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Great Battles #5 - Vienna 1683 (last Great Ottoman Attack)

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Austerlitz, Oct 25, 2016.

  1. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    VIENNA 1683 - LAST OTTOMAN TIDE

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    BACKGROUND: POLITICAL SITUATION 1683

    France : France in 1683 was the new superpower of europe.In the 1640-50s it had defeated and eclipsed spain.The habsburg dynasty which under charles v was the undisputed power had been divided into austrian and spanish habsburgs ,ending the encirclement of france.Under its new king Louis XIV and its ministers,the army and tax system was overhauled and power of the provincial nobility crushed.Louis proceeded to set up europe's first great absolute monarchy(from feudal monarchy) and national army ,using france's huge manpower and tax base.Building up a unprecedented standing army which grew to over 300,000 by 1683, he began to wage aggressive wars of expansion intent on setting france's frontier on the rhine river.At the time of the ottoman attack western europe had seen 20 yrs of unabated french aggrandizement into the territories of the holy roman empire.

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    ''I am the state'' - Louis XIV the 'Sun king'.​

    Spanish habsburgs had been defeated in 1759 and france had taken territory in the netherlands as well as advancing slowly but relentlessly on the imperial territories on the rhine in a series of wars often under flimsy pretexts.His most serious rival were the austrian habsburgs,who also were the holy roman emperors and protector of the german states.France and the ottomans had a traditional alliance against their common rivals austrian habsburgs going back to the time of suleiman the magnificient 150 yrs ago .When Louis recieved the call from help from the pope against the ottomans he refused to aid the austrian emperor leopold and instead continued his aggression on the rhineland annexing alsace,despite having proclaimed throughout his life to be 'his most catholic majesty'.Louis calculated if the ottomans destroyed or severely weakened the habsburgs he would be left with no serious rival in europe .Not only would he be able to continue his expansion policy unhindered,but the small states of central europe ,italy and the pope would look to him then for leadership against further ottoman advance.French hegemony over europe would be confirmed.Thus religious zeal had to be sacrificed for his geopolitical ambitions.

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    Leopold I of Austria,Holy roman emperor.​

    The Austrian Empire : In 1683 austria was in a difficult situation.In the the religious(catholic vs protestant)30 yrs war ended at the peace of westphalia in 1648 austria had suffered serious losses.The german heartland and population was devastated and still recovering.In 1679 vienna was stricken with plague.The emperor's control over the holy roman territories was nominal with the small german principalities providing modest contingents.The state was in financial trouble and threatened from 2 sides by france and the ottomans.The sun king's relentless advance had brought the french borders 100 miles east.Most of the austrian military strength was concentrated in the rhine frontier.The 17th century had not yet seen intense ottoman-habsburg conflict except a couple of short wars,both sides being busy in other theatres.A 20 year truce was in place due to expire next year between the 2 empires.In austrian parts of hungary an ottoman supported rebellion had broken out and clashes had ensued between the austrian and rebel-ottoman forces.

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    Mehmet IV -Ottoman sultan​

    The Ottoman Empire : While still not apparent by the end of the 17th century economically and militarily the ottoman empire had entered stagnation.Territorially ottoman holdings in europe and the eastern mediterranean were at their peak.The ottomans had been unable to seize the oppurtunity of the 30 yrs war in europe due to a series of weak sultans,constant palace coups,conflicts with poland and persia at land and venice at sea.From the 1650s power had shifted from the sultans to the grand viziers who were the true power behind the throne.The able mehmet kopirulu had stabilized the economy for the time being and won several military successes in persia and the eastern mediterranean.But after his death in 1676 brought the ambitious kara mustafa pasha to the helm.He set his sights on feat achieved by no ottoman commander before him,in which suleiman the magnificient had failed ,to conquer the 'Golden Apple' - Vienna.

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    Jan III Sobieski - King of Poland​

    Poland : The Polish lithuanian commonwealth by this era was in decline,but still a major power in eastern europe.The poles had been in constant warfare against the ottomans throughout the 17th century.Though the ottomans had made inroads in ukraine they were largely kept outside of core polish territories despite their superior military strength largely due to the superb polish cavalry and logistics.While lithuania was tied to poland in a commonwealth the lithuanian army didn't play a role in this campaign.The new king of Poland ,Jan Sobieski - a veteran military commander was elected on 1673 and revived polish vigour on the southern front having largely stalemated any ottoman advance on poland.During this time he also switched from being pro-french to pro-hapsburg which would set the foundations for the polish-austrian alliance.

    ROAD TO WAR :

    Ottoman Preparations -
    On the political front, the Ottoman Empire had been providing military assistance to the Hungarians and to non-Catholic minorities in Habsburg-occupied portions of Hungary. There, in the years preceding the siege, widespread unrest had become open rebellion .In 1681, Protestants and other anti-Habsburg forces, led by Imre Thokoly were reinforced with a significant force from the Ottomans, who recognized Thököly as King of "Upper Hungary'(Modern eastern slovakia and north western hungary).This support included explicitly promising the "Kingdom of Vienna" to the Hungarians if it fell into Ottoman hands.In 1681 and 1682, clashes between the forces of Imre Thököly and the Holy Roman Empire intensified, and the incursions of Habsburg forces into Central Hungary along with the austrian preoccupation in the west(and Louis's neutrality) provided the crucial argument of Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha in convincing the Sultan Mehmet IV to attack the hapsburgs.


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    The Ottoman army began its lengthy mobilization on January 1682.The sultan had authorized Kara mustafa to seize the austrian stronghold of Gorz and others in northern hugary.There had been no talk of an attack on vienna as of yet.War was declared on august 1682 with mobilization near complete,but there would be no campaign in that year as due to the slow pace of the huge ottoman army any campaign launched in august would only reach vienna as the winter set in with massive logistical problems thereafter.The army assembled in adrianopole in thrace and was joined by the sultan and grand vizier in october .Meanwhile the roads and bridges along the route of advance were being repaired and border fortresses strengthened.The ottoman army spent winter quarters in adrianopole while a final peace offer made to the hapsburgs to seize key fortresses in austrian north hungary were rejected by Leopold.Thus at the end of march 1683 the ottoman army set out from Adrianopole towards Belgrade.The sultan would stay at belgrade while Kara mustafa would lead the main army on campaign thereafter.They would be joined enroute by the contingents of their vassals and the crimean tatar army.However this long 15 month gap between initial ottoman mobilization and march gave Leopold time to strengthen the defenses of vienna,raise additional forces and make alliances all of which would prove critical.

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    Kara Mustafa Pasha -Grand Vizier and Commander of Ottoman Empire

    Imperial Preparations -

    For Austria the problem was the small size of her forces and the depleted treasury which had still not paid off debts from the 30 yrs war.The strength immediately available as field forces(excluding garrisons) were 45,000 foot and 18,000 cavalry.The imperial war council decided to raise another this number to a field army of 80,000 to counter the ottoman threat.To be added to this were croatian and hungarian militia.However a part of the imperial forces also had to stay on the western frontier with france and support the german states there which further weakened the habsburg strength against the ottomans.Leopold was unable to secure enough funds for the army until the vatican and friendly european powers sent him financial aid.
    Crucially enough Leopold secured an alliance with Poland whereby if the ottomans attacked and besieged Krakow in southern poland the imperial army would assist them and if vienna was besieged the poles would come to relive it.Sobieski however needed the assent of the polish noble assembly to take the main polish army out of poland and this was almost sabotaged by french bribes.However the pope and the vatican released enormous funds and outbribed the french allowing sobieski the freedom to make his move when needed.
    Charles of Lorraine ,one of the princes of the empire was given overall command and in early may 1683 even as the ottoman army was on the march the imperial field army assembled near vienna 32,000 regulars and 5,000 hungarian auxillaries.Charles intended to make a limited offensive against the ottoman holdings in north hungary -this would boost morale ,be seen favorably by the polish allies,divert kara mustafa attention from the key fortresses of gyor and vienna and allow the rest of the imperial contingents from all over germany to arrive and consolidate.Thus the opening moves of the campaign had been made.

    NEXT : CAMPAIGN BEGINS -MARCH TO VIENNA.OPPOSING ARMIES
     
  2. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    CAMPAIGN BEGINS - MARCH TO VIENNA

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    CAMPAIGN IN HUNGARY:

    Imperial Attempt - The imperial field army under Charles made the first move attempting to pre empt the ottomans,concentrating roughly 12,500 infantry and 9,500 cavalry -the main imperial field army around the key fortress of Gyor which guarded the approaches to the austrian heartland by 19 may.(see map).The imperial force then marched east to komarom along the north bank of the danube.From this vantage point Charles intended to strike at the ottoman fortress of Esterzgom further east.This movement was was only taking shape around 31 may when orders and counterorders plus division of opinion in the imperial war council brought about by the news that kara mustafa had left belgrade and wa sfats approaching caused him to abandon this effort.The viennese court was afraid Esterzgom was too far east and left vienna and gyor exposed.Now charles made an attempt on the northern ottoman fortress of Neuhausel,the siege initially progressed well but was frustrated by lack of heavy artillery and support from vienna, lack of consensus among the austrian commanders of the war councilincreasingly concerned about the approach of the main ottoman army.By 12 june Charles had abandoned the siege and returned dejected to Komarom from where he intended to keep an eye on ottoman movements.When news reached of Kara mustafa was approaching Gyor the imperial forces backtracked to Gyor.Thus their month long campaign in hungary had been a dismal failure and an exercise in futility,largely due to lack of unity of command and consensus on a strategic objective.

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    Ottoman Advance - Kara Mustafa at the head of the jannisaries departed Belgrade with the ottoman field army leaving the sultan behind with his entourage.From Belgrade they moved to Osijek by 2 June(see map above),here Kara mustafa was frustrated for 12 days due to delays in finishing the construction over the bridges.Here he recieved Thokly,the pro-ottoman hungarian leader proclaimed king of hungary,and also dispatched reinforcements for the besieged fortress of neuhausel which turned back and rejoined him after learning austrians had abandoned the siege.
    By 25 June,enroute to Budapest the ottoman army was joined by reinforcements from asia(egyptian and syrian) and the Crimean tatar hordes under their own khan.Here in keeping with tradition,kara mustafa held the council of war.While the orders from the sultan were to take Gyor and Kamorum,Kara mustafa presented his intention to go for vienna as the main objective(while also taking gyor) as that would present a decisive chance at breaking the deadlock on ottoman-habsburg frontier which the fortresses would not.Having secured the assent of his commanders by force of personality he now had the freedom to make his move.Around 1 July the first ottoman troops began to arrive in front of Gyor.

    Onwards to Vienna - As the massive size of the ottoman forces became apparent ,charles intended to withdraw his main body to the rear,after reinforcing gyor and be in a position to either then relieve gyor with a larger force in the near future if that was the ottoman goal and block any ottoman outflanking move on vienna.He thus positioned himself at Jahrndorf(see 1st map) and waited to decipher ottoman intentions.However it was the ottomans who were by now controlling events.By 7th july the ottoman vanguard reached Weiselburg-Ungarisch(map 1) having seized the bridge intact,meanwhile charles realized from dust clouds that not only was this force heading frontally for him but also that
    another ottoman contingent had bypassed his position.He was compelled to withdraw in disorder to Fischamend (map).Realizing the danger to vienna he send Colonel Strahemburg with reinforcements to reinforce the garrison at Vienna while the rest of his outnumbered forces withdrew northward.

    Skirmish at Petronell - During the retreat 6000 ottoman cavalry fought a sharp skirmish at petronell against the austrian rearguard 10,000 strong.The tatars attacked the baggage train but their initial attack was beaten back.However a second attack caught the rearguard in disarray and routed 2 regiments.The austrian left wing remained firm and counterattacked saving the day .The imperials where at this point walking on thin ice.After this exchange the imperial forces withdrew further north leaving the road to vienna open for kara mustafa.

