Great Turkish War

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Great Turkish War
Sobieski near Vienna by Juliusz Kossak
Sobieski near Vienna by Juliusz Kossak
date July 4th jul. / July 14, 1683 greg. until January 16th jul. / January 26, 1699 greg.
place Austria , Hungary , Serbia , Croatia , Greece , Ukraine (including Crimea )
output Holy League victory
Territorial changes Austria wins areas in Hungary and the Balkans
Poland-Lithuania gets Podolien back
Russia conquered Azov
Venice will be acquis ( Morea , Inner Dalmatia ) confirmed
Peace treaty Peace of Karlowitz
Parties to the conflict

Holy Roman Empire 1400Holy Roman Empire Holy Roman Empire Russia Cossack Hetmanate Poland-Lithuania Duchy of Mantua Venice Royal Hungary Kingdom of Croatia Spain Papal States Serb, Albanian, Greek and Bulgarian rebels
Russia Tsarism 1668Tsarist Russia 
Flag of the Cossack Hetmanat.svg
Mantua Flag 1575-1707 (new) .svg
Republic of VeniceRepublic of Venice 
Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg
Flag of the Kingdom of Croatia (Habsburg) .svg
Spain 1506Spain 
Flag of the Papal States (pre 1808) .svg

Ottoman Empire 1453Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire Khanate of Crimea Principality of Transylvania Principality of Wallachia Principality of Moldova
Flag of Transylvania before 1918.svg
Flag of Wallachia.svg
Flag of Moldavia.svg

The Great Turkish War between the Holy League of European Powers and the Ottoman Empire , also known as the Great Turkish War of Leopold I or the 5th Austrian Turkish War , lasted from 1683 to 1699. Under its new Grand Vizier and Commander in Chief Kara Mustafa , the Ottoman Empire tried for the second time in 1683 (after the first Turkish siege of Vienna in 1529 ) to conquer the imperial city of Vienna and to open the gate to Central Europe. The failure of this siege led to the imperial counter-offensive, in the course of which the Ottomans were expelled from the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary and the tripartite division of Hungary in favor of the Habsburgs came to an end.


In 1529 the Ottomans had to abandon their first attempt to capture the city before Vienna because of bad weather and the resulting lack of supplies. In the Turkish War of 1663/1664 the Ottomans again advanced on Vienna, but were able to defeat Vienna on August 1, 1664 by the Imperial Commander-in-Chief Raimondo di Montecuccoli in the battle of Mogersdorf / St. Gotthard an der Raab . Nine days after this victory the Peace of Eisenburg (Vasvár) was signed with a validity of 20 years. One year before the expiry, Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa marched towards Vienna with an army of 150,000 men. The opportunity seemed favorable, as operating under Ottoman rule Kuruc under Imre Thököly vast areas of the Kingdom of Hungary had brought under its rule.

Course of war

The relief of Vienna in 1683

The battle at Kahlenberg

When on September 7, 1683 Pope Innocent XI. Co-financed relief army of the Holy Roman Empire under Charles of Lorraine with troops of the Polish King Jan Sobieski III. united in Tulln on the Danube about 30 kilometers from Vienna, the siege had lasted since July 15th. Under the leadership of the Polish king, the Ottoman armed forces were taken by surprise and defeated five days later on September 12, 1683 in the Battle of Kahlenberg . In this battle, the young lieutenant colonel who was supposed to end this Turkish war, received his baptism of fire: Prince Eugene of Savoy . The Turkish chronicler Mehmed, the Silâhdar , reported the sight of the relief army:

“The Giaurs [unbelieving, Christian troops] appeared on the slopes with their detachments like thunderclouds, staring at dark blue ore. With one wing leaning against the Wallachians and Moldavians on the banks of the Danube and with the other wing up to the outermost detachments of the Tatars reaching over, they covered mountain and field and formed in a sickle-shaped battle order. It was as if a flood of black pitch rolled downhill, crushing and burning everything that opposed it. "

Start of the counter-offensive

With the Turkish defeat of 1683, Leopold I finally saw the chance to strike back. With the help of Pope Innocent XI. the alliance of the Holy League against the Ottomans was concluded on March 5, 1684 . King Sobieski of Poland, Emperor Leopold I and the Republic of Venice formed an alliance that was to be directed exclusively against the Ottomans.

