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Great Turkish War
Part of the Ottoman–Habsburg wars, Polish–Ottoman Wars, Ottoman–Venetian Wars and Russo-Turkish Wars.
Juliusz Kossak Sobieski pod Wiedniem.jpeg
Sobieski at Vienna by Juliusz Kossak
Date14 July 1683–26 January 1699
(15 years, 6 months, 1 week and 5 days)
LocationAustria, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Greece and Ukraine (including Crimea)
Result Decisive Holy League victory
Treaty of Karlowitz
Austria wins lands in Hungary and the Balkans, Poland wins control over parts of Ukraine, Russia captures Azov, Venice captures the Morea
  •  Holy Roman Empire
  • Russia Tsardom of Russia
  • Cossack Hetmanate
  • Poland–Lithuania
  •  Republic of Venice
  • Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Kingdom of Hungary
  • Kingdom of Croatia (Habsburg) Kingdom of Croatia
  •  Spanish Empire
  • Serbian rebels
  • Albanian rebels
  • Greek rebels
  • Bulgarian rebels

The Great Turkish War or the War of the Holy League (Turkish language: Kutsal İttifak Savaşları, German language: Der Große Türkenkrieg ) refers to a series of conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and contemporary European powers, then joined into a Holy League, during the last decades of the 17th century.

Background (1667–1683)

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After Bohdan Khmelnytsky's rebellion, when the Tsardom of Russia acquired parts of Eastern Ukraine from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, some Cossacks stayed in the southeast of the Commonwealth. Their leader, Petro Doroshenko, wanted to connect the rest of Ukraine with the Ottoman Empire, starting a rebellion against Hetman (Polish army commander) John III Sobieski. The Sultan Mehmed IV, who knew that the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was weakened due to internal conflicts, attacked Kamianets-Podilskyi, a large city on the border.

The small Polish force resisted the Siege of Kamenets for two weeks but was then forced to capitulate. The Polish Army was too small to resist the Ottoman invasion and could only score some minor tactical victories. After three months, the Poles were forced to sign the Treaty of Buchach in which they agreed to surrender Kamyanets-Podilsky, Podolia and to pay tribute to the Ottoman Sultan.[1]

When the news about the defeat and treaty terms reached Warsaw, the Sejm refused to pay the tribute and organized a large army under Jan Sobieski; subsequently, the Poles won the battle of Khotyn (1673). After King Michael's death in 1673, Jan Sobieski was elected king of Poland; he subsequently tried to defeat the Ottomans for four years, with no success. The war ended on October 17, 1676 with the Treaty of Żurawno in which the Turks only retained control over Kamianets-Podilskyi. This Turkish attack also led in 1676 to the beginning of the Russo-Turkish Wars.

The War

After a few years of peace, the Ottoman Empire attacked the Habsburg Empire. The Turks almost captured Vienna, but John III Sobieski led a Christian alliance that defeated them in the Battle of Vienna which stalled the Ottoman Empire's hegemony in south-eastern Europe.

A new Holy League was initiated by Pope Innocent XI and encompassed the Holy Roman Empire (headed by Habsburg Austria), Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Venetian Republic in 1684,[2] joined by Russia in 1686. The second Battle of Mohács was a crushing defeat for the Sultan. The Turks were more successful on the Polish front and were able to retain Podolia during their battles with the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Russia's involvement marked the first time the country formally joined an alliance of European powers. This was the beginning of a series of Russo-Turkish Wars, which continued into the 20th century. As a result of the Crimean campaigns and Azov campaigns, Russia captured the key Ottoman fortress of Azov.

Following the decisive Battle of Zenta in 1697 and lesser skirmishes (such as the Battle of Podhajce in 1698), the League won the war in 1699 and forced the Ottoman Empire to sign the Treaty of Karlowitz.[3] The Ottomans ceded most of Hungary, Transylvania and Slavonia to the Habsburg Empire while Podolia returned to Poland. Most of Dalmatia passed to Venice, along with the Morea (the Peloponnese peninsula), which the Ottomans reconquered in 1715 and regained in the Treaty of Passarowitz of 1718.

See also


  1. Kemp, Arthur, Jihad: Islam's 1,300 Year War against Western Civilisation, (, 2008), 38.
  2. Treasure, Geoffrey, The making of modern Europe, 1648-1780, (Methuen & Co Ltd., 1985), 614.
  3. Sicker, Martin, The Islamic world in decline, (Praeger Publishers, 2001), 32.

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