Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

The Long War, Part Two / the radius of the war

The Ottoman Empire was large and it was far away

Why were most of the Turk-Hungarian fights taking place at the end of the summer or in the autumn? The 15-Year-War was not an exception, either. The Turks came earlier only in 1594 in the middle of the summer and as a result of this, the Grand Vizier`s army was able to take Győr and Pápa. The reason behind the late campaigns was the radius of the operations. The Ottoman army could set out only in the spring when the horses could find fresh grass and it was at the end of April or the first part of May.

Sometimes there were other things that made their situation more difficult, like the death of the sultan in the spring of 1595 and the fights for the power in the Sublime Port between the pashas. Having set out, the army needed at least 2.5-3 months to get to Buda from Istambul. In the most optimal case, they could arrive at the end of July, or at the beginning of August.

The Ottoman army on march, 1566

In addition to this, it took one or two more weeks to reach the target of the campaign from Buda. As a result of this, the total time for military action was only two months until the end of October. The 26 October is the day of Kászim in Islam and it was the deadline when the mercenaries and the soldiers of the Sultan had to cease their activity and they had to return to Istambul.

Besides, we haven`t taken the bad weather and the rain into account which could slow the advancing army very much, sometimes for weeks. So they had one-and-a-half or two months to take castles. Their result had been greatly dependent on the fact of how long the forts were able to hold out as well as the field-activity of the Christian armies just like the fact who attacked first.

The Ottomans mainly used camels, donkeys, and sheep to carry their burden

In case the Christians were able to react soon, they could take back one or two castles so the Ottoman army had to go in pains to take them back, this way having been delayed to reach the original target.

Unfortunately, the western mercenaries who came as reinforcement could reach the gathering camp of Magyaróvár only by the middle of the summer so they had not much time left, either. They could only react to the Ottoman moves most of the time.
If the Turks could winter their troops in Hungary like in 1593-94, then they had a better situation next year (see the taking of Győr). More about Győr Castle:

Győr Castle

Yet, in case of arriving in Hungary too late, they gave an opportunity to the Christians to take some important forts like Esztergom in 1595 or Székesfehérvár in 1601. (Or at least besieging one as it happened at Buda in 1602.)
The Ottomans tried to do their best to ignore the day of Kászim and make the campaign longer and sometimes they were successful in doing so like in 1596 and in 1597.

At other times, the Janissaries rioted and forced the Serdar (the General of the Ottoman army) to withdraw. It happened in 1601 when they could not bring reinforcement to Kanizsa Castle which was besieged by the Christin forces (who have not been able to take it nevertheless).
All in all, the radius of the operation has limited the duration of the campaign and as a result of this, the Ottomans have failed in conquering even bigger parts of our homeland.

Hungary in 1568

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