The Long War, Part 38; 1606 – The creation of a Double Treaty of Peace

The “Hungaries”: Royal Hungary, Principality of Transylvania, the Ottoman Occupied Lands

The Diet of Kassa (Kosice, Kaschau) has discussed the points of the planned truce again in April 1606. As it had been already adjusted with the Habsburgs in Vienna before, the talks were going on smoothly, led by Illésházy. It must be noted, though, that the terms were a lot less radical than the points of the Korpona Diet had been. The treaty was signed in Vienna on 23 June.

The Peace of Vienna, 1606

As a result of this, the Protestant noblemen, burghers, and Borderland warriors were free to practice their religion and the previous law which had been restricting the rights of the Protestants was withdrawn. The treaty said they had to elect a Palatine soon because it has not been done so since 1526. The Palatine used to be the highest rank in the kingdom, he was authorized to rule the country in case of the Hungarian king was abroad. Also, the Holy Crown was to be brought to Pozsony (Bratislava, Pressburg) to be safeguarded there. 

Emperor Rudolf II of the HRE, also King of Hungary

The main officeholders had to be Hungarians and the properties which had been gifted to foreigners immediately were supposed to be given back to their original owners. The privileges of the free royal towns had to be reinforced. The treaty ruled a few points in favor of the Roman Catholic Church as well but it was decided that only those chief priests were allowed to take part in the Council of the King who had their congregational areas in earnest. The male heirs of Bocskai were given the right to rule over the Principality of  Transylvania and the Partium, including the three counties of Royal Hungary, namely Ugocsa, Bereg, and Szatmár counties. In the lack of a male heir, these lands would return to the Hungarian Crown, though.

Prince Bocskai István of Transylvania

Emperor Rudolf was unwilling to sign all the points of the treaty so Archduke Matthias faked the document instead of him so it was handed over to the Hungarian delegation like this. At this time, the power of the Emperor was gradually decreasing already. Read more about Bocskai István here:

The relationship with the Sublime Port had to be addressed, too. The 15-Year War has exhausted both empires. As for the Ottomans, they got richer with two newly conquered castles, Kanizsa and Eger. On the other hand, the Christians have regained the forts of Nógrád County. Transylvania has got hold of the castles along the Maros River. The Turks have won only 20 of the battles and sieges out of the 83, the rest have been the success of the Christians.

Sultan Achmed I

The Ottoman Empire has been losing its interest in the fight against the Habsburgs since 1603 because of its wars against Persia.
Yet, the Sublime Port was willing to get engaged in discussions only after they had taken Esztergom again. Sultan Achmed I seized the throne in 1603 and he was willing to make peace. 

Peace negotiations of Zsitvatorok, 1606

The talks took place under a tent in a camp near Esztergom at the River Zsitva. They agreed that both sides could keep the forts and the lands they had occupied. The raids and castle-takings, and castle buildings were forbidden in the future but they were allowed to maintain the constructions of the previously taken castles. Both empires agreed to release their prisoners of war. The Ottomans were not allowed to make those Christian noblemen who lived outside of the Ottoman Occupied Lands to pay taxes to them. The Sultan accepted the Holy Roman Emperor as an equal ruler and didn`t demand him to pay him taxes anymore, except for an amount of 200,000 gold Forints which was to be paid to him now.

The envoys of the Habsburg Court and the diplomats of the Hungarian Estates signed the document with the Sultan`s envoys on 11 November. The Turk customs usually required that a treaty like this should last for a couple of years but this truce was valid for 20 years. The attitude of the Ottoman empire has changed significantly in this respect.

Prince Bocskai István survived the signing of the Zsitvatorok Treaty for only a few months and he died in Kassa on 29 December. Before his death, he had urged his successors to preserve the independence of Transylvania as long as the Habsburgs reigned in Royal Hungary. Bocskai thought that it was his chancellor Káthay Mihály who was poisoning him. The Hajdú soldiers of Bocskai also claimed that Káthay had falsified Bocskai’s testament to prevent the young Báthory Gábor from seizing the throne of Transylvania. The Hajdús attacked Káthay on the main square of Kassa and cut him into pieces on 12 January 1607 before the suspicion could have been properly proven. 

The renewal of the Peace of Zsitvatorok in 1627

The Treaty between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburgs was prolonged on 13 September 1627 at Szőny. The Holy Roman Empire was engaged in the 30-Year War while the sublime Porte had domestic problems. Let us note that the Treaty had been several times confirmed between 1606 and 1627. This agreement in 1627 was needed because of the Transylvanian campaign. 

Prince Bethlen Gábor of Transylvania fought his third war against the Habsburgs in 1626. The Sultan sided with him against King Habsburg Ferdinand II but this move was against the Treaty of Zsitvatorok. When the peace treaty was signed between the Habsburgs and the Transylvanians, Pasha Murteza of Buda Castle initiated a treaty to be signed between the Habsburgs and the Sultan as well. Finally, it led to the Treaty at Szőny.

The envoys met on the Forró Island at Szőny, Hungary, the Ottomans sent Pasha Mehmed of Eger castle, Effendi Iza from Buda castle, and the Agha of the Asabs from Buda was also there, along with the beys of Esztergom and Szolnok castles. King Ferdinand’s men were Baron and Chancellor Sennyey István and the Bishop of Vác, accompanied by Baron Questenberg Gellért, Esterházy Dániel, and Koháry Péter. The text of the Treaty was written in three languages, Hungarian, Latin, and in Turkish. 

The extension of the peace in 1650

February 25, 1650, in Istanbul, the Peace of Zsitvatorok and the Treaty of Szőcs confirmed it was prolonged. In 1648, the Thirty Years’ War, which had consumed all the Habsburg forces, came to an end. The leaders of the Hungarian political elite, led by Pálffy Pál, the Hungarian Palatine, hoped that the Danube Monarchy would now turn all its strength against the Ottoman Empire. They were to be disappointed, as the representatives of King Ferdinand III signed the Treaty of Istanbul with Sultan Mehmed IV, which extended the previous treaties (the Peace of Zsitvatorok, the Peace of Szőny, the Peace of Szécsény) for another 22 years, meaning that the Hungarian Estates would have to wait decades before the eventual war of liberation could begin.


Therefore, under the leadership of Pálffy Pál, they wanted to achieve their goals by creating an independent Hungarian army and financial system. Aristocrats like Pálffy, Zrínyi Miklós, and later Nádasdy Ferenc, who gathered around the nobleman Esterházy Miklós (1625-45), were prominent representatives of this movement.

King Habsburg Ferdinand III

They did not achieve their goals, but the peace in Istanbul did not last 22 years. The Transylvanian Civil War of the early 1660s and Turkish invasions threatened to make Transylvania a permanent province of the Ottoman Empire. In 1661, imperial troops led by Montecuccoli marched into Transylvania to help Prince Kemény János. Although they did not clash with the Turks, it was a breach of the peace.

Sultan Mehmed IV

The Sublime Porte’s revenge campaign was not delayed. In 1663-63, a huge army led by Ahmed Köprülü arrived in Hungary. Although they were stopped at Szentgotthárd on August 1, 1664, by the troops of the Rhine League and the Habsburg monarchy, the Viennese court signed another peace treaty with the Porte 10 days later. The war of liberation was delayed for another 20 years.

Source: Szibler Gábor

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