Military Wiki
Siege of Belgrade
Part of the Austro-Turkish War (1787-1791)
Date15 September – 8 October 1789
LocationBelgrade, modern-day Serbia
Result Austrian victory
Habsburg Monarchy Habsburg Monarchy Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Habsburg Monarchy Ernst von Laudon Ottoman Empire unknown
unknown unknown
Casualties and losses
unknown unknown

In the Siege of Belgrade from 15 September to 8 October 1789, an army of Habsburg Austria led by Feldmarschall Ernst Gideon Freiherr von Laudon besieged an Ottoman Turkish force in the fortress of Belgrade. After a three week leaguer, the Austrians stormed and captured the fortress. Austria held the city until 1791 when it handed Belgrade back to the Ottomans according to the terms of the peace treaty. Several Austrian soldiers who distinguished themselves during the siege later held important commands in the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. Belgrade is the capital of modern Serbia.


The Russian Empire provoked a war with the Ottomans in 1787 by insisting that Turkey recognize a Russian protectorate over Georgia. For their part, the Ottomans instigated a revolt among the Tatars in the Crimea. When war broke out, Austrian was bound to support Russia by a secret treaty. In 1788, the Austrian army, personally led by Emperor Joseph II scored few successes against the Ottomans in Serbia and Transylvania.[1] In the following summer, an Austrian corps led by General der Kavallerie Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld moved west to join Alexander Suvorov's Russian army in Moldavia. The combined Austro-Russians defeated the Turks at the Battle of Focșani on 1 August 1798 and the Battle of Rymnik on 22 September. Meanwhile, Laudon took command of the main Austrian army and repelled an Ottoman invasion of Bosnia.[1]


The civic flag of Belgrade illustrates the city's history as a strategic fortress.

Belgrade's flag

Laudon opened the siege of Belgrade on 15 September 1789. After a three week siege, the place fell to an assault on 8 October.[2] Austria soon became preoccupied by threats from the Kingdom of Prussia, by a loss of interest in the war by Russia, by the Brabant Revolution in the Austrian Netherlands, and by troubles throughout the empire.[3] A truce between Austria and Turkey was arranged on 27 July 1790.[1] This event was followed by the Treaty of Sistova on 4 August 1791. Austria restored Belgrade and other captured territories to the Ottomans in return for a strip of land in northern Bosnia.[3] The Ottomans came to terms with the Russians by the Treaty of Jassy on 9 January 1792. By agreement, the Russians kept all captured lands east of the Dniester River.[4]

Noted Austrians who served during the siege

A number of Austrian officers who performed noteworthy service at Belgrade rose to high command during the wars with the First French Republic and the First French Empire in the period from 1792 to 1815. Eugène-Guillaume Argenteau was Oberst (colonel) of the Laudon Infantry Regiment Nr. 29 during the siege.[5] For his engineering work, Franz von Lauer earned promotion to general officer.[6] Oberst Andreas O'Reilly von Ballinlough commanded the Modena Chevau-léger Regiment Nr. 13[7] and Oberst Prince Heinrich XV of Reuss-Plauen led the Wenzel Colloredo Infantry Regiment Nr. 56 during the siege.[8] As a staff officer, Major Johann Heinrich von Schmitt distinguished himself at Belgrade.[9]

Popular lore

The poem The Siege of Belgrade by Alaric Alexander Watts is a notable example of Alliterative verse with these opening lines.[10]

An Austrian army, awfully arrayed,
Boldly by battery besieged Belgrade
Cossack commanders cannonading come,

The poem is loosely based on the 1789 historical event. Aside from the title and first two lines, one clue is a reference to the contemporary Russian general Suvorov in the line "Suwarrow stops such sanguinary sounds". Another clue is the line "Vanish vain victory! vanish victory vain!", which may refer to the fact that Belgrade was returned to the Ottomans at the end of the war.[note 1]


  1. This observation is based on logic.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Dupuy, Trevor N. & Dupuy, R. Ernest. The Encyclopedia of Military History New York: Harper & Row, 1977. ISBN 0-06-011139-9. 698
  2. Jaques, Tony. Dictionary of Battles and Sieges. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007. ISBN 0-313-33537-0. 126-127
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dupuy, 695
  4. Dupuy, 699
  5. Smith, Digby & Kudrna, Leopold (compiler). Austrian Generals during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815: Mercy d'Argenteau
  6. Arnold, James R. Marengo & Hohenlinden. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen & Sword, 2005. ISBN 1-84415-279-0. 206
  7. Smith & Kudrna, O'Reilly
  8. Smith & Kudrna, Heinrich XV Reuss-Plauen
  9. Smith & Kudrna, Schmitt
  10. Alliteration Poems


External references

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).