We remember, in September, when the Winged Hussars arrived: Part one

There are two parts to this post. First a bit of history, then how it relates to us today.

14 July 1683, a 170,000 strong invading Muslim army arrived at the gates of Vienna. The Ottoman forces included 40,000 Tatars (Mongols) from Crimea. Another 70,000 Ottomans and troops from vassal states controlled the countryside.

For centuries the Muslims had dreamed of conquering Europe. Vienna was the key. It?s position dominated the Danube River (East-West) and also South?North overland trade routes. Take Vienna and the door to Europe was open.

The Ottomans had spent 15 months in preparation and the pending invasion was well known. Prior to the arrival of the Muslim army, The Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, fled the city with 80,000 troops, leaving just 15,000 to defend it.

With the Ottoman army at the gates, and the Muslim support troops in the area, the Viennese defenders were outnumbered 15 to 1. The City Governor, Count Ernst R?diger von Starhemberg, refused Ottoman demands to surrender.

The siege started on the 14th July.

In Poland, King John III Sobieski was having none of this. He gathered his entire army and set off for Vienna. In doing so he left Poland completely defenceless. He warned his neighbours that if they would try to take advantage of this situation then he would deliver complete and utter destruction upon them when and if he returned. He risked all, literally his kingdom, to turn back the Muslim tide. (A prince from Upper Hungary did ignore the warning and decided to have a go, however, he severely regretted it later, but that is another story).

By the time John III Sobieski had arrived outside Vienna, the Polish army had been supplemented by units from Germany, Lithuania and even Ukrainian Cossacks. Together they numbered 70,000.

The main body of the Allied army was the Polish Heavy Calvary The Winged Hussars. Winged Hussars wore large distinctive wings on their backs and had a fearsome reputation. In numerous battles over the past century, they had been the deciding factor.

12 September 1683

The siege of Vienna had been going on for 2 months. The Ottomans had been digging tunnels beneath the city walls and setting off explosives. The walls were collapsing. The outnumbered defenders had no outside food supply and were starving. Even when the Allied army appeared on the horizon, the Ottoman commander still thought he was just hours away from taking the city and continued the assault.

The allied relief effort started before dawn. Pitched battles were fought to reclaim surrounding villages. By Mid afternoon they had control of the heights overlooking Vienna.

So occurred the biggest cavalry charge in history. 18,000 horsemen in four groups. ?Three of them Polish, one German. The charge was lead by King John III Sobieski at the head of 3000 Winged Hussars.

Vienna and all of Europe was saved.

In December 1683, the Muslim Commander was executed by the Ottomans for his crime of failing to take Vienna (He did not die in battle as the video below shows, but fled).

Over the next 16 years the Allies slowly pushed the Muslim invaders south through the Balkans liberating many, but not all, European lands.

Which brings us to the present.

*To be continued tomorrow.