The roles of the Polish King John III Sobieski and the Ottoman Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa during the Second and Third Polish-Ottoman War taking special account of the second siege of Vienna 1683

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2014

36 Pages, Grade: 1,0



1 Introduction, sources and state of research

2 Historical background and alignment

3 The antagonists: John III Sobieski and Kara Mustafa
3.1 John III Sobieski and his reign; Inner-polish developments
3.2 Kara Mustafa

4 The Battle of Vienna 1683
4.1 Ottoman and Habsburg preparations and the beginning Siege of Vienna
4.2 Sobieski's relief for the sieged Vienna

5 Consequences and remembrance
5.1 In general
5.2 John III Sobieski
5.3 Kara Mustafa

6 The siege of Vienna: A religious war?

7 Conclusion

8 Literature

Variant Spelling:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1 Introduction, sources and state of research

“in the early summer of 1683 a giant dust cloud impended over the parched plains of Hunga­ry; a vast army of the Turk Empire marched across the sparsely inhabited country North­West to Vienna, the capital and residential city of Austria, which was hastily shifted in de­fense preparedness. The occident, like now and then argued, was in deadly danger.”1 State­ments and views like this are very common in literature and public belief. S TEPHAN VAJDAviv- idly showed in the introduction of his book, treating the Siege of Vienna, that sovereigns across Europe cared about a lot of things - but barely (or maybe not at all) about the Otto­man army marching towards Vienna. There might have been individual opinions, considering the Ottoman-Austrian war as kind of a ‘decisive' battle between islam and Christianity but e.g. the ‘Christian' France that supported the ‘Muslim' Ottoman Empire against ‘Christian' Austria clearly seems contradictory.2 in this conflict around the (second) Siege and Battle of Vienna, two antagonist leaders stuck out (among others) and will be stressed out within the paper. On the one hand this is the Polish King John iii Sobieski, who rushed to Vienna with a ‘multinational' European army to relief the city and on the other hand this is the Ottoman Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa, who for his rushed to Vienna before - with an army that was possibly not less ‘multinational' than the Sobieski's ones. The historic relevance of these both figures and their opposing conduct, perception and legacy shall be topic of this paper, which will be arranged as follows:

To understand the relevance of these both antagonists, there will be a summary of the his­torical background of the Polish-Ottoman Wars until the incidents triggering the Siege of Vienna. in chapter three, there will be a closer look at John iii Sobieski as well as Kara Musta­fa and their particular way to power and finally into battle. in chapter four the final devel­opments and preparations before the war as well as the march Vienna will be treated them­selves, while in the subsequent chapter five the consequences of the failed siege in general and regarding John iii Sobieski and Kara Mustafa in particular will be examined and present­ed. in this chapter the legacy and appreciation of both antagonists will also be illustrated. in chapter 6 there will be a short excursus to the question to which extent the war could be seen as religious one. At the end there will be a short summary and conclusion in the sev­enth and final chapter.

one remark to the used literature: It was tried to use a broad range of literature. At a closer consideration on the literature, it is remarkable, that in 1983, the anniversary of the battle, there was a big number of publications, especially in Austria. To the used literature itself: There is a complete list of literature at the end of the paper. The writings A LEXANDER 2008, DAVIES 1981 &1984, KREISER/NEUMANN 2006, MATSCHKE 2004, MATUZ 2012 a nd VAJDA 1983 were ofparticular interest and intensely used. Some works are listed in the end, that were neither cited from directly nor indirectly. But because they were used for the read up, they are listed. Due to the language skills of the author the major part of the used literature was pub­lished in German or in English. Polish and Turkish views would have been additionally valua­ble, but according to no Polish skills and insufficient Turkish skills for scientific use, this was unfortunately not achievable. With the plurality of languages - besides the varying age of the literature - there is another problem of this paper unveiled: Many terms, toponyms and names are found in a wide range of varying spelling throughout the literature. E.g. the name of John Sobieski varies between John (Engl.), Jan (Pl.), and Johann (Ger.). Another example is the spelling of the fortress Kamianets. In the literature in different languages there are at least the spellings Kamienicz and Kamieniec. In cases like this, it was tried to find a single suitable spelling that will be used through the whole paper to avoid misunderstandings. For a better clarity there is a table of spelling variations at the beginning of the paper.

