The sieges of Buda and Vienna in 1529
The German-speaking part of the Christian world has been shocked when they had to experience the Ottoman peril for the first time. For Sultan Suleiman has reached Vienna and now it was not only the far-away Hungarian countryside which was burning but their own land as well. It is not surprising, that the contemporary people hardly noticed that Suleiman had taken Buda Castle on the way to Vienna, too.
I have just talked about the events of 1528 and how King Szapolyai was pushed out from Hungary by King Ferdinand and how he was forced to make an alliance with the Ottomans. Suleiman kept his word and launched his army on 10 May (which was a quite late time to set out) 1529 against the capital of King Ferdinand, Vienna. The Sultan arrived in the field of Mohács nine days later where he received King Szapolyai who paid homage to him.
At the same time, Voivode Péter of Moldova, Suleiman`s vassal attacked Transylvania and he was destroying the Saxon lands which were loyal to Ferdinand. He defeated the German troops near Brassó / Brasov.
Meanwhile, the Ottoman Akindjies and the Serbian troops of the Sultan set out from Sirmium (Szerémség) and made a great destruction between the Danube and the Tisza rivers.
Suleiman`s army was marching unreasonably slowly on Hungarian territory towards Buda which was held by the Austrians. Reaching it, he took the castle with a single assault on 3 September. A contemporary Ottoman source says that „..the (Turks), even before breaching the walls at one place, made an attack against the castle and the fight was going on from morning till the prayer time of mid-day. Finally, the infidels have got exhausted and asked for mercy. They surrendered the castle and they were set free to go.”
The Sultan didn`t keep for himself but ceded it to King Szapolyai, though. Suleiman went on to attack Vienna.
Here is a very well written summary of Eric Prinzelli about the siege of Vienna; look at the first picture where the painting he is talking about can be seen.
„ART OF THE DAY: EMPEROR CARLOS V DRIVES AWAY THE OTTOMANS FROM THE SIEGE OF VIENNA, 1529.
From Ms. 33733, “Las victorias de Carlos V”, formerly owned by the Escorial, part of the British Library’s collections since 1847. The work was probably commissioned by Felipe II of Spain to Giulio Clovio (Juraj Julije Klović), one of the most prestigious artists of this Renaissance genre.
The first Ottoman Siege of Vienna took place during Sep-Oct 1529. After the defeat of the Hungarians at the Battle of Mohacs, the Ottoman Empire and Austria were brought into direct contact along a border across Hungary. In 1529, Suleiman launched a campaign against Austria’s Archduke Ferdinand I with an army of more than 100,000.
Suleiman’s advance from the Black Sea, which began in May, was arduous because the weather had been particularly wet, with many lives lost due to the spread of illnesses through the soaked ranks of the sultan’s army. Much of the heavy artillery that would have been vital in the siege had to be abandoned when it became stuck in mud. Suleiman reached Vienna in September with his army greatly weakened. Ottoman attempts to mine the walls were hampered by a counterattack, and more heavy rains in October dampened much of the gunpowder.
Attack after attack was repulsed by the Austrian defenders, who picked off the Ottoman troops with arquebuses from the high walls of the city and forced back those who scaled the walls by using long pikes. In late October, Suleiman ordered one last all-out assault, but this was also repulsed. Suleiman then ordered a retreat of his battered army, which turned into a disastrous ordeal as winter snows came early causing many deaths and loss of the remaining artillery. Defeat at Vienna forced Suleiman back into Ottoman Hungary and, after a second failure to take Vienna in 1532, he abandoned thoughts of conquering Europe.
Losses: Austrian, unknown; Ottoman, 16,000 of 100,000, thousands more dead in the retreat.”
The fatal Dual Kingship in Hungary between Mohács and the fall of Buda (1526-1541)
The aftermath of the siege of Vienna, 1529
Some historians speculate that Suleiman’s final assault wasn’t necessarily intended to take the city but to cause as much damage as possible and weaken it for a later attack, a tactic he had employed at Buda in 1526. He led his next campaign in 1532 but was held up too long reducing the western Hungarian fort of Kőszeg, by which time winter was close and Charles V, now awakened to Vienna’s vulnerability, assembled 80,000 troops.
(Later I am going to write more about the Siege of Kőszeg which deserves more attention.)
So instead of carrying out the planned siege, the Sultan`s invading troops retreated through and laid waste to Styria. The two campaigns proved that Vienna was situated at the extreme limit of Ottoman logistical capability. The army needed to winter at Constantinople so that its troops could attend to their fiefs and recruit for the next year’s campaigning.
Suleiman’s retreat did not mark a complete failure. The campaign underlined Ottoman control of southern Hungary and left behind enough destruction in Habsburg Hungary and in those Austrian lands it had ravaged to impair Ferdinand’s capacity to mount a sustained counterattack. Suleiman’s achievement was to consolidate the gains of 1526 and establish the puppet kingdom of John Zápolya as a buffer against the Holy Roman Empire. It has to be called a puppet-kingdom from his point of view but in fact, the Sultan didn`t have enough power to take Transylvania and Eastern Hungary by force.
The invasion and its climactic siege, however, exacted a heavy price from both sides, with tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians dead and thousands more sold into slavery.
Some western historians say that it marked the end of the Ottomans’ expansion towards the center of Europe and arguably the beginning of their long decline as the dominant power of the Renaissance world. “The delivery of Vienna by a brave garrison under Count Niklas Salm in 1529,” suggested historian Rolf Adolf Kahn, “was probably a greater though less spectacular achievement than the liberation five generations later brought about primarily by the efforts of a rather large army of combined imperial and Polish forces”.
However, Suleiman failed to force Ferdinand to engage him in open battle and was thus unable to enforce his ideological claim to superiority over the Habsburgs. The attack on Vienna led to a rapprochement between Charles V and Pope Clement VII, and contributed to the Pope’s coronation of Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor on February 24, 1530. The outcome of the campaign was presented as a success by the Ottomans, who used the opportunity to show off their imperial grandeur by staging elaborate ceremonies for the circumcision of princes Mustafa, Mehmed, and Selim.
King Ferdinand set up a funeral monument for Niklas Graf Salm — who had been injured during the last Ottoman assault and died on 4 May 1530 — to express his gratitude to the defender of Vienna. This Renaissance sarcophagus is now on display in the baptistry of the Votivkirche in Vienna. (See picture)
Ferdinand’s son, Maximilian II, later built the summer palace of Neugebaeude on the spot where Suleiman is said to have pitched his tent.