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Title: Vienna 1683 - The History and Consequences of the Defeat of the Turks before Vienna, September 12, 1683, by John Sobieski, King of Poland, and Charles Leopold, Duke of Lorraine
Author: Malden, Henry Elliot
Language: English
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The History and Consequences of the Defeat
of the Turks before Vienna, September 12, 1683
by John Sobieski, King of Poland
and Charles Leopold, Duke of Lorraine



Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1, Paternoster Square


     "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.'"


     (_The rights of translation and of reproduction are reserved._)


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.



     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

     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.




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.

[Illustration: _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

These Janissaries formed a disciplined body of regular infantry. In the
seventeenth century the Turks clung to the sabre, the musket, and even
bows and arrows, as their arms, neglecting the pike, "the queen of
infantry weapons," as Montecuculi calls it, just as afterwards they
neglected the bayonet. But in the use of their arms every man of the
Janissaries was a trained expert. The Turkish horsemen were famed for
their rapidity of action, being generally more lightly armed and better
mounted than the Germans or Poles. The Spahis, or royal horseguards,
were the flower of the cavalry. The feudal levy from lands held by
military tenure, swelled the numbers of their armies, and every province
wrested from the Christians provided more fiefs to support fresh
families of soldiers. Thus the children and lands of the conquered
furnished the means for new conquests. Light troops, who were expected
to live by plunder, spread far and wide before an advancing Ottoman
host, eating up the country, destroying the inhabitants, and diverting
the attention of the enemy. The Ottoman artillery was numerous, and the
siege pieces of great calibre. Auxiliaries, such as the Tartars of the
Crimea, the troops of Moldavian, Wallachian, Transylvanian, and even
Hungarian princes, made a formidable addition to their forces. These
armies lay, a terror to the inhabitants, a constant anxiety to the
rulers, upon the frontiers of Germany and of Poland;--a black storm of
war, ever ready to break in destructive energy upon them.

Whatever schism divided Turks and Persians, towards Europe at least,
from the Caspian to Morocco, Islam presented an unbroken front,
contrasting powerfully with the bitter divisions of Christendom.
Massinger, in the "Renegade," puts into the mouth of a Moslem what many
a Christian must have thought of with shame and terror:--

     "Look on our flourishing empire, if the splendour,
     The majesty, and glory of it dim not
     Your feeble sight; and then turn back and see
     The narrow bounds of yours, yet that poor remnant,
     Rent in as many factions and opinions
     As you have petty kingdoms."[1]

United Islam, which had preceded her western rival Spain in greatness,
seemed also destined to long outlive that power's decay.

When Spain, in the sixteenth century, had been at the zenith of her
power under Charles V., the Turks, under their great Emperor Solyman,
had been not unworthy rivals to her. Even then Solyman had penetrated to
the walls of Vienna, in 1529, and probably the lateness of the season,
October, and the absence of his heavy artillery, stuck deep in the soil
of Hungarian roads, saved the capital of the Austrian dominions more
effectually than the valour of the garrison or the relieving forces of
Charles could have done. Then the tide of Turkish power touched its
farthest limit, but the fear of its return was not destroyed till after
the lapse of one hundred and fifty years. Till after the siege of 1683,
it is said that a crescent disgraced the spire of St. Stephen's, the
cathedral of Vienna--a sign to avert the fire of Turkish gunners.

In the seventeenth century, when the great empire of Spain was fast
approaching dissolution, when France was the great power of Western
Europe, the Turks were still the great power of the East, with
territories even more widely extended than in the previous age. It is
true that, after the death of Solyman, a series of incapable rulers and
the natural decay of an eastern despotism had paralyzed the great powers
of Turkey; but the stern reforming vigour of Amurath IV. (1623-40), and,
still more, the wise administration of the first two Grand Viziers of
the house of Kiuprili, had done much to restore good government, vigour
and efficiency to the Ottomans.[2] Their empire, the speedy downfall of
which had been predicted by the English Ambassador, Sir Thomas Roe, at
the beginning of the seventeenth century, had since fully recovered its
former reputation. A clever Frenchman, M. de la Guillatière, who visited
the camp of Kiuprili in Candia in 1669, formed the highest estimate of
the military genius of the Turks, and of their political insight into
the power and designs of the Christians. He judged of the greatness of
the Sultan by considering the number and quality of the persons who
feared his displeasure. "When he makes any great preparation, Malta
trembles, Spain is fearful for his kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, the
Venetian anxious for what he holds in Greece--Dalmatia and Friuli, the
Germans apprehensive for what remains to them in Hungary, Poland is
alarmed, and the consternation passes on as far as Muscovy, and, not
resting there, expands itself to the Christian princes in Gourgistan and
Mingrelia; Persia, Arabia, the Abyssinians are all in confusion, whilst
neither man nor woman nor beast in all this vast tract but looks out for
refuge till they be certain whither his great force is intended."[3] It
is a striking estimate of Turkish power, but not beyond what experience
confirmed. It was not till the second siege of Vienna, and her relief by
Sobieski in 1683, that the real instability of the power of the Sultan
was disclosed, that his armies were routed, his frontiers curtailed, his
power rolled back within the Save and the Carpathians.

Not for the first time, in the summer of that year, Europe trembled at
the progress of the Crescent. Since then, the tide of victory has run
almost uninterruptedly in favour of the Cross, and Turkey has sunk from
being the terror to the position of protégée, tool, victim, or tolerated
scandal of Europe.

The decline of her forces, the reversal of the former position of Turk
and Christian in the East, date from this great catastrophe of Islam.
For Eastern Europe at least the battle before Vienna was a decisive
battle. We must remember, indeed, what is meant by a decisive battle, or
by any other so-called decisive event. They are rather the occasions
than the causes of the transference of power. The causes lie deep which
can produce such great and such lasting results. The operation of many
influences, throughout a length of time, brings about ultimately the
striking revolutions in the history of mankind. No chance bullet which
strikes down, or avoids, a commander; no brilliant display of military
genius in the person of one man; no incapacity of a single officer, can
do more than alter the minor circumstances of great events. The great
man is not successfully great, unless his genius can seize upon the
opportunities offered by a rising tide of popular opinion, or profit by
the accumulated energy of a nation. The incapable leader can seldom
make shipwreck of a power unless it be built upon unsafe lines. The
presence of a thoroughly incapable commander argues something rotten in
his cause. The revolution, the reformation, the reaction, the
transference of empire will come; if not in one way, in another; if not
in one year, in the next, or in following years. The foundations of
success and of failure, are laid deep in the moral, religious and
political habits and institutions of nations. The invincible
determination and high political and military training of the Roman
aristocracy bore them safely through the catastrophes of a Second Punic
War and the revolt of their allies. The ordered liberty, and the
generations of successful adventure, which were the heritage of the
English nation, had won Trafalgar before a shot had been fired from the
_Victory_. The Persian host went forth predestined to choke the Gulf of
Salamis with corpses. No Kosciusko's valour could redeem the long
anarchy and blindness of Poland. Napoleon, marching from victory to
victory, but approached the nearer to that fall, which must await one
man against a continent in arms. So the Turkish myriads, victorious at
Vienna, would have fallen upon some less noble field before the skill
of some other Sobieski. But the genius and courage of individuals may
well determine the fate of armies for a day. One day's victory may call
for years of warfare to accomplish its undoing. A few years of delay may
work great changes in the fortunes of men.

It is no mistaken estimate of the relative value of causes, it is no
unintelligent interest which makes us prone to linger over the one
dramatic moment--that moment when the courses of the tendencies of ages
are declared within the compass of a day. By no hard effort of
imagination we identify our interest with that of the actors in the
scene. To them, however confident, the result is never clear; to them
the delay of a few years in the overthrow of some inevitably falling
wrong may make that difference for which no ultimate success can
compensate. It was cold comfort to the inhabitants of Vienna, or to the
King of Poland, to know that even if St. Stephen's had shared the fate
of St. Sophia and become a mosque of Allah, and if the Polish standards
had been borne in triumph to the Bosphorus, yet that, nevertheless, the
undisciplined Ottomans would infallibly have been scattered by French,
German and Swedish armies on the fields of Bavaria or of Saxony. Vienna
would have been sacked; Poland would have been a prey to internal
anarchy and to Tartar invasion. The ultimate triumph of their cause
would have consoled few for their individual destruction.

Prompted by feelings such as these we dwell upon the decisive hours,
when the long assured superiority asserts itself, for good and all. We
can hail Marathon, Salamis, Tours, or Vienna as the occasion, if not the
cause, of the triumph of civilization over barbarism, of Europe over
Asia. We must remember, too, that, if the day for a permanent advance of
Turkish power was over, yet that a temporary Turkish victory, and a
protracted war in Germany, could not have been confined in their
influence to the seat of war alone. So cool and experienced a
diplomatist as Sir William Temple did indeed believe, at the time, that
the fall of Vienna would have been followed by a great and permanent
increase of Turkish power.[4] Putting this aside however, there were
other results likely to spring from Turkish success. The Turks
constantly made a powerful diversion in favour of France and her
ambitious designs. Turkish victories upon the one side of Germany meant
successful French aggressions upon the other, and Turkish schemes were
promoted with that object by the French. The author of the memoirs of
Prince Eugene writes bitterly, but truly enough, of this crisis: "_Le
roi très-chrétien avant d'être dévot, secourait les chrétiens contre les
infidèles_ (at St. Gotthard and at Candia), _devenu pourtant un grand
homme de bien, il les agaçait contre l'empereur, et soutenait les
rebelles de Hongrie. Sans lui ils ne seraient jamais venus, les uns et
les autres, aux portes de Vienne._"

"If France would but stand neutral, the controversy between Turks and
Christians might soon be decided," says the Duke of Lorraine. But France
would not stand neutral.


[1] "Renegade," Act. iv. sc. 3.

[2] Ahmed Kiuprili, the second Vizier of his race, was one of the
greatest ministers of his day. He was described by the Turkish
historians as "the light and splendour of the nation, the preserver and
administrator of good laws, the vicar of the shadow of God, the thrice
learned and all accomplished Grand Vizier." He seems to have really
deserved some of the praise.

[3] De la Guillatière, "Account of a Late Voyage, etc., and State of the
Turkish Empire." Trans. 1676.

[4] "If the Turks had possessed this bulwark of Christendom (Vienna), I
do not conceive what could have hindered them from being masters
immediately of Austria, and all its depending provinces; nor, in another
year, of all Italy, or of the southern provinces of Germany, as they
should have chosen to carry on their invasion, or of both in two or
three years' time; and how fatal this might have been to the rest of
Christendom, or how it might have enlarged the Turkish dominions, is
easy to conjecture."--Sir W. Temple, Works, iii. 393, edit. 1814.


The Emperor was exposed on either side to these two implacable enemies.
At Versailles, as at the Porte, had the destruction of the house of
Austria been sworn.

But France was the power which, in the latter half of the seventeenth
century, menaced most seriously the independence of her neighbours.
Turkey was, perhaps, from her internal weakness and faulty constitution,
in no condition to effect a lasting conquest, however great her mere
destructive energies might be. An ingenious nation and an ambitious
king, able ministers and skilful generals, revenues, ships, colonies,
commercial enterprise, a central situation among divided foes, combined
to render France the dominant power of the age.

The great Turkish Vizier, the restorer of order and prosperity, Ahmed
Kiuprili, had had a greater counterpart in the French minister,
Cardinal Richelieu. The Sultan, Mahomet IV., was wanting in all those
qualities which made Louis XIV. for long the successful administrator of
a despotic power. The armies of France, under the leadership of a Condé,
a Turenne, a Luxembourg, were the finest of the world, the envy of
neighbouring princes, the pattern for all soldiers. The Duke of
Marlborough and John Sobieski both learnt their first lessons in
military affairs under French command. Prince Eugene vainly sought
employment in the French troops; their opposition to himself taught
William III. the art of war.

Nor was the French ascendency won by arms alone. The order and splendour
of her government, the genius of her authors, the attractions of her
society, the diplomatic skill of her ambassadors, made a French party in
every court in Europe.

Portugal may be said to have owed her independent existence to France;
Holland till 1672 ranked as a French ally; Sweden, too far removed to be
a rival, was an almost constant friend, till Louis' aggressions
alienated her also in 1681. France had a party in Poland; the petty
princes and republics of Italy vacillated between her and the Empire;
in England she had had Cromwell as an ally, and she held both Charles
II. and his opponents in her pay. She maintained an understanding with
Turkey. Discontented Romanists in England and Ireland, unruly
Protestants in Hungary, were alike taught to look to her for advice and
for assistance. Her frontiers were steadily advancing at the expense of
Spain and of the German princes. Neither force nor treaties seemed to
avail aught against her superior strength and cunning. The Lotharingian
bishoprics and their dependencies; Elsass, Breisach and Bar, Roussillon,
Franche Comté, parts of Flanders, of Artois, of Hainault and Luxemburg,
the free imperial city of Strassburg, the territory of Orange, were
steadily absorbed by her, and thoroughly incorporated with the French

Her opponents saw no possibility of resistance, save in a great
confederacy against her. Her power was not finally checked, nor her
ambition confined within bounds, till such a confederacy was made. But
it is hardly too much to say that such a confederacy would have been
scarcely possible had the Turks been completely victorious at Vienna in

Three years later than that deliverance, in 1686, the League of
Augsburg was formed. It was ultimately the union of the Emperor, the
German princes, Sweden, Spain, Holland and the Pope, against an ambition
that menaced all. This League was the basis of that Grand Alliance which
finally defeated France under Marlborough and Eugene. But the true
foundations of a similar alliance had been laid before, in 1682,
principally by the endeavours of the Prince of Waldeck, in the treaty of
Laxenberg between the Circles of Upper Germany and the Emperor.

