Ottoman Empire at its maximum
The wars of the Ottoman
Empire in Europe
sometimes referred to as the Ottoman Wars
, particularly in older, European
After striking a blow to the weakened Byzantine Empire
in 1356 (it is disputed
that the year may have been 1358 due to a change in the Byzantine
calendar), (see Suleyman
) which provided it a basis for operations in Europe, the
Ottoman Empire started its westward expansion into the European
continent in the middle of the 14th century. Its first significant
opponent was the young Serbian Empire, which was worn down by a
series of campaigns, notably in the Battle of Kosovo
in 1389, in which the
leaders of both armies were killed, and which gained a central role
in Serbian folklore as an epic battle and beginning of bad luck for
Serbia. The Ottoman Empire proceeded to conquer the
lands of the Second Bulgarian
Empire—the Southern half (Thrace) in 1371
(Battle of Maritsa), Sofia in 1382, the
then capital Tarnovgrad in 1393, the northern rest after the Battle of
Nicopolis in 1396, except Vidin, which fell
in 1422; Albania in 1385
(Battle of Savra) and again in 1480;
Constantinople in 1453 after the Battle of Varna and Second
Battle of Kosovo; Greece in 1460;
Serbia by 1459 and (after partial Hungarian reconquest in
1480) again by 1499; Bosnia in 1463
(the Northwestern part only by 1527) and Herzegovina in 1482.
in 1456 at the Siege of
Nándorfehérvár (Belgrade) held up Ottoman expansion into
Catholic Europe for 70 years, though for one year (1480–1481) the
Italian port of Otranto was taken,
and in 1493 the Ottoman army successfully raided Croatia and Styria.
As a result of heavy losses inflicted by the Ottomans in the
Battle of Maritsa
in 1371, the
had dissolved into
many principalities. The battle preceded the later Battle of Kosovo
in 1389, during which the
Serbian forces were again annihilated. Throughout the 15th and 16th
centuries, constant struggles took place between various Serbian
kingdoms on the one hand, and the Ottoman Empire on the other. The
turning point was the fall of
to the Turks. The Serbian
Despotate fell in 1459 following the siege of the "temporary"
capital Smederevo, followed by Bosnia
a few years later, and Herzegovina in
1482. Montenegro was overrun by 1499. Belgrade was the last major Balkan city to endure Ottoman
heavily defeated the
Turkish in the Siege of Belgrade
of 1456. After repelling Ottoman attacks for over 70 years,
Belgrade finally fell in 1521, along with the greater part of the
Kingdom of Hungary.
The Ottomans faced fierce resistance from Albanian highlanders who
gathered around their leader, Gjergj Kastrioti
, the offspring
of a feudal nobleman, and managed to fend off Ottoman attacks for
more than 30 years. The Albanian struggle was one of the two
remaining bastions of anti-Ottoman resistance in Eastern Europe
after the Battle of Kosovo
It has been argued that their resilience halted the Ottoman advance
along the Eastern flank of the Western Civilization, saving the
Italian peninsula from Ottoman conquest. Sultan Mehmet II
died in 1481, merely two years after the
collapse of the Albanian resistance and one year after he launched
the Italian campaign.
After the fall of the Bosnian Kingdom
hands in 1463
, the southern and central parts of the Kingdom of Croatia
remained unprotected, the defense of which was left to Croatian
gentry who kept smaller troops in the fortified border areas at
their own expense. The Ottomans meanwhile reached the river
Neretva and having
conquered Herzegovina (Rama) in 1482, they found their way
toward Croatia, skillfully
avoiding the fortified border towns.
victory at the Battle of Krbava
shook all the social strata in Croatia. However, it did
not dissuade the Croats
from making even more
decisive and persistent attempts at defending themselves against
the attacks of the much more superior enemy. After almost two
hundred years of the Croatian fighting against the Ottoman Empire,
the glorious victory in the Battle of
marked the end of the Ottoman invasions. The Viceroy's army,
chasing the Turks away from Petrinja in 1595, crowned the great victory.
Occupation of Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary
, which at
the time spanned the area from Croatia in the west to Transylvania
in the east, was also gravely
threatened by Ottoman advances. The origins of such a deterioration
can be traced back to the fall of the Árpád
ruling dynasty and their subsequent replacement with the Angevin
kings. After a series of inconclusive wars over the
course of 176 years, the kingdom finally crumbled in the Battle of
Mohács of 1526, after which most of it was either occupied
or brought under Ottoman suzerainty.
