Battle of Pressburg
|Battle of Pozsony|
|Part of the Hungarian Conquest|
|East Francia||Hungarian tribes|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Louis the Child
Luitpold, Margrave of Bavaria †
|Árpád, Grand Prince|
|c. 100,000||c. 35,000|
|Casualties and losses|
|Heavy, among other losses: Archbishop Theotmar of Salzburg, 3 bishops and 35 counts||Not significant|
The Battle of Pressburg (German: Schlacht von Pressburg) or Battle of Bratislava (Slovak: Bitka pri Bratislave) or Battle of Pozsony (Hungarian: Pozsonyi csata) refers to a battle fought on 4 July 907, during which a Bavarian army led by Margrave Luitpold was defeated by Hungarian forces under Grand Prince Árpád. In consequence, the Kingdom of East Francia lost control over the Carolingian March of Pannonia including the territory of the later marchia orientalis, which was not regained until the Battle of Lechfeld in 955.
In 901 the East Frankish king Louis the Child had concluded a peace agreement with Mojmir II, the last known ruler of the disintegrating Great Moravian realm. While the Magyars invaded the Moravian core territory, they had to face continuous threat by the forces of Margrave Luitpold operating at the frontier of the Pannonian march. During negotiations in 904 the Bavarians killed the Hungarian prince Kurszán—which ultimatively strengthened Árpád's position, who became sole chieftain of the Magyar tribes.
Encouraged by several minor military victories over retiring Hungarian forces, Luitpold in 907 called for concentrating a large Bavarian army (Heerbann) around Enns Castle in order to score a decisive victory against the Hungarians, who already formed an important principality in the Pannonian Basin. The margrave at least intended to secure the eastern border of the his lands, if not to extend the East Frankish (German) sphere of control.
The order of the events is scarcely documented and has been reshaped several times during centuries-long historiography as by Johannes Aventinus (1477–1534). The Bavarian army supposedly included more than 100,000 soldiers, which is almost certainly an exaggeration typical of the time. Árpád's army was only around 30-35,000. Few medieval armies are known to have exceeded 10,000.
Luitpold's forces consisting of three battle groups succumbed to the Eurasian nomad tactics of the mounted Magyar soldiers. In a storm of arrows, a large part of the Bavarian army was kettled in, crushed and destroyed. The German casualties included Margrave Luitpold himself, the Salzburg archbishop Theotmar, Bishop Utto of Freising, Bishop Zechariah of Säben-Brixen and 35 Bavarian counts.
The precise location of this battle is not known. The only contemporary source mentioning a location of the battle are the Annales iuvavenses maximi (Annals of Salzburg); however, the reliability of these annals is questionable, as they survive only in fragments copied in the 12th century. According to the annals the battle took place in the vicinity of Brezalauspurc, the castle of the late Pannonian prince Braslav, located west of Lake Balaton. Some interpretations equal Brezalauspurc with modern-day Bratislava or east of Vienna while others claim that it was Urbs Paludarum - Braslav's fortress at Zalavár (Mosapurc) near Lake Balaton in Pannonia.
The Hungarian victory stabilized the situation of the Hungarian state. The Germans did not attack Hungary for more than 100 years. The Hungarian threat to the emerging German kingdom persisted for decades.
After the battle, the Hungarians occupied lands up to the Enns River in the west and began punitive expeditions, usually one per year, against the German principalities. In 910, the Hungarians defeated a combined German army on the Lechfeld. The Magyars continued their campaigns in western Europe until 955, when a German force at the second battle at Lechfeld near Augsburg, defeated a Hungarian army. The Germans did not follow up this victory, despite being at the height of their unity and power.
Notes and references
- "Bavaria". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
- Eurasian studies yearbook, Volume 78, Volume 78, Eurolingua, 2006, p. 27
- Burghardt, Andrew Frank (1962). Borderland: a historical and geographical study of Burgenland, Austria. University of Wisconsin Press, original from the University of California. p. 60.
- Timothy Reuter, Germany in the Early Middle Ages 800–1056 (New York: Longman, 1991), 138–139.
- Bowlus, Charles R. (2006). The battle of Lechfeld and its aftermath, August 955: the end of the age of ... p. 83.
- Bowlus, Charles R. (2006). The battle of Lechfeld and its aftermath, August 955: the end of the age of migrations in the Latin West. Ashgate Publishing Ltd. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-7546-5470-4.
- Bowlus, Charles R. (1995). Franks, Moravians, and Magyars: The Struggle for the Middle Danube, 788-907. pp. 258-9.
- Peter F. Sugar,Péter Hanák  A History of Hungary, Indiana University Press, 1994, pp 12-17