This incipient League against France had been practically suspended by
the Turkish invasion. A Turkish success must have dissolved it. The Pope
had been zealous in forming the "Holy League" against the Turks and in
promoting union against France. Had Vienna fallen, fear of the Sultan
would have driven him into the arms of Louis, and he would have drawn
the Catholic powers at least along with him. Probably all the States
united in the "Holy League" must have demanded French support for their
own salvation. With Austria and Poland beaten, France, and France alone,
could have assumed the leadership of Europe against the East. The German
Protestant princes would have been ranged under the command of
Luxembourg and of Vendôme; Louis would have triumphed upon the Danube;
the house of Austria would have existed only by the sufferance of her
ancient enemy; and French influence would have been riveted, as a chain,
by the force of admiration and of gratitude, upon the neck of Europe.
Such an event Louis expected, and the Emperor feared. As the Turks drew
near, the French armies lay ready upon the frontier, ready to take
advantage of the approaching catastrophe--ready to avenge, but not to
save the Empire.

We in England, safe as we were from Turkish invasion, were by no means
unaffected by the struggle. Nothing which tended to increase or diminish
the power of France or of the German princes could be indifferent to us,
and at that particular time our fortunes were closely bound up with
those of the powers opposing France.

The motive which induced the Dutch government and the other allies of
Augsburg to sanction the descent of William III. upon our shores, and to
withdraw, at a critical moment, the flower of their forces upon such a
doubtful enterprise, was the necessity of including England in their
league. Though James II. would no doubt have awakened resistance in
some form or other anyhow, the plot which actually overthrew him was
hatched abroad among the allies, and executed by the help of foreign
troops and foreign money. English men, ships, and money were needed to
beat the French. No method was open for obtaining them except by the
superseding of King James, entirely or practically, by William, as king
or regent. No personal aims nor admiration of Whig principles would have
justified the risks William ran. In truth, neither the allies nor the
Dutch government would have allowed him to run such risk at all, save
for the common good of the League and of Europe. But a Turkish victory
at Vienna would have meant the probable non-existence of the League, by
the rallying of half its members to the side of France. It would
certainly have meant such a change of circumstances upon the continent,
as would have rendered it highly improbable that an army, principally
furnished from Germany, could be spared to go to England. James and the
Whig nobility would have fought their quarrel alone, with the
High-Church Tory majority of the country as arbiters of the strife.
Therefore, had the battle of Vienna been fought differently, the Boyne,
La Hogue and Blenheim might never have been fought at all. Forces
supplied by England, or paid by England, commanded by Marlborough at
Blenheim and at Ramilies, broke French power. The power of making the
alliance which fought at Blenheim and at Ramilies was won at Vienna.

To turn to Sir William Temple's views again, so convinced was he that a
Turkish invasion of Austria would tend to the great advantage of France,
that he believed that the Turks themselves would see it, and for that
very reason refrain from the enterprise; it being against their interest
to make any one Christian power so strong as France would then

It is certain that Louis XIV. fully appreciated the value of that
diversion of their attention from himself, which an attack from Hungary
upon the rear of the German powers would cause. It is equally certain
that he, the eldest son of the Church, the most Christian King, the
persecutor of the Huguenots, had some understanding with Mohammedans and
with Hungarian Protestant malcontents. And this, too, at a time when
religious passions still ran high; when the forces of Europe were
everywhere divided, owing to religious intolerance; when France herself
was about to be fatally injured by the Revocation of the Edict of
Nantes. Louis, however, intrigued as readily with Hungarian Protestants
as with Irish Romanists, and the intolerance of the Emperor gave every
opportunity for interference. Indeed, the attacks of the Emperor Leopold
upon the religion of some of his Hungarian subjects well nigh proved
fatal to Austria. The Protestants preferred Mohammedan rule, which, if
contemptuous, may he just, and is not avowedly persecuting, to the
oppressions of a court dominated by the Jesuit fathers. Attempts to
Germanize their nation and to override their laws united Hungarians of
all religions in a common hostility to Vienna. A dangerous conspiracy,
fomented by France, was discovered, and crushed in 1671 by the execution
of the principal leaders. But Emerich Count Tekeli, the son of one of
the chiefs involved, escaping into Transylvania, threw himself upon the
protection of the Turks, and with their assistance commenced a guerilla
warfare in Hungary. Numbers of the inhabitants, irrespective of their
religion, joined his standard. A levy, under French officers, was made
even in Poland for the assistance of the insurgents. With the almost
open aid of the Pasha of Buda, their operations assumed the character of
regular warfare, and they fully held their own against the Imperial

It was fortunate for Austria that, just as the obligations of a peace
and internal confusion had prevented the Turks from attacking Hungary
during the Thirty Years' War, so this rising was not taken advantage of
by the Porte, in spite of French solicitations, till after the peace of
Nimuegen in 1679. During the contest with France, from 1673 to 1679, the
Polish war had occupied the attention of the Turks, and the Austrian
government had been untroubled. They had not at the same time to wage
open war with the East and West. Yet even now, though peace nominally
continued in Western Europe, France was glad to avail herself of those
difficulties of the Court of Vienna, to which she herself was
contributing. Louis seized Strassburg, and quietly annexed other places
by the pretended legal decisions of packed tribunals. He attacked the
Spanish Netherlands, and conceived himself to be acting generously in
that he refrained from taking Luxemburg. It was enough that Austria
should be spared the task of fighting, at the same time, on behalf of
Spain against the French, and on her own behalf against the Infidels.
That the house of Bourbon should strive to embarrass the house of
Hapsburg, by intrigues in Turkey, in Hungary and in Poland, was but in
accord with a traditional policy, which no danger to their common
Christendom could be expected to overrule.

But 1683 was a year of disaster for Louis. In that year he lost two of
his natural sons, his Queen, and his greatest minister, Colbert. Above
all, in that year his designs against the Emperor were destined to be
foiled by the interference of Sobieski, the _Deus ex machina_ for
Christendom and for the Empire.


[5] "If the Grand Vizier (Kiuprili) be so great a man as he is reputed
in politics as well as in arms, he will never consent, by an invasion of
Hungary, to make way for the advance of French progress into the Empire,
which a conquest of the Low Countries would make easy and obvious; and
so great accessions (with others that would lie fair and open in the
Spanish provinces upon the Mediterranean) would make France a formidable
power to the Turk himself, and greater than I suppose he desires to see
any in Christendom."--Sir W. Temple, Works, ii. 212, edit. 1814.


To return, therefore, to the troubles in Hungary, which gave occasion
for French intrigue and for the interference of the Porte. The Turks,
reinvigorated by the policy of the late Vizier Kiuprili, but directed no
longer by his cool experience and judgment, were now not slow to take
advantage of the difficulties of Austria. After their defeat at the
hands of Montecuculi at St. Gotthard in 1664, they had consented to a
twenty years' truce, by which they were still left in possession of the
greater part of Hungary, and of that part where the pure Magyar
population most prevailed. This truce had not expired when the
oppressions exercised in the part of their country remaining to the
Emperor drove the Hungarians to arms, and Count Tekeli to seek aid from
the Sultan. Ordinarily scrupulous in the observance of their treaty
obligations, the Turks were on this occasion overcome by the
temptations held out to them of an easy extension of their frontier and
of their influence. With the active aid of the Hungarians, and with the
tacit consent of France, they deemed it possible to deal a mortal blow
at the house of Austria. The Sultan, Mahomet IV., was perhaps not over
ambitious, but he was spurred on by the zeal of a servant. The Grand
Vizier, Kara Mustapha, though a nephew of the great minister Kiuprili,
owed his advancement more to the beauty of his person and to the favour
of the Sultana Validé, or Queen Mother, who ruled the ruler of Islam,
than to other connexions or to ability. His ambition, however, was
believed to aim at no less than a dependent kingdom for himself in
Hungary or at Vienna. Here, at all events, and not against the Poles or
Russians, did Kara Mustapha determine to gather his laurels and his
booty. He had, indeed, already essayed a Russian campaign with little
profit. A more striking success and greater glories, more abundant
plunder with fewer toils, seemed to be promised by a campaign in the
valley of the Danube, than by one among the marshes and forests of
Poland, or of the Ukraine.

Too late, in 1681, the court of Vienna attempted a conciliatory policy
in Hungary. The spirit of rebellion had been aroused, and the offers of
redress and justice made by the Emperor were distrusted as a veil for
treachery, or despised as the confession of weakness. Tekeli defied the
Emperor, and assumed the offensive even beyond the borders of Hungary.
Neither was the Porte to be propitiated. In vain an Imperial Embassy to
Constantinople sought a prolongation of the truce, which was on the
point of expiring at the end of the stipulated twenty years. The demands
of the Turks rose with the progress of their preparations. A
principality for their ally, Count Tekeli, in Hungary; extension of
territory, with the strongest border fortresses for themselves; a great
war indemnity--such were the terms which implied a determination not to
negotiate. The ambassador, Count Caprara, was compelled as a prisoner
himself to witness the departure of the Turkish hosts for the frontier.
At the end of the year 1682 the main body were drawn together at
Adrianople. Mahomet IV. encouraged his troops by his countenance in the
camp, and beguiled the tedium of winter quarters by his favourite
pastime of hunting. The sport was carried on upon a gigantic scale with
thirty thousand beaters, many of whom perished by exhaustion. "No doubt
they have spoken ill of me, and God hath dealt them their reward," was
the reasonable conjecture of the Sultan upon their fate. This mighty
hunter, however, relieved his army of his presence when the spring of
1683 saw it finally set in motion for the Danube. Kara Mustapha was
invested with complete command. Accounts vary as to the precise point
where Mahomet left his army. The ambition of his Vizier perhaps was
interested in removing so soon as possible from the field the Sultan, to
whom the glory of success would have been necessarily ascribed. Similar
motives had, according to M. de la Guillatière, caused others before
this to keep the easily persuaded prince back from the camp, whither his
first impulse would have led him.

Oriental exaggeration is prone to magnify the hosts which Asiatic
despots can command for their service. The muster-roll, found in the
tent of the Grand Vizier after his defeat, affords a better basis for
calculation. We find there, in round numbers, 275,000 fighting men
enumerated, as the original strength of the Turkish army. Judging by
the analogy of our Indian armies, the attendants and camp followers of
all descriptions must have doubled these numbers. In Hungary, the Vizier
effected a junction with Count Tekeli, who was at the head of nearly
60,000 men--Hungarians, Transylvanians, Turks and Tartars. Even French
officers and engineers were to be found in Tekeli's ranks; and the
character of his cause was vindicated by coins which he caused to be
struck with the inscription, _Pro Deo et Patria_. Half a million of men
probably, of all creeds and races that lie between the Carpathian
mountains and the Arabian deserts, were arrayed under the standard of
the Prophet in the valley of the Danube. Again, according to the Turkish
returns, of these 50,000 men perished in the operations before the
decisive battle that relieved Vienna. Of the whole vast multitude not
more than 50,000 it was computed, ultimately regained the Turkish

But even if drawn up with the best intentions, the accuracy of such
returns and estimates can never be more than an approximation to the
truth. It is sufficient that hundreds of thousands were marshalled
beneath the Crescent to burst in a storm of desolating war upon the
Christian lands.

For the struggle between Turk and Christian was not of the character of
those operations to which the term of civilized warfare is
conventionally applied. Prisoners were seldom made. The Christian
slaughtered; the Turk, if he spared, sold into slavery his captives;
prisoners we cannot call them to whom future release was denied. Far and
wide before the Turkish armies, the Tartars and the irregular horsemen,
whose sole pay was plunder, whose diversion and whose business at once
was rapine, spread in a desolating cloud over the country. The whole of
the unconquered Hungary, the Austrian duchy, the plains of Moravia and
the mountains of Styria were swept or threatened by the scourge. Poland
they had long held to be their licensed field of plunder, and now
Bavaria, and Bohemia even, trembled at the terror of their approach. The
painful curiosity of their friends has attempted an estimate of the
numbers of Turkish captives taken in this invasion. 32,000 grown
persons, the great majority women, 204 of whom were maiden daughters of
the nobility; 26,000 little children were, they tell us, carried off
into slavery. This return seems to make no mention of lads, nor of elder
girls, who would perhaps form the majority of those spared for the
slave-market. How many of these perished under their hardships, or by
the Turkish disasters; how many others tasted death, but before slavery;
how many others may have lost home, wealth and honour, must remain
beyond enumeration or even conjecture. It is said that in lower Austria
and on the frontiers of Hungary alone, 4936 villages and hamlets were
given to the flames in 1683.

