The Long War, Part 31; 1602: Basta’s victory in  Transylvania at Tövis (Teiuș, Dreikirchen), and the second Siege of Buda

Prince Báthory Zsigmond had resigned several times from his office but he returned to Transylvania in 1601 and has taken the throne for the fourth time. In his absence, General Basta’s army was controlling the land on behalf of the Holy Roman Emperor but now his troops were forced to leave.

General Basta

Báthory used to be the opposer of the Sublime Port but now he turned to the Sultan for aid, to have his power reinforced. Hearing this, Basta attacked him at Goroszló (Guruslău, Grosslau) on 3 August 1601 and won the battle. The army of Báthory was led by Székely Mózes, let us remember his name. Let us note, it was Mihai Viteazul, Prince of Moldavia, who was helping Giorgio Basta in that fight but the General had him killed after the battle.

Basta had Voivode Mihai killed in 1601

There was an interesting episode during the spring of 1602: an English officer called John Smith, left the troops of General Basta, and along with other English soldiers, joined the army of Székely Mózes. After this, he was fighting on the “losing side”, against the Habsburgs’ mercenaries. You can read more about the Hungarian adventures of Captain John Smith here:

Prince Báthory had to leave for Moldova but he returned from there in the summer of 1602. His army was led by Székely Mózes (with Székely soldiers) but Basta defeated them at Tövis (Teiuș, Dreikirchen), near to Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia, Weissenburg) on 2 July 1602. Also, note that during the next year, Basta’s soldiers destroyed Tövis utterly, ruined its castle, and killed its inhabitants.

The Battle of Goroszló

It was the time when Báthory said goodbye to Transylvania for good and left for Prague where he died. The Estates of Transylvania elected Székely Mózes as their Prince but he died the next year in battle.

Székely Mózes was the prince who had the most valuable coin minted in Transylvania

The battle of Tövis, just like the other battles at the end of the Fifteen-Year-War when the Transylvanian army was fighting against the Wallachian, Moldavian, Imperial, Turkish, and Tatar armies, can illustrate the confusion caused mainly by the resignations of Báthory. The vacuum in power led to the contest for the throne and it has caused tremendous bloodshed and misery all over Transylvania. The armies destroyed the land, and plague and famine followed suit. The middle parts of Transylvania became uninhabitable.

“The wagon of Basta” in Hungarian tradition: when people pulled the wagons instead of horses

Autumn 1602 – The Second Siege of Buda Castle

After the taking of Fehérvár, Grand Vizier Jemiscsi Haszán would have gone to besiege Esztergom castle but the General of Prince Báthory Zsigmond, a man called Székely Mózes (later prince of Transylvania) arrived in his camp. He asked for his help against the army of General Basta and in exchange for that, he pledged his fealty to the Grand Vizier. Although it seemed to be a risky business, Hasszán decided to turn against Transylvania instead of Esztergom, and he crossed the Danube River at Buda around 22 September.

The Thaller minted by Prince Báthory Zsigmond, 1595

He was at the Castle of Szarvas when he received envoys from Buda who were asking for his help as the Christians had begun the siege of Buda. The Christians had about 22-24,000 men and they set out towards Buda only on 29 September. They took Vác Castle on the way there and crossed the river to the Buda side. The siege of the capital began on 2 October. There were about 5,000-10,000 Turks in Buda while Pest was defended by 1,000-1,500 men.

Siege of Buda, 1602

The attackers took the Víziváros (Water City) during the first night and then, they took the Gellért Hill and deployed cannons there.
They exploded the boat bridge on the Danube on the night of 5 October and at the same time, they launched an assault against Pest city.

They were attacking the walls from the land and from the boats, too, and it has led to success. The last of the defenders got stuck in two round-bastions and they surrendered at noon on 7 October. The soldiers of Nádasdy Ferenc took them to Buda by boat.  Russwurm appointed the famous warrior, Eörsy Péter as Captain of Pest. Then, they rebuilt the boat bridge. (Note, that I am using the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.)

In the meanwhile, they were going on with the bombardment of Buda and tried to dig mines, too. The Turks have attempted a few sallies but with little success. The vanguards of Grand Vizier Hasszán arrived on 13 October and the cavalry of Nádasdy, Thurzó György, Pogrányi Benedek as well as the riders of Kollonitsch and Schönberg were sent against them. The Christians could surprise them with their abrupt attack and the Ottomans were chased back to the walls of Pest. The main army of Hasszán arrived soon and it was hindering the siege of Buda very much. While Russwurm was besieging Buda, Haszán was besieging Pest.

General Russwurm

Pest was being bombarded and assaulted but it was quite unsuccessful. The Hungarian defenders were able to sally out and cause damage. Here you can read more about the medieval town of Pest:

Unfortunately, their charge out on 26 October was not so successful, even Captain Eörsy Péter died. Grand Vizier didn`t continue his siege, he quit it on 28 October and moved away a few days later because the Turk garrison of Buda was not able to send food to his camp anymore. Instead, they begged Hasszán to leave some reinforcement at Buda and rather go away. Allegedly, he left 2,000 infantrymen in the castle but he did go away on 2 November from Pest.

The siege of Buda, 1602, by Rudolf Miller (a mural  in Sárvár, in the Nádasdy castle)

The Christians had been going on with their siege of Buda and they launched an overall attack on 22 October. The defenders have repelled valiantly the multiple waves of the assault, causing 1,000-1,500 losses to the Christians. The withdrawal of Hasszán hasn`t helped the besiegers and on top of that, the defenders have carried out successful sallies, they were repelled only by suffering huge losses.

Lord Nádasdy Ferenc, the “Strong Black Bey”

Nádasdy and Thurzó took the palisade fort of Adony on 30 October with his Hungarian and German troops, leaving behind 200 men in the castle. Nádasdy and his army had a battle with Turk troops coming from the direction of Fehérvár. The Hajdú soldiers of Thurzó took Paks and Dunaföldvár castles. 

The Ottoman defenders in Buda were starving and exhausted, running low on gunpowder but they were resisting. There was starvation among the besiegers as well as the disease was taking its toll on them. The winter has come early and the Imperial troops left Buda on 14 November behind but the palisade of Pest was kept by them.

Imperial soldiers in 1593

As for the achievement of the year 1602, we can say that both the Imperials and the Ottomans conducted a siege during the year but the Turks were more successful. They could take Fehérvár back while the Christians were able to take only Pest and its surroundings.

Source: Szibler Gábor

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