Long War (1591–1606)

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Long War
Fifteen Years' War of Hungary
Part of the Ottoman-Habsburg wars
Battle of Mezokeresztes 1596.jpg
Date 1591 / 1593 – 1606
Location Hungary, Wallachia, Balkan Peninsula
Result Peace of Zsitvatorok
 Holy Roman Empire

Coat of arms of Hungary (1918-1919).svg Kingdom of Hungary[1]
Croatia, Historic Coat of Arms, first white square.svg Kingdom of Croatia[1]
Flag of Transylvania before 1918.svg Transylvania
Flag of the Cossack Hetmanat.svg Zaporozhian Host
Serbian Cross.svg Serbian hajduks
 Papal States
Medici Flag of Tuscany.png Tuscany
Flag of Shah Tahmasp I.svg Persia
Cross Order of Saint Stephanus.jpg Knights of St. Stephen
Coat of arms of the House of Este (1471).svg Duchy of Ferrara
Coat of arms of the House of Gonzaga (1433).svg Duchy of Mantua
Republic of Dubrovnik Flag.png Republic of Ragusa

 Duchy of Savoy
 Ottoman Empire
Gerae-tamga.svg Crimean Khanate
Nogai Khanate
Commanders and leaders
Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor
Hermann Christof von Russwurm
Karl von Mansfeld
Giorgio Basta
István Bocskai
Michael the Brave
Starina Novak
Murad III
Mehmed III
Ahmed I
Sinan Pasha
Tiryaki Hasan Pasha
Damat Ibrahim Pasha
Lala Mehmed Pasha
Hasan Pasha Predojević 
95,000[2][3] 160,000–180,000[2][3]
Casualties and losses
Unknown, heavy Unknown, heavy

The Long 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.[4] 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 Bihać (the Hundred Years' Croatian–Ottoman War is usually counted 1493-1593).

In the series of Ottoman wars in Europe it was the major test of force between Ottoman–Venetian War (1570–73) and the Cretan War (1645–69). The next of the 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 both sides.


The major participants of this war were the Habsburg Monarchy, the Principality of Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia opposing the Ottoman Empire. Ferrara, Tuscany, Mantua and the Papal State were also involved to a lesser extent.

Skirmishes along the border intensified from 1591. In 1592, the fort of Bihać in what was central Croatia at the time fell to the Ottomans. In the spring of 1593, Ottoman forces from the Eyalet of Bosnia laid siege to the city of Sisak in Croatia, starting the Battle of Sisak which eventually ended in a victory for the Christian forces on June 22, 1593.

The Long War started on July 29, 1593 when the Ottoman army under Sinan Pasha launched a campaign against the Habsburg Monarchy and captured Győr (Turkish: Yanıkkale) and Komarom (Turkish: Komaron).

In 1595, an alliance of Christian European powers was organized by Pope Clement VIII to oppose the Ottoman Empire; a treaty of alliance was signed in Prague by the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II and Sigismund Báthory of Transylvania. Aron Vodă of Moldavia and Michael the Brave of Wallachia joined the alliance later that year.

The Ottoman's objective of the war was to seize Vienna,[citation needed] while the Habsburg Monarchy wanted to recapture the central territories of the Kingdom of Hungary controlled by the Ottoman Empire.

The Balkans during the 17th century

Control over the Danube-line and possession of the fortresses located there was crucial. The war was mainly fought in Royal Hungary (mostly present day western Hungary and southern Slovakia), Transdanubia, Royal Croatia and Slavonia, the Ottoman Empire (Rumelia – present day Bulgaria and Serbia), and Wallachia (in present-day southern Romania).

In 1595, the Christians captured Győr, Esztergom and Visegrád, strategic fortresses on the Danube, but they did not engage in the siege of the key fortress of Buda. The Ottomans launched a siege of Eger (Turkish: Eğri), conquering it in 1596.

On the eastern front of the war, Michael the Brave, prince of Wallachia, started a campaign against the Ottomans in the autumn of 1594, conquering several castles near the Lower Danube, including Giurgiu, Brăila, Hârşova, and Silistra, while his Moldavian allies defeated the Ottoman armies in Iaşi and other parts of Moldova.[5] Michael continued his attacks deep within the Ottoman Empire, taking the forts of Nicopolis, Ribnic, and Chilia [6] and even reaching as far as Adrianople.[7] At one point his forces were only 24 kilometres (15 mi) from the Ottoman capital, Constantinople.

