The First Siege of Vienna

The first siege of Vienna took place in the year 1929 and was the Ottoman forces were responsible for it. This siege marked the end of the once fierce and unstoppable Turkish force. Vienna was at that time the Habsburg Empire stronghold.

The Ottoman army was a vast one consisting of about 325,000 men, 500 artillery and 90,000 camels. Although researchers have reduced the number to about 100,000 men, it was always an Ottoman tactic to boast about troop strength, which they aimed at scaring their enemies. For sure there had not been a threatening Muslim force like the one under Suleiman, the Ottoman. However, the time witnessed intense spring and summer rains that enabled the Austrians to prepare for their defense. Suleiman’s army encountered bad season weather on the way to Vienna. The roads became barely-passable but soggy messes, which led to massive slaughtering of camels because of broken legs. The heaviest field guns could not be carried anymore. Nevertheless, Suleiman pressed on ignoring the advice of Seraskier Ibrahim.

Despite the harsh conditions that the Turkish force went through, most of the force remained intact approaching Vienna gates by mid 1929. The populace city of Vienna was terror stricken upon receiving news of the Ottoman advancing force. There were horrifying tales about the janissaries’ murderous acts, which infused a sense of great fear in the city at first then a strong determination to fight and defend Vienna. Ferdinand I, the Austrian king, ran to the help of Hapsburg Bohemia. Duke Frederick, the designated commander, gave a 70-year old, Nicholas, Graf von Salm who was a German mercenary.

Nicholas formed a formidable response which yielded tremendous results for the besieged Vienna. Pat (2009) asserts that Suleiman’s intention was to undermine the fortresses of the Viennese by pretending to bombard the walls with cannons while making tunnels where he could detonate gunpowder keg mines. Suleiman targeted this beneath the gates of the city and the bastion towers surrounding the gates.

Nicholas discovered the plan early enough and commissioned the Austrians to dig until they struck Suleiman’s tunnels. The tunnels became a battle ground, the only fight ever recorded in history to have happened underground. Most mines became defused by the Austrians. However, one Ottoman’s mine was successful breaching a crucial Viennese gate. When the janissary lethal vanguard went forth to enter the city, the highly-trained Spanish/German/Italian defensive garrison attacked them fiercely killing many of them and causing them to retreat. This battle inside the tunnels later came to be called Siege of the Moles.

The Austrians later used homemade bombs leading to a death toll of about 2,000 Turks. The Viennese also mounted long range cannons of time on rooftops raking the Ottoman force with fire continuously. Seraskier Ibrahim led a last assault against the Austrians, but the Ottoman army became defeated miserably, and the troops retreated later packing and leaving, and the siege was over.

According to Stoye (2008), Salm got wounded in the last assault, which soon led to his death. On the night of 14 October, the Turks packed and left their camps after killing Austrian captives. Many captives still escaped and used lowered ladders to get refuge at the city. The Viennese later initiated an examination fearing that their enemies might have let their spies into the city during the siege. Here, they were using circumcision to identify, and they hanged anyone who did not pass the examination.

The siege, as mentioned earlier weakened the Ottomans and their future attempt to conquer Vienna met a fierce response. Later the Turks would turn their interests elsewhere away from central Europe.