Here the Ottomans had some real strengths the fighting skills of their trained infantry, and the mobility of their horsemen , but were beginning to lag behind West European armies in some technical matters: At Vienna the Ottomans came very close to victory in the siege, but were defeated on the battlefield - by a combination of Polish heavy cavalry and well-disciplined German infantry. But even then the margin of advantage was slight and, as Wheatcroft suggests, what decided the outcome may have been a handful of elementary errors by the Ottoman commander.
This book gives a fine account of the siege itself, and of the subsequent siege and capture of Buda by the Habsburgs, which led to the expulsion of the Ottomans from central Hungary. But thereafter Wheatcroft rather loses his focus: Andrew Wheatcroft has read widely among 17th-century printed accounts, and has an in-depth knowledge of Habsburg history. On the Ottoman side he is more dependent on other people's work, and his research seems less thorough; he says nothing about the Sultan's key religious adviser who has been credited with inspiring the war , for example, and there are errors in the spellings of Turkish names and terms, including both the name and the title of the Ottoman commander.
Not all the European names, for that matter, are glitch-free: Luigi Ferdinando Marsigli, for instance, is consistently referred to as 'Fernandino'. But this is, all in all, a thoughtful and thought-provoking book, as well as being a crackingly good story. Frits Bolkestein might benefit from reading it - so long as he doesn't mind the fact that his first name appears in it as 'Franz'. Get the best at Telegraph Puzzles. A collection of the best contributions and reports from the Telegraph focussing on the key events, decisions and moments in Churchill's life.
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Wednesday 19 September The Enemy at the Gate by Andrew Wheatcroft. Just how distant in the past was the Siege of Vienna? Pitched battles between armies in the open field were a different matter, however.
With Turkey now seeking to re-orient itself towards the West and with a new generation of politicians exploiting the residual tensions between East and West, The Enemy at the Gate provides a timely and masterful account of this most complex and epic of conflicts. Hardcover , pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about The Enemy at the Gate , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about The Enemy at the Gate. Lists with This Book. This book recounts the collision of empires by describing the many pitched battles that raged for centuries between the Habsburgs and Ottomans and their numerous vassal states on both sides.
It was touted on both sides as being a clash of the Godly versus the infidel. Territory was the aim. But there was another less tangible motivation, the claim of heir to the legacy of the Roman Empire. Thus, two hundred years later in , when Sultan Mehmed IV sent his armies to conquer Vienna he was setting out to take away the capitol city of the Habsburgs who claimed the title of Holy Roman Empire a title often regarded as a triple oxymoron.
The author reviews the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. A major part of the book is spent telling the story of the second siege of Vienna in the first siege was in The Ottomans had conquered much of southeastern Europe up to and including Hungary, and since it bordered Austria, it was next in line. The siege lasted a couple months and the Ottomans had managed to breach the defenses and were probably one day away from storming into the central city when relief armies of allied Christian forces arrived.
What followed was the Battle of Vienna. The book then follows relations between Austria and Turkey in subsequent years. Ironically, after being mortal enemies for hundreds of years Turkey and Austria were allies during World War I. And today there are those warning that if Turkey is allowed to join the European Economic Union that the Battle of Vienna would have been fought in vain.
Aug 12, Liviu rated it it was amazing Shelves: An excellent account of the siege of Vienna of and its aftermath - there is also a little about the history of the Habsburg-ottoman conflict and a good analysis of the reasons for the attack and the previous attempts of the Ottomans to take Vienna, but the bulk of the book is the siege and the Habsburg decisive victories that followed in the next 16 years. Dec 23, 'Aussie Rick' rated it it was ok Shelves: If you have not previously read anything on this subject then this may be the book for you but be aware that I found the writing style to border on being boring and mind-numbing at times.
