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How the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth saved Europe from the Ottomans in 1683, and how Europe repaid it.

September 12, 2016

On September 12, 1683, the King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Jan Sobieski, literally saved Europe when he personally led the one of the largest cavalry charges in history against the Ottoman army besieging the city of Vienna. The charge broke the huge Ottoman army and ended the Battle for Vienna in an overwhelming victory for the European forces.

“We came, we saw, and God conquered,” wrote Sobieski to Pope Innocent XI, echoing Julius Caesar’s famous remark on the conquest of Pontus, in modern Turkey.

In the summer of 1683, the main army of the Ottoman Empire, a huge and well-equipped force, besieged Vienna. The Holy Roman empire capital was nearing the end of its ability to resist: but just as the capture of Vienna was becoming only a matter of time an army came to its rescue.

The battle was won by the combined forces of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nations and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, which were all led by the Polish king, Jan Sobieski.

The capture of Vienna was an extremely important object to the Ottoman empire. If the Ottomans had captured Vienna, they would have been able project their military might all over western, central and north Europe and launch invasions all across it.

 

The spectacular victory that The Polish army along with its European allies achieved in the battle for Vienna ended over 200 years of Ottoman expansion into Europe, and remains one of the most important battles in European history.

 

However, just over a 100 years later, the same European allies who were saved by Poland from an Ottoman invasion, together with Russia, would wage war, partition and finally destroy the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795.

 

 

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