Ottoman Wars with Russia, Venice, and Austria Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Russia invaded Ottoman territory but was humiliated at the River Pruth. The Ottomans, encouraged by their easy victory, decided to attempt to recover territory they had lost to Venice in 1699, but they were defeated when Austria intervened in the conflict.

Summary of Event

In 1699, the Treaty of Karlowitz Karlowitz, Treaty of (1699) ended fifteen years of unprofitable Ottoman war with the Holy League, Holy League but it left Peter the Great dissatisfied. Although Russia was a member of the Holy League, at Karlowitz it had been virtually abandoned by its allies. In July, 1696, Peter had seized Azov, at the mouth of the Don River, and he had built a fort at Taganrog, on the other side of the river, in 1699. In 1700, Russia had signed the Treaty of Constantinople Constantinople, Treaty of (1700) with the Ottomans, which granted Russia permanent diplomatic representation at Constantinople and abolished the annual tribute that Russia had long paid to the khan of the Crimea. The treaty did not satisfy Peter’s long-term ambitions, however. [kw]Ottoman Wars with Russia, Venice, and Austria (Nov. 20, 1710-July 21, 1718) [kw]Austria, Ottoman Wars with Russia, Venice, and (Nov. 20, 1710-July 21, 1718) [kw]Venice, and Austria, Ottoman Wars with Russia, (Nov. 20, 1710-July 21, 1718) [kw]Russia, Venice, and Austria, Ottoman Wars with (Nov. 20, 1710-July 21, 1718) [kw]Wars with Russia, Venice, and Austria, Ottoman (Nov. 20, 1710-July 21, 1718) Russian-Ottoman conflicts[Russian Ottoman conflicts] Ottoman-Russian conflicts[Ottoman Russian conflicts] Austrian-Ottoman conflicts[Austrian Ottoman conflicts] Ottoman-Austrian conflicts[Ottoman Austrian conflicts] [g]Ottoman Empire;Nov. 20, 1710-July 21, 1718: Ottoman Wars with Russia, Venice, and Austria[0300] [g]Russia;Nov. 20, 1710-July 21, 1718: Ottoman Wars with Russia, Venice, and Austria[0300] [g]Italy;Nov. 20, 1710-July 21, 1718: Ottoman Wars with Russia, Venice, and Austria[0300] [g]Austria;Nov. 20, 1710-July 21, 1718: Ottoman Wars with Russia, Venice, and Austria[0300] [g]Balkans;Nov. 20, 1710-July 21, 1718: Ottoman Wars with Russia, Venice, and Austria[0300] [c]Wars, uprisings, and civil unrest;Nov. 20, 1710-July 21, 1718: Ottoman Wars with Russia, Venice, and Austria[0300] Ahmed III Baltacı Mehmed Paşa Damad Ali Paşa Peter the Great Charles VI Eugene of Savoy

Sultan Ahmed III was probably aware that nothing had been permanently settled by the Treaty of Constantinople, but despite pressure from the capital’s “war party,” he declined to take advantage of Russia’s difficulties in the Great Northern War (1701-1721) Great Northern War (1701-1721) to consolidate Ottoman power. However, circumstances changed when the war came south. After Peter’s victory at the Battle of Poltava (1709), Poltava, Battle of (1709) the Cossack Ukraine was ravaged by Russian armies. Cossack fugitives fled into Ottoman territory, led by Hetman Ivan Stepanovich Mazepa and accompanied by the defeated Swedish king, Charles XII.

The sultan provided Charles with sanctuary at Bender, on the lower Dniester River. The Ottoman war party urged an alliance with the exiled king and the Cossacks, but the sultan positively refused. However, Baltacı Mehmed Paşa was appointed grand vizier on September 11, 1710, indicating that the war party now had the sultan’s ear. On November 20, the empire declared war on Russia, and the grand vizier set out for the Pruth River in the spring of 1711. Joined by Crimean Tatars Crimean Tatars Tatars and fugitive Cossacks Cossacks and Poles, his forces were said to number 120,000 men and 400 guns; their objective was to confront the approaching Russians.