One other compliant I had with the book was that the maps provided were inadequate. View all 4 comments. Mar 06, Caroline rated it really liked it Shelves: I enjoyed this fairly detailed history of the centuries of conflict between the Ottomans and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He makes the cas I enjoyed this fairly detailed history of the centuries of conflict between the Ottomans and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
He makes the case that after some decades of conflict, the Turks and the Ottomans found ways to co-exist and even to unite against other enemies. There are detailed descriptions of defenses and battles here, but there is also a good deal of diplomatic history and general information about the times. For example, Wheatcroft cites the essential information sent to Europe many years earlier by the Flemish ambassador Ogier Ghislain de Busbecq from the Ottoman court recently reviewed by Yann, and in my E-reader now.
In the west we do usually hear about the defense of Vienna as the battle that decided the history of Europe, but this places that siege among dozens where possession of towns and citadels see-sawed back and forth between the empires for decades. Jun 21, Myke Cole rated it it was amazing. The only other available books in current circulation are Stoyes' book, which is extremely dry and dull, and Simmons' book, which is little more than a well-written pamphlet aimed at wargamers.
Wheatcroft does great justice to this incredible story, using a narrative style that focuses in on characters in their own words, and uses the uniting theme of fear-of-the-infidel to draw parallels with current events and to properly seat the book in its national context. Wheatcroft isn't totally honest in his introduction. The Enemy at the Gate is clearly a life's work, and it's contribution to English-language scholarship on the topic is only underscored by the sadness I felt on finishing it, knowing that there was basically nothing else to read if I wanted more.
To Wheatcroft's great credit, I really do. The book has its strong and weak points. The author adds value with his analysis. He makes very persuasive links between the specific subject he covers and broader histories such as those of Europe as a whole. However, I think I got the gist of his The book has its strong and weak points. However, I think I got the gist of his message despite skimming through detailed descriptions of Ottoman military camps. The book in general is sprinkled with pages containing long explanations of subjects that I felt added little value.
Another downside was the author himself.
He also claimed no military or even political experience. Overall, his words carry none of the weight or baggage that, for example, a tried and tested military man would — not to mention a Turk, Austrian or Hungarian. Feb 03, Josie rated it liked it. A good book that could have been great with some editing. I did not know much about the Ottoman empire, or the Siege of Vienna, so I found it enjoyable overall. Also - I love when this happens - the author's unwitting description of Mehmet IV makes me suspect he is gay.
It sure sounds like the bookish, diminuative sultan had a crush on his dashing, hyper-masculine Grand Vizier, which makes it all the more shocking that he orders his head when the Ottomans fail to take Vienna. Apr 28, Bosnian23 rated it it was amazing. Its basically a book about the Ottoman-Habsburg wars, from and Suleiman's victory at Mohacs to the signing of Treaty of Sistova in Bulgaria in The Ottoman-Habsburg war wasn't a war which was fought for the entire time or in continuity.
It was a series of several wars which ocasionally started and several peace treaties which ended these wars, such as Passarowitz or Karlowitz. Majority of the book is centered around the Great Ottoman-Austrian war, also known as the great Turkish war in Its basically a book about the Ottoman-Habsburg wars, from and Suleiman's victory at Mohacs to the signing of Treaty of Sistova in Bulgaria in Majority of the book is centered around the Great Ottoman-Austrian war, also known as the great Turkish war in the West.
From to the end of the same by the peace treaty of Karlowitz. Part of the book also speaks about the pre-siege warfare, from the defeat of Hungarians at Mohacs to the Siege, several battles such as Nove Zamky, Koszeg, Szigetvar and the famous battle of Saint Gotthard where Italian born general Monte Cuccoli defeated the Ottoman army which was marching on Vienna. It covers a part after the war, how the Habsburg monarchs and Ottoman sultans tried to preserve their traditional societies because they failed to develop and keep up the pace with Other powers of Europe at a time.
