Together with forty-two guns and eight howitzers

Charles of Lorraine, the Imperial commander, had under his orders less
than 40,000. The levy _en masse_ of Hungary produced 3000 soldiers only
for the Emperor’s service, so wide was the sway of the Turks, or so
universal the sympathy for Tekeli. Six thousand Hungarians, supposed to
be raised for the Emperor, went over to the enemy as soon as they
advanced. Yet, contrary to his own opinion, Lorraine began with
offensive operations against the Turkish fortress of Neuhausel. A
partial success was followed by a disastrous repulse, and the army
withdrew south of the Danube, as the main Turkish force approached upon
that same side of the river. Lorraine had some idea of making a stand
near the Raab to cover the Austrian frontier, but the number of the
enemy and the temper of his own soldiers rendered such an attempt too
hazardous. He determined to retreat, and await the reinforcements
already promised by the Princes of the Empire. Garrisons were hastily
flung into Raab, Komorn, and Leopoldstadt.[7] The infantry then
recrossed the Danube and fell back towards Vienna along the Schütt
island, under Count Leslie’s orders. The cavalry marched upon the
southern side of the river, but the superior rapidity of their retreat
did not save them from molestation. On July 7 at Petronel, some twenty
miles below Vienna, 15,000 Spahis and Tartars burst upon their march.
For a time Count Taaffe, with the rear guard of 400 men, was in extreme
danger. The exertions of Lorraine and of Louis of Baden rallied the
cavalry and speedily repulsed their disorderly assailants, but in the
confusion several of the officers fell, including Prince Aremberg and
Julius Louis of Savoy, an elder brother of Prince Eugene, and much of
the baggage became the prey of the Tartars. Altenburg and Haimburg,
posts upon the Danube, had been already stormed, after a brief
resistance, by the Turkish infantry.

Those stragglers who first leave the field are always apt to cover
their own flight by the report of an universal overthrow. So fugitives
came galloping to Vienna with a tale of disaster. They spread the rumour
that the Duke of Lorraine was killed and the army totally defeated,
while their alarm seemed amply confirmed by the glow of burning villages
that brightened upon the twilight of the eastern horizon. The Imperial
court, which had delayed its flight so far, in the hope that the enemy
might linger about the fortresses of Raab or of Komorn, tarried now no
longer. “Leopold could never bear to hear plain truths but when he was
afraid,” says Eugene. He had refused to recognize the imminence of the
peril until now; and by his confidence had involved in his destruction
others, who had not the same means of escape at the last moment which he
himself possessed. Yet means of escape were barely open to him, when at
length he understood that he must defend or abandon his capital. The
roads to Upper Austria and to Bavaria, along the southern shore of the
Danube, were rightly distrusted. The Emperor, his Empress, and the
Empress Mother, with all their train of courtiers, of ladies, and of
servants, shorn of pomp and bereft of dignity in their flight, poured
over the Leopoldstadt island and the Tabor bridge in all the misery of
panic fear. The prompt destruction of the bridge of Crems, above Vienna,
is said alone to have saved their route from interception by the
Tartars. A part of their baggage actually became the prey of the
marauders. The whole court, including even the Empress herself, who was
far advanced in pregnancy, were driven to seek rest in farms and
cottages. Once they passed the night under a temporary shelter of
boughs. In the universal panic, small room was left for hopes of a
return to the capital and to the palaces that they had quitted. Milan,
Innspruck, Prague were thought of as their future refuge. On to Lintz,
and from Lintz to the frontier they fled, till their confidence at last
returned behind the fortifications of the Bavarian city of Passau. But
they were not the only fugitives from Vienna. The bold march of the
Vizier upon the city, leaving Raab, Komorn, and Presburg in his rear, to
fall an easy prey when once the great prize was captured; this had taken
the citizens by surprise. The retreat of Lorraine, and the skirmish at
Petronel, had filled them with abject terror.

People from the surrounding country who had taken shelter in Vienna no
longer relied upon her as a stronghold, but turned their thoughts to an
escape to Bavaria, or to Styria, or even to the distant Tirol. From nine
o’clock in the evening till two o’clock in the morning, on the 7th and
8th of July, a never-ending stream of carriages and of fugitives were
following in the track of the Imperial _cortège_. East and south, upon
the horizon, the glare of burning villages told that the Turkish
horsemen were there. High on the summit of the Kahlenberg, the flames of
the Camalduline Convent dreadfully illuminated the track of the
fugitives. Sixty thousand persons, it was believed, left the city in the
course of a few days. Of those who, crossing the Danube, took the roads
into Upper Austria or into Moravia, some fell into the hands of the
Hungarian and Tartar marauders. But few of those who attempted to escape
into Styria succeeded in reaching a place of safety. They perished by
thousands, enveloped by the flying squadrons of the invaders.

In Vienna herself, deserted by her leaders and by so many of her
children, violent tumult raged against the Government, and against the
Jesuits, who were supposed to have instigated the persecution of the
Protestants of Hungary. There was ample cause for terror. The
fortifications were old and imperfect, the suburbs encroached upon the
works, the number of the defenders was small. Thirteen thousand
infantry, supplied by the army of Lorraine, and seven thousand armed
citizens formed the garrison; and, besides these, about sixty thousand
souls were in the city. The command was entrusted to Ernest Rudiger
Count Starhemberg, an officer of tried skill and courage. He had served
with Montecuculi against the Turks, and against both Condé and Turenne
with the same commander and with the Prince of Orange. He entered the
city as the fugitives forsook it. He set the people to work upon the
fortifications, organized them for defence, and assured them that he
would live and die with them. But while writing to the Emperor that he
would joyfully spend the last drop of his blood in defence of his
charge, he confesses that the place is in want of everything, and the
inhabitants panic-stricken. Fortunately he and others with him were the
class of men to restore confidence in the rest. Under him served many
noble volunteers, for the example of the Emperor was not universally
followed. The Bishop of Neustadt, once himself a soldier and a knight
of Malta, was conspicuous among many brave and devoted men for his
liberal donations to the troops, and for his superintendence of the
sanitary state of the city. In one respect alone the place was well
furnished; three hundred and twenty-one pieces of artillery were
supplied by the Imperial arsenal for the fortifications.[8] The city was
defended after the existing fashion, with ten bastions, the curtains
covered by ravelines, with a ditch mostly dry. On the side of the Danube
was merely a wall with towers and platforms, and all the works were more
or less uncared for and decayed. The work of fixing palisades was
postponed till the Turkish army was in sight. It is possible that by a
slightly more rapid march the Vizier might have secured Vienna by a
_coup de main_.