(The 150-year Turkish
Occupation, as it is called in Hungary, lasted until the late 1600s
but parts of the Hungarian Kingdom were occupied from 1421 and
1423–1503: Wars with Venice
Ottoman Empire started sea campaigns as early as 1423, when it
waged a seven-year
war with the Venetian Republic over maritime control of the Aegean Sea and the Adriatic Sea.
The wars with Venice resumed
1463, until a favorable peace treaty was signed in 1479. In 1480,
now no longer hampered by the Venetian fleet, the Ottomans besieged Rhodes
and captured Otranto
. War with Venice resumed from
1499 to 1503
. In 1500, a Spanish-Venetian army commanded by Gonzalo de Córdoba took Kefalonia, temporarily stopping the Ottoman offensive on
eastern Venetian territories.
1462–1483: Wallachian and Moldavian campaigns
In 1462, Mehmed II was driven back by Wallachian
prince Vlad III Dracula
at The Night Attack
. However, the latter was
imprisoned by Hungarian king Matthias
. This caused outrage among many influential Hungarian
figures and Western admirers of Vlad's success in the battle
against the Ottoman Empire (and his early recognition of the threat
it posed), including high-ranking members of the Vatican
. Because of this, Matthias granted him
the status of distinguished prisoner. Eventually, Dracula was freed
in late 1475 and was sent with an army of Hungarian and Serbian
soldiers to recover Bosnia
Ottomans. He defeated Ottoman Forces and he gained his first
victory against the Ottoman Empire. Upon this victory, Ottoman
Forces entered Moldavia in 1476 under the command of Mehmed II.
During the war, Vlad was killed and, according to some sources, his
head was sent to Constantinople to discourage the other
Turkish advance was temporary halted after Stephen the Great of Moldavia defeated the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II's
armies at the Battle of
Vaslui in 1475, which was one of the greatest defeats of
the Ottoman empire until that time.
Stephen was defeated at
(Battle of Valea Albă
) the next
year, but the Ottomans had to retreat after they failed to take any
significant castle (see siege of Cetatea Neamţului
as a plague started to spread in the Ottoman army. Stephen's search
for European assistance against the Turks met with little success,
even though he had "cut off the pagan's
" - as he put it in a letter.
In 1482, Bosnia was completely added to Ottoman Lands. Bosnians did
not complain about being under Ottoman Sovereignty because there
was already a sectarian conflict going in Bosnia, and because
Mehmed II gave converters to Islam a tax break.
1526–1566: Attack on Habsburg Empire
Mohács, only the southwestern part of the Hungarian Kingdom was
actually conquered, but the Ottoman campaign continued with small
campaigns and major summer invasions (troops returned south of the
Mountains before winter) through the land between 1526 and
1556. In 1529, they mounted their first major
attack on the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy
(with up to 300,000 troops in earlier accounts, 100,000 according
to newer research ), attempting to conquer the city of Vienna (Siege of Vienna).
In 1532, another
attack on Vienna with 60,000 troops in the main army was held up by
the small fort (800 defenders) of Kőszeg
Hungary, fighting a suicidal battle. The invading troops were held
up until winter was close and the Habsburg Empire had assembled a
force of 80,000 at Vienna. The Ottoman troops returned home through
Styria, laying waste to the country.
In the meantime, in 1538, the Ottoman Empire invaded Moldavia
. In 1541, another campaign in Hungary took
Buda and Pest (which today
together form the Hungarian capital Budapest) with a largely bloodless trick: after concluding
peace talks with an agreement, troops stormed the open gates of
Buda in the night. In retaliation for a failed Austrian
counter-attack in 1542, the conquest of the western half of central
Hungary was finished in the 1543 campaign that took both the most
important royal ex-capital, Székesfehérvár, and the ex-seat of the cardinal, Esztergom.
However, the army of 35–40,000 men was not
enough for Suleiman
mount another attack on Vienna. A temporary truce was signed
between the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires in 1547, which was soon
disregarded by the Habsburgs.
