It happened today - October 15, 2015

Suleiman the MagnficientOn October 15th of 1529, Suleiman the Magnificent did a Terminator at the gates of Vienna, abandoning his siege. But the Ottomans would indeed be back, in 1683.

I’m sorry if this is getting monotonous. But don’t blame me. I’m not the one who kept doing it. And the fact is they were back even before 1683, attacking in the Mediterranean and getting stopped at Lepanto as noted earlier in this series (see Oct. 7).

It doesn’t seem to me that it worked out very well. The 1529 retreat was something of a debacle, partly due to bad weather, and thus Suleiman “the Magnificent” initiated the long slow decline that would see the Ottoman Empire become “the sick man of Europe” in the 19th century, taped together and propped up by various European powers because they were afraid of the quarrels it would precipitate among them if it fell to bits. (And with chronic trouble in the Middle East, including Russian warplanes buzzing around Western ones in Syria now, we see that they were right.)

I cannot help noting that highly esteemed rulers in the West are those who defend their people, from Winston Churchill back to Alfred the Great, and are under the law rather than above it. Perhaps Suleiman would have been more genuinely magnificent if he’d concentrated on the welfare of his own people. Instead he had two of his own sons and four of his grandsons murdered; his local title “The Lawgiver” is a bit perplexing in this context though evidently he furnished a series of laws that locked the Empire into institutional immobility during its long decline. And he kept attacking the West which, even as a pragmatic proposition, hasn’t generally worked out well for anyone who persisted in doing it.

Still, there are those for whom it seems to be an unbreakable program.