Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars


The Grassalkovich palace in Hatvan (Photo: Globetrotter19)

The city and castle of Hatvan are located sixty kilometers from Buda to the north-east. (Its name, Hatvan stands for “sixty” in Hungarian.)

Hatvan by Georg Krekwitz

Pasha of Buda, Mohamed was making a campaign against the Hungarian borderland forts located to the north and top the east from Buda in 1544. After Nógrád and Visegrád castles have fallen to the Turks, the Hungarian captains of the newly built (1523-1544) Hatvan castle decided that they could not take the risk of a siege and put the castle to fire and fled with their soldiers to Eger castle, leaving the burghers behind, unprotected.

The city became the center of a Turkish Sanjak, an administrative district of the Ottoman Empire that included the cities of Jászberény, Gyöngyös, and Pásztó. The Hungarians gradually became minorities during the 17th century because the Ottoman settlers outnumbered them. The Ottoman city got surrounded by a more serious fortification. According to the Hungarian poet, Tinódi Lantos Sebestyén, it was Agha Deli Kurt who began building out the fortifications. The palisade castle had got eight bastions and the city was protected by an outer line of a palisade. The palisade was covered by clay to prevent putting it to fire. This kind of fort required frequent repairs because the wood began to rot quite quickly.

Photo: Vadaro

We have the payrolls that say there were 113 infantrymen and 295 riders, along with 13 artillerymen and 32 Balkanian irregular raiders in 1560. During the 15-year-war there was a chance to take the fort back in 1594 but the German mercenaries of Chief-captain of Kassa (Kosice, Kaschau), Christoph Teuffenbach, quit the siege because of the bad weather.


The troops of Archduke Maximilian broke into the castle in 1596 after a three-week-long siege and they put all the defenders to the sword, including the women and the children. They found three bigger and 22 smaller cannons in the fort. This success was only a temporary one because the Austrian troops didn’t stand a battle with the main army of Sultan Mehmed III which was moving towards Eger castle but abandoned the fort and fled towards Esztergom. The Ottomans mended the walls but they were driven out again in November 1603 by the troops of General Christoph von Rusworm who took the fort for only a short time. 

Photo: Vadaro

The Ottomans came back and their rule lasted until 1686 when the Turkish defenders left the castle and fled to Eger from the armies of General Heissler and Mercy.

Hatvan 1596

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