Imperial Spain vs Ottoman Empire

Tsar

Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
2,010
Serbia
God no, at best the Ottomans had equal resources to the Spanish Empire before the Iberian Union, and it's obvious that Spain, controlling vast colonies on a continent separated by an entire ocean, did not have less resources and manpower than the Ottomans.

The Spanish also weren't the ones who had to rebuild their fleet since they weren't the only fighting force. It was an alliance that seems to have been mainly composed of Venetian ships. Meaning it was Venice that had to rebuild. The fact that the Spaniards continued to send ships to America, Africa and Asia how false this is.


I answered this in my other thread to keep the debate more organised:
http://historum.com/war-military-history/137927-ottoman-empire-vs-iberian-union.html
Portugal was decisively beaten by Morocco in 1578, its king being killed on the battlefield. Spain conducted negotiations for peace with the Ottomans in 1578-1580 period. Why did Spain not attack and end the rival so weak? After all, the Ottomans were busy making wars with Russia (1577), Persia (1578) and Austrian Habsburgs (1593).
 
Nov 2017
789
Commune
Portugal was decisively beaten by Morocco in 1578, its king being killed on the battlefield. Spain conducted negotiations for peace with the Ottomans in 1578-1580 period. Why did Spain not attack and end the rival so weak? After all, the Ottomans were busy making wars with Russia (1577), Persia (1578) and Austrian Habsburgs (1593).
Because as you know, the Spaniards took that opportunity to annex Portugal and get its empire, forming the Iberian Union. Why would they care about Morocco when they can get the infinitely more richer Portuguese colonies? Also, answer me in the other thread, not here:
http://historum.com/war-military-history/137927-ottoman-empire-vs-iberian-union-2.html

Here, we're no longer discussing the Iberian Union, only the Spanish Empire before the Iberian Union.
 
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Tsar

Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
2,010
Serbia
Because as you know, the Spaniards took that opportunity to annex Portugal and get its empire, forming the Iberian Union. Why would they care about Morocco when they can get the infinitely more richer Portuguese colonies?
I am not talking about Morocco, I am talking about taking Constantinople and other Ottoman lands in five days or so. Why not destroy such a powerless enemy that controlled half of Mediterranean? Why contending yourself with an Ottoman 'ahd?
 
Nov 2017
789
Commune
I am not talking about Morocco, I am talking about taking Constantinople and other Ottoman lands in five days or so. Why not destroy such a powerless enemy that controlled half of Mediterranean? Why contending yourself with an Ottoman 'ahd?
Holy Mother of God, learn to read. I said in five years, not five days. And Spain was too occupied with fighting and conquering Portugal and its empire, the French Wars of Religion, the Protestant revolts and English pirating of their colonies and ships to care about the Ottomans during the time of peace you mention. Simple as that.
 

Tsar

Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
2,010
Serbia
And Spain was too occupied with fighting and conquering Portugal and its empire, the French Wars of Religion, the Protestant revolts and English pirating of their colonies and ships to care about the Ottomans during the time of peace you mention. Simple as that.
The Ottomans waged wars on other fronts as well, but the initiative came from Spain, not them.
 
Apr 2018
281
USA
Well, the Habsburgs ultimately went the eastern way. They started to depend more on trenches, light artillery and cavalry, their infantry focused on firepower. At the same time, the Ottomans didn't improve that much. But later, during 18th century, the whole Europe forgot how to fight. Infantry, making primitive maneuvers, was dying under fire in open field, cavalry was completely clumsy and neglected, equipement and horses were cheap instead of good, and even artillery was less numerous. But at least they forgot about sieges, that one was good. 17th century Western Europe had a fixation on sieges, though the Ottomans also always had that illness, which led them to neglect field battles, although certainly some parts of the Ottoman empire, like Tatars, didn't focus on sieges.

