Remembering September 11…. 1683

King John III Sobieski praying for Christian victory, for his Polish forces, against the Ottomans, outside of Vienna, on September 11, 1683.

When Osama Bin Laden selected the date of September 11, 2001, to attack the twin towers of the World Trade Center, in New York City, this was not just a clever play on the phrase “911,” the standard phone number for making emergency calls. It was a deliberate attempt by Bin Laden to symbolically reverse the devastating defeat of Islamic Turks, at the Battle of Vienna, on September 11, 1683.

The Ottoman Empire had held the city of Vienna in a brutal siege for several months, as the Ottomans sought to take advantage of the disarray experienced in Western Europe, after years of religious wars between Roman Catholics and Protestants, that divided Christian Europe from within. By attempting to take Vienna, the Ottomans were hoping that a weakened Hapsburg Empire would eventually capitulate to the relentless attempts of the Islamic Turks to take the city, as a gateway into the rest of Christian Europe.

But the Austrian Hapsburgs established an alliance with the Polish-Lithuanians, led by King John III Sobieski. Sobieski led what many historians consider to be the largest calvary charge in world history, as typically dated to September 11, 1683, that broke the Islamic Turkish siege of Vienna, thus ending the threat of Ottoman expansion into Western Europe. As demonstrated in the following 3-minute movie clip, from the 2012 film, The Day of the Siege, Sobieski describes the importance of the battle, in explicitly apocalyptic terms, as a heroic defense of Christendom, with a passionate speech to his troops before the battle.

Twenty years after Osama Bin Laden’s attack on America, a symbolic victory for the radical wing of Islam, a massive visual spectacle imprinted on the minds of nearly all Americans, we can look back at the challenges faced by Christians, in the wake of 911.

In many ways, 911 marked significant shifts in our culture: a decline of the Christian Right, the first major world event to be broadcast across the then infant world of social media, and the rise of the New Atheist movement, a.l.a. Richard Dawkins, that portrayed all religion, not just Islam or Christianity, as the greatest threat against humanity. A new generation of young people, growing up in the wake of 911, have grown increasingly sympathetic to the cries of such skepticism about organized religious faith. After the era of the Post-Reformation religious wars, after the Age of the Enlightenment, and now into the reality of a Post-Christian moment, how will the Christian movement respond?

That is something to think and pray about today.


About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

7 responses to “Remembering September 11…. 1683

  • Ken Petzinger

    Thanks, Clarke. I had never heard of this connection before. Do we actually know for sure that Bin Laden actually made it?


  • Clarke Morledge

    Hi, Ken. I heard this on “The Rest is History Podcast”, Episode 95, by historians Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook, The source I found for this goes back to Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Looming Tower.

    Apparently, the date has been used by other Islamic terrorists as well:

    ‘Despite the widely circulated myth that al Qaeda selected the date 9/11 for its similarity to the emergency call number 9-1-1, the date was important to the terrorist network because of its relationship with Islam. As Lawrence Wright wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Looming Tower, on Sept. 11, 1683, the King of Poland launched the battle that turned back the advance of Muslim armies. “For the next three hundred years, Islam would be overshadowed by the growth of Western Christian societies,” Wright explained. Osama bin Laden saw the attack on the World Trade Center as Islam’s big comeback. The date has since been used by other terrorists, including the jihadists who struck the U.S. compound in Benghazi, killing U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans last year.”‘

    The Battle of Vienna technically was on September 12, 1683, though the September 11th date is remembered as the day Sobieski arrived in Vienna with his Polish calvary. A little bit of trivia: When the Turks fled the battlefield, they left everything behind for the army of Vienna to plunder…. including their stores of coffee. This was one of first times Western Europeans (at least in Vienna) learned to enjoy coffee.


  • Joseph Christopher

    The towers were replaced by an islamic controlled building . Look at the minaret on top of that tower . That is a symbol of the 7th Caliphate . The number of barracks and armories of the enemy upon our soil , called ‘mosques’ will v e r y s o o n open to an out rush of enemy combatants across our countryside . Are you prepared to do battle on this soil ?


    • Clarke Morledge

      Hi, Joseph. Have you considered a different scenario in mind? That perhaps our Sovereign God has allowed many folks from Islamic countries, that have been closed to Christian missionaries for centuries, to come to the United States, so that they might hear the Gospel from a Christian and come to believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ?

      Look at Iran, where there is a spiritual revival going on right now, where many people in this Muslim land are coming to know Jesus, despite a heavily theocratic rule. More persons from an Islamic background have shown a greater openness to the Gospel within the last 14 years, than in the previous 14 centuries since that movement began.

      That is something to think about.


  • Joseph Christopher

    No , Clarke , they are not here for Christ . They are here to t r y establishing the 7th caliphate .


    • Clarke Morledge

      Hi, Joseph. Joseph’s brothers had it out for him, by selling him off as a slave, but when they went Egypt to seek Joseph’s help from the famine, Joseph’s response is interesting, as he apparently trusted in God’s sovereignty, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)

      Do you trust that the sovereign purposes of God might still be accomplished in our day?


  • Clarke Morledge

    George W. Bush gave what, in my view, was an excellent speech at the Shanksville crash site, remembering the 20th anniversary of 9/11:

    Of course, many will interpret Bush’s remarks as a betrayal, including many evangelical Christians. Twenty years ago, George W. Bush was the darling of the vast majority of evangelical Christians, but not so much today. It is amazing at how fickle many in the church have become.


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