Monument of the Battle of Slankamen

Monument of the Battle of Slankamen

The Clash of World Civilizations

The war between the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire began in 1683 with the siege of Vienna by the Ottomans. As the attack failed due to the raid of the Polish cavalry that came from behind the Ottoman army, they were forced to retreat. However, the war would last until the Peace of Karlovac, in 1699. In the sixteen-year war, one of the most significant and bloodiest battles took place above Stari Slankamen in 1691.

In 1691, the Holy Roman Empire wanted to sign an armistice with the Ottoman Empire so that they could open new fronts, but they received negative answers from the other side. Emperor Leopold’s advisers suggested that a sudden, powerful attack be launched on the Ottoman forces so that their defeat would lead them to sign the armistice.

The decision was made to launch the attack on the Ottoman positions near Zemun, where the camp of the Grand Vizier Mustafa Köprülü was located, and the command over the army of the Holy Roman Empire was given to Ludwig von Baden. At the beginning of August, an army of 35,000 soldiers launched an attack and there were 10,000 Serbs in the army, of which 6,400 were infantry and 3,600 cavalry. Arriving in Zemun, Ludwig von Baden was confronted with the unpleasant realization that the Ottoman army was numerically superior with about 60,000 soldiers, of which 15,000 were Janissaries, that it was equipped with a large number of cannons and that they were advised by French officers. This balance of power forced him to withdraw. The Ottoman army set out to follow them and managed to surround the army of the Holy Roman Empire near Stari Slankamen and force them to fight.

The beginning of the battle was unfavorable for the Austrian imperial army. At one point, it even looked like the Turks would win. But a little while later, the Austrian cavalry and the Serbian militia appeared on the left wing from the reserve. These fresh forces, eager for revenge, fearlessly stormed and ruthlessly cut everything that was in their way. Chaos ensued in the Turkish ranks. The Turks began to retreat and the attacks continued until the evening, and even until the next morning. Thus, the battle was decided in favor of the Austrian army, owing primarily to the Serbs.

About 20,000 Turks and 3,172 Austrian and Serbian soldiers were killed on the fields and hills around Slankamen. The Grand Vizier was also killed in the battle. Serbian companies stole 34 banners and 11 tugs from the enemy.