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    KARA MUSTAFA BEFORE VIENNA :
    With the imperial forces in full retreat,the main ottoman force marched on vienna leaving 12,000 men surrounding gyor.Enroute they burned the town of hainburg to the ground.Around 13 july Kara mustafa was in full view of vienna as he rode out with an escort to reconnoiter the ground for siege works,he took up residence in the same villa suleiman had stayed in during the first failed siege of 1529.
    Meanwhile panic had spread in vienna with many of the welathier inhabitants fleeing the city,followed by the imperial family.The city had a measly garrison of 2,000 men.Things began to change when starhemburg arrived with his regiments on 8 july.The walls were repaired and fortified,and charles now reinforced the city with 8 regiments bringing up the total garrison strength to 12,000 plus irregular civilian militia.The christian clergy greatly aided the effort of fortifiaction and also participated in arms training and religious ceremonies to stir up zeal amongst the soon to be besieged populace.Meanwhile starhemburg decided to raze the suburbs of vienna leading up to the walls as these would provide cover for approaching ottoman assault infantry from musketry and artillery fire.This was completed just in time by 14 july before the main ottoman force settled down in force.
    Before beginning the siege formally Kara mustafa sent the traditional ultimatum to the defenders to 'Accept islam and surrender or be destroyed'.This being curtly rejected by Starhemburg,Kara mustafa wished the ottoman siege guns speak.The Siege of vienna was to begin.

    NEXT: OPPOSING ARMIES:OPPOSING COMMANDERS
     
  3. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    OPPOSING ARMIES

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    THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE :

    OVERVIEW :
    While still not evident in 1683,from around the turn of the last century the ottomans had entered a period of stagnation which had begun to have its effects felt on the military arm as well.Technological,strategic and financial considerations had radically altered the composition of the ottoman armies from its old classical period.The ottoman military organization rested on 2 parallel systems - The Timariot System and the Ghulam System.

    Timariot System -
    The purpose of the timariot system was to provide the empire with provincial governors as well as a reserve military force which needed no salaried upkeep from the central treasury.A timar was a plot of land normally the size of a village. A timar coule be acquired through battlefield valor followed by a successful petition. A timariot's peacetime responsibilities was to manage his village, keep track of the population, protect it from bandits, settle local disputes, and collect taxes. A timariot's wartime responsibility was to serve in the army fully equipped along with a band of armed retainers(Cebeli light cavalry)by using the surplus tax proceeds from the timar.These timariot land holdings economically supported the provincial sipahi cavalrymen(Timarli Sipahi) which formed the heavy cavalry of the ottoman army -the primary battle winning arm during the classical era.

    Ghulam System -

    Parallel to this was the ghulam system.The sultan's maintained their own household corps in istanbul called the kapikulu - who were considered a force owned by the sultan and personally loyal to him.This consisted of the artillery regiments of the ottoman empire,the jannissary corps and the kapikulu cavalry(sipahis and light cavalry).These formed the elite standing army of the ottoman empire -
    The jannisaries being the infantry component (originally selected from christian subjects later extended to turkish subjects ,selected boys are then taken to Istanbul where they are educated and Islamicized.After series of tests,rigorous monastic & martial discipline they become janissaries).Whereas the Kapikulu cavalry corps was largely composed of the turkish nobility.These household forces were paid salaries by the ottoman state and formed a regular standing army.

    Apart from this were fortress guards who manned the border fortifications and the naval marines.The ottoman field army consisted of the timarli sipahis,jannisaries and kapikulu cavalry.These were joined in the classical period Akincis (irregular light cavalry, scout divisions and advance troops - Unpaid they lived and operated as raiders on the frontiers of the Ottoman Empire, subsisting totally on plunder.) and Azaps(Provincial militia -usually armed with melee weapons like halberds) ,volunteers and mercenaries(Levand & Sekban).
    With the rise of gunpowder armies the irregular akincis lost much of their effectiveness ,in 1595 they were disbanded.The ottomans continued to employ nomadic turcmen as and when necessary as scouts for campaigns however.

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    (Ottoman artillery in action)​

    CAUSES OF STAGNATION & MILITARY TRANSFORMATION:

    Before looking into the changing ottoman army we look at the factors that caused this transformation -

    Political -

    The seeds of political weakness were sown during the rule of Ahmed I(1603-1617).The sultan was the centre of the ottoman state -sultans oversaw governmental meetings, hired and fired officials, and personally led military campaigns But the question of succession remained vague and often led to destructive internal wars.Seeking to solve this problem, Sultan Ahmed I instituted a new system for choosing sultans. Instead of a sultan’s sons being governors within the empire until their father died, they would stay at the palace in Istanbul until their time came. In most cases, they actually were not even allowed to leave the palace. This essentially made them prisoners until they became sultans.the effects of his policy were disastrous. Instead of sultans coming to the throne with experience in governance and policy, they were usually ignorant of anything but the pleasures of palace life.The result was a series of weak and incompetent rulers under the influence of the jannisaries and the harem.The slide was partly arrested by the rise of the grand viziers as the power behind the throne,but still this divided the centralized authority of the ottoman state.Only one sultan led his armies in person after Ahmed I's rule(Murad IV in 1638).

    This political instability also led to increasing decentralization of power to the provincial officials- a trend the first grand viziers slowed but couldn't eradicate.Also, since experience and talent were no longer seen as necessary by the Ottoman sultan himself, those hoping to advance in civil service were not promoted based on skill. Instead, bribery and favoritism wreaked havoc on the Ottoman government.

    Economic -
    Three main factors caused the economic crisis of the ottomans - The loss of trade,Inflation and population pressure.These would result in the collapse of the timariot system.The primary sources of revenue for the ottoman state were land revenue,taxation on trade and Riches from conquest.
    The portugese circumnavigation around Africa to India had opened a new spice route to Asia. Therefore, the Turks lost their monopoly on the spice trade going to Europe.By the late 16th century,the Dutch and British completely closed the old international trade routes through the M-East. As a result, the prosperity of the Middle Eastern provinces declined.
    The cause of inflation was the influx of silver from the New World to Europe and the Middle East.The Ottoman economy was based on silver. Coins were minted in silver, taxes collected in silver, and silver to government officials paid in silver. The huge influx of silver coming from America drastically devalued the Ottoman currency according to the economic laws of supply and demand.The devaluation of silver devastated the ottoman economy.In 1580, 1 gold coin could be bought for 60 silver ones.In 1640 it required 250!

    A result of central unity,stability and prolonged peace during the 16th century led to a population boom.The eastern mediterranean under ottoman rule from 1530-1580 saw a 60% average increase in population.Inflation and rising prices hurt the common people badly.There was little scope to release the pressure with new conquests.The empire had reached its logistical limits and stabilized its frontiers by 1560s.So booty from war had also dried up.Loss of revenue from war and trade ,made the central treasury heavily dependant on land revenue which was now under a triple visegrip of more people to support,corruption of decentralized provincial officials and rising prices to inflation.

    Internal trade also suffered due to shortsighted policy.The ottoman sultans allowed european merchants of friendly nations trade privilages under a series of treaties called capitulations ,starting with the french in 1535 by Suleiman I for example.Europe was in a state of transition to a capitalist proto industrial society,and flush with wealth from the new world.Functioning under strict price regulations, the ottoman guilds were unable to provide quality goods at prices low enough to compete with the cheap European manufactured goods that entered the empire without restriction because of the Capitulations agreements. In consequence, traditional Ottoman industry fell into rapid decline -though this process was still at a modest stage in 1683 and would reach its climax in the next 2 centuries as more capitulation treaties were signed.

    Technological -
    While the technology of the printing press was known to the ottomans since 1493,it would not be adopted until 1726.Meanwhile the european nations had spread their technological ideas amongst the populations via this medium.In the military field the europeans since the start of the 17th century were re-employing roman tactical systems and a lively debate went on about military doctrine and battle employment.The ottoman military thinkers had no such scope even if an enlightened captain did make an effort,his ideas didn't generally spread beyond his immediate unit.And any reform efforts generally died out with him.Long term structural changes needed exchange of ideas ,which the printing press enabled.The ottoman army operated largely on oral tradition and older military texts.
    Another technological change brought on by warfare were massed gunpowder based armies.This led to a revival of infantry on the battlefield .Also to resist firepower, newer and stronger designs of fortresses came into being.The warfare of the day devolved from field battles to siege and counter sieges with rare occasional field encounters.The siege warfare led to decline in importance of cavalry.

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    (The Yatagan - Popular ottoman melee weapon,and effective )​

    EFFECTS OF STAGNATION ON THE OTTOMAN MILITARY -


    Breakdown of the Timariot System -
    The most important consequence of these technological and financial changes was the slow collapse of the timariot system.The number of recipients increased but with the empire's boundaries having stopped expanding, land was becoming limited.The government resorted to joint holdings which limited the finacial independence of the individual sipahis.Moreover,sons of holders hereditarily recieved a part of their father's holdings.
    The system began to crumble with concurrent massive inflation - with rising prices and smaller and smaller individual holdings the Timarli sipahis could no longer financially support themselves out of their landgrants.They overtaxed the peasantry leading to unrest and engaged in corruption.Moreover the central government itself suffering from a financial crisis due to above factors and long wars with iran and austria in the late 16th century,began to seize timariot holdings after the death of owners and convert them into profitable tax farms.
    Turkish cavalry that had been the backbone of the army in the mobile wars of conquest were less useful to the sultans who now needed professional garrisons to run the frontier forts.The sipahis were also increasingly vulnerable to massed firearms of european infantry on the battlefield and useless in sieges.The sipahis were also unwilling to take part in long campaigns away from home as they had to return to govern their provinces.
    The government expanded the numbers of gunpowder infantry at the expense of the sipahi cavalry - infantry being much cheaper than horsemen.As a consequence we see whereas in 1574 the empire had 40,000 timarli sipahis and another 50,000 Light cavalry retainers(Cebeli) and 15,000 akincis.In 1670s we see number of timarli sipahis dwindle to 20,000 and the cebelis to 30,000.Akincis had been disbanded.

    Rise Of the Jannisaries -

    The Janissaries, as musket-bearing light infantry with long established regimental structures and built-in combat support arms, were an ideal corps for the new battle environment. The government understandably increased their personnel strength and tasked them with additional duties. More and more Janissaries were trained and sent to provinces for policing due to the increased unreliability and ineffectiveness of the Sipahis as well as to frontier regions because of the changing nature of wars from those of pitched battles to those of siege and countersiege operations. In 1685, there were 13,793 Janissaries This figure would rise to 40,000 by 1683.
    Concurrent with the expansion of the janissary numbers came other changes.From the late 16th century the norm of not having children was removed and the children of jannisaries were permitted to enter the corps.By 1620 it had become a hereditary system.Moreover taking advantage of weak sultans and collapse of timariots the jannisaries dominated political life in istanbul and also rewarded themselves with several large estates.
    The training standards had also begun fall off.The deviserme graduation system was stopped in 1648,which was a serious decline in discipline.The jannisaries were slowly transforming themselves into a line infantry force rather than a elite corps.
    Meanwhile the kapikulu light cavalry suffered cutbacks ,to accomodate finacial pressures.The kapikulu sipahis however remained a disciplined heavy mounted elite.

    Mass Recruitment of Mercenaries -
    One development of the financial crunch of the ottoman government and need for mass gunpowder troops was large scale recruitment of mercenaries.Mercenaries had always been part of the ottoman system,but their numbers exploded during the 1590s war with the habsburgs.Mercenaries were cheap to recruit,paid occasionally and could be laid off once the campaign was over.They could be recruited quickly and needed no training.They served as excellent cannon fodder and were brave as gallant service could be rewarded with a permanent posting in the army.On the bad side they were not as disciplined as regulars,had second rate equipment and resorted to banditry roaming the countryside in between campaigns.
    Provincial governors were encouraged by the central govt to hire ever larger number of mercenary warbands(largely from peasant backgrounds from syria,anatolia,balkans).By the early 17th century mercenaries called by various names -largely musket armed militia like Levants or Sekebans(not janissary sekebans) had replaced the earlier Azaps.By 1683 perhaps half of the provincial military forces comprised of mercenaries.

    Thus ottoman forces by first decade of the the 17th century(end of long war with austria 1593-1606) had undergone a drastic transformation from its classical structure,from a cavalry-dominated force of largely provincial horse archers and heavy cavalry supported by small elite band of jannissaries and large numbers of irregulars to a more infantry oriented force - a standing army supported by lower numbers of provincial cavalry,but large numbers of provincial mercenaries.

    The ottoman army kara mustafa led to the vienna campaign possibly numbered 100,000 combatants and 100,000 support unit personnel and camp followers.The ottoman military strength at vienna itself would not have exceeded 100,000-120,000 maximum.

