1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 15
“So what does Wallenstein want — besides keeping his head?” Ferdinand III, in that moment, reminded Janos Drugeth more of his pig-headed father than himself. His tone was sour; the expression on his face more sour still.
Janos glanced at Noelle. He was pleased to see that she was withstanding imperial disfavor without any seeming effort. Her own expression was polite, attentive — and in some indefinable way that was much too subtle to warrant taking any offense, it was also distant. So might a taxonomist study an interesting new insect to see how best it might be classified.
“Keeping his head suggests that he’s also keeping his throne,” she said evenly.
Ferdinand waved his hand. “Yes, yes, of course.”
Janos decided it was time for him to intervene. Perhaps he’d be able to nudge the imperial foul mood in a more useful direction.
“I think it might be better if we considered what we might want from Wallenstein.” Seeing the still-mulish look on his monarch’s face, his tone roughened a bit and, for the first time since the audience began, he transgressed protocol by using the emperor’s given name. He normally only did that when he and Ferdinand were alone.
“Ferdinand, the Turks are coming. There is no doubt about it any longer. They haven’t begun the march from Belgrade yet but that’s just because they’re waiting for the spring grass to grow a bit more. And by all accounts of our spies, that army Sultan Murad has assembled in Belgrade is enormous. It’s probably as big as the one Suleiman brought against us a century ago.”
Ferdinand now looked weary rather than petulant. He wiped his face with his hand.
“Do you really think it’s that big?”
Janos shrugged, the motion constrained both by the chair he was sitting in as well as his cumbersome dress uniform. “Who really knows? The number in the chronicles of Suleiman’s siege ranged from one hundred and twenty thousand men to three hundred thousand. All I can say for sure is that we’re somewhere in that same range today. If you press me — yes, I know you are — I’d guess at the lower end of the range. Spies almost always overestimate an enemy’s numbers.”
He sat up straighter and leaned forward, his hands planted on his knees. “But it doesn’t matter, Ferdinand. Even if he only has one hundred thousand — even ninety or eighty thousand — we’re badly outnumbered. In 1529, the Spanish emperor Charles V sent pikemen and musketeers to support us, and when the Turks attacked in 1683 — would attack, did attack, however you put something that happens in another universe — the kingdom of Poland came to our aid. Today? Whether they admit it publicly or not, the Poles and the Spanish will be supporting the Turks. So will the Russians, most likely.”
Ferdinand head came up. “The Russians also? Do you really think so?”
Janos waggled his hand back and forth. “Define who you mean by ‘the Russians.’ I don’t doubt the Tsar would support us. But Mikhail’s off in Ufa trying to hold together some sort of government in exile. Sheremetev holds the real power in Moscow and he favors the Poles and they’ll favor the Turks. The point is, we’re only going to have two possible allies in this coming war.”
Ferdinand’s expression went back to being mulish.
Janos threw up his hands. “Face it, will you? We need the United States of Europe — and we need Bohemia.”
Noelle was simultaneously appalled, apprehensive — and, being honest, a bit thrilled. She’d known Janos was close to the Austrian emperor but she hadn’t realized just how close that relationship really was. There were rulers in Europe — there’d certainly been rulers in Austria! — who’d have ordered Janos arrested for the way he was talking to his monarch. Some of the harsher and more intemperate of those rulers would have had him beheaded as well.
Andâ€¦ this was the fellow she intended to marry. Not simply marry, either, since it wasn’t as if either of them planned to settle down for a quiet life in some out-of-the-way province, raising children and chickens. (Her mind veered aside for a moment. Did they raise chickens in Austria? She realized she wasn’t sure.)
No, they planned to remain right here in the capital of Austria-Hungary, and continue to be engaged in High Matters of State. The one time she’d used that expression in front of Denise and Minnie — “High Matters of State” — their response had been immediate:
“That translates as ‘chopping block’ in English.” That came from Denise.
Minnie’s contribution was: “Yeah, but I think they let your family bury the head with your body afterward. Better than what usually happens to common criminals.”
Janos turned to Noelle. “Help me out here. Explain to Ferdinand what the USE is likely to offer — and want in return.”
Appalled, apprehensive — and a bit thrilled.
Prague, capital of Bohemia
“Yes, I’m comfortable here, Don Francisco. Quite comfortable — as you’d expect of a suite in Wallenstein’s own palace. But it’s still a prison and you know it perfectly well.”
