Battle of Mohács

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This article explains the better-known Battle of Mohács of 1526. There was also another battle in the same locality in 1687.


Battle of Mohács
Part of the Ottoman wars in Europe
Image:Battle of Mohacs 1526.JPG
Battle of Mohacs 1526 by Bertalan Székely
Date August 29, 1526
Location Mohács, Baranya, south of Budapest, Hungary
Result Decisive Ottoman victory
Ottoman Empire Kingdom of Hungary
Suleiman I Louis II of Hungary
Pál Tomori
John Zápolya
~ 45,000 supported by
10,000 - 20,000 irregulars
160 to 300 cannons <ref>"The latter group prevailed, and on August 29, 1526, the fateful battle of Mohacs was fought: 25,000 to 28,000 Hungarians and assorted allies on the one side, and on the other 45,000 Turkish regulars supported by 10,000 to 20,000 lightly armed irregulars." The Balkans Since 1453 by L.S. Stavrianos p.26
"Hungary mustered some 25,000 men and 85 cannon (only 53 being used in actual battle), while for various reasons thr troops from Tansylvania and Crotia failed to arrive. The Ottomans are said to have numbered over twice as many - though this figure is exagerated - and had up to 160 cannon." Hungary and the fall of Eastern Europe, 1000-1568 by David Nicolle p.13</ref>
~ 25,000 to 28,000
53 cannons (85 initial)
John Zápolya's 8,000, plus Croatian count Frankopan's 5,000 men-strong army did not arrive to the battlefield in time.
~ 10,000 [citation needed] ~ 16,000 [citation needed]
Ottoman-Hungarian Wars

The Battle of Mohács (Hungarian: mohácsi csata or mohácsi vész; Croatian: Mohačka bitka; Turkish: Mohaç Savaşı or Mohaç Meydan Savaşı) was a battle fought on August 29, 1526 near Mohács, Hungary. In the battle, forces of the Kingdom of Hungary led by King Louis II were defeated by forces of the Ottoman Empire led by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

The Ottoman victory led to Hungary being partitioned over the following decades between the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria, and the Principality Transylvania.

[edit] Background

The Hungarians had long opposed Ottoman expansion in southeastern Europe, but the fall of Belgrade in 1521 meant that most of southern Hungary was left indefensible. As a counter to growing Ottoman power, Louis II, King of Hungary and Bohemia, entered into marriage with Maria of Austria in 1522, hoping to gain the aid of Habsburg Austria in the looming war with the Ottomans. The Ottomans saw the growing alliance as a threat to their power in the Balkans and planned to break this alliance.

In an effort to forestall a complete military offensive and possible occupation of Hungary, the Ottoman government, or Porte, made the Hungarians at least one and possibly two offers of peace. It is unclear why Louis refused the peace offer from the Ottomans. It is possible that pressure from western Hungarian nobles, who were more heavily influenced by the proximity to growing Habsburg power, worried about future Austrian aggression should Hungary conclude peace with the Ottomans. However, a peace with the Ottoman Empire was not completely unheard of, as Poland had concluded a similar peace with the Porte a few years ago. Ultimately, efforts at a peaceful resolution failed and the Ottomans decided to use military power. To such ends in June 1526, an Ottoman expedition advanced up the Danube River to attack.

[edit] Preparations

The Hungarian army was divided into three main units: the Transylvanian army, tasked with guarding the passes in the Transylvanian Alps, numbered between 8,000 and 13,000 men under John Zápolya; the main army led by Louis himself; and another smaller force, commanded by the Croatian count Christopher Frankopan, numbered around 5,000 men. Resulting from the kingdom's geographical position, the Turkish army's ultimate goal could not be determined until it was crossing the Balkan Mountains. Unfortunately, by the time the Ottoman's army had crossed, the Transylvanian army was further from Buda than the Ottomans were. Contemporary historical records, though sparse, indicate that Louis preferred a plan of retreat, in effect ceding the country to Ottoman advances, rather than directly engaging the Ottoman army in open battle.

The Hungarian forces chose the battlefield, an open but uneven plain with some swampy marshes near Mohács leading down to the Danube. The Ottomans had been allowed to advance almost unopposed. While Louis waited in Buda, they had besieged several towns and crossed the Sava and Drava Rivers. Louis assembled around 25,000 to 28,000 soldiers, while the Ottoman army numbered around 55,000 to 65,000 troops. The Hungarian army was arrayed to take advantage of the terrain and hoped to engage the Ottoman army piecemeal.

