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2015 | Świat i Słowo 2015, nr 1 (24) | 115-128

Article title

Bulwark or political playground? Teodor Parnicki’s Count Julian and King Roderic

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The term Bulwark of Christendom (Antemurale Christianitatis) was for centuries defining the special – even Messianic – role of those European countries (Poland and Spain in particular) which were exposed to the direct influence (and attacks) of the Muslim world. Difficult encounter between Christianity and Islam and the role of the European “borderlands” is a theme of an early historical novel by Teodor Parnicki (1908-1988) Count Julian and King Roderic (1935). Contrary to the ideological interpretations of the Islamic invasion of Spain (711 AD) Parnicki presents this historical process as a product of complex political and ecclesiastical conflicts within the Visigoth state and, as a result, questions the ideological interpretations of this event. Thus the novel seems to be the anti-Messianic statement, which criticizes deeply ingrained belief in the special historical role of the those nations which are perceived as defenders of Christianity. The novel can be interpreted as the first, still somewhat veiled, polemic with Henryk Sienkiewicz’s intellectual heritage, yet, what makes the novel important, is the problem of the complexity of political mechanisms which eventually produce simplistic, ideological “grand narratives”. The writer’s university lectures (1973) provide an additional, more elaborate reflection on the theme presented in the writer’s first historical novel.


  • Akademia Techniczno-Humanistyczna w Bielsku-Białej, Willowa 2


  • Teodor Parnicki, Dzienniki z lat osiemdziesiątych, Ed. by Tomasz Markiewka, Kraków 2008.
  • Teodor Parnicki, Historia w literaturę przekuwana, Warszawa 1980.
  • Teodor Parnicki, Hrabia Julian i król Roderyk, Poznań 1976.
  • Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Oxford 1947.
  • Teresa Cieślikowska, Pisarstwo Teodora Parnickiego, Warszawa 1965.
  • Mitja Velikonja, Religious Separation and Political Intolerance in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Texas A&M University Press 2003.

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