On the 11th and 12th of September 1683, 333 years ago, Vienna was on the verge of falling to the Ottoman Turks. Fortunately for all European Christians then and today, a relief force arrived, led by the Polish King Jan Sobieski III. Sobieski, with his mounted “winged hussars”, descended from the Wienerwald and routed the army led by Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha. The Turks fled ignominiously back into Hungary, and the Islamic tide began to ebb from Europe.
This defeat left the Ottoman Empire so weak that it never launched another military attack on Europe. Many people in the countries of the former Habsburg Monarchy, especially in Austria, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, celebrated today, especially since Pope Innocent XI. declared this day a high holiday, binding for the whole Church. The great victory of the Polish King Jan Sobieski and the Bavarian Kurfuerst Max Emanuel together with the combined Christian armies were then still valued by the Church.
For a full account of the Battle of Vienna, see “The Other September 11th”.
From the Gates of Vienna
The pamphlet shown at the bottom of this post was printed in England to celebrate that victory over the Turks. Notice the pamphlet’s statement that the Turks were defeated “Without the Help of the Most Christian MONARCH” — a snide reference to King Louis XIV of France, who declined to join the coalition against the Turks, hoping for his Austrian rival to be overthrown so that France might gobble up the leftover pieces.
Now, more than three hundred years later, the Islamic tide has returned. This time the “grandchildren of the Ottomans” have entered the European heartland unopposed, invited and welcomed by European leaders eager to submit to them.
Times have changed. Plans announced by the FPÖ (Austrian Freedom Party) for a commemoration of the 333rd anniversary of the breaking of the Siege caused controversy in Vienna. The FPÖ was strongly criticized for proposing an activity that would be provocative to their Turkish guests. Celebrating the victory of 1683 would be insensitive, and maybe even Islamophobic.
The Turks hold massive celebrations every year for the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Is that provocative and insensitive? Or even Christianophobic?
It took three centuries for the Austrians to lose the plot, but we Americans do everything so much faster — we lost the plot after only a decade and a half.