Category Archives: Publications

Manipulating history: How right-wing rhetoric misuses the Battle of Vienna (1683)

Romeyn de Hooghe, Sobieski conquers the Turkish standard, 1683

On 12 September 1683, the Polish king Jan III Sobieski led a Christian coalition army to a glorious victory at the Battle of Vienna, defeating the Turkish troops which had laid siege to the city. In recent years, this event has started to play a significant role in right-wing, islamophobic rhetoric. In a piece I wrote for Over de Muur, I disclose how far-right terrorists such as Anders Breivik, as well as Dutch right-wing politicians such as Geert Wilders and Frits Bolkestein, appropriate the Battle of Vienna in their speeches and manifestos. I argue that this appropriation manipulates history, as it falsely implies that Europe in 1683 was on the brink of ‘islamification’. Moreover, I explain that this kind of rhetoric stems directly from the ideas expressed by Samuel Huntington, who in the 1990s launched the notion of the so-called ‘clash of civilizations’, and how it strengthens a dangerous islamophobic worldview, in which there appears to be an ongoing struggle between Christendom and Islam, which are presented as irreconcilable forces of Good and Evil.

Brexit, the Polish Sejm and the dangers of perceived chaos

A meeting of the Polish Sejm during the reign of August II

The current Dutch reactions to the developments surrounding brexit resemble eighteenth-century responses to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Much like brexit, the Polish-Lithuanian state became associated with political chaos. Reactions ranged from disbelief and pity to outright mockery. In addition, Poland-Lithuania became viewed as being ‘ill’. By the end of the eighteenth century, a disorderly situation could be called ‘een Poolse landdag’, i.e. a meeting of the Polish Sejm. These negative perceptions partly legitimised the eventual partitions of the country, which vanished from the map of Europe in 1795.

For Over de Muur, I wrote a more in-depth analysis of the similarities between the responses to brexit and to eighteenth-century Poland-Lithuania.

Een Poolse Prins in Brabant

In 1624 bracht Ladislas Sigismund Vasa, kroonprins van Polen-Litouwen, een spannend bezoek aan het Beleg van Breda. Het fraai vormgegeven In Brabant. Tijdschrift voor Brabants erfgoed publiceerde deze maand een artikel van mijn hand over dat bezoek. Ik vertel daarin over de historische context van deze gebeurtenis, behandel aan de hand van ooggetuigenverslagen het verloop ervan, en ga in op het naleven van het bezoek in met name het Pools-Litouwse Gemenebest. Rondvliegende kanonskogels, maansverduisteringen, baarden met geheime brieven erin: het komt allemaal langs!

Het artikel is hier te lezen.