Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54, No. 334, August 1843 online

. (page 7 of 23)
Online LibraryVariousBlackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54, No. 334, August 1843 → online text (page 7 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

guarding against any fresh attack from the Turks, were carried to such a
height that disaffection became universal even among those who had
hitherto constantly adhered to the Austrian interest, so that (in the
words of a writer[F] of the time,) "they began to contrast their own
condition with that of the Transylvanians, who are not forced to take
the turban but live quietly under the protection of the Turk - while we
(as they say) are exposed to the caprices of a prince under the absolute
dominion of the Jesuits, a far worse sort of people than the Dervishes!"
As early as 1667, a secret communication had been made to the Porte
through the envoy of Abaffi; but Kiuprili, who was then on the point of
departure for Candia, and was unwilling to risk a fresh rupture with the
empire in his absence, gave little encouragement either to these
overtures, or to the more advantageous propositions received in 1670
from Peter Zriny, Ban of Croatia, and previously a famous
partisan-leader against the Moslems; in which the malecontents offered,
as the price of Ottoman aid and protection, to cede to the sultan all
the fortified towns which should be taken by his arms, and to pay an
annual tribute of 30,000 ducats. The conspiracy had, however, become
known at Vienna; and instant measures were taken for seizing Zriny and
his Croatian confederates, Nadasti, Tattenbach, and Christopher
Frangipani, who were all executed in the course of the following year.
The Emperor, now considering Hungary as a conquered country, formally
abolished the dignity of Palatine, and nominated Gaspar Von Ampringham,
grand master of the Teutonic knights, to be viceroy of the kingdom;
while the Protestants were persecuted with unheard-of rigour, and many
of their ministers imprisoned in the fortresses, or sent in chains to
the galleys at Naples.

The confederates of Upper Hungary had been better on their guard: and on
the news of the fate of Zriny and his associates, they forthwith
assembled in arms at Kaschau or Cassovia, and electing Francis Racoczy,
son of the late prince of Transylvania, and son-in-law of Zriny, as
their leader, bade defiance to the Emperor. The civil war continued
several years without decisive success on either side; till on the
death, in 1676, of Racoczy, (who had previously abandoned the popular
cause,) the famous Emeric Tekoeli, then only twenty years of age, was
chosen general. He was the hereditary enemy of the Austrians; his father
Stephen, Count of Kersmark, having been besieged in his castle by the
Imperialists at the time of his death; and while he pressed the Germans
in the field with such vigour as to deprive them of nearly all the
fortified places they still held in Upper Hungary, the negotiation with
the Porte for aid was renewed, and being backed by the diplomatic
influence of France, then at war with the empire, was more favourably
received by Kara-Mustapha than the former advances of the malcontents
had been by his predecessor. The war with Russia, however, prevented the
Turks for the present from interfering with effect, but Abaffi was
authorized to support the insurgents in the mean time, while Leopold,
fearing the total loss of Hungary, summoned a diet at Oedenburg (in
1681) for the redress of grievances, in which most of the ancient
privileges of the kingdom were restored, full liberty of conscience
promised to the Lutherans and Calvinists, and Paul Esterhazy named
Palatine. But these concessions, wrung only by hard necessity from the
Cabinet of Vienna, came now too late. Tekoeli replied to the amnesty
proclaimed by the Emperor, by the publication of a counter-manifesto, in
which were set forth a hundred grievances of the Hungarians; and, having
obtained a great accession of strength by his marriage (June 1682) to
Helen Zriny, the widow of Racoczy, whereby he gained all the adherents
of those two powerful houses, he summoned a rival diet at Cassovia,
where he openly assumed the title of sovereign prince of Upper Hungary,
exercising the prerogatives of royalty, and striking money in his own
name, which bore his effigy on the obverse, and on the reverse the motto
inscribed on his standards - "Pro Deo, Patria, et Libertate."