The commander in chief was Charles of Lorraine . As President of the Court War Council, Hermann von Baden played an important role. Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden ("Türkenlouis") and Max Emanuel von Bayern ("Blauer Kurfürst") were important commanders. In addition to imperial troops, some armed imperial estates also provided units that were mostly paid for by the imperial court. In addition to spa Bavaria, this also included Kurbrandenburg , Kursachsen and Kurhannover .

Conquering Furnace

Emperor Leopold I.

The first goal was to capture furnace . In October 1684 the siege had to be abandoned because the morale was bad and a Turkish relief army was harassing the imperial siege troops.

Two years after the unsuccessful siege of Ofen, a new campaign to take the Hungarian capital was started in 1686. The siege began in mid-June 1686. A Turkish relief army arrived in front of Ofen in mid-August, but the commanding officer hesitated to attack. On September 2, 1686, the imperial troops finally captured the fortress.

Second battle of Mohács

161 years after independent Hungary ceased to exist in the first battle of Mohács (1526) , the battle for Hungary took place again on August 12, 1687 on the same level. The 50,000-strong imperial force under Charles of Lorraine met an Ottoman army of around 60,000. A major Turkish attack was withstood, and the counterattack led by Eugene of Savoy broke through all the Turkish lines to the tent of the grand vizier who had fled. While the imperial side reportedly lost no more than 600 men, the Turks suffered up to 10,000 deaths. The consequences of this important victory were far-reaching: Charles of Lorraine was able to liberate Esseg and Slavonia , while Transylvania was annexed to Hungary again. Under the influence of these events, the Hungarian Diet granted the Habsburgs the right to inherit the St. Stephen's Crown , and the only nine-year-old son of Emperor Leopold, Joseph , became King of Hungary. Prince Eugene, who personally led the counter-attack at Mohács , was richly rewarded for this: In January 1688 he was appointed Lieutenant Field Marshal and he was accepted into the Order of the Golden Fleece .

Conquest of Belgrade

After the successful Second Battle of Mohács in 1687, the destination in the following year was Belgrade - the city between the Danube and the Save , which had been in Ottoman possession since 1521. Under the command of Max Emanuel , Elector of Bavaria , the siege began at the beginning of August 1688. Only one month later, on September 6, 1688, the city was captured with enormous losses on both sides. The imperial troops conquered Niš on September 24, 1689, Vidin on October 14, 1689 and advanced to Bankja (now a suburb of Sofia ), Kyustendil and Pernik in the east and Skopje and Pristina in the south (liberated in October 1689). The population "climbed in from the mountains and welcomed the Germans as liberators from their slavish position."

French attack in the west and Ottoman counter-offensive

Already 20 days after the capture of Belgrade, King Louis XIV's troops marched into the Rhineland and opened the War of the Palatinate Succession . The empire was now in a two-front war. Despite this unfavorable strategic development, the imperial court decided in June 1689 to end the armistice negotiations with the Sublime Porte and at the same time to relocate most of the imperial army to the west.

These events enabled the Ottomans to recapture Belgrade in 1690. Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden was able to achieve one last success for the time being in the battle of Slankamen in 1691 with inferior forces. He, like other important military leaders, was now needed in the west. The new Commander in Chief August the Strong could not replace him. After all, despite all the setbacks, the situation was stabilized and the emperor and empire were able to hold their own in both the west and the south-east.

The Imperialists were allied with Serbs and other Christians from the Balkans. When the Ottoman counter-offensive got underway, around 60,000 people from the Balkans fled to the Habsburg territories in Hungary. There they were settled with certain privileges to defend the military border to the south. Muslim Albanians immigrated to their old settlement areas, for example on the Amselfeld . This wave of migration was a cause of the conflicts in the region well into the 21st century.

The battle at Zenta

Prince Eugene of Savoy

After the War of the Palatinate Succession had ended in 1697, Prince Eugene returned to the Ottoman theater of war as Commander-in-Chief of the Army in Hungary , in the meantime promoted to Field Marshal (1693). He gathered the troops from Upper Hungary and Transylvania at Peterwardein to stop the Ottoman advance. After uniting with the troops, the imperial army comprised between 50,000 and 55,000 men. Throughout August, however, only tactical maneuvers took place between the armed forces in the greater Peterwardein area. At the beginning of September the Ottomans broke off the tactical skirmishes and moved north along the Tisza in order to seize the Szegedin fortress . The imperial field marshal now followed the Ottoman forces, almost at the same height. The Sultan gave up the plan to storm Szeged because of this; he now intended to cross the Tisza at Zenta and retire to Temesvár to winter camp. When Prinz Eugen realized the enemy's intention, he immediately decided to attack, surprised the Ottomans on September 11, 1697 while crossing the river and inflicted a crushing defeat on them.

