AUSTRO-OTTOMAN WAR of 1737-1739
The Battle of Banja Luka 4th August 1737
As a learning exercise for me and as an introduction to the game this Friday, I shall endeavor to publish a number of posts to get us all a little familiar with, what I have to admit is a rather obscure period, but I hope will provide an excellent battle.
The rivalry between the Ottomans and Habsburgs had persisted ever since the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the subsequent conquest of Hungary in 1526. The Habsburg emporers had struggled to hold back the armies of islam whilst maintaining their dominance in Germany. Only since the the last Ottoman host had been turned back from the gates of Vienna in 1683 had the Emperor been able to steadily reconquer south eastern Europe.
The Emperor emerged from the wars against Louis XIV as one of the great European powers. The Habsburgs German territories gave them dominance within the Holy Roman Empire and secured their ownership of the "elected" Imperial crown. The Empires greatest general, Prince Eugene of Savoy, had beaten French and Ottoman armies and had conquered vast territories in Italy and Hungary.
However, this Habsburg power was bloated and over extended by these conquests and during the last war with the French (The War of the Polish Succession) the Emporer had been forced to surrender much of his Italian territiory. In addition, Prince Eugene had died of old age in 1736 and the Imperial army had lost its inspirational leader.
The Emperor was not driven by hatred of the Turk when declaring war on the Sultan but fear of his ally, Russia. The Russians had been at war with the Ottoman Empire since 1735 and they looked likely to gain spectacular amounts of territory. The Crimea had been invaded and with Russian armies advancing into Moldavia and along the Black Sea coast, the Emperor was compelled into joining a war in which he could influence the final outcome and prevent the Russians extending their power to the mouth of the Danube.
So, much to the Ottomans surprise, the Emperor declared a Holy War, a final crusade financed by the Pope. The Imperial armies advanced across the border on a wide front. One contingent of Imperial auxiliaries under Prince von Hildburghausen (whom we met on Phil's blog entry "The battle of Rossbach") was tasked with taking the Bosnian frontier fortress of Banja Luka; and that is where we shall fight on Friday.