Antemurale myth

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The Antemurale myth or the Bulwark myth is one of the nationalist myths which implies a certain nation's mission of being a bulwark against the other religions, nations or ideologies. The word "Antemurale" is derived from Latin ante (before, in time and space) and murale (wall, attributive).

Characteristics[edit]

The Antemurale myth is different than other nationalist myths because it does not insist on the uniqueness of a certain group, but on its inclusion into some larger cultural entity which is allegedly superior to other groups which do not belong to it.[1]

The characteristics of antemurale myths are:[2]

  • Difference – It can always be found in areas with certain differences, i.e. different ethnic groups or religions.
  • Demarcation – It implies a need for demarcation from something different.
  • Defence – It implies that something different is of such nature that one has to defend against it.
  • Protection – It implies a need for protection of one's life or way of living from something different.
  • Commitment – It embraces a commitment to some larger cultural entity which is supposed to be protected, like religion, confession, culture or civilisation.

Demarcation or boundary building element of Antemurale myth-making magnifies the differences that distinguish one group from the selected neighbour and in the same time de-emphasizes boundaries toward the other.[3] Therefore, the Antemurale myth is opposed to the Sui generis myth because the it implies that the group is not that unique because it is part of the larger identity, which is something that skillful myth-maker needs to explain.[4]

Myth of Antemurale Christianitatis[edit]

One of the religious versions of this myth is often regarded as myth of Antemurale Christianitatis which implies a certain nation's mission of being the first line of defense of Europe against Islam.

The Champion of Christ (Latin: Athleta Christi) is honorary title used since 15th century and granted by pope to men who led military campaigns against Ottoman Empire. Those who were awarded with the title include: John Hunyadi, George Kastrioti Skanderbeg and Stephen the Great.

In the 16th century the "Defence against the Turks" had become central topic in East Central and South East Europe. It was put in functional use and served as propaganda tool and to mobilize religious feelings of the population.[5] People who participated in campaigns against Ottoman Empire were referred to as "antemurale Christianitatis" (the protective wall of Christianity).[6]

Southeast Europe[edit]

The antemurale myth became an archetypal myth of nationhood in Southeastern Europe.[7] Nationalists developed narratives about their nations being Antemurale Christianitatis who protect the West from the invasion of Islam, while the West ungratefully forgets this fact.[8] Almost every nation in southeast Europe has perception and national myth of being bulwark of some universal system of values (Christianity, Islam,...).[9]

Albania[edit]

Skanderbeg is built-in part of the Antemurale myth

The Antemurale myth portrays Albanians as bulwark of civilisation and defenders of the religious tolerance in Europe and Balkans. Before Albanians were Islamized Antemurale myth presented Albanians as Antemurale Christianitatis. In Albanian nationalist myths Skanderbeg is a built-in part of the Antemurale myth complex which portrays Albanians united by Skanderbeg as protectors of the nation and Christendom against "invading Turks".[10] After the Ottoman Empire implemented Islam into Albania, there is another example of Antemurale myth. The ulama's depiction of predominantly Muslim Albanians as bulwark of more civilized, religiously tolerant and democratic, opposed to undemocratic Greeks and Serbs who remained Orthodox.[11]

Bosnia[edit]

The Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) were seen as a bulwark of Islam; the Ottoman frontier at Bosnia was perceived as the "Islamic border" toward the "enemy of the faith". When the Austrian army attacked Bosnia, Bosnian Muslims perceived their army as an "Islamic army" of "chosen soldiers" who "guard the Islamic borders".[12]

Croatia[edit]

Pope Leo X called Croatia the Antemurale Christianitatis in 1519, given that Croatian soldiers made significant contributions to the struggle against the Turks. The idea of defending the West against East was proven to be of crucial importance for definition of the Croatian self-identity. Croats are perceived as defenders of the western world against barbarous East. The first form of Antemurale concept was aimed against Ottoman Empire and later against Serbs who were portrayed as the "last of the barbarians" which are "trying to invade Europe". The territorial rights of Croatians to land within borders of Croatia inhabited by Serbs (Krajina) were justified by racial differentiation between Croats and those Serbs.[dubious ] There were some attempts to ethnically separate Serbs living in Krajina from the rest of Serbs by claims that they were not of Slavic origin, but Vlachs who were settled in Croatia during the 16th century.[13]