On July 13, the Turkish regular cavalry came in sight, preceding the
infantry of the main army; and at the last possible moment fire was set
to the suburbs, which impeded the defence. A high wind speedily caused
them to be consumed. On the 14th, the Turkish army took up its
position, encamping in a semicircle, round the whole of the circuit of
the defences not washed by the Danube. A city, surpassing in size and
population the beleaguered capital, sprang up about the walls of Vienna.
The tents of the Vizier were pitched opposite the Burg bastion, in the
suburb of St. Ulric. The camp was crowded not only by soldiers, but by
the merchants of the East, who thronged thither as to a fair to deal in
the plunder of the Christians. The Imperial troops still attempted to
hold the Leopoldstadt island; but on July 16, the Turks threw bridges
across the arm of the Danube, and shortly drove the Christians to the
northern bank of the river. The houses of the Leopoldstadt were given up
to fire by the Turks; and the bridge, leading to the northern shore,
destroyed by the Imperialists. The investment of Vienna was now
completed upon every side. Batteries from the Leopoldstadt, and from the
south and west, crossed it with fire in all directions. Trenches were
opened, and the elaborate approaches and frequent mines of the Turks,
advancing with alarming rapidity, enveloped the western and
south-western face of the works from the Scottish gate to the Burg

Upwards of three hundred pieces of artillery played upon the crumbling
defences and the devastated city. The pavement of the streets was torn
up, that the balls might bury themselves in the soft earth where they
fell. The upper floors and roofs of the houses were barricaded with
heavy timber, or covered with sandbags, to guard against the fire of the
dropping shells. The streets themselves were blocked behind the walls,
chains drawn across them, and the houses loop-holed and prepared for
defence to the last extremity. All the gates had been walled up but one,
the Stuben gate, which, being partially covered by the stream of the
Wien, was left open as a sally-port. Early in the siege, the assailed,
frequently issuing forth, returned the attacks of the enemy, frustrated
their operations, and even captured provisions in the hostile lines. But
as time went on, the diminishing numbers of the garrison forbade the
waste of life incurred even in successful sorties.

[Illustration: Map]

The progress of the Turks was rapid with sap and mine. They were famed
for their skill with entrenching and engineering tools, and the
Christians learnt much from them, though their approaches were unlike
the ordinary European works. Instead of parallel lines to the defences
they drew curves, overlapping each other and continually approaching the
place attacked. The trenches were deep, and fifteen or sixteen feet wide
at the bottom where the ground allowed. The depth of the Turkish works
effectually protected their soldiers, even when they had made a lodgment
in the ditch; for the besieged could not depress their cannon
sufficiently to hurt them.[9] They were protected skilfully by
bomb-proof shelters of timber and of turf, beneath which thousands of
men, hidden and shielded, crouched ready for attack, or for the repulse
of sorties. Their mines penetrated in every direction to the
counterscarp of the place, and ultimately to the walls themselves. At
length the very cellars of the nearest houses were threatened by a
subterranean enemy; and water and drums strewn with peas were placed in
them, to tell, by the slightest vibration, of the work of the Turkish
miner’s pick below.

The Turkish miners were bolder than those of the garrison. The latter
were hired labourers of the lowest class, of whom Starhemberg wrote to
Lorraine that nothing would induce them to re-enter a mine after they
had heard the sound of the enemy working near them. On the part of the
enemy, men who had applied for a _Timar_, or military fief, often
volunteered as miners to prove their courage and to win its reward.

At the very beginning of operations the city all but perished through a
fire, which actually reached the windows of the Imperial arsenal stored
with eighteen hundred barrels of powder. An explosion there would have
opened a road for the Turkish army into Vienna, at once deprived of the
means of resistance and reduced to ruins. The exertions of Captain Count
Guido Starhemberg, nephew of the commandant, who personally
superintended the removal of the powder through the opposite windows,
together with a lucky change of wind, saved the city. Rightly or
wrongly, an incendiary was suspected. The fear of treachery was added to
the legitimate terrors of the citizens. Desertions took place to the
enemy, and spies were actually apprehended within the walls. Hungarians
and other Christians were arrayed upon both sides, and this community of
language and manners, between besiegers and besieged, rendered such a
danger more real.

But from the open force of the attack the worst calamities were to be
feared. On the 23rd, 25th, and 27th of July the opening assaults were
delivered. All were repulsed, but with loss of lives ill-spared.

Closer and closer crept the Turkish sappers. Assault after assault upon
the outer fortifications gradually wrested important positions from the
besieged. The Burg and Löwel bastions, with the connecting curtain
between them and the Burg ravelin, were reduced to an almost shapeless
ruin by the Turkish mines and artillery. Every device was tried to
retard the attack. The arts and ingenuity of a great city were at the
service of the besieged. They made their own powder; and, when
hand-grenades began to fail, the invention of an officer supplied their
place with grenades of earthenware. Nevertheless, on August 7, the Turks
made a lodgment upon the counterscarp, after twenty-three days of firing
and terrible losses upon both sides.

The Janissaries now stood upon the very threshold of the city. Hand to
hand fighting was carried on in the ditches. The citizens armed with
scythes upon the end of poles contended with advantage from above
against the Turkish sabres. Boiling pitch and water stood continually
ready to overwhelm the assailants as they struggled up the shattered
slope of the ramparts. Besiegers and besieged were continually within
pistol shot of each other, and showers of Turkish arrows descended on
the town. As yet no footing was obtained by the Turks within the body of
the place, though the streets and houses stood ready barricaded against
such an event. But the Vizier commanded two hundred thousand men,
Starhemberg but twenty thousand. Disease and the toils and losses of the
defence told fearfully upon the latter. Starhemberg himself was disabled
by dysentery early in the siege, and did all that man could do, carried
in a chair from post to post, amidst the hottest of the fire. On the
other side, Kara Mustapha made his rounds in a litter rendered
shot-proof by plates of iron. The chief engineer of the garrison,
Rimpler, fell. Colonel Bärner, commanding the artillery, and the Prince
of Wurtemberg were disabled. Five thousand men, more than a third of the
regular soldiers, perished. Food became scarce, vermin were eagerly
sought for by the poor, and dysentery followed inevitably in the train
of want. Fever sprang from the confinement, filth, and bad air
inseparable from their condition. Sixty persons a day were dying of
dysentery alone towards the conclusion of the siege. But the humour of
the Viennese asserted itself still among their calamities, and the
spoils of nocturnal chase upon the tiles were sold as “Roof Hares” in
the market. The courage of long endurance, that rarest of all courage,
was tried to the uttermost. The Bishop of Neustadt, bravest of the brave
defenders, laboured unremittingly among the sick, nor cared less for the
safety of the whole, by undertaking the control of sanitary measures.
The otherwise useless non-combatants were organized by him into bands of
scavengers, hospital attendants, and carriers of the wounded.

A despatch from Starhemberg, dated August 18, came safely to the hands
of Lorraine. The commandant wrote boldly, perhaps with an eye to the
probability of his intelligence reaching the Turkish and not the
Imperial general. “I must in the first place, tell your Highness that we
have up to this moment disputed the works with the enemy, foot by foot,
and that they have not gained an inch of ground without paying for it
dearly. Every time that, sword in hand, they have attempted a lodgment,
they have been vigorously repulsed by our men, with such loss that they
no longer dare to put their heads out of their holes.” Nevertheless, he
was providing for the worst. “I have caused a new work, well ditched, to
be made in the middle of the Burg ravelin; the Löwel and Burg bastions
are also defended by a second line; and I am even now beginning another
work behind these same bastions. I write this that your Highness may
know that we are forgetting nothing, that we are wide awake, and taking
all imaginable precautions. As in duty bound I assure your Highness,
that to show myself worthy of the confidence which your Highness, and
more especially his Majesty my master, repose in my small services, I
shall never yield the place but with the last drop of my blood.”

This despatch was safely carried to Lorraine by Kolschitzki, a Pole.
Many other letters had miscarried, for few messengers penetrated, at the
risk of life, between the city and the slowly mustering forces of
Lorraine. Some swam the arms of the Danube. The most skilful, however,
was this Kolschitzki, who relied upon his knowledge of the Turkish
tongue and manners, and in Turkish dress penetrated the besieging lines,
much as a countryman of our own relied on similar knowledge in a
scarcely less memorable siege. The name of Kolschitzki of Vienna may be
named side by side with that of “Lucknow” Kavanagh, though the Pole not
only passed out through the besiegers, but succeeded in returning again
in a like manner into the city with despatches, to sustain the courage
of the defenders. From his stone chair, high up in the fretted spire of
St. Stephen’s, the watchman saw the rockets which rose as signals from
the Christian outposts north of the Danube. But from the southern bank
must the march be made for the deliverance of the city; and was it
possible that Lorraine, or even Sobieski, could carry a force across the
river in the face of such an army?

