Battle of Vienna: 1683

Artifact Project: The Battle of Vienna

Historical Context

The Ottomans were an expansionist empire. They wanted to not only wipe out Christendom in Europe but spread Muslim Faith as well. On April 5th 1453, Mehmed II, ruler of the Ottoman Empire approached Constantinople which, at the time was said to be “the greatest power the world had ever known” (Pagden). His army consisted of Muslims, Serbs, Latins, and Greeks and was numbered around three hundred thousand men. In under two months he was able to take the city and giving him the title of “The Conqueror” (Pagden).

This was not the end of their expansion. In 1526, The Sultan of the Ottomans, Suleiman I, defeated Louis II at the Battle of Mohács in what later was found to be a pyrrhic victory. The death of Louis II put the Archduke of Vienna in to power, creating a “greater and more united Christian power” (Pagden). Later from 1551 to 1571 the Ottomans took the port of Tripoli, the island of Malta, and the city of Cyprus. After a defeat in October of 1571, the Ottomans halted their expansion and focused on maintaining peace throughout their territories.

Fear of the Ottomans was widespread. It reached places as far as Iceland, who prayed to be saved from the terror of the Ottoman Empire. Rome in particular was in fear of being taken by the Ottomans, but there was no movement to do so.

The Battle of Vienna

1683 was not the first attempt to seize Vienna. In 1529 the Ottoman Army had tried to take Vienna but was repelled only three weeks later. August of 1683, the Ottomans were ready to take Vienna one again. For the next few months Mehmed IV readied his troops and was joined by others from Albania, Epirus, Thessaly, and Egypt. On July 14th 1683, he set up camp outside the walls of Vienna and demanded that they “accept Islam and live in peace under the Sultan!” (Quoted in Pagden). Over the next two months, Vienna was able to resist the Ottoman Army but they began to degrade from the inside. Supplies were running out, disease was spreading, and garbage was piling up in the streets. The Ottoman Army had a great number of soldiers but lacked the weaponry to deal with the massive walls and fortifications that surrounded Vienna.

what they had could kill people and damage buildings inside the city but made little impact on the massive walls, bastions, ravelins, glacis, caponières, palisades, counterscarps, and the other paraphernalia of sixteenth-century fortifications that ringed Vienna (Pagden).

In August, King John III Sobieski was also on his way to Vienna commanding 60,000 soldiers. They entered through the Vienna Woods a “mountainous no man’s land covered in dense forest” (Pagden). The Ottomans had left this undefended because they were sure an army of any size wouldn’t be able to make it through. This lead to their defeat. September 12th, the Christian army repelled the Ottoman. “We came, we saw, and God conquered,” Sobieski wrote to the Pope. (Pagden).

If It weren’t for Sobieski, Vienna would have fallen in to the hands of the Ottoman Empire. They were indeed the deciding factor in this fight, although Sobieski had no obligation to help Vienna and had political philosophies to uphold. He had a couple of reasons for why he joined. He was trying to give Poland more recognition as a military power. He also wanted to gain recognition and “secure the succession of one of his sons on the throne of Poland” (Leitsch 40).


This defeat destroyed the morale of the Ottoman Empire. They were weakened both physically and mentally. Some Christians believed that the Ottoman Empire wouldn’t last long after this. This eventually led to the Treaty of Carolowitz, which greatly reduced the amount of territory the Ottomans had. Vienna itself was free and could thrive in it what we know as Vienna today. (Pagden).

Three hundred years later, in 1983, Austria and Poland was still celebrating this victory. “All the major archives, libraries – above all the museums – of the two countries had special exhibitions drawn from their collections” (Leitsch 37). However, Leitsch argues that this is a waste of money. While institutions are spending time and money to commemorate this victory, there are some that are going bankrupt and unable to stay afloat (Leitsch 37).

