The Battle of Vienna – My Polish Heritage

The Battle of Vienna

The Battle of Vienna took place on 12 September 1683. Vienna was already besieged for two months by the Ottoman Empire (also known as Turkish Empire). Any means to provide food supply to city were cut on the beginning of siege. Bombardment by cannons and non-stop digging by Turkish sappers tired defenders, what, with addition of no chance to gain any new supplies that weren’t already in city made situation from for defenders. Only 15 00 soldiers defended walls against 170 000 strong Turkish army.

Luckily, fight against the Ottomans have already lasted for sometimes and treaties were made. On 31 March 1683,Treaty of Warsaw was signed between John III Sobieski, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania and Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I in which they promised to help each other if the Ottomans decide to besiege Krakow or Vienna. Acting according to Treaty, John III Sobieski took nearly all of Polish army, leaving Poland undefended to rescue city.

On 6 September Polish army united with Imperial forces. Command was given to Sobieski, who was already known for his courage and tactical ability. Relief force now counted between 70 000 and 80 000 soldiers against 140 000 -150 000 strong forces besieging the city. Chances didn’t look good. But forces of Christian Europe had two things that the Ottomans couldn’t compete with — genius of Polish King and his undefeated Winged Hussars, the best cavalry in the world.

Battle started at 4 am, 12 September. Turkish forces attacked first, hoping to disrupt German army. Still, most of the Ottoman soldiers were concentrated on making final attack on city and German forces were able to win that part of the battle. Similar situation happened when the Polish infantry attacked right flank of the enemy. Both parts of allied army were able to gain some villages and ground, but the Ottomans started to stop their advance by 4 pm. With some difficulties and the first deployment of the Polish cavalry this Turkish defense was broken. Ottoman commander, Grand Vizier Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha had to move his headquarters back from front line, and some of his soldiers were escaping from battlefield. Time has come for deciding blow.

On 6 pm, John III Sobieski gave an order and the largest cavalry charge in history began. 18 000 warriors crushed the Ottoman forces, at the head of them the Winged Hussars, led by the Polish King himself. Morale of opposing forces were destroyed, and they fled the battlefield.

Allied forces were victorious. Vienna and Christian Europe were saved.

After victory, John III Sobieski, the saviour of Vienna, said Veni, vidi, Deus vicit —I came, I saw, God conquered.

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