To meet this torrent of devastation, the Emperor Leopold could muster
but scanty forces. A full half of the territory now united under the
Austro-Hungarian monarchy was in the hands of the Turks, or of the
Hungarian rebels; or then formed part of the territories of Poland. The
finances of Vienna have never been a source of strength. "Business men
laugh at our finance, for my part I weep over it," said Eugene to the
Emperor not long afterwards, lamenting the want of the sinews of war.
The Imperial influence of Leopold in Germany was small. The German
princes were distant, jealous, slow to move. Brandenberg was irritated
over the Silesian claims, that fruitful source of future war. France was
all but openly hostile. Spain was powerless. Venice, a shadow of her
former self. Poland alone, under her heroic monarch, John Sobieski,
might give present and substantial assistance. Yet all knew that to lean
upon the support of Poland was to risk leaning upon a bruised reed

Poland was, indeed, to all appearance, still a great country. The
Russian province of Poland, Lithuania, Gallicia, Posen, part of Prussia
proper, were Polish. Roughly speaking, her frontiers stretched from the
Dneiper to near the Oder, from the Baltic to the Carpathians. But a
great territory does not make a great nation. The approaching fall of
Poland was foreshadowed by her fortunes, even in the seventeenth

The extraordinary calamities of that country should not blind us to the
means by which she brought some of her misfortunes upon her own head.
Her constitution seemed skilfully contrived to unite the vices of
aristocratic and democratic governments with the virtues of neither. Her
people were turbulent without freedom, proud without steadiness of
purpose. She lacked the equality and the popular support proper to a
republic, as she lacked the fixed succession to the highest office and
the consistent policy which are supposed to be the advantages of
monarchy. A mob of tens of thousands of armed citizens pretended to form
a deliberative diet. Their convention was always a signal for confusion;
their dissolution was often the prelude to civil war. In the huge
concourse a single _veto_ could stay proceedings, unless indeed the
malcontent paid for his opposition with his life. An attempt to
introduce representative assemblies was always resented, and the
experiment restricted, by the jealousy of the citizens. Delegates, not
representatives, came to the meetings. They were vigilantly observed,
and strictly cross-examined on their return, by self-constituted judges,
as to the performance of their mandate. Real debate and deliberation,
free judgment and rational decision, were as impossible in one kind of
assembly as in the other. Below these citizen-nobles, the people were
slaves. The two halves of the state, Poland and Lithuania, were set
against each other continually. The monarchy became purely elective in
the sixteenth century. The king was the nominee of some foreign court,
or of some domestic party, or family. Factions nourished from abroad
were thus kept alive. Once elected, the king found his power curtailed
on every side; and was generally as solicitous for the advancement, and
future succession perhaps, of his family, as for the good of the state.
He might be a stranger, or he might owe his position to the support of a
foreign power. He seldom or never could be more than the nominee of some
faction, the king of a party to the end of his days.

John Sobieski, the Polish king, and himself once a Polish nobleman, was
not a candidate put forward by France for the Polish crown, but was
generally supposed to lean towards a French connexion. His wife was
French; he had passed some of his earlier years in France, and had
served in Louis' musketeers of the Guard. His most formidable rival for
the crown had been Charles Leopold of Lorraine,[6] the Austrian
candidate, who was now commanding the Imperial armies. An ill omen for
any unity of action in the future, between the two, against the Turks.

Sobieski had fought his way to royalty. He had contended against the
enemies, from Sweden to Turkey, with whom Poland was continually
embroiled. His medals bore the proud device of a sword piercing three
laurel crowns, with on its point a royal diadem, and the truthful motto
below, _Per has ad istam_. Poland had been afflicted by Cossack
insurrection, Tartar devastation and Turkish conquest. The king,
Michael, had signed the disgraceful peace of Buksacs, by which the Poles
became Turkish tributaries. Sobieski and the other nobles repudiated the
treaty; and at Choczim, in 1673, Sobieski overthrew the Turks with such
slaughter that "the turbans were floating thick as autumnal leaves upon
the Dneister." The crown of Poland rewarded his victory; but the
turbulence and inconstancy of his subjects prevented his reaping the
fruits of success. At the most critical moments he was left destitute of
men and of money, in the face of a host of Turks and Tartars. At Lemberg
before his coronation, and at Zurawna after it, he was glad to have
successfully defended the remainder of his country. The peace named from
the latter town, left part of the Ukraine and nearly all Podolia with
the fortress of Kaminiec, in Turkish hands.

The Turks scrupulously observing their part of the agreement, believed
that they thereby secured the neutrality of Poland. Sobieski had
suffered injuries and affronts at the hands of Austria. The punctilious
pride of the Emperor was likely to add to the difficulty of forgetting
these. At the last moment only would Leopold consent to address the man
who was to save his empire by the title of Majesty. The Poles either
were loth to begin a new Turkish war at all, or represented the
advantage which might be gained by holding aloof, till both combatants
were exhausted. If they fought, Podolia, not Hungary, the recovery of
Kaminiec in the former, not the relief of Vienna, should be their
object. The Lithuanians were specially jealous of Sobieski, and slow to
move. The Cossacks were not to be depended upon. The country was
exhausted of men and money by former campaigns. The French ambassador,
Forbin, Cardinal de Janson, was instructed to work upon the king by
promises of the future support of Louis, of visionary crowns in Hungary,
and of lands in Silesia as the price of his inactivity. No means were to
be spared to detach Poland from Austria. The Cardinal worked
cautiously, being an old friend and in expectation of future favours
from Sobieski; but a special agent who was with him, the Marquis de
Vitry, spared no pains to foment jealousies and to excite fears, and
distributed money among the partisans of a peace policy. An abortive
scheme was entertained for supplanting the king himself by another, more
amenable to French influence. But the conspiracy was discovered, and the
effect was disastrous to the French faction. The Poles rallied round the
victor of Choczim and of Lemberg, and the authors of the intrigue
against him were thrown into prison, or left the country. The French
agent, Vitry, himself retired from Poland. Fortunately also for
Christendom, and for the house of Austria, the wife of Sobieski, Marie
Casimire de la Grange d'Arquien, a Frenchwoman, had determined to thwart
the diplomacy of her native land. The failure of an intrigue, by which
her father, a needy Marquis, was to have been converted into a wealthy
Duke; a refusal of the French court to receive her, a French subject by
birth, as an equal should she revisit France;--these causes made her an
Austrian partisan. Sobieski, at the age of fifty-three, still burned
with youthful ardour for his wife of forty-one, though scandal would
have it that this King Arthur had his Lancelot in the Field-Marshal
Jablonowski, one of the foremost of his officers. "His incomparable
Maria," as the king addressed his queen in his frequent letters, was at
all events vain and intriguing, and seldom influenced for good the
husband whom she also adored. Yet on this occasion her persuasions
seconded the arguments which would undoubtedly have swayed Sobieski
apart from her. His true atmosphere was that of the battle-field. His
most glorious victories were won over the infidels. The danger which
menaced Austria was a common menace to Christendom. Warsaw itself would
not be safe if Vienna fell. The foremost champion of the Cross would not
be wanting in such a crisis. In his enthusiasm he deemed it possible to
unite the jarring elements of European society in a grand crusade.
Visions floated before him of a great League, including the Christian
powers and the Persians, by which the Turkish Empire should be
overthrown, Constantinople recovered, Moldavia and Wallachia united to
the Polish crown, and a republic of Athens and the Morea established. A
scheme too great for accomplishment in the face of the selfishness of
France and Austria and the inherent weakness of Poland.

But a general subscription was needed to put any army into the field at
all. Rome and Italy were foremost in contributions; even ecclesiastical
property was allowed to be mortgaged in the cause. The Pope, an
economical reformer in Rome, as befitted the member of a banking family,
the Odescalchi, was able to provide two million _scudi_. Christina,
ex-Queen of Sweden, bestirred herself to increase the fund. The Regent
of Portugal sent money, and sanctified the gift by a simultaneous
holocaust of Jews. 1,200,000 florins were to be advanced by the Emperor
to pay the Polish troops. The Pope undertook to guarantee the repayment,
and contributions were expected from the King of Spain. Both these
latter alike were swayed by the double motive--fear of the Turks, and
the desire to set free the Empire to act against France again. Leopold,
as his contribution to the harmony of the allies, had condescended to
yield the title of "Majesty" to the King of Poland, and had held out
hopes of a marriage between the son of Sobieski and an Austrian
Archduchess, which might ensure the succession of the former to his
father's throne. A dispensation from the Pope released the Poles from
the duty of keeping their oaths to the Turks. The Emperor and the King
exchanged oaths not to resort to such a dispensation from their
engagements to each other. The treaty of alliance was signed; but before
the Polish troops could be mustered in any numbers, the Turkish armies
had united with those of Tekeli, and were pouring across the frontier.


[6] The Duke of Lorraine had married the Emperor's sister, the widow of
the late Polish king, Michael. The French had driven him from his
hereditary states, and he found employment at the head of his
brother-in-law's armies, against them and the Turks.


Charles of Lorraine, the Imperial commander, had under his orders less
than 40,000. The levy _en masse_ of Hungary produced 3000 soldiers only
for the Emperor's service, so wide was the sway of the Turks, or so
universal the sympathy for Tekeli. Six thousand Hungarians, supposed to
be raised for the Emperor, went over to the enemy as soon as they
advanced. Yet, contrary to his own opinion, Lorraine began with
offensive operations against the Turkish fortress of Neuhausel. A
partial success was followed by a disastrous repulse, and the army
withdrew south of the Danube, as the main Turkish force approached upon
that same side of the river. Lorraine had some idea of making a stand
near the Raab to cover the Austrian frontier, but the number of the
enemy and the temper of his own soldiers rendered such an attempt too
hazardous. He determined to retreat, and await the reinforcements
already promised by the Princes of the Empire. Garrisons were hastily
flung into Raab, Komorn, and Leopoldstadt.[7] The infantry then
recrossed the Danube and fell back towards Vienna along the Schütt
island, under Count Leslie's orders. The cavalry marched upon the
southern side of the river, but the superior rapidity of their retreat
did not save them from molestation. On July 7 at Petronel, some twenty
miles below Vienna, 15,000 Spahis and Tartars burst upon their march.
For a time Count Taaffe, with the rear guard of 400 men, was in extreme
danger. The exertions of Lorraine and of Louis of Baden rallied the
cavalry and speedily repulsed their disorderly assailants, but in the
confusion several of the officers fell, including Prince Aremberg and
Julius Louis of Savoy, an elder brother of Prince Eugene, and much of
the baggage became the prey of the Tartars. Altenburg and Haimburg,
posts upon the Danube, had been already stormed, after a brief
resistance, by the Turkish infantry.

Those stragglers who first leave the field are always apt to cover
their own flight by the report of an universal overthrow. So fugitives
came galloping to Vienna with a tale of disaster. They spread the rumour
that the Duke of Lorraine was killed and the army totally defeated,
while their alarm seemed amply confirmed by the glow of burning villages
that brightened upon the twilight of the eastern horizon. The Imperial
court, which had delayed its flight so far, in the hope that the enemy
might linger about the fortresses of Raab or of Komorn, tarried now no
longer. "Leopold could never bear to hear plain truths but when he was
afraid," says Eugene. He had refused to recognize the imminence of the
peril until now; and by his confidence had involved in his destruction
others, who had not the same means of escape at the last moment which he
himself possessed. Yet means of escape were barely open to him, when at
length he understood that he must defend or abandon his capital. The
roads to Upper Austria and to Bavaria, along the southern shore of the
Danube, were rightly distrusted. The Emperor, his Empress, and the
Empress Mother, with all their train of courtiers, of ladies, and of
servants, shorn of pomp and bereft of dignity in their flight, poured
over the Leopoldstadt island and the Tabor bridge in all the misery of
panic fear. The prompt destruction of the bridge of Crems, above Vienna,
is said alone to have saved their route from interception by the
Tartars. A part of their baggage actually became the prey of the
marauders. The whole court, including even the Empress herself, who was
far advanced in pregnancy, were driven to seek rest in farms and
cottages. Once they passed the night under a temporary shelter of
boughs. In the universal panic, small room was left for hopes of a
return to the capital and to the palaces that they had quitted. Milan,
Innspruck, Prague were thought of as their future refuge. On to Lintz,
and from Lintz to the frontier they fled, till their confidence at last
returned behind the fortifications of the Bavarian city of Passau. But
they were not the only fugitives from Vienna. The bold march of the
Vizier upon the city, leaving Raab, Komorn, and Presburg in his rear, to
fall an easy prey when once the great prize was captured; this had taken
the citizens by surprise. The retreat of Lorraine, and the skirmish at
Petronel, had filled them with abject terror.

People from the surrounding country who had taken shelter in Vienna no
longer relied upon her as a stronghold, but turned their thoughts to an
escape to Bavaria, or to Styria, or even to the distant Tirol. From nine
o'clock in the evening till two o'clock in the morning, on the 7th and
8th of July, a never-ending stream of carriages and of fugitives were
following in the track of the Imperial _cortège_. East and south, upon
the horizon, the glare of burning villages told that the Turkish
horsemen were there. High on the summit of the Kahlenberg, the flames of
the Camalduline Convent dreadfully illuminated the track of the
fugitives. Sixty thousand persons, it was believed, left the city in the
course of a few days. Of those who, crossing the Danube, took the roads
into Upper Austria or into Moravia, some fell into the hands of the
Hungarian and Tartar marauders. But few of those who attempted to escape
into Styria succeeded in reaching a place of safety. They perished by
thousands, enveloped by the flying squadrons of the invaders.

In Vienna herself, deserted by her leaders and by so many of her
children, violent tumult raged against the Government, and against the
Jesuits, who were supposed to have instigated the persecution of the
Protestants of Hungary. There was ample cause for terror. The
fortifications were old and imperfect, the suburbs encroached upon the
works, the number of the defenders was small. Thirteen thousand
infantry, supplied by the army of Lorraine, and seven thousand armed
citizens formed the garrison; and, besides these, about sixty thousand
souls were in the city. The command was entrusted to Ernest Rudiger
Count Starhemberg, an officer of tried skill and courage. He had served
with Montecuculi against the Turks, and against both Condé and Turenne
with the same commander and with the Prince of Orange. He entered the
city as the fugitives forsook it. He set the people to work upon the
fortifications, organized them for defence, and assured them that he
would live and die with them. But while writing to the Emperor that he
would joyfully spend the last drop of his blood in defence of his
charge, he confesses that the place is in want of everything, and the
inhabitants panic-stricken. Fortunately he and others with him were the
class of men to restore confidence in the rest. Under him served many
noble volunteers, for the example of the Emperor was not universally
followed. The Bishop of Neustadt, once himself a soldier and a knight
of Malta, was conspicuous among many brave and devoted men for his
liberal donations to the troops, and for his superintendence of the
sanitary state of the city. In one respect alone the place was well
furnished; three hundred and twenty-one pieces of artillery were
supplied by the Imperial arsenal for the fortifications.[8] The city was
defended after the existing fashion, with ten bastions, the curtains
covered by ravelines, with a ditch mostly dry. On the side of the Danube
was merely a wall with towers and platforms, and all the works were more
or less uncared for and decayed. The work of fixing palisades was
postponed till the Turkish army was in sight. It is possible that by a
slightly more rapid march the Vizier might have secured Vienna by a
_coup de main_.

