Friday, March 8, 2013

Two battles a thousand years apart

As the eighth century dawned, the powerful Muslim armies continued to advance northward on Europe.  In 732, however, at the Battle of Tours (southwest of Paris) they were finally stopped – by Charles “the Hammer” Martel.

[This was exactly a century after the death of Muhammad].

The Franks were greatly outnumbered by the invaders on horseback, but Martel had chosen the terrain of engagement.

With this stunning victory, Martel – grandfather of Charlemagne – laid the foundation for the European Middle Ages.

In 1683 – more than nine hundred miles to the East at Vienna – the Ottomans were defeated by the Christian forces commanded by the Polish king, Jan Sobieski.

(The Polish, German, and Austrian armies were fewer than the Turkish soldiers led by the Grand Vizier.)

Sobieski said that his purpose was “to proceed to the Holy War, and with God’s help to give back the old freedom to besieged Vienna, and thereby help wavering Christendom.”

From an account:
On September 11th, Christian forces arrived on a small hill overlooking Vienna known as Kahlenberg and drove off an Ottoman observation force. They then lit up three large torches to let the Ottomans and the defenders know of their arrival…

In the early morning dawn of the next day the Catholic troops held Mass while the Protestants held their own service, both prayed for victory…
[At the end of the day with the Turks on the run] Sobieski was the first to reach the Grand Vizier’s tent from which he received the delirious and joyful cheers of his army and the defenders of Vienna as the savior of Europe. The city was saved. 
As the allied troops plundered the camps, Jan III took the time to dictate a letter to the Pope by which he would report his victory to the whole of Europe. In this letter he made his famous paraphrase of Julius Caesar’s dispatch from the battle of Zela in 47 BC:
“Venimus, Vidimus, Deus Vicit” – We Came, We Saw, God Conquered.

No comments:

Post a Comment