Austrian History (7)

Emperor Leopold I

Leopold I  (*1640 - †1705)    

In 1664, the Turks invaded Hungary and turned their armies toward Vienna but were halted by an Austrian army of some 60,000 men.
The Austrian army under Montecuccoli won a major battle against the Turks in 1664 but the Habsburg counter-reformation outraged the Hungarians and led to a plot in 1671 and war with the Hungarian rebels led by Tököly.
The Turks immediately saw the chance of an alliance with Hungary against Austria and sent over 200,000 troops to support the Hungarian cause.
In 1682, Austria sent troops to occupy Hungary but the Hungarians forced over 40,000 Austrian troops to flee.


King John Sobieski III of Poland




The Second Siege of Vienna   

In 1683, the Turks besieged Vienna and were very close to defeating the city. In September 1683, King John Sobieski III of Poland led an army of 60,000 Polish and united troops and then joined together with the combined armies of Austria, Saxony and Bavaria.
Sobieski and the Emperor Leopold I had made a pact of alliance earlier that year.
The relief army united on the top of the hills surrounding Vienna and attacked the Turks on the morning of 12th September 1683. The Turks were completely surprised by the attack and the battle raged for 15 hours before the Turks were driven from their trenches.
The Turks were routed and over 70,000 Turks were killed. Reports state that it took a week to collect the booty left behind in the Turkish camp.

Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha

Kara Mustafa was born in 1634 or 1635 and died on the 25th December 1683.

He was an Ottoman military leader and grand vizier and was a central figure during the Ottoman Empire's attempt to invade and conquer Central and Eastern Europe.
His defeat during the Battle of Vienna in 1683 robbed him of his position, and cost him his life.

Kara Mustafa was executed in Belgrade on the 25th December 1683 and suffered death by strangulation with a silk cord.
His last words were, "Make sure you tie the knot right."
The war continued and the Turkish threat to Europe prompted Poland, Venice and Russia to join the Habsburg Empire in repelling the Turks.
In 1686, Habsburg forces moved into central Hungary and captured Buda. By 1687, the Ottoman Empire had been virtually defeated in central Hungary. Battle after battle took place until finally in 1697, Prince Eugene of Savoy led an imperial army, defeated the Turks at Zenta and forced them to sign the “Treaty of Karlowitz” which gave Austria nearly all of Hungary.
Leopold I led several wars against France, (1673-1679, 1688-1697) but could not stop France advancing towards the River Rhine.
In 1700, Bavaria became allies with France and 40,000 Bavarian and French troops invaded Austria, but were defeated at Blenheim. Austrian troops overran and occupied Bavaria and waged war against France.


Ferenc II Rákóczi


Austria had experienced troubles with the Hungarian so-called “Kurucs” since the 15th century. At the beginning of the 18th century, an uprising against the Habsburgs under Ferenc II Rákóczi led to devastating attacks on parts of Lower Austria, Burgenland and Styria between 1703 and 1709.

The Linienwall, a former outer fortification of Vienna


The city of Vienna was fortified but an additional outer fortification was built in 1704 to protect the city from the attacks. The so-called Linienwall consisted of several ditches and earthworks and formed an outer fortification of the city (Gürtel).



The War of the Spanish Succession – “Pactum mutuae successionis”

In 1700, the main line of the Habsburg family in Spain died out and Leopold claimed the Habsburg provinces in Spain in accordance with the “Pact of mutual succession” of 1703 for his younger son Karl.
Leopold I of Austria and King Louis XIV of France wanted to establish their dynasty in Spain.


King Louis XIV of France


The possible union of Spain and France was a threat to British interests and led to the British preference of seeing a union of Spain and the Habsburg lands in Central Europe. Although the British supported the Habsburgs, they were not able to install the Austrian Archduke Karl on the Spanish throne and the alliance became weaker as the war went on.
After the death of Leopold’s eldest son Joseph I in 1711, his brother Karl (VI) became Holy Roman Emperor and the political possibility of a unification of the Habsburg lines under Karl VI (III), became a major threat to the other European powers.
Austria’s allies backed out of the war and made peace with France in 1713.
The Treaty of Utrecht gave Austria the Spanish Netherlands (Belgium) and various Italian territories but put an end to the historical Habsburg rule in Spain.



Karl VI  (*1685 - †1740)

Karl III of Spain         

Emperor Karl VI

Karl VI, son of the Emperor Leopold I and brother of Emperor Joseph I, was designated to become King of Spain in 1703 and attempted to impose his right to the Spanish throne (Catalonia) with the help of Britain.
After the death of his brother Joseph I, Karl became Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and inherited the Habsburg provinces in central Europe. Karl VI felt much attached to the way of life he had led in Spain and introduced Spanish court etiquette in Vienna.
The Ottoman Empire had remained neutral toward Austria during the War of the Spanish Succession but Austria tried to intervene and finally declared war on the Turks after they had become a threat to the Venetians on the Peloponnese and the Ionian Isles.
In 1716, the Austrian army, under Prince Eugene, defeated the Turks near Peterwardein and at Temesvar.
In 1717, the Austrians regained Belgrade from the Turks, thereby forcing the Turks to make concessions to Austria.
The Habsburg Empire achieved its greatest expansion during the first half of the 18th century and the political events in Spain, Italy and Poland brought the Spanish Netherlands (Belgium) and the Italian provinces Milan, Mantua, Parma, Piacenza, and Tuscany der Habsburg rule.
Karl VI saw that Austria required far more economic and political centralisation to be able to cope with the economic needs and organisation of the growing empire.
Karl VI realised that the lack of a male heir to the throne was a threat to the unity of the Habsburg Empire and in 1713 promulgated the “Pragmatic Sanction” to allow his daughter Maria Theresia to inherit the Habsburg Lands.
Karl VI wanted to ensure the future of the Habsburg lands and the succession of his daughter Maria Theresia. The so-called “Pragmatic Sanction” was a treaty allowing Maria Theresia to succeed to the domains of the Habsburgs and was eventually recognised by nearly every major European nation then having interests in Habsburg domains.
The price that Austria had to pay to the other European powers for approval of the Pragmatic Sanction was high and led to the abandoning of many centralising reforms, without realising that these concessions would later not prevent the War of the Austrian Succession from breaking out.
The treaty was eventually nothing more than a piece of paper, thus making his daughter Maria Theresia an instrument of Europe’s politics.


Archduches Maria Theresia