Though Tekoeli professed to act by the authority of the Porte, from
which he had received a firman of investiture with the usual ensigns of
sovereignty, no formal declaration of war had yet been issued from
Constantinople; and many of the Ulemah protested against such a measure,
at least till the twenty years' truce, concluded in 1664, should have
expired. The aid openly afforded, however, to Tekoeli by Abaffi and the
pasha of Buda, as well as the constant march of large bodies of troops
to the Danube, afforded sufficient indication that an attack would not
be long delayed; and Leopold, disquieted at the prospect of having at
once to contend against his own revolted subjects, and the mighty force
of the Ottoman empire, sent Count Caprara on a mission to
Constantinople, in the hope of averting the storm; while, at the same
time, he made overtures for an alliance with Poland, still smarting
under her losses in the late Turkish war. The mission of Caprara led to
no result, from the exorbitant demands made by the Ottoman ministers on
behalf both of the Porte and its Hungarian allies, which amounted to
little less than a total cession of the country, and a few days after
the arrival of the ambassador, the despatch of the firman to Tekoeli,
and the display of the imperial horsetails in the plain of Daood-Pasha,
showed that the resolution of the Divan was fixed for war. The
negotiation with Poland presented almost equal difficulties, from the
rooted jealousy entertained by the Poles of the ambition of Austria, and
the opposition of the French envoy, De Vitry, who even carried his
intrigues so far as to embark in a plot for the death or dethronement of
the king, and the substitution of the grand marshal Iablonowski. The
firmness of Sobieski, however, whom no minor considerations could blind
to the importance of saving Austria and Hungary from the grasp of the
Osmanli, overcame all these machinations; and the ratification of the
diet was eventually given to a league, offensive and defensive, with
Austria, on March 31, 1683 - the same day on which the vast host of the
Ottomans broke up from its cantonments about Adrianople, and directed
its march towards the Danube.

The sons of Naodasti and Zriny, who had been executed ten years before,
were retained as hostages, under the name of chamberlains, in the
imperial household; and it fell to the lot of the former to announce to
Leopold, that the legions of the crescent were pouring down on Hungary.
The cheek of the Emperor blanched at the tidings; for well did he know
that, till the arrival of the Poles, his disposable force amounted to
scarce 35,000 men, under Duke Charles of Lorraine, who could barely make
head against Abaffi and Tekoeli, while so high were the hopes of the
Magyars raised of a speedy and final deliverance from Austrian tyranny,
that a plot is even said to have been laid between Zriny and his sister,
now the wife of Tekoeli, for seizing the person of Leopold in the palace
of Vienna, and giving him up to the Tartars, who had already commenced
their ravages on the frontiers. The sultan meanwhile - the cumbrous
luxury of whose harem and equipages had retarded the march of the
army - had halted at Belgrade, after holding a grand review of his
forces, and placing the standard of the Prophet in the hands of the
vizier, in token of the full powers entrusted to him for the conduct of
the campaign. On the 10th of June, Tekoeli, who had crossed the Danube
to welcome his potent auxiliaries, was received at Essek with royal
magnificence by Kara-Mustapha, who imitated, in the ceremonial observed
on this occasion, the pomp of the reception of John Zapolya by Soliman,
on his march against Vienna in 1529; but after receiving personal
investiture of the royal dignity conferred on him by the sultan, he
returned rapidly to Cassovia, where he had fixed his headquarters. The
khan of the Tartars had already arrived at Stuhlweissenburg, and was
speedily joined by the vizir and the main Turkish army, which, passing
the Danube to the number of 140,000 men, swept like a torrent over the
rich plains of Lower Hungary: the towns, abandoned by the panic-stricken
German garrisons, every where opening their gates to the partisans of
Zriny and Tekoeli, in the hope of escaping the fate of Veszprim, which
had been sacked by the janissaries for attempting resistance. The march
was pressed with unexampled rapidity, till on the 28th the whole army
was mustered under the walls of Gran; and the vizir, summoning to his
tent the khan and the principal pashas, announced that his orders were
to make himself master of Vienna.

