September 12, 2007

Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)


Today is the anniversary (in 1683) of the Battle of Vienna, the highwater mark of the Ottoman Turkish invasion of Europe. The city itself had been besieged by the Turk since July of that year and was near to giving in. During that time a coaltion of European forces hastily assembled to rush to its aid. The battle was capped by a genuine heavy cavalry charge led by the Polish King Jan Sobieski that caught the Turks by surprise and caused them to retreat in panic.

(I think of this episode every time I read of the lifting of the siege of Minas Tirith by the Rohirrim. Well, I do. And no, I'm not suggesting that the Turks were like orcs. It's just the whole romance of the last minute arrival of the relief expedition.)

This battle is seen as the turning point in the Turkish attempt to conquer Europe. Although there was more fighting to come, the tide from this date flowed east, not west, and the Turks were eventually pushed back across the Danube.

(Alas, the old story that the croissant was invented by Viennese bakers in honor of the victory - the shape resembling the Turkish crescent - appears to be a myth, or at least an unprovable folktale.)

BTW, when I first posted this entry two years ago (yes, I'm not ashamed to recycle interesting material), regular commenter Utron recommended a book: The Devil's Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee by Stewart Lee Allen. He mentioned it because it also related the original croissant story (without any backup sources), but I found it interesting because of another theory it postulates, namely that the introduction of coffee into Europe was the cause of the Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution and other manifestations of Continental energy, as people stopped sousing themselves all day with small beer and instead started firing up the ol' noodle with cups o' joe. Again, I don't believe the author provided any particular sources for this proposition, but I'm still intrigued by what one might call the beverage theory of history.

Posted by Robert at September 12, 2007 12:43 PM | TrackBack

That's a great story, and along with Charles Martel at Tours in the eighth century (!) it shows how the struggle between Islam and the west has been more or less constant for about fourteen centuries.

Those wheo don't know history, yada, yada.

BTW: I have traced my dad's side of the family back through some twists and turns to Charlemagne, Charles Martel, and even some the Caesars (I was addicted to for quite some time. I think it's the be-all and end-all of timewasters).

Posted by: Hucbald at September 12, 2007 03:15 PM