Friday, September 22, 2006
Vienna Museum (and Siege)
The City museum is devoted to MUCH more than the TWO sieges the Turks laid to them, but that was all I cared about on this visit.
Here are some captured Turkish standards with their unmistakeable crescent (seen in Franz Josef Square).
This is an enormous painting of the second siege of 1682, visible in the background of the previous picture. In the center is Vienna, fortified like no other city I've seen, with walls ringing the city, a river diverted as a moat around those walls, and triangular fortresses built beyond that. They had a mock-up in the museum, but evidently I didn't photograph it.
The Turks brought gunpowder, from their conquests in east, which the Viennese didn't have yet. And Janissaries, young blue-eyed, blond Balkan men forcibly surrendered in youth as blood tribute. Brainwashed and indoctrinated into Islam as slaves, they carried little cannons on sticks and were feared for their ferocity. Defending the city were Venice's garrison plus some Swiss pikemen, that would shove the Janissaries back through the walls, when they breached them, with their 10-ft. pikes.
It was a damn-near thing. The Turks laid siege to Vienna (the second time) in July, 1683 - with 250,000 men. By September, Venice's defenders, never numbering more than 80,000, were exhausted, starved, and despairing. The Turks had tunnelled under her walls by now, and set off charges that brought whole sections down.
Not a moment too soon, The Polish King arrived with 80,000 and routed the Turks, for good, which is captured in this painting.
The date: September the Eleventh.
(The Turkish commander was subsequently beheaded in Belgrade for failing to take Vienna as they'd done Budapest. )
Odd un-PC piece found in the art section of the museum. "This one's called "The Islamic Project-Vienna". There's a mosque (which doesn't exist - yet) in the city center with goats, donkeys, and other trappings of 10th century life in the heart of one of Europe's finest Capitals.
This is EXACTLY what i see in my nightmares - which is why it was so shocking to find in Vienna. Perhaps its a subtle PC piece mocking us for our un-PC "Islamophobia". If it is, its not so funny now.
Here's the write-up beside it, in German, with Huntington's seminal work and name cited. I'm unsure of the intent. Better get this translated.