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)

As the military actions began too late during 1593, only lesser objectives could be set. You can read more about the military targets in the previous post:
Pasha Szinánpasazáde Mehmed (son of Pasha Sinan) took the Castle of Sziszek on 28 August, after bombarding it for five days. Then, he joined his father`s army and their approximately 50-60,000-strong army set out against Hungary. They began the siege of Veszprém 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, the situation became untenable after days of heavy bombardment because of the falling of a tower, the breaches in the walls, and the conflagration. The guards finally fled from Veszprém Castle during the night of 6 October but most of them were either slaughtered or captured. Captain Samaria and Captain Georg Andreas von Hoffkirchen were captured, too. Altogether 40 German and 48 Hungarian soldiers could reach the safety of Pápa Castle. Yet, the Turks had suffered also great losses when they marched into Veszprém Castle because the gunpowder in the fort exploded. Allegedly, Pasha Sinan was among the wounded, too. He turned Veszprém into a center of a new Ottoman Sandjak and gave the order to rebuild its walls.

The fall of Palota castle 

He continued his campaign and moved to (Vár)Palota Castle on 9 October. It was defended by Ormándy Péter with his 650 Hungarian and German soldiers. (Please, note that I use the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.) Sinan had Palota bombarded for two days, then Ormándy entered into negotiations with him on the following day, and finally, he surrendered the fort. When the Hungarians were coming out of the castle, the Janissaries slaughtered most of them, only a few could escape, Ormándy was among them. Yet, Ormándy and the chief officer of Veszprém Castle, Eőrsy Péter were sentenced to death by the Habsburg monarch and they would have lost their heads if the king hadn`t pardoned them. Another officer of Palota, Hoffkirchen was taken to Istanbul but he miraculously freed himself in April 1596. As for Samaria de Speziecasa, another captive, he escaped from Nándorfehérvár aka Belgrade. It was his third captivity, though. He bribed his guards and escaped from the prison by descending with a rope around 1597.

(Vár)Palota castle

Tata castle was also supposed to be besieged but the mercenaries urged Pasha Sinan to move to the winter lodgings. Sinan had his army wintered in Hungary but he went to Nándorfehérvár (Belgrade). The mercenaries of the Sublime Port disobeyed his order and returned to Istanbul and reported the Grand Vizier to the Sultan, saying that he had given them tasks that were unusual to soldiers.
During Sinan’s campaign, the Christian army was just slowly gathering at Győr castle but they didn`t get involved in any military actions.

Ferdinand Hardeck/Hardegg (?-1595)

All they could do was that the Chief Captain of Győr, Hardegg (aka Ferdinand Hardeck) had sent some reinforcement and supply to Veszprém and to Palota before the siege. The two forts fell before their very eyes. However, they were planning to fight back during the time when the main army of the Ottomans would be gone.


November 1593: The Christians fight back

General Hardegg has managed to call together an army of 18-20,000 men by the middle of October. The troops of György Zrínyi, 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 withdrew, Hardegg launched his advance. The generals were debating about the targets of the campaign, they could not agree whether (Székes)Fehérvár or Veszprém would be the first to be attacked. Finally, it was Fehérvár. They set out from Komárom castle on 29 October and arrived in Fehérvár on 31 October. There was a fog and they could almost surprise the defenders but they were discovered and bombarded by cannons. Colonel Jörger Hermann attacked the outer city called Budai aka Beslia while Huszár Péter, Chief Captain of Pápa assaulted the outer city called Ingovány aka Bég. The siege began at the dawn of 1 November but only Huszár Péter managed to break into the outer city until noon. He asked for reinforcement and was able to hold his stand 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 just leaving Fehérvár, and while on the march, they were attacked by the forces of Begler Bey Szokolluzáde Haszán of Buda on 3 November. According to some historians, the battle took place at Pákozd.

The Battle of Pákozd (by Bánlaky)

The Pasha had about 20,000 men, including those 5,000 Janissaries who were staying for the winter. At the same time, Hardegg could send to the battle barely 7-8,000 men because the rest of them had moved to their winter dwellings.
The Ottomans outnumbered him and they deployed their army in the usual crescent-moon shape. The Janissaries were on the right wing and the soldiers of the Vilayet of Buda were on the left. The Pasha stood in the middle with his Sipahi riders.

Pasha Sinan of Buda

The Christian army was presumably deployed like this: Pálffy stood on the left with the troops from the Mining Towns District; Hardegg and Huszár stood with the army of Győr Castle and with the Austrians on the right; Zrínyi, Nádasdy, Boldizsár Batthyány stood in the middle with the troops of the Trans-Danubian Region. There were just a few footmen and not much artillery.

Pákozd, 1593

While the Christian riders were fighting for a long time against the Turk footmen on the wings, the Hussars of Zrínyi quickly made the Sipahies in the middle flee. There were many individual duels taking place in this battle as well. Pasha Hasszán got injured, too. The Turk footmen were abandoned on the wings and suffered very big losses. The Christians did not really take any captives, the Ottoman losses were between 3-8,000 men. There were 40-50 dead and countless wounded in the Christian army.

After the battle, Hardegg has also gone to his winter lodgings with his soldiers. General Hardegg praised the deeds of Huszár in the battle. He wrote: “Huszár Péter attacked from the right wing with his infantrymen and cavalry. He was forcing the enemy back further and further, finally making them flee.” After the Battle of Pákozd, the next military actions were going to continue in Upper Hungary. 

The map of Angielini from 1566
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