To be fair, entrenchments remained a pretty ubiquitous part of warfare throughout the early modern period in the west as well, and they were always considered a more reliable defense against cavalry than pikemen were when it came to protecting musketeers. So it makes sense that the Austrians would start to rely more heavily on trenches and other obstacles when up against an enemy with far greater numbers of cavalry. That still doesn't really change the fact that trenches were completely immobile and couldn't maneuver or go on the offensive at all, or the fact that volleys of musket fire or other artillery did far more damage if you could somehow get very close to the enemy first.
 
Oct 2017
169
Poland
To be fair, entrenchments remained a pretty ubiquitous part of warfare throughout the early modern period in the west as well, and they were always considered a more reliable defense against cavalry than pikemen were when it came to protecting musketeers. So it makes sense that the Austrians would start to rely more heavily on trenches and other obstacles when up against an enemy with far greater numbers of cavalry. That still doesn't really change the fact that trenches were completely immobile and couldn't maneuver or go on the offensive at all, or the fact that volleys of musket fire or other artillery did far more damage if you could somehow get very close to the enemy first.

I agree with you that Western Europeans knew the value of fortifications, both permanent and filed ones. At least to some extent.



But the whole topic began with my reflections on the tercio clash against Eastern infantry. In Cecora 1620, the Ottoman Empire fought great. They had a lot of cavalry and few Janissaries. They set footmen in a ditch (natural, or they dug it up, I do not know). The Polish infantry was heading towards this ditch, moving in a wagenburg. A betrayal of Moldavians opened a hole in the back of the Polish formation. The Ottoman cavalry attacked this hole and the battle ended with large losses for both sides, instead of the total destruction of the Ottoman army, which would have happened if the Ottomans fought in that battle as badly as in many other battles. In Kosovo 1448, janissaries defended in trenches (probably it was an entrenched wagenburg). Christians attacked these trenches and were repulsed with huge losses. Later, again, a Wallachian betrayal led to Hunyadi's collapsing defeat. Janissaries defended in a similar way in Varna 1444 and Mohacs 1526. Meanwhile, in Wimpfen 1622, the Protestants applied a wagenburg. It was a very bad wagenburg, made of some strange wagons with spears stuck in them, it was not entrenched, and on top of it was laying an ammunition storage, which exploded. Cavalry on both sides fought using a caracole, and was a timid, chaotic heap of people who were colliding with each other. On the battlefield, individual parts of the army did not cooperate with each other and the commanders did not control the course of the battle. Catholic Tercios attacked wagenburg and were repulsed with bloody losses. It seems obvious that Tercios should lose against janissaries. And yet the Austro-Turkish battles looked different. The Austrian army was the one that defended itself in trenches and was repulsing the Turks, and the Turkish cavalry barely found any will to fight. Instead of wasting energy on assaulting the Austrian trenches, they should have done what they did against the Poles in Khotin 1621 and Żórawno 1676, when they indeed attacked Polish trenches, but first they surrounded the Polish army camp with their own ring of trenches. In this way, the Polish army was imprisoned for a long time and was starving. And the Tatars rode around and plundered. Turks were losing many soldiers but saved enough of them for their army to be still able to fight. But gaainst Habsburgs, the Turks were immediately rushing at the Austrian trenches, then panicking and fleeing. Their armies were divided into small pieces instead of using the numerical advantage over the opponent. Even in Vienna 1683, the Turks did not defend themselves in the trenches against the Christian army that surrounded them. No, the Turks divided their forces and stormed the city walls.




You say that field fortifications serve as a shield against cavalry and that you only use them for defense. And I will disagree with you here. When attacking an opponent you can stop and dig up a trench every several tens o meters, you can approach an opponent by digging a channel in the ground, you can go under the cover of wagons, you can carry portable field fortifications for protection against cavalry. All these things more or less shield you both from cavalry and infantry. These methods were used by Poles and Swedes when they fought each other. However, in the Thirty Years' War the Swedes forgot about it. In Lutzen, 1632, the best Swedish infantrymen were massacred, under heavy fire approaching the enemy. They could run up to the opponent and quickly dig a trench, as in the battles against the Poles.