On July 13, the Turkish regular cavalry came in sight, preceding the
infantry of the main army; and at the last possible moment fire was set
to the suburbs, which impeded the defence. A high wind speedily caused
them to be consumed. On the 14th, the Turkish army took up its
position, encamping in a semicircle, round the whole of the circuit of
the defences not washed by the Danube. A city, surpassing in size and
population the beleaguered capital, sprang up about the walls of Vienna.
The tents of the Vizier were pitched opposite the Burg bastion, in the
suburb of St. Ulric. The camp was crowded not only by soldiers, but by
the merchants of the East, who thronged thither as to a fair to deal in
the plunder of the Christians. The Imperial troops still attempted to
hold the Leopoldstadt island; but on July 16, the Turks threw bridges
across the arm of the Danube, and shortly drove the Christians to the
northern bank of the river. The houses of the Leopoldstadt were given up
to fire by the Turks; and the bridge, leading to the northern shore,
destroyed by the Imperialists. The investment of Vienna was now
completed upon every side. Batteries from the Leopoldstadt, and from the
south and west, crossed it with fire in all directions. Trenches were
opened, and the elaborate approaches and frequent mines of the Turks,
advancing with alarming rapidity, enveloped the western and
south-western face of the works from the Scottish gate to the Burg

Upwards of three hundred pieces of artillery played upon the crumbling
defences and the devastated city. The pavement of the streets was torn
up, that the balls might bury themselves in the soft earth where they
fell. The upper floors and roofs of the houses were barricaded with
heavy timber, or covered with sandbags, to guard against the fire of the
dropping shells. The streets themselves were blocked behind the walls,
chains drawn across them, and the houses loop-holed and prepared for
defence to the last extremity. All the gates had been walled up but one,
the Stuben gate, which, being partially covered by the stream of the
Wien, was left open as a sally-port. Early in the siege, the assailed,
frequently issuing forth, returned the attacks of the enemy, frustrated
their operations, and even captured provisions in the hostile lines. But
as time went on, the diminishing numbers of the garrison forbade the
waste of life incurred even in successful sorties.

[Illustration: Map]

The progress of the Turks was rapid with sap and mine. They were famed
for their skill with entrenching and engineering tools, and the
Christians learnt much from them, though their approaches were unlike
the ordinary European works. Instead of parallel lines to the defences
they drew curves, overlapping each other and continually approaching the
place attacked. The trenches were deep, and fifteen or sixteen feet wide
at the bottom where the ground allowed. The depth of the Turkish works
effectually protected their soldiers, even when they had made a lodgment
in the ditch; for the besieged could not depress their cannon
sufficiently to hurt them.[9] They were protected skilfully by
bomb-proof shelters of timber and of turf, beneath which thousands of
men, hidden and shielded, crouched ready for attack, or for the repulse
of sorties. Their mines penetrated in every direction to the
counterscarp of the place, and ultimately to the walls themselves. At
length the very cellars of the nearest houses were threatened by a
subterranean enemy; and water and drums strewn with peas were placed in
them, to tell, by the slightest vibration, of the work of the Turkish
miner's pick below.

The Turkish miners were bolder than those of the garrison. The latter
were hired labourers of the lowest class, of whom Starhemberg wrote to
Lorraine that nothing would induce them to re-enter a mine after they
had heard the sound of the enemy working near them. On the part of the
enemy, men who had applied for a _Timar_, or military fief, often
volunteered as miners to prove their courage and to win its reward.

At the very beginning of operations the city all but perished through a
fire, which actually reached the windows of the Imperial arsenal stored
with eighteen hundred barrels of powder. An explosion there would have
opened a road for the Turkish army into Vienna, at once deprived of the
means of resistance and reduced to ruins. The exertions of Captain Count
Guido Starhemberg, nephew of the commandant, who personally
superintended the removal of the powder through the opposite windows,
together with a lucky change of wind, saved the city. Rightly or
wrongly, an incendiary was suspected. The fear of treachery was added to
the legitimate terrors of the citizens. Desertions took place to the
enemy, and spies were actually apprehended within the walls. Hungarians
and other Christians were arrayed upon both sides, and this community of
language and manners, between besiegers and besieged, rendered such a
danger more real.

But from the open force of the attack the worst calamities were to be
feared. On the 23rd, 25th, and 27th of July the opening assaults were
delivered. All were repulsed, but with loss of lives ill-spared.

Closer and closer crept the Turkish sappers. Assault after assault upon
the outer fortifications gradually wrested important positions from the
besieged. The Burg and Löwel bastions, with the connecting curtain
between them and the Burg ravelin, were reduced to an almost shapeless
ruin by the Turkish mines and artillery. Every device was tried to
retard the attack. The arts and ingenuity of a great city were at the
service of the besieged. They made their own powder; and, when
hand-grenades began to fail, the invention of an officer supplied their
place with grenades of earthenware. Nevertheless, on August 7, the Turks
made a lodgment upon the counterscarp, after twenty-three days of firing
and terrible losses upon both sides.

The Janissaries now stood upon the very threshold of the city. Hand to
hand fighting was carried on in the ditches. The citizens armed with
scythes upon the end of poles contended with advantage from above
against the Turkish sabres. Boiling pitch and water stood continually
ready to overwhelm the assailants as they struggled up the shattered
slope of the ramparts. Besiegers and besieged were continually within
pistol shot of each other, and showers of Turkish arrows descended on
the town. As yet no footing was obtained by the Turks within the body of
the place, though the streets and houses stood ready barricaded against
such an event. But the Vizier commanded two hundred thousand men,
Starhemberg but twenty thousand. Disease and the toils and losses of the
defence told fearfully upon the latter. Starhemberg himself was disabled
by dysentery early in the siege, and did all that man could do, carried
in a chair from post to post, amidst the hottest of the fire. On the
other side, Kara Mustapha made his rounds in a litter rendered
shot-proof by plates of iron. The chief engineer of the garrison,
Rimpler, fell. Colonel Bärner, commanding the artillery, and the Prince
of Wurtemberg were disabled. Five thousand men, more than a third of the
regular soldiers, perished. Food became scarce, vermin were eagerly
sought for by the poor, and dysentery followed inevitably in the train
of want. Fever sprang from the confinement, filth, and bad air
inseparable from their condition. Sixty persons a day were dying of
dysentery alone towards the conclusion of the siege. But the humour of
the Viennese asserted itself still among their calamities, and the
spoils of nocturnal chase upon the tiles were sold as "Roof Hares" in
the market. The courage of long endurance, that rarest of all courage,
was tried to the uttermost. The Bishop of Neustadt, bravest of the brave
defenders, laboured unremittingly among the sick, nor cared less for the
safety of the whole, by undertaking the control of sanitary measures.
The otherwise useless non-combatants were organized by him into bands of
scavengers, hospital attendants, and carriers of the wounded.

A despatch from Starhemberg, dated August 18, came safely to the hands
of Lorraine. The commandant wrote boldly, perhaps with an eye to the
probability of his intelligence reaching the Turkish and not the
Imperial general. "I must in the first place, tell your Highness that we
have up to this moment disputed the works with the enemy, foot by foot,
and that they have not gained an inch of ground without paying for it
dearly. Every time that, sword in hand, they have attempted a lodgment,
they have been vigorously repulsed by our men, with such loss that they
no longer dare to put their heads out of their holes." Nevertheless, he
was providing for the worst. "I have caused a new work, well ditched, to
be made in the middle of the Burg ravelin; the Löwel and Burg bastions
are also defended by a second line; and I am even now beginning another
work behind these same bastions. I write this that your Highness may
know that we are forgetting nothing, that we are wide awake, and taking
all imaginable precautions. As in duty bound I assure your Highness,
that to show myself worthy of the confidence which your Highness, and
more especially his Majesty my master, repose in my small services, I
shall never yield the place but with the last drop of my blood."

This despatch was safely carried to Lorraine by Kolschitzki, a Pole.
Many other letters had miscarried, for few messengers penetrated, at the
risk of life, between the city and the slowly mustering forces of
Lorraine. Some swam the arms of the Danube. The most skilful, however,
was this Kolschitzki, who relied upon his knowledge of the Turkish
tongue and manners, and in Turkish dress penetrated the besieging lines,
much as a countryman of our own relied on similar knowledge in a
scarcely less memorable siege. The name of Kolschitzki of Vienna may be
named side by side with that of "Lucknow" Kavanagh, though the Pole not
only passed out through the besiegers, but succeeded in returning again
in a like manner into the city with despatches, to sustain the courage
of the defenders. From his stone chair, high up in the fretted spire of
St. Stephen's, the watchman saw the rockets which rose as signals from
the Christian outposts north of the Danube. But from the southern bank
must the march be made for the deliverance of the city; and was it
possible that Lorraine, or even Sobieski, could carry a force across the
river in the face of such an army?

The garrison record, with painful exactness, the terrible annals of the
siege; what ravelin is deluged with the blood of assailants and of
defenders; where mines have blown the counterscarp into the ditch, or
shattered the salient angle of a bastion; what new quarter of the city
is devastated by the cannonade; what much-prized life is taken; when
the bread begins to fail; what false hopes of relief, or what
exaggerated tidings of calamity, circulate among the citizens. These
details, of overwhelming interest to every man at the moment, and
printed indelibly upon his mind, bring to the distant observer but one
confused and appalling panorama of suffering and of endurance, of
courage and of despair.

The growing anxiety of the city appears in a second despatch of
Starhemberg's, dated August 27. He still tells of attacks repulsed, of
sorties boldly executed, and of mines discovered and foiled, but he
acknowledges the need of succour. "We are losing many men and many
officers, more from dysentery than from the enemy's fire, the deaths
from that disease alone are sixty daily. We have no more grenades, which
were our best defence; our guns are some of them destroyed by the
enemy's fire, some of them burst before firing fifty rounds, from the
bad material used by the founder; and the enemy, seeing they can hold
their lodgments in the ditch with a few men, are massing great numbers
on the counterscarp, to have a large force ready there for some
extraordinary effort.... We await, therefore, your Highness's arrival
with extreme impatience; for my own part not so much from a wish to be
relieved as that I may have the honour of respectfully assuring your
Highness of my obedience, being, as I am, your Highness's most humble
and obedient servant, STARHEMBERG." The courtly bravado of the
subscription is in strong contrast with the hurried postscript that
follows:--"My miners tell me that they hear the enemy working beneath
them under the Burg bastion; they must have run their gallery from the
other side of the ditch, and there is no time to be lost." When this
despatch was written, both sides believed that the supreme crisis was at

The 29th of August was looked for as the decisive day. On that
anniversary Stuhlweissenberg and Belgrade had fallen before the
Ottomans.[10] Above all, on that day the strength of Hungary had been
smitten, and her king, Louis, had died, before the hosts of the great
Solyman, on the disastrous field of "The Destruction of Mohacs"--that
battle which first opened Hungary and Austria to the invader.

But the 29th came and passed, with no general attack from the
besiegers. A mine was sprung under the Burg ravelin, nearly completing
the ruin of the work; and three or four hundred Turks attempted to
establish themselves upon the remains, but were driven back again.
Another mine was sprung by the Burg bastion, but no assault followed.
From St. Stephen's considerable movement was noticed among the Turkish
detachments on the left bank of the Danube, occasioned by the march of
Lorraine's army.

In the camp murmurs and dissensions ran high. The Janissaries clamoured
at their lengthy detention in the trenches. They openly accused the
incapacity, or worse faults, of the Vizier. There seems little doubt but
that he had it in his power to have overwhelmed the defenders by a
general and prolonged assault, towards the end of August.

Ottoman leaders had known well how to avail themselves of the obedience
and fatalist courage of their soldiers. Amurath IV., when he won back
Baghdad from the Persians, Mahomet II., at the taking of Constantinople,
had shown how cities could be won. Before the city of the Khalifs for
three days, before the city of the Cæsars from a May sunrise till well
nigh noon, had torrent after torrent of brave, devoted, undisciplined
soldiers wearied the arms and exhausted the ammunition of the defenders,
until the Janissaries arose, fresh and invincible for the decisive
charge. Wave after wave of stormers, fed from inexhaustible multitudes,
had rolled upon the besieged, and, like broken waves, had rolled back in
ruin, until the last and greatest should burst in overwhelming force
upon the breaches. Such an assault would have been surely successful
against Vienna. But the Vizier, in vain security, pictured to himself
the advantages of a surrender, which should preserve the city as a
trophy of his conquest--the seat, perchance, of his sovereignty. The
riches which he dreamed it to contain, he hoped to receive as his own
spoil; not to yield as the booty of the army after a storm. So, while
the decisive days passed, the signal for attack was delayed, except by
small bodies upon single points, until the courage of his soldiers was
dissipated and their confidence destroyed. On the contrary, the
unexpected reprieve gave courage to the defenders. The Janissaries, on
the other hand, impatiently invoked the appearance of the relieving
army to end their sojourn in the trenches by the decisive event of a
stricken field. Slowly, but at last, ere yet too late, that army was


[7] That is the Leopoldstadt over against Neuhausel, not the island
suburb of Vienna.