It remains unclear why Peter the Great was marching toward the Pruth River, since the Great Northern War was still being fought in the Baltic region. He certainly expected active support from the Christians of Moldavia and Wallachia: Dmitri Kantemir, voyevod of Moldavia (r. 1710-1711), had entered into a secret agreement with Peter in which, in return for recognition as hereditary prince under Russian protection, he would supply the invading Russian army with provisions and forage. The voyevod of Wallachia, Constantin Brincoveanu (r. 1688-1714), made similar friendly offers.

Thus, a Russian army consisting of 40,000 infantry, 14,000 horse, and 122 guns, under the command of the aging marshal Boris Sheremetev, advanced toward Moldavia, short of supplies but anticipating Moldavian assistance. Unwisely perhaps, Peter himself, his wife Catherine, and members of his court accompanied the army. Reaching the Pruth River, they crossed into Moldavia and reached Jassy in June, 1711. Contrary to expectations, however, their reception was less than friendly and the promised supplies never materialized.

The Russians had no notion that the grand vizier’s army had already reached the Pruth River, but by July 21, the Russian army was completely encircled by a far larger enemy force. Peter sued for an armistice, and legend tells that during the negotiations it was the charms of the czarina and the bribe of her jewels that led the grand vizier to grant easy terms. In reality, Baltacı Mehmed Paşa was probably astonished at his own good fortune and offered the best terms that he thought he could get. Azov was to be restored to the Ottomans and Taganrog would be demolished, as would newly built Russian forts on the Dnieper River. Permanent Russian representation at Constantinople was to end. All Ottoman prisoners were to be released, and Charles XII was to be granted safe passage. The Russian army was to be provided with provisions for its return home.

The preliminary agreement, known as the Treaty of the Pruth, was signed on July 23, 1711, amid protests from the representatives of the Swedish king and the Polish allies. The grand vizier almost certainly knew what he was doing, however. He knew his Janissary troops were growing mutinous, and he probably distrusted the machinations of the exiles at Bender. Further negotiations resulted in the Treaty of Adrianople Adrianople, Treaty of (1713) (June 25, 1713), with assurances of twenty-five years of peace between the two powers. By then, however, the grand vizier had already been dismissed, his enemies asserting that he should have exacted harsher terms in the earlier treaty. Nevertheless, the campaign on the Pruth went some way to healing bruised Ottoman susceptibilities, which were still sore from the shame of Karlowitz.

The Treaty of Karlowitz had constituted perhaps the greatest humiliation the Ottoman Empire ever experienced at the hands of unbelievers. Some members of the Ottoman elite dreamed of revenge, and the apparent triumph at the Pruth whetted their appetites for renewed warfare. The obvious target was the Venetian Republic: At Karlowitz, Venice had aquired the Morea (Greek Peloponnese), bringing the Venetian fleet back into the Aegean. Reports from the Morea told of bitter dissatisfaction among the Greeks with their Venetian overlords. Since the fall of Baltacı Mehmed Paşa, a new belligerent grand vizier, Damad Ali Paşa, had been appointed in April, 1713. The Ottoman’s excuse for going to war was aid allegedly given by the Venetians to Montenegran rebels and the refusal of the Bank of Venice to hand over the wealth of the lately executed voyevod of Wallachia. The Porte declared war on January 11, 1715.

Damad Ali Paşa led a force of more than seventy thousand troops against the undermanned Venetian garrisons. Corinth fell on July 7, followed by Argos, Nauplia, Koron, Navarino, and Modon. The conflict was over in one hundred days, with the grand vizier maintaining strict discipline among his troops, who paid for food and forage and were forbidden to plunder. Improbably, the Turks were welcomed as liberators; such was the depth of Christian sectarian bitterness. At sea, the Kapudan Paşa captured Aegina and Tenos. By July, 1716, Ottoman forces were in the Adriatic, besieging Corfu.

In Vienna, the Emperor Charles VI sought to mediate between Russia and the Ottomans, but with Ottoman forces at Corfu, the traditional enemy of the Holy Roman Empire had advanced too close for comfort. If Venice were to lose Dalmatia, then Croatia and even Styria would be threatened. The veteran president of the Imperial War Council Imperial War Council (Hofkriegsrat), Eugene of Savoy, favored going to war against the Ottomans, despite opposition from the so-called Spanish Cabal at court, and on April 13, 1716, Austria joined Venice in a defensive alliance.

