An Illustrated History of Slavic Misery: The Battle of Petrovaradin (1716)

Posted on August 4, 2013


Damad’s Final Resting Place

Over the course of, oh I don’t know, forever, the Austrians and the Ottomans constantly fought each other in this part of the world. Indeed, the last 600 or so years of the history of the Yugoslav lands is dominated by battles between the two. On the 5th of this very month (August, for those not paying attention), there is the anniversary of one such battle, a battle which saw the Ottoman army vanquished and Austrian rule solidified in the Vojvodina. This was the battle of Petrovaradin.

Yes, the same Petrovaradin which is home to thousands of drunks Brits and Aussies for five days every July at EXIT Festival.

Hundreds of years before it was home to the drunken mass of English-speaking humanity that haunts it all year round, Petrovaradin was a fortress of important strategic importance, being as it is set on the Danube. Like EVERYTHING in this part of Europe. Anyway, the Austrian Empire and the Ottoman Empire were at the beginning of yet another violent merry go round, their sixth such scuffle since time began. This one was started by the Turks, as Grand Vizier Damad Ali Pasha Silahdar (to give him his full title), spurred on by previous victories and the advice of his astrologers, because obviously you always listen to your astrologers. ALWAYS.

So the Ottomans moved 160,000 or so of their troops from right here in Beograd, and headed towards Petrovaradin. They reached Sremski Karlvoci (officially Prettiest Town in Serbia) quietly, and the decision was made by the Austrians, led by Prince Eugene of Savoy, to engage at Petrovaradin. Names were way cooler back in the day, quite obviously. The Austrian Empire assembled an army of around 91,300 chaps, outnumbered yes but confident in their technical abilities. There was  HORSEMAN SKIRMISH (yes, that deserves capitals) on August 2nd, and the Ottomans attempted to bombard the fortress. Big mistake chaps.

August 5th came, and with it the Austrian offensive. And what an offensive it was. An Ottoman artillery battery was stormed, and after several military things that I’m way too modern to understand (because war in 2013 is dumb, and nothing more), the Ottomans were obliterated. Vanquished. Demolished. Other adjectives. Around 50,000 Ottoman troops returned 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.

And that was that. Short and sweet, except for,you know, all the dead folk.