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Ottoman Empire at its maximum (1683)
The wars of the Ottoman Empire in Europe are also sometimes referred to as the Ottoman Wars or as Turkish Wars, particularly in older, European texts.

Rise (1299–1453)

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 Pasha) 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), Sofiamarker in 1382, the then capital Tarnovgradmarker in 1393, the northern rest after the Battle of Nicopolismarker in 1396, except Vidinmarker, which fell in 1422; Albaniamarker in 1385 (Battle of Savra) and again in 1480; Constantinoplemarker in 1453 after the Battle of Varnamarker and Second Battle of Kosovo; Greecemarker in 1460; Serbiamarker 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.

Growth (1453–1683)

The defeat 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 Croatiamarker and Styria.

Serbian Resistance

As a result of heavy losses inflicted by the Ottomans in the Battle of Maritsa in 1371, the Serbian Empire 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 Constantinople to the Turks. The Serbian Despotate fell in 1459 following the siege of the "temporary" capital Smederevomarker, followed by Bosnia a few years later, and Herzegovina in 1482. Montenegromarker was overrun by 1499. Belgrademarker was the last major Balkan city to endure Ottoman onslaughts. Serbs, Hungarians and European crusader 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.

Albanian Resistance

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 in 1389. 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.

Croatian Resistance

After the fall of the Bosnian Kingdom into the Ottoman 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 Neretvamarker and having conquered Herzegovina (Rama) in 1482, they found their way toward Croatiamarker, skillfully avoiding the fortified border towns. Decisive Ottoman victory at the Battle of Krbava field 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 Sisak marked the end of the Ottoman invasions. The Viceroy's army, chasing the Turks away from Petrinjamarker 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 and Jagiellonian kings. After a series of inconclusive wars over the course of 176 years, the kingdom finally crumbled in the Battle of Mohácsmarker 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 until 1718.)

1423–1503: Wars with Venice

The Ottoman Empire started sea campaigns as early as 1423, when it waged a seven-year war with the Venetian Republicmarker over maritime control of the Aegean Seamarker and the Adriatic Seamarker. The wars with Venice resumed in 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 Spanishmarker-Venetian army commanded by Gonzalo de Córdoba took Kefaloniamarker, 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 Corvinus. 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 from the 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 rebellions.

The Turkish advance was temporary halted after Stephen the Great of Moldavia defeated the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II's armies at the Battle of Vasluimarker in 1475, which was one of the greatest defeats of the Ottoman empire until that time. Stephen was defeated at Războieni (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 right hand" - 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

After the 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 Balkan Mountainsmarker before winter) through the land between 1526 and 1556. In 1529, they mounted their first major attack on the Austrianmarker Habsburg Monarchy (with up to 300,000 troops in earlier accounts, 100,000 according to newer research ), attempting to conquer the city of Viennamarker (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 in western 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 Pestmarker (which today together form the Hungarian capital Budapestmarker) 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, Székesfehérvármarker, and the ex-seat of the cardinal, Esztergommarker. However, the army of 35–40,000 men was not enough for Suleiman to 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 végvárs (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 végvár 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. (The fort 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 Szigetvármarker.

The Ottoman Empire conducted another major war against the Habsburgs and their Hungarian territories between 1566 and 1568. The 1566 Battle of Szigetvarmarker, the third siege in which the fort was finally taken, but the aged Sultan died, deterring that year's push for Vienna.

1522–1573: Rhodes, Malta and the Holy League

Ottoman forces invaded and captured the island of Rhodesmarker in 1522, after two previous failed attempts (see Siege of Rhodes). The Knights of Rhodes were banished to Maltamarker, 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 Malta, turned the tide and stopped the westward expansion of the Ottoman Empire. It also marked the importance of the Knights of Saint John and their 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, the greatest Sultan of the Ottomans.

The Ottoman naval victories of this period were in the Battle of Preveza (1538) and the Battle of Djerba (1560).

The Mediterranean campaign, which lasted from 1570 to 1573, resulted by the Ottoman invasion and occupation of Cyprusmarker. A Holy League of Venice, the Papal Statesmarker, Spainmarker, the Knights of Saint John in Malta and initially Portugalmarker was formed against the Ottoman Empire during this period. The League's victory in the Battle of Lepanto marker ended Ottoman predominance at sea.

1593–1669: Austria and Venice

Long War (15-Year War with Austria, 1593–1606) ends with status quo. War with Venice 1645–1669 and the conquest of Cretemarker (see Cretan War ).

1620-1621: Poland

Fought over Moldavia. Polish army advances into Moldavia and is defeated in Battle of Ţuţora. 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 Tatars (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 (Partium) 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 Gotthardmarker on 1 August, 1664 by Raimondo Montecuccoli, forcing them to enter the Peace of Vasvár with Austria, which held until 1683.

1672–1676: Poland

A year after Polandmarker 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 Morea

The Great Turkish War started in 1683, with a grand invasion force of 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 Russian Empiremarker. 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 Peloponnesemarker. During the 1687 Venetian attack on the city of Athensmarker (occupied by the Ottomans), the Ottomans turned the ancient Parthenonmarker into an ammunitions storehouse. A Venetian mortar hit the Parthenon, detonating the Ottoman gunpowder stored inside and partially destroying it.

The war ended with the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699. Prince Eugene of Savoy first distinguished himself in 1683 and remained the most important Austrian commander until 1718.

Stagnation (1699–1827)


The second Russo-Turkish War took place 1710–1711 near Prut. It was instigated by Charles XII of Sweden after the defeat at the Battle of Poltavamarker, in order to tie down Russia with the Ottoman Empire and gain some breathing space in the increasingly unsuccessful Great Northern War. The Russians were severely beaten but not annihilated, and after the Treaty of Prut 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 Passarowitz in 1718.

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 (with Russia).

The fourth Russo-Turkish started in 1768 and ended in 1774 with the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji.

Yet another war with Russia and Austria started in 1787; it ended by Austria with the 1791 Treaty of Sistova, and with the 1792 Treaty of Jassy with Russia.

An invasion of Egypt and Syria by Napoleon I of Francemarker took place in 1798–99, but ended due to Britishmarker 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 Islandsmarker. Their successful capture of these islands led to the setting up of the Septinsular Republic.


The sixth Russo-Turkish War began in 1806 and ended in 1812 due to Napoleon's invasion of Russia.

The First Serbian Uprising took place in 1804, followed by the Second Serbian Uprising in 1815; 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 1821–1824.

Decline (1828–1908)

The Greek War of Independence, 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 ended the war.

Wars with Bosnia 1831–1836, 1836–1837, 1841.

War with Montenegro 1852–1853.

Eighth Russo-Turkish war 1853–1856, Crimean War, in which the United Kingdommarker and France joined the war on the side of the Ottoman Empire. Ended with the Treaty of Paris.

Second war with Montenegro in 1858–1859.

War with Montenegro, Bosnia and Serbia in 1862.

Cretan Uprising in 1866.

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 of Berlin, which was attended by all the Great Powers of the time, the Treaty of Berlin, 1878 recognized several territorial changes.

Eastern Rumelia was granted some autonomy in 1878, rebelled in 1885 and joined Bulgaria in 1886. Thessalia ceded to Greecemarker in 1881, but after Greece attacked the Ottoman Empire to help the Second Cretan Uprising in 1897, Greece was broken in Thessalia.

Dissolution (1908–1922)


Bulgarianmarker insurrection from 1903.

1912-1913: Balkan Wars

Two Balkan Wars, in 1912 and 1913, involved further action against the Ottoman Empire in Europe. The Balkan League first conquered 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.

See also


External links

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