OTRANTO 1480 - MASSACRE OF CHRISTIANS BY MUSLIMS
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana
"800 Italians Men Beheaded in Otranto in 1480 for Refusing Islam, by the Turks, with the Approval of Sultan Mehmet II.
On August 14, 1480, a massacre happened on a hill outside the city of Otranto, in southern Italy, here 800 of the town’s men were taken to a place called the Hill of the Minerva, and, one by one, beheaded in full view of their fellow prisoners. It became known as the Hill of the Martyrs. They died because they refused to convert to Islam. The 800 men of Otranto were martyrs. But due to their sacrifice, however, the Ottoman invasion was slowed and Rome was spared the same fate that had befallen Constantinople only 27 years before.
The city of Constantinople had been taken in 1453 and for 3 days its people were made slaves or killed or raped and the city was looted, all with the permission of the Sultan, Mehmet (Muhammad) II, who was then 21.Mehmet is the Turkish way of saying Muhammad.
The people of Otranto knew of the siege of Constantinople and that when that city fell the Muslims pillaged the city, but the key moment came when they reached Hagia Sophia.
After breaking down the church’s bronze gates, they found inside a huge throng of Byzantines who had taken refuge and who were praying that the city might be delivered by some miracle. The Christians were seized and separated according to age and gender. The infants and elderly were brutally murdered; the men, including some of the city’s most prominent senators, were carted off to the slave markets; and the women and girls were taken by soldiers to be raped or sent into a life of slavery.
At Otranto, the terms of the Muslims were ostensibly generous. If the town surrendered, the defenders would be permitted to live. They said no, it was repeated and again it was no. It was the city against 18,000 Muslims and it lasted 2 weeks.
Slaughter, Sacrilege, and Slavery
Turkish troops entered and killed anyone in their path. They made their way to the cathedral. As in the Hagia Sophia, the invaders found the church filled with people praying with Archbishop Stefano Agricoli, Bishop Stephen Pendinelli, and Count Largo, the commander of the soldiers.
The Ottomans commanded:
1.The archbishop to throw away his crucifix, abjure the Christian faith, and embrace Islam. When he refused, his head was cut off before the weeping congregation.
2.Bishop Pendinelli and Count Largo likewise would not convert and were also put to death, reportedly by being slowly sawed in half.
3.As was the custom, the priests were murdered and the cathedral was stripped of all Christian symbols and turned into a stable for the horses. The Ottomans then gathered up the surviving people of Otranto and took them as captives.
The people of Otranto faced the same end as the Christians of Constantinople. All of the men over the age of 50 were slaughtered; the women and children under the age of 15 were either slain or sent away to Albania to be slaves.
According to some contemporary sources, the total number of dead was as high as 12,000, with another 5,000 pressed into slavery.
800 Men who Survived told to Convert to Islam or Die
The Muslim commander ordered the men of Otranto, 800 survivors of the battle, those who were not over 50 and had not been already killed in battle or later, or were not children and had not be killed or enslaved, to be brought before him. He gave them one chance to convert to Islam or die. To convince them, he instructed an Italian apostate priest named Giovanni to preach. The former priest called on the men of Otranto to abandon the Christian faith, and they would get many benefits.
One of the men of Otranto, a tailor named Antonio Primaldi (he is also named Antonio Pezzulla in some sources), came forward to speak to the survivors. He called out that he was ready to die for Christ a thousand times. He then added, according to the chronicler Giovanni Laggetto in the Historia della guerra di Otranto del 1480:
“My brothers, till today we have fought in defense of our country, to save our lives, and for our lords; now it is time that we fight to save our souls for our Lord, so that having died on the cross for us, it is good that we should die for him, standing firm and constant in the faith, and with this earthly death we will win eternal life and the glory of martyrs.”
At this, the men of Otranto cried out with one voice that they too were willing to die a thousand times for Christ.
The next morning, August 14, the 800 prisoners were bound together with ropes. The victims repeated their pledge to be faithful to Christ, and the Ottomans chose the courageous Antonio Primaldi as the first to be executed.
The old tailor gave one final exhortation to his fellow prisoners and knelt before the executioner. The blade fell and decapitated him, but then, as the chronicler Saverio de Marco claimed in the Compendiosa istoria degli ottocento martiri otrantini (“The Brief History of the 800 Martyrs of Otranto”), the headless corpse stood back upright. The body supposedly proved unmovable, so it remained standing for the entire duration of the gruesome executions.
Stunned by this apparent miracle, one of the executioners converted on the spot and was immediately killed. The executioners then returned to their horrendous business. The bodies were placed into a mass grave, and the Turks prepared to begin their march to Rome.
The rest of the history
ISLAM IN 1570
BEHEADING IS THE TRADITIONAL M.O. UNDER ISLAM..
THE CONQUEST OF CYPRUS AND THE HEROES AND MARTYRS OF FAMAGUSTA
The Turks came on with 70,000 men, including their shock troops, the praetorian guard of the sultan, the Janissaries — Christian youths taken as taxation from their families, trained up in the art of war, converted to Islam, and given the power of the sword and the possibility of advancement.
The Catholic defenders of Cyprus were frightfully outnumbered — by about 7 to 1 — but then again, the Knights of Malta had faced even stiffer odds. The two key points in Cyprus were Nicosia and Famagusta. The city of Nicosia held out for nearly seven weeks. Finally, reduced to 500 soldiers, it surrendered, expecting the civilians to be spared, even as the Christian troops were enslaved.
Instead, the Muslim attackers butchered every Christian they could find — 20,000 victims, murdered regardless of rank, sex, or age, save perhaps for 1,000 women and children who would be sold as slaves. The Muslims knew something about commerce, too, and those with an eye for harem-flesh tried to spare the most valuable Europeans.
That left the former Crusader fortress of Famagusta as the only defensible point on the island. Inspired by the Turks’ display of severed Venetian heads from Nicosia, the Christian soldiers put up a stiff defense and were at one point resupplied by gallant Venetian sailors.
The Muslim Ottomans have conquered Cyprus, an Island that belonged to the Republic of Venice, but the second most important city, Famagusta, resisted the brutal siege by the Turks. Men, women and children fought valiantly.
In August 1571, after ten months of resistance, the Venetian commander Marco Antonio Bragadino, forced by hunger, enter negotiations with the Turks. Terms were agreed: The garrison would be exiled, the people spared.
The troops were disarmed and boarded transports — and then they and their commanders were slaughtered. But for Marco Antonio, the Mohammedans reserved a special torture. He was not killed immediately. Instead, his nose and ears were severed, and, as T. C. F. Hopkins has it in Confrontation at Lepanto:
He was pilloried in Famagusta and dragged around the Ottoman camp in nothing but a loincloth and a donkey’s saddle and made to kiss the ground in front of Lala Mustapha’s tent. The Ottoman soldiers were encouraged to throw garbage and excrement on him, and to mock his misery, and to pull hairs from his beard . . . Lala Mustapha himself came out to spit on the Venetian and to empty his chamber pot over the old man’s head . . .
And even that was not the end of it. Marco Antonio — still, for the moment, alive — was flayed, skinned like a trophy, and then his corpse was stuffed and sent to the sultan, who had the prize stored in a warehouse of other human trophies — a slave prison.
ISLAM IN THE XXI CENTURY -
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..."The beauty of being a liberal is that history always begins this morning..."
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