In the wake of the thirteenth anniversary of the Islamic attacks of 9/11, I found myself revisiting the stand at the Gates of Vienna. I had already known about the Battle of Vienna, but, in the past, I had glossed over the specifics—the pertinent dates of the stand, September 11-12, 1683, and the leadership role that the King of Poland, Jan Sobieski, played.
The battle was won by the combined forces of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the latter being represented only by the forces of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland (the march of the Lithuanian army was delayed; as a result they arrived in Vienna after it was relieved). The Viennese garrison was led by Ernst Rüdiger Graf von Starhemberg, an Austrian subject of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor. The overall command was held by the commander of the Polish forces, the King of Poland, Jan III Sobieski.
As it happens, I am reading—or, rather listening to–Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, which, highlights the attempt of the two to rid Europe of the Poles. Of course, we know that the Poles were not unique in this respect, but the attempt to exterminate the Poles is particularly ironic in light of the role that the 17th century Polish monarch played in protecting Europe from Islam.
All of the European tribes/nation-states were long-standing enemies to each other, and, in fact, resumed their wars following the successful pushback of the Muslims. Indeed, after the death of Jan Sobieski’s successor, Poland fell into civil war, and a century later, Austria, Prussia and Russia partitioned Poland–which only came back into existence in 1918 at the end of World War I. As I’ve already alluded to, the 20th century incarnations of the latter three nations would do again on September 1, 1939.
But, the point is that the European kingdoms/national entities united to defeat a common foe: Islam. And, they united under a common banner: Christianity. (Sobieski had been asked by Pope Innocent XI to lead the coalition.)
A couple of days ago, I pointed to the role that Islam played—and is still playing–in the fragmentation of the African continent. Islamic slave raiders have been committing a primitive form of genocide against the hundreds of tribes of Africa for 1400 years and many observers have noted how Africans have failed to develop over these same centuries.
But, if we put all of the information together, we can easily see what a difference unity makes.
One set of tribes united against invaders and their continent flourished, in spite of continual internecine wars. Another set of tribes failed to unite against the same invaders and, as a result, the continent became mired in chaos, slavery and death. The other result: the continent was softened up for colonization by any power seeking to do so.
There’s another difference between the two continents in relation to Islamic incursion and it’s a spiritual one.
[To be continued]
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