Vienna 1683 - Henry Elliot Malden - ebook
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"Think with what passionate delight The tale was told in Christian halls, How Sobieski turned to flight The Muslim from Vienna's walls; How, when his horse triumphant trod The burghers' richest robes upon, The ancient words rose loud, 'From God A man was sent whose name was John.'"

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Table of contents

PREFACE.

SYNOPSIS OF EVENTS.

CHAPTER I.

CHAPTER II.

CHAPTER III.

CHAPTER IV.

CHAPTER V.

CHAPTER VI.

CHAPTER VII.

CHAPTER VIII.

"Think of that age's awful birth, When Europe echoed, terror-riven, That a new foot was on the earth, And a new name come down from Heaven When over Calpe's straits and steeps The Moor had bridged his royal road, And Othman's sons from Asia's deeps The conquests of the Cross o'erflowed. * * * * * "Think with what passionate delight The tale was told in Christian halls, How Sobieski turned to flight The Muslim from Vienna's walls; How, when his horse triumphant trod The burghers' richest robes upon, The ancient words rose loud, 'From God A man was sent whose name was John.'" Lord Houghton .

PREFACE.

The historical scholar will find nothing new in the following pages; but I have thought it worth while to tell to the general reader a story worth the telling, and to explain not only the details, but the wider bearings also, of a great crisis in European history, no satisfactory account of which exists, I believe, in English, and the two hundredth anniversary of which is now upon us. My principal authorities are "Sobieski's Letters to his Queen," edited by Count Plater, Paris, 1826; Starhemberg's "Life and Despatches," edited by Count Thürheim, Vienna, 1882; "Campaigns of Prince Eugene, of Savoy," Vienna, 1876, etc.; Schimmer's "Sieges of Vienna;" Von Hammer's "History of the Turks;" Salvandy's "History of Poland;" "Memoirs of Eugene," by De Ligne; "Memoirs of Charles, Duke of Lorraine, and his Military Maxims," published late in the seventeenth century; "Works of Montecuculi;" De la Guillatière's "View of the Present State of the Turkish Empire, etc.," translated, London, 1676, etc. I have been obliged to reject some statements of Salvandy's, such, for instance, as that the crescent moon was eclipsed on the day of the battle before Vienna. I regret that I have been unable to use the account of the campaign of 1683 published in Vienna, by the Director of the War Archives, since this went to press. Some of the matter of it is, I believe, contained in the "Campaigns of Eugene," published under the same authority mentioned above, and in Schimmer's work. Kitlands, 1883.

SYNOPSIS OF EVENTS.

1663. Ahmed Kiuprili Grand Vizier. 1664. Montecuculi defeats the Turks at St. Gotthard. Twenty years' truce with Austria, by which the Turks retain most of Hungary. 1669. The Turks take Candia from the Venetians. 1671. Conspiracy in Hungary against the Emperor crushed. 1672. French attack upon Holland provokes a general war. Treaty of Buksacs between the Turks and Poles. Poland cedes most of Podolia and the Ukraine, and pays tribute to Turkey. 1673. The Polish nobles break the treaty. Great victory of Sobieski over the Turks at Choczim. 1675. Sobieski crowned King of Poland. 1676. Treaty of Zurawna between Turks and Poles; the former retain most of their conquests. 1677. Death of Ahmed Kiuprili. Kara Mustapha Grand Vizier. 1678. Tekeli heads an insurrection in Hungary against the Emperor. The French intrigue with him. 1678-79. Treaties of Nimuegen between the French and the allies. 1681. Louis XIV. seizes Strassburg and makes other aggressions upon the Empire. Treaty between Holland and Sweden against France. 1682. Treaty of Laxenberg between the Emperor and the Upper German Circles against France, followed by similar treaties between the other Circles, the Emperor and Sweden. The Turks openly aid the Hungarians. 1683. League of the Empire, Poland and the Pope, supported by other anti-French powers, against the Turks. Turkish invasion of Austria. Siege of Vienna. Defeat of the Turks by John Sobieski and the Duke of Lorraine, September 12. The French attack the Spanish Netherlands in the autumn. 1684. Truce of Ratisbon between France and the Empire. 1686. Buda recovered from the Turks. League of Augsburg between the Emperor and the Circles of Western Germany, joined ultimately by Spain, Holland, the Pope, Savoy and other Princes of the Empire, against the French. 1688. The English Revolution secures England for the side of the League, which she joins next year. General war with France follows. 1696. Death of Sobieski. 1697. Treaty of Ryswick between France and the allies. Eugene defeats the Turks at Zenta, in Hungary. 1699. Peace of Carlowitz. The Turks cede nearly all Hungary, Transylvania, Podolia, the Ukraine, the Morea and Azof. The first great diminution of Turkish territory in Europe. VIENNA.1683.