The veneration with which the Turks have always regarded the memory of
the greatest of their sultans, has led them not only to shrink with
superstitious awe from attempting any enterprise in which he failed, but
even to attach a prophetic importance to his recorded sayings. A promise
attributed to him, that "an Ottoman army should never pass the Raab,"
had been recalled at the time of the signal defeat experienced by
Ahmed-Kiuprili on that river, and his memorable repulse before Vienna
had been ever held as a warning, that the Ottoman arms were destined
never to prevail against the ramparts of the _Kizil-Alma_. These
considerations, however, had little weight with Kara-Mustapha; bridges,
hastily thrown over the ill-omened stream, afforded a passage to the
army, (July 8,) and the march was again directed without stop or stay on
Vienna. A body of Hungarians in the pay of the emperor, under Budiani,
passed over to the ranks of their insurgent countrymen on the first
appearance of the standards of Tekoeli; and the Duke of Lorraine, who
had withdrawn his infantry to the island of Schutt and the other bank of
the Danube, was worsted in a cavalry fight at Petronel by the Tartars,
whose flying squadrons were already seen from the walls of Vienna.
Proclamation had been made, forbidding the citizens to _speak of the
present state of affairs!_ - but the emperor and court, who had
confidently reckoned on the invaders being delayed by the sieges of Raab
and Komorn, no sooner learned that they had passed those fortresses
unheeded, and were rapidly approaching the capital, than, seized with a
panic-terror, they fled from the devoted city, on the same day with the
combat at Petronel, (July 7,) in such dismayed haste, that the empress
was forced to lodge one night under a tree in the open air; nor did they
deem themselves in safety from the terrible pursuit of the Tartars, till
they reached Lintz, on the furthest western verge of the hereditary
states. The Austrian towns along the Danube were overwhelmed by the
advancing tide of Turks, or ravaged by the Hungarian followers of
Tekoeli, who vied with their Moslem allies in animosity against the
Germans; and the light troops and Tartars, overspreading the country,
pushed their predatory excursions so far up the river, as even to alarm
the imperial fugitives at Lintz, who consulted their safety by a second
flight to Passau. The three great abbeys of Lilienfeldt, Mölk, and
Klosterneuburg, were preserved from these desultory marauders by the
strength of their walls, and the valour of their monastic inmates, who
took arms in defence of their cloisters; but the open country was laid
waste with the same ferocity as in the invasion by Soliman, and many
thousands of the country people were dragged as slaves into the Turkish
camp. The regular columns of the janissaries and feudatory troops,
meanwhile, continuing their advance, appeared on the morning of the 14th
under the walls of Vienna; the posts of the different corps were
assigned on the same day, and in the course of the following night,
ground was broken for the trenches on three sides of the city.

The ancient ramparts of Vienna, which had withstood the assault of the
great Soliman, had been replaced, not long after the former siege, by
fortifications better adapted for modern warfare; but during the long
interval of security, the extensive suburbs, with the villas and gardens
of the nobles and opulent citizens, had been suffered to encroach on the
glacis and encumber the approaches; and the ruins of these luxurious
abodes, imperfectly destroyed in the panic arising from the unexpected
celerity of the enemy's movements, were calculated at once to impede the
fire from the walls, and to afford shelter and lodgement to the
besiegers. Such preparations for defence, however, as the time allowed
of, had been hastily made by the governor, Rudiger Count Stahrenberg, a
descendant of the stout baron who, in the former siege, had repulsed the
Tartars in the defiles near Enns, and an artillery officer of proved
skill and valour. Most of the gates had been walled up, platforms and
covered ways constructed, and the students of the university, with such
of the citizens as were able and willing to bear arms, were organized
into companies in aid of the regular troops, whose number did not exceed
14,000. But the flower of the Austrian nobility, with many gallant
volunteers, not only from Germany, but from other parts of Christendom,
were within the walls, and animated by their example the spirits of the
defenders, whose only hope of relief lay apparently in the distant and
uncertain succours of Poland. The Duke of Lorraine, with his cavalry,
had still hoped to maintain himself in the Prater and the Leopoldstadt,
(which were on an island separated from the city by a narrow arm of the
river,) and thus to keep up the communication with the north bank: - but
an overwhelming body of Turkish horse, (among whom were conspicuous the
Arab chargers and gorgeous equipments of a troop of Egyptian Mamlukes, a
force rarely seen in the Ottoman armies,) was directed against him on
the 17th, and after a desperate conflict, he was driven across the main
stream with the loss of 500 men, and with difficulty secured himself
from pursuit by breaking the bridge. The suburb of Leopold, in itself a
second city, was given up to the flames; and the Turks, erecting two
batteries on the bank opposite Vienna, completed the investment on the
only side which had hitherto remained open. Kara-Mustapha, in the
confidence of anticipated triumph, now summoned Stahrenberg to
surrender, by throwing a cartel into the city, wrapped up in linen and
fastened to an arrow: and no answer being returned, the fire of the
batteries on the Leopold island opened on the town; and in less than a
week ten others were completed and mounted with cannon on the landward

