By Andrew Wheatcroft
In 1683, empiresthe Ottoman, dependent in Constantinople, and the Habsburg dynasty in Viennacame head to head within the nice Siege of Vienna. in the urban partitions the alternative of resistance over quit to the biggest military ever assembled by means of the Turks created an all-or-nothing situation: each final survivor will be enslaved or ruthlessly slaughtered. either side remained resolute, sustained by means of hatred in their age-old enemy, yes that their victory will be received through the grace of God. an exhilarating evaluation of the way societies met the primal problem of struggle, The Enemy on the Gate offers a well timed and masterful account of this most complicated and epic clash.
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Extra resources for The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans, and the Battle for Europe
Only the protection of the long pikes had allowed them some power of manoeuvre. 20 But nothing could protect the westerners from the Turks’ arrow fire. Their bows had a much longer range than any musket: the Ottoman record for an arrow shot was 800 metres. For most purposes in the 1680s, the bow was still a better weapon than any gun, but it demanded long training and constant practice to become expert. It required great strength to draw the bow string, and constant control to achieve accuracy, and cavalry bowmen had to manage their horses at full gallop by pressure of their knees alone.
Over the centuries the corps provided the empire with 79 grand viziers and 36 admirals of the fleet. The sultan himself was symbolically enrolled in the order and tattooed with the number 1. Exactly how many janissaries and other soldiers were stationed in the capital fluctuated over time. The salary and muster rolls were often A CALL TO ARMS 21 illegally enlarged, with corrupt officials living off the proceeds. Fanciful claims that the state supported 200,000 were grossly exaggerated, but probably about a tenth of that number were in and around the capital in 1682.
From the fourteenth century, almost all of them would have shared a common origin. The janissaries were Christian children forcibly recruited (devshirme) from the villages of the Balkans, then trained and converted to Islam. The janissary regiments became their family, and the sultan their father and brother. But by 1682, the ranks were filled with the sons and nephews of janissaries eager to gain the lifetime salary and pension. The janissary bore, lifelong, the marks of his status upon his body.