The garrison record, with painful exactness, the terrible annals of the
siege; what ravelin is deluged with the blood of assailants and of
defenders; where mines have blown the counterscarp into the ditch, or
shattered the salient angle of a bastion; what new quarter of the city
is devastated by the cannonade; what much-prized life is taken; when
the bread begins to fail; what false hopes of relief, or what
exaggerated tidings of calamity, circulate among the citizens. These
details, of overwhelming interest to every man at the moment, and
printed indelibly upon his mind, bring to the distant observer but one
confused and appalling panorama of suffering and of endurance, of
courage and of despair.

The growing anxiety of the city appears in a second despatch of
Starhemberg’s, dated August 27. He still tells of attacks repulsed, of
sorties boldly executed, and of mines discovered and foiled, but he
acknowledges the need of succour. “We are losing many men and many
officers, more from dysentery than from the enemy’s fire, the deaths
from that disease alone are sixty daily. We have no more grenades, which
were our best defence; our guns are some of them destroyed by the
enemy’s fire, some of them burst before firing fifty rounds, from the
bad material used by the founder; and the enemy, seeing they can hold
their lodgments in the ditch with a few men, are massing great numbers
on the counterscarp, to have a large force ready there for some
extraordinary effort…. We await, therefore, your Highness’s arrival
with extreme impatience; for my own part not so much from a wish to be
relieved as that I may have the honour of respectfully assuring your
Highness of my obedience, being, as I am, your Highness’s most humble
and obedient servant, STARHEMBERG.” The courtly bravado of the
subscription is in strong contrast with the hurried postscript that
follows:–“My miners tell me that they hear the enemy working beneath
them under the Burg bastion; they must have run their gallery from the
other side of the ditch, and there is no time to be lost.” When this
despatch was written, both sides believed that the supreme crisis was at

The 29th of August was looked for as the decisive day. On that
anniversary Stuhlweissenberg and Belgrade had fallen before the
Ottomans.[10] Above all, on that day the strength of Hungary had been
smitten, and her king, Louis, had died, before the hosts of the great
Solyman, on the disastrous field of “The Destruction of Mohacs”–that
battle which first opened Hungary and Austria to the invader.

But the 29th came and passed, with no general attack from the
besiegers. A mine was sprung under the Burg ravelin, nearly completing
the ruin of the work; and three or four hundred Turks attempted to
establish themselves upon the remains, but were driven back again.
Another mine was sprung by the Burg bastion, but no assault followed.
From St. Stephen’s considerable movement was noticed among the Turkish
detachments on the left bank of the Danube, occasioned by the march of
Lorraine’s army.

In the camp murmurs and dissensions ran high. The Janissaries clamoured
at their lengthy detention in the trenches. They openly accused the
incapacity, or worse faults, of the Vizier. There seems little doubt but
that he had it in his power to have overwhelmed the defenders by a
general and prolonged assault, towards the end of August.

Ottoman leaders had known well how to avail themselves of the obedience
and fatalist courage of their soldiers. Amurath IV., when he won back
Baghdad from the Persians, Mahomet II., at the taking of Constantinople,
had shown how cities could be won. Before the city of the Khalifs for
three days, before the city of the Cæsars from a May sunrise till well
nigh noon, had torrent after torrent of brave, devoted, undisciplined
soldiers wearied the arms and exhausted the ammunition of the defenders,
until the Janissaries arose, fresh and invincible for the decisive
charge. Wave after wave of stormers, fed from inexhaustible multitudes,
had rolled upon the besieged, and, like broken waves, had rolled back in
ruin, until the last and greatest should burst in overwhelming force
upon the breaches. Such an assault would have been surely successful
against Vienna. But the Vizier, in vain security, pictured to himself
the advantages of a surrender, which should preserve the city as a
trophy of his conquest–the seat, perchance, of his sovereignty. The
riches which he dreamed it to contain, he hoped to receive as his own
spoil; not to yield as the booty of the army after a storm. So, while
the decisive days passed, the signal for attack was delayed, except by
small bodies upon single points, until the courage of his soldiers was
dissipated and their confidence destroyed. On the contrary, the
unexpected reprieve gave courage to the defenders. The Janissaries, on
the other hand, impatiently invoked the appearance of the relieving
army to end their sojourn in the trenches by the decisive event of a
stricken field. Slowly, but at last, ere yet too late, that army was

The duties which had been imposed upon Charles of Lorraine were of the
most arduous kind. With a handful of troops, but slowly reinforced by
the German levies, whose assistance was rendered less useful by the
jealousies of the sovereign Princes in command, he was opposed both to
the Turks and to Tekeli. He was expected to be ready to support the
garrisons of Presburg and of Komorn, to hinder the incursions of the
enemy into Upper Austria and into Moravia–above all, to prepare the
bridges above Vienna, by which alone a relieving army could arrive.
Though driven from the Leopoldstadt island, and from all immediate
communication with the city, his presence yet animated the besieged with
hope of succour. He fixed his head-quarters finally at Krems, on the
Danube, where the Saxon contingent presently arrived, followed by the
troops of the Circles and the Bavarians. Before their arrival, towards
the end of August, he felt strong enough to advance and rescue Presburg
from Tekeli. He followed up the operation by a defeat inflicted on the
combined forces of the Turks and Hungarians upon the Marchfeld. A
detachment of four thousand Polish horse, under Lubomirski, originally
raised to assist Tekeli, were already present with the army of Lorraine.
But decisive operations were of necessity postponed till after the
coming of the King of Poland with the bulk of his forces, and of the
rest of the German troops.

Lorraine, in these movements, undoubtedly proved his title to
generalship; but nothing except the extraordinary apathy of the Vizier
rendered them possible. A skilful employment of the enormous force of
Turkish cavalry must have forced the Imperial army to retire for want of
supplies. The ravage, aimlessly and mercilessly inflicted upon Austria
and the confines of Moravia, would, if directed against Poland, have
probably prevented the march of Sobieski. An able commander, with such
forces at his command, might have prevented, or at least hindered, the
junction of the Poles and Germans. Nor were any steps taken by the
Vizier to stop the construction of the bridges at Krems and at Tuln, nor
to guard the defiles of the Wiener Wald, over which the Christian army
must advance to raise the siege. So extraordinary indeed was the neglect
of the enemy, that a secret understanding has been supposed between
Tekeli and Sobieski, by which, in return for the future good offices of
the latter, the former was not to molest Poland nor hinder the junction
of the Christian forces. Be that as it may, the secret information of
the Poles was as good as that of the Turks was bad, and the king knew
thoroughly with what foes he had to deal.[11]

Meanwhile, in spite of French intrigues, in spite of backwardness in
Lithuania and of distrust in Poland, Sobieski had left Warsaw for Cracow
on July 18. Up to the last moment the Turks disbelieved in his coming in
person, and the Emperor and the French king both doubted it. He was
gouty, he was rheumatic, he was too fat to ride; such was the tenour of
the information of the baffled French agent Vitry. Nevertheless, on the
22nd of August, he was on the Silesian frontier with the main part of
his army. It consisted mostly of cavalry, of those Polish horsemen
matchless in prowess, but the most unstable of forces. His infantry was
less numerous and inferior, their shabby accoutrements contrasting
sharply with the gaudy equipment of the cavaliers. “They have sworn to
dress themselves better in the spoils of the enemy,” said the king of
one regiment, deprecating the criticism of the Germans. His march lay
through Silesia and Moravia, through the borders of the lands devastated
by the Tartars, where the trembling inhabitants thronged around him,
hailing him already as their deliverer. Urged by message after message
from Lorraine, he left his army to follow under the leadership of the
Field-Marshal Jablonowski, and hurried on himself at the head of two
thousand cavalry, his son Prince James by his side.