The main point of attack, in the former siege under Soliman, had been
the gate of Carinthia, (Kärnther-Thor,) and the adjoining bastions; but
the weight of the Turkish fire on the land side was now directed
principally against the Castle-Gate, (Burg-Thor,) lying to the left of
the former, and against the curtain between the Castle bastion and that
of Löbel; and on the river side from the batteries of the Leopold island
against the Rothenthurm or Red Tower, at the point where the
fortifications abut on the stream of the Danube. The tent of the vizir
was pitched opposite the Burg-Thor, in the midst of the janissaries and
Roumeliote troops, while the feudatories of Anatolia and Syria, under
their pashas, were posted right and left of this central point, and the
encampments of the various divisions stretched far round the city in a
semi-circle many miles in extent, touching the Danube at its two extreme
points of Ebersdorff below Vienna, and Nussdorff in the higher part of
the stream, where a bridge thrown over the narrow channel formed a
communication between the outposts on the mainland, and those on the
Leopold island. The charge of this bridge was assigned to the Moldavian
and Wallachian contingents, under the command of Scherban, waiwode of
the latter province, and one of the most remarkable adventurers of the
age. Born of a noble Wallachian family, which claimed descent from the
ancient imperial house of Cantacuzene, he had earned from the Turks, not
less by the reckless bravery he had displayed under the standard of the
crescent in the wars of Poland, than by the consummate address with
which he had steered his way through the tortuous intrigues of the
Fanar, the sobriquet of Shaïtan Ogblu, _son of Satan_ - nor was he
unknown as a gay and gallant visitor to the more polished and voluptuous
courts of the west. In his elevation to the throne of his native
country, he was said to have been materially assisted by the criminal
favour of the consort of his predecessor, the Princess Ducas: - but in
the camp before Vienna he assumed the guise of extraordinary piety - a
lofty cross was erected before his tent, where the rights of the Greek
Church were daily celebrated with extraordinary pomp, and the priests of
that communion offered up prayers for the success of the Ottoman arms
against the schismatics of the Western Church![G]

On the 23d of July, two mines were fired under the counterscarp of the
Löbel bastion, and though from the want of skill in the Turkish
engineers, they did little damage, the alarm caused among the garrison,
who called to mind the formidable use made of this species of approach
in the siege of Candia, was such, that Stahrenberg issued orders that
one person should be constantly on the watch in each house, to prevent
the Turks from making their way into the city by these subterraneous
passages. No more than forty mines, however, were sprung during the
whole siege, and their effect, from the industry with which they were
countermined by the garrison, was far less destructive than at
Candia: - but the fire from the batteries continued without cessation,
till the counterscarp and ravelin between the two bastions were reduced
to a heap of ruins, and the covered approaches of the Turks, in spite of
the constant sorties of the besieged, were pushed so close to the outer
works that the defenders could reach the pioneers employed on the
galleries by thrusting at them through the palisades with the long
German pikes, the efficiency of which had been so severely experienced
in the former siege. The first assault on the ravelin was made July
25 - but the explosion of a mine at the instant threw the attacking
column into disorder, and they were repulsed after a severe conflict, in
which Stahrenberg himself was wounded. The attack was not repeated in
force till the night of Aug. 3, when the troops of the pasha of
Temeswar, and a select body of janissaries under their _houlkiaya_ or
lieutenant-general, rushed with such fury upon the ruined rampart, that
though four times driven back, they at last succeeded in effecting a
lodgement in the ravelin, and threw up parapets to screen themselves
from the fire of the walls. The city, meanwhile, was repeatedly set on
fire by bombs thrown from the Turkish batteries; and during the
confusion arising from one of these partial conflagrations, a fresh mine
was run under the angle of the court bastion, and sprung with such
effect as to cause a practicable breach. The quantity of powder,
however, had been so greatly over calculated that great part recoiled
among the Turks and the garrison, by a well-timed sortie, did great
damage to the enemy's works. Before the breach, however, could be
repaired, the janissaries, recovering from their panic, again assailed
it, and, after a desperate struggle, established themselves in the ditch
and front of the bastion, while the defenders endeavoured, by changing
the direction of their guns, to enfilade the ground thus won by the
enemy, so as to prevent their penetrating into the interior, which now
lay open to them.

