France's scheme to expel Turks and Russians from Europe

ERHAN AFYONCU
Published 13.11.2019 02:22

Henry IV, the founder of the Bourbon dynasty and one of the most important kings in French history, ruled France from 1589 to 1610. During his reign, France achieved economic and political development.

Henry IV had been among the fathers of the idea of a European union. At the time, Mehmed III was sitting on the throne of the Ottoman Empire and the Ottomans were providing all sorts of support to France.

In his history, Zinkeisen describes the king's plan in great detail.

The French king had ordered a project toward the end of the century to unite European nations under a "Christian Republic."

That grand project was prepared by Maximilien de Bethune, Marquis of Rosny and Duke of Sully, who was a prominent statesman of the era.

The project was mentioned in the memoirs of the Duke titled, "Les Economies Royales de Sully." It was published later, with the title "Memoires des sages et royales Oeconomies d'Estat de Henry-le-Grand." The Duke describes the goal of the project as, "The primary objective of this great warrior ruler and politician was to establish a confederation that would unite all Christians under peace and fight infidels relentlessly."

Turks out of Europe

According to the plan, the Ottomans would be driven from Europe and a continuous war would be waged against infidels with a joint force of all European states. Turks would either convert to Christianity in a year or emigrate with their possessions to whatever country they chose.

Greedy Christians taking part in the confederation but not respecting the common values would be also dealt with.

The project envisioned war as the main goal and the greatest unifying element of the European Confederation. Under the pretext of creating a balance of power among European nations and ensuring permanent peace in that "Christian Republic of Europe," however, the real goal was to capture the Ottoman lands in Europe and institute French hegemony by weakening the Habsburgs.

The Christian Republic of Europe was planned to be composed of 15 independent states placed into three separate groups. The following was proposed to achieve the real goal of the project, weakening of the Austrian dynasty: The whole of Naples would be handed over to the Vatican for good and, in return, the Kaiser (Austrian emperor) would be given control over Helvetia (Switzerland) and Belgium.

Accordingly, since Hungary ought to be accepted as the strongest fortress of Germany and Italy, and even Christendom, against the Turkish empire, it would be designated as a special territory with the eight most powerful kings of Christian Europe having equal say over it: Pope, Kaiser, the kings of France, Spain, England, Denmark, Sweden and Lombardy.

What remained of the old Hungarian kingdom ought to be strengthened as much as possible by adding the Archduchy of Austria and the duchies of Istria, Carinthia and Carniola immediately, and then other parts of Hungary, together with Erdel (Transylvania), Slovenia, Bosnia and Croatia.

Similarly, Poland, which served as a bulwark for Germany against not only the Ottomans but also Russians and Tartars, should be also dealt with. For this reason, the aforementioned eight countries should place Poland under special protection, strive to solve all issues between Poland and its neighbors and help Poland seize as much land as possible from the Ottomans.

And potential issues between Venice, which shared the longest borders with the Ottomans and was most likely to be attacked by them, and its neighbors should be handled by a panel of arbiters to be formed by the King of France and the Helvetic Republic.

A new Confederation of Italian States, which was to be founded under the auspices of Pope, would consist of all the other small principalities and cities that were not under the control of Vatican, the Kingdom of Lombardy, and the Venetian Republic.

No place for Russia

The King did not want the Russian Czar, who exercised greater control over its subjects than the rest of the rulers in the world, to be part of this Christian Republic of Europe.

He asserted that most of the lands held by the Czar were in Asia.

Further, his subjects included such savage, barbaric and brutish peoples who could not integrate with Europeans. Another factor that made integration unlikely was that Russians still retained some pagan practices, and despite converting to Christianity they were far from the doctrines and traditions of the Christian sects existing in the Christian Republic of Europe. The project envisaged establishing a high court, similar to the current International Court of Justice in La Haye (Den Haag), in order to find solutions to the disputes between European states and prevent potential conflicts.

Additionally, a 60-member council was to be formed with the participation of four representatives from 15 states, and these councilors would convene in cities in the center of Europe, like Nancy, Metz and Cologne, in groups of 20.

On the other hand, the overall convention would bear the name "Senate of the Christian Republic."

Besides, a European Crusader Army composed of 117 ships, 215 cannons, 200 thousand infantry, and 53,800 cavalry would be formed. The army would obey the King of France as its supreme commander.

France contacted the queen of England, the Vatican, the king of Poland, electors of Brandenburg, Palatinate, Cologne and Mainz, princes of Bohemia and Transylvania, the Venetians and the Duke of Savoy, regarding the project. But Austria did not lean toward the project.

The Schäbisch Hall council of rulers convened, where rulers of small states and principalities were promised support against the Austrians.

But when Henry IV was killed in an assassination in 1610, while on his way to visit the sick Duke of Sully, the project was consigned to the dusty pages of history. The Duke of Sully claims in his memoirs, "If the King had not been killed, we would have come closer to realizing the project."

A plan to invade Ottoman lands

By late 1609, Henry IV came to possess a plan about how to capture Ottoman lands.

The plan was devised by a Cretan Greek with the name of Giovanni Fantin Minotto. Minotto claimed that he had been establishing secret contacts for 18 years, sometimes at the risk of his own life, especially in the island of Chios and in the Archipelago, and even in Morea, to incite Greeks to revolt en masse against the Ottomans. He also claimed to have met great willingness and passion for his plan everywhere he went.

The plan involved seizing all Ottoman lands in Europe and eventually re-establishing the Christian empire in Istanbul, or capturing important places primarily to expand the campaign later.

Minotto promised to gather at least 50 thousand to 60 thousand Greeks from Chios or other places, who would gladly sacrifice their lives under the flag of the king. He laid down the lives of his sons and his own to ensure that the king would easily become the master and ruler of the Byzantine Empire.

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