The Battle of Tát, 16 August 1685
A prelude to the Battle of Tát
Pasha Sejtán Ibrahim began the siege of Esztergom castle on 26 July 1685
Esztergom castle was taken back by the Christian army in 1683. It was too close to Buda Castle, and it provided an excellent strategic base for an eventual siege of Buda, as it was proved in 1684. Pasha Sejtán Ibrahim of Buda castle was in charge of the Ottoman forces in Hungary and he was aware of this and besieged Esztergom in July 1685. Ibrahim had trenches dug around Esztergom, and he began the continuous bombardment of the walls from the fort located on Saint Tamás Hill.
The defenders of Esztergom bravely sallied out, led by Joachim Strasser, trying to hinder the besiegers’ work. The town wall fell down on 9 August but the Ottoman general assault never was launched because the troops of Prince Charles appeared near Esztergom, and lured Ibrahim’s army after them. The enemy left Esztergom and marched after the reinforcing Christian army toward Tát. Fortunately, Esztergom did not have to suffer any sieges in the future.
Prince Charles of Lotharingia beats the Turks at Tát, Hungary on 16 August 1685
In the meantime, Prince Charles and his army of 80,000 men besieged Érsekújvár (Nove Zámky) on 7 July. Then, he was informed about the moves of Ibrahim Sejtan’s army at Esztergom castle. The Christian general did not allow this strategic fort would return to the Ottomans because of its closeness to Buda castle. That’s why he left a strong army around Érsekújvár and advanced towards Esztergom.
Let us recall the words of the chronicler of Transylvania:
“When the Turkish army arrived at Esztergom with a great force, the Prince of Lotharingia set out against them with the army of the German Emperor. As the Turks were located in a tight (narrow) place, the Prince wanted to entice them to a more convenient place. He pretended as if he had been scared and began retreating in good order.”
The chronicler went on: “The Turks ran after him undisciplined and foolishly and the Lotharingian suddenly had his army returned and began to give a strong fire. the Turks showed their back at this and the Germans were chasing and cutting them, taking all their artillery at the same time.”
The Turkish army consisted of about 30,000 cavalrymen and 12,000 infantrymen and the Imperials had mainly the same size of army. Yet, Ibrahim thought the Germans were just 20,000 strong so he was not afraid of attacking them.
The cannon fire lasted for barely a few minutes then the Ottoman riders cried “Allah! Allah!” and threw themselves at the army of Prince Charles. The right-wing was wavering at the beginning but the Prince was always near the most perilous places and gave courage to his soldiers and could beat the Turkish attack back with a well-aimed concentrated fire. The Serdar got injured, too, and he was heartening his soldiers in vain, the flight has begun. The Ottomans lost about 1,500 people while the Germans allegedly lost merely 100 men.
The Chronicle of Buda commemorates this battle like this:
“The Germans attacked from the behind of the field and began the battle, deployed army against a deployed army. The Eternal made confusion into the camp of the Turkish and behold, sword fought against sword, and the Turks fled hearing the noise of the Emperor’s army, may God increase his glory. They left their tents behind with all of their gold and silver, clothes and all the jewelry of their treasure, animals, and weapons – they tried to save their mere lives but most of them were killed by the edge of the sword.”
Source: Szibler Gábor
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