1683 – The Battle of Vienna, Austria

The Battle of Vienna occurred at a time in history when the Protestant Reformation had removed support from the Catholic Church. Simultaneously, the Muslim Ottoman Turks were threatening Christendom.

Battle of Vienna - 1683
Battle of Vienna – 1683

The backdrop of the Battle of Vienna had been 300 years of back-and-forth conflicts from Muslims roaming Austria and Hungary. More immediate to the the Battle of Vienna, on September, 1529, Ottoman Turks defeat the Hungarians at the Battle of Mohacs. After this 1529 siege, the Ottoman empire began building for the future. It repaired roads and bridges and forwarded ammunition and resources. It provided assistance to non-Catholic minorities.

On October 7, 1571, as part of this ongoing conflict, a Turkish fleet was sent to conquer Christendom. It was defeated at Lepanto. The next major battle was in Vienna. While the battle at Lepanto had been a naval battle, this Battle of Vienna was a land invasion.

The strategy of the Ottomans had been to capture Vienna. This is why they were providing military assistance to anti-Catholic minorities. In 1681, various anti-Habsburg forces and Protestants were reinforced by support from the Muslims. They had been promised “the Kingdom of Vienna” if it fell to the Ottomans.

Prior to the Battle of Vienna, the city had been besieged for two months by the Turks. The actual battle took place September 11 and September 12, 1683. However, the beginning of the siege was July 14, 1683. The Ottoman army of 138,000 men began to attack Venice.

The Ottomans outnumbered the defenders almost 20 – 1.

This was a declaration from Muslim Sultan Mehmet IV to the then Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I:

“We order You to await Us in Your residence city of Vienna so that We can decapitate you… (…) We will exterminate You and all Your followers… (…) Children and adults will be equally exposed to the most atrocious tortures before being finished off in the most ignominious way imaginable…”

The fortifications of Vienna had been strengthened. So the Turks, instead of using their gunpowder for cannons, dug tunnels under the city walls and used gunpowder to break down the walls of Vienna. The Turks had just finished another gunpowder mine and sealed the tunnel. The Austrians discovered it just in time and one man defused it just in time.

On September 12, 70,000 men arrived and reinforced the battle against the Ottoman army.

The Polish relief army had come and early September 12, a High Mass was held.

King Jan or King John III Sobieski of Poland led the battle against Muslim Ottoman Turks. He was accompanied by Christendom-wide rosary prayers.

King Jan Sobieski
King Jan Sobieski

Four calvary groups, one Austrian-German, and three Polish, charged and broke through the Ottoman troops.

Prior to this 1683 battle, in 1648, one of the individuals important to this battle, Mark of Vaiano entered the novitiate of the Capuchins. He was one of the rallying orators of this time for the Catholic forces.

By 1664, he was given a license to preach in Venice, and was elected as superior in 1672 of the convent in Belluno and of the convent of Orderzo in 1674. In 1676 someone was healed through his blessing. Emperor Leopold I took note of him and made him one of his counselors. He was also appointed by Pope Innocent XI as Apostolic Nuncio and Papal Legate.

Definition of Apostolic Nuncio

Definition of Papal Legate

His new focus became the defense of Christendom against Islam. He used his oratory skills to maintain unity among Austria, Poland, Venice and the Papal states. These were collectively called the Holy League. King Jan Sobieski was over this confederation. The Emperor asked King Jan Sobieski to defend Christendom from the invading Turks or Muslims.

Famously, during the fighting, Friar Mark brandished a crucifix at the Turks, shouting to them “Behold the Cross of the Lord: Flee, enemy bands!”.

He was was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April, 27, 2003. In 2003, at the time of the beatification, Pope John Paul II said of Europe, “that its unity will be more stable if it is based on its common Christian roots.

The battle was won between Polish-Austrian-German forces led by King of Poland John III Sobieski against the Ottoman Empire. The Battle of Vienna began on September 11, 1683, and ended on September 12, 1683. It was a turning point in a 300-year struggle between Central Europe and the Turks. This turning point battle, allowed, in the subsequent sixteen years, for the Habsburgs of Austria to gradually regain Hungary and Transylvania.

There were another 16 years of fighting after the Battle of Vienna, but this battle was the turning point. Therefore, the Battle of Vienna was the key battle that marked the end of Turkish expansion. The Ottomans lost control of Hungary and Transylvania and finally gave up.

Incidentally, September 12, 1213, was also the day of the Battle of Muret, where Count Simon de Montfort and 700 knights defeated an Albigensian army of 50,000 while St. Dominic and his friars were praying the Rosary in the church of Muret.

Both the Battle of Vienna and the Battle of Muret began on September 11 and ended on September 12.

The significance of the Battle of Vienna is that it stopped the advance of the Ottoman Empire into Europe.