Historie – Otázky – Problémy

Eschatology, Propaganda and Pragmatism – Turks in the Eyes of Nobility of Bohemia in the 16th and Early 17th Centuries

Abstract: This study is devoted to the “Fear of the Turks” as a phenomenon which is present to varying degrees of intensity throughout the early modern age and which becomes a unifying element in the political and military history and also in the collective mentality of the period. The study examines, in three different forms, the perception of the Turkish danger from the perspective of the nobles of Bohemia in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Firstly, the Turkish threat may be perceived eschatologically (as divine punishment for the sins of Christians, a disaster which is not of this world, but originating with God) and this interpretation of the Turkish threat can be traced to the literary work of Jan Zajíc of Házmburk. A second interpretation is that fear of the Turks may well have become part of historical anti-Turkish and anti-Islamic propaganda in general, e. g. in the work Antialkorán by Vaclav Budovec of Budov. Thirdly, the Turkish threat can also be perceived objectively and pragmatically, and this attitude was possible for those nobles who took part in battles against them such as Zikmund Chotek of Chotkov, Jindřich Michal Hýzrle of Chody and Albrecht of Valdštejn and others. In the field of early modern political history an armed conflict between the Danubian monarchy and the Ottoman Empire would constitute a clear and persistent long-term threat while its local impact was constantly fluctuating and itinerant. Attitudes towards the Turks (and Muslims in general) were such that a more differentiated and dynamic approach gradually developed over time. One of the key changes was the shift away from seeing the Turks in eschatological terms to a more objective understanding of them as military opponents. This trend quickly spread into the world of professional soldiers who had personal experience with the Turks and who were, consequently and in contrast to other circles of society, somewhat immune to the emotional arguments and official anti-Muslim propaganda.

Key words: Early Modern era, wars against the Turks, the fear of the Turks, the Turks and the nobility of Bohemia, anti-Turkish propaganda

Doc. Mgr. Marie Koldinská, Ph.D., docentka Ústavu českých dějin FF UK a vědecká pracovnice Kabinetu dějin vědy Ústavu pro soudobé dějiny AV ČR, v. v. i. Zabývá se dějinami raného novověku v evropském kontextu a historickou pamětí ve druhé polovině 20. století (marie.koldinska@sendme.cz)