In the major but moderately successful campaign of 1552, two armies
took the eastern part of central Hungary, pushing the borders of
the Ottoman Empire to the second (inner) line of northern
s (border castles), which Hungary originally built
as defence against an expected second Mongol invasion
—hence, afterwards, borders
on this front changed little. For Hungarians, the 1552 campaign was
a series of tragic losses and some heroic (but pyrrhic
) victories, which entered
folklore—most notably the fall of Drégely
(a small fort
defended to the last man by just 146 men), and the Siege of Eger
. The latter was a major
with more than 2,000 men, but in poor shape and
without outside help. They faced two Ottoman armies (150,000 troops
by earlier accounts, 60-75,000 men according to newer research ),
which were unable to take the castle within five weeks.
was later taken in 1596.) Finally, the 1556 campaign secured
Ottoman influence over Transylvania (which had fallen under
Habsburg control for a time), while failing to gain any ground on
the western front, being tied down in the second (after 1555)
unsuccessful siege of the southwestern Hungarian border castle of
The Ottoman Empire conducted another major war against the
Habsburgs and their Hungarian territories between 1566 and 1568.
Szigetvar, the third siege in which the fort was finally
taken, but the aged Sultan died, deterring that year's push for
1522–1573: Rhodes, Malta and the Holy League
forces invaded and captured the island of Rhodes in 1522,
after two previous failed attempts (see Siege of Rhodes). The Knights of Rhodes were banished to
Malta, which was in turn besieged in 1565.
After three months of intense fighting, pitting an Ottoman army of
around 65,000 against 2,000 Maltese and 500 Knights, the Ottomans
failed to conquer Malta, sustaining very heavy losses, including
one of the greatest Muslim corsair generals of the time, Dragut
and were repulsed. Had Malta fallen, Sicily
and mainland Italy could have fallen under the threat of an Ottoman
Invasion. The victory of Malta during this event, which is nowadays
known as the Great Siege of
, turned the tide and stopped the westward expansion of
the Ottoman Empire. It also marked the importance of the Knights of Saint John
relevant presence in Malta to aid Christendom in its defence
against the Muslim onslaught.
Malta was the first defeat of two suffered by Suleiman the Magnificent
greatest Sultan of the Ottomans.
The Ottoman naval victories of this period were in the Battle of Preveza
(1538) and the Battle of Djerba
campaign, which lasted from 1570 to 1573, resulted by the
Ottoman invasion and occupation of Cyprus.
Holy League of Venice,
States, Spain, the Knights
of Saint John in Malta and initially Portugal was formed against the Ottoman Empire during this
period. The League's victory in the Battle of
Lepanto ended Ottoman predominance at sea.
1593–1669: Austria and Venice
(15-Year War with
Austria, 1593–1606) ends with status quo. War with Venice
1645–1669 and the conquest of Crete (see
Fought over Moldavia. Polish army advances into Moldavia and is
defeated in Battle of
. Next year, Poles repel Turkish invasion in Battle of Khotyn
. Another conflict
starts in 1633 but is soon settled.
1657–1683 Conclusion of Wars with Habsburgs
In 1657, Transylvania, the Eastern part of the former Hungarian
Kingdom that after 1526 gained semi-independence while paying
tribute to the Ottoman Empire, felt strong enough to attack the
(then the Empire's vassals) to the
East, and later the Ottoman Empire itself, that came to the Tatars'
defence. The war lasted until 1662, ending in defeat for the
Hungarians. The Western part of the Hungarian Kingdom
) was annexed and placed under direct Ottoman
control, marking the greatest territorial extent of Ottoman rule in
the former Hungarian Kingdom. At the same time, there was another
campaign against Austria between 1663 and 1664. However, the Turks
were defeated in the Battle of Saint Gotthard on 1 August, 1664 by Raimondo
Montecuccoli, forcing them to enter the Peace of Vasvár with Austria, which
held until 1683.
after Poland beat back a
Tatar invasion, war with Poland
1672–1676, Jan Sobieski
distinguishes himself and becomes the King of Poland.
1683–1699: Great Turkish War – Loss of Hungary and the
The Great Turkish War
1683, with a grand invasion
140,000 men marching on Vienna, supported by Hungarian noblemen
rebelling against Habsburg rule. To stop the invasion, another Holy League was formed,
composed of Austria and Poland (notably in the Battle of Vienna), Venetians and the
After winning the Battle of Vienna, the
Holy League gained the upper hand, and conducted the re-conquest of
Hungary (Buda and Pest were retaken in 1686, the former under the
command of a Swiss-born convert to Islam). At the same time, the
Venetians launched an expedition into
Greece, which conquered the Peloponnese. During the 1687 Venetian attack on the city
of Athens (occupied
by the Ottomans), the Ottomans turned the ancient Parthenon into an ammunitions storehouse.
mortar hit the Parthenon, detonating the Ottoman gunpowder stored
inside and partially destroying it.
