The Kahlenberg Hill located in Vienna is our next stop on the Eurotrip itinerary. A small hill of the Eastern Alps, the Kahlenberg witnessed one of the most massive cavalry charges in the history of warfare. Medieval Europe was a hotbed of power tussle between the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Turks. The Battle of Vienna in September 1683 redefined the socio-political forces in the area for centuries to come.
With the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, Vienna had become their next acquisition which would have allowed them immense control over Western Europe. A massive force of nearly 300,000 Turkish soldiers accumulated at the gates of Vienna and started pounding the hapless city for nearly two months. The Christian forces were under the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I but the Commander in Chief of the forces under the Polish-Lithuanian alliance of King of Poland John III Sobieski.
The Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman empire had been funding Anti-Catholic empires for a last few decades. The culmination of these conflicts led to the Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa declaring war on the Viennese in March 1683 under the behest of Mehmet IV. The Main Ottoman Army started the siege of Vienna on 14th July 1683 and immediately set about trying to punch through it’s ramparts. For nearly two months, the hapless Viennese got pounded until the relief forces turned up.
The Imperial Army
John III Sobieski commanded one of the most cavalries in the world at that moment. The Winged Hussars charging in their full body armour and lancers at the ready were a fearful sight indeed for the enemy. Huge miscalculations by the Grand Vizier meant that he left the defence of the rear to the Tartars whose Khan refused to attack the gathering relief army. By the early morning of 12th September, the Imperial army had started winning skirmishes on the border towns. The Turks made their final fatal mistake of still trying to take the city instead of preparing for defences against the Imperial army. By the afternoon of 13th September, King John III Sobieski led the largest cavalry charge of nearly 18,000 horses down the slopes of Kahlenberg. This large force smashed against the main army of the Turkish army totally disintegrating it.
Today, Kahlenberg stands as a beautiful day trip from Vienna. The whole of the city of Vienna sits in a majestic panoramic view. Do remember the people who charged down those hills to save the city.