“Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.”
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Above, Ilya Repin’s painting of the legendary diplomatic correspondence between the Zaporozhian Cossacks and the Ottoman Turks.
Some thirty years after winning their independence from the Polish-Lithuanians, the Cossacks continued to act as troublesome raiders, both to the Polish and the Ottoman Empire. In 1676, Sultan Mahmud IV sent an army into Ukraine, but it was defeated by the Zaporozhian Host. Nonetheless, the Sultan offered them the chance to submit, writing this letter:
Sultan Mahmud IV to the Zaporozhian Cossacks:
As the Sultan; son of Muhammad; brother of the sun and moon; grandson and viceroy of God; ruler of the kingdoms of Macedonia, Babylon, Jerusalem, Upper and Lower Egypt; emperor of emperors; sovereign of sovereigns; extraordinary knight, never defeated; steadfast guardian of the tomb of Jesus Christ; trustee chosen by God himself; the hope and comfort of Muslims; confounder and great defender of Christians — I command you, the Zaporogian Cossacks, to submit to me voluntarily and without any resistance, and to desist from troubling me with your attacks.
To which the Cossacks replied:
Zaporozhian Cossacks to the Turkish Sultan!
O sultan, Turkish devil and damned devil’s kith and kin, secretary to Lucifer himself. What the devil kind of knight are you, that can’t slay a hedgehog with your naked arse? The devil shits, and your army eats. You will not, you son of a bitch, make subjects of Christian sons; we’ve no fear of your army, by land and by sea we will battle with thee, fuck thy mother.
You Babylonian scullion, Macedonian wheelwright, brewer of Jerusalem, goat-fucker of Alexandria, swineherd of Greater and Lesser Egypt, Armenian pig, Podolian thief, catamite of Tartary, hangman of Kamyanets, and fool of all the world and underworld, an idiot before God, grandson of the Serpent, and the crick in our dick. Pig’s snout, mare’s arse, slaughterhouse cur, unchristened brow, screw your own mother!
So the Zaporozhians declare, you lowlife. You won’t even be herding Christian pigs. Now we’ll conclude, for we don’t know the date and don’t own a calendar; the moon’s in the sky, the year with the Lord, the day’s the same over here as it is over there; for this kiss our ass!
Koshovyi Otoman Ivan Sirko, with the whole Zaporozhian Host
Which is an appropriate way to deal with uppity Muslims.
Below, a modern image of a family of Don Cossacks.