Why Eastern Europeans Fear Islam: The Siege of Vienna, 1683


Around July 15, 1683, the largest Islamic army ever to invade European territory - which is saying much considering that countless invasions preceded it since the eighth century - came and surrounded Vienna, then the heart of the Holy Roman Empire and long-time nemesis of Islam.

It is this history of Islamic aggression -- beginning in the fourteenth century when Muslims first established a foothold in Eastern Europe (Thrace), and into the twentieth century when the Ottoman sultanate finally collapsed -- that informs Eastern European views on Islam. As one Pole, echoing the words of Sobieski, said, "A religious war between Christianity and Islam is once again underway in Europe, just like in the past."