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"The Lack of a Western European Military Response to..." Topic

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Tango0117 May 2017 12:59 p.m. PST

… the Ottoman Invasions of Eastern Europe from Nicopolis (1396) to Mohacs (1526)

"On 25 September 1396, on the plains south of the central Bulgarian city of Nicopolis, a battle was fought. It was what military historians used to call a "decisive battle," a battle that changed history.

A truly diverse soldiery took the field that day. On the one side, Bayezid I, Sultan of the Ottoman Turks, led a force manned by troops from his homeland, Asia Minor, and from his and his predecessors' conquered and vassal countries, namely Serbs, Bulgarians, Bosnians, and Albanians. Added to these was the Turkish janissary corps, filled with young Christian tribute-children and prisoners of war, now converted to Islam and dedicated to the defeat of their former religionists. The total Turkish number, estimated by contemporary chroniclers, mostly western writers, at more than 100,000, was probably closer to 15,000.

Opposing Bayezid was a force composed of allied troops from throughout western and central Europe. Called a crusade army by all contemporary western authors, it was composed of Hungarian, Wallachian, Transylvanian, Hospitaller, German, Burgundian, French, and English soldier. Fewer in number than the Turks, although closer to a total of 12,000 than to the 100,000 found in contemporary sources it was controlled by the Franco-Burgundian cavalry troops and their leaders. This control became a problem, for these soldiers were foreigners to the region, and they refused to listen to the advice of those who lived closer to this enemy…"
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Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member17 May 2017 8:50 p.m. PST

Yeah, the westerners were burnt out on crusading by then, and didn't feel that a threat still hundreds of miles away was more important than a threat right across the next river/channel/mountain range.

They're lucky that attitude didn't come round to bite 'em on the BLEEP; thanks to the Hungarians, Austrians, Germans, and Poles, among others.

Tango0118 May 2017 10:20 a.m. PST



goragrad18 May 2017 12:58 p.m. PST

Well, if those Hungarians hadn't been quite so keen on bringing the Orthodox Serbs into the fold, perhaps the Serbs wold have held the Ottomans up instead.

Rather ironic (not mentioned in the article) that in histories I have read of the Battle of Nicopolis that it was the charge of the Serbs that turned the tide against the Crusaders.

Could they have expected better treatment from their fellow Christians had the Serbs switched allegiances (given the propensity for treachery in the Balkans) the battle would have gone the other way.

Puster Supporting Member of TMP05 Jun 2017 4:09 p.m. PST

In 1526 the Ottomans were pretty strong, and after the failed siege of Vienna in 1529 we DO see the combined power of the Empire and the Ottomans doing a standoff in 1532. Generally the Ottomans were still stronger at that era, not least because those states behind the fronter – usually the Habsburgs and Hungarians for quite some time – cooperated with them. The famous wintering of the Ottoman fleet at Toulon 1543 for easier access to the Italian coast is just the most apparent example.

Fighting the infidels in the own country became more important with the Reformation and Counterreformation, so the mediterran sea went over to the Ottomans at the cost of most coastal areas there for a century – while at the same time the Indian sea was snatched from Islamic control by the Portugese.

Personal logo Swampster Supporting Member of TMP08 Jul 2017 7:13 a.m. PST

His quote about Turkish head taking is misleading. The quote he gives is about _Venetian_ stradiots – not a Turkish unit – and he misses out that while the Turks did encourage head taking for monetary reward, so did the Venetians.

It was not Hunyadi who broke the peace treaty of 1444 but the Hungarian king, who then died in the battle. Other Europeans were involved in the campaign but largely in a naval way, especially Burgundians and Venetians. There were some Poles involved too, since the king was Polish.

The implication that the Hungarians were defeated due to the lack of Westerners is also misleading – the battle was by no means won or lost by either side until Vladislav impetuously charged at Murad, possibly because he feared Hunyadi might get the glory of a victory.

While there were some, including various Dukes of Burgundy, who were putting a struggle of Christianity against Islam at the forefront, closer neighbours of the frontier states would have had in mind that a victory against the Turks would serve mostly to strengthen and enrich Hungary and/or Venice. Since the ruler of Hungary was at various times ruler of Bohemia or Poland and made gains at the expense of the Habsburgs, help from Germany was likely to be unenthusiastic at best. Venice was also considered a threat to the shaky balance within Italy. However, while the article states that after the Hungarians were defeated in 1448, there was no else to help out in the embattled lands of the Eastern Med, Venice was doing just that.

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