Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

27 June 1578 A Hungarian defeat at Bicske

It happened on the day of 27 June 1578 that Nádasdy Ferenc and Pálffy Miklós suffered a defeat by the Ottoman Turks at Bicske, in the Kingdom of Hungary. (Please, note that I use the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.)
Nádasdy Ferenc (1555-1604), the lord of Sárvár castle, husband of Lady Báthori Erzsébet
Nádasdy Ferenc and Pálffy Miklós and the army of the Captain of Érsekújvár (Nové Zámky), Fernando Samaria Spezie de Casa, met in Komárom and set out on 26 June from there. Captain Paksy György joined them at Tata Castle with his riders. There were altogether 700 cavalrymen and 900 infantrymen and they left the infantrymen behind at Bicske. (Bicske was not very far away from Buda Castle.)
A Hungarian Hussar commander, in 1591
The Hussars rode out and collected the Turks’ horses which were grazing on the fields around Buda Castle then they were heading home. Yet, Pasha Sinan rushed after them with his riders and Janissaries, bringing even cannons along with himself. Nádasdy and Pálffy wanted to withdraw from the overpowering enemy but the soldiers wanted to stand a battle. There was a daredevil among them, Huszár Mátyás of Berhida, the brother of the famous duellist, Berenhidai Péter. Mátyás would have attacked the Turks even with his 40 Hussars. Their devotion had an effect on Pálffy so they decided to fight the Ottomans. At once, they summoned the infantry from Bicske. They deployed them on the two wings and the cavalry took up its position in the center.
Three Hungarian infantrymen (Hajdú) from 1591
The enemy attacked, trusting in their superior numbers. The Hungarians tried to withdraw under the pressure of the enemy and they were fighting while retreating but they couldn’t break free from the Turks. When the Turks fired their cannons, the Hussars fled and Nádasdy and Pálffy couldn’t stop them. The runners dragged Nádasdy with them, too. Pálffy stayed with the infantrymen who were fighting hard and finally could get some breath in a forest.
Hungarian Hajdú soldiers
The severe defeat cost the Hungarians of 600 men, mainly infantrymen. It was a typical example of what would happen if the cavalry abandoned the infantrymen. The garrison of Komárom Castle has decreased so much that Pálffy had to ask for reinforcement from Archduke Ernest of Austria. The Archduke expressed his sorrow upon the defeat but at the same time, he recommended to King Rudolf to have Pálffy removed from the Captaincy of Komárom and bring him before a military court.
Komárom Castle in 1594
Nádasdy couldn’t be punished because he was raiding with his own men who were paid by him, and not by the king. Yet, King Rudolf punished nobody except by sending a letter of warning to them. On the other hand, the Hungarian prisoners of war were made to march through the streets of Istanbul in a parade. The Turks took 18 flags and there were 120 prisoners who were each carrying 4-5 human heads and they carried long spears after every tenth prisoner which were decorated by human heads, too.
The noblest prisoner, Forgách György had to tell the story of the battle in front of the Divan. Most of the captives were sold to the galleys soon afterward.
Prisoners of war on Ottoman galleys
(Source: Szibler Gábor)
You can read more about Nádasdy Ferenc here:
Here is more about the life of Pálffy Miklós:
Chief Captain Pálffy Miklós 1552-1600

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Here is more about the life of Berenhidai péter, a Hussar hero: