What if the Ottoman Empire had won the Siege of Vienna (1529)

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Doctor Imperialism, May 6, 2012.

  1. Doctor Imperialism SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS

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    This is something that has intrigued me for a while. What if the Ottomans, rather than being pushed back after the siege of Vienna, had been victorious and captured Vienna? I'm not sure if they could hold Austria and Royal Hungary - but then again, the Ottoman administrative system was rather excellent and might come through once again. Or, overstrech could take its toll and leave the empire weakened.

    Could we possibly see Ottoman raids into Bavaria and Northern Italy? Venice itself would seem to be a particularly enticing target - what better way for an enterprising Sultan to secure glory and riches for himself than to conquer the city that had been a constant rival for over a century? Venice would also be an excellent staging ground for the aforementioned raids into mainland Italy.

    Anyways, discuss.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2012
  2. Anaxagoras Vox clamantis in deserto Banned

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    1529 and 1683 are two very different PODs. I'd recommend you pick one or the other, else the thread will become hopelessly confused.
     
  3. Doctor Imperialism SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS

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    Apologies. I suppose I'll go with 1529 - the Empire had much more momentum.

    I'll change the thread title to reflect this.
     
  4. Thespitron 6000 Roman Cathode Deacon

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    The Ottomans have conquered Venice in my TL, but are too weak to do anything with it at the moment. Any conquered Venice would probably be an incitement for a Holy League war against the Turks.
     
  5. Doctor Imperialism SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS

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    Interesting. Are you referring to A More Personal Union? That's been on my to-read list for quite some time.
     
  6. Thespitron 6000 Roman Cathode Deacon

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    Yes. They won it in a war with the Holy Roman Empire.
     
  7. Gonzaga Well-Known Member

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  8. Wendell Wendell

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    I wonder if this could trigger a second renaissance in Western Europe.
     
  9. LordKalvan Member

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    I am not even convinced the Ottomans can hold Vienna, in particular if the city is taken in late September-October. With no provisions and winter coming they'd be forced to leave (and maybe loose less man on the way back to Belgrade): whatever garrison they might leave in Vienna would face a very lean winter and annihilation in spring.

    To attack Northern Italy the Turks do not need Vienna: their bases in Bosnia are more than enough to launch razziahs with light horsemen (which s
    is what they did IOTL). To conquer and hold Northern Italy it is much more of a problem and I don't think it can easily be solved: too many rivers and streams and too many fortified cities, not to mention that the supply train would be a big headache.

    The only way to make a reasonable attempt to conquer Italy would be for the Ottomans to gain complete naval supremacy in the Adriatic, take Ancona and make it into their supply base for the conquest of Italy. It might work, together with a cavalry invasion of Friuli; in reality it would depend on how complete is the Ottoman naval supremacy, and what France and the HRE are doing at the time of the invasion (probably fighting each other, but even the king of France cannot welcome a Northern Italy in Ottoman hands).

    BTW, taking Venice from landward is practically impossible: the Iesolo marshes have stopped plenty of armies. The only way to take Venice is to blockade her from the sea, and again this requires a complete naval supremacy. The only one to manage it - for a time - were the Genoese in the war of Chioggia; but they could not muster enough troops landward, nor stay in the Adriatic long enough for the blockade to bite. In the end, just a very few Genoese ships limped back home.
     
  10. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

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    To be honest, if the Ottomans control the Adriatic, then the Venetians are out of play (perhaps as Ottoman vassals?)
     
  11. LordKalvan Member

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    Theoretically no: if they are supported by other powers in Europe (HRE, France, the Papacy) they might still resist. The problem would be that the help of other christian countries would come at a price, and that abandoning all trade would be very hard. So, in a practical world, I suppose that Venice would become an Ottoman vassal, like Ragusa. It might even be advantageous under some aspects.
     
  12. Admiral Matt Member Gone Fishin'

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    Yeah. They managed everything through their tremendous annual income. The great states of Europe couldn't match the lost revenue without depleting their treasuries.

    As for the main question.... If they can hold the city through the first winter, the Porte's strategic situation improves dramatically. It closes the back door of the Hungarian plain, giving the Ottomans a northwest frontier with natural defenses. This will mostly mitigate the huge OTL cost of holding Hungary and resulting decentralization of the empire. It might be a rare occasion when more territory means less overstretch.

    Further expansion into northern Europe is unlikely, to put it mildly, but being free of the great sore will certainly open opportunities elsewhere.
     
  13. Marko Well-Known Member

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    In such a scenario it is not unlikely that whole of Croatia could become part of the Empire.
     
  14. LordKalvan Member

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    It all hinges on the Ottomans holding Vienna in the first winter, but also on when the city falls: if it falls late the Ottoman losses will be still quite significant on the march to Belgrade (what happened IOTL: Suleiman delayed the retreat toward Belgrade until mid October and the troops suffered huge losses, not to mention cannons to be spiked and horses without food).
    In the next spring the HRE can move pretty early: IMHO they could concentrate on Salzburg and Innsbruck and be at the gates of Vienna by late April-early May). The Ottomans traditionally left Belgrade for campaigning in the north by mid May (enough grass for the horses was the main reason): if they send only cavalry, they may be at the gates of Vienna by mid June (but they would not bring supplies to the garrison and their value would be debatable if confronted by an infantry army in entrenched positions). What's the shape of the garrison in Vienna I would not care to judge. Certainly they would not have been able to do much to restore the fortifications. Maybe more reasonably the Ottomans would move with infantry, guns and supplies: this means getting to Vienna in late July. Now the outcome will be most likely decided by a set battle, where the Ottomans arrive after having been on the march for two months plus. It depends how many troops the HRE will get from the Germanies (and maybe from Poland too), but in any case it will be not Mohacs again.
     
