Drawing depicting the vizier Kara Mustafa and Khan Murad-Gire I, who accept humility from the Hungarians. 1683. Hood. Romain de Hoge.
Drawing depicting the vizier Kara Mustafa and Khan Murad-Gire I, who accept humility from the Hungarians. 1683. Hood. Romain de Hoge.
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The Crimean Khanate is a European state

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Participation of the Crimean Tatars in the Vienna “Battle of the Nations” in 1683

The fact that the Crimean Khanate was an integral part of Eastern Europe during the XVI – XVIII centuries, and, consequently, an early modern European state, is evidenced by the large amount of cartographic, historiographical and archival material. First of all, it should be noted that the rulers of the Crimean Khanate pursued an active foreign policy and had diplomatic relations not only with their neighbors – the Commonwealth, the Muscovy, but also the Austrian Empire, the Kingdoms of Sweden and Denmark, the Duchy of Prussia and the Elector of Brandenburg. The Crimean khans had special relations with the rulers of the Ukrainian Hetmanate.

Today we know about the embassy of the Crimean Khanate to the Duchy of Prussia and the Electorate of Brandenburg in 1654, 1656 and 1659. Historians today know about the embassies of the Crimean Khan Megmed-Girey IV to Sweden, Denmark and Austria in 1655. In 1656, the khan’s ambassadors were greeted with honors at the Imperial Palace in Vienna. Crimean Tatar diplomats have repeatedly been to receptions at Polish kings in Krakow and Warsaw. However, in this article we would like to reveal the place and role of Bakhchisarai in the famous Viennese “Battle of the Nations” of 1683.

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Letter of the Crimean Khan Adil Giray to the Swedish King Carl XI Gustav. 1666.
Letter of the Crimean Khan Adil Giray to the Swedish King Carl XI Gustav. 1666.

In addition to sources of Turkish, Austrian and Polish origin, we used the Mehmed-Girey Chronicle, which is today almost the only source of Crimean Tatar origin, which describes the participation of the Khan’s army in the Vienna campaign of 1683. Crimean Tatar Mehmed-Girey (Dervish Megmed-Girey-ben-Mubarek-Girey Genghis) was the brother of Khan Murad-Girey I. His Chronicle (Tarih-i) is kept in the National Library in Vienna. It is written in the Ottoman language of the 17th century, but has a Crimean Tatar grammatical construction and style. Khan Murad-Girey I also received a letter from the inhabitants of the town of Winner Neustadt (Lower Austria, 50 km from Vienna) demanding a ransom. The original is kept in the museum of this Austrian city.

Given the conclusion of the Peace of Bakhchisarai in 1681, the Crimean Khan Murad-Girey I tried to get the Hetman of the Left Bank of Ukraine Ivan Samoilovich to send an additional 10,000 Cossack corps to Vienna together with the Tatar troops. Khan’s letters of appeal were distributed in many cities, towns and villages of the Left Bank of Ukraine. However, given the political position of Baturyn and Moscow, the Cossack army from the Left Bank did not go to the aid of the Ottomans, although it is possible that a few Cossack “hunters” were still in the service of the khan.