CHAPTER I.

At the present moment, in 1883, the power of Austria is driven as a wedge into the midst of the former dominions of the Sultan. That this is so, perhaps that Austria even exists as a great power, and can hope to be a greater in south-eastern Europe, is owing in no small degree to the Polish aid which in 1683 defeated the Turkish armies before the gates, and saved Vienna. The victor, John Sobieski, King of Poland, then deserved and enjoyed the gratitude of Christendom. But the unequal fate of a man great in character and in abilities, but born out of due time, in an incongruous age and in a state unworthy of him, has seldom been more conspicuously illustrated than in his career. The great men of the last quarter of the seventeenth century whom we most readily remember are men of western Europe. Louis XIV., with the resources of France behind him, William III., wielding the power of England, of Holland, and of Protestant Germany, are the kings who fill the stage. The half-crazy hero, Charles XII. of Sweden, is a more familiar character than the great Polish king, the deliverer first of Poland, secondly of Germany, perhaps of Europe. The causes are not far to seek. The country which he ruled has disappeared from the roll of European nations. The enemy whom he defeated has become, in his last decrepitude, the object merely of scorn, or of not disinterested care. It seems now so incredible that the Turks should have been a menace to Europe, that it is no great claim to remembrance to have defeated them. Sobieski, too, in his greatness and in his weakness, was a mediæval hero. He was out of place in the age of Louis XIV. He was a great soldier rather than a great general, a national hero rather than a great king. His faith had the robust sincerity of that of a thirteenth-century knight, his character was marred by the violent passions of a mediæval baron. His head was full of crusading projects—of the expulsion of the Turks, of the revival of a Catholic Greek state, not without principalities for his own house. His plans would have commanded support in the days of St. Louis, but were impracticable in a Europe whose rulers schemed for a balance of power. Poland herself perished, partly through clinging to a mediæval constitution in the midst of modern states. Her mediævally-minded king and his exploits are eclipsed by other memories, even upon the scene of his greatest achievement. For the traveller who from the Tower of St. Stephen's, in the centre of the old-town of Vienna, looks down upon the places made remarkable by great historic actions in the valley of the Danube, has his eye turned first northward and eastward upon the Marchfeld. There, he is told, are Aspern and Essling, where the Archduke Charles beat Napoleon in 1809. There is the island of Lobau, where Napoleon repaired his forces, and whence he issued to fight yonder the great and terrible conflict of Wagram. The scene, not of a greater slaughter, not of a more obstinately contested fight, than Wagram, but the scene of a battle more momentous in its consequences, lies upon the other side. Among the vineyards, villages, and chateaux which cover the lower slopes of the Wiener Wald, among the suburbs of Nussdorf and of Hernals, Charles of Lorraine and John Sobieski smote the Turkish armies in 1683. There at one blow they frustrated the last great Mohammedan aggression against Christendom, and set free the minds and arms of the Germans to combine against French ambition upon their western frontier. The victory was one of those decisive events which complete long pending revolutions, and inaugurate new political conditions in Europe. The treaties of Nimuegen in 1678-79 had marked a pause in a general European contest. France and the Empire, Holland, Spain, Sweden, Brandenberg, all retired from their active conflicts, to plot and strive in secret, till an advantageous opening for war should again present itself. Poland and the Porte had a little earlier concluded their strife by the peace of Zurawna. But in the general breathing-time the eyes of all were turned with anxiety upon Eastern Europe. So much of Hungary as was not in the hands of the Sultan was in insurrection against the Emperor. The insolence of the Turks, and their support to the insurgents, were continually becoming greater. The whole East resounded with warlike preparations, and it was without doubt evident that a great enterprise was being prepared which might make the reign of Mahomet IV. as illustrious for Islam, as calamitous for Christendom, as that of Mahomet II. had been. Rome, Venice, Vienna, were