[8] Together with forty-two guns and eight howitzers from the city
arsenal. Among the Emperor's pieces were eleven gigantic mortars,
described as 100, 150, and 200-pounders, but two hundred and fifty-three
of the guns were smaller than 12-pounders.

[9] Starhemberg to Duke of Lorraine, August 18.

[10] Not Pesth and Rhodes, which are sometimes added. Rhodes fell on
Christmas day.


The duties which had been imposed upon Charles of Lorraine were of the
most arduous kind. With a handful of troops, but slowly reinforced by
the German levies, whose assistance was rendered less useful by the
jealousies of the sovereign Princes in command, he was opposed both to
the Turks and to Tekeli. He was expected to be ready to support the
garrisons of Presburg and of Komorn, to hinder the incursions of the
enemy into Upper Austria and into Moravia--above all, to prepare the
bridges above Vienna, by which alone a relieving army could arrive.
Though driven from the Leopoldstadt island, and from all immediate
communication with the city, his presence yet animated the besieged with
hope of succour. He fixed his head-quarters finally at Krems, on the
Danube, where the Saxon contingent presently arrived, followed by the
troops of the Circles and the Bavarians. Before their arrival, towards
the end of August, he felt strong enough to advance and rescue Presburg
from Tekeli. He followed up the operation by a defeat inflicted on the
combined forces of the Turks and Hungarians upon the Marchfeld. A
detachment of four thousand Polish horse, under Lubomirski, originally
raised to assist Tekeli, were already present with the army of Lorraine.
But decisive operations were of necessity postponed till after the
coming of the King of Poland with the bulk of his forces, and of the
rest of the German troops.

Lorraine, in these movements, undoubtedly proved his title to
generalship; but nothing except the extraordinary apathy of the Vizier
rendered them possible. A skilful employment of the enormous force of
Turkish cavalry must have forced the Imperial army to retire for want of
supplies. The ravage, aimlessly and mercilessly inflicted upon Austria
and the confines of Moravia, would, if directed against Poland, have
probably prevented the march of Sobieski. An able commander, with such
forces at his command, might have prevented, or at least hindered, the
junction of the Poles and Germans. Nor were any steps taken by the
Vizier to stop the construction of the bridges at Krems and at Tuln, nor
to guard the defiles of the Wiener Wald, over which the Christian army
must advance to raise the siege. So extraordinary indeed was the neglect
of the enemy, that a secret understanding has been supposed between
Tekeli and Sobieski, by which, in return for the future good offices of
the latter, the former was not to molest Poland nor hinder the junction
of the Christian forces. Be that as it may, the secret information of
the Poles was as good as that of the Turks was bad, and the king knew
thoroughly with what foes he had to deal.[11]

Meanwhile, in spite of French intrigues, in spite of backwardness in
Lithuania and of distrust in Poland, Sobieski had left Warsaw for Cracow
on July 18. Up to the last moment the Turks disbelieved in his coming in
person, and the Emperor and the French king both doubted it. He was
gouty, he was rheumatic, he was too fat to ride; such was the tenour of
the information of the baffled French agent Vitry. Nevertheless, on the
22nd of August, he was on the Silesian frontier with the main part of
his army. It consisted mostly of cavalry, of those Polish horsemen
matchless in prowess, but the most unstable of forces. His infantry was
less numerous and inferior, their shabby accoutrements contrasting
sharply with the gaudy equipment of the cavaliers. "They have sworn to
dress themselves better in the spoils of the enemy," said the king of
one regiment, deprecating the criticism of the Germans. His march lay
through Silesia and Moravia, through the borders of the lands devastated
by the Tartars, where the trembling inhabitants thronged around him,
hailing him already as their deliverer. Urged by message after message
from Lorraine, he left his army to follow under the leadership of the
Field-Marshal Jablonowski, and hurried on himself at the head of two
thousand cavalry, his son Prince James by his side.

We can follow every movement of the campaign from the letters which,
amid the hurry of the march, during short hours snatched from sleep,
once at least during the thunder of a Turkish cannonade, he found time
to despatch continually to his queen. _Seule joie de mon âme,
char__mante et bien-aimée Mariette_, as he calls her. Her letters in
reply are his continual consolation amid the labours of the campaign,
the ingratitude of the Emperor, and the insubordination of his subjects.
"I read all your letters, my dear and incomparable Maria, thrice
over--once when I receive them, once when I retire to my tent and am
alone with my love, once when I sit down to answer them." Such is his
answer to her expression of a fear that the distractions of his
enterprise may leave no time for interest in aught besides. On August 29
he writes, from near Brunn in Moravia, sending the news of the retreat
of Tekeli after his defeat by Lorraine, and adding that he hopes the
next day, on nearing the Danube, to hear the cannon which tell that
Vienna is still untaken. On the 31st he is near Tuln, above Vienna. He
has passed the distant thunder of the cannonade upon his left hand, and
has effected his junction with the army of Lorraine. Despairing of the
arrival of the Lithuanians, he has distributed the arms intended for
them among the imperfectly equipped Poles. Still more is he distressed
at the non-appearance of the Cossacks, whom he expected, and whom he
knew as invaluable for outpost duty. Menzynski, who should have
conducted them, is lingering at Lemberg. "_C'est un grand misérable._"

Most interesting of all is the passage in which he gives his wife his
first impressions of his future colleague, the Duke of Lorraine.
Lorraine had been a competitor with Sobieski for the crown of Poland,
and it must have been a singular meeting when the rivals first came face
to face co-operating together in a mighty enterprise. Sobieski the king,
whose offspring were not to reign; Charles the duke, the destined
ancestor of the Imperial line of Austria.[12] The one in the
semi-Oriental magnificence of his country, he went into action before
Vienna in a sky-blue silk doublet; the other in the dress of a
campaigner, best described in Sobieski's own words. The duke he finds
modest and taciturn, stooping, plain, with a hooked nose, marked with
small-pox; clad in an old grey coat, with "a fair wig ill-made," a hat
without a band, "boots of yellow leather, or rather of what was yellow
three months ago." "_Avec tout ça, il n'a pas la mine d'un marchand,
mais d'un homme comme il faut, et même d'un homme de distinction. C'est
un homme avec qui je m'accorderais facilement._" The friendship of the
former rivals was cemented by a banquet, and the duke's accustomed
monitor being first overcome, Lorraine himself was induced to proceed
from his native Moselle, which he drank usually mixed with water, to the
strong Hungarian wines--to the improvement, as the king tells his wife,
of his conversation. Besides Lorraine, Sobieski found a crowd of German
Princes awaiting his arrival: John George of Saxony, speaking no French
nor Latin, and very little German; Waldeck, of the house of
Waldeck-Wildungen,[13] William the Third's right hand man in the
Netherlands, here commanding the troops of the Circles, and winning high
praise from the king for his activity and zeal; Maximilian of Bavaria,
whose courage and ill-fortune were hereafter to be signalized at
Blenheim and at Ramilies, now aged twenty-one, wins notice as "better
dressed than the others." There were two Wurtembergers and the Prince of
Brunswick-Lüneburg, afterwards our George I.; the Prince of
Saxe-Lauenberg; a Hohenzollern and a Hessian; three Princes of Anhalt;
Hermann and Louis of Baden, the latter was with Marlborough at
Schellenberg; two sons of Montecuculi, the conqueror of St. Gotthard;
last and youngest, though not least, Eugene of Savoy, the future
conqueror of Zenta and of Belgrade, and the colleague of Marlborough in
his greatest battles. There was Count Leslie, of that Scotch house which
had given generals to half the armies of Europe; Count Taaffe, the
Irishman, afterwards Sir Francis Taaffe and Earl of Carlingford, whose
elder brother fell fighting for King James at the Boyne, but whose
services to the allies secured the earldom from forfeiture. There were
gathered veterans of the Thirty Years' War, men who might have seen
Gustavus or Wallenstein, and men who were to reap their brightest
laurels hereafter in the war of the Spanish Succession. As was wittily
said, the Empire would have been there had only the Emperor been
present. The Brandenberg troops also were wanting. The "Great Elector"
was jealous of Poland--once his superior in the Prussian duchy--had
formerly been injured by Sobieski acting with the Swedes in the
interests of France, and moreover was not on the best terms with the
Emperor. Brandenberg, then as ever, was playing with skill and patience
her own game. The fortunes of the future Prussian monarchy were not to
be lightly risked for the sake of Austria. But the Emperor himself must
not be rashly charged with want of courage for his absence from the
camp. He was not trained to war; the presence of his court would have
been embarrassing to the operations, perhaps would have been inseparable
from intrigues and jealousies that would seriously have crippled the
army. A certain stubborn manhood Leopold had shown in not yielding to
the pressure put upon him to make terms with Louis XIV. in this
extremity. The aid of France could have been purchased by the election
of the Dauphin as King of the Romans, probably by smaller sacrifices.
The Diet at Ratisbon had been not disinclined to yield, but the Emperor
had stedfastly refused to subject either his own house or the Empire to
French dictation. That one crowned head was in the field was of the
greatest importance, especially when that one was the King of Poland.

Everywhere the most cheerful deference was rendered to Sobieski by all
who were present. The Princes, jealous of each other before, now vied
with each other in zealous obedience to the conqueror of Choczim. His
experience of Turkish warfare was unique, his personal character
commanding. He tells his wife how Lorraine, Waldeck, Saxony, Bavaria
would send or even come personally for his commands. The ascendancy
exercised by Sobieski is nowhere more decisively illustrated than in the
conduct of five hundred Janissaries, a trophy of his victories, who now
formed his body guard. He offered them leave of absence from the battle,
or even a free passage to the Turkish camp, but they besought leave to
live and die with him.[14] The king himself was fully prepared to accept
the advice of generals like Lorraine and Waldeck. He had left his royal
dignity behind at Warsaw, as he told Lorraine, and at once agreed with
the latter upon a plan for crossing the Danube at Krems and at Tuln,
concentrating at Tuln and marching over the Kahlenberg to Vienna. He
only complained of the backward condition of the bridges and of the slow
assemblage of the troops, whereas the Emperor had by letter assured him
that all was ready before he had left Poland. When finally assembled,
the united armies numbered eighty-five thousand men. The Poles were
more than twenty-six thousand strong. But allowing for detachments, not
more than seventy-seven thousand men were available upon the
battle-field. The artillery numbered one hundred and sixty-eight pieces,
of which few came into action.

On September 4, the king still writes from near Tuln. If an excess of
glory is often the share of a successful commander, yet an excessive
toil is his always. Sobieski tells his wife that he has a continual cold
and headache, and is night and day in the saddle. The French stories
were so far true that he could not mount without assistance, yet in the
midst of such operations no rest is possible. The Turks are, he says,
either really ignorant of his presence, or refuse to believe it. The
Vizier was incredibly ill-supplied with information. He really was
uncertain whether Sobieski was in the field; and whether the Polish
army, or partisan corps only, like that of Lubomirski, had joined
Lorraine. The smallest resistance would seriously have retarded the
passage of the Danube, performed by the Germans at Krems, by the Poles
at Tuln. As it was, the difficulties were terrible. The pontoons sank
under the weight of the artillery and waggons. The latter had to find
fords over the smaller branches of the river, while the bridges upon the
main stream were strengthened to sustain them. Even then much baggage
was left north of the Danube; much more upon the southern side,
entrenched and defended.

On September 8, when the concentration of the army upon the southern
bank was being completed, Marco Aviano, the Emperor's Confessor,
celebrated a solemn mass, and gave a formal benediction to the Christian
army. Sobieski then stepped forward, and after addressing some words of
encouragement to the assembled officers, bestowed the honour of
knighthood upon his son James.[15] An enthusiastic votary of his
religion, he desired to impress upon his army that their cause was the
cause of God, against the enemies of the Faith. Even the Lutheran Saxons
and North Germans could, with more justice than the Hungarian renegades,
claim to be fighting _Pro Deo et Patria_. Upon the coming struggle
depended the question whether the frightful devastation, which had
desolated Hungary and Austria, was or was not to be repeated in all the
south German lands.

The flat ground upon the southern side of the Danube, from near Krems to
Tuln, the Tullner Feld, offered a convenient space for the mustering of
the army after passing the river. Vienna was not further than about
sixteen miles as the crow flies, but the intervening country was of a
difficult nature, even should the Turks attempt no interruption to the
movements of the relieving forces. The Wiener Wald, rising to more than
nine hundred feet above the level of the Danube, runs into a
north-easterly direction between Tuln and Vienna, and advances up to the
very current of the river, which flows north-eastward and then
south-eastward round the mountain barrier. The roads were few and
difficult, and trees covered the slopes of the hills. Sobieski had
decided to advance with his left wing covered by the Danube, and to
throw succour into Vienna upon that side; while with the right he
threatened the rear of the Turkish camp on the side of Dornbach and
Hernals. With this object the march was directed upon the Leopoldsberg
and the Kahlenberg, the last heights or ridges of the mountains above
the Danube, to the north-west of Vienna.

And at length, on the 10th of September, the forward movement upon the
Kahlenberg began. Already as early as the morning of the 6th, a
reconnaissance had been pushed to the summit, and as evening fell had
cheered Vienna with a flight of signal rockets, in answer to the fiery
messengers of distress which nightly rose from the spire of St.
Stephen's. But to carry an army up the Kahlenberg was a harder task.
Sobieski wrote that the country was horribly wasted. There was neither
food for man nor forage for horses, beyond what the army could carry
with them. Indeed, the leaves of the trees upon the Kahlenberg had to
eke out the supplies of the latter. There was all need for despatch. The
last despairing message had come from Starhemberg, borne by a swimmer on
the Danube to Lorraine, in language as brief as significant, "_No time
to be lost; no time indeed to be lost._"


[11] Salvandy, p. 96, vol. ii.

