DAYS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: 12th September 1683 - The Siege Of Vienna
The Battle of Vienna was the first large-scale battle of the Habsburg-Ottoman Wars. It had important and far-reaching consequences. This programme assesses how different world history could have been if the Ottoman Empire had emerged victorious.
On 12th September 1683, the Turks were at the gates of Vienna. The Austrian defenders had little hope in the face of superior numbers of Ottoman troops commanded by Grand Vizier Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha. The siege had started two months earlier, on 14th July 1683. Reinforcements in the shape of Polish troops under King Jan III Sobieski were worryingly far away.
However, the Austrian forces were eventually saved by the arrival of a united relief army of 70,000 men. The King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had been made Commander in Chief of his own 30,000-man Polish forces and the 40,000 troops of Habsburg and their allies, led by Charles V, Duke of Lorraine. The Polish knights managed to break through the Turkish lines and liberate the city from the stranglehold of the siege.
However, if Vienna had fallen, would it mean that the predominantly Christian Europe that we know today would be deeply influenced by Islam? The battle marked the turning point in the three hundred year struggle between the forces of the Central European kingdoms and the Ottoman Empire.
Over the sixteen years following the battle, the Habsburgs of Austria and their allies gradually occupied and dominated southern Hungary and Transylvania, which had been largely cleared by the Turkish forces. The battle is seen by many historians as marking the beginning of the decline of the Ottoman Empire and marking the historic end of Turkish expansion into south-eastern Europe.