Crimean chronicler Megmed-Girey of the Khan’s family Girey left a detailed description of the Tatar campaign in Vienna. In particular, he noted that the Crimean Khan Murad-Girey I was extremely solemnly welcomed on June 27, 1683 in the camp of Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa. The highest officials of the Ottoman Empire, led by the Vizier and the Baylorbeys of Silistria. Anatolia and Rumelia met the Crimean ruler in the tent of the commander-in-chief. A large table with the best dishes was set up there, and tables for other Crimean government officials were set up outside. “When his grace the khan approached the tent without walls, the Tatar warriors immediately, like hungry wolves, pounced on the food and without blinking at once crushed everything,” – said Megmed-Girey. Interestingly, when Murad-Giray I approached Kara Mustafa’s tent, he did not go there immediately,and invitingly sat down on a chair and waited for the Grand Vizier to come out to him. He went out and politely invited a representative of the royal family. During the banquet, a meeting was held on further military action. On July 7, near the town of Petronel in Lower Austria, the first skirmish took place between Tatar troops and individual imperial units, which were defeated. On July 8, Ottoman troops conquered the fortress of Madjarovar, and a week later an army of almost 150,000 of the Ottoman Empire and its numerous vassals arrived in the Austrian capital. The storming and siege of the capital of the Austrian Empire and one of the political centers of Europe began on July 14.On July 7, near the town of Petronel in Lower Austria, the first skirmish took place between Tatar troops and individual imperial units, which were defeated. On July 8, Ottoman troops captured the fortress of Madjarovar, and a week later an army of almost 150,000 from the Ottoman Empire and its numerous vassals arrived in the Austrian capital. The storming and siege of the capital of the Austrian Empire and one of the political centers of Europe began on July 14.On July 7, near the town of Petronel in Lower Austria, the first skirmish took place between Tatar troops and individual imperial units, which were defeated. On July 8, Ottoman troops conquered the fortress of Madjarovar, and a week later an army of almost 150,000 of the Ottoman Empire and its numerous vassals arrived in the Austrian capital. The storming and siege of the capital of the Austrian Empire and one of the political centers of Europe began on July 14.

Engraving depicting the march of the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire on Vienna. 1683.
Engraving depicting the march of the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire on Vienna. 1683.

The main units of the Ottoman army led by Kara Mustafa were located on the plain in front of the city between the river Vienna, which flows into the Danube and a low mountain range (break of the Eastern Alps) called the Vienna Woods. The central group of troops included janissaries led by Mustafa Pasha and Izmail-aga, units of Beylerbey Rumelia Hasan Pasha, as well as 5 heavy and 20 light guns. On the left, along with the janissaries, the positions of the bayovy of Yanov Agmed Pasha, the baylerbey of Sivas Galil Pasha, and the baylerbey of Anatolia Agmed Pasha, who had the same number of guns at their disposal. The Turks surrounded the city with a ring. A huge network of trenches, bastions, embankments with artillery batteries was built here. Behind the troops was a camp, among the temporary structures of which stood out a large tent of Kara Mustafa.It kept the Flag of the Prophet and other Ottoman jewels, as well as military meetings.

On July 23, the Ottoman army launched the first assault on Vienna, after which the Austrian capital was under constant attack every 2 to 4 days. On August 3, Turkish artillery, numbering up to three hundred guns, managed to break through the outer wall of the Burg fortifications. Janissaries repeatedly burst into this breach, with constant battles with which they exhausted the soldiers of the garrison. In addition, Ottoman commanders used excavations and mines in the walls of the Viennese fortress in various places. The Austrians defended steadily. They filled the cracks in the walls with stones and filled them with sandbags. Particularly touching for the Turks were the cannon shots of the defenders of the city, which, among many others, killed Rumelia Beylerbey Hassan Pasha.

Drawing depicting the vizier Kara Mustafa and Khan Murad-Gire I, who accept humility from the Hungarians. 1683. Hood. Romain de Hoge.
Drawing depicting the vizier Kara Mustafa and Khan Murad-Gire I, who accept humility from the Hungarians. 1683. Hood. Romain de Hoge.