We can follow every movement of the campaign from the letters which,
amid the hurry of the march, during short hours snatched from sleep,
once at least during the thunder of a Turkish cannonade, he found time
to despatch continually to his queen. _Seule joie de mon âme,
char__mante et bien-aimée Mariette_, as he calls her. Her letters in
reply are his continual consolation amid the labours of the campaign,
the ingratitude of the Emperor, and the insubordination of his subjects.
“I read all your letters, my dear and incomparable Maria, thrice
over–once when I receive them, once when I retire to my tent and am
alone with my love, once when I sit down to answer them.” Such is his
answer to her expression of a fear that the distractions of his
enterprise may leave no time for interest in aught besides. On August 29
he writes, from near Brunn in Moravia, sending the news of the retreat
of Tekeli after his defeat by Lorraine, and adding that he hopes the
next day, on nearing the Danube, to hear the cannon which tell that
Vienna is still untaken. On the 31st he is near Tuln, above Vienna. He
has passed the distant thunder of the cannonade upon his left hand, and
has effected his junction with the army of Lorraine. Despairing of the
arrival of the Lithuanians, he has distributed the arms intended for
them among the imperfectly equipped Poles. Still more is he distressed
at the non-appearance of the Cossacks, whom he expected, and whom he
knew as invaluable for outpost duty. Menzynski, who should have
conducted them, is lingering at Lemberg. “_C’est un grand misérable._”

Most interesting of all is the passage in which he gives his wife his
first impressions of his future colleague, the Duke of Lorraine.
Lorraine had been a competitor with Sobieski for the crown of Poland,
and it must have been a singular meeting when the rivals first came face
to face co-operating together in a mighty enterprise. Sobieski the king,
whose offspring were not to reign; Charles the duke, the destined
ancestor of the Imperial line of Austria.[12] The one in the
semi-Oriental magnificence of his country, he went into action before
Vienna in a sky-blue silk doublet; the other in the dress of a
campaigner, best described in Sobieski’s own words. The duke he finds
modest and taciturn, stooping, plain, with a hooked nose, marked with
small-pox; clad in an old grey coat, with “a fair wig ill-made,” a hat
without a band, “boots of yellow leather, or rather of what was yellow
three months ago.” “_Avec tout ça, il n’a pas la mine d’un marchand,
mais d’un homme comme il faut, et même d’un homme de distinction. C’est
un homme avec qui je m’accorderais facilement._” The friendship of the
former rivals was cemented by a banquet, and the duke’s accustomed
monitor being first overcome, Lorraine himself was induced to proceed
from his native Moselle, which he drank usually mixed with water, to the
strong Hungarian wines–to the improvement, as the king tells his wife,
of his conversation. Besides Lorraine, Sobieski found a crowd of German
Princes awaiting his arrival: John George of Saxony, speaking no French
nor Latin, and very little German; Waldeck, of the house of
Waldeck-Wildungen,[13] William the Third’s right hand man in the
Netherlands, here commanding the troops of the Circles, and winning high
praise from the king for his activity and zeal; Maximilian of Bavaria,
whose courage and ill-fortune were hereafter to be signalized at
Blenheim and at Ramilies, now aged twenty-one, wins notice as “better
dressed than the others.” There were two Wurtembergers and the Prince of
Brunswick-Lüneburg, afterwards our George I.; the Prince of
Saxe-Lauenberg; a Hohenzollern and a Hessian; three Princes of Anhalt;
Hermann and Louis of Baden, the latter was with Marlborough at
Schellenberg; two sons of Montecuculi, the conqueror of St. Gotthard;
last and youngest, though not least, Eugene of Savoy, the future
conqueror of Zenta and of Belgrade, and the colleague of Marlborough in
his greatest battles. There was Count Leslie, of that Scotch house which
had given generals to half the armies of Europe; Count Taaffe, the
Irishman, afterwards Sir Francis Taaffe and Earl of Carlingford, whose
elder brother fell fighting for King James at the Boyne, but whose
services to the allies secured the earldom from forfeiture. There were
gathered veterans of the Thirty Years’ War, men who might have seen
Gustavus or Wallenstein, and men who were to reap their brightest
laurels hereafter in the war of the Spanish Succession. As was wittily
said, the Empire would have been there had only the Emperor been
present. The Brandenberg troops also were wanting. The “Great Elector”
was jealous of Poland–once his superior in the Prussian duchy–had
formerly been injured by Sobieski acting with the Swedes in the
interests of France, and moreover was not on the best terms with the
Emperor. Brandenberg, then as ever, was playing with skill and patience
her own game. The fortunes of the future Prussian monarchy were not to
be lightly risked for the sake of Austria. But the Emperor himself must
not be rashly charged with want of courage for his absence from the
camp. He was not trained to war; the presence of his court would have
been embarrassing to the operations, perhaps would have been inseparable
from intrigues and jealousies that would seriously have crippled the
army. A certain stubborn manhood Leopold had shown in not yielding to
the pressure put upon him to make terms with Louis XIV. in this
extremity. The aid of France could have been purchased by the election
of the Dauphin as King of the Romans, probably by smaller sacrifices.
The Diet at Ratisbon had been not disinclined to yield, but the Emperor
had stedfastly refused to subject either his own house or the Empire to
French dictation. That one crowned head was in the field was of the
greatest importance, especially when that one was the King of Poland.

Everywhere the most cheerful deference was rendered to Sobieski by all
who were present. The Princes, jealous of each other before, now vied
with each other in zealous obedience to the conqueror of Choczim. His
experience of Turkish warfare was unique, his personal character
commanding. He tells his wife how Lorraine, Waldeck, Saxony, Bavaria
would send or even come personally for his commands. The ascendancy
exercised by Sobieski is nowhere more decisively illustrated than in the
conduct of five hundred Janissaries, a trophy of his victories, who now
formed his body guard. He offered them leave of absence from the battle,
or even a free passage to the Turkish camp, but they besought leave to
live and die with him.[14] The king himself was fully prepared to accept
the advice of generals like Lorraine and Waldeck. He had left his royal
dignity behind at Warsaw, as he told Lorraine, and at once agreed with
the latter upon a plan for crossing the Danube at Krems and at Tuln,
concentrating at Tuln and marching over the Kahlenberg to Vienna. He
only complained of the backward condition of the bridges and of the slow
assemblage of the troops, whereas the Emperor had by letter assured him
that all was ready before he had left Poland. When finally assembled,
the united armies numbered eighty-five thousand men. The Poles were
more than twenty-six thousand strong. But allowing for detachments, not
more than seventy-seven thousand men were available upon the
battle-field. The artillery numbered one hundred and sixty-eight pieces,
of which few came into action.

