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The Turkish Defeat at Vienna (September 12, 1683)

Taken from a pamphlet “Printed for Samuel Crouch at the Corner of Popes-Head Alley next Cornhill, 1683,” this English eyewitness account offers a vivid picture of Christian-Turkish warfare in seventeenth-century Central Europe. As the text makes clear, Polish king Jan Sobieski won great renown for breaking the Turkish siege that had pinned down Habsburg forces within Vienna (though Austrian resistance before the Poles’ arrival had sapped Turkish strength). In this report, the interplay of aristocratic-dynastic with religious and ethnic-cultural discourse reflects the manner in which Christian Europeans viewed such warfare.

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A True and Exact Relation of the Raising of the Siege of Vienna and the Victory obtained over the Ottoman Army, the 12th of September 1683

After a Siege of Sixty days, accompanied with a Thousand Difficulties, Sicknesses, Want of Provisions, and great Effusion of Blood, after a Million of Cannon and Musquet Shot, Bombs, Granadoes, and all sorts of Fire Works, which has changed the Face of the fairest and most flourishing City in the World, disfigured and ruined most part of the best Palaces of the same, and chiefly those of the Emperor; and damaged in many places the Beautiful Tower and Church of St. Stephen, with many Sumptuous Buildings. After a Resistance so vigorous, and the Loss of so many brave Officers and Souldiers, whose Valour and Bravery deserve Immortal Glory. After so many Toils endured, so many Watchings and so many Orders so prudently distributed by Count Staremburgh, and so punctually executed by the other Officers.

After so many new Retrenchments, Pallizadoes, Parapets, new Ditches in the Ravelins, Bastions, Courtins, and principal Streets and Houses in the Town: Finally, after a Vigorous Defence and a Resistance without parallel, Heaven favourably heard the Prayers and Tears of a Cast-down and Mournful People, and retorted the Terror on a powerful Enemy, and drove him from the Walls of Vienna, who since the Fifteenth of July last early in the Morning, to the Twelfth of September, had so Vigorously attacked it with Two hundred thousand Men; and by endless Workings, Trenchings, and Minings, reduced it almost to its last gasp.

Count Staremburgh, who sustained this great Burden, assisted by so many Gallant Officers, having given Notice to the Christian Army, by Discharge of Musquets from the Tower of St. Stephen, of the Extremity whereto the City was reduced, they discovered on the Twelfth of this Month, early in the Morning, the Christian Troops marching down the Neighbouring Mountains of Kalemberg, and heard continually the Discharges of their Artillery against the Turks, who being advanced thither, were fortified with Parapets of Earth and great Stones, to hinder the Descent of the Christian Army from the Mountains, who notwithstanding did advance. The Vanguard of the Horse and Foot, seconded by the Polish Horse, had a long Skirmish with the Turks, disputing every Foot of Ground; but seeing themselves totally vanquished by the Christian Forces, who had surmounted all the Difficulties of the Mountains, and drawn down their Cannon in spight of them, they retired Fighting, leaving to the Christians all their Camps full of Pavillions, Tents, Barracks, and Eight Pieces of Cannon (with which they had raised a Battery on that side Four days before) and retreated towards their Principal Camp, between the Villages of Hernalls, Haderkling and Jezing; but as they passed by the Bastion of Melck they fired their Cannon furiously on them: The Christians being ravish’d with the Victory, pursued them with so much heat, that they were not only forced to leave their great Camps, but likewise all their others; flying towards Hungary: And it is certain, had not the Night come on, they had totally defeated and routed the Ottoman Army.

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