Hundreds of years ago (you do the math), the belly and guts of Europe staged a whole host of battles between the Ottoman and Austrian empires. The Ottomans were ploughing their way into Europe at a terrifying speed, until the brakes were deployed at the Battle of Vienna in 1683. Today is the anniversary another battle in which the Ottoman army was vanquished and Austrian rule solidified in the area, in this case in Vojvodina. This was the Battle of Petrovaradin, the same Petrovaradin that lies next to Novi Sad and is home to thousands of drunks Brits and Aussies every summer at EXIT Festival, presumably looking forward to The Prodigy or something.
Hundreds of years before it was home to the drunken mass of English-speaking humanity that haunts it all year round, Petrovaradin’s location on the Danube made it a fortress of vital strategic importance. The Austrian Empire and the Ottoman Empire were at the beginning of yet another violent merry go round, the Ottomans looking to gain a measure of revenge for defeats at the end of the 17th century. Grand Vizier Damad Ali Pasha Silahdar (to give him his full title) was also given some pretty positive sounding advice from his astrologers and decided to act on it, not unlike the United Kingdom and its 2016 Brexit vote.
So the Ottomans moved 160,000 or so of their troops from Beograd, and headed towards Petrovaradin. They reached Sremski Karlvoci (officially Prettiest Town in Serbia and home of the finest goulash this writer ever did eat) quietly, and the decision was made by the Austrians, led by Prince Eugene of Savoy, to engage at Petrovaradin. The Austrian Empire assembled an army of around 91,300 chaps, outnumbered yes but confident in their technical abilities. There was HORSEMAN SKIRMISH on August 2, as scouting parties let their tempers get the better of them.
August 5 came, and the Battle of Petrovaradin was on. The battle began at 7am (on the dot), and the Austrian started off proceedings. An Ottoman counter-offensive came back hard, and it look for all the world as though Damad Ali was on his way to the victors table. The eagerness of the Ottomans would prove to be their downfall however, and in their excitement they didn’t realise that they had left their right flank open. Eugene of Savoy was no fool, and he quickly moved to exploit the weakness. The Ottomans were obliterated. Vanquished. Demolished. Other adjectives. 6,000 or so Ottomans died, 50,000 or so went back to Belgrade. There was immediately an order from Constantinople for Damad Ali to be executed, but poor bugger had died on the battlefield so no need. He is now buried within the grounds of Kalemegdan, the glorious park-fortress in the Serbian capital.
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