the three capitals in more immediate danger, but the whole continent was interested, and all other designs were necessarily suspended till it became clearer where this storm would fall, and what resistance could be made to it. For, two hundred years ago, the Ottoman Empire still stood high among the greatest of European powers. Spain ruled over wider territories; but the dominions of Spain were scattered over the Old and New Worlds, and her European lands, in the Netherlands and in Italy, were divided from her by the sea, or isolated by the interposition of the frontiers of powerful and often hostile neighbours. A compact yet widely spread collection of kingdoms and of provinces obeyed the head of the Mohammedan world. Northern Africa, Western Asia, Eastern Europe were ruled from the Bosphorus. All the chief centres of ancient civilization, Rome alone excepted, Thebes, Nineveh and Babylon, Carthage, Athens and Constantinople, bowed beneath the Crescent. The southern frontiers of the Sultan's territories reached beyond the Tropic of Cancer, the northern touched nearly the latitude of Paris. The modern kingdoms of Greece, Servia, Roumania were wholly his; the kingdom of Hungary, the dominions of Austria and of Russia were in part his also. The Black Sea was entirely encircled with Turkish or tributary territory; no other power possessed the same extent of coast line on the Mediterranean. Not only the Euphrates, the Tigris, the Nile, but the Danube, the Boug, the Dneister, the Dneiper and the Don flowed for a great part of their course between banks subject or tributary to the Porte, and reached the sea by mouths wholly under Turkish control. Territory ceded by Turkey in 1699. The armies of the Sultan were unapproachable in numbers, unsurpassable in valour, by those of the Christian powers. Their discipline and warlike science were no longer what they once had been, the first in Europe; but their inequality in these respects to their enemies was not yet so marked as at present. Military and administrative skill were yet to be found in their empire. From the first appearance of the Turks in Europe Mohammedan rule had been, on the whole, extending. The Christian reconquest of Spain was balanced by the inroads of this new enemy upon the Eastern Empire. The Spanish reconquest of Grenada, in the fifteenth century, was more than counterbalanced by the Turkish conquest of Hungary in the sixteenth. The Turks upon the middle Danube were a menace at once to Poland, Germany, and to northern Italy. Nor was this a mere temporary inroad of theirs. Two-thirds of Hungary were then more firmly held in their grasp than Macedonia is at present, and their frontiers were not going back. In the seventeenth century the Ottoman power still more than held its own in Eastern Europe. Though the Spaniards and Venetians had destroyed their fleet at Lepanto in 1571, though Montecuculi at the head of the Imperial troops had routed their armies at St. Gotthard in 1664, though Sobieski and the Poles made the great slaughter of Choczim in 1673, yet the frontiers of the Turks were advanced by every war. After Lepanto, the peace confirmed them in the possession of the newly acquired Cyprus; after St. Gotthard, they retained the strong city of Neuhausel, which they had just won, in Hungary, and conquered Candia; after Choczim, they were confirmed in their possession of the province of Podolia, and their supremacy over the Ukraine, the Marchland of Poland. Of their soldiers the most formidable were the Janissaries. The policy of the earlier Sultans had demanded a tribute of boys from their Christian subjects. These children, early converts to Islam, were brought up with no home but the camp, no occupation but war; and, under the title of Janissaries, or the New Troops, were alternately the servants and the masters of the Ottoman Sultans. The strength of the Christians was drained, the strength of the Ottoman armies multiplied, and the fields of Paradise replenished at once, in the judgment of pious Mussulmans, by this policy. At this time the ranks of the Janissaries were not solely filled by this levy, but it has been computed that 500,000 Christian boys may have become instruments for the subjugation of Christendom, from the first institution of the tax in the fourteenth century down to the final levy made in 1675. Our commiseration for the Christian parents may be mitigated by the consideration that to sell their children into slavery, uncompelled, was a not unknown practice among the subjects of the Eastern Emperors, before the Mohammedan conquest.