Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars between 1372-1699

17 February 1568 The Treaty of Edirne / Drinápoly

Emperor Maximilian II of the HRE, and King of Hungary

After the fall of Szigetvár castle in 1566, peace had to be made between the Habsburgs and the Ottomans. Although Szigetvár, this strategic Borderland castle of Hungary was lost, the Turks paid a huge price for it. Not only did 20,000 Ottoman soldiers perish during the siege but Sultan Suleiman ended his life there. In the 17th century, Cardinal Richelieu described the siege of Szigetvár as “the battle that saved civilization.” Indeed, the heroic last stand of Croatian and Hungarian soldiers, led by Zrínyi Miklós (Nikola Šubić Zrinski) have saved western Europe from the onslaught of the Ottoman Empire. Here is more about Szigetvár:

The siege of Szigetvár, 1566

With the fall of Szigetvár castle, Baranya County was completely lost to the enemy and the Hungarians’ ethnic rate suffered further damage in the whole trans-Danubian Region because the Turks could extend their borders to the west. Let us not forget, the Hungarian Kingdom was still existing, with a Habsburg king who had to keep the Hungarian laws and constitution. The Holy Roman Empire could never consume Hungary because the Hungarian warriors were essential to defending Vienna.

These lands were not only perfect bumper states and battlefields but good income, too. Hungary and Croatia, the Bulwark of Europe, along with the fabulous Mining Towns of North Hungary were feeding the HRE, not to mention the rapidly developing cattle trade. Some modern historians already dare say that the Habsburgs pumped less money into paying the soldiers on the Hungarian Borderland than the amount they earned from the situation.

The new borders of Hungary after 1568

It was the Habsburg empire that sent envoys to the sultan to plead for peace in the summer of 1567. The talks began in Drinápoly (Edirne). Emperor Maximilian II (we call him Miksa) wanted a truce for 10 years but Sultan Selim II was willing to agree to an 8-year-peace. However, he remarked that the treaty could be renewed after the expiration date. The negotiations lasted for more than six months. The Habsburgs were represented by Bishop Verancsics Antal (aka Antun Vrančić, Antonius Wrancius Sibenicensis Dalmata) and Teuffenbach Kristóf. 

Verancsics Antal (Antun Vrancic)

Verancsics wrote in his letter about the following about the negotiations taking place on 7 October 1567:

“The Pasha of Buda assigned the border between the lands of the Hungarian king and the Ottoman Occupied Lands like this: it followed the line along Szolnok, Eger, Hatvan, Fülek, Vygles, léva, Esztergom, Csókakő, until the Rinya river. He said, that everything that was on the inner side of this boundary belonged to them, including the Jász and the Kun people’s lands in general. Those territories should not pay taxes to the Hungarian king in the future. The Pasha referred to the book of the sultan where all the castles, towns, and villages located in the Ottoman Occupied Lands of Hungary are registered. The Port had already taken measures because the sultan ordered the neighboring Turkish beys that they should ban their peasants to pay taxes to the Hungarians. They banned the peasants around Eger castle to sell their wine in the villages of the Jász and the Kun people. Similarly, they forbid the peasants living over the Rinya river to pay taxes to the Hungarians, and to serve them with other labor.” 

Sultan Selim II

The envoys of Maximilian could achieve slightly better terms than in 1547, but the result still remained quite disadvantageous. First of all, the emperor had to acknowledge the Ottoman conquest between 1552 and 1566.  Both parties were banned to launch new campaigns to gain more lands. It was the “status quo”. They agreed not to attack Transylvania, and Transylvania was not allowed to attack the Habsburgs or the Ottomans either. Read more about  Transylvania and find out whether it was a mere vassal state of the Ottomans or not:

Also, the Treaty guaranteed the safety of their subjects and granted them the freedom to move. The trade with slaves and prisoners of war was banned, too. Envoys were supposed to travel unhurt. Certain lands, castles, towns, and villages belonging to Transylvania (laying between Transylvania and the Tisza river) could be bartered with lands and settlements belonging to the Ottoman Occupied Lands, mainly on the border. On top of these, the Habsburgs were obliged to pay an annual tax of 30,000 Hungarian gold Forints to the sultan.

Maximilian’s Forint (1578)

We should note, this sum was bigger than the tax paid by the Transylvanians. The Transylvanians paid 10,000gold pieces at the beginning, then it rose to 15,000 in the 1570s. This tax was reduced to 10,000 Forints after 1606, though. There were periods, like during the reign of Prince Bethlen when Transylvania paid no taxes. Later, prince rákóczi volunteered to pay 20,000 Forints just to bribe the Ottomans, hoping they would let him grant more independent foreign politics. However, after his disastrous Polish war, in the worst days of Transylvania, after the fall of Várad in 1660, the tax was doubled to 40,000 Forints. 

Maximilian’s Forint

The Treaty of Edirne marked the end of the period of the so-called “Great Castle-Wars” between the Ottomans and the Hungarians. There was a relatively peaceful period when military actions were limited and sieges with artillery were not allowed. Yet, the “small war” was raging all the same on the Borderland: the Ottomans were “softening” up the castle chain, as usual, isolating the Borderland castles from their supporting villages by burning and pillaging the countryside. At the same time, the Hungarian hussars were ambushing them wherever they could. The new war began only in 1591/93 and it was the devastating 15-Year-War that caused even more destruction than any wars before. To learn more about the lay of the land a bit better, you can find more maps on my page:

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