Discover Zagreb: Ottoman Croatian Wars

Iva Bucić

Aug 11, 2016

In early May of 1443, it was reported “that the Turks were in a bad state and that it would be easy to expel them from Europe”. War was proclaimed against Sultan Murad II at the diet of Buda on Palm Sunday 1443.

With an army of 40,000 men, mostly Magyars, the young monarch, with Hunyadi commanding under him, crossed the Danube, took Nish and Sofia. The crusaders, led by Vladislaus, Hunyadi, and Brankovic, attacked in mid-October. They correctly expected that Murad would not be able to quickly mobilize his army, which consisted mainly of fief-holding cavalrymen who needed to collect the harvest to pay taxes. Hunyadi’s experience of winter campaigns from 1441–42 added to the Hungarian’s advantage. They also had better armor, often rendering the Ottoman weapons useless. Murad could not rely on the loyalty of his troops from Rumelia, and had difficulties countering Hungarian tactics.

Battle of Nish

In the Battle of Nish the crusaders were victorious and forced Kasim Pasha of Rumelia and his co-commander Turahan Bey to flee to Sofia, Bulgaria to warn Murad of the invasion. However, the two burned all the villages in their path in an attempt to wear down the crusaders with a scorched earth tactic. When they arrived in Sofia, they advised the Sultan to burn the city and retreat to the mountain passes beyond, where the Ottoman’s smaller army would not be such a disadvantage.

Battle of Zlatitsa

Shortly after, bitter cold set in, and the next encounter, fought at Zlatitsa Pass on 12 December 1443, was fought in the snow. Until the Battle of Zlatitsa the crusaders did not meet major Ottoman army but town garrisons along their route toward Adrianople. Only at Zlatica they met strong and well positioned defence forces of the Ottoman army. The crusaders were defeated. As they marched home, however, they ambushed and defeated a pursuing force in the Battle of Kunovica, where Mahmud Bey, son-in-law of the Sultan and brother of the Grand Vizier Çandarlý Halil Pasha, was taken prisoner. Four days after this battle Christian coalition reached Prokuplje. Durad Brankovic proposed to Wladyslaw III of Poland and John Hunyadi to stay in Serbian fortified towns during the winter and continue their campaign against Ottomans in Spring 1444. They rejected his proposal and retreated. By the end of January 1444 forces of Wladyslaw and Hunyadi reached Belgrade and in February they arrived to Buda where they were greeted as heroes.

While the battle at Zlatitsa Pass had been a defeat, the ambush returned to the crusaders the impression of an overall Christian victory, and they returned triumphant. The King and Church were both anxious to maintain the impression and gave instructions to spread word of the victories, but contradict anyone who mentioned the loss. Murad, meanwhile, returned angry and dejected by the unreliability of his forces, and imprisoned Turahan after blaming him for the army’s setbacks and Mahmud Bey’s capture.

Peace proposals

Murad is believed to have had the greatest wish for peace. Among other things, his sister begged him to obtain her husband Mahmud’s release, and his wife Mara, daughter of Durad Brankovic, added additional pressure. On 6 March 1444 Mara sent an envoy to Brankovic; their discussion started the peace negotiations with the Ottoman Empire.

On 24 April 1444 Vladislaus sent a letter to Murad, stating that his ambassador, Stojka Gisdanic, was travelling to Edirne with full powers to negotiate on his behalf. He asked that, once an agreement was reached, Murad send his own ambassadors with the treaty and his sworn oath to Hungary, at which point Vladislaus could also swear.

That same day, Vladislaus held a Diet at Buda, where he swore before Cardinal Julian Cesarini to lead a new expedition against the Ottomans in the summer. The strongest remaining supporter of Ladislaus’ claim for the throne also agreed to a truce, thus removing the danger of another civil war.

Between June and August 1444, negotiations for a treaty were carried out, first in Edirne, and then in Szeged. The crusaders were not entirely interested in peace, however, especially with Cesarini pushing for the crusade’s continuation. The Cardinal eventually found a solution that would allow for both the continuation of fighting and the ratification of the treaty, and on 15 August 1444 the Peace of Szeged was sworn into effect.

Final stage

Shortly after all the short-term requirements of the treaty were fulfilled, the Hungarians and their allies resumed the crusade. Murad, who had retired shortly after the treaty was completed, was called back to lead the Ottoman army. On 10 November 1444 the two armies clashed at the Battle of Varna (near the Black Sea fortress of Varna, Bulgaria). The Ottomans won a decisive victory despite heavy losses, while the crusaders lost their King and over 15,000 men.

