Habsburgs, Ottomans, and the Battle for Europe
by Andrew Wheatcroft
Wheatcroft (director, Centre for Publishing Studies, Univ. of Stirling, Scotland; Infidels) offers a richly detailed account of the 1683 Ottoman siege of Vienna and subsequent battle with the Hapsburg central European forces. Although focusing on a single military campaign, Wheatcroft draws on decades of his own research on the Hapsburg-Ottoman conflict to provide needed historical context for the events of war. As Wheatcroft aptly states in his introduction, his is in fact a broader study that seeks to understand “Europe’s fear of the Turks” within the frame of a specific Ottoman-Hapsburg military clash. Much of Wheatcroft’s detail comes from European accounts of life in the Ottoman Empire and first-person descriptions of war, but the inherent bias in these sources is always acknowledged. As a result, Wheatcroft is able to move beyond tales of the “Terrible Turks” to provide a realistic portrayal of Ottoman leadership, a political context for the Hapsburg-Ottoman conflict, and a description of the shifting balance of power between these two dynasties. This is not a work of popular history for the casual reader, but scholars and students of history would benefit greatly from this well-researched account of 17th-century Ottoman-Hapsburg political power.