Nicholas of Cusa and the Ottoman Threat to Christendom
Thomas Izbicki (Rutgers University; American Cusanus Society)
How Nicholas of Cusa moved from advocating dialogue with Muslims in his 1453 On the Peace of Faith (De pace fidei) to supporting a crusade in the 1460s long has puzzled students of his life and work. This paper will help bridge that gap. It examines two sermons delivered during the pontificate of Callixtus III (1455-1458). These sermons were delivered for processions ordered by the pope in opposition to the Ottoman advance in the Balkans. One also celebrates the defeat of the Ottoman forces at Belgrade in 1456. Nicholas’ critique of the Turks in that year helps explain why his Sifting the Qur’an (Cribratio Alkorani) is more polemical than De pace fidei. In addition, Cusanus showed greater support for a crusade at Pius II’s Congress of Mantua (1459), warmly welcoming Albert Achilles of Brandenburg to the pope’s crusade meeting. This was the last step to Cusanus’ support of a campaign against the Ottomans. The German cardinal died in Todi in 1464 while trying to join Pope Pius in Ancona for the latter’s failed effort to launch an armed expedition against the Turks.
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