The Symbology of September 11

(Falling back into my role as a historian, (and repeating a prior posting) I submit for you a bit of history, and thus give an understanding of the long hatred of the Muslim for the date of September 11.

The Battle of Vienna, called in German: Schlacht am Kahlenberg, Polish: Odsiecz Wiedeńska, Turkish: İkinci Viyana Kuşatması, Ukrainian: Віденська відсіч (Viděns’ka Vidsič) took place on September 11 and September 12, 1683 after Vienna had been besieged by the Ottoman Empire for two months. The battle broke the advance of the Ottoman Empire into Europe, and marked the beginning of the decline of the Ottoman Turks and Muslim influence.

The battle was won by Polish-Austrian-German forces led by King of Poland Jan III Sobieski against the Ottoman Empire army commanded by Grand Vizier Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha. The battle was the schwerpunkt of the 300-year struggle between Christians and Muslems in Europe. Over the sixteen years following the battle, the Austrians occupied southern Hungary, Transylvania and the Balkans, creating an empire that lasted until 1919, and forced the last Moslem rulers out of lands they had conquored in Europe.

In 1681 Protestant forces, led by Imre Thököly, were reinforced with forces from the Ottomans, who recognized Imre as King of “Upper Hungary” . This support went so far as explicitly promising the “Kingdom of Vienna” to the Hungarians if it fell into Ottoman hands.

The forward march of Ottoman Army elements began April 1, 1683 from Edirne in Thracia. The logistics of the time meant that it would have been risky or impossible to launch an invasion in August or September 1682. However the 15 month gap between mobilization and the launch of a full-scale invasion allowed ample time for the Habsburg forces to prepare their defense and set up alliances with other Central European rulers, and undoubtedly contributed to the failure of the campaign.

During the winter, the Habsburgs and Poland concluded a treaty in which Leopold would support Sobieski if the Turks attacked Kraków; in return, the Polish Army would come to the relief of Vienna, if attacked.

The Turkish Army reached Belgrade by early May 1683, then moved towards Vienna. 40,000 Tatars, twice as many as the Austrian forces in that area, arrived at Vienna on July 7. After initial fights, Leopold evacuated 80,000 inhabitants of Vienna to Linz.

The King of Poland prepared a relief expedition to Vienna during the summer of 1683, honoring his obligations to the treaty. He went so far as to leave his own nation virtually undefended when departing from Kraków on 15 August. Sobieski covered this with a stern warning to Imre Thököly, the leader of Hungary, whom he threatened with destruction if he tried to take advantage of the situation — which Thököly did.

The siege began on 14 July 1683, by 138,000 troops of the Ottoman Empire invested Vienna. Graf Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg, leader of the 11,000 troops and 5,000 citizens and volunteers who remained in the city, refused to capitulate.

The Ottomans had essentially two options to take the city: the first, an all-out assault, was virtually guaranteed success since they outnumbered the defenders almost 20-1. The second was to lay siege to the city, and this was the option they chose.

This seems against military logic, but assaulting properly defended fortifications has always resulted in very heavy casualties for the attackers. A siege was a reasonable course of action to minimise casualties and capture the city intact, and in fact it nearly succeeded. What the Ottomans did not take into account however was that time was not on their side. Their lack of urgency at this point, combined with the delay in advancing their army after declaring war, eventually allowed a relief force to arrive. Historians have speculated Kara Mustafa wanted to take the city intact for its riches, and declined an all-out attack in order to prevent the right of plunder which would accompany such an assault.

The Ottoman siege cut virtually every means of food supply into Vienna, and the garrison and civilian volunteers suffered extreme casualties. Increasingly desperate, the forces holding Vienna were on their last legs when in August, Imperial forces under Charles V, Duke of Lorraine beat Imre Thököly of Hungary at Bisamberg, 5km northeast of Vienna.

On 6 September, the Poles crossed the Danube 30km north west of Vienna at Tulln, to unite with the Imperial forces and additional troops from Saxony, Bavaria, Baden, Franconia and Swabia who had answered the call for a Holy League that was supported by Pope Innocent XI. Only Louis XIV of France not only declined to help, but used the opportunity to attack cities in Elsass (Alsace) and other parts of southern Germany, as in the Thirty Years’ War.

During early September, the experienced 5000 Turkish sappers repeatedly blew up large portions of the walls, the Burg bastion, the Löbel bastion and the Burg ravelin in between, creating gaps of about 12m in width. The Austrians tried to counter by digging their own tunnels, to intercept the depositing of large amounts of gunpowder in subterranean caverns. The Turks finally managed to occupy the Burg ravelin and the Nieder wall in that area on 8 September. Anticipating a breach in the city walls, the remaining Austrians prepared to fight in Vienna itself.

The relief army had to act quickly to save the city from the Turks and to prevent another long siege in case they would take it. Despite the international composition and the short time of only six days, an effective leadership structure was established, indisputably centered on the King of Poland and his heavy cavalry. The motivation was high, as this war was not as usual for the interests of kings, but for Christian faith. And, unlike the crusades, the battleground was in the heart of Europe.

30,000 Polish troops under King Jan Sobieski of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
18,500 Austrian troops led by Charles V, Duke of Lothringen (renamed Lorraine after being stolen by the French),
19,000 Franconian, Swabian and Bavarian troops led by Prince Georg Friedrich of Waldeck, and
9,000 Saxon troops led by John George III, Elector of Saxony.
arrived on the afternoon of September 11.

The battle started at 0400, the next morning when Turkish forces tried to interfere with the Holy League’s troop deployment. A move forward was made by Charles, the Austrian army on the left, and the German forces in the center.