In this context, I was comparing the eastern and western armies and concluded that the Ottomans would have won if they fought in the eastern way, and the Spaniards would lose if they fought in the western way. However, eventually, the Habsburgs and Turks preferred to siege castles and cities, not fight field battles. In sieges, janissaries and tercios fought identically. In addition, Turks instead of using the strength of their cavalry and only starving fortresses, were bleeding out in assaults. An example is Castelnuovo 1539. Both sides fought bravely, the numerical advantage won. Both the Turks and the Habsburgs were terribly wasting their resources in sieges, but perhaps none of the parties wanted to see who would win if they relied on field battles. Both sides had benefits from such a system. The Turks were able to mobilize greater forces, but Budapest is closer to Vienna than Constantinople, so the forces leveled out because Turkish logistics could not keep large forces away from the capital for a long time. Although the Austrian logistics was probably not better, they were just closer.
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,446
God no, at best the Ottomans had equal resources to the Spanish Empire before the Iberian Union, and it's obvious that Spain, controlling vast colonies on a continent separated by an entire ocean, did not have less resources and manpower than the Ottomans.

No they didn't. The Ottoman Empire had more people and human resources than Spain.
The most representative estimate of the population of the Ottoman Empire is made by Omer Barkan who gives the following figures for Ottoman population in 1520-1535: Anatolia: 5.7 million, Rumelia: 5.3 million; Istanbul: 400,000 add 250,000 for non-enumerated classes and the total was about 12 million. By 1600, the population seem to increased to around 20 million.
See: Karpat, The Ottoman State and its Place in World History.




At the turn of the 17th century, Spain itself had around 8 million people, Portugal had another 1.1 million and the Spanish Netherlands adds 1.5 million, the Italian possessions Philip held would add another million, meaning Spain's European possessions would add 3-4 million, and thanks to the destruction the Spaniards brought, Mexico had as little as 1-1.5 million people in the turn of the 17th century (see: Whitmore, "Disease and Death in Early Colonial Mexico: Simulating Amerindian Depopulation"). The destruction brought upon the Incan empire likewise probably devastated over 90% of its population from a high of around 12 million. In another word, the entire Spanish America probably had no more than 3 million people. The Spanish census taken in the Philippines in 1591 yielded 666,712 people and adding other smaller possessions and those that might have escaped the census, the Spanish Empire in Asia had no more than a million people. This mean that at the turn of the 17th century, the population of the entire Spanish Empire was probably no more than 16 million, roughly equal, if not slightly less, than the population of the Ottoman Empire.



We must also consider that the Spanish Empire is more spread out, which mean logistically, it cannot mobilize its population resources as easily as the Ottomans. Because of that, we move on to our next point:





Spain's military is also smaller than those of the Ottoman Empire. According to Rhoads Murphy, "the potential timariot force in Süleyman’s reign had consisted of 90,000 men, about four-tenths of them concentrated in the European provinces, by the reign of Murad IV (1623–40) the total had risen to approximately 106,000. " Ottoman Warfare, 1500-1700, p.37

To this we have to add the Sultan's personal standing army. In 1597, there was 45,000 Janissary corps, 17,000 standing cavalry, (along with 7,966 artillery corps in 1609); making a rough number of 70,000 total.
This makes a total of appoximately 170,000 standing soldiers in the late 16th century (although the numbers fluctuate constantly).




Geoffrey Parker estimated that "about 65,000 men remained the average nominal strength of the Army of Flanders for most of the Eighty Years War." This is the core of Spain's professional standing army.
This army probably peaked around 80,000 under Philip II, it could potentially increase to over 100,000, and in the thirty years war, Spain mobilized a total of 300,000, yet Spanish mobilization was typically only around 10,000-50,000. In comparison, the Venetian diplomat Alvise Contarini noted in 1640, that the Ottoman sultan could put into the field an army of 200,000 horsemen without spending a penny of the treasury’s money. And the Ottomans consistently mobilized armies in the range of 50,000-70,000, occasionally 100,000.



To quote Rhoads Murphey: "The Janissaries and members of the six standing cavalry regiments at the Porte (altibölük) were paid in regular quarterly pay instalments called mevacib (“necessities”) or ulufe (“fodder money”)."

