The Long War, Part 27/The mutiny of Walloon mercenaries in Pápa castle, 1600

Pápa castle

Although the Turks had moved to their wintering places, they haven`t given up their plans about reaching a Truce and they kept on trying to come to terms with General Pálffy Miklós. Unfortunately, the famous general passed away because of a serious sickness on 23 April 1600. (Please, note that I use the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.)


The Habsburgs lost their most outstanding and talented general which was indeed a severe loss.
At the same time, the Habsburg army has been getting together even slower than before. Archduke Matthias acted as their Chief General but in fact, it was Philipp Emanuel de Lorraine, Prince of Mercoeur from Lotharingia who was the real commander. Sadly, he hasn`t succeeded in reaching the battlefield even in the summer in person. It was because of a very serious situation, an unprecedented riot of the mercenaries threatened the Christians` position.

There were 3,000 foreign mercenaries in Pápa, 1,500 of them were Walloon soldiers. They haven`t got their pay for a half year and they were demanding it in vain. the Emperor was due to pay them 60,000 gold and they had been waiting for it for half a year already. The castle’s captain was Maróthy Mihály and his two officers were Slakovics Farkas and Bakács Sándor but they had only a few Hungarian soldiers with them. Maróthy had desperately asked for help to pay the mercenaries but he received only promises that the money might be paid in installments, some months later. 

The Walloons’ leaders were called Finn and La Motte. They rioted on 1 June and disarmed both the German and the Hungarian guards, including their own captain, Maróthy Mihály. Shortly after, they began to loot the city systematically and collected all the valuables into a building. Then, to make things worse, they sent envoys to the Turks of Fehérvár Castle. They offered to cede them Pápa castle if they paid their 60,000 (or 100,000) gold Forints which had not been paid by the Habsburgs.

Pápa (Photo: Civertan)

Pasha of Bosnia, Dervis Hassan supported this offer as well as the Sultan and Grand Vizier Ibrahim. Yet, even they were having difficulties raising this huge amount of cash in such a short time. They were late and it has been decisive. The Habsburg military Council reacted quickly to this threat and General Adolf Schwarzenberg moved to Pápa from Győr, with a quite small unit. They tried to blow up the gate with the explosive called „petarda” on 10 June but it proved unsuccessful.

The General returned in mid-July with several thousand soldiers and besieged Pápa Castle. As the Walloons knew that they would have no mercy in case of getting captured, they were defending the fort very persistently so the siege lasted for a month. The mercenaries of La Motte have caused great losses with their sallies. During such a charge out, General Schwarzenberg got a lethal wound on 29 July. His position was taken over by Nádasdy Ferenc for a short time, he was elected by the officers of the army in unison. The new commander, Melchior von Redern arrived on 8 August so Nádasdy resigned but he was appointed as the leader of the cavalry. You can read more about foreign mercenaries fighting in Hungary:

The Walloons were starving and attempted to escape from the fort on 9 August but they were discovered and the Hungarian Hussars and the German cavalry rode after them, killing most of them. It was mainly the riders of Nádasdy and Seifrid von Kollonitsch who caught up with the runners at the ruined abbey of Leveld (Városlőd). Those who could not hide were slaughtered or captured. There were 200-600 of them who could cut themselves out and could flee to Fehérvár Castle where they were employed by the Turks. They caused serious problems for the Habsburg Military Council even next year. 

Execution of the mercenaries at Pápa

The captured ones were tortured in the most hideous ways, mostly impalement was the common procedure. According to the chronicle of Istvánffy, the terrible tortures were carried out by the Walloon troops who had remained loyal to the Habsburgs. After this horrible incident, there were no more cases during the Ottoman wars when foreign mercenaries would try to cede the castle to the enemy, though.

Poor Captain Maróthy was freed but he could not have enjoyed his freedom for long. After a few weeks, he was traveling from Győr to Pápa and the raiding Crimean Tatars attacked him and he got wounded. He was taken to Sárvár Castle where he died shortly after. 
In the meantime, the army of Grand Vizier Ibrahim got into motion and crossed the Száva River on 10 August. According to contemporary sources, „the remaining 160 Walloon soldiers all died at the fourth siege at the Gate of Palota (in Várpalota), on the 19th day of Saint Michael`s month (September), they were valiant warriors, none of them surrendered.”

Source: Szibler Gábor and Arcanum

Pápa in 1664

You can read more about the history of Pápa Castle here:

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