    OTTOMAN INFANTRY -

    The ottoman army of 1683 was composed of several elements -
    1.Standing army - Kapikulu corps(Janissaries,artillery and Kapikulu sipahis,cavalry)
    2.Landed nobility - Provincial Timarli Sipahis,Cebeli light cavalry retainers,mercenary retainers.
    3.Frontier troops - Mounted scouts(ike deli,beli etc),garrison troops and provincial militia/volunteers like azaps.
    4.Mercenary troops - Largely musket armed mercenary bands raised for specific campaigns(Levends/sekeban)
    5.Auxillaries from vassals - Balkan contingents,Crimean tatar cavalry.
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    JANISSARIES :

    Formed as an elite corps of infantry loyal to the sultan only originally from christian boys but later expanded to turkish families the early janissaries gained a fearsome reputation for discipline ,ferocity and cohesion.The janissaries were deployed at the centre of the ottoman line behind the horse archers and irregular infantry,they acted as a stable pivot or base of firepower around which the ottoman cavalry manuevered -attempting to disorganize an enemy by forcing them into the matchlocks,artillery and archers of the janissaries and then striking the enemy from the flanks.Janissaries played important roles in all early ottoman victories.They were trained under a strict monastic system of discipline called the deviserme.
    The janissary corps was among the first standing military units in europe in the middle ages,being a salaried force.They introduced standard uniform and music band(mehter).The janissaries were amongst the first units to employ firearms on a large scale,and made a serious impression on their european opponents.Their equipment generally included a matchlock musket and scimitar or yatagan for close combat.Archers were increasingly rare.

    Starting from the late 16th century the janissary corps saw a slow decline in efficiency,meddling in politics(reasons described earlier in thread),but a a large expansion in numbers due to the demand for gunpowder troops.The corps was slowly transformed from an elite force of around 10,000 to a line infantry force.Janissaries remained powerful opponents -especially lethal in close combat.In 1683 there were around 40,000 janissaries and the bulk of this would have accompanied kara mustafa to vienna.
    Janissaries were also the only ottoman gunpowder troops with the discipline to carry out volley fire in the battlefield which allowed them to engage european infantry in firefights in relatively equal terms still.

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    OTHER INFANTRY TROOPS:

    Bulk of the rest of the infantry were composed of Provincial militia and volunteers like azaps(usually armed with halberds) or Musket armed mercenaries like Levends(usually from anatolia and levant region) and Sekebans.These forces were vital for the ottomans to make up the numbers and as cannon fodder.They were cheap and disposable,and laid off after each campaign.While defensively and in siege warfare under able leadership these mercenary troops performed well,in field battles they usually performed below par.They lacked discipline,uniform reliable equipment and were incapable of facing european line infantry in firefights employing salvo and volley fire techniques.They largely performed as individual marksmen which put them at a big disadvantage in firefights,as the slow loading and inaccurate musket required large numbers of bullets fired to put sufficient numbers on targets and to be followed by another rank firing volleys while first reloaded.This required drill and discipline which these warbands didn't possess.
    In melee combat however they were capable opponents.To the ottoman military these forces were a financial and strategic necessity.Over half the provincial forces in kara mustafa's army were composed of these troops.

    OTTOMAN CAVALRY & ARTILLERY -

    Cavalry was the battle -winning arm of the old ottoman armies -the mobility,firepower and shock effect of the horse archers and the heavy sipahis bringing numerous victories.However the changing nature of warfare with proliferation of gunpowder units and prominence of siege operations had struck the ottoman cavalry hard.The Irregular nomadic horse archers -the akincis had been disbanded.The sipahis diminished in importance still remained a powerful force.Turkish cavalry was universally respected by all opponents.


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    SIPAHIS :
    The sipahis remained the main heavy cavalry force of the ottoman empire divided into the provincial timarli sipahis and the kapikulu sipahis.They were largely members of the turkish nobility or individuals having won their timar by valour on the battlefield.

    Timarli Sipahis - Timarli Sipahis of the classical Ottoman period usually comprised the bulk of the army and did the majority of the fighting on the battlefield. While infantry troops at the army's center maintained a static battle line, the cavalry flanks constituted its mobile striking arm. During battle, Timarli Sipahi tactics were used, opening the conflict with skirmishes and localized skirmishes with enemy cavalry. Regiments of Timarli Sipahis made charges against weaker or isolated units and retreated back to main body of troops whenever confronted with heavy cavalry. During one regiment's retreat, other regiments of sipahis may have charged the chasing enemy's flanks. Such tactics served to draw enemy cavalry away from infantry support, break their cohesion, and isolate and overwhelm them with numerical superiority. Anatolian Sipahis had the ability to harass and provoke opposing troops with arrow shots. More heavily equipped Balkan Sipahis carried javelins for protection against enemy horsemen during their tactical retreats. All cavalry flanks of the Ottoman army fought a fluid, mounted type of warfare around the center of the army, which served as a stable pivot.
    The breakdown of the timariot system and proliferation of gunpowder units had several important effects on the sipahis.
    1.Their numbers reduced drastically ,by half from 1570s to 1670 (from 40,000 to 20,000) for timarli sipahis.
    2.They were far less effective on the battlefield,their charges often shot down by massed musket volleys.
    3.Their armor reduced due to gunpowder weapons and financial constraints.Many sipahis by the late 17th century ceased using armor.Armor for horses was rare.
    General equipment for sipahis included Helmet,lance,Kilij sabre,chain mail armor with round chest plate and a round shield.Bows had been discarded.Maces and axes were also used by some horsemen.The Kilij sabre with a flared double edged tip at the end was a devastating weapon with tremendous cutting power and subsequently adopted by european armies.The chain mail armor was more flexible than the plate mail armor of the polish and european cavalry but offered less protection.
    Kapikulu Sipahis - Kapikulu sipahis were the standing cavalry of the empire,paid for and maintained by the state.Superbly equipped and disciplined they had remained free of the decline in the provincial sipahis and constituted the elite heavy cavalry of the ottomans.While their equipment was largely similar,they were employed as a final reserve with the commander and were amongst the best heavy cavalry on the planet.They numbered around 15000.

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    (Cebeli Mameluk light cavalry)​

    LIGHT CAVALRY -

    The light cavalry would include cavalry retainers brought by the provincial governers and timarli sipahis -the Cebelis.These would number over 30,000.They lacked body armor and were armed with sabres.They were employed largely for scouting ,flank attacks .They operated in unison with the provincial sipahis.
    These would be supported by irregular cavalry such as mounted volunteers,scouts,mounted mercenaries.They often performed some of the roles of the erstwhile akincis.
    Finally the crimean tatar allies with their horse archers provided raiders and scouts for the ottoman army.While their battlefield value was limited they were superb for harassment and reconaissance.

    THE OTTOMAN ARTILLERY -
    At vienna this was composed of 135 light and medium field guns.While ottoman siege guns were still formidable ,by 1683 ottoman field guns were falling behind european standards in terms of mobility and rate of fire.

    OTTOMAN BATTLEFIELD AND SIEGE TACTICS -

    Battlefield Tactics :
    The classic ottoman battle formation was the Tabur Cengi that acquired a fearsome reputation and was widely imitated.Ottoman tactics were essentially defensive,allowing an enemy to exhaust itself on the strongest part of its battle formation and then launch a decisive counterattack.The formation was a significant modification(ottomans didn't use pikemen) of the Hussite(a christian religious sect considered blasphemous by the church) war wagon tactics of the early 15th century.Before the start of the battle war wagons were chained together and cannons were placed within. Several Janissary units armed with heavy arquebuses/muskets were also positioned with the cannoners, and the remaining Janissaries—several rows deep—remained within the formation.
    The position was kept hidden behind a screen of akincis light cavalry and azap irregular infantry.The Timarli sipahis would be be positioned on the 2 wings and were the main mobile assets.The kapikulu sipahis were held back with the sultan/commander to the rear as a final reserve.(In absence of wagons ottomans improvised field fortifications like stake palisades ,for example at nicopolis in 1396).The Ottoman wings, by outflanking or feigned retreat, would try to force the main body of the enemy army towards this fortress.The Azab screen would retreat immediately after showing brief resistance in orderto disorganize enemy attack. Artillery and heavy arquebuses/muskets would fire first and further wear down the enemy and disorganize its assault formations. Then the Janissaries, with light weapons, began firing in volleys by rotating the ranks.Finally,a counterattack would then start when the enemy lost cohesion and heart .The sipahis would attempt to surround the enemy and launch flank attacks while the janissaries charged forward in wedge formation.
    The formation was extremely succesful bringing the ottomans decisive victories like Mohacs,Kosovo,Caldiran,Bashkent against both balkan and safavid opponents.Babur,the first mughal emperor employed this formation in the 1st battle of panipat and at khanua,with the aid of his ottoman gunner Ustad Ali-Quli.However by the 17th century whole european infantry units employing volley fire tactics and supported by regimental guns ,as well as the decline of the feigned retreat tactics of ottoman light cavalry led to the obsolescence of this formation.

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    Above depicts a common formation deployed by the ottoman army in the late 17th century.Cavalry screens guarding main body.Three lines of artillery interspersed with infantry,with provincial mercenaries and azaps forming first line and the janissaries to their rear.The Provincial sipahis and cebelis on the wings with the kapikulu sipahis to their rear.The command tents and the rearguard at the very back surrounded by wagons to deter enemy cavalry.

    Siege Tactics -

    The ottomans were considered masters of siege warfare well into the 18th century.Ottoman siege tactics composed of 3 aspects - Trench attack,Artillery bombardment and Mine attacks.

    The trench attack began with the digging of a approach trench directly towards the fortress,left and right to the approach trench would be dug parallel trenches which curved back towards the ottoman lines.These parallel trenches provided cover for ottoman musketeers and assault parties to get close to the walls.Behind the parallel trenches artillery would be placed.Pioneers in the assault parties carried ladders,sandbags to climb the walls or fill in ditches.

    The artillery bombardment was the other feature of ottoman siege tactics.However the guns were sited often behind the initial parallel trenches and not brought forward due to weight,or sited on nearby hilltops.The effectiveness of the continous artillery bombardment was reduced by the strength of the new star shaped european fortresses which were difficult to penetrate,the huge size and weight of ottoman siege guns used wedges to elevate the guns resulting in poor accuracy.Thus by late 17th century this aspect of ottoman siege tactics was a weak point.

    Mine warfare was the most potent of ottoman siege tactics.A"mine" was a tunnel dug to destabilise and bring down castles and other fortifications. The technique could be used only when the fortification was not built on solid rock.A tunnel would be excavated under the outer defences either to provide access into the fortification or more often to collapse the walls. These tunnels were supported by temporary wooden props as the digging progressed, just as in any mine. Once the excavation was complete, the mine chamber was filled with gunpowder When the charge lit it would explode the props leaving the structure above unsupported and liable to collapse.Once a section of the walls collapsed the ottoman assault parties would rush in.Good intelligence,countermining and defence in depth with a string of bastions were the only real counters to mining.
    All 3 types of siege warfare would be employed at vienna.

    Ottoman assault parties in siege were described as disciplined,using scaled ladders under the cover fire of muskets and archers.The assault parties were often led by groups of 30-100 or so 'head risker'volunteers.The janissary attack parties often composed of units of 5 men -1 swordsmen,1 grenadier,1 archer and 2 musketeers.Taken overall ottoman siege tactics were complex and advanced.

    NEXT: IMPERIAL AND POLISH ARMIES
     
  4. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    OPPOSING ARMIES -II

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    AUSTRIAN & IMPERIAL FORCES:

    In 1683 the austrian monarchy may have been financially exhausted ,but whatever forces it could raise were qualitatively and technologically high quality and relatively disciplined and a large quantity of commanders and troops experienced due to constant friction with french on the western border-Louis's army by that time being the most militarily advanced and imposing force on the continent.Europeans armies by this time were also seeing the fruits of the Military revolution with the traces of the medieval feudal style armies and mercenaries being washed away by new standardized national standing armies - more disciplined and well drilled.All european armies of the age imitated the reforms of the Swedish warrior king Gustavas adolphus -which had demonstrated in the 30 yrs war (1618-1648)the growing influence of infantry and artillery firepower and the decline of the Pikeman dominated Tercios -hitherto the main infantry formation in europe.By the late 17th century musketeers came to overwhelmingly dominate the infantry arm with modest numbers of pikemen remaining for anti-cavalry protection.Pikemen would finally be abolished a mere 20 yrs later(1700) with the introduction of the socket bayonet.The matchlock musket was also still the primary weapon,it too would be replaced in the next 2 decades.In a manner thus Vienna marked one of the final great battles of the 'Pike and shot' era of european warfare.

