in 1282, so that the 18th year of his reign was 1299.
Georgius Pachymeres was born at Nicgea in 1242, and lived until 1310, so that he was a contemporary of Othman. He went to Constantinople with Michael Paheologus in 1262, and was a state and church official at the time when Othman made his invasion of Nicomedia in 1299. Surely no one could question the correctness of his date. (See art. "Pachymeres," International Encyclopedia.)
The time that Othman assumed the prerogatives of "a king" (Rev. 9:10, 11) and began the 150-year period, is given by Creasy in his "History of the Ottoman Empire," pp. 9, 10, as follows:
"It was about this time, A. D. 1299, that he coined money with his own effigy, and caused the public prayers to be said in his name. These among the Oriental nations are regarded as distinctive marks of royalty. . . . Othman himself had gained some advantages over his Caramanian rival; but the weak and wealthy possessions of the Byzantine emperor in the northeast of Asia Minor were more tempting marks for his ambition than the Caramanian plains; and it was over Greek cities and armies that the chief triumphs of the last twenty-six years of Othman's life were achieved.
"Some of Othman's counselors hesitated at the entrance of the bold path of conquest on which their chief strode so firmly; but Othman silenced all remonstrance, and quelled all risk of dissension and mutiny by an act of prompt ferocity, which shows that the great ancestor of the Ottoman Sultans had, besides the traits of chivalrous and noble feelings which we have recorded, a full share of the ruthless cruelty that has been the dark characteristic of the Turkish royal house. Othman's uncle, the aged Dundar, who had marched with Ertoghrul from the Euphrates, seventy years before, was still alive, when Othman, in 1299, summoned a council of his principal followers, and announced to them his intention to attack the lord of the important Greek fortress of Kceprihissar. The old uncle opposed the enterprise. . . . Othman . . . spake not a word in reply, but he shot his old uncle dead upon the spot. . . . Kceprihissar was attacked, and fen."
This information should clear up a vital point with reference to this important line of prophecy, especially important at a time when the Pan-Islamic movement is assuming such proportions. We have long looked forward to the drying up of the river Euphrates and the gathering of the kings of the East to Armageddon. Should not the prophecies relating to the Turkish Empire be studied with renewed interest, and be given their place in the proclamation of the advent message?
South Lancaster, Mass.
*The statement in parenthesis is a translation from Pachymeres, and not a note of my own. All that is included in quotation marks belongs to the original paragraph. The translation out of the Greek was carefully checked by the Latin translation in the margin. I might add further that the chronology worked out by Possini included the eclipses of the sun and moon, so that his chronology should be very accurate. With double check on the year 1299, there can be no question as to the year.—T. M. F.