The Croatian Antemurale myth was seen through perception of the Roman Catholicism and its position toward other religions, as described in the Nesting Orientalisms concept. Because Croats adopted Roman Catholicism, they are presented as peace-loving, honest, civilized, democratic and more European than Serbs because they adopted Orthodox Christianity, which is more Eastern than Catholicism according to the Nesting Orientalism concept.[14]

Serbia[edit]

The Antemurale myth is one of the most important Serbian myths[15] and has a very long tradition in historiography in Serbia and academic and political discourse portray Serbs as the defenders of Christian European civilisation.[16] The Antemurale myth in Serbia does not refer only to medieval history and events like the Battle of Kosovo where Serbs are portrayed as altruists who defend entire civilization of the west against attacks of Ottomans. The NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 was interpreted trough antemurale concept in which FR Yugoslavia heroically defended the world against US domination.[17]

Central Europe[edit]

In Central Europe the Antemurale myth evolved. In the medieval period it emphasised the mission of protecting the West from the Turks and Cossacks. The 19th century saw Russia as the enemy; the 20th century sought bulwarks against communism.[18]

Poland[edit]

The concept of antemurale in Poland has its origin in that nation's geopolitical position.[19] At the beginning this myth was employed to justify the defense of Catholic Europe against Turks, Tartars, and Orthodox Russia, and later against Communism or Fascism.[20]

Starting from the middle of the 15th century, national consciousnesses and political thought in Poland was influenced by the perception of Poland being part of civilized west on the border of non-European barbaric pagan east.[21] In the late 17th century, the king of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, John III Sobieski, allied himself with Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor to impose crushing defeats on the Ottoman Empire. In 1683 the Battle of Vienna marked a turning point in struggle against the Islamic Ottoman Empire. For its centuries-long stance against the Muslim advances, the Commonwealth would gain the name of Antemurale Christianitatis (bulwark of Christianity).[22][23]

An additional version of the perception of Poland as a bulwark emerged in the 20th century. Some Polish ideologists, like Roman Dmowski (1864-1939), viewed Poland as partner of Russia in controlling Germany.[24] The Antemurale myth revived in Poland in the 1980s with the rise of Solidarity. The new form portrayed Poland as defender of European countries against atheistic communism.[25]

As one of the consequences of Antemurale myth in Poland, the Polish elite concluded that Poland had a right to be "rescued" by the civilized world because they believed that Poland's cause was the cause of the whole civilized world.[26] In the vision of the poet Adam Mickiewicz[which?], the persecution and suffering of the Poles was to bring salvation to other persecuted nations, just as the death of crucified Christ brought redemption to mankind.[27] Thus the phrase "Poland the Christ of Nations" ("Polska Chrystusem narodów") was born.

Eastern Europe[edit]

Russia[edit]

One Russian version of history sees Mother Russia as Europe's last bulwark against invading Mongol hordes in the early 13th century, Orthodox Christianity's defence against Asian "otherness", and the civilised response to Islamic expansionism.[28]

Ukraine[edit]