Duke Albrecht of Bavaria turned away from the window and gave Francisco Nasi a look that was more exasperated than angry. That same exasperation had been subtly indicated by his use of the name “Wallenstein” rather than the new title: “Albrecht II, King of Bohemia.”
He transferred the same look to the third man in the room. “I also appreciate the amenities that you and your wife Judith provide me with, Mr. Roth. If you might someday include a key that would let me out of here at will, I’d appreciate it even more.”
Morris Roth, seated on a chair not far from Nasi’s, smiled but said nothing. Since there was really nothing to say in response to that remark.
Albrecht sighed and turned back to the window. With his hands clasped behind his back, he looked down at the very impressive gardens that formed the centerpiece of the palace Wallenstein had had built in the previous decade. “What am I more concerned about, however, is the fate of my two sons. Who are also being held in captivity — and in their case, Mr. Roth, by your people, not the Bohemians.”
Roth cleared his throat. “Ahâ€¦ Actually, Your Grace, my wife and I are now both citizens of the Kingdom of Bohemia. That’s been true for some time, in fact.”
“Please. I’m not taken in by that any more than Wallenstein himself is. He knows and I know and you know — Don Francisco certainly knows! — and probably every butcher and brewer in the city knows that you did that as matter of diplomatic courtesy. In the name of all that’s holy, Morris” — for a moment, he lapsed into the friendly informality that usually characterized their exchanges when Roth visited — “you were born in the future. In what you yourself believe to have been a different universe altogether. You were, are still, and always will be an American, regardless of what nationality you adopt for official purposes.”
Morris said nothing in response to that, either. Instead, he tried to shift the discussion back to the duke’s children.
“I assure you, Albrecht, that the commitment of the United States of Europe to religious freedom is unwavering.”
“Really?” The younger brother of Bavaria’s ruler turned his head and gave Roth a skeptical glance. “Then perhaps you can explain why Michael Stearns — with the agreement of that party he established, the Fourth of July group — has conceded to Gustavus Adolphus’ demand that every province of the USE be allowed to create an established church.”
It was Morris’ turn to look exasperated. “Mike did that for practical reasons — and it’s irrelevant to your two boys anyway. They’re being held — ah, are guests — in Bamberg. Which, I remind you, is the capital of the State of Thuringia-Franconia, a province which does not have an established church.”
“Until the next election.”
Roth made an impatient gesture. “Your Grace, please stop playing the naÃ¯f! You’re an astute observer of political affairs and you know perfectly well the Fourth of July Party will be returned to office in the SoTF — probably with an even bigger majority than they enjoy right now. If you want to call your sons prisoners — or hostages, whatever term you prefer — so be it. But they are still in the care of their tutor, Johannes Vervaux — who is a Jesuit, as you well know. No one is or will be interfering in their education. No one is or will be making any attempt to coerce them into abandoning Catholicism. For Pete’s sake, Albrecht! The president of the SoTF — and the likely next prime minister of the USE — is Ed Piazza. Who is a Catholic himself.”
Without looking away from the window, Albrecht raised his hand in a placating gesture. “Yes, yes, I know. I am not trying to be offensive, Morris. I am simply concerned.”
“Sure. They’re your kids and you miss them. Frankly, if it was up to me I’d have them sent here, along with their tutor. Butâ€¦”
There wasn’t anything further he could really say, other than: But Gustav Adolf is calling the shots here and he was born in this century and this universe and he doesn’t have any qualms about using two kids as hostages.
Whichâ€¦ wouldn’t help the situation. And which was something the Bavarian nobleman knew perfectly well already.
Nasi now cleared his throat. “Albrecht, we came here today for a reason.”
The duke turned away from the window again, hesitated for a moment, and then moved over to take a seat in a chair facing Nasi directly and Roth at something of an angle.
“Let me guess,” he said. “You want to begin a discussion — completely tentative, with no formal or official sanction whatsoever from anyone in position of authority — on the question of whether I might be willing to agree to supplant my brother on the throne of Bavaria. Assuming you can remove him from that throne, either by force or by his agreement to abdicate.”
The man who’d once been Mike Stearns’ spymaster and now ran a private espionage service that was probably the best in Europe shook his head. “That assumption is a given, Albrecht. One way or another, Maximilian is going to go. If it has to be done by forceâ€¦”
Nasi shrugged. Morris Roth picked up the train of thought. “If your brother’s forced off the throne — whether he lives or dies, and under those circumstances I wouldn’t place great odds on his survival — then Bavaria will come under the direct administration of either the USE or Sweden. That’ll be something of an argument, I think. From Gustav Adolf’s point of view, Bavaria is almost as much of a problem as a conquered territory as a still-independent one.”
