For the first time since the Battle of Tours in 732 AD, the battle in which Charles Martel (literally Charles the Hammer) stopped the Muslim expansion of the Umayyad Caliphate into Europe and the Emirates of Sicily, Islam had not expanded into Europe until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 by the hands of the Ottomans. The Ottoman Caliphate continued its expansion after that for two hundred more years and would reach further into Europe than any other Muslim Empire had done previously. But in 1683 that would all come to a halt and mark the end of the Ottoman Expansion into Europe. This momentous occasion would be the Battle of Vienna.

Kara “Black” Mustafa Pasha

In 1683 the Ottoman Caliphate was in decline, with the Russian Tsardom retaking land in the East and the halted expansion in the west. Kara Mustafa Pasha (aka Black Mustafa) came to power as the Grand Vizier (Basically the Ottoman Prime Minister) in 1676. The Historian Lord Kinross would describe him as “A man inflated by pride and presumptuous ambition. Who was involved in countless extortions and acts of corruption selling offices of all kinds without scruple.” Black Mustafa had a dream of conquering Christendom and ruling it for the Ottoman Caliphate. He hated the Christians to such a degree he was known to dream about resting his horses in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome (The Vatican).  Mustafa wanted to offset the Russian Expansion into Ottman conquered territory by conquering Habsburg Vienna which all previous attempts have failed to do. The Sultan Mehmed IV had not wanted to make such great leaps in warfare against Christendom but wanted to set up a frontier this would later put the Grand Vizier and the Sultan at odds.

The Vienna Campaign

In 1683 came the perfect opportunity for Ottoman Expansion into the Habsburg Empire. Since the mid 1500’s Europe was ravaged by civil wars caused by the Protestant Reformation and periodically sects of these Protestant groups would rise up in certain parts of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1683, Imre Thököly, and his Calvinist Rebels in Hungary sent an envoy to Constantinople (the conquered Roman city renamed to Istanbul by its oppressors and capital of the Ottoman Caliphate).With this envoy the weakness of Hungary was exposed and with tentative help from the Calvinist Rebels the Mehmed IV gathered up a great horde, made up of Ottomans, Tatars and Malaysians, to march into Europe with Grand Vizier Black Mustafa at its head.

Sultan Mehmed had ordered Mustafa to set conquer smaller castles on the border and set up frontier bases on the campaign but the Grand Vizier had grander ambitions, the City of Vienna, the capital of the Habsburg Empire. Instead Mustafa sent a small army of Tatars to do as the Sultan requested and took the rest of the main force to the Gates of Vienna.

The Siege of Vienna

Black Mustafa then took his troops and (ironically) formed a crescent moon shape around the city of Vienna and began his siege. The Ottomans mostly took up to mining under the walls into the city but also bombarded the walls with some attacks. There was a few problems though. Mustafa made three mistakes; 1. Due to the long distance Vienna is from Constantinople he didn’t bring any heavy siege equipment. 2. He underestimated the spirit of the Vienna Guard 3. He set up camp in a very exposed location.

It became evident extremely early in the two month siege that the small garrison within the walls of Vienna were outgunning the Ottoman Forces. Without siege equipment and a stronger firing position for their rifles the Ottomans were stuck slowly mining their way into the city. Even when they were able to break a section of the walls down, they still couldn’t take the city.

Even more on top of being outgunned he was also “out-spirited” by the garrison protecting the city. Famously Count Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg, the commander of the garrison, retorted to the Grand Vizier’s demand of surrender, “Let him come; I’ll fight to the last drop of blood.” This Garrison was able to fend off 18 Ottoman Incursions in the city, but its strength had been greatly depleted, and time was nearly up for the Count and his men.

Finally the Grand Vizier had not considered the repercussions of his position at Vienna. When the Ottoman army reached the gates of the City the Habsburg Emperor Fled to seek assistance from the Pope. Pope Innocent XI called up on the French King Louis XIV to aid Leopold I of the Holy Roman Empire in the war but the French King denied the request. Innocent XI then sought after the Polish King John I Sobieski who would only accept with the help of Charles of Lorraine, the Grand Duchies of Bavaria and Saxony and support from 30 German Princes. This formed the 80 Thousand Man Army that would fight the Ottomans at Vienna. A smaller, but well equipped Christian Force.

The Winged Hussars vs the Janissaries (The final Battle)

By September 11 1683 the Christian force led by the Polish King John I Sobieski was able to maneuver their troops through the dense forests and put themselves above and behind the Ottoman Army. With this force Sobieski led the forces of Europe against the Ottoman army. The Christians had the high ground and the element of surprise and the Ottoman army was positioned horribly. This led the Polish king to exclaim, “This man is badly encamped. He knows nothing of War. We shall surely defeat him.” With that in mind Sobieski began the final battle.

Mustafa was furious and his forces were being crushed. He attempted a Counter-offensive against this army but being on the low ground and set up in siege camps he was already in a horrible position. The Counter-Offensive was a failure. Mustafa ordered for the specialized corps known as the Janissaries, an elite infantry corps famous for their strict discipline and being the first standing army in Europe (they were a lot like the Unsullied in Game of Thrones). John I Sobieski dispatched the famous Winged Hussars as a result, and with the Winged Hussars leading the battle, the Ottoman Army was routed. Mustafa Fled the battle. King John I Sobieski sent the Grand Vizier’s tent back to his wife to signify a victory, and the Polish led the European Army would hunt down the now fleeing Ottoman Army and remove them from Europe. Black Mustafa fled to Buda (later would be formed into the large city known as Budapest) a Ottoman Occupied city of over 100 years at that time. Mustafa was beheaded on the orders of the Sultan, because of the failure. Because of this Ottoman Incursion further into Europe Pope Innocent XI called for a renewed Crusade and formed the Holy League to remove the Ottoman Caliphate from Europe and regain lost Christian lands. The Battle of Vienna being the end of Islamic Imperial Conquest of Europe to this day.

This article was written by:

Vincent Wise

Sources:

http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2006/09/other-september-11th.html

http://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/military-history/the-1683-battle-of-vienna-islam-at-viennas-gates/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAHSbIz8fEY

https://www.britannica.com/event/Siege-of-Vienna-1683