Cheap Seats Online 2015 Part B
The Gates of Vienna
By Rich Trzupek:
I don’t believe there are many people left around who would refer to ISIS as the “JV team”, as our Prez so famously did not all that long ago. The refugees fleeing the region, the barbaric murders, the religious persecution, the abuse and subjugation of women and so many other atrocities make it obvious to all but the blindest of eyes that ISIS is a force to feared.
There is disagreement about what motivates ISIS. For many, perhaps most, on the left ISIS is a predictable, if brutal, reaction to American meddling in the region. Basically another version of “Bush’s fault” in other words.
As I have written before, that’s nonsense. Religious-based thuggery is not about revenge, it’s about conquest. And, to understand that, we should go back almost three hundred and fifty years to a tale involving an army of conquest, a dithering emperor, an old king and a remarkable monk.
The year is 1683. Europe is still recovering from the devastating Thirty Years War, a conflict that started out about religion, ended up being about power and left the economy of the continent in tatters.
Sensing weakness, the still-aggressive Ottoman empire hoped to expand its foothold in Europe, using its holdings in the Balkans and Hungary as a base to expand west. The sultan Mehmed IV dreamed of a Europe united under the rule of Islam, featuring a Rome in which every church would be replaced by a mosque.
The key to that expansion was the cosmopolitan, walled city of Vienna. Take Vienna and the floodgates to the rest of Europe would be opened.
And so an army reported to be 100,000 to 300,000 strong was assembled under the leadership of Mehmed’s Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha and given the task of crushing the city.
Nominally leading the opposition was the King of Hungary and Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I. History records that Leopold was a weak and timid ruler. His backbone was bolstered somewhat by a monk from Venice, Marco d’Aviano.
Friar Marco was a remarkable man, by all accounts. A powerful speaker, full of good advice and a genuinely pious man. Without his presence, there is real doubt that Vienna could have held out. He was declared “blessed”, the first step to sainthood, by Pope John Paul II in 2003.
The last major player in this drama was an old, irascible Polish king by the name of Jan III Sobieski, king of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. Louis the XIV of France had a powerful army that could have been sent to Vienna’s relief, but Louis and Leopold detested each other, so Louis was content to let his rival rot.
Not so Sobieski. He led an army of about 20,000 Poles from his capital in Krakow (ancestral home to the Trzupek clan, by the by), and was joined by several tens of thousands German troops.
Put in command of the Allies the old general not only fought off the Ottoman attack, he annihilated it. The coup-de-gras was a cavalry charge of some 18,000 Polish winged hussars, an attack that would decimate the Muslim troops and would go down as the largest cavalry charge in history.
That decisive battle was fought on a day that would become infamous to the many Muslims, then and now, who have dreamed of a Europe in which church steeples are replaced by the spires off mosques: September 11.
Following Vienna, the slow disintegration of the Ottoman empire began, culminating in the formal dissolution of the caliphate following the end of World War I. Many, many Muslims would become more westernized thereafter, still following a version of their religion, but more tolerant version compatible with western ideas of equality and individual liberty.
Many, but not all. The old guard never went away, although it did go into hiding for a time, until hard-liners like the Taliban and bin Laden – disgusted by what they saw as the cancer of western culture corrupting their faith – brought the fight between Islam and the west that stretches back to Vienna and beyond violently back into the open.
That’s who ISIS is and that’s why they fight. Not for revenge. Not because they’re poor or hungry or misunderstood. They fight to conquer and we will, once again, be called to man the gates of Vienna in order to stop them. Don’t know when. Don’t know where. But I know it will happen.