Battle of Sisak
|Battle of Sisak|
|Part of Ottoman wars in Europe
Hundred Years' Croatian-Ottoman War
"DIE CHRISTEN VOR SYSEGK IN CRABATEN Anno 1593"
(The Christians Before Sisak in Croatia A.D. 1593)
(Hieronymus Oertel, Nuremberg 1665)
|Ottoman Empire,|| Habsburg Monarchy
|Commanders and leaders|
| Gazi Hasan Pasha Predojević †
Hersekli Sultanzade Mehmed Bey †
Zvornički Džafer Bey †
Arnaud Memi Bey †
Požeški Ramazan Bey †
Lički Ibrahim Bey
| Ruprecht von Eggenberg
Andreas von Auersperg
Matija Fintić †
|Casualties and losses|
|8,000 killed or drowned||500|
The Battle of Sisak (Croatian: Bitka kod Siska; Slovene: Bitka pri Sisku; German: Schlacht bei Sissek; Turkish: Kulpa Bozgunu) was fought on 22 June 1593 between Ottoman regional forces of Hasan Pasha Predojević, a notable commander (beylerbey) of the Eyalet of Bosnia, and a combined Christian army from the Habsburg lands, mainly Kingdom of Croatia and Inner Austria, under the supreme command of the Styrian general Ruprecht von Eggenberg.
The Croatian troops were led by the Ban of Croatia, Thomas Erdődy, and major forces from the Duchy of Carniola and the Duchy of Carinthia were led by Andreas von Auersperg, nicknamed the "Carniolan Achilles". The battle took place at Sisak, central Croatia, at the confluence of the rivers Sava and Kupa and resulted in a crushing defeat for the regional Ottoman forces, triggering the Long War.
Although the central authorities of both the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy were rather reluctant to fight each other after several campaigns on Hungarian and Moldovian land and four renewals of the 1547 truce, large scale raids were being mounted into each other’s territories: There had been numerous raids into Hungary by Akincilar, the irregular Turkish light cavalry, and on the other hand, Uskoks (irregular soldiers on the eastern Adriatic coast) were being encouraged to conduct raids into Ottoman territory in the Balkans. These Uskok raids were damaging to the Ottoman provinces. Clashes on the Croatian frontier also continued despite the truce. The Croatian-Ottoman border went between Koprivnica and Virovitica to Sisak, then westward to Karlovac, southward to Plitvice Lakes, and southwest to the Adriatic Sea. Croatia at the time had only 16,800 km² of free territory and around 400,000 inhabitants.
Although its strength was depleted from the constant conflicts on the border, late in the 16th century Croatian fortified cities were able to hold Ottoman forces at bay. During this period Ottoman provincial forces from the Eyalet of Bosnia had several attempts to seize major forts and towns across the Una and Sava rivers. On 26 October 1584 smaller Ottoman units were defeated at the battle of Slunj, and on 6 December 1586 near Ivanić-Grad. However, Ottoman raids and attacks were increasing and the Croatian nobles were fighting without Habsburg support.
In August 1591, without a declaration of war, Hasan Pasha Predojević (or Telli Hasan Pasha), Ottoman beylerbey of the Eyalet of Bosnia and vizier, attacked Croatia and reached Sisak, but was repelled after 4 days of fighting. Thomas Erdődy (Hungarian: Tamás Erdődy, Croatian: Toma Erdődy), Ban of Croatia, launched a counterattack and seized much of the Moslavina region. The same year Hasan Pasha launched another attack, taking the town of Ripač on the Una River. These raids forced the Ban to convene a meeting of the Croatian Parliament in Zagreb on 5 January 1592 and declare a general uprising to defend the country. These actions of the regional Ottoman forces under Hasan Pasha seem to have been contrary to the interest and policy of the central Ottoman administration in Istanbul.
In June 1592 Hasan Pasha captured Bihać and directed his forces towards Sisak for the second time. The fall of Bihać caused fear in Croatia since it stood on the border for decades. Hasan Pasha also successfully captured and burnt the military encampment in battle of Brest on 19 July 1592, built by Ban Erdődy a few months earlier near Petrinja. The camp had around 3,000 men, while the Ottoman forces had around 7-8,000. On 24 July the Ottomans started sieging Sisak, but lift the siege after 5 days of fighting and heavy losses, leaving the region of Turopolje ravaged. These events encouraged the Emperor to put more efforts in order to stop the Ottomans, whose actions were halted by the winter.
In spring 1593 Governor-General Hasan Pasha Predojević gathered a large army in Petrinja and on 15 June again crossed the Kupa River and started his third attack on Sisak. His army consisted of around 12,000-16.000 soldiers from the sanjaks of Klis, Lika, Zvornik, Herzegovina, Pojega and Cernik. Sisak was defended by at most 800 men commanded by Matija Fintić, who died on 21 June, and Blaž Đurak, both from Kaptol, seat of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Zagreb. The town was under heavy artillery fire and a call for help was sent to the Croatian ban. Reinforcements led by Austrian Colonel General Ruprecht von Eggenberg, Ban Thomas Erdődy and Colonel Andreas von Auersperg (Slovene: Andrej Turjaški) arrived near Sisak on 21 June. They numbered around 4,000-5,000 cavalry and infantry. On 22 June between 11 and 12 o'clock they attacked Ottoman positions with the army of Ban Erdődy in front, consisting of Croatian hussars and infantry.