The Ukrainians, living on the religious borderlands of Christian Europe with the Islamic Tatars and Ottomans saw themselves as "the bastion of Christianity".[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kolstø, Pål; Žanić, Ivo; Goldstein, Ivo; Džaja, Srečko M.; Perica, Vjekoslav; Aleksov, Bojan; Antić, Ana; Terzić, Zoran; Brunnbauer, Ulf; Hranova, Albena (2005), "Assessing the Role of Historical Myths in Modern Society", Myths and boundaries in south-eastern Europe, Hurst & Co., ISBN 978-1-85065-772-9, OCLC 62314611, Typologically, this myth is very different from the one discussed above. Rather than insisting on the uniqueness of the group, the group is now included into some larger and allegedly superior cultural entity that enhances its status vis-à-vis other groups who do not belong to it. 
  2. ^ Emden, Christian; Catherine Keen; David R. Midgley (2006). Imagining the City: The politics of urban space. Bern: Peter Lang. p. 323. ISBN 3-03910-533-7. Retrieved 13 July 2011. They are always to be found in areas with mixed ethnic groups and religions, areas which denote a transition to a different (Christian) religion and a different culture ..Thus the concept also contains a commitment to something, to that which the bulwark is supposed to protect... an avowal to one's own religion or confession, to one's own culture and civilization. 
  3. ^ Kolstø, Pål; Žanić, Ivo; Goldstein, Ivo; Džaja, Srečko M.; Perica, Vjekoslav; Aleksov, Bojan; Antić, Ana; Terzić, Zoran; Brunnbauer, Ulf; Hranova, Albena (2005), "Assessing the Role of Historical Myths in Modern Society", Myths and boundaries in south-eastern Europe, Hurst & Co., ISBN 978-1-85065-772-9, OCLC 62314611, the differences that distinguishes the group from one neighbour are magnified out of all proportion, while boundaries in other directions are de-emphasized. 
  4. ^ Kolstø, Pål; Žanić, Ivo; Goldstein, Ivo; Džaja, Srečko M.; Perica, Vjekoslav; Aleksov, Bojan; Antić, Ana; Terzić, Zoran; Brunnbauer, Ulf; Hranova, Albena (2005), "Assessing the Role of Historical Myths in Modern Society", Myths and boundaries in south-eastern Europe, Hurst & Co., ISBN 978-1-85065-772-9, OCLC 62314611, In a sense, the ante murale mechanism seems to negate the sui generis myth: we are not unique after all, instead, we are a small part of a larger whole.... A skilful myth-maker may succeed in explaining that sui generis and ante murale belong to different levels of identity, as it were. 
  5. ^ Maner, Hans–Christian. "The "Repelling of the great Turk" in Southeast European Historiography". University of Mainz. Archived from the original on 22 October 2009. Retrieved 31 March 2011. ..."Defence against the Turks", that had already become central topics in East Central and Southeast Europe in the sixteenth century, ... was also put to functional use... also a propaganda function, .... mobilising religious feelings 
  6. ^ Maner, Hans–Christian. "The "Repelling of the great Turk" in Southeast European Historiography". University of Mainz. Archived from the original on 22 October 2009. Retrieved 31 March 2011. ...Contemporary accounts already used the topos of the defence of Christian Europe...others claimed the title, too...antemurale Christianitatis 
  7. ^ A. Byrnes, Timothy; Peter J. Katzenstein (2006). Religion in an expanding Europe. Cambridge. p. 180. Retrieved 12 July 2011. This antemurale myth thus became one archetypal myth of nationhood in Southeastern Europe. 
  8. ^ Weaver, Eric Beckett (2006). National Narcissism: The intersection of the nationalist cult and gender in Hungary. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-8204-7989-7. Retrieved 12 July 2011. Thus, like nationalists of several of the nations around Hungary, nationalist Hungarian historians have developed narratives of how their nation was an antemurale christianitatis, the last bastion of Christianity, protecting the West for centuries from the onslaught of Islam, and that an ungrateful West forgotten this fact. 
  9. ^ Revel, Jacques; Levi, Giovanni (2002), Political uses of the past: the recent Mediterranean experience, London: Franc Cass and Company Limited, p. 47, ISBN 0-7146-5271-7, ...almost every nation in southeastern Europe is represented in its self-perception and national myth as the bulwark of a particular universal system of values (Christianity. Islam. and so on). 
  10. ^ Oliver Jens Schmitt, ed. (2010), Religion und Kultur im albanischsprachigen Südosteuropa, 4, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, p. 249, ISBN 978-3-631-60295-9, The antemurale myth and Skanderbeg: A built-in part of antemurale myth complex is Skanderbeg... united Albanians in the fight against invading Turks and that his primary motive was defence of the nation (although the churchmen equate that with defence of the Christendom) 
