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In a little more detail...

1) Regarding "bravery", I find your belief that crusaders were not motivated by conquest and were motivated by the protection of others extremely naive. This wasn't true of the famous Crusades into the Holy Land already, not to mention the Teutonic Knights' land-grabbing in the Baltics (or Sweden's in Finland as askod reminds us). (I could also mention the Spanish Armada -- was it all altruism towards the suffering Catholics of Albion?)

Self-defense (Mircea had to deal with lots of Ottoman raids after all) and pride (in not shrieking back from a call into battle by the nominal feudal overlord or the Pope) are the most charitable motivations. But, given the prior record (I mention Vidin), who do you think would have got to rule in the lands taken "back" from the Ottoman Empire? And already during the campaign, you forget about loot -- and the feeding of the troops, which was usually at the "expense" of local peasants (dead or alive).

2) As discussed in the context of my upthread comments and the diary, it should have been obvious that "mighty" in "two mighty neighbours" is relative to Wallachia and the other buffer states.

Wallachia's rulers faced demands for vassaldom (underlined with armed invasions) from its very formation in the 1330s. First from Hungary and Bulgaria. After the 14th-century Ottoman expansion, the Hungarian influence became overbearing, until Mircea could gain some autonomy. But from them on, rulers with the backing of the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottoman Empire would replace each other in rapid succession, usually with significant outside meddling. I mentioned the eight coups in eight years after Mircea, but it continued so even if on a timescale of years. Vlad III (Dracula) would arrive as an Ottoman liege, then turn on them, and after much upheaval that included exile in Transsylvania, signifivant victories and raids towards both neighbours, imprisonment by Matthias Corvinus, and ended with assassination after being sent back to take the place of yet another Ottoman liege.

3) One can separately consider how the opponents of the Ottoman Empire in Europe compared to it in relative power. While, as I stated in the diary, Ottoman superiority can be assumed continuously from the end of the 14th century, that superiority could not always be qualified as "enormous".

On one hand, due to personal unions and conquest, successive kings of Hungary had rather large realms under their control: Hungary's Angevin King Louis I also became King of Poland, King of Hungary Sigismund, as a Luxembourg, later became Holy Roman Emperor, Vladislaus I/III was King of both Poland and Hungary, he was followed by a Habsburg, then (as I told in the diary) Matthias expanded West and also aimed for Holy Roman Emperor, then Vladislaus Jagiellon/II was still co-King of Hungary and Bohemia. Later, Ferdinand I of Austria and Hungary would become Holy Roman Emperor, too (again see the diary).

On the other hand, the Ottoman Empire had its times of vulnerability (which opponents failed to exploit, unlike in and after 1683) -- in particular around the time of the second crusade mentioned in my top-level comment. I referred to a prior successful campaign. That one, an attack in winter, got near the then capital Edirne (ex Hadrianopolis). The 1444 crusade itself could have turned out very differently, had the navies of Italian city-states blocked the passage across the Dardanelles, or had the land army made use of their Hussite war wagons: the Ottoman Empire would have lost not just an army but all its European possessions, and with that its economic superiority.

  1. FYI: modern Romania (and medieval Moldavia) may or may not be considered Eastern Europe (depending whether one considers the cultural factor of Eastern Orthodox religion or just geography), but the Ottoman conquests discussed here touched Southeastern Europe (the Balkans) and Central Europe (Hungarian Kingdom, Wallachia, Poland, Austria).

  2. The 1529 Siege of Vienna did not finally mark a stop of Ottoman advance -- the second to fifth sections covers just that explicitely.

The 1529 campaign came because though the Ottomans considered Hungary a liege kingdom, Ferdinand I took over all of it in 1527, and then the exiled king John Szapolyai appealed to Suleiman. Both expansionary invasions and punitive missions beyond the borders continued after this confrontation. As I told in the diary, the real constraint on Ottoman expansion was the time limit dictated by the seasonal nature of campaigns - thus in 1529 (just like at Eger 23 years later), they had to abandon the siege with the arrival of the rainy season. Just three years later, in 1532, the next invasion aiming for Vienna lost time with the siege of a smaller castle (Kőszeg = Güns), then broke off the march in sight distance of Vienna and turned South, pillaging across Eastern and Southern Austria on its way home.

From the assimilation of Central Hungary into the Empire in 1541 to 1566, Suleiman's armies were extending the Empire at the expense of Austria. In 1543, as a revenge for an attempted takeover of Buda by Ferdinand the previous year, Suleiman started another invasion aiming for Vienna, this time following the Danube. But this one got bogged down with the siege and punishment of some Hungarian towns that switched sides. Worth to note that in a peace in 1562, Ferdinand agreed to pay tribute to Suleiman, which was paid on and off for 40 years (effectively becoming a liege kingdom!). In 1566, another invasion that was probably aiming further got bogged down at the castle of a nobleman, and then Suleiman died during the siege.

Ottoman conquest continued during the 15 Years' War (mentioned in the fifth part of my diary, with a link to an earlier diary that covered the years to and after the Second Siege of Vienna, from an angle I suppose unfamiliar to you). But its final extent in Europe was only reached in the Habsburg-Ottoman War of 1663-4 (fall of Érsekújvár/Neuhäusl, today's Nové Zámky), during which another run on Vienna was stopped in the battle of Szentgotthárd-Mogersdorf.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Oct 22nd, 2008 at 01:01:31 PM EST
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