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Great Turkish War

Great Turkish War
Part of the Ottoman–Habsburg wars, Polish–Ottoman Wars, Croatian–Ottoman wars, Ottoman–Venetian Wars and Russo-Turkish Wars.

Sobieski at Vienna by Juliusz Kossak
Date 14 July 1683 – 26 January 1699
(15 years, 6 months, 1 week and 5 days)
Location Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Greece and Ukraine (including Crimea), Montenegro
Result Decisive Holy League victory
Treaty of Karlowitz
Austria wins lands in Hungary and the Balkans, including the Principality of Transylvania
Poland-Lithuania captures Podolia
Russia captures the port of Azov
Venice captures the Morea and inner Dalmatia
Montenegro gains independence

The Great Turkish War (German: Der Große Türkenkrieg) or the War of the Holy League (Turkish: Kutsal İttifak Savaşları) was a series of conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and several contemporary European powers joined into a Holy League, beginning in 1683 and ending with the signing of the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699. The war was a defeat for the Ottoman Empire, which lost large amounts of territory in Central Europe. The war was also significant in that it marked the first time Russia was involved in a western European alliance.


  • Background (1667–1683) 1
  • Overview 2
  • Wars 3
    • Morean War 3.1
    • Polish–Ottoman War (1683–99) 3.2
    • Russo-Turkish War (1686–1700) 3.3
    • Serbia 3.4
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Background (1667–1683)

After Bohdan Khmelnytsky's rebellion, when the Tsardom of Russia acquired parts of Eastern Ukraine from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, some Cossacks stayed in the southeast of the Commonwealth. Their leader, Petro Doroshenko, wanted to connect the rest of Ukraine with the Ottoman Empire, starting a rebellion against Hetman (Polish army commander) John Sobieski. The Sultan Mehmed IV, who knew that the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was weakened due to internal conflicts, attacked Kamianets-Podilskyi, a large city on the border.

The small Polish force resisted the Siege of Kamenets for two weeks but was then forced to capitulate. The Polish Army was too small to resist the Ottoman invasion and could only score some minor tactical victories. After three months, the Poles were forced to sign the Treaty of Buchach in which they agreed to surrender Kamyanets-Podilsky, Podolia and to pay tribute to the Ottoman Sultan.

When the news about the defeat and treaty terms reached battle of Khotyn (1673). After King Michael's death in 1673, Jan Sobieski was elected king of Poland; he subsequently tried to defeat the Ottomans for four years, with no success. The war ended on 17 October 1676 with the Treaty of Żurawno in which the Turks only retained control over Kamianets-Podilskyi. This Turkish attack also led in 1676 to the beginning of the Russo-Turkish Wars.


After a few years of peace, the Ottoman Empire attacked the Habsburg Empire. The Turks almost captured Vienna, but John III Sobieski led a Christian alliance that defeated them in the Battle of Vienna which stalled the Ottoman Empire's hegemony in south-eastern Europe.

A new Holy League was initiated by Pope Innocent XI and encompassed the Holy Roman Empire (headed by Habsburg Austria), Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Venetian Republic in 1684,[1] joined by Russia in 1686. The second Battle of Mohács was a crushing defeat for the Sultan. The Turks were more successful on the Polish front and were able to retain Podolia during their battles with the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Russia's involvement marked the first time the country formally joined an alliance of European powers. This was the beginning of a series of Russo-Turkish Wars, which continued into the 20th century. As a result of the Crimean campaigns and Azov campaigns, Russia captured the key Ottoman fortress of Azov.

Following the decisive Battle of Zenta in 1697 and lesser skirmishes (such as the Battle of Podhajce in 1698), the League won the war in 1699 and forced the Ottoman Empire to sign the Treaty of Karlowitz.[2] The Ottomans ceded most of Hungary, Transylvania and Slavonia to the Habsburg Empire while Podolia returned to Poland. Most of Dalmatia passed to Venice, along with the Morea (the Peloponnese peninsula), which the Ottomans reconquered in 1715 and regained in the Treaty of Passarowitz of 1718.


Morean War

Polish–Ottoman War (1683–99)

Russo-Turkish War (1686–1700)


After allied Christian forces had captured Buda from the Ottoman Empire in 1686 during the Great Turkish War, Serbs from Pannonian Plain (present-day Hungary, Slavonia region in present-day Croatia, Bačka and Banat regions in present-day Serbia) joined the troops of the Habsburg Monarchy as separate units known as Serbian Militia.[3] Serbs, as volunteers, massively joined the Austrian side.[4] In the first half of 1688 the Habsburg army together with units of Serbian Militia captured Gyula, Lipova and Ineu from the Ottoman Empire.[3] After Belgrade had been liberated from the Ottomans in 1688, Serbs from the territories in the south of Sava and Danube rivers began to join Serbian Militia units.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Treasure, Geoffrey, The making of modern Europe, 1648-1780, (Methuen & Co Ltd., 1985), 614.
  2. ^ Sicker, Martin, The Islamic world in decline, (Praeger Publishers, 2001), 32.
  3. ^ a b c Gavrilović, Slavko (2006), "Isaija Đaković", Zbornik Matice Srpske za Istoriju (pdf) (in Serbian) 74, Novi Sad:  
  4. ^ Janićijević, Jovan (1996), Kulturna riznica Srbije (in Serbian), IDEA, p. 70, Велики или Бечки рат Аустрије против Турске, у којем су Срби, као добровољци, масовно учествовали на аустријској страни 

External links

  • Extract from Annotationes und Reflexiones der gloriosen kayserlichen Waffen im Jahr 1689. in: Austrian State Archives (Österreichisches Staatsarchiv), Military Archives (Kriegsarchiv), Vienna, AFA, Carton 195, 1689-13-1, fol. 32r-49r. Translated from the German by Robert Elsie
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