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  • Cited by 4
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

6 - Empires and warfare in east-central Europe, 1550–1750: the Ottoman–Habsburg rivalry and military transformation


The period from the sixteenth to the mid eighteenth centuries in east-central and eastern Europe saw the emergence of three major land Empires: the Ottomans, the Austrian Habsburgs, and Romanov Russia. Military historians of east-central Europe have long been preoccupied with the profound changes in warfare observed during this period in certain parts of western Europe, commonly referred to as the ‘European military revolution’, and have tried to measure military developments in east-central Europe against those in western Europe. However, while comparing military developments in east-central and western Europe may reveal interesting parallels and differences, comparing and contrasting military developments in the three eastern Empires helps better to assess the changing military capabilities of the Ottomans, Habsburgs, and Romanovs, and thus to understand the shifts in the military fortunes of these Empires. Since Russia emerged as an important military power and as the Ottomans' main rival only in the mid eighteenth century – that is, towards the end of the period covered in this volume – the chapter focuses on the Ottomans and their Austrian Habsburg rivals.

The main thesis of this chapter is that Ottoman expansion and military superiority in the sixteenth century played an important role in Habsburg military, fiscal, and bureaucratic modernisation and in the creation of what came to be known as the Austrian Habsburg monarchy or ‘Habsburg central Europe’.