  11. ^ Oliver Jens Schmitt, ed. (2010), Religion und Kultur im albanischsprachigen Südosteuropa, 4, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, p. 249, ISBN 978-3-631-60295-9, The myth of the Albanians as the natural born protectors of religious tolerance in Europe and Balkans is but one example. Another is ulama's depiction of Islam....implemented during Ottoman rule, ... opposed to ... undemocratic..."Greeks" and the "Serbs" 
  12. ^ Kolstø, Pål; Žanić, Ivo; Goldstein, Ivo; Džaja, Srečko M.; Perica, Vjekoslav; Aleksov, Bojan; Antić, Ana; Terzić, Zoran; Brunnbauer, Ulf; Hranova, Albena (2005), "Assessing the Role of Historical Myths in Modern Society", Myths and boundaries in south-eastern Europe, Hurst & Co., pp. 42, 44, ISBN 978-1-85065-772-9, OCLC 62314611, ... consequence of Islamisation in Bosnia was acceptance of idea ....in which fighting for the Ottoman Empire was identical with fighting for the Islam. This was behind the meaning of Bosnia as the bulwark of Islam....The Austrian army, that 'enemy of the faith', attacked Bosnia, the 'bulwark of Islam'; the army to which they belong is an 'Islamic army', they are 'chosen soldiers of the Islamic border' and they 'guard the Islamic borders' ... 
  13. ^ MacDonald, David B. (2002), Balkan holocausts?: Serbian and Croatian victim-centred propaganda and the war in Yugoslavia, Oxford: Manchester University Press, pp. 118, 119, 123, ISBN 0-7190-6466-X, This idea of East versus West proved to be of fundamental importance in defining Croatian self-identity. ...expanded upon the Antemurale myth...conveyed the image of a Croatia protecting the West from a barbarous East, with the Serbs trying to invade Europe, in a manner reminiscent of Ottoman invasion, against which the Antemurale was first established. ...this racial differentiation concerned Croatian territorial rights.... Croats and Serbs were presented as having different racial origins,...The Krajina Serbs were to be ethnically separated from the rest of Serbian population....Krajina Serbs were "non-Slavic Vlachs... who supposedly settled as farmers in Croatia in the 16th century 
  14. ^ Sundhaussen, Holm (2007). Geschichte Serbiens: 19.-21. Jahrhundert. Wien, Keln, Weinmar: Bohlau Verlag. pp. 449, 450. ISBN 978-3-205-77660-4. Retrieved 18 July 2011. the (Croat) myth of the Antemurale Christianitatis .... Their adoption of Roman Catholicism made them more peace-loving, more honest...This implied that Croats were chosen as more Western, more civilized, more democratic, better educated and more European than the Serbs, who were relegated to the East. 
  15. ^ Christians Associated for Relationships with Eastern Europe (U.S.) (2006). Religion in Eastern Europe. Ecumenical Press. p. 50. Retrieved 18 July 2011. antemurale myth, one of the most influential among Serbian myths 
  16. ^ Kolstø, Pål; Žanić, Ivo; Goldstein, Ivo; Džaja, Srečko M.; Perica, Vjekoslav; Aleksov, Bojan; Antić, Ana; Terzić, Zoran; Brunnbauer, Ulf; Hranova, Albena (2005), "Assessing the Role of Historical Myths in Modern Society", Myths and boundaries in south-eastern Europe, Hurst & Co., p. 191, ISBN 978-1-85065-772-9, OCLC 62314611, The antemurale myth has had a very long tradition in various schools of Serbian historiography. In Serbian academic and political discourse, Serbs have been depicted as the defenders of Christian European civilization 
  17. ^ Dutceac Segesten, Anamaria (2009). Vladimir Tismaneanu, ed. Myth, identity and conflict: A Comparative Analysis of Romanian and Serbian Textboks (PDF). p. 179. Retrieved 18 July 2011. Both Romanians and Serbs feel they have played the role of last line of defense against the plundering attacks initiated by the Ottomans not only against the Balkans but against the entire civilization of the West. Echoes of this defensive myth permeate the academic and political discourse in Serbia, where some have argued that the motivation behind the sacrifice of the Serbian soldiers during the Kosovo Battle was not self-centered but altruistic: to defend Christianity itself. Even the US policy towards Yugoslavia in the 1980s and the recent NATO campaigns of 1999 have been interpreted through the prism of the antemurale version of history. In this new version of the myth, the infidels of old are replaced by the Americans, and the Yugoslav heroic defense puts a stop to the process of world domination initiated and conducted by the USA. 