Hundred Years’ Croatian–Ottoman War

Pope Leo X called Croatia the Antemurale Christianitatis in 1519, given that Croatian soldiers made significant contributions to the struggle against the Turks. The advancement of the Ottoman Empire in Europe was stopped in 1593 on Croatian soil (Battle of Sisak), which could be in this sense regarded as a historical gate of European civilization. Nevertheless, the Muslim Ottoman Empire occupied parts of Croatia from the 16th to the end of the 17th century.

Long Turkish War

The Long Turkish War or Thirteen Years’ War was an indecisive land war between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire and the client states of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia. It was waged from 1593 to 1606 but in Europe is sometimes called the Fifteen Years War, reckoning from the 1591–92 Turkish campaign that captured Bihac.

In the series of Ottoman wars in Europe it was the major test of force between the Ottoman–Venetian War (1570–73) and the Cretan War (1645–69). The next of the major Ottoman-Habsburg wars was the Great Turkish War of 1683-99. Overall, the conflict consisted in a great number of costly battles and sieges, but with very little result for either side.

Austro-Turkish War (1663–64)

The Austro–Turkish War (1663–1664) or fourth Austro–Turkish War was a short war between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman aim was to resume the advance in central Europe, conquer Vienna and subdue Austria. However, the Habsburg army under Raimondo Montecuccoli succeeded to halt the Ottoman army on its way to Vienna in the Battle of Saint Gotthard and destroy it, while another Austrian army won another victory at Léva. Despite these serious Ottoman defeats, the war ended for them with the rather favourable Peace of Vasvár.

Great Turkish War

The Great Turkish War (German: Der Große Türkenkrieg) or the War of the Holy League (Turkish: Kutsal Ýttifak Savaþlarý) was a series of conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and several contemporary European powers joined into a Holy League, beginning in 1683 and ending with the signing of the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699. The war was a defeat for the Ottoman Empire, which lost large amounts of territory in Central Europe. The war was also significant in that it marked the first time Russia was involved in a western European alliance.

Austro-Turkish War of 1716–18

The Austro–Turkish War was fought between Austria and the Ottoman Empire. The Treaty of Karlowitz (1699) was not an acceptable long-standing agreement for the Ottoman Empire. Twelve years after Karlowitz, the Turks began the long prospect of taking revenge for their defeat at the Battle of Vienna in 1683. First, the Turkish Grand Vizier Baltacý Mehmet’s army defeated Peter the Great’s Russian Army in the Russo–Turkish War (1710–1711). Thereafter, in the Turkish–Venetian War (1714–1718), the new Grand Vizier Damat Ali re-conquered Morea from the Venetians in 1715. As a reaction, Austria, as the guarantor of the Treaty of Karlowitz, threatened the Ottoman Empire, but in response the Ottoman Empire declared war against Austria.

In 1716, Prince Eugene of Savoy defeated the Turks at Petrovaradin. The Banat and its capital Timiþoara was conquered in October 1716. The following year, after the Austrians captured Belgrade, the Turks wanted peace and in 1718 the Treaty of Passarowitz was signed. The Austrians maintained control over Belgrade and the Treaty of Passarowitz confirmed their gains in 1699, leaving the Turks with control over the south bank of the Danube river. The War led to the loss of Austrian holdings in Italy because of their support in the Balkans. It caused them to send more supplies to the Balkan front ultimately reducing focus to their Italian territories which were facing aggression from Spain. Even though Eugene of Savoy asked for the troops to be diverted, focus was given to the Ottomans. This ultimately caused The War of the Quadruple Alliance against Spain.

Austro-Turkish War (1787–91)

The Austro-Turkish War of 1787 was an inconclusive struggle between the Austrian and Ottoman Empires. It took place concurrently with the Russo–Turkish War of 1787–1792.

Austro-Hungarian campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878

The campaign to establish Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina lasted from 29 July to 20 October 1878 against the local resistance fighters supported by the Ottoman Empire. The Austro-Hungarians entered the country in two large movements: one from the north into Bosnia, and another from the south into Herzegovina. A series of battles in August culminated in the fall of Sarajevo on the 19th after a day of street-to-street fighting. In the hilly countryside a guerrilla campaign continued until the last rebel stronghold fell after their leader was captured.

Autor: Burak Köksal

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