Friday, May 6, 2016

Spinning in His Grave

I would like to offer two figures – one political and one religious – from the history of Europe.  What they have seen come of their heroic efforts must be causing a spinning that puts a child’s top to shame.

John III Sobieski (Polish: Jan III Sobieski, Lithuanian: Jonas Sobieskis; 17 August 1629 – 17 June 1696), from 1674 until his death King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, was one of the most notable monarchs of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

What could be upsetting him so?

Sobieski's military skill, demonstrated in wars against the Ottoman Empire, contributed to his prowess as King of Poland….Popular among his subjects, he was an able military commander, most famous for his victory over the Turks at the 1683 Battle of Vienna. After his victories over them, the Ottomans called him the "Lion of Lechistan"; and the Pope called him the savior of Christendom.

The referenced Pope is also spinning, but I will come to him later.

I was thinking about the blood spilt in Europe over the centuries to defend against the Moslem Ottoman Turks when writing my earlier post on Erdogan conquering Europe.  To get some sense of how fast Jan is spinning, it might be worth understanding this history.

For appropriate context, we must go further back in time – to 1529 and the Ottoman Siege of Vienna:

The Siege of Vienna in 1529 was the first attempt by the Ottoman Empire, led by Suleiman the Magnificent, to capture the city of Vienna, Austria. The siege signaled the pinnacle of the Ottoman Empire's power and the maximum extent of Ottoman expansion in central Europe. Thereafter, 150 years of bitter military tension and reciprocal attacks ensued, culminating in the Battle of Vienna of 1683, which marked the start of the 15-year-long Great Turkish War.

The failure of this siege marks, perhaps, the beginning of the end of Ottoman power in Europe.  For the final nail in the Ottoman coffin to advance in Europe, we now move forward to 1683 and Jan III:

The Battle of Vienna took place in Vienna on 11-12 September 1683 after the imperial city of Vienna had been besieged by the Ottoman Empire for two months.

September 11?  Once the salvation of the west; today known for the final step, it seems, in the self-destruction of the west.  We truly have come full circle.

The battle was fought by the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nations under the command of King Jan III Sobieski of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Holy League) against the invading Muslim Ottoman Empire and chiefdoms of the Ottoman Empire, and took place at Kahlenberg Mountain near Vienna. The battle marked the first time Poland and the Holy Roman Empire had cooperated militarily against the Turks, and it is often seen as a turning point in history, after which "the Ottoman Turks ceased to be a menace to the Christian world".

That last sentence will likely have to be re-written in the not-too-distant future.

Contemporary Turkish historian, Silahdar Findiklili Mehmed Agha (1658-1723), described the battle as an enormous defeat and failure for the Empire, the most disastrous one to have taken place since the foundation of the Ottoman statehood (in 1299).

Jan, in a letter to his wife, written a few days after the battle:

Ours are treasures unheard of . . . tents, sheep, cattle and no small number of camels . . . it is victory as nobody ever knew before, the enemy now completely ruined, everything lost for them. They must run for their sheer lives.

And once again, a sentence in need of revision soon:

The battle marked the historic end of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into Europe.

The spinning Pope:

Pope Innocent XI (Latin: Innocentius XI; 16 May 1611 – 12 August 1689), born Benedetto Odescalchi, was Pope from 21 September 1676 to his death in 1689. He is known as the "Saviour of Hungary".

Innocent XI was an enthusiastic initiator of the Holy League which brought together the German Estates and King John III of Poland who in 1683 hastened to the relief of Vienna which was being besieged by the Turks. After the siege was raised, Innocent XI again spared no efforts to induce the Christian princes to lend a helping hand for the expulsion of the Turks from Hungary. He contributed millions of scudi to the Turkish war fund in Austria and Hungary and had the satisfaction of surviving the capture of Belgrade, 6 September 1688.

In addition to his role in the battle against the Turks, he seems like a pretty good guy:

A conservative, he lowered taxes in the Papal States during his pontificate and he also produced a surplus in the papal budget. Because of this surplus he repudiated excessive nepotism within the church. Innocent XI was frugal in matters of governing the Papal States, from dress to leading a life with Christian values.


Consider Vienna – for centuries at the frontline of Europe against the Ottoman Moslems.  During the last century a hidden corner of the west facing the Soviets and communists, surrounded on three sides by this force.  Today, Austria is ridiculed for desiring to manage the Brenner Pass.

No matter how you might feel about what is happening in Europe today, up to and including Erdogan playing the descendants of European Christendom on a string, it is difficult to square today’s events with history’s reality.

Compare these to Merkel and Pope Francis….

No, don’t.  It is impossible to square the leaders – political or religious.

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