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    IMPERIAL INFANTRY:
    By this time the regiment was the standard infantry infantry formation in most western european armies.The austrian infantry organization had greatly benefitted from the reforms of the great imperial general - Montecuccolli(italian).A rival of the french greats Marshal Turenne and Conde and a veteran of the 30 yrs war ,Montecuccolli commanded the Habsburgs to a great victory at St.Gotthard in 1664 - their first decisive victory on land over a main ottoman army in a pitched battle.The resulting 20 yr peace was now broken with Kara mustafa's attack.While Montecuccolli was dead by 1683,his reforms of the imperial military in the intervening 20 years kept the Imperial armies tactically modern and flexible.The infantry regiments after Montecuccolli's reforms consisted of around 2000 men each with 10 companies.A company had around 50 pikemen and 90 musketeers.The battalion was now the tactical unit on the field .Montecuccolli in keeping with trend started by gustavas,reduced the number of pikeman.Note the ratio of muskets to pikes became nearly 2 to 1 in favour of muskets,a direct reversal of the tercio pike-dominated formations of the last century.Battles were now decided by firefights among lines of musketeers with pikes for cavalry protection,not the earlier massed push of pike with musketeer fire support.

    The Musketeer - In 1683 the matchlock still dominated ,even though the flintlock musket was only entering use.The standard musketeer of the era would be armed with a matchlock musket and a sword as a close quarters weapon.Musketeers no longer wore body armor and musket weight had been sufficiently lightened for stands no longer needing to be used.Musket fire needed to be concentrated in volleys to be destructive because the weapons were so inaccurate (effective range was only about 75-100 yards) and because misfires were so common. However, if all the guns were fired simultaneously, the unit was very vulnerable until the guns were reloaded(this is where pikemen came in).The Dutch were the first effectively to overcome this problem: - musketeers were drawn up in ranks (generally six) - the front rank fired and then moved back and began to reload, whilst the rank behind then fired and repeated the process. The swedes also introduced salvo fire to break up enemy charges.The troops had to work together and be thoroughly familiar with their weapons for these tactics to be successful.Montecuccoli reformed the austrian army on a 6 -rank battalion model.Employed correctly however volleyfire from row after row of musketeers could decimate an enemy battleline.
    The bayonet had still not entered widespread use,but the austrian musketeers used an interesting tool in the eastern theatre against the ottomans called 'spanish logs'- portable sharpened wooden logs or stakes which could be planted on the ground ahead of their position for a measure of protection against turkish cavalry charges.

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    Pikemen - Pikemen were a dying breed by 1683 but had the invaluable tactical utility of providing safety for musketeers from enemy cavalry with their long reach.The shock effect of pikemen in an offensive role deciding battles on the field like the earlier Swiss pikemen or spanish tercios was no longer the case. They were too vulnerable to musket fire and artillery - and were relegated to a defensive support role.Pikemen still wore body armor and used a sword as a secondary weapon.The era of pikemen came to an end with the socket bayonet which made each musketeer his own pikeman.

    IMPERIAL CAVALRY

    The decline of the armoured lance wielding knight had been complete with the return of pikeman dominated armies in the 14th and 15th centuries in western europe.The lance was a much more difficult weapon to master than the sabre.In the 16th and 17th centuries western cavalry unlike polish or ottoman cavalry integrated firearms into their tactics.For attacking infantry protected by pikemen a new tactic called the caracole was employed.quipped with one or more wheellock pistols or similar firearms, cavalrymen would advance on their target at less than a gallop in formation as deep as 12 ranks. As each rank came into range, the soldiers would turn their mount slightly to one side, discharge one pistol, then turn slightly to the other side to discharge another pistol at their target. The horsemen then retired to the back of the formation to reload, and then repeat the manoeuvre.The whole tactic aimed to weaken the enemy formation and create gaps through which the cavalry could charge through.Cavalry performed these tactics in full plate mail armor.While caracole was popular for a time,the swedes under gustavas adolphus returned to the idea of melee cavalry(partly from his experience against polish cavalry),shedding all armor except a breastplate they fired both their pistols in the charge and then went in with sabre -this aggressive approach proving effective in the 30 yrs war and being adopted largely all over western europe.By 1683 except a few italian contingents there were no lancers in the imperial armies.They were formed of Cuirassiers and Dragoons.Regiments of 800-1000 men were divided into 5 squadron of 150-200 sabres each.Montecuccolli advocated a charge in 3 ranks against the ottomans and 2 ranks against european armies.

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    (The transformation of the infantry and artillery)​
    Above picture depicts the transformation in the armies from the 16th and 17th centuries.Left is a typical Imperial cuirassier of the late 16th and early 17th century as would have been found in the 30 yrs war.He is fully armored and carries a wheellock pistol employable in caracole tactics.Right is an imperial cuirassier as would be found in 1683.All armor has been shed except for breastplate.On the left is an earlier era heavily armoured european man-at-arms,on the right is an austrian musketeer with a spanish log.

    Cuirassiers - The organization of the 2 main types of western cavalry -cuirassiers and dragoons was identical in squadrons and regiments.Cuirassiers had by this time shed most of their armor except the breastplate and were primarily shock cavalry.They carried a carbine and a brace of pistols.Their primary weapon was a straight bladed backsword or cavalry rapier.

    Dragoons - Dragoons as a concept evolved rapidly during the 17th century.They had the same armor of cuirassiers but were envisioned as mounted infantry.Dragoons carried a matchlock musket and a sabre and were capable of fighting on foot as well as horseback.

    Though western cavalry didn't possess the devastating shock power of the Ottoman kapikulu sipahi or Polish winged hussar lancers ,they were well regimented and organized,disciplined -much more versatile and reliable troops.They also employed firearms to a far greater degree than eastern cavalry.

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    IMPERIAL ARTILLERY :

    Field artillery had made rapid progress in europe during the 17th century.The swedes popularized light regimental guns to provide mobile fire support to the advancing infantry and Montecuccolli integrated this idea into the austrian army as well.The mobility and rate of fire of european field artillery had by this time slowly begun to outclass their ottoman counterparts.However the system was far from the level of perfection that it would reach in the napoleonic era.In the austrian army artillery was divided into 2 types - dynastic or centrally stationed and provincial(stationed in provinces for defence).There were still upto 12 calibres in service,and guns were serviced by civilian contractors.The viennese garrison mustered no less than 370 guns -an important factor which allowed them to inflict crippling casualities on ottoman assault parties.The Ottoman besieging force with a mere 150 cannons were insufficient to silence the imperial artillery.

    POLISH COMMONWEALTH FORCES :

    Poland was still largely a feudal society and this was reflected in its military organization.Unlike western european monarchies ,the standing army was very small numbering no more than 5000-10000.In times of war this was supported by a general 'Rising of nobles' - a medieval concept.Nobles joined the army with their private armies,they were also under no obligation to serve outside polish borders.Apart from this there was a feudal levy of peasants-serving as cheap infantry.Western mercenaries recruited represented more reliable troops.Cossacks as irregular cavalry were also used.
    The army was divided into 2 types of forces - The Polish Autorament(Contingent) and the Foreign Contingent.The polish contingent were the indigeneous polish forces while the foreign contingents composed of western style troops and mercenaries -primarily germanic.The army often lacked standard organizational structures -using 'Lances'(Nobleman and his retinue of lesser nobles),'Banners'(a number of men fixed by government for a noble commander to raise) and 'Battles'(Combining number of 'banners').These were all medieval formations and after Sobieski came to the throne he did attempt to make some organizational reforms introducing Brigades of infantry and cavalry.The Germanic mercenaries often deployed in western style-companies or regiments under their own captains.

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    POLISH INFANTRY :

    Polish infantry were very much the lower end of the totem pole as far as polish military practice was concerned,which was dominated by the cavalry.It consisted of musketeers and pikemen.With swords and axes as secondary weapons.The most reliable of polish infantrymen were the western mercenary regiments which were organized into regiments of 600 men and fully capable of latest western military drills.Amongst the indigeneous polish infantry the standing army regulars and the guard were somewhat capable though not as much as the western style infantry,but the majority of the peasant levies were little more than cheap cannon fodder.The polish army fielded 3 infantry brigades at vienna.

    POLISH CAVALRY :

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    ''A pole without a horse is like a man without a soul'' -Contemporary polish saying.​
    Cavalry was the battle winning arm of the polish army,as it had been for the past centuries.Polish cavalry had a well deserved reputation for excellence.Poland produced excellent horses -a crossbreed between bulkier european horses and faster, eastern horses with stamina.The pole was generally a superb horseman.The polish cavalry by 1683 was formed of several types - Dragoons and Cossacks formed the light cavalry.The German style 'Reiters' and the famed Polish Hussars formed the heavy cavalry.Sobieski brought with him 6 cavalry brigades to vienna.3 cavalry brigades consisting of the first 3 types and 3 brigades of the elite hussars numbering over 3000.

    Polish dragoons - Dragoons came to be used by the poles around the early 17th century,however polish dragoons were recruited from ukrainians and peasants.They didn't wear any armor and generally were equipped with a musket and a sword.They performed as light cavalry-scouting and foraging,and as mounted infantry.

    Cossacks - Cossacks formed the other component of polish light cavalry.Employed for raiding,scouting and forgaing they complimented the heavier hussars.Cossacks generally lacked firearms and high quality equipment and were armed with lances and a sabre.However polish cossacks served a battlefield cavalry,particularly the Pancerni cossacks who who mail armor and were capable of acting as heavier cavalry.Cossacks made up 10-15% of the total polish horsemen at vienna.

    German Cavalry - The german cavalry refers to foreign horsemen in polish service equipped in the manner of western cuirassiers and dragoons with breastplate,sabre and muskets/carbine and pistols.These were solid versatile troops highly valued and made extensive use of firearms.They were called 'Rieters' or Mounted arquebusiers in poland.

    Polish Winged Hussars -
    The creame de la creme of the polish cavalry were the husaria or hussars.Unlike in western europe from the 18th century in poland hussars refer to heavy cavalry and were almost exclusively composed of the polish nobility.The word hussar is derived from the hungarian word 'huscar' meaning bandit.The original hussars were little more than that,being lightly armed raiders originating in serbia armed with a shield and a lance.The kingdom of hungary popularized hussar usage with armoured hussars influenced by the ottoman sipahi.While armored horsemen declined in hungary with its political collapse,in Poland however the armoured hussar sustained .In 1576 the transylavanian prince Stefan Baory standardized hussar equipment,out of this template the classic Polish winged hussar emerged.From the late 16th century to the middle of the 17th century forms the golden age of the polish winged hussars,where they were unchallenged masters of the eastern european battlefield riding down all opponents before them.

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    "We saw it…. the hussars let loose their horses. God, what power! They ran through the smoke and the sound was like that of a thousand blacksmiths beating with a thousand hammers. We saw it…. Jezus Maria! The elite's lances bent forward like stalks of rye, driven by a great storm, bent on glory! The fire of the guns before them glitters! They rush on to the Swedes! They crash into the Swedish riters…. Overwhelm them! They crash into the second regiment - Overwhelmed! Resistance collapses, dissolves, they move forward as easily as if they were parading on a grand boulevard. They sliced without effort through the whole army already! - Excerpt from 'The Deluge'.

    In battle after battle during this era the hussars proved near invincible against the habsburgs,turks,swedes and the russians despite facing overwhelming odds.At kircholm in 1605 for example 3600 winged hussars shattered the 11000 strong swedish army in just 20 minutes with a devastating charge causing 8000 casualities for about 100 killed(defeating even enemy pikemen).
    At klushino in 1610,a 35000 strong russian army was routed by 7000 polish horsemen at 5 to 1 odds.The first difficulties arose in the 1620s when they came face to face with a new swedish army under gustavas adolphus ,employing devastating infantry and artillery firepower.It was in response to this that the proportion of light cavalry and german style reiters increased in the polish army.After a period of relative decline by 1660s Sobieski had revived the winged hussars into a formidable arm,winning notable victories over the turks.At vienna sobieski and his 3000 winged hussars were to play a decisive role in the outcome of the battle.In a way Vienna was the greatest hour and yet the last hurrah of the polish winged hussars.As in the 1700s polish political decline coupled with massively increased infantry firepower caused these magnificent horsemen to fade away.3 brigades of hussars were present in vienna.

