Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

Babócsa 

Babócsa Castle

Babócsa was a Borderland castle in the southern part of Hungary, in Somogy County. Sultan Suleiman’s army moved along this way in 1532. It fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1555. The Turks put the fort on fire in 1556 and abandoned it. Please, note that I use the Oriental name order for Hungarian names so family names come first.

This was the year when the Hungarian troops led by Zrínyi Miklós aka Nicolas Zrinski and Nádasdy Pál had a battle with the army of Pasha Ali, near the Babócsa. The castle was in Hungarian hands in 1562, its captain was Perneszi Farkas. After the fall of Szigetvár (1566) the castle fell to the Ottomans again. According to the payroll list of the Turks between 1568-1569, there were 558 soldiers there. The Turks left the castle when the army of Zsigmond Herberstein and György Zrínyi and Hajmásy Kristóf was approaching.

 The Zrínyi family took the castle in their possessions and had it mended but it was taken again by the Turks in 1598, by Muhammed Kiája. According to the records between 1618-19, there were 359 Ottoman soldiers. Zrínyi Miklós, the great-grandson of Nicholas Zrinski took the castle back during his campaign of 1664. There is a story about a successful battle against the Turks in 1551. It is the so-called water adventure at Babócsa, read it:

A Hungarian commander, 1591

„In the year of 1551 of the Lord, when the winter bridge of the Danube has got wet already and the fields began to blossom, the Turks, as it was their habit, set out to have adventures. It was almost July when a 1,500-strong Turkish unit arrived in the neighborhood of the small Babocsa castle. The warriors of this borderland-house had no idea of their approach. One night there was a great splashing heard near the water. The night guards of Babócsa thought they had heard the cattle being herded out. But the miller is running breathlessly and says that 1,500 Turks are crossing the water. It was then that Deli Horváth Markó and Porkoláb Márton jumped into the saddle, in a moment, and set out with his men in deep silence to ambush the Turks.


 
It turned out excellently: they hit the Turks all unexpectedly in their midst. A great slaughter and confusion broke out. Our soldiers gained more than 200 horses, 60 captives, many flags, and weapons. Deli Horváth Markó and Porkoláb Márton have gone with some of their trusted men to Vienna to give the usual gifts to the king. He himself took one flag and two captives, the man of Porkoláb brought along two flags, one captive, and 25 noses. In Vienna, they were summoned first by the chancellor who greeted them nicely. Soon they were summoned by the king. 


 
 Deli Markó asked the lord chancellor whether he should take along the noses to the king. “All in”-answered the aristocrat. Deli Markó said that if they had known that the king liked noses, they could have brought more than two hundred. The king was gladdened to see the warriors of Babócsa. They told the king that Deli Markó had only two hundred infantrymen and somewhat more than a hundred hussars on horseback while Márton had twenty riders and forty infantrymen. And they scattered 1,500 Turks with only this many people! The king immediately granted Porkoláb Márton to be given command of over 50 horses and the chancellor declared that more good things would be given concerning his other things.” (Source: Takáts Sándor)

The execution of the soldiers who surrendered Babócsa in 1601

22 July 1556 the battle of Babócsa

After the Battle of Mohács (1526), this fight was the first victorious open-field battle against the Turks. In this battle, Palatine Nádasdy Tamás and Pallavicini Sforza defeated the troops of Pasha Hádim Ali of Buda when they were bringing reinforcement to Szigetvár castle. Szigetvár was defended by Captain Horváth Márk and they repelled all the attacks for a long month. In the meantime, they suffered heavy losses so they were waiting for Christian reinforcement very much. 
Nádasdy Tamás (1498-1562)
The reinforcing army consisted of the troops of high-ranking noblemen and the soldiers of the counties, aided by western mercenaries. They arrived at Kanizsa castle in the middle of July, then they marched to Babócsa. Babócsa had fallen to the Turks a year ago, and now it was besieged by the Christian army. It began on 18 July. Upon hearing of it, Pasha Ali quit the siege of Szigetvár and set out to receive the enemy, bringing his lighter cannons because of the heavy ones he had already sent to Pécs. 
the marching order of the Ottoman army

The two armies deployed against each other along the Rinya river and the first clashes began on 21 July. The Turks made an attempt to cross the river and a particularly pitched battle took place at the ford where even the horse of the Croatian Bán Zrínyi Miklós was shot. His dolman was also pierced by a bullet but he remained unhurt. Fortunately, the Ottomans were beaten back. 

Supply carts of the Imperial army, 1593

The Christian army sent their wagons and supply trains back during the night, giving the hint to the enemy that they were withdrawing. It was the reason why they wanted to scatter them with a powerful, decisive attack. However, they suffered huge losses because of the strong cannon and musket fire while they were getting through the river. When they succeeded in crossing the river, they found the Christian army fully deployed before them. Yet, the Turks attacked them in three waves, and they were repelled in a heavy fight each time. 

An Imperial cannon

The Ottomans lost 600 men, the Imperials had about 300 casualties. Jakab, the younger brother of Nádasdy also fell during the fight. The Christians could not take advantage of their victory fully, though. Instead of advancing against the foe, they withdrew to Kanizsa castle. They sent 200 infantrymen at once to aid Captain Horváth Márk. As for Babócsa castle, they exploded it. 

Babócsa castle in 1664

Pasha Ali returned to Szigetvár but his army was demoralized and they could not achieve success. Captain Horváth had mended the walls, and the further siege was pointless. Ali quit the siege on 31 July and went home. Interesting enough, the battle of Babócsa took place exactly 100 years after the Triumph of Nándorfehérvár (Belgrade) that was in 1456…Now, the ruins of Babócsa are overgrown by forest. It would be nice to see there a memorial sign at least…

Sources: Szibler Gábor and Takáts Sándor

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Here are a few pictures of Babócsa castle:

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