Another point to consider, dealing with the history of Poland, is the properly speaking name of Poland to the treated time. While the term ‘Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth' would be more correct, the term ‘Poland' will be used for better readability. The simple term ‘Poland' is used in most of the literature as well. There is a similar point that needs to be considered, when dealing with the history of the ottoman Empire, because of the varying denomination in the literature: ‘ottoman(s)', ‘Turks/Turkish' and ‘ottoman Turks'. These three forms are wildly mixed up and not stringently separated. While the term ‘ottomans' describes every inhabitant of the Empire, not considering if the inhabitant is from Turkish, Arab, Caucasian descent etc., the term ‘Turks' literally just describes the special ethnic group, originated in Central Asia. But there is no consistent usage of these terms, especially in older publications. Western contemporary sources consider the ottoman Empire and its inhabitants, elites and sovereigns as ‘Turks', without diversifying. For this paper the term ‘Ottoman' was used wide­ly (except the word-for-word-quotations of course!). Same thing also apply for the term ‘Ot­toman Empire' as there is the contemporary use of the term ‘Turkey'. A last point to men­tion is the imprecise use of terms concerning the contemporary currencies. Varying authors write about payments and bribes in ‘guilders', ‘ducats' as well as ‘thalers'. These three are considered as being equivalent within the paper.

Of special interest for this topic as a source is the diary of the (nameless) Master of ceremo­nies at Sultan's court ( K REUTEL 1967 ) , which offers a good view in the happenings out of Ot­toman sight. Furthermore the collection of Ottoman-Polish treaties and letters (K otODZiEJCZYK 2000) seems very suitable for a deeper consideration.

As there was an order of Emperor Leopold i released the 25th November 1683, 13 days after the Battle of Vienna, determining that every publication about the siege and the battle has to be reviewed by a board of censors, to assure that “the morals, the honor of House Habs­burg, the honor of the Holy Roman Empire, the honor of the town of Vienna, the honor of the imperial Army and the allied troops of the Empire as well as the commandments and elemental truths of the holy Catholic religion” are not offended,3 there might be historic in­accuracy in some sources, a fact that is ignored within the paper.

2 Historical background and alignment

Generally it is to emphasize that the possibilities of the Ottoman Empire in foreign policy always have been dominated by its geostrategic position. Between the 16th and the 18th Cen­tury the Empire of the Sultans competed with the Venetians and Habsburg Austria in the West as well as with the Persian Safavids in the East. Latest by the year 1676, with the czarist Russian Empire, another powerful opponent appeared in the North.4 Furthermore the rela­tions to the Crimean Tatars and the Don Cossacks played a role, as well as the statuses of the three principalities of Transylvania, Moldavia and Wallachia at the Northern border was a serious issue. Poland was affected by Ottoman foreign policy during the Second Northern War (1655-1660) as George ii Rákóczi, Prince of Transylvania, used the opportunity of chaot­ic circumstances in Constantinople (after Sultan ibrahim was murdered), claimed the Polish Throne and devastated parts of Poland. However he was not backed by the Sublime Porte and as he got more daring, he (as well as Transylvania) was finally overthrown by the Otto­man Empire.5 According to JOSEFMATUZ, Rákóczi “acted inconsiderately, was poorly informed and rated the situation and his possibilities completely wrong.”6 This conflict plus the Otto­man annexation of Oradea (in 1660) unavoidably led to a new conflict with Habsburg Aus- tria.7

