Imagined, Embodied and Actual Turks in the Early Modern Era. edition:1
Nordic Network for Renaissance Studies edition:1 location:Copenhagen date:10-12 October 2012
II. Embodied Turks
“Dat den Almogenden Godt zyn uytverkoren volk nooit heeft verlaeten, is ons door verscheyde voorbeelden gebleken zoo in de voorgaende Eeuwen, als de tegenwoordige. Hoe menige zwaere, en schier als onafweerbaere aenvallen en heeft het Huys van Oosten-ryk in het zelden ophoudende onweer van den algemeynen vyands rasernye niet menige jaeren moeten onderstaen, en hoe wonderlyck heeft het niet als eene onbreekelyke rotse dat weeten te verduren terug te dryven, en te vernietigen? Maer dit zegenryk, ja veel meer altydt gezegende huys is op geen zandt, of genen vliegende grondt (naer de woorden van onsen Saelig-Maeker) maer op eene rotze gebouwt, syne beminde bruydt, de H. Kerke en daer teghen en heeft de macht der hellen geen vermogen. …” This text fragment introducing a description of the 1685 procession in Antwerp by Herman Franciscus Van den Brandt stands for a vision of the war between the Turks and the Habsburgs. The author refers to the struggle between the Turks and the West that dates from pre-Habsburg times. The text also reveals a strong relationship between the church and the state, which affects the thus created image of the warfaring parties in the celebrations that will be analyzed in this paper.
The Habsburg Netherlands with their important trade cities and urban privileges had a long tradition of public celebrations, like the joyous entries and the processions. In the Netherlands the different urban, governmental and religious elites displayed their power and their influence and put their mark on the art of public pomp and circumstance. The conflict between the Habsburgs and the Ottoman Turks was a returning theme in celebrations and prints. The Habsburg victories, like the sieges of Vienna (1529 and 1683) and the conquest of Tunis (1535) and other Habsburg – Ottoman confrontations, were popular news items to be printed or to be displayed in public by the governing elites. One can wonder if the portrayal of the Ottomans during these prints and celebrations was part of the traditional, late-medieval display of the exotic enemy or if there were any timely adjustments and influences by humanists or Jesuits? Was the theme only a popular, recurring subject or was there more to it than meets the eye?
In this paper three main cases will present the different images of the Turks in their specific time and place. The first case, the Burgundian feast of the Pheasant and its’ aftermath, introduces the different images of the Turk and the use by the governmental elites in the Netherlands of the 15th century. In the two other cases of the 16th - and 17th century the use of the theme, the evolution and the goals will be checked with the previous century. In the 16th century there were several triumphs, processions and other forms of public display where the theme of the Turks was shown. In the joyous entry of 1549 for the future Spanish king Philip II (1527-1598) in Antwerp, the Ottoman Turks were displayed in monumental triumphal arches and detailed tableaus. In the next century, the theme of the Ottoman Turks remained popular in prints and celebrations. On the 8th of September 1685, a procession in Antwerp celebrated the recent victories of the Habsburgs against the Turks. What was the image of the Turks in the procession and what were the similarities and differences with the displayed images a century earlier in Antwerp?