2008: Nine hanged in Iran Feast Day of St. Stephen

1683: Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha, for the Battle of Vienna

December 25th, 2009 Headsman

On this date in 1683, the commander who just months before had brought the Turkish army to the gates of Vienna was executed in Belgrade for losing one of the pivotal battles in European history.

The Battle of Vienna saw the Ottoman Empire’s high tide and its last great bid to capture control of the strategic Danube city.

Despite an army of well over 100,000 that had besieged a frightened garrison numbering fewer than 20,000 soldiers and civilians, Kara Mustafa Pasha had been unable to reduce the city, and then decisively beaten after the timely arrival of a 70,000-strong relief force under the command of the Polish monarch Jan Sobieski. Here’s a great Italian map of the battle, with Mustafa himself hanging out in the lower corner; apparently, you can buy the original.

For both contemporaries and posterity, the “miraculous” defeat of an overwhelming Turkish threat by a coalition of Christian forces — a sort of earthbound equivalent to the previous century’s Battle of Lepanto — has appeared as a signal clash-of-civilizations event. In the right audience, a knowing 1683 reference is a sort of dominionist gang handshake.

So, anyway: big win.

If the blame for the defeat — Sobieski’s intervention apart — lay at Kara Mustafa’s door, it was due less to his decision to march straight for Vienna than to a number of technical miscalculations on his part, such as failing to bring heavy artillery to the siege but relying instead on light guns … inadequate to breach Vienna’s strongly fortified walls …

Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha had long been a close adviser of the Sultan, but any doubts Mehmed IV might have harboured about him were given substance during his absence on campaign as plotters fabricated reports of disorder in the empire. On hearing of the defeat at Vienna, one of the plotters … announced, in the words of Silahdar Findiklih Mehmed Agha, that ‘our enemy is finished with; the time is ripe for revenge’ …

Mehmed succumbed to the pressure from Kara Mustafa’s detractors, and the Grand Vezir was executed in Belgrade on Christmas Day 1683 while engaged in planning a new advance for the following spring … a skull in Vienna’s city museum is commonly believed to be his.

The Austrian victory at Vienna cost the Turks more than Mustafa’s service, which was quite a lot in itself. (Twelve different viziers held the post in the two decades after Kara Mustafa Pasha was strangled.)

The empire’s longstanding (and to Christendom, terrifying) expansionist posture towards Europe was at an end; in the future, the Musulman would have to ward off the Christian.

Ensuing Holy League victories wrested central Europe away from Constantinople, inaugurating a long Ottoman stagnation that would culminate in the empire’s destruction after World War I.

The Hapsburgs — though likewise marked for calamity in the War to End All Wars — for their part won hegemony in central Europe … and, it is said, the literal coffee beans captured as war booty with which to brew the famous Viennese cafe scene.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 17th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Famous,History,No Formal Charge,Ottoman Empire,Political Expedience,Politicians,Power,Serbia,Strangled,Summary Executions,The Worm Turns,Turkey,Wartime Executions

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5 thoughts on “1683: Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha, for the Battle of Vienna”

  1. Mary LaSalle says:

    Narcissism is not a very big mental disorder. It is a personality defect,and there is a lot of them running around out there. Most all of the generals that are in all of the military are narcissists. That is what makes them successful. If anything it would have made Kara Mustafa more successful. I will say that is what made him make the mistake of thinking that he knew it all about the battle strategy. That was the mistake that lost the battle. We all have a little bit of narcissism in us. No one is perfect. His Sultan would not have known about this problem because no one did until just recently. They just started diagnosing this stuff in the last century.,maybe the late 1800,s..

  2. J Wilkes says:

    Battle of Vienna… Turks delivered demand for surrender.
    Looking for English translation of this letter to Vienna.

    Where can we find copy of this surrender demand

  3. turker dogan says:

    I think merzifonlu kara Mustafa pasha was narcissist he had military miting prier to battle he refused to attact because he wanted to take the goods from viena he did not want army plunder the city but you cant keep waiting such a big military army and he insulted to other military commander such as murad giray and uzum Ibrahim pasa during military meeting he had narcisisistic injury he insulted them after the meeting he got one of the executed beside he made mistake military campaing was designedto take surrending fortresses not viena padisah was not approved and did not know about it so padisah stayed in belgrad otherwise he would join the siege and things could be different merzifonlu kara Mustafa father’ was cavalier and died during battle battle during 4 th murad his father was friend with koprulu so koprulu raised him as his son kara Mustafa pasa went to enderun university designed for state man by ottoman empire kara Mustafa pasha was text book narcissist so he has some military success but some beside during these battle king padisah was with him basically king missed padisah empire missed his mental disorder ottoman easly could take Vienna because they could not because of their commander was narcisisist narcisisim is very big mental disorder it ispathological and subconscious cost ottoman empire Vienna and more than vieana

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