Despite the consistency of plans, the Crimean khan expressed dissatisfaction with the indecisive, as it seemed to him, the command of Kara Mustafa. Murad-Girey I believed that it was first necessary to attack the fortress cities of Javorin (Gyor) and Komarno, and only then to besiege Vienna. Khan also warned the Grand Vizier that large allied forces could come to the aid of the Austrian emperor. By order of the Grand Vizier, the Crimean Tatars were to guard the crossings across the Danube near Tulna to prevent the crossing of the river by troops marching to help besieged Vienna. However, Murad-Girey I did not do so, because he was not provided with artillery reinforcements. At the urging of one of the Ottoman officials to attack the enemy troops, he explained the motivation of his action as follows: “Oh you, Effendi! Don’t you know how this Ottoman mocked us! Led tothat we are not as significant to him as those gyauri, valah and moldavian. How many times have I written about gathering and moving this enemy, letting it be known that there are many enemies and it is impossible to resist him, and also persuaded him to withdraw troops and guns from the trenches and, if necessary, start an open battle, and if not, retreat calmly. But he continued to stand his ground, and I could not get the approval of my words, in the letters he sent in response to mine, among thousands of curses, he said such things that we eat a stinking horse! But with the help of Allah Almighty, it cost him nothing to unite with me to defeat this enemy… I know that this act is shameful, it contradicts our religion, but I no longer feel passion… Let them see how little this man costs, and let they know what a Tatar means. “How many times have I written about gathering and moving this enemy, letting it be known that there are many enemies and it is impossible to resist him, and also persuaded him to withdraw troops and guns from the trenches and, if necessary, start an open battle, and if not, retreat calmly. But he continued to stand his ground, and I could not get the approval of my words, in the letters he sent in response to mine, among thousands of curses, he said such things that we eat a stinking horse! But with the help of Allah Almighty, it cost him nothing to unite with me to defeat this enemy… I know that this act is shameful, it contradicts our religion, but I no longer feel passion… Let them see for themselves how little this man costs, and let they know what a Tatar means. “How many times have I written about gathering and moving this enemy, letting it be known that there are many enemies and it is impossible to resist him, and also persuaded him to withdraw troops and guns from the trenches and, if necessary, start an open battle, and if not, retreat calmly. But he continued to stand his ground, and I could not get the approval of my words, in the letters he sent in response to mine, among thousands of curses, he said such things that we eat a stinking horse! But with the help of Allah Almighty, it cost him nothing to unite with me to defeat this enemy… I know that this act is shameful, it contradicts our religion, but I no longer feel passion… Let them see how little this man costs, and let they know what a Tatar means. “to withdraw troops and guns from the trenches and they, if necessary, began an open battle, and if not, then retreated quietly. But he continued to stand his ground, and I could not get the approval of my words, in the letters he sent in response to mine, among thousands of curses, he said such things that we eat a stinking horse! But with the help of Allah Almighty, it cost him nothing to unite with me to defeat this enemy… I know that this act is shameful, it contradicts our religion, but I no longer feel passion… Let them see how little this man costs, and let they know what a Tatar means. “to withdraw troops and guns from the trenches and they, if necessary, began an open battle, and if not, then retreated quietly. But he continued to stand his ground, and I could not get the approval of my words, in the letters he sent in response to mine, among thousands of curses, he said such things that we eat a stinking horse! But with the help of Allah Almighty, it cost him nothing to unite with me to defeat this enemy… I know that this act is shameful, it contradicts our religion, but I no longer feel passion… Let them see how little this man costs, and let they know what a Tatar means. “that we eat a stinking horse! But with the help of Allah Almighty, it cost him nothing to unite with me to defeat this enemy… I know that this act is shameful, it contradicts our religion, but I no longer feel passion… Let them see how little this man costs, and let they know what a Tatar means. “that we eat a stinking horse! But with the help of Allah Almighty, it cost him nothing to unite with me to defeat this enemy… I know that this act is shameful, it contradicts our religion, but I no longer feel passion… Let them see how little this man costs, and let they know what a Tatar means. ”

Due to the lack of necessary support, the khan ignored the vizier’s order to attack the army of the Commonwealth during its crossing of the Vienna Woods. Polish Ambassador to Moscow Ian color, which was one of the participants of the Battle of Vienna on the Polish side, testified: ” A volley Danube shly esmы for him three Days chrez velykye horы and chrez kamennыe trudnыe WAYS and provalynы, like chrez lost. At the end of the cart and leaving the carts and the weight, the cavalry came to them with cavalry. The left wing of the Danube was held by German troops with Polish regiments, which they hired for themselves. Several Hussar banners were added to them in order to help the Danube as soon as possible. His Royal Highness, my gracious lord, held the right wing from the fields. There were also many Tatars with the khan . ”

Despite this behavior of the khan, Kara Mustafa on September 9 in his tent solemnly met Khan Murad-Girey I and gave him an expensive sable fur coat. A contemporary of Jebeji-Hasan-Eziri described this meeting of the khan with the vizier in the following words:

” – What does it all mean? Where is your army? Asked the glorious Serdar as the khan approached him.
“My Sultan!” – He replied. “Didn’t they say that the Tatars and other warriors had amassed a lot of good and would be of no use to them, that darkness had found the Gyaurs, and that it would be wisest to pull the guns out of the trenches and leave with honor?” It came to the point that my words came true, and others remained too (only) because of their trophies!

