Many negative stereotypes of Muslims can be traced to the clashes between the Ottoman Empire and Christian Europe in the Middle Ages. Paula Sutter Fichtner explores here the particular dynamics between the Ottoman and Austrian Habsburg empires and chronicles the evolution of a political relationship that shifted from hatred to understanding.
In the fourteenth century, Ottoman armies swept westward across the Danube Valley before confronting the Habsburgs, who ruled central and eastern Europe, and in Terror and Toleration, Fichtner charts the religious and political conflicts that fueled 300 years of war. She reveals how ruling powers in Vienna and the church spread propaganda about Muslims that still lingers today. But the Habsburgs dramatically reversed their attitudes toward Muslims in the seventeenth century, and through this story, Fichtner explains how one can recognize an enemy while adjusting one’s views about them.
A fascinating read, Terror and Toleration sheds new light on the deep roots of the often contentious relationship between Islam and the West.