Albrecht smiled, without much humor. “Yes. Even as greedy as he is for absorbing new territory, does he really want to ingest that big a population of Catholics?”
Nasi and Roth both nodded. “Exactly,” said Nasi. He nodded toward Morris. “The situation is a bit the same as always exists with us Jews. For an enlightened ruler, having some of us around is an asset. Having too manyâ€¦”
“Can be a problem,” his fellow Jew completed. “I think you’re probably right that Gustav Adolf feels the same way about Catholics. He already has a lot of Catholics in the USE, but they’re still a distinct minority — even in Thuringia-Franconia. Add in Bavariaâ€¦”
He shrugged. “Catholics would still be a minority in the nation as a whole, but they’d now have a province that was almost entirely Catholic. That wouldn’t bother me or any up-timer, but the emperor’s Lutheran tolerance only stretches so far.”
There was silence in the room, for a few seconds. Then Albrecht said, in a voice as cold as the expression on his face: “My brother murdered my wife with his own hand and caused the murder of my oldest son. You can boil him in oil for all I care. Let us begin from there.”
It would be a damned shame if Albrecht and his kids were to survive this war. Where is a plague when it’s needed?
Remember uptime Bavaria was a puppet of Louis XIV.
Why would it be shame for them to survive? Also Louis XIV is just a baby at this point in time and I doubt the USE would allow Bavaria to be turned into a puppet state of France.
Also, Tweeky, this Louie XIV is not the same one who followed Louie XIII in our history; he was born several months earlier, so he originated from both a different egg and a different sperm.
Gustav has no intention of allowing a large territorial duchy to remain independent. The Baltic duchies are gone. Prussia and Saxony are gone, and their ducal lines disinherited. It’s doubtful that the sons of the Winter King will rule the Palatinate. This leaves Bavaria. This snippets states that Gustav doesn’t want to include it in his version of Germany. The only alternative is to attach it to Austria, which will be a lot more difficult if the historic dynasty retains power.
As for Louis, well Bavaria’s historic role during the rest of this century and the next two was as a spoiler to any attempt to create a strong German state.
Supposedly one son of the Winter King becomes the King of England.
but not the Palatinate
Another option (in this universe) is to establish Bavaria as an independent kingdom. Ferd III might be a bit pi$$y about that, since Bavaria is in theory a major Duchy to his father’s empire, but it’s a new world….
A “semi-independent” kingdom of Bavaria would also form a buffer state between Austria-Hungary and France, and a flanking ally in any conflict with Iberian Spain.
@dave o: Attaching Bavaria to Austria is unlikely, since Murad is about to conquer Austria. It could be given to Ferd the Third, but I doubt it will.
I’m curious as to why it is a “given” that Poland, strongly Catholic, won’t support Austria against the Turks. I can imagine one reason why, because they need their troops at home against the Swedish invaders, but I could imagine a formal truce allowing Poland to send troops to Austria, simply because even Gustav probably knows the Turks must be stopped. But if there is some other reason why Poland is at odds with Austria, I don’t know what it might be.
It’s politics, of course. As mentioned in the Papal Stakes, Poland – that is the king and the Sejm – have sided with Borja in the developing Catholic schism. Also, by sacrificing the rulers of Austria, who have aligned themselves with Urban, to the Turks, they allow their enemy G2A and his American allies to be taken in the flank, thereby reducing the pressure on their own western frontier. It’s a very short-sighted strategy, but it’s been well established that Wladyslaw and the Sejm are just that. My thinking though is that having already established Jozef Wojtowicz as a major character who is now in possession of batteries for his radio, his patron Koniecpolski may come to think that his political masters have betrayed Christianity to the Turks and decide that he needs to adjust their attitudes somewhat. I can’t wait to see just how close my guess comes.
1) Why, why on earth would PLC support the Turks?! Wladyslav III is not an idiot (or whatever other slander his detractors heaped upon him*) and he understands that his country is doomed to confrontation with the Ottomans. If only for the reason that as sovereigns of Crimean Khans Turks canâ€™t (or wonâ€™t) do anything to reign in their vassals, who stage slave-taking raids nearly yearly.
