Sunday, November 11, 2012
A little nugget from a work in progress
A couple of months ago, I promised the reader I would try to publish an essay on the great Spanish poet Cervantes, based on a dusty old tome I happened upon entirely by accident in Google Books, titled Michel de Cervantes, sa vie, son temps, son oeuvre politique et littéraire ("Miguel de Cervantes: His life, his time, his political and literary works"), by some 19th century French historian, Émile Chasles.
I just began to tackle it today, but I am probably far from done. Part of the challenge is to try to avoid the fascinating wealth of details and information the author packs into that book, and focus on my main point -- the concern Cervantes developed for communicating, through writing poems and plays, the pernicious danger of Islam.
For now, I just wanted to share this one nugget I found, among literally dozens (I'm only up to page 71).
Before I get to it, a brief bit of background: The life of Cervantes involves the 16th century, and the 16th century was a protracted series of hostile encounters between Western powers and Muslims -- chiefly the Ottoman Turks, of course, but also minions of Arabs, Berber converts, African converts, and quite a few dhimmi mercenaries who went over to the other side. At one terrible reversal in 1574, according to Chasles, an important Western fort at La Goulette, Tunisia, was overrun by a massive coalition of Muslim Arabs, Berbers, Africans and Turks numbering over 400,000! (That incidentally lays to rest that one meme often bandied about -- you know, the one about "Oh, the Ottoman Turks never got along with the Arabs". Sure they fought occasionally -- Muslims are often fighting and killing each other -- but they also worked together when their fanaticism inspired them to hate the Infidel more).
At any rate, one of the great military men of the West during that era was an Italian from Genoa, the famous Andrea Doria (several naval ships have been named after him) who eventually became "imperial admiral" and, though he died eleven years before the most famous and spectacular battle against Muslims of that century (the Battle of Lepanto, 1571), he was involved in quite a few campaigns against North African Muslims.
The nugget I found is his date -- and manner -- of death (wholly ignored by Wikipedia, naturally). At one point, in between one battle or another against Muslims, Admiral Doria by 1560 (at the age of 93 and still active!) found himself alone and needing safe transport to the Mediterranean shore. He managed to find some Arab Muslims he "trusted" (the exact word used by Cervantes in his report about this, according to Chasles) as guides to lead him to a Western fort on the coast.
Guess what. These "trusted" Arab Muslims beat Admiral Doria to death then cut his head off, and delivered the head to the Ottoman Sultan.
350 years later, and we're still trusting Muslims.