The 1529 Siege of Vienna




holy lord (2) swear/swore/sworn
set out faith (2) force (3)
defeat slavery watch (2)
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pike atrocity highway
gouge torture blow your mind
chop corpse throw/threw/thrown
flood precede emperor
abuse courtesy miserable
set up cannon sweep away
diary envision gunpowder
climb decision surrounded
soak issue (3) ultimatum
offer confuse cathedral
ash sublime resistance
plead celebrate slaughter
join ground renounce
ignore abandon stand their ground
realize loyalty common people
gather noble (2) companion
pray order (3) alongside
oath peasant turn them back
tunnel artillery underground
silent plant (4) explosive
barrel creative narrative
cellar mine (2) reenforcement
lack storm (2) make up for
awake explode disinformation
shout vibration blew/blow/blown
reduce confuse believe (2)
diary capture rainstorm
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troops lose face humiliating
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gather worship headquarters
hymn occasion house of worship
verse wild (2) battlefield
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In the year of our Lord 1529, Sultan Suleiman, the sworn enemy of the Christian Faith, set out for Vienna with all his forces in order to defeat Christianity. Peter Stern, Chronicle of 1529.

In the spring of 1529, an army of 75,000 men left the Ottoman capital of Istanbul and headed for the heart of the Holy Roman Empire: the city of Vienna.

Raymond Ibrahim, Author, The Al Queda Reader: “To conquer Vienna was sort of the gateway into Western Europe — if you were able to take Vienna likely other areas would fall quickly.”

The Ottoman leader Suleiman the Magnificent had already conquered much of Eastern Europe, and now his army marched undefeated toward the West, to claim it in the name of Islam.

An Austrian leader described the Muslims march of terror through Europe. “Many thousands of people were murdered or dragged into slavery. Children were cut out of their mothers wombs and stuck on pikes; young women abused to death and their corpses left on the highway. Peter Stern, Chronicle of 1529

Raymond Ibrahim, Author, The Al Queda Reader: “The atrocities will blow your minds — I mean putting children on pikes is one thing.

Oftentimes they would take Christians that they liked and force them to become Muslims. If they didn’t, they would be tortured, which included gouging their eyes, chopping their appendages and throwing them in fire.

Anything that your mind can envision went on then.”
The Austrians pleaded for help from Europe’s Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. But Charles dismissed the danger in Vienna; as a courtesy he sent a few German and Spanish troops to protect the city — just 1700 soldiers to fight an army of 75,000.

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In late September the Turks arrived in Vienna and set up camp here outside the city.

But it wasn’t long before they realized their greatest enemy wasn’t the European army — it was the weather. That autumn was unusually cold and rainy. Suleiman’s secretary described the miserable conditions in his diary.

“It rained so heavily that some of the horses and camels were swept away by the water. Men climbed up trees and spent two days and nights there. The rain soaked the Turks gunpowder, making it useless.”

And the heavy floods forced them to leave most of their heavy cannons behind — a decision they would later regret.

The Ottoman troops surrounded the city, and the Sultan issued an ultimatum to the people of Vienna:

“Let it be known that if you become Muslims, nothing will happen to you but if you offer resistance, then by Allah the most sublime, your city will be reduced to ashes and young and old slaughtered.”

Raymond Ibrahim, Author, The Al Queda Reader: “That was the traditional invitation as it was called preceding the warfare: ‘Join us and become Muslims and renounce your Christ . . . or we’re going to start attacking you.’”

Suleiman warned that in less than two weeks he would celebrate his victory with breakfast inside Vienna’s largest church, St. Stephen’s Cathedral after he had turned it into a mosque.

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The people of Vienna stood their ground and refused to surrender. Abandoned by the rest of Europe and ignored by their own Emperor they realized no more help was coming. And they were the only thing standing between Europe and the armies of Islam.

Inside St. Stephen’s, the European soldiers gathered to plan — and to pray. They also took an oath of loyalty.

“Noble and common companions at arms swore to remain in the city as long as there was still life in their bodies . . . and to die alongside one another for the Christian faith.” Peter Stern, Chronicle of 1529.