Today, the effect of this battle can still be felt. While not a direct effect, Turkey has been trying to get in to the EU since 1987 when they first applied. Today they are still not a member of the EU. Turkey has not had the best relationship with the EU and some of that prejudice is showing through. While it may not be blatant or intentional it is still a factor as to why it has taken so long. (BBC)

The Battle of Vienna was a great victory for all of Christendom. It upset the Ottoman empire and allowed for Christianity to prosper. Its effects were not just immediate but rippled throughout history and into modern times. The Ottomans were a formidable force but the Christian power of Europe was stronger.












Annotated Bibliography

“EU Enlargement: The next Seven.” BBC News. N.p., 2 Sept. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.

Kalwat, Wojciech. “Battle of Vienna.” Battle of Vienna. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.

Leitsch, Walter. “1863 The Siege of Vienna.” History Today (1983): 37-40. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

Leitsch provides some insight as to a lasting effect of the Siege of Vienna in to modern day. He explains how an event of the past has a hold on what happens in current times. He tells about how Vienna became successful even against all odds and defeated with Ottoman army with the help of Poland. Furthermore, he explains why the Pols decided to help the Habsburgs to begin with and provides us why they may not have and had very little incentive to do so.

This article was published in 1963, three hundred years after the battle. It seems reliable in that it explains how long it has been and what is going on and the ideas can still relate to today. The publisher is History Today, a well-known European magazine that covers may types of media on history. The author seems to be in good standing as his article is well written and appears to have a Doctorate from the University of Vienna. He writes from a for the most part unbiased point of view. He talks about both sides and how each on has its points.

Leitsch’s article is a very good piece on how the Siege of Vienna came to be a success and what lead to it. While it doesn’t look at or really mention the siege itself, it gives us a good foundation to build upon as to how the Pols came to be an ally as well as their involvement with the Ottoman empire prior to the siege. The information Leitsch provides will help to answer some of the questions that surround the siege and tell us some of the effects of it.

The information in this article is no so much about the battle itself but the before and after of it. By itself it is not strong enough to use as a reference for the battle but it provides excellent cushioning on both sides of it.


Pagden, Anthony. “Turning the Ottoman Tide – John III Sobieski at Vienna 1683 | HistoryNet.”

HistoryNet. MHQ, 28 July 2008. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

HistoryNet.” HistoryNet. MHQ, 28 July 2008. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

Pagden gives us the contextual background of the 1683 Siege of Vienna. He does a good job at explaining who wants to take Vienna and why they would want to. He includes the process of how they come to and build up to the siege.  He explains the outcome of the siege and the ramifications of it while providing some prospective of both sides and why they did what they did. His information, albeit somewhat confusing at times, provides a great understanding of the time line surrounding the Siege of Vienna as well as how it came to be and what happened after.

This article was publishe relatively recently in 2008, plenty modern enough  to have lost of sources to work from. The publisher seems to be a very good source for inquiries about historical events such as wars, speeches and daily facts of this day in history. Anthony has degrees from Oxford University and the University of Barcelona. He does not write with any discernable biases. His article is simply the event of the past.

Pagden offers a well-rounded timeline of the 1683 Siege of Vienna, in which he explains each element in a brief yet complete packet of information. This article isn’t an in-depth look at any particular part of siege, but a compelling history surrounding the event. The information in his article could definitely help to answer some if not most of the questions I have in this paper. Some of it sets the context which will be helpful in setting up the history of the event and some of which has the event its self as well as the after math.

This article is a very good article to use for the Before, during and after of the Battle of Vienna. It has a strong introduction of the context unlike some of the articles I read. It does lack a bit of simplicity in the beginning but a few times through and it starts to make sense.

Siege of Vienna 1683 (Documentary). YouTube. YouTube, 05 Sept. 2014. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.

Wheatcroft, Andrew. The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe.

New York: Basic, 2009. Print.


One thought on “Battle of Vienna: 1683

  1. Isaac Merriam

    The Opium Wars and the Boxer Rebellion were wars fought in China between 1839-1901. Eight different countries sent their troops to regain their diplomatic offices that were taken over by the Chinese local nationals. These local nationals were fueled with hate and discontent of the increased number of foreigners and spread of Christianity. These wars in China have similarities with the Battle of Vienna. They both share a religious connection and the connection of a conquering army comprised of many foreigners.


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