Dimensions of Islam by Frithjof Schuon

By Frithjof Schuon

Translated from French.
Reprint. initially released: London : Allen & Unwin, 1969.

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His Epistles, like Georgievicz’s accounts, were originally written in Latin, but translated many times for readers all over Europe who wished to know more about the Ottoman court. Thoughtful in many respects and charmingly written, his observations nevertheless echo con48 | ter ro r an d to le r at i on ventional European opinions about the Turks. Busbecq chuckled when Muslims succumbed to the lure of strong drink. Indeed, he pointed out they overindulged quite readily on the theory that they might as well enjoy themselves if only one sip sent them irrevocably off to perdition.

43 But scenes such as these only confirmed Europeans’ opinion that their Muslim enemy was incorrigibly domineering, bloodthirsty, ruthless and arrogantly corrupt. Dealing with them even formally took more than the normal human reserves of resolve, mental agility and tolerance for abuse. To be successful in their missions, sixteenth-century Habsburg ambassadors had to learn very quickly how to discriminate between simple rudeness and truly dangerous threats, all the while working to keep discussions between the two governments alive.

Even after the introduction of heavy artillery shortened the time needed to breach Hungarian redoubts and occupy the adjacent countryside, hit-and-run manouevres had a place in Ottoman battle plans. Impromptu strikes in the countryside or against towns added an element of unpredictability to Ottoman military operations that could confuse an enemy badly. Towards the end of the sixteenth century, Tartars used these sideline thrusts very effectively to draw off Christian forces that were protecting fortifications in Hungary.

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