Great had been the panic throughout Europe at the advance of the Turks
into Austria, and their appearance before Vienna. The infidel host was
magnified, by the exaggerations of popular terror, to the number of
100,000 horse and 600,000 foot! And it was doubted whether, after
destroying the power of the House of Hapsburg, the vizir would march to
the Rhine, and annihilate the remaining strength of Christendom by the
overthrow of Louis XIV., or would cross the Alps to fulfil the famous
threat of Bayezid I., by stabbing his horse before the high altar of St
Peter's. Even among those better qualified to take a calm view of the
state of affairs, little hope was entertained that Vienna could hold out
till the armies of Poland and the empire could be collected in
sufficient force for its relief, if the Turks continued to press the
siege with that vigour and stubborn perseverance, the combination of
which in the attack of fortified places had hitherto been one of their
most remarkable military characteristics. But Kara-Mustapha, deficient
alike in martial experience and personal courage, was little qualified
either to stimulate the fanatic ardour of the Ottomans or to guide it to
victory. While within the wide enclosure of his own tents, carefully
pitched beyond the range of cannon-shot from the ramparts, he maintained
a household and harem of such luxurious magnificence as none of the
sultans had ever carried with them into the field, the rations of the
soldiers were reduced, on the pretext that the supplies expected from
Hungary had been intercepted by the garrisons of Raab and the other
towns on the Danube, which still held out for the emperor; and so little
did he care to disguise his apprehensions for his own safety, that he
visited the lines only in a litter rendered musket-proof by plates and
lattices of iron! Whether he entertained the wild design, as asserted by
Cantemir, (whose authority, as that of a contemporary, may in this case
perhaps deserve some credit,) of throwing off his allegiance to the
sultan, and erecting an independent _Western Empire_ of the Ottomans in
Austria and Hungary, or whether he was simply instigated by his avarice
to preserve the imagined treasures of the capital of the German Cæsars
from the pillage which must follow from its being taken by storm - he no
sooner saw the imperial city apparently within his grasp, than he
restrained, instead of encouraging, the spirit of the troops,
endeavouring rather to wear out the garrison by an endless succession of
petty alarms, than to carry the place at once by assault. The murmurs of
the soldiers, who even refused to remain in the trenches, were with
difficulty quieted by the exhortations of Wani-Effendi, a celebrated
Moslem divine, who had accompanied the army in order to share in the
merit of the _holy war_ - while the remonstrances of the pashas and
generals were silenced by the exhibition of the sultan's
_khatt-shereef_, which conferred on the vizir plenary powers for the
conduct of the war.

While Kara Mustapha thus lay inactive in his lines before Vienna,
Tekoeli, who had been detached with his Hungarian followers and an
auxiliary Turkish corps to reduce the castle of Presburg, which held out
after the surrender of the town, had been defeated by the Duke of
Lorraine, aided by a body of Polish cavalry under Lubomirski, the
forerunners of the army now assembling at Cracow. All the European
princes, meanwhile, with the exception of Louis XIV., who, even in the
danger of their common faith, forgot not his hostility to the house of
Hapsburg, vied with each other in forwarding the equipment of the host
which was to save the bulwark of Christendom. The cardinals at Rome sold
their plate to supply funds for the German levies; Cardinal Barberini
alone contributed 20,000 florins, and the Pope was profuse in his
indulgences to those who joined the new crusade. The emperor, meanwhile,
from his retreat at Passau, was abject in his entreaties to Sobieski for
speedy succour, offering to cede to him his rights upon Hungary if he
could preserve his Austrian capital; but the zeal of the Polish hero
needed no stimulus. Though so disabled by the gout as to be unable to
mount his horse without help, he was indefatigable in his exertions to
hasten the march of his troops, to whom he gave the rendezvous, "Under
the counterscarp at Vienna." On his march into Germany, he was every
where received as a deliverer; the Jesuits of Olmutz erected, at his
entrance into the town, a triumphal arch, with the inscription,
"Salvatorem expectamus;" and all hailed, as a sure omen of victory, the
presence of the champion whose very name had become a byword of terror
among the Turks. The beleaguered garrison was, meanwhile, cheered by
frequent messages promising speedy relief from the Duke of Lorraine,
whose emissaries, selected for their knowledge of the Turkish language,

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryVariousBlackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54, No. 334, August 1843 → online text (page 7 of 23)