This bitter rivalry between the Ottoman Empire and Austria was latest established in 1551, 8 while the beginning is determined by STEPHANVAJDAin 1515.9 This rivalry originated especially in the respective claim of Hungary. The Ottoman Empire had occupied Central Hungary after the Battle of Mohács (1526), which was responded with the conquest of Eastern Hungary by Austria and finally lead to the Treaty of Adrianople in 1568.10 However this peace treaty was not supposed to last for long, due to the outbreak of the Long War / Thirteen Years' War (1593-1606) between Habsburg and the Ottoman Empire, which was caused by differing claims on Balkan territories.11 This war had begun with good chances and successes on the Ottoman side, but new battles with the Safavids started (1603) and at the same time new Jelali revolts12 in Anatolia erupted, leading to a mutual peace treaty in 1606, 13 the Treaty of Zsitva Torok.14 The following decades could be called almost 'amicable' between the Otto­man Empire and Austria. This was caused by longtime war-involvements at far away battle­fronts of both states. On the one hand Austria was deeply involved in Thirty Years' War tak­ing place in Europe with all European powers participated, ending with the Peace of West­phalia (1648). On the other hand at the same time the Ottoman Empire was bound to its Eastern battlefront due to several sequent wars against the Safavids (1603-1612; 1615-1618; 1623-1639). This belligerent phase ended 1639 with the Peace of Kasr-i Schirin. With this pacified battlefront in the East, the Ottoman Empire had free hand to anew concentrate on the north-western frontier. This culminated in the West in new Attacks against Venetia and the occupation of Crete, while in the north the battles against Habsburg anew arose 1663 when the Ottoman Empire expanded northwards and conquered the fortress of Neuhäusel 15 (today's Nové Zamky, Slovakia), just about 100 km away from Vienna. 16 Roughly at this time the Ottoman Empire had reached its biggest expansion in central Eastern Europe according to MARKUS KOLLER.17 Further expansions in this region were stopped by the Austrian defense under the leadership of Raimondo Montecuccoli, especially by the Austrian victory at St. Gotthard (today's Szentgotthárd, Hungary) in 1664.18 However the Ottoman Empire man­aged to minimize its loss of territory in the following Peace of Eisenburg in 1664.19 Although Habsburg Austria had succeeded and its evolved military superiority to the Ottoman Empire was revealed in battle, the conquests of the Ottomans during the past two years were left under their control.20 JOSEF MATUZ believes that the Ottoman military power was past its best since the middle of the 16th century and declining.21 22 The renewed peace between Austria and the Ottoman Empire was most widely a confirmation of the Treaty of Zsitva Torok, which made this Peace at least questionable from Austrian perspective, due to their victo Shortly afterwards Poland got again involved in belligerent actions with the Ottoman Empire, concerning the so called Dnieper- Cossacks.23 After the Ottoman army under the leadership of the Ottoman Grand Vizier Ahmed Pasha had finished its Cretan campaign successfully, Sultan Mehmed IV urged on a further expansion. Especially the area north of the Ottoman vassal principalities of Moldavia and Transylvania as well as the vassal khanate of the Crime­an Tatars seemed convenient.24 Generally the reason was the question of the major powers about the supremacy of the mentioned Dnieper- Cossacks. The territory east of river Dnieper was under Russian supremacy, while the western territory was under Polish supremacy. The Hetman of the Eastern-Dnieper -Cossacks Petro Dorosenko wanted to reunite both territories under Ottoman supremacy,25 to repel Polish intention of submission in 1668. As a conse­quence Dorosenko and his free rural fighters in the border area between Poland, the Otto­man Empire and Russia pledged their allegiance to the Ottoman Sultan.26 Subsequently the Polish Hetman John Sobieski had to fight against the Dnieper -Cossacks after these conquered almost the whole Ukraine.27 Dorosenko demanded from Poland that it would recognize