Der Historiker Timothy Snyder setzt sich mit dem Kernstück der Geschichtsphilosophie von Anders Breivik auseinander, dem Bruch der Belagerung Wiens durch die polnische Kavallerie am Kahlenberg 1683. Er spricht von einem muslimischen (und übrigens auch jüdischen) Einfluß auf die die Schlagkraft der “Retter der Christenheit”. Die tatarischen Reiterheere waren die Vorbilder der polnische Truppen, die damals die besten der Welt waren. (Eine Analogie zu diesem Einfluß könnte man in den Kanonen des Urban sehen, mit denen Mehmed 1496 die Eroberung Konsatntinopels gelang – hier war ein chrislicher Ingenieur in Diensten der muslimischen Truppen der kriegsentscheidende Vorteil.) Erfolgreiche Imperien, kann man sagen, können niemals auf völlige Abschottung setzen. Sie dürfen ihre eigene Rhetorik des Kulturkampfes nicht allzu ernst nehmen.
The Polish charge down the Kahlenberg to the besieged walls of Vienna on September 12, 1683 was indeed dramatic. A Turkish chronicler recalled “a flood of black pitch consuming everything it touched.” Who were these Polish cavalrymen, and why were they so fearsome? The Polish state had been in contact with Islam for all seven centuries of its existence. Wars with the Ottomans and their Tatar vassals in Ukraine were commonplace. It was in the setting of Polish and Ottoman battles for Ukraine that Hasidism took shape and gained popularity among Polish Jews. At various points Tatars also switched sides from the Ottomans to the Poles, sometimes having been taken prisoner first, sometimes not. In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Tatars printed their holy books (kitab) in a Polish-Belarusian language, using Arabic script. Tatars fought in Polish armies in the defining battles of the age, for example helping to defeat the crusading Teutonic Knights at Grünwald in 1410. They came to form an elite part of the officer class. Muslims were thus among the Polish horsemen who drove the Ottomans from the gates of Vienna.
The Muslim influence upon the rescuers of Christendom went far deeper than this. The very tactics of the Polish cavalry, regarded at the time as the best in Europe, were developed in contact with, and indeed copied from, the Tatars. Polish nobles bore curved swords. The shaved their skulls and grew their mustaches long. Just before the fateful charge down the Kahlenberg, each Polish soldier took a piece of straw, and placed it in his helm. This was an agreed-upon signal, allowing the Austrians to tell the difference between the allied Polish soldiers and the common Ottoman enemy.
Like the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Ottoman Empire was anything but a monoreligious state. Both states were based upon a political logic that is no longer possible to follow. Monarchs made durable arrangements with leaders of the various religions practiced in their realms: the Ottoman sultan left Christian matters largely in the hands of the Orthodox Church, whose patriarchs were more powerful under the Ottomans than they had been under Byzantium. Greeks were the traders and the financiers of the Ottoman Empire, and the Ottoman armies, like the Polish ones, were multiconfessional. Although we might think of the Ottoman Empire as Asian in origin, in fact its history begins with Balkan conquests, and most of its Balkan subjects never converted to Islam. These kinds of early modern arrangements, where a weak central state in effect confers authority to local elites in exchange for the ability to tax and wage war, are often regarded as models of toleration.
It is quite wrong, it should go without saying, to imagine some sort of premodern Christian purity in Europe. (…)