[12] The grandson of the Duke of Lorraine married Maria Theresa, Queen
of Hungary, and was himself Emperor. The grand-daughter of Sobieski was
the mother of Charles Edward, the hero of the Forty-five.

[13] Of the family, not an ancestor, of the present Duchess of Albany.

[14] Salvandy.

[15] Schimmer, "Sieges of Vienna;" Count Thürheim, "Life of
Starhemberg;" and Salvandy, "Hist. de Pologne," p. 172, vol. ii.
misplace this solemn benediction of the army and the knighting of Prince
James on the morning of the 12th. Sobieski's own testimony, in his
letters to his queen, is decisive for the 8th. Nor on the 12th was there
time for the ceremony.


There was no time to be lost indeed. The fortifications of Vienna were a
mere heap of ruins. The Imperial Palace was battered to pieces. Nearly
one whole quarter of the city was in ashes. On the 3rd of September, the
long contested Burg ravelin was yielded to the Turks. On the 4th, the
salient angle of the Burg bastion was blown into the air, and an attack
was with difficulty repelled. On the 6th, a similar mine and assault
following cumbered the Löwel bastion with ruin and with corpses. For a
moment, the horse tails were planted upon the ramparts. Driven back
thence with difficulty, the Turks still clung to the Burg ravelin, and
four pieces of cannon planted there, at frightfully close quarters,
completed the ruin of the works. But no new attack came. Informed of the
advance of Lorraine, though still incredulous of the presence of
Sobieski, the Vizier began to draw his troops towards the foot of the
Kahlenberg. He still clung to the batteries and trenches; still kept the
pick of his Janissaries grappling with the prize which but for him they
might have already won. He rejected the advice of the Pasha of Pesth, to
withdraw across the Wien and fortify a camp on the Wienersberg, secure
that if the Christians attacked and failed Vienna would fall. He
withdrew his troops indeed from the Leopoldstadt, and threw up some
slight works towards the Kahlenberg, but remained otherwise irresolute,
halting between his expected booty and her deliverer.

Sobieski had already taken the measure of his opponent. In reply to
desponding views of Lorraine at Tuln, he had said, "Be of good cheer;
which of us at the head of two hundred thousand men would have allowed
this bridge to have been thrown within five leagues of his camp?" To his
wife he wrote, "A commander who has thought neither of entrenching his
camp, nor of concentrating his forces, but who lies encamped there as if
we were one hundred miles off, is predestined to be beaten." Viewing the
Turkish force from the Kahlenberg, he said to his soldiers, "This man is
badly encamped, he knows nothing of war; we shall beat him."

It was well for the Christians and for Vienna that none of the great
warriors who had served the Porte was now in command. No man like
Kiuprili, or even like Ibrahim "the Devil," the last Turkish commander
against whom Sobieski had contended, was there, to use the fidelity of
the Janissaries and the valour of the Spahis to advantage. The march up
the defiles of the Kahlenberg presented, even without interruptions,
extraordinary difficulties. The king himself pushed forward to
superintend the exploration of the way. He was so long parted from his
Polish troops that they became anxious for his safety. He rejoined them
at mid-day on the 11th, and encouraged them as they marched, or, as he
says, rather _climbed_ to the summit. Some Saxon troops, first arriving,
with three guns, opened fire upon a Turkish detachment marching too late
to secure the important position. The Turks retired, and the distant
sound of the firing announced to Vienna the first tidings of
deliverance. It was not till the evening of the 11th, however, that the
main body of the army had reached the ridge. Even then many had lagged
behind; the paths were nearly impracticable for artillery, and the
Germans abandoned many of their guns in despair between Tuln and the
Kahlenberg. But few pieces indeed were fired after the first beginning
of the battle on the following day, Polish guns, for the most part,
brought up by the vigour of the Grand Marshal of the Artillery, Kouski,
the same officer who had directed the Polish field-pieces against the
Turkish camp at Choczim.

"An hour before sunset," September 11, as Sobieski and the generals
stood at length upon the crest of the hill, "they saw outspread before
them one of the most magnificent yet terrible displays of human power
which man has seen. There lay the valley and the islands of the Danube,
covered with an encampment, the sumptuousness of which seemed better
suited for an excursion of pleasure than for the hardships of war.
Within it stood an innumerable multitude of animals--horses, camels, and
oxen. Two hundred thousand fighting men moved in order here and there,
while along the foot of the hills below swarms of Tartars roamed at
will. A frightful cannonade was raging vigorously from the one side, in
feeble reply from the other. Beneath the canopy of smoke lay a great
city, visible only by her spires and her pinnacles, which pierced the
overwhelming cloud and flame."[16] Sobieski estimated the force before
him at one hundred thousand tents and three hundred thousand men.
Including the non-combatants, he was, perhaps, not far wrong; but the
fighting men in the Turkish army by this time would be by many fewer
than that number. One hundred and sixty-eight thousand men is the most
which may be allowed from the muster-rolls found in the Vizier's tent,
and that certainly exceeds the truth.[17] All around, except where in
the encampment the magnificence of the invader was proudly flaunted in
the face of the ruin that he had made, the prospect was desolated by
war. Whatever might be the fortune of the coming day, a generation at
least must elapse before those suburbs are rebuilt, those villages
restored and repeopled, those fields fully cultivated again. The army
felt that it lay with them, under God, to provide against that further
extension of the ravage which would follow, should the bulwark of the
_Oesterreich_, the Eastern March of the Empire, be forced by Hun and

Not distinguishable from the distance at which they stood, thousands of
Christian captives lay in the encampment below. The morrow might deliver
up the people of Vienna to a like fate with theirs. The city, as the
king declared on entering it after the relief, could not have held out
five days. As the wind now lifted the cloud of smoke, where should have
been the fortifications, the eye could discern nothing but a circle of
shapeless ruin, reaching from the Scottish gate to what had been the
Burg bastion. Up to and on to it climbed the curving lines of the
Turkish approaches.

Sobieski had only hoped gradually to fight his way into a position
whence he could communicate with the besieged, and he had arranged his
plan of battle at Tuln with that idea. But the inequalities of the
country between the Kahlenberg and Vienna, broken with vines, villages,
small hills and hollow ways, together with the unexpectedly rapid
development of the attack when once it began, seem to have interfered
with his original disposition.

His army occupied a front of half a Polish mile, or about an English
mile and three quarters. It was drawn up in three supporting lines that
faced south-eastward.

The first line of the right wing was composed of nineteen Polish
(cavalry) divisions and four battalions; the second, of six Polish and
eight Austrian divisions, and four Polish battalions; the third, of nine
Polish, six Austrian, three German divisions, three Polish and one
German battalion.

The centre was composed in the first line of nine Austrian and eleven
German divisions, and thirteen German battalions; in the second, of six
German divisions, ten German and six Austrian battalions; in the third,
of five German and two Austrian battalions.

The left wing shewed in the first line, ten Austrian and five German
divisions, and six Austrian battalions; in the second line, four German
and eight Austrian divisions; in the third line, three German and seven
Austrian battalions.

Lubomirski with his irregular Poles was on the left; the Polish
Field-Marshal, Jablonowski, commanded on the right; the Prince of
Waldeck, with the Electors of Bavaria and Saxony, the centre; the Duke
of Lorraine and Louis of Baden, with Counts Leslie and Caprara, were on
the left. The king was upon the right or right centre throughout the
day. The total force, including detachments not actually engaged, was
46,700 cavalry and dragoons, 38,700 infantry; in all 85,400 men, with
some irregulars, and 168 guns, many of them not in action at all. The
dragoons fought on foot in the battle.[18] The army was, roughly,
one-third Poles, one-third Austrians, one-third Bavarians, Saxons, and
other Germans.[19] The fatigues of the march from Tuln would naturally
diminish the number of effective soldiers on the day of battle; and the
troops were not all in position when the evening of Saturday, September
11, fell. As the night however wore away, the rear guard gained the
summit of the hills, and snatched a brief repose before the labours of
the morrow.

But for the king there was no rest. The man whom the French ambassador
had described as unable to ride, who was tormented certainly by wearing
pains, after three days of incessant toil, passed a sleepless night
preparatory to fourteen hours in the saddle upon the battle-field. The
season of repose was dedicated to the duties of a general and the
affection of a husband. At three a.m. on Sunday, the 12th, the king is
again writing to his _bien-aimée Mariette_. He has been toiling all day
in bringing his troops up the ravines. "We are so thin," he writes, "we
might run down the stags on the mountains." As to the pomp or even
comfort of a king, that is not to be thought of. "All my luggage which
we have got up here is in the two lightest carts." He has some more upon
mules, but has not seen them for forty-eight hours. He had no thought of
sleep; indeed, the thunder of the Turkish cannon made it impossible; and
a gale of wind, which he describes as "sufficient to blow the men off
their horses," bore the noise of their discharge with redoubled clamour
to the relieving army. Moreover, the king writes, he must be in the
saddle before daybreak, riding down from the right to the extreme left,
to consult with Lorraine, opposite whom the enemy lies in force; not
entrenched, he hopes, as on that side he means to break through to the
city. A two days' affair, at least, he thinks. Then, "my eighth letter
to your sixth," he adds, with other familiar and gentle conversation,
with tidings of her son and of other friends, but with no word of fear
or of apprehension. He had made his will before setting out from Warsaw,
but he entertained no thought of failure. Then closing his wife's
letter, the affectionate husband becomes again the heroic king and
careful general. He rides from right to left along the lines, in that
boisterous autumnal morning, makes the last dispositions with Lorraine,
with him and with a few others takes again the Holy Communion from the
hands of Marco Aviano before the sun has risen, and then returns to his
post upon the right wing, ready for the advance that was to save Vienna.
His next letter to his wife was dated "September 13, night. The tents of
the Vizier."


[16] Coyer, "Memoires de Sobieski."

[17] The roll includes the forces of Tekeli, who was not in the Turkish
camp at all, and takes no count of the last losses which the Turkish
detachments had suffered, nor of the loss from desertion the night
before the battle, when many of the irregulars went off with their
booty. The Turks had lost, according to this roll, 48,500 men before the
battle.--See Thürheim's "Starhemberg," pp. 150 and _seq._

[18] The dragoons were mounted infantry, using horses to reach the scene
of action only. They carried the infantry weapons, sword and musket, but
not pikes. The bayonet was just coming into use, but was still fixed in
the muzzle of the gun, and had to be removed before firing.

[19] Count Thürheim, "Starhemberg," p. 163 and _seqq._; and Sobieski to
his wife, September 13.


The position of the Christian army on the Kahlenberg was, from the left
wing, the nearest point, about four miles from Vienna. The centre and
right were further removed. The intervening country, far from being a
plain, as Sobieski had been led to believe when he formed his first plan
of battle, is broken up into hillocks and little valleys, intersected by
streams, full of vineyards, and interspersed with the ruins of numerous
villages burnt by the Turks. Beyond these lay the Turkish encampment and
approaches, mingled with the vestiges of the suburbs destroyed by
Starhemberg at the beginning of the siege.

The Turkish army was stretched over a front of about four miles from
point to point, but slightly curving with the convex side towards the
attacking force. Their right rested upon the Danube, and held the
Nussberg before the villages of Nussdorf and Heiligenstadt; their left
reached towards Breitensee near the Wien, and the Tartars swarmed still
further on the broken ground beyond. Their camp straggled in an
irregular half-moon from the river above Vienna to beyond the Wien, and
their troops were, at the beginning of the action, drawn up before it.
Some hasty entrenchments had been thrown up by them here and there, of
which the most considerable was a battery between Währing, Gerstorf and
Weinhaus;[20] but the bulk of their artillery remained in their lines,
pointed against the city, and the clamour of the ensuing battle was
swelled by the continuous roar of their bombardment, kept up as on
previous days. In the trenches lay a great body of Janissaries; and the
Turkish army was further weakened by the dispersal of Tartars and
irregulars on the night before the fight, doubtful of the event, and
anxious at any rate to secure their plunder. As the king had said, the
Turks were badly posted, their camp was long and straggling, too
valuable to be abandoned and not easy to defend. In case of a reverse,
their right wing would run the risk of being driven into the Danube, or
else have to fall back upon their centre and left, to the confusion of
the whole army. Fighting with a river and a fortified city upon their
flank and rear, repulse for them would mean certain disaster. But the
incapacity of the Vizier could not be fully fathomed till the attack
began. We have the assurance of Sobieski himself that he hoped upon the
first day merely to bring his army within striking distance of the
enemy, and to establish his left well forward near the bank of the
Danube, ready to deal a decisive blow, or to throw succour into Vienna
on the morrow or following day. He closed his letter to his wife in the
grey of the windy morning of the 12th of September, ignorant that the
decisive moment, bringing a victory greater than that of Choczim, was at

