Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

The Long War, Part Five / October-November 1593

A map of Hungary from 1570: you can see the Trans-Danubian Region with Lake Balaton

October 1593: An Ottoman attack against the Trans-Danubian Area (Dunántúl)

In 1593, the military action began too late. It was therefore possible to set smaller goals. You can read more about the military targets in the previous post: 

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/chronologie/the-fifteen-year-war-series-1591-1606/the-long-war-part-four-the-military-targets/
Pasha Szinánpasazáde Mehmed (son of Pasha Sinan) took the castle of Sziszek on 28 August after five days of bombardment. He then joined his father’s army and their force of around 50-60,000 men set out against Hungary. The siege of Veszprém began on 3 October. The castle was defended by 1,200 Hungarian-German guards led by Captain Ferdinand Samaria de Speziacasa.

Veszprém castle (Photo: Csendesmark)

Although the fort was well supplied with gunpowder and food, after days of heavy bombardment the situation became untenable due to the collapse of a tower, the breaches in the walls, and the conflagration. The guards finally fled Veszprém Castle on the night of 6 October, but most of them were either slaughtered or captured. Captain Samaria and Captain Georg Andreas von Hoffkirchen were also captured. A total of 40 German and 48 Hungarian soldiers managed to reach the safety of Pápa Castle. The Turks also suffered heavy losses when they marched into Veszprém Castle because the gunpowder in the fortress exploded. It is said that Pasha Sinan was among the wounded. He made Veszprém the center of a new Ottoman Sandjak and ordered the walls to be rebuilt.

The fall of Palota castle 

He continued his campaign and on 9 October marched to the castle of (Vár)Palota. It was defended by Ormándy Péter with his 650 Hungarian and German soldiers. (Please note that I am using the oriental order of names for Hungarians, where surnames come first). Sinan had Palota bombarded for two days, then the next day Ormándy entered into negotiations with him and finally surrendered the fort.

A Jannisary before 1657

When the Hungarians came out of the castle, the Janissaries slaughtered most of them, but a few managed to escape, including Ormándy. However, Ormándy and the chief officer of Veszprém Castle, Eőrsy Péter, were sentenced to death by the Habsburg monarch and would have lost their heads if the king had not pardoned them. Another officer of Palota, Hoffkirchen, was taken to Istanbul, but he was miraculously freed in April 1596. As for Samaria de Speziecasa, another prisoner, he escaped from Nándorfehérvár aka Belgrade. It was his third captivity. He bribed his guards and escaped from the prison with a rope around 1597.

(Vár)Palota castle

The castle of Tata was also to be besieged, but the mercenaries urged Pasha Sinan to move to the winter quarters. Sinan had his army winter in Hungary, but he went to Nándorfehérvár (Belgrade). The mercenaries of the Sublime Port disobeyed his orders and returned to Istanbul, reporting to the Sultan that the Grand Vizier had given them tasks that were unusual for soldiers.
During Sinan’s campaign, the Christian army slowly gathered at the castle of Győr but did not take part in any military action.

Ferdinand Hardeck/Hardegg (?-1595)

The only thing they could do was that Hardegg (alias Ferdinand Hardeck), the chief captain of Győr, had sent reinforcements and supplies to Veszprém and Palota before the siege. The two fortresses fell before their eyes. However, they planned to fight back when the main Ottoman army was gone. 

November 1593: The Christians fight back

General Hardegg managed to raise an army of 18-20,000 men by mid-October. The troops of Zrínyi György, Pálffy Miklós, and Nádasdy Ferenc were among his soldiers.

A formation of foot soldiers armed with muskets framing a group of soldiers armed with lances; led by two captains on horseback and musicians (1592)-British Museum

When Sinan retreated, Hardegg began his advance. The generals debated the objectives of the campaign; they could not agree whether (Székes)Fehérvár or Veszprém should be attacked first. In the end, it was Fehérvár. They left Komárom Castle on 29 October and arrived in Fehérvár on 31 October. It was foggy and they almost surprised the defenders, but they were spotted and bombarded by cannons.

 Berenhidai Huszár Péter

Colonel Jörger Hermann attacked the outer town called Budai aka Beslia, while Huszár Péter, the captain of Pápa, attacked the outer town called Ingovány aka Bég. The siege began at dawn on 1 November, but only Huszár Péter managed to enter the outskirts by midday. He called for reinforcements and was able to hold his ground until midnight, but could not enter the castle.

Székesfehérvár castle in the age of the Long War

The Battle of Pákozd, 3 November 1593

After the failure, the Christians were on their way out of Fehérvár when they were attacked by the troops of Szokolluzáde Haszán of Buda on the 3rd of November. According to some historians, the battle took place in Pákozd.

The Battle of Pákozd (by Bánlaky)

The pasha had about 20,000 men, including the 5,000 janissaries who had stayed behind for the winter. At the same time, Hardegg was only able to send 7-8,000 men into battle, as the rest had moved into their winter quarters.
The Ottomans outnumbered him and deployed their army in the usual crescent shape. The janissaries were on the right and the soldiers of the Vilayet of Buda were on the left. The Pasha stood in the center with his Sipahi horsemen.

Pasha Sinan of Buda

This is probably how the Christian army was deployed: Pálffy on the left with the troops of the mining district; Hardegg and Huszár with the army of Győr Castle and the Austrians on the right; Zrínyi, Nádasdy, Batthyány Boldizsár in the center with the troops of the Trans-Danubian region. There were only a few foot soldiers and not much artillery.

Pákozd, 1593

While the Christian horsemen fought the Turkish infantry on the wings for a long time, Zrínyi’s hussars quickly routed the Sipahies in the center. There were also many individual duels in this battle. Pasha Hasszán was also injured. The Turkish foot soldiers were left on the wings and suffered heavy casualties. The Christians did not take any prisoners and the Ottoman losses were between 3 and 8,000 men. The Christian army suffered 40-50 dead and countless wounded.

After the battle, Hardegg and his soldiers left for their winter quarters. General Hardegg praised Huszár’s deeds in the battle. He wrote: “Huszár Péter attacked from the right wing with his infantry and cavalry. He pushed the enemy further and further back until they finally fled”. After the battle of Pákozd, the next military actions were to take place in Upper Hungary.

The map of Angielini from 1566

Source: Szibler Gábor

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