It was a complete and all-encompassing victory, and from now on the name Prinz Eugen had become a household name throughout Europe. The Sultan fleeing to Temesvár lost around 25,000 men, whereas the losses of the emperor's troops amounted to 28 officers and 401 men dead. The Ottoman Empire had never experienced a worse defeat on the European continent.

The attack on Sarajevo

The imperialists did not strategically use the victory at Zenta, because the year was too far advanced for a siege of the Temesvár fortress. Before moving to winter camp, the already ailing Turks should be dealt another blow. Prince Eugene decided to carry out an attack on Bosnia with part of his army . His destination was Sarajevo . The incursion began on October 13, 1697 from Esseg (today: Osijek , Croatia). Just ten days later, despite the impassable route through the middle of the Bosnian mountains, Sarajevo, 250 km away, was reached. Imperial parliamentarians who were to deliver Eugen's surrender request were shot at before they even reached the city, and so the order to attack the unfortified city was given. The next day, Eugen wrote in his war diary:

“The city was completely burned down and the whole area too. Our troops pursuing the enemy brought in booty, as did women and children [...]. "

Participation of Russia

After signing the " Eternal Peace " with Poland on May 6, 1686, the Moscow Empire joined the Holy League and the following year began the Crimean campaigns against the Crimean Khanate , a Turkish ally. The Azov campaigns followed in 1695 with the conquest of the Azov fortress in 1696. These Russian campaigns are sometimes also referred to as the Russo-Turkish War (1686-1700) .

Peace to Karlowitz

The war year 1698 passed without any major skirmishes, as there was again a lack of money in the imperial war chest: In the summer of 1698 the army did not pay, which is why two regiments of dragons mutinied and took their officers hostage. Prince Eugene showed no mercy for the mutineers: 12 were shot, 20 were hanged and the rest had to run the gauntlet . (Nothing is known about the exact number of victims among the "gauntlets").

Because of the mutiny, the poor financial situation, and because both the Kaiser and the Hohe Pforte were looking for peace, the peace talks at Karlowitz took place with the mediation of England . Karlowitz lay between the fortress Peterwardein, held by imperial troops, and the Ottoman fortress Belgrade. A wooden round building with four different entrances was erected on a hill near Karlowitz. This was to ensure that all four delegations could come to the negotiating table at the same time. On January 26, 1699, peace was finally concluded between the Emperor, Poland and Venice on the one hand and the Ottoman Empire on the other: Transylvania was reunited with Hungary, Hungary was assigned to Austria and the Habsburgs. Venice received the Peloponnese . With the exception of the Banat , all Ottoman conquests of the 16th century were lost and the House of Austria became a major European power. Russia signed a two-year truce.


The suffering of the population was severe and the behavior towards the enemy soldiers was severe. In many cases no pardon was given. The informal code of conduct for warfare between European powers was also regularly undercut by the Habsburgs. It was even accused of the imperial that the annihilation of entire Ottoman armies, for example at Slankamen or Zenta, went beyond what was militarily sensible.

In the Peace of Karlowitz, the Ottoman Empire had to allow itself to be dictated by a Christian power for the first time in terms of peace, which had far-reaching consequences for the entire region: The tripartite division of Hungary, a direct result of the first battle of Mohács in 1526, was now over in favor of the Habsburgs. Only the Banat of Temesvár remained as the last part of the old Kingdom of Hungary still Ottoman territory, but had to be ceded to the Habsburg Empire after another Turkish war ( 1st Turkish War of Charles VI. 1716–1718 ).

Museum reception

The Great Turkish War takes up a large part of the permanent exhibition of the Vienna Army History Museum . Numerous objects are open to the public, including several horse tails and the infamous Sipahi's reflex arcs . Special pieces are also a Turkish chain mail from the possession of the imperial general Raimondo Montecuccoli , who was victorious at Mogersdorf , a silver Turkish calendar watch, a Turkish standard captured in 1683 outside Vienna and the seal of the Turkish sultan Mustafa II , who joined Prince Eugene of Savoy in the battle Zenta had captured in 1697.

