Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

1575: the warriors of Kanizsa castle laid a trap

It happened on 19 October 1575 in Hungarian history:
-the warriors of Kanizsa Castle laid a successful trap on the Ottomans. Before translating the story found by Szibler Gábor into English, let me tell you a short explanation.

These “traps” (in Hungarian they were called “les”, meaning “ambuscade”) were happening every day on the 1,000-mile-long Borderland between the Ottoman Empire and Royal Hungary. Lurking the enemy into a trap with the help of a “bait” (“martalék”), namely sending forward a few riders who led the enemy to the place of the ambush, was in practice by both the Hungarians and the Ottomans. Here is more about the Borderland:

The Borderland in 1580

The Borderland was not defended merely by its castles and forts: as the saying went, “a castle can be defended only in the field”. And it meant continuous cavalry raids and patrols. It was mobile warfare that was able to save the frontier of Europe throughout many generations. At the same time, these ambushes were driven by a lack of money. If the Hussars wanted to avoid starvation, they had to take valuable captives for getting a ransom. All the booties were divided into three parts: the king had a share, the families of the fallen warriors got their part, and finally, the soldiers. It had quite a strict rule among the members of the Valiant Order.

Also, these fights mainly were unrecorded military actions.
In the picture above, you can see Hungarian winged Hussars from the 16th century, bringing home Ottoman heads. Note, this grim habit was practiced by Ottoman Turks and Hungarians alike. The Habsburg kings paid gold for these trophies and so did the Ottoman sultans. One head was worth about a soldier’s pay for a month. Below, you can see the picture of Kanizs 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 shiny victories or heroic last stands because they were answered to the Ottoman strategy of “softening up” a region. The enemy used this very effectively: they destroyed, burned, and plundered the region around a Hungarian / Croatian castle, terrorizing the peasants of the area. They either died or fled, and the castles became isolated, nobody came to bring taxes or food from the neighborhood, and no one came to work on the walls. Sooner or later, these castles fell to the Turks who went on conquering the next region or valley. These actions had to be stopped, and the Hussar cavalry was the perfect way to do so.

Hungarian Hussars

According to Szibler Gábor, the Hungarian Borderland guards of Kanizsa castle set out and rode after an Ottoman cavalry unit plundering the neighborhood.
As it had been snowing at night, they could track them down easily. So they rode on and set a trap before the Turks who ran into it. After a fierce fight, the enemy was defeated.
There were a few Hussars from Kiskomárom castle among the Hungarians who received 6 captives from the bounty. The riders from Kanizsa could take home 29 armored Ottoman Sipahies as captives and took other booties, 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