The Later Crusades, 1274-1580: From Lyons to Alcazar

By Norman Housley | Go to book overview

4
The Anti-Turkish Crusade and European Politics, 1502-1580

UNTIL a few years ago most historians would have said that the inclusion of a chapter on events in the sixteenth century in a book about the later crusades was at best superfluous, and at worst misguided. They would have argued that popular and governmental commitment to a crusade against the Turks was negligible by 1500; that calls for a crusade, no matter how frequently or forcefully made by individual enthusiasts or the papal Curia, were therefore anachronistic, meriting serious study only by antiquarians; and, most importantly, that narrating the great conflicts which occurred in the sixteenth century between the Ottomans and their western enemies, especially the Habsburgs, in terms of a religious war is as misleading as applying that description to, say, the Allied campaigns against the Turkish armies in the First World War. It is the achievement of Professor K. M. Setton to have shown how inaccurate this view was. In two massive volumes, a total of 1,179 double-columned pages, he recently surveyed Turkish relations with the West between 1502 and 1571 in exhaustive detail. By simply describing what took place, Professor Setton demonstrated that, while these relations accommodated many new features characteristic of an age of profound change, they also formed a continuation of crusading history, in terms of basic ideas and institutions as well as terminology. No great chasm separated the world of King Philip II of Spain and Pope Pius V from that of Philip the Good of Burgundy and Pius II; the one evolved from the other and shared many of its features. Lepanto ( 1571) was a great crusading victory, Alcazar ( 1578) a terrible crusading defeat, and some account of at least this first phase of the long Habsburg-Ottoman struggle must now feature in any history of the later crusades which claims to be comprehensive (see maps 3, 4, and 5).

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