The Turks had pushed their outposts forward up the banks of the river,
and soon after daybreak Lorraine upon the left was engaged, and the
fight thickened as his attack towards Nussdorf and Heiligenstadt was
developed. Eugene of Savoy began his distinguished career in arms by
carrying tidings from Lorraine to the king that the battle had commenced
in earnest. Eugene, barely twenty, had left Paris that year, slighted by
Louis, and had entered the service of the Emperor. His memoirs dismiss
briefly this his first essay in war. "The confusion of that day can be
but confusedly described. The Poles, who had clambered up to the
Leopoldsberg--I know not why--went down again like madmen and fought
like lions. The Turks, encamped where I threw up lines in 1703, did not
know which way to front, neglected the eminences, and behaved like
idiots."[21] The young aide-de-camp, carrying orders through the hottest
of the fire, could not yet penetrate the system which underlay the
apparent confusion of the march and battle. Advancing in columns with a
comparatively narrow front down the difficult slope of the hills, the
infantry gradually deployed right and left upon the lower ground, while
the cavalry of the second line advanced to fill the gaps thus left in
the foremost The Turks resisted gallantly, but they were principally
dismounted Spahis, not a match for Lorraine's favourite troops, the
German foot, though regaining their horses they would retreat with great
rapidity, to again dismount, and again resist, as each favourable
position offered itself. The fighting was obstinate, and the losses
heavy upon both sides, but the tide of fight rolled steadily towards
Vienna. The Germans carried the height of the Nussberg, above Nussdorf,
and their guns planted there disordered the whole of the Turkish right
with their plunging fire. Osman Ogoli, Pasha of Kutaya, the Turkish
general of division, pushed forward three columns in a counter-attack,
boldly and skilfully directed. The Imperial infantry were shaken, but
five Saxon battalions, inclining to their left from the Christian
centre, checked in turn the onset of the Ottomans, and restored the
current of the battle. But had the whole force of the enemy been
commanded as their right wing, the allies would scarcely that night have
been greeted in Vienna. No false move in the advance escaped the skill
of Osman. As the Turkish attack recoiled, the Prince of Croy had dashed
forward with two battalions to carry with a rush the village of
Nussdorf. Checked and overwhelmed, he fell back again, himself wounded,
his brother slain. Louis of Baden, with his dismounted dragoons, came up
to the rescue, and checked the pursuing enemy. As they recoiled slowly
the fight grew fiercer, and then more stationary about Nussdorf and
about Döbling. Houses, gardens, and vineyards formed a series of
entrenchments, sharply attacked and obstinately defended. A third time
the fiery valour of the Turks, charging home with their sabres among the
pikes and muskets, disordered the allies, and all but regained the
summit of the Nussberg. Again the superior cohesion of the Christians
prevailed, and the Turkish column outflanked fell back, still stubbornly
contesting every foot of ground. From the long extended centre and left
of their line no support came to them, as the Vizier in anxious
irresolution expected the advance of the centre of the allies and of the
Poles upon their right. His infatuation, moreover, had kept in the
batteries the bulk of his artillery, and in the trenches the best of his
Janissaries. In dire want of the guns, which roared idly upon the
already shattered defences of the city, Osman was driven through
Nussdorf and through Heiligenstadt, upon the fortified defiles of
Döbling, where at last a battery of ten guns and a force of Janissaries
opposed a steadier resistance to the advancing Germans. It was now noon.
Lorraine had already won the position which had been marked out for his
achievement for the day, and slackened his attack while he reformed his
victorious battalions. The centre and right of the Christian army,
separated by a longer distance from their foes, had been slowly gaining
the field of action, and had scarce fired a shot nor struck a blow,
except for the support accorded to the left by the centre. The whole of
the infantry and cavalry had at mid-day gained the positions assigned to
them, and, in the absence of most of his artillery, Sobieski would have
hesitated to continue his advance had not his lines, upon the left
especially, become so deeply involved that it was difficult to suspend
the conflict for long. Yet a momentary lull succeeded to the sharp
sounds of close combat. A sultry autumn day had followed the boisterous
night and morning, and the heat was oppressive.[22] The Poles upon the
right halted and snatched a hasty meal from the provisions they had
brought with them. But as the rattle of the small arms and the clash of
weapons died away, the roar of the battering guns and the answering fire
of the city rose in overwhelming distinctness. Behind the smoky veil,
Starhemberg and his gallant garrison could perchance barely guess, by
sounds of conflict, the progress of their deliverers. Tidings from the
watch-chair on St. Stephen's would spread alternate hope and despair
among the citizens. The fate of Vienna trembled in the balance. The
garrison stood ready in the breaches, the rest of the inhabitants
cowered upon the housetops to watch, or knelt in the churches to pray;
but to the Vizier came swiftly tidings of the foe with whom he had to
deal, the foe whose presence he had obstinately refused to credit.

Reforming after their brief delay, the Polish cavalry in gorgeous arms
came flashing from the woods and defiles near Dornbach on his left.
Those who had before fought against him, knew the plume raised upon a
spear point, the shield borne before him, the _banderolles_ on the
lances of his body guard, which declared the presence of the terrible
Sobieski. "By Allah, but the king is really among them," cried Gieray,
Khan of the Crimea. And all doubt was at an end as the shout of "_Vivat
Sobieski_" rolled along the Christian lines, in dread and significant
answer to the discordant clamour of the Infidels.

Profiting, however, by the interruption in the battle, the Vizier had
reformed his line, brought up infantry from the trenches, and now
directed his attack upon the Poles and the most formidable of his
opponents, hoping by their overthrow to change the fortune of the day,
while the Imperialists and Saxons still halted before his entrenchments
at Döbling. The Turks advanced with courage. For a moment a regiment of
Polish lancers were thrown into confusion, and the officers, members of
the nobility of Poland, who strove to rally their lines, fell; but
Waldeck, moving up his Bavarians from the centre, restored the fight.
The attack was defeated, and advancing in turn the headlong valour of
the Poles drove the Turks back from point to point, over the Alserbach
and its branches upon the confines of their camp. To relieve the
pressure upon the right and centre, Lorraine had renewed his attack with
the left of the allies. Horses and men had recovered breath and order,
and their artillery had moved up in support. The defiles of Döbling were
cleared by the Saxons; and at about four or five o'clock the Turkish
redoubt before Währing was carried by Louis of Baden with his dismounted
dragoons. Falling back in confusion upon their approaches and
batteries, the Turks desperately endeavoured, too late, to turn the
siege guns upon the enemy, whose advance now threatened them upon all
sides. The caution of Sobieski had, up to the last moment, inclined him
to respect the superior numbers and the desperation of his foes, and to
rest content with the advantage won; but now, in the growing confusion,
he saw that the decisive hour had arrived. The Elector of Bavaria and
the Prince of Waldeck hastening from the centre already saluted him as

The desperate efforts of the Vizier to gain room by moving troops
towards his left from the centre, and so extending his lines beyond the
Polish right, served but to increase the confusion. The Field-Marshal
Jablonowski covered that wing, and the Queen of Poland's brother, the
Count de Maligni, pushing forward with infantry, seized a mound, whence
his musketry fire dominated the spot where the Vizier stood. The last
shots were fired from the two or three cannon which had kept pace with
the advance. A French officer rammed home the last charge with his
gloves, his wig, and a packet of French papers. Already the roads to
Hungary were thronged with fugitives, whose course was marked by dust
in columns, when the king decided to seize the victory all but in his
grasp already. _Non nobis, non nobis, Domine exercituum, sed Nomini Tuo
des gloriam_, he cried in answer to the congratulations of his friends,
as he began the decisive movement.

Concentrating as rapidly as possible the bulk of the cavalry of the
whole army, German and Polish, upon the right wing,[23] he led them to
the charge, directly upon the spot where the Vizier with blows, tears,
and curses, was endeavouring to rally the soldiers, whom his own
ill-conduct had deprived of their wonted valour. The Turkish infantry
without pikes, their cavalry without heavy armour, were incapable of
withstanding the shock of the heavy German cuirassiers, or of arresting
the rush of the Polish nobles, whose spears, as they boasted to their
kings, would uphold the heavens should they fall. Their king at their
head, they came down like a whirlwind to the shout of "God preserve
Poland." The spears of the first line were splintered against the few
who awaited them, but their onset was irresistible. Spahis and
Janissaries, Tartars and Christian allies alike went down before the
Polish lances, or turned and fled in headlong confusion. The old Pasha
of Pesth, the greatest of the Turkish warriors in reputation, had fled
already. The Pashas of Aleppo and of Silistria perished in the _melée_.
"Can you not help me?" cried the Vizier, turning to the Khan of the
Crimea. "No," was the reply; "I know the King of Poland well, it is
impossible to resist him; think only of flight."[24]

Away through the wasted borders of Austria, away to the Hungarian
frontier, to their army that lay before Raab, poured the fugitives.
There seldom has been a deliverance more complete and more decisive. The
terror which had so long weighed upon Eastern Christendom was dissolved
in that headlong rout. It was more than the scattering of an army; the
strength of an empire was dissipated on that day. Resources which had
been accumulating for years were destroyed; and such an expedition, so
numerous and so well furnished, never was sent forth by the Ottoman
again. The victory lacked nothing to render it more striking, either in
suddenness, in completeness, or in situation. The whole action had been
comprised in the hours between sunrise and sunset, before the gates of
one of the greatest capitals in Europe. We may borrow indeed the words
of Eugene, used in his despatch describing the last victory of the war
at Zenta, to picture the last hours of that evening before Vienna. For
upon the summits of the Weiner-Wald, whence the allies had descended
that morning to a yet doubtful field, "the sun seemed to linger, loath
to leave the day, until his rays had illumined to the end the triumph of
the glorious arms" of Poland and "of the Empire."

There was no want of individual courage among the Turks. "They made the
best retreat you can conceive," wrote the king, for hard pressed they
would turn sword in hand upon their pursuers. But the head which should
have directed that courage was wanting; and for that want they were a
gallant mob, but no longer an army. Grateful for the result though we
may be, there is something pathetic in the magnificent valour of a race
of soldiers being frustrated by such incapacity. The Christians,
exhausted by the toils of the last few days, could not pursue to any
distance. The Imperial General Dünewald indeed with a few squadrons of
Austrians and Poles, the stoutest steeds or the keenest riders,
despising both plunder and fatigue, pushed straight on through the
twilight to Enzersdorf, where the road crossed the stream of the Fischa,
ten miles from Vienna, and there bursting on the line of flight made a
slaughter of the fugitives, which showed how much they owed to the night
and to the weariness of their conquerors. But there was no general
pursuit on the part of the allies. Their commanders were doubtful of the
full extent of their victory, and feared lest from such a multitude some
part might rally and destroy the too eager followers whom they still
outnumbered. But without pursuit their work was done. At seven, Louis of
Baden had opened a communication with the besieged, and the garrison
sallying forth joined the relieving army in the slaughter of the
Janissaries who had remained, neglected or forgotten, in the trenches.
Even then one miner was found, doggedly toiling in his gallery beneath
the ramparts, ignorant of the flight or death of his companions; perhaps
from among so many the last staunch soldier of the Prophet.

I cannot conceive, wrote Sobieski, how they can carry on the war after
such a loss of _matériel_. The whole of the artillery of the Turks,
their munitions, and their baggage were the spoil of the victors. Three
hundred and ten pieces of cannon, twenty thousand animals, nine thousand
carriages, one hundred and twenty-five thousand tents, five million
pounds of powder are enumerated. The holy standard of the Prophet had
been saved, but the standard of the Vizier, mistaken for it, was sent to
the Pope by the conqueror, while his gilded stirrups were despatched at
once to Poland to the Queen, as a token of victory. Never, perhaps,
since Alexander stood a victor at Issus in the tents of Darius, or the
Greeks stormed the Persian camp at Platæa, had an European army entered
upon such spoil. Much money had been saved by the Turks in their flight;
but precious stuffs and jewelled arms, belts thick with diamonds,
intended to encircle the fair captives of Vienna, the varied plunder of
many a castle of Hungary and of Lower Austria, were found piled in the
encampment. In the Vizier's quarters were gardens laid out with baths
and fountains, a menagerie, even a rabbit warren. His encampment alone
formed a labyrinth of tents, by itself of the circumference of a little
town, and with its contents declared the character of its late owner. An
ostrich, previously taken from an Imperial castle, was found beheaded to
prevent recapture. A parrot, more fortunate, escaped upon the wing. The
Polish envoy was discovered in the camp in chains, forgotten during the
turmoil, and thus saved from the death promised him if his master should
take the field. The Imperial agent at the Porte, Kunitz, had escaped
into the town during the battle; but the mass of Christian captives had
not been so happy. Before the battle the Vizier had ordered a general
massacre of prisoners, and the camp was cumbered with the bodies of men,
women, and children, but for the most part of women, foully slaughtered.
The benevolent energy of the Bishop of Neustadt, above-mentioned, found
employment in caring for five hundred children, who had, with their
mothers in a few cases, escaped the sword. The night was passed in the
camp by the victors, who were intent on securing their victory or their
plunder. Not till the following morning did the king meet Lorraine and
exchange congratulations upon their success. Then, with the Commandant
Starhemberg, they entered the city, passing over those well-contested
breaches, which but for them might have been that day trodden by the
Janissaries. They repaired to the churches for a solemn thanksgiving.
Sobieski himself sang the _Te Deum_ in one of them. Nothing could exceed
the enthusiastic gratitude of the people, who barely allowed a passage
to the horse of their deliverer. The priest, after the _Te Deum_ ended,
by a happy inspiration or plagiarism, gave out the words, "_There was a
man sent from God, whose name was John._"[25] A salute of three hundred
guns proclaimed the victory far and wide, and the shouts of "_Vivat
Sobieski!_" that filled the city out-thundered the thunder of the
cannon. Their walls were a chaos, their habitations a ruin, but the
citizens rejoiced as those rejoice whom the Lord hath redeemed and
delivered from the hand of the enemy. They were as men released not only
from the sword, pestilence, and famine, but from prison besides. They
poured forth to taste again the sweets of liberty, wondered at the
trenches, or joined in the pillage of the camp, where the air was
already sickening from the thousands of the slain, and foul from the
refuse of the barbaric encampment. But amid all the popular rejoicing,
the king could not but observe the coldness of the magistracy. The
Emperor could not endure that any but himself should triumph in Vienna,
and his feelings were reflected in his servants. On hearing of the
victory he had returned to the neighbourhood of the city. A council was
held to settle the weighty point as to how the elective Emperor was to
receive the elective King. "With open arms, since he has saved the
Empire," said Lorraine; but Leopold would not descend to such an
indecorum. He strove to avoid a meeting with the deliverer of his
capital, and when the meeting was arranged could barely speak a few cold
words in Latin, well answered by Sobieski, who, saying, "I am happy,
Sire, to have been able to render you this slight service," turned his
horse, saluted, and rode away. A few complimentary presents to Prince
James and to the Polish nobles did not efface the impression of
ingratitude. The German writers minimize the coldness of the Emperor,
but Sobieski was at the moment undoubtedly aggrieved, and others were


[20] The _Turkenschanze_, traces of which lately remained.

