7-9 October 1683 The Battle of Párkány
King Sobieski of Poland said about the Battle of Párkány that it was a greater victory than the Battle of Kahlenberg at Vienna. You can learn the details of this grand fight on my page:
Before the battle
After the Siege of Vienna in 1683, the triumphant Christian army chased only half-heartedly the fleeing Ottoman troops. When Vienna was relieved, most of the Imperial troops immediately set out for home, and King Leopold had no plans about continuing the war. However, Bounnvisi, the legate of the pope was persuading him every day to go on with the campaign. Finally, Leopold gave in and ordered Charles, Duke of Lorraine to advance. King Sobieski of Poland reacted earlier, though. He had already attacked the retreating enemy.
Pasha Kara Mustafa arrived at Győr castle where he had the Pasha of Buda executed along with other high-ranking officers. Then, he reinforced Esztergom and Érsekújvár (Nové Zámky) and took himself to Buda castle. The Military Council of Vienna made a decision about the goal of the Imperial-Polish army on 2 October: they were to take Párkány and Esztergom. At that time, the combined army had already crossed the Vág River. Due to the bad weather, these goals seemed more achievable than the taking of the strong fort of Érsekújvár.
On the first day of the battle
The decisive fight on 9 October
It was the day when the withdrawing Ottoman troops were utterly beaten in the two-day-long Battle of Párkány, not far from Komárom. As we have read, on the first day, the 5,000 Polish cavalries under King Sobieski were defeated by the Ottoman army led by Kara Mehmed Pasha. More than 1,000 Polish Hussars and dragoons were slain.
The 20-28,000-strong Austrian forces of Charles V, Duke of Lorraine arrived on the next day and together they attacked the Turks who tried to withdraw their army via the boat bridge between Esztergom and Párkány. Now, the full number of the Christian army was about 36,000 soldiers, outnumbering the enemy three or four times. King Sobieski was encouraging his warriors to fight back, and indeed, they all wanted to take revenge for their painful losses.
There is an interesting history from the second battle of Párkány in 1683. In his letter to Queen, King Sobieski mentioned that when he was setting up troops on the morning of 9 October, he stood in front of Hussar’s banners and ordered those that were still in possession of lances to move into the first rank. Many of them lost their weapons during the first battle (on 7 October) or abandoned them during the retreat. One of the retainers moved forward with his lance, on which companion of his retinue wanted to take the weapon off him. The retainer wouldn’t hear about it though, saying ‘my lord, I managed to save this lance for myself from the [previous] encounter. I didn’t abandon it, like the others [theirs].’ King praised the brave retainer and gave him an award of five ducats. While he didn’t mention anything more about it, it is possible that the retainer was allowed to keep his place in the first rank, normally reserved for companions.
Duke Charles and his units were on the right wing and in the middle, while the troops of King Sobieski stood on the left wing. The Ottomans attacked first, their cavalry on the right wing assaulted the Polish. Also, their middle turned to the right and targeted the Polish. They thought that the Polish must have been weakened in the previous battle so much that they can be beaten easily. But they were wrong. The Polish were fighting bravely and resisted until Count Dünnewald came to their aid, leading the cavalry of Duke Charles. Now, the Christian main army outnumbered the enemy and forced them back. The Ottomans withdrew under the protection of the cannons of Párkány castle. Yet, it created an impossible situation for the Ottoman left wing. They were abandoned and hopeless, and they had to retire.
Finally, the men of the Duke and of the Polish King Sobieski won a decisive victory over the Ottomans, killing 8-9,000 of them. Unfortunately, the troops of Prince Thököly Imre were on the Turks’ side in this battle. During the next few days, the Imperials reinforced the fort of Párkány and buried the dead, then built a new boat bridge on 19 October. The Ottomans also sent reinforcement in Esztergom castle but it was in vain.
The fall of Esztergom on 28 October 1683
The siege of Esztergom began on 23 October, and the days of the town were numbered. Colonel Schärffenberg led a sweeping assault against the fort on Saint Thomas Hill, and he slew half of the guards and captured the rest of the defenders. When the entire Christian army was on the right bank of the Danube river, the bombardment of the castle began on 24 October. In the meantime, the army of General Mercy was guarding the road toward Buda because he was anticipating the arrival of an Ottoman reinforcing army. The troops of Duke Charles took the town of Esztergom with an assault on 25 October but the castle’s defenders were bravely holding their positions.
Then, Pasha Ibrahim, the commander of the castle agreed to start negotiations with the besiegers on 27 October. In the end, Pasha Ibrahim and his 6,000 soldiers surrendered, and he ceded the castle to them on 28 October. They were allowed to leave Esztergom undisturbed but they left behind 50 cannons and 1,000 quintals of gunpowder. Esztergom, the ancient Hungarian royal center was taken by the Turks in 1543 and it used to be one of their most important headquarters in Hungary. They lost it only for a short time between 1595 and 1605 but they could retake it because of the uprising of Prince Bocskai István. But now, the 140-year-long Ottoman rule in Esztergom has come to an end.
After this, King Sobieski set out for home but he had to go through the lands of Thököly where they were not welcome. Additionally, the Polish plundered the entire Nógrád County, punishing “the Turks”. They also took back Szécsény castle from the Ottomans who lost a sanjak center with the castle. Duke Charles returned to the army’s winter dwellings but after this victorious battle, nobody could think of a peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire. This battle contributed to the launching of a series of campaigns to reconquest Hungary. In my opinion, the Austrians realized that the Turks could send another army against Vienna anytime, and there would not be ready Polish help to save them. They had to “liberate” Hungary before the Hungarians (like Prince Thököly) could take action and regain their ancient kingdom for themselves.
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