Its very interesting book, I enjoyed it quite much, it's an easy read and a great one! Jun 04, Martin rated it liked it. This book was very informative, but I didn't feel any great passion about it, nor get a huge sense of the author's point of view until the end, when he covers the centuries following this conflict. The Ottomans' continued desire to conquer Vienna belied their conviction that they were the true successors to the Eastern Roman Empire since they had conquered the Byzantine Empire and Constantinople. The Ottomans wanted to be a bit more then merely the leading Islamic nation in trade, technology and This book was very informative, but I didn't feel any great passion about it, nor get a huge sense of the author's point of view until the end, when he covers the centuries following this conflict.
The Ottomans wanted to be a bit more then merely the leading Islamic nation in trade, technology and war, not to mention piety, as they were also concerned with providing convenient passage for pilgrims to Mecca. The Hapsburgs ruled the Holy Roman Empire and their capital was Vienna, so the quest to take Vienna was ultimately to make a statement about who was the rightful Roman heir.
Both empires placed great emphasis on courtly rule and outdated pomp, so this conflict ten thousand men battled for 37 days , made them seem vital and important again. The author shows adroitly how the Hapsburgs and the Ottomans became masters of their own brands, and continued into the 20th century by highlighting their past glory and constructing themselves as venerable old guards. The Battle of Vienna is immensely important because it drew the final line in the sand as to how far west Islam would extend into Europe, and also began the process of reclaiming much of Eastern Europe from the Ottomans.
However, the importance of this struggle is somewhat overshadowed by the major restructuring of Europe's map and hierarchy following the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Feb 01, J. Mac rated it really liked it.
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Enjoyable narrative on the clash between the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires in A high-water mark for Ottoman conquest in Europe, the Turks were forced back by a Hapsburg counterattack and compelled to surrender Hungary. Most fascinating for me was the tactical differences between the two armies and the effect of the printing press on Western military development. Turks were hand-to-hand masters who surged forward in a mob, while Hapsburg forces maneuvered in mass thanks to drills codified and Enjoyable narrative on the clash between the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires in Turks were hand-to-hand masters who surged forward in a mob, while Hapsburg forces maneuvered in mass thanks to drills codified and disseminated in manuals.
Thus Western generals kept more control over their forces once a battle commenced. The book seemed uneven, with great behind the scenes research on both sides up to the climax at Vienna. Afterwards, the focus shifted to the Hapsburg reconquest of Central Europe, reconciliation between two second-class empires, and, the final irony, alliance against the allies in World War I. All covered very rapidly. That said, Wheatcroft's book is accessible to both students of the era and novices such as myself. A worthwhile competent history. Aug 14, Leanne rated it it was amazing.
This is basically the perfect military history.
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Beginning with a beautifully written introduction that sets out a few main themes that will guide the writing, what follows is straight narrative history. I was relieved by the lack of "cultural explanations" indeed this author --Voltaire reborn--doesn't seem to feel passionately about either side and also thankfully missing is character analysis. You will have to find a different book to learn about the foibles of Leopold, Kara Mustafa, Starhemb This is basically the perfect military history.
You will have to find a different book to learn about the foibles of Leopold, Kara Mustafa, Starhemberg and my beloved favorite Jan Sobieski I kept wondering if he would bring his opinions out at the end. He does and he doesn't. He does end with an interesting --very fair-- take on how Turkey's hope to join the EU was received even citing the Pope's comments on this, which I had never read before.
There are restrained opinions regarding the rivalry between the Ottomans and the Habsburgs turning into a surprising alliance later in history. And so to read this as a great clash of civilizations is folly since these sworn enemies became unlikely allies. It was a religious clash but it wasn't and he does discuss how various Protestant sub groups, and even Islamic subgroups were on opposing sides for this.
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France, of course, sided with the Ottomans. The book is very old fashioned in the sense that it is wonderfully written and prioritizes what happened over questions about who and why. Mar 09, Travis rated it liked it.