On September 4, the king still writes from near Tuln. If an excess of
glory is often the share of a successful commander, yet an excessive
toil is his always. Sobieski tells his wife that he has a continual cold
and headache, and is night and day in the saddle. The French stories
were so far true that he could not mount without assistance, yet in the
midst of such operations no rest is possible. The Turks are, he says,
either really ignorant of his presence, or refuse to believe it. The
Vizier was incredibly ill-supplied with information. He really was
uncertain whether Sobieski was in the field; and whether the Polish
army, or partisan corps only, like that of Lubomirski, had joined
Lorraine. The smallest resistance would seriously have retarded the
passage of the Danube, performed by the Germans at Krems, by the Poles
at Tuln. As it was, the difficulties were terrible. The pontoons sank
under the weight of the artillery and waggons. The latter had to find
fords over the smaller branches of the river, while the bridges upon the
main stream were strengthened to sustain them. Even then much baggage
was left north of the Danube; much more upon the southern side,
entrenched and defended.

On September 8, when the concentration of the army upon the southern
bank was being completed, Marco Aviano, the Emperor’s Confessor,
celebrated a solemn mass, and gave a formal benediction to the Christian
army. Sobieski then stepped forward, and after addressing some words of
encouragement to the assembled officers, bestowed the honour of
knighthood upon his son James.[15] An enthusiastic votary of his
religion, he desired to impress upon his army that their cause was the
cause of God, against the enemies of the Faith. Even the Lutheran Saxons
and North Germans could, with more justice than the Hungarian renegades,
claim to be fighting _Pro Deo et Patria_. Upon the coming struggle
depended the question whether the frightful devastation, which had
desolated Hungary and Austria, was or was not to be repeated in all the
south German lands.

The flat ground upon the southern side of the Danube, from near Krems to
Tuln, the Tullner Feld, offered a convenient space for the mustering of
the army after passing the river. Vienna was not further than about
sixteen miles as the crow flies, but the intervening country was of a
difficult nature, even should the Turks attempt no interruption to the
movements of the relieving forces. The Wiener Wald, rising to more than
nine hundred feet above the level of the Danube, runs into a
north-easterly direction between Tuln and Vienna, and advances up to the
very current of the river, which flows north-eastward and then
south-eastward round the mountain barrier. The roads were few and
difficult, and trees covered the slopes of the hills. Sobieski had
decided to advance with his left wing covered by the Danube, and to
throw succour into Vienna upon that side; while with the right he
threatened the rear of the Turkish camp on the side of Dornbach and
Hernals. With this object the march was directed upon the Leopoldsberg
and the Kahlenberg, the last heights or ridges of the mountains above
the Danube, to the north-west of Vienna.

And at length, on the 10th of September, the forward movement upon the
Kahlenberg began. Already as early as the morning of the 6th, a
reconnaissance had been pushed to the summit, and as evening fell had
cheered Vienna with a flight of signal rockets, in answer to the fiery
messengers of distress which nightly rose from the spire of St.
Stephen’s. But to carry an army up the Kahlenberg was a harder task.
Sobieski wrote that the country was horribly wasted. There was neither
food for man nor forage for horses, beyond what the army could carry
with them. Indeed, the leaves of the trees upon the Kahlenberg had to
eke out the supplies of the latter. There was all need for despatch. The
last despairing message had come from Starhemberg, borne by a swimmer on
the Danube to Lorraine, in language as brief as significant, “_No time
to be lost; no time indeed to be lost._”

There was no time to be lost indeed. The fortifications of Vienna were a
mere heap of ruins. The Imperial Palace was battered to pieces. Nearly
one whole quarter of the city was in ashes. On the 3rd of September, the
long contested Burg ravelin was yielded to the Turks. On the 4th, the
salient angle of the Burg bastion was blown into the air, and an attack
was with difficulty repelled. On the 6th, a similar mine and assault
following cumbered the Löwel bastion with ruin and with corpses. For a
moment, the horse tails were planted upon the ramparts. Driven back
thence with difficulty, the Turks still clung to the Burg ravelin, and
four pieces of cannon planted there, at frightfully close quarters,
completed the ruin of the works. But no new attack came. Informed of the
advance of Lorraine, though still incredulous of the presence of
Sobieski, the Vizier began to draw his troops towards the foot of the
Kahlenberg. He still clung to the batteries and trenches; still kept the
pick of his Janissaries grappling with the prize which but for him they
might have already won. He rejected the advice of the Pasha of Pesth, to
withdraw across the Wien and fortify a camp on the Wienersberg, secure
that if the Christians attacked and failed Vienna would fall. He
withdrew his troops indeed from the Leopoldstadt, and threw up some
slight works towards the Kahlenberg, but remained otherwise irresolute,
halting between his expected booty and her deliverer.

Sobieski had already taken the measure of his opponent. In reply to
desponding views of Lorraine at Tuln, he had said, “Be of good cheer;
which of us at the head of two hundred thousand men would have allowed
this bridge to have been thrown within five leagues of his camp?” To his
wife he wrote, “A commander who has thought neither of entrenching his
camp, nor of concentrating his forces, but who lies encamped there as if
we were one hundred miles off, is predestined to be beaten.” Viewing the
Turkish force from the Kahlenberg, he said to his soldiers, “This man is
badly encamped, he knows nothing of war; we shall beat him.”

It was well for the Christians and for Vienna that none of the great
warriors who had served the Porte was now in command. No man like
Kiuprili, or even like Ibrahim “the Devil,” the last Turkish commander
against whom Sobieski had contended, was there, to use the fidelity of
the Janissaries and the valour of the Spahis to advantage. The march up
the defiles of the Kahlenberg presented, even without interruptions,
extraordinary difficulties. The king himself pushed forward to
superintend the exploration of the way. He was so long parted from his
Polish troops that they became anxious for his safety. He rejoined them
at mid-day on the 11th, and encouraged them as they marched, or, as he
says, rather _climbed_ to the summit. Some Saxon troops, first arriving,
with three guns, opened fire upon a Turkish detachment marching too late
to secure the important position. The Turks retired, and the distant
sound of the firing announced to Vienna the first tidings of
deliverance. It was not till the evening of the 11th, however, that the
main body of the army had reached the ridge. Even then many had lagged
behind; the paths were nearly impracticable for artillery, and the
Germans abandoned many of their guns in despair between Tuln and the
Kahlenberg. But few pieces indeed were fired after the first beginning
of the battle on the following day, Polish guns, for the most part,
brought up by the vigour of the Grand Marshal of the Artillery, Kouski,
the same officer who had directed the Polish field-pieces against the
Turkish camp at Choczim.

“An hour before sunset,” September 11, as Sobieski and the generals
stood at length upon the crest of the hill, “they saw outspread before
them one of the most magnificent yet terrible displays of human power
which man has seen. There lay the valley and the islands of the Danube,
covered with an encampment, the sumptuousness of which seemed better
suited for an excursion of pleasure than for the hardships of war.
Within it stood an innumerable multitude of animals–horses, camels, and
oxen. Two hundred thousand fighting men moved in order here and there,
while along the foot of the hills below swarms of Tartars roamed at
will. A frightful cannonade was raging vigorously from the one side, in
feeble reply from the other. Beneath the canopy of smoke lay a great
city, visible only by her spires and her pinnacles, which pierced the
overwhelming cloud and flame.”[16] Sobieski estimated the force before
him at one hundred thousand tents and three hundred thousand men.
Including the non-combatants, he was, perhaps, not far wrong; but the
fighting men in the Turkish army by this time would be by many fewer
than that number. One hundred and sixty-eight thousand men is the most
which may be allowed from the muster-rolls found in the Vizier’s tent,
and that certainly exceeds the truth.[17] All around, except where in
the encampment the magnificence of the invader was proudly flaunted in
the face of the ruin that he had made, the prospect was desolated by
war. Whatever might be the fortune of the coming day, a generation at
least must elapse before those suburbs are rebuilt, those villages
restored and repeopled, those fields fully cultivated again. The army
felt that it lay with them, under God, to provide against that further
extension of the ravage which would follow, should the bulwark of the
_Oesterreich_, the Eastern March of the Empire, be forced by Hun and

Not distinguishable from the distance at which they stood, thousands of
Christian captives lay in the encampment below. The morrow might deliver
up the people of Vienna to a like fate with theirs. The city, as the
king declared on entering it after the relief, could not have held out
five days. As the wind now lifted the cloud of smoke, where should have
been the fortifications, the eye could discern nothing but a circle of
shapeless ruin, reaching from the Scottish gate to what had been the
Burg bastion. Up to and on to it climbed the curving lines of the
Turkish approaches.