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    Their equipment composed of segmented platemail armour and arm sleeves,helmet,the extra-long lance,a curved cavalry sabre,set of pistols and a straight thrusting sword called Koncerz.The Koncerz was used purely as a thrusting weapon once the lance broke and was discarded,it was capable of piercing turkish mail armor.The heavy armor and the long lance gave the polish winged hussars extremely powerful shock impact on the charge,and they were probably the best shock cavalry of the era.The wings served to intimidate opponents and scare enemy horses,as well being decorative ornaments.The Polish hussars' primary battle tactic was the charge. They charged at and through the enemy. The charge started at a slow pace and in a relatively loose formation. The formation gradually gathered pace and closed ranks while approaching the enemy, and reached its highest pace and closest formation immediately before engagement. They tended to repeat the charge several times until the enemy formation broke (they had supply wagons with spare lances).The lighter, Turkish-style saddle allowed for more armour to be used by both the horses and the warriors. Moreover, the horses were bred to run very fast with a heavy load and to recover quickly. These were hybrids of old, Polish equine lineage and eastern horses, usually from Tatar tribes. As a result, a horse could walk hundreds of kilometres loaded with over 100 kilograms (warrior plus armour and weaponry) and instantly charge. Also, hussar horses were very quick and manoeuvrable. This made hussars able to fight with any cavalry or infantry force from western heavy cuirassiers to quick Tatars.

    POLISH ARTILLERY :
    Sobieski only brought 28 guns to vienna,but these would play a significant part in providing fire support from their elevated position on the kahlenberg heights to the allied relief army.

    NEXT: THE SIEGE OF VIENNA
     
  5. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    THE SIEGE OF VIENNA

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    With the ottoman host advancing ,initial wave of panic set in at vienna.The imperial family and 60,000 of the wealthier citizens having already departed the city.Between this flight and the arrival of the turkish army,there was one week.Colonel Starhemburg had been appointed by Charles of Lorraine as the Commander of the Viennese garrison and was gradually reinforced with whatever infantry he could spare.Day after the emperor left the city,on 8th july starhemburg arrived and assumed command.He imposed strict discipline on the city,by the time the whole ottoman army arrived,the viennese garrison had been Reinforced by charles to 72 companies of infantry and 1 regiment of cuirassiers -12,000 regulars.To this was added 8,000 viennese volunteer militia from amongst the citizens.They were about to be beseiged by an ottoman force of around 100,000 men.Before going into the defences of vienna,we will see the transformation of fortresses and siege warfare from medieval to early modern age due to the advent of artillery and the rise of the Trace Italiene Star shaped forts of the late renaissance era.The new elements of fortification brought about by the Italian style fortresses will be key to the siege of vienna.(See the star shaped fortress of vienna in picture,now to examine why it is so and what purpose each component of such a fortress serves)

    RISE OF THE STAR FORT -

    "No wall exists, however thick, that artillery cannot destroy in a few days." -Machiavelli​

    In 1453 Constantinopole fell to the ottoman turks,its enormous walls that had withstood countless attacks for a millenium pounded to rubble by the ottoman great bombards.In the 1490s France invaded Italy,and to the shock of the hitherto powerful Renaissance city states the french artillery proved devastating siege weapons.The speed and ease with which the French took one fortification after another astonished and profoundly shocked Italians and then other Europeans upon hearing the news.The strength of medieval stone fortresses lay in their weight and mass, one stone
    block resting heavily on those below. The repeated impact of cannonballs gradually dislodged the blocks until, with their stability shattered,they tumbled down through force of gravity. Concentrated gunfire knocked the layers apart. In the past tall buildings had been the best defence; the great medieval castles towering over the land were invulnerable
    to those far below. But in artillery warfare, the tallest buildings providing the best targets, and were the easiest to knock down.The age of gunpowder had come,and the art of fortification had to evolve with it.The response to this need is what came to be known as the Trace Italiane or Italian style Star shaped fortresses which originated there and were rapidly popularized all over europe.By 1683 this process was well evolved though it would be taken to its ultimate form of perfection by Louis XIV's great engineer Vauban.

    The use of slopes is a salient feature of star fort design.In response to siege cannon(Remember cannon fired solid stone/iron projectiles not modern chemical reaction triggered high explosive rounds which were invented in 1850s) the engineers arranged for the walls to be embedded into ditches fronted by earthen slopes so that they could not be attacked by destructive direct fire and to have the walls topped by earthen banks that absorbed and largely dissipated the energy of plunging fire(parabolic trajectory rounds from mortars/howitzers).

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    In the new fort designs,the rounded shape that had previously been dominant for the design of turrets/towers joining the wall sections created "dead space", or "dead" zones (see figure), which were relatively sheltered from defending fire, because direct fire from other parts of the walls could not be directed around the curved wall. To prevent this, what had previously been round or square turrets were extended into diamond-shaped points to give storming infantry no shelter. The ditches and walls channeled attacking troops into carefully constructed killing grounds where defensive cannon could wreak havoc on troops attempting to storm the walls, with emplacements set so that the attacking troops had no place to shelter from the defensive fire.
    .
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    (A) Ditch & Rampart -
    The star forts consisted of a defence-in-depth.High stone walls were replaced by a combination of -
    Rampart, sloped in front and low in profile, and wide enough at its top to permit men and cannon to be deployed there &
    Ditch
    (or moat if filled with water) in front to hamper advancing attackers, any delay or even slowdown thereby exposing them to defensive fire.
    Unlike the high stone wall, the rampart was low and squat, wider than tall, with a sloped front. It did not defy gravity - it could not topple over. The first ones were made of earth with some reinforced with stone and wood. Cannonballs striking such a thick, earthen slope would merely bury themselves into it without breaking it down .Being able to absorb them, low, sloped, thick walls became the fundamental strength of a new type of defensive design.However due to the low height,the ramparts were more susceptible to assaults than walls and had to be protected by musketeers and artillery.The ditch in front of the rampart was conveniently created by shoveling out dirt to build the rampart. The ditch made the rampart higher from its base plus created a pit that slowed attackers and tended to entrap them. Thus, a secondary feature of the rampart defense became integral to its stopping any charge.

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    (B)Bastion -
    The bastion consisted the main innerlayer of defences protecting the vulnerable walls and providing interlocking fields of fire from above to the musketeers and artillery on the covered way of the rampart.A bastion is an angular structure projecting outward from the curtain wall of a star fort.The fully developed bastion consists of two faces and two flanks with fire from the flanks being able to protect the curtain wall and also the adjacent bastions. Bastions are lower than medieval towers and are normally of similar height to the adjacent curtain wall. The height of towers, although making them difficult to scale, also made them easy for artillery to destroy. A bastion would normally have a ditch in front, the opposite side of which would be built up above the natural level(the covered way housing musketeers) then slope away gradually(the slope of the rampart). This slope shielded most of the bastion from the attacker's cannon while the distance from the base of the ditch to the top of the bastion meant it was still difficult to scale.The combination of rampart, ditch and bastion was conceived, developed and honed in Italy during the first half of the 16th century.

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    Above u can see the combination of ditch,rampart and bastion -3 core features of a Trace Italienne Fort.The glacis or the earthen slope of the rampart on the outer defenses ,elevates the ground and protects the base of the fort as well as the outer rampart which houses musketeers and artillery.Grey area is the inner ditch or moat.The inner ditch protects the bastions which mutually support each with no dead zones due to angular structure and also provide overhead fire support to troops on the covered way of the rampartThe bastions connect the flat wall sections and make sure no enemy can approach these vulnerable areas without taking shattering flanking fire from the sides of both bastions.


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    Multiple cannons sited on the bastions had both overlapping and intersecting lines of fire and were able to create a deadly enfilade fire on enemy troops attacking the fort or the outer covered way on the rampart.Any advancing enemy troops in the middle would be caught in a lethal killzone.The successful bastion not only protected itself from every place an attacker could strike it but also its adjoining ramparts and - very important - neighboring bastions. The mutual support of bastions, with one being able to lay down protective fire for another removed any dead zones with its arrowhead shape.(as shown earlier)
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    One bastion protected other bastions at either side. Atop those short faces, defenders could mount cannon to blow away any attackers on the walls or the side of the adjacent bastion. Red area shows how one bastion can rake enemies attempting to scale adjacent bastion with canister shot from its cannons .Canister shot didn't harm the bastion's structure being massed lead balls,but was lethal to infantry.

    CONTINUED - OTHER FEATURES OF STAR FORT
     
  6. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    STAR FORT -PART II

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    The Ravelin -
    A ravelin is a triangular fortification or detached outwork, located in front of the innerworks of a fortress (the walls and bastions)The outer edges of the ravelin are so configured that it divides an assault force, and guns in the ravelin can fire upon the attacking troops as they approach the curtain wall segment connecting bastions. It also impedes besiegers from using their artillery to batter a breech in the curtain wall-the most vulnerable part of the fortress. The side of the ravelin facing the inner fortifications has at best a low wall, if any, so as not to shelter attacking forces if they have overwhelmed it or the defenders have abandoned it. Frequently ravelins have a ramp or stairs on the curtain-wall side to facilitate the movement of troops and artillery onto the ravelin.In appearance, a ravelin was like the front part of a bastion: it had two walls as salients that came together at the outer end to make a point. As with the bastions, it would be a platform for cannon and musketeers.The ravelin is so shaped as to not impede fire from the bastions,and is connected to the main fort with a bridge used for sallies or reinforcement.

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    In the above diagram we see a section of a star fort from above.
    1]Bastion. 2]Curtain wall. 3]Ditch. 4]Ravelin. 5]Covered Way. 6] Glacis
    Thus the ravelin further strengthened the outer fortifications of a star fort,protecting the curtain wall segment and providing flanking fire to both bastions as well as the covered way and ditch.

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    A cross-section of the same from the sides.
    1.Glacis -Glacis was flat area for good field of fire leading downwards into a slope.
    2.Covered way - Area for musketeers and artillery to sweep incoming enemies on the glacis slope with fire while being supported by cannons of ravelin and bastion.Seperated from glacis with palisade of wooden stakes.
    3.Place of arms - An area used for assembling troops on the covered way prior to a counterattack or raid on besieging enemy trenches.
    4.Dry ditch.Impedes attackers from reaching ravelin,if covered with water becomes moat.
    5.Cross section of a ravelin(only half visible)
    6.Main ditch protects curtain walls and bastion.
    7.Curtain wall segment.Last line of defense.
    8.Bastion,protects curtain walls with flanking fire.

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    Curtain Wall -
    Above shows a segment of the curtain wall,the final line of defense connecting the bastions and mounting cannons on the embrasures.If an enemy managed to neutralize 2 adjacent bastions and the ravelin in between them,the main curtain walls in that segment were just a matter of time.The curtain wall was constructed on the rampart and ditch mutual support principle.

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    Covered Way -
    While digging the ditch, workers could carve into the top outside edge all around the perimeter a shelf deep enough for a man to stand upright. A short step would also be shaped to enable that man to make himself high enough to peek over the edge and take shots at the enemy. The protected shelf with little step inside was the covered way. Completely surrounding the ditch, the covered way enabled outside defenders to reposition themselves to one side or the other in response to enemy pressure.In above picture we can see the covered way supported by a ravelin.The sloped glacis leading up to the covered way and a wooden stake palisade protected the covered way from being assaulted in melee by enemy troops.The troops on the covered way formed the outermost defence line of a star fort.

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    Above image showing a star fort bastion,ravelin connected with bridge,a water milled moat instead of dry ditch.Note the covered way is packed with musketeers but divided into segments called chicken passages.These allowed enough space to move from one segment to another for 1 man but not more,this meant if the attackers stormed and captured one segment of covered way they couldn't use overwhelming numbers to take the whole covered way.They had to take each segment one by one and that too by filtering in one man at a time,eliminating any numerical advantage and allowing defenders sufficient time to respond.

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    A place of arms is where to covered way segments converged at an angle.It had extra space to hold artillery or bodies of troops for a surprise raid on siege trenches under darkness through the sortie passage(7).You can see the chicken passage(6) and the sloped glacis clearly.The glacis in battle situations like vienna was further strengthened by a wooden palisade on top.

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    Above,a star fort with ravelins.You can compare with the improvised star fort in vienna in the first picture of the last post.The star forts were highly resistant to artillery fire,and much more deadlier than the old medieval stone castles.Star forts however by no means made fortresses invulnerable,but costly and difficult to take.Ottomans had encountered star forts earlier with mixed success,in their successes almost always by mining or starving out the garrison.Much depended on the garrison's strength and morale.As a fortification was considered only as strong as the men in charge of it.However,the religiously inspired,large and determined garrison of vienna along with the powerful obstacles of the star fort design would prove to be a formidable adversary to the besieging ottoman army.

