The letter of Zrínyi Miklós in 1664
Miklós Zrinyi (Nicholas Zrinski) wrote the following letter before his death to King Leopold I, in 1664, in the Italian language.
By this time, his loyalty to the Habsburg ruler had been greatly forsaken.
He survived his heroic campaign, the burning of the bridge of Eszék, only with ten months.
The Emperor didn’t appoint him as the general of the combined Christian army against the Ottomans. Instead of him, it was Montecuccoli, his adversary who was appointed. The disillusioned Zrínyi went home to Csáktornya (Cakovec) and realized that the Habsburgs had undermined his efforts and sabotaged the liberation of Hungary and Croatia.
Soon, he died in a hunting accident on 18 November 1664, killed by a boar. Some say the Turks wanted to offer him the crown of Hungary. We will never know whether he would have accepted it.
Here is the letter: „…the strength of the Turks is like Antheus’ from ancient Greek mythology, who regained his strength anytime he touched the ground…the Turks are winning even if they are not victorious.” and Zrínyi is re-listing his reasons for an offensive war, launched by the would-be allied Christian powers:
„The saber of the Sultan would not make a difference between us, he would care neither about our political relations nor about the divisions among our states nor about our envious and suspicious nature: rather, he would bathe his sword in the blood of treaded-down Christendom. The mad rage of the Muslims would wade through us without comparison, without sorting out the interests of Northern Protestants and Roman Catholics, regardless of the conflicting goals and principles of the Austrian and the French monarchies. So what is the reason for repining on the regional conferences when the flame of the fire burning on our borders is big enough to consume the last of the Christians on this Earth? If (God save us) Croatia fell and the Turks could have a free way to go, what would befall to the domains of Venice and the opposite shore of the Adriatic Sea or the lands of Spain and Rome? Yet, I haven’t heard that the European powers would understand this and would take up arms under Christ’s flag. Nam tua res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet Ucalegon. (Your own safety is in danger when the neighboring wall blazes). But what if the conflagration, that is presently burning in Hungary and is covering Germany in smoke, making Italy’s eyes run with a tear, would seem like a remote, negligible and underestimated spark from spyglasses of France and England? In this case, let them cast their look, for Heaven’s sake, toward the Mediterranian Sea and tell me what is the meaning of the huge pirate activity that is devastating those seas with more than seventy ships? They are Turks, aren’t they?”
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