The first assault was repulsed by Ottoman cavalry. Then the soldiers of Colonel Auersperg joined the attack followed by Eggenberg's and other commanders men, forcing the Ottomans back towards the Kupa River. The army of Hasan Pasha was driven into a corner between the rivers Odra and the Kupa, with the bridge across Kupa taken by soldiers from Karlovac. The Sisak garrison led by Blaž Đurak attacked the remaining Ottoman forces that were besieging Sisak. Caught in the middle between two Christian army flanks, the Ottomans panicked and started a chaotic retreat, trying to swim across the Kupa River and reach their camp. The bulk of the army with most of the commanders were either slaughtered or drowned in the river.
The battle lasted around one hour and ended in a total defeat of the Ottomans. Hasan Pasha Predojević, the Muslim Serb or Vlach captain of the Ottoman regional force, did not survive the battle. Among the Ottoman commanders that were killed or had drowned in Kupa were Sultanzade Mehmet Bey of the Sanjak of Herzegovina, Džafer Bey of the Zvorniks, Ramazan Bey of the Sanjak of Pojega and Arnaud Memi Bey. Ibrahim Bey of the Sanjak of Lika managed to escape. Total Ottoman losses were around 8,000 killed or drowned. The Christian army captured 2,000 horses, 10 war flags, falconets and artillery ammunition left by the Ottomans. Christian army losses were light, a report from Andreas von Auersperg submitted to Archduke Ernest on 24 June 1593 mentions only 40-50 casualties for his troops.
Aftermath and consequences
Christian Europe was delighted at the grandiose reports of the victory at Sisak. Pope Clement VIII praised the Christian military leaders, sending a letter of gratitude to Ban Erdődy, while King Philip II of Spain named Ban Erdődy a knight of the Order of Saint Saviour. The Archdiocese of Zagreb built a chapel in the village of Greda near Sisak to commemorate the victory and decreed that a gratitude mass should be held every 22 June in Zagreb. The cloak of Hasan Pasha was given to the Ljubljana Cathedral. Blaž Đurak, commander of the Sisak garrison, was awarded by the Croatian Parliament for his contribution to the victory.
Ban Thomas Erdődy wanted to take advantage of the victory and take Petrinja, where the remnants of the Ottoman army fled. However, Colonel General Eggenberg considered that there is not enough food for their army and the attack on Petrinja was halted. After news of the defeat reached Istanbul, a revenge was demanded from the military leaders and the Sultan's sister, whose son Mehmet was killed in the battle. Although the action of Hasan Pasha was not in accordance with Istanbul, the Sultan felt that such an embarrassing defeat even of a vassal acting off his own bat could not go unavenged. Sultan Murad III declared war on Emperor Rudolf II that same year, starting the Long War that was fought mainly in Hungary and Croatia. The war extended through the reign of Mehmet III (1595-1603) and into that of Ahmet I (1603-1617).
During the war the Ottomans managed to take Sisak. On 24 August 1593 the Ottomans used the absence of a large army near Sisak, which was defended by 100 soldiers. With strong cannon fire they managed to break through the walls and on 30 August the fortress surrendered. Sisak was liberated on 11 August 1594, when the Ottoman garrison fled and set the fortress on fire. The Long War ended with the Peace of Zsitvatorok on 11 November 1606, marking the first sign of the suppression of Ottoman expansion into Central Europe and stabilization of the frontier for half a century. Inner Austria with the duchies of Styria, Carinthia and Carniola remained free from Ottoman control. Croatia was also able to maintain its independence from further Ottoman incursions and made some territorial gains following the peace treaty, such as Petrinja, Moslavina and Čazma. It is also important to point out that, after this first great Ottoman defeat in Northwestern Balkans, the Orthodox Christian subjects of the empire, particularly Serbs and Vlachs who had been very loyal and military useful to the Porte till that very moment; began then to loose faith in their Muslim masters, and began passing slowly over the Christian Habsburg side by emigrating from Ottoman-controlled lands to those of Habsburgs, or even revolting against the Turks in their own territory.
As the Battle of Sisak took place on Croatian territory and the main body of the Christian defenders consisted of Croatian troops, the victory has ever since played a major role in the traditional interpretation of the history of Croatia. Croatia issued a commemorative stamp in 1993 called "Victory at Sisak". The traditional daily ringing of the small bell of Zagreb Cathedral at 2 p.m. is in memory of the battle as it was the bishop of Zagreb who had borne the major part of the costs of the fortress of Sisak.
Since fighters from neighbouring Carniola re-enforced the defenders, the battle is also a part of the Slovenian tradition. In 22 June 1993, the Republic of Slovenia issued three memorial coins and a postage stamp to commemorate the 400 years anniversary of the battle of Sisak.
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After the fall of Bihać in 1592 the Bosnian Beylerbey Hasan Pasha Predojević settled Orthodox Vlachs from Eastern Herzegovina, especially those of his own Predojević clan, in the central part of Pounje around Brekovica, Ripač, Ostrovica and Vrla Draga up to Sokolovac.
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- Radoslav Lopašić: Spomenici Hrvatske krajine: Od god. 1479-1610, Zagreb, 1884, p. 182-184; General Andrija Auersperg izvješćuje nadvojvodu Ernsta o porazu Turaka pod Siskom.
- Vjekoslav Klaić: Povijest Hrvata od najstarijih vremena do svršetka XIX. stoljeća, Knjiga peta, Zagreb, 1988, p. 497
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- "400 years anniversary of the battle at Sisak", bsi.si (1993); accessed 22 June 2014.
- Pošta Slovenije: 1993 Stamps – 400th anniversary of the Battle of Sisak, 22 June 1993; accessed 22 June 2014.
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- Alfred H. Loebl, Das Reitergefecht bei Sissek vom 22. Juni 1593. Mitteilungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung IX (1915), pp. 767–787.(German)
- Peter Radics, Die Schlacht bei Sissek, 22. Juni 1593, Ljubljana: Josef Blasnik,1861 (German)