Europe from the 12th - 17th century, has always been my historical weak point so I sought out this book to obtain a decent overview of an important era and battle that I had only previously known about in passing. Thankfully, the author provides just that, a nice overview of the second siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Turkish Empire, but sometimes he skims over important events and individuals to quickly.
If you have never studied this era, there is still quite a bit of new information contained he Europe from the 12th - 17th century, has always been my historical weak point so I sought out this book to obtain a decent overview of an important era and battle that I had only previously known about in passing. If you have never studied this era, there is still quite a bit of new information contained here. The author does an impeccable job describing the historical origins of the people who eventually came to be known as "Turks" and he also delves into great detail about their elaborate military encampments, battle procedures and tactics in addition to those of the Austrians and their allies in the Holy League.
The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans, and the Battle for Europe
His description of the weeks leading to the battle and the actual Battle of Vienna itself are also flush with details, like the actions of Turkish Sappers, battles in the ramparts of Vienna and the excellent cavalry charge of the Austrian Allied forces, especially that of the Polish Winged Hussars if you are Polish, this is your shining moment in military history!
Plenty of surreal moments occur during this battle, including the multiple charges of Holy League forces, who run in to battle screaming "JESUS! However, the author stumbles in explaining events after the Holy League's victory in the siege of Vienna so much so, that it ends up being a quick, rambling let down of sorts once his major battle description ends.
As the Austrians pursue the Turks across eastern Europe, little information is given about the battles or events. Throughout the book, the author also has a habit of mentioning exceptional commanders and individuals as the "greatest" of their time, but then never explaining why or what they did. While this certainly leaves open a space for more research, brief descriptions of why these people are exceptional, should have been included sometime after they were first mentioned. If this had been a book about Roman history, I probably would have give in 1 or 2 stars for simply being a simplistic overview, especially if you had ever studied the era formally.
However, if you have never studied this time period or heard of the battle this is a great starting point that will provide a lot of new information. Oct 24, Jean rated it really liked it Shelves: The author point out the struggle was not so much between Islam and Christendom, territory was the goal, and the right to claim the legacy of the Roman Empire.
Wheatcroft is the author of several books on both the Hapsburg and Ottomans. He is a noted Habsburg historian. Wheatcroft has done a great deal of research recently in Ottoman studies including issues of military history. The author covers in depth the Siege of Vienna in Wheatcroft covers both the political and military context of the siege. The Ottomans and their Tatar auxiliaries had great strength in the fighting skills of their infantry and the mobility of their horseman. They were less skilled and disciplined in the art of the Siege.
The book goes a long way to fill the gaps in popular knowledge about the Ottoman, after the Golden age of Mehmed the Conqueror and Suleiman the Magnificent and before the fall of the Empire in WWI. The book focuses on the 17th and 18th century battles between the mightiest Empire of Europe and the largest in the Middle East. I found the book interesting and easy to read, it nicely filled the gaps in my knowledge of the subject.
The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe by Andrew Wheatcroft
I read this as an audio book downloaded from Audible. Stefan Rudnicki did a good job narrating the book. An excellent and well-written narrative history, primarily focused on military matters, though the author also covers political, social, and cultural issues to a lesser extent. While the events leading up to the siege of Vienna by the Ottomans and the campaigns following its subsequent relief are gripping in their own right, the antecedents to our current and seemingly intractable differences with the Islamic world are laid out and are shown to be deeply rooted in the same fears and manifested i An excellent and well-written narrative history, primarily focused on military matters, though the author also covers political, social, and cultural issues to a lesser extent.
While the events leading up to the siege of Vienna by the Ottomans and the campaigns following its subsequent relief are gripping in their own right, the antecedents to our current and seemingly intractable differences with the Islamic world are laid out and are shown to be deeply rooted in the same fears and manifested in the mutual demonization of Westerners and Moslems via ubiquitous propaganda in both worlds, then and now.
My only reservation, or qualification, is that the last chapter is a bit dry and, for me, unnecessary.