Sobieski had only hoped gradually to fight his way into a position
whence he could communicate with the besieged, and he had arranged his
plan of battle at Tuln with that idea. But the inequalities of the
country between the Kahlenberg and Vienna, broken with vines, villages,
small hills and hollow ways, together with the unexpectedly rapid
development of the attack when once it began, seem to have interfered
with his original disposition.

His army occupied a front of half a Polish mile, or about an English
mile and three quarters. It was drawn up in three supporting lines that
faced south-eastward.

The first line of the right wing was composed of nineteen Polish
(cavalry) divisions and four battalions; the second, of six Polish and
eight Austrian divisions, and four Polish battalions; the third, of nine
Polish, six Austrian, three German divisions, three Polish and one
German battalion.

The centre was composed in the first line of nine Austrian and eleven
German divisions, and thirteen German battalions; in the second, of six
German divisions, ten German and six Austrian battalions; in the third,
of five German and two Austrian battalions.

The left wing shewed in the first line, ten Austrian and five German
divisions, and six Austrian battalions; in the second line, four German
and eight Austrian divisions; in the third line, three German and seven
Austrian battalions.

Lubomirski with his irregular Poles was on the left; the Polish
Field-Marshal, Jablonowski, commanded on the right; the Prince of
Waldeck, with the Electors of Bavaria and Saxony, the centre; the Duke
of Lorraine and Louis of Baden, with Counts Leslie and Caprara, were on
the left. The king was upon the right or right centre throughout the
day. The total force, including detachments not actually engaged, was
46,700 cavalry and dragoons, 38,700 infantry; in all 85,400 men, with
some irregulars, and 168 guns, many of them not in action at all. The
dragoons fought on foot in the battle.[18] The army was, roughly,
one-third Poles, one-third Austrians, one-third Bavarians, Saxons, and
other Germans.[19] The fatigues of the march from Tuln would naturally
diminish the number of effective soldiers on the day of battle; and the
troops were not all in position when the evening of Saturday, September
11, fell. As the night however wore away, the rear guard gained the
summit of the hills, and snatched a brief repose before the labours of
the morrow.

But for the king there was no rest. The man whom the French ambassador
had described as unable to ride, who was tormented certainly by wearing
pains, after three days of incessant toil, passed a sleepless night
preparatory to fourteen hours in the saddle upon the battle-field. The
season of repose was dedicated to the duties of a general and the
affection of a husband. At three a.m. on Sunday, the 12th, the king is
again writing to his _bien-aimée Mariette_. He has been toiling all day
in bringing his troops up the ravines. “We are so thin,” he writes, “we
might run down the stags on the mountains.” As to the pomp or even
comfort of a king, that is not to be thought of. “All my luggage which
we have got up here is in the two lightest carts.” He has some more upon
mules, but has not seen them for forty-eight hours. He had no thought of
sleep; indeed, the thunder of the Turkish cannon made it impossible; and
a gale of wind, which he describes as “sufficient to blow the men off
their horses,” bore the noise of their discharge with redoubled clamour
to the relieving army. Moreover, the king writes, he must be in the
saddle before daybreak, riding down from the right to the extreme left,
to consult with Lorraine, opposite whom the enemy lies in force; not
entrenched, he hopes, as on that side he means to break through to the
city. A two days’ affair, at least, he thinks. Then, “my eighth letter
to your sixth,” he adds, with other familiar and gentle conversation,
with tidings of her son and of other friends, but with no word of fear
or of apprehension. He had made his will before setting out from Warsaw,
but he entertained no thought of failure. Then closing his wife’s
letter, the affectionate husband becomes again the heroic king and
careful general. He rides from right to left along the lines, in that
boisterous autumnal morning, makes the last dispositions with Lorraine,
with him and with a few others takes again the Holy Communion from the
hands of Marco Aviano before the sun has risen, and then returns to his
post upon the right wing, ready for the advance that was to save Vienna.
His next letter to his wife was dated “September 13, night. The tents of
the Vizier.”

The position of the Christian army on the Kahlenberg was, from the left
wing, the nearest point, about four miles from Vienna. The centre and
right were further removed. The intervening country, far from being a
plain, as Sobieski had been led to believe when he formed his first plan
of battle, is broken up into hillocks and little valleys, intersected by
streams, full of vineyards, and interspersed with the ruins of numerous
villages burnt by the Turks. Beyond these lay the Turkish encampment and
approaches, mingled with the vestiges of the suburbs destroyed by
Starhemberg at the beginning of the siege.

The Turkish army was stretched over a front of about four miles from
point to point, but slightly curving with the convex side towards the
attacking force. Their right rested upon the Danube, and held the
Nussberg before the villages of Nussdorf and Heiligenstadt; their left
reached towards Breitensee near the Wien, and the Tartars swarmed still
further on the broken ground beyond. Their camp straggled in an
irregular half-moon from the river above Vienna to beyond the Wien, and
their troops were, at the beginning of the action, drawn up before it.
Some hasty entrenchments had been thrown up by them here and there, of
which the most considerable was a battery between Währing, Gerstorf and
Weinhaus;[20] but the bulk of their artillery remained in their lines,
pointed against the city, and the clamour of the ensuing battle was
swelled by the continuous roar of their bombardment, kept up as on
previous days. In the trenches lay a great body of Janissaries; and the
Turkish army was further weakened by the dispersal of Tartars and
irregulars on the night before the fight, doubtful of the event, and
anxious at any rate to secure their plunder. As the king had said, the
Turks were badly posted, their camp was long and straggling, too
valuable to be abandoned and not easy to defend. In case of a reverse,
their right wing would run the risk of being driven into the Danube, or
else have to fall back upon their centre and left, to the confusion of
the whole army. Fighting with a river and a fortified city upon their
flank and rear, repulse for them would mean certain disaster. But the
incapacity of the Vizier could not be fully fathomed till the attack
began. We have the assurance of Sobieski himself that he hoped upon the
first day merely to bring his army within striking distance of the
enemy, and to establish his left well forward near the bank of the
Danube, ready to deal a decisive blow, or to throw succour into Vienna
on the morrow or following day. He closed his letter to his wife in the
grey of the windy morning of the 12th of September, ignorant that the
decisive moment, bringing a victory greater than that of Choczim, was at