Murphey demonstrated the cavalry regiments numbered around 20,000 by the turn of the 17th century. This standing army (kapu kulu) also included an expanding artillery corps, which reached over 7,000 by the early 17th century.

See Ottoman Warfare, 1500-1700 p.45

The professional standing army of the Ottoman Empire including both the Janissary and the standing cavalry, numbers around 70,000-80,000. So, its roughly the same size or slightly larger than the Spanish Army of Flanders. The Timariot force however, meant the Ottomans usually had more forces at their disposal in total, probably at least twice the size of the Spanish forces.
 
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Apr 2018
281
USA
@raziel678


I'm working on a response to you in the other thread, although you'll have to forgive that writing long posts like that is a very slow process for me so it's talking a while. For now I want to just quickly say that I'm sorry for losing my cool and getting somewhat dismissive. We do seem to be pretty much in agreement on almost all points, though we've been approaching the issue from very different perspectives. Anyways, I'll have a post up where I try to better explain myself there eventually.




As far as entrenchments go, you're right that saying they were "completely" defensive was probably stretching it a bit. There were other ways infantry could potentially stay mobile while protecting itself from cavalry but each one still came with its own unique drawbacks. Trenches could be dug forward or troops could advance and then dig trenches in place, but digging a trench deep enough to successfully stop a cavalry charge would take quite a while so it's not much of an option if your end goal is to get your shot within 30-20 yards from the enemy without having some way to make sure they stay in place in the meantime. Wagons or carts could sometimes be pushed along ahead of an attacking army either as form of mobile defense or even at times an offensive weapon to smash holes in enemy formations, but this generally relied having extremely hard, flat ground to roll the wagons across, preferably downhill. There were also various other portable obstacles which could be carried by advancing infantry such as a lightweight "chevaux de frise" or sharpened stakes to hammer into the ground. This was generally how the "swedish feather" would be used against cavalry, a number of the musketeers would stick the sharpened bottoms of their musket rests into the ground with the blade at the top pointing forward in order to quickly create a line of sharpened stakes a short distance in front of their formation in order to keep cavalry away. But at some point defenses like these either still lacked mobility or didn't seem to provide any more protection against cavalry than pikemen would.

There's also the fact that many of these obstacles, especially trenches, could just as easily end up limiting the movement and maneuver of your own infantry and cavalry as that of the enemy.

In the 18th century especially you even get a lot of psycological arguments made against trenches, for instance Fredrick the Great was convinced that soldiers hiding behind a wall or entrenchment would tend to fight less bravely and be more likely to flee as a whole if the enemy broke through their lines at any one point than if they were fighting out in the open (though if you don't think that's actually true I'm not going to argue).

On the more pragmatic side of things, if an army dug in and prepared its defenses too strongly then the enemy likely just wouldn't attack, and instead either go around or concentrate their strength only where the defenses seem weakest.


I think the "eastern" way of war or at least their lack of interest in pike squares like in the west is perhaps better defined by a preference for using cavalry to keep foot arquebusiers safe rather than pikemen. If a company of foot arquebusiers was standing completely exposed out in the open then good cavalry could keep them safe by driving enemy cavalry off the field, the cavalry's presence helped encourage the enemy infantry to remain safely hidden behind their defenses instead of counter-attacking while the arquebusiers and artillery got close, or the cavalry could help keep the enemy from attacking while the arquebusiers secured favorable positions and started digging in.
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,446
The Ottomans waged wars on other fronts as well, but the initiative came from Spain, not them.



Yes, and the biggest threat to the Ottomans in much of the 16th century came from the Safavids not from Spain, especially under Shah Abbas.



To quote Murphey:
"Because of the Ottomans’ supply vulnerability, the smaller Safavid force consisting of some 30,000 warriors from diverse tribal origins were able to keep an Ottoman army of 80,000 men, organized in permanent regiments and provincial contingents of timariot troops, effectively immobilized over the full extent of the spring-summer campaigning season of 1586."

Murphey, p.94




That's a good half of the entire Ottoman army being occupied in the east, and still losing territories to the Persians.