The Long War, Part Seven / the Battle of Tura, 1594

A cavalry formation of the Imperial army, armed with lances, 1593 (British Museum)

A duel from 1593: a short prelude to the events

The duel of  Zrínyi György aka Juraj IV Zrinski /George IV Zrinski/ (1549-1603) and Szokolovics Haszán at Székesfehérvár castle must be mentioned as both of them played leading roles in the time to come.

Juraj IV Zrinski / Zrínyi György

After the battle of Pákozd, the allied Christian forces could go towards Székesfehérvár which they had wanted to take.
György (IV.) Zrínyi, the grandson of Miklós Zrínyi, the Hero of Szigetvár, was there in the army with his troops.
It was recorded about him that he had a duel with the Serbian Pasha called Szokolovics Hassan whom he injured with his saber and then, he thrust him. He would have killed him but the Pasha’s valiant soldier interfered in the fight. The Turk soldier’s horse pushed Zrínyi aside and thus he could help the heavily wounded Pasha. Although Zrínyi fell to the ground, he did not get hurt but this time was enough for Hassan’s soldiers to get him out of the peril. You can read about similar duels here:

The Battle of Tura, 1 May 1594, and the further success of the Christian army during the spring

Western warfare in the late 16th century

The castles of Nógrád County of Royal Hungary had come into Christian hands again by the end of 1593, except the center of the County, Nógrád, which was still in Ottoman possession. Nógrád castle was located in a strategic place towards the northern Mining Cities. Archduke Matthias was leading the debate of the Military Council at Győr during the first part of 1594. General Ferdinand Hardegg suggested he retake Veszprém castle and Palota castle which had been seized by the Turks just the previous year. Yet, Pálffy proposed the taking of Nógrád castle. Finally, the Archduke has taken Pálffy`s advice and appointed Pálffy as his Vice-Chief Commander. In fact, Pálffy Miklós became the main commander of the Christian army.

Nógrád castle today (Photo: Civertan)

Pálffy called his troops to the castle of Léva and taking advantage of the fact that he was closer to the target area than the enemy, launched his campaign. He made his camp on 6 March at Oroszi, one mile from Nógrád. He managed to assemble about 20-21,000 soldiers, two-thirds of them were infantrymen and the rest were cavalry. Hungarian troops were coming from the Trans-Danubian area as well but the main army was from the Mining Cities of Royal Hungary where Pálffy was in charge. There were some foreigners, too. Archduke Matthias was leading 4,000 infantrymen and 1,000 riders as the rearguard of the army.

Chief Captain Pálffy Miklós 1552-1600

The troops of Pálffy arrived on the morning of 7 March at Nógrád castle. The Turkish defenders greeted them with hard cannon fire. Bey Karaferi Mehmed had 800 soldiers in the castle. They had burned the town and withdrew into the fort. The artillery units of the Christians were led by chief commander Leo Gall who began to shoot the castle with 8 cannons on 8 March.

An Imperial cannon from 1593

Pálffy tried to reach the walls by his mines but the defenders beat him back. Archduke Matthias arrived on this day, too, with his 5,000 men. The besiegers set the outer castle on fire at night, led by Majtényi László and Pogrányi Benedek. Soon, several breaches appeared on the walls of the inner castle because of the cannon fire. It was the time when Bey Mehmed surrendered the castle in exchange for free passage. The commanders of the king’s army accepted the terms and the defenders and their families left the fort on 10 March. Only 450 of their soldiers were alive at this time. The cannons and the weapons of the castle were taken by the besiegers. Later on, Grand Vizier Sinan had Bey Karaferi Mehmed hanged for the surrender.

Nádasdy Ferenc

In the meanwhile, the troops of  Zrínyi György, the son of the “Lion of Szigetvár” were advancing through the South Trans-Danubian Region. There was Nádasdy Ferenc among them with the soldiers of the Hungarian high nobility. They were supposed to gather at Kanizsa on 20 March and about 7-10,000 warriors have come together. Their first target was the Castle of Berzence; they assaulted it on the night of 22 March but the Turks surrendered only on the following day. The besiegers found there a significant amount of food and military equipment piled up. It included stored food, horses “with their attires”, and 14 different caliber cannons. 

Berence / Presnitz castle

The next target was Csurgó Castle whose guards hadn`t waited for the arrival of the Christians but set the fort on fire and fled. Zrínyi was able to salvage only 11 cannons from there.

Segesd castle

The Palisade fort of Segesd was taken on the same day, 24 March. Two days later the Christians have obtained the burned castle of Szőcsény. Then, they tried to take the strong castle of Babócsa but they were being hindered for ten days by the flooding waters of the Rinya Stream.

Babócsa castle in 1664

It was lucky for Babócsa castle because Archduke Matthias soon summoned Zrínyi and his fellow officers to the military camp of Győr City. It was how Babócsa was not taken. You can read more about Babócsa here:

Yet, this campaign had been able to push back the borders of the Ottoman Occupied Lands by 70 kilometers and the Castle of Kanizsa was a bit relieved because of this. 

The area of Kanizsa castle at Lake Balaton in the 17th century

The next military moves were carried out by the plans of Prépostváry Bálint, Captain of Eger castle; the Imperial troops attacked the Ottomans from three directions. Archduke Habsburg Matthias was heading against Esztergom Castle while the army of the Upper Lands was led by Teuffenbach towards Hatvan castle and Archduke Maximilian (Hungarians called him Miksa) was fighting in Croatia to take back castles there. Here is more about Hatvan Castle:

Hatvan in 1596

The army of the Upper Lands consisted of 15-20,000 men and they besieged the strong Hatvan castle in the second part of April. Upon taking Jászberény, they arrived in Hatvan and it was the time when the reinforcing army of the Rumelian Beglerbey, Szinánpasazáde Mehmed arrived there as well. Teuffenbach went on with the siege while the Hussars of Forgách Simon set out against the coming Ottomans, mainly with hussars and some German cavalry. They met on 1 May at Tura. Although the Turks outnumbered the Christians and had caused losses in the German heavy cavalry during the first part of the battle, the Hussars of Báthori István attacked the center where the Pasha was standing with his bodyguards, and it decided the battle. Mehmed has fled.

Hatvan Castle at the end of the 16th century

At the same time, the Pasha of Buda, Szokolluzáde Haszán tried to fight on but he had to withdraw because of the charge of Forgách cavalry. The Ottomans lost 3-4,000 men and the Christians 100-200 soldiers. The siege of Hatvan was going on but they could show up no result even in the middle of June because of the persistent defense of the Turk garrison. As Pasha Sinan was advancing, Archduke Matthias gave the order to quit the siege and Teuffenbach moved away relentlessly. They had to wait until 1596 to take this town but nobody would have foreseen the sad consequences of it.

An imperial soldier on horseback; wearing a helmet with two plumes; from a series of 69 etchings of soldiers and military equipment. c.1591-3 Etching, British Museu

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