[edit] Battle

As with the debate over the number of actual combatants there is considerable debate over the length of the actual battle. The start of the battle is generally placed at somewhere between 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM, but the exact length of the battle is difficult to ascertain. While some historians have placed the length of the battle at two to three hours, this seems unlikely given several important factors. The Ottoman army did not retreat from the field and enter camp after the battle; instead, the Ottomans remained on the field all night without food, water, or shelter. Given that the Ottoman historians all note that it was raining, it seems likely that had the battle been short and ended early in the afternoon, by 5:00 PM at the latest, and the Sultan would have ordered his army to camp or at least to return to their baggage. The few reliable sources indicate that Louis left the field at twilight and made his escape under cover of darkness; since the sun would not have set until 6:30 PM on August 29 1526, this would imply that the battle lasted significantly longer than two to three hours (perhaps as long as four or five).

As the first of Suleiman's troops, the Rumelian army, advanced onto the battlefield, they were attacked and routed by Hungarian troops led by Pál Tomori. This attack by the Hungarian right was successful in causing considerable chaos among the Ottoman ranks, but even as the Hungarian attack pressed forward, the Ottomans rallied with the arrival of more Ottoman forces. While the Hungarian right advanced far enough at one time to place Suleiman in danger from Hungarian arrows that struck his cuirass, the superiority of the Ottoman numbers and the timely charge of the Janissaries, the elite troops of the Ottomans, probably overwhelmed the attackers, particularly on the Hungarian left. The Hungarians could not hold their positions, and those who did not flee were surrounded and killed or captured. The king left the battlefield sometime around twilight but was thrown from his horse in a river at Csele and died, weighed down by his armor. Some 1,000 other Hungarian nobles and leaders were also killed. It is generally accepted that more than 10,000 Hungarian soldiers were killed in the initial battle, as well as a similar number of Ottomans.[citation needed]

In the aftermath, the sultan gave orders to keep no prisoners. Two days later he wrote in his diary: "The Sultan receives the homage of the viziers and the beys, massacre of 2,000 prisoners, the rain falls in torrents." Reportedly among those 2,000 were several notable Hungarian leaders.

[edit] Aftermath

Main article: Ottoman Hungary

The victory did not give the Ottomans the security they wanted. Though they entered Buda and pillaged the castle and surroundings, they retreated soon afterwards. It was not until 1541 that the Ottomans finally captured and occupied Buda (see main article. However, to all intents and purposes, the Battle of Mohács meant the end of the independent Kingdom of Hungary as a unified territory. The Ottoman occupation was contested by the Habsburg Archduke of Austria, Ferdinand I, Louis's brother-in-law and successor by treaty with King Vladislaus II. Bohemia fell to Austria, who dominated the western third of Hungary and portions of today's Croatia (Royal Hungary), while the Ottomans held central Hungary and suzerainty over semi-independent Transylvania, and northern Hungary remained independent until the late 1500s. The subsequent near constant warfare required a sustained commitment of Ottoman forces, proving a drain on resources that the relatively poor kingdom of Hungary proved unable to repay. Christian armies besieged Buda several times during the 1500s, and Suleiman himself died during the Battle of Szigetvár in 1566; there were also two unsuccessful Ottoman sieges of Eger, which did not fall until 1596, finally ending independent Hungarian resistance.

Mohács is seen by many Hungarians as the decisive downward turning point in the country's history, a national trauma persisting in the folk memory. For moments of bad luck, they have a saying: "more was lost at Mohács" (Több is veszett Mohácsnál). To this day, Hungarians view Mohács as marking the end of an independent and once powerful European nation. While Mohács was a decisive loss, it was its aftermath that truly put an end to independent Hungary. The ensuing two hundred years of near constant warfare between the two empires, Habsburg and Ottoman, would devastate the Hungarian countryside and decimate the population.

[edit] Notes


[edit] Reference

ISBN 9757306916

ar:معركة موهاكس cs:Bitva u Moháče de:Schlacht bei Mohács (1526) es:Batalla de Mohacs hr:Mohačka bitka it:Battaglia di Mohács hu:Mohácsi csata nl:Slag bij Mohács ja:モハーチの戦い no:Slaget ved Mohács (1526) pl:Bitwa pod Mohaczem pt:Batalha de Mohács ro:Bătălia de la Mohács (1526) ru:Мохачская битва sk:Bitka pri Moháči fi:Mohácsin taistelu

Battle of Mohács

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