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  15. Admiral Matt Member Gone Fishin'

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    Well capturing the city earlier, say by two months, would pretty much ruin the Hapsburgs. Earlier than that isn't reasonable - sieges take time - but two is possible. Even in mid September there'd be some time to deal with the logistics. For one thing, parts of the force can potentially winter in Hungary if Vienna has fallen because holdouts in Slovakia, Croatia, and Burgenland are no longer nipping at the flanks of a bull that can't turn its head. The bull's loose, and their backs are to the wall. The security threat to the upper Danube no longer exists.

    That's possible, but I wouldn't underestimate the effect of the loss of Vienna on the anti-Ottoman cause. It was hard enough getting serious support from the rest of the HRE when the Hapsburgs didn't look like a lost cause. Vienna is at the absolute extreme end of Ottoman force projection, and holding it will extend the logistics by very little. By which I mean the Bavarians and Bohemians will still be concerned, but the rest of the Germanies will be more interested in taking advantage of the Hapsburg misfortune. And even those that want an immediate response, won't necessarily see retaking Vienna as the best option for their security.

    My best guess is that the fall of Vienna would have so many knock-on effects as Germany reordered itself that actually retaking the city wouldn't be practical.
     
  16. LordKalvan Member

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    The problem is that Suleiman arrived at the gates of Vienna in late September, almost two months later than the best time he could have theoretically made, without heavy siege artillery and with a good portion of his army debilitated by the long march. One might argue that he could have been quicker, and maybe he might have just passed some castles, as well as Buda; however the main reason of delay was the adverse weather and there is nothing he could have done about it.
    The last assault on 12 October might even have succeeded, and Vienna would fall; but it's already way too late in the year, and Suleiman's army is going to suffer and loose men over the long march home.
    Some troops can be garrisoned in Pest, but most of them have to go back to Belgrade, which is the only real logistic base for the Ottomans.
    Whether he just sacks Vienna, which is the most likely thing if the last assault wins through, or if he leaves a small garrison to hold a ruined city it does not change much.



    I would also not overestimate the value of Vienna. It was the ancestral Habsburg seat, but in the perspective of the world-spanning empire of Charles V is not much more than a peripheric city. His power center is in western Germany and the Low Countries, as well as in Castilla. After all his brother Ferdinand did not even stay in the city, but delegated the defense to a few thousand landsknechts and to the burghers, before retreating in haste to western Austria.

    The political situation is not bad at all for Charles V, btw: in July 1529 the treaty of Cambrai put a (temporary) end to the war between Valois and Habsburg, and was also the chance to patch up his relations with the pope after the sack of Rome. The Germanies are relatively quiet, after the two years of madness of the Peasants War, and Luther has not yet made an official breach. I'd say that the Diet of Augsburg will be convened on time, and if the Turks have sacked Vienna this might be an incentive to finding some kind of accomodation with Luther (who was also incensed by the Turkish attacks, and wrote both a book on the need to make war on the Turks and a famous prayer for deliverance).
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2012
  17. Yataghan Banned

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    an ottoman victory of Vienna was a matter of will. The Suleiman could have took the city and held it. The problem was that he didnt want to share plunder and loot which he would have to do if the city is taken by assault and storming it. He wanted the city to surender so he can take all the wealth. on this matter I suggest to everyone reading:
    The history of Turkish Ottoman Empire by Joseph von Hammerstein.
     
  18. Monty Burns Well-Known Member

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    Those are very good points.

    I also think that taking Vienna wouldn't change much. Most probably, the Hapsburgs will get more help and take the city back.

    One more thing: if the Ottomans were able to break the Hapsburgs for good, my guess is that the French would take over the leading role in christian Europe and likely a French king could become Holy Roman Emperor. With France leading the European forces against the Ottomans, their setbacks would likely start earlier.
     
  19. LordKalvan Member

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    Suleiman should have recognised that it was too late in the season, and refrained from pushing the army to the gates of Vienna. Probably he could have managed a razziah, sending the Spahis to devastate eastern Austria, but the infantry and the artillery should have go back to Belgrade.Then next year another attempt could be made. If he goes to Vienna, the capture of the city is in a way irrelevant: the Ottoman army will suffer huge losses during the retreat to Belgrade in either case.
    Another point is that if he tries again in 1530 and fails there are strong possibilities that he may be deposed by the Janissaries. Two major defeats in a row and the associated losses of manpower would be quite too much. Then the Habsburgs on the rebound take back Hungary and Belgrade and Suleiman goes down in history books as a failure/

    The fact that the logistics of an assault on Vienna were very hard to manage (possibly too hard) was recognised by the Ottomans: it took another 150 years before another sultan tried to take Vienna (and fail).

    It might be interesting to discuss what would happen if the attempt on Vienna come a few years early, when the Peasant Wars are full on in the Germanies and Habsburg and Valois are at each other throat. Maybe there was a window of opportunity that it was missed. OTOH Belgrade was taken in 1521 and Mohacs was fought in 1526 so the window is very narrow and possibly cannot be exploited: best I can see is Mohacs happening in 1524 and Vienna attempt in 1526 or 27, but I am not sure it can be done.
     
  20. Snake Featherston Banned

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    Then they capture Vienna but go no further regardless because Vienna was the edge of logistics for a 17th Century state with Ottoman Imperial geography.