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Tumlirz, Otto - Turnerbund, Österreichischer, ÖTB (14/25)
Türkenbelagerungen Wiens Türkenschanzpark


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Turkish wars: horsetail, badge of rank of a Turkish soldier (private collection).

Turkish Wars: In 1354 the Ottomans began to establish themselves in the Balkans, conquered Serbia in the what is known in Austria as the "Battle on the Amselfeld" (Battle of Kosovo Polje) on June 16 (1389), in 1396, 1444 and 1448 Christian forces were defeated and Constantinople (Istanbul) was taken by Ottoman forces on May 5 (1453), after these victories the Ottomans began to advance towards central Europe. There are four periods of Ottoman-Habsburg relations:

1) the period of Turkish attacks up to 1526: At first Hungary was attacked, but this resulted in a victory of the Hungarian troops near Belgrade in 1456. In 1473, 1476, 1478, 1480 and 1483 the Turks advanced towards parts of Carinthia and southern Styria (eastern Slovenia).

2) Ottoman attacks between 1526-1683: After Süleyman II had taken Belgrade in 1521 and defeated the Hungarian forces in 1526 near Mohács Ferdinand I, the Habsburg archduke of Austria, claimed the now vacant throne of Hungary and the conflict between the Ottomans and the Habsburgs reached a climax. In response the Ottomans advanced towards Lower Austria in 1529 and laid siege to Vienna from September 27 to October 15; the second great campaign in 1532, notable for the brilliant Christian defence of Güns (now Köszeg, Hungary) ended as a mere foray into Austrian border territories (Ybbs valley).

Between 1540-1547 the Ottomans occupied central Hungary (1541) and established a "pashalik" (a region under direct and permanent military occupation by the Ottomans with its main centre at Buda), these campaigns led to the emergence of three distinct zones: Ottoman Hungary in central Hungary along the middle Danube, Habsburg Hungary in the extreme north (Slovakia) and west and Transylvania, a vassal state dependent on the Ottomans. There were some truces (in 1547 and in 1562 in Constantinople, in 1568 in Adrianople, none of them permanent) and the Habsburgs were accepted as rulers of northern Hungary in return for the payment of an annual tribute. The Estates of Austria and Inner-Österreich had to defend the borders and built fortifications in western Hungary and Croatia. After having recaptured one of the most important bastions at Raab (Györ) in 1598 a long drawn-out war (1593-1606) with the Turks was ended and the Peace of Zsitvatorok was negotiated in which for the first time the Habsburg Emperor was recognised as equal partner to the Sultan. The payment of the annual tribute was ended by giving an "honorary gift" of 200,000 gulden. In the following decades especially during the period of the Thirty Years´ War, relations were improved. In 1663 a new war broke out, partly due to of French intervention. On August 1 in 1664 Duke Raimund Montecuccoli gained a military success at Mogersdorf, but in Hungary dissatisfaction with the peace agreement negotiated in Vasvár (Eisenburg) in 1664 was spreading. E. Thököly von Késmark the leader of the Hungarian rebels and acknowledged by the Ottomans as King of Hungary had asked the Turks for help, whereupon in 1683 grand vizier Kara Mustafa organised a large Turkish army and marched towards Vienna and laid siege on Vienna on July 14 (Turkish Sieges of Vienna); at the same time southern Lower Austria was being pillaged by the Tatars. On September 12, 1683 King John III Jan III Sobieskiof Poland and Duke Karl V (Charles) of Lorraine took over the command of the relieving army, which dispersed the Turks.

3) Austrian attacks (1683-1791): In 1683 Habsburg forces invaded Hungary and occupied Gran (Esztergom). On September 2, 1686 Ofen (Buda) was taken by Karl of Lorraine; Transylvania was occupied and became part of Habsburg territory, on September 6, 1688 Margrave Max Emanuel of Bavaria conquered Belgrade. The furthest advance to Niš was made on September 4, 1689 by Margrave Louis (Ludwig Wilhelm) of Baden. On October 18, 1690 Belgrade was recaptured by the Turks. On August 19, 1691 Louis of Baden gained a victory at Slankamen and finally on September 11, 1697 Prince Eugène of Savoy gained a decisive victory near Zenta. In the Treaty of Carlowitz, concluded on January 26, 1699 large parts of Hungary fell to the Habsburg Emperor (with the exception of the Banat of Temesvár).

When the Turks attacked possessions of the Venetians in 1716 Austria intervened and Prince Eugène defeated the Turks on August 5 near Peterwardein and also gained an important victory on August 16, 1717 near Belgrade. The Treaty of Passarowitz concluded on July 21, 1718 gave the Habsburgs the largest territory on the Balkans they were ever to rule: northern Serbia (with Belgrade), a strip along the frontier of northern Bosnia, the Banat of Temesvár and Walachia Minor. In the 18th  century The Habsburgs formed an alliance with Russia and entered into two more armed conflicts, in which, however, no further victories were gained: the first war lasted from 1737 to 1739 and was ended by the Peace of Belgrade on September 18, 1739, resulting in the loss of the territories acquired in 1718. The second war was begun by Joseph II in 1788 and was ended on August 4, 1791 by the Peace of Sistowa (Svischtov) without any major changes in territory.

4) the Ottoman Empire as a "weak" neighbour of the Habsburg monarchy (1791-1918): It was of great importance to the Habsburg Monarchy that the position of European Turkey was not weakened. Russia served as protecting power for several Balkan countries, which succeeded in reaching independence (Greece in 1830, Rumania in 1859, Serbia and Bulgaria in 1878, and Albania in 1913). At the Congress of Berlin in 1878 Austria-Hungary was allowed to occupy Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was annexed in 1908. During the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) Austria-Hungary tried in vain to protect Turkey, which later formed an alliance with the Central Powers in the First World War.

Literature: F. Suraya, Das ottomanische Herrschaftsgebiet von 1350-1650, in: H. Kellenbenz (ed.), Handbuch der europäischen Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte, vol. 3, 1986; Die Steiermark, Brücke und Bollwerk, exhibition catalogue, Schloß Herberstein 1986; J. P. Niederkorn, Die europäischen Mächte und der "Lange Türkenkrieg" Kaiser Rudolfs II. (1593-1606), Archiv für österreichische Geschichte 135, 1993; T. M. Barker, Doppeladler und Halbmond, Entscheidungsjahr 1683, 1982 (English version 1967); Die Osmanen und Mitteleuropa. Internationaler Kongreß für Militärgeschichte in Wien 1983, 1984; G. Heiß and G. Klingenstein (eds.), Das Osmanische Reich und Europa 1683-1789, 1983; W. Öhlinger, Wien zwischen den Türkenkriegen, 1998.

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