2) Why would Mikhail Romanov wound up in Ufa (pop. By mid 17 cc â€“ less than 1000) and try to establish his â€œgovernment in exileâ€, while there is Tobolsk, basically a capital of all Siberia since 1629, much more populous, better defended and developed city?
* Okay-okay! Heâ€™s a bitâ€¦ jovial and chubby.
1) Correction – WÅ‚adysÅ‚aw *IV*. Dat guy:
Sooooo – “League of Ostend 2: Electric Boogaloo”? Too lame. Immediate geopolitical needs and grduges will trump such potential concerns any time of the year. Besides, given the attitude of monarchs of this time to only treat the symptoms, and proclaim the whole state organism cured (e.g. – Charles I of England persecution of “future tratitors” in the hope that this will prevent the Revolution) PLC potentates (who besides rebels and foreigners hate most passionately only each other) might sleep sound in their estates – according to earlier material from GGs Bohdan Khmielnitsky is dead.
The timing is a little tight with the part about the tsar high-tailing it to Ufa. In The Kremlin Games, it’s June of 1636 before Bernie et al free him and his family and decide that Ufa is a good place to go…at first. They know that Ufa is only a first stop but that it will represent a convenient place for supporters to head for. It’s Eric’s story, and I’m more than happy to let him tell it any way he wants, so I’m not going to complain if characters in one book have the tsar setting up shop in Ufa or wherever before that’s even occurred to him in the other book.
Not knowing Eric’s plans for the Tsar, but I wouldn’t be surprises if Tsar Mikhail has a modified Russian Revolution 270 years early by rallying the Serfs (read proletariat) and establish a Manticoran-style constitutional monarchy binding the Crown to the (large) general populace (again, I know, different universe, but at least linked authors).
“Tsar Mikhail has a modified Russian Revolution 270 years early”
Which one? February or October?
“establish a Manticoran-style constitutional monarchy binding the Crown to the (large) general populace”
That’s too progressive for the people – both royalty and their subjects – to even consider this. Best case scenario – Mikhail, now without his father’s counsel and influence, would rely more heavily (and summon them more often) on the Assemblies of the Land, which, in theory, could transform into some sort of parliament… in very distant future.
“Ferdinand, the Turks are coming.” You have the emphasis on “coming,” but I suggest that it should instead be on “are.”
“What I AM more concerned about, however, is the fate of my two sons.”
Regarding the question of the Polish-Lithuanian Confederation supporting the Turks against Austria-Hungary, it was established in 1636: The Kremlin Games that Sheremetev is trying to build an alliance of conservative/reactionary states to oppose the progressive/revolutionary threat posed by the USE and “the Swede,” as Sheremetev likes to say. This had borne fruit with the Ottomans, at least, and Sheremetev thought the PLC would have to realize that the social, economic and political changes emanating from the USE were a greater threat to their aristocracy and the existing order than their traditional for, Russia, or the Turks. Everyone in and outside of the story is assuming that the PLC is moving or has moved in the direction of such an alliance, but who knows, Eric may surprise us yet and have the “jovial and chubby” pull a John III Sobieski! Yeah, yeah, not likely.
Except for the fact that Sobieski was a general and a rather good one, and Wlsdyslaw isn’t. Of course Koniecpolski is, but I heard he died. If against the Turks, good for him.
I hate to make national reflections but uptime the Poles have shown a natural talent for making bad political decision. Perhaps the Ring of Fire has changed that.
“Except for the fact that Sobieski was a general and a rather good one, and Wlsdyslaw isnâ€™t. Of course Koniecpolski is, but I heard he died. If against the Turks, good for him.”
Uhm, what?! In OTL Koniecpolski died in late 1640s. In the here and now post RoF he is alive and kicking.
“I hate to make national reflections but uptime the Poles have shown a natural talent for making bad political decision. Perhaps the Ring of Fire has changed that.”
The Russian-Turk alliance is not just political but commercial also. Sheremetev had exported large number of guns and expertise to the Turk. The very source of Turk success against the Persian opponent. Sheremetev fully expect the Turks to move against Sweden one way or others because his strategic enemy is Sweden, not Poland.
In the same timeframe, Poland – Sweden relation is still as tense as ever, and tenser than most, considering Swedish force is besieging Polish towns. SO it’s natural for Polish leaders to consider allying with forces that would strike Sweden, AND/OR at least not be their enemies. In this case, Ottoman empire. To be honest, they wouldnt have spare forces to send to Austrian defense even if the Swedish truce is signed immediately.
