I hope that you are enjoying a lovely October.
Public affairs in our degenerate society are cause for dismay, but I read a stirring account today of what the men of the West can be in “The Siege of Sziget, 1566” on Nobility.org. I was previously ignorant of this battle. In 1566, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (whose lovely Süleymaniye mosque I visited in Constantinople) set off to settle political matters in Hungary, during which campaign the Croatian noble Nikola Šubić Zrinski caused him some annoyance. To deal with Zrinski and to open a path to Vienna, Suleiman directed his massive 100,000+ man army to take the towns and fortress of Szigetvár, defended by Zrinski and only a few thousand Hungarian and Croatian men. Zrinski’s forces defended the fortress for over a month. On the night before the final assault, the sultan died (of natural causes) and never saw the castle taken. The following day—the last day of the seige—when the Ottomans were about to break through, Zrinski opened the gates, mortared the Turkish forces, and charged. Zrinski died during this counterstrike, and the Turks overtook the castle. However, Zrinski had prepared the castle as a trap, having instructed his men to blow up the place by lighting the gunpowder stores once the Turks had invaded. And so it happened.
Read the linked account or look up other articles about the siege. The story is so wonderfully heroic that I doubted its veracity, but it appears to be true. The episode had to have served as an inspiration for the defense of Helm’s Deep—either for Tolkien in the original or for Jackson’s interpreting the story on film. Superb. Ban Zrinski, may his memory be eternal.
By the way, the Süleymaniye mosque was completed the following year, and the great sultan never beheld it in its full splendor. Of course, I cheer for the Christian defenders of Europe, and I would gladly see the old imperial capital returned to Christendom, with majestic liturgies served in the Church of Holy Wisdom and an Orthodox emperor on the throne, but I still acknowledge the merits of the Ottoman Empire. We expect the Persians to maintain an impressive civilization, even under the Mohammedan yoke, because that is what they have always done. The Turks, however, went from being martial nomads to creating one of history’s high culture civilizations. Yes, yes, they conquered more culturally advanced folks and adopted their ways—but they did adopt their ways. The Ottomans employed Greek Christians in Anatolia, whereas more savage tribes would have slit their throats. Quite in contrast to the idiocy that we sometimes hear today, cultural appropriation is commendable when men improve themselves by learning the knowledge of others. Anyway, kudos all around in this story—awe inspiring bravery by Zrinski and his men and the impressive ambition and alexandrine vision of Suleiman.