The conflict continued with the Battle of Călugăreni, considered one of the most important battles between the Ottomans and Wallachians (Romanians).[who?][citation needed] Although the Wallachians emerged victorious from the battle, Michael was forced to retreat with his troops and wait for aid from his allies, Prince Sigismund Báthory of Transylvania and Emperor Rudolf of Austria. The war between Wallachia and the Ottomans continued until late 1599, when Michael was unable to continue the war due to poor support from his allies.

The turning point of the war was the Battle of Mezőkeresztes, which took place in the territory of Hungary on October 24–26, 1596. The combined Habsburg-Transylvanian force of 45–50,000 troops was defeated by the Ottoman army. The battle turned when Christian soldiers, thinking they had won the battle, stopped fighting in order to plunder the Ottoman camp.[citation needed] Despite this victory, the Ottomans realized for the first time the superiority of Western military equipment over Ottoman weapons.[citation needed] This battle was the first significant military encounter in Central-Europe between a large Christian army and the Ottoman Turkish Army after the Battle of Mohács. As a result of the Battle of Mezőkeresztes, the Christians became unable to achieve their strategic objective and the war was reduced to smaller battles and sieges of fortresses, which often changed hands several times.[citation needed]

In August 1601, at the Battle of Guruslău, Giorgio Basta, and Michael the Brave defeated the Hungarian nobility led by Sigismund Báthory, who accepted Ottoman protection. After the assassination of Michael the Brave by mercenary soldiers under Basta's orders,[citation needed] the Transylvanian nobility, led by Mózes Székely, was again defeated in 1603 at the Battle of Braşov by the Habsburg Empire, and Wallachian troops led by Radu Şerban.

The last phase of the war (from 1604 to 1606) corresponds to the uprising of the Prince of Transylvania Stephen Bocskay. When Rudolf – mostly based on false charges[citation needed] – started prosecutions against a number of noble men in order to fill up the court's exhausted treasury, Bocskay, an educated strategist, resisted. He collected desperate Hungarians together with disappointed members of the nobility to start an uprising against the Habsburgs ruler. The troops marched westwards, supported by the Hajduk of Hungary, and achieved several victories against the Habsburg army until Bocskay was first declared the Prince of Transylvania (Târgu Mureș, February 21, 1605) and later also to Hungary (Szerencs, April 17, 1605[clarification needed]). The Ottoman Empire supported Bocskay with a crown that he refused (being Christian). As Prince of Hungary he accepted negotiations with Rudolf II and concluded the Treaty of Vienna (1606).


The Long War ended with the Peace of Zsitvatorok on November 11, 1606, which no territorial gain for the two main empires. The Peace of Zsitvatorok confirmed the Ottomans' inability to penetrate further into Habsburg territories. It also demonstrated that Transylvania was beyond Habsburg power. Though Emperor Rudolf had failed in his war objectives, he nonetheless won some prestige thanks to this resistance to the Turks and by presenting the war as a victory. For the first time, he was also recognized as an Emperor by the Ottomans. The treaty stabilized conditions on the Habsburg-Ottoman frontier.


  1. ^ a b Csorba, Csaba; János Estók and Konrád Salamon (1998). Magyarország Képes Története. Budapest: Hungarian Book-Club. ISBN 963-548-961-7.  62.-64. p.
  2. ^ a b Ervin Liptai: Magyarország hadtörténete I. 1984. ISBN 963-326-337-9
  3. ^ a b Zsigmond Pach: Magyarország története 1526–1686, 1985. ISBN 963-05-0929-6
  4. ^ Cathal J. Nolan (2006). The age of wars of religion, 1000–1650: an encyclopedia of global warfare and civilization. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 846. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  5. ^ Constantin C. Giurescu, Istoria Românilor. Bucharest: Editura All, 2007 (Romanian), p. 183.
  6. ^ Coln, Emporungen so sich in Konigereich Ungarn, auch in Siebenburgen Moldau, in der der bergischen Walachay und anderen Oerten zugetragen haben, 1596
  7. ^ Marco Venier, correspondence with the Doge of Venice, 16 July 1595

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