Sunday, November 23, 2014
Tocsins for the toxin
While looking up words in the old 1913 Webster's dictionary, I ran across the word campanile (in short, a "bell-tower"), and read this accompanying illustrative quote:
"Many of the campaniles of Italy are lofty and magnificent structures." (Jonathan Swift)
(The most famous being the Leaning Tower of Pisa.)
I remembered my longstanding suspicion, which I haven't yet researched (and which likely would require excessive work since the historians and journalists of our time remain remiss in their duty), that medieval Christian bells -- particularly in those regions most vulnerable to Islamic depredations and incursions (the entire Mediterranean coast of southern Europe from Spain to Greece, and pretty much all of eastern Europe, not to mention vast swaths of Russia) -- often, if not perhaps primarily, served as instruments of warning against impending invasions (or razzias, the pre-modern Islamic term for the terror attack).
I.e., historically, for centuries, Christian church bells were alarm bells against Islamic attack.
If so, it makes eminent sense that architecturally the bells were housed in tall towers -- indeed, lookout towers, wherein the bell-ringer perhaps would stand vigil (or if alerted from below would be galvanized into action), ready to sound the alarm for the church or monastery and for its environs. This would be yet another token, yet another datum to add to the drearily long list, indicating just how widespread and routine and incessant were the assaults by Mohammedans on the vast periphery of the West for the millennium before the tide of their power and ability to pester, traumatize and terrorize us began to turn, following their last frank military onslaught, the (failed, thank Allah) siege of Vienna in 1683.
The entry on "campanile" in The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization by Jack C. Whytock indicates confirmation of this theory:
The campanile originated in Italy where it was built as a bell tower, thus playing a central role in the call to prayer for the daily offices or for worship. However, its origin is probably from the round towers that were built to fulfill military needs as watchtowers.
And if one surveys the many images on Google for "campanile" one gets a more palpable and vivid sense of their function as high eminences providing tactical vantage points for self-defense.
Another thought: The Islamic prohibition on church bells by the Pact of Dhimmitude may be more than merely the typical control freak aspect of Sharia putting its supremacist arrogance into concrete practice -- and may have had the pragmatic function of stripping a key tool of self-defense from the Christians (for indeed, that same Pact included a stringent control of weapons owned and carried by the dhimmis).