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After a few days, Suleiman gave the order to attack. Twice the Ottomans advanced toward Vienna . . . and twice the Austrians turned them back.

With no heavy artillery, the Turks had to find a different way into the city. So they started a whole new war: underground. Hundreds of Turks tunneled under the city and planted explosives to blow up the gates of Vienna.

But the Europeans came up with a creative way to find the bomb: they place barrels of water in the cellars along the city wall and watch the vibrations in the water to see where the Turks were tunneling. This way they found most of the mines before they exploded.

There’s no question that the Europeans were outnumbered . . . but what they lacked in manpower they made up for in creativity: from inside the cathedral they waged a psychological war against the Turks and their most powerful weapon was disinformation.

The Austrians planted spies who led the Turks to believe they had reinforcements on the way. Then throughout the day and night they shouted and blew their trumpets to confuse the Turks.

According to the Sultan’s diary their plan was working: Suleiman believed the Holy Roman Emperor himself was behind the city walls with an army of thousands.

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St. Michael’s day arrived with another heavy rainstorm. This was the day Suleiman had boasted he would be eating breakfast from inside the Cathedral — but in reality the Turks were no closer to capturing the city.

And as the rain poured down on the Ottoman tents the Austrians sent a message to the sultan from inside the Cathedral: “Your breakfast is getting cold.”

Two weeks into the siege, the Ottoman army was in disarray: the soldiers were tired, sick and running out of food. By now their commanders had to beat them with sticks just to keep them on the battlefield.

The Ottomans decided to launch one final attack . . . this time using the Sultan’s elite troops the Janissaries. Two days later the Turks stormed the city — but they were no match for the fierce German pikemen at the gates and the final battle lasted just two hours.

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Raymond Ibrahim, Author, The Al Queda Reader: “Suleiman basically decided he’s going to leave and save face.

The Janissaries themselves got very angry because this was unprecedented; these Ottomans who have been taking everything in their path. This was a new blow to them: they found hey we can actually be stopped. It was humiliating.”

The next morning a freak snowstorm swept through Austria — making the Turkish retreat even more difficult.

In less than a month a small group of farmers, peasants and soldiers had defeated the most powerful army in the world they not only saved the city of Vienna they single-handedly stopped the march of Islam through Europe.

Raymond Ibrahim, Author, The Al Queda Reader: “The onslaught of the Islamic Turkish Empire had stopped — and so it was an example to them that they can be being now we know these wild people can be stopped.

And we know we can do it. And we know God is on our side. Of course that became a pivotal part of the narrative.”

The bells of St. Stephen’s — silent throughout the siege — now rang in celebration. And the church which it served as the military headquarters became a house of worship once more as the people of Vienna gathered to thank God for their victory.

A special hymn was written for the occasion based on a verse from the Psalms: “Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”

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Army. In 1519, Christian Crusaders from Europe marched to liberate Constantinople from the Ottoman Turks. True or false?

Navy. Did the Ottoman army only engage (fight) European forces in Central Europe? Are Muslims an ethno-religious group like Jews, Amish and Sikhs?

Air Force. The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V declared a Holy War on the Muslim invaders and sent a massive army to Vienna. Is this right or wrong?

Marines. The weather in Austria in September 1529 was perfect — not too hot, not too cold. Do you agree?

Coast Guard. Was Sultan Suleiman’s primary goal to destroy Vienna? Was he confident, overconfident, nervous or scared?

Soldiers, Troops. Describe the military strategies and tactics of the Ottomans and the Europeans. What did the armies do?

Sailor, Airman. What was the moral of the Ottoman army like? What happened in the end? Were the Turks single-handedly defeated by the European military prowess?

Elite Troops, Special Forces. What were the consequences of the Siege of Vienna of 1529? Did it have far-reaching consequences?
Gun, Rifle, Pistol. Are the Sieges of Vienna a big part of your nation’s lore and heritage? Is it celebrated and commemorated?

Sword, Shield. Are there lessons or morals regarding the Sieges of Vienna?

Pike, Sarissa, Spear. What might have happened if the Turks had captured Vienna?

Cannon, Artillery. What could or should people, both Europeans and Turks, do?

Fortress, Castle. What might happen in the future?

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