Last year on September 11th I composed a memorial post, and then went browsing among all the other bloggers who had posted their own memorials. There were some excellent posts and photo essays, notably at Michelle Malkin, Dr. Sanity, and CUANAS, and all so much better than my own.
So this year I will do something different: I will commemorate the events of five years ago by revisiting events of 323 years ago. I refer, of course, to the other 9-11: September 11th, 1683, the day when an alliance of Christian armies led by Jan III Sobieski, the King of Poland, arrived at the Gates of Vienna.
The Ottoman Empire had been expanding into Europe ever since Constantinople fell to the Turks, and even before that. Wherever the Muslim armies went, they plundered cities, took slaves, turned churches into mosques, and converted many thousands of Christian captives to Islam at the point of a sword.
The Sultan’s armies overran Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia. They turned Protestant Hungary into a compliant vassal and made war repeatedly on Austria and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Ottomans had designs on Vienna, since the fall of the city would open the way into the heart of Austria and the rich principalities of southern Germany.
Having failed to take Vienna in the siege of 1529, the Turks prepared a second attempt in 1683. Under the leadership of the Grand Vizier, Pasha Kara Mustafa, and with their Tatar and Malaysian allies, they made their preparations and fought their way towards the capital, overrunning Austrian villages and smaller cities in their path and taking many captives. As the Muslim hordes approached Vienna, King Leopold fled west with most of the citizens, leaving a garrison of about 11,000 soldiers and 5,000 citizen volunteers to hold the city against the Turks. The Viennese razed buildings in the area around the city walls in order to deny the enemy cover, and brought livestock and provender into the city to prepare for a siege.
On July 16th, 1683, the second siege of Vienna began. The tiny garrison in the city was no match for Kara Mustafa’s army of 140,000, but the Grand Vizier decided to starve the city into submission rather than attempt a frontal assault on its defenses.
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One of the main reasons the Turks had had such success in the Balkans and Eastern Europe was that their Christian enemies were unable to unite against them. Since the Caliphate and the Ottoman Empire were one and the same thing, Islam experienced no such fractiousness, and it was a united horde that advanced inexorably through the mountain passes and across the plains towards Vienna.