    NEXT: SIEGE BEGINS
     
  7. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    SIEGE OF VIENNA

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    PRELUDE:

    Vienna as a fortress in 1683 had both advantages and disadvantages.
    1.Vienna was not a new model purpose built fortress.It was essentially an old medieval walled town to which the Trace italiene style fortifications had been added piecemeal after the first ottoman siege of vienna in 1529.
    2.Being a large metropolis,it presented to the defenders a huge area to cover and the suburbs and adjacent gardens would offer the ottoman attackers cover.
    3.Having a river on 2 sides was both advantageous and disadvantageous.The danube prevented the building of new style star fortifications on its side(see map),however the water obstacle itself was formidable.Moreover water made mining impossible on that side.
    4.Vienna was not built on a stony outcrop like the most formidable fortresses which would have made mining impossible.
    5.The city was well stocked with gunpowder,artillery(being the main supply centre of the empire) and had a substantial and motivated garrison.

    By 16th July the ottoman army had completed the encirclement of vienna and set up camp in a huge irregular crescent shape from St mary's cathedral to dobling,only leaving the leopoldstadt island without large detatchments.Kara mustafe would set up his main tent opposite the imperial palace hofburg.Below is picture,note however that the picture shows the extensive suburbs which would all have been demolished or burned by the time the ottoman force arrived.(thus not shown in first pic)
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    (The ottoman encirclement of vienna)​
    Ottoman Plans :
    Apprising the city's defences,Kara mustafa agreed with his commanders.The weakest part of the defences was on the danube side,with only 2 Gonzaga bastions and no outer glacis.But the danube was deep,and any attack would have to mass men and guns on the leopoldstadt island with little space for manuever and then attack across the river and mud under massed cannon and musketfire- a very difficult proposition.Most of all there would be no scope for mining-the main ottoman weapon.Thus this avenue of attack was ruled out.(see first map)
    Another avenue of attack was accross the narrow vienna stream,here the bastions were small and suburbs offered cover.However the small bastions had been reinforced by newer strong ravelins and the wet soil would hinder mining.Moreover the main ditch was flooded and a moat,which would be a serious problem for assaults and impossible for mining to the main walls.Thus this approach too was discarded.(Water color in map indicates water in the ditch on this side).Thus the space between the corinthian gate and the scottish gate(schotten gate) was the best avenue of attack.
    In this arc,the walls between the Lobel and Burg bastions were seen to be the most vulnerable.(check in 1st map).The curtain wall segment between the bastions was excessively long.The moat was only a dry ditch.Moreover the burg bastion and Lobl bastion were not properly aligned,lobl being smaller thus angular geometry was not perfect and symmetry of the line had been disrupted.The ground was flat and sloped towards the city so artillery could be placed on elevated ground and there was ample room for extensive trenching as well as mining.It was thus opposite this sector that kara mustafa set up his main tent.Kara mustafa was a battle hardened commander and quite confident of a glorious triumph at this point.

    Viennese Defences :
    Georg Rimpler,Strahemburg's chief engineer and one of the best specialists in europe with prior experience against the ottomans had begun strengthening and improvising the turkish defences about a week before the ottoman arrival.His first task was to strengthen the outer defence line.Employing the city's population,all around the city, a wooden stake palisade was constructed on top of the outer slope glacis and protecting the covered way( explanation of term last post).Moreover the covered way itself was dotted with ad-hoc timber blockhouses .The main dry ditch was strengthened with trenches for musketeers as well as blockhouses on the flanks of the ravelin.(Little arrowheads between bastion and ravelin in 1st map shows these improvised fortifications).Bastions were strengthened and repaired.Once kara mustafa made the main point of the ottoman attack clear,the defenders focused on moving extra cannons and manpower to this sector.As a final resort if the turks broke into the city,heavy chains would be stretched accross the streets turning each house into a little fort,preventing ottomans from bringing their artillery into the city and forcing savage house to house close quarter combat to the last man.

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    (How trenches were dug)​

    SIEGE BEGINS :

    Assault on the Palisade -
    The ottoman sappers son proved themselves masters of their art,in just 2 days of digging(trenches visible in first pic),by the 18thof july,6 feet deep trenches were making their way as close as 50 yards of the outer palisade.The next day they were within 30 yards of the outer slope and the wooden stake palisade,behind which the austrian musketeers stood ready on the 'covered way'.In the 'place of arms'(explanation of term last post)platforms of the covered way were light cannon and reserve bodies of grenadiers ready to move into any threatened section.The grenade was a deadly close quarter siege weapon for repelling assaults.Meanwhile the trench network was being expanded with parallel trenches and positions dug for Light siege batteries to support any janissary assault.As the trenches came within striking distance of the palisade,groups of janissaries assembled in the forward trenches began their assaults on the outer palisade .
    Rushing across the short distance of open ground, up the steep slope to the palisade and attempting to climb over. Before them rank after rank of Habsburg musketeers on the covered way would rise, steady their weapons against the stakes and fire down into the mass of attackers. Then they would move back and a new firing line would take their place as they reloaded. Turks who reached the barrier would thrust through the gaps at their enemies with spears, swords and yataghans. The defenders would fight back with swords, cut-down pikes and spears, and, once the line of attack was clear, the guns on the neighbouring gun platforms(Place of arms,ravelin) would retarget the incoming attackers and grenadiers would move quickly to the point of attack for reinforcement .

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    (Outer Slope,palisade,covered way,place of arms 'section')​
    The supporting ottoman light cannon would blow away a section of the wooden palisade,but it was easy to replace.By the time the charging janissaries reached the breach,they would be slowed by the slope and the lack of flat ground to place climbing ladders.Meanwhile musket volleys and grenades would rain from above.For much of the first week wave after wave of ottoman assaults on the palisade were repulsed with huge casualities.

    Mining Begins -
    Recognizing the problems of frontal assault kara mustafa had sanctioned the beginning of mining operations.The sound of underground digging(starting from the ottoman trenches and aiming to get under the palisade) was usually covered by artillery bombardment which was ferocious on 22nd july.Next day 2 attempted mines failed to make a sufficient breach and the subsequent janissary assault was beaten back.The same scenario of an attempted storming following a mine explosion was repeated on the 25th.On the 27th some attackers finally managed to climb onto the covered way but were thrown into the moat and slaughtered.Next three days saw a series of relentless attacks that slowly began to erode the palisade defences.Turkish artillery and grenades had done sufficient damage to the palisade to further strengthen it,it could now only be patched up.On 2nd August the austrians managed a succesful countermine on the forward turkish trenches.These occasional successes didn't affect the ottoman advance.The guns on the city walls and ottoman siege lines responded to each other continously.

    [​IMG]
    (Supporting Siege Battery in cover)

    The Covered Way is Taken -
    Repeated ottoman artillery and mining attacks had by now demolished many of the 'place of arms' sections whose angles were vital to the defence of the covered way.Now ingenously they built earth mounds on either side of their assault trenches so that they were higher than the palisade. From these elevated positions they could now shoot down on to the musketeers defending it; then the Turks moved their artillery forward in a concentrated bombardment of the palisade, and, for the first time, waves of janissaries also armed with grenades managed to push across through the open space in the wooden rampart to the edge of the ditch sixteen feet below.Desperate habsburg attacks were unable to dislodge the ottoman incursions,with heavy casualities among the austrians -Rimpler being a prominent officer killed.With their position now untenable,the austrians were forced to abandon the covered way which the ottoman forces commanded by 7th august.The outer defences of vienna had fallen.

    [​IMG]

    Battle for the Ditch -
    The control of the ditch and ravelin was now the key to the city's defense.To support the ravelin on the floor of the ditch austrian musketeers had dug in in trenches.Piles of loose soil, rose on each side of the half-hidden entrenchments. Soon these mounds towered above the sheer walls of the ravelin, so that Ottoman gunners and musketeers could fire down into the trenches dug by defenders atop the ravelin. In response ,the Habsburg infantry dug deeper, throwing up their own earthen ramparts for protection against the continual gunfire.Marksmen on both sides prowled for targets,the balkan musketeers on the ottoman side and the viennese gamekeepers became particularly dangerous snipers.Night raids on opposing trenches were common.

    Turks dominated the huge mound of earth that had once been the outer rampart, and every night hundreds of Ottoman infantrymen and engineers shovelled soft earth into the ditch below filling it up.Underground hundreds of diggers laboured in tunnels shored up withwooden staves and props as they moved forward, laying thick timbers on the top, under a layer of soil. In these wooden tunnels, the sappers dug steadily forward, more or less impervious to the fire, from above. On the other side the defenders of Vienna, high on the bastions and the walls a few yards away, battered at the enemy lines with constant gunfire.Small successes didn't halt the ottoman advance.

    [​IMG]
    (Burg bastion right,Lobl bastion left,burg ravelin destroyed in center -damage to bastions explained later)​

    Targeting the Ravelin -
    The Burg ravelin that stood at the middle of the Lobl and Burg bastions was now the focal point of the defensive system,as long as it remained intact neither the walls to the rear nor the flanking bastions could be assaulted without murderous flanking fire.This now became the primary target for mining.The creeping advance at the ditch towards the ravelin continued until 12th august,when two massive mines were exploded at the tip of the ravelin opening up a breach wide enough for fifty men.Waves of ottoman assault troops stormed the breach,desperate habsburg counterattacks failed to push them out.Now the ottomans had a foothold on the ravelin itself.However neither could the ottomans make any further advance - They were met with a hail of fire gunfire,grenades,boiling water and murderous canister shot from the adjacent bastions.This formula began to repeat itself throughout august,every mine attack was accompanied by another attempted assault which was driven back with heavy casualities ,but more and more of the ravelin was now rubble.A desperate sally on 26 august led to a bloody clash in an attempt to destroy the forward trenches and kill the sappers,but initial success met a turkish counterattack and the austrians were forced to retire.The fate of the ravelin was now a matter of time.On 28th and 29th ,the ottomans exploded 2 more huge mines which finally succeeded in destroying most of the remaining sections of the ravelin.The las of the ravelin's defenders clung to some ruined works until 2nd september,by which time the ottoman infantry had cleaned up the area.By 30 september,Kara mustafa's attention was now firmly fixed on the bastions -with the ravelin gone the only things that stood between the ottomans and an assault on the main walls.

    NEXT: ATTACK ON BASTIONS -MORALE IN CAMPS -ASSEMBLING THE RELIEF ARMY
     
  8. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    SIEGE OF VIENNA PART-II

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    [​IMG]

    MORALE ON BOTH SIDES :

    Inside Vienna initial panic at seeing the huge ottoman host encircle the city had been replaced by grim determination and wild hopes of an immediate relief army.As the siege drove on,fears about ottoman miners digging under the city were rampant.Religious zeal were at a an all time high,with the populace thronging the churches whose tall spires were often the target of turkish long range bombardment.Sorties were done to keep morale up,but with no news of a relief army,smoke from burning villages in the countryside to tatar raiders and the relentless ottoman advance increased the sense of impending doom.Dysentry and disease had become a major problem,compounded by the mountains of stinking waste on the street.All the cats had been eaten.Starhemburg,wounded early in the siege and suffering from dysentry erected gallows to eliminate any dissention.

    At the ottoman camp,early optimism of a final victory waned after the savage fighting and the huge losses became clear.By mid-august supplies were low,and discipline began to suffer.Sanitary arrangements and disposal of waste management was not being observed.Kara mustafa was often chastizing his subordinates and remained fixated on his goal.Clergy on both sides took to religious inspiration -apocalyptic passages from religious scriptures about the day of judgement.Though overall morale had weakened,the ottoman troops still remained convinced of ultimate victory.

    [​IMG]
    ATTACK ON THE BASTIONS :

    The ottoman advance on the burg bastion(larger one on right in map) and the lobl bastions had commenced long before the ravelin was being slowly ground into dust with relentless mining,finally finding success as seen last post on 29th august.Austrian defenders had held on longest in the section of the covered way directly overlooked by the guns of the burg bastion until 14th august,even when most of the rest of the covered way had fallen by 7th august.On this day however another ottoman mine attack forced the defenders to abandon this last section directly in front of the burg bastion(also called palace/castle bastion),however further advance directly on this sector was slow due to the strength of the powerful burg bastion.
    On the other flank however opposite the smaller Lobel Bastion(or lion bastion) which was a flawed design,by 15th august the ottoman trench lines were getting perilously close.Two desperate sallies by the defenders managed to kill the sappers and set fire to the works.Luck being with them the wind carried the fire deep into the ottoman lines onto the demolished former covered way.This setback halted ottoman advance on this sector for a crucial 12 days.As the ottomans established forward battery on this sector which was savaging the weaker Lobl bastion on 25th august another sally was made by Starhemburg.The guns were overrun initially but ferocious turkish counterattacks forced a retreat,causing 200 casualities in a garrison increasingly weakened in manpower.With the destruction of the ravelin by the 29th the intensity of ottoman assaults reached a new peak.

