Today in Catholic History – King John III Sobieski lifts the seige of Vienna

On 12 September 1683, the armies of the Holy Leaque commanded by King John III Sobieski of Poland lifted the two month siege of the city of Vienna by the Ottoman Empire.

The battle itself began early in the morning on the 12th at 4 AM. The Turkish commander, Mustafa Pasha, tried to attack the forces of the Holy League at the same time as he launched an attack on the city of Vienna. The Ottomans had been trying to use explosives to destroy the Viennese walls and hoped that one final explosion would open the city to their armies. However, the Viennese defenders were able to detect and disarm the explosive just before it detonated.

when the Polish cavalry charged, they broke through the Ottoman lines and the Ottoman forces, tired from the long siege and disillusioned after the failure of their attack on Vienna, fled. Sobieski was said to have paraphrased Julius Caesar’s famous quote – “Venimus, Vidimus, Deus vincit” or “We came, we saw, God conquered.”

The victory of the Holy League would in many ways mark a change in the fortunes of the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires as the Habsburgs would begin a significant expansion into Ottoman territories. Pope Innocent XI would establish the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary on this date in honor of the victory.



  1. Posted September 12, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I was delighted to read this, as a Briton living for the last 5 years in Poland.

    Poland saved Europe from Lenin at the Miracle on the Vistula in 1920, and, according to Dowding, the Battle of Britain might have been lost without the Pollish 303 Squadron.

    Didn’t know about the Feast of The Holy Name of Mary. From now on I’ll keep it.

  2. Posted September 12, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    You know this, I’m sure, but the Polish cavalry had huge steel wings harnessed to their backs, and it’s said that the Turks panicked, thinking they were being attacked by angels.

    • sbeshonertor
      Posted September 12, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yes, I’ve heard that. They must have been an impressive sight.

  3. mcarcee
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Are you sure it was the TWELFTH, Father?

    On his blog* Mike Flynn (SF writer, Thomist & generally interesting) gives a good rundown of the lifting of the siege but states it was on the ELEVENTH which is why that day was chosen to strike the Twin Towers and Pentagon.


    • sbeshonertor
      Posted September 12, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The forces of the Holy League arrived at the hills above Vienna on the evening of the 11th of September, but the actual battle was on the 12th.

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