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Antemurale Christianitatis

Antemurale Christianitatis (English: Bulwark of Christendom) was a label used for a country defending the frontiers of Christian Europe from the Ottoman Empire.



In the 15th century Pope Pius II, admiring Ottoman–Albanian Wars, waged mainly by Skanderbeg defined Albania as Italy's bastion of Christianity (Latin: Antemurale Christianitatis Italiaeque).[1] The pope himself declared the war to the Ottoman Empire in 1463, but such war was never fought, as the following year he died at Ancona, while still organizing the naval attack on the Ottomans.[1]


Armenia, especially the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, has been described as the last Christian bulwark in Asia to fall to Muslim rule.[2][3][4]


Ferdo Quiquerez, Antemurale Christianitatis (1892)-Croatia is portrayed in a form of a woman that holds a sword and a shield in the form of the Croatian coat of Arms. She stands at the entrance of Europe and guards it from the Turks. Behind her the Dome of St. Peter's Basilical and, among others, Galileo Galilei and Dante Alighieri can be seen.

Pope Leo X called Croatia the Antemurale Christianitatis (Croatian: Predziđe kršćanstva) in 1519 in a letter to the Croatian ban Petar Berislavić,[5] given that Croatian soldiers made significant contributions in war against the Ottoman Empire. The advancement of the Ottoman Empire in Europe was stopped in 1593 on Croatian soil (Battle of Sisak), which could be in this sense regarded as a historical gate of European civilization. Nevertheless, the Muslim Ottoman Empire occupied part of Croatia from the 15th to the 19th centuries, and a large number of Croats converted to Islam. However, Pope Leo X wasn't the first that gave Croatia such a title. The nobility of the southern Croatian regions sent a letter to Pope Alexander VI and Roman-German emperor Maximilian I on April 10, 1494 seeking help against the Ottoman attacks. In that letter Croatia was for the first time called bastion and a bulwark of Christianity:

We have been blocking this force (Turks) for almost seventeen years wasting our bodies, lives and all of our goods, and like the bastion and a bulwark of Christianity we daily defend Christian countries, as much as it is humanly possible. That is why we are telling you this: If we get defeated by the Turks, then they might be able to remove Christianity from Croats.[6]

When Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453, Pope Callistus III urged all Christians to the Crusades. Many Croats, led by Saint John of Capistrano, were part of the army that defeated 150,000 Turks at the Siege of Belgrade in 1456.[7] When Belgrade was conquered by the Turks in 1521 many Croatian writers and diplomats pointed out dramatic situation stating that Belgrade was the bastion of Christianity, the key to Europe and the fortress of the entire Kingdom of Hungary. In the following year, German Parliament in Nuremberg called Croatia Zwingermaurer (Fortress) and the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand of Habsburg said that "chivalrous Christian nation of Croats is standing as a shield in front of Styria, Carinthia and Carniola, and the whole of Central Europe and Western Christendom." At the session, Prince Bernardin Frankopan asked for help, recalling that "Croatia is a shield and door of Christianity".[8][7] Fran Krsto Frankopan stated on July 1, 1523 in the memorial to the Pope Adrian VI that Croatia is a "bulwark or door of Christianity, and especially bordering countries of Carinthia, Carniola, Istria, Friuli, and Italy".[8] Croatian baroque poet Vladislav Mencetić wrote in 1665:

Italy would have sunk into the deep waves from slavery if the Ottoman sea hasn't been streaking into the Croatian seashore.

In the nearly 400-year-long war against the Ottoman Empire many Croatian warriors and heroes became known for their merits. Some of them were:


For its centuries-long stance against the Muslim advances, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth also gained the name of Antemurale Christianitatis.[9] In 1683 the Battle of Vienna marked a turning point in a 250-year-old struggle between the forces of Christian Europe and the Islamic Ottoman Empire. Wespazjan Kochowski in his Psalmodia polska (The Polish Psalmody, 1695) tells of the special role of Poland in the world (antemurale christianitatis – the bulwark of Christianity) and the superiority of the Polish political system (złota wolnośćthe golden liberty).

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  1. ^ a b Arrigo Petacco (7 October 2010). L'ultima crociata. Edizioni Mondadori. pp. 43–44. ISBN 978-88-520-1378-2. Europa che seguiva ammirata le imprese del condottiero albanese e Pio II definì l'Albania «antemurale Christianitatis Italiaeque».
  2. ^ "Armenia". Encyclopaedia Britannica Volume II (9th ed.). Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black. 1875. p. 548. The Rhupenians entered into alliance with the Crusaders, and formed, along with the kings of Cyprus, the last bulwark of Christianity in the East.
  3. ^ Tcheraz, Minas (1993). "The Armenian Church". In Seager, Richard Hughes. The Dawn of Religious Pluralism: Voices from the World's Parliament of Religions, 1893. Open Court Publishing. p. 190. Armenia and Cilicia, where the fourth and last Armenian dynasty held sway. ... Cilicia, the victim of Christian solidarity, was deluged in the blood of her children. It was thus that the last bulwark of Christianity in Asia succumbed.
  4. ^ Fontaine, Petrus Franciscus Maria (2004). Dualism of the Christian and Muslim Worlds During the Middle Ages. Centraal Boekhuis. p. 323. ISBN 9789051790832. Cilicia was still Byzantine territory, but was rendered practically independent by a powerful Armenian dynasty. In the West it was seen as a Christian bulwark against the Turks....
  5. ^ Velikonja, Mitja (2003). Religious Separation and Political Intolerance in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Texas A&M University Press. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-60344-724-9.
  6. ^ Milan Kruhek, Krajiške utvrde i obrana Hrvatskog Kraljevstva tijekom 16. stoljeća, Zagreb 1995. str. 49
  7. ^ a b "M. Prpa: Antemurale Christianitatis – Predziđe kršćanstva - Portal Hrvatskoga kulturnog vijeća". 2013-03-24. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ Van Norman, Louis E. (1907). Poland: The Knight Among Nations. Fleming H. Revell Company. p. 18.

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