– Good! Let’s not discuss it now, let’s leave it for later! – the most enlightened Serdar answered his words “.

However, the exchange of thoughts between vizirem and khan, obviously, is a great guest of character, even if it is not possible to cry out for the battle on Veresnya 12 (here between 13:00 and 15:00) came from the left flank of the theater. On the battlefield, a deprivation of 500 – 600 Tatar warriors was lost on a chol with soltan Khadzhi-Gireum. The result is close to 16:00, the fortune of Viy’skova has taken hold on the bik of the European Coalition. And the very fact, speeding up for nothing, the Polish Crown (and it was known on the right flank of the coalition forces) could go over to the bulk of the attack on the Ottoman positions.

Immediately after the escape of Murad-Girey I, the Crimean Khan elected and approved Sultan Haji Giray. It was his soldiers who managed to defend the Flag of the Prophet, which was in the tent of Kara Mustafa, during a mass attack by Ukrainians, Poles, Austrians and Germans. As a contemporary of those events, the Crimean Karaite Ravi Yakov, testified: The latter distinguished himself in the war, winning a brilliant victory over the enemy. For these feats Kara-Mustafa Pasha brought him to the khan’s throne in September 1683, and in March of the following year he arrived in Bakhchi-Sarai and ascended the throne.

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Image of a Crimean Tatar soldier. 1680s.
Image of a Crimean Tatar soldier. 1680s.

Retreating from the theater of operations in the Vienna “Battle of the Nations” in 1683, the troops of the Crimean Khanate thus saved the political capital of Europe from its conquest by the Ottoman Empire. This important circumstance, in turn, for many centuries determined the historical progress of the entire European continent. The peculiarity of Tatar diplomacy was the desire to maintain international balance in Eastern Europe through the conclusion of a military-political alliance with a weaker partner in the pair: the Moscow Kingdom – the Commonwealth. However, from the middle of the XVII century. there was another possible configuration for Crimea, namely to be in alliance with the Ukrainian Hetmanate against Poland or Muscovy, or the Russian-Polish alliance. From the early 70’s of the XVII century. representatives of the Crimean Khanate acted as mediators (or were present) at all negotiations,conducted by the Ottoman Empire with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Moscow State to gain supremacy over the Ukrainian Hetmanate.

It should also be noted that the Crimean khans exercised their own diplomacy in order to weaken both Moscow and Warsaw in order to conquer all of Ukraine or some part of it – the Right Bank or the Left Bank. In the second half of the 1680s, Khan Selim-Girey I founded a semi-state “buffer” formation in the south-western Ukrainian lands – Khan’s Ukraine, which was an indirect consequence of the Crimean Khanate’s participation in the 1683 European campaign in Vienna.

List of illustrations:
1) Letter of the Crimean Khan Adil Giray to the Swedish King Carl XI Gustav. 1666.

2) Engraving depicting the march of the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire to Vienna. 1683.

3) Drawing depicting the vizier Kara Mustafa and Khan Murad-Girey I, who accept obedience from the Hungarians. 1683. Hood. Romain de Hoge.

4) Image of a Crimean Tatar soldier. 1680s.

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The project was implemented with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation

Taras Chukhlib

Taras Chukhlib, Ukrainian historian, Doctor of Historical Sciences. Leading researcher of the Institute of History of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, director of the Stepan Bandera Research Institute of the Cossacks. Researcher of the history of Ukraine, Poland and Turkey, the geopolitical development of Eastern Europe.

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