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Austria Gave The Ottoman Turks The Greatest Taunt of All Time

Christian Europe teamed up to prevent the Ottoman empire's expansion through Vienna.

siege of vienna
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  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Simply put, the 1529 Siege of Vienna did not go the way the Ottoman Empire hoped it would. Sultan Suleiman I, the Magnificent, was coming off a fresh string of victories in Europe and elsewhere when he decided that the road to an Ottoman Europe had to be paved through the legendary city of Vienna. He boasted that he would be having breakfast in Vienna's cathedral within two weeks of the start of his siege.

When the day came and went, the Austrians sent the Sultan a letter, telling him his breakfast was getting cold.

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The Sultan had a reason to be cocky going into the Siege of Vienna. He had just brought down the Hungarians in the Battle of Mohács, the longtime first line of defense for European Christendom. Hungary lost its king and fell into a disastrous civil war in which the Ottomans gleefully intervened. 

siege of vienna
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  • Suleiman the Magnificent.

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Habsburgs, who controlled half of Hungary and all of Austria at this time, weren't having any of it and Hungary was split for a century after. For the time being, however, the Ottomans and their Hungarian allies were going head-to-head with Austrian Archduke Ferdinand I, pushing the Austrians all the way back to Vienna in less than a year.

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But Europe's Christian powers were not going to let Austria fall without a fight and so sent help to the besieged city. That help came in the form of German Landsknechts, Spanish musketeers, and Italian mercenaries. It was the furthest the Islamic armies had ever penetrated Europe's heartland. But Suleiman would fail to take the city.

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The spring's torrential rains started almost immediately, meaning the Turkish armies had to abandon their powerful cannons, along with horses and camels who were unaccustomed to the amount of mud they had to trudge through. Even so, they still came with 300 cannons and outnumbered the defenders five-to-one. The allied troops inside the city held their own against the Turkish onslaught as the rain continued.

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Sickness, rain, and wounds hounded the Ottoman armies until snowfall took the place of the rain. The health of many of the Ottoman men was heavily affected by the time they reached Vienna, no doubt contributing to their losses.

The city of Vienna came together in an astonishing show to prevent the attack. Peasants and mercenaries alike joined forces to repel the Ottomans, as strategists fortified the walls of the city and blocked all four gates in. Soon, the Ottomans were running out of food and supplies, even as Suleiman decided on one final assault–only to be beaten back once more.

The Ottomans were forced to retreat, leaving 15,000 men killed in action behind. The Sultan would never get his breakfast in the cathedral. No sultan would ever get breakfast in an Ottoman Vienna.