[21] In 1717 Eugene, in like case with the Vizier now, was besieging
Belgrade, and was himself surrounded by a large Turkish army. However,
he defeated the relieving army and took the city.

[22] There is a proverb, "_Vienna aut venenosa aut ventosa_." She was
giving to her deliverers successive displays of her character.

[23] Sobieski's letter of September 13.

[24] Sobieski's letter of September 13. He must have heard of the
conversation from the Vizier's attendants taken in his encampment.

[25] It was the exclamation of the Pope, Pius V., on hearing of the
victory of Don John of Austria over the Turks at Lepanto, in 1571.


Neglected and distrusted by the sovereign whom he had delivered,
Sobieski found consolation in detailing his victory, his spoil, and his
wrongs alike to his wife. We find the great soldier again, in the full
flush of his victory, writing indefatigably to his _Mariette_. It is on
the night of the 13th, in the Vizier's late quarters, in the camp still
cumbered with the slaughter of the combatants and of prisoners. The loss
had been heavy in the fighting upon both sides, he tells us; and such an
estimate, formed at such a moment by the victorious general, by far
outweighs the accounts by which the French above all tried to minimize
the slaughter made, and with it the greatness of the victory won.[26]
He begins his letter: "God be blessed for ever. He has given victory to
our people; He has given them such a triumph that past ages have not
seen the like." All around, the explosions of the Turkish ammunition,
fired by the plunderers from city and army, "make a din like the last
judgment." He plunges into a description of the riches that the camp
contains. "The Vizier has made me his heir; he has done everything _en
galant homme_." "You cannot say to me, 'You are no warrior,' as the
Tartar women say to their husbands when they return empty-handed." "For
two nights and a day plunder has gone on at will; even the townsfolk
have taken their share, and I am sure that there is enough left for
eight days more. The plunder we got at Choczim was nothing to this."

There was a touch of the barbaric chieftain in the Polish king, and he
keenly enjoyed not merely the victory, but the spoil which he had won.
At the end of the seventeenth century, the character of this general of
the school of Montecuculi, this admirer of Condé, recalls to us at once
the ardour of a crusader, and the affectionate rapacity of a
moss-trooper, reserving the richest plunder of a foray to deck his wife
at home. He exults in the belts and in the watches studded with jewels,
the stuffs and the embroideries which are to adorn his wife's boudoir.
But he is still bent on action. "We must march to-morrow for Hungary,"
he says, "and start at the double, to escape the smell of the camp and
its refuse, with the thousands of bodies of men and of animals lying

One letter, at least, he had despatched before writing to his wife. He
knew well the feelings with which the King of France would regard the
salvation of the Empire, and the setting free of the attention of
Germany to be directed to his own designs. In Sobieski's own words to
his wife, he thus reveals his triumph over the French king, whose
intrigues had been ceaselessly directed to prevent his coming: "I have
written to the King of France; I have told him that it was to him
especially, as to the Most Christian King, that I felt bound to convey
the information of the battle that we have won, and of the safety of
Christendom." This letter remained unanswered. It is said that the
proofs of Louis' dealings with the Turks had at that moment passed into
the hands of the victors, amid the plunder of the Vizier's quarters.

No sooner had Louis heard that the intrigues of his agents had failed,
and that Sobieski was actually in the field, than his armies were let
loose upon the Spanish Netherlands. Unable to anticipate the victory at
Vienna, the French revenged it by seizing Courtrai and Dixmunde in the
autumn, and bombarding Luxemburg before the end of the year. The French
nobility had been forbidden to hasten to the defence of Christendom; and
now were inclined to depreciate, at least in words, the victory they had
not shared.

Amidst the general chorus of admiration and of thankfulness which rose
from Europe, in France, and in France alone, were the deeds of Sobieski
slighted. He had cut in pieces not only the Turks, but the prophecies
which had filled Paris of the approaching downfall of the house of
Austria. The allies of that house took a bolder tone; Spain talked of
the declaration of that war against Louis which he had provoked for so
long; the United Provinces listened to the warlike councils of the
Prince of Orange; the Emperor spoke decidedly of succouring all his

Far different was to be the progress of Louis' aggressions upon Germany,
now that the overmastering fear of Turkish invasion was done away with,
and the Turkish hold upon Hungary loosened. The alliance of Laxenberg
and the other leagues were now to ripen into the great confederacy of
Augsburg and the Grand Alliance.

Upon the Ottoman power the effect of the victory was decisive. Turkish
rule in Hungary had received a blow from which it never recovered. It is
true that Sobieski, advancing rashly with his cavalry alone, shortly
involved himself in a disaster, near the bridge of the Danube, opposite
Gran. The king himself had to ride for his life from the Turkish
horsemen. The check, however, was avenged by the complete destruction of
the force which had inflicted it; and the fortress of Gran, the most
important place upon that side of Hungary, became the prize of the

The views of Sobieski embraced the reduction of Buda, and, perhaps, of
the whole of Hungary, in this campaign. But this was forbidden by the
lateness of the season, still more by the jealousy of the Emperor. The
king warred against the Turks, but not against the Hungarians. He
sympathized with their efforts to regain their liberties, and strove to
reconcile rather than to subdue Tekeli. Leopold was fearful of the
establishment of a Polish interest in the country, and showed a studied
neglect of his allies. But had other causes allowed, the insubordination
of the Poles would have prevented further conquests. The Polish
nobility, the political masters of their king, were foremost in
clamouring for a return to their native country. A prolonged career of
conquest was impossible at the head of such a State and army. The hopes
of a Hungarian alliance died away. Tekeli, after much hesitation,
refused to enter into the negotiations which the king proposed; and
reluctantly the deliverer of Christendom withdrew through Upper Hungary
into Poland again, reducing some towns upon the road, but leaving his
great work half done. His army melted in his hands. The tardy
Lithuanians, too late for the fighting, arrived to add to his vexation
in Moravia, where they disgraced their country by pillaging the people
whom they had not helped to save.

But Sobieski was not alone in suffering from the Emperor's ingratitude.
Starhemberg, the defender of the city, was deservedly rewarded; but most
of the others, from Lorraine downwards, who had participated in the
battle, had little recompense for their services. Even the ardour of the
Elector of Bavaria was for a time cooled by the coolness of the Emperor,
though he returned again to the service of his future father-in-law. The
Elector of Saxony, Waldeck, and others left the scene of the campaign to
enjoy their triumph, or to plunge into other enterprises; but under
Lorraine, and a series of generals, culminating in that Eugene of Savoy,
who had seen his first service at Vienna, the Turks were driven foot by
foot from Hungary. Kara Mustapha shortly paid for his defeat, as Ottoman
commanders did pay--with his head, suffering not unjustly. But his
successors, though less incompetent, were scarcely on the whole more
fortunate than he.

In vain a new Kiuprili was found to head the Turkish armies and to
reform the Turkish State. A short gleam of success under his leadership
was ended by his death in battle. In vain a Sultan, Mustapha II., again
appeared himself at the head of his armies. The means of warfare of the
Ottomans were to a great extent expended and lost beyond repair in the
great disaster at Vienna. New enemies rose up against them in their
weakness. Russia in the Ukraine, Venice in the Morea and in Dalmatia,
began conquests at the expense of the Porte. The war indeed dragged on,
delayed by the renewed contest between France and the Augsburg league;
but the very weakness of Austria served merely to show more clearly the
fallen fortunes of the Turks, who could make no lasting stand against
her. Steadily upon the whole the fortunes of the Ottomans declined,
though it was not till the great victory of Eugene at Zenta, in 1697,
that they were driven reluctantly to treat. The peace signed at
Carlowitz, in 1699, illustrates the altered relations of Europe since
the beginning of the war, when the Turks had been a menace to Germany.

For the first time, an European conference considered the affairs of
Turkey. England and Holland were mediators of the peace, that the
Emperor might be more free to act with them in the coming war of the
Spanish Succession. Sobieski had nearly three years earlier become a
memory, with his victories, his schemes, and his disappointments, in the
grave; and with him ended the ever unstable greatness of Poland. Another
yet more notable northern sovereign, Peter the Czar, was a party to the
negotiations. Everywhere was territory rent from Turkey. To Austria, she
yielded nearly all of Hungary and Transylvania, with most of the
Sclavonian lands between the Save and the Drave; to Poland, she gave up
Podolia; to Russia, Azof; to Venice, the Morea and parts of Dalmatia.
One point she proudly refused to yield. The Hungarian Tekeli and his
friends, who had sought her hospitality, were retained by her, safe from
the vengeance of the Emperor; as in 1849 other Hungarian exiles were
shielded by the Turks, against the vengeance of Austria and of Russia
combined. This was the first peace which had permanently reduced the
frontiers of the Ottomans; it marked the termination of the last of the
great Mohammedan aggressions upon Christendom; it saw the end of the
secret understandings by which, since the days of Francis I., France
had endeavoured to use Turkey for the subversion of Austria and for the
ends of her own ambition. The complete reversal of the former positions
of the combatants, the disastrous termination of the war for Turkey, the
"rolling away of the stone of Tantalus that hung above _their_ heads,
the intolerable woe for the _Germans_",[27] the far-reaching results of
the struggle in the future history of Europe--all are traceable to the
day when the genius of Sobieski marked triumphantly, from the windy
heights of the Kahlenberg, that fatal incapacity which should open for
him the way, as victorious deliverer, to the foot of the ruined ramparts
of Vienna.

But naturally, before concluding our consideration of the subject, we
ask what gain did Poland, or the King of Poland, gather from the
enterprise in which he had played so glorious a part? For a few months
he was the centre of the admiring eyes of Christendom. "_L'empire du
monde vous serait du si le ciel l'eût réservé à un seul potentat_,"
wrote Christina of Sweden from Rome, not without a glance at the
pretensions of Louis XIV. to supremacy, and of Leopold to an imperial
primacy in Europe. Never before had Poland filled so great a place in
the eyes of the world. The cautious Venetians sought her special
alliance. In the language of diplomacy she was _Respublica Serenissima_;
but untroubled she never was, and her greatness was of short duration.
It is true that the frontiers of the State were relieved of a constant
fear. The Turks were for the time broken, the Tartars were crushed, the
Cossacks of the Ukraine again reduced to submission. But Sobieski had
fought and had conquered for others. His country was incapable of
gathering the fruits of victory; incapable of prolonged effort, and
therefore of lasting success. At the peace of Carlowitz, Podolia, with
the fortress of Kaminiec, was recovered; but Moldavia had been in vain
invaded by the Poles; and the Turks, it was soon seen, were beaten for
the benefit of Austria; the Tartars for the benefit of Russia.

The King of Poland, alive to the shortcomings of his countrymen, was
unable to correct them. A man who was at least the most eminent soldier,
general we may not say, of Europe; a man who above all others living
fulfilled the character of a hero; a king who had saved his country; a
husband who was devoted to his wife, found himself thwarted by his
subjects, and distracted by quarrels in his family. No doubt he laboured
to render the crown hereditary in his house, a service to his country it
would have been had he succeeded; but the jealousy of the Poles, still
more that of the neighbouring sovereigns, and to some extent the
misconduct of his wife, rendered this impossible. He found himself the
object of an empty respect, but the wielder of no authority; he saw his
country without order, without steadiness of purpose, unable to follow
any settled policy in conjunction either with France or with the enemies
of France. The factions of the Diet left him without soldiers and
without money. Not for the first, but nearly for the last time, the
Poles were victorious in battle, but were destined to fail woefully in
attaining the objects of war. The end was not far off. Sobieski was
followed by a foreigner upon the throne, and within ten years of his
death, Charles XII. of Sweden was disposing as a conqueror of the crown
of Poland. The prey to the ambition of her neighbours his country has
remained, now like her king a memory, to serve as a lesson of the
consequences of the disregard of those restraints and of that
self-control which alone can render freedom safe and liberty a blessing.
For want of these her place has vanished from the map of Europe, sooner
even than that of the foe whom she destroyed.


[26] A moderate estimate of the Christian loss is five thousand men, or
about one-fifteenth of those on the field; a loss in about the same
proportion as that of both sides at Sadowa. The Poles alone confessed to
the loss of one hundred officers killed, and they were neither so long
nor so hotly engaged as the left wing. The loss of the centre was
probably less. Thürheim and Schimmer give of the allies four thousand,
and twenty-five thousand Turks; but the latter figures are quite
uncertain, and the Christians made the least of their losses. As the
fight was so much hand-to-hand, with little artillery fire, it would
resemble ancient battles, where the loss of the vanquished was always
disproportionately large. The memoirs of the Duke of Lorraine simply
say, that "for about three hours the fighting was very bloody upon both
sides." Fighting, however, had began soon after daybreak, and the
pursuit lasted till nightfall.


[Greek: epeidê ton huper kephalas ge Tantalon lithon para tis etrepsen
ammi theos, atolmaton Elladi mochthon.]

PINDAR, Isth. viii. 10.

Written after the repulse of the great Persian invasion.



[Illustration: Map

     Archiducatus Austriae Inferioris Geographics et Noviter Emendata
     Accuratissima Descriptio.


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