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    Hell on the Burg Bastion -

    On 4th september ,over 50 days into the siege the largest mine yet was exploded on the Burg bastion(see earlier map where hole is).Thirty feet of the bastion collapsed rendering the artillery in this section facing the ottoman trenches unusable.While the staggered defenders were still reeling from the explosion,a thousand ottoman janissaries and 'head risker' volunteers rushed from the trenches screaming religious war cries to climb up the near vertical sloped ruins and get onto the platform of the bastion-

    ''‘Whilst the cannon, mortar pieces, and small shot played furiously from all parts, there appeared on the top of the ditch about a thousand Turks, who on the sudden let themselves down one by one through certain holes and galleries that conveyed them into the very bottom of the ditch, and running from thence towards that part of the bastion which had been thrown down by the mine. They found a way by digging and removing the loose earth to shelter themselves in the hollow parts of the ruins, making also rooms for greater numbers.’'
    - Observer
    Waves of reinforcements were being fed through the siege trenches to converge on the bastion.Behind the first line of elite janissaries and headrisker volunteers were thousands of ordinary assault troops to exploit any opening and widen the breach.A desperate situation had arisen for the defenders,if the ottoman infantry could gain a foothold on the bastion platform their numbers would make them impossible to drive back.Stones were rolled down at the climbing assault troops,while rows of musketeers fired volley after volley downward,moving back to reload and being replaced by another rank.Amidst this barrage of gunfire,chevaux de frise( x-shaped wooden stake visible in above picture)were assembled and pushed to the edge of the breach to impale any attacker and deny them entry,serving as emergency fortifications.Light cannon were manhandled onto the bastion and fired deadly canister onto the ottoman ranks.Grenadier reinforcements joined the defense hurling their grenades downwards creating carnage.Starhemberg led the defense in person.Ottoman artillery rained fire on the packed defenders in return causing hundreds of casualities.2 hours of savage fighting finally saw the crisis subsiding,and at nightfall a new wooden palisade was hammered onto the breach as a improvised defence against assault.However it would be no defence against another mine.

    [​IMG]
    (Lobl bastion is Lion bastion,Castle bastion is Burg bastion)

    Assault On the Lobel Bastion -

    On 6th september the ottoman attacks switched targets to the more vulnerable Lobel bastion.Mines blew out sections of the bastion.A diary observes-'‘What we feared came to pass. About one in the afternoon the enemy springing several mines . . . made such a breach that a great part of the bastion, at least twenty feet thick, being of brick and stone, was quite thrown down from the top to the very bottom leaving a gap of thirty-six feet broad, and our men quite un -covered. Whereupon the enemy made a furious assault but soon retired by reason of the difficulty of the passage occasioned by the heaps and pieces of the ruins that lay in their way'.The artillery on the bastion was rendered largely ineffective and packed defenders were under bombardment from ottoman guns.Throughout the day waves of janissaries and dismounted sipahis hurled themselves at the breach,only being held back by desperate resistance until nightfall.Starhemburg was now reinforcing the curtain wall-the final line of defense and beyond them each houses for block-by-block street fighting.However once the turks broke into the open streets,it would only delay the inevitable -ottomans were masters of melee fighting at close quarters.

    Preparations for Vienna's Last Stand -

    The capacity of the damaged bastions to support each other was by now largely gone and the ottomans could taste victory in their grasp.Morale in the ottoman camp rose visibly,there was surge in activity and lines of volunteers massing in the ditch in preparation for the final assaults.

    ''‘We are the believers since the beginning of the world. we will sacrifice our heads for this belief . . . We have
    been the intoxicated ones from all eternity – we are the butterflies of the Divine Light – we are in this world a legion forever in ecstasy before the grandeur of Allah.We are so numerous that we cannot be counted upon the fingers – our spring is inexhaustible.’ - Janissary Officer

    More mine explosions on the Lobl bastion on the 8th and ottoman assaults,and the defences of vienna were at their last gasp.The city stood poised to fall within days.However ,one incident brought the glimmer of hope to the inhabitants.From 27th august they had been firing rockets every afternoon asking for relief with no answer.On the 8th of September they were answered by a barrage of rockets on the distant sky.

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    TATAR RAIDS :

    While the grand drama was unfolding at vienna the crimean tatar hordes were busy doing what they did best - setting the austrian rural countryside ablaze and spreading terror and panic.Villages and towns were sacked,with inhabitants either fleeing or being massacred or sold into slavery.The austrian army under charles,thoroughly outnumbered had withdrawn to the northern bank leaving the southern bank defenceless and swarming with thousands of tatar raiders.The tatars were a vital component of ottoman strategy,they were tools of harassment and reconaissance as well as a force of psychological warfare.They were disciplined and surrender was punishable by death to their khan.They wore no armour and carried only composite bows and sabres.In the hands of a trained operator a composite bow could still fire faster and further than a musket,and tatars were considered born archers and horsemen.However they avoided any physical contact battles like regular cavalry .

    [​IMG]
    (Tatar Cavalry)​

    NEXT: THE RELIEF ARMY ASSEMBLES -MARCH TO VIENNA
     
  9. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    MARCH TO VIENNA

    [​IMG]
    CHARLES NEUTRALIZES THOKOLY :
    While the main drama was being played at vienna itself,the commander of the habsburg field army - Charles of Lorraine had withdrawn his remaining force ,just above 10,000 cavalry(all of its infantry being sent to garrison vienna earlier) to the north bank of the danube which was free of tatar raiders.He detatched dragoons to prevent tatar raids from spilling into the north bank through the crossing upstream at krems(see map).Charles also recalled 2 regiments of infantry from the fortress of gyor ,now that it was clear the main target was vienna.He was further reinforced from the northern border by polish mercenary horsemen in austrian service.(six squadrons).Meanwhile the pro-ottoman hungarian rebel Imre thokoly marched with 25,000 magyars reinforced by ottoman contingents intending to join kara mustafa at vienna.Here however despite being outnumbered Charles moved to intercept him on 30 july near Bratislava.In the battle that followed thokoly's magyars were unable to withstand the disciplined austrian forces and forced to withdraw.Having removed this major threat ,charles then turned west and eliminated a potential ottoman bridgehead on the north bank of the danube at Enzersdorf.He then settled down and waited for the reinforcements the austrian court had promised him.

    [​IMG]

    RELIEF ARMY ASSEMBLES :


    Imperial Contingents -
    Since the end of the 30 yrs war(1648) the holy roman empire had been an empire in name only.Though Leopold was the emperor,he had very little actual authority in a structure dominated by the powerful german princes who were by and large independent.Thus when the austrian court sent out frantic appeals for help,the north german states like brandenburg didn't answer.The turkish threat was too far away for them to bother.However the southern german states nearest to austria,saxony and bavaria -the next in line in the path of ottoman expansion should vienna fall did answer the call.The process was only made possible by a torrent of funds flowing from the vatican,as the pope now undertook to bankroll the christian alliance.10000 saxons set out from dresden.While in the west the Bavarian force was bolstered by contributions from the principalities of franconia and swabia -nearly 20,000 men.While their response had been late by the end of august nearly 30,000 germans were poised to converge on the danube.

    Polish Army -
    Poland was treatybound to come to aid if vienna was to be besieged,however french spies had attempted to sabotage the process by bribing prominent nobles.Only to be outbid by the vatican which again made its financial strength tell.Sobieski was initially slow to move,but once it became clear that poland itself was under no danger,as well as the alarming letters from lorraine he was compelled to move.The polish border contingent Sienwaski was sent forward to join charles early as sobieski with the main army followed.Setting out from warsaw the total polsih force of 15,000-20,000 and 28 guns was majority cavalry.But by september they too were nearing the danube.

    [​IMG]

    MARCH THROUGH THE WEINERWALD :


    The relief army joined forces on 3 september,but the whole force was only concentrated by 8th september.Starhemberg had got through messengers through the ottoman lines(disguise and speaking turksih) which revealed the desperate plight of the defenders -the garrison was down to 4000 fit fighting men and both bastions were on their last legs.The city couldn't hope to hold more than a week at most.On the night of the 7th the viennese rockets asking for aid were answered by the relief army.The combined army began the crossing of the danube on the 8th at Tulln(see first map).However to reach the plains before the city they had to cross the weinerwald woods and steep slopes and ridges -broken and dangerous terrain.Splitting up into several columns to maintain mobility the march began on the 10th with the aid of local guides.Artillery proved difficult to haul and carts broke down.By the end of the day they had only arrived at the foot of the ridge seperating them from vienna.On the 11th the christian relief army had established itself on the ridge,overrunning the ottoman outposts.However it took the whole day to assemble the army and for the artillery to arrive.Below them was not a gentle slope towards the plains - but broken ground with ravines,wooden slopes,further smaller ridges intersped with vineyards,stone walls -perfect defensive terrain and a nightmare for cavalry.If only these obstacles could be overcome would flat ground suitable for cavalry attacks be obtained.Now however the ottomans knew they were coming.This is how it stood by the end of the 11th of september.

    [​IMG]
    (Above picture depicts terrain and positions-battle described next post)

    OTTOMAN DEFENSIVE PREPARATIONS:


    Kara mustafa had been wholly absorbed in his single minded quest to break the city's defenses and had not given any thought to the coming of a vast relief army.With the ottoman kahlenberg outpost overrun however,battle was certain on he next day.There was a debate in the ottoman camp ,on whether the whole army should turn and face the enemy - but kara mustafa wanted to keep pressure on the city and about half of the forces were readied to meet the relief army.Bulk of the cavalry sitting idle in camp-22,000 sipahis plus 6,000 janissaries.Added to this were tatar and balkan vassal contingents as well reinforcements under ibrahim pasha that had just arrived on the 11th from budapest.Kara mustafa remained with his kapikulu troops,and would feed troops into the battle from the siege trenches if needed.The ottomans still had no clear idea about the strength and position of the allied columns.However the attack on the kahlenberg outpost revealed to them the most likely avenue of attack.Indeed the emplacement of the enemy batteries on the kahlenberg,and movement of troops revealed enemy activity in this sector.The area to the west,.towards the rosskopf hills(see map) was devoid of any activity -this was because the polish army was lagging behind and had still not reached the summit of the ridge and was thus unseen by the ottomans.

    Assumming the main christian attack to be coming close to the danube area,kara mustafa concentrated the bulk of his infantry and artillery in this sector.The village of nussdorf was turned into a fortified advanced position.To its rear were the main ottoman defences on dobling and heilgenstadt packed with cannon and musketeers.Any enemy advancing here on broken terrain,would face withering enfilade fire from these positions.Kara mustafa took up his position at the fortified turkenschanz to the centre rear of the ottoman line.Bulk of the ottoman cavalry was deployed further to the west on plain ground above the hernals(map).The extended front meant the extreme left wing of the ottoman front was covered by the tatars.60 cannon redirected from the trenches supported the ottoman positions.Kara mustafa intended to grind down the main imperial assault on the bottleneck in front of the Nussdorf-dobling area and then move in his cavalry and sweep up from the flank.