The Turks had pushed their outposts forward up the banks of the river,
and soon after daybreak Lorraine upon the left was engaged, and the
fight thickened as his attack towards Nussdorf and Heiligenstadt was
developed. Eugene of Savoy began his distinguished career in arms by
carrying tidings from Lorraine to the king that the battle had commenced
in earnest. Eugene, barely twenty, had left Paris that year, slighted by
Louis, and had entered the service of the Emperor. His memoirs dismiss
briefly this his first essay in war. “The confusion of that day can be
but confusedly described. The Poles, who had clambered up to the
Leopoldsberg–I know not why–went down again like madmen and fought
like lions. The Turks, encamped where I threw up lines in 1703, did not
know which way to front, neglected the eminences, and behaved like
idiots.”[21] The young aide-de-camp, carrying orders through the hottest
of the fire, could not yet penetrate the system which underlay the
apparent confusion of the march and battle. Advancing in columns with a
comparatively narrow front down the difficult slope of the hills, the
infantry gradually deployed right and left upon the lower ground, while
the cavalry of the second line advanced to fill the gaps thus left in
the foremost The Turks resisted gallantly, but they were principally
dismounted Spahis, not a match for Lorraine’s favourite troops, the
German foot, though regaining their horses they would retreat with great
rapidity, to again dismount, and again resist, as each favourable
position offered itself. The fighting was obstinate, and the losses
heavy upon both sides, but the tide of fight rolled steadily towards
Vienna. The Germans carried the height of the Nussberg, above Nussdorf,
and their guns planted there disordered the whole of the Turkish right
with their plunging fire. Osman Ogoli, Pasha of Kutaya, the Turkish
general of division, pushed forward three columns in a counter-attack,
boldly and skilfully directed. The Imperial infantry were shaken, but
five Saxon battalions, inclining to their left from the Christian
centre, checked in turn the onset of the Ottomans, and restored the
current of the battle. But had the whole force of the enemy been
commanded as their right wing, the allies would scarcely that night have
been greeted in Vienna. No false move in the advance escaped the skill
of Osman. As the Turkish attack recoiled, the Prince of Croy had dashed
forward with two battalions to carry with a rush the village of
Nussdorf. Checked and overwhelmed, he fell back again, himself wounded,
his brother slain. Louis of Baden, with his dismounted dragoons, came up
to the rescue, and checked the pursuing enemy. As they recoiled slowly
the fight grew fiercer, and then more stationary about Nussdorf and
about Döbling. Houses, gardens, and vineyards formed a series of
entrenchments, sharply attacked and obstinately defended. A third time
the fiery valour of the Turks, charging home with their sabres among the
pikes and muskets, disordered the allies, and all but regained the
summit of the Nussberg. Again the superior cohesion of the Christians
prevailed, and the Turkish column outflanked fell back, still stubbornly
contesting every foot of ground. From the long extended centre and left
of their line no support came to them, as the Vizier in anxious
irresolution expected the advance of the centre of the allies and of the
Poles upon their right. His infatuation, moreover, had kept in the
batteries the bulk of his artillery, and in the trenches the best of his
Janissaries. In dire want of the guns, which roared idly upon the
already shattered defences of the city, Osman was driven through
Nussdorf and through Heiligenstadt, upon the fortified defiles of
Döbling, where at last a battery of ten guns and a force of Janissaries
opposed a steadier resistance to the advancing Germans. It was now noon.
Lorraine had already won the position which had been marked out for his
achievement for the day, and slackened his attack while he reformed his
victorious battalions. The centre and right of the Christian army,
separated by a longer distance from their foes, had been slowly gaining
the field of action, and had scarce fired a shot nor struck a blow,
except for the support accorded to the left by the centre. The whole of
the infantry and cavalry had at mid-day gained the positions assigned to
them, and, in the absence of most of his artillery, Sobieski would have
hesitated to continue his advance had not his lines, upon the left
especially, become so deeply involved that it was difficult to suspend
the conflict for long. Yet a momentary lull succeeded to the sharp
sounds of close combat. A sultry autumn day had followed the boisterous
night and morning, and the heat was oppressive.[22] The Poles upon the
right halted and snatched a hasty meal from the provisions they had
brought with them. But as the rattle of the small arms and the clash of
weapons died away, the roar of the battering guns and the answering fire
of the city rose in overwhelming distinctness. Behind the smoky veil,
Starhemberg and his gallant garrison could perchance barely guess, by
sounds of conflict, the progress of their deliverers. Tidings from the
watch-chair on St. Stephen’s would spread alternate hope and despair
among the citizens. The fate of Vienna trembled in the balance. The
garrison stood ready in the breaches, the rest of the inhabitants
cowered upon the housetops to watch, or knelt in the churches to pray;
but to the Vizier came swiftly tidings of the foe with whom he had to
deal, the foe whose presence he had obstinately refused to credit.

Reforming after their brief delay, the Polish cavalry in gorgeous arms
came flashing from the woods and defiles near Dornbach on his left.
Those who had before fought against him, knew the plume raised upon a
spear point, the shield borne before him, the _banderolles_ on the
lances of his body guard, which declared the presence of the terrible
Sobieski. “By Allah, but the king is really among them,” cried Gieray,
Khan of the Crimea. And all doubt was at an end as the shout of “_Vivat
Sobieski_” rolled along the Christian lines, in dread and significant
answer to the discordant clamour of the Infidels.

Profiting, however, by the interruption in the battle, the Vizier had
reformed his line, brought up infantry from the trenches, and now
directed his attack upon the Poles and the most formidable of his
opponents, hoping by their overthrow to change the fortune of the day,
while the Imperialists and Saxons still halted before his entrenchments
at Döbling. The Turks advanced with courage. For a moment a regiment of
Polish lancers were thrown into confusion, and the officers, members of
the nobility of Poland, who strove to rally their lines, fell; but
Waldeck, moving up his Bavarians from the centre, restored the fight.
The attack was defeated, and advancing in turn the headlong valour of
the Poles drove the Turks back from point to point, over the Alserbach
and its branches upon the confines of their camp. To relieve the
pressure upon the right and centre, Lorraine had renewed his attack with
the left of the allies. Horses and men had recovered breath and order,
and their artillery had moved up in support. The defiles of Döbling were
cleared by the Saxons; and at about four or five o’clock the Turkish
redoubt before Währing was carried by Louis of Baden with his dismounted
dragoons. Falling back in confusion upon their approaches and
batteries, the Turks desperately endeavoured, too late, to turn the
siege guns upon the enemy, whose advance now threatened them upon all
sides. The caution of Sobieski had, up to the last moment, inclined him
to respect the superior numbers and the desperation of his foes, and to
rest content with the advantage won; but now, in the growing confusion,
he saw that the decisive hour had arrived. The Elector of Bavaria and
the Prince of Waldeck hastening from the centre already saluted him as

The desperate efforts of the Vizier to gain room by moving troops
towards his left from the centre, and so extending his lines beyond the
Polish right, served but to increase the confusion. The Field-Marshal
Jablonowski covered that wing, and the Queen of Poland’s brother, the
Count de Maligni, pushing forward with infantry, seized a mound, whence
his musketry fire dominated the spot where the Vizier stood. The last
shots were fired from the two or three cannon which had kept pace with
the advance. A French officer rammed home the last charge with his
gloves, his wig, and a packet of French papers. Already the roads to
Hungary were thronged with fugitives, whose course was marked by dust
in columns, when the king decided to seize the victory all but in his
grasp already. _Non nobis, non nobis, Domine exercituum, sed Nomini Tuo
des gloriam_, he cried in answer to the congratulations of his friends,
as he began the decisive movement.