++ IF they stand against Ottoman, that means they have enemies on all side. At least this way they can rest a bit about their southern flank.
The Turks are the kinds of allies you need plate armor on your back for. They will honor a deal as long as they are collecting and ditch it when the bills come due. Once Austria is crushed, they will strike north through Bohemia to the USE and then it is Poland’s turn. Anyone who thinks differently is a fool.
To quote one of the Ferengi (I know, different universe) Rules of Acquisition, “A Deal is a Deal, until a better deal comes along”
Maybe, but the Ottomans were as much victims of political betrayal as they were the betraying party. At least during the 18th century, if not also the 17th, France often found it advantageous to promise the Turks much help & support if they attacked an enemy of the French, only renege if the Turks proved too successful. This French unreliability constantly baffled & infuriated the Turks.
And maybe someone in Poland has read about this bit of uptime history, & decided to adapt it to their own needs; by that I mean the Poles plan to support the Turks in attacking Austria & other bothersome Polish neighbors, only to withdraw support when they become too successful. I don’t know if that is what will happen, or that is what the plan is for this book, but it is something I expect the better-informed characters to consider.
“Sheremetev had exported large number of guns and expertise to the Turk. The very source of Turk success against the Persian opponent. Sheremetev fully expect the Turks to move against Sweden one way or others because his strategic enemy is Sweden, not Poland.”
Again – too stupid a move. Russia traditionally supported Persia, “enemy of my enemy”, this kind of reasoning. The same reasons that applied to PLC – i.e. Crimean Khanate and its slave-taking raids – apply to Russia. Where is a guarantee, that a delegation travelling from Moscow to Istambul (laden with guns and stuff) won’t be massacred somewhere in between by the Tatars? There is a reason why there were no meaningful trade between Russia and Ottoman Empire at the time. Therefore – there won’t be “trade” in guns. Maybe, in schematics with some prototypes in the tow.
“In the same timeframe, Poland â€“ Sweden relation is still as tense as ever, and tenser than most, considering Swedish force is besieging Polish towns. SO itâ€™s natural for Polish leaders to consider allying with forces that would strike Sweden, AND/OR at least not be their enemies.”
Uhm, there is still Spain. Fellow Catholics, still powerful Empire, major naval power. I think Spain is getting overlooked in the books.
You write about “Polish leaders”. Yeah, about that – PLC is not an absolute monarchy. Sejm and magnates limit king’s power significantly, and then limit each other by bickering, quarelling and hating each other’s guts. Getting them agree on anything (let alone a foreign policy) is… possible, but rare.
Wladyslaw hated this system and wanted to become “normal”, absolutist monarch. That’s why he reformed military in late 1630s (I wonder, did he accomplished that by now?) and spent most of 1640s by appointing his loyalists and friends (among whom was Koniecpolski and his entire family) in key places be it military or some minitries. He planned to build a big coalition of European powers, get money and fleet from Venice and even get either peace or alliance with Russia in the future war with Crimea and Ottomans.
His “kunnin plan” relied on exterminating his enemies by proxies. Southern lands of PLC – present day Ukraine – were largely owned by magnates, who, understandably, hated when their lands were raided. So, in case of war with Turkey and Khanate they’d muster their own private armies more readily. Cossacks lured by the promise to yet again enlarge rejestr would also volunteer en masse. And all of them would either die or overcome, severely weakend, over Ottoman armies. If some of magnates would perish in the war and their lands grabbed by the crown – well, c’est la vie!
And now this won’t work, becayse someone decided that allying with Turks (who were trashed at Khotin in 1621) is the best idea ever!
RE: Austria’s non-Turkish enemies. I doubt that Russian enmity can amount to much. They have no direct route to Austria. About all they can do is attack Sweden in the Baltic and hope to distract one ally. Given the relative states of the two armies and the difficulty of the terrain, I don’t think they could have much effect. Spain can probably mess with an attack through Italy, if the Venetians let them. Not too likely. Bavaria would be glad to do a disservice but it appear that it won’t be around by the time the Turks move up the Danube. Poland can do real harm, in Bohemia and whatever the Austrians hold in Hungary. The Hungarians, as usual, will be glad to cause trouble, led, as usual, by some of the Magnates and some of the reformed.