    NEXT : BATTLE OF KAHLENBERG
     
  10. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    BATTLE OF KAHLENBERG

    [​IMG]

    OTTOMAN ARMY -

    Commanders -
    Kara Mustafa Pasha(Centre and overall commander-in-chief)
    Ibrahim Pasha(Right wing),Abza Hussein(Left wing)

    Strength -
    50,000 -60,000 (active on the battlefield)
    20,000-30,000(in trenches-active only in last stage)
    20,000 tatars(raiding the countryside -no part in battle)
    60 cannon(rest besieging vienna)

    ALLIED CHRISTIAN ARMY -

    Commanders -
    King Jan Sobieski of Poland (Right wing and Commander-in-chief)
    Prince Waldeck(Centre) ,Charles of Lorraine(Left wing)

    Strength -
    ~65,000 (active on the battlefield) including -
    (45,000-50,000 imperial germans and 15,000-20,000 poles)
    [18,500 Austrians under Lorraine plus 9,000 Saxons and 20,000 Bavarians,Franconians and other german contingents.15,000-20,000 Poles]
    5,000 (garrison at vienna -no active part in battle)
    Unknown cannon(many stuck in weinerwald,but still equal or more than ottomans)

    [​IMG]
    Ottomans deploy in their traditional defensive formation with a strengthened right flank under ibrahim pasha centred on the fortified strongpoints of Nussdorf,Heiligenstadt and Turkenschanz anchoring the line.Abza hussein commands the bulk of the cavalry on the left wing,plus the tatars on the extreme left flank.Two months of siege has taken its toll,and the turks are feeling the shortage of quality manpower.Kara mustafa lost 25,000 men - much of the cream of his infantry on the assault on vienna's defences and now lacks quality manpower the man the whole line.While reinforcements from buda have somewhat mollified the problem,the balkan vassal contingents remain largely useless and tatars indifferent.(kara mustafa having treated their khan with not enough deference).Kara mustafa and his household kapikulu troops are available as final reinforcements if necessary,and troops from the siege lines can be fed into the action as well.
    The slanted map denotes the elevation.Red for ottomans.Blue for christian cavalry,yellow for relief christian infantry.Lorraine commands the left wing with austrians and saxons.Waldeck the centre largely bavarians.Sobieski the right wing with poles reinforced by imperial infantry(requested due to unreliable quality of polish infantry).Check with numbers below with above diagram to follow battle events.

    ''It was like a flood of black pitch pouring downhill,crushing and burning everything in its way'' - Ottoman observer describes the attack of the relief army

    [​IMG]

    1. The action began at 5:00 am,when turkish skirmishers from nussdorf crept upclose to the austrian positions preparing for an advance and began to harass them in a effort to disrupt and preempt the process.They are finally driven off after concerted advance of the austrian battalions which begin advancing ahead of planned schedule.Austrian and saxon troops launch their attack on nussdorf at 8:00 am.Supported by the excellent saxon light artillery,amidst ferocious house to house fighting the turks are finally driven out of the village by 9:00 am.

    2.Regrouping his forces at about 10:00 am Ibrahim pasha launches 2 massed counterattacks to retake nussdorf.The first one is repulsed but the second one nearly breaks through until it is outflanked by the advance of the saxon infantry (see yellow arrow above nussdorf and on open flank of counterattack)and forced to retreat.

    3.Charles emplaces his artillery covering nussdorf and ready to support further advance as he consolidates his position and prepares for a steady push on heilgenstadt.

    4.In the centre waldeck advances steadily with little heavy opposition but is slowed by numerous small skirmishes.

    5.The Poles had arrived under cover of darkness, and had assembled in battle order covering the ground below the Dreimarkstein and the Rosskopf peaks(map in last post)The polish force,most of it cavalry has been slow to advance in the broken terrain,they are approaching the michaelsberg peak from where they would be visible to the troops below.

    [​IMG]
    1. Between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm,Charles organizes an overwhelming advance on heilgenstadt supported by artillery.After heavy resistance,the outnumbered ottoman right flank under ibrahim pasha withdraws .The austrian and saxon infantry however are exhausted and disordered.Charles orders a halt to reorganize his forces and allow the other parts of the christian army to move up,lest he overextend himself.

    2.The ottomans regroup behind a ridge ,refusing their right flank which is now bent back under imperial pressure.However this is the strongest defended section of the ottoman lines with field fortifications and nearby reinforcements of elite troops at the turkenschanz.This is where kara mustafa emplaces the banner of the prophet to serve as a rallying point.

    3.Imperial infantry probe the frontal defences of Dobling-turkenschanz area but are unable to make much headway.Combat in this sector takes a temporary pause as both sides recuperate.

    4.Waldeck's easy progress comes to a halt before the village of potzlensdorf -defended by 1500 janissaries.Infantry is diverted from the left wing to break through which is only accomplished after an hour of brutal fighting and reinforcements from imperial cuirassiers as potzlensdorf is squeezed from 2 sides.By 3:00 pm the village is finally taken.

    5.The polish cavalry arrives on michaelsberg at around 2:00 am,their glittering armour in the sun now visible to both friend and foe and a huge shout of cheer is heard throughout the christian ranks.With more pleasant terrain up ahead they advance steadily.The Schaeffberg hill is seized after a assault by polish and imperial infantry,allowing the poles to move forward with their cavalry unhindered.

    [​IMG]

    6.Hetman Jablownowski commanding the polish light cavalry on the extreme right flank drives off an attempt by the tatars to disrupt the advance.This attack serves as the only real action by the tatar hordes in the battle ,who thereafter disperse and remain inactive.

    7.Sobieski sends a reconaissance-in-force in the form of 2 winged hussar squadrons(300 men) forward.These impetous horsemen however lose their composure,they smash through the deceptively weak ottoman screen and are lured into the main body where they are ambushed from all sides.Having lost a third of their number they retreat in disarray.

    8.Having repulsed this small cavalry attack and encouraged abza hussein now launches a general attack all along the ottoman left flank aimed at hurling back the advancing poles.This attack taking place at around 4:30 pm up the slope is driven back with ease with combined fire of muskets and artillery.

    9.With the sudden appearance of the poles on the michaelsberg,Kara mustafa realized his whole battle plan was falling apart and he risked being outflanked on his left wing which is short of musket infantry.He redirects part of ibrahim pasha's infantry to the left and centre.However this hasty redeployment leaves many of the men in the rear ranks unable to manuever or employ their weapons properly.

    [​IMG]
    1.Bavarian and franconian infantry assault Turkenschanz frontally .

    2.Lorraine resumes his pressure on the ottoman right flank,pressing heavily with his infantry against the ottoman strongpoints.Their numbers heavily depleted by the earlier redployment to reinforce the other wing,the outnumbered turkish forces fight desperately.

    3. at 5:00-6:00 pm,Sobieski is encouraged by the imperial advance and seeing the battle hanging in the balance now gives the order for a massed cavalry attack.18,000 polish and german horsemen advance in solid squares in checkerboard formation -the 3,000 winged hussars leading with their wings fluttering in the air.With the cries of 'Jezus Maria' ,one of the largest cavalry charges in history is launched as the polish husaria crash into the ottoman lines with their lances lowered.

    4.The winged hussar company of crown prince alexander breaks through the ottoman defences and cuts its way into the main ottoman camp at turkenschanz,which is already under pressure from 2 sides by the imperials.The ottoman lines begin to waver as they are unable to withstand the devastating impact of the polish cavalry.The sipahis launch one last desperate counterattack,but turkish resistance begins to dissolve with the relentless assault of the polish hussars who most of them having broken their lances now switched to the koncerz or the szabla curved sabres.

    [​IMG]

    5.Kara mustafa launches one last desperate counterattack with his kapikulu household troops and reinforcements.But this desperate gambit is washed away in the face of the onrushing tide of polish horsemen,with most of his bodyguards killed.He managed to rescue the prophet's banner and seeing all was lost fled with his personal retinue.

    6.The whole ottoman army degenerates into a disorderly mob pursued vigorously by the polish and imperial cavalry.A massacre ensues as the fleeing infantry are cut down in droves and he poles loot the ottoman camp.The remaining ottoman infantry in the trenches desert,many cut down and the entire turkish artillery is captured.

    The battle for vienna was over.Christendom's bulwark had withstood the last great ottoman attack.The turks would never return.Ottoman losses were - 10,000 -15,000 killed in battle and 5,000 captured.Plus another 25,000 killed in the siege.All 149 cannon were also lost.The habsburgs lost 12,000 men in the siege.4500 were killed in the allied army during the battle.

    [​IMG]
    NEXT : ANALYSIS AND AFTERMATH
     
  11. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    ANALYSIS AND AFTERMATH

    [​IMG]

    CAUSES OF OTTOMAN DEFEAT -

    ''If a commander is given hundred thousand men and only makes use of sixty thousand on the day of battle,he must answer for the other forty thousand with his head'' - Napoleon
    1.Lack of concentration of force -One of the main principles of war is concentration of force,however kara mustafa's decision to divide his forces rather than using the whole ottoman force to face the relief army meant the ottomans didn't make use of the total manpower available to them.Over 20,000 men were left in the trenches,the household troops entered battle in only the final stages.

    2.Lack of Security - Despite possesing ample forces,kara mustafa never gave thought to the arrival of a relief army unlike caesar at alesia and made no preparations for such an eventuality.Given the broken terrian an alert ottoman force could have contested the allied crossing of the danube ,or fortified the ridges on th weinerwald in strength making the battle very difficult for the relief christian army.He thus violated the principle of security.

    3.Tactical weaknesses - Some tactical weaknesses in the ottoman army were also exposed in the battle.Except the janissaries the ottoman infantry proved itself unable to prevail in firefights with drilled imperial infantry.The ottoman field artillery was also dominated by its rivals on the field.The lack of disciplined pikemen or ad-hoc field fortifications like stakes led to the easy rout of the ottoman infantry against the charge of the polish hussars.
    [​IMG]

    AFTERMATH -
    Sobieski himself earned immortal glory for his part in saving vienna.He wrote to the pope the famous words echoing caesar - ''Veni,Vedi.Deus,Vicit''(We came,we saw,god conquered).Charles of Lorraine went on to have a succesful career and a string of successes against the ottomans.Kara mustafa was not so fortunate - he was strangled on the orders of the sultan soon after the debacle.However the continuing habsburg successes would see the sultan himself deposed in 1687.The battle of vienna was the first mention of one Eugene of savoy,leading a contingent of italian lancers.He would later earn great reknown against the french and turks as austria's greatest ever general.

    Geopolitical effects -

    Ottomans - The success at vienna saw the formation of a new holy league for an assault on the ottoman empire's european possessions.The turkish war from 1683-1699 ended at the treaty of karlowitz which saw the loss of ottoman hungary and budapest,a shattering blow to ottoman imperial morale and prestige.From hereon after the tables would be turned,with ottomans perpetually on the defensive and the habsburgs(later the russians) inexorably advancing.The treaty of Karlowitz is often taken as the beginning of the decline of the ottoman empire.The bulk of the elite janissary corps were wiped out at vienna,along with the loss of valuable specialists and artillery.For an army that transfered military knowledge largely by oral tradition this was a devastating blow.At that time it was the greatest defeat of an ottoman field army in europe.The empire would be thrown into a political and financial crisis.
    [​IMG]
    (The Ottoman Loss of hungary)​
    Austria - The turkish war that begun with the siege of vienna would see austria triumphant in th east with acquisition of large territory in the east,reduction of the ottoman threat,and a ready veteran army to confront Louis XIV's ambitions in the west.Austria which had been in the doldrums since the 30yrs war was now resurgent as a major power in europe.

    Poland - Sobieski's reign saw the last high point of the polish kingdom.Within a century poland would be divided between prussia,russia and the same austrians.(Incidentally only the ottomans refused to recognize the partition of poland).Political instability and a backward feudal economic structure ensured poland's doom.Poland made superficial and temporary gains in the campaign ,which could not have been won without its help.Sobieski and his men however gained immortal glory with their victory in christendom's hour of need.

    France - For Louis XIV's france,vienna was a setback.A resurgent austria -its main geopolitical rival was contrary to french interests.Had vienna fallen it would have been a huge blow to habsburg power and prestige.The german states and the pope would have been compelled to look to Louis for protection.France would thus be in a position to emerge as the hegemon of europe.Louis's ambitions were thus thwarted.

    [​IMG]
    Other Legacies -
    The ottoman military bands left their instruments on the field of battle and that is how the Holy Roman Empire (and thus the other Western countries) acquired cymbals and timpani.
    Legend has it the Croissant was invented at vienna.The bread being moulded in the shape of the turkish crescent before being eaten by some troops .
    After the battle, the Viennese discovered many bags of coffee in the abandoned Ottoman encampment. Using this captured stock,the first of the famous viennese coffeehouses were opened.

    ........................................................................ X ......................................... X .........................................................................
    Thanks for reading.
    Sources -
    Osprey Campaign - Vienna 1683.(S.millar)
    The Enemy at the gate - (A.Wheatcroft)
    Siege of Vienna:Last great trial between cross and crescent(John stoye)
    Osprey Men-at-arms - Janissaries,Polish winged hussars,Polish armies
    A Military History of the Ottomans -(Mesut Uyar & Erickson)
    Net sources.
     
  12. Picard

    Picard Lt. Colonel RESEARCHER

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    What is interesting is that the battle is in many ways similar to the much earlier Battle of Sisak in 1593., albeit far more important and larger. This means that Ottomans did not learn from their defeat at Sisak.
     
    Austerlitz likes this.

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