Mustafa Pasha launched a counter-attack, with most of his force, but holding back parts of the elite Janissary and Sipahi for the invasion of the city. Turkish sappers had prepared another large and final detonation under the Löbelbastei, to provide access to the city. While the Turks hastily finished their work and sealed the tunnel to make the explosion more effective, the Austrian “moles” detected the cavern and one of them entered and defused the load just in time.

At the same time, the Polish infantry had launched a massive assault upon the Turkish right flank. Instead of focusing on the battle with the relief army, the Turks tried to force their way into the city, carrying their crescent flag.

After 12 hours of fighting, Sobieski’s Polish force held the high ground. About 1700 four cavalry groups, one Austrian-German, and three Polish, totaling 20,000 men, charged down the hills. The attack was led by the Polish king in front of a spearhead of 3000 heavily armed winged Polish lancer hussars. This charge broke the lines of the Ottomans, who were tired from the long fight on two sides. The cavalry headed straight for the Ottoman camp, while the Vienna garrison sallied out and joined in the assault.

The Ottoman army were tired and dispirited following the failure of both the sapping attempt and the brute force assault of the city, and the arrival of the cavalry turned the tide of battle against them, sending them into retreat to the south and east. Less than three hours after the cavalry attack, the Christian forces had won the battle and saved Vienna from capture.

The Turks lost about 15,000 men in the fighting, compared to approximately 4,000 for the Habsburg-Polish forces.

Several culinary legends are related to the Battle of Vienna:

One legend is that the croissant was invented in Vienna, either in 1683 or in an earlier siege in 1529, to celebrate the defeat of the Turkish siege of the city, as a reference to the crescents on the Turkish flags. Although this version is supported by the fact that croissants in French Language are referred to as Viennoiserie and the French popular belief that Vienna born Marie Antoinette introduced the pastry to France in 1770, there is no further evidence that croissants existed before the 19th century.

Another legend from Vienna has the first bagel as being a gift to King Jan Sobieski to commemorate the King’s victory over the Turks that year. The baked-good was fashioned in the form of a stirrup, to commemorate the victorious charge by the Polish cavalry. The truth of this legend is very uncertain, as there is a reference in 1610 to a similar-sounding bread, which may or may not have been the bagel.

After the battle, the Austrians discovered many bags of coffee in the abandoned Turkish encampment. Using this captured stock, Franciszek Jerzy Kulczycki opened the third coffeehouse in Europe and the first in Vienna, where, according to legend, Kulczycki himself or Marco d’Aviano, the Capuchin friar and confidant of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, added milk and honey to sweeten the bitter coffee, thereby inventing cappuccino.

It is also said that when the Turks were pushed away from Vienna, the military bands left their instruments on the field of battle and that is how the Holy Roman Empire (and therefore the rest of “Western” countries) acquired Cymbals, Bass Drums, and Triangles.

The behavior of Louis XIV of France set the stage for centuries to come: German-speaking countries had to fight wars simultaneously in the West and the East. While German troops were fighting for the Holy League, Louis ruthlessly used the occasion to annex territories in western Europe, such as Luxembourg, Alsace, Strasbourg, etc. Due to the ongoing war against the Turks, Austria could not support the interest of German allies in the West. The biography of Ezechiel du Mas, Comte de Melac illustrates the devastation of large parts of Germany by France.

In honor of Sobieski, the Austrians erected a church atop a hill of Kahlenberg, north of Vienna. The train route from Vienna to Warsaw is also named in Sobieski’s honour. The constellation Scutum Sobieskii (Sobieski’s Shield) was named to memorialize the battle. Because Sobieski had entrusted his kingdom to the protection of the Blessed Virgin (Our Lady of Czestochowa) before the battle, Pope Innocent XI commemorated his victory by extending the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, which until then had been celebrated solely in Spain and the Kingdom of Naples, to the universal Church; it is celebrated on September 12.

For chuckles, you might enjoy the song/video  that was written honor of Prinz Eugen for his part in the Battle of Belgrade.

~ vonMesser

About vonMesser

Retired from the US Navy (21 years) and state (20 years). Recently remarried after being widowed for 5 years. 2 daughters, and a step-daughter, all functioning adults). Graduated from college after the Navy with BA in Education, psychology, Economics, History and Political Science. Teach Hunter Safety for Washington (since 1991) and do historical reenactments for Civil War, WW-1and WW-2.
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9 Responses to The Symbology of September 11

  1. Clyde says:

    Very interesting piece, vonMesser. Damn sure does give some insight as to the chosen date. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Just Gene says:

    Not just the significance of the date but history – how we got to where we are amid all the wheeling, dealing, back stabbing i.e. politics as usual and as always – I believe it’s way too many sheeple have no concept of today’s reality – see Belgistan, our border and this coming 9-11 LOCK & LOAD.

  3. captbogus2 says:

    Very interesting. Seems non muslims have been at war in one way or another since the inception of islam.
    Ever wonder how militant would have been islam had the rabbis not rejected Muhammad as a prophet of a new religion?
    I think that’s why Jews are specially hated by them…

  4. vM,

    Very intriguing historical background to the Muslim significance to Sept 11th. Great post! I love history.

  5. Hardnox says:

    Great story VM. Thanks for posting it.

    Too bad the left is totally ignorant of this history… and always will be.

  6. Pingback: My Article Read (8-31-2014) (9-1-2014) | My Daily Musing

  7. Wingman says:

    vM, never knew the significance of 9-11 to muslims. In addition to it being a date which they were defeated, it is also my birthday. Really does make for a happy day!

  8. SafeSpace says:

    Proof again that Muslims are very, very patient in their quest for revenge and eventual domination. Also proof of the dangers of the trends in American public and university education — trends that erase inconvenient history, and twist what’s left so as to favor “minorities”, “persons of colour”, women, and homos of all stripes over the accomplishments of whites.