his enlarged dominion, the Hetmanate, including Ukrainian, Belarussian and some Polish territo­ry. Furthermore he demanded some special privileges for the Cossacks, while he provided militarily subordination to Poland.28 The Ottoman Empire meddled, which was also caused by the presumptuous, almost insulting manner of the Polish envoy Wisocky at the Sublime Porte29 and a formal Cossack-Turkish alliance was finally proclaimed in 1669.30 In the subse­quent war between Poland and the Ottoman Empire, the latter one pushed deep forward to Podolia - where the highly relevant fortress of Kamianets [Podolski] was conquered - and advanced even to Lviv and the river Vistula, despite the Polish defense under the leadership of John Sobieski.31 John Sobieski himself was without serious political support in Poland, be­cause the Sejm was hamstrung by domestic political conflicts.32 Finally the war ended with an Ottoman victory and as a result the Peace of Buczacz was constrained. The Peace of Buczacz determined that Poland had to yield up its whole Ukraine territory, relinquish whole Podolia to the Ottoman Empire and pay tribute additionally.33 The control of the Ukraine was assigned for the Cossacks, which thereby became Ottoman vassals.34 But Dorosenko was regarded highly controversial, because a majority of his Cossacks did not endorse the ally with the old Ottoman enemy - as a consequence he was sent to Russian exile later.35 There was another unscheduled considerable consequence of the Peace of Buczacz: From that point of history there was a direct border contact for the first time between the czarist Rus­sian Empire and the Ottoman Empire,36 which directly led to (the first) Russo-Turkish War from 1678 to 1681 and ended with the Treaty of Bakhchisarai.37 Within the Polish aristocra­cy and the Sejm, this disgraceful peace treaty intensified existing conflict lines. But in 1673 there was established an equilibrium, containing a strengthening of the Hetman Sobieski, who was able to beat the Ottoman army at Chocim autumn of the same year. But the day before battle the Polish king Michat has passed away and in the following chaos the victory was dissolved.38 Nevertheless, according to N ORMAN DAVIES Sobieski's victory of Chocim “re­deemed the shame of Buczacz”,39 but the war continued. In the peace treaty of 1676 parts of the Peace of Buczacz were revised in the Treaty of Žurawno. The yearly Polish tribute was abolished and parts of Podolian and Ukrainian territory were set under Polish control, while the biggest part remained under Ottoman dominion and subsequently was incorporated in Ottoman administration.40 Furthermore Poland tried to gain control of Kamianets anew, so the Polish diplomat Jan Gniňski was sent to the Sublime Porte as an envoy to ratify the Trea­ty, but apart from high cost and being idle and waiting for 18 long months for an audition, this mission was of little success41 and in 1677 a Turko-Muscovite peace treaty was signed.42 With the both peace treaties the Ottoman politics of conquer in Eastern Europe ended for now, because of Russian power. In 1676 Dorosenko transferred power to eastern-Ukrainian hetman under Russian supremacy, which led to first Russian-Ottoman war in 1678 and Rus­sia got in serial competition with the Ottoman Empire.43 Contemporary the Ottoman Empire had begun to decline since the midst of the 17th Century. According to ALAN PALMER plenty of clues could be found for this hypothesis. And that “it is possible to show at least six symp­toms of chronic weakness: The ongoing inflation, exacerbated by the cheap silver from Peru, uttered by merchants of Genoa and Ragusa (Dubrovnik), [...] furthermore lacks in the pyram­idal structure of the Timar-system of tax collection, the increase of banditry in Anatolia, dev­astating fires in several overpopulated cities after a population boom, an inflexible conven­tionalism in ways of warfare and reigning conquered countries and finally, since 1536, the granting of so called ‘capitulations'. These were treaties, bestowing Europeans, living within the Ottoman Empire, special rights and privileges. Thereby the profitable trade was more and more transferred in foreign hands.”44

