1575: the warriors of Kanizsa castle laid a trap

It happened on 19 October 1575 in the history of Hungary:
-The warriors of Kanizsa Castle successfully trapped the Ottomans. Before I translate the story found by Gábor Szibler into English, let me give you a brief explanation.

These “traps” (in Hungarian they were called “les”, meaning “ambuscade”) took place every day along the 1,000-mile border between the Ottoman Empire and Royal Hungary. Luring the enemy into a trap with the help of a “bait” (“martalék”), i.e. sending a few horsemen forward to lead the enemy to the place of ambush, was practiced by both the Hungarians and the Ottomans. Here is more about the Borderland:


The Borderland in 1580

The Borderland was not only defended by its castles and forts: as the saying goes, “a castle can only be defended in the field”. And that meant constant cavalry raids and patrols. It was mobile warfare that kept Europe’s frontiers open for generations. At the same time, these raids were driven by a lack of money. If the hussars were to avoid starvation, they had to take valuable prisoners for ransom. All the booty was divided into three parts: a share for the king, a share for the families of the fallen warriors, and a share for the soldiers. It was a rather strict rule among the members of the Order of the Valiant.

Again, these were mostly unrecorded military actions.
In the picture above you can see 16th century Hungarian winged hussars bringing home Ottoman heads. Note that this grim custom was practiced by Ottoman Turks and Hungarians alike. The Habsburg kings paid gold for these trophies, as did the Ottoman sultans. A head was worth about a month’s pay for a soldier. Below you can see the picture of Kanizsa Castle in the 16th century, designed by Pazirik Kft.

Picture: Pazirik Kft

More about the Castle of Kanizsa:


I dare say that these clashes of the ‘small war’ were just as important as the glorious victories or heroic last stands because they responded to the Ottoman strategy of ‘softening up’ a region. The enemy used this very effectively: they destroyed, burned, and looted the region around a Hungarian/Croatian castle, terrorizing the peasants in the area. They either died or fled, and the castles became isolated, no one came to bring taxes or food from the neighborhood, and no one came to work on the walls. Sooner or later these castles would fall to the Turks, who would move on to conquer the next region or valley. This had to be stopped, and the Hussar cavalry was the perfect way to do it.

Hungarian Hussars

According to Szibler Gábor, the Hungarian border guards of Kanizsa Castle set out and rode after an Ottoman cavalry unit that was plundering the neighborhood.
As it had snowed that night (in October!), they could easily track them. So they rode on and set a trap for the Turks who ran into it. After a fierce battle, the enemy was defeated.
Among the Hungarians were some hussars from Kiskomárom Castle, who got 6 prisoners from the bounty. The horsemen from Kanizsa took 29 armoured Ottoman Sipahies as prisoners and other booty, including 40 horses.

A Sipahi rider (notice: they had no pistols while the Hussars had, after 1572)

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Ottoman warriors herding peasants to the slave market