The Porte had not wished to provoke the emperor and had gambled on his neutrality during the reconquest of the Morea. Faced with the new threat of an Austro-Venetian alliance, however, Damad Ali Paşa led an army of 120,000 against the fortress of Peterwardein during the summer of 1716. He was defeated by Eugene and died on the battlefield on August 5, 1716. Eugene did not press his advantage. Instead, he crossed the Tisza River into the Banat and besieged Temesvar, which capitulated with honors on October 12, 1716. When the news of this disaster reached Constantinople, the Ottomans abandoned Corfu.

Eugene advanced against Belgrade, where the governor, Mustafa Paşa, commanded a garrison of thirty thousand troops. As it was imperative that Belgrade be relieved, the new grand vizier, Halil Paşa, hurried to the beleaguered city. There, he suffered an even greater defeat than the recent disaster at Peterwardein. Belgrade fell on August 18, 1717, and the Ottomans withdrew behind the line of the River Sava, although commanders in Bosnia held out with grim determination. Encouraged by Austria’s victories, Venice renewed its struggle but performed indifferently in naval battles off Cape Matapan and Cerigo. This was to prove the last of many wars between the republic and the Porte.

Toward the end of 1717, the British envoy Sir Edward Wortley Montagu and the veteran Dutch diplomat Count Jacob Colyer mediated peace talks, and a treaty was signed at Passarowitz on July 21, 1718. The Porte was forced to relinquish Belgrade and Semendria, as well as much of Serbia, Oltenia (“Little Wallachia”), and the Banat of Temesvar. A supplemental commercial treaty granted Austrian subjects substantial trading privileges within Ottoman territory. Venice confirmed Ottoman possession of the Morea, Tenos, and Aegina but retained its conquests in Dalmatia, the seven Ionian islands, and four enclaves in Epirus.


Notwithstanding Ottoman resilience and courage, the Treaty of Passarowitz confirmed the overwhelming superiority of European military technology, training, and organization over the Turkish war machine. Henceforward, the lands north of the Danube and Sava Rivers would be permanently lost to the Porte, although few Ottomans could reconcile themselves to the loss of Belgrade. After Passarowitz, Austria consolidated the gains won at Karlowitz and began to colonize the Banat with German veterans. The sultan had had enough of war. In May, 1718, he appointed as grand vizier the companion of his early years, Nevshehirli Ibrahim Paşa, and between them they inaugurated the Tulip Age Tulip Age (Lale devri) Tulip Age of hedonism and artistic flourishing, which lasted for the next twelve years.

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Hughes, Lindsey. Russia in the Age of Peter the Great. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1998. Useful for the taking of Azov and the Pruth campaign.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Kurat, Akdes Nimet. “The Retreat of the Turks, 1683-1730.” In A History of the Ottoman Empire to 1730, edited by V. J. Parry. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976. Detailed narrative of these interlocking wars.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">_______, ed. The Despatches of Sir Robert Sutton: Ambassador in Constantinople, 1710-1714. London: Royal Historical Society, 1953. An insider’s account of the diplomatic struggle at the Porte.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">McKay, Derek. Prince Eugene of Savoy. London: Thames & Hudson, 1977. Brief, lucid account of the campaign from Peterwardein to Belgrade.

Great Northern War

War of the Spanish Succession

Battle of Poltava

Treaties of Rastatt and Baden

Tulip Age

Russo-Austrian War Against the Ottoman Empire

Ottoman Wars with Russia

Related Articles in <i>Great Lives from History: The Eighteenth Century</i>

Ahmed III; Charles VI; Eugene of Savoy; Peter the Great. Russian-Ottoman conflicts[Russian Ottoman conflicts] Ottoman-Russian conflicts[Ottoman Russian conflicts] Austrian-Ottoman conflicts[Austrian Ottoman conflicts] Ottoman-Austrian conflicts[Ottoman Austrian conflicts]

Categories: History