“Spain can probably mess with an attack through Italy, if the Venetians let them. Not too likely.”
First of all – they are still one family. Attacking one of their own is… bad for business.
Second – Spain basically owns Milan by now. Northern Italy provided a lot of recruits (and epic level badass Spinola) for the Spanish Crown. They were able to project power through in the past and make tercios (an awful lot of them) march all the way to rebellious Netherlands or Germanies. So, yes – Spain can project a force at the time. But a few questions remain – who would be in charge and where they decide to strike. Because don/king Fernando of Netherlands’ charade would hold only so far. Spain needs Netherland’s money – all of them, no matter the cost to the Northern Provinces itself. It’s only a question of “when” and the hostilities there would resume with “proper” Spanish forces enforing edicts of the King agains the Usurper.
“Poland can do real harm, in Bohemia and whatever the Austrians hold in Hungary.”
Wut? Poland has no real interest in harming HRE i.e. Austrian heartlands and their sovereigns. At the bare minimum the only “hurt” they really want to cause is to use Austria (as it was the case since the start of the 30-years war) as a dumping ground of cossacks of the most deranged kind (re: Lisovsky) while accomplishing several political tasks in the background (re: appointing your own son, age 12, as a bishop in Silezia).
“The Hungarians, as usual, will be glad to cause trouble, led, as usual, by some of the Magnates and some of the reformed.”
This is very narrow and stereotypical way to look at the issue.
Wut (sp) ? The Poles have no real interest in harming HRE. . .
Except that this snippet says they do. I believe that in this period, parts or all of what will be Slovakia are held by the Hungarian crown. Territory.
Poland is enough like a normal state to want to grab what it can, as in the Ukraine.
“Except that this snippet says they do.”
There is this expression – “show, don’t tell”. In this case – “explain, not just tell us that so and so is true”.
Whatever is held by Hungary will (very soon) become a new addition to the Ottoman Empire. There is no way to prevent this. Poland gets nothing from any “deal” with the Turks.
“Poland is enough like a normal state to want to grab what it can, as in the Ukraine.”
What Poland really wants is Sweden controlled Baltic coast. That’s worthy a war, even hard and long one. Getting Crimean Khanate out of picture, while also making princes of Moldavia your own vassls is close second. Picking crumbs from the Turks is… not worth it.
I’m going to throw out a bit of Turkish military history here, just to see how it matches what will happen.
In brief, the Turkish military was an extremely optimized feudal army. That does not mean they are in way inferior to the European armies of the 17th century; I would expect that Janissaries armed with flint locks or Cardinals would be more than a match for any USE unit, & Mike Stearns would definitely not want to tangle with them. The point I want to make was that every Ottoman soldier — with the possible exception of the Janissaries — supported themselves by being land owners. Which meant they had to return home at some point during the year to take care of business. In some cases the Turks could be away from home & in the field for more than a year, but that was a special circumstance, & deeply affected morale.
The effect here is that Vienna represents the limit of the area the Turkish army could reach, based on their support system. Campaigns in Europe started in Adrianople where the armies of Europe & Asia (named for where the men had their properties) would muster — which obviously took some time. In this scenario it appears they were mustered at Budapest, which was unusual. (I doubt there were enough stockpiled food at Budapest to support a hundred thousand men while they mustered — but it’s Eric’s book, so I won’t say more.) Since roads in that part of Europe were primitive & bridges few & far between, it would take months for the Ottoman army to reach Vienna; in the uptime 1683 siege of Vienna, the Ottoman army left Adrianople on 1 April, reached Belgrade in early May, & the main body of the army arrived at Vienna 14 July.
The primary foes to this monstrous horde is not the Austrians, USE or Bohemians, but starvation — a hundred thousand men living off the land (which is how armies provided for themselves in those days) would strip the land of food & supplies more thoroughly than a plague of locusts — & disease. (Armies of that age were not known for their efficient sanitation practices, & so many people gathered together are susceptible to falling sick to all of the nasty diseases of that day.) A lesser concern, although very real, is that many of these men are likely to grow homesick, & will often baulk at moving further away from home. (This was the problem that eventually forced Alexander the Great to cease his campaigning in Asia despite his unbroken string of victories.)
So while the Ottoman army was ferocious, it wasn’t entirely invincible. I’m curious to see how many of these factors enter into this novel.
“it appears they were mustered at Budapest, which was unusual”
No, they were mustered at Belgrade. Which is still unusual.