See also


  • Karl Müller: The military water transport in Kurbayern , Munich 1895.
  • Walter Hummelberger: The Turkish Wars and Prince Eugene . In: Herbert St. Fürlinger (Ed.): Our Army. 300 years of Austrian soldiers in war and peace . Fürlinger, Vienna 1963.
  • Herbert Röhrig (Hrsg.): Hanover red coats in Greece. The diary of Ensign Zehe in the Turkish Wars 1685–1688 (= sources and representations on the history of Lower Saxony, vol. 84). Lax, Hildesheim 1975.
  • Ernst Trost : Prince Eugene . Amalthea, Vienna 1985, ISBN 3-85002-207-2 .
  • István Bariska, Ibolya Felhő, János J. Varga (Eds.): Buda expugnata 1686. Europa et Hungaria, 1683–1718. A török ​​kiuzésének hazai levéltári forrásai . Budapest Fováros Levéltárának, Budapest 1986–1987, 3 volumes, ISBN 963-7323-00-7 (comprehensive source publication from the holdings of the European archives and the manuscripts in libraries).
  • Renate Barsch-Ritter: Austria on all seas. History of the K. (below) K. Navy from 1382 to 1918 . Styria, Graz 1995, ISBN 3-222-11796-9 .
  • Richard Schmitt, Peter Strasser: Red-white-red fateful days. Decisive battles for Austria . NP-Buchverlag, St. Pölten / Vienna / Linz 2004, ISBN 3-85326-354-2 .
  • János J. Varga: The participation of Kurbayern and the Frankish Imperial Circle in the Great Turkish War 1683–1699 . In: Hungary Yearbook. Journal for interdisciplinary hungarology , vol. 27 (2004), pp. 321–329.
  • Hans-Joachim Böttcher : The Turkish Wars in the Mirror of Saxon Biographies . Gabriele Schäfer Verlag, Herne 2019, ISBN 978-3-944487-63-2 .

Individual evidence

  1. Thomas Winkelbauer , Freedom of the Classes and Princely Power. Countries and subjects of the House of Habsburg in the denominational age. Part 1. In: Herwig Wolfram (ed.), Österreichische Geschichte 1522–1699 (Vienna 2003) p. 164
  2. Richard F. Kreutel, Karamustapha before Vienna. The Turkish Diary of the Siege. (Graz 1955)
  3. Ernst Trost , Prince Eugene of Savoy. (Vienna - Munich ²1985) p. 47
  4. ^ Johannes Burkhardt: Completion and reorganization of the early modern empire 1648–1763. Stuttgart 2006 p. 151f.
  5. Trost (²1985), p 56
  6. Trost (²1985), p 60
  7. История на България, С., 1983, т. 4, p. 234, изд. на БАН
  8. ibidem, p. 234, quoted from La Sacra Lega contro la potenza ottomana. Raconti veridici brievemente descritti da Don Simpliciano Bizozeri, Milano, 1690, p. 401
  9. ^ Johannes Burkhardt: Completion and reorganization of the early modern empire 1648–1763. Stuttgart 2006 p. 153f.
  10. Trost (²1985), p 10
  11. Walter Hummelberger, The Turkish Wars and Prince Eugene. In: Herbert St. Fürlinger (ed.), Our Heer. 300 years of Austrian soldiers in war and peace. (Vienna-Munich-Zurich 1963) p. 88
  12. Trost (²1985), p 84
  13. Der Große Ploetz, 32nd edition, p. 981
  14. Richard Schmitt, Peter Strasser, Red-White-Red Fateful Days. Decisive battles for Austria. (St. Pölten-Vienna-Linz 2004). P. 68
  15. Trost (²1985), p 86
  16. “Was the Habsburg monarchy a great power?” See: Karl Vocelka, Splendor and Fall of the Courtly World. Representation, reform and reaction in the Habsburg multi-ethnic state. In: Herwig Wolfram (ed.), Austrian History 1699–1815. (Vienna 2004) pp. 79–84
  17. ^ Johannes Burkhardt: Completion and reorganization of the early modern empire 1648–1763. Stuttgart 2006, p. 155.
  18. ^ Manfried Rauchsteiner , Manfred Litscher (ed.): The Army History Museum in Vienna. Graz, Vienna 2000 pp. 10–15.

Web links

Commons : Great Turkish War  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files