Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Greatest Ottoman Sieges in History

The Great Sieges

Throughout, history there have been many sieges, some of these have altered the course of history, while others have been on a spectacular scale. Regardless of this, there have been many sieges that can be called great. One empire, the Ottoman Empire, participated in many great sieges. Below is a brief description of some of the greatest sieges the empire participated in.

The Siege of Constantinople (1453)

                                          Image Credit:from http://everyhistory.org/1400constantinople1.html, by Jean Chartier

The siege of Constantinople took place between the attacking Ottoman Empire and the defending Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine, or East Roman, Empire had been declining for centuries and by the time of the siege of 1453 the empire had reduced in size,drastically. There were around 10,000 defenders of the capital of the Byzantine Empire and about 100,000 attackers led by Sultan Mehmed II. The siege began on the 6th April 1453. At the beginning of the siege the Ottomans seized the last few Byzantine strongholds and also heavily bombarded the Byzantine walls for 12 days. However, the Byzantine troops easily defended a breach in their walls. When, Genovosi ships broke through the Ottoman fleet and passed the chain placed across the harbour and resupplied the city. Mehmed II decided he needed control of the Golden Horn. Therefore, Ottoman ships were dragged overland and 30 ships were in the harbour by the 22nd of April. Over the next weeks of the siege the Ottomans launched several assaults on the city, whether by breach, ladder, tower or by  trying to dig tunnels under the walls. However, the Byzantines held. However, on the 29 May 1453 the city finally fell in a final assault, in which Emperor Constantine XII Palaiologos was killed. The city likely fell because the defenders were heavily outnumbered, tired and low on supplies. The siege changed history as it opened Europe up to the Ottoman Empire.

The Siege of Vienna (1529)
                                                         Image Credit: http://apippas.wordpress.com

Since the Siege of Constantinople (1453) the Ottoman Empire had grown even stronger. In 1529, as it besieged Vienna, the empire reached its height. The Siege marked an end to the rapid expansion of the Ottoman Empire in Europe. In May 1453 the Ottoman Army of  around 120,000 men left Constantinople for Vienna. However, unusual downpours of rain affected the Ottoman march, for example the Ottomans had to leave their heavy cannons behind. However, on September 29th the Ottoman Army reached Vienna.  The Ottomans quickly surrounded the city, but the Holy Roman Emperor,Charles V was away fighting against France. There just over 20,000 men defending the city. Suleiman had obviously expected the city to surrender, which he also wanted, as only then would he get the full treasures of Vienna according to Islamic Marshal Law.  As the rain had prevented the Ottomans from bringing there larger cannons they had to use small ineffective cannons. However, their main use was to incite fear in the populace of Vienna. The Ottomans dug tunnels and tried to place explosives under the walls. However, on the 28th September it rained and the black powder for the explosives was soak. On October the 9th the rain stopped and the Ottoman explosives were detonated. However, the breach was easily defended by the Landsknecht. A final assault on October 14th was easily repelled. The siege marked the beginning of the long decline of the Ottoman Empire, as it would never reach the same heights again.

The Siege of Malta (1565)

                                          Image Credit:http://www.historynotes.info/place-to-visit-malta-804/

On the 18th May 1565 the Ottoman armada arrived at Malta. The Ottomans wanted to gain a foothold in the Mediterranean, to use as a position to use to gain more power. The Ottomans once again had a sizeable army of around 40,000, while the defending Knights Hospitalier only had 600 Knights. However, they did have the support of some mercenaries and some Maltese irregular troops. In total, the defending force summed up to about 8,000 men. Jean Parisot de Valette,Grand Master of the Order of Malta, was in charge of the defenders. The Ottomans began their siege by assaulting the Fort St Elmo, Valette was hoping to hold on until promised relief from Sicily came. However, within a week the fort was nearly reduced to rubble. Despite, Valette still supplying the fort, it eventually was overwhelmed on the 23rd of June. The Ottomans assaulted more and more Maltese positions, but each time they were repelled. Sometimes, the Ottomans nearly won the siege, just to be driven away again. In the beginning of September, the Ottoman commander, Mustafa Pasha, ordered his men to take Mdina. His idea was to go through the winter there. However, on the 8th September the Ottomans had gave up and were preparing to leave the island. But, the day before a relief force of 8,000 men arrived on the island. After much pursuit, the Ottomans left Malta on September 11th.



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