3 The antagonists: John III Sobieski and Kara Mustafa

In this chapter there will be a description of the both antagonists of Vienna and their way to battle. In some cases domestic questions of their home-countries will be considered too.

3.1 John III Sobieski and his reign; Inner-polish developments

John (III) Sobieski was born 1629 at Olesko near the city of Lviv. After education and studies, travelling to Western Europe and the Crimean Tatar Khanate (learning Tatar, French, Italian, Latin and German), he joined the Polish army in 1648. There he fought in Chmielnicki's Re­bellion and the Swedish ‘ Deluge'. He also travelled to Constantinople, and over the years he climbed up military ranks until 1668, when he was promoted to Grand Hetman of the Crown. In his military career until Battle of Vienna he only was twice defeated. He married Maria Kazimiera in 1665.45

After the demise of the Polish King Michat in 1673 the victorious commander from Chocim, John Sobieski was a serious candidate for the upcoming King's election - but he was not the only one. Greater powers like France and Austria acted in the background while magnates and szlachta quarreled and the deceased king's widow Eleonora and John Sobieski's wife Maria Kazimiera tried to intervene in the background.46 It was an advantage for John that his most important opponent in King's election, Charles V, Duke of Lorraine (who will play a big­ger role in the Vienna happenings) according to S TEPHAN VAJDA was a foreigner on the one hand and a pale, non-favored soldier on the other hand. After all John Sobieski was elected King on 21st May 1674 as John III. In Poland he had been already kind of a legend and a popular hero of the Turkish Wars who had defeated the ‘feared' Ottomans ahead of his cav­alry. “Charming, caring, conceited, notably mindful of his honor, humorous, sometimes rude and abusive, impulsive and daring, he impersonated in the eyes of his compatriots the ideal of a Polish nobleman.”47 John Sobieski “was the first Polish king since Stefan Batory to be elected as a mature, experienced, political leader. He came from a major political family. His father, Jakub Sobieski, had been an important general and parliamentary leader and his ma­ternal grandfather was the Hetman Stefan Èólkiewski."48 Already in his role of the Grand Hetman of the Crown, John had reorganized the Polish army, beginning in 1676, regarding equipment, structure and size. The number of soldiers was raised from about 18.000 men under the reign of Jan Kazimierz to a total of about 54.000 men under the reign of John III Sobieski.49 Furthermore he “polonized the army by introducing Polish as the language of command even though many western Europeans and soldiers from the East, such as Roma­nians and Tatars, still served.”50

Poland in the 17th century always was torn between the influences of the European greater powers. Within Poland John (as well as his wife from French descends) belonged longtime to a pro-French party.51 But already in 1672 and 1673 he occasionally personally favored an alliance with Austria and Russia to drive back the Ottomans from Polish territory.52 Never­theless in 1675 a Treaty with France was signed, which allowed France campaigns in Hungary and revealed some new diplomatic possibilities for John, as well as 200.000 thalers.53 Poland at that time was in an unpleasant situation due to the Polish mainly pro-French attitude and policy and in turn the French pro-Ottoman policy against Habsburg.54 But in retrospect John made the battle against the Turks to his priority (besides ensuring the throne for his son) and after following victories against Ottoman army, the Sultan had to yield up tribute payments and return two-thirds of the Ukraine to Poland [within the Treaty of Žurawno ]. But when John started considering advanced plans of an extensive war against the Turks, this led be­tween Louis XIV' France and Habsburg Austria. In the beginning John converged to France, but after Louis XIV signed a treaty for a French-Ottoman alliance55 and John realized that there were still Ottoman expansion interests targeted to Poland and Russia, this changed. This decision was promoted by the fact that John got into possession of French correspond- ence in 1683 (with help of Habsburg). Within this correspondence the Polish people in gen­eral and King John III Sobieski in particular were harshly insulted. John read out lout parts of the correspondence in Sejm which led to the final breach with France and the rapproche­ment to Austria. On the other hand Austria spread funds within Poland to support the Polish turning for Habsburg. An Austro-Polish alliance treaty was signed 31 st March/1st April 168356 declaring mutual assistance in Ottoman questions.57 This treaty contained the condition of military relief (casus foederis) and building an Polish army favoring “both, the hallowed reli­gion and weal of the peoples” in case of an Ottoman attack, but the Habsburg Emperor Leo­pold I. transferred to Poland additionally the biggest salt mine in Europe, Wieliczka, and a considerable sum of money, whereas the exact sum is disputed. While S TEPHAN VAJDA as­sumes a total of 1.7 Million ducats,58 Norman Davies assumes 1.2 Million ducats and fur­thermore the assurance of the supreme command of the allied forces for John III Sobieski if he would attend the relief in person.59 The casus foederis occurred just some weeks later, when the Ottoman army under the leadership of Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa marched against Vienna.60


1 VAJDA 1983, p. 8. (Translation)

2 cf.ibid.pp. 8-14.

3 VAJDA1983, p. (7). (Translation from German)

4 cf. KOLLER 2011, p. 214.

