The Long War, Part 11 / the first clashes in 1595

A Hungarian Hussar, 1594

At the beginning of 1595, the Christians were getting ready to fight back again and further military clashes took place on the Borderland. As we have seen, Lord Bocskai István, the seasoned general of the Transylvanian prince, made a treaty against the Ottomans with Emperor Rudolf, on behalf of Prince Báthori Zsigmond on 28 January 1595. Báthori’s next step was to bring his own allies into action. Seeing that Voivode Áron of Moldova liked the Polish too much, he sent Transylvanian troops there and had him chased away. Báthori planted his man on the throne of Moldova instead of him, it was Voivode Stefan Razvan. Thus, Razvan supported him with 3,200 soldiers.

Voivode Stefan Razvan of Moldova

Voivode Razvan had an interesting life: the father of Ștefan Răzvan was a Muslim Roma (Gypsy) from the Ottoman empire who emigrated to Wallachia, while his mother was a Romanian peasant. Ștefan became very popular among the soldiers and, with their support and with the help of Prince Báthori Zsigmond, he ousted Aaron the Tyrant on 24 April 1595. However, his leadership lasted only until August 1595 because of the neighboring political power, the Polish did not agree with Ștefan Răzvan’s alliance with Transylvania and Wallachia. They invaded Moldavia in August, bringing Ieremia Movila as the Prince accepted by the Poles. The decisive battle was on the Suceva (Szűcs)’s plains (on 3 December 1595), concluded, after three hours of fight, with the Polish victory. Ștefan fled towards Transylvania, but he was captured and impaled.

The COA of Moldova

On the other hand, Voivode Michael of Wallachia signed a letter of alliance with him on 20 May, accepting the Transylvanian prince as his liege-lord. The envoys of Voivode Razvan arrived in his capital, Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia) on 3 June and signed a similar document. Both of the Wallachian principalities broke up with the Sublime Port and accepted Zsigmond’s rule who was authorized to nominate their voivodes and give them the symbols of their power. You can read more about the Transylvanian situation in the previous post:

There were profound changes in Istanbul, too. Sultan Murad III died on 16 January and his son, Sultan Mehmed III succeeded him. The new ruler has applied the 150-year-old tradition of killing his brothers and had 28 of his brothers assassinated to secure his throne. He replaced Grand Vizier Sinan with his enemy, Ferhád. (However, Sinan regained his position not much later.) Then, one of his first things was to send an offer of peace to the Habsburgs. According to his offer, Emperor Rudolf was supposed to resign his rights to Hungary and he should have paid the taxes he was due within three years. Of course, it was not acceptable for Rudolf but the Sultan also refused the Habsburgs’ offer that he was to empty his troops from the whole of Hungary.

Sultan Mehmed III (ruled 1595-1603)

It was important for the Ottomans to bring back their vassal states into their Empire so they summoned their forces around the area of the Lower Danube. This enabled the forces of Royal Hungary to call together 60-65,000 soldiers to conduct a successful campaign. Yet, the first clashes had occurred before the concentration of forces. As the Frontier had been brought forward to the area of the Rába River because of the fall of Győr and Pápa castles, the Turks thought it easier to conquer the lands beyond the river.

The Ottomans kept sending raiding parties to achieve this goal from their garrisons of Esztergom, Pest, and Buda during the first part of 1595 but their forces were defeated near Sárvár Castle by the 5,000-men-strong army of Ferenc Nádasdy. Naturally, the noble estates’ troops of the Hungarian counties and the soldiers who had been replaced to Sárvár from Pápa and Veszprém were also involved in this fight.

Nádasdy Ferenc, the “Strong Black Bey” (1555-1604), the husband of Báthori Erzsébet

It was Zrínyi György aka Juraj Zrinski who had launched an attack in the South Trans-Danubian Region during the previous year against the Turks of Babócsa Castle. He was aided by Archduke Ferdinand of Stiria and by Captain Christoph Haim of Kanizsa Castle. Seeing their 10,000-strong army, the Turk defenders set the fort on fire and fled on 30 June. Zrínyi had Babócsa Castle mended and reinforced and placed there his guards. This campaign has been finished with this. Here is more about Babócsa Castle:

As for Croatia, the Slavonian Chief Captain Johann Herberstein, Bán (Duke) Erdődy Tamás joined forces with Rupprecht Eggenberg and Johann Lenkowicz. Their first target was to retake the important fort of Petrinja. While their forces were being deployed, the Turk guards sallied out but they were repelled; their commander, Bey Rusztán got wounded, too.

Next, the Christians tried to attack the castle at night but the Muslims repelled it and the attackers withdrew towards Sziszek Castle. Yet, soon the Imperials received the news that Bey Rusztán had died in his injury and the Turk guards were preparing to leave the castle. Having heard this much, they returned and slaughtered the few defenders they found in the castle.

Petrija in the 17th century

The Ottomans have abandoned the castles of Hrasztovica and Gora as well. Herberstein planted reinforcement there and the campaign in Croatia has been finished with this. (Source: Szibler Gábor)

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