Ancient history

Battle of Vienna

The Battle of Vienna (to be distinguished from the Siege of Vienna of 1529) took place on September 12, 1683 on the Kahlenberg hill near Vienna.

(Leopold I renamed it immediately after Leopoldsberg, giving the name of Kahlenberg to a nearby hill, the Sauberg or Schweinsberg or even Josephsberg. The current "Kahlenberg", in the municipality of Döbling, is therefore not the place of the battle) .

The decisive defeat of the Ottomans of Kara Mustafa was the starting point of a military campaign, completed in 1699, which was to enable the Habsburgs to recover their lands in Hungary-Croatia and put an end to the Ottoman threat in central Europe. Of the aftermath of this battle, historians Ernst Werner and Walter Markov will say:

"The fear of the Turks, which after the catastrophe of Nicopolis which, in 1396, had bewitched Europe like a trauma... was finally erased, the Ottoman withdrawal from Europe had just begun."

The feast of the Holy Name of Mary was instituted in memory of this victory because the Christian soldiers had invoked the name of the Blessed Virgin before launching into battle.

An army of about 70,000 Polish, German and Austrian soldiers commanded by Charles V of Lorraine, and another army, called "relief" of 30,000 men led by the King of Poland Jean Sobieski was placed against the Turkish besiegers of Vienna . These, about 140,000 men (of which only a part took part in the battle) were commanded by the Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa.

Sobieski had set about planning a relief expedition for Vienna as early as the summer of 1683 when the Ottomans had embarked on a massive and hoped-for ultimate expedition against the Habsburg capital. Leaving in March, they had taken over the city on July 14. The winter before the Austrian and Polish powers had concluded a treaty of mutual assistance in the event of an Ottoman attack.

The Polish king honored his obligations to the letter, stripping the defense of his own country but not without threatening Count Thököly, who ruled Hungary on behalf of the Ottomans, with terrible reprisals if he took advantage of this situation. The Austrians still had four strongholds in Hungary, two of which, Raab and Komárom (today Györ in Hungary and Komárno in Slovakia), considerably hampered the supply of the besiegers and prevented them from seizing Pressburg (today Bratislava) , then capital of Hungary-Croatia still controlled by the Habsburgs.

Mustapha's sappers had succeeded in demolishing part of Vienna's walls, but inexplicably took no action against Sobieski after learning of his imminent arrival. At 4 a.m. on September 12 the Austrian army on the left wing, the German in the center advanced on the Turks. Mustapha launched a counter-attack with the bulk of his troops. Then the Polish infantry attacked on the right wing and after twelve hours of fighting held the ground.

At about 3:00 p.m. four groups of cavalry, one Austro-German and the other three Polish heavy cavalry (Hussars), 20,000 men in all, charged down the hills with the king at their head. In the confusion they went straight into the Ottoman camp, while the Viennese garrison came out and joined the fight. In less than three hours the battle was won and the Turks forced into a disorderly and rapid retreat.

The Turks lost about 15,000 men and the allies 4,000.

This was the starting point of a "war of liberation", marked by the victories of Zenta and Mohács (not to be confused with the battle of Mohács of 1526), ​​and which was to conclude on January 26, 1699 with the Treaty of Peace of Karlowitz (in Serbian Sremski Karlovci):this one returned to the crown of Hungary-Croatia its possessions of Hungary and in particular Slavonia, Syrmia, Bácska and Banat, which Suleiman the Magnificent had conquered in the 16th century.

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