Today in European history: the Skirmish at Bender (1713)

and that's the way it was

The Ottoman Empire of 1713 wasn’t the Ottoman Empire of 1513 or even 1613, but it was still a formidable enough power that it could play an active role in European affairs. The so-called “Skirmish at Bendery” (known in Swedish as the Kalabaliken i Bender, from the Turkish word kalabalık or “crowd”) shows that the Ottomans were still capable of the occasional muscle flexing. It’s actually a chapter in the 1700-1721 Great Northern War, which otherwise didn’t involve the Ottomans at all, but was fought between Charles XII’s (d. 1718) Swedish Empire and a coalition of opponents, led by Tsar Peter (the Great) of Russia (d. 1725). Sweden had spent most of the 17th century amassing a significant empire around the Baltic Sea, which left it holding Russia’s former Baltic Sea ports. Peter allied with Denmark-Norway and the German state of Saxony (whose elector also happened to be the…

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Today in European history: the Skirmish at Bendery (1713)

The so-called “Skirmish at Bendery” (known in Swedish as the Kalabaliken i Bender, from the Turkish word kalabalık or “crowd”) shows that, even in 1713, the Ottomans were still capable of the occasional muscle flexing in Europe. It’s actually a chapter in the 1700-1721 Great Northern War, which otherwise didn’t involve the Ottomans at all, but was fought between Charles XII’s (d. 1718) Swedish Empire and a coalition of opponents, led by Tsar Peter (the Great) of Russia (d. 1725). Sweden had spent most of the 17th century amassing a sizable empire around the Baltic Sea, which left it holding, among other things, Russia’s former Baltic Sea ports. Peter allied with Denmark-Norway and the German state of Saxony (whose elector also happened to be the king of Poland), both of which had also suffered from Sweden’s expansion.

Source: Today in European history: the Skirmish at Bendery (1713)

and that's the way it was

The Ottoman Empire of 1713 wasn’t the Ottoman Empire of 1513 or even 1613, but it was still a formidable enough power that it could play an active role in European affairs. The so-called “Skirmish at Bendery” (known in Swedish as the Kalabaliken i Bender, from the Turkish word kalabalık or “crowd”) shows that the Ottomans were still capable of the occasional muscle flexing. It’s actually a chapter in the 1700-1721 Great Northern War, which otherwise didn’t involve the Ottomans at all, but was fought between Charles XII’s (d. 1718) Swedish Empire and a coalition of opponents, led by Tsar Peter (the Great) of Russia (d. 1725). Sweden had spent most of the 17th century amassing a significant empire around the Baltic Sea, which left it holding Russia’s former Baltic Sea ports. Peter allied with Denmark-Norway and the German state of Saxony (whose elector also happened to be the…

View original post 742 more words

Today in World War I: the Battle of Sarikamish ends (1915)

and that's the way it was

The Battle of Sarikamish was an overwhelming Russian victory whose outcome put the Ottomans on the defensive in World War I’s Caucasus theater of operations right up until the 1917 October Revolution took Russia out of the war altogether. Its military impact was fairly substantial–World War I might have been much different if the Ottomans had been able to make a sustained offensive into Russia via the Caucasus–but the Ottomans ultimately gained back the territory they’d lost as a result of this battle. Sarikamish’s greatest impact was felt off the battlefield, by the Armenian people. The Armenian Genocide was a long time coming and had multiple causes. But Sarikamish was one of the most immediate ones, owing to one man’s desperate need to dodge the blame for his failures on the battlefield.

The state of Europe and the Caucasus in January 1915; note Sarikamish there on the right (via mental_floss

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Today in European history: the Battle of Vaslui (1475)

and that's the way it was

“Moldavia” as it existed back in the late Middle Ages isn’t really a thing anymore. Its successor, I suppose, is the Republic of Moldova, but they’re not entirely the same thing. Moldova is the direct successor state to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldavia, but historical Moldavia was bigger than the Soviet state, encompassing parts of modern Romania and Ukraine. It’s actually possible, although I don’t know this for certain, that more of historical Moldavia is now in Romania than in Moldova. For example, the Moldova River runs entirely through modern Romania, not once touching (nor coming particularly close to) the territory of the country named for it. And the battle we’re talking about today took place near a village that’s now in eastern Romania. It’s still a matter of debate whether “Moldovans” and “Romanians” are separate ethnic groups. It’s all kind of complicated and messy, as national borders and…

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Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Konya (1832)

and that's the way it was

The Battle of Konya, fought on December 21, 1832, was the decisive battle in the 1831-1833 Ottoman-Egyptian War, and in that sense it serv–I’m sorry, you had a question?

Yes, the Ottoman-Egyptian War of 18–yes?

Oh, right. The Ottomans conquered Egypt in 1517, and we haven’t mentioned that they lost Egypt anywhere along the way because they didn’t. Egypt was still Ottoman territory in 1831, and remained so until the early 20th century. So how could there have been an “Ottoman-Egyptian War,” you ask? Wouldn’t it make more sense to call it an Ottoman civil war?

Well, not really. From the earliest days of Ottoman rule, Egypt always had a certain autonomous status within the empire. The Ottomans simply couldn’t manage such a distant, wealthy territory as directly as they were able to manage things in Anatolia and the Balkans. So they left the Mamluk hierarchy more or less intact…

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Today in European history: the Siege of Rhodes ends (1522)

and that's the way it was

Since it’s Star Wars season (no spoilers please), I’d like to propose that the 1522 Ottoman Siege of Rhodes is the Empire Strikes Back of the Ottoman-Knights Hospitaller relationship. First there was the 1480 Ottoman siege of Rhodes, which ended when the plucky (?) and heavily outnumbered Knights managed to not just survive the siege, but actually drive the Ottoman attackers back to their ships and off the island. And the capper was the 1565 Great Siege of Malta, when another heavily outnumbered band of Knights managed to survive the siege long enough for a Spanish relief force to drive the Ottoman attackers back to their ships and off the island. But just like the original Star Wars trilogy, the middle episode went to the empire; this 1522 siege drove the Knights off of Rhodes and forced them to find a new island to call their own.

Rhodes (

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Today in European History: the Russians capture Plevna (1877)

and that's the way it was

If you think the state of Russo-Turkish relations is bad these days…well, actually it’s kind of good lately. But historically that hasn’t always been the case. Consider that the Russian Empire, one of the precursors of modern Russia, and the Ottoman Empire, the precursor of modern Turkey, fought a whopping 12 wars against one another between the second half of the 16th century and World War I (which, of course, brought about the end of both empires). The Russians, who were on the ascendance for most of this period, won most of these wars, while the Ottomans, who were not so ascendant, needed help from Britain and France to win their biggest victory against the Russians, in the Crimean War.

By 1877, both empires were in pretty steep decline. What was on the rise was Balkan nationalism. All those Christian and/or European provinces and peoples that had been part…

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