Inviting the Enemy

Letter From Greece

After the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, the dike that had held back the military hordes of Asia from Europe collapsed.  Very soon, the European nations realized that the new conquerors were not the bearers of any civilization, even primitive; instead, they were bloodthirsty destroyers, living parasitically on the Christian populations they oppressed.  In the 16th century, the Renaissance reached its peak in Western Europe, whereas, in the Turkish-conquered lands of Eastern Europe, the clock of civilization stopped on May 29, 1453.

The Western Christian nations began to feel the threat of the Ottoman Turks, who had established themselves in Western Asia, North Africa, and the Balkans.  The formation of the Sacra Liga Antiturca (Holy Anti-Turkish League) by Habsburg Spain, the Republic of Venice, and the Papal States led to the naval battle of Lepanto in 1571.  The overwhelming victory of the Christian nations—thanks, in part, to a significant Greek contribution of thousands of soldiers and oarsmen, recruited from the Greek islands and especially Venetian-held Crete—did not eliminate Turkish expansionism; it was, however, the first time that the European nations had rallied together and defeated their common enemy.  “On that day the Ottoman arrogance was smashed,” writes Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes, who fought on board a Spanish vessel.  According...

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