  18. ^ Klocek di Biasio, Beata (2010). Bohdan Michalski, ed. European Identity and the Myth of Europe in Art. Toruń: Adam Marszałek Publishing House. p. 14. Retrieved 12 July 2011. The antemurale evolved from the seventeenth-century anti-Turkish and anti-Cossack stand to its anti-Russian successor (nineteenth century); in the twentieth century it signified the protection of Western civilisation against communism. 
  19. ^ Emden, Christian; Catherine Keen; David R. Midgley (2006). Imagining the City: The politics of urban space. Bern: Peter Lang. p. 323. ISBN 3-03910-533-7. Retrieved 13 July 2011. The concept owes its origins to the geopolitical position of Poland at the eastern border of the Slavic region of settlement 
  20. ^ Hosking, Geoffrey; George Schöpflin (1997). Myths and nationhood. London: C. Hurst & Co. p. 145. ISBN 1-85065-333-X. Retrieved 20 July 2011. The myth of Poland's role as the 'Bulwark of Christendom', the antemurale christianitatis, had a very long career. Initially inspired by the wars against Turks and Tartars, it was later employed to justify Poland's defence of Catholic Europe against Orthodox Muscovites, and later against communism and fascism. 
  21. ^ Gastinger, Markus (2009). Hopes and Fears Associated with Poland's Accession to the European Union. GRIN Verlag. p. 1. ISBN 978-3-640-27774-2. Retrieved 13 July 2011. Poland perceives itself as... 'West', ... Europe, ..., .. Christian, ... at the border to the East, to the non-European parts of the world, where barbaric pagans rule, mostly Muslims. This conviction can be traced back to the mid-fifteenth century. 
  22. ^ Aleksander Gella, Development of Class Structure in Eastern Europe: Poland and Her Southern Neighbors, SUNY Press, 1998, ISBN 0-88706-833-2, Google Print, p13
  23. ^ Poland, the knight among nations, Louis Edwin Van Norman, New York: 1907, p. 18
  24. ^ Prizel, Ilya (1998). "Polish identity 1795 - 1944". National identity and foreign policy: nationalism and leadership in Poland. Cambridge University Press. p. 68. ISBN 0-521-57157-X. Retrieved 19 July 2011. Dmowski viewed Poland as partner of Russia in containing Germany. 
  25. ^ Gastinger, Markus (2009). Hopes and Fears Associated with Poland’s Accession to the European Union. GRIN Verlag. p. 1. ISBN 978-3-640-27774-2. Retrieved 13 July 2011. The rising of Solidarity in the 80s revived the myth of antemurale, where Poland had to combat atheistic communism for the sake of all European countries 
  26. ^ Prizel, Ilya (1998). "Polish identity 1795 - 1944". National identity and foreign policy: nationalism and leadership in Poland. Cambridge University Press. p. 41. ISBN 0-521-57157-X. Retrieved 19 July 2011. Poland was destined to battle the Tatars, Turks and Russians acting like Christian rampart (Antemurale Christianitis) of Western civilisation....Because the Polish elite tirelessly clung to the belief that Poland's cause was the cause of the entire civilized world, they concluded that a "rescue" by the civilized world was Poland's right. 
  27. ^ "Polska Chrystusem narodów" at www.sciaga.pl
  28. ^ Hunter, Shireen; Thomas, Jeffrey L.; Melikishvili, Alexander (2004). Islam in Russia: The Politics of Identity and Security. M.E. Sharpe. p. 5. ISBN 9780765612823. Retrieved 2015-01-29. [...] the memory of the Mongol conquest and the negative impact of Mongol rule heightened the Russian view of Islam and Muslims as 'hostile others' against whom the Russians, to some extent, would define themselves and their national and cultural mission. [...] First, Russia came to see itself as the eastern flank of the defense of Christendom against Islam and Asian nations [...] Russians deeply believe that Europe would have succumbed to the Mongols and could not have either retained its Christianity or developed culturally and scientifically if Russia had not absorbed the shock of Mongol invasion. Therefore, they believe that the West owes a debt of gratitude to Russia. [...] Russia still sees itself as a bulwark against the Islamic South, which continues to threaten Europe. Second, Russia developed a sense of duty to perform a civilizing role, both in parts of Europe and in Asia, especially among its Muslim subjects. 
  29. ^ Velikonja, Mitja (2003). Religious Separation and Political Intolerance in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Texas A&M University Press. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-60344-724-9. Retrieved 2015-01-29. In the ensuing centuries [after 1519] the Croats used this expression, antemurale Christianitas, as the cornerstone of their own religious-national mythology (the Ukrainians and Poles considered themselves the 'bastion of Christianity' during this time as well). 

Further reading[edit]