The Long War, Part Four / the military targets

Emperor II Rudolf (1576–1608/12) by Hans von Aachen

Let us follow our historian, Szibler Gábor who tells us about the military objectives and targets of the Ottoman and the Imperial armies. You can read the previous article about how the war had broken out right here:

The first stage of the Long War lasted till 1596 and it is named after Pasha Sinan. Pasha Sinan intended to finish the war against Hungary in 2-3 years and wanted to conquer the entire country within this time. He wanted to get at least as far as Vienna. His goal was to turn the Habsburg colonies and those countries (Czechia, Upper Hungary, Croatia which were not directly blocking his main onslaught) into the vassal states of the Ottoman Empire. After the example of the Transylvanian Principality, he wanted to create vassal princes who were supposed to rule the above-mentioned lands.

The western side of the Borderland that opposed the Ottomans in 1576

In order to achieve this, he attempted to persuade some Hungarian magnates and high-ranked noblemen like Dobó Ferenc, Nádasdy  Ferenc, and Báthory István of Ecsed to side with him. He offered to Dobó and to Báthory to be Voivode of Kassa (Kosice, Kaschau), thus ruling the Upper Lands of Hungary on his behalf. Nádasdy was offered the crown and throne of Czechia.

the Nádasdy-palace at Nádasladány (Photo: Civertan)

Naturally, none of these lords accepted his offer. Sinan thought that he would be able to get hold of the whole area of Hungary in case he could take Vienna. According to some Western opinions, the Turk Serdar (commander) was targeting Prague and Rome as well but it was obviously only impossible speculation.

At first, Sinan planned to occupy Hungary and Croatia, and Vienna would have been the next.
He was quite convincible to give the crown and the throne of Hungary to Prince Báthory Zsigmond of Transylvania if Emperor Rudolf had resigned from the title and had ceded the power over Hungary to him.

the northern side of the Hungarian Borderland

The plan of the Habsburg Military Council was a lot more simple than this. Their minimal goal was to defend their hereditary Habsburg lands and as much land of Hungary as they could. The maximal goal was the retaking of the entire Hungary. To achieve this, they had a three-step plan:

1) to break through the Ottoman circle of forts which were defending Buda (taking Fehérvár, Esztergom, and Hatvan);

2) the taking of Buda;

3) the liberation of the entire Hungary.

In fact, they were able to achieve only their first objective but not the way they had wanted. Although they could take Esztergom and keep it, they were able to keep the important castles of the Ottoman castle ring around Buda only for a short time. They had also attempted the taking of Buda three times but all the sieges have failed to succeed. Here is more about Buda Castle:

Buda Castle in the age of King Szapolyai

Considering the balance of power of the age, both the plans of Christians and the plans of the Muslims were just illusions. The Imperial army was better equipped and more modern than its opponent, supplied with the latest weapons but their logistics were bad and the troops had to be reorganized every year. On the other hand, the Turks had an excellent logistic system and also a standing army, although their firearms were not as modern as the Imperial troops. In this period, the Ottomans still emphasized the impact of their cavalry but it was already the age of the footmen.

The might of the military power was different every year: sometimes the Ottomans were more powerful but at other times, perhaps next year, the Christians could outnumber them. The long radius of the operation exhausted the armies and blocked them from achieving their maximal goals. Thus, their minimal objectives have been only achieved more or less by the end of this, particularly long, bloody, and futile war.

Here you can read my article about the ethnic changes in Hungary due to the Ottoman wars:

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