The war ended with the Treaty of
in 1699. Prince
Eugene of Savoy
first distinguished himself in 1683 and
remained the most important Austrian commander until 1718.
The second Russo-Turkish War
place 1710–1711 near Prut
. It was instigated by
Charles XII of Sweden after
the defeat at the Battle of Poltava, in order to tie down Russia with the Ottoman
Empire and gain some breathing space in the increasingly
unsuccessful Great Northern
The Russians were severely beaten but not
annihilated, and after the Treaty of
was signed the Ottoman Empire disengaged, allowing Russia
to refocus its energies on the defeat of Sweden.
Another war with Austria and Venice started in 1714. Austria
conquered the remaining areas of the former Hungarian Kingdom,
ending with the Treaty of
Another war with Russia started in 1735. The Austrians joined in
1737; the war ended in 1739 with the Treaty of Belgrade
(with Austria) and the
Treaty of Nissa
The fourth Russo-Turkish started in 1768 and ended in 1774 with the
Yet another war with Russia and Austria started in 1787; it ended
by Austria with the 1791 Treaty of
, and with the 1792 Treaty of
invasion of Egypt and Syria by Napoleon I of France took place
in 1798–99, but ended due to British intervention.
Napoleon's capture of Malta on his way to
Egypt resulted in the unusual alliance of Russia and the Ottomans
resulting in a joint naval expedition to the Ionian
Their successful capture of these islands
led to the setting up of the Septinsular Republic
The sixth Russo-Turkish
began in 1806 and ended in 1812 due to Napoleon's invasion
The First Serbian Uprising
took place in 1804, followed by the Second Serbian Uprising
Serbia was fully liberated by 1867. Officially recognized
independence followed in 1878.
The Crimean War
in the 1850s saw Britain
and France join against Russia with the Ottomans.
Moldavian-Wallachian (Romanian) Uprising (starting simultaneously
with the Greek Revolution
The Greek War of
, taking place from 1821 to 1832, in which the
Great Powers intervened from 1827, including Russia (Seventh
Russo–Turkish war, 1828–1829), achieved independence for Greece;
the Treaty of Adrianople
Wars with Bosnia 1831–1836, 1836–1837, 1841.
War with Montenegro 1852–1853.
Russo-Turkish war 1853–1856, Crimean
War, in which the United Kingdom and France joined the war on the side of the
Ended with the Treaty of Paris
Second war with Montenegro in 1858–1859.
War with Montenegro, Bosnia and Serbia in 1862.
Bulgarian Rebellion in 1876.
The ninth and final Russo–Turkish war started in 1877, the same
year the Ottomans withdrew from the Conference of Constantinople
Romania then declared its independence and waged war on Turkey,
joined by Serbians and Bulgarians and finally the Russians (see
also Russian Foreign
Affairs after the Crimean War
). Bosnia was occupied by Austria
in 1878. The Russians and the Ottomans signed the Treaty of San Stefano
in early 1878.
After deliberations at the Congress
, which was attended by all the Great Powers of the
time, the Treaty of Berlin,
recognized several territorial changes.
was granted some
autonomy in 1878, rebelled in 1885 and joined Bulgaria in 1886.
Thessalia ceded to Greece in 1881, but
after Greece attacked the Ottoman Empire to help the Second Cretan
Uprising in 1897, Greece was broken in Thessalia.
Bulgarian insurrection from 1903.
1912-1913: Balkan Wars
Two Balkan Wars
, in 1912 and 1913,
involved further action against the Ottoman Empire in Europe. The
Macedonia and most of Thrace
from the Ottoman
Empire, and then fell out over the division of the spoils. Albania
also declared independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, after
several rebellions and uprisings. This reduced Turkey's possessions
in Europe (Rumelia
) to their present borders
in Eastern Thrace
World War I
The Ottoman Empire suffered a defeat in World War I
. However, the Empire did not allow
the Navy to pass to Istanbul in the famous Battle of Gallipoli
; Turkey temporarily
lost most of the rest of what it had left in Europe.