4 October 1528: the battle of János Karlovics against the Turks
Let me translate the article of Gábor Szibler who described an important battle from 1528. As we are talking about the events just after Mohács, it is fitting perfectly in our series. Let me add a few details from the period after 1526, after Mohács, though:
The country was getting back on its feet, King Szapolyai was gradually taking over the control in 1527; the Treasury was being refilled; the king made an agreement with the Fuggers about the copper mines, too. Most of the lords appeared on the Diet in March, except the few followers of Ferdinand and the widowed Queen Maria. They offered one-tenth of their property to pay the war against the Turks. In May, the mercenaries of Emperor Charles sacked Rome, plundering there 10 million ducats: these mercenaries were later launched against Hungary.
I wrote about the Jovan-uprising which was put down in June 1527.
Hungary joined the League of Cognac, and Grand Vizier Ibrahim ordered the Beys at the border that they should aid King János Szapolyai in case of a Habsburg attack. Yet, the Turks didn’t interfere when Ferdinand’s troops did cross the border of Hungary, instead, they broke in the Unna Valley at Croatia. Soon, King Szapolyai had to leave Buda Castle where Ferdinand could march in freely.
Ferdinand’s talented general, Count Salm defeated King Szapolyai at Tokaj in September so he had to flee for Transylvania. As a result, the first envoy, Lasky was sent to Istanbul to seek Suleiman’s help.
Ferdinand was crowned in November; and it was the time when Jajca also fell to the Turks.
1528: Suleiman accepts Szapolyai as king of Hungary in January and offers his help. Ferdinand appoints Lord Báthori as Voivode of Transylvania; Lord Thurzó had been appointed as his Treasurer. In March, General Hans Katzianer defeats the remaining army of King Szapolyai at Szina so Szapolyai had to escape to Poland. Ferdinand is gaining ground, his other general, Bálint Török takes Trencsén Castle, the ancient property of the Szapolyai family in June. There is a small victory of Szapolyai`s man, Scribe Simon Athinai who defeats Ferdinand`s troops at Sárospatak on 29 September, thus preparing the home-coming of his lord.
From now on, Gábor Szibler`s article will continue the story:
The battle of János Karlovics against the Turks on 4 October 1528 in Croatia.
As Croatia had sided with Ferdinand, there were more and more news about the Turk raids intruding into Croatian territory and also in Kraina (now Slovenia). Slovenia was in the hand of Kristóf Frangepán, the man of Szapolyai and the Turkish raids mostly avoided his lands.
Jajca fell in 1528 but most of the coastal forts of Croatia had fallen during the spring of 1527. The Bosnian Turks had taken Obrovác and Novigrád as well as many smaller forts. Their raiders appeared already at Triest and Fiume (Rijeka). Meanwhile, (as I had written), Ferdinand forced Szapolyai out of the kingdom.
As the Turk raids have caused lots of havoc, the Bans (Dukes) Ferenc Batthyány and János Karlovics tried to organize a defense but they were unable to do it so. They wrote pleading and begging letters to Ferdinand but in vain. There was a great attack at the end of September 1528, targeting Kraina.
The Ottoman troops were led by the „new Pasha of Mostar” of Bosnia. A few days before 20 September, Bán Karlovics had been trying to capture some beslia riders near to the Fort of Udbina (taken by the Turks already) but he could capture only a few infantrymen at the castle`s gate. Upon interrogated them, he learned that the Turk cavalry and their castle`s leader were destroying at that moment the lands of Bernát Frangepán.
Karlovics immediately set out with 300 riders to get there before them but could not find them. The captives had revealed that the Pasha of Mostar wanted to get across the Valley of Gacko on that very day towards Kraina. Hearing this, the Báns sent a report to the Court, then began to organize the defense.
Karlovics could even get some German infantrymen and he enlisted peasants from the area, too.
The raiding Turks appeared at the frontier of Kraina at the end of September; smaller defensive clashes took place. Yet, the main Ottoman army was able to get to Otocsác only on 1 October. They began to destroy, too, but Karlovics got before them three days later on 4 October. He forced them to get engaged in a battle at the Branica Creek, perhaps near to Castle Branik at a place called Wolau.
The data about the battle are quite controversial. There were reports sent to Venice a week later which said that the „Germans” stopped the marching Turks who were herding lots of Christian captives. Seeing them, the Turks slaughtered their captives and began the battle. The numbers are not clear, though. Some say there were 1,000 – 5,000 Turks and 15,000 Christians but most likely there were just 1,000 soldiers in both armies.
According to the first reports, it was a great victory but later the wandering mercenaries spread it was to the contrary, a defeat. By all means, many highly ranked Turks fell there, Scander „vice-pasha” was among them, as well as the alaj-bey or commander, the Pasha of Mostar.
Karlovics got seriously wounded by his own mercenaries who wanted to withdraw from the battle.
Bán Ferenc Batthyány wrote a letter to Queen Maria on 15 October in which he wrote information he had received from Karlovics. According to this, the battle was a victory of the Christians but he remarked bitterly upon the injuries of Karlovics, too. He was even hinting that it may have been an unsuccessful attempt of assassination.
All in all, these fights had a positive impact on the home-coming of King Szapolyai from Poland.
He came to understand that the Turks target the Habsburgs rather than him. He knew that his envoy Lasky Hieronym was about to make a treaty with the Sultan on behalf of the Hungarian king and also knew that the Ottoman ruler would launch a war against Ferdinand by all means.
And he has also understood that the Sultan would overrun and conquer entire Hungary unless he makes a treaty with him. He knew that the Christian world would excommunicate him for this but he had no choice if he wanted to avoid the full Ottoman occupation of the Kingdom of Hungary.