5 cf. MATSCHKE 2004, 353.

6 MATUZ 2012, p. 180. (Translation from German)

7 cf. KREISER/NEUMANN 2006, pp. 211-212.

8 cf. KOLLER 2011, pp. 215-216.

9 cf. VAJDA 1983, p. 15.

10 cf. KOLLER2011, pp. 215-216.

11 cf. NOLAN2006, p. 846.

12 In the 1590's beginning and in 1658/59 ending set of revolts and rebellions named after a Sheikh Celâl. These rebellions have to be seen in context with the discrimination of Shias or especially the Alevi resp. kızılbaş in the Ottoman Empire. cf.: KREISER/NEUMANN 2006, p. 110/pp. 191-197.

13 cf. KOLLER2011, pp. 215-216.

14 cf. NOLAN2006, p. 846.

15 cf. KOLLER2011, pp. 215-216.

16 cf. KREISER/NEUMANN2006, p. 212.

17 cf. KOLLER2011, pp. 215-216.

18 cf. KREISER/NEUMANN2006, p. 212.

19 cf. KOLLER2011, pp. 215-216.

20 cf. MATSCHKE2004, p. 357.

21 cf. MATUZ 1989, p. 28.

22 cf. MATSCHKE 2004, p. 357.

23 cf. MATUZ 2012, p. 182.

24 cf. MATSCHKE 2004, p. 360.

25 cf. KOLLER2011, pp. 216-217.

26 cf. MATSCHKE2004 p. 360.

27 cf. ALEXANDER 2008, p. 136.

28 cf. STONE 2001, p. 235.

29 cf. ALEXANDER 2008, p. 136.

30 cf. STONE 2001, p. 235.

31 cf. MATSCHKE2004, p. 360.

32 cf. ALEXANDER 2008, p. 136.

33 cf. ibid,pp. 136-137.

34 cf. Matschke 2004, p. 360; for the complete negotiation's documents of the Peace of Buczacz cf. Koíodziejczyk 2000, pp. 495-514.

35 cf. SToNE 2001, p. 235.

36 cf. KoLLER 2011, p. 216.

37 cf. MATUZ 2012, p. 184.

38 cf. ALEXANDER 2008, pp. 136-137.

39 DAVIES 1981, p. 479.

40 cf. Matschke 2004, p. 361; for the complete negotiation's documents of the Treaty of Žurawno cf. KotODZiEJCZYK 2000, pp. 515-527.

41 cf. DAVIES 1981, p. 395.

42 cf. ibid., p. 480.

43 cf. KOLLER2011, pp. 216-217.

44 PALMER 1992, p.24. (Translation from German)

45 cf. DAVIES1981, pp. 473-475.

46 cf. ALEXANDER 2008, p. 137.

47 VAJDA 1983, pp. 30-31. (Translation from German)

48 STONE2001, p. 235.

49 cf. DAVIES1981, p. 478.

50 STONE2001, p. 241.

51 cf. VAJDA1983, p. 30.

52 cf. STONE 2001, p. 236.

53 cf. DAVIES1981, pp. 479-480.

54 cf. VAJDA1983, p. 30.

55 cf. ALEXANDER 2008, p. 138.

56 The signing of the agreement was officially antedated from 1 st April, because of April Fool's day; cf. DAVIES 1981, p. 481.

57 cf. VAJDA1983, pp. 32-33.

58 cf. ibid., p. 57.

59 cf. DAVIES1981, p. 481.

60 cf. ALEXANDER 2008, p. 138.

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The roles of the Polish King John III Sobieski and the Ottoman Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa during the Second and Third Polish-Ottoman War taking special account of the second siege of Vienna 1683
European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)  (Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät)
Moving Borders. A Cultural History of Poland, 1772-2007
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Polen, Osmanisches Reich, Krieg, Belagerung, Wien, Kara Mustafa, Österreich, Türkei, König, Großwesir, Geschichte
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Bernhard Weidenbach (Author), 2014, The roles of the Polish King John III Sobieski and the Ottoman Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa during the Second and Third Polish-Ottoman War taking special account of the second siege of Vienna 1683, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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