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Rare Plan of the Siege of Vienna

Rare separately issued plan / view of Vienna, published in Rome by Giacomo Rossi.

The map provides fine view of the Siege, focusing on troop locations, fortified walls and other military details.

In the foreground, an elaborate scene showing mounted Ottoman forces and the tent of the Grand Vizar, with a double eagle flag and artillery overlooking a chaotic battle scene.

The positions of the Ottoman and Christian forces are arrayed around the town, with a large key at the top right locating 17 strategic points of interest.

The plan is a remarkable depiction of the decisive battle of the Siege on September 11 and 12, 1683, showing the entrenched Viennese within the City, surrounded by Turkish Ottoman and allied forces on 3 sides, with 3 divisions of Polish, Savoy and Bavarian Troops approaching in the top right of the image. Many of the most important details of the battle and the Turkish and European forces are depicted, including the encampment of Kara Mustafa, the location of various Turkish and Ottoman allied forces and the depiction of Vienna, its fortifications and the trenchworks dug by the Ottoman's in their assault on the City.

The Siege of Vienna

In 1529, the Ottoman Turks launched the First Turkish Siege of Vienna. Protected by medieval walls, the city survived the Turkish attacks, until epidemics and an early winter forced the Turks to retreat. The siege had shown that new fortifications were needed. Following plans by Hermes Schallauzer, Vienna was expanded to a fortress in 1548. The city was furnished with eleven bastions and surrounded by a moat. A glacis was created around Vienna, a broad strip without any buildings, which allowed defenders to fire freely. These fortifications accounted for the major part of building activities well into the 17th century.

The capture of Vienna had long been an important strategic plan for the Ottoman Empire. Following the defeat in 1529, the Ottoman's spent many years preparing for a second attack on the city. In 1681 and 1682, domestic unrest in the region provided the Ottoman's with the opportunity to attack. Grand Viizier Kara Mustafa Pasha was able to convince Sultan Mehmet IV to move on Vienna. The Ottoman's began mobilizing for battle in early 1682 and war was declared on August 6, 1682. Over the next 9 months, King Leopold I was able to conclude a Treaty with John III Sobieski, King of Poland, which insured Polish support against the expected Ottoman attack on Vienna.

The Ottoman Troops reached Belgrade in May of 1683, before moving on toward Vienna, encamping 25 Miles east of Vienna on July 7, 1683. On July 14, 1683, the Ottoman forces attacked the City. A force of about 15,000 was left in Vienna to defend against 40,000 Ottoman troops. In August 1683, the Polish relief forces were deployed to Vienna. On September 6. 1683, the Poles under Jan III Sobieski crossed the Danube 20 miles north west of Vienna at Tulln, uniting there with the Imperial forces led by Charles V, Duke of Lorraine. Additional troops from Saxony, Bavaria, Baden, Franconia and Swabia answered the call for a Holy League that was supported by Pope Innocent XI.

After 2 days of battle, the combined European forces were able to repel the Ottomans and their Wallachian, Moldovian and Romanian allies. The victory at Vienna set the stage for Prince Eugene of Savoy's re-conquering of Hungary and (temporarily) some of the Balkan countries within the following years. Austria signed a peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire in 1697. On December 25, 1683, Kara Mustafa Pasha was executed in Belgrade by order of the commander of the Janissaries.

Gioseppe (Giuseppe) Longhi was an engraver in Bologna, who was active between 1670 and 1690. He is perhaps best known in cartographic circles as the publisher of a 12 sheet Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula (known in 3 examples), issued in about 1680, which is based upon Frederick De Wit's World Map of 1660 (Shirley 471. See also, Cartographic Treasures of the Newberry Library, October 10, 2001 - January 19, 2002 exhibition catalogue). Longhi also issued a copy of Matthaus Greutter's 12-sheet wall map of Italy in 1676 and is known to have engraved 4 sheet views of Vienna, Prague, Genoa, Venice, Naples and Bologna, based upon the work of earlier Dutch engravers. Longhi was likely associated with Pietro Todeschi, who was active in Bologna from 1670 to 1690. We have been unable to locate any other cartographic works by Longhi.

While each of the foregoing Longhi maps and views are derived from the work of earlier publishers, this Battle Plan of Vienna appear to be an original work. While the source of the information for the battle plan is not described, it should be noted that Ferdinando Marsili o Marsigli (1658-1730), the founder of the Istituto delle Scienze in Bologna, was on the spot in the Battle of Vienna in 1683 as a slave in Turkish hands and was freed in 1684.


The Battle plan is extremely rare.  We note a single example at auction in the past 30 years. (Reiss, 2005).


Giacomo Giovanni Rossi Biography

Giacomo Giovanni Rossi (1627-1691) was an Italian engraver and printer. He worked in Rome, the heir to an important printing business founded by his father, Giuseppe de Rossi (1570-1639). Giuseppe began the press in 1633 and Giovanni and his brother, Giandomenico (1619-1653) took it over upon his death. The brothers expanded the business and by the mid-seventeenth century it was the best-known printing house in Rome.

For his maps, Giovanni worked with Giacomo Cantelli da Vignola. They produced the Atlas Mercurio Geografico. The first edition is undated, but the second was issued in 1692, a year after Giovanni’s death. The maps were by Cantelli. The firm also published maps based on those of Nicolas Sanson.

Later, the business passed to Lorenzo Filippo (1682-?). By 1738, the firm was known as Calcografia Camerale, then, from 1870 to 1945, as the Regia Calcografica. Today, the firm is still in business and is called Calcografia Nazionale. It operates as a free museum and offers one of the best collections of prints and plates in the world.