Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars between 1372-1699

The Long War, Part 32; military actions in the first part of 1603

A Crimean Tatar rider

Prelude to the campaigns

The year 1603 began in February-March with destruction made by Crimean Tatar raids in Hungary, on the lands of Lord Ferenc Nádasdy… We can have a small insight about the nature of these raids from the letter written by Achmed Defterdar to the Council of the Sultan:

„This is the letter of Achmed, the Chief Defterdar who is the collector of the Treasury’s income in Belgrade.
He is providing the following information:
On the 20th day of this Sábán month (02. February 1603), the private messenger of the Tatar Khan has arrived here. He has delivered a reliable verbal message and a letter from the Khan.
The Tatar Beys called Pasha Achmed and his brother Bey Arslan together with the soldiers of the Sultan in Pozsega (Požega), altogether more than 12,000 Tatars. They had managed to get some skilled spies (guides) from Kanizsa. They entered the infidels’ country on the 6th day of Sábán month (19. January 1603) and succeeded to return to Szigetvár Castle unharmed, loaded with booty on the 12th day of Sábán (25. January). They were burning in the domains of Nádasdy (Nedazs oglu) and Batthyány (Pañani) the outer settlements of the castles called Moroni [Moson?], Szonbu Tahl [Szombathely] and Lindok [Alsólendva], broke down the scum and took captives, herded their animals away, and set 800 nearby villages on fire; they took the captives and the animals to Belgrade.
The number of slaves was 10,000 and the number of animals was 20,000. As nobody has ever cast a look at the slaves or the animals in Belgrade and in Kanizsa, they took them to Buda for sale. (…) 
The reply of Sultan Mehmed – be the mercy of Allah on him – was the next: ‘I have acknowledged it, it was a great job.’ “

Raiders in action…

Spring-Summer 1603 – Preparations for the campaign 

This year clearly showed how exhausted the two parties had been. The Ottomans were in a more disadvantageous situation because the uprising of the Dzseláli in Anatolia had tied down serious forces and they suffered huge losses and destructions. On top of this, even the Ispahies rioted in the capital. Additionally, the Persians declared war during the spring. The Persian Sah Abbasz has been taking away large lands from the Ottoman Empire with the help of his army which had been updated to the military level of the age.

Grand Vizier Jemiscsi Haszán could come up with partial success. He appointed the strongest Dzseláli commander, Deli Haszán as the Beglerbey of Bosnia who had brought along about 100,000 of his soldiers to the Balkan Peninsula. Yet, it couldn’t stop the uprising entirely. The Vizier has fulfilled some of the demands of the Ispahies but later he put them down with the aid of the Janissaries. He had to send an army against the Persians, too, so they had to fight on three frontiers at the same time.

Sultan Ahmed I (1603-1617)

Sultan Mehmed III died at the end of the year and his son, the 14-year-old Ahmed became the Sultan. He was a weak ruler and was not able to achieve results on all three fronts. The goal was to make a peace with the Imperials but the Ottomans had very high demands which finally have made the truce impossible to conduct. The talks had already begun in 1602 via French negotiators and they were re-started during the summer of the following year. They began in July, near the Castle of Komárom. The Imperials sent the Bishop of Eger, Szuhay István, the Chief Captain Nádasdy Ferenc, and the Military Advisor Johann Molard as well as Colonel Adolf Althan, the Chief Captain of Esztergom.

The Ottomans were giving in and they were willing to accept that Pest and Esztergom would remain in Imperial hands but they refused to give back Eger and Kanizsa castles. Now, it was the Imperials’ turn to refuse these terms so the talks have come to an end by the end of August.

Komárom castle

In the meantime, preparations for the campaign were going on. Archduke Matthias had wanted to launch an attack against Buda as early as spring came but there was not a chance to carry it out. On the other hand, General Basta could not dare to move out of Transylvania so it was the reason why they have appointed again Russwurm as the Chief Commander. They wanted to get the troops together by August but this aim has been unsuccessful due to the lack of money and gunpowder. Yet, there were smaller clashes going on.

The Imperial artillery of Pest had been shooting Buda so hard in March until the gunpowder storage of the Turks was blown up. Colonel Althan tried to take advantage of the havoc but his night-assault was not successful.
The units of Nádasdy and Kollonitsch attacked and took the castles of Bolondvár (Balatonszemes) and Lak (Öreglak) in the summer.
The musketeers of Sulz and Althan’s Hajdú soldiers attacked the Turk boats at Szerdahely (near to Szekszárd) which were carrying supplies. They slaughtered 5-700 soldiers of the 6-8,000 Ottoman troops who guarded the boats.
At last, Russwurm has set out on 17 September from Esztergom to start the third siege of Buda: you can read about it in the next part…

Source: Nádasdy Ferenc Bandérium, and Szibler Gábor

Buda in 1598

You can read the previous part here:

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