Concentrating as rapidly as possible the bulk of the cavalry of the
whole army, German and Polish, upon the right wing,[23] he led them to
the charge, directly upon the spot where the Vizier with blows, tears,
and curses, was endeavouring to rally the soldiers, whom his own
ill-conduct had deprived of their wonted valour. The Turkish infantry
without pikes, their cavalry without heavy armour, were incapable of
withstanding the shock of the heavy German cuirassiers, or of arresting
the rush of the Polish nobles, whose spears, as they boasted to their
kings, would uphold the heavens should they fall. Their king at their
head, they came down like a whirlwind to the shout of “God preserve
Poland.” The spears of the first line were splintered against the few
who awaited them, but their onset was irresistible. Spahis and
Janissaries, Tartars and Christian allies alike went down before the
Polish lances, or turned and fled in headlong confusion. The old Pasha
of Pesth, the greatest of the Turkish warriors in reputation, had fled
already. The Pashas of Aleppo and of Silistria perished in the _melée_.
“Can you not help me?” cried the Vizier, turning to the Khan of the
Crimea. “No,” was the reply; “I know the King of Poland well, it is
impossible to resist him; think only of flight.”[24]

Away through the wasted borders of Austria, away to the Hungarian
frontier, to their army that lay before Raab, poured the fugitives.
There seldom has been a deliverance more complete and more decisive. The
terror which had so long weighed upon Eastern Christendom was dissolved
in that headlong rout. It was more than the scattering of an army; the
strength of an empire was dissipated on that day. Resources which had
been accumulating for years were destroyed; and such an expedition, so
numerous and so well furnished, never was sent forth by the Ottoman
again. The victory lacked nothing to render it more striking, either in
suddenness, in completeness, or in situation. The whole action had been
comprised in the hours between sunrise and sunset, before the gates of
one of the greatest capitals in Europe. We may borrow indeed the words
of Eugene, used in his despatch describing the last victory of the war
at Zenta, to picture the last hours of that evening before Vienna. For
upon the summits of the Weiner-Wald, whence the allies had descended
that morning to a yet doubtful field, “the sun seemed to linger, loath
to leave the day, until his rays had illumined to the end the triumph of
the glorious arms” of Poland and “of the Empire.”

There was no want of individual courage among the Turks. “They made the
best retreat you can conceive,” wrote the king, for hard pressed they
would turn sword in hand upon their pursuers. But the head which should
have directed that courage was wanting; and for that want they were a
gallant mob, but no longer an army. Grateful for the result though we
may be, there is something pathetic in the magnificent valour of a race
of soldiers being frustrated by such incapacity. The Christians,
exhausted by the toils of the last few days, could not pursue to any
distance. The Imperial General Dünewald indeed with a few squadrons of
Austrians and Poles, the stoutest steeds or the keenest riders,
despising both plunder and fatigue, pushed straight on through the
twilight to Enzersdorf, where the road crossed the stream of the Fischa,
ten miles from Vienna, and there bursting on the line of flight made a
slaughter of the fugitives, which showed how much they owed to the night
and to the weariness of their conquerors. But there was no general
pursuit on the part of the allies. Their commanders were doubtful of the
full extent of their victory, and feared lest from such a multitude some
part might rally and destroy the too eager followers whom they still
outnumbered. But without pursuit their work was done. At seven, Louis of
Baden had opened a communication with the besieged, and the garrison
sallying forth joined the relieving army in the slaughter of the
Janissaries who had remained, neglected or forgotten, in the trenches.
Even then one miner was found, doggedly toiling in his gallery beneath
the ramparts, ignorant of the flight or death of his companions; perhaps
from among so many the last staunch soldier of the Prophet.

I cannot conceive, wrote Sobieski, how they can carry on the war after
such a loss of _matériel_. The whole of the artillery of the Turks,
their munitions, and their baggage were the spoil of the victors. Three
hundred and ten pieces of cannon, twenty thousand animals, nine thousand
carriages, one hundred and twenty-five thousand tents, five million
pounds of powder are enumerated. The holy standard of the Prophet had
been saved, but the standard of the Vizier, mistaken for it, was sent to
the Pope by the conqueror, while his gilded stirrups were despatched at
once to Poland to the Queen, as a token of victory. Never, perhaps,
since Alexander stood a victor at Issus in the tents of Darius, or the
Greeks stormed the Persian camp at Platæa, had an European army entered
upon such spoil. Much money had been saved by the Turks in their flight;
but precious stuffs and jewelled arms, belts thick with diamonds,
intended to encircle the fair captives of Vienna, the varied plunder of
many a castle of Hungary and of Lower Austria, were found piled in the
encampment. In the Vizier’s quarters were gardens laid out with baths
and fountains, a menagerie, even a rabbit warren. His encampment alone
formed a labyrinth of tents, by itself of the circumference of a little
town, and with its contents declared the character of its late owner. An
ostrich, previously taken from an Imperial castle, was found beheaded to
prevent recapture. A parrot, more fortunate, escaped upon the wing. The
Polish envoy was discovered in the camp in chains, forgotten during the
turmoil, and thus saved from the death promised him if his master should
take the field. The Imperial agent at the Porte, Kunitz, had escaped
into the town during the battle; but the mass of Christian captives had
not been so happy. Before the battle the Vizier had ordered a general
massacre of prisoners, and the camp was cumbered with the bodies of men,
women, and children, but for the most part of women, foully slaughtered.
The benevolent energy of the Bishop of Neustadt, above-mentioned, found
employment in caring for five hundred children, who had, with their
mothers in a few cases, escaped the sword. The night was passed in the
camp by the victors, who were intent on securing their victory or their
plunder. Not till the following morning did the king meet Lorraine and
exchange congratulations upon their success. Then, with the Commandant
Starhemberg, they entered the city, passing over those well-contested
breaches, which but for them might have been that day trodden by the
Janissaries. They repaired to the churches for a solemn thanksgiving.
Sobieski himself sang the _Te Deum_ in one of them. Nothing could exceed
the enthusiastic gratitude of the people, who barely allowed a passage
to the horse of their deliverer. The priest, after the _Te Deum_ ended,
by a happy inspiration or plagiarism, gave out the words, “_There was a
man sent from God, whose name was John._”[25] A salute of three hundred
guns proclaimed the victory far and wide, and the shouts of “_Vivat
Sobieski!_” that filled the city out-thundered the thunder of the
cannon. Their walls were a chaos, their habitations a ruin, but the
citizens rejoiced as those rejoice whom the Lord hath redeemed and
delivered from the hand of the enemy. They were as men released not only
from the sword, pestilence, and famine, but from prison besides. They
poured forth to taste again the sweets of liberty, wondered at the
trenches, or joined in the pillage of the camp, where the air was
already sickening from the thousands of the slain, and foul from the
refuse of the barbaric encampment. But amid all the popular rejoicing,
the king could not but observe the coldness of the magistracy. The
Emperor could not endure that any but himself should triumph in Vienna,
and his feelings were reflected in his servants. On hearing of the
victory he had returned to the neighbourhood of the city. A council was
held to settle the weighty point as to how the elective Emperor was to
receive the elective King. “With open arms, since he has saved the
Empire,” said Lorraine; but Leopold would not descend to such an
indecorum. He strove to avoid a meeting with the deliverer of his
capital, and when the meeting was arranged could barely speak a few cold
words in Latin, well answered by Sobieski, who, saying, “I am happy,
Sire, to have been able to render you this slight service,” turned his
horse, saluted, and rode away. A few complimentary presents to Prince
James and to the Polish nobles did not efface the impression of
ingratitude. The German writers minimize the coldness of the Emperor,
but Sobieski was at the moment undoubtedly aggrieved, and others were