Between the eagle and the crescent: Czech images of the Holy Roman and Ottoman Empires in texts about the Turk, 1450–1650
The Czechs in the early modern period found themselves situated between two political and cultural giants: the Holy Roman and the Ottoman Empires. As the Hapsburg emperors in Vienna consolidated their power over the Czech lands and the Ottoman sultans in Istanbul threatened them from the south, a collective identity was constructed that situated the Czechs between these two empires. Though some Czechs did see themselves as the furthest east of the West, others, especially Protestants and those who opposed the rule of the Holy Roman Empire, saw themselves as the center of their own cultural mix.
This dissertation uses the ecclesio-political situation of Central Europe from the fall of Constantinople through the Thirty Years' War as the backdrop for an examination of Czech texts about the Turk. It demonstrates a correlation between Czechs who rejected the authority of the Holy Roman Empire and Czechs who produced texts about the Turk that are unlike typical Western European examples. This correlation indicates that the decision to reject imperial authority was more than an isolated rebellion against an unwanted political overlord, but also an expressed desire for the Czechs to distance themselves from the rest of Europe. By choosing not to write about the Turk in the way their Western counterparts did, those Czechs who opposed the Holy Roman Empire also expressed their opposition to the cultural influence of Western Europe. They did not wish simply to exchange the influence of the Holy Roman Empire for that of the Ottoman. Instead, as their writing about the Turk demonstrates, they wanted to survive as a distinct culture between these two powerful neighbors.
0314: Slavic literature